Selling Teachers on Blogging: Back to the Drawing Board


Richard Byrne and The TechChic

Morning folks! I’m at NCTIES (Technology Conference) in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. I am proud to be attending a session facilitated by none other than THE Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) who writes the Free Technology for Teachers Blog. Seriously…he’s the guru of tech tools! I am a WordPress junkie, but I am open to for our teachers’ and students’ sakes. I’ve been the lone blogger in my district (mostly) for about five years, so it’s time to bring others on board.

Although I blog at Social Juggernaut, I am hoping to learn some selling points and strategies to sell this global strategy to the teachers I serve. Blogging and sharing are Augmentation and Redefinition level activities in the SAMR model that transform student-products from written, typewritten and emailed documents to beautiful posts that can be shared with the world!

Wish me luck, spread the word about this new space, and of course, follow me on Twitter (@jovan367)!

Even When They’re Not

Joan McCullough:

Stuart’s impact felt far and wide!

Originally posted on Carolina Blues:


If you watched the Louisville game Saturday, you know there’s a lot I could talk about. I could talk about how the best defense is a good defense, and how when you force turnovers and hold teams to stretches of five minutes without scoring, you give yourself key opportunities to make offensive plays on the other end of the floor. I could talk about how [my boy] Marcus is back, but you can read my previous blog post to learn how I feel about that. I could talk about the sweet taste of victory when it’s on the tip of your tongue—almost eluding you before it’s deliciously captured. Instead—and this might be an unpopular choice—I want to talk about Wednesday’s Notre Dame game. More importantly, I want to talk about Stuart Scott.

But I’ll indulge my unadulterated Louisville joy for a few minutes longer. My favorite games to win…

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How to Nail Blended Learning

As Abraham Maslow (The Psychology of Science, 1966) stated: “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

When our children come to us for learning, rather than hammer them all, we’ve got to find the appropriate tools for each individual, thus offering a variety of learning experiences to achieve the ultimate goal: Positive learning outcomes!

As it stands, it’s the spring semester, the first semester test scores have come in, your principal has redefined the school focus and your district has revved up the professional development all at once! In our district, we’re adopting the blended learning model. A few schools are making a transition from traditional delivery to project based learning. Instructional Tech facilitators deliver Wired Wednesdays, Tech Tuesdays, and whatever else we can squeeze into their hectic schedules. Plus, teachers meet at least four times per month in PLCs, staff meetings and school improvement team meetings. Overwhelmed yet?

After listening to Dr. Alex Kaulfuss explain blended learning to our teachers, the clutter is totally cleared from my mind, when it comes to bringing it all together. In the following concept descriptions, I’ll break down how transition from point A to Z seamlessly.


TPACKAny lesson you deliver must begin with a plan. TPACK is a model that explains what the teacher must know when preparing for students. The standards tell us what content to teach (CK). The pedagogy is the collection of tools and processes with which you will engage your students to facilitate the learning process (P). Whether it’s a gallery walk, jigsawing, or writing to learn, your lessons should go well beyond lecture/note taking and worksheets. The technology (T) you integrate should be about a means to learn, create and discover – not about the device. The key is to make sure you have a blend of the three components of TPACK in your lessons. It is also important to understand that not every lesson will be an even mixture. Rather, some lessons may be PCK or PT, and some may be TP or TCK. As long as over the course of a unit, children have been exposed to all three in even amounts, you’re on your way!

The SAMR model is all about the levels of student engagement while implementing technology. As with TPACK, no classroom should operate in the Redefinition area of the model all of the time. You’ll be burned out in no time, and so will your students. There are times when Substitution level assignments (typing a paragraph in Google Docs) are appropriate. Some lessons will require no technology at all. It’s about knowing when to infuse technology, and to what degree. Again, having a good balance is essential. Click here for more on TPACK and SAMR.

2. Blended Learning

The SAMR Model

The SAMR Model

Now that you have a plan in place, let’s think about the ways we will provide students an avenue to learn. Blended learning gives students opportunities to learn both face to face, and online. A learning management system (LMS) such as Schoology or Edmodo is a great platform for online learning. I say emphatically however, that an LMS should not take the place of valuable face-to-face interactions between the teacher and students. It is good to expose students to content in advance which will free up class time for hands-on activities, and high levels of student engagement.

3. Project Based Learning (PBL)

Referring to the TPACK model as I explain this, PBL is a type of pedagogy. It requires students to learn by problem-solving and discovery (PCK), while preparing them to show evidence of mastery by producing a final product, by (in most cases) using technology to research, communicate or create. Students are assigned roles and carry out the learning process as a team. It takes planning in advance, and a blended learning environment to make PBL most successful. It fosters student-choice, independence, presentation and public speaking skills, and self-confidence.




Still unclear? I’m a huge fan of Edutopia and you should be too! Check out the following links to help you better understand:

Edutopia: How to Integrate Tech When it Keeps Changing

Edutopia: Blended Learning

Edutopia: Resources for Getting Started with Project-Based Learning

Until next time, happy learning!







EXTREME COACHING: Success Begins With Relationships

Every Tech Coach’s Dream

Relationships mean everything in this business. Several teachers are taking it all in at the high schools in Bertie County! This is the first official spotlight in The Teacher’s Lounge and I’ve got to tell you, this man is a trailblazer. He’s the kind of teacher you pray your own child gets assigned to.

Weh’yee “West” Barkon is an ELA 9-11 teacher at Bertie Stem High School. Originally from Queens, NY, Weh’yee (prounced Way-Yee) spent most of his childhood in Detroit, Michigan. He attended East Carolina University in Greenville, NC and was connected to our school system through the Teach for America program. This is his first year in the profession, and I must say, he’s a joy to coach. Continue reading

Thursday Notes from the Friday Institute

There are tons of great tools here at the Friday Institute’s #CDLi14 conference on the campus of North Carolina State University. I’m a huge fan of Thinglink, but I never considered using it as a professional development tool. I just had to share one of Melissa Lim’s creations!

If you really want to soar with instructional technology, you should get to know some of the Coaches! Visit for valuable tech tools for your tool belt!

Professional Development 365: Personalize Your Learning

Digital Collaboration for Learning

In this day and age, educators must take responsibility for their own professional growth. Taking time to fully develop your personal learning environment (PLE) and your personal learning network (PLN) is tantamount to attending state conferences, local workshops, and edcamps, and the price is right!

How many times have you been asked,

“I always wonder… when do you sleep?”

I get this quite often from folks who imagine that I must consume and regurgitate all things tech ALL THE TIME. I just play around in my PLE during my spare time. The fact is, those who have a great grasp on instructional technology are either naturally inclined, or inclined spend extra time practicing with tools until they get it. I’m a good mixture of the two. We must remember one thing: for the sake of education, it’s time to shift the focus. It’s not about the technology or devices. It’s about the information one can find and the products one can create with them as a result of learning.

I’m here to tell you that you can acquire almost any skill or knowledge you so desire with a just a little bit of searching. It won’t take the place of a formal certification or degree, but you can read various blogs, watch tutorial videos, search for certain hashtags on Twitter, or look for innovative ideas on Pinterest and Facebook. In other words, be resourceful; you can do this all from the comfort of the couch, the deck, the beach, or bed at any time that is most convenient for you!

One misconception I’d also like to clear up, is the true definition of a personal learning network (PLN). Do not be thrown off by the word, personal. Some believe that it is learning that pertains to matters outside of work. Not so. It is learning that belongs to you. It is prescribed by you, by your own means, and consumed in your own time.

I recently realized  that I have trouble selling teachers on developing a strong PLN, because I have not shown them the components of a stable PERSONAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT (PLE). Your PLE is the environment that you afford yourself to use technology to learn from the web and trusted sources, and exchange knowledge with other professionals both within and outside of your local area. Below are the components of a PLE and some examples.

CPLE cropped

Click the graphic for an interactive version!

It is not suggested that you have a membership with each outlet shown above, however networking is about learning and sharing. Therefore, you should try to establish a well balanced system for doing so. Your PLN is the people with which you interact with, using the tools above. They are your friends on Facebook, your followers on Twitter, and the people in your Google+ circles (to name a few).

For example:  Take a look at the TechChic’s PLE and the tools she uses to interact with her professional learning network.

How I Facilitate My Own Learning

Technology: I use my HP laptop and Chromebook, an iPad, and my Samsung Galaxy note 3 to set up my environment and network (not all at once, of course…but I’ve been known to on occasion).

Web 2.0: A revamped interactive web experience that allows users to share and comment on information. Before (Web 1.0, users could only read information that had been posted to HTML sites, and little else).

Social Media: I have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, Pinterest, Reddit, and Voxer. I look in these places for valuable information that may help me with instructional technology, often. If something catches my eye, I will retweet, share, or repin the information. Whenever I blog about something that I think is newsworthy, I share it to those platforms. People who see that material, and think it deserves to be shared with other people in their networks, do the same.

Specifically on Twitter, I create lists of influencers who tweet about certain subjects. For instance, I created an instructional technology list comprised of professionals around the world. When I want to see what’s new in my craft, I pull up that list. Most posts are loaded with helpful links and graphics that assist me in my quests. There are certain chats that I follow like the Breakfast Club (#BFC530). That chat starts at 5:30 am, but I can search the hashtag later in the morning, and get caught up on the question of the day, and everyone’s responses. Simultaneously, there’s a spin-off Voxer chat going on where people from the group are sharing voice recordings of their philosophies regarding the topic of the day. It comes straight to my phone. Sweet!!!

Blogs/News/Feeds: Huffington Post, Mashable, The Bible AppFree Technology for Teachers, and Fantasy Football Today  are my favorite places to go for information. Again, when something valuable appears on my screen, I send it to Evernote or add it to Pocket to read again later, and share it with my PLN (the people in my network). Personally, this blog is a site. I think it’s user-friendly, the themes are great, and the mobile app is highly functional for editing and sharing on the go.

Productivity: Evernote is my favorite note-taking tool of all time. I can use the Web Clipper, or the Clearly extensions (find them in the Chrome Store) to send materials directly to my notebooks. It’s just plain awesome!

Grolier OnlineOnline Searching: Google is the engine that I use most frequently, however it’s wrought with Wikipedia articles. There is a alternative to this. You can go to specific sites and search within the site for the information you’re trying to find. Encyclopedia Britannica has a hefty amount of information available to kids looking for trusted research materials. For the record, NC Wiseowl is just deep.  When you search for resources in this space, it chauffeurs you directly to legitimate sources.

Bookmarks: Diigo is a great bookmarking tool that allows you to annotate your findings before saving the source to your list. I use the Google bookmarking tool and save the icons only to my bookmark bar (edit the bookmark and delete the title. The tiny icon appears on the bookmarks bar. When you hover your pointer over it, the name of the site is revealed). Information that I want to pull up later, I’ll send to my notebook or add to pocket.

Collaborate: This year, the instructional technology facilitators in our district will run our professional development sessions through Schoology this year. Like in Edmodo, not only can we flip our PD by providing the materials early, but we can post discussion questions for our teachers to ponder, based on the materials. There are also several groups and communities that we can join to share ideas with and learn from.

Online Video: There are three online video sources that I go to for learning. YouTube (anything you can think of), TED Talks (inspiration, philosophy), and iTunes Video Podcasts (graphics and photography).

Online Audio: Stitcher Radio is my favorite place for radio podcasts. You can make playlists and find experts speaking on just about everything. is my go-to when I wantStitcher to get in some reading, but I’m just too busy (or just plain lazy) to hold up my iPad or Kindle Fire to read the words. Besides, sometimes when I listen to an audiobook as opposed to reading an eBook, I can catch things I may otherwise miss, or hear things read in the proper context, whereas I may have read it with a different context in mind.

Take the time to build your personal learning platforms. Teach your students to do the same. It will all pay off, by and by.


Web 2.0

How to Create A Personal Learning Environment

Digital Literacy: Climbing the Ladder, One Rung at a Time

Blogging Begins to Take Root

Students at Bertie Early College High School are reluctantly taking the plunge into the blogosphere. We’re also asking a few to ditch the old spiral pads and create digital notebooks. Among them are a few kids who can see the benefits of it, excited about what it means for their writing. I feel a bit like a dentist in some cases, but there’s one young lady who is embracing the idea.

A few weeks back, I gave a couple of science classes a rather compelling spill about blogging and keeping digital notes (my Oscar is in the mail). Fortunately, the teacher is the person who jumped on board first! She’s still got to get the hang of it, but her students are well on their way!

Vanessa Hernandez

Vanessa Hernandez

Today I sat down with Vanessa Hernandez to talk about how and Evernote has changed the way she thinks about writing and taking notes in school. Here’s what she had to say:

Me: Vanessa, your Earth/Environmental Science class recently started blogging. How has it changed your classroom experience?

Vanessa: With blogging I feel like I can express myself more in my work and it will be a lot easier to turn in my work.

Me: What’s the name of your blog and the URL? Continue reading

Coaching Success Strategies in Education

wpid-2014-09-20-11.30.22.png.pngIn the immortal words of John “Hannibal” Smith, I love it when a plan comes together! This has been a great week of professional development, dialogue, and discovery for the teachers I serve. The Instructional Technology department decided to “flip” our PD sessions this year. So teachers are being exposed to our presentations early in Schoology. Lot’s of them came to the sessions already familiar with the content and were reeling with ideas.

What makes IT coaching even more fulfilling is when teachers implement tools and practices immediately, and reveal that they get immediate results from students. I’ve seen two teachers this week, transform their pedagogical practices from lecture/copy notes to flipped lessons/facilitate creativity. The looks on their faces are like light bulbs shining brightly!

What’s the key element that makes this happen? A two-sided mindset called coachability. Some teachers have already heard this story, however, it’s worth an encore.

I learned the importance of coachability when I was a senior on my high school basketball team. During our prior campaign, I led the team in scoring and rebounds. I was the team MVP, and the team captain. We had a different coach than the year before, and we were rebuilding. The season ended with us near the bottom of the conference with a 6-18 record. Still, I thought very highly of my 18 ppg average, and I went home that summer vowing to work hard on my ball handling to compliment my scoring ability. Continue reading

Students Explode Onto the Blogging Scene!

We all know it…it’s very difficult sometimes to get high school students excited about writing (and almost anything else these days). We proved this week however, that once you give them a voice, add a dash of guidance, and a splash of technology… viola! We’ve got kids writing like crazy at one high school.

This week, three classes at Bertie Early College  were exposed to training on blogging. Mr. Michael Everett allowed me to come into his Creative Writing class and conduct a workshop for his students on Evernote Web, Evernote Web Clipper, Clearly, and of course, WordPress. The kids were enthusiastic and engaged!

Let me tell you just a bit about what started the blogging revolution. Earlier in the week, I visited with Ms. Rhonda Taylor’s Earth/Environmental Science Classes. Their task was to research an event relative to human’s impact on the environment, and summarize their findings (on paper). This assignment needs some pizzazz, I thought. TechChic to the rescue! Continue reading