Modeling The Power of Blogging

SAMR: From Substitution to Modification/Redefinition

2364304_origMeet Jon. He is a Social Studies teacher at Bertie (pronounced Bert-Tee) Early College High School in Windsor, North Carolina. He’s a consistent tech infuser, who was chosen to go with a group of us to the NCTIES conference just last month. He came away with some wonderful notes and information to share with his staff.

That’s the thing, though. What a wealth of knowledge there was in his email, and he shared with all of 12 people. I replied and thanked him for the recap and asked him to allow me to seize the teachable moment. Had Jon posted his information to a blog, and used his social media networks to share world-wide, he would have reached many more people, and maybe even gotten loads of feedback from other people in attendance. Take a look at what he shared:

BEC Staff,

Just wanted to share a few quick tips from the NCTIES Conference.  The theme was “Make it Personal”, so it was all about how do we attempt to connect with each student in our classes and how can we use technology to help students succeed?  Here is the online resource if you want to explore the many topics discussed at the conference.
-  If you have about 9 minutes I highly recommend taking a look at this video from Kevin Honeycutt.  He was the opening speaker and he really drives home the point of trying to reach kids and not being afraid to embrace technology in the classroom.  He is also pretty funny and a really engaging speaker.
-  3 Elements of a Personalized Learning Environment
   1.  Know the Learner (Learning Styles, Cultures, Learning Paces, Giving Students Guided Choice)
   2.  Guide with Standards (Knowing the Curriculum and Guiding Toward Mastery)
   3.  Flex the Environment (Student-Centered Atmosphere with the Physical and Digital Space In Mind)
-  Research has indicated that educational games can really benefit student learning.  Resources for educational games:  and
-  Remember that it is natural for the human body to stay in motion, so don’t expect students to sit perfectly still for 75 minutes.  How can you incorporate moving around in the classroom to student learning?
-  And maybe the most important tip from the conference was a quote by Maya Angelou to remind us that teaching is really all about relationships with students and trying to make a positive impact in their lives and help prepare them for their futures.  “People won’t remember what you said or did, as much as they will remember how you made them feel.”
 Join me in my quest to inspire more teachers to redefine their lessons and experiences by becoming bloggers. If we model blogging as teachers, students will soon see the value. Writing will improve, and students in 1:1 programs will have a one more way to create with their devices, aside from finding information on the web. The call to action? However you found this post, please share it with your network so that I can show Jon the power of blogging, and developing a PLN.

Tackk Makes Blogging Easy!

Afraid of Blogging? Tackk Makes it Easy!


Earlier this week, we talked about the 3 Keys to Global Instructional Design. Among the keys was blogging for teachers and students. I failed to include what is perhaps the best tool for beginners who are skeptical about using platforms with complicated user interfaces. If you want to create a simple, easy-as-pie web space, then Tackk is the answer to your prayers. Here are some examples:

Angie Bush uses Tackk as an online parent information blog/newsletter. Each week, she creates a post and shares it with the Madison City Schools First Class Pre-K Center parents.

Rafranz Davis uses Tackk to spread the word on the awesome trends she picks up as she journeys to major conferences.

Kristi Combs, Instructional Partner at James Clemens High School in Madison, Alabama recently posted a Tackk on news and celebrations going on in her school.

I am encouraging you to consider Tackk for blogging. I am saying very emphatically, that blogging is an important skill for students today. Beyond clicking the publish button, they need to know how to share their creations, get meaningful feedback from their peers and experts, and get better at it each time. The key concept is STUDENT CREATIVITY.

Come again!








3 Keys to Global Instructional Design

Instructional Design is defined as: The process by which instruction is improved through the analysis of learning needs and systematic development of learning materials. Students across the United States want to know each day at school, “When will we ever use this?” and “Why do we have to know this?” They’re both age-old questions, to say the least, and I think it is about time that we empower students to have more flexibility when it comes to their own learning.

With that said, in order to show students how to do so, I charge teachers to model digital competencies that span beyond the confines of the my documents folder on their respective devices. Those of us  who understand this concept have begun to approach instructional design from a broader perspective. Global awareness is trending in education, and we must prepare our kids for success on many levels. Learning is taking place at very rapid rates for some. Those learners do not wait for the knowledge to come to them; they go get it. Do you want to foster future readiness in your classroom? Here are 3 keys to global instructional design.

Develop a PLN and PLE

I. Feel. Redundant. Still, I will carry on with my crusade until the majority of the teachers I serve find that this key is as vital to success as I do. Today, educators can ill afford to neglect their personal learning. There is so much information out there, that teachers must not rely solely on their district personnel to deliver all of the rich professional development that they receive. I once wrote about Personal Learning Networks (and Environments) where there’s a graphic about all of the different resources, apps and tools available for professional growth. Suggested tools include Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, and more! You can find a simple step-by-step guide to learn all about Twitter for Educators here.

Become a Blogger (for Teachers and Students)

Think about the SAMR model (fan  or not) for measuring levels of student-engagement, and note the importance of varying the activities you plan for using technology in the classroom. Although it’s virtually impossible to operate in the Redefinition level all of the time, it is important to give students a global voice from time to time. Our kids are great writers, videographers, artists, and creators. Blog writing provides an opportunity for them (and you) to share their views and talents with the world. Please note however, that it is necessary for teachers to give feedback (such as through Google Classroom or Google Docs) to students and check for authenticity and content before posting. Here are a few websites I suggest to get started.

Blogger connects with Google+ and can be easily shared with all of your communities. If you are in a Google Apps for Education district, I suggest using this service simply because of the ease-of-use and Google compatibility. It also tracks traffic so you can easily see how far your posts reach. The user interface is much like Google Docs. The editor’s look and feel is very similar, and if you’re already familiar with Docs, learning to navigate Blogger will be a breeze.


Sometimes “simple” isn’t enough. This is my personal favorite. Why? Because the themes are BOSS! I really like the user interface and the stats area lets me know which posts are getting hits and from where. I highly recommend it for educators who are serious about blogging. I will caution you that if you are considering using WP for students, there are a few problems: The learning curve is a bit steep compared to most other sites. So, if you are a teacher-blogger who likes a challenge, (and the ability to sell products and control most of your site’s functions) then or is for you. Your student’s might find the interface at a bit overwhelming, so be prepared to have a tech day (or THREE) exclusively for WP.  Here’s a comparison of the two WordPress sites, which may have you running back to “simple.” The self hosted site requires the purchase of a domain and a web host, and should probably be avoided for beginners and hobbyists.

Weebly is the best of both worlds: Website and blog in one. The templates and layouts are all very similar, but are aesthetically pleasing. In design mode, adding pages is fairly simple. As with Blogger and WordPress, you may add a standard page or an external link, but with Weebly, your class website can double as a class blog by adding a “blog page”. As a starter, pro, or business member, you can add several pages to your site, add your own custom domain, or upload various multimedia. There is a cap on how many pages you can add using the free version. How much you can do with Weebly depends on whether you’re willing to make a small financial investment in your site, or not.


If you want total control of what your students post, without the hassle of vetting through the exchange of Google Docs or email, then Edublogs will give you switchboard-like capabilities! Again, the more you are willing to pay for services, the more powerful the hosting service will be. The options are limitless. Take time to choose the service that is right for you and your students.

Have a Social Media Presence

So you’ve used Web 2.0 to find several tools and resources to sharpen your saw. You’ve followed the best of the best ed tech bloggers like:

Richard Byrne:

Vikki Davis: (Read here why she moved from Blogger to WordPress!)

Jamie Forshey:

and a host of others (as listed in Education Week!)

Let’s consider how the power of social media can amplify your learning to the max! For example, If I need answers to questions that my colleagues cannot answer, then I can tweet to one of the many experts in my PLN. When I find useful information, I can share it with my friends and followers, and they can share it further. There are times that I stumble upon wonderful posts that deserve to be shared and shared again, and I do. Explore the possibilities that extend far beyond Facebook and Twitter.

Be a global citizen and share this post!


More Resources:



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…

View original 730 more words

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 to 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