Always sad to say goodbye…

I’ve been in a bit of denial for the past few months that my colleague and friend, Sarah Ludwig, will be moving on to a different school next year. In three short years, Sarah has inspired me, challenged me and made me smarter! I will miss her terribly. She has made a lasting impact on me personally and professionally, and on our entire school community.

Here’s the presentation I made to honor and celebrate her. I shared it with our school’s Technology Committee and with Upper School students.   Sarah- you will be missed :(

Here is the link  to the original video I created on Sliderocket.

2013 CAIS Academic Tech Retreat: The best yet!

Each year, the CAIS Academic Technology Retreat is the “prize” and we keep our eye on it the whole year.  It’s a time to sharecheryl tweet the great things that are happening, to learn from others, and to dive into some new technologies that can enhance teaching and learning at our schools.  Cheryl Costello summed up the feeling with this tweet:

After hearing that our longstanding venue, Trinity Conference Center in Cornwall, CT, was closing, we got a little down. It was a space we were familiar with; it was charted “territory”. Guest House in Chester, CT was recommended as a replacement, and I am happy to report that it did not disappoint.  This new venue forced us to rethink (and improve) the conference on the whole, and, because the place could accommodate more guests , new and different people were able to attend. We loved the spaces for break out sessions and the common areas were very flexible, allowing for the unconference model to work even better!

Dirk DeLo from Avenues: World School was our keynote. In his presentation, “Classroom in the Cloud”, he shared his technology journey, and Avenues’ journey, and offered inspiring words about moving our schools forward. Here are some quotes that have stuck with me:

  • “Best way to predict your future is to invent it”
  • “It’s no longer about IT it’s about TI (technology integration).”
  • On digital content creation …. “Teachers need to make their own”playlists” using tools to create their own digital resources. “Teachers should be curators of content”.
  • “iPad is the new Trapper Keeper”
  • Digital Diet. Choose a few tools. Classroom in the cloud: Stick w/ core tools. Evernote, iTunes U, Subtext, GDocs, Dropbox, Showbie
  • You have the tech tools, how do you get the teachers to accept this ‘invasive species’?
  • “You have to get the teachers to take the bait”
  • “Technology should not drive the curriculum, curriculum should drive technology . IT needs to “retool”
  • Challenge Based Learning… not about technology. Tech is the tool. What is the big idea? Essential Questions?
  • “Substitution”, “Augmentation”,, “Modification”, “Redefinition”
  • The goal of tech integration is REDEFINITION: Tech for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable!


Following Dirk, we had an “App Smackdown”, where each person attending shared their favorite website or app.  Here is this year’s list of recommendations from colleagues at CAIS schools. The second tab in the spreadsheet are twitter handles from other CAIS educators. The third tab includes resources from a session called “Bleeding Edge: Where do you hear about the next big thing? Come and share your favorite reliable sources.”

Our sessions for the remainder of the unconference were impressive! Check out the board!

I led a few sessions, including: photo 4

Twitter Maniacs (w/ fellow twitter addicts Sharon Plante and Cheryl Costello)“If you aren’t on Twitter you should be! Come talk about how being a Twitter Maniac will help you be a Connected Educator.”  The session was PACKED and we all have many new connections to continue our learning 24/7! We had a blast!
How to Poke the Sleeping Dragon: Implementing Change & Tips to Manage from the Middle (w/ Justine Fellows) A great discussion implementing change in our schools.

Instead of a “normal” social hour,  we really geeked out. Some were trying to program a robot and another group was learning how to “augment reality” with an iPad app called “Aurasma”. Awesome to think of the many ways this can be used at our schools. COOL STUFF!  In keeping with our tradition, some of our colleagues provided musical accompaniment.

We also played techie charades/ pictionary, once again.

is the archive of tweets from the conference.

Thanks to everyone who attended, shared, inspired, collaborated, and learned with me these two amazing days. It’s what true professional development is all about! 

Here are some more pics:

If these mathematicians were on Facebook…

For the third year in a row, my Algebra 1 class researched mathematicians and created a Fake Facebook wall for him/ her. einstein(See projects from 2011 and 2012 here and here.)  Each year, I reassess the project and make some changes and improvements. This year, given the number of snow days we had, I decided that introducing Diigo would be too much. I still wanted students to have a place to organize their research, and I wanted to be able to monitor it and give feedback. So, I created a googledoc Planning Sheet for their research, instead.

Here is the rubric for this year’s version of the project. 

Here is a link to the planning sheet, which included the justification of all of their photos, wall posts, friends, etc. Turns out, this was even better than Diigo. I was able to see their progress very easily using the history of the document, and I was able to have an online dialog with them about their research using “comments”. I know Diigo could have done some of this, but the kids hit the ground running with a tool they were already familiar with.

Since the online fake Facebook sites were so unstable last year, I used this JFK template I found online and taught students how to edit this to reflect their own mathematician. Even though the updated Facebook interface is different, students still were able to make this template work.

We spent a few days working through the research. Students still needed to be reminded that they would not be able to find a list of friends of their mathematicians. (See I Can’t Find Blaise Pascal’s Friends) After some one-on-one discussions as I circulated the class, students were able to figure out friends, photos, wall posts and comments for their page. They seemed to have a blast with it.

Here is a link to the peer assessment. This worked really well for us and students were able to make some connections between the mathematicians that were contemporaries of each other. That was cool!

Here are some of our final projects:
Carl Gauss
Rene Descartes
Isaac Newton

Whipple Hill’s Follow Friday: The Evolution of #ISEDchat

Follow Friday

I am honored to have been chosen to kick off Whipple Hill’s new blog #Follow Friday.  I really enjoyed sharing the story of #ISEDchat! Please join us on Thursday night’s at 9pm EST.

Follow Friday: The Evolution of #ISEDchat – a Q&A with Lorri Carroll



Some final thoughts on #NAISAC13… FINALLY!

photo 2We are officially on Spring Break now. Phew. This blog post has been on my “to-do” list for more than two weeks.  It’s the first time that I can exhale.

Aside from the conference itself being an amazing professional development experience filled with inspiring speakers and terrific workshops, NAISAC13 afforded me the opportunity to achieve a professional goal I set for myself– to present! I thank my Head of School for supporting me in this endeavor.

photo 3

Although I was really nervous leading up to the session, once we got started, it was as if I had presented with Chris Bigenho and Jason Kern many times before. Truth is… I “met” them for the first time on Wednesday night when we arrived in Philly. Here’s a link to our presentation: NAIS 2013- To Flip or Not to Flip: Practical Lessons Learned We had a standing-room-only crowd and the time flew by! The Q and A portion included some insightful questions and we received positive feedback when it was all over. It was an experience I won’t soon forget! Thanks guys!

Here are my top take-aways from the rest of the conference. They come from my tweets and notes.
(I hope I attributed these remarks with the correct people.)

1) Manage Up, Manage Down: (Re)volution in Middle Management  was a perfect start to my NAIS experience. This “leading from the middle” session really hit home. Here ‘s a link to my tweets throughout the hour. I have looked at these four or five times since I have gotten home, a sure sign of a worthwhile session!  Four snippets, in particular, stand out for me:

  • “You have to learn to manage “up” to your supervisor. It’s worth becoming a student of leadership.”
  • photo 4“The Head of School is the Head of School. Your role is to implement the vision of the Head of School.”
  • “Change is inevitable, adaptation is optional.”
  • “These mantras are worth looking at! Great stuff here!

2) “The difference between a good leader and a great leader: humility… combined with an utterly ferocious will.” -Jim Collins

3) “Signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.
Don’t grab the new silvery thing… every 3 years try another one. chronic inconsistency
Look at the good programs, and make them GREAT…
what are we passionate about? what can we be the best at?
stay focused with great consistency.
no greatness happens in one step!
discipline alone is not enough
discipline AND creativity AND  innovation” - Jim Collins

4) “A great institution meets 3 tests:

  • superior performance relative to your mission,
  • makes a distinctive impact on the world it touches  (if your school went away, would it leave an unfillable hole? who would miss you, and why)
  • achieves lasting endurance… beyond any leader. Your school cannot be great if it cannot be great without you.” - Jim Collins

5)  From 12 Questions for leaders:

 “if you have more than 3 priorities you have too many. what should we stop doing?
do we have the right people on our school bus? are 95% of the seats filled with the right people?”- Jim Collins

6)   “You must vow to get comfortable each day in shoes that are not your own.” - Sekou Andrews

7) “Leadership is comprised of four things: aspiration, inspiration, perspiration, and respiration.” -Soumitra Dutta

8) “We give way too much credit to technology. We almost want technology to drag us into change.” “Technology, as a practice, means not only that new tools change, but also that we can change the practice. We want to see technology as an independent force, but it’s not. It’s ubiquitous.”-Alexis Madrigal

9) “Let go of the old metrics… ROE(rules of engagement) is the new ROI “-Alexis Madrigal

10) “On Madison’s leadership: do the homework, work the network!, communicate frequently and clearly, change course as needed”- photo 1Pat Bassett

11) “Your dreams will never have greater meaning if they are not connected to your community.” - Tererai Trent

12)  “Pat Bassett … distinguished educator turned champion!” RT @raventech: @PatBassett Your leadership & vision has provided ed tech folks in #indyschools a voice we didn’t have. Thanks!”

Thanks to Kim SivickProof Group and Travis Warren, CEO of Whipple Hill, for arranging meet-ups. It felt good to meet people “face to face” and not speak with the constriction of 140 characters. ;) PLN- Thanks for sharing  from wherever you were! You added another dimension to my conference experience. I’m sad I couldn’t connect with everyone I wanted to… hopefully next year!

NAIS Conference Committee-   I loved the conference, the wifi, the conference app and the online community. I did, in fact, “Think big and Think great!” 

And Philly! You were an awesome venue. I felt so comfortable here.

Note: The week following NAIS, we dedicated our Thursday 9PM EST #isedchat to an #NAISAC13 Recap. Here is the archive from this chat.

Pi Day was super fun!

I admit it. I’m a corny math teacher! Pi Day provided me with a great excuse to share my enthusiasm with my students outside of the curriculum. I wasn’t really sure what to expect since this was the first time in many years that I was officially celebrating. Here was my Pi Day Plan.

I was really happy with the pi recitation contest. One student was able to recite up to the 30th decimal place. I will post that video soon. Students seemed to like the musical representation of pi and, while they thought some of the jeopardy questions were over the top, we laughed and it got them thinking!

My favorite part was the scavenger hunt. I love to get out of the classroom and so do my students. They were racing around campus and had so much fun! We ended with pie for dessert in the caf.

We had a blast! Here are some pictures.

My Pi Day Plan

NCTM Illuminations

Tomorrow is Pi Day! (March 14th) It’s been many years since this date did not fall during our March vacation. I am super excited that I

can celebrate it with my students. It gives me a great excuse to have some “math fun” and step outside of the curriculum!

Here’s my plan for tomorrow:

1) We will start with a video on the musical representation of Pi.    What Pi Sounds Like

2) Then we will have a pi recitation contest. The student who recites the most decimal places of pi will get 5 bonus points on the test they took today.

3) We will divide into teams and play a few rounds of Pi Day Jeopardy

4) Then I will give the students 15 minutes to complete a Pi Day Scavenger Hunt.

5) We will meet in the caf  to have pie for dessert!

That’s the plan. Let’s see how it goes.

Here are some links to resources that helped me pull this all together:

Pi Day Activities on Pinterest
PiDay 2012 Wikispaces
Education World Pi Day Party
Scavenger Hunt adapted from Mrs. Burke’s Pi Day Activities


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