Friday, September 26, 2014

What Do You Look For in a Go-To Site?

The @TeachThought 30 Day Challenge Prompt for September 26 " What are your 3 favorite go-to site for help/tips/resources in your teaching?"   feels like it could yield to some hurt feelings! There are so many great 'go to sites" and I can't imagine narrowing it down to 3 - because there are so many "it depends" on what I'm trying to do. So instead I'm going to reflect on what are my 3 features of my favorite go to sites.

#1 It has to be searchable

Sometimes I'm looking for something specific and being able to use keywords or tags to bring the best of the best to the surface not only helps me be efficient, but it helps me discover amazing new people to add to my PLN or fabulous new ideas. Diigo continues to be one of my favorite way to organize my digital resources and discover new ones. It might not be as "sexy" as some, but its searchability is multi-dimensional and allows me many ways to access valuable resources that are valued by others (others like me).

#2 It has to have a good blend of text and media that make you think deeply and imagine possibilities

I need a well balanced diet of 'words' that someone else used to articulate an idea, fact, or story that makes me think. I don't alway want to "listen" or "view" a video. Sometimes pictures feel like a surface look at a topic and makes me wonder how much real thinking is happening beyond curating and posting a picture. That is one of the reasons I still prefer Diigo to Pinterest. 

I also need to be able to skim through the narrative to decide
 if I want to spend more time "hearing" or "watching" a video. I also need visual images to draw me into the story or to allow me to decide if I want to read more. For example, there are times when I will use Google Image search to stimulate my thinking about a topic. Great images usually bring me to great websites that have good content about the topic.

#3 It has to be accessible on a mobile device

Although I usually work from a laptop or computer, my time to explore resources is often found time in between meetings, while waiting for an event to start, or other times when I have my mobile device with me. If a site or resource is not mobile friendly, its not as valuable to me.

Photo Credit:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Now - That's What I Call Collaboration!

Today’s 30 Day TeachThought blog ask us to consider the ideal collaboration between students and what it would look like. 

I would change one word in that prompt and it would be to remove "between students" and replace it to  ‘between learners” -  because the ideal collaboration between learners would be inclusive of many types of learners, not just the type of learner we label as students.   It could include the learner we sometimes label “the teacher”.  It could include community members, experts in their field,  students who don’t ‘physically attend your school”, or perhaps mentors from unexpected places.    

Today’s technology removes the barriers to this type of collaboration.  Google tools allow synchronous and asynchronous collaboration on a documents, slides, drawings,  spreadsheets in all types of ways.  It does not matter that you are physically present in the same room or available at the same time.  But if you are all physically present, the technology allows everyone's voice to be included because ALL can hold and use  the pencil “a,k.a. edit rights” and add comments on the side or ideas directly in the document.   Today’s technology removes the barrier of having to be available at the same time.   If a learners  has valuable contributions s/he can include them at a different time.  Sometimes a learner can collaborate at the same time, but not in the same location.  Today’s technology allows this to happen also through a text chat right in the document or through  video conferencing platforms like Google Video Chat or Google Hangouts.

Today’s technology expands the opportunities for collaboration and makes truly authentic collaboration available such as the story of the Firetruck stories at St. Albans City School. 

In this story of collaboration,  the 3rd and 4th grade teachers leveraged a community event (the fact that the city was getting a new fire truck) to create a writing prompt for their  3rd and 4th graders.  

Let’s name the city's new firetruck and write a story of how the firetruck might have gotten this new name.  

Students were asked to take on the role of author or illustrator and were given an 8th grade mentor.  There were also several adult writing mentors assigned from throughout the school.   Using the collaboration features of Google presentation, each member of the team was able to play a different role that  contributed to the process of authoring, illustrating, and publishing a fun story booklet describing how the fire truck might be named.  The Google Presentations were then downloaded as a PDF and easily printed using the booklet format feature that is a printing options through Adobe PDF reader. 

The booklets were delivered to the firehouse in town where the city firefighters read each story and selected a name for the new firetruck.  A few weeks later,  the whole school walked out to the celebratory music of their school band and greeted the fire chief as he ceremoniously named the city’s new firetruck.

Using the import slides feature of Google presentations, each story was imported into one book then uploaded to an e-publishing program called ISSU to create a collaborative book called “How the St. Albans Fire Truck Got It’s Name”.  The collaborative ebook not only include the stories of the new fire truck’s name, it also included a whole section called “Other names the firetruck almost got” making it a truly inclusive collaborative product that anyone in the community could read online or offline.

This story of collaboration is one of my favorite to tell.  Check it out for yourself by reading the whole book,  examining the individual stories in Google presentation form, or watching the proud authors and illustrators as the fire chief names their new city firetruck.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Making as Professional Development

 “The more we can turn the nation into a nation of makers, they will be smarter, they’ll be better problem-solvers, and they’ll be more equipped for the problems of tomorrow."                                ~ Nolan Bushnell

The world is a buzz about “MAKING”  and so am I!  But is it a new ‘trend”?  I think not!   But it is a way of learning that is capturing the attention of many and for me I want to SHOUT from the rooftop -  “It’s about TIME  you notice!”  to anyone who sees this as a NEW TREND. 

I personally  consider this trend to be more than just “making” , but instead prefer to combine the words   “Creating”  AND “Making” which I think helps expand our thinking to more ways to “MAKE”  than we might consider if limited by our stereotypes of who makes and what making involves. 

This summer I created a professional development opportunity for teachers around this concept - called Create Make Learn.   It was the 3rd in a series of PD opportunities that I have designed with this trend in mind.  When I started promoting my summer institute idea last year,  people didn’t quite get the idea of ‘making’  so we played it down a bit and focused on something people were connecting with “mobile learning”  especially how to effectively use the iPads that were being adopted by schools.    So last year, we focused our ‘Making”  to the topic of Making Mobile Media and became ambassadors to use tablets to CREATE not just to consume.    By popular demand we repeated this strand this year and were fortunate enough to convince Wes Fryer to join us in Vermont to continue the important message of  'creating'  media a
s a powerful way of learning.

However this year,  many educators were ready to expand  beyond what they were comfortable with because “making’ has become very visible in the media and has entered the educational jargon.   But the WHY this conversation is causing a stir in education is something that intrigues me.   I think it has given a whole group of educators permission to enter a journey that feeds their soul. 

For several years now,  the creative part of being a teacher has been drowned with the mandates of high stakes testing.  We listen to speakers like Sir Ken Robinson talk about Schools Killing Creativity  and we wonder how to best raise the next generation of creative innovative problem solvers.    Well the answer is not going to come from the professional development offerings that today’s teachers must sit through.   

But the answer ‘might come’  from brave educators like Sean Wheeler  and friends who have challenging a broken professional development model by organizing  “a networked and human response to a systemic and impersonal failure in our profession. We’re carrying the baggage of a fixed mindset, and by putting ourselves in a learning situation that none of us are good at, we aim not to fix the education system, but help it grow and shift into what it, and we, could be”

Sean challenged a group of educators to join him by enrolling in a woodworking class and documenting their experience of engaging in the maker community and also engage in deep dialogue about design process, assessment, feedback, curation and other important educational concepts. 

The Soulcraft Cohort (as they call themselves) was much more organic than what the Create Make Learn Summer Institute I designed this summer, but had one of the same outcomes — teachers connected with learning at a soul level and immersed in a flow of creating and making and learning unlike the professional development they have often been required to sit through.  We were lucky enough to recruit a unique blend of makers from the Generator membership and educators like Wes Fryer, Caleb Clark and Kevin Jarret who understood  how to to encourage teachers to remove their teacher hat and play, create, make to learn.  We used a Google Community for discourse along with ‘walk and talks”   between The Generator (Burlington's new Maker space) and  our Champlain College classroom.    During the week, teachers not only learned by doing and tapped into their own creativity,  but they also continued to make (and document their process) for weeks after our 5 day face to face experience. 

As I read the course reflections and documentations and listened to teachers share their final products during our Google Hangout Virtual Showcase, I knew that we had hit the mark on creating a professional development opportunity that got to the heart of learning. 

As Sean mentions in his blog post “Teachers are not very good at not feeling smart”,  but putting yourself in a learning situation that you are NOT naturally good at offers plenty of opportunity to dissect the learning process from a place of experience which is very different than analyzing data about student test scores. 

I look forward to watching how the ‘maker’ trend plays out in education - and  being a part of a professional development movement that feeds my soul. 


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Connecting with local and global Community through Cyberfair

September 23- Write about 1 way that you "meaningfully" involve the community in your classroom. If not, write about 1 way you would like to bring that into your curriculum.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words -  then perhaps a video is worth ten thousand words.  I can think of no better way to respond to this prompt than with this video that captured one of the most meaningful ways I engaged my students with community and community with my students.    It started the first year I heard about Cyberfair.   It was such a powerful way of engaging with community I continued to make it part of my curriculum for years -  until one day .... this happened! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

My No 1 Go To Resources

September 22- What does your PLN look like? What does it do for you teaching?

My PLN started over 30 years ago - back in the days of online BBS and 300 baud modems.  A teenage boy from St. Johnsbury Academy who was running his own BBS helped me set up my first telecommunication account.  Back them a BBS was the pony express of what we know today,  but it was invaluable in connecting me to some of the education's early adopters of technology.  Living in the northeast kingdom of Vermont (one of its most rural parts) could have been very isolating,  but because of the power of technology to connect me with others,  I was able to not only remove the isolation, but also become stay ahead of the curve regarding emerging technology.  I would say it gave me a head start on establishing myself as a leader in educational technology, despite the fact that I lived in one of the most rural areas of Vermont.   

My network of professional colleagues started to grow and has not stopped since those days.   I've been involved in some amazing list-servs (my favorite of which is the School-IT listserve filled with Vermont educators who work with IT in schools).  In 2007 I joined Twitter and have met the most amazing educators.  Most recently I have added Google+ to my PLN and have been able to enrich it with Google Communities and Google Hangouts. 

My PLN  has brought me opportunities that I would have never have heard about or had the opportunity to partake in (including an incredible trip with 30 educators to visit schools in Taiwan  or team blogging with some amazing leaders in educational technology for the Infinite Thinking Machine).  But mostly it has brought me with valuable bits of knowledge about current trends in education or answered questions I've had just when I needed the answer.   

In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell  talks about the central role that three personality types–that he calls Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen–play in social epidemics. 

I would definitely say I'm a connector.  I like to connect people who might benefit from knowing each other.  As a matter of fact, just a few years ago I got married to an amazing man who I met online  through my PLN  over 20 years ago.  Who would have thought! 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

In search of a hobby

September 21- Do you have other hobbies/nterests that you bring into your classroom teaching? Explain.

What does it take to have a hobby?  What does it mean when you can think of one that thing you do outside work that you do so regularly as to call it a hobby!  Can grandchildren be a hobby?  Or spending times with friends?  When I'm not engrossed in my lifestyle of teaching or learning,  then I've got a grandchild on my lap or reaching out for some special time with friends and family.

I love flipping through design books  or websites of interesting designs.  Anything that makes me wonder about the creative process than someone went through to create this is intriguing to me.   I love the opportunity to participate in activities that engage me in thinking differently and creatively.  I enjoy listening to Ted Talks.  I just bought my tickets to attend SxSw a gathering of some of the most creative minds in one city for one week.  But sometime my search is more personal and quiet.  Actually this blog is part of that process.  Can this be categorized as a hobby? Is so than my hobby is to be in search of "Whatever makes humans creative?"

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Curating student work has never been easier.

30 Day Blog Challenge September 20- How do you or your students curate student work?

We all have that crate (or two, or three)  that we carry with us every time we move to a new location (whether that be a new classroom, a new school, or a new home).  We hardly ever look through it, yet we know what in it and the fact that we know its there embeds its value in our mind so we don't even have to reach into the crate to remember the items that are there.

The same happens when we curate student work.  Taking the time to collect the artifact (or piece of student work) or perhaps its the process of deciding that this piece of work is important enough to curate  -- but somehow if something gets a "YES-KEEP"  when it goes through the sorting hat the reason for keeping it becomes permanently tagged to that item and embedded in your memory and part of your schema of what's important in the world

Currently I use Google Drive for curation.  The accessibility of Google Apps means that my 'curation' tool is always with me and I can quickly tuck something away into a folder or in a 'bin' that can easily be searched by Google's search algorithms.

However, that being said, I wonder if the fact that  curation has become easier taken away some of the powerful elements of curation.  Do we curate too much stuff?  Are we hoarders rather than curators?   #reflectiveteacher

Friday, September 19, 2014

The ePortfolio - iterations of reflection

30 Day Blogging Challenge - September 19- Name 3 powerful ways that students can reflect on their learning. Discuss the one you use the most

I've used with portfolios long before they were an educational buzzword and started adding incorporating e-portfolios more than a decade ago.


Because of the power they have to take students through a journey of reflection.  Each step along the way provides a different way that students can reflect.

1)  During the process of collecting artifacts, students must reflect on whether something is worth keeping or sending to the recycle bin.   So whether we are articulating it or not, the process of collecting, curating, and organizing what we keep using bins,  section dividers, or tags involves a lot of reflection about why something is important and how important it is.

2) The portfolio process usually involves some sort of written reflection that accompanies the artifact as it takes its place in a student portfolio.  The act of writing by nature is probably the most powerful way to reflect.  Each word is chosen carefully to describe why the artifact was selected and what it say about you.  The value you placed on a learning tasks say a lot about you as a learner.

3) The presentation of this portfolio in a college interview or a job interview is yet another level of reflection.  If the first two steps are done correctly,  there is a good chance a student will not even open their portfolio during that interview, but it will instead sit on their lap having instilled within the student a sense of identity and confidence in who they are, what they know and can do, and why its important to them.  

I remember of the president of the Chamber of Commerce telling me once -- "Lucie we can always tell your students when they show up for an interview in one of our businesses. They sit there with their portfolio on their lap and have a sense of confidence about them about why they are here."

Each iteration of the reflective process in creating an eportfolio leads to that type of confidence.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Like a Freelance Musician

Teach Thought 30 Day Blogging Challenge September 18-
Create an analogy/simile/metaphor that describes your teaching.

Often when you register for a new product online or register to attend a conference you are asked for your title. I always get stuck there. I wear many different hats and I'm not sure which role or title to put down here. Am I the adjunct faculty for University of Vermont? or Marlboro College? Am I the regional representative for our ISTE affiliate - Vita-Learn? Am I a consultant? Am I self-employed? The same question plagues me when people ask me who I work for or what I do for work.

Then one day, I realized I had a lot in common with my children who are freelance musician. So I decided to adopt the term 'FreeLance Educator" . Like my children I sometimes get gigs where I get paid like a professional. I sometimes accept a much lower pay rate because of the clients ability to pay and/or the value/satisfaction I get taking on that gig. I do some gigs pro bono because they are just plain fun or its the right thing to do. And I do plenty for free because I'm creating something new.

Usually when I tell people that they say "so you're a consultant?". Sometimes I play that role, but the consultant is usually building a business in hope that it grows, and I don't identify with that. If anything I'm trying to do less building and more creating. So in my case the the world freelance works for me, but usually does not work so well to earn me the respect I'm looking for amongst others.  


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Improving Learning by Keeping Class Size in Check

TeachThought 30 Day Blog Challenge September 17- What do you think is the most challenging issue in education today?

I'm not sure I could pinpoint the MOST challenging issue, but I would have to say class size is on the top of the list.   I have been so fortunate to go to school,  send my children to school, and teach in schools that Vermont where class sizes have been fairly small compared to other parts of the country.
My years at Charleston School, Concord School and Cabot school provided allowed me to see the power of education children in some of the most ideal class sizes you could imagine. It is one of the reasons I wanted to raise my children in Vermont.  But even now I hear more about more and more Vermont schools whose class sizes are creeping upwards and it makes me very sad.

I hate to see technology solutions implemented because they allow us to scale a solution or pack more kids into a class because of budget cuts.

We don't need more technology!  We need teacher teacher/student ratio that promote the best learning environments.   In a 40 minute class of 20,  each student could be allocated 2 minutes of 1:1 student/teacher interaction.  Student deserve more than two minutes of their teachers time!  And yet a class size of 20 is considered small by today's standard.

I still remember a conversation I had with a teacher I met while standing in the line to get into the Washington Monument.  I couldn't believe that this  teacher had 35 first graders in her class, and felt so fortunate to live in a place where that would never happen.  Well just recently I have been watching primary grades numbers creep upwards to where 25 is considered acceptable.  

Think about it folks.  Consider the last time you had a birthday party for your child.  Perhaps there were 15 other kids there; and perhaps they stayed 2 hours. Now imagine doubling the number of kids and having them stay twice as long,  Now imagine a primary school teacher doing this every day and adding the pressure to not only keep them from harms way and keep them entertained, but also giving them the responsibility to make sure they are learning EVERYTHING they need to learn to be prepared for 'next year'... for 'college'.... for 'a career'.

I don't think it would take long to make the right decision about class size if we could provide every adult that votes on a school budget the ability to reflect on that birthday party  or better yet to experience 25 kids in a classroom for a day.

Looking back! Looking ahead! What if we could actually travel through time?

TeachThough 30 Day Blog Challenge: September 16- If you had 1 superpower to use in the classroom, what would it be and how would it help?

Wouldn't it be the coolest to be able to travel through time?   I love having been around for half a century.  I love the fact that I've got perspective on a piece of technology and can remember all the things that lead up to it.  I love wondering where things are headed and sometimes feel sad that I may not be around to find out how far out technology went. 

The same is true with non-technology.  Looking back!  Looking ahead!  Its fun and useful. Imagine what it would be to actually be able to do this by going back and forth through time!  And if you could take someone with you?  How cool would that be!  

Being a reflective person,  I think that the ability to travel through time would amplify that reflection by allowing you to go deeper into a your reflections of the past by revisiting a certain time long ago or not so long ago.  

Being a person who loves to think about possibilities and whats around the corner, I think that the ability to travel through time would amplify that experience by allowing you to not just speculate, but to check out your predictions and perhaps make better decisions. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Some CALL it Getting Old - Others CALL it Experience

Teach Thought Blogging Challenge Prompt for this week was to name 5 strengths we have as an educator Name 5 strengths you have as an educator.


I remember my boss at a previous job sharing with me during an end of year evaluation that she was so glad I was seasoned.  (Translation - I was older than some of her new hires who needed more of her time  - or at least not a newbie.  With experience comes the ability to hit the ground running and use your previous knowledge to accelerate more quickly than a younger less experienced educator.  Ever since that day,  I started to really appreciate the worth of my experience.  It makes growing old a lot easier! ;-) 


The word that probably has come up more than any other to describe me is "enthusiasm".   What I lack in "_________" fill in the blank, I make up in enthusiasm.  And with that enthusiasm comes lots of energy, passion and work ethic.   Enthusiasm can be contagious and bring others along, whether it be students or colleagues.  This has served me well and even compensated for areas where I need to improve (like public speaking).  

Equity Lens

I've always been extremely conscious of those who struggle (wether it be because of lack of resource or lack of skill or lack of opportunity).  I suppose this is why EQUITY has become an area of interest for me.   I was more interested in working with students who came from poverty than those from more affluent families and students who struggled academically than those in honors classes.   At one lucky point in my career,  a colleague noticed my commitment and success in getting girls involved in high tech courses and career and invited me to join the team from Vermont Institute of Science, Math, and Technology as a teacher leader.  My first day on the job she gave me a set of business cards with my name on them and the title Technology and Equity Specialist.  Yikes... I never considered myself as a specialist!  But she assured me that experience, interest, and abilities to see what others overlooked earned me those credentials, and within weeks I was attending conferences and workshops that provided me with amazing opportunities to dig deeper into all types of equity topics and put on an equity lens in my work and collaboration with others. 


It was not until recently that I started to understand and think more deeply about Creativity.  Having been the mom of  3 very creative children who make their living in anything but mainstream ways, including using their creative talents in music has given me time to watch how creative minds and souls interact with the world and its constraints.  This opportunity has also allowed me to reflect and see that my own approach to life resembles what I see in these creative types.  I tend to look at a resource or tool and not only ask "what is this meant to be used for"  but also ask what else can it be used for.  This drives some people crazy, but I think its what makes my work (and life) so much fun. 


Finally,  I'm usually one to pick up the ball.  Sometimes its hard to be in a group of people talking about what should be done, because if nobody picks up the ball,  I usually will.  That has thrown me into positions of leadership many times in my life.  There is a saying that goes something like this "If you want something done, give it to the person who has the most to do."  But that in itself does not make me a 'leader' -  I think the part that makes me a leader is that part of me combined with the part of me that seems to have a need to understand how systems work and virtually fly up into the air and get a bird-eye view of systems at play, whether it be a lesson,  a unit, an school wide initiative or perhaps even a global project. 


Yeah!  the halfway mark in completing the 30 day blogging challenge! 

Photo Credit

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Reflecting on Feedback

30 Day Blogger Prompt: What is feedback for learning and how well do you give it as an educator.

Probably the most powerful piece I've ever seen on feedback is this clip called Austin's Butterfly where Ron Berger from Expeditionary Learning "demonstrates the transformational power of models, critique, and descriptive feedback to improve student work. Here he tells the story of Austin's Butterfly. 1st grade students at ANSER Charter School in Boise, ID, helped Austin take a scientific illustration of a butterfly through multiple drafts toward a high-quality final product."

In this clip,  Ron helps students learn to provide feedback to each other.   I'm a long way from being a master of teacher and can't hold a candle to Ron Berger, but I've been doing a LOT of thinking about feedback over the past few years and continue to reflect on this.   

In some ways I feel it is my role is  to  create an instructional design models that leads the students through many different feedback loops. 

If you want students to learn to write, you need to have them ‘read’ a lot until they start to understand what good writing looks like so they can  create good pieces of writing.      If you want them to  be able to compose good music or create great art, you need to start the process of having them experience good music and good art and identify what is good about it. 

Thus the first way I might give students good feedback is to provide them with examples and models of what we are striving for. 

The  next step is to create a place in the instructional design for the student to get feedback from other learners and  for that student to provide other learners with feedback.  The process of peer feedback engages all members of the group in the feedback process and helps them be able to look more critically at their own work. 

The next step is to include in the instructional design a place for the students to reflect (thus in some ways providing themselves their own feedback)   Sometimes I do this by having them participate in creating a rubric for themselves or collaboratively create a rubric that the class will use.    

One of the ways I provide feedback to students is to hold up a mirror from a different angle so they can see the big picture and their place in the big picture.  

In teaching online,  I frequently will summarize an online discussion at the end of the week.   Another method that I use is to create an artifact that includes pieces of everyone’s individual artifacts so they see themselves as part of a whole (usually magnificent bigger piece of learning).  

When you think of  the student/teacher ratio, and the actual minutes per student available for a direct teacher/student ratio,  I think the best thing I can do is to use most of my time to provide feedback loops  from multiple directions and multiple avenues to get information about your performance. 

The two things that I don’t do well with is a student who expects  YOU/ the teacher to be the primary sources of feedback and dismisses all the other avenues that my instructional design sets up for feedback to come from a variety of sources.  

I find one of my biggest challenge is to refrain from being the source of the feedback for my students.  I try to wait until a dynamic of giving each other feedback has grown in a group before I add my feedback.  Sometimes that requires a longer wait than I'd like.  This is an area that I continue to ask questions about as an educator and frequently vary my approach, constantly seeking the right combination of  feedback elements in my instructional design. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

My Top Tech Tools

30 Day Challenge Blog PromptSeptember 13-
Name the top tech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom and rank them in order of their effectiveness, in your opinion.

When I think about the ‘top’ tech tools that I use on a CONSISTENT basis, I start thinking about the tools I reach for every day (my computer, my tablet, and my phone), but those are merely ‘containers” that hold ‘other tools’. What are those tools that I reach for as I’m reaching for my computer, tablet, or phone.

My top tech tool is anything that gives me access to the Internet - (a browser and Internet connection) because that access is access to the resources I need to teach and learn and create and make. With that access, I can can learn ANYTHING or help others LEARN anything. Just last week I was introduced to a video of a man who limited himself to stone age tools to solve a 21st century problem. I was intrigued by this concept, but smirked when I learned that he did permit himself use of the Internet to achieve this tasks. So yes Internet access is #1. I vividly remember the year we got local Internet Access in the Northeast Kingdom. When it was no longer a long distance call to CompuServe, everything changed in my classroom. Students were no longer reliant on me to decide what they would learn or for me to provide them with the pieces of knowledge they needed to learn each day.

My second top tech tool is Google Apps because of the ability it gives me to collaborate with other educators and students. Each of the Google tools provides increased ability to collaborate, whether that be construct knowledge or artifacts together or to complete a certain tasks (with others) in the learning process. Using Google Apps engages me and others into the process of learning by giving us as i allows us to actively participate in the learning process.

My third top tech tool falls into the category of making learning visible and that would be any tool that allows me to take a picture or movie or screenshot so that I can use it to make a concept visible to students or for students to make their understanding or thinking visible to others. For the most part that would be a camera (standalone or part of a phone, tablet, or computer);  I would also put a classroom projector in this category.

These are fairly broad interpretations of the world “tool”, but the function is more important that the specific tool in my opinion.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Envisioning - 5 years from now

TeachThought 30 Day Blog Challenge Prompt:
September 12
-How do you envision your teaching changing in 5 years?

There have been so many changes in my career, that expecting change is part of the drill (as it should be). When I look around the corner to the next five years I expect to see technology moving further and further into the background. 

When technology arrived on the scene in education, many of us saw the promise of what technology could bring. Many of us who saw that promise learned as much as we could and played and explored with many different types of technology. As we came to the conclusion that technology needed to be part of the educational landscape for all students, we started on a campaign to get other educators on board and skilled in using technology.

As more educators looked to improve their skills in using technology in teaching and learning, there were many opportunities for people like me to get involved with designing and offering technology-related professional development or take on the role of a technology integration specialist in schools.

But as technology becomes easier to use and more mainstream, I see some big changes in my teaching and in the role of those of us who work in the field of educational technology. Just as we no longer have specialized people in school whose primary job it is to ‘run photocopiers” or to “staff the audio visual center”, I think we will have less need for ‘technology integrationist”.

I think that it is time for those of us who believe that educational technology can transform learning, to start to articulate the ways in which it “technology” can transform learning and become specialist of that practice. For example:

If I believe that we can bring deeper inquiry in education in ways not possible without technology, I need to become an expert on inquiry learning and create professional development around inquiry learning.

If I believe that project based learning or collaborative learning are central to the way students are educated, then my role should be to create professional development with a focus on those practices where technology will be infused because of its ability for us amplify and augment that practice.

This will be an opportunity for us to really articulate the power of using technology in teaching and learning not just help colleagues build skills in the tool or share possible ideas of using this tool.

This shift will challenge me to grow as an educator and improve my practice so I can help my fellow educators improve their practice. I’m up for the challenge!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kicking off each new school day

TeachThough 30 Day Blog Challenge Prompt:
What is your favorite part of the school day and why?

My favorite part of the school day has got to be the morning as everyone arrives. There is a small window of time where everyone is gearing up for the students to arrive. There is a certain amount of creative tension as we realize that we’re about to kick off another great day of learning and we are quickly putting the finishing touches on whatever lesson we have planned for the day and pulling all our resources together (whether it be a few last minute photo copies, setting up chairs a certain way, or taking some supplies out of storage that we might need).

It remind me of the routine that we go through every time we are about to move our ‘bus’. We warm up the engine for 5-10 minutes. the air pressure builds up, the oil coats various parts of the engine so all systems work smoothly.

I feel that we go through a similar routine at school each morning. Where the whole place is getting ready to launch into another wonderful day of learning and all the systems are oiled up to work well together. And then they (our students) come pouring in and we smoothly take off to a whole new day of promise. You can feel the energy and it makes me smile.

Photo Credit:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

About me (and my bucket list)

The  TeachThough 30 day challenge blog post prompt for today was harder than it seemed.
September 10- Share 5 random facts about yourself, 4 things from your bucket list, 3 things you hope for this year as an educator, 2 things that made you laugh or cry as an educator, 1 think you wish more people knew about you.

At first I didn't think it really got me reflecting so much, then I realized I didn't have to reflect on each one. My reflection was on the the fact that one of these list was harder to construct than the rest. MY BUCKET LIST!

Photo Credit 
Why was that so hard? Perhaps because what I want to do most MOVE - MOVE Forward and let the energy from what happens in my life keep moving me forward. Sometimes I think what I do put ingredients in a pot, stir, and see what gels. But I seem to have a hunch for the right ingredients and good stuff always seems to come out of it. That is why I have chosen to call myself a "free lance" educator, because the word free lance seems to give me the "free"dom to move with the energy that comes into my life. Seems like writing a bucket list narrows down what might happen to a LIST OF THINGS that I want to do today, but that might NOT be tomorrow.

Here's my attempt at the Random Facts About Me

Five random facts about me

  1. I have over 100 first cousins ~ Dad was one of 12 and Mom was one of 8 children. That generates a lot of 'cousins' 
  2. French was my first language, but English is my stronger language. We grew up on American side of the US/Quebec border, where many of us started first grade not knowing any English. 
  3. I grew up in a house with 5 girls (6 counting Mom) and only 1 bathroom and 1 phone (a party line at that) 
  4. I currently live on the road full time in a 1983 Vintage Bluebird bus. 
  5. Sister Edmund told me I could only move my lips in Chorus because I was so bad at singing, yet I gave birth to 3 incredible musicians.
A recent family reunion with about half my cousins

Recent 5 sisters reunion

On my bucket list

  1. Learning to dance - perhaps because its about movement - and I like to move 
  2. Visit a pyramid - have always wanted to visit Egypt for it seems like an amazing miracle with the tools that were available at the time they were available 
  3. Go on a vacation with my sisters - we need to spend more time together. The years we 5 girls grew up together seem too far away. 
  4. Go on a safari? It's a natural world that seems so different than the one we live in. 
  5. ????? 
This year as an educator I hope to 
  1. Make something really cool and more complex than the things I've been making before 
  2. Kick off a mobile maker space 
  3. Connect educators and students around all things STEAM 
Two things that make me cry as an educator
  1. All the ways there are in the world to keep students trapped in poverty 
  2. The fact that people value creativity, but dismiss opportunities for some amazing creative ways to engage students in learning to AFTER SCHOOL or OUT OF SCHOOL activity
One more thing I wish people knew about me

I'm really a lot more fun than you might think, People think all I do is work - because that where I'm in the public eye the most, but the French Canadian people (even those of us born in the US) are filled with a desire to have fun and when we get together, that desire is amplified. Ask anyone who has been at one of our family reunions, or the people who came to my 50th birthday party - (which I planed for myself because I wanted it to be REALLY FUN with live music and dancing and friends and family.)

Photos courtesy of Joanne deLaBruere 

Behind the scenes

Wow, this prompt from  Te@ch Thought's 30 day blogging challenge  is a tough one. 

Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about.

I would probably have to say  that its the behind the scene work that I do to help others (especially my students)  be successful. I don't think that people always know how much work goes into some of the ways I try to make others successful.  And I consider this a 'big accomplishment'  because if you combine the accomplishments (big and little)  of all the people I help succeed then the sum total of their accomplishment would certainly be a big accomplish.  

Sometimes the accomplishments that I played a behind the scene role is fairly noteworthy like this Platinum award that my students earned in 2001 

I still remember the day that my students told a visitor to the classroom.  "Its like we teach ourselves" then looking at me apologetically that he might have said something that diminished my role.  He had no idea that the goal was for them to have the confidence from their success that they DID teach themselves more and more each day.  He didn't need to know the hours each night I spent orchestrating the next day's lesson, so they could succeed each day, which ultimately resulted in this success.  (Not the success of the award, but the success of pride, confidence, ability for life long learning, and an aptitude towards self directed learning.)  

Today we say we want self directed learning from our students.  This does NOT diminish or reduce the role of the educator.  It actually increases it, so that you masterfully pull yourself more and more to a behind the scene role and in the eyes of the students and community you become the incredibly shrinking teacher.  But in reality, every move you make counts towards the outcome.  

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

My desk drawer? very revealing!

"What's in my desk drawer and what does it say about me?" 

 Well, today's  prompt from the 30 day blog challenge certainly does reveal a lot about me!

My desk follows me wherever I go and happens to be my lap and the space around wherever I squat in my very very mobile life style.  So the drawers of my desk (or the place that holds the contents of what I might need to reach for as I work) is my book bag.  It has to be a sturdy book bag, as I am pretty rough with it, constantly tossing it in the back of a vehicle, or the corner of someone's classroom. A good book bag might usually last a year, before the straps give out - from carrying too much 'stuff'.    It has pockets,  lots of pockets that make a futile attempt at keeping me organized.  And it has got to be red! Red, the color of passion, has always been my favorite color and one that most folks identify with Lucie.  Red is also a very functional color for me - if anyone finds a red book bag stranded in their room, they know who it belongs to instantly and therefore my book bag  (desk) is seldom lost for very long.

What the contents say about me?  

I usually find red accessories - speaking to my creativity and passion.
It is also easy for me to call out "Has anyone seen where I put down my  red phone or tablet or laptop" as I circle around a room full of learners".

Even though I carry a couple of stylus to use as a freeform tool on my tablets,  I still like to reach for a sharpie, whiteboard marker, or a pen when collaborating.  And nothing,  NOTHING,  beats colorful  post-its!  Not even digital sticky notes.  They engage the visual kinesthetic learners/collaborators (me and others like me)   in ways that digital technology cannot do.

You'll find the tools necessary for visual media-rich learning and media creation.  Lots of adapters to plug in any device I have into a projector and a speaker.  I've found that its a good idea to have your own portable speaker -since you can't always count on there being a functioning speaker in a room when you want to share 'just the right piece of media" with a group you are collaborating/learning with.   The right picture, sound clip, or visual media is worth a 1000 words and I need to be able to grab it from my desk drawer anytime/anywhere I may need it.    I still remember the the day that  I won a content asking "Why I wanted a projector for my classroom and what I would do with it?"  The prediction I made in my essay submission came true and that projector transformed my classroom to a more engaged, student centered classroom.   Once I transitioned from a classroom teacher to technology integrationist,  I made creating visual learning environments equipped with a projector and quality speakers one of my highest priority for the teachers I worked with.

Ah.. and what's with the mish-mash of devices?  Yes - you will find both iOS and Android tablets of various sizes, alongside with a Macbook and a Chromebook.  (and tucked away nearby is my dual boot Windows/Linux laptop)  Makes it seem like I have multiple personalities, doesn't it.   I guess I do.  First of all I truly believe in a cross platform learning environment.  It's important to have access to the right tool for the right job and since I work/learn in so many different type of environments, I never know which tool I might need. But one thing I do need, is experience with EACH type of tool - so I don't leave out any learner that shows up to learn or collaborate with me.  When I worked with low socio-economic children, I refused to carry around a Macbook because it was not a accessible tool for those kids, their classroom, and their families.   I think it is important for an educator/leader to walk the walk of their teachers and students.   Today my students/colleagues are from different locations and have access to lots of different types of tools, so I must be familiar with a larger variety of digital tools and the only way I'm going to do that is by using and becoming familiar with the many different options out there for learners and collaborators.

Cloud computing has made it possible for me to work and have access to the 'non physical" contents of my desk drawers from anywhere -  but not without bandwidth.   So in my desk drawer you will find at least two of my devices (one Android and one iOS that can access the Internet and become a hot spot, not only for my devices but for a small group of teachers/students that I might be collaborating with).  This means that we have a pretty high telecommunication bill each month, but that's an important resource to me.  We are all usually willing to pay for what we value.  (whether it be cable TV,  satellite radio,  etc.) and for me BANDWIDTH is important.  I am very fortunate to have a partner in my life who understands that and has equipped our bus with the right technology so that I have access to wifi even when we are traveling down the road.  And for those times when the cloud is not available, I do have a Passport backup drive, which I use less and less these days)

And finally -  Power. I have a tangled mess of chargers and even a battery pack that I can charge up to extend my time away from power.  We may have gone wireless - but we have yet to get rid of the wire that connects us to power! even for an occasional charge.  Not in my desk drawer - but available is a certain degree of solar power (a portable solar charger and 4 solar panels on top of our 'bus')  - but I have become VERY aware that solar power is very limited to certain parts of the country where the sun shines a LOT more than it does in Vermont!   The four solar panels on our bus generate enough solar power to carry the parasitic load (a new term for me, too) on the bus-  which is just enough to keep the batteries going 'sitting still'. And since most people who know me know that I DON'T SIT STILL - that's not enough to keep Lucie powered up for very long.

Monday, September 08, 2014

My most inspirational colleague is a champion for equity

Today's prompt in the 30 day blog challenge asked us to reflect on our most inspirational colleague. 

My most inspirational colleague is a lady who walks the walk like no other I’ve seen.  She has a lens that sees the world as place where all men and women  were created equal and should have equal opportunities in our world.  Her uncanny ability to notice underlying conditions that interfere with this is amazing, as is her untiring efforts to advocate for a more equitable world. 

I met Kathy Johnson over 10 years ago when she was employed as the Director of Equity Initiatives at The Vermont Institutes. Kathy had noted my success in attracting female students in advanced computer classes and asked me to work with her on identifying strategies for increasing the number of girls enrolled in Information Technology programs in Vermont Technical Center. Kathy was a master at interviewing and helping me reflect on my teaching practice. She was able to synthesize key elements of my practice into a model that became part of future professional development in recruiting and retaining female students. 

Within a year of two of that observation, Kathy recruited me to work as a Technology and Equity Specialist for the Vermont Institutes. Kathy was more than a colleague; she was an incredible mentor. One of the first things she did was help me create a personal learning network of other professionals who were passionate about gender equity. She introduced me to both resources and people laid the foundation for me to continually grow in expertise in this area. Kathy had a gift for creating sustainable systems that would ripple in their reach and impact. Kathy didn't just "add" a person or resource to her toolkit; she created connections with people who were working (often in isolation) on similar issues to capitalize on the energy being extended to a particular issue, thus significantly increasing the momentum from individual efforts to connected, collaborative forces. 

Through her mentoring and power to connect, I found myself working on gender equity initiatives with individuals from The Vermont Women's Fund, Northern New England Tradeswomen, The Vermont Commission on Women, the Association for Gender Equity Leadership in Education and more. Along with connecting people, Kathy also had a way of identifying important elements of the conversation or issues and bringing them to the forefront. It is through her influence that I now wear an "equity lens" when examining complex and sometimes messy scenarios. Her description of "who has the power" in transaction between people have had a lifelong influence the way I reflect on both professional and personal exchanges.

I have watched Kathy's expertise being sought out over and over again on matters of race, diversity, and gender equity. Whether being recruited to testifying as an expert on these important diversity issues or organizing conferences that brought people together for important dialogue and action planning around these issues, Kathy's influence has been pervasive and is one of  the most inspiring people I have had the pleasure of calling a  colleague. 

Sunday, September 07, 2014

What Does a Good Mentor Do?

Today's prompt from the 30 Day Blog Challenge has me reflecting on what it felt like to be a Mentor and to be Mentored.

What I was being mentored, what was it that the mentor was doing that helped me be successful?

When I was being a mentor, how did I help others be successful?

A mentor listens, but the mentor listens in a very different way than a counselor or a friend.

A mentor sees the possible pitfalls in your journey and offers suggestions, ideas, strategies that will increase your changes of success.

A mentor sees the victories big, small, and sometimes so miniscule that you don't notice them and a good mentor not only helps you NOTICE those successes, but helps you understand why they are successful, and how the combined victories are moving you towards your goals.

I mentor helps you gain more and more confidence until you don't even notice they've let go.

Photo Credit

Saturday, September 06, 2014

What Does MY Classroom Look Like?

Loving the prompts from the 30 Day Blogging Challenge including today's prompt:  Post a picture of your classroom.

Each prompt really gets me thinking about recent changes in my career and my lifestyle and how those changes impact the way I define teaching and learning.

A little over a year ago I gave up my apartment and started a journey that I call "living and learning mobile".  Some people thought I was retiring.  Have no idea how they got THAT idea!   I had no intention of stopping teaching and learning.

Because of today's technology I can teach and learn from anywhere, anytime.   In the past year I've held class from Vermont, New York, New Jersey,  South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.   It took some inspiration, nudging from my husband who has wanderlust,  rethinking, and creative solutions, but we now live full time in our 1983 Bluebird Wanderlodge.  I teach online at the University of Vermont and  Marlboro College Graduate School.  I work with schools (mostly in Vermont)  on projects that keep me connected with students and teachers in K-12 education.  I connect with educators and innovators that I meet along the road in a variety of ways ranging from attending conferences like FETC and South By Southwest.   Last year I even enrolled in Intro to Physical Computing graduate course and did some pretty cool stuff (like built a 3D printer from a picnic table in Austin  and completed Arduino circuits while crossing statelines.   Basically my classroom looks like this

What's missing is the parts of a relationship made possible by a  quick smile and nonverbal communication.  But thankfully due to tools like Google Hangouts,  I've found ways to bring some of  that missing piece back into the equation.  Just the other day, I had a student who emailed me that she was thinking of dropping a class because she didn't feel techsavvy enough to be enrolled in an online class.  An  encouraging email would not have reassured her, but when I sent her a link to a GOOGLE HANGOUT and asked her to click on it, she was in awe by the quick response, amazed at the technology,  but mostly had renewed confidence that I could truly help her through the any tech challenges that might arise.   Using the same tools I can also bring in guest speakers into my classroom from all over the world.

I am loving living and learning mobile and feel so fortunate that we live in a time where the current technology it possible for the classroom I teach from or the classroom I learn from is accessible from anywhere, anytime.  You can follow our journey at