My Learnings Digested from #ISTE2014

“Actions speak louder than buzzwords. ” Adam Bellows

ISTE2014 Bound
ISTE2014 Bound

It is hard to believe a week ago I was at #ISTE2014 with 16,039 conference goers, from all 50 states along with 67 nations! It has taken me some time to process and digest what I learned from the conference that is now a check off my bucket list!

Top 3 Takeaways:

1. I want to be like Kevin Carroll! Why? He believed in himself, he was a change agent and a catalyst. By far  Kevin’s keynote was the most inspirational and best session I attended. His keynote speech has not been released yet but when it does, if you have not seen it, you need too. Here is a quick interview with him: Kevin Carroll at ISTE 2014 and his book: Rules of the Red Rubber Ball

2. Relationships and collaboration of ideas are the most important part of learning. My second favorite part about ISTE was the people, sharing ideas in lines, at meals and at events. I loved meeting my virtual PLN face to face and collaborating with educators from my own district that I don’t get to see so often and ones that I do!

3.  There is a lot of misconceptions about what Personalized Learning is. Personalized Learning encompasses many best practices that teachers already do such as conferring/conferencing with students, build relationships and allowing students to own their learning. What it is NOT: Personalized Learning does not mean technology. Technology is a tool to help the instructional shift that needs to be made in the classroom. There is no one Learning Management System (LMS), web tool, app or device that is the magic bullet for personalized leaning.

Top 3 Websites to check out:

1. Tackk : is a simple way to create beautiful pages on the web. It’s your very own page, flyer, blog post, or poster.

2. Graphite: Is a great site by Common Sense Media  that make it easier for educators to find the best apps, games, and websites for the classroom, making sure they are common core aligned and the rigor and relevance is there.

3.  Tammy Wocester : I used to visit Tammy’s site often a few years ago as I loved her ideas. I am glad I went to her session and was reminded how great it is.

Top 3 ideas to implement: 

1. #youmatter: I have heard about you matter by watching the TED talk but going to the session helped me realize it’s about personalizing the students learning through whole child approach. It is a movement. Here are more sites to add to your #youmatter resources:,  and you matter day using #mattergrams

2. App Speed Dating: Is where students teach educators about apps they like to use in the classroom.  A great way to offer PD to teachers and allow student leadership.

3. Edtechwomen: One of the events I went to at ISTE was the #edtechwomen dinner. It was a favorite for me as I was inspired by so many amazing women; learning about their stories and journeys. I also learned the most about myself during this event as I never realized how much I ‘downgrade’ things I have accomplished in my life, such as when I introduced myself, I stated what my job was but I neglected to also state that I own my own company. That is something that is apart of me that I don’t share often enough, yet it is a huge accomplishment. I am slowly learning that I need to be proud of all that I have done. I’m in the process of starting a chapter of #edtechwomen for the charlotte area. Once I learn more I will be sure to share as I hope you will be involved and yes, men are welcome as they are our ‘malallies’ – male + allies.

Other great reflections and posts from ISTE2014:

Anibal Pacheco’s – Interviews w/ Presenters and Special Guests

Erin Klein’s: Reflections from #iste2014

Rafranz DavisPassion Fueled Connection

Lisa Pagano’s: Beginning to Process #iste2014

ISTE 2014 Sessions with Published Handout Links

Google Doc: ISTE 2014 Session Notes

Melissa  Edwards Reflections

If you would like to experience #iste2015 in Philly you can start checking out ISTE’s site.

Takeaways From #edcampusa From Afar

“Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” By Abigail Adams

On June 6th, #edcampUSA took place in Washington, DC at the Department of Education. I’m sure like me most of us couldn’t attend as I was busy working but that didn’t stop me from learning from it as I read the archives later. Below are my three takeaways from #edcampUSA from the tweets and Gdocs of the participants.

1. Voxer is a walkie-talkie like app where you can hold discussions with many people. It is great to hear voices of people you have been tweeting with. Voxer can be used many different ways in the classroom and in education. Check out the list that was started at a session during #edcampUSA. I have joined many voxer chats in the past few days such as an ASCD Emerging Leader one where we are discussing the importance of education needing to change. I am also excited to do a book study using this app this summer as well. My voxer id is: jthomp56629

2. Our schools, more than ever, need to be redesigned to fit the learners needs. You can tell from the #edcampUSA session board as 4 of the 20 topics were about it. We need to change our classroom and libraries to include spaces such as makerspaces. You would think this is an easy fix but I have learned that there are a lot of furniture regulations from not only districts but the state as well but this is a topic that needs to continue to be pursued. I know I will continue to try to push the envelope.

3. We are the change makers! Edcamp was started four years ago by a group of educators and now look at what has happened. Professional development is changing, educators are becoming more connected and issues that were not always discussed are being talked about. Together change can happen!

Other articles and blogs from #edcampUSA I liked:

The Positive Power of #Edcamp Hits The US Department of Education

#edcampuse Tagboard

How EdCamps Break the Rules of Professional Development

Tom Murray: 5 Take aways for #edcampUSA

Edulum’s 2nd Annual Conference

“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” -Scott Belsky


It is hard to believe that Edulum‘s 2nd Annual Conference registration has begun! This years conference theme is: Get Personal! Cultivating Ownership Through Personalization. We have amazing presenters from all around the Carolinas! The conference is at UNCC in the College of Education Building on August 1st from 8:30-4:00 and it is only $30.00!

Eventbrite - Edulum's 2nd Annual Educators Conference

How can a Principal not send you, as usually education conferences are hundreds of dollars! Bring a friend and make this your summer professional development! Check out our Google document with the session schedule, descriptions and names of our presenters.

Our keynote speaker is, Deborah Brown, who holds a BA in English from Regis College and an Ed. M from Harvard University. Currently, Deborah teaches high school students in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system. Deborah, a NC Teaching Fellow, has recently presented a collaborative teaching idea at a TEDx Charlotte ED event. She has worked with The Girl Scouts as a troop leader, an adjunct writing professor at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, a freshman evening advisor for the STEM program at Johnson C. Smith University and a Parent University presenter with Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. She is also an author of the book, HABITS of Success: A Practical Guide for Girls. Her keynote is titled: Positive Discipline: The 2/10 Theory.


You can like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Hope to see you at #edulum14!

Mini #edcamps for School Level PD

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” By Henry Ford

Edcamps are free unconferences where educators lead/facilitate the discussions based on topics they are interested. Edcamps started about five years ago and are modeled after bar camps (it has nothing to do with liquor). Now there are parent, student and leadership edcamps! Edcamp’s vision and mission is:

Vision: We are all self-directed learners, developing and sharing our expertise with the world.

Mission: We build and support a community of empowered learners.

Check out this great Edcamp 101 Video to learn more in just a few minutes.

The first edcamp I attended was edcampsc. I later attended Charlotte’s Bar Camp and both were well worth my time! Because of these great learning experiences; I have been replicating “mini” edcamp style PD sessions at schools. (I will also be hosting a full edcampcms in the Fall of 2014)  These mini edcamp PD session have been very successful and I think more schools should do them as it builds school culture, teacher leadership and is differentiated based on teachers needs.

How I set up a “mini” edcamp PD is I send the Edcamp 101 Video prior the PD session. This allows teachers  to have background knowledge on what it is going to kind of look like plus they start thinking about topics. When they walk into the PD session, on tables I have sticky notes where teachers can write down topics they want to learn/discuss (just like a real edcamp) and they place them on a large white board or chart paper. As they are writing and posting them on he board, I move the topics into session sections. Each session section has three to four topics per session depending on the size of the group. If I get topics that are similar, I put them together and give them a category name. For example, if one teacher writes conferring and one writes guided reading – I might put them together and call it balanced literacy.

What makes them “mini”are the edcamps sessions are only 20 mins because after school PD is usually only  an hour or an hour and fifteen minutes. (Typical edcamp sessions are 50-60 mins)

Schedule Template for Mini “Edcamp” if you had an hour and fifteen minute PD: 

8 mins introduction reviewing rules and giving input

20 min session

2 min rotation

20 min session

2 min rotation

20 session

3 minute wrap up/closing

Here are more resources that can help you start your own edcamp or “mini” edcamp:

Edcamp Foundation

Why Edcamp?

An Elementary Edcamp- An Unconference for Students

ParentCamp and A Guide to Hosting Your Own ParentCamp

Edcamp Leadership

Introduction to Edcamp: A New Conference Model Built on Collaboration

The power of ‘edcamps’ and ‘unconferencing’

Unconference: Revolutionary professional learning


How is Open Education Going to Change Education

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”
By Margaret Mead

Open Education is open free global educational content, available to anyone, anywhere at anytime. The internet has allowed us to gain access to content and devices, such as smartphones and tablets, have allowed us to do this quickly. Check out this video to see why open education is changing the world?

If we don’t change our schools, soon parents are not going to force their children to go to school. They will home school them or send them to open education ‘schools’. Where the student are in charge of their learning and goals.  Think I am wrong, look how many students are successful and they did not go to college. Many students attend a massive open online course (MOOC) to learn skills they are interested in. One of the things I am starting to become good at is coding, I didn’t learn it in a classroom but at Code Academy, an open education site that offers MOOC’s.

Because of Open Education we need to change our learning environments so that teachers are facilitator and help students guide their learning using open education resources. Why? Because it is authentic learning! When you aren’t sure of something when you are with others, what do you do? Most people pull out their phone and look it up. They then discuss what they found and learned with the others. Knowledge is at our fingertips, literally.

I aways tell teacher, if you can “google it” then you are not asking your students the right questions. We want our students using higher order thinking skills to gain knowledge by critically thinking, creating, communicating and collaborating.

Take a look at, you can easily differentiate  for students and they can self regulate their learning and progress. A sub domain of CK12 is Braingenie; which is an open education site that is math and science based and it also has the lesson by common core standards. See picture below:

Screen Shot 2013-09-22 at 12.06.41 PM

What we need to do in schools is use open education resources and then have students use their 21st century skills to remix the information.  For example, having students memorizing multiplication is one thing, but having students understand multiplication is another. What is the difference, spitting out facts verse explaining/teaching someone how to multiple.  The latter uses higher order thinking skills because the student would have to critically think about how they were going to teach it, communicate their knowledge, collaborate with the other student ‘learning’ and create a product of their explanation.  The product could be a piece of paper with their work shown or  a Showme video. If they create a ShowMe video, they are contributing as well to open education.

Here are a few other Open Education Resources:

P2PU – University for the Web

Open Study

School of Open, Class of 2013

I would love to hear your thoughts and feeling about Open Education, please share below.

Power of Google and My PLN

“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” By
Mattie Stepanek

This week I was asked to do a professional development (PD) on Google Apps for Education (#GAFE) for some educators. When brainstorming about the PD, I knew a lot of ways to use GAFE but I wanted the group see that lots of educators use it and not just me or our school district.

This made me realize that, I could use the power of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) – Twitter.  Within just two days, I had over 20 suggestions from educators in multiple states and countries! It was amazing how fast my global PLN came to my rescue! The PD was great and it sparked a lot of curiosity about PLN’s and using them to improve instruction….guess what our next PD will be on, that is right the Power of Twitter!

We are in education together and there is no reason we should not be sharing our great ideas with each other. Below is the ‘Ways to Use Google Docs in the Classroom’ document that my PLN collaborated on and I would love if you have ideas to please add to it by clicking here.

A Check Mark on My Bucket List

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” by Arnold J. Toynbee 


Recently I started my own company called, Edulum LLC. It has always been a goal of mine to one day own my own company that provides support for educators. Starting a company was not easy but I have learned a lot through the process and I am excited to embark on this journey. I chose a team of professionals that were dedicated to providing quality professional development to schools and districts. Each team member has their own strength that makes us a true team. (To read more about our team click here)

I often get asked two questions, one is, ‘why did you name it Edulum?’ I named my company Edulum because it combines two of my passions Education + Curriculum  = Edulum. Yes, I love technology but to me it is not a separate entity, it is a tool we use in education and curriculum so my third passion is embedded within.

The second question I get is, ‘what do you want to accomplish with your company?’ To be honest, support for educators that is affordable. I might get two contracts a year and to me, that is great. That is one reason why I started Edulum’s First Annual Conference this summer because it provides educators with an affordable professional development that is not hundreds of dollars like other big conference.

Our conference theme is: Engage, Enrich and Empower.  Tyonna Hooker (NC Teacher of the Year) is our keynote speaker and we have amazing presenters from all around the Carolinas! It is going to be great and we are excited! The conference is at UNCC in the College of Education Building on August 2nd from 8:30-4:00. Some of our session titles are below to register click here!

•”Scratch-ing” the Surface of Coding in the Classroom

•Tech Up the Common Core

• Stretching the Limits – Text Complexity and Close Reading

• How am I doing? Conferring and Setting Goals with Students

• Better Together: The Power of Collaboration for Teachers and Students

• Incorporating the Common Core Math Standards for Practice into Grades 3-5

• Apps for Increased Engagement

• Promoting Reading Comprehension through Digital Storytelling

• Exhilarating Enrichment Clusters are Elementary!

• And Much More!!!

I am nervous but excited about this adventure but at least I can say I checked off something on my bucket list and am doing something that I love! If you are interested in some of our Professional Development or meeting with our team to provide  customized workshops email us or call us @ (803) 220-4126