instructional tech, Training

Is Striving For Excellence Worth It?

I have a house. It is a lovely home, but there are areas that need improvement. For example, my bathtub is being used as a plant holder for a large plant over the winter. I have a closet hanging rod that is coming out of the wall, and my husband’s bathroom sink faucet is broken. It needs some help. But the flip side is that we could continue sharing my sink and taking showers and hanging clothing on a different rod. In theory, we could continue this way for quite some time. Or, I could put energy, time, and money into this area in order to make it more functional, beautiful, and engaging.

All of this got me thinking how easy it is to just stay with the status quo instead of trying to do better. We are faced with these situations often in life and no more so than in our classrooms. It begs the question “Is striving for excellence worth it?” Now, if you saw the rest of my house, you will already know where I am going with this. Of course it is worth it, and you better believe I will have that new bathroom asap!

But teachers, it is the same with your technology integration. It is wonderful that you are now using things like Google Classroom or Schoology to deliver content. It is awesome that you have things like Chromebooks or iPads at your disposal for student use. But are you incorporating growth and excellence with these tools or are you just simply coasting along using substitution methodology.

Edutopia recently published an excellent article about just this thought. Beth Holland along with Ann Feldmann, Jeffery Bernadt, and Jeannette Carlson analyzed the idea of innovation vs. digitization. They point out excellent things to consider when moving towards redefinition with technology integration


You must ask yourself how far you are willing to go to be excellent at technology integration. Are you coasting along or are you pushing the limits of what you have at your disposal? Do your students have choice on how they learn the curriculum? Are they publishing their own creations to the world? Have you established ways for students to learn at their own pace? Can you say that you utilize social media for more enhanced learning opportunities?

The journey of tech integration is just that. A journey. We can all improve and must improve. It takes time and commitment. Stay the course, stay connected, stay a learner.

“Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.”

 A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

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Training, Uncategorized

How Badges are Branding Us

What’s with all the badges lately in education? They seem to be catching on faster than Pokemon Go! I started researching the source of this badge-craze to try to figure out the origin, validity, and reason behind why educators are especially interested in collecting as many badges as possible. For your reading pleasure and personal research here are a couple of articles:

Now don’t get me wrong. I like recognition as much as the next guy, but I’ve never been into collecting things. As a Girl Scout I didn’t care less about earning badges upon task completion. The badge just meant my mother had to spend time ironing or sewing on the badge. I excitedly tackled tasks, like learning how to sail, just for the joy of learning how to sail. In fact, to this day I have lost many awards, certificates, and other important documents along the way.

In the education landscape, who’s to say that one badge carries certain merit over the other? Is there a badge criteria board? An official badge panel that says” yes, that deserves a badge”, or “no that isn’t badge worthy”. Are we becoming so saturated with badges that they no longer mean anything? Maybe we should start giving ribbons to people. Like swim team ribbons. Now those I loved! They were silky, colorful, and I could hang them in my room to look at.

Is “badging” a result of our video gaming culture or a change in learning trends? It demonstrates the movement of learning small sequential skills and getting frequent reinforcement. Not unlike tweeting in 140 characters and getting a retweet right away. It aligns with current ecosystems of learning and social media. I think “badging” also aligns with today’s need to brand oneself. It speaks to topics that people are passionate about.

This thought inspired me to create my own set of badges to help brand myself a little better. I want to say that all of these badges are completely legit in my mind and also I have more badges, because of course I am so awesome, but I ran out of room and attention span.Jenny's badgesas of September 2016.png

But hey if badges is where it’s at I guess I am going to go all in. I guess I have a lot to do today….. I’m off to to create some badges for upcoming training sessions. Oh, I also have to go earn my Apple Teacher badges. So many badges, so little time!

instructional tech, Training, Uncategorized

Five Awesome Tools to Better Your Trainings

Many of us have sat through boring trainings witnessing the trainer attempting to encourage participants to speak up or ask questions. There is usually one or two people who will raise their hand and ask a question or two. Or worse, you get the person who just can’t help but to talk too much and input their opinions or stories. You can feel it when the room starts to get annoyed with those individuals who just do not know when to stop interrupting with their own agendas. Or, you feel bad for the trainer in front of you who cannot, for the life of them, get their audience engaged.

Luckily, there are many other ways to control the audience and limit disruptions while increasing engagement of all the participants.

Here are five great tools that not only increase their participations, but also encourages collaboration.

  1.  Padlet is an interactive blackboard that provides a space where multiple users can post content. It’s basically a digital sticky note collection.  Use Padlet as a place for questions, examples, thoughts, and reflections before, during and after your training.  Be sure to monitor the ideas as they go up in order to provide accurate feedback to the group.
  2. Google Presentations.  Using Google Presentations during a training session is a great way to crowd source and organize content. You can create a template prior to the session and share it to your audience. Use grouping strategies to assign certain parts of the slides to certain groups. This can be used as a collaborative activity that crowd sources ideas and example centered around a topic. The beauty of Google is its share-ability and collaborative aspects. Use this as a closing exercise or a brainstorming exercise at the beginning of your training.
  3. Twitter. Create a particular hashtag for the training day and set aside specific tweeting times. Have your audience members tweet out questions, thoughts, ideas, and links to deepen the comprehension of the training topics. To take this even further as a trainer, let some of your PLN know that you will be hosting a session and tweet to them. They will in turn tweet back making the session more interesting.
  4. is an alternative to Twitter if, for example, your audience members are not tweeters. Its a secure back channeling website that is exclusive to your audience. Simply create your account and share the link to your participants. Once they join your room, they will be able to post to the discussion board. Use helpful cues such as Q for question to prompt discussions.  It is also helpful to have questions already created in order to maximize the effectiveness of this tool.
  5. iTunesU now has a discussion feature embedded in its software. This works well if you are running your training session out of an iTunesU classroom environment. This is also secure only to the members of your session.  This feature is great for discussions and reflections. All of the members of the session will see everyone else’s post just like the previously mentioned tools.our individual responses will be all the stronger for working together and sharing the load. Queen Elizabeth II

Whether you are putting together an hour of training or two days of training, these tools are a must for active participation. They are easy to set up and truly make a difference in the quality of your sessions. Do you have a favorite tool you use for audience participation? Leave me a comment and let me know the tool and what you like about it!


instructional tech, Training

Build Your Best Training Session Ever!

In my years as an educator, I’ve been an Instructional Technology Coach, Instructional Technology Trainer, Computer Lab teacher, and classroom teacher. I’m now an online instructor and the Director of Training at Score Publishing. Like many educators, I’ve sat through endless PD sessions, created hundreds of sessions myself, and attended numerous conferences. I’ve heard some amazing speakers and learned a lot from smarter people than myself on platforms like Twitter. Along the way, I’ve picked up a few tricks that I use in my teaching and training today. The Haiku Deck below is an overview of each philosophy I try to incorporate into every training I deliver.

So often, companies enter a room with a prepared PowerPoint, stand and deliver, then leave. These types of trainings are a waste of time. Dont do this! Instead, create an environment for your learners that direct them to collaborative spaces like Google docs. Bring in an expert on the topic via video, have learners share ideas and reflections on spaces like Padlet or Twitter. There are so many ways to take a training session to the next level by leveraging technology tools.

Educators need to have trainings that understand their needs. They need to have access to the trainers after a session. They need to leave the room excited and empowered.

I want to share my current training philosophy with you. I’m passionate about delivering engaging and transforming training sessions despite the topic. If I’ve left something off that you feel is necessary, please leave me a comment. I must also add that I have had some amazing team members to work with like @annfeldmann1, @mrsjcarlson, and @catlett1. These people helped me shape my ideas on what makes a great training session. As @annfeldmann1 says, “we are better together,” and I have to agree with her.
Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires