Flipboard is an IBDP teacher’s BFF

Looking to extend your students (your self and colleagues) collaboratively this year? Flipboard is a great tool for that.

Step One: Start your free account with Flipboard

Step Two: Consider adding an author to curate with you

Adding contributors to your magazine can create a new dynamic for you on Flipboard. Another person’s perspective can expand your reach and round out your magazines with articles you may not have thought of or discovered yourself (Full text here)



                                                 (CLICK ABOVE TO SEE THE STEPS IN ACTION)

Step Three: Learn from Flipboard users around the world.  #FlipboardChat happens weekly, you can join or just surf the wisdom left behind, see how educators are using it-and build your PLN:

Step Four: Curate on the move–make the mobile app work for you.   Here’s a quick guide to using the app to curate when you are stuck in traffic, waiting in line, or having a walk on the treadmill.

Step Five: Flip it!  I love using the Chrome Extension to add content–this is probably the most powerful tool I use for building magazines.

Step Six: Integrate with your portfolio!  You can embed your magazine directly into your WordPress site:

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 8.39.54 AM

Step Seven: Add your own comments.  This is a new and powerful feature that you can use from the web or app.  More here.

Lastly: Want to connect Flipboard and your PLN? Here’s How:

Portfolios and Science? They’ve got Chemistry.

noun_814667_C82606What role can portfolios play in a chemistry classroom?

The author of the amazing CHEMJUNGLE Youtube channel is just three floors away from me at an amazing school we share.  I finally got to catch up with her to talk about portfolios, reflection, and community.  This post is meant to help explore options for blossoming Chemists.  That’s where you come in, if you reader know of other great #ibchem teachers out there, please pass this on and ask them to recommend their own catalysts (see what I did there?).

First things first, let’s look at what other chemistry teachers do with portfolios as a platform and resource to curate thinking and compound learning:

Meet: Dr. Jay

aka @Doctor_Galactic

 Curator of .

His portfolio is rich with posts about Chemistry in the Kitchen like this one and a really great initiative to host a live Chemistry Journal on Twitter, check it out here.

MEET: Kaye Chem

aka @chemDrK

Here’s the link to her portfolio. Here’s one of my favorite of her posts on ‘Threshold Concepts,’ and also this post on her school’s Science Journal Club is worth the read.


If you are looking for a broader list of chemists on twitter, check out this resource via @sksilverman

What could we expect from student chemists in the making?

Let’s start with a grade 9 unit.  Here are the Essential Questions:

  1. Why is it necessary to use models to explain the structure of the atom?
  2. How can all matter be made up of so few elements?
  3. Why does Mendeleev’s periodic table prevail?
  4. How do you tell the difference between elements, compounds and mixtures?
  5. Why are chemical equations useful?
  6. What determines the way elements react?

Can we extend their learning and ask them to build community whilst practicing curation and creativity skills?

Here is a series of prompts meant to help students use a wide variety of portfolio post techniques:


Made with Padlet
Documenting our learning serves as a heutagogical tool. Capturing artifacts that demonstrate the process of learning as well as a product, need to be able to be stored, archived and displayed somewhere. Blogfolios give the self-directed learner a hub to document their learning and to make it visible for others. Where have they been? What steps did they take along the way? How are these learning artifacts connected with each other? Documentation OF learning can grown into documenting FOR learning and documenting AS learning, when strategically embedded into the learning process. (Read Silvia Toscano’s Full Post Here)


What could a Worldwide celebration of Chemistry look like?

What if students from around the world were asked to share a post inspired by Chemistry with one another?

Could we ask groups to rethink the way we organize the elements? Ala this example.

Could we ask students to reflect on the year in Chemistry news?

Could we ask students to document their process in designing innovative experiments like this one?

What if we asked students to make key concepts visible, like this example?

In this project we have combined interesting and striking photographs of familiar objects with representations of some of the molecules they contain, which contribute to their properties and uses. The photographs have usually been taken in a laboratory environment, allowing us to contrast everyday items with the utilitarian environment in which we “do” chemistry.

Calling all Chemists–please make suggestions in the comment section below: how would you harness portfolios to have a powerful reaction within their chemistry studies?


Sowing ideas one post at a time

abbyladybug Pomegranate Seeds via Flickr
Pomegranate Seeds
via Flickr

How can we use blogs as fertile fields for ideation?

I do believe that my thinking helps to push that of others.  Sometimes in the way they agree, and sometimes when people disagree.  Opinions and ideas are often formed in what people read and how they connect to it.- George Couros

I love blogging. But that isn’t to say I’ve integrated it flawlessly.  I’ve abandoned blogs, started fresh in new spaces, and devoutly followed in the steps of other bloggers.  If you are looking for reasons why students should blog, click here.  If you want to be convinced that you the educator should be blogging, click here or here.

This post will focus on the applications for blogging once you’ve started.  This post might help you revamp your blog, or it might provide you with a few new approaches to learning in the great wide open.  Before we sample that menu, I’d invite you to listen to what some of my former students and colleagues had to say about blogging (just 5 months into the process):

You have all the innovation you need right there in your room” John Spencer (full video here)

1. Map out your menu

Be sure to include options for a wide variety of thinkers.  Here is a sample menu for an English class:

Made with Padlet

 Here’s a sample menu for a Global Perspective’s course:

Made with Padlet

2. Be adaptable:

Remember that we are teaching learners how to engage with a hyper-connected world (more on that here).

Remember that posts are containers. Sometimes my posts contain podcasts. Sometimes they curate tweets. Veer off script, test, trial, experiment.


3. Start and continue conversations:

Connected learning is about linking ideas, and seeing our community as one that values bridges.  A good post will connect us back to learning as well as connect us forward to applications, inquiry, or others.  Posts will formulate questions, and invite more learning in.

Here’s a sample comment a 9th grade student left on a 10th grade student’s blogpost:


4. Embrace the chaos:

“Failure counts as done. So do mistakes,” says The Done Manifesto.

Posts can be lists of questions, a curation of post it notes, or a single image looking for someone to ‘see, think, wonderfy’ it.

“Human beings are collectors,” says Austin Kleon in this talk, “…an artist’s job is to collect things.”  Use the blog as a means to preserve ideas, half-formed, partially-formed, fully formed.   As I type, I’m doing just that.  This post is an example of imperfection.  When I click ‘publish,’ I will share it with my PLN on Twitter and ask for help.

5. Commenting is an art:

If we learn to see ourselves all as ‘idea coaches,’ and to remember that each comment left on a post is an opportunity to encourage, support, or tease thinking out, we need to make the time to learn how to go about commenting a little bit better.  The art of commenting is every bit as important as the art of blogging.

Have a look at this comment left by a 9th grader on this post:


While you may want to develop your own commenting protocols (here’s mine), a good simple guide is to have students think over these ‘thinking moves,’ as a provocation for commenting.

Thinking Moves for Blog commenting – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;


Has this post planted a seed in your idea garden? 

If it has, tell us about it in the comment section below.



Idea Hospitality

“Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.”
Sue Grafton

That talk was part of the 2016 Learning2 Conference, hosted in Saigon. Because the #learning2 community is so remarkably warm, I’ve received a lot of follow-up communication.  A few people have asked whether or not I have an actual audit form, and my answer was..not yet.  So for those of you interested in auditing your school’s ability to host ideas–to be welcoming to the nuance of innovation and change, this post is for you. The survey is designed to be used with your faculty.  My recommendation would be to poll educators confidentially, then host small group conversations to investigate trends, surprises, and formulate new questions which you think will continue this line of inquiry. If you conduct an audit, please let us know how it went as a comment below.  

If you would prefer a Google Form version of the audit, here you go.

1.  How will ideas feel upon their approach?


A) On a scale of 1-10 (10 being Martha Stewart level hospitality, and 1 being barking scary dog hospitality) how comfortable does a new idea feel during the first stage of meeting administration, staff, parents, and students?

B) What would it take for your score to move up one point?

C) How do we know when a new idea is being considered? Who is likely to be discussing this?

2. Who helps ideas hatch?


A) On a scale of 1-10 (10 being Lebron James VIP access, 1 being total pleb) how much access are you given to rough, seedlings of ideas which are likely to be significant within your community in the next 1-2 years?

B) When is the last time someone asked you for feedback on a rough draft idea?

C) Would you say the majority of your colleagues feel valued when providing feedback?


3. Who helps ideas shift?


A) When is the last time you asked someone for advice in regards to your role at school?

B) How many times in a month do you feel you have time and energy to discuss a relevant idea with someone outside of your department/office?

C) What would encourage you to share ideas with your colleagues?

4. Can an idea sense the tone around the table?


A) True or False: The majority have a say in terms of which new ideas remain ‘at the table.’

B) Can you provide an anecdote to support your response to A?

C) On a scale of 1-10 (10 being a fleece blanket, and 1 being sand paper), how comfortable would you feel disagreeing with the majority opinion?

5. Do ideas at your school have healthy diets?


A) How much feedback did your last, best idea receive?

1-heaps 2-some feedback 3-none

B) When you need critical feedback on an idea, how quickly do you think you’d be able to get it?

1-within the day 2-within the week 3-within the month

C) How do you think the average teacher at your school goes about finding feedback for their ideas?

6. Does your idea have a good toolkit?


A) When was the last time someone suggested a new tool RELEVANT to an idea specific to you?

B) When was the last time someone asked you for advice about a tool?

C) When is the last time you and a colleague decided to sandbox different tools in regards to the same idea/project?

7. Do ideas know when they can retire?


A) On a scale of 1-10 (10 being Beyonce dance move fast, 1 being dead turtle speed) how quickly is your school able to get rid of ideas/practice that are no longer effective?

B) When is the last time your school retired an old idea?

C) What is a current idea you think needs retiring?

I hope these questions spark better questions and inspiring conversations.  

Thanks to Flickr for providing the featured image in this post:

Harald Groven


Ten Steps to hosting a Twitter Chat

Made with AdobeSpark
Made with AdobeSpark


As far as spaces go, twitter is a great place for educators.

Over the past decade, Twitter has become a 24/7 space for professional development.  Twitter is a place to share, curate, and develop resources. It has allowed teachers everywhere to have access to experts anywhere.

One of my favorite applications is the Twitter Chat.  Connecting in real time, or sometimes via a #slowchat (see an example of that here) has shifted the way we ‘do’ professional development. If you think a conversation needs to happen, you can curate that discussion.

Here are ten steps to getting involved with a Twitter Chat, and then…initiating your very own:


1. Lurk and Learn

There is no shortage of professional chats happening.  Take a look.  Read through archived chats, and observe. The #cpchat (connected principals chat) is an interesting hashtag to follow for school leadership teams.  The chats are not as regular as other chats, but the hashtag curates wonderful resources by the hour.  Here is an example of a question from a #cpchat Twitter chat:

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 10.10.54 AM

There are two important things to notice:

a) in any Twitter chat, you need to use the ‘#’ to tag your Tweet within the conversation

b) @TonySinanis starts his Tweet here with ‘Q1,’ which stands for ‘Question 1.’

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 10.14.23 AM

In the response, you’ll see that @Joesanfelippofc has responded with both the #cpchat AND he starts his Tweet with ‘A1’ standing for ‘Answer 1.’



Participate.com allows you to have a more tailored search for resources shared during chats.  It is a great tool for exploring the weekly #satchat (Saturday Chat), and digging into the archived discussions.

By selecting ‘chats,’ then ‘see all chats’ you will have access to a calendar of chats happening each day:

Screen Shot 2016-09-04 at 10.42.58 AM

3. Go with the flow

By using Tweetdeck, Tweetchat, or Hootsuite--you’ll be able to sip from the specified feed, rather than drink from the firehose of your entire feed.

If you aren’t ready to try a public chat, or you want to practice hosting your own chat privately, Today’s Meet is a great way to have a ‘training wheels’ approach to open chats.

4. Bring a friend

No, really.  Invite a peer to ‘go with.’  If you are new to chats, it will be helpful to have someone you know in the space.  Networking is networking wherever you are, IRL or online.  Having one familiar face will help you feel more comfortable–and it will be great to have a colleague to debrief with later on.

5. Google Keep

Just like any other meeting/workshop/discussion, it is a great idea to bring notes to have at the ready AND to have another space to collect thoughts on.  Google Keep is perfect for collaborative notes and/or to do lists.  It will be too trying to look for links during a chat.  I recommend having a few resources, quotes, links ready to go on a Google Keep note before the chat begins.

6. Extend invitations

Build a Twitter List (here’s how) of people who would be interested in a chat you’d like to host. Take the time to personally invite at least 20 people.  Here’s a sample chat invite:

Notice that the invitation has tagged other #’s where there might be an overlap in interest.  This is good, but nothing substitutes for a personalized invite.  Take the extra step and let people know exactly when the chat is happening in their time zone (this tool helps with that).

7. Promote and remind

As the day and time for the chat nears, remind people.  Two of my favorite tools to build Twitter-friendly signage are Canva and Adobe Spark (the image at the top of this post is something I put together with Adobe Spark in two quick minutes).

8. Get the questions out there early

Providing access to the chat’s questions in advance will allow participants to put more thought into their answers.  It will also allow people to track down resources in advance.  Lastly, it will encourage them to invite other people in.

Click here to have a look at a list of recently explored questions during this #edtechchat meetup.

Some moderators will even provide an exact time for questions to be prompted, here’s an example of that style.

9. Curate the conversation

Once the chat is over, it isn’t really over.  Blog about it, archive or use Storify to frame the chat.

10. Always say thank you

Be sure that participants feel appreciated.  Every educator is stretched for time. When people carve out an hour to chat, make sure they know their time was valued.  If you are participating in someone else’s chat, thank the moderator(s).