Free Google Earth in Edu webinar

Master teachers Jerome Burg and Thomas Petra are hosting a free Google OnAir discussion of best practices and curricular ideas for using Google Earth in education on November 2nd, 2012 at 7pm EST.

I’ve been stealing inspired teaching ideas from these two since the summer of 2008 – I guarantee you’ll walk away from the discussion with new ideas that can be implemented immediately!

Mary Beth Hertz - technology educator

Mary Beth Hertz | Alliance for Progress Charter School

Name: Mary Beth Hertz (Website, @mbteach)
Organization: Edcamp Foundation, Alliance for Progress Charter School
Current title: Technology teacher, Board member of the Edcamp Foundation
Selected accolade: ISTE Emerging Leader in 2010


What is the best part of your job?

The creativity of my students.


What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?

It is important for young people to be able to read critically. In an age of information overload, it is imperative that future generations can weed out the ‘crap’ and form their own opinions.


For a teacher looking to use technology to connect with students, enhance learning or embrace 21st century skills, where do you suggest one begin?

My suggestion is to start small. Pick one tool or website to use each year and think carefully about the purpose that tool or site serves. Just because everyone else is using it doesn’t mean that you have to if it doesn’t fit what you are already doing in the classroom. In a nutshell, look at your learning goals for a unit and choose a technology that will enhance or better yet, transform how your students reach those goals.


What are you most excited about for the upcoming school year?

I have just rewritten my curriculum for this school year and focused it around four themes: Communicate, Create, Collaborate and Evaluate. Throughout the year, my students will be asking questions such as “How does technology help me communicate?” “How should I evaluate my work and the work of others when using technology?” With the help of my friend, Kristen Swanson, I have build units on those themes in various areas (Programming, Digital Storytelling, Research, Digital Citizenship…) and followed the Understanding by Design concept of Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions.


What was your path to your current position?

I graduated with a BA in French and African American Studies. I moved to Philly and wanted to become a teacher, so I applied to the school district’s Literacy Intern program and was accepted. I worked for a year and a half co-teaching with classroom teachers and getting my teaching certificate through night classes. My first assignment as a certified teacher was as a K-6 Science teacher, which I did for two years before being asked to take on the job of Computer Teacher when our school received 40 new iMac computers. The rest is history.

jac de haan - microsoft innovative educator - seattle us forum

Top educators named at 2012 #PiLUS forum

The 2012 Partners In Learning US Forum culminated last night at an awards ceremony where 16 educators were chosen to represent the United States in Prague.

This 3-day event, held at Microsoft’s Redmond campus, was a combination of professional development, competition and networking. 102 educators were selected and joined by 30 judges (including Steven AndersonLeslie ConeryVicki Davis, Yohance Maqubela) to be challenged and inspired by Alan NovemberJurec KlepicAngela Maiers and each other’s passion and experiences.

Congratulations to all participants, I was honored to be a part of the group.

Ben Smith | Red Lion Area School District

Name: Ben Smith (@edtechben)
Organization: Red Lion Area School District
Current title: Physics Teacher / Consultant
Selected accolades: 2011 Making IT Happen recipient, ISTE PK-12 representative for the Board of Directors (2008-2012)

What is your key to personal growth as an educator?

What we want students to be able to do?  I figure out what I want from students first – this is both content plus those 21st century (or science) skills.  Then I work backwards.

I encourage teachers to use a less formal structure with students (Don’t Worry, Be Vague).  I think this loose structure allows and encourages students to be creative and gives teachers a chance to work more closely with their students.

What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?

I have four goals for my students.  I want them to be able to communicate, collaborate, be creative and solve problems.  I use physics as the vehicle but the emphasis is truly on the skills students need to be successful.  As a science teacher, this comes naturally to me as it is important to not only “know” science but also “do” science.

For a teacher looking to use technology to connect with students, enhance learning or embrace 21st century skills, where do you suggest one begin?

I would have to say the place to start is with ISTE (or one of the affiliates).  Get to a conference – it can change the course of your career.  The other place is to find an online community.  I use Twitter to find a lot of information and share thoughts.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job occurs when the bell rings.  I really enjoy the interaction that occurs in the classroom.  Although there is not really a typical class, it often starts with announcements to students and then putting them to work.  I move throughout the room talking, encouraging and working with students wherever they are in the unit.  Students work on the activities that are best for the classroom.  Sometimes this involves homework problems, asking questions, working on labs, etc.  I always look forward to challenges.  Last school year I took over our TV Studio.  We broadcast a morning show ( but have transformed the studio into the communications center for the school.  We cover news, Tweet events and announcements, and work to shape the message about the great things going on in our school.

What was your path to your current position?

I have been teaching for 23 years in the same room in which I started.  This seems a bit unusual but the school has seen a lot of growth and several construction projects…but it all happens around me.  My room has been transformed – they knocked out the wall and replaced the furniture.  At the time, although it was a difficult task to convince the architects, I had them take everything out and put in tables and chairs.  The tables all move and we often rearrange them.  Students will put them together to work around, move them in the hall at times, and put them in a place to take advantage of what they are working on.

I also serve on the ISTE Board of Directors as a PK-12 representative. My involvement with ISTE began when I was named a Keystone teacher in Pennsylvania.  At the state level they held a summit which I attended as a participant before becoming an event instructor.  It really started me down the path of using Ed Tech (hopefully effectively).  I began working as an ISTE faculty member.  My travels as a consultant have taken me to Singapore, USVI and all over the US to work with teachers, schools, and corporations.  So while I have not left the room I started in, I have expanded my world-view and brought many ideas back into my own teaching practice.

Chuck Milsap - technology with intention in the PE classroom

Chuck Milsap | Daniel Bagley Elementary

Name: Chuck Milsap (
Organization:  Daniel Bagley Elementary, Seattle School District
Current title:  Health & Fitness Instructor
Selected accolade: Washington State Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year,  Voted best smile in 7th grade

What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?

By 5th grade, kids should have the skills to independently develop and follow a personalized exercise plan. This plan doesn’t have to be incredibly extensive, but students should consider personal fitness goals, various components of fitness, a variety of activities and other factors when creating a plan to enhance health. Creating such a plan is particularly important considering our current obesity epidemic combined with the fact that students generally see a decrease in PE minutes during the middle and high school years.

“K-12 Physical Education has evolved more than any other subject over the past decade and continues to make tremendous advances in the way technology is integrated to enhance instructional outcomes.”

How are you using technology in PE? As an organization tool for yourself and also with students?

I use some form of technology on a daily basis in PE. Heart rate monitors and GPS navigational devices are often used in class to enhance curriculum and maximize movement sequences. (more…)

melissa lin - technology withintention

Melissa Lim | Portland Public Schools

Name: Melissa Lim (
Organization: Portland Public Schools, Portland, OR
Current title: Instructional Technology, IT Outreach
Selected accolade: EdCampPDX organizer, member of leadership team for statewide Oregon EdTech Cadre

What was your path to your current position?
I began my career in education as an elementary classroom teacher in Vancouver (WA) Public Schools and then Portland Public Schools. I became interested in using technology when I was awarded a classroom grant that brought hardware and software into my classroom and also provided me with regular training to implement best practices using technology. I left the classroom to take a job in instructional technology, which I have had, in some incarnation, for the last 11 years.

“I am passionate about using technology to re-imagine education.”

What is the best part of your job?
The best aspect of my job is having the flexibility to be involved with a lot of different educational technology initiatives and projects. I help manage some IT-related initiatives, but most of my time is spent doing professional development work with teachers. I make site visits to schools to observe what’s happening in our classrooms and assist with instructional technology support needs and I also get to play and explore with new technologies.

What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?
Today’s students have to be adaptive and flexible and understand their own learning process in order to navigate through school in a way that is engaging, personalized, motivational and relevant. I also think students should be able to find joy in failure.

edcampPDX - November 2011

For a teacher looking to use technology to connect with students, enhance learning or embrace 21st century skills, where do you suggest one begin?
For a hands-on approach, I think using any of the Google Apps is an easy starting point to understanding technological capabilities and possibilities. I also love all the resources put out by the MacArthur Foundation: Connected Learning, Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning, and DML Central.

Liz Davis | Belmont Hill School

Name: Liz Davis (Website, @lizbdavis)
Organization: Belmont Hill School
Current title: Director of Academic Technology
Selected accolades: EdCampIS organizer, EduCon presenter


What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?

Curiosity and a love of learning for learning sake are extremely important to have in a rapidly changing world. You can’t be afraid to fail, especially when working with technology. You have to be willing to click all of the links and explore all of the possibilities of a tool without being afraid you will break something.

For a teacher looking to use technology to connect with students, enhance learning or embrace 21st century skills, where do you suggest one begin?

I think Twitter and are both great resources for teachers looking to connect with others who are integrating 21st century skills into their teaching.


What is the best part of your job?

I love wearing so many hats. I work with faculty to help them integrate technology in their classrooms. I teach my own classes (7th grade English, Digital Video and Digital Journalism), so I can practice what I preach. I get to make choices about purchasing software and hardware. I am able to travel to conferences and learn with and from people all over the world. I also direct the middle school play, advise the school newspaper and the upper school improv club and coach the middle school crew team.


How did you get started with Edcamps?

I attended my first edcamp-like un-conference in 2007 when I went to the first Edubloggercon run by Steve Hargadon. From then I was hooked. I went on to organize the first annual Edubloggercon-East in Boston with Lisa Thumann in 2008. When Dan Callahan (founding organizer of the first “edcamp”) needed help organizing the first edcampBoston, of course I said Yes.

Last year I could not attend NAISAC and, as I followed the Tweets from the conference, it occurred to me that it would be great to create an un-conference experience for independent school educators. Connecting it to the NAISAC conference seemed like a good idea. I tweeted it out and edcampIS was born. I hope edcampIS will follow NAISAC to different cities each year (the way Edubloggercon follows the ISTE conference).

The best part about un-conferences, for me, is the spontaneous nature of the experience. Because we post our sessions on the day of the event, we have the opportunity to hear from people who might not have presented or been accepted to present at a typical conference. Also, since the sessions are decided then and there, the topics are timely and relevant, rather than 3 – 6 months old (when typical conferences request their proposals). Finally, the fact that the event is free and held on a weekend means the people who show up usually WANT to be there (rather than being sent by someone else). All of this adds up to an incredibly energizing day of learning. Obviously, I’ve become a huge fan!

I am really looking forward to attending edcampIS in Seattle on March 3rd. It has been amazing to me to organize this conference from 3,000 miles away. It would not be happening if hadn’t been for Ben Lee and The Northwest School’s generous donation of their space, and local orgainzers, Jac de Haan, Anthony McGrann and Greg Bamford who have done all of the serious legwork on the ground in Seattle. I can’t believe we are less than 3 weeks away from the big day!!


What was your path to your current position?

I started my career in education almost 20 years ago, as a 6th grade math, science and English teacher in a public middle school. Since then I have worked in a K-8 school and a high school as a technology integrator as a research assistant at TERC, an educational research center, as a professional development facilitator at Tom Snyder Productions, and as a writer and editor for a textbook developer. All of these experiences let me to my current position as Director of Academic Technology at an independent, grade 7 – 12,  all boys school outside of Boston, MA.

David Johns | Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences

Name: David Johns (Website, YouTube channel, EduCreations channelKnol Article)
Organization: Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences
Current title: Upper School Mathematics Teacher

I love teaching and finding new ways to reach students. I try to use all technology available to make learning interactive and (hopefully) more informative than traditional methods.



What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?

Students should be comfortable with math basics and have strong number sense. They need to recognize when a value from a computer may be wrong. Students should also be good navigating around technology tools: graphing calculator tricks (and their are many), spreadsheet use, and hopefully some understanding of introductory programming.

I tell my students this all the time, “I have to have a reason to spend all my life teaching mathematics to you when I know most of you won’t be graphing parabolas at 30.” Math is just the medium to create better problem solvers and algorithm followers. Math class is the weight room for brain.


For a teacher looking to use technology to connect with students, enhance learning or embrace 21st century skills, where do you suggest one begin?

Start with what you already do. If you are comfortable using Word and Google search, make a simple guided web lesson. If you love your iPad, then find apps that could be used to help with a lesson.

Keep exploring and trying new things. This year alone (after 20 years in the education and technology fields), I have tried 3 or 4 new tech-related curriculum enhancements.


What is the best part of your job?

The best and the hardest part of the job is often the same thing. I enjoy finding multiple ways of explaining a math problem and helping students realize that it is not as difficult as they think. It is rewarding to see a student ‘click’ after several ways of questioning, illustrating, and/or detailing the problem. That is one reason I maintain a web page and create video lessons.

Second best: my school’s willingness to let me explore all the new ways to reach the students. iPad (to post notes, make video lessons, and more), Smartboard (to post notes and provide interactive visual instruction), and great computers are just some examples of the support Seattle Academy provides to allow me further my abilities as an educator.


What was your path to your current position?

Loyola High School in Los Angeles played a big part of my desire to learn and teach. University of California at San Diego gave me a mathematics degree, the desire to surf or be on a board all my life, and my first taste of programming. La Jolla Country Day School gave me my first job in teaching. Middle school computer classes with the Apple IIe. I also helped teachers learn how to use their Macs, set up and run the schools first email server, and first learned that very young minds can understand programming (with HyperCard).

After a few years at Seattle Country Day School (with Ethan Delevan) as a math teacher, I made the move to my current position at SAAS. I have taught math from 6th grade at SCDS to Calculus at SAAS and everything in between. I also enjoy teaching Statistics and Software Development.


*Editor’s note: David freely shares many of his resources with other educators via The following video introduces the website, its purpose and uses in the classroom:

Marcie T. Hull | Science Leadership Academy

Name: Marcie T. Hull (School site, Blog, @ecram3)
Organization: Science Leadership Academy
Current title: Technology Coordinator, Art Teacher, Technology Teacher
Selected accolade: Educon co-organizer, Mother to Chase and wife to Steven




What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?

  • risk taking
  • learning in front of people
  • verbalization of ideas
  • knowledge that there is more than one right answer

I call this process “setting students up for failure” – sounds awful, but if kids learn to fail in front of people, especially in a safe place where there is a teacher/ guide, the more they become comfortable with the learning process and going beyond the first idea and the idea that there is one right answer.


For a teacher looking to use technology to connect with students, enhance learning or embrace 21st century skills, where do you suggest one begin?

I usually tell teachers to begin with their own lesson plans. They are professionals that have crafted units that are built for learning. Finding tools (not technology – that word is over used and means nothing) that compliment the essential questions  that the teacher hopes students walk away knowing.


What is the best part of your job?

I have autonomy in my classroom which allows me to teach in ways that inspire the students and myself.


What was your path to your current position?

I started as an art student at Temple’s Tyler School of Art and got a teaching degree while there. With one year left on my certificate, I got a job teaching art at an under-achieving middle school in West Philadelphia. The principal of that school found out that I was able to use computers and when the computer teacher retired she put me into the school lab.

I went on to get my masters to be an Educational Technologist and my K-12 certification in business technology, because one needs a business technology certification to teach technology in Pennsylvania. That school was taken over more than once because of NCLB and finally was made into a Mastery Charter school.

Chris Lehmann hired me to be a founding staff member of the Science Leadership Academy and I have been here ever since. In six years we have started an annual conference called EduCon, I’ve gone to many technology in education conferences. I won the Keystone award for excellent usage of technology in the classroom. I have also done many professional developments and really enjoy sharing the expertise of 6 years at SLA.

Michael Gorman | Southwest Allen County Schools

Name: Michael Gorman (21st Century Tech Blog, @mjgormans)
Organization: Southwest Allen County Schools
Current title: Professional Development Director of 1 to 1 and Digital Learning
Selected accolades: Indiana Teacher of the Year 2010 Semi-Finalist, Southwest Allen County Schools 2010 Teacher of the Year,  Indiana US Air Force  2011 STEM Educator of the Year, Allen County 2011 Excellence In Education Award, Discovery DENny Award 2011


Education is a fantastic place to be! The world of education is being transformed before our eyes, and as educators, we get to take an active role. We will see many changes as classrooms become more student-centered and learning takes on a more active form. Classroom walls will dissolve and the real world will become new place to learn, promoting a new relevance. Through this exciting yet disruptive transformation, the educator will become even more important, providing the essential human element that is so important to the education of a child.


What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?

Empathy. Technology is one of many tools (though especially important today). But technology cannot replace the human element of teaching.


For a teacher looking to use technology to connect with students, enhance learning or embrace 21st century skills, where do you suggest one begin?

I travel across the country and continually post about ways to infuse 21st century skills and technology into the curriculum. I remind teachers that it is important to look at successful prior lessons and infuse these past successes with technology and 21st century skills.

I often refer to this in my Jukebox to iPod presentation. When looking at this transformation it is obvious that technology made a great idea even better. Teachers must realize that they have a vault of awesome activities that have proven to be successful with students. Many times these perennial gems can be reinvented, mixed, and transformed to bring about a new 21st century lesson that will be even more engaging and applicable to today’s digital learner.

The more I work with teachers, the more I see a need to build a concrete method for updating past lessons. Take a look at Ten Steps to Transforming Past Lessons for 21st Century Learners for more information.


What was your path to your current position?

I actually started in the area of environmental and outdoor education. It seems so similar to today’s technology emphasis on integrating all of the disciplines. Then it was the environment that did the connection… now it is the technology. After environmental education came a start with elementary school…moving to the middle school the last “over 30 years”.

After doing some post grad work at Johns Hopkins I saw a new vision of working with educators. I now facilitate our school district 1-to-1 program and provide professional development on transitioning to a digital learning environment. With this, I have a flexible job that allows me to travel the country consulting in PBL work for BIE (BUCK Institute), digital media for Discovery Education, and digital literacy for Alan November. I am currently also consulting on new educational game and providing some advice to Tech & Learning Magazine and PBS.


Do you have a single lesson plan, curriculum strand, or project that you feel exemplifies effective technology integration – one that you are willing to share with others?

In a recent post entitled, “Engaging Classroom Lessons With Simple One Take Video… Flip Your Classroom…Address Common Core…Incorporate PBL,” I explain how teachers and their students can make a one shot video with no editing, and just one camera. Since it is based on written literacy and 21st century standards it can bring the Common Core into any curricular area.

I created this project to demonstrate that a teacher can facilitate student production of a powerful movie… yet easy to implement. It can be done by somebody with little technology background… yet it can foster growth in student 21st century skill development and the core curriculum.