Did you know Google Reader is going away?

Google is a company that likes to release products in “beta” – meaning, “we’re just dating” not getting married to the app. They support lots of products for a while and then when they feel they’ve had their day, shut them down. Google Reader, although a particular favorite of many blog readers, is being shut down on July 1.

There are other alternatives for RSS readers (See Larry Ferlazzo’s post The Best Alternatives To Google Reader Now That It’s Being Shut Down).

But Google seems to be betting that RSS is not the way most people get their news. This blog is also available through email (see subscribe box on the right) or by following me on Twitter or Linked In.

As they say, the only thing that never changes is that everything changes!


PS ISTE is coming up next week – the “big daddy” of all educational technology conferences. Check out our exciting lineup of sessions and events!

2013 SIG-IS Summer Reading Selection – Invent to Learn

2013 SIG-IS Summer Reading Selection – Invent to Learn

The executive committee of the Independent School Special Interest Group (SIG-IS) of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) are pleased to announce that we have chosen the book, Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager as our selection for our Summer Reading program.

Invent to Learn is a timely exploration of the Maker movement, the integration of STEM, STEM + Arts, computer programming, and rapid prototyping using devices such as 3d printers which many schools are currently investigating. Sylvia and Gary provide both the philosophical and pedagogical argument as to why this type of learning is essential for our students to experience as part of learning in the 21st Century. Additionally, they a blue print of how schools can begin to incorporate this into the classrooms, labs, and libraries using low cost materials, such as cardboard and duct tape through the use of programmable micro-controllers such as the Arduino family, Makey Makeys, or Raspberry Pi. They provide links to a variety of programming languages so that you can begin to evaluate and determine which fits the educational goals at your school.

SIG-IS will also be sponsoring several activities to coincide with the book to celebrate your “making”  which we hope you will consider participating in throughout the summer through September. They will include:

  • Moderating an #isedchat twitter chat in July
  • Hosting a series of Google Hangouts, What Are You Making so that can share what you have made
  • The chance to share your project and reflections on your process on the SIG-IS blog
  • A webinar in September featuring a conversation with Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager about the book.

We are proud and excited to be participating in this long term professional development opportunity for ISTE SIG-IS members!

ISTE 2013 Roundup – Student Leadership, Hard Fun, and More!

ISTE 2012 – GenYES students discuss education with the Malaysian Minister of Education

We are looking forward to another fantastic ISTE – the grandmother of all education technology conferences. This year ISTE will be in San Antonio, Texas June 23-26th, 2013. Generation YES will be there in force (meaning kids!) GenYES students from local San Antonio schools will be showcasing their teacher support projects in our booth on the exhibit floor, so please put booth 12226 in your schedule as a MUST VISIT!

A Big Announcement… Coming Soon We will be demoing our latest improvements to the GenYES suite of online tools and student leadership curriculum – more on that shortly.

Two MUST DO events to add to your schedule

Invent to Learn @ISTE 2013

Join me (Sylvia Martinez) and Gary Stager for an energizing day of “hard fun” as we invent, tinker, and learn how to incorporate hands-on project-based learning in the classroom. Participants will engage in a variety of projects using modern tools and technology – the perfect way to get ready for ISTE.  Sunday, June 23rd from 9AM-3PM.

Breakfast, lunch, and drinks are all part of the day at a great location right on the Riverwalk with easy, walkable access from all the ISTE hotels.

Also included is your very own copy of our new book – Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. Click here for details and registration information for Invent To Learn @ ISTE 2013.

Spotlight Session

Tinkering + Technology = Authentic Learning. Combine tinkering and technology and you have a time-honored tradition that allows imagination and creativity to lead the way to real-world problem-solving and learning. Sylvia Martinez

  • Tuesday, 6/25/2013, 2:00pm–3:00pm, SACC 001A
  • Digital-Age Teaching & Learning : Problem Solving & Critical Thinking



Tips for student presenters at conferences

It’s educational technology conference time of year! There are so many educational conferences that you could literally attend 24/7. Hopefully some of you are taking students along with you to share their work.

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing students step up and hit a home run when presenting, and there’s nothing more excruciating than watching the slow-motion train wreck of a bad presentation by young people who are clearly unprepared or uninterested.

Here are some tips to have the “home run” presenting experience instead of the “train wreck”! (By the way, authentic student voice doesn’t mean they don’t need adult help.)

Ten Tips for Coaching Student Presenters

  1. Make it personal. Have each student tell their own story from their own perspective. It will be more engaging than a generic presentation of what the whole group did.
  2. KISS. Edit down to the essentials. As you practice, help them edit their story down to the essential points. Stick to a 5 minute rule – no one person should talk for more than 5 minutes at a time. Break up the presentation with videos or demonstrations.
  3. Practice, but not too much. Practice out loud in front of other students or teachers if possible. Try not to over-practice; it will sound forced and boring.
  4. Memorize the opening line. Practice the first line until they can do it in their sleep.
  5. Don’t use a script. Even a memorized script will sound stilted.
  6. Try it without notes. It’s a crutch that can be more of a distraction than a help.
  7. Look at the audience, not the screen. Don’t stare at or read from the screen, it disconnects the speaker from the audience.
  8. Timing is everything. Agree on a “secret signal” that means wrap it up. Practice this so they learn to complete a thought without stopping mid-sentence. Explain that you will interrupt their presentation if they go on too long.
  9. Audiences may behave badly. One very odd thing about conferences is that people may get up and leave in the middle of a session. This is normal – don’t take it personally. Be sure to warn students.
  10. Be authentic. Some people are serious, some are born game show hosts. Let them be who they are, use their own words, and show their own personalities.
  11. Rules are made to be broken. If you have one (or more!) exceptionally articulate students, give them more time, but make sure they can stick to the essential message of the presentation.

For more tips, check out this PDF – Sharing Student Voice: Students Presenting at Conferences (PDF). It also covers:

  • Balancing the needs of the audience with the needs of students
  • Research on student voice, 21st Century skills and student empowerment
  • How to plan and submit sessions with student presenters
  • Maintaining student ownership and authentic student voice
  • Logistics tips for bigger conferences and exhibit halls
  • The role of the teacher

Let’s get out there and share!


See you in San Diego? ISTE 2012

Generation YES will be at ISTE June 24-27, 2012 in San Diego. If you are there, be sure to come by and say hi! We will have a special version of Angry Birds for you to play and win fun prizes – find us in the exhibit hall in booth #5301.

Please add these sessions to your schedule planner:

SPOTLIGHT SESSION: We Need More PD!” and Other Myths about Technology Integration Monday, 6/25/2012, 4:15pm–5:15pm, SDCC 4

Sylvia Martinez, Generation YES  – The days of “sit and get” professional development are over–but what will take its place? Learn new ways to enable classroom-based professional learning.  Recommended by ISTE’s SIGAdmin

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: Engage, Retain, and Thrive–Getting Girls into Technology Tuesday, 6/26/2012, 5:00pm–6:15pm, SDCC 30AB

Melinda Kolk, Creative Educator with Sylvia Martinez  – The session will explore ideas and successful strategies for getting girls interested in technology through the upper grades and into creative and technical technology careers.

SPOTLIGHT SESSION: The Best Educational Ideas in the World–25th Anniversary Edition Tuesday, 6/26/2012, 10:30am–11:30am, SDCC 6E

Gary Stager, Constructivist ConsortiumClimb aboard a voyage of discovery to the best educational ideas in the world, and learn how these powerful concepts can supercharge learning with computers.

PANEL: Technology in Developing Countries Tuesday, 6/26/2012, 3:45pm–4:45pm,  SDCC 5 School Improvement : Educational Visions

Clare Strawn, ISTE with Paulette Assaf, Mary Burns, Dennis Harper and Jodi Lis – Internet possibly not available. Erratic electricity. Learn from this panel how tenacity and passion bring creative solutions to meet these challenges to introduce 21st century skills in developing countries.

Free webinar: The voices of girls & women and the future of STEM

Girl Scout Research Institute STEMinar: The voices of girls & women and the future of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

When: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Time: 2PM EDT (time in your time zone)

This “STEMinar” will bring together experts from diverse backgrounds and different sectors of the STEM work force to speak about the current status of girls’ interest and engagement in STEM fields, as well as current efforts to diversify the STEM workforce by boosting the number of women in STEM careers in the next decade.

We will highlight new research from the Girl Scout Research Institute, along with exciting new mentoring initiatives from Women@NASA, science education programs from the New York Academy of Sciences, and outreach efforts to college STEM majors from Johns Hopkins University.

Reserve your Webinar seat now!

Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (2012)

Free webinar – Social Media and Peer Learning

Social Media and Peer Learning: From Mediated Pedagogy to Peeragogy
Discover how giving students more responsibility in shaping their own curriculum can lead to more active participation.

I’m going to be on the panel for this webinar from Connected Learning, moderated by Howard Rheingold and Mimi Ito. I hope you can join us for a lively conversation!

When: Tuesday, April 10, 9AM Pacific (find the time in your time zone)

Howard Rheingold is the author of Tools for ThoughtThe Virtual CommunitySmart MobsNet Smart and teaches at Stanford University, Communication Department. Mimi Ito is  the author of Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out and a cultural anthropologist of technology use, focusing on children and youth’s changing relationships to media and communications.

UPDATEWebinar archive here…

I’m excited! See you there –


Webinars – Addressing youth risk in a positive and restorative manner

from Nancy Willard of Embracing Digital Youth: Addressing youth risk in a positive and restorative manner

Embracing Digital Youth is proud to announce our first two Webinars. Through these Webinars, Embracing Digital Youth will seek to help educators, mental health professionals, law enforcement, and policy-makers engage in prevention and intervention activities that are grounded in research insight, focus on influencing positive behavior and implementing restorative practices, and encourage effective evaluation.

A 2-page Issue Brief for each Webinar will provide insight and recommendations for practice. The Webinars will be available for later viewing in our archive. Documentation will be provided to support professional development continuing education requirements.

Register online at: http://embracingdigitalyouth.org/webinars (Cost $39)

*Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act: What Schools Must and Should Do* – April 5 at 7:00 P.M. Eastern Time.

The Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act added a provision to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requiring that schools receiving E-Rate funding provide students with instruction in Internet safety, including cyberbullying and social networking safety. School agencies receiving E-rate funding must update their policy so they can certify they are providing Internet safety instruction, beginning with funding year 2012 (July).

This Webinar will provide recommendations on how districts can engage in effective multidisciplinary planning to ensure that the manner in which they will provide Internet safety instruction is grounded in accurate research insight, uses effective approaches to promote positive norms and transmit effective skills, and incorporates evaluation to ensure effectiveness.


  • Mike Donlin, Program Supervisor in The School Safety Center of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for Washington State.
  • Lisa Jones, Research Associate Professor of Psychology at the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.
  • Connie Williams, NBCT, Teacher Librarian, National Board Certified. Petaluma High School, California. Past President of the California School Library Association,
  • Eric Willard, Chief Technology Officer – Community Unit School District 300, Illinois.

*Positive Peer-based Approaches to Address Cyberbullying* – April 26th at 7:00 P.M. Eastern Time.

Schools are struggling to address a new challenge–the hurtful behavior of students when using digital technologies. Addressing this new challenge is difficult because much of this hurtful behavior occurs in digital environments where adults are generally not present. Hurtful interactions frequently occur when students are off-campus, with the damaging impact at school.

How can educators ensure the development of a positive school climate and support positive actions by peers that will be necessary for prevention and early intervention? These three professionals are working on innovative new approaches to enhance these positive peer-based approaches.


  • Patricia Agatston, Ph.D. Licensed Professional Counselor with the Prevention/Intervention Center, a student assistance program in the Cobb County School District, Georgia.
  • Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D. Director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use/Embracing Digital Youth.
  • Karen Siris, Ed.D. Professor at Adelphi University, Garden City, NY, Principal at Oceanside Elementary, NY.

>> Registration and more information


BETT 2012

I’m heading to London this week to take part in the BETT 2012 conference in London. This is the largest educational technology conference in the world and I’ve been wanting to check it out for years!

I’m presenting a session on Friday – Tinkering: A New Model of ICT and STEM Learning

Yes, I know it says “new” – but it’s not. Poetic license, I guess I was worried that things have to sound new to get any notice. However, I’m hopefully presenting a new look at old-fashioned learning. I’m combining some of my existing resources about tinkering and playful learning with some new ideas about the role of gender, the danger of looking at science only through the lens of the “scientific method”, and the synergy between art and science.

Be back next week!