Thursday, April 4, 2019

Return to the Twitterverse

Hello again, twitterverse!

Last year, I had challenged myself to read all the tweets coming out of Alaska and it was an incredible experience for me to really see all the innovative ideas and creative minds that we had all over the state.

So, how do you top a year reading all the tweets? By not reading any! Unplugged (Like this year’s ASTE theme) 

It’s not quite a year off of twitter, but I had to compile a list of all the things that I missed out on because I wasn’t on twitter (and hopefully this will inspire those of you who are not yet on!)

        1) I missed my PLC and I’m guessing some missed me too since I got quite a few messages. I don’t know what anyone was up to this year or where our new twitter educators are, so no new AK twitter map this year. I really feel like I've missed out on a lot of things and this was such a secret knowledge base that I always loved pulling out in conversations "I heard a teacher in ____ was doing ___" 

        2) I missed out on real-time happenings like the Earthquake. Let me tell you, the TV news cycle and Facebook is not as fast as the live twitter commentary. I have missed going into a day knowing what the trending topics to listen out for.

       3) I know I also missed out on cool local and statewide news stories. It is so much easier to scroll my one twitter list of AK News rather than checking each individual webpage of ADN, Juneau Empire, KTOO, KTUU, KINY, KTVA, AK Public Media, Webcenter11, ArcticSounder…

       4) I have missed out on the latest trends. What is the latest and greatest tools? I know Kahoot, Seesaw, Flipgrid, and padlet got some new updates but there must be something that came out since I have been off and I can’t wait to learn what that was.

5) I missed having the echo chamber of positivity. There has been a lot of stressful news and what I love about education twitter is the focus on the positive: the gifts, the pictures, the stories... I really missed having that constant reminder of why I fell love with education in the first place. 

Going forward, I'm not sure what twitter is going to be like for me. Next year, I will try to find a happy medium between being on all the time and not being on at all. But I look forward to reconnecting to all of you!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A year of listening...

At #Aste17, I started a list of all the Alaska Educators I could find on twitter. (Bill had a great list, which he had started on #Aste16, which I borrowed greatly from) At the end of the 2016-2017 school year, I tried to map out who was tweeting and what they were tweeting about.

2016-2017: There were about 15 districts that I consistently saw tweets from*

I followed some new Alaskan Educators who were attending #ISTE and as the 2017-2018 school year started up, the Alaska Cross Culture Conference revealed some new educators, the Alaska Principals Conference, #EDET628 and #SEACCR chat, RTI Conference, #Northtothefuture, #Akedchallenge and finally #ASTE18 and the #AKLA Conference. My list swelled from around 400 to almost 700.

Every day, I would check this list and so I was able to read almost every tweet that was sent out by Alaskan educators this year… I dedicated my feed to retweeting the great things that were going on across the state. I started to add sublists with a group for just librarians, ECE... one day when I have time, I'd love to organize into a group of admins too... 

It became clear that we weren’t twitter shy, there were several of us who were sharing the amazing things that were going on in Alaska Classrooms. It was getting people organized, interacting, and collaborating…I tried to engage people through feedback and inviting them to the #Akedchat, but it seemed people would show up here and there without any real consistency. Others just blocked me from tagging them in my photo invitations. I met up with the groups of educators in person, trying to build that face-to-face and online connection.

Twitter has become an invaluable resource to me because it shows me what is going on in the classrooms. The hopes, the fears, and the excitement… People constantly share what they think are good ideas and so, I learned to listen. The more people post, the more I see what they value or are interested in. I try to connect and share resources based on what they share. It has shaped me immensely. Being connected is amazing. 

I’m excited for the 2018-2019 School Year, Alaska is just getting started!

2017-2018: There were about 21 districts that I consistently saw tweets from**This isn't scientific. Some Alaskan tweeters, don't have their location. In a nutshell, what did I learn this year? I am so excited about the things around student edcamps that are coming out of Valdez and Nikiski.... 
  • I love the care and passion that comes out of Brevig Mission in the Bering Strait School Distict... 
  • If I were to take math, I'd want to do it in Kodiak with all the amazing math teachers sharing their incredible and innovative lessons.... 
  • I love the amazing culturally responsive things that are coming out of North Slope... 
  • I love the blend of place-based learning and #mysteryskype coming from Wrangell...
  • #MinecraftEdu in Dillingham and Petersburg...
  • I love wonderful positive culture that exudes from the Copper River district... 
  • I love All the exciting things around personalized learning from Kenai... 
  • I love that the STEM expert in Anchorage loves her robots and gardening!
  • I LOVE that Yukon Kuskokwim developed wonderful flex books...
  • I now know digital orchestra exists thanks to the wonderful music teacher out of Kodiak... 
  • I love that a teacher out of Denali who got to be a fulbright to Finland and shares her wonderful insights...
  • I love the passionate librarians who have set-up makerspaces, such as the one at Tanana... 
  • I love the work of the tudor librarian who is setting up global activities... 
  • Did you know we have 2 amazing PBS digital innovative teachers? There are also 2 MIE and countless other Apple certified educators...
  • We have an incredible principal out of Tanana who does an amzing podcast where he interviews amazing educators from all over the world... 
  • We have a wonderful organization (ASTE!) where its incredible volunteers put together an amazing yearly conference to showcase innovative and disruptive ideas! 
  • The passionately positive principal out of Whaley...

    The joy coming out of the Joy School...
  • ...and Esports are coming to Alaska! 
My life is made better from knowing all of this is out there and I really encourage you to take the challenge and listen... and then share! We have so many amazing things happening, let others know!! 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Asking Good Questions

I am taking an online class and one of the things that our latest module was about was about how to ask students good questions during read-alouds.

This got me thinking that these same rules also apply to adults asking questions during twitter chat:
- Questions should help people understand their feelings and promote critical thinking
-Questions should help people develop their language & communication skills on their stance
 -Questions need to help make connections to past and future events or share experiences
-Questions need to introduce new ideas, events, and possibilities
-Each question should lead to multiple turns for each speaker

So, I decided to help create a little one-pager to help those as they think of questions when hosting a chat.

1)      Decide the increments between questions: This will determine the number of questions you should plan on. (I recommend either 10 or 15 minute increments)
2)      ICEBREAKER: Your first question should be something easy and catchy, you want people to respond. I generally ask for location (So cool that we can have global cohorts!) and ask them a fun question related to the theme of the chat (What is your favorite _insert theme_?)
3)      Last Question: I always plan my first & last questions first. The last Question should generally be a REFLECTION (Where people can share a take-away) or an ACTION PLAN (What will you do this week?)
4)      After the Icebreaker: Ask something open-ended (How do you define…? What is…? What do you remember about…? )
5)      Ask for examples: Encourage sharing of a pic, quote, or something that happened in class. Use tweetdeck, so that you have an example ready to go to MODEL for others what they can share.

And just some general things to be mindful of:

-You may have a mixed audience (Teacher, Admin, Coaches), so try to keep it open-ended. You don’t want to exclude people.
- Start with some simple questions to get people initially engaged and then dig deeper. Don’t scare people off! 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

6 Tips for hosting a Twitter Chat

I think as a leader, the most important job you have is to build the capacity of those around you...

Our state is a little twitter-shy, so I created this to-do list to help others who want to rise up and start these awesome conversation.

So you want to host a twitter chat?

  1. TOPIC: Pick something that you are CURIOUS about or are PASSIONATE about!
  2. SHARE:

  • Think of a Fun Title
  • Tag People who you think will be interested in the topic
  • Add # of other groups that might be interested in the topic


  • Share: Date, Time, Location, Brief Description, and the # Hashtag
  • Find an eye-catching graphic
  • Tease Questions
  • Share graphic during other chats or in replies (WHEN ON TOPIC!)

  1. PREP

  • Prepare your TweetDeck with Questions and YOUR RESPONSE (You want your fingers to be free to reply to participants)
  • Continue to Advertise: 1 hour till… 30 minutes till… Use hashtags of active chats

  1. CHAT

  • Welcome and reply to participants
  • Retweet great responses or quote tweet to other hashtags
  • Like tweets and respond to others
  • Thank everyone for coming
  • Encourage others to lead!

  1. BONUS

  • Create a moment to immortalize your chat for future reference
  • Blog about the chat and the great ideas that you got from it!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

AK Twitter Top 10 Teacher Leaders

I love the rise of the “teacher leaders” who can inspire from the classroom. This blog will be the first in a series of #followfriday tweets to help others see some amazing things that are happening and hopefully inspire them to try something! 

@MGundersonAK (Dillingham) One of 2 #MIEExpert in Alaska, she has also been doing some innovative things with #minecraftedu 

@SyrahPetersen (Anchorage) She got to go to #ISTE this year and has been tweeting great reflections and questions since! 

@joerobison907 (Valdez) If you want to see some amazing things in student lead learning, check out #studentedcamp tweets out of Valdez! They have been able to integrate student edcamps into their Middle School routine.

@rownbey (Valdez) After seeing @alicekeeler at #Aste17, she was a quick adopted of #GAFE and has tweeted out some amazing things 

@MrEru2001 (Fairbanks) He was a finalist for AK Teacher of the year and was named the BP teacher of excellence!  Read more about his personalized learning approach here: or visit his YouTube channel:

@lc_davies (Wrangell) 5th grade teacher who has been doing some great things on #mysteryskype and even got to visit the class she Skyped with on her vacation!

@AlexandraOtto (Kodiak) #mtbos Middle school math teacher who keeps a great blog of her students work

@AkGlobalTeacher (Anchorage)  BP Teacher of Excellence,  Fellow, and founder of Global Education Alaska.

@tchlrn_ak (Nikolaevsk)  Early adopter of #mysteryskype, #GRA, and got the #TLAP crew to Alaska! 

I keep a running list of Alaskan Educators that I can across. Subscribe to that list here:

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Steering a ferry?

When you work looking at things from a larger perspective, analogies can really help.

One of the first ones my current supervisor introduced me to was that we are "Steering a ferry boat"...

What does this mean? If you are in a row boat , its really easy to do lots of quick turns...

...But if you are on a ferry boat, you have to make lots of small turns to get into your new direction. It can take a long time to change direction.

I like that ferry boat analogy, but even thinking about it on a ferry boat level doesn't seem to work...

We are more like admirals of a fleet of ships. Each captain is responsible for all the daily operations on your boat, but you are also leading all the other rowboats boats to follow your direction. Each of their own daily operations might look a little different, but you all have that same destination in mind.... 

Having at least a common goal can help unite everyone, but what happens when everyone has different goals/different destinations?

Maybe a better analogy would be like a light house. The programs are all their own ships, but we are there as a lighthouse in the dark to help give guidance.

We want those row boats to feel empowered because that’s where change can happen on the quickest scale.... Those captains have to be able to create the conditions for those row boats to have a common destination, but allowed to chart their own course.

The captain has to be able to stay in communication with all those ships to make sure none get lost. The lighthouse can’t look out for just one lost row boat because they are focused on those bigger ships. Communication is so important because there is a sweeping undercurrent that can send ripples along everything.

One of the first lessons I learned came as I was crafting materials for a training, which included instruction manuals and updating websites... I had been going off an incorrect date and suddenly, I was having to go back and revise everything. That one small detail set off such a large chain reaction, just imagine how bigger changes would be...

Understanding this important difference has been so helpful for me to understand how my changing role is:
1) Things have to be thought through at every single perspective to understand how the change will affect everyone involved
2) Communication needs to be concise or you can cause confusion which can cause people to get lost or abandon your fleet altogether

Admiral... Captain... or Lighthouse? One thing is very clear: I'm not in a row boat anymore... 

Sunday, December 31, 2017


My #OneWord2018 is lemonade and there are 4 main reasons:

 I love lemonade. I’ve always loved it. It’s sweet. It’s tart. It’s coolness on a hot summer day. It’s also my reminder to myself that each person has their own interests and passions and listening to their stories on the why they pick that is so revealing about where they have come from and where they are presently. Last year my word was participation and I really feel like I embraced that with my Twitter PLN. 

When I taught in Thailand and it was international week, I wanted to teach my students about America culture and what’s more American than a lemonade stand? That entrepreneurial spirit…  go out and get what you dream of! 

The famous saying is “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade” meaning that you should go with the flow and something sweet can come out of something tart. I feel like I’ve learned a lot more out of my failures than out of my successes. You start this by looking at that sour lemon of a failure and saying, “You weren’t a failure” and using it to create a learning experience. I had a hard couple of years and now I’m finally starting to add the sugar to those experiences and am slowly starting to transform them into part of a narrative that I can love.

There is also the less known expression: "If life gives you lemons, make orange juice and leave them wondering how you did it." I love this as well since there is still magic in the world where people can create things so unexpected using whatever happens to be on hand…

Lemonade is essentially 3 ingredients: Water, Sugar, and Lemons. But there isn’t a perfect recipe for it. It’s a lot of trial and error.

-You can start with any of those ingredients. There isn’t a set order… I like to start by squeezing the lemons, but my mom starts by filling the water.
-You can mix it in a cup, bowl, or a pitcher… and with a wooden spoon, metal spoon, or stir stick…
-You don’t have to use them precisely: You can use sparkling water instead of tap water, you can use agave, simple syrup, or honey instead of sugar, you can use sweet meyer lemons or even limes.  
-You test it and add more of what you feel it needs. I like my lemonade tart, so my ratio is different than someone who likes it sweet.
-And the best part is, once you’ve finished that basic recipe: you can add to it! Ice, mint, rosemary, basil, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, watermelon… The possibilities are pretty endless.

That recipe for lemonade is how I am trying to view education. There isn’t some magical recipe with precise steps. Everyone will do it a little differently and create it according to their needs. 

In my new role, I get to see the different recipes and share the different recipes in hopes to inspire people to go out and find what works for them.

So here is my new blog: Administratove Lemonade. A little sweet, a little sour, but ultimately something that I love!