The Importance of Being a Connected Educator

This is a new blog that I posted on my Rethinking Education blog.  I thought I would share it with you.  Enjoy the week!


The Commodore 64

Back in the early 1990’s, I was working on my master thesis for graduate school in music.  During this time, the personal computer was really taking shape and was still pricey for the times.  I remember our first PC.  I was working on my thesis and begged my husband to purchase one for the house.  He kept saying to me, “All you want to do is chat on AOL.”  That was not quite the reason why as you know, to write a thesis, like a dissertation, it was much easier to use Microsoft Word and use the program’s ability to create footnotes at the bottom of the page.  (I cannot fathom how folks did it before computers!)

At the time, the only service we could get was dial-up.  You heard that distinct dial tone and the crunching of sounds, trying to hook up through a web service such as AOL, Earthlink or Prodigy.  Your monthly fee would enable dial-up service, email, news, and a search engine to surf the world wide web.  I remember having the ability to chat using the AOL protocol, but never really used it as not many folks had personal computers.

Enter the 21st century.  Now, we use social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Blogs to connect.  But why is this so important for us as educators and administrators to use these tools?  You say to yourself, “But I don’t want people to find out what I am doing and have my information on the web. Or, Twitter?  Really, as a professional development tool?”  You bet, and the best part, it’s all FREE!!

The platforms that I identified, I use to increase what we call, a PLN (Personal/Professional Learning Network).  This means connecting to like minded folks who are passionate about education and discussing what is best for students.  For me personally, using Twitter as a professional development tool has rejuvenated my career and connected me to some “Rock Stars” in my PLN.  There are times I am chatting with my New York friends about good practice and other times chatting with Rockstar educators such as Todd Whitaker, Peter DeWitt and even Arne Duncan.  The best part that I cannot stress enough is that it is free.  It also gets me off of “the lonely island of administration.”  If I have a problem that I don’t have an answer too, it’s very easy to “dial-up” my PLN and in less than an hour, I get a response to my question.  Need a little mentorship, tweet out to your PLN and instantly, they come to your rescue because they are connected.  Want to meet your PLN?  Go to some conferences like the SAANYS, NASSP, NAESP, NYSCATE and ISTE conference and participate in a Tweet-up.  Better yet, go to an Edcamp, free learning, face-to-face and live tweeting.

To  open an account with Twitter is easy.  You go to the website and join and the program will pull you through the steps and voila, you have a username.  Use a unique username, something that identifies who you are.  My twitter handle is  @VictoriaL_Day, makes sense because that is my name and it identifies that it is me.  I also uploaded a picture as well as explaining who I am in the biography slot.  Once you have opened an account, follow someone, like me.  See who they are following and who follows them.

Twitter is not like Facebook.  You only have 140 characters to write what you are thinking or answer a question or provide a link to an article or a blog.  You do have to remember that this is Social Media (SM) but a rule of thumb is this, anything you post whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or a blog or a comment on a blog is a digital footprint.  Just think of it this way, do I want my parents of students, staff and my family reading this, then you will be safe.  Also, be kind – it is okay to agree to disagree in chats, but we are here to learn.

The thing we Twitter aficionados say to do for beginner tweeps is once you join, start lurking.  Start lurking  on various chats and tweeps that you follow.  Join a chat using a hashtag.  The hashtag is the hash symbol # with the word or term used after the symbol.  It groups all tweets into one stream or group that you can follow.  For instance, I co-moderate, with Tony Sinanis, Bill Brennan, Blanca Duarte, Carol Varsalona and Starr Stackstein,  #NYEDChat every other Monday at 8:30p.m. EST.  You can easily join our chat’s on Monday evenings, lurk and see our conversation.  Another powerful chat to follow is #satchat every Saturday at 7:30a.m. The moderation team of Scott Rocco, Billy Krakower and Brad Curie started a revolution about two years ago and it has taken off so fast that they had to open chats on the west coast (#satchatwc) and expanded to Oceania (#satchatoc).  I remember it was just a few of us starting the global conversation, and then it took off like wildfire. It is so hard to keep up with the chat because people are tweeting is so fast.

So, I challenge you to open yourself and get connected, whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.  Start lurking.  Follow us on our chats and watch how your PLN will start to grow.  Once you start, I promise, you will be hooked.  It will rejuvenate your career!

Other News
  • Bus Duty for Mar 10 – Mar 21  Team 3:  Jessica Serviss and Teresa Kiechle.  Upcoming bus duty:  Mar. 24 – Apr. 4  Team 4:  Jennifer Prevost, Marci Woods, Kathy Buell
  • I will be continuing with walk through’s , especially at the 3-5 level and finishing focusing on staff that will be involved with NYS testing first.
  • 3-5 teachers involved with NYS Testing and for all, April 1st, 2nd and 3rd are the first testing dates for ELA.  Math is April 30th, May 1st and May 2nd. Teacher directions have been placed in your mailboxes.  Please review this and highlight things you need to know to prepare your room.  For everyone, please highlight these dates as we will be busy administering the test and special schedules may be swapped.  More information to follow!
Things in the Twittersphere
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!
App of the Week
Flipboard is an app that captures t, discovers, collects and shares the news you care about.  It can be from many different publications, as well as follow your social media feeds.  You can catch the latest technology news, follow the New York Times, CNN, or one of your favorite magazines that shares there articles on the service.  The best part, it’s FREE!!  You know I like free.  Flipboard is available in the iTunes store, Google Play, Windows Store, BlackBerry World.  If you are a news junky, this is one of the apps you want.
Other Items of Interest

Share My Lesson has a virtual conference set for March 11-13, in the evening, so teachers can participate. There are dozens of webinars to choose from.

The results of a survey about homework indicate that students are asked to do a lot of homework, perhaps too much? Do you talk about homework, the amount and its purpose, in your school?

This publicly available article from Educational Leadership describes how to use polling to gather data and provide feedback in real time.

Managing your project well is critical to a successful project – here are some tips .

Learn about one school’s transition to Project Based Learning. At this high school, more than 30 classes are being redesigned. Wow!

When creating a bully-free environment, rules and regulations are insufficient. The underlying climate can be influenced by deliberate efforts to increase the emotional intelligence of the school. One such approach, known as RULER, has proved effective.

Here’s some information about 3-8 testing:

Here are some suggestions for small schools and singletons working to be Professional Learning Communities (PLC).

Here are mentoring resources for March from Just ASK Publications, including the monthly mentoring calendar.

The College Board has announced major changes to the SAT.

If you are looking to make good rubrics and to make rubrics work better for you and your students, this is a great resource.

This column and infographic explain how you can use color to your advantage in the classroom.

Read about how one teacher makes sure that all children in her classroom belong. In a way, she employs pedagogical and assessment strategies to make sure.

A Touch of Humor
Close to Home

Continuous Learning


The Commodore 64

Boy do things change fast!  Remember your first computer experience? I do like it was yesterday. I remember trying to create music on a Commodore 64 in the “computer lab” in the Crane library for hours, programming language and experimenting to create sounds through a machine.  And then, the Apple Mac came.  That was like, whoa, what just happened? Forget about that clunker the Commodore 64, that was a dinosaur!  We were in that lab for hours on end, creating music with all of our neat-o 1980’s gadgets using the Mac, Roland keyboards and the such.  They are all obsolete now, except of course, the newer Apple Mac and the new electronic keyboards are to die for.  Now, it’s all easy, just download an app, like Garage Band on your iPhone or iPad, and voila, you can create a great tune, with all types of instrumental sounds, and use it in a performance. Easy smeezy

You all know that I am a musician and my passion is music.  I am also a techie at heart.  I love technology and have been hooked on to it since music school.  I love new gadgets and trying new things, like getting the new Nexus 7 tablets in and working with them to do a training for K-2 teachers.  (Psych, your K-2 teachers is going to like this one!)  I love to watch how teachers utilize technology and engage and enhance their teaching and watching the engagement of students.  I know that technology is only a tool – it is not the end-all-be-all for our students.  Great teachers are!

What I am getting at is this;  I love to learn.  I think we all do and that is why we are in the profession that we are in.  Every day, I learn something new just by the relationships I have developed with teachers, students, parents and administrators.  I also learn via social media, using Twitter as a professional learning tool and connecting to educators 24/7 is sometimes overwhelming but exciting in the same breath.  How powerful it is to host a Tuesday night Twitter chat and watch 20 connected, engaged educators from Gouverneur engage in conversation about great teaching and sharing strategies along with others throughout the nation, tweeting in to share their thoughts and strategies.  How powerful is that?

I learn from walking around and visiting your classrooms and learn from a  fantastic group of educators who put their heart and soul into providing engaging lessons.  I also love the conversations that are happening when I ask questions such as I did with Kim Johnson about how 1st graders are counting by 10’s and then go to Steph’s room and watch her work on base ten with students, seeing how the Math modules are connected.  Boy they are different, that’s for sure!

So, let’s continue our continuous learning, taking opportunities to learn something new every day, expanding our knowledge and working together through our connections and collaboratively working together. Keep an open mind and let’s grow as a professional learning community.  You folks are the best!!  I am honored!  Have a great week!


  • Bus Duty for Oct. 21 – Nov 1 Team 4:  Jennifer Prevost, Marci Woods, Gina Caldwell Oct. 21-Nov 1 Upcoming bus duty Nov 4 – Nov 15  Team 5:  Kathy Buell, Kate Spriggs, Megan Weldon
  • I heard from Brenda Trivilino.  She went into surgery Friday and is recovering at home now.  The surgery went well, that the lesion was small and the cancer contained in the uterus.  Phew.  She is waiting for the pathology to come back to get cleared.  Keep Brenda in your thoughts and prayers and she recovers!  Thanks!
  • I will be doing walk through’s next week, but not on Halloween!! 🙂
  • Please make sure you are setting-up SLO/LLO meetings with me.  
  • My friend Peter DeWitt writes about delivering effective feedback to everyone.
  • A new letter to parents about testing has been created by New York State Principals’. 
  • My friend Larry Ferrlazo has a great blog he did on The Best Resources for Learning How to  Best Give Feedback to Students. He’s worth the follow.
  • Grant Wiggins puts his two cents about E.D. Hirsch’s tired refrain of main idea.  (E.D. Hirsch’s company is Core Knowledge!) He sites the work of John Hattie, one of my favs!!
  • Please check the East Side Announcement page for updated dates, announcements etc.  Lisa is updating this continually!
  • What are the five things you are grateful for?  Make a list daily.  It does wonders!
  • Be the change agent for kids!  Be a champion for kids.  Every kid deserves a champion!

Other Items of Interest

The Board of Regents has decided that New York State will not implement PARCC in 2014-2015. Whether or not PARCC is adopted at all will be determined in the future. Thispresentation explains PARCC and the rationale for the decision to delay. The reasons cited for this delay are inadequate technology, longer administration times, and higher costs. Field testing will continue and New York will remain part of the PARCC consortium. No matter what, districts should continue to prepare for eventual computer-based testing, whether PARCC or NYS assessments are administered.


Another Board of Regents presentation explains the status of New York’s assessment system. Information about which assessments are required, which are “optional,” administration duration, and myths about testing are included.


SealThe Board of Regents has directed SED to apply for permission to no longer require students taking Algebra 1 in 8th grade to also have to take the 8th grade exam. These students would, however, be required to take and pass an additional Math Regents exam while in high school.


No matter what scale scores are used on the new Common Core-aligned Regents exams, the department will provide a chart to convert it to a 0-100 range. Although the 0-100 conversion will be provided, these should not be interpreted as percentages.

Josh Haner/ The New York Times Thomas L. Friedman


Thomas Freidman reveals “The Secret” to Shanghai’s education success in this column. Shhh.

Teachers Principals
Highly Effective 49.7% 26%
Effective 41.8% 60.9%
Developing 4.4% 7.5%
Ineffective 1% 2.2%
What does this mean?
Preliminary results for 2012-2013 APPR scores:
Politifact has fact-checked some of the arguments against the Common Core.

new study confirms the previous findings that students who come from affluent households have a much greater vocabulary than students from poverty. This study has identified the gap at as early as eighteen months.

This session will feature two different strategies that are key to Common Core-aligned math teaching: designing good fluency activities and using model drawing to solve a variety of word problems.


Contrast NY’s 80%/75% definition of College & Career Ready with theSchool Success Rubric. Which do you think is closer to what our students need for their future?


This report from the National Clearinghouseprovides data about aggregated college enrollment and persistence.

Twenty-eight questions you want your students to be able to answer. These might be more important than most of the questions we answer.
Grades 6-8 | ELA | ELL | CCSS
For a fantastic overview of this unit and the ways texts are being integrated for English Language Learners, this video will be your map!
Grades 6-8 | ELA | ELL | CCSS
Join Ms. Langlois for not only an insightful lesson about analyzing texts, but watch for how she works to build background knowledge for her ELLs.
Grades 6-8 | ELA | ELL | CCSS
Stick with Ms. Langlois as she reveals how she gets her hetergenously-organized classroom interacting with vocabulary on a conceptual level.
A Touch of Humor
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