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SXSWEDU, A Brief Reflection Before the Show

My first sxswedu was years ago. I was speaking in the google room, not on program, but on behalf of an app developer…a developer who only knew me from my constant tweets about their product. It was the first time that I presented at any conference bigger than a regional and the first time that I was ever face to face with the non-school side of edtech. Oh my gosh, everyone wanted to pitch me their product!  The significant part to this story is that like many teachers who wished to attend conferences, even with the event ticket covered by …


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Why Seeing Hidden Figures is Important

As a student in school, I didn’t have a Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan or Mary Jackson to look up to. Heck, I never even heard their names until college when we were privileged to learn from the great Dr. Evelyn Boyd Granville, mathematician and former IBM programmer who actually created programs written for NASA through their contract with IBM. She was the one that told us about these women but even then, it didn’t quite sink in as to the magnitude of their work and the sacrifices made to pave the way for all of us. Still, that was college and thinking back …


In Search of Hope

“Even in the inevitable moments when all seems hopeless, men know that without hope they cannot really live, and in agonizing desperation they cry for the bread of hope.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr I’m struggling. For months, the sound bytes of politics have plagued my heart and spirit with so much doubt that experiencing kindness is more shocking than expected. …and I hate it I’ve watched clips, heard audio and read some of the most vitriolic chatter amongst people who have yet to understand the cultural progress of our country and all of it’s “melting pot” glory. I regret watching …


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Edtech Still Doesn’t Get Diversity and We’re Tired

I could talk all day about my new obsession with the NY Times T Brand Studios and what digital storytelling should be in schools. I get giddy when sharing how hearing Megan Smith talk about inclusive computational thinking beyond drag & drop coding helped me to frame our district’s work in making “makered” accessible to all. I’m obsessed with raspberry pi, arduino, makey makey…etc and more importantly providing these tools for kids to invent their heart’s desires . Heck, we held a series of invention camps for our students this summer and I would love to share how others can and …


Understanding the Business, Politics and Art of School Edtech Leadership

I am convinced that people who work “in edtech” but outside of schools have zero clue as to how schools run. It becomes even more apparent as my phone rings at the oddest, yet calculated times…beginning of the day, around “lunch”…end of the day. My caller ID almost always bears the name of some edtech company or rep and I cringe each and every time. To keep it real, I also choose not to answer because the “cold call” is such a blatant disrespect of not only my time but all of us that work in schools. Do you seriously think that …


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Errors in Innovation and Call-Out Culture of Edtech

This exchange happened at a SMART Global Summit two years ago… Setting: SMART Exec surrounded by teachers brought in to give feedback on SMART Amp Exec: So what do you think about Amp? Would you take this back to your school district as a recommendation? Me: Absolutely not. There’s nothing that this product does that can’t be accomplished with google apps. Why would we pay $7 per student for something that we can already accomplish at zero cost? Frankly, I think that you need to seek input from teachers beyond your core community. Many other teachers agreed and added to this feedback, …


Social Marketing EDU and the Art of Learning While Doing

I am absolutely convinced that the internet exists for people like me. You know…the kind of people that when asked to do something will base whether or not they can do it on the availability of online instructions. I am 100% THAT person and so far, it hasn’t failed me yet. It almost did though. The other day, I was given my superintendent’s request for our district convocation surrounding integrating a social media experience for our staff. Her request seemed simple enough… Display tweets on the big screen with high quality visible images. Create a twitter leaderboard of original tweets so …


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Why I’m Not Cautiously Quiet, Lesson From My Father

Earlier in my career, I made the transition from middle school math teacher to high school geometry teacher. This was especially significant in a school district where I was not only the first black math teacher in my school ever but definitely the first one in high school teaching a core content area who was not also a coach. My next door neighbor at the time, a well respected business ed black teacher, pulled me aside to offer the best possible advice meant to guarantee my survival. “When you get to that high school, don’t let them know that you …


Reflecting on A Summer of Making and Hacking the Classroom with Students

“One of these days, when we are older and doing this same work but as mentors to other kids, they’ll ask us how long we’ve been engineering things and because of this week, we’ll be able to say to them…I’ve been doing this since childhood. Do you have any idea what you’ve done for us and how powerful this is?” – Student  Back in January, when I “optimistically wrote” on my PiCademy USA application that I wanted to do PiCamps for kids, giving them all their own raspberry pi device with accessories, I honestly had no clue if it could …