Find 5 Fantastic Peers

I decided to stay close to home this week when looking for inspiring peers.  There are tons of educators in my school, district, and local areas that are doing some innovative, inspiring things.  Here are my top 5…

1.  4th Grade Teacher, Mr. Wolf (aka as the leader of the “Wolf Pack”):  A colleague  in my school is a prolific Tweeter and a natural with technology.  He offers his students myriad opportunities to use technology in meaningful ways.  

2.  Jaime Lemon, 2nd Grade Teacher:  Jaime is 2nd grade teacher at a neighboring elementary school in my district.  She is constantly using technology to enhance instruction for even some of our youngest students.  Check out her Twitter account for the endless ideas that she shares.

3.  Matt Oberecker, QUEST Teacher and Educational Coach:  My colleague Matt has been involved in some pretty exciting research regarding personalized learning for the past year.  He has developed the idea of V.O.I.C.E.

Check out more information on his website!  I’m so proud of his work!!

4.  Matthew Landis, 8th Grade Teacher and author:  Matt Landis, a middle school teacher in my school district, wanted his students to see history as “ hilarious, shocking, tragic, disturbing, and altogether UN-boring”, so he decided to write historical fiction young-adult novels.  See his website for more information on Matt and his published books.

5.  AJ Juliani, Education and Technology Innovation Specialist- Centennial School District and author of LAUNCH:  I love that a “local guy” has written such an inspiring book for educators. I read his book, LAUNCH, in one day over the summer and couldn’t wait to put his ideas into motion in my own classroom. I’m also leading my school in his Global Day of Design scheduled for May 4th.  

Find Five Friday…Double Take!

#ED677 #F5F

SOO with all of these storms and power outages, I haven’t been able to get a post up… This Find 5 Friday…Double Take is for both last week and this week!

Find Five Friday #1

  1. Rachel posted a link to a TEDTalk that I found to be so inspiring and got me thinking a lot: “What Adults Can Learn from Kids”
  2. Rachel’s post reminded me of this:teacher
  3. This post (and this one) really helps us to step back and think about what WE learn each day.
  4. So, this isn’t a flipped classroom, but this article explains how students helped to flip some classrooms around! The ideas are really inspiring and can help to give us, as teachers,  a new outlook and understanding.
  5. So I stumbled upon this site for student publishing and found all of these student published books! Not only is this a job well done for these kids, but I think it is so inspiring that these students have taken on the world as their audience. What a fun idea!

Find Five Friday #2

So, as you know, I am involved in a bunch of social media outlets for teachers including TeachersPayTeachers, Facebook Groups, Twitter & Pinterest! These are just a few of my most recent finds and inspiring posts from these sites – all of these are ideas I would like to try in my own classroom.

  1. Math Ideas:
  2. ELA Ideas:

  3. Social Studies & Science Ideas:
  4. Community Building Ideas:
  5. This is actually a post that a friend of mine sent me… It is not directly a peer created resource, but it does help teachers to understand that we should be supporting each other (and sharing)! It is a great read and is really eye-opening. I hope it inspires you!

If anyone has any great resources to share, send them buy way – I’m always looking!

All my love,


Find 5 Friday #F5F

Happy Friday!

  1. The first person I would like to highlight is a faculty member in the Biology Department of Arcadia.  She is taking a group of students to Fiji over spring break to document marine flora and fauna and this year, she has decided to do this with NOAH.  I hope to be able to update you all on how that worked upon their return in mid-March!
  2.  I have a colleague doing another voyage with Semester at Sea and she is partnering with 4th grade classroom.  Each week, they email her questions about the port of call that she is about to visit and she creates a vlog in-port answering as many questions as possible, including, “does the toilet really swirl the opposite way in the southern hemisphere?”
  3. My Dean is taking students to Oman and engaging in geomapping.  Students use their mobile data enabled devices to “check-in” in a location and the check-ins create a picture.  Students will then write brief descriptions for each check-in which will help illustrate their experience abroad.
  4. This might be a bit narcissistic, but I am taking students to Spain today and we are working on digital storytelling.  Students will use video, voice over, pictures, and interviews to answer a research question they previously identified.  (I will update this post when they finish).
  5. The final piece that I’d like to highlight this week is the student spear-headed movement on-campus that addresses student food insecurity.  We are seeing an increased number of students who are struggling to pay for school, books, living, AND food.  So, Arcadia students, with the support of the student diversity office and student activities, have initiated a student food pantry and are looking to expand into toiletries as well.  Student voices being amplified and doing good!

Thursday Fun Finds!! – 5 people who inspire me week of 3/5!!

  1. My karate instructor(Sensei David) I been doing karate since I was six. I started karate because I was being bullied in school, overweight, and had no confidence in school. Sensei David told me too look in the mirror and list all the positives about myself. At the time, I was not able to list any positive things about myself. However, twelve years later, he had me do the same thing as I was earning my second degree black belt. I listed over 65 positive things about myself and the life I am living. He wanted me to believe in myself.
  2. My dad- My dad worked in a family owned  store full time 49 years. He owned a store called Penn Auto Parts. My dad did not miss a day in 42 years and would work everyday as hard as he could  to support my mom and I. My dad inspires me because he makes me understand work ethnic and how hard someone has to work to be successful.
  3. My friend- My friend overcame a cancer diagnosis. He made a personal blog of his life while he was battling cancer treatments. He never underestimated himself, and he never looked down on himself. He makes me notice how positive I should be everyday.
  4. My mom- My mom did not graduate high school personally. However, at the age of 42, she went back to school and earned her GED. My mom makes me never give up and helps me never give up and always follow my dreams.
  5. My mentor teacher- My mentor teacher is such a fantastic individual. She always goes out of her way to benefit others. She makes me learn how to become a distinguished teacher and a young adult with wonderful characteristics.

Mind Maps!

This week’s post will take on a different format, as I actually created a Flip-Grid video to discuss my Mind Map.


Ms. J

Find 5 this week from others who inspire me. Found these ideas…

Find 5 this week from others who inspire me. Found these ideas on a bunch of my art teacher blogs.  

1) Giant paint brush and pallet. This teacher made these props for her art show. I feel like this is a great project idea for my Spirit Art class to do for our up coming art show. we can use the props to help lead parents, teachers, and kids in the direction to locate the art show instead of signs, and posters. Last year we did card board cut outs of Disney Characters pointing the way. 

2)  Art Olympics! What a great idea for next year when the Olympics come back around. They have both indoor and outdoor events.

3) Graffiti Tape Art,

Love this idea because it is not a permanent display on the wall and more then one student can participate. Students love street art, and making things in the hall ways. 

4) Hand drawings, I did these this year using sign language and they turned out amazing. This is a nice way to switch up the project, plus I like the idea of hands at work. It lets them show their own creativity and interests. 

5) Puff paint stained glass. I come across lots of different variations of stained glass projects and these look awesome. My 7th and 8th graders would love to use puff paint. I seen other ways where they add paint to glue and use the squeeze glue to outline the edges and then acrylics to finish. Just another spin on a great project. 

A Letter to the Board

This week, while thinking about interest (in the political sense), I was challenged with writing a letter to express an idea, make an argument, or advocate for something.  At first I struggled with what to write about.  Usually I steer clear of the political, except when it is relevant for class.  However, there is something that has been festering in the back of my mind for a while now.

I decided to write a letter to the Board of trustees at t Arcadia University. I do not wish to go into detail about what I put in my letter, suffice it to say, it is not a flattering perspective on the university.  However, I would like to discuss the process I went through in writing the letter.

I have been feeling very defeated recently when I think about the topic I wrote on.  I feel defeated and powerless against the overwhelming tide of indifference.  From where I am sitting, the student-centered focus that is preached by this university, does not exist and I found myself recalling the following:

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because i was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out for the Jews
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

I reflected on this poem before writing my letter because speaking out about the injustice in our world is the responsibility of a citizen, in my opinion.  Students have strong voices as we have always seen, but especially more recently.  However, students do not always know how to use their voices or what their rights are or how to navigate the system because they have no one to teach them.  This is the responsibility of faculty and staff at all levels of education to teach students.  However, faculty and staff are often stymied by administration and/or silenced because it does not suit the ambitions of the administration.

While reflecting on this poem, I am reminded that, though it is uncomfortable, scary, and sometimes puts your livelihood in danger, it is important to practice what you preach and fight the injustices one sees in the world.

I chose to write the letter with a pen and paper.  It forced me to slow down, be intentional about my words, and reflect as I write.  I am angry and frustrated and seeing that on paper felt unproductive.  The first draft of my letter had lines through much of the letter, things scribbled out, and much highlighted and underlined.  If you could scream in writing, that’s what my letter endeavored to do.

I read my letter.  I felt the passion of the subject grip me and carry me away.  In my mind, I had gone to battle, fully equip with a suit of armor, helmet, and swords.  It wasn’t until I reached the end of reading my first draft that I realized I had done the gaming equivalent of a “rage quit” and dropped the mic (metaphorically speaking).

I did not empathize with those making the decisions, because believe it or not, I do understand some of the logic behind the decisions being made, even if I don’t agree with them.  I did not have a clear direction.  I did not give them anything to act upon or respond to in any real way.

So, I turned to students.  I went back read some Letters to the President 2.0 and learned from the incredible and passionate student population out there.  When I returned to my letter, I decided to take on a mentality of hope, something I took from the student letters.  If I were to send the letter I had already written, I am telling the board that I have given up on them, however, if I take a page from the book of the students and write with empathy and optimism, then perhaps this is what I will receive back.

My second draft, while still pointing out the short-comings and the poor decision making, also acknowledges the difficulty of the situation, the external factors, and expresses empathy appreciation for the time and effort they contribute to the university.

I am uncertain if I will send the letter, but the process of writing it was therapeutic and helped highlight for me, what I can do to empower student voices.



What characterizes classrooms where peer-connected learning takes place? – Cindy O’Donnell-Allen in Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom

Happy Monday!

A few months back, teachers in the Mendon-Upton Regional School District in Rhode Island were introduced to connected learning by educator and the director of Technology Integration Dave Quinn (@EduQuinn) . Dave wrote that “we are looking for insights from the connected learning community on how to implement this approach a school setting. In 90 seconds (or less), can you share one big idea or simple action step to begin creating a connected learning classroom?”

Check out some of the results gathered here:

This week let’s continue to learn with and alongside our peers – this time connecting beyond just each other and meeting some educator/learners at UC Denver in a graduate level teacher inquiry course. The instructor, Julia Kantor, will invite them to make with us and then share what they make on a new flipgrid that we will share.

Make, Part I

This week, I encourage you to “make” something new that goes beyond blogging with words; this week I’d like you to Make A Map!

What is a map? According to Wikipedia, “map” comes from the early 16th from medieval Latin mappa mundi, literally ‘sheet of the world,’ from Latin mappa ‘sheet, napkin’ + mundi ‘of the world’ (genitive of mundus ).

Start to make a map, or a world napkin, of your learning and thinking so far about connected learning and equity … a map could show a path you’ve taken or one you are thinking about, it can show places you’ve been and artifacts you’ve collected, it can pick up dreams you’ve had or ambitions you are fostering, or a map can support another in finding a way. Your map can start anywhere … and end anywhere … and like these educator-made examples, your map can be on paper, can be made with watercolor, it can be digital, it can be interactive, it can be textual, it can be chronological. It can even be a collage or a mash-up.

How you make your map is completely up to you.

Make, Part II

Once you have made your map, let’s also try to share it, and your reflections on it, in a new way. I have created a Flipgrid: that I have also shared with other educators studying at the University of Colorado Denver.

I love the design of Flipgrid and find it relatively easy to use if you have a microphone/camera set up to your computer (you’ll see I tested it). First, start by clicking the big green + button, then to record click on the red camera. You can record and re-record until you are satisfied. Follow the green “next” to continue.

Once you understand Flipgrid, use it to share your map with us. Tell us what you made, how you made it and what you notice about your journey so far exploring connected learning and equity. Remember that you are sharing this with peers – in our class as well as other educators also interested in learning more about equity in connected learning and teaching. Flipgrid is also publicly available, so please keep that in mind when sharing.


Now I’d like us to shift our focus to youth and the ways they are working together in communities of peers. Start with Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom this time and think about the implications of peer support and peer culture with Cindy O’Donnell-Allen, Katie McKay, Lacy Manship, and their awesome students.

Have you heard of the Harry Potter Alliance? I learned about the HPA through colleagues who were working on understanding the intersections of fan interests and civic action and saw HPA as an example of youth-led connected learning. In regards to the peer-supported aspects of this work they write,

[HPA chapters] … see themselves not only as organizations with civic goals, but also ones that are constituted on social relationships. HPA mandates that there are at least two chapter organizers to share the burden. Chapters often begin with the organizers bringing together a group of their friends … Group activities can often be purely social in nature, like going ice skating or out for hot chocolate. Organizers stress the strength of the social relationships between members, and often friendships extend well beyond the official activities of the group.

What’s the outcome? In 2015 the Harry Potter Alliance made national headlines with this article in the Washington Post about How ‘Harry Potter’ Fans Won a Four-Year Fight Against Child Slavery. And today, I notice HPA continuing its work; one part of which is helping to organize other fans, such as those emerging around the blockbuster movies Black Panther and Wrinkle In Time. See a recent Black Panther focused twitter chat at #fanactivistcon.

Let’s continue this focus on civic and community engagement and think about the complexities of this work with Sangita Shresthova in her chapter 4, Between Storytelling and Surveillance: The Precarious public of American Muslim Youth from By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism and then focus on chapter 4. (An annotatable version is also available.)

End this week’s reading/watching with Brother Mike, formerly of the Digital Youth Network, as he talks about the role of mentors, including teachers and “near-peers” in growth and learning.


Find 5/6/7 things that inspire you made by your peers (and near-peer/mentors).

Mid-Semester Self Assessment

Since we are almost mid-semester (and into Spring Break), it is also a good time to check in on your work in this course and do a self-assessment. This self-assessment is the same one that I will ask you to complete, and turn in to me, at the end of the semester.

This mid-semester one is not a requirement to turn in, but simply meant to be a tool for your own learning and reflection. I have also included a link for you to give me feedback as the instructor.

See the ED677 Self Assessment Guide.

In Connected Solidarity,