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Do You Want to Form an Alliance With Me? (Take 2)

In March, I posed the following question: Do You Want to Form an Alliance With Me?  I asked educators around the world to join me in an exercise of blogging, commenting, and encouraging other blogging educators.  The response was amazing.  74 educators signed up to be a part of the alliance.  We...

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Stoodle: Instant Free Virtual Classroom

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, Create, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Video Tutorials, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 21-02-2014

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Stoodle Free Instant Virtual Classroom

What it is:
Stoodle is a free, instant online classroom. Stoodle offers real-time collaboration on a virtual whiteboard with as many pages as are needed. With Stoodle you have the ability to use both voice conferencing and text chat for collaboration. All virtual classrooms can be stored for later access. Within the whiteboard, you can upload images and use whiteboard drawing tools. These virtual classrooms give you instant collaboration with students.

How to use Stoodle in your classroom: Stoodle is a great way to create an instant virtual classroom for you and your students to interact. Stoodle could be used for an impromptu tutoring session or class reviews. This gives you “office” hours that students can count on some additional support without you actually having to be in the office.

In addition to using Stoodle as a virtual classroom, it is a great place to offer students individual feedback on work that they’ve done. Walk students through their project and they can access the notes made and walk through later (as can parents).

Stoodle would be an AWESOME way to be everywhere at once in your classroom. I often set up centers and learning experiences that students could go through independently while I worked with a small group of two or three students during reading, writing, or math. Stoodle would make a great center rotation on classroom computers in any subject.

Students can use Stoodle to connect with other classes, work on homework or outside of school assignments with peers, and record their thought process for working through problems.

Stoodle is super simple to use, just create a new class session and share the link with participants. That is it! It couldn’t be easier to use. Stoodle works in any web browser AND on iPads!

If your students have a special skill or knowledge, this is a great way for them to share it with others!

If you lead professional development or sessions at conferences, Stoodle could be really useful for real-time collaboration that participants can access again at a later time.

Tips: Class sessions can be shared via email, link, Twitter, or Facebook.

Acting on hindsight #edchat

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Classroom Management, professional development | Posted on 13-01-2014

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I hate that we have to do trainings like this.  I really do. It breaks my heart that within 15 minutes of Anastasis 3 major school shootings have taken place.  I hate that I know what it is like to wait on the outside. That I know intimately how it breaks families when their child is the one.  That I also know what it is like to worry about kids I’ve known since they were 5. It doesn’t get easier.

I also hate that we have to do fire drills. The reality of why we have to do those drills makes me sad. That a fire drill exists because there were some who died in a fire is equally sad. Yet we do them regularly.  I can’t remember a time when I actually heard of a child dying in a school fire, but I’m sure it has happened.  So we run drills. 6 times every year.  We practice getting out of the building safe so that, heaven forbid, if a fire ever happened, evacuating would feel second nature.  We would all know what to do.

No matter how many times we train, when tragedy strikes it feels different. Time slows down and, at the same time, goes impossibly fast. Decisions matter. This is when we fall back on all of the training and hope that our muscles remember what their job is. We work hard to be calm for kids.  We know implicitly that we will do anything to keep our kids safe.

I was in a neighboring high school during the Columbine school shooting. This was the first time that I remember ever being in “Lock down.”  My algebra 2 teacher quickly locked the classroom door.  We turned out the lights.  We stayed out of site from the door and were asked to be totally silent.  Later we would turn on the TV (cable in the classroom was new), and watch as friends poured out of the high school down the street.  We would keep lists of those we saw so that we could tell each other who we knew was accounted for.  Afterward I would hear stories from those inside about how it went. Some hid in closets. Some under tables. All waited. In some cases that waiting led to friends dying under the neighboring table. Hindsight is always 20/20.  Now we know how quickly it was all over inside the school. Now we look at the number of law enforcement on the outside of the school with all of their armor and weapons and wonder why they sat and waited SO long on the outside. Now we wonder why those who could evacuate stayed where they were and waited…even knowing that there was a gunman in the building. Hindsight is hard. There is so much to do differently.

But we don’t really.  15 years later and little has changed about how we respond to danger. A shooter in the building and we tell teachers and students to stay put and wait.

Now I have my own school.  Anastasis Academy.  It is incumbent on me to use that hindsight to prepare differently.  I know how this goes. I still hate that it is necessary. It still gives me that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that somehow by preparing, we would be inviting trouble. I guess this is the same reason people don’t like writing wills.  That superstition that if they don’t do it- nothing can happen because they won’t be ready.  The real world doesn’t wait for us to be ready.

Social Media has done a lot of great things for me professionally.  It pushed me to start a school.  Most recently, a connection I first made online, led to a friendship.  @laurascheer isn’t an educator.  We started talking on Twitter because she has kids of her own. She is interested in education as a parent. Then we realized we live within 5 minutes of each other and met.  Laura introduced me to a client of hers, @taconeconsulting.  I had no idea a company like Tac One existed.

Being in charge of a school is hard. It is hard to balance what you know about kids, with what you know about the world, and what you know about liability.  But I’ve seen school shootings up close. I know how they go.  I had a hard time doing lock down the way that every other school does lock down. I guess I was waiting for permission to trust my instincts.  After the Arapahoe shooting, Laura messaged me and asked if we would be interested in having Tac One Consulting come out and train us.
I immediately accepted (despite the irrational “jinx” alarm in my mind).  On Saturday all Anastasis staff went through Tac One’s Beyond Lockdown Training. I’m so glad that we did!  Joe helped us see that this is no different from preparing for a fire. The hope is always that all the training will go without a test. But, in the instance that you need it, you have it.

The team teaches what I’ve always suspected should be the case: if your students are able to get out of the building (where all the law enforcement is…or will soon be…hanging out) do it. Evacuation is the best case scenario, NOT sitting and waiting the way many of us have been told to do for 15 years. Tac One even taught us how to evacuate so that we do so in a safe, smart way.

If for some reason we can’t get out of the building, we were taught how to secure our classrooms.  Joe walked us through each room and helped us think through what could be used to do this. Visualizing what is available puts your mind at ease. You have a plan, you aren’t left sitting in the dark. We also learned about various guns. What they look like, how they work, what the bullets and magazines look like. If you come upon a hallway with discarded magazines, you now have a better idea of what you are dealing with. Knowledge is power. We were taught how to disarm a shooter in a “safe” manner (not sure this is ever safe).  We took turns practicing this on Tac One’s bad guy, John.  We learned how to more safely navigate halls, how to fight back if it all goes poorly, etc.

I’ll say it again, I pray that I will NEVER need any of this knowledge. But I also hope I will never need fire drill knowledge. I also hope I will never have to put our tornado drill to the test.  I will continue to run our staff through ALL of these drills and trainings because I haven’t figured out how to predict the future or how to prevent bad things from happening.

I am beyond thankful for Tac One’s training not only from a tactical standpoint, but also for the reminder of the truly incredible people I’ve surrounded myself with. This was a great reminder of the trust that I have in my staff. If I ever need someone to have my back, I’m glad that they are around!

capitalizing on hindsight

School administrators- I encourage you to take a good look at your lock down procedures. Are you doing the same things that have been done for the past 15 years? Even with all we know about how this goes?

Teachers- You are the first line of defense. Protecting kids falls on your shoulders. If your school has a tired lock down policy, encourage them to look at a training like Tac One offers.

Parents- Know what your child’s school does to keep your kids safe. If there is room to grow, push. This is important. Pray that it never happens, but don’t make assumptions that it won’t ever happen to your child’s school.

It is up to us to protect that which is most precious. I want to know that I’ve taken every possible measure to do that.  Before Laura pointed me to Joe at Tac One, I didn’t know such a training was available to schools. It is.  Check it out.

Thank you Joe at @taconeconsulting and @laurascheer very much appreciated!

The Very Best Use of a Weekend: #RSCON4

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Reform Symposium Conference, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video, Video Tutorials, Virtual Field Trips | Posted on 10-10-2013

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I am SO excited for this weekend.  It is the Reform Symposium Conference!!!  Seriously, I feel a little bit giddy.  Like a child on Christmas morning.  As an adult, RSCON is one of the things that can bring back the same feelings of anticipation and eagerness.  So much learning is about to happen this weekend!  Best of all, it is INSPIRED learning.  What could be better than surrounding yourself with a weekend packed full of inspiration, learning, hope, edu-friends and encouragement? Nothing, that’s what.

In case you’ve been out of the loop in the world of social media lately, this is BIG!  You will not want to miss this FREE worldwide virtual conference.  It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, what you are wearing, how disastrous (or epic) your week was, because RSCON4 is available to everyone.  Please look at the schedule (conveniently made available in your preferred timezone) and plan to join us for as much of the conference as you can.  I’m overjoyed that I get to be a part of this incredible conference again.  Although I’ve been the very WORST organizer, I’m truly so honored to be a part of something so important.

I’ll be presenting on Sunday with @michellek107 and @nancybabbitt, we will share a little bit of the “secret” sauce that makes Anastasis so awesome. Drop in and join the conversation.  Better yet: drop in to several sessions and join the conversation! Looking forward to learning with all of you!

 

Reform Symposium Free Virtual Conference

Host an RSCON4 Meetup Party- Introduce Colleagues to Your PLN!

Posted by admin | Posted in collaboration, education reform, Grade Level, inspiration, Reform Symposium Conference | Posted on 01-10-2013

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Reform Symposium Free Worldwide Conference

If you have never attended an online conference, you should definitely take the opportunity to try one out on October 11-13 for the Reform Symposium Conference.  The line up of keynote speakers, presenters, and panel discussions is FANTASTIC.  It is like traveling around the world for inspiration from the comfort of your living room.  I really can’t say enough about how excited I am for this awesome weekend of learning!  Please join us for as much as you can, you will not be disappointed!  Plus, what could be better than learning with a bunch of friends from your living room?  You don’t even have to worry about what attire you should wear (I’ll be in PJs for sure!).

Be sure to join @michellek, @nancybabbitt and me for our session Connections Through Inquiry on Sunday! We’ll be talking up strategies that we use at Anastasis Academy as teachers and learners.  Check out the online schedule in your timezone and plan to join us!

If you are an online conference regular who is constantly working to get other teachers at your school to attend (with no luck), why not consider hosting a Reform Symposium Conference meetup party?  If they won’t engage in online community on their own, bring the community to them!  This would be a great way to help those who are less tech savvy get involved in some professional development in a way that feels ‘safe.’  Choose a location with good wifi (this could be a room at school, your living room, a local coffee shop), load up on fun snacks, invite some friends and learn together!  I have done this in the past with great success! It is all kinds of fun and adds a level of safety for first timers.  Use this event as an opportunity to introduce your offline colleagues to your online PLN (personal learning network).  I find that people are more likely to engage online for learning when they feel like they have a connection to others going in.  When they start a great conversation during a session, help them continue it by signing up for Twitter.

If you want to get really fancy, share my Twitter posters as a party gift.  Help those who haven’t signed up to sign up and connect to those they met during the conference.  Following the conference, send others at your school a “Learning Moment of the Day” along with a link to the community (member) that shared it with you.

Sometimes all it takes to connect people is a new approach to the invitation delivery. :)

 

We are still looking for volunteers to help with the conference!

Volunteer to Moderate Sessions for the Reform Symposium E-Conference (RSCON4)

RSCON would not be so inspiring without a highly devoted group of volunteer moderators to keep the conference running with as few hiccups as possible. Moderators play one of the most important roles by jumping into various sessions and helping presenters and participants have a great experience. Additionally, volunteers get to meet our inspiring presenters and introduce them to the audience. To become part of this super amazing team, sign up at http://www.futureofeducation.com/group/2013-rscon-volunteers and use the booking calendar to schedule volunteer time, http://rsconvolunteers.youcanbook.me

Also, attend one of our Blackboard Collaborate training sessions so you are familiar with the platform, http://bit.ly/rscon4trainingpg

Thank you for helping us inspire educators worldwide!

If you have questions about volunteering for the conference, one of our volunteer organizers would be happy to help!  Tweet your questions to one of the awesome organizers listed below!
Peggy George (@Pgeorge), Marcia Lima (@Bamarcia), Chiew Pang (@AClilToClimb), Jo Hart  (@JoHart), Phil Hart (@PhilHart)

Free worldwide conference: Reform Symposium (#RSCON)

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, collaboration, education reform, Grade Level, inspiration, professional development, Reform Symposium Conference, Teacher Resources | Posted on 23-09-2013

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Reform Symposium Free Worldwide Conference

In conjunction with Connected Educator Month, I’m excited to share with you all the 4th (!!!) annual Reform Symposium Conference (RSCON).  In case you aren’t familiar with this OUTSTANDING conference, it is a FREE online three-day event that brings together educators, students and innovators from all over the world.  Mark your calendar right now for October 11th to 13th (2013). 

Full disclosure: I’m one of the organizers for the Reform Symposium Conference.  You might call me the very worst organizer. :)  I have been seriously falling down on the job this time around!  I seem to have overly lofty goals for my weeks.  It looks manageable on the calendar and then kids, parents, school must-solve-problems crowd in.

The Reform Symposium Conference is so dear to me and such a big part of my story in starting my own school.  The conference started the year before I left the classroom and has stretched into me starting my own school.  As a result of this conference, I grew in ways I couldn’t imagine.  I made strong connections in my personal learning network and connected with educators around the world.  What better way to celebrate Connected Educator Month?!

The Reform Symposium Conference is a global community initiative to transform teaching and learning.  This is a highly inclusive and engaging online event that will encourage you toward transformative approaches toward teaching and learning.  To attend this year’s conference and keep up with the latest conference news and updates, please join this network.

Exciting news for this year’s conference: 

  • Sugata Mitra is the opening plenary you guys!!  Sugata is the 2013 TED prize winner and instigator of the Hole-in-the-Wall experiment.  You will not want to miss it!
  • Internationally renowned electric violinist Steve Bingham will conduct a live performance.
  • There will be 10+ international keynotes.
  • 4 Panel discussions that feature distinguished experts in education.
  • More than 100 presentations by educators around the world (something for everyone to learn and grow in their practice!)

If you would like to help out with this awesome event, you can volunteer here.

 

I’m honored to have been a part of this incredible conference since year 1.  I hope that you will join us for an incredible weekend of connection, learning, laughing, inspiration and growth!  Sign up now!

8 alternatives to Google Reader

Posted by admin | Posted in Blogs, For Teachers, professional development, Teacher Resources, web tools, Web2.0 | Posted on 12-06-2013

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8 alternatives to Google Reader

I’ve been in mourning over Google’s decision to shut down Reader.  MOURNING.  Honestly, I love having a centralized location for all of my favorite blogs.  It is like my own customized newspaper delivered each morning.  I’ve been using Google Reader since about 2007, and in that time I’ve amassed an enormous collection of favorites.  Whenever I find something I want to remember or be able to go back and read, I Tweet it out and then immediately favorite it.  I can’t tell you how often I go to my Reader when I’m remembering something great that I favorited that I want to revisit or share.  Daily.

Google Reader is closing the door on July 1st.  I’ve been trying to pretend that this day isn’t coming.  Denial won’t stop it.  Today I decided to settle in and start going through my favorites to save them to my Pinterest boards.  I’ve found some great alternatives for Google Reader, but I have yet to find one that transfers both current RSS feeds and favorites.  I talked to Feedly on Twitter and they said that they are working on it.  I haven’t seen this feature added yet.  Not willing to lose all of those favorites, I’m going through the painstaking process of saving them elsewhere.  On the upside: I’m being reminded of the brilliance I’m surrounded by online.

If you are looking for a replacement RSS feed reader (say for your favorite blog…*ahem*) here are some great alternatives.

1. The Old Reader is in beta, it was built to be a replacement for Google Reader.  It looks a whole lot like the Google Reader you know and love.  For those super geeks (own it!) you can even use the same keyboard shortcuts.  This option is free but is currently browser-based only…no mobile apps yet.  Alas, that is where I do the majority of my reading.

2. Feedly is a good RSS reader alternative.  In addition to collecting your RSS feeds for you, it has a news suggestion algorithm that will suggest other articles that you will probably find interesting.  Great unless you have a reader like I do…then it becomes an endless rabbit hole that is hard to walk away from.  Feedly also has a great social aspect that makes it easy to share with friends and post to social networks.  With Feedly you can choose what type of layout you prefer. You can easily transfer all of your current subscriptions from Google Reader to Feedly.  Feedly comes as browser extension and mobile app.

3.  News Blur is similar to Google Reader, you can share articles, save for future reading, star them or start your own daily “burblog” of news stories that you want to share with others.  It comes in mobile app format.  Now the bad news: free accounts are capped at 64 blogs and 10 stories at a time (this would never do for me). Premium users pay $24 a year to subscribe to as many sites as they want.  The worse news: currently they aren’t allowing free users to sign up.  Dang. It.

4. Pulse lets you keep up on the blogs that you subscribe to, but it primarily recommends stories it thinks you will enjoy.  Pulse looks a little more like Feedly and will also let you import your Google Reader feed (mobile version only).  Articles can be saved, shared, browsed, sorted by category.

5. NetVibes is a RSS reader and a social aggregation service.  Basic accounts are free which will do what you need to follow your feeds.  You can add widgets like weather, Twitter, and top news stories to your NetVibe dashboard.  The bad news: there aren’t any mobile apps.

6. Feed Demon is not only an RSS reader, it also lets you set up keywords to be alerted about.  If a keyword appears in a feed (whether you subscribe to it or not) it will apear in your feed.  It also lets you subscribe to podcasts, it automatically stores them in a directory and makes it easy to save them to a mobile device.

7. Flipboard recommends feeds but also lets you subscribe to RSS feeds.  The layout is beautiful and looks like a magazine.  You can also add your social networks including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  It brings your online life together in one place.  Favorites can be saved. Flipboard is available for the iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire and Nook.

8. Feedbin makes it easy to subscribe to new feeds by domain or by feed url. You can import your current feeds using the OPML import feature.  You can organize all of your feeds by Tags. Just like Google Reader, Feedbin has great keyboard shortcuts that will help you get through your news efficiently.  Feedbin is not free, it currently costs $2/month.  The biggest benefit (and the reason this will most likely be my choice) you can connect Feedbin to the Reeder app!!  I currently use the Reeder app to read my Google Reader feeds.  I absolutely LOVE Reeder, It is such a beautiful way to read, save, share, etc. all of my RSS feeds.  Reeder is still working out a solution for July 1st.  In the mean time, it is available for free in the iTunes app store and you can connect it to Feedbin.  Reeder is working out the ability to connect it to other readers as well.

RSS feeds are a great way to bring professional development to your fingertips ever day.  Don’t let the demise of Google Reader stop you from learning!

On Building Culture: Anastasis Academy Teacher Handbook

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, inspiration, professional development, Teacher Resources | Posted on 27-09-2012

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Schools often talk about professional development as if it is the key to a successful school. I’m not convinced more professional development is the answer.  I think it’s all about culture.  When you have people who come together around passion, who enjoy each other, who have a common mission: that changes everything.

Our teacher handbook doesn’t look like most.  It was inspired by creative companies like Valve and Apple.  We are a group of rebels here. Our handbook had to reflect that.

 

We are on a mission to humanize learning.  We are on a mission to make personalized learning available to EVERY child in the world.  Please help us spread the word. Donate, tweet, blog, and email others about the Learning Genome Project.

 

iTunes U: Creative Problem Solving course from TED

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, Grade Level, inspiration, iPod, professional development, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, video | Posted on 09-02-2012

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What it is: iTunes U is a true gem that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough.  iTunes U is a collection of learning from around the world, available for free at your finger tips.  It just doesn’t get better than that!  Recently I found a new iTunes U course that I had to share with all of my edu friends.  Creative Problem Solving is a course by TED (you know that really super, great conference “talks”) that collects great TED talks about creative problem solving in one convenient place.  “These speakers from TED assess the prevailing model of education reform by answering the critical question: How do we create educational environments that maximize how students harness their creative and problem-solving potential?  Relevant areas of interest, study and coursework include: Education Policy, Curriculum Development, Assessment, Pedagogy, Career and Technical Education, Project-Based Learning, Whole Child Education, 21st Century Skills, and Multiple Intelligences.” These TED talks have had a significant impact on me and have guided many of my thoughts and “hunches” about education.  The collection includes Tim Brown, Emily Pilloton, Gever Tulley, Dan Meyer, Kathryn Schultz, and not one but two from Sir Ken Robinson.  7 episodes in one place for a free course on education that will blow your mind and fire up your passion for education reform. 

How to integrate iTunes U Creative Problem Solving  into the classroom: iTunes U is a great place to learn for both you and your students!  This particular collection is a great place to feed your educator soul and boost your own professional development.  If you have the ability to shape PD at your school, this is an AWESOME addition to your time together as a staff.  In the past, I have done TED Talk Tuesdays and Webspiration Wednesdays over the lunch break with other teachers.  We gathered in the library where there was plenty of room to sit, relax, eat and learn together.  The discussion that ensued after watching the TED talk was always rich. This is a GREAT way to build culture and community among your staff.
Over the summer, I started every morning with a TED talk to start my day off with a healthy dose of inspiration.  I think I will re-instate this habit while I get ready for school.
At Anastasis, we often share videos as a staff.  They aren’t always this inspirational, sometimes we share clips from SNL (HVR, HVR! “Write that down.”) or YouTube.  Videos have a wonderful way of connecting us and giving us shared language and inside jokes.  Gotta love that!
Tips:  TED has other great iTunes U courses including Understanding Happiness and Mastering Tech-Artistry.  Next on my list!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using iTunes U Creative Problem Solving  in  your classroom!

27 days of professional development: Day 2 Multimedia and Interactivity in Mathematics

Posted by admin | Posted in inspiration, Math, professional development, Reform Symposium Conference | Posted on 09-08-2011

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To keep the Reform Symposium learning and inspiration going I decided to do a 27 days of professional development series.  Day 1 was my Keynote about how a blog post and a Twitter conversation started a school.  Today is Multimedia and Interactivity in Mathematics by David Wees.

In this session, David examined the role of multimedia and interactivity in mathematics education.  I love the way that David looked at how photography can make such an impact (particularly for visual learners) in the math classroom.   Capturing math in the world around us can help students view math differently.  Toward the end of the session I asked David if he had created a Flickr group for math photos…working on twisting his arm to start that one for all of us.  :)

This was a fantastic session!!  During the session, David mentioned Math Pickle.  Math Pickle is such a great math website that I’m going to do a second review post just for it.

To view David’s session, click the link to the right: Multimedia and Interactivity in Mathematics*

*This link is to an Elluminate recording, it will ask to download the session to your computer and requires a Java plugin to run.  Well worth the effort to open it because you get to see everything (chat included) as it happened live!

 

Save the Date: Reform Symposium Conference #RSCon3

Posted by admin | Posted in professional development, Reform Symposium Conference | Posted on 23-06-2011

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I’m pouting a little bit today.  You see, this is the time of year when Twitter springs to life with plans for the ISTE conference.  I won’t be there this year because I’m a little busy what with starting a school and all.  I’ll be stalking those of you who are going to be at ISTE and living vicariously through you.  I am bummed to be missing out on the ISTE fun but I am looking forward to connecting and learning with everyone at the Reform Symposium virtual conference.


 

If you aren’t familiar with the Reform Symposium, it is time you get familiar with it.  Honestly, what could be better than 3 days of professional development with all of your edu best buddies from around the world in your jammies?  That’s right, not much.  RSCon3 will be held from Friday July 29th to Sunday July 31st.  We are on our way to being the biggest global online conference in education.  With more than 65 presenters and 12 keynotes and thousands of conversations, it is sure to be a fantastic weekend!  This conference is organized by educators (yours truly included) for educators.  Best of all, the conference is completely and totally FREE!!  You really can’t beat that! So, go ahead and pull up that calendar right now and save the date so you don’t forget.  Want to tell another educator how much you appreciate them?  Go ahead and invite them to the conference as well.  They will be thrilled that they have such a kind and thoughtful friend that thought to include them. :)

If  you are an administrator, please send the Reform Symposium flyer to your staff.  Did I mention this is FREE professional development?!

If you happen to think of it in the next month, take a minute to check out the organizer page and THANK those people profusely; pulling off a conference like this takes a lot of organization and planning.  I am honored to be working with such inspiring people!