YouTube and Evernote




I pretty much keep my brain in Evernote.

Someone gives me a business card, I scan it into my contacts with Evernote’s iPhone app.  I read an article or find a website I might want to cite later, I clip it to Evernote using the WebClipper Chrome extension.  I see something at the Museum of National History that I could use in a lesson plan, I take a picture and tag it in Evernote so I can find all my ideas for “colonial America” later.

Evernote has added a number of options to saving content over the past few months and I was delighted when they integrated NYTimes Cooking.  I’ve saved a wide range of recipes for meals that I will dream of cooking but probably never actually make.  Good thing I have a list in Evernote of restaurants to try!

The latest update includes clipping YouTube videos to your Evernote account – the perfect addition to my curriculum materials collection!  Now, when I find a video that I want to work into a future lesson or blog post, I can save it to Evernote and tag it with the related topic(s) to make it easy to find later.

First, make sure that you have the WebClipper for Chrome or Safari.  Once installed, you’ll see a small elephant head in your browser’s tool bar. Now, when you find a video you want to save, click on the Evernote/elephant icon.

Options include selecting the notebook within Evernote where you want your note to reside, tagging, and  adding your own comments.

Screenshot 2015-10-14 12.59.02

Click Save and Evernote generates a new entry in your notebook complete with a screenshot of the video, link, and description.  A quick search of my account for “book creator,” “foundation app,” or “digital storytelling” will bring up my saved YouTube entry as well as other resources I’ve curated, all stored together in Evernote.

Screenshot 2015-10-14 13.14.59


Happy clipping!



Once again, I’ve gone for a year without posting here.  My original intention was to document my journey as I embarked on a new path, changing jobs as I stepped out of the classroom for a bit.  Before long, both the journey and my attempts to share it hit rough waters.  I see a value in sharing struggles so that others can see that they are not alone in fighting their own battles or perhaps avoid difficulties themselves.  But my situation involved personalities within my school district and, in the end, I felt it would do more harm than good to air those conflicts.

A heart-to-heart with central administration at the end of the school year has me starting out cautiously optimistic this fall.  We’ve set some boundaries that may or may not hold up but I’m determined to make my stand.  Meanwhile, I’m trying to remember that I can’t change how my district or those within it think or what they deem important – I can only move forward and hope that others see value in my work.

That said, my goal for the first half of this year is to make the new Educator Evaluation process as smooth and as worthwhile for educators as possible.  We have new routines, new expectations, and a long way to go as the various facets of the process are implemented.  No one has all the answers because we’ve only begun to ask the big questions.  For me, knowing that we are making progress will have little to do with the number of forms that are filled out or the number of observations done and will have everything to do with the quality of conversations that educators have with each other and their evaluators about teaching and learning.

Start of a New Journey


After 7 years as a Special Education Teacher and 7 years teaching 5th grade, I am embarking on a new journey as a district-wide Mobile Learning Coach (MLC).  Technically, I will be employed half-time as a MLC and half-time assisting teachers in the district with implementation of the new educator evaluation system in effect in our district and across the state.  Realistically, I will be employed full-time supporting educators with planning and showcasing instruction and learning across the district.

Some ways in which I hope to assist teachers:

Workflow & Organization

  • Google Classroom
  • Edmodo
  • File Transfer, Storage, Organization
  • Paper Reduced workflow and assignments


  • Classroom Websites, Blogs
  • Social Media in/for the classroom
  • Email Management: Lists, Folders, Services

Student Learning

  • Lesson Augmentation/Tech Integration
  • Routines for Device and Classroom Tech Management
  • Documenting Student Learning
  • Differentiation / Intervention Tools and Techniques

Evaluation and Professional Learning

  • Productivity Tools
  • Evidence Curation for Evaluation
  • PD/PLN Development: RSS Feeds, Twitter, Google+
  • Teacher Learning Resources

What have I missed?  In what other ways can I assist teachers in my new role?


Summertime – Time for Professional Housekeeping

Flickr: iPad with magazines, Chengyin Liu


I laugh when people talk about how I have summers off.  While it’s true that educators have a block of time when they aren’t required to show up at school, most teachers have summers filled with work/profession-related activities that can’t be done as productively when they are in front of students.

For me, about three weeks of every summer is dedicated to participating in and learning about union issues.  Shortly after school ended, I spent nine days in Denver, Colorado representing my local and state associations at the Representative Assembly.  I’ll spend another six days in August at our state’s Summer Conference and Board of Directors meeting.  In between, I am participating in a learning session on transformation and making sure that new teachers in my district know where to go when they have questions or concerns.  I’ll be attending EdCamps, reading conferences and meeting with members of my expanding PLN.  I believe that all of these activities, which elevate the teaching profession, make me a better teacher in the classroom.  It reenergizes and recommits me to leading the profession I believe is instrumental in building a better world.

Much of the remainder of the summer is dedicated to self-directed professional learning related to my classroom practice, preparation for the new school year, and housekeeping.  My house has borne the brunt of a whirlwind school year with me juggling multiple roles and sharing a house with my teenaged son.  Peek under furniture and you will most likely find a stray gym sock, along with a selection of cat toys.  There are stacks of paper to be filed and odd collections of materials that I was sure, for some reason, should be kept so that they could be used in my classroom.  I’m convinced that being an elementary teacher turns perfectly normal folks into die-hard hoarders.  It’s time to sort, toss, clean, and organize.

Just as my personal life needs clearing out and organizing, my professional spaces require housekeeping.  Some of the cleaning is physical, such as accumulated clutter in my classroom, and some of it is digital.  Despite pledging that I would always, always, always, save documents to appropriate folders, somehow that didn’t always happen.  Time to go through and sort, move, and sometimes delete, files.  Sorting through files I have created reminds me of the resources I have available and helps me plan for how I will (or will not) use them in the upcoming year.  This is also a great time to look through my Evernote notes from mid-year professional development sessions and to find half-finished (sometimes half-baked) ideas and projects that I simply didn’t have time to complete over the year.  This is also where I have stored all those “things to explore and/or learn about” that simply could not be given time during the school year.

Today’s project was to organize my incoming information.  If all goes well, I will be transferring to a new position for the new school year and will need to shift the focus of my professional learning.  I receive professional articles and updates in a variety of ways: email, RSS feeds, etc.  I tell myself I will routinely check favorite blogs and then forget or life becomes too busy to check all those sites.  I also have RSS feeds from blogs that I really don’t find useful anymore and aggregators that I no longer check (or even remember that I set up).  The other day, I used to unsubscribe from a number of email lists that clog my inbox and make it harder to get to what’s important.  Thanks to Anne Jolly’s article on Middleweb posted yesterday, I reviewed my Feedly subscriptions and installed Reeder 2 to make it easier to aggregate the feeds I want to check daily and started adding feeds that matched my needs for the upcoming year.  I ditched a number of feeds that have ceased to be useful.

Through narrowing the focus of my feeds but broadening the sources from which I pull information, I hope to create an avenue of self-directed study over the remainder of the summer and return to school a stronger teacher.



Some teachers spend Sunday evening laying out the clothes they’ll wear for the next week, prepping lunches to make weekday mornings go smoothly, or desperately working to grade those papers they lugged home on Friday.  I make cupcakes.

#cupcakemonday started due to the combination of a few suggestions/factors.  The story I tell everyone is about the ridiculous number of containers of cupcake liners a friend found in my kitchen cabinets when she was helping me move over the summer.  It’s a true story, but it’s not the whole story.

This year was bound to get off to a stressful start.  Massachusetts educators, like educators around the country, are having to deal with an enormous wave of new mandates.  Educator Evaluation, Common Core State Standards, Sheltered English Immersion Endorsement,  PARCC field testing, in addition to new curricula and technology have become the perfect storm threatening to overwhelm educators.  They are given no additional time, money or, in most cases, support in order to meet these new requirements.

One would hope that under such circumstances, educators would come together for mutual support and collaboration.  Unfortunately, as is so often the case, people who already felt stressed began to turn against one another.  My team learned that the hard way early in the year when another team, feeling we weren’t complying with a school rule, went to the principal to report on us.  I know they were hoping that this would relieve them from having to do something they didn’t want to be doing but it resulted in a crack-down on the entire school community and finger-pointing at our team.  Educators were turning on each other both openly and behind each other’s backs.

When the Sunshine committee (if two teachers can be called a committee) were batting around ideas for cheering people up and improving morale, one teacher mentioned theme days “like Tuesdays could be cupcake days.”  There was no way I was going to be baking on Monday nights, but Sundays were a possibility.  While weekly theme days never took off, I started bringing in a different type of cupcake every Monday.

Orange Cream, Chocolate Filled, Salted Caramel, Peppermint Marshmallow Buttercream frosted, and a variety of pumpkin recipes have been a few of the cupcakes that have greeted educators at our school each Monday.  Instead of dreading Mondays on Sunday nights, I’ve tried my best to focus on bringing cheer to my colleagues on Monday morning.  I can’t fix all of the pressures that make their lives difficult, but I can let them know I care.  I can try to draw them together, if only for a few minutes, around the table in the teacher’s room.  I realize that it’s just a superficial fix, but maybe when we start talking to each other over a cupcake, we can remember the importance of connecting and working together.

Is this enough?

Flickr ~Aphrodite

Flickr ~Aphrodite


I walked out of an afternoon professional development session today in a rip-roaring surge of anger and frustration.  As the evening wears on and my energy level crashes, I am left depressed and in despair regarding my choice 18 years ago to leave my career as a financial analyst behind  and train to become a teacher.

I’m tired of being the crack-pot, the weirdo, and the one they roll their eyes about because I want to look beyond the cute projects and talk about outcomes, habits, and educational philosophies.  I want to explore, debate, collaborate and create.  I want to try, fail, examine, reflect, and try again.

I left the business world because I wanted to do something useful, something important, something transformative.  I still want to feel that I am doing something valuable.  What I came to realize today is that what I do in my “teaching” job has little value in our educational environment or our society.  In short, as it doesn’t seem to matter how I teach or what I teach, since we have no common reference of what constitutes good teaching and learning, what I do has no intrinsic value, is essentially worthless.  This is probably a good thing as less and less of my time is spent on creating and delivering curriculum and my time is increasingly taken up by data collection, input and analysis, testing, testing, and more testing, clerical work, and attending meetings where I have no voice or vote whatsoever.

The other day, a friend tried to make me feel better by reminding me that while I may be frustrated by the lack of important conversations where I work, it is clear that these conversations aren’t happening in many other places either.  Is this all we have left with which to console ourselves – that we have company in our failure?  Is this enough to sustain us?

#EdChatMA & #NGSS: The After-Party

I don’t think there is anything as exciting to me as an educator than a conversation about teaching and learning that involves educators at all levels contributing faster than I can keep track.  Tonight, educators from Massachusetts to Washington state at the elementary, middle school, high school and college level came together to discuss science education.  As with many discussions of this kind, I left energized and with more questions at the end than I had at the start.

  • What is the right balance of skills and content to ensure our students are interested, informed and ready to be life-long, self-directed learners?
  • How can we use the limited financial resources we have to provide an equitable and excellent science education for all students, no matter which school district they attend?
  • How can we work together as educators to support each other and collaborate to make all curricula richer and more rewarding?
  • Will new standardized tests come along to undermine the focus on investigation and critical thinking?

These are just a few of the questions I will be pondering in the days, weeks, and months ahead as we wait to learn the direction science education in Massachusetts and the US will take.

Learning on the Road

EdCampI’m on a bus to New York City with my son and five other teenagers who are performing tonight and taking master classes in tap tomorrow.  I could look up #EdCampSeacoast to see where it is being held, but it doesn’t matter because I am there without really knowing where “there” is.  For me, it’s on Twitter.  I’ve already learned something new about using Google apps on the iPad – good to know since we are engaged in a 1:1 iPad pilot this year and our district has gone Google, ready or not.

It’s a Saturday, I’m not receiving PDP’s for my time, and there are folks who would say that PD on my own time and my own dime (actually, it’s free) is foolish.  I disagree.  I’m in control of what I learn, when I learn, and the level of my participation.  Like my students, individualizing my learning means that what I learn is more relevant and I’m more likely to retain and use what I learn.  Whether I am participating in my professional development face-to-face or from a distance, I have a chance to engage with others who share my passion and am richer for the opportunity.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to check out all those great ideas shared by the participants in #EdCampSeacoast, #EdCampNYC, and #EdCampOU.

Teaching Fearlessly

This year, teachers in our state are expected to align curriculum and teaching to the Common Core State Standards (Massachusetts version).  Starting next year, teachers in our district will be evaluated using a new Educator Evaluation system that still needs to be developed.  Change is the name of the game.

I refuse to be afraid of change.  Change, done well, should be embraced because we cannot move forward without it.  As teachers, we have a chance to shape the direction our profession will take and it is our responsibility to take that lead.

I made a decision to share my evaluation portfolio as it is developed.  Some items, such as those that include students’ personal information cannot be made publicly available, of course.  In those instances, I will do my best to post a model or redacted version so that others can see what I’m doing to make my professional practice observable and measurable by others.

Some may see this as taking a risk – I see it as teaching and living without fear.  What’s the worst that can happen?  Perhaps someone will criticize a lesson or practice.  I see this as a positive result as it will help me reflect on my practice and perhaps make a change for the better.

I start with the Massachusetts Department of Secondary and Elementary Education’s “Model” Rubric as my guide but expect to make adjustments as my local Association negotiates the final document.  Given the extent to which some aspects are delineated by regulations, I don’t anticipate having to make extensive changes to my portfolio.  This is a marathon, not a sprint, and I appreciate your support and guidance along the way.