November 18, 2015

TOP 10 Ways To Deliver The Worst PD EVER!

Now we are all professionals and have never actually done this during a PD session (well I hope not) but I have certainly had the feelings to do so.. So here we go, my top 10 ways to deliver the worst PD ever.. and no particular order….

November 5, 2015

Testing Giving You The Blues? Get Creative with EdTech Formative Assessments

I began to think about the 15 years in education and my various experiences. I remember being that shy little girl in my elementary class who would sometimes know the answer, or had a question, but didn’t feel comfortable speaking out. I used to experience so much test anxiety. I wish my teachers had access to the digital tools and resources available in our classrooms today. There are so many ways that kids can creatively show you their learning in a timely and efficient manner, and ways teachers can conduct assessments that take away the testing anxiety that plagues so many kids.

October 8, 2015

The 8 Edtech Questions Every Parent Should Ask Schools This Year

Edtech has created learning opportunities for kids to gain valuable experiences through a teaching style that speaks their language as digital learners. Many districts are embracing a non-traditional approach to educating children through the infusion of technology--and parents are expressing a mix of emotions.
Recently, I engaged in a conversation with a few parents on Facebook who expressed apprehension to this new approach to learning through technology, and how it impacted learning for their children. Most were striking it down, and calling for an end to Common Core, because in their opinion, it excludes the “basics.”
Now, I would agree that there are definitely still some broad areas of concern with the implementation of technology in education, but this change is not all bad. True technology integration speaks to preparing our students to be entrepreneurs and leaders, by developing creators, critical thinkers, and problem solvers.
Parents are huge stakeholders, and have an extremely important voice in the edtech discussion. As parents, we want to be a voice, but don’t always know how to begin the conversation. So, here are eight questions to get you started.
1) What technology goals does the school have this year? Is technology a top priority, and listed in the district strategic plan?Each school should have specific goals related to technology that should be aligned with a districtwide plan. Perhaps a goal would be to increase the amount of devices in the hands of students and teachers within the next few years, or, creating more technology enriched lessons that reach redefinition levels in the SAMR Model that infuse STEAM based scope and sequence curriculum.
2) How does the school/district communicate with parents and community? How will you receive important information? Find out whether you will receive electronic newsletters, emails, or automated phone calls. Or, find out whether information will be communicated through a district or school website, or through social media sites like Twitter or Facebook. You’ll then know what to check on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.
3) What type of devices will my child be using? What type of access will my child have to technology tools? Will students have access to carts, 1-1 devices, or a computer lab environment? Districts have a wide variety of technology devices to choose from, including MAC or PC, Chromebooks, or hand-held devices. Knowing the type of device your child will have access to is key to knowing how you as a parent can support them at home.
4) What digital citizenship curriculum are students exposed to? What’s your policy on cyberbullying?Will you provide opportunities for parents to learn more about raising digital citizens? What can I do as a parent to prepare my child to compete in the global society? With increased use of technology inside and outside of the classroom, it is important to educate students and parents on being good digital citizens. Intentional lessons on teaching digital citizenship through platforms like Common Sense Media and Netsmartz are important and necessary. Districts should take an active role in promoting good citizenship with zero tolerance for cyberbullying--and you, parents, can help stress that.
5) What is the campus policy on cell phones and personal devices brought to the school? Be proactive and be aware of district and school level policies on personal devices. Ask for information in writing, so that you can discuss the policies in great detail with your children.
6) What online tools/apps can I download at home that will help me support my child? Many schools pay for online subscriptions for learning that are also accessible to parents at home. Find out what’s available, and how you can lend your support, by providing an opportunity for your child to continue that learning at home.
7) My child is interested in coding, robotics, etc.. How can the school support him/her? Many schools participate in the Hour of Code, which provides introductory lessons for students interested in coding, and usually sparks the interest of students who have not been exposed to it. Coding has many benefits for students, including creating problem solvers, creators, and analytical thinkers.
8) How does the technology enhance what my child does in your classroom?What opportunities do teachers have to learn ways to integrate technology? Teachers should be able to express why they are using specific technology tools in their classrooms, and how it is helping students reach learning goals, and higher level thinking. School districts should provide ongoing learning opportunities for teachers to enhance their teaching toolbox.
As strong of a proponent for technology as I am, I also understand that technology has it’s place. Technology is never a teacher replacement. The true power of edtech is the ability to facilitate and extend children's awesome natural abilities and drive to create, explore, experiment, evaluate, draw conclusions--in short, learn--independently, building curious and confident learners.
The educational agenda should be to prepare our students to compete in a global society. We need to believe in developing a society of entrepreneurs, and not teaching a set of skills to get a job. If your child is at a school that is not teaching fundamentals as a starting point, and the focus is just technology, then you should meet the principal at the front door, with a letter of complaint.
But before you jump to conclusions, realize that the method/process of how it might be being taught in this digital age is different than the way we were taught, and that is okay. Education is evolving, and believe me, that is a good thing. We live in a technology-driven society, and we all rely on it and benefit from it--so why do we want to go back to basics when it comes to education?
Embrace it folks! Technology’s here to stay. And it’s not going anywhere--so get your questions answered.

Patricia Brown is a technology integration coach, a professional development specialist, an adjunct graduate professor, and an edtech consultant. She is also an official EdSurge columnist.

This post was originally posted on

May 23, 2015

Make a Big Splash Into Learning This Summer

“Summer break”: two words that bring smiles to both teachers and students. For those in education, summer is a time for relaxation, regrouping, and also new learning. Whether you are attending a conference like ISTE, or creating your own personalized learning experience, utilizing this “break” to explore new technologies and strategies that help expand your teaching toolbox can be very rewarding.
Not sure where to start? Here are some questions to ponder when choosing your summer learning experiences.

April 19, 2015


I am proud to announce I was selected as a 2015 LEAD PBS LearningMedial Digital Innovator

100 teachers were selected to be a part of this elite group of digital media innovators, and 30 of those innovators were selected to be LEAD innovators!

With this honor, I received an all expensive paid trip to Philadelphia for the PBS LearningMedia Summit in June, and get to participate in some exciting professional development. This is exciting, not only for the honor, but we lead right into my time at the ISTE conference! Talk about perfect timing!

Congrats to 2015 Lead PBS Digital Innovators, learn more about them and their favorite resources at the link below:•...
Posted by Learning Division of EducationPlus on Thursday, April 16, 2015

It looks like I will be traveling all summer!! I got selected to attend the Discovery Education DEN Star Academy in Washington DC!
This is another exciting opportunity to connect and share with educators, and expand my PLN.

 The funny thing is, I found out via twitter.

Check out my application video 

It's not too late to still apply, check out the link here for more information about the program.

March 27, 2015

Transforming and Personalizing PD in Your Own District

With traditional one-size-fits-all professional development, many teachers get overlooked and fall through the cracks, just like our students, resulting in poor implementation in the classroom. Why have we spent so much time revamping educational programs for students, but we deliver the same old PD for teachers? What about our Digital Age educators? Differentiation and personalized learning opportunities are just as important for teachers--creating empowering learning communities is key.

Instead of ”professional development,” we need authentic, personalized “professional learning opportunities” that improve workflow and foster creativity. They should allow for teachers to make connections with content, and most importantly each other. Teachers need the same level of engagement as students, and they are more engaged when they participate in professional learning opportunities that give them ownership, and a personalized experience.Teachers need choice just like our students, and experiences that enhance and develop the 4C’s: critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration.

February 20, 2015

A Guide for Bringing the SAMR Model to iPads

When used effectively, iPads can develop thinkers and problem solvers. They can be used to transform learning inside and outside of the classroom, and offer limitless opportunities. Many educators are effectively integrating technology in the classroom using iPads to achieve the 4C’s, or “super skills,” that digital learners need to compete in our global society.
But in order to do that, the focus has to shift from apps to content: that’s when true redefinition takes place. When my district rolled out our iPad initiative in 2012, teachers thought they needed specific apps for every content area. Eventually, we ended up with literally thousands of apps in our portal. This was extremely overwhelming, difficult to manage, and eventually, a turn-off for teachers.

Are you ready to adjust your teaching for this new learning revolution? Let me take you inside the idea of SAMR with a helpful metaphor: Starbucks. The simplest way I know to describe the levels in the SAMR model is using a visual created by Tim Holt, who uses Starbucks as a unique way of looking at the model.

January 26, 2015

Edtech Tools Get Creative With Formative Assessments

How can you prepare students for workplace experiences that don’t exist yet? As an educator in this digital age, that’s one of my biggest challenges.

Our students now in elementary school have never had a time in their lives where mobile technology wasn't present. Look at the most innovative technology we have today: iPhone, ChromeBook, Galaxy Note, iMac, or whatever your favorite tool might be. You are literally looking at the worst piece of technology our students will see in their lifetime. Technology will only get better, because we are constantly working to improve it and make it better. As educators, we need to embrace this reality, and allow our classroom learning experiences to mimic what our students encounter everyday.

As the second half of the school year begins, educators around the world share a common focus on preparing our students for standardized testing. The data and results that come from testing can show powerful trends about student achievement, but especially in an age when technology is constantly changing, have you ever wondered if there were other ways your students can creatively show their learning, in a timely, and efficient manner?