Teachers, Share Your Voice!

The following is a message from the Utah Teacher Fellows Program. Please consider taking a few minutes either today (Friday) or tomorrow (Saturday) to share your semi-anonymous (they need your school district information) thoughts on the topic of Teacher Leaders and Leadership. 

Hello, fellow Utah educators and administrators- 

As you have hopefully heard by now, the first cohort of the Utah Teacher Fellows Program a partnership of Hope Street Group and NNSTOY launched this summer. This teacher voice network works with the Utah State Board of Education, to make sure that classroom teacher voices are included in Utah policy decisions.

We are working to gather teacher perspectives around the topic of Teacher Leaders and Leadership. We want to make sure that opinions of licensed k-12 teachers from all regions of Utah are included in our report.

Our survey will only take a few minutes to complete and the opinions you and your colleagues share are instrumental in informing education policy here in Utah. Your responses are anonymous.

The survey is open until Saturday, October 28th:


After you take the survey, can you please share the survey link with your colleagues? If you are an administrator, could you encourage all the teachers at your school to participate? The more teachers who share their voice, the bigger the impact.

Thanks in advance! 

Like us on FB at https://www.facebook.com/utahteacherfellowsprogram/ and follow us on twitter @HSG_UT for all the latest information affecting Utah teachers.


The Utah Teacher Fellows.

Join The #UCET17 Fun Online and In Person

We can't believe #UCET17 is almost here! It seems like we were all together just yesterday enjoying the great #TechMadness at #UCET16, but it's almost been a year and it's time to have some fun as see if #UCET4Succsss! 

With all the great sessions we'll have available, how will you be able to keep up while learning at the University of Utah? No worries, UCET is well represented on the different social networks and you can always check them out for things you may have missed as well as sharing out the great things you're learning. Why not take a few minutes to make sure you're following all the Official UCET Social Media accounts and also connect with other teachers who are already there too?

Twitter: Twitter.com/UCET

Instagram: Instgram.com/UCETorg

Facebook: Facebook.com/UCETorg

Pinterest: Pinterest.com/UCETorg

Periscope: Periscope.tv/UCETorg

YouTube: YouTube.com/UCETmedia

Just like last year, we plan to use Periscope to livestream some of the high points of the conference. So be ready to share some of your favorite parts of the conference in some impromptu interview sessions and then look for them on our social channels during the conference and possibly even on our YouTube channel after the conferences is done and over with.

Be sure to watch our social accounts for awesome posts from the UCET Board as we share our learning using our official conference hashtags, #UCET4Success and #UCET17. We'd love for you to join us in this learning by sharing your favorite parts as well as your learning on your networks using the same hashtags, and who knows, you may see some of your posts showing up around the conference. Plus, there may even be prizes for awesome social posts, so be sure to share your learning online using our official hashtags. 

Thanks for coming with us on this wild educational ride! We look forward to seeing you at #UCET17 as we prepare for being #UCET4Success! 

Who Needs To Be “Digitally Literate”?

Students? Parents? Teachers? Administrators?


But which of the people listed above do you think is the least "literate" with digital resources and technology?

If you said "administrators" you might be right, and I wish you weren't. The oldest members of our learning communities are understandably usually the least literate with the newest technology and digital tools for teaching and learning. Being the most experienced in education understandably comes with time. This means the most experienced and oldest educators are more likely to find themselves in administrative roles. There's nothing wrong with that. This blog is not intended to say that there's a problem with older educators running schools, districts, and even state organizations.

Who would you say is the most digitally literate in our school communities?  Probably the students.  Maybe the youngest teachers?  Either way it's the people who have spend the greatest portion of their literate lives in a digital environment. By default this would be our youngest community members.  They're the most digitally literate, but also the least experienced.  Could this be a bigger problem?

As President of UCET, an organization set up by educators to support the use of educational technology, it's hard to believe that I'm going to say this, but the problem is a combination of both. The problem is that the people with the least amount of experience or understanding of how to best use technology are deciding on how millions of dollars are being spent on the people who are the most tech savvy. As a result, millions of dollars are being wasted on educational technology.

pc-kids-on-computersThis needs to stop, and I have a simple solution.

Before you write a grant, allocate money towards buying equipment, or make any plans to implement a new piece of software or subscribe to an expensive online service…. talk to the students. The students are the ones we are preparing for a world full of technology. They are the reason each of us became an educator. And more importantly, there's a very strong chance that they know more about the devices, websites, and services than we give them credit for!

Unless we are willing to spend the time with students to find out what they need, and spend the money helping teachers learn how to use the technology correctly, then there is no point in spending any money at all on devices that won't get used but will get outdated.

To find more information about "Digital Literacy", check out http://digitalliteracy.us/

Let's stop spending money on technology, and start spending money on students.

Five Reasons to Still Use Gmail

Google’s addition to email many years ago was monumental to many people. I remember my really nerdy cousin giving me an invite really early on. Today, it may seems rather mundane to use a web based email client. The reasons can be many, for one, what if I have more than one email account. How can I check them all? Switching Windows? That doesn’t seem that productive. For another, the use of filters is a powerful way to get through that way too full inbox. In education, many of our district use GAFE (Google Apps For Education) which means that as teachers we have an additional email address to check and maintain. Also, our students have accounts, which may or may not be additional for them. With all this email pulling on us, it seems that all we do is read, reply, and manage email.  Gmail may not at first blush seem like the best tool to use, it is rather complicated, but with a little digging, and using some online tutorials, you can customize it to do exactly what you need done to make email much easier to manage. 

I would like to give you 5 reasons for using Gmail in your classroom.   


1. Gmail is a client that can gather you email form other sources. You can add your personal account, your school account, or have your other gmail account come to one gmail inbox. 

Start in the upper right hand corner with the “Gear” menu >Settings.

Go to >Labs >Multiple Inboxes >Select Enable

Go to >Accounts >Check mail from other accounts

Add your accounts, up to 5. You will need to know your passwords and account username, but it is worth the effort. 


2. You are able to use the tabs at the top of the gmail page to sort through your email and get to the messages most pressing.

Start in the upper right hand corner with the “Gear” menu >Configure Inbox

Select tabs to enable

These tabs are Gmails way of sorting your email. The Primary is basically person to person conversation, Social would be conversations from social networks, Promotions is generally from people trying to sell you things, etc. 


3. Messages in Gmail that have dates and times in them will like to your calendar if you add them as an event. This saves time and energy getting you directly to the tasks you need. and since many of our appointments are set up via email conversations, this should save you tons of time.

Some message highlight the date in blue, but even if they don’t, just click on the >More menu above your message and select >Create Event. This will take you to a calendar event, with the event name being that of the email subject. Just adjust the time and date.


4. With gmail you can use add ons. One that you should look at is: 

• Boomerang, which allows you to set a time to resend the message to you so you can deal with it later. It also will send your reply to an email at 6:00 am even though you answered at 11:00 PM the night before.

• Find more at: http://www.diygenius.com/15-free-gmail-plugins-that-will-improve-your-email-workflow/


5. The last reason is ubiquity. Any computer you sign into becomes your email computer. Everything stays the same! The same tags (folders), same tabs, same filters, same everything. No set up needed when you switch computers.


If I were back in the classroom today, the first thing I would do is gather the email of every students’ parent. This is easily done with a form, giving me the ability to send a personalized message to each parent via a mail merge.

Maybe email is dead, I don’t know, tell that to the 150 people sending me messages each day. Until they stop coming in, I need a way to manage my email and these 5 reasons have increased my productivity.

Changing Face of PD

Years ago I attended my first educational conference.  It was amazing!  There were sessions on cutting edge technology tools that I could use with my students.  Keynote speakers who were in touch with the struggles and possibilities I was facing.  The chance to connect with old friends and meet new colleagues.  Conferences seemed to have it all for me.  I was hooked and couldn’t wait until the conference came around again a year later.

Therein lies the problem.  Conferences are great professional development tools but they have a limited reach.  No matter how big the conference – it can’t meet all teachers’ needs.  No matter how convenient the time and location – not all can attend.  Even the best conferences last for only a few days.  What are teachers supposed to do the rest of the year for PD?

Over the past few years there has been a dramatic shift in the professional development landscape.  One in which the individual teacher has the opportunity to take control over his/her learning.  No longer are teachers content to sit on the sidelines and wait for a great training to be scheduled by their district.  “Next year’s conference will be great but what can I do today?” is heard throughout the education world.

Here are three big things teachers are doing to take control over their own professional learning today:

1. Build your PLN with Twitter:  Twitter has changed the game for educators looking to connect with one another.  With a twitter account I can connect with educators from across the globe in seconds.  I don’t have to wait for a session at a conference to find great resources – I can turn to my PLN (Personal Learning Network) and find ideas and options for my classroom immediately.  

Here are some good ideas for building your PLN on Twitter:

  • Join with in your state or regional Twitter chat.  For many teachers Twitter can be overwhelming at first,  so connecting with people from your local area is a great way to learn from the people you know.  You can find a list of educational twitter chats from Jerry Blumengartem (@cybraryman) – http://goo.gl/hT0MQw.  Once you join the chat, look to follow educators from your area.

  • Use Hashtags.  Twitter is a constant  information stream that can intimidate beginning users.  Searching for hashtags can filter out the noise and help you find the resources you’re looking for in your classroom.  Again, @cybraryman has provided a list of educational hashtags to help get you started – http://cybraryman.com/edhashtags.html

  • Don’t just consume – share.  When starting with Twitter it’s great to find and learn from others.  You’ll find that there are tons of incredible educators willing to share resources with you.  To build your PLN you’ll want to contribute to the crowd.  Consider sharing a great article you just read, provide a testimonial of a website or tool you use, or contribute a great lesson idea that’s worked in your classroom.  Others will appreciate the information and your network will grow!

  • Don’t try to read everything.  You’ll never keep up.  Twitter is on 24/7 and you’ll never be able to digest every idea or comment.  Focus on learning one or two new things everyday and you’ll be ahead of the game.  Imagine a tool that can give you a couple ideas for your classroom everyday – amazing.

2.  Attend (or Start) an Edcamp:  Edcamps are one of largest growing movements in education right now.  This is a grassroots movement that empowers teachers and administrators to learn about the topics they want.  Rather than a traditional conference where the program is pre-determined well in advance of the event, an edcamp uses crowdsourcing to determine what topics will be covered at an edcamp.  It all happens during the first hour of the edcamp.  Any teacher can suggest the topic they want to learn and discuss by putting it on the idea board.  If others want to learn about that topic as well they simply add their names to the topic and a session is born.

Edcamps are popping up all over the country and because of their cost – FREE, they are putting learning back into the hands of educators.  You can learn more about the edcamps in your area by visiting the Edcamps Wiki (http://edcamp.wikispaces.com/).  There are edcamps coming up in regions across the US and abroad so find one that works for you.  Even better, if there isn’t one that meets your needs – start an edcamp for you and your colleagues! Get started with the basics at http://edcamp.org/how-to-edcamp/.  I truly believe edcamps embody professional development at it’s finest – teachers learning from one another!

3.  Join a MOOC:  Many times you might think you have to pay tuition prices in order to take great online courses – not true!  Consider signing up for a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) to learn about almost any subject you teach.  

Embed video (http://youtu.be/eW3gMGqcZQc) Basic ideas for learning from a MOOC.
These courses are a great way to jump in and get high quality instruction for FREE.  Some great sources for MOOCs for teachers include: Cousera, edXonline, Canvasnet, and iTunesU.  The best part for many courses is that you can jump in and start learning today.  

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