Blogging Challenge

@MrBrettClark 0 Comments

Ok, this blogging challenge/homework has been going around for a little while now and it got around to me thanks to my good friend, Shira Leibowitz. Here is her post!

Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
Share 11 random facts about yourself.
Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve a little recognition and a little blogging love!
Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

11 Random Facts

1) I hate the outdoors. I will only spend lengthy periods of periods outside for 2 reasons, a sporting event (watching, not playing) and if my kids ask me very nicely.
2) I was a teenager when I got married.
3) I play the bass guitar.
4) I currently have 52 tabs open in Chrome. 
5) I used to want to teach high school language arts. Then I realized I wasn't very good at language arts and didn't have the patience or desire to grade 100s of essays/stories.
6) I had a college professor talk me into getting my middle school endorsement my senior year of college. It saved my career. I was made to teach middle school but it took somebody else pointing it out to me for me to see it.
7) My brother Kyle and I can carry on a conversation with nothing but movie quotes.
8) I almost left education 5 years ago.
9) I miss being in the classroom every week but I would miss what I do now the same if I ever went back to the classroom.
10) I desperately want to go skydiving one day.
11) The longest I have ever stayed in one position is the paper route I delivered for 6 years as a kid. I have not stayed in any of my professional positions for more than 3 years.
12) I have always wanted to speak at a school's Red Ribbon week. Preferably either at a school district I work or have worked in or at my alma mater because I think relationships are critical when having those discussions. Although, I'd love to speak anywhere students were willing to hear my story. 
13) I'm an open book and could do this all day. I've deleted several things from this list.   

My 11 questions from Shira
1. When you were young and people asked what you wanted to be when you grow up, what did you answer? A teacher. I never wanted to be anything else from the time I was in the 3rd grade. 
2. What is one piece of advice you have to offer a first year teacher? Teaching is about relationships. If you don't have a healthy relationships with your students and colleagues, this job will be very hard for you. 
3. What is one piece of advice you have to offer principals? You don't have to do this alone. You have teachers, students, parents, and a community that want to see your school success as much as you do. You set and cast the vision and let the team carry out the mission. Also, see the advice above for teachers. 
4. How do you like to spend time off from work? Anything that involves family and church. 
5. What is your most important professional priority in the coming month? Taking our 1:1 to the next level. We're a semester in and it's time to push our thinking a little harder. 
6. What inspires you? Kids inspire me. They are so passionate, creative, resilient, and hopeful. It also breaks my heart when I see those things ripped away from our kids by a cruel world. 
7. If you could learn anything new (time, effort, practicality, and difficulty aside) what would you want to learn? To draw comics. I'm terrible at art and would love to be able draw comics for my boys and to teach them to draw. 
8. What makes you laugh? My boys, Micah, Nathan, and Levi! If you follow me on Twitter or are friends with me on Facebook, they've probably made you laugh too. 
9.  What is a goal you have for yourself in the coming year? To start writing a book. I have lots of ideas for books but have yet to sit down and really start one. 
10. Who do you admire? My Bishop, J Todd Nichols. He's a very inspirational man. Also, Bill Ferriter. He's like a big brother to me and pushes me to be a better educator and leader. 
11. What are you currently celebrating? I am celebrating the birth of my savior, Jesus Christ. It's something I celebrate all year long. 

11 Bloggers + 1

Tim Wilhelmus
Jeff Tron
Brian Bennett
Michelle Green
Jason Bailey
Candice Dodson
Allie Holland
JD Ferries-Rowe
Marc Seigel (The only non-Hoosier on this list.)
My eThugs - JT Cox, Melissa Stewart, and Katie Hutchinson  (Time to start blogging!)
You - seriously, if you're reading this and want to join in, why would I stop you?

My 11 questions for you.

1) What is the most rewarding professional experience you've ever had?
2) If you were made the emperor of education, what would be the first 3 things you would change?
3) What was the last book you read for fun? for work?
4) Who is your favorite director? (If you say Brett Ratner or Michael Bay, I may unfollow you.)
5) If you could be on any TV show, what show would you want to be on?
6) Paperback, hardback, or eBooks?
7) Who's your favorite celebrity to follow on twitter?
8) How close or far away are you right now from where you thought you would be at this point in your life when you were a kid?
9) What's the most embarrassing hair style you've ever had? Bonus points if you include a pic!
10) I always loved how baseball players have a song they walk up to when they bat. What song would you pick?
11) What's your favorite browser and how many tabs do you have open? (I'm really looking for affirmation that I'm not the only one with an addiction to tabs.)

Have fun!


One Semester into our Chromebook Initiative

@MrBrettClark 1 Comments

A year ago today I was preparing for Christmas, wrapping up my 7.5 year career in Evansville, saying my goodbyes to friends, colleagues, and former students, trying to sell my house on Craigslist without a realtor, and preparing for my new job as Director of Technology in a new school district. 

A year later I am preparing for Christmas, reflecting on one year of employment at Greater Clark County Schools, I've settled into our new home, made new friends, stayed connected with the old friends and former students, and finished up our first semester 1:1 with Chromebooks in grades 3-12.

In no certain order, here are some things I've been thinking about after a year as a Director of Technology, and a semester into our Chromebook initiative. 
  • People will do amazing things when you give them the time and the space to reach for greatness.
  • Focusing on the positive takes work. Focusing on the negative is easier and more natural. 
  • If you can't write down on paper what you are doing and why you are doing it, then you don't know what you're doing.
  • Nothing is ever as bad as it seems. 
  • Yes, you can hand out 6,000+ Chromebooks in 3 days. 
  • Yes, you can roll out close to 9,000 Chromebooks total! 
  • I can make it through a week on less than 30 hours of sleep for the entire week. #teamnosleep
  • If teachers and students don't see the connection between chromebooks and curriculum, they don't use them at all or only for minimal task like test taking. 
  • If what I just wrote above occurs, that's my fault. 
  • There is nothing more valuable than a teacher who will empower his or her students to change the world. 
  • Nothing is more fun than watching a teacher light up when they come across something that will help them be a better teacher. 
  • Nothing is more difficult than watching people struggle and fail. Even though you know the struggles and failures are only temporary.  
  • I never get tired of stories that start with, "This kid never says anything but..."
  • I love hiring people and then watching them succeed!
  • You probably thought this blog post would be more about what actually happened and not these random thoughts written at 2:30 in the morning. 
  • There is much work ahead.
  • I love my job! 
  • I should have blogged more this past year. 


Technology Issues vs Behavior Issues

@MrBrettClark 0 Comments

Just a little something I wrote on my wall this morning.


What to Expect When Expecting Technology #edtech #edchat

@MrBrettClark 2 Comments

I am amazed at how much the process of going 1:1 has felt like my like first year teaching but not for the reason you're thinking. You see, aside from taking on 7th grade math students in Lafayette, IN that year, my wife and I also had our first son. There are amazing similarities between starting a family and bringing innovation into the classroom.


There's a reason why What to Expect When Expecting has sold millions of copies! People want to learn from other people what it's like to have a baby. We would rather learn from the successes and failures of others to help us maximize our chances at success. This is why, if you are expecting to go 1:1, BYOD, or some hybrid of the two then you've got to do your homework.

Sharing the News

When you tell people you're pregnant, they always ask the same two questions. Are you having a boy or a girl? When are you due? In other words, what device(s) are you going with? When is your rollout? Unlike having a baby, these questions don't answer themselves. Your school has to figure out what device(s) you are going to adopt and/or if you’re going BYOD. Then you've got to decide what grade level(s) and when this will start.

Some of your closest friends/relatives might also be brave enough to ask you, "Why are you having a kid?" This is one question you will absolutely be asked that question if you are going 1:1 in any capacity. Why? Knowing the answer to this question is perhaps the most important part of your initiative.

Here is my answer to that question:

For us, leveling the playing field between those with access to technology and those without access by going 1:1 allows us to focus on what's really important, which is the learning that takes place on a daily basis in and out of our classrooms. I am trying to help our students learn how to learn to prepare them for their future. A big part of that in today's society is centered around technology. We are interested in providing our students opportunities to work with the tools and on skills they need in order to pursue their dreams. Having a technology rich classroom is one way we give our students what they need to be successful learners.

Preparing the House

No house is built "babyproof". Families spend time and money making sure the house is ready for the new arrival. They buy and install all the proper safety equipment, they pick out a stroller and a carseat. Likewise, one of the most overlooked and under-talked about parts in moving to a technology rich environment is the infrastructure of a building. This includes, but is not limited to, looking at the wifi in terms of coverage and density, filtering practices, staffing of the IT department, and how devices will be dealt with if/when they are broken.        

The Cost of the Baby

Of course, there are so many other expenses to consider besides prepping the house. There are doctor bills, clothes, furniture, food, diapers, and more. There are other expenses that pop up here and there that add up before you know it. This is always more true when you’re having your first kid. When adding on mobile learning devices in your school, the school system must consider all of the cost, both short and long term. There is the cost of the device, if you’re providing one, insurance, bags, charging carts, extra chargers, professional development, and more.

Nothing truly prepares you for parenthood.

That’s the reality that every parent faces when you bring your first child home. No amount of reading, classes, or hours spent babysitting truly prepares you having your first kid. This is the lesson that I’ve learned more than anything else since going 1:1 in my school district. When that first kid comes home and the smallest thing doesn’t fit what you’ve read in a book or heard in a class, then panic almost always immediately overcomes you. Let your child get his/her first fever and all of the sudden you begin to run through a series of questions, “Do I call the doctor?” “Do we need to go to the emergency room?” “What would my mom do?” “Is this normal?”

The last question is really the one we are most concerned about. Is what I am experiencing normal? I have spent a great deal of my time helping our teachers, students, administrators, and families see that the things we are experiencing in this first month since going 1:1 is perfectly normal.

There is so much more I feel like I could say on the matter but this is a good start. But let me ask you, does this analogy make sense? How else is going 1:1/BYOD like having a baby? What’s your one piece of advice you’d give a school system looking at going 1:1/BYOD?


The True Cause of Distraction

@MrBrettClark 2 Comments

Here recently I've had the opportunity to spend several days at a couple of conferences. One day, I overheard the following conversation centered around a school that is about to go 1:1 in their high school.

Person 1: What all is going to be blocked on these devices? Because, students are going to be easily distracted. They're going to be all kind of things to distract them and nothing will get done. I'm really concerned about it.

Person 2: I have the same concerns. Don't worry, I'm sure they'll be plenty of blocks to help keep students from being distracted. 

Now this conversation is nothing new. I've heard this conversation time and time again from a variety of educators. The only problem is, person 1 is not an educator, he was a student. I stood off to the side and it kind of caught me off guard. I'm sure it's not the first student who has expressed his or her concern of what will happen when students gain access through a 1:1 device. In fact, if I think about it long enough, I can probably think of other instances where I've heard other students say the same thing. 

However, this time was different because I believe I actually get what the student was actually trying to say.

Again, here is what the student said, "What all is going to be blocked on these devices? Because, students are going to be easily distracted. They're going to be all kind of things to distract them and nothing will get done. I'm really concerned about it."

Here is what I believe the student was actually saying, "I was distracted enough before a device was placed in my hands. I mean, students are distracted by pencil, paper, and cell phones. How much more will they be distracted by a device? You're class was boring before and I'm really concerned about it."

Now that's not the only thing he could have been saying. Maybe he was saying, "I want to be engaged in my learning. I want to be involved and do something that is worthwhile to me and my community. The fact is, if my school doesn't provide that, then other students and myself will look elsewhere."

The point is, when students are not engaged, we have to look at the factors of that are contributing to their lack of engagement. When teachers ask me for classroom management tips. I always tell them that a teacher's two best friends in regards to classroom management are engaging lessons and mobility. If a teacher provides an active and engaging classroom centered around the needs of their students, then the majority of issues of around engagement will take care of themselves.

It's time to admit that when educators, parents, and/or students are expressing concern over devices becoming a distracting, they are admitting that school is not engaging or meaningful. That's the true cause of distraction.

Agree? Disagree? 


Exciting Things Ahead #edchat #INeLearn

@MrBrettClark 0 Comments

It's been two months since my last blog post on this website but I'm excited to be blogging again. This past semester was an exciting time for me as I dove into the administration side of education as a director of technology. This coming year is going to be a great adventure as I start my first full year as an admin and my district goes 1:1 with Chromebooks in grades 3 thru 12. However, before our school year starts on August 1 there a few things left to take care of. Yes, you read that correctly, our schools will have students in them on August 1 as we move to a balanced calendar this school year.

Here is how this month is shaping up for me.

July 8 & 9 - Princeton, IN

I will be the keynote speaker at a small conference in Princeton, IN on Monday, July 8. Schools in that county are going 1:1 in the fall and I'm excited to talk to them about the shift in learning that can take place when we leverage technology. I don't want to tip my hand but my keynote will feature this great picture from Krissy Venosdale aka @venspired.

July 10 & 11 - Evansville, IN 

I will be speaking at The EVSC eRevolution. This will be fun to be back in my old district, be around amazing educators, and to catch up with everyone. Oh yeah, I'll also be with Adam Bellow, Yong Zhao, and Eric Sheninger! It's going to be a great time of learning. Plus my new elearning coaches will be joining me at the conference. It'll be our first time to really hang out and learn together. 

July 18, 21, & 22 - Chromebook Rollout!!!

That's right, we are just days away from rolling out 8,000 Chromebooks over a 3 day period! We will have three Chromebook filled days of sharing out information to parents and students, highlighting our new Responsible Use Policy, and handing out devices. Of course I know not everyone will be able to attend and we have plans in place for those families. Here is an article my superintendent wrote about the rollout. 

This year we are hosting our first anual eLearning conference. This is in partnership with the Indiana Department of Education Office of eLearning, Summer of eLearning. Our feature keynote speakers are the EduBros, Tim Gwynn and Nick Provenzano! They will be kicking off their EduTour at our conference. We will also have spotlight speakers Tom Whitby, Kyle Pace, Shelly Terrell, and Jeff Bradbury(TeacherCast)! Plus other amazing educators like Michelle GreenMarc Seigel, Tim Wilhelmus, Brian Bobbitt, Troy Cockrum, and more! There are still spots available for only $25!!

July 29 & 30 - Teachers Report

Finally, teachers report on July 29. We are putting together two great days to kick off our year that will center around our two big initiatives as a district, technology integration and literacy. I'm excited to spend these two days with the great teachers in my school district and to meet all the new folks joining our district. It's truly an exciting time!

And yes, for those of you who are worried that I've worked all summer and didn't take any time off, I did spend 5 days in Jamaica in June. 


Do Not Disturb: Thoughts on the ISTEP mess in Indiana #edchat #INeLearn

@MrBrettClark 3 Comments

Well, this has been a fun week. This was suppose to be the week our students in Indiana took the ISTEP exam. The exam that is suppose to measure how much our students have learned over the course of the year and how well our teachers have taught them. As a former classroom teacher, I've gone through the speech with my students time and time again.

"Go to bed early. Eat a good breakfast. Take your time. Read each problem carefully. Do your best!" 

I've sat through all the speeches from administrators and test coordinators. 

"Don't leave the test unsupervised. Make sure students work on every problem and take their time. Make sure all test material are returned and locked away at the end of day."

The multiple choice portion of the test was online this year. The state spent at least three years preparing for this day. Then a funny thing didn't work!

For the past 2 days students have watched globes spin on their screens while the test remains in limbo. I'm on an email list with other technology directors and watching the emails come in has been both frustrating and slightly entertaining. 

Here are some stories that have come out the last couple of days on this disastrous event. 

I could go on and share 100+ articles on the issue but I won't. However, I do want to share a couple of my thoughts on this issue.

Is this year's ISTEP test a valid test?
I have a hard time believing any ISTEP test, past or present, is valid. It is impossible to get a clear picture of what students actually know and/or what teachers have taught on a test that only takes up a "few days" out of 180 days of school. I put few days in quotes because all teachers know that high stakes test take up more than just the days we administer them. 

Actually, I would actually say that high stakes test steal days away from our students. Days that our students could be spending exploring their interest, creating something, working on a service project with their classmates, or finding their voice in a space by themselves. 

Now I bring into question the validity of this test because of all the interruptions. How many test questions were discussed among students or with parents? Maybe even googled when they got home. What kind of testing environment did this epic fail create for our students and teachers?  Do you think people are more stressed or less stressed? Do you think students care more or care less about the test now?

Point being, schools have spent all of this time prepping kids for this test, that counts for a school's "grade" and a teacher's evaluation/pay, and now it's pretty easy to question the validity of this test.

Which brings me to my next and final question?

Should we, as educators and/or parents, capitalize on this blunder and push for the removal of standardized test?  
Is this the right time to stand up and say, "look what has happened here and how it's harmed our schools and robbed us of days we could be spending following our passions?" Should we take advantage of this platform and point parents/guardians to Opt Out Indiana? Maybe it's time we buy copies and of "One Size Does Not Fit All" by Nikhil Goyal and pass them out at the next PTA meeting. 

This could be the right time, while the media in Indiana is looking our way, to show the world that there is a better way to do this. One thing for sure, we can't give CTB/McGraw-Hill a free pass on this one and we can't let the IDOE just have us return to "business as usual". 

This "high stakes" test has become a "high stinks" test and it's time to throw it out. 


Dreaming About Joy in Learning #12DOD #StuVoice #Choose2Matter

@MrBrettClark 1 Comments

Editor's Note: I am so excited to bring you our first post in our Student Edition of The 12 Days of Dreaming. As I talked about in my last post, this has not come together as I had hoped. I am completely okay with this for a couple of reasons. One, I love learning and I can find a great deal of learning when I struggle. Two, I still have some amazing post to share with you! I plan on spreading these out over time.
I hope you enjoy!

Our Dream for Education is Joy in learning.
What does joyful learning looks like to us? Having fun while learning. We think that crafts would be a great way for kids to have joy while learning because we get to really connect with learning through creative expression.  Making paintings would be a good way for kids to show what they’re learning through art.  Another good way to have fun while learning is sewing, not for just girls, but boys too.  We believe that art would be a good way for kids to connect to learning.
Another way to have joy in learning could be to have more fieldtrips.  Fieldtrips would be a good way for kids to interact with what they’re learning about. It would be better for kids to go to an art museum than for a teacher to make them write an essay about Picasso.  One good field trip destination could be a camp like Camp Tecumseh.  Camp Tecumseh is a summer camp, Girl Scout camp, and a history camp.  They teach you about the past while letting you interact and pretend that you are a pioneer. They let you bake Johnny Cakes, build log cabins, go fishing, visit a fur trappers cabin, and even spend the night in a cabin. We think you should experience what you’re learning firsthand.
We believe that games are a good way for students to learn because it triggers our minds to learn and we have better focus.  One way to do that would be to have a math game day.  It would help students by making the want to learn more about math so they could excel in the math games.  At our school, we have math at the end of the day, and we are tired.  Since we are tired, we have a short attention span, which does not enable us to learn as well.  Therefore, we should have a math game day, so we will want to pay attention even if we are tired.
Literature games are also a good idea.  They will help kids who have trouble understanding literature.  They will also have fun.  They will make kids want to learn more about literature.  It will also make kids want to read and write more.  A fun game option that will also trigger the mind is to design a game based on a book that you like.  It is a fun stretch of the brain and other people can play it.  Kids will be excited to work on this fun project.  It will help develop creativity.  And, best of all, kids will find joy in doing it.
One last fun suggestion is to have an educational/strategy game day.  It will stretch kid’s minds into thinking hard.  It will also give them the joy of picking their own game.  They can have freedom in their choices.  They will be able to have fun while they learn which our main goal in education is.
We think students should have free education time to do what they want, as long as it is educational.  One option is reading for fun.  We believe that reading for fun is an awesome way to expand vocabulary.  Another fun choice is free-write.  We like to write letters, books, or stories.  It helps the imagination grow and develop.  One last fantastic idea is to free-draw.  You could also draw up posters to raise awareness of events or important tests.
Our dream for education is to have joy in learning and interactive experiences.  We hope that you enjoyed our post.  Where do you find joy in learning?
This post was written by Sophie and Claire. Two students from Sara Hunter's class. Thank you Sophie and Claire for sharing your dreams with us! 


Pushing Forward #12DOD

@MrBrettClark 0 Comments

This past December I ran a very fun series called The 12 Days of Dreaming. It featured some great guest bloggers talking about their dreams for education. It was so much fun that I thought it'd be great to do it again but I wanted it to be more. I wanted our students to have a voice. 

So I talked to some of Zak Malamed of #StuVoice and Angela Maiers of #Choose2Matter and launched the idea of doing The 12 Days of Dreaming: Student Edition. Initially, it was a big hit and people were excited. 

The idea was the same as before but with students. Get 12 students to write post about their dreams for education. I even through out some other ideas on how we can tap into student dreams on two different post you can read here and here. However, for whatever reason, the idea never really took off. 

I didn't have people submitting ideas. I had people who told me they loved the idea but then no submissions came. I'll be honest, it was discouraging at first but it has also pushed me to reflect on this process. Here are some of my thoughts on why this has struggled.

1) I just didn't push it hard enough and in the right way. For whatever reason, it just didn't connect enough with people and they didn't push it out to their students.
2) My job change and relocation didn't help. I moved two hours east and I didn't have that group of people I could reach out to have them share this with their students yet. We have some amazing teachers and students in my new district. I just didn't have the relationships in place that I needed to help make the successful.
3) Not being in the classroom anymore. I love what I do now but I do miss my classroom full of students. I would have loved to have done this while still in the classroom.
4) People are busy and the school year can quickly get away from you. Especially the second semester.
5) Maybe it just wasn't a good idea. I'm not saying I agree with that but not every idea I come up with is a good one. 

Part of me wanted to just burry this idea, remove these post, take down the banner, and pretend this never happend. However, that would do all of us a disservice. 

Especially since, even though this hasn't come together liked I hoped, I do have some post to share with you. It won't be 12 days worth but we will get some post to you from students on how they'd like to see education. 

I am excited to share these ideas with you. I hope you will find them engaging, comment on them, and share them with others. Our students have a voice and it deserves to be heard. 

Look for the post to begin next Tuesday! 


Come one! Come all! #GCCC13

@MrBrettClark 0 Comments

Everyone! Listen up! I have a very important announcement!

This week, 4/1 - 4/5, we will be opening up registration for The Greater Clark Connected Conference!

I know what you're thinking. Why should I attend #GCCC13?? 

I'm glad you asked.

First of all, dynamic speakers!

As I stated in my last post about the conference, we will have the amazing #EduBros, @thenerdyteacher and @tgwynn, as our keynote speakers. Plus they will be around all day presenting sessions, making people laugh, and autographing babies. Ok, I might have made that last part up...

Also, Tom Whitby will be around all day talking about what it means to be a connected educator. Learning about being a connected educator from Tom is like learning how to make movies from JJ Abrams.

Other speakers are yet to be announced. We have a couple more folks who we will announcing throughout the month of April. Trust me, you won't want to miss who else we have joining us for this great day of learning.

Speaking of learning, that's what this day is all about and it's another reason you should join us.

Learning, Learning, and More Learning

We're trying to take advantage of the entire day without overwhelming anyone.

Rocking Keynote: We'll kick off our day with the keynote message from Nick and Tim.

Learning blocks: We will have two 2-hour learning blocks. Here is how they work.

Option 1: Attend a 2-hour workshop on a variety of topics. More on this in a later post!

Option 2: Attend two 45-minute concurrent session with a 30-minute collaboration break in the middle. The 30 minute collaboration break is yours to talk with your colleagues, new friends, visit our vendors, or hang out in a collaboration room with one of our speakers. Stay tuned for more on this in a later post!

Lunch: Lunch is provided and we have something special planned for our lunch period. Lunch will take place between our two learning blocks.

Panel Discussion: We will end our day back in the auditorium with a great panel discussion with some of the best connected educators around. Plus we will have some prize giveaways! 

Bang for your buck!

The cost for our non-Greater Clark employees is only $25 per person. You can pay by check, PO, or credit card! However, there are only 100 seats available at this time! We may open up more seats later but there's no guarantee!

 What should you do?
It's simple, follow @GCCC2013 on twitter, check out our website, and pay attention over the next couple days so you don't miss the announcement for when we open up registration!

Also, it's not to late for you apply to be a presenter at the conference! We still have some spots open and are looking for a few more amazing presenters! Just fill out this form!

I really do hope you'll consider connecting with us on July 25 for a great day of learning! It will only be a great conference if you show up!


Hey, high school...

@MrBrettClark 1 Comments

A few weeks ago I was on Facebook when the post below came across my screen from a former student of mine. With her permission, I now share it with you:

This was my reply to her: (It's not perfect but it was what came to mind in that moment.)
I agree with the majority of what you're saying. I also think a great number of classes we offer in high school should be optional. The only part I disagree with is that "nobody needs to know the height of an airplane from the ground" part of your post. 

While the vast majority of people will not need to know that, some people will need to know. However, those things should be taught to those people who are wanting to go into that field of work. 

Unfortunately a great deal of what teachers teach is out of their control. We teach what the state tells us to teach. It's unfortunate that the state doesn't listen to those of us who see the need for the changes you've mentioned. 
I then told her about the website for StuVoice and encouraged her to get involved beyond just a Facebook post.

Agree with me or my student or not, there is often a huge disconnect between what is taught in schools and what our students are interested in.

So here is my question for you, reader.

How do you tap into your students interest, either as an individual or as a school, while still teaching the mandated overstuffed curriculum that you are required to teach?


#GCCC13 - A Connected Conference

@MrBrettClark 0 Comments

There are few things more beneficial to me in the work I do than being a connected educator.  Being connected gives me a place to learn, share ideas, collaborate, give and receive inspiration. So when I had to the opportunity to put on a conference, I wanted to help create a conference that highlighted the power of being a connected educator. I also wanted to have a strong focus on technology integration. 

With the blessing of my school district and the help of the Indiana DOE's Summer of eLearning, we announced The Greater Clark Connected Conference earlier this month! (Side Note: Just to clarify, the conference is named after my school district, not after me. Ha ha!)

Here are some of things we've announced so far. 

Keynotes: The EduBros Nick "The Nerdy Teacher" Provenzano and Timothy Gwynn!

These guys were my number 1 choice from day one. I wanted to have speakers who were connected educators, great at leveraging technology for learning, and would inspire our attendees. Nick and Tim do all of that and more! Just listen to their podcast: Hooked on BamRadio and you'll know why we wanted them to keynote our inaugural conference. Also, check out The Nerdy Teacher and Edtech State of Mind

We are all so thrilled that The EduBros will be kicking off our morning and be with us throughout the day! 

Spotlight Speaker: Tom Whitby

If you ask any connected educator for their top 10 people to follow on Twitter, I almost guarantee that they'll all have Tom Whitby in their list. Most will probably have him in their top 5. He's the epitome of a connected educator, a life-long learner, and a friend to all educators. I encourage you to join Tom on The Educator's PLN, read My Island View, and listen to #edchat Radio. Plus, check out SmartBlogs on Education, for whom Tom is a contributing editor and I'm fortunate to write for every now and then. 

I am so pumped that Tom has agreed to come and our attendees will benefit greatly from him being there! 

Now for some quick details:

When: July 25, 2013 from 8 am to 4 pm

Cost: $25 for Non-Greater Clark County School employees. Includes all sessions, workshops, breakfast and lunch! Registration opens up the first week of April!!

Sessions: Conference will be broken into 2 hour learning windows. During a 2 hour learning window attendees can go to one 2-hour workshop or two 45-minute concurrent session with a 30-minute collaboration break in between.

Propose a session: We are now accepting proposals for sessions! We will notify you if your proposal has been accepted the middle of April. The conference fee will be waved for our presenters. 

We are also looking for more partners and sponsors! Learn more HERE.

I hope you will fit us into your schedule! It's going to be a great day of learning. Please follow our official twitter account, like us on Facebook, and check out our conference website! If you tweet about the conference, use our official hashtag #GCCC13!



Why go 1:1?

@MrBrettClark 3 Comments

Why go 1:1?

As I'm answering this question for my own district and preparing for the upcoming summer conferences I thought it would be neat to collect some responses from my wonderful PLN! 

How do you respond when asked, why do/should schools go 1:1?

There are two ways you can respond to this question:
  • Leave a comment in the comment section and/or reply to a comment.
  • Make a 30 to 60 second video response and put it in my dropbox. 
Once I've collected some responses and some video clips, I'll put them together in a presentation format and then share it on my website. 

Thanks for your help! I truly believe that there are people (teachers, principal, parents, and students) who would struggle to adequately answer that question. 

All of this 1:1 talk made me think of this great photo prompt from John Spencer.


What Life is About

@MrBrettClark 0 Comments

Wow...hard to believe that it's almost been a year since my grandmother passed away. Not sure I could say much more about her than the day I wrote Everyone Needs A Hero.

I can tell you that reading that post at her funeral was both the most rewarding and hardest thing I've ever been privileged to do.

I can tell you that I have often thought about how she would have responded to the news that I was named Director of Technology for Greater Clark County Schools. The only thing I could say for sure is that at some point in the conversation she would have said, "Oh Brett Alan, that's wonderful." My grandma is the only person on this planet that ever called me "Brett Alan", and the only person that ever will.

I can tell you that I think of her often and even put her number in my new cell phone after I moved. Even though if I called it now it would either ring somebody else or tell me it's been disconnected for the first time in who knows how long. I'm almost 100% certain it was the first 7 digit number she ever had and it also happened to be the only one she would ever need.

I can tell you that it put a smile on my face and a tear in my eye to see my wife using my grandma's old flour sifter while making a cake for my oldest son's 10th birthday.

I can tell you that one the best things about my new house is that I had room to get out the coffee table that used to belong to her and my grandpa. I can't remember exactly how I ended up with it but I'm glad it's sitting in my living room, covered with their great-grandchildren's toys. Although, I'm not entirely certain my grandpa would approve. :)

So why do I tell you these things? Why do I sit here with a box of Kleenex, cry my eyes out, and make myself type this post?

Because people are worth remembering. They deserve to have their memories passed on. In all the hustle and bustle of life we need to stop and remind ourselves about what's important.

Life is about preserving the memories of those who have passed on. My grandma was the keeper of my family history. Everything in her house had meaning and everything had a story. Her house didn't just tell her story but in many ways told the story of every member of my family. Going through things in her house after she passed was like watching a silent movie of the Clark/Haskell family history.

Life is about the people around you. Life is about belonging to a community and being part of a family. Life is about living and pursuing your dreams with reckless abandonment.

My grandma taught me so much. Even a year after her passing, I'm still learning from her.

Love you Grandma,

Brett Alan

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What Really Matters


Putting my money where my mouth is

@MrBrettClark 6 Comments
Am I the only one who struggles with saying I want one thing but then not putting my money where my mouth is?

Got home from work yesterday and sat down on my couch. My wife brought me a couple of pieces of paper and told me this was my oldest son's homework. One of the assignments was a book report and the other was a scrapbook page. The book report was all laid out on what he had to write. Each paragraph had specific expectations and instructions. The scrapbook page was a "tradition" for this class and every student gets to have a page in the scrapbook.

Here's the thing: I'm not a believer in homework. You can read about some of my thoughts here. However, I'm not interested in ticking my son's teacher off. He loves to read but I'm not interested in forcing him to write about it when a five minute conversation about a book will give his teacher the same information. If it's about writing, then why can't he write about something he wants to write about, like becoming president. Just ask him (@3Clark_Boys) and he will tell you where he stands on the issues and why he should become the first kid elected president. If the scrapbook is something that every student gets to have a page in and it's a class tradition, then why make it homework? Why attach a grade to it? My new job keeps me busier than ever and I'm not sure I want to lose any more time with my son while he works on assignments that are not going to benefit him in the long run.

Let me be honest with you. These are easy questions to ask here in my space. This is actually a very safe place for me to express myself. I would say that the majority of you reading this have similar feelings on homework, test, and grades. However, I struggle with picking up the phone, calling my son's teacher, and explaining my stance on this issues?

Does that make me a hypocrite? If I won't stand up for my own family, should I stop taking such a strong stance against homework, test, and grades? Why is it easier to give advice to other teachers and parents but then struggle with the same advice for my own life?

The comment section awaits your response.

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Thoughts on Homework: Survey Results
Are We Talking About Practice?


Driving But Not Steering #leadership #edchat

@MrBrettClark 1 Comments

I was thinking about leadership last night as I was getting ready for bed and the role I play in it. Here I am in a district that I'm leading towards effective appropriate use of technology in our classrooms. I've been asked to help start a 1:1 program and we will be hosting an eLearning Conference this summer. I have certain things I want to see in our classrooms and more importantly in the lives of our staff and students. However, I think the journey of learning is a personal one.

I found myself asking this question: Can I drive our district without steering it?

Because that's what I really want to be able to do. 

I want to be able to help us accelerate by pressing on the gas sometimes. I feel like it's part of my role to continue to push us and stretch us.   I want to be able to brake as needed because there are times when we really need to slow down and think about what's ahead or just enjoy the view around us

However, I'm not sure how much I want to steer. I'm not here to take people where I think they should be but I'm here to make sure they get where they want to be. 

Eventually, I'd like to just be a passenger. Just along for the ride. 

Does this make sense to anyone beside me? How much driving/steering should leaders do? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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10 Ways to Tap into Student Dreams #12DOD #StuVoice #Choose2Matter

@MrBrettClark 0 Comments

I can not even begin to imagine the number of dreams I have had over my lifetime. There are those times that I awaken from sleep and the dream feels so real and I can recall every detail. Then there are the dreams that just fade away with the darkness as the sun rises. There are times when I dream all night but remember none of them.

That's the thing about dreams, if we don't capture them, then we run the risk of the losing them. That's exactly why I started The 12 Days of Dreaming. I wanted to tap into the dreams of my colleagues. Now, #StuVoice, Choose2Matter, and Education Dreamer are pushing forward #12DOD: Student Edition. Since it was launched on January 21, 2013 I have had numerous questions about what we're looking for and what age does a person have to be to submit an idea.

I wanted to write this post to set the record straight, this project is for any student, any age, any nationality. If a student wants to write it by him or herself or collaborate with others.

Actually, it doesn't even have to be a traditional blog post. During the first #12DOD @okmbio wrote an amazing poem that was one of my personal favorites.

Here are some ways we can tap into students' dreams.

  1. Traditional Blog Post - Preferably 400 - 600 words 
  2. Poem - There are few things more captivating than a well written poem. 
  3. Song - Lets just try to keep it shorter than a Dave Matthews Band live performance. :)
  4. Speech - I have this image in my head of a student giving his/her stump-speech for better schools.
  5. Press Conference - Make it look like a Presidential press conference about your dream school. 
  6. Drama - Get a group and act out your dream school.
  7. News Report - If you already go to your dream school, then tell us about it and why it's your dream school!
  8. In Plain English Video - Those fun videos like this one about Twitter. 
  9. Art - Want to paint a picture of your dream school? Why not? Submit it!
  10. Wild Card - There are 1000s of creative ways you can share your dream! Just don't keep your dream to yourself!
We all have dreams and hopes for the future of this world. They deserved to be heard and they deserved to be pursued! 

There's no wrong way to share your dreams! 

All ideas can be submitted by filling out this form:


Photoprompts: 12DOD Student Edition

@MrBrettClark 0 Comments

It pays to be friends with the amazing @johntspencer. Not only is a great person and enjoyable to talk to but he's also a great resource. #StuVoice, #Choose2Matter, and Education Dreamer recently launched The 12 Days of Dreaming Student Edition. I reached out to John and asked if he had some photoprompts that would work for this project and he sent me these from @lukeneff and himself.

These are just ideas that students and teachers could use to get their creative juices going as they think about how they would reimagine schools.

Again, these are just possible starting points for students as they explore submitting an idea for the project. Thank you John and Luke for letting us use these for this blog post!

Dream on!


12 Days of Dreaming: Student Edition

@MrBrettClark 1 Comments

This past December I ran a series on Education Dreamer called The 12 Days of Dreaming. Over a course of three weeks I posted twelve different blogs by fourteen guest bloggers. Each blogger was an educator and he or she wrote about her dreams for education. Some covered broad topics such as assessment and the physical structure of the school. While others focused on their personal classroom or subject area. It was a great experience with great results.

Now it’s time to take the project to the next level. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Education Dreamer is teaming up with the people at Student Voice and Choose 2 Matter to bring to you The 12 Days of Dreaming: Student Edition!  This will be a collaborative effort to highlight the dreams of the students who enter our schools. 

We are looking for a minimum of 12 guest student bloggers. The series will run in February. At the end of the series the post, along with some special guest post, will be released in the iTunes bookstore. The books will be sold with all proceeds going to the Sandy Hook Scholorship Fun!  

If you are a student, or know of one, who would like to submit a blog post for this project, please submit your idea for a 400-600 word blog post by filling out this FORM by February 8. All you have to do is answer this question:

What are your dreams for education?

Thank you for taking the time to be a part of this project! We look forward to sharing your dreams with the world!

#YouMatter #DreamOn
If you'd like a badge for your website: Here it is courtesy of @ktvee, who is amazing!

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