Sunshine Award


I am honored to be nominated for a Sunshine Award by a blogger/tweeter who so regularly contributes to my own learning, Seth Berg.  Seth’s reflective and informative blog can be found at and he tweets @BergsEyeView.

The Sunshine award gives others an opportunity to learn more about me as a blogger and then, in turn, I will send sunshine the way of 11 other amazing bloggers for you to get to know!

Here are the rules listed by Brenda on her blog:

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

11 Random Facts about me…

  1. I love playing video games with my kids (or without them)
  2. I love playing any game with cards, die or tiles.
  3. I am a huge Calvin and Hobbes fan.
  4. I am an insatiable reader who loves reading pedagogy, leadership, philosophy, and humor books.
  5. I enjoy fiction novels that are a part of series so as to allow a longer investment. (a few of my favorites are The Courtney Series by Wilbur Smith, W.E.B. Griffin’s The Corp Series, and unashamedly a huge fan of the Potter and Artemis Fowl Series).
  6. I am a huge fan of George Carlin’s humor and books.
  7. I am a compulsive computationalist.
  8. I have great admiration for the power and impact of inspirational videos and I love to find and share these with friends, parents and colleagues.
  9. I love improve and musical theatre.
  10. Cowboy boots are my greatest vanity.
  11. I believe Sriracha sauce is a great condiment for everything from breakfast through desert.

Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.

What is your favorite movie of all time?

Tough question.  I would have to say Field of Dreams due to how it resonates with me as one who lost my father early in life as well as the incredible messages about faith , courage, and love for baseball.

Which teacher inspired you most as a k-12 student?

I had a number of wonderful teachers who shaped the educator and person that I am today, but I believe Paul Myers, advanced math teacher at Woodward Academy, impacted me most.

Are you a sports fan?  If so, season?  Team?  If not, what does get you fired up?

Completely.  I am into anything that has score and can be kept up with in a statistical fashion.  First and foremost I root for anything Chicago based, next I am a University of Georgia fan,

How many siblings do you have?

3 siblings (two sisters and a brother) and 3 great brother/sister-in-laws.

Eat out or cook at home?

I love to cook, so I would say home would be my preference.  I spent about 10 years in the food industry and I love to prepare elaborate meals for friends and family.  That being said, time is a scarce commodity, so I also love to dine out with friends and family.

Where do you go to get away?

I do not do this enough, but we have enjoyed great family trips to Orlando, Great Wolff in Concorde, and recently a 10 year anniversary trip with my wife to Cancun.

What do you do for fun?  Hobby?

My hobby/fun is gaming (card or video) with my sons and friends, watching movies and TV with my wife, and/or reading for myself or with my kids.

Read any good books lately?

Yes, definitely. Shifting the Monkey by Todd Whitaker and Great Ways to Sabotage a Good Conversation by Paul Schenk

Favorite pizza toppings?

Italian sausage.

Addicted to any television series?

Way too many to be healthy. Survivor, Castle, Hawaii Five-O, Scandal, Big Break, Sing Off ..etc.

What would you have your readers know about you that you haven’t shared?

I vacillate between being the poorly behaved child who makes faces in the hall windows of the classroom and being the principal who has speak with children who make bad decisions and get sent to me.

Now it’s time for me to nominate 11 bloggers who deserve the Sunshine award.  I read and appreciate so many. 

  1. MathyCathy’s Blog – Mrs. Cathy Yenca
  2. Mrs. White’s 5th Grade Class
  3. MorahKelly’s Blog
  4. Todd Nesloney’s Blog
  5. What’s going on in Mr. Solarz’ Class?
  6. The Principal of Change | Stories of learning and leading
  7. The Learners’ Perspective
  8. Rabbi’s Pen
  9. A Tech Teacher on a Mission
  10. Beth Holland | Leading Change in Changing Times
  11. Inside the classroom, outside the box!

Finally, according to the Sunshine award rules, it’s my turn to ask 11 questions of my nominees:

  1. What is your favorite movie of all time?
  2. If you could go to have attended any concert anytime in history, what would it have been?
  3. What do you do for fun?  Hobby?
  4. What two guests would make the best comedic pair as co-hosts for the Oscars?
  5. Cat, Dog or Goldfish? Why…
  6. How do you caffeinate?
  7. Favorite twitter chat?
  8. Best place you ever vacationed?
  9. Best book you’ve read in 2013?
  10. Favorite television shows?
  11. What is one thing you never/rarely share that you are exceptionally proud of?

A Message of Thanks

As we prepare to welcome grandparents and special friends into our school and in to our home, I wanted to take a moment to give thanks to all who have contributed to this fabulous start to the school year. 

It is such a joy to come to work each day and to get to work with such a committed group of professional and caring teachers and staff members.  I give thanks to the countless hours of grading, planning, and sharing that they commit.

It is such a joy to be greeted each morning by a throng of smiling student faces eager to experience the day ahead and excited about the learning opportunities that await.  I give thanks for their enthusiasm, love of learning, joy for Jewish practice, and unwavering ability to make me smile.

It such a joy to be able to partner with a parent body that is actively involved in their children’s education and willing to volunteer in the classroom, throughout the school, and in the community.  I give thanks for the trust you put in us and the support you give to us as we work to educate your children.

Lastly, it such a joy to be a member of a community that exemplifies the values of wisdom, courage, and honor that we teach in our classrooms.  I give thanks to all the great role models and Menschs who have reached out to one another to support other members of the community through both the joyous and challenging times of the past few months.

I wish you all a wonderful thanksgiving filled with good food, memories, and company,


Edublogs Award Nominations

My nominations for the 10th Annual Edublog Awards!

Thank you to all the amazing educators and thought provokers listed below for continuing to inspire me to be better each tomorrow.

  1. Best Elementary administrator blog – Chris Wejr The Wejr Board
  2. Best Middle School administrator blog – Seth Berg Berg’s Eye View
  3. Best ed tech/resource sharing blog – The Ed Tech Round Up
  4. Best educational use of a social network – Zoe Bettess Instagram #ourcommunityed
  5. Best educational use of audio / video / visual / podcast – Shimi Cohen The Innovation of Loneliness
  6. Best free web tool – Twitter
  7. Best group blog – Two Guys and Some iPads
  8. Best Individual blog – George Couros The Principal of Change
  9. Best individual tweeter – Dr. Justin Tarte (@justintarte)
  10. Best Library/Librarian blog – Shannon Miller Van Meter Library Voice
  11. Best mobile app – TodaysMeet
  12. Best open PD / unconference / webinar series – #Edcamponline
  13. Best teacher blog – Kelly Cohen Morah Kelly’s Blog
  14. Best twitter hashtag – #21stedchat
  15. Best New Twitter Chat- #vided
  16. Lifetime Achievement – Tom Whitby My Island View
  17. Most influential blog post of the year – Matt Gomez “We Should Be Doing More Than Teaching Digital Citizenship”

Learn more about how you can nominate your favorite edutech people, places and things for an Edublog Award here!


What Is Missing In Educational Chats?

I am not a twitter educational chat connoisseur.  I do not have and do not believe in a discernable palate when it comes to #chats.  If there are a group of people discussing education, childhood development, leadership, culture…etc, I am eager to participate.  This is evident in the myriad of chats that I contribute to, lurk at, and review on a weekly/daily basis.  But here is the problem:  All of these chats are filled with passionate and dedicated professionals discussing their craft, and yet this space that should naturally be charged with emotion remains “peachy.” WHERE IS THE DISSENTION?

Why have so many knowledgeable and knowledge-thirsty educators formed a “culture of nice?”

A team affected by the culture of nice can look high functioning on the surface, but signs of an unhealthy culture may exist: Teachers rarely question each other’s and their own practice, assumptions, and beliefs. Instead they may only complement each other (When Nice Won’t Suffice by Elisa MacDonald).

An important part of awareness is attending to “nondiscussables.” Nondiscussables are subjects sufficiently important that they get talked about frequently but are so laden with anxiety and fearfulness that these conversations take place only in the parking lot, the rest rooms, the playground, the car pool, or the dinner table at home. Fear abounds that open discussion of these incendiary issues in polite society–at a faculty meeting, for example–will cause a meltdown. The nondiscussable is the elephant in the living room (The Culture Builder by Ronald S. Barth).

I do not propose to have the answer, rather I will pose a few questions that may be at the heart of the problem (please feel free to disagree)?

  1. Does a twitter or text based discussion lack the body language and tonal cues that allow for psychological safety while engaged in a discussion laden with emotion?
  2. Does the lack of tone in text too easily provide the “opportunity” for a respectful disagree to come off as disagreeable or curmudgeonly?
  3. Have we all become so hyper-conscious of our digital footprint that we perseverate about not creating a record of argumentative nature or being misconstrued and therefore under attack for your feelings which again contribute to your footprint.
  4. Does our digital PLN lack the emotional and relational cultivation necessary to engage in emotionally charged discussions about our passion, profession, and calling (I have not met the majority of the people I consider part if my PLN).


Nothing is more valuable than a friend who feels differently than you on fundamental ideas and values. The opportunity to discuss and engage in the sharing of dissenting opinions bring forth prospective learning and allows individuals to test the foundations on which their beliefs are built on.  This is a powerful tool that a fear is not being actualized in these chats.  We must find a way to move past our culture of nice to a culture of growth, where dissenting opinions are not only accepted but solicited for the learning potential they offer the group and each individual.



Below are some of my favorite weekly chats. This is by no means a complete list (if you want a more complete list click here to go to Jerry Blumengarten’s “Educational Chats on Twitter” page).  Additionally, there are many of my favorites that occur at the same time. If you are new to chats, I would highly advise not attempting to simul-chat (not sure if that is an actual term or my own brain-dropping {thank you George Carlin}).




What/Who   is the chat about

When   (ET)

Monday #4thchat Fourth Grade Teachers   Chat

8:00   PM

Monday #edtechchat Educational Technology   Chat

8:00   PM

Monday #tlap Teach Like a Pirate

8:00   PM

Monday #tlchat Teacher Librarians  Chat

8:00   PM

Monday #21stadmin 21st Century   Administrator Chat

9:00   PM

Monday #kinderchat Kindergarten and Early   Childhood Chat

9:00   PM

Monday #COLchat Culture of Learning Chat

9:00   PM

Tuesday #edchat Education Chat

12:00   PM

Tuesday #pblchat Project Based Learning   Chat

8:00   PM

Tuesday #edteach Ed Teach Chat

8:00   PM

Tuesday #5thchat Fifth grade Teachers Chat

8:00   PM

Tuesday #patue Pedagogy and Technology

8:00   PM

Tuesday #6thchat Sixth Grade Chat

9:00   PM

Tuesday #VidED Great Videos in/for  Education Chat

9:00   PM

Wednesday #3rdchat Third Grade Chat

7:00   PM

Wednesday #2ndchat Second Grade Teachers   Chat

8:00   PM

Wednesday #jedchat Jewish Ed Chat

9:00   PM

Thursday #mathchat Math Teachers Chat

7:00   PM

Thursday #artsed Arts in Education Chat

7:30   PM

Thursday #6thchat 6th grade teachers Chat

8:00   PM

Thursday #mschat Middle School Chat

8:00   PM

Thursday #isedchat Independent School   Educators Chat

9:00   PM

Saturday #satchat Saturday Educational Chat   for Teachers and Admin

7:30   AM

Saturday #satchatwc Saturday Educational Chat   for Teachers and Admin

10:30   AM

Sunday #sunchat Sunday Ed Chat

9:00   AM

Sunday #1stchat First Grade Teachers Chat

8:00   PM

Sunday #21stedchat 21st Century Education   Chat

8:00   PM


Connected Ideation



There have been a number of wonderful posts recently about the amazing benefits and considerations of being a connected educator.

“Man that’s a good idea!” How being connected has improved my pedagogy via Starr Sackstein

The Connected Educator Culture via Tom Whitby

Do We Really Need Connected Educators? via Tom Whitby

You Know You’re a Connected Educator When… via Jessica Johnson

Why I Took Facebook and Twitter Off My Phone via Chris Wejr

My PLN Saved My Career via Todd Nesloney

The fact that I have access to these incredible teachers, and transitively my teacher team and students have access to them through my learning, further advances the import of connection.  Further, I have shared in the past (Radical Sharing) a number of the ideas that our team has harvested from a myriad of connections and has implemented in school.  These enhancements/ideas involved personalization of learning techniques, tools, and or activities that were effectively being used in classrooms around the country.


In addition to the ability to learn, replicate and personalize ideas from great teachers, connectedness affords the opportunity for synthesizing ideas in order to  form new opportunities.  Below is a twitter conversation of this exact nature:



  (Referred to in twitter conversation)
You are a Marvel via Drew Minock

You Matter via Angela Maiers


The idea was to have students create content (of any type: digital, drawings, podcasts…etc) that reflects that they are marvels and that they matter.

What is our ‘You are a Marvel’ project? (Amy Popp & Catherine Solmson)

The ‘You are a Marvel’ project was a collaboration between the Jewish Studies program and the Media Center to get students thinking about and expressing what makes them unique and marvelous.  The Jewish studies teacher introduced them to the concept, and talked to them about what makes each of us unique.  She had the students tell her what makes them unique as an individual, and then she sent me an email with the students’ responses.  This week in the media center, the students made a visual representation of their marvelous trait/quality using the PicCollage iPad app.  As you can see, some of the students got VERY into the project!  And the range of things the students chose that set them apart as an individual are amazing and awesome!


Connecting and Ideating Forward

“I think that to be an effective educator today, one must become a connected educator through the use of at least one, if not more, social media services,” (Cathy Higgins in Connection (and Moderation) in the Twitterverse).

I am grateful for all the talented educators throughout the world who have connected with myself and my team, and I look forward to reaping the continued collective benefits within our school, our community, and our PLN.

Great Twitter Classroom Connections


Below is a google doc with fantastic classes that are active on twitter and interested in connecting.  I have the list sorted by grade, and I included the location (where it was available) of the class. Please use the form below this to add your own class info as well if you are interested in joining. 


Form to be added to “Great Twitter Classroom Connections” List


I  Look forward to connecting soon!!!


Life, Learning, and Laughter Enthusiast

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