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!!!



For those that know me in person, my volume on twitter is certainly not inconsistent with my volume in life.  I love learning, sharing, discussing, and many would say talking (they would be correct).  So that is why it is exceedingly rare when an event, particularly one tied to a few of my passions (The Davis Academy & learning) leave me speechless. As even my speechlessness needs a few paragraphs, I must share what I saw, while I contemplate what I think.

What I saw?

Parents and students gathered early this morning to celebrate learning and history through engaging in a simulation of the 2nd Continental Congress.

Students proudly shared the content of the time period, perspective of their assigned delegations, and an understanding of the perspective (and often a counter argument) of the other delegations.

Side thought: This content is so and too often assessed through a “please be sure you answer all test questions in full sentences and give supporting details” format.

Students from an 8th grade class in Nebraska and a 5th Grade class in Illinois connected with our Continental Congress to take part in the discussion, ask questions, and vote.

Students reflecting on the process, discussing the challenges related to Congressional discussion, and attempting to align beliefs (or at least votes) from people with different perspectives.

What I am thinking?

Mostly a lot of WOW.  Wow at the poise and preparation of our students to take on such a task.  Wow at the excitement and engagement that this type of learning brought out in the students.  Wow to Mr. Barry for his passion for the subject and his ability to share and inspire that passion from his students. Wow at being able to engage with the students learning incorporating the social media tools that are so native to their world but in a manner that is imbedded and enhances their learning. Wow at the awesome teachers who connected with us to help enhance the experience of our students and share the experience with their own students.

Wow at the potential, possibilities, ideas in my head…etc.

Well I guess maybe not so speechless after all, but certainly not all I have or will have to say on once fully digested.

Below is the link to the tweets, vidoes, and photos from today as well as the letter from Mr. Barry.


Storify From Reenactment of Continental Congress



Faculty & Friends,

I cannot begin to express my thanks for this morning!  This was my 9th Continental Congress re-enactment, and it was by far the best.  There are no words that could explain my emotions right now.  We Skyped two schools – in Illinois and Nebraska – Tweeted like crazy, and stayed in character, and debated independence for hours!  The students were simply amazing!  Thank you to all faculty who were able to come down and see our Congress!

If you get the chance, take a look at #DavisMS tonight on your Twitter, or Check out the Tweets by @UGAFrank or @MrBarry628, for they are truly wonderful.  Thank you to all, and Huzzah!  We are a free and independent nation. 

God Save Our American States!

George Washington

General of the Continental Army

Social Media and Your Child

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

 (If slide show is not working: Presentation)

Thank you to all the parents who came to our workshop today and shared in our learning community.  Please do not stop asking questions as they are essential to our personal and communal reflection, learning and growth.


This presentation is both a sharing of my passion for the potential impact on student learning that social media presents and a mix of the incredible teachers whose insight I have already harvested to share this presentation with you.

Thank you to (great people to follow and learn from):

Ben Halpert – Author of Savvy Cyber Kids series’ – @SavvyCyberKids

Beth Holland – Instructor with EdTechTeacher and Writer for Edutopia and Edudemic – @brholland

Dean Shareski – Community Manager for Discovery Education Canada – @shareski

Gregory Kulowiec – EdTechTeacher  Presenter and Workshop Trainer – @gregkulowiec

Kevin Honeycutt- Artist, Global Speaker and Tech Integration Specialist – @kevinhoneycutt

Lev Grossman – Author and Book Critic – @leverus

Lisa Nielsen – Author, Speaker and Professional Development Specialist – @InnovativeEdu

Matt Gomez – Kindergarten teacher and #kinderchat moderator – @mattBgomez

Sandy Kendell – Educational Tech Specialist and Perpetual learner – @EdTechSandyK

Sir Ken Robinson – Leader in the Development of Creativity, Innovation and Human Resources in Education – @SirKenRobinson







8th Grade Reenactment of 2nd Continental Congress

What:  8th Grade Reenactment of 2nd Continental Congress

56 delegates from 13 colonies meet in Philadelphia to determine whether the actions of the British Parliament and Crown are justified.  It’s May 1775 and the Battles of Lexington and Concord have taken place and our natural rights have been violated. We’ll meet to determine “where to go from here”…

 When:   Friday from 8:30–11:30 EST

Connect?: #davisms follow and ask questions of moderator and delegates

Moderator will be tweeting live updates to hashtag #davisms please feel free to follow along and ask questions of the moderator (@mrbarry628) or of the delegates (8th grade students)

Life, Learning, and Laughter Enthusiast

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