#BFC530 on Twitter

HASHTAG: #BFC530 on Twitter

PURPOSE: To elevate the voices of educators and come together as a community in order to transform education through daily chats about education.

CONTENT: Education-related topics as suggested by members of the BFC community.


  • BFC-ValuesFounded in July, 2014 by Scott Capro, BFC’s goal was to ensure that every educator who has an interest is supported in building their PLN, and that everyone who joins the chat knows the power of sharing their voice.
  • Jessica Raleigh (@TyrnaD) manages the behind-the-scenes work of setting up topics and moderators each week.
  • The BFC community suggests discussion topics through a form found on this page.


SPECIFIC DAYS: Monday through Fridays at 5:30am Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific Times.  (During the summer months, however, the chat is not moderated daily and instead is an ongoing, “slow chat.”)

OTHER INFORMATION: In addition to Twitter chats, the BFC also encourages community members to read and discuss common books, share and read each other’s blogs, continue conversations on Voxer, and meet up in person at educational events. More information can be found on the BFC website.


Click here for more about the TODAY IN SCHOOL…HASHTAG series.

~What did YOU do in school today?

What did you do in school today? with David R. Pollard

Today I ask David R. Pollard, an educator in Dublin, Ireland our question: “What did you do in school today?”

This series of blog posts includes responses to our question from educators from all over the world, of all content areas, in all grade levels, and in various teaching assignments so that together, we will have a better understanding of what is happening TODAY IN SCHOOL. For more information about this series or to write your own response to the question, please visit this page.

Over one year ago, I stepped off a blustery street in the centre Dublin City into the warm aroma of Bewley’s coffee. In doing so, I reached a Twitter milestone. At a round wooden table to my right sat two women. Two faces that I recognised from my personal learning network, Ruta Danyte and Lorna Keane. I had never met anyone from Twitter in person, so this was exciting, particularly as we were there to discuss the prospect of Ireland’s first EdCamp. After an enthusiastic conversation, we decided to give it our best efforts. Unfortunately, that year threw up some challenges to each of us in our personal, academic and vocational lives. Despite the green light from EdCamp co-founder, Kristen Swanson, the call was made to let the idea of EdCamp Ireland slide until we had time to give it the energy it deserved. EdCamp Ireland is still in the pipeline, although the task of its care has mainly been handed over to other Irish educators.

2015 arrived and with it came new concepts, innovations and opportunities. I was busy researching the topic of learner feedback for my Masters in Learning and Teaching when I received the e-mail from Ruta in May. She expressed her desire to organise Startup Weekend Education in Dublin. Ruta’s view was to encourage collaboration between ‘techies’ and educators, providing them with the opportunity to share their knowledge and skills. I admit, I delayed my involvement for a couple of months, but once I had dumped my dissertation on my supervisor’s desk I was ready for a new challenge.

Again, the scent of coffee greeted me as I arrived at the meeting place. This time it was Roasted Brown’s coffee. Different coffee. Different challenge. Ruta and I deliberated over the resources we would need to provide for ‘techies’ in order to expand their understanding of educational frameworks, the roles of educators and current trends. After this meeting, I drew up a rough draft surrounding these topics and devised steps educators must take before integrating new technology into their classrooms. In addition to Ruta and I, Nubi Kay, Daniel Paul and Nana Adeniyi completed the organising team. I was inspired by the online team discussions that took place on Google Hangouts and Skype. Concepts, challenges and solutions flowed, making the meetings exceptionally productive.


The site of the first Startup Weekend Education in Dublin, Ireland.

It is now August and the dates have been confirmed. Startup Weekend Education will take place on 27th -29th November. There is much to be done, but the conversations have been invigorating. It will be hosted close to Samuel Beckett Bridge, at the Bank of Ireland, Grand Canal Square. The Bank of Ireland is also sponsoring the event, so now it is up to us to make sure the plan becomes a reality. Posters, videos and t-shirts must be designed and created. Judges, mentors, and most importantly, guests have to be recruited. The real work starts here, but the first Startup Weekend in Ireland dedicated entirely to education is gathering momentum. I have a funny feeling I’m about to hit a steep learning curve. I cannot wait.

170b35eDavid R. Pollard is an Irish educator with a passion for learning and teaching. He has just completed his Masters in those two topics, focusing his research on learner feedback. As a result, he welcomes constructive feedback in his classroom, as he believes it is an essential part of his development. David also welcomes feedback on this post. You can connect with David on Twitter @edchatirl or on LinkedIn.

What did you do in school today? with Kristina Nicosia

Today I asked our question: “What did you do in school today?” of Kristina Nicosia, a new Technology Integration Specialist. This series of blog posts includes responses to our question from educators from all over the world, of all content areas, in all grade levels, and in various teaching assignments so that together, we will have a better understanding of what is happening TODAY IN SCHOOL. For more information about this series or to write your own response to the question, please visit this page.

I have spent the past 11 years teaching Biology and other Life Science classes, but I recently accepted an amazing position to be a Technology Integration Specialist.

I am excited to bring my experiences as a teacher, teacher leader, and professional development provider to my new district. My first day I was tasked with creating a PD workshop on blended learning for the administrators. Grateful to be in a supportive environment, I proposed a blended learning workshop about blended learning. I was so excited to use my knowledge of PD and adult learning coupled with how I run my own classroom to put together a meaningful learning experience.

To prepare for the PD, the team of administrators had to watch a video I created the night before the workshop. I made a Google presentation, used screencast-o-matic to record the “lecture” and then used Zaption to add a formative assessment. The morning of the PD I used the data from the video to determine levels of understanding, which I used to make groups. There were structured learning experiences throughout the day. Some involved technology while others did not.

The idea was to show them how technology was used to enhance instruction. Overall, the PD went really well and I am excited for my new position.


Screenshots from the screencast-o-matic used in the workshop.

After graduating from Monmouth University with a degree in Biology, Kristina worked as a research and development cosmetic chemist. She worked in a personal care lab formulating to create products for large companies. This left her unsatisfied so she pursued her Masters in Teaching at Monmouth University, and for the past 11 years has been a high school Biology teacher for a school in Central New Jersey. The past 3 years she has been working towards her doctorate degree and currently finishing up her dissertation. For her dissertation she created a statewide community of practice for science teachers. The focus of this sustained professional development initiative is for master and novice teachers to provide support to each other as they work towards implementing problem-based learning and other student-centered strategies in their classrooms. Kristina is hoping to defend her dissertation in early winter. In her new role as Technology Integration Specialist she will be managing, creating and implementing all technology professional development and training opportunities for district staff. She will also be managing operations of the district’s 1:1 Chromebook programs and developing and coordinating training tools l3psuKte_400x400to be used by staff.

In addition, Kristina is the president elect for the Biology Teachers Association of New Jersey. You can connect on the web at BTANJ.org and at the New Jersey Science Teachers Convention. Follow Kristina on Twitter: @kmsusca


Today in school…well, today at a local coffee shop, teachers in central NJ met for a #CoffeeEDU.

The idea behind a #CoffeeEDU, as originated by Alice Keeler, is that it is an opportunity to meet up in person — face to face — with members of your online Professional Learning Network (PLN).

“#CoffeeEDU is a subset of the unconference. #CoffeeEDU is not about promoting a product or organization, it is about expanding your PLN in a face to face meet up for one hour.”

Our group today had representation from four different districts in the area. We represented elementary, upper elementary, middle, and high school levels. We were classroom teachers and instructional coaches. We were educators returning to the same assignment as last year and educators preparing for new assignments, buildings, or districts.

We introduced ourselves…and shared experiences, concerns, and ideas all at our own pace over a relaxing cup of coffee. We shared contact information. We expanded our PLN.


A group photo from our #CoffeeEDU! @MrsDubuque, @mcfallrenee, @mmorriswrite, @Gallagher_Tech, @Radical_Robin, @ms_itech, and @iruntech (@patflavin1007, not pictured)

Like with a larger unconference, there is no agenda in place ahead of time, and there really is no one person in charge of the event. The event unfolds as the individual attendees see fit. Anyone can leave at any time. Anyone can jump in with an idea, a suggestion, or change the direction of the conversation. For more specific details, you can visit this #CoffeeEDU guidelines page.

#CoffeeEDU is a casual event.


Some of the materials from Remind and Edmodo for our next #CoffeeEDU!

And just like larger unconferences, there can be sponsors! Remind, for example, is one company interested in and dedicated to getting teachers to connect with one another. You can visit the Remind blog and find out more information about their limited time offer to sponsor #CoffeeEDU meet ups.

Our group decided that we definitely wanted to meet up again! We are going to pick a date about a month from now and pick a different coffee shop for our next #CoffeeEDU. We divided up some small jobs to prepare for the next event (including each person trying to bring another educator with us).

In keeping with the unconference structure, we won’t have a specific agenda in place for our next meet up, but we did say that we wanted to focus our meet up around a topic important to all of us, parents:  parent outreach, parent engagement, parent support, etc.

As of today, we are planning to meet up to talk about these topics. Some of us may bring related resources to share out, and some of us may prepare questions for when we meet. Some of us may think of something entirely different that we want to talk about. We may stick to the topic of parents the entire time, or we may pivot and spend our time on a different topic.

That’s the beauty of the unconference and the #CoffeeEDU.

Here are some resources to find or start a #CoffeeEDU near you:

~What did YOU do in school today?


Today in school…

Teachers, instructional coaches, supervisors, principals, and superintendents spent the day learning from and with one another in Wyckoff, NJ. (And this was just one of many locations for this summer’s EdCamp Leadership unconference, connecting educational leaders from all over the world!)

I got to meet up and learn with a friend and colleague. 

I expanded my PLN…

…and I met some of my online connections in person for the first time.

I gleaned new ideas for the coming school year from educators with different roles, different backgrounds, different experiences, and the common goal of being the best educators we can be for our students.

We learned.

We laughed.

We left a little bit more connected than when we arrived.

It was a good day.

~What did YOU do in school today?


For the fourth year, teachers are going to writing camp this summer.

Teachers Write! is a voluntary, free, online camp designed for educators and anyone else interested in developing their own writing skills and becoming a better writer. The idea is that by writing every day at camp, educators will hone their craft, gathering ideas and experiences to take back into the classroom and share with student writers. new-teachers-write-2015

Camp is structured; each day there is something planned including writing prompts, mini-lessons, and opportunities to chat directly with the camp hosts, Kate Messner (@KateMessner), Jen Vincent (@MentorTexts), Gae Polisner (@GaePol), and Jo Knowles (@JoKnowles).

Through this camp, teachers have access to published authors who are willing to take the time and mentor them, give feedback on their work, and coach them through the process. Teachers will also gather mentor texts — including the ones they write themselves during camp — and other resources to use with students in their own teaching practice.

Not all of our students are natural writers or even enjoy writing, yet we ask them to live and breathe as writers, every day in school, even when writing may be the last thing in the world that they want to do. Like our students, not all educators are natural writers. This type of professional development activity, therefore, is a true testament to just how dedicated today’s educators are about improving their craft. This type of professional activity pushes teachers out of their comfort zone, forces them to think differently, try new approaches, and experience authentic vulnerability as writers that our students feel each day.

Writing every day, publishing and sharing that writing with others, and reflecting on the writing and the process, is exactly what we ask of our students in school, and it is what teachers are doing through Teachers Write! camp this summer.

For more information about Teachers Write! or to connect with participants, follow the #TeachersWrite hashtag on Twitter.

~What did YOU do in school today?


For so many educators, this school year is bringing a lot of change!

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Learning that once took place in a computer lab can now take place anywhere.

There are changes to policy and procedure, changes in high-stakes testing, and lots of changes in the way technology is being used in school. To incorporate the experiences students have outside of school and prepare them for tests, graduation, and life in a digital world, many schools are now adopting BYOD and 1:1 learning programs.

This means that teachers no longer have to depend on signing out computer labs or borrowing carts of computers. This means that students don’t have to wait to take a turn on devices in the classroom. This means that devices and access to the internet are directly available to each student all day long. This means that the climate and culture of many classrooms are changing. This means that teachers and administrators, along with students, are learning lots of new things.

Cell phones, once banned from the classroom, are now a regular part of the learning environment.

Cell phones, once banned from the classroom, are now a regular part of the learning environment.

Almost instantly, a 1:1 learning environment becomes a collaborative and student-centered learning environment. While classes aren’t going entirely “paperless” they are using much “less paper.”  Some educators, who have been in the field for five, ten, or twenty years are suddenly feeling like it is their first year of teaching all over again.

Professional development for teachers today includes many tutorials and workshops on how to navigate some of the apps and devices the students are using. Beyond the tutorials, educators are sharing best practices for lessons and activity ideas as well as tips and strategies for classroom management in 1:1 environments.

Here are some key points to help new and veteran teachers manage a 1:1 learning environment.

  1. Let it happen gradually.  Changing a classroom climate and culture is not going to happen overnight. Start small and start slow.  Choose one new thing at a time to change, and when you get used to it, choose something else.
  2. The teacher is still in charge of the classroom, not the technology.  When new technology is introduced into a classroom, some teachers feel like it takes over.  Don’t let it.  The teacher is still in charge of managing the classroom.  Setting up classroom routines to “close lids” on laptops and “flip” tablets over so that the screen is hidden are helpful in making sure that students are focused on the teacher or other speakers in the class during whole group work.
  3. The technology is not a separate entity.  The technology in the classroom does not need to be treated as anything foreign to the course. Incorporate the technology into existing classroom routines and policies instead of developing new policies around the technology. Think of it as you would a pencil, textbooks, loose leaf paper, markers, poster board, test tubes, or any other classroom materials.
  4. Not everything needs to happen “in the cloud” or on a device.  When
    Students work with digital and paper resources.

    Students work with digital and paper resources.

    something is new, we tend to want to use it all the time; that’s part of our human nature.  Balancing instruction and activities that are digital or online with other methods of instruction is important, especially while students and teachers are transitioning to new ways of doing things. Hybrid learning environments are most like what students are familiar with outside of school anyway.

  5. Use the technology to transform and redefine the learning experience.  Aside from direct instruction that is intended to teach students a particular computer skill or program, don’t use the tech just for the sake of technology. Once familiar with technology options and uses, thinking about how the technology will improve or redesign lessons will make choices about integrating technology much easier.
  6. Make sure students feel like they have a voice.  Students want to find out new ways to do things and they want to share what they know. Let them. Giving students a change to share what they know or ask them for help will create a strong community feeling in the classroom and everyone will learn the best ways to utilize the technology that is available.
  7. Keep assignments about what students learn, not the tool they use. When assigning a task, don’t worry so much about the program or app the students will use to complete it. Give clear, concise directions (and a rubric or checklist) so that students know what concepts and skills you are looking for them to demonstrate…and leave the rest up to them.  Let them decide if they want to use type a document, make a video, or use pencil and paper, as long as they meet all the requirements of the assignment.
  8. Speak honestly and routinely with students about good digital citizenship. Remind students that the internet is a public space. Remind students that they should treat people online fairly and kindly, just as they would in person. Remind students that the technology they use in school is not a toy and should be used for academic purposes.

The education profession will keep changing with the world around us, even after we move to BYOD and 1:1 learning environments. New research, new technology, and new policies will continue to change education as we know it. Once the practices listed above are in place, it will be difficult for any teacher or student to imagine a 1:1 learning environment without them, and it will make it a lot easier for everyone to adapt to future changes.

What did YOU do in school today?