Friday, July 27, 2012

Teaching Should Look More Like Calvinball #EdChat

I have always been a huge Calvin and Hobbes fan. Bill Watterson created these amazing characters that I was able to connect with and enjoy their (mis)adventures. Their final comic is one of my all-time favorites. I try to look at each day like Calvin and Hobbes did in this strip.

I want to focus on the iconic game of Calvinball for this post. Here is one strip that summarizes Calvinball:


You can find the specific rules to Calvinball here

I have one big question, 

Shouldn't our classes look more like Calvinball?

This might seem like a ridiculous statement, but I firmly believe in it. We are moving more and more toward standardized, cookie-cutter instruction, I think a nice dose of Calvinball (AKA Creativity) is exactly what our classrooms need. Giving the students to freedom to explore and create can be a scary idea to teachers, administrators and "experts" that like to control things, but we all know the power of empowering children. Letting go of the control and allowing students to explore is such an amazing thing to witness. I didn't "let go" all at once. I'm still "letting go" a little bit more each year. When the unit ends, I'm always glad I let the students create their rules and design their own projects. 

The more control I have given to my students the past couple of years has been amazing. I have seen engagement soar through the roof and I have seen kids have more fun in the classroom. Not every student jumps on board to this plan, but more do now than in years past when I used the lecture/discussion model exclusively. Having a classroom that more closely resembles Calvinball would allow for many different types of learned to enjoy and and engage in the learning process. 



Calvin and Hobbes will always have a special place in my heart. Even after the last comic years ago, I can always return to these good friends and learn a lesson or two. Calvinball is just one of many different ones I will take into my classroom. 

Do you think Education needs to be more like Calvinball? Share your thoughts in the comment section. 

- The Nerdy Teacher

Pearson Geometry Textbook Review

Pearson sent me a review copy of the Geometry Common Core e-book for the purpose of this review



Math has never been my subject. I tried my hardest, but it never came easy to me. I always went to see the teacher for extra help before and after school, but could never muster much more than a C. I'm pretty sure that C was a gift as well. Thanks Mr. Lynch. 

Even though I went for the extra help, there were some things that I just couldn't grasp and was too embarrassed to ask the teacher to go over them for a third, fourth and even a fifth time. The Geometry e-book for Pearson would have been perfect for me. 

Each chapter has videos that explain the process of solving the math problems that are being covered in class. I could watch these videos over and over again after having class instruction to reenforce what was covered in class. I needed help being guided through the process of Geometry or Algebra and these videos are perfect for me. I can stop the video where I need to and start back up when I'm ready. The book allows me to move at my own pace from the comfort of my home while reviewing the notes from class that day. 



I'm also a big fan of the easy to find and use definitions of all of the terms. I can easily remember literary terms in English and names and dates in Social Studies, but the terms in Math just seemed to escape me. I can remember the Pythagorean Theorem and FOIL on my own, but everything else is a blur. The e-book allows me to click on the terms and have the definition pop up on the screen with an example! I do not have to search the back of the book or the right page n the chapter to find what I'm looking for because the information I need is at the tips of my fingers. 



I'm also a fan of the updated feel of the textbook. I really felt that my textbook was 20 years old with the crazy pictures and random stories that tried to make relatable. If the book is too old, then the stories and pictures are going to seem out of place. The nice part of the e-book is that they can easily update the text and tweak it along the way. These free updates are a nice feature for people looking for e-books that can evolve with the information. 


I really liked the practice questions and quizzes in the book. I was able to try some questions and get instant feedback on how I did. I remember getting assigned the even questions in class and keeping my fingers crossed that I did them right. There is nothing worse than that dread of knowing if the hours you put into your work is even close to correct. These practice questions allowed me to see what I got right and what I need to work on. It was a nice feeling knowing how I did right away. 



If I was an individual student with my own iPad, $14.99 is a great price to help me understand Math. It would be no different than buying Cliff Notes to help me understand Shakespeare. It is a solid investment that can help a single student over the course of the school year. Also, carrying around my iPad would have been much nicer than a super heavy Math textbook. Those things way a ton and are not fun to carry around when you add the gigantic Science, History and English texts as well. Having all of them on my iPad would nice if I could fit them. 

The book is huge. 2.3 Gigs is a ton of space on my iPad. If schools were considering moving to all e-books, over half of an iPad would be filled with student books. There is a ton of information in there e-books and they are awesome, but to use them all, the district will have to spend more money to move to 32G iPads for the students and staff so there will be room left for apps, videos, etc. I'm not sure if there is any way to cut the size of the e-books down, but it has an impact on the overall usage of the iPad because the book is so large. This is my only big concern.


Overall, I really liked the textbook and would have benefited from having it while I was in school and can see some of my students, who struggle with Math, finding this e-book extremely helpful. The book allows students to move at their own pace at home while still getting the important classroom instruction. 

If you are a Math teacher or a parent, you should check out Pearson's offerings and see how they might supplement what your students will be doing this school year. 


Monday, July 23, 2012

Everything I Learned About Education I Learned From Watching WWE #edchat

In honor of the 1,000 Episode of Monday Night Raw tonight, I thought it would be the perfect time to bring back and old stable of The Nerdy Teacher.

Growing up, I used to watch the WWE (WWWF back in the day) frequently. I would watch on Saturdays and then make my own wrestling magazine filled with highlights to share with my friends who were not allowed to watch for a quarter a view. A teacher busted me and took my mags away. Stifling an aspiring writer. My Dad scored tickets to Wrestlemania when it was at the Pontiac Silverdome and I watched Hogan slam Andre the Giant. It is one of my earliest memories. Anyway, wrestling has been a part of my life in different ways and I thought I would share its impact on my view of education.

Every teacher needs to be part of a tag team!

I loved tag team wrestling. The tag teams always had cool gimmicks and great names. The Bushwakers come to mind as do the Bolsheviks. They worked together to obtain the coveted Tag Team Championship belts. The teams worked hard and had each other's backs no matter what the circumstances. If you can't count on your tag team partner, who can you count on?

Teaching needs to be more of a tag team sport. We are up against some very big numbers every single day, it seems silly to go at it solo. Every class can be like a Royal Rumble. There is tremendous value in having a tag team partner at your side. Being a lone wolf might get you some places, but a tag team partner will allow you to accomplish things not possible on your own. Teachers need to break out of the independent model of instruction and look to others for support and guidance. The best tag teams would eventually reach out to rookies and mentor them in the ways if the ring. Teachers need to treat teaming up and mentoring in schools same way. Granted, the rookie usually betrays the team and slams them within a steal chair in a shocking turn if events, but I do not foresee that happening in the classroom.

You have to think outside of the box, or ring, to be successful.

There are many great wrestlers who are proficient at what they do in the ring. They have tremendous technical skills that make the formidable foes. However, there are those that see the value in taking their opponent outside of the ring to get the job done. They see all of the wonderful tools outside of the ring as valuable in accomplishing their goal. Whether it be the stairs to the ring or the Spanish Language Announcers table, everything is fair game to win the match. This innovation has allowed WWE to continue to grow and be successful.

There are many great teachers that can do the traditional stand and lecture model of teaching and be effective. There are others that need to try things differently to get the most out of their students. While some might look oddly at this behavior, it can be very effective in reaching students who need a different approach to teaching. By looking at the world around us, we can see the many great tools out there. Some of my favorite teachers were the ones that chose to be different and told me it was ok to be different. Without innovators, any business will fold in time. Education is no different. The WWE has been innovative for years and the best teachers are innovators as well.

You have to put on a show.

There have been wonderfully sound wrestlers with tremendous wrestling skills, but they never lasted very long because they could not work the crowd. If they could not rock the mic, they never made the cut. Wrestling is a very important part of the job, but so is the show. The Rock was a fun guy to watch because he always told you what he was cookin'. Stone Cold Steve Austin and Degeneration X were fun to watch in the ring, but more entertaining on the mics. There is something all teachers can take away from this.

I have know some of the most knowledgable teachers in the world, but they are terrible instructors. There needs to be a flair in your teaching and I think it comes from the passion teachers need to have for their craft. Every class is another show where we try to engage our audience in the story we are trying to tell. All of our favorite teachers were masters at keeping our attention no matter the topic. Wrestlers have the same ability. Do we really care about the weird storyline? No, but they seem it with a passion that is entrancing. I haven't watched wrestling on a regular basis in over 10 years, but I have been sucked in on multiple occasions while some guy was ranting and raving about his current adversary. Passion is infectious and teachers need to show that in the classroom.

The best characters evolve over time.

In wrestling, the wrestlers had to be willing to change their character if they wanted to stick around. Playing the same tune for too long will not entertain the crowd. Good guys will become bad guys and some will take on a completely different persona all together. As a young kid, it was a bit confusing. As I got older, I understood the value of evolving as time went on. Watching Hogan become bad guy was crazy! Mankind to Cactus Jack to Dude Love was so much fun! Change is important to keep things fresh. This is true for all people, but especially to teachers.

If I was the same teacher from 10 years ago, I would not have a job. It is that simple. I have chosen to evolve and grow as an educator. I'm adding new tools to my chest and I'm striving to put on a better show in my class each an every year. The teachers I look up to most are the ones that have shown me the value of change and adaptation. I find value in re-inventing myself because it means that I will be bringing something better to my students.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

#NerdyCast Episode 5 with Summer Howarth (@EduSum) - Big News



#NerdyCast Episode 5 is here and ready for your listening pleasure. This Episode's special guest comes all the way from the future and Australia. Summer Howarth (@EduSum) is one of my new favorite people and I really wanted her on the #NerdyCast after I had a chance to talk with her at ISTE12. 


Summer and I discuss the finner points of Middle School, her dad's shark attack, Learning Spaces, "The Shire" (An Australian Jersey Shore) and other important educational topics. Summer also dropped a huge exclusive during the Episode. It was the first "exclusive" in #NerdyCast history, so stay tuned because it could bow your mind. 


You can read Summer's blog, A View from the Middle at EduSum.EduBlogs.org and folloer her on Twitter at @EduSum. Enjoy the #NerdyCast!


You can find my #NerdyCast on iTunes (Sometimes take a day to load to iTunes) or Podomatic.


- The Nerdy Teacher

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

IPEVO and the Epic @EvernoteSchools Experiment #edchat

When I was at ISTE, I stopped by the Evernote booth and had a chance to see a demo of IPEVO document cameras. The cool thing about these cameras is that they will be able to (Sometime this summer) save pictures directly to Evernote accounts. I loved this idea! There are plenty of things I do by hand in class that I would love to take snapshots of and move directly to Evernote. I know my students will also want to do the same thing once the Experiment gets rollings. I reached out to IPEVO to see if I could demo their awesome devices and they agreed! Here is what I saw with the two different devices. 

Point 2 View USB Document Camera retails at $69.00 and it is a great bargain. I was able to take it out of the box, load the CD and start looking at things with the camera in under 5 minutes. The Point 2 View is extremely portable and the arm attachment bends to all for different angels. What I like best is that the camera can detach from the arm and be clipped to the computer as a webcam or moved around to show different aspects of an object. I have seen document cameras that cost hundreds of dollars and have tons of bells and whistles, but the average teacher does not need all of those things. The Point 2 View is perfect for the classroom setting and exactly what I need for the Experiment. The program that I installed allowed me to take pictures, zoom up to 3X and review the pictures that I took. I could choose to flip the horizontal or vertical to get the picture correct that I was trying to display. I can set a timer to 3 or 10 seconds if I wanted to get class pictures. All of the controls were very simple to adjust and did not require an extensive manual. The camera has an autofocus button that can be set to Auto if desired. The picture was crisp and clear allowing me to change the resolution if needed. I'm very happy with the Point 2 View and would recommend to to teachers looking for a nice way to integrated a document camera into their classroom at an affordable price. 

Here are the specs for the Point 2 View USB Document Camera from the IPEVO website. 

  • True 2.0-megapixel CMOS sensor
  • Full autofocus lens
  • Up to 2" (5cm) macro focus
  • 3x digital zoom
  • Up to 30 fps live video capture (at 640 x 480)
  • USB 2.0 Video Class (UVC) interface
  • Mac & Windows PC compatible
  • Max shooting area: 9.4" x 7.2" (240mm x 182mm)
  • Max shooting area with extension stand: 17.17" x 13.4" (450 x 340mm)
  • L x W x H: 3.8" x 0.9" x 1.1" (96 x 24 x 30 mm)
  • USB cable length: 4.9ft (150cm)
  • Color: Silver camera, white stand


Ziggi USB Document Camera retails at $89.00 and is a nice upgrade. Since I had already installed the software for the Point 2 View, I did not need the CD that came in the package. I took it out of the box, plugged it in and opened the P2V software. You can see the specs below, but I will mention some of the differences you are getting for the extra $20. The max shooting areas is up from 9.4" x 7.2" to 12.2" x 9.1". A nice larger capture area is always a plus when working with larger objects. This comes is hand or odd sized projects or items that a teacher wants to display. The arm is much taller on the Ziggi as well. This is nice if the teacher really wants to pull back for an better perspective. I love the fact that the Ziggi is compatible with other applications. The need for hardware and software to play nice is very important in the educational field because we generally are putting together networks piecemeal so they more compatibility the better. I really like the Anti-Glare Shield for the Ziggi as well. If I'm trying to project something from a tablet, the glare protection is huge when I'm trying to display something quickly for the class. These reasons are more than enough to spend the extra $20. 

Here are the specs on the Ziggi USB Document Camera from the IPEVO website.

  • True 2.0-megapixel CMOS sensor
  • Full autofocus lens
  • Up to 2" (5cm) macro focus
  • 3x digital zoom
  • Up to 30 fps live video capture (at 640 x 480)
  • USB 2.0 Video Class (UVC) interface
  • Mac & Windows PC compatible
  • Max shooting area: 12.2" x 9.1" (310 x 230mm)
  • LxWxH: 4.92" x 3.15" x 10.63" (125 x 80 x 270 mm)
  • USB cable length: 4.8ft (146cm)
  • Color: black
  • Compatible with popular image/video capturing and internet calling applications, including Apple's PhotoBooth, Google Picasa, Skype, Window Live, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, GoogleTalk, etc.


I was thinking about how I'm going to use this as part of my class and I was really excited about the possibilities. When the ability to send pictures to Evernote is available, I can quickly snap shots of things i have been working on in class and upload them to the shared Class Notes folders. Another thought was to use the Livescribe pen in conjunction with the Document Camera. If I took notes and talked using the Livescribe Pen and the Document Camera, I could create pencast that can be saved to Evernote and instruct the class at the same time. I could take care of two issues at once. Since the upload of pencasts to Evernote is seamless, it will not take extra time out of my day to create, upload and share the information. 

This is a perfect example of what this Experiment is about. I want to try and see how the different combinations of products can enhance the instruction and learning of the students and teacher (me). There will be things I will try that are awesome and things that will not work as well as planned. I'm excited that people are interested to see how this works and that there are companies wiling to have me pilot their products in class. Please share your thoughts on how you would use an IPEVO Document Camera in your class. 

I look forward to sharing more exciting updates on the Epic Evernote Experiment. 

-Nick

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Epic @Evernote Experiment #edchat @EvernoteSchools

Hello everyone! I've had plenty of requests to write about what I'm doing and I wanted to wait until I was all set before I wrote a post.

This Fall, I will be doing an Epic Evernote Experiment. I know that I have used the word Epic to describe my previous project (The Epic Romeo and Juliet Project), but this Experiment is truly Epic and I'm a sucker for alliterations.

My plan is pretty simple, use Evernote to share all of my class notes and reading with the students. All assignments will be shared through Evernote as well as any additional resources that I use in class. Seems pretty straight forward.

I have spend the past few days compiling all of the resources I have used in my class for my Honors American Literature, Traditional American Literature and Freshmen English. I have created notes, notebooks and tags for each piece. Units were cross-referenced using tags and the title of the note so students can quickly find what they are looking for on Evernote.

I created four Notebooks for each class; Assignments, Notes, Handouts and Stories. These are the four standard notebooks that will be shared with each student when they arrive to class in the Fall. They will have access to all of their textbook needs on Evernote wherever they are. All additional notes will be placed in the Notebooks as the school year progresses.

In the Notes Notebook, I have placed background information on authors and historical information centering around the various texts and stories we will be reading making sure to use the tagging feature to allows students to pull the information up quickly. I also created notes that have YouTube video read ins of some of the stories. I have created a complete digital backpack for my students. They will have everything they need for the entire year on the first day of school.

This process was a long and tedious one, but I have these notes FOREVER. I was able to upload PDFs and us the Evernote Clipper tool on Google Chrome to quickly and easily create notes and store them in the correct Notebook with the specific tags I needed. This really is a game changer for how my students will be able to access information inside AND outside of the classroom.

This would be an awesome experiment, but it's not quite epic. With that in mind, I have added another level to bring it to epic proportions. E-portfolios. I'm looking for my students to use Evernote Notebooks to store their written work and projects. With the ability to take photos and record audio I envision students being able to take pictures and store their thoughts on various work throughout the year. Long term, this could be great if an entire school district got on board and students from a young age could curate all of their work over the course of their school career. Imagine a 12 Grade student being able to review their writing from 5th grade. I can't think of a better way for an individual to measure growth. I wish I could see my work from grade school.

I'm excited to be working with some other companies who partner with Evernote and want to help with this Experiment. IPEVO is sending over a document camera that, later this summer, will allow images to be directly sent to Evernote. I'm really excited for the chance to look at this document camera. I have heard nothing but good things and I'm always pumped to offer more tools to my students. I envision many of my artistic students using the Document Camera to record their hand drawn work at home and storing it on their Evernote accounts. Their are many different possibilities.

I'm talking with other groups that are interested in being part of the Epic Evernote Experiment. If you are a company and want to join the fun, please send me an email at OneNerdyTeacher@gmail.com and I will get back to you right away. If you know of a product that would fit in well with my Experiment, please let me know and I will reach out to them. Any new products will be mentioned on my blog as they come in and I look them over.

I'm really excited about the possibilities of creating this environment for my students. Follow the journey on the special page I created. The Epic Evernote Experiment

That's it for now, stay tuned for more fun in the near future.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Project PLN Call for Articles! #ProjectPLN #EdChat



Project PLN is back and we are ready to hear from you! We have taken this time off to reflect and re-charge our batteries. We are excited to open up the August issue to our amazing PLN who have wonderful ideas to share with all of us.

Our August issue is going to focus on Back to School Tips. We know that all of you out there have little tips and tricks to make the start of the school year a little bit easier. There are many educators out there that could really benefit from the sage advice of professionals. We are looking for anyone involved with education. You can be a teacher, classroom assistant, principal, hall monitor, superintendent, coach, etc. We just want you to share your ideas with the world.

All articles will be published and we only ask that you follow these guidelines:

Please email the article or link to the article to ProjectPLN10@gmail.com
Please include a small bio that includes your blog, Twitter handle and other information you would like to share. A picture is encouraged, but not required.
It may be a piece you have published on your blog already. A good idea is still a a good idea even if you had it a few months ago.
Please submit posts by Friday August 17. We expect for the issue to go live on Tuesday August 21.

That's it! Just send us a post and we will share it with the rest of the world. We can't wait to hear what you have to share.

Nick and Kelly

Project PLN Editors

Call Me Maybe #EngChat

No matter how hard I try, my brain is always thinking of potential lessons. With my blog, I have the ability to share these ideas and get some feedback. I was driving home today when Call Me Maybe came on the radio. I have heard the song and have seen the Harvard Baseball video, but had never really listend to the lyrics. I was paying attention this time around and hear the lyrics and found them pretty descriptive. Silly but descriptive.

As an English Teacher, I'm always striving to find ways to engage my students in poetry. It is not the easiest thing in the world and I always turn to music to show them the beauty of poetry in the world around them. As I listend to this song, I thought about the lyrics and wondered what the actual music video looked like. Did the video show an accurate representation of the song? The next thought was the lesson.

What if I had my students take songs they liked and create music videos based solely on the lyrics? I could have kids recreate the videos of their popular songs while focusing on the imagery the artists provide. I got really excited about this project and even came up with an alternative option for the students who do not have access to a camera to record their videos. Those students can create storyboards and draw out their video. I see these as group projects where students can dive into the language, look at songs as poetry and use these words to create visual representations of the the songs.

Lastly, I am big on modeling assignments when it is possible and I thought I might reach out to my PLN to recreate Call Me Maybe in a literal fashion. I might be sending out emails this summer asking for people to film parts of the song so I can edit them all together to show my students.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.  Is this a good idea, or just a silly idea. Well, I guess it can be both.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Dr Nerdy Teacher? #edchat

Dr Nerdy Teacher?

I've been exploring my options since I've finished my Masters in Educational Technology. I was hoping it would open doors to allow me to work at the district level to move things forward in instructional technology. While some doors have been opened, I'm not quite ready to take the family out of state, but am closer than ever before. Much of SE Michigan has not quite grasped the importance of instructional technologists. Some districts lump this important job in with tech directors (nuts and bolts people) or have not addressed the plan at all. I love my current district and the Metro Detroit area. The thought of being a Tigers, Lions, Red Wings and Pistons can outside of Michigan doesn't appeal to me, but it might be necessary if I want to continue to grow as a professional.

This growth brings me to an important crossroad. Do I look at getting a Ph.D. in Educational Sciences with a Focus on School Technology Leadership from the University of Kentucky, or do I look at getting a degree in school administration?

I've been told my lack of an administrative degree hurts me when applying for jobs. I feel that an admin degree will not make better at teaching technology to staff or preparing professional development for buildings or districts. I do these things now, so how will this degree in admin (not focused on tech) make me better? I'm not saying I couldn't learn something from this program, but is it necessary to do what I want?

The PH.D. program is exciting, but expensive. I'm also not sure it addresses my problem. Being Dr. Provenzano couldn't hurt and I feel like I could learn many different things in this program, but I'm not sure if it is the right fit.

I feel like districts are slow moving at seeing the power of a teacher given a chance to move a district forward. Relying on career admins to change the face of PD or address the changes in instruction with new technologies is a formula for failure if these people do not have experience using these tools. If I head down the admin route, do I risk becoming one of those people? If I purse the doctorate, do I become bogged down in research? I would really love your thoughts as I continue to think about my options in the coming year.

NP

Monday, July 2, 2012

The #EduBros are (not) a big deal #ISTE12

I've been playing with this post in my head for a number of days now. I wanted to talk about the craziness of the #EduBros phenomenon, but wanted to stay away from sounding arrogant, obnoxious and all of those other things I do not like in people on Twitter or Blogs. After talking with some friends that I respect greatly, I decided I could do this post in a way that doesn't come off TOO obnoxious and that is what I'm aiming for. Bare with me and enjoy the ride.

Feel free to skip down if you know the origin story.

In preparation for #ISTE11 in Philadelphia, my buddy Tim (@Tgwynn) and I thought it would be cool to host a trivia based pub crawl after the opening Keynote. We thought it would be a fun way to  relax before a few days of intense learning. We sent out some invites, created some Foursquare checkins and had a great time. It was well attended and people wanted to know what we were going to do next. Tim and I put the word out and we were able to organize a party on Sunday before #ISTE12.

As we got closer to #ISTE12, I thought it would be fun to invite Sir Ken Robinson (@SirKenRobinson) to the event. I sent him a couple of tweets each day that were RTd by friends, but I never thought it would be a big deal. Then, this happened:


Tim and I were shocked! We could not believe that he had actually taken the time to tweet us back. We decided it would be polite to thank him and knight him an honorary #EduBro. Then this happened:


This was our reaction:

Not Staged
We were beyond geeked and our Twitter feeds had blown up over the mentions. We giggled and talked about how powerful Social Media can be if a couple of guys could get the attention of Sir Ken Robinson. We figured the whole thing was done and over with and got to planning the last bits of the party.

We did not go into the Keynote room because we figured we would need to ditch early to get the party going. Then, this happened, 


Skip ahead to the 33:40 for the shout out.


Followed by this, 

Trending Worldwide!
This is the most ridiculous thing that has ever happened. This is the ultimate in silliness.

Here is why it is not a big deal:

I'm not a better teacher for it. It is an awesome story that few friends will think is awesome, but nobody, and I mean nobody, in my district will even bat an eyelash at it. Why should they though? Will it create a better learning environment for my students? I'm guessing that it will not. The fact the Sir Ken Robinson gave me a shout it is neat, but has nothing to do with who I am as a classroom teacher and that is what is most important. 

I'm not a big deal on Twitter because of this either. I'm still the same nerd that talks way too much in social situations and makes too many obscure references to thinks I (or Tim) only think are funny. I'm no more of an expert on all things education and technology related because Sir Ken sent a couple of tweets and mention me in the Opening Keynote. I actually wasn't even mention by name at all. If you listen closely, it sounds more like "EduBras" than EduBros. 

I still have tons of work to do when it comes to being a better teacher and while this was a cool event and story I will share for all time, it doesn't make me a better educator which is why I attend ISTE in the first place. 

Here is why the #EduBros are a big deal:

Two random people became friends and maintain that friendship using social media to connect and keep in touch. We see each other twice a year for a total of two weeks max, but act as if we have seen each other the other day. This is true for a large group of us and will remain true for some time. 

We have managed to leverage social media to throw two parties during an international conference and no cost to us. While most vendors struggle to throw great parties and get people to attend, we took Sunday night to ourselves and brought over 200 people to party. This would not have been possible without the use of social media. 

We started a small Meme at #ISTE12 with the finger-stache photos. These included tons of picutres from all over the world and the conference. We were even able to get Sir Ken and Mayim (Blossom) to join the fun. 

We were encouraged to host an impromptu session in the Newbie lounge where the first honorary #EduBro showed up (Jeff K) over Skype to share his thoughts on the power of social media and making connections. 

We trended worldwide! I'm sorry, but that is a big deal. I know that there are many crazy things that tend to trend (Rhyme!), but this was something special because we had no control over it. It just sort of happened and it's something to remember and share for-ev-er.

The biggest reason that the #EduBros event was a big deal is that it is the best example of educational professionals leveraging Social Media to connect with the world around them. Our only goal was to put together a party for friends. It turned into a trending event around the world where people took pictures of their finger in front of their face in the hopes of attending. I was able to connect to people I never thought possible because a friend and I decided to be a little silly. 

Social Media is a tool that can be used in so many different ways that it is just wrong for any educator to say there is not value in using it. Like all tools, educators need to search for the value and utilize it. While this specific event does not make me a better teacher, it has connected me with more educators which can make me a better educator. That is the big take away from this whole event. It's what I hope everyone who reads this walks away with as well. 

I need to get going to send Sir Ken his money and try and fit my gigantic head out the front door. :-)