Monday, December 29, 2014

Don't Forget Their Humanity #edchat

Holiday Break is one week in and by the time this post goes live, I will be at Disney World with my family taking a much needed break. During the first week of break, I've relaxed and cruised the Internet. During my wonderings, I will end up on Buzzfeed and other sites that have collections of amazing stories that pull on the heartstrings. I read these stories and I think about the stories that students have shared with me this past school year. I cannot go into detail because I do not want students, some who actually read this site, to try and figure out who told me what. Even though I can't provide details, I think many of you know of the type of stories I'm talking about. As I think about these stories, I also realize that there are dozens more that I have not heard.

I'm writing this post as a reminder to myself and all of the other teachers out there that our students are also human. They have stories that they might not be willing to share, but would explain why they are acting out in class. They might explain why they need to put their head down in your class. It could be because it is the only time all day they feel comfortable to relax for just a few minutes. These students are people that need to same care and compassion as we all do. Before we get ready to judge a student for their behavior in class, take a minute to think about the story they have not shared and how it is impacting who they are in that moment. I'm going to try and be better at this in the New Year.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 15 #NerdyCast Reflections - Importance of Partying

In this reflection I talk about the value of the class party. Some look down on the fun classroom gathering as a waste of time that should be spent with curriculum. I share my thoughts on how it is important to create and nurture a positive classroom environment for our students and a party the day before break is a great way to do that. What do you think?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 14 #NerdyCast Reflections #EdChat

Another week of teaching and another reflection. It was an awesome week in class discussion. My students have been amazing. They have really taken to owning class discussion and asking the tough questions. It is great when I can sit back and let the class move in the direction it wants to to explore the ideas that matter to them. I only have to nudge them in certain directions from time to time. Next week is the last week before a 2 week break and then it is a race to the semester finish line. See you next week!

Friday, December 12, 2014

#BookItForward with @IAmKidPresident and @SoulPancake

As an English teacher, many people assume that I am a voracious reader. I am in spurts. I will dive into a bunch of books and mass consume story after story, then take a break. I find it hard to start a new book after I've read a great one because I don't want stories to end. I'm always happy when I've read a great story, but very sad that they had to end. I love recommending books to friends, but it is something that doesn't happen very much anymore. I've thought about this from time to time, but didn't think there was really anything to do. Well, Kid President has come up with something awesome.

It is such a simple idea. Share your books. Share those books that mean something to you with anyone. They can be friends or complete strangers. It is never a bad thing to pass something on to someone else if it has meaning to you. It's like passing on a warm hug to someone who might need it. 

I have decided to pass on this book to my friend Tina P who lives in the great country of Australia.

A photo posted by Nick Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher) on

I just love the book Blankets by Craig Thompson. It's an awesome coming of age story that is beautifully written and drawn. It covers young love, families, being different, and more. I think there is something in Blankets for everyone. It's just a darn good book.

I would love to see the educational community get behind this awesome idea and #BookItForward with other teachers, students, parents, and/or anyone in your life that needs a good book. Please take a moment to #BookItForward and use that hash tag when you share the awesomeness on Twitter and Instagram.

Thanks everyone! Let's do this!



I've sent 3 book out today. 1 to Ed in Michigan, 1 to Chris in Ontario and 1 to Tina in Australia! I'm so excited to see what happens next. I signed each book and left a note asking them to sign, add their location, and then #BookItForward. I hope you take up the challenge! I'm looking at you #TLChat peeps. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The @BlackboardK12 BITS Learning Sessions #16 #BbK12Live

I've partnered with BlackboardK12 to share out the awesome sessions they are having this Fall. Educators can sign up to attend and share with other great educators what they have learned. I'll feature the session and the description on my blog each week and on my Twitter account. If you have questions, feel free to shoot a tweet to @BlackboardK12. Have fun learning and sharing!

Rubrics Really Relate

This session will provide first an overview of the rubrics generator within Bb and how important the process is for students to have a clear understanding of the expectations. This allows them to self-assess first, then rewrite/edit their own work before submission. These rubrics can be general applying to all written work or made more specific for Discussions, Blogs, Wikis, Journals, uploaded documents, or web based presentations.

The process of discovering an online rubric that meets most of the instructors needs, the using that content to create a Bb rubric will be demonstrated.

Discussion to follow.

Larry Fallon, Instructional Technology Coordinator

Larry Fallon is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for Arlington Public Schools in Virginia. He has been and ITC for APS since 2000. In that role he develops PD opportunities for the teaching staff at multiple sites and help implement those with students by modeling in classrooms and then, as a teaching aide, allowing the classroom teacher to manage the activities with my support. He also coordinates the phased replacement of old technology with new devices. Prior to joining the APS district he was the Director of Information Technology for Johns Hopkins University at the Rockville MD and Dupont Circle, Washington D.C. campuses. His classroom experience was at Sandy Spring Friends School in Olney MD.

Twitter: @lhfallon

Monday, December 15, 2014 3:30 PM EST

Sign Up

Don't forget to check out the Blackboard Live App. It has all of the sessions you might have missed and much much more.
Here is the playlist where you can watch this recorded session and other sessions you might have missed.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Week 12 and 13 Reflections #Makerspaces and #20Time

It has been a productive couple of weeks with my students. My kids are working very hard on their 20 Time projects, but they are also working very hard on learning about literature and how it relates to their life. We have had some great conversations in my classes. Freshmen and Sophomores have been amazing.

I'm working on a Makerspace in my school and I'm shooting for highly effective for my evaluation this year. I've asked to be back on cycle and feel confident I can do this. Reflection is one of the tenants of HE, so I've got that down. Here are my thoughts on the past couple of weeks. Share any thoughts in the comments sections. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The @BlackboardK12 BITS Learning Sessions #15 #BbK12Live

I've partnered with BlackboardK12 to share out the awesome sessions they are having this Fall. Educators can sign up to attend and share with other great educators what they have learned. I'll feature the session and the description on my blog each week and on my Twitter account. If you have questions, feel free to shoot a tweet to @BlackboardK12. Have fun learning and sharing!

Shattering the Myths of Online and Blended Learning

This presentation will explore the myriad of myths surrounding online and blended learning and will shatter the long established yet incorrect myths that seem to orbit online and blended learning. Despite the infancy of online and blended learning, there is a need for high quality online and blended learning educators and leaders. Participants will engage in conversation around these myths, and the implication each holds for learning, and will discover and share promising online and blended practices to help support the teacher and leader in navigating both online and blended environments. environment.

Don Lourcey, Director of Professional Learning, North Carolina Virtual Public School 

Don Lourcey is the Director of Professional Learning for North Carolina Virtual Public School. He has been an educator for 22 years and before coming to NCVPS in 2007, he served as an English teacher for 11 years and an Instructional Facilitator for 4 years. He is passionate about teaching, learning, innovation, leadership, and digital literacy. He currently lives in Statesville, NC with his wife Michelle (the Chief Academic Officer for NCVPS) and his daughter Elizabeth, and two cats, Gator and Tebow (yep, you guessed it, he is a Florida Gator fan).

Twitter: @dlourcey

Monday, December 8, 2014 3:30 PM EST

Sign Up

Don't forget to check out the Blackboard Live App. It has all of the sessions you might have missed and much much more.

Here is the playlist where you can watch this recorded session and other sessions you might have missed.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Everything I Learned About Education, I Learned From Watching The Princess Bride #Edchat

It has been a long time since I have done one of these posts. Almost two years to be exact. Sometimes we let life get too busy and you forget to go back to your roots and do the things that make you smile. Check out some of those old posts if you have a minute. They all still ring very true for me. One day I will drop all of those crazy thoughts into a book. Until then, enjoy Everything I Learned About Education, I learned from Watching The Princess Bride.

Look, I don’t mean to be rude but this is not as easy as it looks, so I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t distract me. - Westley

One of the things I've noticed is that some people think that teaching in a class with 1:1 devices makes teaching so easy. In reality, teaching with devices in the classroom makes life a bit tougher for a teacher. Only after a couple of years of having the devices did I feel like my lessons were fully taking advantage of the technology in my classroom. Every new lesson I want to create needs to take the devices into consideration. I'm constantly rethinking my approach to topics and curriculum because the devices offer more possibilities. I know I am very lucky to have the devices for my students to use, but it does take hard work to plan around the devices so students are using them for more than just expensive notebooks. Like all lesson, planning around tech takes time and is never as easy as it looks. I think it is important to remember that when we see what others are doing in the classroom.

Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that your friend here is only MOSTLY dead. - Miracle Max

Teachers need to stop pretending to know everything. Saying IDK has been one of the most freeing things I've done in my years as an educator. Now, there are some things I should know and be able to answer in my classroom, but sometimes students try their hardest to stump me. I used to drone on about what a good question it was and then throw it back at them to see what they thought without ever really answering the question. Now, I can say that I don't know and we can look for an answer together. I've found that students are more comfortable saying they don't know something after I have said it in class. The most important part of saying IDK is saying that we should find the answer. IDK is not the end of the issue it is the beginning. We have the resources to find the answer. I've had students take out their phone and find the answer. If the student really wants to know something and I don't know it, I'll let him search it and report back to class. If it is a tad off topic, I'll tell him to search it and get back to me at the end of class. Teachers shouldn't dismiss inquisitive students and they shouldn't claim to know all the answers. Kids have a great BS detector. Being honest in not knowing something will create an environment where students will also feel comfortable not knowing and asking for help.

What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity so be honest. How do you feel? - Count Rugen

This is the toughest part of the job, but it is so important. Student feedback allows teachers to change what needs to be changed and focus on areas student want extra help. We are always afraid of negative feedback, but there is always some truth to those comments. Google Forms are great for letting students provide feedback at the end of a unit of a semester. TodaysMeet is perfect for an exit ticket system to see what students know at the end of a class period. 

Using the feedback is the next step. It's great that you listened to your students, but what are you going to do about it? I've made changes on the fly based on student feedback and I let the kids know it was because of their comments. The students loved that they felt some control over how lessons were being presented. I've tried things students have suggested and got feedback again. They said the other why was better. Feedback is important and implementing it can really bring a class together.

You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles. - Miracle Max

We live in a world where everything is now now now. Teachers see a new tool, try to use it right away, and are annoyed when things did not got as planned. Any lesson created needs time to mature. For some reason, people think tech integration is different. Imagine all of the great lessons that would be lost if they were tossed after the first try because they were not perfect. Each lesson is designed to engage and inspire students. That is a miracle. Crafting great lessons takes time and all educators need to understand this aspect of teaching. Using ready made lessons out of the box is going to get the job done, but will it be a good job?

Teachers need to be given time to connect with other educators and craft the wonderful lessons that will make a difference in the lives of the students that sit in front of them every day. These lessons are not hastily thrown together. They need time to grow and become the lessons that will have the biggest impact. Let's all remember to take our time and allow our lessons to mature at their own pace so they can be little miracles for our students. 

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. - Inigo Montoya

There are so many buzz words in education that I have a hard time keeping track of them all. You are flipping over PBL or UDL or just keeping your head down and focusing on CCSS so students can be CCR. All of these terms are pretty much worthless. I have found that the brand new craze has been around before and it will come around again. There are also many different meaning to these words and people argue over the exact meaning from time to time. Is it "Problem Based" or "Project Based"? Does it matter? Let the mouths keep mouthing and the teachers keep teaching. We know what is best for the students that are in front of us. That should always be the number one focus. 

I know that I'm a big advocate for 20 Time in the classroom. Others call in inquiry based learning. Others call it Genius Hour. Instead of arguing over what to call something, let's focus on whether it works for the students. Frankly, the students do not give a crap what it is called when they are engaged. Those terms are for people obsessed with labeling things. A year ago, I had no idea what UDL was. I googled it and I realized very quickly that I have been doing it in my class for years. I'm actually a bit of a pro at UDL when I sit and think about it. I had no idea. 

As long as teachers focus on sound instruction, the labels will come and go and the students will always be prepared. Do not fret the new acronym. Just roll with it and be awesome in your class. 

As you wish... - Westley

I really wanted to end with this one. I think it is important to remember that we need to serve our students. I'm not sure how some are going to take this statement, but I believe it to be true. Some students are more needy than others, so it can be exhausting to be serving them more that others, but that is our job. It is not easy. If you wanted an easy job, you made the wrong life choice.

We all have our good days and our bad days, but we need to remember that we are there to support our students in their learning. We can teach them to be independent and we can teach them to pursue their passions, but we cannot expect them to get their on their own. We have been tasked to do the most important, and most difficult, thing in the world. We can inspire the next generation by meeting their needs. Those needs will continue to change and the rules of how we have to meet those needs will change, but we need to do it. Who will if we do not? Congress?

There were many more quote that I could have used for this post, but these were the best for the education topic. Thanks for reading. If you want to share your favorite quote, feel free to do so in the comments section.

- Nick

Bump Armour For The Teacher and Student On The Go #Review

I've had the opportunity to give some Bump Armor products a trial run and I have to say that I'm very happy with how they performed.

Bump Armor iPad Case for iPads 2-4

The iPad case by Bump Armor is a solid case for those that have a case of the "dropsies" from time to time. Made from a non-toxic foam material, it passed a military grade drop test. Its ergonomic design lets the iPad and case sit comfortably in your hand. There is a Max version (Right) and a Light version (Left) that allows people to choose how much protection they will need for their device. I felt confident dropping my from desk level on to the hard floor in my class as a test. The case bounced and the iPad was just fine. If you need a case to protect your device from the bumps and bruises that seem to happen once in a while, this is a great case for you. It comes in multiple colors and an optional stand to purchase as well.

CB Slim Hardshell Chromebook Case

Chromebook case was perfect for my Chromebook. I've been traveling much more with my Chromebook because I have fallen n love with it. I use it all the time when I travel now. I have always been worried about the safety of the Chromebook as I bounce from airport to airport and in and out of conference rooms. This very simple and strong case has kept my Chromebook safe. It even slipped out of my back I accidentally left open and hit the ground pretty hard. I was freaked out, but everything was just fine. I had not seen any Chromebook cases in the past, but I will not have to look for one again. This one is just perfect and fits most Chromebooks up to 14 inches. If you are looking to protect your Chormebook, check out the CB Slim Hardshell Chromebook Case. 

I've found my new Backpack. It is simple as that. I love this thing. It has storage for everything I need and everything fits nice and securely where I need it. The backpack offers five sided protection of the Chromebook and multiple pockets for all of the extra gadgets I need to carry with me as I travel from conference to conference. It even has a nice side mesh pocket for my water bottle. For me, that is a huge deal. The backpack sits comfortably on my back and is easy to adjust. It is water resistant, has a special smartphone pocket, and space for pens and pencils. It has everything I needed in a backpack. I couldn't be happier with this backpack and will not need a replacement for many years. You will see it with me at the next conference. 

Overall, all of these products are wonderfully made and perfect for the person looking for quality protection of their technology. Please check out their website,, to check out all of their products and see which ones might be a perfect holiday gift for a friend our yourself. 

Bump Armor sent me samples for the purpose of a review. The opinions expressed are my own.