Tag Archives: rscon3

Baby Steps in a Grassroots Movement

As I listened to the presentations at the Reform Symposium Conference last weekend, one of my most common personal wonderings was, “Why are my school and city not in on RSCON, too?” This question evolved into, “What is it going to take for others at my school to join the wave and take the plunge into a PLN?” Eventually, I began to wonder this: “How can I make it happen?”

I thought about my involvement in my Personal Learning Network and realized it would never have evolved into what it is today if not for Twitter. Twitter was the reason I started a blog. Twitter was how I came to discover Mike Harrison (the first teacher I ever followed and connected with; I had originally intended Twitter as a platform for my photography, so getting in touch with Mike was significant, as it became the start of what my Twitter use has evolved into). Twitter was how I found out about the second Reform Symposium, which became an impetus for me to reach out to someone who has since become an absolute go-to in my PLN.

Twitter, for me, is the lifeblood of my experience online as an educator.

So, in wondering how I could expose my colleagues to all the wonderful opportunities online, it was obvious: get them on Twitter.

Last week, I circulated a Google Doc survey that many people completed, giving me a snapshot of the educator’s experience of Twitter as a professional development tool. I wasn’t surprised by the multitudinous benefits people wrote about. In fact, the responses validated my mission: with 24-hour professional development opportunities right at your fingertips and a wealth of ever-changing information, if you have a desire to improve as an educator and benefit your students, you can no longer afford to be offline.

I sent an e-mail to my principal letting her know of my involvement in Twitter and the various ways in which I’ve used it as a springboard to the other wonderful resources on the web. I wrote about my experiences collaborating with other educators for my own benefit and for the benefit of my students.

She was intrigued. In her reply, she asked that I come in before the start of the school year so we can figure out the school’s first steps towards bringing people into the fold.

Now I’m working on a presentation to share with my colleagues, and brainstorming possible in-house professional development I hope to give about Twitter. I’m envisioning colleagues – not all, but many – developing their own PLN, finding their own niches, contributing in their own ways, and collectively moving us all toward a place where we are better educators and our students reap the benefits. It’s a bit of a grassroots idea for my school, and it’s exciting to imagine the possibilities.

I don’t pretend that my goal isn’t ambitious. Surely I will encounter skepticism. I was once a skeptic myself, frequently remarking about Twitter, “I don’t care what Ashton Kutcher ate for breakfast.”

But I was misguided. The truth is simple. For anyone serious about adding to their repertoire of growth opportunities, Twitter is a must.

Wordle: How Educators are Using Twitter for PD

I am thrilled by the response to my request for an answer to the question, “How do you use Twitter for professional development?” Really appreciate everyone’s help as I prepare to pass the fever on to colleagues. If you are yet to complete the survey, your answers are just as welcome and desired now. Here’s a link to the Google Doc.

I went to everyone’s responses and compiled them into a Wordle. I think it’s interesting to see what words are most prominent when we consider Twitter as a tool for PD: “ideas” and “resources”. Right between them, the word “new” and right next to them, the word “learn”.

Thanks again for your help.

How do you use Twitter for professional development?

Creative Commons License
How Educators Use Twitter for Professional Development by Matthew S. Ray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

What Happens to a Teacher Deferred?


What happens to a dream deferred?

Or better still, What happens to a teacher deferred?

We don’t like hearing we’re worthless. We don’t like being demonized. We don’t like being made to feel incompetent. We don’t like the public to be turned against us with half truths and propaganda. We don’t like being called selfish. We don’t like being demoralized. We won’t be demoralized.

And so I ask, in the words of the legendary Langston Hughes,

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore —

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over–

like a syrupy sweet?

Teachers marched in Washington this weekend. Did you hear their voices? Did you see their faces? Did you know their passion? Did you know their worth? Did you feel the power of the parents who marched alongside them, united for the forces of democracy and education?

Did it cause you to be uneasy? Do you think we will allow our voices to be silenced?

And, tell me, did you know that nearly 10,000 teachers attended an online professional development this weekend? That many of them gave up family time, time in the sun, time in bed, time for themselves, just to learn? That around the world, late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, they were still conferencing just for the joy of learning? Just to become better? Just to become better for their students?

Does this surprise you?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

We’ve sagged before. We will sag no more.

Or does it explode?

Italicized text taken humbly from “Harlem,” by Langston Hughes. Even today, he remains a brilliant, eloquent voice for equality – and respect.

Reflecting on #RSCON3 Day 2

Another wonderful day of learning, fun, inspiration, and camaraderie today at RSCON3. Who knew staying in front of a computer most of the day could be so awesome?

I woke up in time to hear the final minutes of Shelly Terrell‘s presentation about her 30 Goals Challenge, and as soon as I entered, she was answering a question, I think about what she defines as success. She said she considers herself a major success because she gets to do what she’s passionate about every single day. And as she said this, she was crying. Everyone was so moved. It showed a true genuineness that I think makes Shelly such a special person – it’s so obvious that she is motivated not by accolades or praise, but by her desire to help educators grow.

I was touched by Shelly’s passion, and really wanted to hang around for some more sessions, but life kind of got in the way and I did some stuff in my apartment to continue to get it in order. But I set my alarm for Hadley Ferguson‘s talk, “Movement is a 21st Century Skill.” Glad I did. It was awesome. She shared wonderful ideas to help get students moving in meaningful ways (as in not losing academic time) and was so enthusiastic that when she demanded we get up and move with her, I couldn’t resist. Good thing my webcam was disconnected in the other room. I had Hadley in mind as the day went by – I made plans to play basketball later in the day, knowing it would be healthier than just hanging around the computer.

Next up for me was Chiew Pang, one of the unsung heroes of RSCON. He was a big help to me and so kind, so I definitely wanted to go support him. Of course, it helped that he was presenting on the use of pictures to enhance creative language, perfect for my population of students. I wasn’t quite sure where Chiew was going until we were into it, and we had so much fun. His enthusiasm is great, he had a lot of interaction for us, and there was a wonderful compilation of ideas. I loved that Chiew essentially taught us a lesson and allowed us to learn, take it for what we could get out of it, without demanding our minds go in any one direction. Excellent experience, very calming and enjoyable.

Next was one of the highlights of the conference so far, a keynote address from Salome Thomas-EL. If you missed it, man, I’m sorry. You absolutely MUST listen to it when it becomes available.  Principal EL for Secretary of Education? Oh, oh I do think so. From the moment he started speaking, it was for most of us, a range of emotional experiences including goosebumps, laughter, tears, pride, and confidence. This man knows how to energize and inspire. He dropped some wonderful stories on us, sprinkled in sagacious and catchy nuggets of inspiration, and made us remember why we do the job we do despite the negativity put on us. I couldn’t get his words on Twitter quickly enough! And come the evening, I was pretty honored to have discovered this in my feed.

My mother also emerged from the shadows to finally blog again, totally inspired by RSCON, and it was exciting to see her post circulating in the #RSCON3 stream. She is a critical member of my PLN (Private Life Network) and my PLN (Personal Learning Network). I urge you all to follow and reach out to her, especially if you are a student teacher or new teacher (she mentors student teachers) or have an interest in special education (30 years in the field).

I took a break in the evening to unwind a little bit, have some dinner, and prepare to moderate Pernille Ripp‘s session on meaningful blogging for all students. I was happy to be able to help her out in a small way, but as a bonus, her topic really struck a chord with me because I am almost certain I’m going to have my kids writing blogs this year. I have some uncertainties and concerns but attending Pernille’s session, as well as some others on student blogging, has helped. With the support of my PLN, I think it’s going to work. And, it goes without saying, people were totally excited by what Pernille talked about. I think people walked out of her presentation with a sense for some great possibilities. BONUS: Here is the technology letter she uses in her class. It is a great resource.

And speaking of great resources, so are all of you! I am so thrilled by the number of new followees and followers I’ve added since yesterday morning. There is no shortage of amazing people out there. We are truly on a wonderful journey together, and I can’t help but think the work we do together on Twitter and online to help each other learn and grow may someday translate into an awesome wave of meaningful reform and renewed respect for all of us.

#RSCON3 Slides – WisconsiNewYork: Collaborating and Connecting

I hoped to upload the slides directly into WordPress, but am having trouble doing so. Instead, I am attaching the link to view them in a Google Doc. Please feel free to refer to them as you see fit, and don’t hesitate to be in touch with me or Pernille.

WisconsiNewYork: Collaborating and Connecting by Pernille Ripp and Matt Ray

Reflecting on #RSCON3 Day 1

Wow, it’s been a long and tiring day, but an incredible day nonetheless. I’m sure I have plenty of company when I say that Day 1 of the Reform Symposium Conference was tremendous. I was able to meet some educators brand new to me (and reconnect with some old friends), attend some inspirational, informative, and interesting sessions, and make the first presentation of my career. Let’s recap.

We started off the day with an organizers round table. Their passion carries this conference and I was reminded as they spoke why they are some of the most influential people in our PLN.

From there, I listened to the Timo and Aki share the framework of the Finnish school system, all the while marveling at how different is from that in the United States. We had the opportunity to ask questions of a Finnish student who provided his own insight into life as a student in what is regarded as the best system in the world. As Shelly Terrell asked at the outset, “Where else are you going to get this opportunity?” Shelly, I think the answer is, “Nowhere.”

I attended sessions from John Spencer and Deven Black and took something from both of them. I didn’t make it into Kelly Tenkely’s keynote because I was preparing my own presentation, but I know the #RSCON3 hashtag was abuzz throughout.

I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to present alongside Pernille Ripp. She is a wonderful person to collaborate with and has an unflappable can-do attitude. I’m very proud of what we accomplished together and very thankful to her for helping me grow both as an educator and a presenter. I was really happy to see people saying they liked our ideas and were considering ways to bring them into their classroom. It was our goal to inspire people to work together like we did, and I’ll reiterate here that if I can help anyone, I’m happy to. Just ask.

After our presentation, I went into Kathleen Morris‘ talk about global blogging with her young students and jumped in as a guest moderator (perfect practice for the real thing tomorrow). She left me with lots of tools for blogging with students, which is important because I definitely want to bring blogging to my students this year.

I was also inspired to reconsider my mother’s idea of using the picture book version of Flat Stanley so my students could participate in the Global Read Aloud, so I went to the library to find it and begin planning.

So many wonderful ideas were exchanged today, it’s impossible for anyone with a pulse to not walk away with something. Tomorrow is another full day of learning, and I look forward to seeing many of the same people I saw today and enjoying some more wonderful presentations!

Leave your favorite experiences from Day 1 in the comments! Looking forward to reliving them with you!

You Don’t Have to Be a Rockstar in Order to Rock

As I’ve become more involved in the run up to #RSCON3, both as a presenter and moderator, I have also been consciously making an effort to expand my PLN to reap the benefits of the PLN luminaries that we all follow as well as those who are yet to establish that following. As a result, my number of followers has grown, as have the number of people I’m following. Because of this, I continue to be ever-amazed at the breadth of Twitter. I don’t use the term “universe” lightly when I describe Twitter, as it’s expanse is as hard for me to comprehend as the universe’s.

In the early days of my PLN life, I was intimidated by the luminaries out there. You know, those people who seem to tweet day and night, run webinars, moderate chats, host international blogging opportunities from their kitchen, or get 50 comments on each post they write. In a way they were like celebrities because I’d see their names, their follower counts, and the amount of retweets they got, and I thought to myself, “Wow, s/he is famous! I could never talk to that person!”

If you’re feeling that way, I have to tell you that in most cases, you’re wrong. The reality is, most people in your PLN are eager to meet others like you, who are motivated, inspirational, ready to engage in debate, and have something to share that makes us all better. A case in point: recently, I sent a direct message to one of the suns of my PLN universe asking if I could run an idea by her. I tiptoed because I know how busy this person is and especially how busy she is now. Within minutes though, I had a response asking me to shoot an email or meet for Skype in a few hours. This person owes me absolutely nothing, but there she was ready to squeeze me into what is undoubtedly a wall-to-wall schedule.

So, if you’re new to Twitter, or you’re spending time in the shadows, come on out and get to know the members of your PLN. Part of being in a PLN is learning together – and I don’t mean in a parallel way. You surely have wonderful things you can share. So share them!

This will probably be my last post before #RSCON3 kicks off tomorrow, and therefore my last chance to publicize it and my presentation in this space. Hope you can join me and Pernille Ripp for WisconsiNewYork: Collaborating and Connecting and learn some of the steps you can take to collaborate with a member of your PLN. Our presentation link can be found here and we will begin at 7:30 EST on Friday, July 29. Hope to see you there!


Attend RSCON3. You Won’t Regret It.

If you don’t have plans for the weekend of July 29-31, you’re in luck. Really!

If you do have plans, you might want to consider adjusting them.

The Reform Symposium – RSCON3 – will be held online beginning on July 29, running all the way through July 31. It’s a truly inspirational, unique conference that brings together some of the most incredible educators in the world for three days of professional development. You should really be there.

This time around, I’m truly humbled to be on the roster of amazing presenters. Together with Pernille Ripp, I’ll be sharing our experience collaborating across the country to bring a meaningful learning experience to our students. We’d love for you to join us on July 29 at 7:30 PM EST.

RSCON3 is a wonderful way to connect with other educators around the world and learn together. Come by for one session or as many as you like. It’s totally free and totally worth your time.

Take the plunge. You won’t regret it!



In a few days, nearly 8000 educators from over 40 different countries are expected to attend a free 3 day virtual conference, The Reform Symposium, #RSCON3. This free award-nominated e-conference is going to take place on July 29-31st, 2011. Participants can attend this online conference from the comfort of their homes or anywhere that has Internet access. This amazing conference provides educators new or currently active on social networks the opportunity to connect with educators and professionals in the field of education worldwide. With over 12 Keynotes, 80 presenters, and 3 keynote panel discussions you are bound to be inspired!

Getting Ready for RSCON3

The school year is winding down and I am feeling, surprisingly, re-energized to make something out of my summer that might benefit next year’s class (whatever class that may be). While so many of our educational brethren are counting down the days (okay, I am, too) and making summer plans to do with everything except school (okay, I am, too) I am also finding myself thinking big ideas for how I will spend at least some of my vacation setting up some of the ideas I have running through my head (and filling up my notebook).

Whether I actually commit myself well enough to do them remains to be seen. But there is something to which I am totally committed, for better or worse. I will be entering the foray of education conferences this summer as more than an attendee. I will actually be presenting on two topics at RSCON3, The Reform Symposium. It’s a worldwide internet conference that features an amazing roster of presenters, all organized by an amazing group of educators.

I looked over the list of presenters earlier today, and to say I may be just a bit out of my league might be an understatement. That being said, I’m going for it, in the hopes that something I’ve done in my career might be something that can inspire someone out there to try the same, or modify it for their own learners.

I am so excited to be partnering with one of my main inspirations out there, Pernille Ripp. We are planning to present about our experiences bringing our two classes together (July 29, 7:30 PM ET). It is my hope that sharing our story with others will inspire virtual colleagues to figure out ways to bring an exciting and unique way of student-centered learning into their own classrooms.

My other presentation will be about the ways I’ve used photography in the classroom to enhance literacy (July 29, 5:30 PM ET). This has been a passion of mine since my first year, and although The Mosaic Project has evolved (or maybe devolved?) due to a variety of circumstances each year (not all positive) I still believe that at its heart it is a wonderful way to bring students to a place they may have never dreamed of going. It’s an empowering project with a product that has never failed to surprise and impress me.

The full schedule is not available on the web site yet, but I can tell you with no uncertainty that if you decide to attend The Reform Symposium, you won’t be disappointed. I planned to watch only two presentations at RSCON2 back in January, but I wound up sticking around much of the day. It was an exciting, fun, memorable conference. I know it will be this time around, as well. Mark your calendars for July 29-31!

Hope to see you there!