Contemplating Change


I woke up this morning still feeling exhausted from delivering an all-day PD session yesterday and I could tell that today was a little different. Normally, the news is on as my Television turns on automatically in the morning to help me wake up. Today, however, the TV was off and my eyes opened to see my oldest daughter standing over me asking if she could skip school today because people were only going to be talking about the swearing in of our 45th President. As I scratched my head, and prepared myself for an interesting conversation with my 15 year old, my phone buzzed and this message anonymously appeared.

As I was in the shower this morning contemplating change several thoughts were dropped into my spirit so I thought I would share. 1st – change is hard. Everyone handles change at their own pace. Each person however, must come to terms and realize that the world as they have come to know it, will be different. And for some (most) it can be very unsettling. Whether it is as change in job, organizational changes, life changes, or political leadership changes. No matter the category of change, there is always an element of uncertainty and uncomfortableness from the familiar world or realm in which we have been operating.  Well – I have some encouraging news! Not only can we embrace the positives of change, we can actually excel through the process. Here are a few areas of focus during a time of change and transition:

Competency – understand that things ARE changing. While it may be uncomfortable or even scary, you need to get with it and move forward! This may require you to learn new skills or step out of your safety zone. Don’t be afraid to learn and grow. Also realize that not everyone is excited for change and that there may be others that are not particularly invested in helping you to change. Be smart in how you approach others during change and keep your interactions positive and classy.

Compassion – understand that change is not an easy transition for everyone. Example – with the results of the election it is clear to see that our nation is divided. Some people are happy and some people are not so happy. Keep that in mind that in the democracy that we live in, everyone has a right to vote for their choice of candidate. And we all agree as a democracy to accept the winning results. Remember the excitement that is felt when your candidate wins and be sensitive that others may not feel that same way. So is the outcome when it relates to any type of change – some will be happy and others will not be happy. Be compassionate that change affects everyone differently especially depending on the outcome and impacts of the change.

Confidence – be confident in who you are and your accomplishments. Be committed to your values and in your future. Always stand up for what you believe. Embrace the challenges ahead in the mist of change with positivity. Communicate in effective ways of expression. Challenge yourself to try and see things from others perspective by asking questions. Talk about the change. Contribute to the change. Be calm even if there is conflict in change.

Christ – God is in control!! Because of Christ – we are adopted into a royal family and your father loves you. The lyrics from one of the songs in rotation on my playlist says – when did I forget that you have always been the king of the world? Always remember that God wants the best for us. Even through the process of change!!!! The most popular scripture in the bible is Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Yes, God is in control as evident by the timeliness of the message. However, I know my daughter’s concern was more about the division that she has witnessed since the election. So, I hugged her and told her that the country has always been divided. This election simply gave people the courage to say how they really feel. With that understanding, this is your opportunity to bring Christ into every conversation you can to put the attention on Jesus. It’s not our battle to fight anyway… so don’t worry about it and embrace the change by being the change!


Takeover Tuesdays @ South Hills


What a Great way to teach Digital Citizenship! So often we speak about the negatives of Social Media in the hands of our students, but rarely is the conversation centered on either teaching them the benefits of using it responsibly or allowing them to explain how they use it to build their own brands.

Today at South Hills High School, Mr. Jahns, the awesome Media Specialists/Librarian began allowing students to take over one of the school’s social media channels to tell the story from the student’s perspective. Here is his message explaining the process:


One of my goals as the social media manager is to help tell the story of SHHS.  That’s part of why we’re trying so hard to coordinate our social media accounts and solicit points of pride as they occur.  I believe we can tell our story better, and more effectively, through our students.  I’m always looking for ways to help our students take ownership of their learning and their educational experience, with a goal of creating the kind of student culture we really want.  To that end, I’ve begun “Takeover Tuesdays”, an opportunity for one or more students to take over one of our campus social media accounts for a day and ‘tell our story’.

Tomorrow, Tuesday 9/13, Richard Cervantes will be taking over our Instagram account, South_Hills_High_School .  The theme of this takeover is “A day in the life…”

I invite you to follow our account.

Social Media dominates the daily lives of our teens. If we don’t create the opportunities to meet them where they are, we’ll miss out on truly engaging them in ways that are most meaningful to them. This also provides the chance to have those valuable conversations about Digital Citizenship to help guide them as they leave their digital impressions across the internet.

Check out how the day went by following South Hills High School’s Instagram account!

Kick Off Your School Year With Student Voice!

Words of wisdom from the Iowa Student Learning Institute! @IowaSLI

Kicking off a new school year means empowering student’s voices from day one. Your students have a lot of opinions that are left unsaid year by year because they don’t get asked or they don’t think anyone cares. Little do they know how much their voice matters. Here’s three ideas to integrate student voice in your classroom! 

Start the conversation in your classroom

1. Let students help write the syllabus.
This could help because instead of throwing ideas and rules at students, they could help make the ideas and make them understand why they are doing what they are doing.

2. Ask students how they learn best and show their learning.

This takes into consideration the individuality of students. Students will perform better in your class if they can see what things they can do to help themselves learn better. This comes in the form of having the choice of how they learn content for the class and how they display that learning. They might choose to learn by themselves and write a paper or work in a group and make a presentation – all while covering the same content material.

3. Create a Needs Assessment for your class/school.

Asking students questions such as “What’s something our school does well?” “What’s something our school should change?” “How would you go about making those changes?” “How do you learn best?” gives constructive feedback to make a student focused environment. This data can then incorporates student voice into the classroom/school.

Our Student Voice organization SILC, has learned a ton from watching the Iowa Student Leanrning Institute from afar. It is our hope to partner with them as we begin to grow and expand beyond the walls of South Hills High School in order to provide a platform for all students within our district to have a voice. 

Excuse Me While I #PassTheScopeEdU Style

passthescopelogoThe life of a 1:1 Specialists can be grueling and time consuming when you have campuses that average over 1600 devices per. Rarely do I have time for much that is new and forward thinking outside the innovation that is happening within my own realm and scope. However, I have been deeply enthralled with the #PassthescopeEDU movement since its conception.

Back in April of this year, a small group of maybe 5 educators started playing around with the idea of using Periscope in the classroom in somewhere in the midst of the discussions, the idea of passing the Scope was birthed. I so happened to catch the broadcast of a friend of mine @knikole as she was introducing one of my personal favorite tools, Makey Makey’s. Then she passed the scope to another educator I was connected with in Georgia. I immediately equated the concept to the my “Pass The Mic” days when I was in the music industry which I later adapted to my classrooms when I taught and of course I was hooked. I immediately contacted @iamvlewis and told her how dope the concept was and I was wanted a chance to drop the scope the next time.

I joined the group on @voxer and the movement blew up. The decision was to Pass the Scope every 3rd Thursday of the month based on a specific theme. May’s theme was Summer Learning. I had the chance to involve some students on my main campus and they had a blast. However, I soon realized that this was only the beginning. The group grew from 5 to 21, to now 40 phenomenal educators from Hawaii to Singapore. That’s a great distance, especially if you take the long route around the globe. The @voxer group allows for awesome collaboration opportunity to share idea, ask questions, receive wonderful feedback and essential create what is now known as #passthescopeEDU


So on June 16, the scope was passed beginning at 12:15 PM EST for 9 hours. The Scope was dropped in twice in Michigan, Utah, Nevada, North Carolina, Florida and in Georgia. The Scope was also dropped in Connecticut, Vermont, Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii and Toronto, Canada. Then dropped 3 times in California and 8 times in Texas. It was happening all over the map. Educators shared their Big Idea going into the 2016-2017 school year along with Global Collaboration thoughts. It boiled down to FREE PD for most of the day. Every participator was engaging and shared great ideas for any educator to consider as they plan for the upcoming school year. (You can catch some of the educators here:

More importantly, the event brought to light the potential power @periscope can have in the classroom! Virtual Fieldtrips, expert speakers sharing content for classrooms, interviews with relevant people relevant to an Historical piece of study, or maybe even live streaming of events that are taking place in and out of school where there is limited student participation due to cost. The possibilities are there and the #passthescopeEDU movement will be there to help bring to light some of those ideas. Here is a list of the wonderfuls educators who have participated so far:

  1. Toutoule Ntoya @ToutouleNtoya
  2. Deniece Frideley & Christine Grimm @piggyreads/@brightchicks
  3. Jacqueline Rose @JRose_Edu
  4. Brian Smith @1to1Brian
  5. Kimberly Lane @askatechnogirl
  6. Mark Barnes @markbarnes19
  7. Jennifer Gonzalez @cultofpedagogy
  8. Cynthia Day @msdayvt
  9. Stacy Lovdahl @braveneutrino
  10. Sarah Thomas @SarahdaTeechur
  11. Knikole Taylor @Knikole
  12. Tara Linney @techteachert
  13. Heather Campbell @seriousgiggles
  14. Derek Larson @lars3eb
  15. Jordan Pedraza @RemindHQ
  16. Cassie Reeder @reeder_cassie
  17. Molly Levitt @Molly_Levitt
  18. Valerie Lewis @iamvlewis
  19. Jason Bretzmann @jbretzmann
  20. William Jeffery @CoachJeffery
  21. Shaina Glass @svicglass
  22. Heidi Samuelson @swampfrogfirst
  23. Laura Iskowitz @LauraIskowitz
  24. Kerry Gallagher @KerryHawk02
  25. Anabel Gonzalez @amgonza
  26. Jessica Martin @thewhimsicalteacher
  27. Karen Corbell @CorbellHiAK
  28. Dene Gainey @dene_gainey
  29. Kiana Porter-Isom @EdupreneurToday
  30. Megan Whitney @EdTechDash
  31. Jennifer Williams @JenWilliamsEDU
  32. Katrina Keene @teachintechgal
  33. Starr Sackstein @mssackstein
  34. Judy Arzt @judyarzt
  35. Heidi Carr @carr_8
  36. Makisha Rogers @kisha4tech
  37. Kami Butterfield @kamibutterfield
  38. Dene Gainey @Dene_Gainey
  39. Tracy Brady @mmebrady
  40. Ron Madison @madison_ron
  41. Rusul Alrubail @RusulAlrubail
  42. Lisa Dabbs @teachwithsoul
  43. Shelly Terrell @ShellTerrell
  44. Jessica Esposito @jesespo
  45. Jennifer Bond @TeamBond
  46. Justin Schleider @SchleiderJustin
  • All handles are the same for both Twitter and Periscope 

I’m excited to see what is coming in the month of July. We may even do something for ISTE, who knows. The goal is to hit all the U.S. States and touch each continent. So, make sure to follow those above to see how you can get involved and to see where this movement take us.


ClockIn an attempt to, like others, start the year off with some positive self motivation, the one word challenge was proposed by several of my professional and personal learning groups. Being that I am the least consistent blogger, one would think that coming up with that one word would be extremely difficult. That fact of the matter is, that is truly the case. My blogging inconsistencies sometime deal with having so much to say, but never taking the time to write it all out to where it makes sense. When I do sit down to write, I over complicate my thoughts and unnecessarily contort the message behind the words to where nothing happens. The problem is, I always have something to say and share; so many exciting things happening in education, in the 1:1 space or even with my family, The Mocha 6. However, when God gives me the opportunity to share there is always this hesitation. I can hear Him saying that the clock is ticking, when will you respond?

So, my word for 2016 is “Respond

The goal is to respond to the vision, by not only writing it down, but also being the courier and run with it. When asked to speak, I’ll respond with a loud voice proclaiming the truth. When called upon to make an impact, I’ll respond with integrity and unveil my soul. When my family needs me to listen, I’ll respond with my heart. When the time comes to share my gifts, I’ll respond with humility and open up my mind to others. The fact is, I need to stop just sitting on it, shutting down, hiding, creating excuses while wasting time. Instead begin responding in order to make things change around me. Opportunities to make life matter don’t always knock loudly and continuously unless I respond!

You Can’t Escape Learning

Just a short blurb to get back into the habit of blogging…

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I tried, I really, really tried to escape learning for just a short brief moment. Initiating a 1:1 program is grueling especially when you have to build the program while it is already in motion. Breathing has been much of an after thought. I’ve only had moments to look at my kids to make sure they were still mine and then turn right back to the grind. So when it was time to take a vacation, my plan was to shut everything down, off if not throw all manner of connectivity out the window of the plane I’m still building in the air. I didn’t want to see another learning tool, read another article, have another discussion… all I wanted was to get away and not think at all! Unfortunately, when you are a life-long learner, emergency back-up generators are a part of the package and it kicks on as soon as the power shuts down.

See, I made the mistake of not only connecting with wonderful educators across this great continent, but connecting all of my devices in order to keep up with what is going on. So, when I tried to sneak away for a long weekend by myself, my friends kept periscoping their activities while at various conferences all over. While determined to just stay in the bed and catch up on my rest, @voxer kept chirping with riveting discussions within my PLN. I tried muting my phone considering that is the device I use most to connect, but I mistakingly purchased an Apple Watch, then had this ridiculous notion to be notified with a haptic response when anything meaningful went down. Since I wear my watch all the time, I couldn’t escape the learning. I didn’t necessarily participate in the conversations, but I jotted down all the juicy details, which prompted ideas to formulate in my mind, which catapulted into writing plans out and mapping out implementation possibilities, which encouraged me to design learning and sharing opportunities, which in turn…STOP IT! I just want to rest and get away from it all, but the more I live, the more learning becomes who I am and I simply can’t escape it. Thank goodness, because otherwise, how else will I be able to continue to meet them where they are?

Only Twitter Can Judge Me…Really?

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Recently, I was turned down to speak at an educational event because the sponsors were looking for someone who had a little more influence than myself. They said they enjoyed some of my tweets and blog posts, but needed a little more traction at this particular event…a headliner so to speak.

Does having more Twitter followers make someone a more qualified educator than me? I go to conference after conference, leaving disappointed that speakers with a gajillion followers were sharing what I already do as a specialist or did as a teacher. They’re telling my story on their stage.

My life is filled with non-stop superhero action. I preface it that way because whenever I do present, drop the bow tie and don a super hero t-shirt because I feel that is what is required of me sometimes to make a difference. By day I’m delivering bonafide PD to empower teachers to conquer any obstacle in their digital learning environments while battling the arch nemesis Student Filtering and The Mastermind who created the No Cell Phones in Class signs. My superpower skills are put the test as I attempt deliver the masses from skills that teach to the test and teach to the tool. Instead, I equip them with super utility belts that help teach to the child through relationships that help teachers meet there students where they are. By night, I fight off the Evil “I’m Too Tired” Villain in order to delivery joy to my 4 kiddos who in turn serve as my power-ups that maintain my super strength.

I don’t have time for much of anything else. Fighting the crimes of bad education and bad examples of fatherhood is what I do and pretty much who I am. So, I miss participating in all the Twitter and Voxer chats, EdCamps and other opportunities to grow my Super PLN. Therefore, I don’t see the public spotlight and I’m perfectly fine with that. I have said this thousands of time, I would rather be a superstar in my own kids eyes than on Social Media any day. So if you want to see my influence, ask the thousands of kids whose lives I’ve impacted instead of seeing how many followers I have and comparing me with someone else. Being concerned with followers is like kryptonite. Instead I dwell on the letters I get from former students that thank me for helping them fall in love with words so much that it helped them land an internship with the New York Times. Or on a former student who asked at his wedding if I would sit where his parents would have sat at if they were still living. Or when a mother brings me a cake because her she didn’t feel her English was good enough to express how much she appreciated me helping her son graduate from High School.  That’s how I want to be judged and many other educators alike. If people are not willing to be a fly on the walls of some of these super teacher’s classrooms, then conferences are truly missing out on the greatness of those who are in the mist of the true educational battle.