Episode 38 – John Sowash

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38 - John Sowash

JOHN SOWASH is an educator, freelancer, presenter, husband, and dad. He is also the author of The Chromebook Classroom, which you can check out at http://chrmbook.com.

In this conversation, John describes how a dead end in his high school context launched him into the business of teaching teachers – a true passion. You’ll hear him explain why the Chromebook is so much more than just a web browser – it’s a creation tool as well. You’ll also hear about the personal habit that keeps him on track, some great edtech tools to consider using, and much more.

Check out The Chromebook Classroom on Amazon!

Follow John:

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below:

  • 0:52 – John describes his education context and background: starting as a high school science teacher, leading a big edtech transition in his school, began sharing his learning in a blog, and today enjoys helping other educators.
  • 3:32 – A very low moment: when John’s superintendent was suddenly fired, the project he was investing in was suddenly dropped. This dead end led him to venture out on his own, focusing on professional development resources for educators.
  • 6:36 – What excites him about education today: the ongoing commitment of teachers.
  • 9:24 – Speaking about his book, The Chromebook Classroom, John reminds teachers that Chromebooks are so much more than “just web browsers” – they’re creation devices, too.
  • 13:26 – John shares about another passion outside of education: serial entrepreneurship. Some ventures crash and burn, while others work well. And there’s always more to learn.
  • 15:12 – A personal habit that contributes to his personal and professional success is leveraging his email inbox as a reminder and task list.
  • 18:17 – Twitter recommendation: @JakeMillerTech.
  • 19:15 – John recommends two edtech tools worth using: Canva and Screencastify.
  • 22:25 – Book recommendations: Start with Why by Simon Sinek and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
  • 24:01 – John has a few favorite podcasts to share: the first is The Chromebook Classroom – a podcast series he produced as a way to share additional stories that couldn’t fit in his book, Reply All by Gimlet Media, Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn, The Gary Vee Audio Experience by Gary Vee, and This Week in Google by TWiT.
  • 26:17 – A YouTube channel to check out that isn’t strictly education-related but does demonstrate some incredible strategies worth trying on Google Sheets: Ben Collins.
  • 29:16 – Although he doesn’t have much time for TV or movies, John’s latest pick on Netflix was Nailed It.
  • 30:20 – We sign off on our conversation and John shares the best ways to follow him and receive more of his content online (see above).

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Follow the podcast on Twitter @TeachersOnFire and on Instagram @TeachersOnFire.

Song Track Credits

  • Intro: Relax (by Simon More)
  • Outtro: Starley – Call on Me Remix (by DJ Zhorik)

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Episode 37 – Dan Jones

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37 - Dan Jones

DAN JONES is a 7th and 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher in Mansfield, OH. He is the K-12 Editor for Flipped Learning Review Magazine and the author of Flipped 3.0 Project Based Learning: An Insanely Simple Guide.

In this conversation, Dan tells us about the time his passion for teaching died and he almost quit the profession entirely. Instead, he Googled “new and innovative teaching practices” and stumbled across the flipped classroom, which set him on a journey of transformation. Dan also tells us about a personal passion that energizes him, a habit that contributes to his success, and recommends some amazing resources for educators.

Check out Flipped 3.0 Project Based Learning: An Insanely Simple Guide on Amazon!

Follow Dan …

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below:

  • 0:58 – Dan describes his work as a 7th & 8th grade Social Studies teacher and website director at the Richland School of Academic Arts, flipped learning trainer, editor of FLR magazine, blogger, and author.
  • 1:48 – He tells about a time seven years ago when he realized he hated his job, felt ineffective, depressed, and wanted to quit. Thankfully he was encouraged to stay by supportive administrators. He then Googled “new and innovative teaching practices,” and the flipped classroom began a journey of personal and professional transformation.
  • 9:16 – Dan explains what the Flipped Classroom 3.0 is all about, how it combines with PBL, and the opportunities it creates for educators and learners. Check out his book, Flipped 3.0 Project Based Learning: An Insanely Simple Guide.
  • 20:11 – Dan shares about the personal passions and learning that helps him relax and refuel: using fine craftsmanship tools to make pens, shaving equipment, Christmas ornaments, and more.
  • 21:50 – A habit that contributes to his personal and professional success: carving out quiet “me time” to allow him to be the best he can be.
  • 23:03 – Dan’s Twitter recommendation: @JonBergmann.
  • 24:23 – Over to edtech, Dan suggests we check out PlayPosit (@PlayPosit) as a place to distribute instructional videos to students. He also applauds the amazing Kahoot platform (@GetKahoot), which engages students and gives teachers a powerful tool for formative assessment in the classroom.
  • 25:22 – In books, Dan suggests Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by Kylene Beers (@KyleneBeers).
  • 26:43 – Need a new source of education inspiration on your daily commute? Dan recommends tuning in to the BAM Radio Network (@BAMRadioNetworkand Jon Bergmann’s podcast, Flipped Learning Worldwide.
  • 27:18 – When he’s got no energy to plan lessons, write books, produce videos, or make pens, Dan is watching The Office on Netflix – especially when a good laugh before bed is in order.
  • 27:46 – We sign off on the conversation, and Dan shares the best ways to follow him and keep receiving his great content (see above).

Subscribe to the podcast on your mobile device: iTunes | Google Podcasts | YouTube

Follow the podcast on Twitter @TeachersOnFire and on Instagram @TeachersOnFire.

Song Track Credits

  • Intro: Relax (by Simon More)
  • Outtro: Starley – Call on Me Remix (by DJ Zhorik)

Listen to this episode on YouTube and subscribe for more episodes!

Episode 32: Jeff Bradbury

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32 - Jeff Bradbury

Jeff Bradbury has been recognized as an ASCD Emerging Leader, Google Certified Teacher and Trainer, and digital innovator. The founder of TeacherCast.net, Jeff has spoken at TEDx and other conferences, provides training and consulting for educators across the United States, and currently produces ten regular educational podcasts. Simply put, there aren’t many figures in the world producing more resources for educators than Jeff.

In this episode, Jeff talks podcasting, ISTE, funding models for content creators, the Twitter algorithm, how to build a PLN, learning management systems, personal branding, and more. When it comes to creating education content, Jeff advises, make it from a place of personal passion and you’ll never get bored.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @TeacherCast, visit TeacherCast.net to access all of Jeff’s podcasts and instructional resources, and subscribe to Jeff’s Youtube channel.

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below.

  • 0:55 – Jeff tells the story of how he got started with the TeacherCast network seven years ago.
    2:06 – The three areas of focus for TeacherCast: instructional technology, STEM education, and leadership.
    3:40 – I ask Jeff to give us a quick tour of his ten education podcasts.
    5:59 – When it comes to high-powered edtech conferences like ISTE, how do we separate glitter from substance?
    7:32 – Jeff shares about his passion for instructional coaching.
    9:17 – Instead of charging up front for his educational content, Jeff enjoys sharing as much as possible for free and then walking through doors that open for him as a result.
    12:27 – Where should teachers go to start building a PLN? How does Twitter serve educators differently than it did five years ago? Jeff also points new educators to conferences, EdCamps, and TeachMeets as other places to network.
    14:28 – We dive deeper into Twitter’s algorithm and talk about the user experience it creates.
    19:49 – Areas of passion and learning for Jeff this summer: questions around Learning Management Systems, Student Information Systems, and observing his children as they learn to read.
    23:40 – Talking LMSs: Schoology, Google Classroom, FreshGrade, Seesaw, Canvas, etc.
    26:10 – Jeff on building a personal brand and producing online content: make it for yourself and you’ll never get bored. Follow your own passions and questions.
    33:14 – The best ways to follow Jeff and find more of his great content for educators: visit TeacherCast.net and follow him on Twitter @TeacherCast.

SUBSCRIBE to the Teachers on Fire podcast on your mobile device: iTunes | Google Podcasts | YouTube

FOLLOW Teachers on Fire on Twitter: @TeachersOnFire

Song Track Credits

  • Intro: Relax (by Simon More)
  • Outtro: Starley – Call on Me Remix (by DJ Zhorik)

LISTEN to this episode on YouTube and SUBSCRIBE for more episodes!

Episode 31: Jeff Gargas

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31 - Jeff Gargas

Jeff Gargas is the COO/Co-founder of Progressive Mastery Learning and The Teach Better Team. Jeff works with teachers across the United States to help them improve their practice and “reach the unreachable student.”

An entrepreneur at heart, Jeff shares about the challenges of hitting walls in the music industry and the educational training space. He shares how he redefined his mission, finding strength in gratitude and the knowledge that as long as he was doing the right thing for learners, the rest would follow. Today, Jeff loves nothing better than to see teachers learn, grow, and take risks to improve their practice. In our conversation, he points to an app that reliably corrects his mindset, recommends some great Twitter accounts to follow, and more.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffGargas & @TheGridMethod, and check out the resources he offers teachers at TeachBetter.com, TeachBetterAcademy.com, and www.facebook.com/thegridmethod.

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below.

SUBSCRIBE to the podcast on your mobile device: iTunes | Google Podcasts | YouTube

FOLLOW Teachers on Fire on Twitter: @TeachersOnFire

Song Track Credits

  • Intro: Relax (by Simon More)
  • Outtro: Starley – Call on Me Remix (by DJ Zhorik)

LISTEN to this episode on YouTube and SUBSCRIBE for more episodes!

Episode 30: Nicholas Amaral

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30 - Nick Amaral

Nicholas Amaral is the district staff development coordinator at the Ramapo Indian Hills Regional High School District in Bergen County, NJ. Nick’s passion is education technology: helping teachers help students create and innovate in their classrooms.

In our conversation, Nick shares about a point early in his teaching career when he faced deep discouragement and a lack of motivation. Rather than turn in the towel, he doubled down, reinvented his practice, and engaged his learners like never before. Today, Nick gets excited about blended, personalized, and mastery learning, and he describes the personal habit that energizes him outside of education. Don’t miss his recommendations in books, Twitter, edtech tools, and more!

Follow Nick on Twitter @NAmaralEDU and check out his blog over at https://edtechforay.wordpress.com/.

TIMESTAMPS. In this episode, Nick discusses …

  • 0:51 – his current context in education as a staff development coordinator
  • 1:26 – the experience of hitting an emotional wall in his third or fourth year of teaching, and how he overcame it
  • 4:13 – what ignites his passion for education: seeing the effects of blended, personalized, and mastery learning; shifting the emphasis from content to skills
  • 6:02 – a passion and area of learning outside of education: music
  • 6:46 – a personal habit that contributes to his success: being vulnerable, embracing failure, remaining down to earth
  • 8:55 – his Twitter recommendations: Chris Aviles (@TechedUpTeacher) and Jeffrey Bradbury (@TeacherCast)
  • 9:57 – his choice for learning management systems: Schoology (@Schoology)
  • 11:18 – a book recommendation: How We Learn by Benedict Carey (@BenCareyNYT)
  • 12:03 – his relaxation viewing content right now: Lost in Space, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Fall
  • 12:31 – the best ways to follow his content online (see above)

Song Track Credits

Intro: Relax (by Simon More)
Outtro: Starley – Call on Me Remix (by DJ Zhorik)

LISTEN to this episode on YouTube and SUBSCRIBE for more episodes!