Episode 64 – Jennifer Casa-Todd

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Guest Profile

JENNIFER CASA-TODD is a mom, wife, teacher-librarian, speaker, coordinator for Google Educator Groups of Ontario, ISTE Librarians leader, and an @ONedSschat advisor. Jennifer is also the author of Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @JCasaTodd.

Overcoming Adversity

Jennifer was in her first year as a teacher-librarian (after serving as a literacy consultant), excited to be back in a school and eagerly building relationships with staff and students. After suffering a concussion, she was forced to battle depression and other concussion symptoms for the next ten months. Jennifer shares more about the challenges of this experience in Mandy Froehlich’s book, The Fire Within.

Jennifer credits (1) staying connected with other supportive educators on Voxer, (2) learning from a TED Talk about brain healing from Jane McGonigal, and (3) an app called Super Better as important factors in her recovery. Her battle with concussion symptoms has also given her more empathy for people suffering silent battles that don’t meet the eye.

The Mission of Social LEADia

Social LEADia actually began as a passion project. Jennifer didn’t expect to write a book, but after encouragement from George Couros she ended up speaking to a publisher about her vision, and the rest is history.

Part of her passion comes from the “ban and block” stance of many schools, which focuses more on preventing online activities instead of talking about how students and staff are using media positively. 

In the words of George Couros, digital leadership is all about improving the lives, wellbeing, and circumstances of others. It’s time for schools to take another look at social media tools and start talking about how they can make learning come alive. As William Dwyer puts it, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

In addition to the power of social media tools to make a positive impact in the world, Social Leadia also looks at media literacy. Are we equipping our learners to be discerning consumers of online content? When it comes to personal branding, she pushes students to build “a brand of you” without losing authenticity or a sense of who they really are.

Jennifer is thrilled by the incredible possibilities in education today. Technology is enabling exciting global partnerships on meaningful, real-world projects like the Sustainable Development Goals and global book clubs.

Goals, Passions, and Productivity

In terms of a professional goal, Jennifer is taking the second semester off this year to focus on her Master’s thesis. She looks forward to once again becoming a full-time student and doing more of her own research on the relationships between social media and students today.

Outside of the school, Jennifer is a very social person. She’s plugged into a curling league, she connects regularly with friends to play cards, and she’s in three book clubs. Even when she doesn’t finish the books in her clubs, she values the relationships and connections fostered there.

Although she’s not the most organized person, Jennifer credits a strong work ethic and intense passion as the simple secret behind her professional work and success. Becoming a high-profile speaker and author isn’t about luck — it’s about sacrifice and commitment over time.

Voices & Resources That Inspire Her Professional Practice

On Twitter, Jennifer points not to one account but to one of the lists on her Twitter profile: Kids Who Inspire.

Her edtech recommendation is FlipGrid. Follow FlipGrid on Twitter @FlipGrid.

Jennifer’s book recommendation is Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less  by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. Follow the author on Twitter @AskPang.

Her podcast recommendation is VoicEd Radio, headed by Stephen Hurley. Follow Stephen on Twitter @Stephen_Hurley. Jennifer also hosts The Social Leadia podcast! Visit her podcast home and listen to her latest episodes at VoiceEd Radio.

Jen’s YouTube picks are Video Writing Prompts (with the very creative John Spencer) and Editing is Everything. Follow these channels and their hosts on Twitter @SpencerIdeas and @The_Real_Editor.

On Netflix, Jennifer and her family are watching How I Met Your Motherwhich keeps them laughing partly due to the nostalgic Canadian references.

We sign off on our conversation, and Jennifer gives us the best ways to follow her online!

Follow Jennifer …

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Song Track Credits

Listen on YouTube and subscribe to the Teachers on Fire channel.

 

Episode 50 – Bethany Petty

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BETHANY PETTY is a teacher, coffee fanatic, and 2017 EdTech Digest School Leader Finalist. She writes about thoughtful uses of technology in education at http://usingeducationaltechnology.com/ and is also the author of Illuminate: Technology Enhanced Learning.

In our conversation, Bethany recalls the challenges around teaching students not much younger than her. She discusses the main message of her book, Illuminate, and the ways that her passion for history plays out in and out of the classroom. She also talks about coffee, the importance of exercise, and some of her top picks on Twitter, edtech tools, and more.

Follow Bethany online here:

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below:

  • 0:54 – Bethany describes her current context in education. It’s her 11th year teaching high school Social Studies in southeast Missouri. It’s her school’s 5th year in a 1:1 Chromebook environment, and she’s excited by the innovation she’s seen over these years. She’s also an adjunct instructional technology instructor at a local junior college.
  • 1:36 – She recalls the challenges of being an anxious rookie teacher not much older than her students. Initially, she made it her mission to control her class. Over time, she realized that authenticity, transparency, and humor can all go a long way toward building learning relationships in the classroom and creating an optimal learning environment in the process.
  • 3:44 – We talk about the heart and main message of Illuminate: helping educators at all technology levels use technology intentionally and purposefully in ways that support the learning of their students. It’s not about the technology – it’s about the learning. Why are you using it? What do you hope learners to gain from it?
  • 7:36 – Even out of the classroom, Bethany’s passion is Social Studies. A self-professed history geek, she enjoys watching history documentaries and learning opportunities wherever they present themselves.
  • 9:04 – One personal habit that Bethany relies on is exercise. It’s always been a part of her life, and when she’s in her exercise routine she feels like she has a good handle on things, she’s more alert, and more present. She also admits to a strong coffee addiction, often consuming eight or nine cups in a day!
  • 10:30 – On Twitter, Bethany recommends following legends @AliceKeeler and @HollyClarkEdu. Both of these educators tell it like it is and will keep you thinking with practical advice and provocative insights.
  • 11:07 – An edtech tool that Bethany calls indispensable for her Social Studies classroom is EdPuzzle. Follow EdPuzzle on Twitter @EdPuzzle.
  • 11:52 – A fictional book series that has really drawn Bethany’s attention lately is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Follow Diana on Twitter @Writer_DG. For a solid educational read, check out Ditch That Textbook: Free Your Teaching and Revolutionize Your Classroom by Matt Miller. Follow Matt on Twitter @JMattMiller.
  • 12:56 – Looking for an interesting podcast to add to your commute? Check out Ladies, First with Natalie Gonnella-Platts. Follow Natalie on Twitter @YankeeBean to learn more.
  • 13:38 – On YouTube, Bethany recommends the very fun Epic Rap Battles of History. Even if you’re not teaching Social Studies, it’s a blast at any age level.
  • 14:25 – When she’s got no energy left for anything productive, Bethany is watching the Once Upon a Time series
  • 14:54 – We sign off on this conversation, and Bethany gives us the best ways to follow her online and get to know more of her great content! See above for contact links.

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

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 43 – David McFarland

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DAVID McFARLAND is a high school IB humanities teacher at Pacific Academy in Surrey, BC, Canada. Follow him on Twitter @MrMcFTeaches.

In our conversation, David talks about how “We don’t even know you!” challenged him to rethink the importance of building relationships with his students. He describes some of his passions in education today: helping students navigate knowledge critically instead of merely absorbing content, using digital tools to customize learning experiences, and continuing to advocate for some reading on paper. David also shares some of his lifelong learning outside of the classroom, a daily ritual that builds relationships, and his top picks in books, Twitter, Youtube, and more.

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below:

  • 0:49 – David describes his current teaching situation as a high school humanities teacher at Pacific Academy in Surrey, BC, Canada.
  • 1:18 – Three or four classes into the school year at a new school, he recalls a student bursting out with “We don’t even know you!” That experience challenged him in a positive way and helped him think more deeply about the relational component of teaching. Today, he takes more time and makes more intentional investments in building relationships with his learners.
  • 6:05 – There’s a lot that gets David excited about education today: a new curriculum in BC, better options for course customization, helping students think critically and navigate knowledge instead of dumping content on them, interpreting content in a world that is becoming entirely digital, and still advocating for some reading on paper.
  • 11:25 – One area of learning for David outside of his teaching is the art of cooking. He’s had fun this summer playing around with different cuisines while working his way through the New York Times cooking app. It’s a hobby his family appreciates, because there is always a product everyone can enjoy at the end of every experiment!
  • 13:02 – A personal habit that contributes to his success is based on a fine taste for coffee. He explains how this can be a “ritual that is relational” – an activity that invites others into the creation and enjoyment of the teacher’s go-to beverage. Another habit that feeds him is regularly reading books while at school.
  • 15:53 – David recommends following high school social studies teacher Glen Thielman (@GThielmann).
  • 17:06 – The edtech tool that has made the biggest impression recently is Google Classroom.
  • 21:04 – David’s pick for books is You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith (@James_KA_Smith).
  • 24:01 – A podcast to add to your podcast line-up is The Way of Improvement Leads Home by (@JohnFea1).
  • 25:40 – If you’re a Social Studies teacher, you need to subscribe to John Green’s Crash Course on YouTube. Follow @TheCrashCourse on Twitter as well.
  • 27:35 – When he’s got time in the summer to enjoy the pleasures of Netflix, David’s watching the The Office and Better Call Saul.
  • 28:42 – David reminds us of where to find him on Twitter @MrMcFTeaches.

Subscribe to the Teachers on Fire 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 39 – CJ Reynolds

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CJ REYNOLDS is better known by his YouTube channel, Real Rap with Reynolds, where he talks teaching, relationships, and life. As a passionate educator and creator, his two truths in teaching are: #1 relationships are king, and #2 it’s only ever about the students.

In our conversation, CJ recalls the tremendous fatigue he faced as a rookie teacher, and discusses the importance of learning to say no to some things. He talks about how a project with his son turned into a YouTube presence with over 13,000 subscribers, and the tremendous opportunities that the internet allows teachers and students today in terms of global connections and collaboration. He shares about personal passions outside of the classroom, his morning routine, and his recommendations for books, Twitter, edtech tools, and more.

Check out Real Rap with Reynolds on YouTube HERE: https://bit.ly/2vm711T.

Follow CJ!

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below:

  • 1:11 – CJ describes his teaching context: teaching 9th grade literature and a course called The History of Hip Hop in Philadelphia.
  • 2:07 – He recalls the tremendous fatigue he felt as a rookie teacher, some days unable to do nothing in the evening but sleep. Part of working his way through and out of that fatigue was perfecting ‘The Art of Saying No.’
  • 4:21 – We hear the story the Real Rap with Reynolds YouTube channel, from his son’s interest to his personal passion.
  • 8:04 – CJ explains what really excites him about education today: the new opportunities for connection, engagement, and authentic learning around the globe that the internet gives us.
  • 10:43 – His personal passions outside of the classroom include gardening and training for a triathlon.
  • 13:21 – “I’m a routine monster.” – CJ likes to wake up at 5, exercise, swim, or run, and spend some time in meditation at the beginning of each day.
  • 15:16 – Accounts worth following on Twitter: @RandyRibay, author of After the Shot Drops.
  • 17:07 – CJ suggests we try https://storybird.com/ in our English classes, another tool that allows students to create multifaceted representations and stories.
  • 20:34 – His book recommendations include After the Shot Drops by Randy Ribay and Tattoos on the Heart by @FrGregBoyle.
  • 24:45 – Two of the podcasts CJ has been listening to lately include The Tim Ferriss Show by Tim Ferriss and the Rich Roll Podcast by Rich Roll.
  • 26:02 – An accomplished YouTuber himself, CJ looks for inspiration to channels like Casey Neistat, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Mac Premo.
  • 28:06 – When he has no energy left for anything else productive, CJ’s watching Shooter and Better Call Saul on Netflix.

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 33 – Bryon Carpenter

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BRYON CARPENTER is a high school teacher at the Abbotsford Virtual School in Abbotsford, BC, Canada. As a trained scientist, passionate creator, and lifelong learner, Bryon serves in the spaces of library, math, science, and ADST (Applied Design and Skills Technologies).

Bryon’s passion? Seeing teachers utilize new technologies to advance student learning and help them represent their learning in new and creative ways. Outside of education, Bryon is passionate about fishing and woodworking, and he credits daily journaling as a key to his personal and professional success. Bryon also points us toward a Twitter account to follow, a podcast to check out, a title to add to our book lists, and much more.

Follow Bryon on Twitter @BryonCar, on Instagram @Bryon.Carpenter, and visit his blog at http://bryoncarpenter.com/.

Find the highlights from our conversation at the timestamps below.

  • 0:48 – Bryon describes his current context in education at the Abbotsford Virtual School.
  • 2:04 – He shares about the practical challenges he faced around contract uncertainty early in his career.
  • 10:20 – What really excites him about education today: seeing teachers help students learn and represent their learning in new ways using technology.
  • 16:16 – His personal passions and learning outside of the classroom: fishing and woodworking.
  • 20:02 – A regular habit that contributes to his success: daily journaling about his learning and teaching. He posted vlog entries for all 195 days of teaching last school year!
  • 24:45 – An account to follow on Twitter: @EricCurts of CtrlAltAchieve.com
  • 26:27 – Bryon’s edtech tool recommendations: Google Keep & Adobe Spark (@AdobeSpark)
  • 29:04 – A book every educator must read: The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros (@GCouros)
  • 30:34 – A podcast to subscribe to: This Week in Google (by @TWiT)
  • 33:07 – Bryon’s YouTube channel recommendations: This Week in Google & Sport Fishing on the Fly (@OntheFlyTVShows)
  • 33:56 – What Bryon’s been enjoying on Netflix: Downton Abbey, The Last King, Frontiers, Riverdale, Tales by Light
  • 35:46 – The best ways to follow Bryon’s content: on Twitter @BryonCar, on Instagram @Bryon.Carpenter, and on the web at http://bryoncarpenter.com/.

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!