All the #NerdyCast

I’ve been a little behind, but two more episodes of #NerdyCast have gone up since our premier episode. Let the humorous, informative, and poetic sounds of the #EduBros voices bring you up to speed on the latest in Education trends and pop culture. (Really it’s just us talking for about an hour, but we think it’s pretty fun.)

In Season 2, episode 2 we take on homework, weather in Arizona, and our favorite all girl pop band from Bayside High. We also keep the Girl Meets World anticipation alive. Check it out on PodOMatic or iTunes.

Season 2, episode 3 revolved around BYOD and Google Glass. We also give you the latest and greatest update on Girl Meets World as well and have some extremely thought provoking discussions on glue sticks and my new love of Dr. Who. You can listen to it on PodOMatic or iTunes.

Next episode we will take on creativity in the classroom so feel free to leave comments on the topic or really just anything in general you would like us to discuss on the next very special episode of #NerdyCast.

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Guess Who’s Back? Back Again. Nerdy’s Back. Tell Your Friends.

Like the Real Slim Shady in 2002, we’re back! (Back again!)  great blog posts are usually titled with hip-hop lyrics. (Am I right?!) I’m thrilled that Nicholas Provenzano has returned with a second season of the #NerdyCast. However, I’m more excited than Jessie Spano on caffeine pills that I have been asked to sit in as his permanent co-host. (It is permanent, right? Can I get something signed?) Due to popular demand (read: at the request of a few people), we have returned to our original format of hour long podcasts with lots of fun and randomness along the way.

Season 2, episode 1 is up and ready for you to take a listen. In this episode we take on Project Based Learning, TV shows we used to watch, and 80s movies. Check out the episode here on PodOmatic or you can get it on iTunes. We’re going to start turning these out once a month so feel free to suggest future topics in education, pop culture, or really anything. Leave a comment below or send a tweet to Nick (@thenerdyteacher) and me (@tgwynn) on Twitter. It feels good to be back. We hope you have some fun listening and maybe even learn something along the way.

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Are We There Yet?

This morning, I found myself full of so much hope when Jason Collins came out and became the first openly gay active player in a major sport. I could see how far we have come as a human race as we embrace love and give up the hate that is still so prevalent in this world. As an educator, naturally I thought about this impact on the LGBT students in our schools. Some of them now have another role model. Another person that they can look up to and possibly see a glimmer of themselves within. “That’s so gay” and “fag” are still used regularly in the language of many (sadly I’ve even heard those slurs in the hallways of my own elementary school), so it was inspiring to see such positive feedback as a result of someone embracing the way he was born and being himself. Jason’s courage (and yes, it was courageous) just might be that push that a student needs to make it through one more day. It might be that small bit of hope that tells someone that there isn’t anything wrong with him or her after all. I was overwhelmed seeing the outpouring of hope and love from so many.

Then a few hours later, I was reminded of the hate again. A student from a high school, not too far from mine, decided he would rather end his life that continue to grow up in a world that was too cruel for him. I didn’t know this student or know his circumstances, but from what I have gathered, he was regularly picked on and bullied. Nearly every day, I hear about the cruelty that some throw at others without a second thought about the impact or consequences it may have on their target. It fills me with disgust. I’m angry that someone wasn’t there to help him out. I’m saddened that he didn’t see hope or a way out other than ending his life, and I’m crushed by the reality that one less student walks this earth because of the hateful actions and words of others.

It caused me to think of the students in my school that find themselves being bullied, picked on, and are scared coming to school each day. Students, whether they are gay, straight, black, white, smart, artistic, athletic, or like to collect coins, fear that they will be made fun of or harassed just for being who they are. I struggle to comprehend how any human being can willingly aim hate at another. I struggle to comprehend those that say, “It’s part of growing up” and push it off as something that will never change. I struggle to find my place in the solution to this problem.

A few weeks ago, I came across the short film “Losers” by Everynone. [explicit language]

The first minute or so brought a gentle smile to my face. I loved seeing such a diverse range of kids just being themselves. They were having fun, expressing who they were, and even failing, but they were just being themselves and living their own lives.

Then the hate comes. The smile on my face gave way to teary eyes as I painfully watched the rest of the film. I thought about how so often kids (and even adults) are attacked for just being who they are. It’s almost enough to make you give up hope. Almost.

But then I think about Jason Collins or the kid in the hallway at school that stood up for his friend and I see love is still very much here also. Love that I wholeheartedly believe will eventually drive that hate away and my hope returns. I realize that I must continue to love and do my part to help others just be themselves. I’m reminded that I need to stand up for the weak, help the oppressed, and defend those just trying to be who they were born to be. For some, I can lessen the hate with my love. For many, we can lessen the hate with our love. We’re not there yet and we still have a long way to go, but we’re getting closer.

picture:  si.com

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Getting Reluctant Writers to Explore Life Beyond 140 Characters

johnspencer

Episode 2 of the #NerdyCast, Hooked!, is online and ready to go. Nick and I had the pleasure to spend some time chatting with John Spencer about ways to engage reluctant writers in the classroom. John is not only a friend and an #EduBroAwards Winner, but one of my favorite voices in the education conversation. He has the ability to look past the hype and really challenge educators to strive to reach their full potential. He asks questions and makes you reflect and think deeply about your craft. Good isn’t enough for John, he wants teachers to be their best. Take a 16 minutes and listen to the ways John encourages his students to not only write more, but to fall in love with one of his passions.

Check our episode out on iTunes or here and please leave your own ideas for engaging writers in the comments.

John Spencer blogs at Education Rethink, and you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

photo: johntspencer.com

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Teachers Solicit Undercover Students to Crack the Code on Student Engagement

Hooked! NerdyCast Episode 1 is ready to premiere and we had an awesome time recording it. Thanks to my #EduBro, Nick Provenzano & our guests. Check out our show as we talk to five high school students about what engages them in the classroom and what bores them to tears.

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We hope you’ll dig out 16 minutes of your day and give it a listen. You can check it out on iTunes or here. We’re pretty proud of it and I’m sure our mothers are also.

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#NerdyCast Is Moving to BAM! Radio

You may know my great friend and EduBro, Nicholas Provenzano, (aka The Nerdy Teacher) and a little podcast called the NerdyCast. I have had the privilege of being a guest on his podcast not once, but three times. Now hold onto your horses, because here is where it gets awesome, I’m moving into a more permanent spot. The co-host. (Doesn’t that sound fancy?!)

BAM Radio Network has asked us to start airing the NerdyCast on a regular basis and focus our shows on student engagement. We’re excited to bring you the greatest guests we can track down and share lots of conversations about how educators are working to engage students both in and out of the classroom. We are incredibly excited about this venture and cannot wait to get started. We’ve already started planning our shows and lining up guests. We hope you’ll join us on this new adventure. You might say we’re more excited than Gilbert & Lewis on their first day at Adams College!

Gilbert & Lewis

If you have a great idea for a show topic on student engagement, let me know in the comments and we’ll add them to our ever growing list of ideas.

image: images.businessweek.com

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Think Outside the Blog

For my Educational Technology 6070 class, I was asked to write a blog post about best practices for professional blogging in education. I really struggle with the idea of nailing down specific guides and rules when blogging as an educator. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for advice and tips to help someone get started, but I personally don’t feel that formulaic or even gimmicky posts brings much excitement to the education blogosphere. With that said, there are some basic ideas that can help you get started.

From my own experience following education blogs, I feel it’s important to share your unique point of view with your readers. Whether you are a principal, a librarian, or classroom teacher, you have a unique angle to share with us. Tell your stories from your point of view. Not only will you appeal to others that have a similar niche as you, but you will bring insight to others that work in other areas or education. I have learned so much from educators that work at the higher-ed level as well as from those at new schools breaking new ground and trying things beyond the traditional.

Blog for yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to create posts that appeal to the masses and lose your authentic voice in the process. We know what the masses think, they tell us all the time. Tell us what you think. Whether you are wrestling with ideas, reflecting on a project, critiquing the latest education fad, or bringing an unpopular opinion to the table, be yourself in the process. You may have disagreement from others, or readers may push you to explain your ideas more in depth. However, this opens up discussion and allows your ideas and those of your readers to change completely, alter, or even be affirmed.

I touched on this at the beginning of the post, but I think it’s the most important rule when it comes to blogging: throw the rules out the window. The moment we begin to place a blog post inside a box, we rob the words and their meaning of their potential to be something unique, original, and artistic. Yes, thats right, I feel that writing is an art and words can be used to paint a beautiful picture and tell a story of humanity. When it comes to education, in my opinion, the humanity of the profession is the most important part.

Two months ago, I had the pleasure of being a guest on The Nerdy Teacher’s podcast, The NerdyCast. The Nerdy Teacher, also know as my great friend, Nicholas Provenzano, turned the topic of the podcast to blogging at about the 18:30 minute mark (Somewhere after our praise of Education Conferences and before my in-depth and rather fascinating rant against the typeface Comic Sans).  The thing I pointed out, and still stand by, is that blogging should not be formulaic. Yes, sometimes blogs are topical, such as focusing on web tools, or may come from a specific point of view, but to follow a specific form for each post robs them of their creativity. It’s the same reason I stopped watching the television show, House, M.D. – every episode followed a specific formula with only the minor characters and the offending disease changing each week. It got boring, and so do formulaic blog posts.

I love when teachers blog as a response to inspiration and don’t tie themselves into a specific format. They find something that they enjoy sharing and writing about. Some of the greatest posts I have read were clearly a labor of love from the writer. They were creative, perhaps artistic, or even gave us a glimpse at what makes us human. I’ve read posts from writers that loves to share about a new tool and it’s use the classroom, and even an incredibly creative blog  taking a satirical look at educational technology and its slow integration into schools.

When it comes to blogging,  blog about whatever you want, just as long are you are sharing and you enjoy writing about it. Don’t get trapped by an idea of what you think a professional education blog needs to be. It’s your blog and people can always choose not to read it. Just share it all with us. Dean Shareski, who I have had the pleasure of meeting a few times, sums it up best when says that teachers have a moral obligation to share and share regularly.  I highly recommend taking 12 minutes to see some excerpts from Dean’s K12 Online Conference Keynote on sharing. If you have more time, do check out the full video. Think about how a blog can help you fulfill your moral obligation.

photo:  Adam Swank (Flickr, Creative Commons)

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