My Time on A Word In Progress

After I asked him to be on my show (Episode 19), Derek Rhodenizer asked me to be on his show, A Word In Progress. This show is all about talking in absurd detail about specific words that educators throw around, but often we don't have a solid definition of what those words really mean. Ultimately, Derek's goal is to write a book about education, in which he takes a philosophical approach to the field.

The week before I was on his show, Derek talked about the word "connection." He asked on twitter what our definitions of connection were, and after reading some of the conversation, I asked if people thought that connection had to be a two way street. For example, can I be connected to someone who doesn't even know I exist?

In the episode before I was on (with guest Peter Cameron), they decided that connection by nature required reciprocation, ultimately arguing that without a recognition by both people, it is simply an impact. My belief is quite the opposite. I feel that I can, and am, connected to people who do not know me. My immediate example is podcasters.

I listen to a lot of podcasts. One of them is the show This Week in Tech (also known as TWiT). I've been listening to TWiT regularly since 2005. The host of that show, Leo Laporte has built a connection with me for two hours a week for over 10 years. He doesn't know that, doesn't know who I am (though I did actually get to meet him in 2016 and it was awesome!). However, I am certainly connected to him, as I have bought products because he endorses them, listen to his show each week because I trust him, and drove over an hour out of my way while I was on vacation just to meet him.

What I ultimately stated in the episode is that I believe connection falls on a continuum. On one end of the spectrum is interaction. For this, I think about the bagger at my grocery store. While I appreciate them taking time to bag my groceries, especially when they do it in the right order and my eggs aren't broken, I wouldn't say I have a connection with them, since they have very little impact.

As soon as one party in that interaction is impacted in a meaningful way by the other, that has raised itself to a connection. Once both parties are impacted, you have a relationship.

I also liked the phone charger analogy someone made. When a phone is connected to a charger, the charger gets nothing from the phone, but the phone is re-energized and ready to start doing its job again. This is not a two-way connection, but a connection nonetheless in my book.

If you'd like to hear more about this topic, or are just looking for a great show to listen to, checkout this, or any, episode of A Word In Progress with Derek Rhodenizer.

#MADPD Building Staff Morale as an Instructional Coach

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of presenting a session on building morale during #MADPD. MADPD (or Make a Difference PD) is an full day online conference for professional learning put together by Peter Cameron and Derek Rhodenizer. This year, over 100 teachers presented either a session on a topic they were interested in, or a discussion panel.

Each session for this conference is 15 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of Q&A, and they are all done as YouTube Live events, so anyone, anywhere in the world can watch live or catch the replay. Below is the recording of my session. I hope you find it useful!

For the list of all sessions presented for MADPD, checkout this FlipGrid Conference Guide.

I was also on a panel with Shane Laurence, Randall Black, and Kasey Bell talking about Making Technology Disappear in Schools. This panel focused on the impact technology is having in school and how at some point "Technology Instruction" should just become synonymous with "Instruction." You can watch that below as well.

Pursuing Survival... Guest Post by Kristen Iannuzzi

“For decades, terrorists and mass shooters trod their separate paths. Then Columbine. Eric and Dylan fused them. School murders had been done; Eric envisioned a school catastrophe.

A new template was born. The spectacle murder. Performance without a cause. Just demonstration of personal power.”

-David Cullen, Columbine

I was a freshman in high school when Eric and Dylan made Columbine an international headline. Their intention was to kill hundreds. They managed 13. In total, 188 shots were fired that day. In addition to the four firearms they carried, the killers came prepared with five different variety of bombs…they had 95 altogether. In the course of 49 minutes, two students transformed Columbine from an ordinary high school into an American catastrophe.

Over a decade of misconstrued information would be passed along by the media and other sources, and soon the story of Columbine would be about bullying, trench coats, and white baseball caps. But it wasn’t. Instead, it was exactly what Dave Cullen described above: spectacular murder. Nevertheless, amidst a flurry of scrutiny and misconceptions, one truth emerged more clearly than others: the way in which police were trained to respond to an active assailant situation ultimately costs lives that fateful April day…. and so did the frantic teacher in the library who did the best she could when screaming at students to get under the tables.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Now it’s been nineteen years since a terrorist attack on a high school changed the way law enforcement responded to school shootings. For some reason, though, school districts haven’t had the same urgency to change their active shooter protocols. 19 years later. 216 school shootings later. And students are still hiding under desks. Untrained. Uninformed. Unempowered.

But it won’t happen here are the sentiments echoed most clearly as we stare at a television screen, desensitized and watching yet another tragedy unfold and yet another unlikely target become a household name. Ordinary schools one day. Abdominal catastrophes the next. Names like Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and Stoneman Douglas now seem more synonymous with the media’s perpetuation of a casualty count than of scholarly institutions: 32. 26. 17. We seemingly forget the victims... their names always seem at the tips of our tongues, but as for the shooters... Well, the news coverage ensures we know their names: Harris, Klebold, Cho, Lanza, Cruz.  The competition silently stirred by the media who throw around words like “worst” and “most” as if arbitrarily declaring victims as a number to beat.

What follows is typically the same: thoughts, prayers, condolences, arguments. And while the students of Stoneman refused to be silenced, a clear certainty remains as a stark reminder that change is slow… nineteen years slow. Because our schools are still targets and our teachers are still uninformed. Because our students are still under desks and huddled in groups and cowering in corners and paralyzed by fear.

Of course, there are no easy answers— and certainly not ones that can be articulated in a solitary blog post… but there is one resounding point that needs to be shared: passively waiting to be rescued is fatal. We have to empower our students, faculty, administrators, and staff to actively pursue survival. To fight back. To survive.


12 students and one teacher were slaughtered 19 years ago today in a small town called Littleton, Colorado.  24 others were injured. 61 of the 188 rounds were discharged in the library. 10 of the 13 victims died there…hiding under tables.

Today… let us remember them.

Today… let us do more than offer thoughts and prayers.

Today…. let the deaths of those students not be in vain because while laws and procedures may be slow to change, the empowerment to stand up, to run, and to fight back is now.

This post is dedicated to Dave Sanders, a beloved teacher and coach. Mr. Sanders saved countless lives on April 20, 1999. He was shot and should have survived… but help came too slow.


DISCLAIMER: Kristen Iannuzzi is a guest writer for this blog.  The statements and opinions expressed are entirely her own. They are not a reflection of the beliefs, thoughts or opinions of her employer or district.


Cullen, D. (2016). Columbine. New York, NY: Twelve.

Columbine Report. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Disconnected Day

Anyone who know me, knows I'm a technophile. I'm an instructional technology coach, a constant Twitter user, and podcaster. I Snapchat most of my life, text friends, have multiple active Voxer groups, and take tons of pictures of my son. My phone is in my hand constantly.

Last week, I popped into my friend's office and started playing with these fortune card things. You shuffle the deck of cards and pick on that speaks to you. They're really silly and sarcastic. I got this one:

Now, I hate baths, so all that stuff is garbage. But the idea of going somewhere and getting "unplugged" for a bit sounded like fun, especially since I already had plans to go to the beach for the weekend with my fiance and a couple friends of ours. I reached out to them and suggested that we make Saturday a Disconnected Day, turning our phones off when we woke up in the morning and not touching them until the next day when we wake up.

I thought it would be a struggle, that I would go through withdraw symptoms of sorts, but I didn't. Sure, for the first hour or so I kept instinctively reaching for my pocket as if I would find my phone there, but after that it was wonderful.

I found that without my phone, I was more present in the day. We had to talk to each other, and actually pay attention. We talked about topics without immediately jumping to our phones to find the exact details and "prove" things. We played card games instead of video games. We read physical books instead of Reddit posts. We sat on the beach and enjoyed the waves and sand instead of framing the perfect picture.

Those were all the things I expected. What I didn't expect was how clear it made my mind. Normally, my mind runs a thousand miles a minute in 4 or 5 directions. I'm always thinking about the next thing, or some project I need to finish. Rarely do I find that my mind is quiet. That's productive for me, it works. I thought that given a day without the outside distractions of my phone, I would solve problems that had been plaguing me or have creative inspirations and new ideas.

Throughout the day on Saturday though, I regularly found myself not thinking. I was just experiencing the moment, enjoying the company, and being content.

I highly recommend the experience to everyone. We are so constantly bombarded by signals and information, and while I advocate for that level of connection the majority of the time, the value of getting away from it from time-to-time shouldn't be dismissed.

I, for one, am going to start doing disconnected days once a month. I will be announcing it on twitter the day before each time and encouraging people to join me. Or, pick your own disconnected day.

To help, I've made a quick document to give you the rules and agreement. You can use it with a group of friends and spend the day enjoying each other's company and the world around you.

Google Drive Disconnected Day Contract
PDF Disconnected Day Contract

My Time on the Personal Playlist Podcast

I had the amazing honor of being asked to be on Noa Daniel's Personal Playlist Podcast (BTW, notice I didn't say "recently". Because this post is 4 months past due. Because I'm awful). While Noa is a phenomenal and inspiring educator (if you doubt me, check out Episode 23 of my show with her), her show isn't really about education.

Noa's show is about using music to tell who you are. The way she goes about this is by asking you to pick out three songs. The first song should be nostalgic, the second is one that is part of your identity or you identify with, and the third is one that motivates you.

As I tell Noa in the episode, picking my three songs was a true struggle. I grew up in a house of music, all kinds of music. My dad was a band director/music teacher all through my childhood, and we constantly had music playing. I was also in band myself, playing the trumpet all through middle and high school, and I even started college as a music education major (though it didn't stick).

With that in mind, identifying just three songs that showed the breadth of my love of music, and how important it is to me, while also showing who I am as a person and my beliefs, was tremendously difficult. Noa and I have been trying to schedule this for well over a month, and that whole time I have been deliberating and struggling with this choice.

If you'd like to the whole episode, please checkout my P3 with Noa. You can click play below. If you'd prefer to read some of my thoughts, and maybe a little more than I said on the podcast, read on!

Nostalgic Song: The Saga Begins by Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al maybe hokey or silly, but I really adore his spirit and style. He is the embodiment of not taking yourself, or anything, too seriously. When I first heard a Weird Al song as a kid, I thought it was the greatest thing of all time. I laughed so hard my ribs hurt. And back in those days (man, I sound old), you couldn't fall into the YouTube hole and hear his entire catalog, so I had one tape that someone had made and it only had one song of Weird Al's. Play, rewind, wait, play, rewind...

But it was this song, The Saga Begins, that really made me truly fall in love. I was (and am) a HUGE Star Wars fan. I read book after book in the extended universe throughout my middle school years, and couldn't get enough (Corran Horn is the best Star Wars character ever even though he doesn't exist anymore!). Combining the silly parody of Weird Al with a universe I was so immersed in really set this thing in stone for me.

To this day, I try to embody that funny and relaxed approach to my life. I try not to take things too seriously, whether it is a problem at work, something difficult in my life, or even a mistake I made that is causing me more problems, I laugh it off and move on. Fix the problem when you can, find a solution, act on it, and keep going.

Connection Song: Stay Together For The Kids by Blink-182

One of the things I thought about when picking out songs was the albums that were on repeat during my life. Blink-182's Take Off Your Pants and Jacket was an album that never really stopped playing for me. I enjoyed every song on that LP, knew every word from start to finish. To this day, if I hear a song from that album on the radio, I will immediately start singing the song that was next when it ends.

This song in particular though had a powerful connection for me. Like I said in the show, this is one of the first songs I can think of that I really felt spoke my life. As a child in a broken home, this felt real. And I bring those connections forward into my son's life (who has divorced parents), and remembering the struggle my students go through.

What really spoke to me for this song though is the power of music even now. In the episode with Noa, I got truly personal. I make a point pretty regularly to separate my personal life from who I am online. Not excessively so, but still, somethings are just for me, they aren't relevant to education or my blog. With Noa, talking about this song, I had said a ton about my personal life before I even realized it. Music is so personal it makes sense that my discussion about it has that power.

Hype Song: Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

I feel that Bohemian Rhapsody is a song that needs no explanation. If I think of songs that inspire me, there are lot that make me feel good, keep me going, and pick me up. But this is the only song I can think of that absolutely requires a physical response. I just have to headbang.

Overall, this was an awesome show to be on. I strongly recommend you checkout the Personal Playlist Podcast with Noa Daniel. She does them with a lot of great guests, and it is so much fun.

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