So A Rabbi Walks Into iPadpalooza… And It Was Awesome.

A few months ago I got a message from Carl Hooker inviting me to come to iPadpalooza. Thinking he wanted me to come experience first hand all the awesome things I had heard about the Austin based Educational Technology conference, I regretfully decline due to lack of funds. When he clarified that he wanted me to be a featured speaker it still wasn’t registering.

What kind of educational vision can a Chassidic Orthodox Rabbi, albeit an educator share?

Now I am no stranger to conferences or presenting, but this was the first time that it wasn’t me submitting a presentation proposal but instead being asked to come share my ideas. I have to admit, that while it was exhilarating and humbling, it was all together nerve racking as well.

Now, I have a vision, I have an approach, and I think that both are concrete and practical outlooks on how we use technology to support our learning.

This Invisible iPad approach is something worth sharing I thought to myself, and thank G-d I am getting a chance to share it with the world besides my colleagues and my wife.

So off to Austin! Plane ride, Lyft ride, Sheraton Downtown, Uber ride, Check in, and I am sitting in Adam Bellows keynote.

Now I am not one to “celebritize” educators. I think it does a disservice to education and to educators to put these type of visionaries and their approaches on an unreachable pedestal. With that said, there are some seriously awesome innovative educators in our global learning community. I have been actively following the work of Adam for almost four years now (ever since that ISTE closing keynote) and he is without question a huge inspiration. So as I am sitting through his awesome opening keynote, I am inspired, excited, and at the same time I am thinking…

How can we all speak this language and focus on learning with technology and not learning technology

In the end I think I made an impact. I hope my ideas were food for thought for more than just an inspiring hour conversation but something that will help those educators present think differently about why and how we use technology. It didn’t hurt that the tap on my shoulder on the shuttle to day two of the conference was Adam Bellow himself introducing himself and starting up a conversation with me.

Outside of presenting, I was anticipating connecting with some awesome educators. Connecting on Twitter is great, but its really fulfilling to have those types of conversations face to face not limited by 140 characters. It was great to meet the educators below and have real conversations about how we as educators can truly change the world. Really.

Cathy Hunt

Richard Wells

Reshan Richards

Kyle Pearce

Felix Jacomino

George Couros

Dean Shareski

Adam Bellow

the list goes on. I should simply list every presenter but the above group was something special for me. There are those who simply inspired me, got me thinking, questioning how we define innovation, or even harder, to question if our outlook is really all that innovative. Then there was the Green Room where the connection was on a more informal level. 


On Day Two, I was honored with being part of an amazing group of educators for one of the conference keynotes. Michelle Cordy has created an amazing SketchNote + ThingLink mashup that captures the awesomeness of everyones presentation.

I have been to many conferences, and they all have something amazing about them. Still, there was something unique, personal, and energizing about iPadpalooza. It is without question the most meaningful conference I have been part of to date. Cant wait for iPadpalooza 2016 and the opportunity to be apart of it again.

Courtesy of Petr Kratochvil  at publicdomainpictures.net
21st-Century Competencies, Education, Google™, Technology

“In Formation” – Approaching Information Literacy

We live in a world that is completely saturated with information. Whether we are creating or consuming, the internet has become a massive storehouse of information that is constantly in formation. A colleague of mine, Scott McLeod (follow him on twitter), co-authored a series of videos called, “Shift Happens” which, among other things, call to light the rapid pace of our quest to be informed. 2006 experienced 2.7 billion searches per month, and in 2008 it was at 31 billion. Comedian Pete Homles said humorously, “We know everything. Google, wait two seconds and you will know.” With this wealth of information comes a great responsibility for us as educators to help our students effectively and efficiently navigate, filter, and process information as aspiring life-long learners.

Since Information Literacy is not just about access, but assessment, one of the best ways to help students develop Information Literacy skills is by showing them a model of this process. Once upon a time, Wikipedia was a near curse word in the classroom. Today, it is one of the leading organizers of information. Through the lens of Wikipedia, students can be exposed to various levels of information quality. For example, when searching “Information Literacy,” further reading suggests that the article was built from sources in academia, government, and education think tanks. The page also begins with an interesting disclaimer; “The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject.” This adds another element into the challenge of Information Literacy. It’s not enough to just access information, or even to verify its authenticity. A new challenge is to understand how information gives us the ability to connect as a global community and how communities differ in the value and perspective of information. 


Collaboration Vs. Cooperation

Courtesy of: Ecoblender.org

Collaboration is closely connected to the access of knowledge. My educational experience required me to rely solely on my teacher and an outdated textbook. Collaboration was limited to “working together” to complete a predefined task with a singular outcome. In today’s world the entire scope of human knowledge fits in your pocket and the hierarchical control of knowledge erodes daily. No longer is expertise defined by anything more than a desire to share, and a medium to share it in. The challenge now is how to filter, analyze, validate, and make use of mass-information. This is one of the reasons developing collaborative skills is so critical for our students. We sometimes confuse cooperation, working together side by side with collaboration. I asked a group of 4th graders this week what the difference was. One student responded that,

“Cooperation is when we get along, collaboration is when we use our uniqueness to make something great.”

Wikipedia, Mobile Technology, and Social Media have shifted how we share, work together, and help one another. These examples are something that simply did not exist while I was growing up. While it is important for young children to develop their individuality and independence, their careers will most likely be highly collaborative experiences with very few essays, and minimal multiple choice exams.


Applying to Become Apple Distinguished Educator

Want to dig deep? Try sharing your entire educational journey, experiences, and impact in two minutes. No, not two minutes and one second, two minutes flat. As an educator, I feel I am always telling a story. The scenes, vantage point, and even characters might change, but I always find myself telling a tale to help people better connect with knowledge in a significant and meaningful way. Its important for me as an educator to know that building that connection not only helps me teach others, but it helps others teach me. This is why I hold dear the proverb that says,

“Who is wise? He who learns from all people, as it is said: ‘From all those who taught me I gained understanding'”

While the actually process of compiling the video lasted only a week, the inner core of the video is really thirty years in a making. I am not trying to be nostalgic here, but if I told my kindergarten teacher, my high school guidance counselor, or even my college intro art professor that I am applying to become an Apple Distinguished Educator, finishing my M.S.Ed, and became a Rabbi, they would all think I am either insane, or that they are. It does show you how amazing the journey of life is that through these experiences, our values, purpose, and driving force can change, develop, and simply rocket to the moon. 

Since a picture is worth a thousands words, I present my video application to the 2015 Apple Distinguished Educator Program.

Apple™, Art, iPad, Technology

Astropad: A New Hope

Welcome to Astropad from Astro HQ, a digital drawing tool that gives us a new hope in how inspired artists create. The touch capabilities of tablets, specifically the iPad have transformed how lovers of drawing make art. The past twenty years have seen amazing advancements in how digital art can be produced. Beginning with the Adobe Creative revolution of the late 90’s, to Wacom’s tablet technology of the 2000’s art could be digitally created and refined, but still had its limitations. Fast forward to the creation of the iPad, a screen you could touch, which provided the means to develop incredible artistic apps like Paper 53, Autodesk’s Sketchbook, and my personal favorite Tayasui Sketches. These apps have taken classic artistic processes and opened up a whole new world in how we mix together works of digital art.

Now its time for the next artistic leap forward

In comes the Astropad, which takes a massive leap forward in how we facilitate the artistic process. Astropad gives you the manipulative touch power of an iPad with the computing horsepower of a Mac to creative your own masterpiece. Artists can now use the iPad to zoom in, refine work just like drawing on paper, while keeping your Mac focused on the bigger picture.

Astropad retails for $49.99, with an educational discount for teachers and students for $19.99.

While its still a fresh technological approach to art, Astropad gives me a new hope in what is possible.


Mirror your iPad to Macbook Without WiFi

Today I led a workshop on effective technology use. As I tried to AirPlay my iPad to my Macbook I realized that more so than the technology being effective, we as teachers need to be effective. If technology does not work the first time many teachers find themselves at a crossroads. Route one leads to total tech abandonment, and the other leads to a land of embracing failure, learning from mistakes, and becomes a stronger educator, and really a stronger person. Thank G-d for me I am also really quick on my feet. After throwing around the joke about keeping calm when tech doesn’t work I was able to successful execute a great little trick that I heard about somewhere on the internet.

iOS 8 lets you mirror your iPad via Quicktime and a lightning cable when there is no WiFi.

This is a huge development for many different reasons. First it saves you from the above scenario when you need to mirror but there is no WiFi. Second, it allows you now to screencast your iPad screen to create demos and tutorials without any lag. The only drawback is that it will not play audio through your Macbook speakers (unless someone can show me how).

Step 1:

Plug in your iPad via Lightning to USB

Step 2:

Close out iPhoto if it autoruns and Open Quicktime

Step 3:

Right click on Quicktime and select “New Movie Recording”Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 9.09.34 PM





 Step 4:

Click on the drop down arrow next to the Record Button and select your iPad for camera but keep the Microphone set to your Macbook if you are doing recording.Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 9.09.47 PM





Step 5:


21st-Century Competencies, Education, iPad, PBL, Technology Integration

The Third Grade Teacher

I have been working on this article for awhile. When I saw this post during the #1to1techat on twitter I finally knew how to phrase it.

Students teaching students is totally awesome meaningful learning.

Becoming a teacher might not be on everyones bucket list but after watching eight year olds teaching eight year olds about native american life, I hope they realize just how powerful the ability to educate someone really is. Being in charge of other peoples learning was a new experience for these third graders. I began the conversation by asking them the following question,

How do you know how much you know? 

One answer is, teach it to someone else. Our next challenge? If our students are able to become independent learners working towards becoming facilitators of learning, then where does that leave us as the “real educators” in the classroom? The massive outpour of information as well as the technology to harness its power actually leaves educators with a very powerful and humble mission.

It empowers us to help students become caring, thoughtful, and serious learners. 

If we choose to answer this calling and put aside our slightly bruised ego and title of sage on the stage, then the student, teacher, and technology partnership can begin to create some truly awesome results.

Third Grade Native American Tribal Life Project

in collaboration with Deborah Littman and Joanna Benporat, 3rd grade classes

Digital Publication using Book Creator for the iPad

unnamed-7 unnamed-8 unnamed-6 unnamed-5

The initial planning phase of the project went very routine. Questions of purpose, time spent, objectives, and curriculum alignment were asked. Questions about student’s understanding of the applications of choice were answered. We projected the project would integrate technology between the A and the M on the SAMR model due to its use of audio-visual capabilities as well as how the technology would allow the learning to be shared. The objective of the student was to demonstrate their knowledge of a Native American tribes to the class. After reflecting on the final outcome of the project, we compared the projects use of technology to how the project was accomplished by traditional means.

21st-Century Skill Acquisition

Traditional Method

Learning With Technology

Oral Communication



Visual Presentation



Understanding of Content



Cooperation and Collaboration



Engagement and Enthusiasm



Organization and Time Management



Students as Facilitators



Now each one of these skill sets that students developed during this project have a specific objective.

Oral Communication: Through the use of audio recording and filming, students had the ability to clearly and effectively share their learning with other people in an engaging way that gave the viewer a sense of choice. The traditional method consisted of students presenting in groups in the front of the class reading from index cards.

Visual Presentation: The traditional method consisted of hand made poster boards and dioramas. In the past digital slideshows such as PowerPoint we used as well. Using the iPad students could create an audio-visual multimedia presentation that incorporated hand made artifacts into the project.

Understanding of Content: Many of the traditional methods of learning were still utilized by students including reading from books, note taking, and basic researching. The information was internalized further through the use of multimedia such as audio record, video filming, drawing, and creative writing.

Cooperation and Collaboration: Through the use of technology, this area yields unbelievable results in respect to frequency and sustainability of student partnerships. Students in traditional group projects tend to have one dominant student or have other students who lack motivation to fulfill their group responsibilities. Through the use of the iPad students were able to work independently, build off each others ideas, and help their peers create better quality work.

Engagement and Enthusiasm: At this point in our 1:1 program the “iPad excitement” has worn off. Students were engaged on a much higher level due to the personalized learning experience that allow for independence, choice, and serious ownership over their work. Students were not only enthusiastic to create something their peers would see, but even more so when they worked on traditional worksheets answering questions based on viewing their peers projects.

Organization and Time Management: This is a hit or miss with technology. Technology in of itself doesn’t make either of these qualities shine, but with the proper mindset students can use technology as a powerful tool to develop these critical skills. Having all their work in the cloud to work on at home and use the iPads together in class did contribute to success in this area.

Students as Facilitators: This was the best part of the entire experience. Students were on inspirational fire as they shared their learning and made sure students understood the valuable information that they had learned. Students concluded this unit with an in-depth understanding of a specific piece of the unit, as well as a general albeit superficial understanding of the rest of the unit due to their peers amazing ability to share their learning in a serious, but fun and engaging way.