Behind the Blog: EduBlogger Series | Linda Perlstein

“The Educated Reporter”

Linda Perlstein is currently the public editor for the Education Writers Association helping journalists improve coverage of schools and children. She is a former staff writer for the Washington Post and the author of two books, Tested: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade and Not Much Just Chillin’:The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers.

Her blog can be found here:

Why did you start blogging?

As the public editor for the Education Writers Association, I coach reporters who are writing about education. To stay connected with all of our members I wrote a newsletter, but found that many of the things I wanted to share would be valued by a broader audience. So I started my blog, “The Educated Reporter”, back in September. One issue with a blog geared mostly to journalists is that blogs rely on comments. Most of my readers are journalists and reporters and by nature are very reluctant to comment publicly. Instead of comments on the blog, many of them send me private emails and comments through Facebook. So in a sense, there’s not as much public conversation in the blog as I’d like, but it’s nice to hear from my readers regardless. Plus, my blog is still new.

What would you like your readers to learn from reading your blog?

My main goal is for my readers to think differently about issues they see out there everyday. I feel like in the media, many of the same issues related to education are rehashed in the same language over and over again. I want to be able to highlight common mistakes that people make and hope it will help them become a better journalist.

What was your favorite story to work on?

The most interesting story I’ve worked on came from the time I spent in the middle school which I used in writing my book. But in general, working at the Washington Post gave me a lot of opportunities to come across interesting quirks or trends. Many of which I discovered before reading them elsewhere. It allowed me to think outside of the box. I worked on stories like the phenomenon of teachers teaching out of their field of  expertise or why there were no asian teachers teaching in a school with a majority of asian students. One story that sticks out was from this school system whose policy asked teachers to mix up the order they called attendance. This was so those with last names towards the end of the roster would feel discriminated. Once in a while a brief fun story like that was fun to work on.

In your recent article, “Nobody is writing about learning“, you speak of the lack of stories being shared about actual teaching. There are many education blogs written by teachers who ‘report’ from their classrooms and about their teaching experiences. Do you think these bloggers are the new reporters for education?

Just because journalists aren’t writing about it doesn’t mean the content isn’t out there. Teachers still need for journalists to process the same stories they’ve been covering because their work is presented to a much broader audience. At the same time, I think journalist would benefit from reading teacher blogs. These bloggers are having open conversations and probably wouldn’t talk to a reporter in the same manner. Though we come across a problem since these Edubloggers, for the most part, are  anonymous as a culture and community. We all need to start having honest conversation to learn on a greater scale. Nobody should have to hide.

What advice can you give those who want to write about education?

Most importantly, start at the ground level. Most journalists want to hear from the direct source of the story. They want to hear what’s going on in your classroom or what changes have been made in your schools. I think the public wants to hear from them too. The more honest and open you can be about what’s going on in your classroom the better.

This is part of Schoology’s Behind the Blog: EduBlogger Series. The Schoology Team would like to thank all of the wonderful education bloggers who have participated in the series. For more information about Schoology and these bloggers, please contact Crystal Grandison, Schoology Community Manager, via email

Behind the Blog: EduBlogger Series | Tom DeRosa

    “I Want to Teach Forever”

    Tom DeRosa started teaching 8th Grade U.S. History in 2003 as a Teach for Americacorps member in Rio Grande Valley of Texas. After completing his 2 year commitment, he took on the challenge teaching for the Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (JJAEP) where he taught math (5th grade through Pre-Calculus). Since then he’s taught high school math at both district and public charter schools. Tom is the author of,”Ten Cheap Lessons: Easy, Engaging Ideas for Every Secondary Classroom“, and has just completed work on a new book entitled “Teaching is Not a Four Letter Word: How to Stop Worrying and Love the Job”.

    He currently works for JDEA Public Schools, a charter school organization in South Texas.

    His blog can be found here:

    How long have you been blogging for? Where did the concept of “TeachForever” come from?

    I Want to Teach Forever has been active for a little over 2 years. I had previously written private blogs for my family and friends to keep them updated with my life. Since I was teaching at the time in Southern Texas, which was considered one of the most challenging parts of the country, it was hard to explain exactly what I was dealing with in my classes to my family who lived in New Jersey. Most of my posts started out very negative and focused on everything going wrong in my classroom. I took some time off from blogging to separate myself from the frustration because I wasn’t helping myself as a teacher by complaining. I knew that when I started writing again, I wanted to only focus on the positive (i.e. sharing lesson plans, learning from classroom experiences, and teaching advice for teachers). With this as my main focus, it helped me become a better teacher and it forced me to write better. It was a great outlet.

    How do you come up with your topics to blog about?

    As I mentioned before, I started looking for the positive side of things, the inspirational moments. I wanted to share these moments and explain to others the reasons why I do what I do. I want to share my passion for teaching with everyone. I’m very good at creating engaging lesson plans, so this was one of the main things I felt compelled to share. I’m always reading so when I see something that’s helpful or harmful I’ll comment on it. I also find sharing links with other people is also very useful.

    How do you integrate technology in your classroom?

    Many of the schools I have taught at didn’t have quality, working technology available to them. There are plenty of tools that many teachers find useful that I don’t feel are needed (i.e. interactive whiteboard – to me it’s just another excuse for teachers to stand in front of the room. These tools do not involve or engage students). Because of the limited technology resources in my schools, I had to think of ways I could create lessons to engage my students without these special expensive classroom tools. And that’s what I did. Many of my blog posts share my perspective and lesson plans in hopes that teachers with similar limitations can learn and better their own classrooms.

    Why did you choose the title, “I Want to Teach Forever”?

    It actually came from an inspirational story from a student I taught at JJAEP. I had a student that had a tough time in school, so I tried to work with her to build up her confidence inside school, as well as help her with her issues outside of school. She was a kid that never said thank you or went out of her way to talk to anyone. At the end of the year, she wrote a poem about how I had inspired her. When I read this poem my reaction was exactly those words, “I want to teach forever”. That was one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had. I realized this is what I need to be doing; and that teaching is the greatest job I could have chosen.

    Do you keep in touch with your former students?

    As much as I can. For many of my students, technology isn’t easily accessible. As they get older and go to college I hope they’ll seek me out to update me how they are doing. The students that I do run into always are excited to tell me how they’re doing in class. I hear, ” I’m doing really good this year”, “I’m doing great in Pre-Calculus”, and “I got an A!”, with the hopes I’m going to respond with how proud of them I am and of course I couldn’t be more proud.

    To read more from Tom DeRosa and the impact he has had onn his former students read, “Joy and Triumph on Graduation Day

    Do you have a favorite memory from teaching?

    Yes. Of course I want my kids to do well, but I only put a certain amount of faith in the results of the standardized tests that we have to give to our students every year. Teaching at La Joya ISD had improved my teaching skills and I felt this would help my kids do much better. I knew we weren’t going to set any records, but I was hoping for a huge leap from the year before. When we finally got the test results, I couldn’t believe how well we did. We wound up doing better than I ever expected and had higher scores than all the other high schools in the district and beat the state average. It was hard to not break up when I was telling my kids this amazing news. I told them the results and how proud of them I was. They were so happy. I remember one kid in particular who didn’t even think she was going to pass the test going in. Not only did she pass the test, but she got commended the highest recognition she could have received on this test. I couldn’t have been prouder of my students. It was a completely fulfilling way to end a great year.

    As the author of, “Ten Cheap Lessons”, have you used many of the lessons you talk about in your book?

    I’ve used them all. I feel like part of the appeal of the book is that each of the ideas is classroom-tested. I don’t make a big deal of the book at school because I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging. I’m very proud of it though, and publishing it was a way for me to take my best lesson ideas and put it together into something useful for other teachers. One of my students recognized some of the lessons from my book after we had already done them in class and when she noticed that I had written and created these lessons, she was really impressed. In general, writing this book proved to me that I had the discipline to sit down and write something that can be useful to other educators. I just completed my second book about how to survive teaching. It’s a rough job and I’ve been through a lot. I think I have had a good perspective on how to make things in your classroom work and how to not get burnt out.

    This is part of Schoology’s Behind the Blog: EduBlogger Series. The Schoology Team would like to thank all of the wonderful education bloggers who have participated in the series. For more information about Schoology and these bloggers, please contact Crystal Grandison, Schoology Community Manager, via email

Behind the Blog: EduBlogger Series | Andrew Marcinek


Andrew Marcinek is in his sixth year teaching English in the secondary level. He received his Bachelors of Science in communications and English literature from University of Miami, FL and completed his Masters in Secondary Education from Eastern University. As of this fall, Andrew will play a dual role as the Instructional Technology Specialist and AP English teacher at the Boys Latin Charter School of Philadelphia.

His blog can be found here:

Why did you want to become a teacher?

Most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins were teachers so I grew up surrounded by them. They seemed to really enjoy their work and I always felt education could always be better. In high school I had an appreciation for the English language so it only made sense to fall into that subject. I love the evolution of language and it’s easy for me to get excited about it. Getting to go to work everyday and present things I really enjoy is something you can’t trade in for anything.

Are you excited about your upcoming position as Instructional Technology Specialist?

Yes, it’s really exciting. I presented the idea to our administrator and  it was approved by our board. I will be starting this position in the fall. This upcoming year is going to be a lot of trial and error. My primary goal is to integrate different technologies in my school and synchronize them in classrooms with the support from my fellow teachers. I plan on being a supportive teacher and help everyone who wants my help. I’m a little nervous. Will there be challenges? Of course there will be. There are a lot of teachers who have been teaching a certain way for so many years. They aren’t exactly looking to change the way the teach. I’m willing to support their decisions and if they are open to integrating new technologies I will be there to help.

To leave feedback, comments, and suggestions for Andrew related to the position of Instructional Technology Specialist, please share here, “My EdTech Letter“.

How do you integrate technology into your classroom?

We work on collaborative project learning through a Wikispace, where they can work together in class on projects and homework. We were reading, “The Kite Runner”, at the end of the year and we set up the entire unit on our Wikispace. Students would come in with thought provoking questions and discussions and we’d sit at our computers finding the answers.  We also use a lot of fun new Google apps that are made for education. We use Google Timeline for many of our projects. I’ll give my class a question like, “What effects did the Soviet War have on the Afghan culture and tradition?”. They can then use Google Timeline to see and organize their criteria searches. They can break down by the information they find by months and look at what exactly happened during this time period. My kids find all the news articles from a particular day in history and get to learn from actual data. I want them to make their own discoveries so I don’t put any perimeters on how they find their information. This is a new type of learning where kids are given a menu of choices instead of step by step learning. This research/exploratory skill is something we all need in life and if we’re giving all these standardized tests it’s nice to know we can go off the beaten path.

Why did you start blogging?

I’ve been blogging since 2008. The school I was working for had the opportunity to apply for grants by explaining how they were going to use technology. We received the grant, as well as, a technology coach. Our coach recognized how much I loved working with technology so he latched onto me and helped me better my technology knowledge. I was able to learn different ways I could teach dynamic lessons and better my classes. Now I can present lessons and ideas and not feel afraid of technology in the classroom. And look at me now, I’ll be able to help my fellow educators with their education technology discoveries.

You recently attended and presented at EdCamp Philly. Can you explain what EdCamp is and what you learned from your experience?

EdCamp Philly is an unconference, where educators with similar goals come together for the day to talk about education. Everyone is involved and there are no scheduled presenters. I had never attended something like this before, but I knew many of the organizers and with my new position, as ITS, I have a lot of questions. I hosted a forum just to ask questions about being in this ITS position. Ten people showed up for my session. In our hour conversation, we shared ideas and challenges of what worked and what didn’t. I attended three other sessions that day where everyone participated and learned from each other. The next week in my class, I found that I used a lot of the new ideas I had learned while at EdCamp. It was a great experience. Since then, I’ve taken the same idea and have created NTCamp (New Teachers Camp), which follows the same unconference model as EdCamp but has a focus for new teachers. We already have 60 people signed up to attend and hope to have more to build everyones PLN. These new teachers don’t need to turn to their mentors, they have an entire PLN to support them.
To read more about Andrew’s experience at EdCamp Philly, read his post, “The Grassroots PD Movement

Do you have a favorite memory from teaching?

Back in 2008, the graduating class selected me to be a faculty speaker at their graduation. I found out in the beginning of April that I was going to be the speaker, but as May approached I still didn’t know what I was going to write. I asked my my kids what they wanted to hear on their last day of high school. Their response was, “We don’t want to hear what we always hear”. So I had to think of how to give something new to these kids who already have everything at their finger tips. I went with a personal story of a roller skating birthday party I had when I was younger. I didn’t like the idea of rolling skating, plus i was having a dual party with my cousin. I spent half the party falling everywhere and clinging to the wall. When I would skate for a few seconds away from the wall, I would fall down and fail, but always got back up. Simple story, but the idea of, “hey, failure happened”, and schools don’t preach that enough. It’s okay to fall and get up. It’s want makes our character and make us who we are. After delivering the speech I received tons of letters from my students of how much they loved my speech. Putting how nervous I was aside, it went better than I ever thought and was so happy that my message was heard by such a big audience.

Do you have a least favorite moment from teaching?

My first day of teaching. I planned out everything and of course like anyone hoped that everything was going to go smoothly. Walked into my classroom an began to teach. I talked really fast (I was a mess and freaked out)! My entire lesson lasted 15 minutes. All the questions I asked didn’t follow up with any questions so I had 30 minutes to kill and didn’t know what to do. It was torture! So I gave a writing assignment and made it to the bell. I finished my first class. I learned so much from that first day and now go by the idea of always planning. Always have a Plan B. After a first day like that I realized, “Wow, I need to think on my feet a lot” and be one step ahead of the students.

This is part of Schoology’s Behind the Blog: EduBlogger Series. The Schoology Team would like to thank all of the wonderful education bloggers who have participated in the series. For more information about Schoology and these bloggers, please contact Crystal Grandison, Schoology Community Manager, via email

Best #iste10 Tweets

The ISTE 2010 Conference has been amazing this year. One of the best parts of the conference was being able to follow everyone on Twitter. There was no need for a cell phone. All you had to do was tweet where you were and an entire room would be filled with those ready to learn. Even those who could not make it to Denver were able to experience the magic of educational technology through social media. It was great to practice what we preach.

I thought it would be fun to pick some of my favorite tweets from #ISTE10 and share them with you all. Many of them are thought provoking and are great quotes to show the extent of how well this social medium has been used. I also encourage you all to add your own favorite tweets below!

Have you made the list?


  • “Kids don’t mind when we don’t have the answers *if* we are willing to let them learn it (and maybe even learning it with them)” via@robwall
  • “Who you are in front of your students is who they have the potential to become” via@angelamaiers
  • “The only way to change the way you teach is to experience it” via@zietz
  • “Technology doesn’t improve education, it changes it…Teachers improve education” via@mtrump
  • “When kids perceive that using technology is boring, breakage rates go up!” via@mmuir
  • “Identify outcomes you want to achieve in class and figure out if you can work tech in” via@bwasson
  • “Don’t be afraid to make new friends. You won’t learn anything new hanging out with the people you came here with”via@bethstill
  • “It’s not about the gadgets. Think about the end result and see how technology can get you there” via@itecsbrian
  • “The most important technology we can advocate today is the technology of asking a good question” via@ B. Porter
  • “Just overheard, “Hey, nice to finally meet you, but I didn’t think it would be here. It’s a tweetup in the rest room”via@tgwynn
  • “I think I just converted 10 people into Tweeps” via@davidwees
  • “It’s no longer about teaching content, but teaching students how to find, connect, and use”
  • “Any teacher that can be replaced by technology, deserves to be” via@David Thornburg
  • “75% of students report using social media as an educational tool, yet over 50% of districts block them.” via@willrich45
  • “If you don’t have passion for teaching using technology you just bore your students with powerpoint” via@mumms
  • “Although it’s been great being at #iste10, it’s been wonderful heading from those virtually. Brings this conference to a new level” via@schoology
  • “#iste10 makes me wish for iste11,12,13,14..”
  • “Learning is social in most cases, improve the communication among students” via@mattwiebel
  • “Give students the freedom to step out of the tradition assignment” via@Ben Smith
  • “77% of all future jobs will require tech skills” via@jeffskohls
  • “”We have to prepare kids to manage relationships.” Digital Citizenship. Hard to teach DC with so many social sites blocked” via@tim_yocum
  • “Every school should gather up a team of kids to figure out best use of cell phones” via@Alan November
  • “#iste10 the one place it’s acceptable to be on your phone at all times….” via@hoolagirl8
  • “We all do school planning but we don’t all need separate plans” via@principalwells
  • “We keep squeezing round (open) pegged students into small (closed) square holes and expecting to produce well-rounded individuals” via@mtrump
  • “We need to teach our kids how to Learn, Unlearn, Re-learn….Learn, Unlearn, Re-learn……..” via@mtrump
  • “Quote I love (abbreviated): “It’s never been about technology but always about good teaching.” Period!”via@YETCTrainers
  • “Favorite quote of the day:Teachers have the right to hide in a cave but they don’t have the right to drag students with them” via@oswego98
  • “Does access to quality education mean access to technology? My response (so far) to #edchat at #iste10 today”via@whatedsaid
  • “My goal for the last day of #iste10: to finish answering the question – How does this change my thinking and my teaching practice?” via@jeygenraam
  • “Good morning-closing day for ISTE 2010, but not closing day for learning-take some with you wherever you go-and safe travels to all #iste10” via@csitterley
  • “What if we fail?”…”If we don’t try, that’s a sure fail” via@mc_lewis
  • “Creativity teaches us to stretch our thought patterns so we can imagine ourselves in another’s shoes.”via@csommervold
  • “Make your creativity example not completely fit the task so that students do not stop being creative on their own project” via@hurricanemaine
  • “How many of you would get in trouble if the principal saw your students sitting quietly in rows reading a book?”via@principalwells
  • “Change your language. We teach kids, not subjects.” “It’s not about us, it’s about them.” via@chrislehmann
  • “I really think what makes things like #ISTE10 valuable is Twitter. I can be in one session but follow 3 others at the same time…” via@web20classroom
  • “Be willing 2 b transformed. How dare we think we can transform lives of child w/o being willing 2 b transformed ourselves. (Lehmann)” via@kyteacher
  • “Be intentional about everything you do in your school” via@mbteach
  • Theme song for #iste10 The Schoology Team would like to thank everyone who teaches and learns every day! via@schoology

It has been truly amazing following the conference virtually. I feel privileged to have talked to so many wonderful educators.

    Big thank you from the Schoology Team! See you next year at ISTE 2011!

Top 50 Tweeting Teachers

Online Responsibility: Do You Have It?

Plain and Simple. Using a computer for school just makes everything easier, but without teaching online responsibility you could be making it harder on yourself and your students.

Here’s a little background on where I’m coming from:

I remember back when I was in grade school every assignment had to be hand-written with a pencil on an 8″ x 10″ piece of lined paper. The rule was to write on every other line and no matter how hard I tried, I still smudged the lead all over my paper and hand.

The giant electronic boxes that they called computers sat in the back corner of the classroom and could only be used by students during recess.  There was always a long line with a sign-up sheet to wait and play Oregon Trail. Please tell me you remember Oregon Trail!

There was a small computer lab in the library on which I remember playing SimCity; other than that, computers weren’t a part of my learning experience. As I got older, computers were used more for academics and it became acceptable to type your papers. Computers became more widely used in high school; however even then they weren’t the centerpiece of my educational experience.

Today, schools are dependent on computers for learning. Although everything can be found online, where in this learning environment should the line be drawn? Just a few years ago, Internet content was limited and people were still trying to figure out how it worked. Worrying about security wasn’t as much of an issue as it is today. Now, security can make it more difficult to check upcoming assignments than it is to actually complete them.

We were never really taught how to be responsible online. We taught ourselves. My home computer was mostly used for games or instant message. My friends and I would wait and stare into the screen with the scratchy phone dial tone in the background waiting for the connection to AOL.  When the little yellow man finished running it was time to be social and talk to the 5 friends I had online.

For me, the Internet was first used for fun and then used for work. With time, I learned to balance my Internet use between leisure and work. Today’s students, however, have a lot more to worry about when dealing with their online presence.

I understand why schools have to be cautious in how they incorporate the web with education. Many sites that are available and accessible at home (e.g. Facebook) are blocked from school computers. This gives students two extremes of exposure: no access at school and full access at home.  Schools should be the middleman; schools should be teaching online responsibility.

This is something we should all consider thinking about: teaching our students the importance of online responsibility. The earlier these skills and ideas are implemented into everyday learning, the easier they will become second nature. Teaching this sense of responsibility has the potential to open many doors for students and contribute to their greater success in the future.


  • How does your school use the Internet?
  • Does your school have high online security?
  • What websites/online functions are not accessible to use on your school computers?
  • What ideas do you have to continue teaching online responsibility and keeping students safe online?

Related Links:

Online, How Much Security is Too Much?“, by David Pogue

3 Ways For Kids to ACE Social Media“, by Marjie Knudsen

Social Networking Under Age 13: Some ed experts views“, by Anne Collier

Hey NY, Happy Tax Day!

I’ve been on a savings binge lately and Tax Day (Thursday, April 15) just made it even better!

Here’s a list of some great savings that you can snag on:


Starbucks: Free Coffee For Customers with Reusable Travel Mugs [MW]
Taco Del Mar: Free Taco with Website Coupon [Official Site]
Maggie Moo’s: Free Sample of Ice Cream Pizza Between 3-7pm [Official Site]
McCormick & Schmick’s: $10.40 Dinner w/ Drink At the Bar, Plus Coupon Worth $10.40 [NRN]
P.F. Chang’s: 15% Discount On Everything, All Day [Official Site]
Cinnabon: 2 Free Mini Cupcakes, 6-8 pm [Food2Blog]
Jamba Juice: Buy One Drink Get one Free with Coupon (Till 4/25) [Official Site]
Chick Fil-A: Free Breakfast at Participating Locations [Food2Blog]
T.G.I. Friday’s: $5 Discount Card For Purchases $10-$25, $10 Card for Purchases over $25. [Official Site]

Only in New York:

BLT Restaurants: 50% Off Cocktails Beer and Wine By the Glass [Crain’s]
Arby’s: Samples of $1 Menu Items Will be Handed Out Outside Post Offices [GS]
Energy Kitchen: $2 Lunch Specials [Crain’s]
(There’s an Energy Kitchen a few blocks away from my office.  People are definitely taking advantage of Tax Day because the line for food went around the city block.  Guess everyone wanted to grab the chance for a $2 meal.)

Exchange: Free Glass of Beer or Wine with Purchase If You Say “Market Price” [89 And Broker via GS]
Schnipper’s: Free Coffee with Any Breakfast Item (Till 4/30) [Eaterwire]

Various Stores:

Subway: Free cookies at Subway!
Boston Market: buy one plate get one free deal starting Thursday and running through Sunday. Click this link to the coupon
IHOP: Kids eat free at IHOP Thursday and through the end of the month from 4 to 10 p.m. with the purchase of one adult meal.

T.G.I.Friday’s: T.G.I. Friday’s will give Thursday’s customers $5 and $10 dollar Bonus Bites gift cards depending on how much you spend.

Baskin Robbins: From 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on April 28, Baskin-Robbins will be offering a scoop of ice cream for only 31 cents.

McDonalds: Upstate NY and VT McDonalds are doing QPC’s and Big Macs Buy 1 get 1 for a penny.

– – –


Another great way to save everyday is with Groupon .  They’ve been around for awhile, but I finally caved in and clicked on their Google ad the other day.  Everyday they promote a new deal that you can purchase.  Most of the time you can save up 50%, for example today’s was pay $10 for $20 worth of cupcakes from Chickalicious.  (I even had a friend who messaged me today, after signing up at Groupon yesterday, that she couldn’t resist to pass up a savings like that!)  The savings don’t stop at food discounts, it opens the doors to tons of activities and discounts in your city.  I wonder what tomorrow’s deal will be.  I haven’t purchased a Groupon yet, but I can see myself saving a lot of money in the future.