Make your community matter!


Why do we need communities more than ever? 

Why do communities matter? What does a community do? For me, they help me take risks because I know I can go to them for help, inspiration, ideas, and even instruction. 

Communities help me create, they helped me learn, and they help me share.  Since I have a variety of hobbies, I am constantly connecting with people all over the world.  As a learning chef, I religiously follow a variety of blogs and have a collection of bookmarks that I can go to for help. I subscribed to a variety of channels that I can go to for ideas and how to’s.  I follow key chefs on Twitter and follow them using Facebook as well.  I need to be connected with them. In my quest to improve my potential for being a smart and creative chef requires it.  However, it doesn’t stop there. I follow a similar structure for my love of bicycling, skateboarding, drawing, photography, filmmaking, and even parenthood.  Because I contribute to these communities, people are more willing to connect with me.  This makes me feel safe, comfortable, and it helps me build the necessary confidence to take risks.  

What do your communities look like?

Education should not be as complicated as it is. It is a structure created to provide students the necessary skill sets to learn to lead, solve interesting problems, and learn to tell the stories of the experiences along the way and afterwards.  Unfortunately, politics, adult issues, school reputations, etc. provide the clutter and noise that blurs the personal intention of our  education.  Because of this, many new moving and complicated parts are thrown into our algorithm to get students from point A to point Z in the most efficient, effective, and empowered way possible.  

Because of this, we need to not feel alone. We need a community to help us rethink things, get inspired regularly, if not daily, look at ideas or share your own, and learn how to survive daily with strategies, tips, techniques that can help us get through the day or the lesson. 

What are your needs? What are the questions you need asked or answered to help you feel safe, comfortable, and confident enough to take risks today, tomorrow, and so on? Who can you talk to about this? Are your colleagues limited to the people around them? Maybe, you have more colleagues everywhere who can provide the necessary perspective to help you boost confidence. Communities do this. They create a sense of belonging. This is a human need that education today needs more than ever.  Students, too, need to see and learn from the teachers on how they leverage people and resources throughout the world to help meet and immediate and/or long-term need.

As we sell the idea to engage people in our schools to connect with each other and share ideas, we need to think about our essential question here: are we asking them to connect to their selected community using social tools we created for them? Or, are we helping them understand that they are not alone, that there needs and concerns and ideas are similar to people beyond the school property? And, because of this already existing environment of empathy and our digital promise schools ecosystem, how can they leverage tools to help them navigate their needs to the right resource, person, idea?

What is the need we need to organize around? What is the goal for this group? Why should they connect with each other? How can we help facilitate these connections? How can these groups help reduce the clutter and shift the noise into signals that mean something as opposed to be seen as more work?

How can we make the Digital Promise community even more effective, efficient, and empowered? How can we be the modem that helps connect the necessary nodes of your needs, wants, concerns, victories, lessons? 

Think through your communities. Why do they work for you? What do they need in order for them to better work for you? Please share!


DRAFT: How to be a smart conference goer!

Here are a few tips for you I’m preparing for a conference. Let’s be strategic. 

First, let’s break down the conference.  

1. The sessions/ presenters. The sessions are usually focused around someone sharing something that works for them, how to use  a product/tool, or, explaining a trend. There maybe more, however, these are the main ones. 

2. The  Exhibit hall. Here is where developers and companies share their products with the conference goers and give away free crap. 

3. The social networking before, between, during, and after the conference events. Here is where people meet, share reflections, making new friends, and have a good time with their peers and new ones from other places. 

The challenge:

So let’s think about how to maximize each part. I know many of you struggle communicating those many special moments. I know it’s tough to Convey the environment  the conference provided you. I know it’s a struggle to go back to your school colleagues, who were not blessed enough to go with you, The many wonderful opportunities you experienced. Therefore, you’re probably starting off on the wrong foot delivering what worked for you.

The problem is storytelling. The story experience at the conference, the conference posting city, and the environment of the event doesn’t translate very well if you just come back with a bag of fliers and links to website. So much of the story happens in real time and, if you think about it, you have resources on you and I can help you be more effective and efficient at storytelling the experience back to your colleagues.

Effective conference going Tip 1. 

Think about how to select people to go and think about how you’re going to use those people at the conference.  For example, send teachers who are willing to share and report back what they experienced in cool and creative ways. Ask teachers to share how they would storytell the event. Make this a priority for your whole staff to be this audience for this conference goer and their report!  Popcorn please. This adds a bit more accountability to who gets to go. It should be a school priority to provide the necessary stage and audience to discuss what was seen and what was learned from the experience.

If you have the luxury of sending more than one teacher, create a plan ahead of time. Identify someone who can help story tell the event. Let’s call them the team mentor. Also, Select people who can be the mentees. They’re the ones that are going for the first time or may be new to that conference’s themes. They will work as a team to share the experience of the conference from someone who has gone through the experience and someone who is new to the experience.

Choosing the right team and making the goals clear, and, agreeing on common language on how to report back is fundamental.

The more creative. Use a variety of ways to report back.   Don’t wait until the airplane ride back to write your full reflection. Collect along the way like a photojournalist would Cover an event live.  Leverage your mobile device to help capture moments that matter. As a kid, I loved my moms slideshows. Everybody would sit down and listen to her talk about the picture and what happened around it. I love the question and answers that happened afterwards too.

With this new team, write down some goals you have for the conference. What are concepts you need clarified. What are resources you need to look into more. Who are people you feel you need to meet and listen to. What are companies and or products you feel you need to understand  more. Planet out. Identify sessions, presenters, and exhibits that can and will help you answer your key essential question, for example, how do I improve and increase learning opportunities at my school? Create a process to collect questions from your colleagues as well. Although they are not going, what would they like to learn from this event. Take their list and keep an eye out for solutions or resources that can help answer their questions. This will create more buy-in from them as well.

Four the sessions, write down your reflections. What were some victories that you experienced because of the session or presenter? What were some key lessons learned from the experience? What word needs and concerns for you after the session or after hearing the presenter? Agreeing on this reflective format can help you with your writing, podcast, or video making prompt. Try to do it immediately after the session and or at night before going to bed. If you quick reflective lines can go along way. Use the dictation tool. I do all the time!

For the exhibit, create a top 10 or top five list. Find the top or best of. Again, talk about why you like it. What question does it answer, how will people benefit from this, and why do you think it’s cool. Create a quick 2 to 3 question prompts that will help you create a template for you and your team to create this list. Pictures of the exhibit item or both, interviews with the booth representative, and or video will help you convey the story more effectively.

For the social time, I have two key tips. 1. Connect informally with your team. Go out! Take advantage of this new place to get to know each other better outside of  school  distractions. It’s key to build relationships with people who are going to help you make the world a better place.  2. Connect with new people. Exchange business cards, twitter links, Facebook links, etc.   really follow up with them! I cannot tell you the benefits I have experienced because of my new relationships with my new colleagues. Because of the connected world we live in, they can be your true colleagues. Follow up with them! Work on projects together! Make conductivity and collaboration real and not just words schools like to throw around.

Draft: Mobile Storytelling Tip: How to add a created song from GarageBand to your iMovie project.

Music making, to this day, is one of the forgotten parts of storytelling in the classroom. A lot of people just add a popular song to that video. The problem with this is copyright music cannot be used without the express written permission from the creators of the music. In another words, the music cannot be legally used.

The solutions are as follows:

  1. Don’t use any music.
  2. Find royalty-free music online. Download it, and use it on your project.
  3. Use a music app to make loop based music. Another words, use the loops that are already included with the application.
  4. Use a music making apps like GarageBand to make your own music. Whether you’re a professional or just a beginner, GarageBand can help you create music that is perfectly legal and perfectly yours.

What I like about option number four is that it creates an opportunity for another student to participate in the storytelling process. Music, is an emotional communicator and, in many cases, it’s the key component to the actual bigger story.

The cool news about iPads is that it comes with iMovie and a garage pad. So, if you’re editing your movie and iMovie, you can open up GarageBand, make a song, or a music bed and use it under your movie.

I’m going to walk you through how to move a created song in GarageBand and open it and iMovie.

On your iOS device, open up garage band. Locate the song you created for your movie. if you select and hold the song you want, it will wiggle. This means that it is awaiting a command from you. In the upper left-hand corner, you will see some actions available. You will choose the send to option which is the box with an arrow pointing up to it. See the image below.


Once it’s selected and the “send to/export” icon is selected– you’ll choose the “open in application” icon on the bottom


(Choose share)

When you choose this icon, you get the option to open it and iMovie.


Once you select iMovie, you will be prompt to choose the movie you want scored.



(Choose the movie you’re scoring: Rio Rides)

Locate it, select it, and you will see that the music will automatically be placed underneath the video. Now, all you have to do is adjust the length of the song/music and you’re done.



(Make length adjustments)



(That’s a rap).

DRAFT: What does it mean to be remarkable?

I love words. I love stating what they mean. I love learning about what they mean to me. In other words how can I connect that word or associated with a fact, a process, or a goal of mine. what does it actually mean? It means something that is worth remarking on. Simple, But, very powerful.

I am a sucker for a remarkable moment. In fact, that’s a photographer, my goal is to make people interact with my images. In other words make them ask questions based on what I am presenting. This created interactivity includes the viewer into my world. It helps me create an immediate team: Me, my art, and the viewer.

Think about the experiences in your life this week. What was worth remarking on? In schools, what was remarkable this past week? via empirical evidence, when I asked my cousins or nephews about their remarkable experiences with their schooling this week, their number one response was “nothing.” As a storyteller, I am intrigued by the challenge of what could’ve been done to create more remarkable moments.

Guiding question: what is a remarkable moment for me? Who is a remarkable teacher? What was a remarkable lesson? What was a remarkable experience/project? when I look at a meal, I ask myself how can I make it more remarkable? Did ingredients need it, do I need to adjust a technique, how do I make a more engaging presentation of my meal?

Remarkable moments create loyalty. Human beings like to feel good. They like to feel special. They like to feel included. And, in many cases– they love challenges. Remarkable moments create a syncing of communities. As Seth Godin explains in many of his blogs, these moments create tribes, Loyal tribes.

So, how can you create remarkable moments? how can you adjust to create remarkable moments? How can people around you create remarks based on an experience they had with you? People are fans of specific foods because of the remarkable experience they had with it. They are loyal to hotels and restaurants because of their remarkable experiences with them. They are fans of musicians, artists, athletes because of the remarkable moments they provided emotionally. These remarkable moments make people care.

These are stories that need to happen more often in our schools, workplace, and even families. take some time every week to evaluate, reflect, and rethink about your remarkable moments.

Share those stories. Create or join a loyal tribe! Make people care!

(PHOTO BELOW: A redefining and very remarkable moment: Steve Gleason of the New Orleans Saints blocks an Atlanta Falcons kick during the first game back after Hurricane Katrina shut down the city.  This remarkable moment symbolized a moment that the city didn’t  give up.  They won this important game against their rivals, too.  The city and the New Orleans Saints immortalize this moment by making the statue and calling it “Rebirth”. Although it is a Sports moment that lasted a few seconds, it was one VERY important and remarkable moment that redefined a new beginning of the city).



How to be a super storyteller: the Digital Promise storyteller.


[ The SUPER Storyteller ]

A storyteller today is a mobile storyteller. I once heard from one of my favorite photographers, Chase Jarvis, that the best camera is the one that is with you. What this means is if you don’t have the ability to capture a moment, share that experience, collect evidence, then there was a missed opportunity. So much of being a storyteller is being there, experiencing it, internalizing it, we creating it, and sharing it.

However to be an effective storyteller, you need to be three things:

  • A producer.
  • A director.
  • And a technician.

A producer sees possibilities, they make the necessary connections between activity and interest. in other words, they see the promise of what is happening and seeing how others can benefit from the potential story. They figure out a way to isolate and frame the story opportunity.

The director figures out how to create, curate, and cultivate the process to tell that story. They help others with direction on how to capture it, how to get it done. They create a process that simplifies the journey map. A really good director inspires the technicians to feel connected to the project and help them be the best they can do what they do. I guess you can say that they could director is a good head coach, manager/ leader.

Finally, a technician someone who knows the tools and resources needed to help produce the story. They know how cameras work, I know the value of audio, to understand the power of timing in the post production process. They have a great sense of the technical options available to them to affectively communicate the potential and the possibilities from the producer and the process and workflow from the director. They get it done. They make it happen.

In the past, and in most cases, this is, at least, a three person team. This is a fish that can walk, swim, and fly! This is why I call this person the super storyteller, The superproducer!

Assess your skills and see where your strengths are. If you’re better at one of the three, figure out a way to find others who can complement you. Or, figure out a way to learn the other skill sets to help you evolve into this super storyteller.



Capturing the excitement of the roll out: the mind map and the shotlist.

I am going to play producer and director for a few minutes. To capture the necessary footage to tell a story of fun and excitement, we need to get a variety of shots (aka coverage) that help us tell what is happening, where is it happening, why is it happening, and how are people feeling during this event. Believe it or not, there’s a grammar to help tell the story.

  • Wide shots tell the story of location and context. It answers where is it happening
  • Medium shots tell the story of action. It answers what is happening.
  • Close up (or tight) shots tell the story of detail and emotions. It answers how are people feeling and what exactly am I looking at. This shot seems to be the hardest to get for many videographers because it involves getting close, real close.

So, with that said, let’s jump into what I need from you directors and technicians for the roll out. I have included a mind map of the shot needed. If you read through it, it will begin to make sense. The key here is to show excitement. Why? Because this event is for the people who will benefit most from the devices– the kids. Here’s an example of a shot list in context.  This is given to the documenting team to collect the needed footage.  Also, there is a common language that is created to help know what is needed and what is being collected.  Believe me, the editor will thank you for this later, too!IMG_0080-1.JPG [ open up this mind map so you can see the detailed information ]

On the left is the deliverable– the end product, after editing. On the right, are the shots needed and below that are some quick questions I need to help you all piece together the video.

This consistency allows me to help edit one big video that celebrates all of the schools celebrations. Again, agreeing on the language helps me find what I need to make one nice, clean, consistent video.

During the importing, logging process, pre editing process (using Final Cut Pro or iMovie), you can help me by identifying the shots:

1. The type of shot.

  • W = Wide shots.
  • M = Medium shots.
  • C = Close up shots.

2. The content.

  • Location.
  • Action.
  • Detail/ emotion.

3. The Specifics.

  • Where exactly.
  • What exactly.
  • Who exactly.

This is an ideal “logging” process. We can share the notes between us to compare and learn from each other.

Ok. I’m done playing producer for now. Good luck!!!!!

The Mobile Storyteller. Part 2: Sound!

digital sound

Sound!  YES! Sound!  The key to a video is SOUND!  Is that clear enough?  When money is returned to a customer at a movie theater, in most cases, its because of the sound quality.  The ear is MORE discriminatory than the eyes.  The eyes sometimes misses details, but the ear doesn’t as much.  Therefore, you need to do what you can to get great audio.

Solution: Mics!

There are several types of mic and they all serve their purpose.  Let’s look at what mics do and what they can do for you.

Lavaliere “Lav” mic. This is a mic that is primarily used for interviews.  Its a less obtrusive mic that is clipped to the collar of the person being interviewed.  This makes the recording of the interview more of a conversation and less of an interview.  It’s more comfortable for the person being interviewed.  It is also used when the recorded host needs access to their hands.  These come in wired and wireless options.  I use the wired option when I need a quick set up and lack assistants.  I use the wireless one when I need more flexibility where I do the interviews. These are a must for the mobile storyteller.

Lav mic
Sony Wireless Lavalier Mic

Shotgun mic.  These are directional mic that focus in on a smaller area of sound.  Think of it like a telephoto lens where it isolates a smaller area.  What this does for the mobile storyteller is it allows her/him to record audio from a directed source and it rejects sounds outside of the pointed area.  Also, Shotgun microphones are most commonly used when you cannot position a microphone directly in front of a sound source. For example, if someone is speaking in front of a video camera and you don’t want them to hold an interview microphone up to their mouth, having an off-screen shotgun mic is a great option. Shotguns are commonly used in film and video production, as well as in live theater, sound reinforcement and in the creation of sound effects. Shotgun mics reject a certain percentage of ambient noise, but retain enough to render a richness that sounds natural. It’s great for quick interviews.  They are mounted on top of cameras using a vibration free mount.

DSLR SHotgun
Shotgun Mic w/ Shock mount.

Handheld mic.  These are easy to connect directly to a camera or to a recording source like a field recorder or digital audio interface (DAI– a device that converts analog audio to digital audio for computer editing).  Handheld mic are also wired and wireless.  They are used usually with a host interviewing people.  Handheld mic allow the host to hand or point the mic to someone on the field.  If you want to include a dynamic, fun host to your recorded video or show– handheld mics are a great choice.

handheld mic

Field mic. With iPhones and Tablets– recording audio interviews is easier.  The quality of these handheld mics are amazing.  You can use more pro-like options like the Zoom H Series mics (about $200-$400) to your iPhone.  You can add the mics mentioned above to most field recorders, too.  You’ll just have to look at the compatibility requirements on the mic to make sure.  I use both a Zoom H5 and my iPhone to record podcasts, interviews, phone conversation interviews.  I attach a wired Rode SmartLav+ lavalier mic to my iPhone/ iPad and use Garageband to record and monitor the audio in many situations. Or, I record from it as a back up.  Later, in post production, I can edit the clips, sync the clips to video (using iMovie and/ or Final Cut Pro).

oom H Recorder

ode Smart Lav+

ADVANCED TIP: If you want to monitor or listen to what is being recorded into the iPad or iPhone or tablet– you’ll need one more device to help you. You’ll need a portable DAI like the Apogee Jam.  What this does is that it gives you another option to input audio.  Instead of taking up the headphone port to connect the microphone and hope that audio is sounding great– you can connect the Apogee Jam to the iPad/iPhone using the USB charging port/ cable.  This frees up the headphone/mic port  to connect headphones to listen and monitor what’s going in.  This ALWAYS makes me feel less stressed.

pogee Jam DAI

Later, we’ll talk about levels and editing audio.