image from http://www.deviantart.com

image from http://www.deviantart.com

Ok, my anxiety is starting to build. I am not going to MACUL this year. It is not my decision. I made an arrangement with my school district this year and I am holding up my end of the deal. Nonetheless, I have been glued to Twitter since yesterday evening following my friends travels to Grand Rapids and their TweetUps and f2f meetings. These are the people that support and give me gentle nudges to be the best teacher I can be. And yes, today is a snow day, but I would risk driving 35 mph for 3 and a half hours to be with those incredible teachers and learn along side of them. This is my PLN. I am #notatMACUL14 but will learn everything I can by being a connected educator. Next year.

Twitter Scavenger Hunt…kind of…

I had the pleasure of sharing the power of Twitter with my colleagues today at our afternoon PD. This is the second time I have hosted a social media focused PD this month and there were some teachers that have attended both. The first was a district wide TweetUp during an #EdChat. The teachers who attended the TweetUp all had different prior experiences with Twitter and their reflections were mostly positive with some being overwhelmed with all of the RTs, MTs, IMOs, #s, @, and all of the other Twitter language that some they may have found unfamiliar.

Photo by @EvePierreSings

Photo by @EvePierreSings

My administrator forwarded an email from a colleague that had attended the TweetUp asking if I can make Twitter 101 more fun than explaining the jargon. That got me thinking about peer scaffolding and learning by experiencing. I decided to create an interactive Twitter scavenger hunt unlocking each clue with a QR code reader. It is not a traditional scavenger hunt in the way that you have to find the first clue which then sends you to the second and on to the third. There are eight individual Twitter challenges that may be completed in any order. Each challenge offers an experience with some facet of Twitter. All of our tweets were tagged with #WHpln so we could keep them together and project our hashtag feed with www.twubs.com

Clue 1:

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When the QR code is scanned, the linked file (in my public DropBox folder) is revealed. I will only show the unlocked files below, but there were unique QR codes and posters created for each clue.


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This tweet is focused on introducing yourself to your growing PLN, while adding a personal touch to your Twitter brand.

“Please tell us something that you think we may not know about you.”

Mine is that I can hum and whistle at the same time. Some of my colleagues tweeted this:

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Clue 2:

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 6.25.54 PMThis tweet is focused on sharing a picture. The challenge is to find your favorite spot in the school to go to alone or take your class and tweet a picture. I included these directions:

When creating the tweet click the camera to take a picture through Twitter or click the landscape in the bottom right-corner of the message to display the option to post a picture you have previously taken.

Teachers shared pictures from their classrooms, playground, other teacher’s offices, the lounge refrigerator, and the stage.




Clue 3:

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 6.32.32 PMTweet three’s challenge is to shorten URLs.

A complete tweet is only 140 characters. This tweet should contain a shortened web link of a digital resource or article you enjoy and an explanation of why you find this resource appealing. Some web links to can be quite long, using a FREE online service “bit-ly”, you can shorten your web link to only 20 characters.  https://bitly.com






Clue 4:

Tweet 4This tweet’s challenge is to tag an existing Tweeter and recommend them to their growing PLN.

Being a part of a Personal Learning Network (PLN) is about sharing ideas and resources, collaboration, and learning from and with one another. We all share our learning, ideas and expertise in different ways; using different media and tools, but the principle is the same: your PLN is some of the best professional development you will ever participate in – and it is differentiated and works around your schedule.

Please recommend a colleague to follow be composing a tweet mentioning their twitter name (example above: @2GuysShow) and why you think they would be a great addition to your #PLN.


For all things Augmented Reality, Game Changing Apps in Education, and all around swell guys, follow @2GuysShow #WHpln

For Tech Ninja Skills and Flipped Classroom resources, follow @TechNinjaTodd, recent White House Champion of  Change #WHpln

For inspiration on everything education and classroom designer extraordinaire follow @KleinErin #WHpln

Clue 5:

Tweet 5Tweet five was created to provide an opportunity to show understanding of how to compose tweets within constraints. Tweet a photo and quote from someone other than yourself revealing school spirit. This tweet is open for interpretation. How you show school spirit will differ.

140 characters is a small number to create complete and meaningful thoughts. I sometimes find myself debating “what is the least number of grammatical errors  need to commit to keep my thought within the constraints?” Be creative.

Teachers shared pictures of cheer poses in front of our school signs and there was even a clever teacher who posed so that it looked like he was holding a huge school sign over his head.




Clue 6:

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 6.59.58 PMWe are in book clubs. Tweet six was created to search and connect to the author of our books (if they are on twitter, which most were). We tweeted favorite quotes from the first few chapters of our books and tagged the authors. This may provide opportunities for us to ask the author questions we are discussing in our book talks.








Clue 7:

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 7.06.04 PMThis is your time to share peoples thinking and writing, articles and blogs that you have enjoyed while giving credit to the tweeter that shared with you. Build your PLN by finding like-minded educators to add to who you follow!  Directions are:

When you see a message that you’d like to retweet, click the message then search for the ReTweet or RT icon usually found under the tweet’s text.
Click on the RT icon and you should discover a pop-up window. Click the RT button to share the exact tweet or click Quote Tweet to add your own words or a hashtag. The message will automatically be visible as your own post but acknowledging the source of the tweet.Please find 2 tweets to RT: one from our #WHpln feed and one from the Twittershere you find worthy of sharing with your #PLN. Please remember to include our #WHpln to your RT. 



Clue 8:

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 7.10.39 PMTime to test all of your newly found Twitter skills. Our TweetUp a few weeks ago may have overwhelmed some Twitter newbies. Hopefully, these new experiences will provide added confidence for our next #EdChat.

For this Twitter challenge, I have directed teachers to Jerry Blumengarten’s (@cyberaryman1) Twitter chat page for the them to see who is talking about what and when.

They were asked to compose a tweet listing a chat they may be interested in participating in and why this particular chat sounds appealing.





I have written about the power of Twitter and building your PLN before. I am excited that my administrators and colleagues are interested in the possibilities Twitter provides for professional learning. I have been asked to continue the TweetUps that started this month and provide this Twitter Scavenger Hunt PD for other schools in my district. I shared a few of these ideas on Twitter while in the design process and had friends in my PLN that were quite interested in how it would come together. If you find that this may work in your building and district, please borrow and share your stories.

Twitter Has Changed The Way I Think and Learn

Why limit your thoughts to 140 characters? Who is out there tweeting? I don’t have time to tweet. How is this going to benefit the learners in my classroom? These were questions I had a little over a year ago when I learned about the potential of Twitter. Since then I have answered all of these questions myself and it has changed the way I learn and think.


Why limit your thoughts to 140 characters?

I can be longwinded. There are a lot of thoughts swimming around in my head and I like to share. Having the constraints of a micro-blogging platform encourages me to get to the essence of what I really mean and want to say. Being concise focuses my thoughts and helps me notice emerging themes in the process. The longer I engage in Twitter chats, read the feeds and think through the ways I word my tweets, I change the way I think. I make claims in the body of my tweets and often support them with links to articles and blog posts as evidence.

Who is out there tweeting?

I have met the most amazing educators on Twitter, and have had the honor of meeting some of my heroes face-to-face. I have a long list of educators and thought leaders who inspire me. So many educators like Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd), an amazing resource for flipped classroom, Nicholas Provenzano ‏ (@thenerdyteacher), EdTech guru, Erin Klein (@KleinErin), project based learning expert and Scholastic Top Teacher, Don Wettrick (@DonWettrick), innovation pioneer, are doing amazing things and sharing their stories on Twitter.

I don’t have time to tweet.

Sean Junkins (@sjunkins), digital integration specialist and Twitter’s sense of humor, said it best with an image.


How is this going to benefit the learners in my classroom?

My Personal Learning Network (PLN) inspires me to be the best facilitator and designer everyday. When I have questions, my PLN supports me navigating my way with articles, blog posts, conversations, and connections. This trust and support empowers me to try new approaches in designing learning experiences. I have become a connected educator for my own professional growth, which has positively effected the learners’ experiences. The connections I have made on Twitter have lead to collaborative projects such as Rock Our WorldWords to Music, and Music 2 Save Music that directly benefit the learners experience in my classroom. I continue to grow my PLN and have begun to grow the learners network as well through our class Twitter account (@MrM_MusicRoom).

Bloomfield Hills Schools TweetUp

I would like to share the power of Twitter and the way it has changed my thinking and learning with my colleagues. I am hosting the first Bloomfield Hills School District TweetUp where I will be demonstrating TweetDeck while we engage in an #EdChat on November 19, 2013 at the Booth Center.

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TweetDeck is social media dashboard application for Twitter. The interface consists of a series of customisable columns, which can be set up to display your Twitter timeline, mentions, direct messages, lists, trends, favorites, search results, hashtags or all tweets by or to a single user. This has helped me keep control of the sometimes overwhelming amount of tweets in a stream.

I am inspired to create a Bloomfield Hills Personal Learning Network (#BloomfieldPLN). The TweetUp is an invitation to teachers, administrators, board members, parents, and community members to engage in a night of professional learning and participate in an #EdChat. I will demonstrate TweetDeck and project the chat using separate columns for the #EdChat hashtag, mentions, and moderators timelines. If you are comfortable with Twitter and would like to engage in the chat, great! If you have a Twitter account, but would just like to lurk, great! If you don’t have a Twitter account and would like to see what the hype is all about, awesome!




Rodney Hetherton (@RodneyHetherton), Michele Corbat (@MicheleCorbat), Michael Medvinsky (@mwmedvinsky)

Rodney Hetherton (@RodneyHetherton), Michele Corbat (@MicheleCorbat), Michael Medvinsky (@mwmedvinsky)


I met some of my eduheros at EdCampOU this year. The creators and moderators of the Culture of Learning Chat. This is one of my favorite Twitter chats that happens Monday nights at 9pm EST. The Culture of Learning Chat (#CoLChat) began in Swartz Creek School with Michele Corbat (@MicheleCorbat), Rodney Hetherton (@RodneyHetherton) and Adam Hartley (@adamhartley2013) and has grown to inspire many educators across the United States.


I am inspired by the #CoLChat and would like to create a Twitter chat based on Bloomfield Hills 10 Guiding Principals. I have written about the here.  I will propose the idea at the BHS TweetUp and begin the planning stages. I am excited for the potential this could have. Please visit the website I am building for #10GPChat. It is a work in progress.

DEN Gone Country: Deeper than Professional Development


My path took me to Nashville, Tennessee this weekend. A group of teachers and tech coaches from all over the country sat around a huge round table upstairs in the Country Music Hall of Fame. We were gathered to learn about singer/songwriters, Common Core, and a program called Words to Music. Words to Music is a program where students brainstorm and write poetry and song lyrics, send them to the Country Music Hall of Fame where a Nashville recording artist puts their lyrics to music. The musician then Skypes into the classroom, performs the song and answers questions. Since we song write in my classroom regularly, my takeaway was a bit different.

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Discovery Education Network discussing songwriting and the CCSSs at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN
Photo by Tim Childers

The teachers were all Discovery Education Network Star teachers (except for the handful of us new to the DEN, including myself). When meeting and getting to know these teachers, it was clear that being a DEN Star wasn’t a title or a badge, rather a belonging to a group of like-minded teachers who care and support. This group of teachers are a support system for one another when taking risks with classroom experiences, or problem solving new ways of engaging learners in innovative learning strategies. I am so lucky to have been a part of this weekend.

I want to personally thank Tim Childers (@tchilders) and Porter Palmer (@DENPrincess) for creating a weekend of learning and bonding called Discovery Education Network Gone Country (#DENGC). I have made great friends and think partners.

I wrote about driftwood in an earlier post. I will not remember all of the apps and websites we shared with each other (thats what twitter is for), my driftwood is the closing activity on Saturday afternoon. The session was opened with teachers who had been in the DEN for a while and on the leadership council to talk about their experiences. There were tears and laughter. Teachers don’t cry tears of joy when they talk about their professional development. This was more. This was relationships.

The teachers split into grade level / tech integration groups to plan for implementation of our new understanding and appreciation of song writing. I gravitated to a group of Arts an inspired librarian, and tech integration specialists. Within the first few minutes we had all shared how we use music to help our learners make conceptual connection. Kati Searcy (@KatiSearcy), a DEN guru and teacher of talented & gifted students from Georgia suggested that we explore GarageBand. See earlier post here. So I suggested we write our own song. It was awesome.

We recorded a few layers of piano, drums and acoustic finger picking guitar (to stay in the country style), and set off writing lyrics.


We come from near, We come from far, We come from everywhere

Reunite with friend’s we hold so dear, Our purpose is very clear 

Learning, laughing, sharing caring, We need the DEN

Recording here

I would like to thank my friend Gena Price (@GenaPrice) for connecting me to such a wonderful group of people. Your passion and connectedness inspires me to be the best I can be. If you are reading this and are not a member of the Discovery Education Network, get connected!

Tim Childers, a wonderful photographer, documented some of the experience. Enjoy!




Medvinsky’s First AppStravaganza

Last night was such an incredible night of collaborative learning.

First Medvinsky AppStravaganza

First Medvinsky AppStravaganza

Eight teachers from 6 Oakland County School Districts sat in my living room and prepared for this upcoming school year. The dialogue was especially rich because there were so many disciplines represented. Classroom teachers, ELL teachers, Music and Art teachers from all levels were talking student experiences. These multiple perspectives provided some “ah-ha” moments as well as a common bond.


Since the Art teaches were the first to arrive, We began with exploring the Augmented Reality coloring app called colAR which I wrote about in an earlier post here.

We had a great time coloring and augmenting. The most meaningful take away for me was the conversation about a new way of approaching and interacting with art. It was interesting to hear the art teachers discuss the implications that adding another layer onto existing art would change the way artist could approach the artistic process. The way colAR uses the artists texture and strokes on the overlay. They continued to plan and wondered if there was going to be a way to augment an original piece. For now, they are limited to colAR’s coloring sheets.


This augmented reality app sparked interest in other ways to augment in the classroom. The next app we explored was Aurasma. There are many teachers doing amazing things with this app including @TechBradWaid and @TechMinock at http://www.twoguysandsomeipads.com and I just read a great post from @KleinErin’s blog www.kleinspiration.com about her idea of augmenting the Bella & Harry books with short supplemental social studies videos from the cover of the books. Brilliant. Read more here.

The AppStravaganza conversation continued with all of the wonderful ideas we had about supporting the learners’ experiences with augmenting book covers, original pieces of art, translating school papers into another language and how this could be used in the music classroom. I have an app idea that would incorporate DAQRI cubes and Aurasma into a music composition experience. More on that later.

The interest of the group flowed to digital portfolios. There were a few teachers using Evernote, Three Ring and Artsonia already, so they shared their experiences.


I plan on using Three Ring in my music room to create a searchable portfolio for each musician. The tagging option allows you to curate by learning goal and by uploading recordings of musicians creating and performing music, this will allow me to show individual student growth over time as they engage in the authentic processes of musicianship. The student tab can also be made available to parents to share in their children’s’ music and growth. I have already been contacted by Three Ring to provide feedback on how I am going to keep track of 800+ students. Looking forward to the challenge.

The end of the evening concluded with how I use Socrative to formatively assess learners understanding.


The feedback was tremendous. Here are comments from one a few teachers.

I’m going to mindfully venture more into utilizing technology more collaboratively in my room with my students. I’m really interested in the portfolio use…

I’m coming away from Mike’s first Appstravaganza with an incredible enthusiasm for integrating technology into my teaching!  It’s all do-able…it’s just a matter of trying to fit it in and manage it. I’m thinking being able to capture the kids thinking, videoing them explaining their thinking would be both realistic and useful.

I loved learning about the Aurasma App and its potential uses for creating video artist statements embedded within student artwork.

Trying one thing at a time. Baby steps.

The was full of collaborative learning and sharing. Most were working and taking notes on their iDevices, but there was one teacher who was working on paper with a pen. How interesting it was that we all support out own thinking on different ways. Here is the result of the low-tech take away.


As we were wrapping the evening up, it was incredible that some of our building principals were following the #AppStravagamza hashtag and learning along with the building teachers.

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As we stood around my dining room table eating a potluck of amazing food and laughing about all things school related, everyone wished that they had had a colleague with them, others enjoyed the idea of the casual style learning, others thought their thinking was pushed because of the multi-discplinary attendance, and others just liked drinking wine with friends. Overall, the decision was made that Medvinsky’s AppStraviganza will become a monthly gathering of innovative teachers thinking and sharing together. Cant wait for next month.

The Magic Is Lost When It’s Bought And Sold

It is midnight on Friday and I am on couch tour in Auburn Hills, Michigan as Phish plays their third set at the FirstMerit Bank Pavillion at Northerly Island in Chicago Illinois. I have seen Phish live (in concert, not on a webcast) close to thirty times because I am so fascinated with their improvisatory skills on stage. They are able to segue into and out of any song, key, time signature, mode and melody. As I listen to this concert with lesson designing ears, thinking how I can best use any of their music in the classroom, I am also reflecting upon a post I read today from Matt Gomez (@mattBgomez) titled I Teach Kindergarten and I Don’t Like Teachers Pay Teachers. In this post he is concerned that Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) is creating a “laminating culture” where units of study are used with one set of learners, and are continually being reused with a different group of learners regardless of their learning styles or interests.

I agree with Matt.

I have had many teachers tell me to sell my music lesson plans on TPT. I have not. Here is the thing, units are simply words on a page. It is a reciprocal relationship between the learner, content, classroom community, and their relationship with the teacher that make those words come alive. There are in the moment changes that effective teachers make to facilitate a closer approximation of understanding happen for individual learners. Questions that are crafted after listening closely to learners’ word choices which may take a lesson in a different direction. Teachers need to be completely comfortable with their content area and the way people learn. Confidant enough to jump into a wormhole with their class because the leaners’ interests have taken a turn and know that they will come out the other end closer to the learning goal. This cannot be written in plans. These things cannot be bought and sold.

The musicians that comprise Phish understand sound and silence completely.  They are able to freely and creatively organize these elements through their individual instruments to communicate their emotions to a group of listeners at their concerts. Their audience follows them from venue to venue to be a part of this collective experience which changes every concert. The venue changes, the atmosphere changes, the audience changes, the vibe changes. This is what being a rockstar is all about.

I have seen the #EduRockStars hashtag on Twitter used to tag educators who are doing amazing things and sharing them with other teachers.

Sometimes sharing units or lesson plans, but mostly sharing big ideas. Changing other educator’s perspectives of the learning experience.

Teachers have to understand the process of learning completely. They have to be able to freely and creatively organize learning environments, through their content area(s), for the individual learners who come to their classroom. The learners come to school to be a part of this collective experience that changes every day.  The experience changes, the atmosphere changes, the learners change (from year to year or class to class), the vibe changes. This is what being a edurockstar is all about.

I also want to share Matt’s disclaimer: First off I do not like black and white statements so please don’t take this post as a claim that I have issues with everything on the site. Also, if you sell products there or buy from the site this is not attack on you personally, I am simply asking you to think and consider my points. 

Please consider using anyone else’s lesson plans as starting points and think about what truly matters.

The individual experiences of the learners in your classroom.


At the Project Zero Conference in Clarkston, I heard a presenter make the analogy of about being at a conference to being on vacation at the beach. There is so much to take in, sights, sounds, feelings and thoughts. She spoke about not being able to take the entire beach and ocean home with you, rather you find a piece to take home with you. This memento is something special that you connect with to remind you of your experience. A piece of driftwood. Yesterday I experienced another thought provoking day at the Clarkston Administration Building at a Cultures of Thinking conference. I took a few pieces of driftwood with me.
The first is Carol Dweck’s idea of a Growth Mindset. In a growth mindset, people believe that abilities are developed through lived experiences. When developing this disposition, learners realize that having new experiences pushes their thinking and creates deeper understandings. Connecting this to George Lakoff’s writings on Metaphor Theory, supports my thinking that people who possess a growth mindset, reevaluate their understandings through each experience looking for deeper understandings. How can we successfully foster a community in our classrooms which honor a a growth Mindset?
My second piece of driftwood is a quote from Ron Ritchhart’s new book Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform our Schools (2012).
“What will I actually ask students to do with the skills and knowledge that are acquiring that will develop their understanding and push it forward?” (pg. 13)
Thinking about the 8 Cultural Forces in my classroom, brings my focus to opportunities. I reflect upon my lesson planning with a question such as, what problem solving opportunities am I designing for the learners in my classroom to engage in thinking through authentic processes as musicians?
Providing such opportunities allows learners who are at different places on a continuum, multiple entry points and divergent ways of showing understanding. When we look at individual growth, it is through this type of experience that we can assess individual growth.
I will post examples of student work and how these Cultural Forces are marshaled in my music classroom.