Author - Cate Tolnai

Leroy the Launchpad — Featuring the Voice of Adam Juarez

leroy's big idea

The Leroy Finkel Fellowship is what I like to call a launchpad. For me, it was an opportunity to have a platform to share my ideas. Being selected as a finalist for the 2017 Leroy Finkel Fellowship was a huge confidence-builder. It made me believe my ideas were big, innovative, and worth sharing with educators. It definitely set my “tech coaching” journey on a whole new trajectory.

My Leroy Finkel journey began during a nondescript conversation with former Leroy Finkel finalist Katherine Goyette. She suggested that the work with my students was definitely a big idea worthy of Leroy Finkel notoriety. I submitted my application and, lo and behold, I was selected as a finalist.

Leroy Finkel Fellowships 2017

Leroy Finkel Fellowships Finals 2017

At the time, I was very new to the whole “EdTech scene.” I had presented a handful of times but was unsure of how special or innovative my ideas were. Seeing the other finalists, their ideas, and the illustrious list of past winners really boosted my confidence. Preparing for the final presentation was a great learning experience.

My idea, the Cardinal Innovation Center, is a very big idea. Presenting it in five minutes to a large crowd and panel of judges was a challenge. I have been known to be a little long-winded. It forced me to adapt my presentation skills to be more concise and articulate.

Although my good friend and colleague Kim Calderon took home the grand prize, I felt empowered to take my ideas and teaching to a whole new level. The $500 finalist prize gave some life to the Cardinal Innovation Center. The money allowed me to purchase some needed materials to make it a reality. In addition, the status of being a finalist, along with the money, gave me some much needed clout with my administration. Their support has been instrumental in making the Cardinal Innovation Center a reality.

championship belt

The Leroy Finkel Fellowship is much like the WWE Intercontinental Championship. For those unfamiliar, the Intercontinental Championship is usually held by “superstars” who are considered to be up-and-comers who have potential to be future WWE Champions. It is a platform for those stars to show they have what it takes to be a champion.Though not as prestigious as the WWE Championship, it exposes them to the pressure and rigor of being a champion.  All-time greats such as Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were all Intercontinental Champions before ascending to breathtaking heights as WWE Champion.

When all the Leroy Finkel Fellowship smoke had cleared, I was primed to push myself to become better. A month later, I became a Google Certified Trainer. During the summer, I presented in the EdTech Coaches Playground at ISTE. After ISTE, my Cardinal Innovation Center idea helped me earn acceptance as a Google Certified Innovator at the Sydney 2017 cohort.

Google Innovation Academy

Google Innovation Academy, Sydney

Long story short, the Leroy Finkel Fellowship was my Intercontinental Championship experience. It launched my practice to a whole new level. For anyone needing an “EDU-Shot-in-the-Arm”, I highly recommend taking the plunge and submitting an idea for the Leroy Finkel Fellowship. You will not regret it.

Sweet Farewell to a Weird Guy…

thank you Doug

Doug RobertsonHe’s weird. He’s unruly. He’s Doug.

For the past 2 years, Doug Robertson, AKA the Weird Teacher, has shared his voice, passions, and quirks with our community on a weekly basis as CUE’s Blog Editor. His blue hair and bright tone filled our minds with new ideas, inspired projects, and well wishes to members near and far. It is with great thanks that we announce the end of Doug’s tenure as he transitions to spend more time with his students, his family, and his own writing which he has simultaneously been crafting. Doug Robertson in action

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Doug on several projects, and I am always impressed with the way he prioritizes the edge in people’s voices. He is not shy about asking questions that push our thinking and place emphasis on “what is best for students.”

Jon Corippo, Interim Executive Director of CUE and overall Helpful Guy, has this to say about Doug:

I recall writing a letter of recommendation for Doug to apply for this position – and he’s not disappointed. I have appreciated his passion and wit in all the blog posts he’s written and shared over the last few years. He’s an EDUchampion and an amazing classroom leader.

We hope to bring Doug’s voice back from time to time to keep each of us connected to his journey. Thanks for sharing, caring, and amplifying! Journey on, friend!

If you haven’t checked out Doug’s writing, you can find (and purchase) his four published titles here.

Doug's books

And while we’re at it, click below on a few of our favorite posts from Doug:

trapping our learning... humanelyCue Short Listget in the classroom Amplify Awesome












Please Welcome CUE’s New Social Media Champs!

they've arrived

In the spirit of multimedia creativity, we are working to spice up the look, feel, and content of our CUE Blog and OnCUE Journal. We want to take this opportunity to officially announce some new contributors to the CUE voice across our CUE website and social media.

Drumroll please…

First up, we want you to meet Cori Orlando, CUE’s official Blogger!

Coi Orlando

Cori works as a TOSA in Simi Valley Unified School District in Southern California. She describes herself simply as “Mother, teacher, TOSA, encourager of others.” Who doesn’t need more of that in their lives? Cori is stepping up to help develop more blog posts and short articles highlighting hot topics, great member accomplishments, and opportunities to connect with other educators as well as amplify the voices of others. She is an enthusiastic CUE Rock Star attendee and presenter, and she already has a killer blog that you can check out at here! Cori can often be spotted taking half-face selfies around different CUE events and is often found chatting away about all-things education on Twitter. We are so lucky to have Cori’s voice in our midst!

Next, we want to officially introduce Brian Briggs and Ryan O’Donnell as the first ever CUE Podcast Team!

Ryan and BrianBrian works as the Director of Innovation and Instructional Technology in Plumas Lake, CA, but he started his EDU career as a kindergarten teacher. If you have spent any time with Brian, you quickly pick up on his kind nature, friendly laugh, and encouraging vibe. Brian is a generous CapCUE Board member who also digs robotics and STEAM enough to spend way too much money on gadgets and gizmos. But lucky for us, he shares all his learning!! Which brings us to his “brother-from-another-mother,” Ryan O’Donnell. Ryan works as a Technology TOSA and Media Teacher in Rocklin, CA. Also on the CapCUE Board, Ryan brings his burly sense of humor to every endeavor he takes on. When Ryan walks in the door (or on the air), you know it. These two EDUknuckleheads have been entertaining us with this Check This Out podcast for over a year, and now we are happy to say that they are #poweredbyCUE. Welcome to the inner-workings, boys!

Sarah ThomasFinally, a CUE member that needs no introduction… Sarah Thomas!! Sarah will serve as CUE’s first Multimedia Mastermind!

Sarah works as Regional Technology Coordinator in Prince Georges County, MD. She is also the founder and Chief Excitement Office (I just made that up!) of EduMatch, a “worldwide community of educators who learn and grow together.” Sarah comes with extensive experience in video production and is a fabulous fit to bring her passion and connections to the CUE Community. Whether she is hosting a podcast, writing a book, or walking down the halls of an amazing professional learning conference, Sarah is quick with a warm smile and infectious laugh. I still can’t believe we get to work closely with Sarah on a regular basis!

To say we are excited about the addition of these incredible educators to our CUE family is not nearly enough! Keep your eyes peeled for lots of featured blog posts, original podcasts, member interviews, and lots of celebrating in the best CUE way. We are THRILLED and look forward to the diverse dialogue, belly laughs, and many ah-hahs!

Try These Favorite Teacher-Designed Ideas in Your Classroom

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A recent collaboration between the Learning Accelerator and the Teacher’s Guild produced a fabulous collection of teacher-designed ideas in response to the simple question:

How might we empower all students to drive their learning and authentically demonstrate mastery?

The team at Learning Accelerator prioritized “student-centered instructional approaches and ability to be implemented in a variety of contexts” when choosing projects to highlight. Check out the post and these inspiring projects and start impacting student learning in your classroom today!

Ed Note: Special thanks to Jennifer Wolfe for sharing this resource and bringing it to the attention of our larger CUE community! 

“TOSAs Talking Tech” Setting the Stage for Awesome EDUPodcasting

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Tom and MikeAre you a TOSA, Instructional Coach, teacher-leader, or aspiring edu-leader? Don’t miss out on one of our favorite podcasts just for you by our very own CUE members, Tom Covington and Mike Jephcott out of Bassett Unified School District. Their most recent episode not only calls out some of the most generous national edtech voices we know, but also honors some CUE members who are quick to share, collaborate, and inspiration!

About 20 minutes into their episode, Tom and Mike breakdown some best practices of podcasting like how to title it, where to host it, and who to listen to. We are so pumped to share their good work and let all CUE members know that there are change agents clearing the podcasting road for you to take your first step (or listen to someone else’s)!

Give Episode 57 a listen!!

Download, follow, and share TOSAs Talking Tech here! And in the words of Tom and Mike…

May your tech always be working. May your tickets be answered quickly. And may you remember to save to the cloud frequently.

CUE Affiliates Connect in this Week’s #cuechat

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affiliates connectCUE’s weekly Twitter chat on Tuesdays from 7-8pm PST switches its audience focus each week, but there are a few constants that we pride ourselves on: connecting educators, highlighting amazing CUE members and groups, and offering relevant and timely support via resources, tools, and tips.

This week, April Buege and I co-moderated the #cuechat, and April expertly took the community through the questions she and Dustin Ellis drafted as part of the Leadership Development Team.

I was struck by the initial action taken by CUE-chatters to share the news of free CUE membership at large with their Twitter PLN. It was a blast to see retweets and more retweets sharing the good news to people who still are learning about it for the first time.

Additionally, there were numerous connections made between CUE Affiliates that reek of awesome!

And the icing on the cake was when April dropped the shared Affiliate Team Drive opportunity! Boom!

So just when you were wondering how to get more involved in CUE events, community, and connections, low and behold… #cuechat to the rescue!!

Check us out every Tuesday from 7-8pm PST on Twitter, and join the #cuechat conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram 24/7!

#CSEdWeek 2017 — A Closer Look


We are so pleased to highlight the contributions of our #cuechat community and our Computer Science Learning Network surrounding this year’s Computer Science Education Week. #CSEdWeek is a vibrant online conversation and share-space for you to find all sorts of tools and lesson ideas for your classroom community.

Here are a few nuggets that were shared last week in our #cuechat. (Thank you to Myra Deister and Vicky Sedgwick for moderating the chat!) Can you connect to any of these sentiments?

So, if you haven’t decided HOW you will bring computer science to your classroom this week, look no further! And when you have uncovered your love for these strategies, get involved with the CUE Computer Science Learning Network to stay connected all year long: http://www.cue.org/networks!!

Happy coding, making, and creating!!

Saying Thanks with “Check This Out – Ep 71”

check this out

Ryan and BrianDid you hear!?!?! CUE is powering up podcast-style! Thanks to the voices of Ryan O’Donnell and Brian Briggs, our community gets to listen to new ideas, fun tools, and wacky antics each and every week. They’re latest episode talks about people that have inspired them that they want to thank, a special Check This Out gift for the month of December (check out their Facebook post below), a new coding robot, and more!

And just in case you missed their BIG ANNOUNCEMENT episode, give it a listen here!

Show Notes: http://bit.ly/ep71cto

If you are enjoying the show, please head over to iTunes and give us a few stars. We appreciate the feedback and acknowledgment.

Please visit http://checkthisoutsite.weebly.com/ for show notes, past episodes and more.

#RyBri #CheckThisOut @CheckThisOutBR

Missing Out… A Student’s Perspective on the Teacher/Tech Engagement Gap

“What needs to be done to inspire more teachers?” asks Alex Bockert in a recent blog post entitled, How Did I Miss Out? 

Creating thought-provoking photo booth props for #sdcue – tweet by Alex Bockert

In one short blog post, Alex has captured the essence of CUE. Our team will stop at nothing to ensure that all teachers learn so that they can bring their passions, interests, curiosities, and growing skill-sets to their students.

We will put on regional affiliate events. We will stay up late on a Wednesday to prepare a newsletter or compose a blog post. We will hold small-, medium-, and large-scale district events throughout the state. We will offer on-demand professional learning. We will listen to podcasts, tweet, post, interview, and present at every opportunity because if we help even one teacher, we can rest assured we are helping at least 30 students… and that matters.

Alex reflects on a recent San Diego CUE event:

I watched all of you laugh, share, learn, and simultaneously grow in the 60 seconds I spent in every room. I watched passion shine through the faces of presenters and the ah-ha! moments of the listeners. I watched all of this and I couldn’t help but ask myself, where were these teachers when I went to school?

Alex — we are working on this. For you and for all the other students who desperately need a different atmosphere and approach to learning. You deserve it, and so do your teachers.

Check out Alex’s blog, Rose Covered Beauty, and make sure to connect with her on Twitter.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Alex, for the goosebumps you gave me after reading this post. We all need to take a moment and ask the right questions.

Spotlight on Speak Up National Research Project

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Speak Up 2017

For more information on participating, please visit www.tomorrow.org/speakup

Get a chance at a free PD session for your school or district with CUE’s Jon Corippo by having your school or district take the free Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning national project this year – beginning between October 16 and January 19, 2018. Last year, over 435,000 students, 38,000 teachers, and 4500 admins nationwide took some time as local stakeholders to Speak Up and share their perspectives on education.

According to Corippo, one of the best things about the Speak Up project is that schools can compare their local student/teacher and admin responses to the national responses. This kind of data is powerful for uses such as LCAP plans and gauging the success of local initiatives.

CUE has also given THREE seats for the annual CUE Spring Conference in Palm Springs this year – to be awarded to three different districts who participate in this year’s Speakup Survey.

Speak Up provides an easy way for students, parents, and educators to participate in your local decisions about technology, as well as contribute to the state and national dialogue about digital learning through free online surveys for your school or district. Find out more now at: http://www.tomorrow.org/speakup/index.html

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