Awesome Teacher Summer: 12 ways to grow and learn

Summer is full of opportunities to grow as an educator. Here are 12 ideas to check out for Summer 2018.

Our lives as educators totally change in the summer, don’t they?

During the school year: hustle and bustle. Plan. Teach. Grade. Answer emails. Go to meetings. Collapse into bed. Repeat.

In the summer, though, the pace changes. Many of us are still busy. (I’ve been to SO many baseball and softball games already!)

But it’s a different kind of busy, and it gives us a chance to do some things that just didn’t fit into our hectic “during the school year” lives.

Looking for some great opportunities? Read on …

1. Watch the FREE Ditch That Textbook video series

I’m kicking off the summer with a FREE video series on how to thrive with tech in the classroom! Here are the details …

How can technology actually BOOST learning? Sometimes, it’s used like techy fairy dust … just sprinkle a little over this lesson. Sometimes, we use it and it doesn’t change things.

This video series will provide a little clarity on what works and how we can use it. This video series starts May 14 (Monday). Go to for info and to sign up for email updates so you don’t miss anything!

2. Find a way to reflect

It’s so hard to find time to stop and think about what works and what doesn’t during the school year. But reflecting — on our practices AND on what we believe about our craft — can help us see the big picture. That means motivation and wise choices.

Here are some ideas for reflection:

  • Start a free blog with WordPress, Edublogs or Blogger
  • Create your own free podcast with (here’s my post on how to do it)
  • Grab your phone and the YouTube app and record a vlog — a video blog
  • Write in a journal. (You know, those notebooky things with paper?) There’s something soothing and rewarding still about putting pencil to paper.

3. Binge listen to a podcast

There are TONS of great education podcasts out there waiting for you with tons of inspiration and ideas. Not a podcast person? Now’s a great place to start! They’re a fantastic way to learn while you’re doing something else — walking, gardening, driving, etc.

Download a podcast app on your phone. (FYI: The Podcasts app that comes with the iPhone is a great place to start if you have one.) Search for a favorite keyword (education or otherwise) and start listening.

Here are some places to start (starting with the two I’m part of) …

4. Join a free online summit

These online summits are fun and a GREAT way to get some quality ideas and inspiration. I put on the second Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit in December and more than 10,000 educators from all over the world joined! This summer, here are two to keep an eye out for …

5. Attend an Edcamp

Edcamps are amazing and they’re all over the place! They’re FREE events where educators gather and share what they’re excited about and/or what has worked for them in the classroom. There aren’t pre-scheduled presenters and sessions. Attendees suggest topics and gather to share ideas with each other. Click here to find an Edcamp in your area and join in the sharing and learning!

6. Read a book

If you’re like me, finding someplace warm, quiet(ish) and relaxing to read a book equals summer fun. If you’re looking for great education reads, see my list of 10 education books to check out for summer reading.

Need a break from all of the education stuff? I get that. No shame in putting those education books back on the shelf until another time.

7. Explore VR and AR

Virtual reality and augmented reality are starting to take classrooms by storm. It’s an exciting time for these emerging technologies, and their impact is starting to be felt by classrooms all over. I recently picked up a Merge Cube and am amazed at all we can do with it and a mobile device.

Join educators sharing about using VR and AR in the #arvredu hashtag on Twitter. (You can check out the ideas on the hashtag even if you don’t have a Twitter account.)

8. Attend a teaching conference

They’re all over the place. Summer is prime time for districts to offer professional development — and to organize teacher conferences. I’ll be at lots of them this summer (see my events calendar on the right side of this page). I love the model my home state — Indiana — offers. The state Department of Education offers grants to school districts to host educational technology conferences. It’s called the Summer of eLearning. These conferences bring in great keynote speakers, offer great breakout sessions and often cost very little or nothing.

9. Chat with other educators on Voxer

This app turns your device into a super-powered walkie-talkie that sends and receives voice and text messages as well as videos. Group Voxer chats let many people come together for a voice conversation that’s almost as good as being in the same room. There’s more information about this walkie-talkie PD as well as a list of Voxer groups you can join. I’ve struggled to really get going with Voxer, but I’ve seen so many educators swear by it that it has to make this list.

10. Catch up on Google’s Education on Air

Hours and hours of quality learning about using Google in the classroom are shared through this free online Google event. Educators from around the world share their best Google-infused ideas via on-demand video. If you haven’t checked out the videos, here’s a YouTube playlist with 200+ videos.

11. Learn from the ISTE Conference (even if you don’t go)

The ISTE Conference is the largest educational technology conference in the United States. Tens of thousands of educators will converge on Chicago this year to learn from each other. Going to it is great, but for several years, I learned from ISTE at home. Follow the #ISTE18 hashtag (and the #NotAtISTE18 hashtag … yes, it’s a real thing). You’ll come away with new ideas and new people to follow. Plus, ISTE keeps a great archive of videos from the conference on its YouTube channel.

12. Join the weekly Classroom 2.0 Live webinars

Classroom 2.0 Live is a series of weekly free webinars with interesting presenters and tons of new ideas. The resources pages that accompany each webinar are PACKED with ideas, too. Check out who’s coming up each week on the Classroom 2.0 Live siteor watch dozens of archived shows.

For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links:

Interested in having Matt present at your event or school? Contact him by e-mail!

Matt is scheduled to present at the following upcoming events:

 DateEvent / Event DetailsCity / More Info
+ 06/01/2018
MSD of MartinsvilleMartinsville, IN
+ 06/04/2018
Granbury ISDGranbury, TX
+ 06/05/2018
Columbus City SchoolsColumbus OH
+ 06/06/2018
School City of MishawakaMishawaka, IN
+ 06/07/2018
Lafayette eLearning ConferenceLafayette, IN
+ 06/12/2018
2nd Annual Learn, Explore, Adopt and Deliver (LEAD) ConferenceCleveland, OH
+ 06/13/2018
InnEdCoKeystone, CO
  Public Event
+ 06/19/2018
Tyler ISDTyler, TX
+ 06/20/2018
TransformED ConferenceWaco, TX
+ 06/21/2018
Barr-Reeve Jr/Sr High School- Washington Community SchoolsWashington, IN
  Public Event
+ 06/24/2018—06/27/2018
ISTEChicago, IL
  Public Event
+ 07/24/2018
Regional Math & Science ConferenceAmarillo, TX
+ 07/30/2018
Oklahoma City Public School Resource CenterOklahoma City, OK
+ 08/01/2018
Flipgrid Event + Evening Live StreamMinneapolis, MN
+ 08/02/2018
Virginia Beach SchoolsVirginia Beach, VA