Sneak peek: 9 ideas from the Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit

DTT Digital Summit

DTT Digital Summit | Monday, December 12, 2016

Sneak peek: 9 ideas from the Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit


Here’s a sneak peek — nine take-away messages from the Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit on Dec. 16-31, 2016. Get your free ticket at!

As I’m writing this, it’s Monday, and the Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit kicks off on Friday.

I couldn’t be more excited.

(Wait, that’s probably not true. I’ll probably be even more excited on Thursday.)

So … what is the Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit?

It’s a free online conference from Dec. 16-31, 2016. (Did I mention it’s free???) And you can get certificates for professional development credit.

For the first nine days (Dec. 16-24), a new presentation will be available each day. It’s recorded video, so once the video is published, you can watch it any time. (Or rewatch it as much as you’d like!)

Each presentation also has notes that you can download so you can remember the key points of each message. Save them, print them, keep them as long as you want.

From Dec. 25-31, you can watch any of the videos you missed. But after Dec. 31, the videos will disappear (as well as the notes pages and the links to get professional development credit).

If you haven’t registered, don’t wait another minute. Claim your FREE ticket now by clicking here!

So … what’s going to be in the presentations?

I don’t want to spoil the surprise too much, but we do have …

  • Two Global Teacher Prize finalists
  • A New York Times best-selling author
  • State and national teachers of the year
  • Creators of some of your favorite teaching resources online

(In fact, we’ve since added a new state teacher of the year. Mike Soskil, whose presentation will kick off the Digital Summit, was recently named 2017 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year!)

The slate of presenters is at if you want to see the whole list.

We’ll have some great topics, like integrating technology in the classroom, creating engaging, exciting lessons and classes, infusing lessons with inquiry and student choice, and connecting students to people and experiences worldwide (for free!).

I don’t want to wait. Show me some of it now!

Well, since you’re as excited as I am about this online conference, let’s get to some sneak peeks! All of the video presentations are already recorded, so I’ll share some of my favorite take-aways (and buttons to add these to your Google Calendar!).

1. Play a Mystery Skype game without doing a Skype call. (Mike Soskil — available Dec. 16, 2016)

Mystery Skype games are a fun way to get two classes from anywhere on the globe connected so they can learn from each other. It takes some work and coordination to make that video call happen, though. Want a quick Mystery Skype-esque activity? Mike created this website called The 5 Clue Challenge ( In it, people take a video in different locations around the world and give you five clues about where they are. Your students can watch the videos any time and guess along. There are also Mystery Animal challenges, Mystery Person challenges and more!

2. Do magnetic poetry activities in Google Drawings. (Kasey Bell — available Dec. 17, 2016)

Remember those sets of magnets with all the words on them? Did you ever have all of those words scattered all over your refrigerator? You can recreate that experience through Google Drawings! Kasey created a template in Google Drawings that you can use. Check it out in her “Collaborative Magnetic Poetry with Google Drawings” blog post. (PS: You can use Google Slides, too, if you prefer — or if you’re using iPads and don’t have Google Drawings.)

3. Let’s reframe how we look at homework. (Alice Keeler — available Dec. 18, 2016)

Homework is a contentious topic among teachers. Alice suggests that we think differently about what it is we really want kids to do. “Let’s call it independent practice instead of homework,” she says. Independent practice is important, but independent practice doesn’t have to be done at home. “The location doesn’t make it magical,” she says.

4. Make an emotional attachment to content. (Dave Burgess — available Dec. 19, 2016)

Want to leave a lasting impression on students that they’ll take with them forever? Connect lessons to their emotions. When studying World War II, Dave wrapped the lesson up with Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, about a child who got leukemia from the radiation from the atomic bomb. Her friends tried to fold 1,000 paper cranes that, according to Japanese legend, would save her. Sadako died before they finished. Students in Dave’s classes learned to fold origami cranes. It tugged on their heart strings, and it was one of the more memorable days in class.

5. Use the Hyperdocs method of lesson design. (Hyperdocs Girls — available Dec. 20, 2016)

When Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton and Sarah Landis created Hyperdocs, they created a hybrid lesson design plan based off their own research. Their Hyperdocs follow that lesson design: engage, explore, explain, apply, share, reflect, extend. See a summary of each step at their basic Hyperdoc lesson plan template here!

6. Try new ideas you’re nervous about when other teachers are “wasting time” anyway. (John Spencer — available Dec. 21, 2016)

John’s presentation is about design thinking and the LAUNCH cycle from his book LAUNCH, a new concept to many teachers. At the end, he addressed teachers who might worry that they don’t have time to try it — or are nervous about introducing this new concept. John suggested trying it right before winter break — or before or after a testing week — especially if other teachers are showing videos all week. “Nobody’s going to give you a hard time when Mr. Johnson across the hall is showing ‘Frosty the Snowman’!”

7. Expose your students to diversity through video calls. (Skype Master Teachers — available Dec. 22, 2016)

Jed Dearybury, a Skype Master Teacher from South Carolina, said he wasn’t immediately introduced to people of a different race, religion or sexuality in his small town as a student. Skype calls can open students up to diversity and a variety of cultures at any age. “Diversity and the respect of diversity is so important, and it’s never been more important than it is right now.”

8. Empower students to “Give me five.” (Paul Solarz — available Dec. 23, 2016)

Teachers use lots of techniques to get students’ attention. Why not give students that right if they have something important to share? Paul lets his students say, “Give me five!”, to get the class’s attention. The “five” is about five attributes of good listening (i.e. eyes on me, mouths closed, etc.). Why give students this power? “We should be working together on this. They have reasons to be in charge, too.” Students learn when it’s appropriate and when it’s not to ask everyone to “give me five!”.

9. Don’t get “paralysis by analysis.” (Noah Geisel — available Dec. 24, 2016)

Too often, we as educators — really, anyone in any field — miss out on opportunities because we overplan. In Noah’s presentation, “Don’t get ready, get started,” he says …

There’s a difference between being ill-prepared and underplanned. None of us want to be ill-prepared. That doesn’t mean we can’t get started if there’s still more planning to do.

So, don’t miss the boat because you’re planning and planning. Jump in and get started, even if it isn’t perfect yet!

Are you registered for the Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit?

If you’re reading this in 2016, it’s not too late! Get your FREE ticket to the Digital Summit by clicking here!

If 2016 has passed, get signed up for reminders of future years’ Digital Summit events by going to!

[reminder]Have any questions about the summit? Which sessions are you excited to see?[/reminder]

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:

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  • […] Next, is a FREE online teaching conference, Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit. It begins this Friday, December 16 and runs until December 24th. There will be one recorded presentation released each day along with key takeaways for you to download, print, keep,  and share with your colleagues. You have until December 31 to view them as much as you want. You can read more about it here. […]

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