Are you coming to EduCon?

Educon 2.6

If you’ve not attended EduCon before, you’re missing out. If you’ve been here before, I don’t need to explain the magic of Educon to you.
I invite you and your colleagues to EduCon, a conference hosted by my former school, Science Leadership Academy, in Philadelphia. It would be lovely to see you here and a treat to spread the conversations among the wonderful folks that you work with.
This year’s conference takes place the weekend of January 27-29, 2017 at our school. It’s not a typical conference: there are no vendors present, and the breakout sessions are conversations, not presentations. Every year I am reminded of the incredible communities I am privileged to be a part of — both the SLA community and the EduCon communtiy — and feel so proud of the work we do in our conversations about education. I’ve written about our conference many times on my blog; this reflection is one of my favorites.
I hope you can be a part of our community at this year’s EduConRegistration is available on our website, and proposals for conversations are being accepted through November 1. Your voice would be a valuable addition to the mix.
I’d love to hear your reflections or tips for new attendees if you’d like to share in the comments. Thanks! 

New Adventure



In a few weeks, I will be leaving the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to join the incredible team at Minecraft Education. I’m grateful to the Foundation for introducing me to so many inspirational educators and ideas, and I’ll always be a champion of the Foundation’s commitment to equity, optimism, and students.

In my new role at Minecraft, I will be joining a team that helps students unlock their own potential for deep learning. My students at Science Leadership Academy first helped me to learn about the potential for using gameplay in storytelling, problem-solving, and creative thinking. I am bringing that powerful experience with me, and I am excited about the ways in which Minecraft’s creative and collaborative platform can put students at the center of learning.

If you’d like to learn more about Minecraft Education, check out this inspiring video that shows what Minecraft can look like in education and this portrait of a school district that is using Minecraft to transform its work with students. You can even dive in and start experimenting with Minecraft Education right now right here.

Thank you for your support and for the work you do each day that benefits kids. I’m grateful to learn with you, and I hope you’ll continue to follow my journey as I embark on this new adventure.

Hope By Victoria Safford



By Victoria Safford 

Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of Hope—

Not the prudent gates of Optimism,

Which are somewhat narrower.

Not the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense;

Nor the strident gates of Self-Righteousness,

Which creak on shrill and angry hinges

(People cannot hear us there; they cannot pass through)

Nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of

“Everything is gonna’ be all right.”

But a different, sometimes lonely place,

The place of truth-telling,

About your own soul first of all and its condition.

The place of resistance and defiance,

The piece of ground from which you see the world

Both as it is and as it could be

As it will be;

The place from which you glimpse not only struggle,

But the joy of the struggle.

And we stand there, beckoning and calling,

Telling people what we are seeing

Asking people what they see.

Letters to the Next President 2.0

Letters to the Next President 2.0
While candidates and media concentrate on issues that matter to voters in this election season, teachers and students in our nation’s schools will be concentrating on issues that matter to the next generation of voters. How can they have a voice? How can we support the mission of schools to engage youth as productive and active citizens?
Letters to the Next President 2.0 (L2P 2.0) is an initiative that empowers young people (13–18) to voice their opinions and ideas on the issues that matter to them in the 2016 presidential election. The focal point of the program is a massive, open online publishing platform where any educator or youth mentor give their students a safe place to voice their opinions about key election issues that they believe the next president whomever he or she may be—needs to address. The site also offers a dynamic repository of resources, ideas, how-to’s, and other helpful information for educators to  make the L2P 2.0 project engaging and powerful for their students.
L2P 2.0 is being built by teachers for teachers and students, but you can help us reach
as many youth as possible so that their voices can be heard. Sign up for resources and opportunities.

Letters to the Next President 2.0 & Civic Values

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I often rely on the wisdom of the Kid President to give me enough courage, strength, and motivation to keep doing good work in the world. For me, work of Kid President embodies the values we should all try to lift up in our lives, values such as kindness, generosity, optimism, and inclusivity.

Unfortunately, this is not the current political or civic climate of our country.

If you’re fed up with the current election cycle, or just are looking for more ways to make writing real and relevant for your kiddos, look no further than the Letters to the Next President 2.0 project from National Writing Project. See below the image for more info about this opportunity:



For many writing project educators, Letters to the Next President 2.0  is an exciting opportunity to support youth voice and civic participation around issues that matter to them. Here are some materials to support this work at your site this coming summer and into the fall.



  • The L2P 2.0 Promotional Toolkit is a resource created to support you in getting the word out about this project. Find here language for posts, tweets as well as images you can use via blogs/newsletters as well as on social media.


  • Coming up soon! NWP Radio on Thursday May 26 at 4pm PT/7pm ET is about Design Thinking for Letters to the Next President 2.0 with teachers and students from across the country including the Hudson Valley Writing Project, Cal State Writing Project in LA, UNC Charlotte Writing Project and more!


If you haven’t already done so, please sign up at Signing up here will keep you in the loop about the youth publishing site when it launches in August. And, until then, you will receive updates on resources and opportunities that support educators in thinking about how to make use of this opportunity in classrooms and in out of school learning spaces.

One last note: Let us know if you will be working with youth to write letters, either text or multimedia, this summer. We are looking for a range of examples to pre-populate the youth publishing site (letters would be selected for diversity from among a set and would need to be ready for publication by early July in order to prepare for the public launch). Email us at to let us know.

May 16 Newsletter

Hope your week is off to a great start. One thing I need to figure out is picking a day of the week to send out the newsletter, have been vacillating between Fridays and Mondays. I have been reflective about what it means to show up fully in your work? And what that could possibly mean for students who come into our classrooms? How do we work to create a welcoming environment in our schools and classrooms? If you have thoughts on this or community building you do in your classroom, I’d love to hear back from you.


Open Tabs:


What Young Men of Color Can Teach Us About The Achievement Gap – “So they end up actually behaving according to a script that they don’t necessarily subscribe to, but which seems a requirement to fit in and be accepted by their peers and maybe even by some of the adults.”


Less Disruption, Greater Traction when it comes to Edtech in Higher ED – “That’s why tools and platforms that demand a lesser degree of disruption might have found greater purchase in the marketplace.”


Obama at Rutgers — “Facts, evidence, reason, logic, an understanding of science: These are good things. These are qualities you want in people making policy. … That might seem obvious. … We traditionally have valued those things, but if you’re listening to today’s political debate, you might wonder where this strain of anti-intellectualism came from.”


Interwebs Humor:

Currently reading:

currently reading books here:



TinyLetter Newsletter

Thank you so much for subscribing to this newsletter.


My aim is to share some of my work in progress. As an admirer of Austin Kleon, I try to adhere to his mantra: Show Your Work as much as possible.


With each newsletters, you can expect a general update from on things I am thinking about and working on, links that caught my eye, and something that made me laugh.


If you’ve been wondering what I have been up to at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, you can check out some of the work that I’ve contributed to here:  As I have done before through efforts like #engchat, I am working with a team to connect more teachers to one and another in order to improve practice.


I hope this newsletter finds you well and serves as an easy way for us to keep in touch and share each other’s work. I’d love to hear what you’re working on, thinking about, etc.


Open Tabs:


Blockchain for education guide by Audrey Watters – such an important read when you’re thinking about future of credentialing, hopes and pitfalls of evolving tech


Chris Emdin drops some truth in his new new book – if you care about actively working against systemic racism in schools, this new publication is for you.


Mark Zuckerberg’s Keynote at F8 – confession, I haven’t watched the whole thing but the first few moments about open connectivity and how it can make the world better are powerful (take it with grain of salt.)


A New Map for America –  interesting argument about how the way we organize ourselves in states might be an outdated system and unable to meet demands of our changing economy, society


Online Kingdom of ‘Game of Thrones’ Fans – if you love the show as much as I do, you’ll love this piece on intersection of community, connectivity, and this addictive series


Interwebs Humor:









Currently reading:

more currently reading books here:



MR Signature


We Want Your Huck Finn Stories #EngChat


Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is  one of the most important pieces of literature ever written in American History. Mark Twain wrote an amazing story tackling the issue of race that still resonates today. It is one of our favorite books of all time and a joy to teach with our students.


Literature teachers are part of a wonderful community and we share many stories about our favorite novels. Huck Finn is one of those books that brings this group together. Ask any ELA teacher for their Huck Finn story and they will share with you an amazing tale that will be sure to make you laugh, cry, and shake your head. These teachers also have great lessons that they use to get students to see the classic the way that Mark Twain had always hoped people would see.


After sharing our love of the book, we thought it would be an a great idea to collect these stories and lessons put together an e-book that all teachers could read and share. In particular, we’re looking for your stories about teaching this novel in present time.


We want your stories about how you’ve made sense of this text in a diverse classroom. We want your stories about this book being challenged by parents/community. We want your stories about making this book relevant for your students.


If you are interested in sharing your story or lesson, please fill out this form by May 30 and we will pull all of this together over the summer so teachers can have something awesome to read by the start of the school year.


Please share this with anyone that has a great Huck Finn lesson or story worth sharing! So excited about this collaboration with Nick! 


Thank you,


Nick and Meenoo



#writetolearnmo Tech Resources from Write to Learn 2016

Thank you to all who shared resources during our pre-conference workshop. Thank you for your hard work and deep thinking during the entire day, I am very lucky that I get to work with teachers like you.
Here are the resources we collected together:
Blendspace – create digital lessons easily
seesaw – student driven digital portfolios
Plickers –  real-time formative assessment in the classroom
Storyboardthat – digital storytelling storyboard
Stupeflix – make amazing videos using photos, music, and text.
Kaizena – fast personal feedback kahoot – on student work, using your voice
Edpuzzle – embed quizzes and check for understanding for classroom videos
Class Messenger — parent communication made easy – sync parents, students and teachers easily
Quizzizz – make formative learning easier for you and your students
Padlet –  colloborate easily digitally, keep a wonder journal
Symbaloo – simple start up page to keep track of all these links
Vimeo – large community of video makers
Screencast-o-matic –  create and share screenings
Formative –  create incredible online assessment, classwork, and homework
Lucidchart – make diagrams easily
kahooot online games to make learning fun
wevideo –  cloud based collaborative video platform
emaze  – online presentation tool
Refme free citation, citation made easy