Thursday, January 16, 2020

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Ryan McGinnis

iTunes Podcast Link HERE

Really looking forward to interviewing friend and colleague Ryan McGinnis.  Ryan is a really dynamic technology integrator for CA Boces in the Southern Tier of New York State.  He truly is a great source of pedagogical and innovative best practices.  Can't wait to chat with him about his thoughts on upcoming technology trends and big ideas.

A little about Ryan in his own words:  "3rd year as a Professional Development Coordinator (Technology Integration), newly appointed CA BOCES Data Protection Officer, spent 10 years as classroom teacher (5th, 2nd, STEM), 2 years as an Elementary Principal."

Ways to connect with Ryan:

Twitter: @RyanMcGTech

Work Website:  HERE

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Coffee with a Geek 2019 in Review

It's that time of year when we look back and reflect on the year and hopefully set goals and resolutions to improve our lives, both personally and professionally.

I'm so thankful for all the people that sit and chat with me and discuss their thoughts and ideas around education.  I find it so beneficial to hear from others to gain much needed perspective.

Anyway, my goal for this year and the past is to talk about education matters that are important, with trendsetting educational leaders.  So here is my year in review.

Guest/ Topic
Youtube Link
Dr. Shantel Scott- Teacher and Technology Innovator
Jennifer Gonzalez- Cult of Pedagogy  Need I say more?
Rabbi Michael Cohen- Edtech Leader
Canada Connect Conference Interviews

Scott Merrick- Virtual Environments ISTE PLN Leader
Mike Tholfsen- Microsoft Edu 
Luke Nifaratos- SAM (SMART Approaches to Marijuana)
Black Mirror Support Group- Awesome Group of Educators discussing pop culture
Kirsten Lewis- 3rd Grade Teacher Extraordinaire
Create-a-thon Winning Students- Creative Students!
Katharine Birbalsingh- Headmistress of the Michaela School
Kristen Swanson- Educator and Entrepreneur (Edcamp, Slack)

Monday, December 16, 2019

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Kristen Swanson


Really honored to have a chance to talk to Kristen Swanson.  I met Kristen a few years ago at the ISTE Conference and enjoyed chatting with her about her creative ideas and insights.  Little did I realize that Kristen would go on to co-found Edcamp, as well as, be a big part of her newest venture Slack!

A little about Kristen in her own words:  I currently serve as the Customer Experience Chief of Staff at Slack. I'm passionate about transforming how people work every day.
A lifelong educator, I also founded Edcamp, an organization that brings free, organic professional learning across the globe. In 2015, Edcamp was named one of the 10 most innovative companies in education by Fast Company.
I've published 3 books on learning design, and my work has been featured at TEDx, Educon, PBS Newshour, and more. I hold a doctorate degree in adult learning and organizational development.
I can't wait to chat with Kristen about making educational ventures happen in the entrepreneurial space.

Ways to Connect with Kristen:
Twitter:  @kristenswanson

Video was recorded using the Zoom Platform (Really easy experience!)
Video was edited using the Microsoft Photos program
Intro Music
Music from
"Danse Macabre - Xylophone" by Kevin MacLeod (
License: CC BY (

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Katharine Birbalsingh

WHAT:  Interview with Katharine Birbalsingh

WHEN:  November 11th

One of the questions I ask of many of my guests is:  "If you could design you own school, what would it look like?"  Katharine Birbalsingh has been a part of creating a school!  Katharine is the Headmaster of the Michaela School in England.  This school runs along what I think is a Charter School Model, which I will ask her about in some detail.  Another focus will be on Katharine's perspective on educational technology.

Recently, Katharine has appeared on the Rubin Report.  Dave Rubin, in my opinion, is an outstanding interviewer because he asks probing questions and provides ample time for his guests to respond.  I will ask Katharine about her experience having a voice on such a wide ranging platform.

My overarching interest however, will be to really understand Katharine's work, her results, and her ideas, specifically around changing the dynamic of education.   I can't wait to hear her thoughts.

Music Selection:  "Ambler"
Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Create-a-thon Winning Students

View this episode on iTunes HERE

I had a great opportunity to interview some students from Thomas C. Armstrong Middle School.  These students were the winners of the first Create-a-Thon in the area.  Like a Hackathon, the format for this contest is:  a) Pitch an idea b) Develop a team to work with c) develop your idea d)present the idea.  The best ideas are then evaluated by a panel of Judges.

These students idea was to create a way for teachers to evaluate their gender bias and then provide ways to make their classrooms more inclusive.  You can see their results by looking at their Padlet that they created:  HERE

A little about these students:

Calista lives with her wonderful parents, little sister Addie and three dogs, Kip, Charlotte, and Brownie. Calista plays midfield for Wayne Modified Team and Wayne Wings. Calista is always up for a challenge!

Jaden plays defense for Wayne’s Modified Soccer team. An interesting fact about Jaden is he has a twin brother, Corbin. He also has a little sister named Olivia.

Araya is an only child and has two cats, Max and  Sugar. Araya enjoyed participating in the Create-a-Thon.

Here are the questions I asked the students:

1. Tell me about your Create-a-Thon Winning idea

2. How did you like working through the design thinking process

3. Do you think this process helps to prepare you for your future?

4. From Doing this Hackathon, do you think it could be done in other schools?

5. What are your future plans?

Speed Geek Questions:

1. What is your favorite book?
2. What is you favorite way to unplug from technology?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Kirsten Lewis

Over the past year, I have had the absolute pleasure to work with the Pine Valley School District as a technology integrator. A small, rural district in Western New York, it has an impressive cadre of tech savvy teachers. One of the most inspirational is 3rd grade teacher, Kirsten Lewis.

A glance into Kirsten's classroom almost always brings a frenzy of students actively engaged in an array of tech infused activities. I've seen green screen activities, Lego We-Do Coding, as well as, OneNote Notebook Podcasting activities, to name just few. Kirsten is also an avid Black Mirror fan and is always willing to talk tech and culture!

Here is a little about Kirsten in her own words: Kirsten Lewis is a 3rd grade teacher with a passion for books and reading with a splash of tech integration. A 15 year veteran, she holds a master’s degree in literacy with certifications in elementary education, english, and literacy. She is a self-proclaimed introvert with a weakness for coffee.

Ways to connect with Kirsten:
Twitter @kirst_lewis
Instagram:  @kirst_lewis

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Luke Niforatos

DATE:  Monday July 29th, 2019
TIME:  4-4:30pm
Youtube Link:  HERE

Really looking forward to interviewing Luke Nifaratos about his work with SAM, (Smart Approaches to Marijuana).  With several states legalizing recreational marijuana use, Luke's work, and the SAM organization, are leveraging research and bipartisan political influence to make sure that the ramifications of legalization are truly understood.  I'm going to focus most of our conversation on the impacts of marijuana and its major risks for education and in particular,  young learners.  I really applaud Luke's courage to talk about this issue with clarity and thoughtfulness.

A little about Luke: 
Luke Niforatos is the Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor at SAM, presiding over strategic federal, state, and educational initiatives. Prior to SAM, he spent his career working in nonprofit community healthcare. Luke also founded two digital health companies. Having lived in Colorado during legalization, he, his wife, and daughter have seen firsthand the disastrous effects of lax marijuana policies. This experience inspired Luke to work and speak across the country for a smart marijuana policy free of commercialization and normalization. Luke graduated from the University of Denver.

Ways to Connect with Luke: