In the Spring of 2020, only a few weeks after schools closed for the pandemic, I got the exciting call offering me the Director of Educational Technology at Friends Select School in Philadelphia. At the time, we all figured the pandemic would peak by July and school closures seemed temporary and short-lived. Slowly, though, school closures kept being extended and deaths began to rise across the country.

As my first day at my new school approached in June, I began gathering as much information as I could about hybrid teaching and remote learning to best equip my new faculty with…


The combination of three different pandemics — the coronavirus, racial injustice & economic uncertainty — has opened a gaping anxious hole in my inner being ripe for the filling. Like many people I know, I began to fill that hole with “doomscrolling” and mindless swiping through social media.

Over the last few weeks, as the pandemic has worsened, the presidential transition has felt like a queasy rollercoaster ride, and societal inequities have been pulled to the surface like we haven’t seen in decades, I have found myself falling down a hole of endless scrolling in search of something that I…


As this whirlwind, unprecedented school year comes to a close, many schools are grappling with how to close out their gradebooks for the year. I have seen a variety of approaches to assessing students during this time of emergency remote teaching. These span from consolidating grading terms to marking work complete/incomplete, to more traditional grading practices with strict deadlines and penalty for non-completion. Many of the policies (thankfully) lean toward only improving student grades during the pandemic.

I wonder, though, how many schools are taking the time to assess themselves? We are in this for the long haul, and remote…


As I sit at home with my 5 1/2 year-old and 2 year-old attempting to figure out some kind of routine and manage my own anxieties, I have been struggling not to cringe as I watch the entire country turn educating kids into a huge social and technological experiment.

The approaches range widely, with some schools and districts switching entirely online, requiring students to submit work for a grade and running daily Zoom “classes” for kids as young as elementary, and some districts, like mine here in Philadelphia, directing teachers not to teach online at all due to FAPE (Free…


As I watch many schools move their instruction online due to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, there are many questions and concerns I have. There are the obvious ways that many school communities are not prepared for the switch, especially with such short notice. There are also obvious concerns with supporting students with IEPs and disabilities, as well as students who do not have access to the Internet or devices at home.

One of the not so obvious ways that this switch will challenge school communities lies in how schools consider specific laws that govern protection of student data and students…


Photo by niklas_hamann on Unsplash

About 2 years ago, I was looking to incorporate digital well being into my Freshman Intro to Tech class, and I came across the excellent TED talk by Manoush Zomorodi, podcast host extraordinaire. In 2015, she ran a challenge on her Note to Self podcast focusing on putting down your phone and tuning up your attention and embracing boredom. Her book, Bored and Brilliant, is a deep dive into boredom and how it is beneficial to our creativity. Scientists who study boredom explain that our brains go into overtime when we are bored and let our minds wander. Try to…


Each year, as I prepare for my Media Literacy unit with my Freshmen, I scour my various social media timelines for examples of things to share with my students to challenge their critical thinking and research skills, and to spark discussions about their own experiences consuming media.

This year, an example came in my own Facebook timeline. A friend shared an image from reddit that took a jab at President Trump. …


Over the last few weeks there have been a number of conversations centered around who owns the content that teachers create for their classrooms. Anyone in the teaching profession knows that part of being a teacher is actually not that different from being an artist. Teachers have to think outside of the box about how to convey concepts and ideas just as artists strive to create works that encourage people to think differently. Teachers are constantly repurposing and revising units and materials created by others to meet their needs. …


Just in time for the holiday season, a new study guide for the book is available! The guide can be used for any chapter of the book, and helps make connections between the content of the chapter and the reader’s current classroom units and lessons and pedagogical exploration. Sample rubrics and lesson and unit plan templates are included. This would also make a great addition to current professional development opportunities for teachers or a great resource for pre-service teachers.

The guide can be used digitally and replicated as many times as needed for as many chapters as the reader wishes…


Just last week, a relative of mine posted an image on Facebook that grabbed my attention. I teach juniors and seniors in a Media and Design class, and our first project was based around image editing. At first glance, the photo just didn’t look right.

The next day, I showed the image to my students, explaining that I had seen it on Facebook. Immediately, one of my students said, “It looks like someone put the front of someone on the back of someone!” They all squinted looking at the proportions of the body. …

Mary Beth Hertz

Mom, author, Director of Educational Technology. Guiding kids through digital and media literacy. Here to learn & share. http://marybethhertz.me

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