Downtime

 

Over the break I took some much needed time to rejuvenate.

And then I jumped right back into EdCampVoxer to get some much needed personalized professional learning! What an amazing few days it was! Sessions about blogging, school culture, personalized PL, and coaching. Everything I needed to get myself ready for second semester.

Personalized professional learning is something I strive to do well in my school. It’s my first year in this position, so I am certainly evolving. I work hard to create learning opportunities both face-to-face and online for teachers that will meet their needs. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes I am not.

What did EdCampVoxer bring?

Voxer: Using this simple walkie talkie voice and text tool to create groups for teachers to communicate, share resources, and learn from one another.

Slack: This is an app I’ve only downloaded from the app store but not gone too deep into. I believe that there are great positive implications to it, though. This is a place where I could organize different groups for different purposes and people could opt in according to their wants/needs. A give coaching cohort could be one group, people interested in tools for one specific purpose could opt in to another. That way people don’t have to get cluttered inboxes. I see read potential in this!

Twitter: Not going too detailed into this one. One of the best ways to personalize PL. Join it. Join chats. Enough said.

Digital badging: A fun way to get credit for the learning that one accomplishes. These are set up through Mozilla or Credly or others and educators can convert badges to credits. Badges can also be shared via social media for fun.

Edcamp: This free unconference has become wildly popular all over the country. People attend ready to share knowledge or simply gain it. Sign up and show up for a day of unconventional learning: you will get out of it what you want! Do a search online to find one near you!

These are a few of the modes but when it comes right down to it, we have to work with our districts to be sure they are on board with personalized PL. The key is to move beyond one side fits all ‘sit and get’ to understanding that if personalized learning is the way to for our students, it is certainly the way to go for our teachers. Many systems are on their way, some more than others. It’s so important that teachers get the learning they need and crave.

Leaving a Legacy

I’ve been working with my middle school student advocate team. Together we are learning about leaving a legacy and the importance of advocating for themselves and their school. In my opinion there is no better time for this than during the middle school years. By nature middle school students know that they can change the world. Watching them come together for three days with three other local middle schools was incredible. They fed off one another’s energy as they came up with these plans to each leave a legacy.

One of the iniatives of my team is to teach teachers and students to better use their devices–in authentic ways in class. As we are 1:1 iPads, this is brilliant, timely, and useful. I felt I needed to come up with ways to encourage and assist them with this goal. Today at our meeting I borrowed some tips from Jennie Magiera’s session at GAEtc.

We practiced teaching one another by doing it one step at a time, hands behind our backs, counting to three while we use our voices and not our hands. Tough, of course, when we’d rather do it for our partner! After some practice, they got the hang of it and we came up with a list of useful techy things we’ll teach our peers….theirs and mine!

Interactive Whiteboards: A Hit or a Miss?

 

In one of my Voxer groups we have had a discussion about interactive white boards and their purpose and worth in today’s classroom. It seems that many schools are removing them as they are not seen as purposeful in a student-centered, device-centric classroom.
I remember a short time ago as a teacher when these were so sought after. They were the everything device in a classroom! I would spend hours creating interactive flip charts that my students could interact with while in small groups. Students would self-check as the charts would make noises (a huge hit with eighth graders) and be multi levels. It took time and skill but was worth it, right?
Now we are moving to 1:1. Students interact with the world at their fingertips. If we need something on the board, there is Airdrop, Reflector, and an iPad. Students can seamlessly share information in a much easier way. Teachers can too. 
The added bonus is the cost. For a $5000 interactive system, think of the number of classroom devices. We annotate, interact with, and have a completely engaging classroom where STUDENTS are making their meaning; students are creating; and students are learning.

I think my mind is made up.

Social Media

 

 
Over the past few years there has been an explosion of social media in the lives of educators. We use it for our own personalized professional learning, we use it in our classrooms, and in some cases we even use it for fun.

Twitter and Instagram can have huge positive ramifications on our classrooms. One way we used it in elementary school was through classroom accounts; teachers were able to share student work in live time with parents. This gave students the opportunity to show what they were doing with their communities and the world. 

Teachers and students took pictures of their work and handed off the device to their students who could then type the specifics. This serves a few purposes. First, parents are able to share the classroom experience. What amazing power this is–living school with your student. Second, the real-life modeling and slow-release of using social media from kindergarten on is essential in our world. By starting this early on, we as educators are able to show our students how to use social media for good and allow them to begin to build a positive digital footprint.
Being in a new setting, a middle school this year, I look forward to continuing this work and finding even more uses for social media as I work with teachers use modeling and slow release to help our students learn to use it well and build their positive digital footprint.

Failing with Pride

As I watched a middle school drama class last week, I am again reminded how much we as adults can learn from our students. The teacher was telling her students that they needed to fail with pride and as they did, the class was to applaud each time for both the error and learning from that error. What would happen if each and every one of us taught our students this message? What would happen if each and every one of us lived this lesson in our own professional and personal lives?

I watched these sixth graders, in their first week of middle school, many nervous inside, happily failing with pride. And I watched their teachers model this for them.

What an amazing start to middle school. What I hope is that creating this amazing culture of risk-takers in our students is the beginning of something incredible.

Creating a Positive Culture for Innovation

For many of us the year either has started or is about to start. Those first few weeks are the most important in establishing positive culture in our classrooms. In my school we’re moving to 1:1 iPads, so creating a risk-taking culture where students know the boundaries but aren’t afraid to make mistakes is so important.

#satchatoc had a meaningful discussion about establishing a culture of innovation in schools. Building this culture of innovation and creativity is essential to bring schools and students into the present and get them ready to lead in the future.

This idea of creating a culture where students and educators alike utilize technology to problem-solve and create a better world is an ongoing theme in education.

How do we encourage creativity and innovation in the classroom? Creation tools like iMovie, Educreation, Explain Everything, Thinglink, blogging, and Book Creator can help.

So, how do we get people to this place of innovation?

As educators we are always working to better ourselves, trying to learn so that we can share our ideas with our students. By being connected, we open a whole world (literally) of information and people to learn from. This chat is a perfect example as it is called #satchatoc; is based in Oceania yet draws an international crowd.

Modeling multiple solutions to questions as well as big ideas is huge! If we as the model in schools can get this and show our students that often problems do not have just one answer, it makes it okay for them to take risks, grow, and seek multiple answers to questions.

Moral of the story: what we do week one with our teachers and our students to create a positive culture where taking risks becomes the norm will determine how our year goes.

How are you starting your year?

G*O*A*L*S

As each year begins, I make new goals. New resolutions for the school year. What will this year bring? I am in a new, exciting position this year, so it is certainly easy to make a laundry list of goals —so many that I could never achieve them all. When I consider what the major focus would be, I think they come down to the following:

  1. Working with teachers and administrators to create an engaging, student-centered environment where technology helps transform students’ learning in meaningful ways. This is a big one that is where I will spend most of my time. Through modeling, co-teaching, conferring, and learning together, I hope to move toward this goal.
  2. Keeping a healthy balance. Somehow this always is a goal of mine that is rarely achieved. Since I can never get enough of reading professional literature, watching podcasts and webcasts, Voxing, blogging, for me like many of you, balance does not come easily. I can read, write, communicate late into the night neglecting other things that I enjoy much less.
  3. Continue to model risk-taking and growth. Through the above I hope to model to those around me the mindset of being open-minded and ready to try new things even when they might make us nervous.

For now I will keep it simple at that.

What are you looking forward to in the new school year? What are your GOALS?

The Future is Now!

As I watch this video, as few things stand out to me.

1. Personalized learning: students are doing what seems to be interesting to them and therefore it engages them. This is so much of what we’re talking about in the world of education these days. Just today, I spent much of my day at a conference talking about our district’s personalized learning initiative and how that looks from a broad view as well as getting into some of the nitty gritty details of it. Our students need to have learning be meaningful to them. I think back to the early years of my career when I had to write out each student and the instruction he/she would get per group and then change that at the end of the day for the next day based on what had occurred. As more devices become available, this process will become so much more streamlined and classrooms will even be able to have a blended environment for learning.

2. Student engagement: students are engaged in the video. Whatever the content, with or without technology, I want my students to love what they’re doing and find meaningful connections in it. As we continue to add technology and more sophistication to what we do, teaching is still an art first and foremost. The teacher gets to guide students to find that meaning and help those light bulbs go off.

For me, I look forward to this time of the year so much! There is always something special in the air as we set up rooms and get to know our teams. This year I set new goals in a new role. I cannot wait to work side-by-side with teachers so that those student light bulbs of engagement and excitement can explode. We might not be able to pull a science beaker out of the air, but we certainly can inspire students through the connections that we make.

The future is here.

The future is now.

Summer of Learning

photo credit Theresa Stager

   As many of us do, I love learning. I can’t get enough. I had a brief break after ISTE2015 and up to the Midwest I went –this time, Chicago, for Edcampleader. This event is so well coordinated that it is taking place both face-to-face and asynchronously on Twitter at its hashtag to connect the campuses of San Francisco, Philly, New York, Chicago, and Chile among other places.

So, what’s the take away? Like any other edcamp style unconference, you get what you want: share, present, learn. It’s up to you. As the saying goes, if you’re the smartest one in the room, you’re in the wrong room; I was in the correct building to say the least. Education’s finest leaders came from all over to share the amazing things happening in their schools. We learned together to continue to make learning more engaging for our students: an ongoing goal for many. I personally look forward to continuing the conversation (and drone flying) about making schools the appropriate place for students today and not waiting until tomorrow. Because after all, the future is here. With all these dedicated leaders it will be that much simpler.

As many of us do, I love learning. I can’t get enough. I had a brief break after ISTE2015 and up to the Midwest I went –this time, Chicago, for Edcampleader. This event is so well coordinated that it is taking place both face-to-face and asynchronously on Twitter at its hashtag to connect the campuses of San Fransisco, Philly, New York, Chicago, and Chile among other places.

So, what’s the take away? Like any other edcamp style unconference, you get what you want: share, present, learn. It’s up to you. As the saying goes, if you’re the smartest one in the room, you’re in the wrong room; I was in the correct building to say the least. Education’s finest leaders came from all over to share the amazing things happening in their schools. We learned together to  continue make learning more engaging: an ongoing goal for many.

I personally look forward to continuing the conversation (and drone flying) about making schools the appropriate place for students today and not waiting until tomorrow. Because after all, the future is here. With all these dedicated leaders it will be that much simpler.

Change the World.

Image

I recently read a blog written by George Couros about change and how it’s impossible to get the pace right for everyone. I, not shockingly, am one of those people for whom change in education is not quick enough.

I want our students to learn in the best way possible based on what we know today. Students should learn through play in buildings that look like they were created in this century with furniture made for….you’ve got it! Today.

I would like to see the curriculum re-made from the ground up. No more memorization of rote facts or consumers of content but creation and play. Problem solving. Making. Risk-taking.

Students can be ready to leave school and change the world just like education changed to be ready for them.

Innovate * Inspire * Lead Change

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