Tuesday, March 24, 2015

EdCamp Evolution

When looking at my #EdCamp evolution in the five EdCamps that I have been to it is a simple axiom, discussions are the BEST!

I really enjoy the discussions during “sessions” because you can learn from everyone in the room.  We I am leading a session, I try and pose a question to get a discussion started.  I don’t want to be the center of attention and I want to learn in the session I am leading as well.  I know that I am no expert, but I know the people around me have more experience with the topic and I want to learn from them.

If I go to an EdCamp and find myself in a session in which I don’t like the way the discussion is going or some is presenting rather than leading, I get up and walk out.  That is the beauty of an EdCamp.  Vote with your feet and learn what you want to learn.  

There are even sometimes when the best session isn’t a session at all.  It is those conversations in the halls or on the ride to and from the EdCamp that “problems of the world” are solved. (Shout out to Mickie Mueller on that one!)  

Another part of my evolution I would say are the connections that I have made.  People I just know on Twitter and finally meet face-to-face or even those that you are meeting for the first time anywhere.  It is alway nice to be able to network with new people and expand my PLN.  There are even people you only know or call them by their Twitter “handle”.  (Toby Brown and Laura Kroll shout out there.)

A final thought: If you haven’t been to an EdCamp, why not?  It will be well worth your time, you will meet some really GREAT people, and you will come away energized.  As always, if you are in the Columbus, Nebraska area and I am going to an EdCamp, Omaha or Central Nebraska, I will drive!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

BrightBytes Summit 2014

Last week I had the opportunity to spend two wonderful days in San Francisco at the BrightBytes Summit 2014.  Educator from all over the country, us 15%ers, spent two days discussing various ways to “fill our suitcases” for student success.  (When I referr to the 15%ers, it is the 15% of BrightBytes users).  We filled those suitcases with the 3T’s: Team, Tools and Tactics.  

We had the opportunity to hear from several speakers such as Richard Gerver, Bruce Dixson, Will Richardson and many more.  Listening to these speakers talk about educational issues of today and what we can do to help students succeed was inspirational.

One point made by the keynote Richard Gerver was that we should be creating individuals that don’t need managing.  These are those in the workforce that don’t need to be told how to do every step along the way.  They are the go getters and they only go to “management” if there is a problem that needs to be solved that is “above their pay grade”.  This leads to another point of Richard’s that I found interesting: we should be focusing on HOW to learn rather than on WHAT to learn.  If we can do this, we will create those individuals that don’t need to be managed.

On day two, there were a couple of points made by Will Richardson that stuck with me as well.  First, we need to leave all the adjective in front of learning off and just call it LEARNING!  To me, in the end, that is what it is all about!  The second point that stuck with me was professional development is now up to the professional, NOT the institution.  There are so many opportunities out there for teachers to improve themselves with like-minded individuals outside of the four walls of the school building.  From Twitter to EdCamps, all one needs to do is just look and find what they need.

There was so much more that I gained from this experience that I don’t have enough room, or want to drag on about, in this post.  I know that I won’t forget the time I spent at the Summit and cannot wait to go back in the future.  All the collaboration and communication that took place was invaluable!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Classroom Design: Change the Learning Environment

I have been wondering lately what should a classroom today look like?  Should we still have desks and tables in rows with the teacher in the front of the room?  

At ISTE this year I spent some time in the exhibit hall talking to furniture companies looking at different types of tables, desks, chairs, and more.  I am trying to reimagine the classroom in a technology rich environment.  What would that actually look like?  What could a blended/flipped classroom look like?  Do we still have desks and chairs in rows?

I have many ideas floating through my head of what a blended classroom looks like.  The only problem that I see of fulfilling some of my visions is money.  That is the really big issue with every district.  My vision is to have a classroom that has a variety of learning environments in one classroom.  A classroom that is not set up a traditional way.  A classroom that is arranged for student learning!  This type of classroom may look different to you than it does to me.  However, it will accomplish the same goals.  The classroom can be arranged differently from day-to-day, unit-to-unit, quarter-to-quarter or minute-to-minute.  The possibilities are as endless as your imagination.  

Why should we keep our learning environments the same as they were 100 years ago.  Learning is done in different ways now, why should we not encourage that type learning?  This not only goes for students, but for us as adult learners as well!  I want to have the ability to make the learning environment the best for the learner.  Why don’t we do that in our classrooms? Why do we have to have desks in neat rows?  Why not beanbags, couches, tall tables, moveable tables that are white boards, movable partitions, and more.  

What would you do to redesign your classroom if money was not limited?

Monday, July 7, 2014

ISTE 2014 Reflection

I have now had a couple of days to reflect on ISTE2014 in Atlanta.  One thing that ISTE makes me do is think about new ideas and rethink old ideas.  This is a good thing for me, as it should be for everyone from time to time.  If you don’t reflect on what you are doing, how are you going to get any better at what you do!

Most of the information that I gleaned from ISTE came from poster sessions.  This gives a person an opportunity to see over 40 different presentations in the same amount of time that you could see just two lecture sessions.  It also allows you to see students presenting what they are doing in their own schools with technology in a variety of ways.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some good lecture sessions, but for the time poster sessions are the way to go!

Another great part of ISTE is the networking.  Connecting with those that you already know and meeting new people to add to a PLN.  This was the case for me.  I connected once again with those that I already knew, those I only knew through twitter, and met MANY new people.  Part of the reason I met so many new people was having the opportunity to present a poster session with Beth Kabes from ESU7 and Kristina Peters from NDE.  We saw over 70 people in two hours!  We shared what we are doing at ESU7 and in Nebraska with BlendEd and Blended PD.  We talked with people from five countries outside the US!  This is truly an International conference!  All three of us are now hooked on presenting poster sessions at ISTE!

If you ever have the opportunity to attend ISTE, you should!  If you are in Nebraska and don’t want to travel to Philadelphia for ISTE2015 all you have to do is wait until 2016 in Denver.  I don’t have enough time or space to tell you all about the trip.  However, you may be seeing some posts come up in the future about my new ideas or rethink of old ideas.  It is great blogpost fodder!

Friday, April 11, 2014

ASOT and Technology

Just last week, I spent two days in the final days of Marzano Academy 13-14.  It was a wonderful six days of learning about “The Art and Science of Teaching”.  Tammy Heflebower and Phil Warrick do a wonderful job of conveying the information for everyone involved.  

I have also just recently finished reading “Enhancing the Art and Science of Teaching with Technology” by Sonny MagaƱa and Robert Marzano.  Which took ASOT and talked about how technology could be used to make implementing the nine design questions easier in the classroom.

Stacy Behmer and I will be presenting a session at NETA 14 in a couple of weeks called “Google Apps Meets Marzano”.  We will be talking how GAFE can be used with each of the nine design questions(Don’t want to give too much away).  There are many more ways that technology can be “hung” (thanks to Phil Warrick for that term) within the ASOT.  

There are two examples that I will share with you that Rick Williams from ESU2 and I talked to the Academy participants about this last week.  The first is Kahoot (getkahoot.com) which is a web-base, FREE, game.  Teachers or students can create their own quizzes.  They can set a time limit and then give points for speed and accuracy.  Those that are taking the quiz go to kahoot.it and put in a pin number for the quiz/game.  After each question, it gives the correct answer and then the top 5 in the standings.  Each participant will know where they stand on their device as well.  This activity works well for formative assessments as you are able to correct misunderstandings after each question.

The second app we talked about was Class Dojo (www.classdojo.com).  See my previous post on Class Dojo. As it turned out, the week before the Academy, Class Dojo came out with an update.  In the update, on the app only, you are able to message parents.  Teachers can either do a group message to all parents or to each individually.  If parents reply, to either type of message, it is only between the parent and the teacher.  This is a great way of communicating with the parents on the behavior of their child in the classroom.  Phone numbers and emails are kept confidential.  Class Dojo is a great way to keep students accountable for their actions in the classroom, setting and maintaining high expectations, and keeping students on task.

I am now looking forward the the 14-15 Marzano Academy which will be starting this June.  I know that it is already full with teams from schools around Nebraska.  I am sure I will gain more information that I even learned in this Academy.