Musings on Mindset

True philanthropy requires a disruptive mindset, innovative thinking and a philosophy driven by entrepreneurial insights and creative opportunities.” By Naveen Jain

This weekend I finished the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. I believe this is a must read for all educational leaders as the concept – moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset – is a way of building students to be self-directed life long learners. With that being said, I don’t think it should be a ‘summer read’  or book  study for an entire staff.

I think the concept of mindset should be taught to all educators but using a variety or resources and through modeling.  These resources below I have found have helped educators and  their students move from a fixed to growth mindset. I showed this video, Hackschooling Makes me Happy, to my students and it made for an excellent argumentative writing prompt, debate and teachable moment.

Resources:

Carol Dweck on Struggle

Famous Failures (Helps Students See Famous People Struggle too)

Even Geniuses Work Hard

Creating a Growth Mindset in Your Students

RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms

Disrupting Education 

The Science of Character: Developing Positive Learning Traits

Studies Offer Practical Ways to Bring ‘Growth Mindset’ Research to Schools

Extreme Mindset Makeover: How to Remodel Your Thoughts 

Mindset Works: Student Motivation through a Growth Mindset

It has been said by Jeff Raikes, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that, “Growth Mindset is a key to closing the achievement gap.” I would love to hear any ideas/resources etc that you have used in your classroom or with your staff to help them with their mindset.

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” By Henry Ford

Edcamps are free unconferences where educators lead/facilitate the discussions based on topics they are interested. Edcamps started about five years ago and are modeled after bar camps (it has nothing to do with liquor). Now there are parent, student and leadership edcamps! Edcamp’s vision and mission is:

Vision: We are all self-directed learners, developing and sharing our expertise with the world.

Mission: We build and support a community of empowered learners.

Check out this great Edcamp 101 Video to learn more in just a few minutes.

The first edcamp I attended was edcampsc. I later attended Charlotte’s Bar Camp and both were well worth my time! Because of these great learning experiences; I have been replicating “mini” edcamp style PD sessions at schools. (I will also be hosting a full edcampcms in the Fall of 2014)  These mini edcamp PD session have been very successful and I think more schools should do them as it builds school culture, teacher leadership and is differentiated based on teachers needs.

How I set up a “mini” edcamp PD is I send the Edcamp 101 Video prior the PD session. This allows teachers  to have background knowledge on what it is going to kind of look like plus they start thinking about topics. When they walk into the PD session, on tables I have sticky notes where teachers can write down topics they want to learn/discuss (just like a real edcamp) and they place them on a large white board or chart paper. As they are writing and posting them on he board, I move the topics into session sections. Each session section has three to four topics per session depending on the size of the group. If I get topics that are similar, I put them together and give them a category name. For example, if one teacher writes conferring and one writes guided reading – I might put them together and call it balanced literacy.

What makes them “mini”are the edcamps sessions are only 20 mins because after school PD is usually only  an hour or an hour and fifteen minutes. (Typical edcamp sessions are 50-60 mins)

Schedule Template for Mini “Edcamp” if you had an hour and fifteen minute PD: 

8 mins introduction reviewing rules and giving input

20 min session

2 min rotation

20 min session

2 min rotation

20 session

3 minute wrap up/closing

Here are more resources that can help you start your own edcamp or “mini” edcamp:

Edcamp Foundation

Why Edcamp?

An Elementary Edcamp- An Unconference for Students

ParentCamp and A Guide to Hosting Your Own ParentCamp

Edcamp Leadership

Introduction to Edcamp: A New Conference Model Built on Collaboration

The power of ‘edcamps’ and ‘unconferencing’

Unconference: Revolutionary professional learning

 

Wizenworld

“I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” By Winston Churchill

I learned about Wizenworld via Twitter. Wizenworld asked me to try out their game based math learning platform for students and this is my review. This short video will give you a quick back ground on what Wizenworld is:

Once I created an account, Wizenworld walks you through a quick tutorial. This tutorial is great as you don’t need to teach the students how to use the product. It also explains your mission is to defeat goons and free the Meings. There are six different environments with different meings in each.

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 11.34.33 AM

 

I soon began my math adventure by choosing the domain (fractions)  then a strand (recognizing fractions). The first game I tried immediately reminded me of  old school Zelda but as I continued to try all the games, I noticed they were all different. I liked that the games have students apply the concepts using manipulatives such as number lines or pictures. This is a great way for students that are taking online assessments to practice in a fun way.

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The games are engaging, adaptive and fun. There is formative analysis on class and student level that provides actionable data for teachers and students. They are in beta so they are looking for feedback on how they can improve. I sent in feedback about aligning standards to Common Core and they are working on it. I would love to know your thoughts if you try this in your classroom.

“Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds. I may be given credit for having blazed the trail, but when I look at the subsequent developments I feel the credit is due to others rather than to myself.” Alexander Graham Bell

Guest Blog Post by Wayne Fisher, Elementary Science Specialist

There is an urban myth that the only day you can balance an egg on its end is during the spring equinox, which happened to be March 20th at 12:57 pm. Is that true and how can we know?   Here’s how:
Use the CL-EV-R model to engage your students in an activity where they try to balance a egg on its end.   CL-EV-R stands for Claims, Evidence, and Reasons and is a wonderful teaching and learning strategy to support argumentation in the Common Core as well as learning in science.
The short version of CL-EV-R is for students to make a Claim, gather EVidence to support the claim, and explain their Reasoning for why the evidence supports or does not support the claim.

CLEVER

Below is a 5E Lesson Plan: Can You Balance An Egg on Its End?
ENGAGE
For this activity, I suggest using a dozen eggs, one egg per group of 2-3 students. Explain to the students that you have heard that it is possible to balance an egg on its end only on certain days such as the Spring Equinox. Ask them to pair-share what they think about that statement (or claim). Ask them to talk about evidence they can gather to prove or disprove the claim. The response you are looking for is “let’s just try it today!”
EXPLORE
Hand out one egg per team of students, or even one egg per student. Have paper towels handy for that one egg that will roll off the table or desk and needs to be cleaned up!  Use the opportunity to talk about the effects of gravity! Allow students to try to balance their eggs.   Note – for every dozen eggs, about 25% will balance! Be prepared for the “ah-ah!” experiences students will have when several of them do balance their eggs! Record student results in a t-chart.  You may want to ask students to predict how many eggs out of a dozen will balance and how many will not.
EXPLAIN
Look at the class data.  How many eggs were students able to balance?  How does that compare to the student predictions? Why do some eggs balance and others do not?   (There is a reason that you can read about on-line). What does the evidence tell us about the claim that you can only balance eggs on the Spring Equinox?
EXTEND
Does it make a difference if the eggs are raw or hard-cooked?
Would we get similar results for duck, quail, or other types of eggs?  How about an ostrich egg?
Is it possible to balance an egg on its pointy end?  (I have been able to do that only once in the last 1472 eggs I have tested!)
If you freeze the egg would it be easier or harder to balance?
Challenge students to do the same activity with their parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, etc!  Take a picture and share! Include this activity as part of your school’s STEM Night of Science and Math Night. Gather other questions from the students.
EVALUATE
Take a picture of your students doing this activity and share on your school’s website.
In this lesson students are using all the 21st century skills. To integrate technology seamlessly into the lesson, you can have the students blog about the experience, create a presentation demonstrating their results such as using EduGlogster or creating a poll (poll everywhere or Google Forms) to gather the results from the class.

#NCTIES14 Recap

“Live your life in beta! Be your best today and be better tomorrow.” by Adam Bellow

This week I attended the North Carolina Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) and like all conference I learned a wealth of information. If you are on twitter, you can also follow #ncties14 for all the tweets/resources shared. My favorite moment was meeting my PLN- #nced chat members (Tuesday @ 8:00 pm)  that attended the conference.  My second favorite moment was Adam Bellows closing keynote. I didn’t take any notes because I was so engaged. Below I decided to share my top 10 resources I learned but not in order as they are all awesome.

#NCED chat

1. Building Entrepreneurs by Kevin Honeycutt. Kevin shared a lot of great ways to build entrepreneurs such as researching entrepreneurs by study their biographies trying to crack their code to success. Make sure you check out his presentation by clicking here.

2. Minecraft Resources by Lucas Gillispie including assignment ideas.

3. Google Stuff: 1. Google Newspapers: Google has newspapers from everywhere and from all time periods. Great for non-fiction! 2. Google a Day Challenge question each day, good for morning work or when you have a few minutes after a lesson 3. Google Story Builder  create stories with others.

4. Edtalks: Collaborate, Innovate and Educate by Kevin Honeycutt

5. Maker Space Thinglink with great resources and ideas.

6. Intel Education Resources has a teaching program with tools for student centered learning.

7.  Organizing you Digital Life: The Personality Test

8. White House student Film Festival. Look what kids are making on their own and how creative!

9. Math Class Needs a Makeover 

10. Technology in Education: A Future Classroom

“You don’t need to be in a leadership position, to be a leader.” By Jill Thompson

You-dont-need-to-be-in-a

We need teacher leaders! Why? Teacher leaders are the ones that make change happen. They are the ones that understand the true problems happening in their classroom and school. They are the ones that improve learning and teaching practices with the goal of doing what is best for students which is increasing student learning and achievement. Below are ten ways I believe we can build teacher leaders based on my experience.

1. Let them model or co-teach showing best practices and allowing time to reflect on the experience. Too often principals let other teachers visit teachers but they don’t give them time to reflect on the experience and that is when the true learning occurs.

2. Have them provide Professional Development (PD) in an area they are strong and passionate about or send teacher leaders to pd and have them share what they learned. Too often we don’t use the resources and expertise that are in our school. We need to play to teachers strengths.

3. Let them mentor another teacher that is maybe a first year teacher or one that is struggling. Teaching is hard work. It is helpful to know you have another teachers support who is going through the same issues/challenges you are going through and not being judged.

4.  Build a culture of collaboration by creating Professional Learning Communities (PLC) for different topics to support teachers such as data teams. We learn best from each other and often times from what we are passionate about. Creating PLC’s that are based on topics teacher want  helps with culture and collaboration.

5. Let them try their innovative ideas you never know, it might just work and be the next big thing. I am lucky to have always have had a leader that lets me try new things. I have had some great ideas and some not so good ones, but either way I learned.  One of my best ideas was building a tutoring program for our school using volunteers. I called them ‘Washam Buddies’. The buddies were each paired up with a classroom teacher and came a few times a week to help  the students with their academic needs.

6. Create team leaders to facilitate the planning sessions and discussions about student data. Having a team-lead helps meetings run smoother and stay focused on the task.

7. Give them time to work out problems and to find solutions. The first attempt might not work but let them use the ‘failure’ as a learning opportunity.

8. Have teacher leaders run book studies and let them pick the book! The best book studies I have done have been run by other teachers.

9.  Recognize teacher leaders when they do something extraordinary. This just might motivate another teacher.

10. Give them time to research and be innovative. My old principal gave us what he called ‘innovate time’. He (or AP) would come to our classroom and teach a block. We would gain that time while they were teaching our class to research something we were interested in trying new in the classroom.

There are a lot of other ways we can build teacher leaders within our schools. I would love to hear your ideas too.

Other Resources:

Building Teacher Leadership Capacity through Educational Leadership Programs 

Building Teachers’ Capacity for Success: A Collaborative Approach for Coaches and School Leaders

Becoming a Teacher Leader

CTQ:  Center for Teaching Quality 

“The rise of Google, the rise of Facebook, the rise of Apple, I think are proof that there is a place for computer science as something that solves problems that people face every day.” By Eric Schmidt

Google

Recently I went to an ‘Advance Google Session’ at a conference that was conducted by John Warf.  The session was mostly about Google Apps Script (GAS). GAS is a JavaScript cloud scripting language that provides easy ways to automate tasks across Google products and third party services and build web applications.*  GAS lets you do more with Google Apps for Education (GAFE) such as drive and calendars. There a tons of already created scripts that help educators but you can also create your own by opening a Google Doc, spreadsheet etc and clicking on tools, script editor. Below is a complied list of the most helpful scripts for educators and links to how-to’s for each one:

GClass Folders: Create folders teachers need for class

GClass Hub: Pre-configured app-script that works with GClass folders for spreadsheets etc

Doctopus: Easily share documents with students

Flubaroo: Grading solution for Google forms

- FormEmailer: Automate emails on form data

- Formlimiter: Stop accepting additional forms

- Autocrat: Form data to Google documents in folder structure

FormRanger: Automatically populates the options in any multiple-choice, checkbox, or listbox style question in a Google form from any column in the attached spreadsheet.

Other Resources/Sites:

List of Google Apps Script by Programmer’s Library

Top 10 Google Apps Scripts for Education

Google + App Script Community

* Work Cited:

“Apps Script – Google Apps Script.” 2012. 23 Feb. 2014 <http://www.google.com/script/start/>

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