Posts tagged ‘Teaching’

Entrepreneurship in the Classroom

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” by Albert Einstein

Guest Blog Post by: Dylan Schreiner 

Whether people like to admit it or not, entrepreneurship involves everyone. Even professionals not commonly thought of as being business related. For example, an artist is still an entrepreneur due to the fact that he or she needs to sell their art or put on a show at a venue. No matter where you look, entrepreneurship can relate. Such is why, I believe teachers should focus on implementing entrepreneurial activities into their subjects. Involvement with entrepreneurship teaches people firsthand life skills applicable to whatever field they choose. Specifically, having entrepreneurial activities and projects allow incredible learning that translates to real world experience. 

A project might involve raising funds or awareness for charity. For example, after learning about the risks of smoking in “Life Management” class, the students could attempt to spread awareness through email marketing.  They could use graphic design in “art class,”  marketing fundamentals learned in “economics class” and analytics learned in “math class.”  This is just one example that illustrates the point.

The following are some benefits of such a system:

1. Teaches how to better work in groups

All too often in group projects, one person carries the group by doing a majority of the work. Instead, by having projects where students can choose their roles and what they’re passionate about, they become more invested. Also, even if one role gets filled, a person gets to learn how to do something new and thereby increase their skill set.

2. Give students marketable skills and experience

One huge limiting factor for students just entering the workforce, whether for a summer job/internship or a full time job, relates to experience. It’s almost as if a cycle exists by which lack of experience inhibits getting a job, but then students are stuck with no experience because they can’t get a job. Therefore, by creating projects with market potential and real world experience, graduates truly enter the job market ahead of the pack.

For example, if students were able to develop a product and were able to bring it to market, the experience gained through that entire process would make them more sought out by employers. . If that product were, let’s say a mobile phone application, the students involved in coding the application would also be sought after by potential employers. This idea even works for the arts. What English department or publishing company wouldn’t want a student with experience in marketing something? After all, sometimes the hardest part is selling your art.

3. Provides a well-rounded education

Think about it. How often do students in one college or area of study interact with those in another? Often, in college, all of the business majors group together and all of the engineers do the same. Even in high school, the AP and IB students are in a group of their own. Wouldn’t it be great if these students learned how to collaborate and gained a better understanding for the passions of one another? Doing so creates a society of well-rounded people adaptive to their environments.For example, working on projects that rely on creativity, adaptability and surviving change really sets someone up with the skills needed to be successful almost anywhere.

Overall, I hope to have interested you enough to think about including entrepreneurial activities in your school or classroom. Though, the article only includes some of the many benefits and reasons behind such an idea. Look out for continuation on this discussion in the future!

The Shift of the Role of the Teacher

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” By Anthony Robbins

The last 100 years in the workforce we needed farmers and factory workers. It was okay for classrooms to have a teacher at the front of the room, who was the only knowledge resource besides books, as the internet did not exist. Desks could be in rows because it replicated the workforce.

But times have changed; we must prepare today’s students for a different workforce. We know today’s students will have to create their jobs, not look for jobs. They will compete with others around the globe. They will have jobs replaced by outsourcing and technology if their skills are easily replicated or duplicated.  To succeed, students will need creativity, communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and entrepreneurship. They will need to be able to adapt to change, be resilient and able to work effectively in a variety of environments.

How do we do this? We need to empower students to take ownership of their learning but we also need teachers to not be the sage on the stage but the guide on the side. I know what you are thinking, ‘but how to do we shift the role of the teacher as change is hard’ and you are right. But just because something is hard doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.

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Teachers, instructional coaches and administration need to self-evaluate where they are on the teacher continuum and be purposeful in making small scaffolded changes. Hard work does happen over night, as educators will need time and so will students. To be purposeful, we need to look at the instructional approaches to create personal learning opportunities for students.  

A few ways to make the shift up the ladder on the continuum: 

From Lecturer to Instructor: Start by creating mini-lesson for your students that are no longer than 10-15 minutes verse teaching your whole instructional block. Implement a workshop model such as balanced literacy, daily 5 or math workshop that have students complete work both guided with others and individually.

From Instructor to Facilitator: Start by incorporating a rotation model; if you have a few devices or are a BYOT school try a blended learning model such as rotation station. A rotation model allows you as a teacher to teach mini-lessons to small groups verse whole class. The students should be grouped based on learning needs according to your data and each mini-lesson should address those needs.  The data can be informal such as an exit ticket or formal such as a pre-assessment. You can also use the rotation model to do student/teacher conferences as well. If you were doing 20 min. rotations, the other 10 minutes you can conference with a few students each day after the mini-lesson. I used to make a schedule so that each week I would meet with the students at least once. (See Week Learning Guide Example and Week Learning Guide Template) Examples of the other rotations can be students are practicing the skills with manipulatives/games with partners at another station they can do independent work such as a playlist, contract or choice board. (*Note rotation station model is different than stations! Stations is where each student rotates through and are learning and practicing the same skills. Rotation station is when the students are going to the same places ‘station’ but are doing work on the skills they need.)

From Facilitator to Coach: This is the hardest shift and takes a lot of management. In this approach students get what they need, when they need it, not at a set pace. A teacher/coach works on the skills the individual student needs. Students and teachers together make action plans based on the students needs according to a pre-assessment. When a student finishes a unit they can move on to the next unit. There is no mini-lessons but small teaching moments during conferencing and facilitation. Students use playlists and each other to master the skills.

Other ways to help teachers make the shift:

  • Innovation and continuous improvement needs to be embedded in a schools/districts DNA.
  • Everyone needs to understand the ‘WHY’ this change needs to happen and be apart of it.
  • Administration needs to have a safe learning environment that looks at failure as a way to learn. They also have to understand that every teacher is different and will be at different places on the continuum.
  • Teachers need to be coached, supported and helped along in the process on making the shift into the different roles.
  • Have teachers visit other teachers.  Seeing it in action helps teachers visualize.

I would love to hear how you as an educator have made the shift in transforming your teaching or how you have coached (as an instructional facilitator or administrator) teachers to make the shift.

Key Ideas from #ASCDL2L Keynote: Jerry Weast

“Collaboration is the best way to work. It’s only way to work, really. Everyone’s there because they have a set of skills to offer across the board.” By Antony Starr

L2L-left

This week I attended one of my favorite conferences, ASCD Leader to Leader (#ASCDL2L). This conference is one of my favorite because it is different. It is invitation only and there are educators from all over the world and from different aspects of education. You sit in groups verse rows and have lots of time to collaborate and discuss topics that you are interested in. These groups are mixed up of superintendents to teachers and everything in-between but you never know who does what (unless you ask) as everyone is treated equally and there is no “ladder” or status hierarchy. This year we had Jerry Weast as the keynote. Mr. Weast is a long time educator and served in all different facets and is now retired but continues to practice his knowledge with Partnership For Deliberate Excellence (P4DE). Below are my key ideas from his keynote:

  • Lead by dancing rather than pushing, work together not against one another
  • What is the problem you are trying to solve, whats getting in the way of your progress? What are the conditions necessary to solve it?
  • Change the culture of learning and teaching
  • What must I do to move this organization/school/work?
    • Know you will be a target and it hurts but it is worth the pain for change
    • Run toward the problem….not away from
    • Quality vs Time – what can you do to bend the curve so you get results?
  • Study Human Behavior as it explains a lot
  • Stages of Change : Organization Maturity Model to Increase Performance
    1. Discover Existing Condition
    2. Commit to Predictive Gateways
    3. Evaluate Effectiveness
    4. Engage and Empower
    5. Innovate and monitor
  • Make sure your cost effort is equaling the impact or scrap it
  • Have effective benchmarks
  • Before asking what to add for the change to occur, ask what you can off-load to move a school to change.
  • When managing complex change you need to have five things:
    1. Vision
    2. Skills
    3. Incentives
    4. Resources
    5. Action plan
  •  If you don’t then….
    • No Vision = Confusion
    • No  Skills = anxiety
    • No Incentives = gradual change
    • No Resources = frustration
    • No action plan = false start
  • Start looking in the mirror and develop yourself and your leadership skills, because you can’t make a difference if you don’t know yourself.
  • If you don’t get the outcomes, what are you going to do differently?
  • Somehow it seems the world is having more effect on me, then I am having on the world…don’t let this happen.
  • Four themes to develop for effective leadership: Trust, Culture, Listen to Understand and Clarity.
  • Books he recommends to read: NudgeTribes, Improbable Scholar

 

My Learnings Digested from #ISTE2014

“Actions speak louder than buzzwords. ” Adam Bellows

ISTE2014 Bound

ISTE2014 Bound

It is hard to believe a week ago I was at #ISTE2014 with 16,039 conference goers, from all 50 states along with 67 nations! It has taken me some time to process and digest what I learned from the conference that is now a check off my bucket list!

Top 3 Takeaways:

1. I want to be like Kevin Carroll! Why? He believed in himself, he was a change agent and a catalyst. By far  Kevin’s keynote was the most inspirational and best session I attended. His keynote speech has not been released yet but when it does, if you have not seen it, you need too. Here is a quick interview with him: Kevin Carroll at ISTE 2014 and his book: Rules of the Red Rubber Ball

2. Relationships and collaboration of ideas are the most important part of learning. My second favorite part about ISTE was the people, sharing ideas in lines, at meals and at events. I loved meeting my virtual PLN face to face and collaborating with educators from my own district that I don’t get to see so often and ones that I do!

3.  There is a lot of misconceptions about what Personalized Learning is. Personalized Learning encompasses many best practices that teachers already do such as conferring/conferencing with students, build relationships and allowing students to own their learning. What it is NOT: Personalized Learning does not mean technology. Technology is a tool to help the instructional shift that needs to be made in the classroom. There is no one Learning Management System (LMS), web tool, app or device that is the magic bullet for personalized leaning.

Top 3 Websites to check out:

1. Tackk : is a simple way to create beautiful pages on the web. It’s your very own page, flyer, blog post, or poster.

2. Graphite: Is a great site by Common Sense Media  that make it easier for educators to find the best apps, games, and websites for the classroom, making sure they are common core aligned and the rigor and relevance is there.

3.  Tammy Wocester : I used to visit Tammy’s site often a few years ago as I loved her ideas. I am glad I went to her session and was reminded how great it is.

Top 3 ideas to implement: 

1. #youmatter: I have heard about you matter by watching the TED talk but going to the session helped me realize it’s about personalizing the students learning through whole child approach. It is a movement. Here are more sites to add to your #youmatter resources:  http://choose2matter.org,  http://www.classroomchampions.org  and you matter day using #mattergrams

2. App Speed Dating: Is where students teach educators about apps they like to use in the classroom.  A great way to offer PD to teachers and allow student leadership.

3. Edtechwomen: One of the events I went to at ISTE was the #edtechwomen dinner. It was a favorite for me as I was inspired by so many amazing women; learning about their stories and journeys. I also learned the most about myself during this event as I never realized how much I ‘downgrade’ things I have accomplished in my life, such as when I introduced myself, I stated what my job was but I neglected to also state that I own my own company. That is something that is apart of me that I don’t share often enough, yet it is a huge accomplishment. I am slowly learning that I need to be proud of all that I have done. I’m in the process of starting a chapter of #edtechwomen for the charlotte area. Once I learn more I will be sure to share as I hope you will be involved and yes, men are welcome as they are our ‘malallies’ – male + allies.

Other great reflections and posts from ISTE2014:

Anibal Pacheco’s – Interviews w/ Presenters and Special Guests

Erin Klein’s: Reflections from #iste2014

Rafranz DavisPassion Fueled Connection

Lisa Pagano’s: Beginning to Process #iste2014

ISTE 2014 Sessions with Published Handout Links

Google Doc: ISTE 2014 Session Notes

Melissa  Edwards Reflections

If you would like to experience #iste2015 in Philly you can start checking out ISTE’s site.

Think Like Scientists: Can You Balance An Egg on Its End?

“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.

10 Ways to Build Teacher Leaders

“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 

Google App Scripts for Educators

“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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