Pixar Pitches in Education

“Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.” By Joss Whedon

This summer I learned a new way to present information in a quick manner called Pixar Pitch. The concept is that if you only have 60 seconds (elevator speech) to ‘sell/tell’ your idea, you need to know the key important information. To help condense your story into a single paragraph, Daniel Pink, the author of “To Sell Is Human,” suggests using this  6 sentence formula original created by Emma Coats.
 

Pixar Pitch Formula:
– Once upon a time…
– Every day or year…
– Then one day…
– Because of that…
– After That…
– Until Finally…

 
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Here is an education example that I created. The topic: Personalized Learning.
 

Once upon a time…we wanted to maximize student academic achievement in the 21st century through innovation.
Every day…we took notice that the world was changing. We were preparing our students for jobs that were not even invented.
Then one day…we realized we needed to make an instructional shift and personalize the students learning.
Because of that…we created a cohort of schools that would focus on an instructional design that requires a fundamental shift from a traditional teaching model, to a classroom that empowers and nurtures the social, emotional, academic, and developmental needs of each self-directed 21st century learner.
After That…the schools focused on the whole child, student ownership, mastery learning and paces, playlists and pathways.
Until Finally…we changed the classroom experience and raised student achievement.

 

Here is another example by Jay Connor from his blog. The topic: The community is seeking to dramatically improve early childhood reading outcomes.

 

Once upon a time there was … an education crisis haunting our schools and communities across North America.
Every day … large percentages of our children were not achieving proficiency in vital literacy skills to the point that some in our community even doubted whether they ever could.
One day … we developed a simple and shared definition of what children had to know to be ready for school.
Because of that … our early childhood centers and parents became better at helping all children enter kindergarten ready to learn
Because of that … teachers were free to work more on skill development for each individual child.
Until finally … every child, irrespective of ethnic or economic circumstance, became a proficient reader by the end of third grade.

 

I would love to hear your examples of using Pixar Pitches in education. Please share in the comments.

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.

Mini #edcamps for School Level PD

“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.

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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.

Engaging Students with GoogleTreks

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” By St. Augustine

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I was recently came across this amazing Google Site called  GoogleTreks  – taking virtual field trip and learning to a whole new place. (GoogleTreks™ is not affiliated with or endorsed by Google® or any of its companies. Google® is a registered trademark.) GoogleTreks was created by Dr. Alice Christie who is a Google Certified Teacher and has taught in the classroom for 25 years. Dr. Christie used the formula of  web tools + Google Maps = GoogleTrek. Here is an example of GoogleTreks she created about the History of GoogleTreks.

GoogleTreks are engaging lessons that can work on any device which makes for great activities for Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) or technology rich classrooms. The lessons also have the students using their 21st century skills of creating, collaborating, communicating and critically thinking while also aligned to Common Core Standards. You can easily differentiate these lessons and make them accessible using QR Codes. You could also have the students create their own to show mastery of content. Check out some of these great ones below:

How Does Global Warming Affect Human Health?

5.G.4. Classify two-dimensional figures in a hierarchy based on properties

Want to make your own GoogleTrek? Use this tutorial and create your own, it walks you through the steps. Then you can submit them  here for others or you can have it saved in your google account. If you chose to submit, all GoogleTreks are scored based on a rubric so you know you are getting quality lessons.

Other Google Trek Resources:

Google Treks gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Maps’ most awe-inspiring Views

Google Trek – Street View

Trek the world with Google Maps

INTERNET EXPLORER: Take a virtual field trip with Google Treks

I would love to hear how you have used GoogleTrek or plan on using it if you are not already!

Take-Aways from Visiting Schools Implementing Personalized Learning

“Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.” By Doug Firebaugh

As many of you know, for the past few months I have been working as project manager for the Bill Gates NextGen Innovative grant. This past week we was able to travel to San Francisco and visit multiple schools that have started the process in their schools to personalize learning.

One school we were able to visit was Summit Public Schools. What I enjoyed must about this school visit was the students were empowered to drive their own learning, ensuring they are prepared for success in colleges and career. How Summit became invested in making sure students were driving their own learning was because they noticed that 100% of their students were attending a 4 year college but not a 100% were graduating from a four-year college; many dropping out within the first year. This sparked them to look at their teaching practice and realize that they were providing too much assistance to the students so that once ‘on their own’ they didn’t have the skills to be successful. To support the Personalized Learning cycle, Summit has changed classroom design and added personalized learning time.

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Summits classroom design is very open and most of the furniture is on wheels including the students desks and tables. This allows the teachers and students to redesign the room daily.

summit 

In this picture you can see students are working on individual learning tasks while the teacher is working 1 on 1 with a student. Notice there are devices but also there are books too. I think a fear many teachers have is that ‘traditional’ things will go away when they implement personalized learning and that is not the case.

We visited other school districts that also started implementing personalized learning and during these visits we had other take aways along with some revelations such as:

– There are lots of FREE edtech tools such as Khan that you can start using to transition into personalizing the students learning

– We are already doing a lot of personalization but it is not consistent such as balanced literacy, PBL’s and flipped classroom

– New support staff roles will help teachers optimize their instruction

– Training for everyone involved is a critical success factor for personalized learning

– Blended learning is apart of personalized learning and not  separate entity

These visits really drove home that the intentional shift to personalized learning is about fundamentally changing our approach to learning and teaching; technology is an important enabler but the devices we use are just one tool for delivering this instruction. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing more about personalized learning and starting to share my thoughts and resources on making this shift.

Power of Google and My PLN

“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” By
Mattie Stepanek

This week I was asked to do a professional development (PD) on Google Apps for Education (#GAFE) for some educators. When brainstorming about the PD, I knew a lot of ways to use GAFE but I wanted the group see that lots of educators use it and not just me or our school district.

This made me realize that, I could use the power of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) – Twitter.  Within just two days, I had over 20 suggestions from educators in multiple states and countries! It was amazing how fast my global PLN came to my rescue! The PD was great and it sparked a lot of curiosity about PLN’s and using them to improve instruction….guess what our next PD will be on, that is right the Power of Twitter!

We are in education together and there is no reason we should not be sharing our great ideas with each other. Below is the ‘Ways to Use Google Docs in the Classroom’ document that my PLN collaborated on and I would love if you have ideas to please add to it by clicking here.

Makerspace in Education

“In a general way, you can shake the world.” by Ghandi

A typical Makerspace is a community-driven workspace, where people with common interests, meet and collaborate on ‘Do it Yourself’ (DYI) projects. In schools it would be school-driven. (The concept reminds me a lot of what Camp Invention is all about, which is a summer camp, I used to teach) If we created a workspace that had materials such as computers, makey makeys, Raspberry Pi and other tools for a hands-on learning; I can only image the ideas students would come up with if they had this space available. Here are three reason why I think schools should have Makerspaces:

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Teachers using a Makey-Makey to play Mindcraft that a student built.

1. Authentic Learning: DIY projects are real world and authentic. In Makerspaces, students can solve real-world problems with innovative solutions. Some Makerspace innovative ideas that have been successful and you probably have heard of or even used are: Square, Makerbot and Pebble Watch.

2. 21st Century Skills: Makerspaces allow students to critically think, create, collaborate and communicate. The student’s are able to work together to learn new skills, share expertise while developing their thinking and discovering new solutions. It allows students to have choice and voice.

3. STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math = STEM. By adding in Art Design and you get STEAM. Makerspaces allow all subjects to seamless work together. Art Design is the visual standpoint and can range from the art of coding a website to the esthetic of a project.

I am helping some schools set up there Makerspace area and I am excited to see what happens ( I am sure I will blog again about this topic with the results). One middle school is even making it a ‘special/elective’ the students can sign up for. I think this is a revolutionary idea and will happen more often in schools.

If you want to get started or learn more about Makerspaces for your school, I highly suggestion going to Makerspaces.com and also review their Makerspace Playbook Guide.

Other Great Resources:

Mt. Elliot Makerspace (Love his Makerspace section of his site)

www.makermedia.com

http://makerfaire.com

Makezine.com

A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces: 16 Resources

Creating Makerspaces in Schools

Livebinder on Makerspace

Tedx: Makerspaces – The Future of Education by Marc Teusch (4:35)

If you have a Makerspace in your classroom or in your school, I would love to hear your thoughts. I am excited to see where the Maker Movement will go.

Reflection from ASCD Leaders to Leaders Conference

If everyone is moving forward together, than success takes care of itself. —Henry Ford

LeadertoLeader_127586_portrait_730X550Recently I obtained the honor of being named Class of 2013 ASCD Emerging Leader. The past few days I have been in Washington, DC at the ASCD Leader to Leader Conference learning and growing with educators from all over the world. (I even met an educator from Guam!) If you want to search the archives from Twitter the hashtag is #ASCD2L2. (Warning: there are a lot of links through-out this post, for additional information)

Day 1: Emerging Leaders Orientation

Thursday morning I got to meet the other 18 (of 25) Emerging Leaders and learn about what the next two years would be like. We received advice from previous Emerging Leaders and ASCD employees about what was expected of us and how we could produce results. Basically it boils down to, ‘You get how much you put in’. We do need to build an action plan on a topic we are passionate about. We get a coach/mentor that will help us with our vision and implementation. My problem is I have so many ideas and topics floating in my head, I need to decide on what matters most to me. If you saw my mind map of me brainstorming ideas, you would think I was crazy!

During lunch we got to meet the ASCD board members to network, ask questions and listen to others experiences. It was inspiring to hear what other educators are doing and have done to make positives changes in education.

During the afternoon we learned more about what ASCD has to offer and more about their vision. If you are not a member, I strongly encourage it as they have great online professional developments, articles and discussion groups along with so much more. You can join ASCD Professional Interest Communities for free, without an ASCD membership. Registration is also open for ASCD’s Conference on Educational Leadership. See the details here: http://ow.ly/n875a

Day 2: Leaders to Leaders Conference (L2L)

Friday we spent the day in the conference room collaborating with all ASCD L2L’s from teachers to superintendents from all over the world. Dr. Gene Carter, Executive Director and CEO, started as the opening keynote. Dr. Gene Carter stated many key points but my favorite was, “The child must be placed at the absolute center of our ethics.”

From the keynote, there were ignite presentations, where leaders shared their experiences, insights and progress since 2012 L2L conference. The ignite format is where presenters share, using 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds for a total of five minutes. This type of presentation was awesome because you got to hear so many different perspectives. I can’t wait to use this style for professional development and imagine this in a classroom, wow! The students would use their 21st century skills to show mastery of content in a fun and engaging way.

During the second half of the morning was a presentation by KnowledgeWorks called ‘Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem‘. The key take aways from this presentation were: 1. Make learning adapt to each child; not have each child adapt to a set learning. 2.We need to prepare our students for THEIR world, not ours.

The afternoon was a form of an unconference style. Based on what we learned from the KnowledgeWorks presentation, the group came up with key topics and broke off into mini groups. During this time group members discussed the topic more in depth. We then learned we would have to come up with a ten minute presentation that would take place during the ‘idea market’ the next day. My group was, Hiring For the Future” and we had a fantastic discussion. Here you can see our Google Doc notes. Our product for the idea market presentation was an iMovie. We wanted to show a ‘bad’ interview and how that it is not always just the questions that are bad but also can be the people on the panel.

L2L hosted another nice reception where we could mingle and network. It was great talking to NC affiliates. If you would like to join NC ASCD, you can here. They are working on the website and understand that some of the links do not work.

Day 3: Leaders to Leaders Conference (L2L)

We started off the morning with the ‘Idea Market’. 2L2 changed the set up of the room and had 6 sections set up around the room. Each section was a different topic from the day before. The sad part was you could only attend 4 out of the 6. I attended the below sessions and these are my notes:

1. Failing Forward:
– Discussed Peter Drucker – Managing in the next society
– Failure is a starting point
– Risk Calculation
– We have to also recognize what success means for EACH student and respond accordingly.
– Michael Jordan missing 9000 shots, practiced 12 hours a day, he failed many times but we only talk about his accomplishments.
– FAIL = first attempt in learning
– Wouldn’t it be great if students grade started at 0 and they worked up to 100% (Many colleges do that)
– Develop a culture where taking risks is encouraged and supported

2. What is the system we need to allow students to pursue their own learning?
– personalized learning
– multiple pathways to mastery
– student voice
– Use tools such as Flipped Classroom and Genius Hour

3. In an ever-changing world , how do we actively engage in transformational experiences?
Appleseed.org
– parent academy
– access ability – keep doors open so students can use the labs
– Internet safety (get helps from police/public library etc)
– parents leading parents (what they are expert in/co-teach)
– decision-making/ Task forces

4. Wrap around services
– tech way to infuse the tenets ( schools need to be one stop shop)
whole child services
– Great site: Jamie Vollmer

The second half of the unconference is when our presentation was. We realized the great iMovie we made was not going to work because there was no projector (we thought we had one) and the volume of the room (from the excitement) was going to be too loud. We had about 10 minutes in between break, for a group of us to decide how we were going to fix it. We had great suggestions but in the end some of us wrote fast and furiously on a few pieces of chart paper our ideas and we held a discussion. It went great all the same and we tweeted out our video and our notes.

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After the unconference we broke up into our regions and had more time to discuss ideas with our state affiliates and surrounding states. We then came back all together and had a great closing ceremony reflecting on the conference. We wrote letters to our future selves and ASCD will be mailing them out later to see if we are doing what we set out leaving the conference wanting to do to make change. If you have not joined ASCD you should as they are an incredible resource for your classroom, school and/or district.

Digital Portfolios and Student Lead Conferences

“Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.” By Margaret Peters

Digital portfolios (or sometimes known as e-portfolios) allows opportunity for students to showcase mastery of content through a variety of methods other than paper and pencil. It allows students to show evidence that they are working toward a goal and improving skills based on objectives. Students gain confidence, learn to reflect on their multimedia work, track and demonstrate growth based on their level of learning and most importantly improve self reflection and build learning independence.

Why are we hearing more about digital portfolios lately? Because more colleges and Universities are not just excepting SAT scores but portfolios. There are many applications you can use for digital portfolio such as blogging, 3 Ring, wikispacesGoogle Drive, Livebinders, Gaggle/Edmodo, or Evernote. Evernote is my favorite for many reason but mostly because it’s free, works on all devices and you don’t need internet except for syncing.

In Evernote you can make folders for each students, where they can upload their projects or documents to show mastery. I prefer portfolios because it takes the pressure off of grades and focuses on growth. It also helps set the tone in the classroom environment that we are all different and we will make mistakes but we can learn from them.

I set up my conferences so that I was conferencing with my students in every subject, at least once a week. During this time (because I only had one iPad) I would write the conference notes in their digital portfolio. Over time we could see their progress and growth.

During the conferences, I would discuss with the students individually about what they did well, what they needed to work on and a plan on how they were going to improve. This allowed ownership and also held the students more accountable through reflection. I became the facilitator making sure they made goals that were best for them and that were based on their needs.

Inside the portfolios the students would take pictures of projects they had created, such as the thermal solar house they built or they would upload their best writing piece. Sometimes we recorded our reading fluency so they could hear themselves and make improves. Setting up my portfolios this way allowed the students and I to build a relationship and helped me easily differentiate based on needs and their interests.

Naturally came student lead conferences, where the student walked their parents through their digital portfolio. The students knew their strength and weaknesses and didn’t need ‘prepping’ because they did this naturally every week. It showed the parents the students understood their strength and weakness and allowed the parents to ask their students questions. Because the parents realized that their children understood their learning so well, I found that more parents engaged with their child’s education because they didn’t feel the pressure of figuring out what the student needed to work on. It also naturally helped me, get the parents to see that there is more to education then just grades, taking pressure off some students by default. I also noticed that students had more confidence in themselves because they weren’t comparing themselves against anyone but themselves.

When I left the classroom, I was able to help other teachers set up these portfolios. One teacher @missbrinnsclass, started them. The students are in first grade and it is amazing to see them take control of their learning. Here is a sample of a students writing and her reflection on her work.

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This is a video of Madison leading her conference in front of her parents and teacher.

I would love to hear how you are using digital portfolios in your classroom or tools that you are using.