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.

Book Review: The One Thing

“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather less to do.” By Francine Joy

One of the books for my summer reading was, The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, and it has been a game changer for me. I read the book in a matter of a few days as it is a very easy read. I haven’t highlighted and placed post-it notes all over a book like this in a long time.  Watch this quick clip to get the essence of the book.

Why game changer? It hit home with me and offered practical advice and tips. I have now completed the book for about three weeks and I have seen a significant difference in my life.

1. I have more time, not because I am doing less work but I am making sure my choices have purpose, meaning and significance.

2. Instead of saying, “yes I will do that” – which like the book stated was my default mode. I am thinking about what I would be saying no to.

3. I am not multitasking anymore as I see how I am not truly as effective. I am ‘time blocking’ and seeing how much more productive I am.

I learned a lot more but these are the three takeaways that I think have been the most significant. Check out The One Things You Tube Channel as they have some great resources as well.

Other Reviews:

The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

Good Reads: The One Thing

I hope you add it to your summer reading list and enjoy it as much as I have!

 

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.

Bettering Myself: My Summer Goals

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
By Ignacio Estrada

pic

This is my first summer that I am a 12 month employee so I technically don’t get a ‘summer break’ but I still think it is important to make summer goals. These are my top things I will do this summer.

1. Attend an educational conference to better my practice! I am attending Edulum’s Educational Conference. For my readers that are in NC/SC this conference is at UNCC on Aug 2nd 8:30-3:00 for only $30.00! There are presenters from all levels from K-12 and from different parts of the Carolinas. The conference theme is Engage, Enrich and Empower. The tickets are selling fast because it is so cheap. For more info or to purchase your tickets click here.

2. Complete at least one Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)! To decide what MOOC course best meets your professional development needs check out this MOOC list. I am going to learn to code better by using Codecademy.

3. Read! I read often alternating educational books with what I call my ‘fun’ reads. For my educational read I want to read Drive by Daniel Pink. For my fun read I want to read the sequel to Firefly Lane by Kristen Hannah, Fly Away. I like keeping track of my books on Goodreads.com and my goal is to read a book a week!

4. Write an article or a quest blog post or both! I have been asked to write articles and quest blog posts but the timing has not always worked out. This summer I want to either write an article or quest blog post to help challenge myself as an educational reflector.

5. Work on balancing work and life. As I stated before, I am working all summer. My goal is to work within my summer schedule of 10 hour days- 4 days a week. This means no work at night during the week, nothing on Fridays or the weekend.

6. Personal goals! Just as it is important to have educational goals, it is important to have personal goals too. I will paint our bedroom and finish the makeover I started over winter break! I will clean our spare bedroom that has become a dumping ground. I will work-out at least 5 days a week.

Of course I will still blog once a week and share what I am learning. I would love to hear you personal/professional goals. Good luck in your efforts to set and reach these goals.

Discovery Education: Changing the Classroom with Techbooks

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children.  One of these is roots; the other wings.” by Hodding Carter

Discovery Education has been a wonderful tool in my classroom and in our district. A few days ago, Discovery Education announced at the NSTA conference, that any teacher in the country may have free access to their Techbook from now until the end of June.  This is exciting for many reasons! Techbooks are going to change the classroom and offer students more interaction then just a regular textbook. Another great reason to start this free trail even though it is towards the end of the school year because it is a great way to review for the end of year tests your state has without teaching to the test.

This is the link for the DE Techbook free trial. It is very easy and DE helps you walk through the steps. Once you begin your free trial there is a 4 min video tour before you begin your exploration.

Great Features of the DE Techbook for the Teacher: 

– Curriculum correlates with State Science Standards (Ex: NC 2.L.1.1 – Summarize the life cycle of animals)

– 5E plan with essential questions with built-in prep and big ideas (To learn more about 5E see previous blog post)

– Lessons are broken down into time segments to give you, as the teacher, a rough idea about how long that portion of the lesson should take

– Easy navigations and can add lessons into ‘My Content’ to stay organized

– Offers Hands On Activities suggestions with directions

Great Features of the DE Techbook for the Student:

– The students can highlight and take notes and interact with the text

– You have the option of having the techbook be read to you

– Embedded videos and interactive glossary for the students use.

I highly suggest you check out this free trial from DE. They also offer Free Webinars to ‘dive deeper’ into how to use Techbook in the classroom. They also offer Quick-Start guides, that you can download for the Techbook you want to explore more. I hope you enjoy DE’s Techbook as much as I do!

* I am also excited to learn more about DE’s ideas when I attend Discover Educator Network Summer Institute (#DENSI13) this summer in Vermont.

Introspective of ‘A Whole New Mind’ By Daniel Pink

“Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”  ~Edmund Burke

220px-A-whole-new-mind-book

This week I finished the book A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink (@danielpink). It was an amazing ‘read’ (I did it as an audiobook) and one that made me look at things in a new way. I highly recommend this book to anyone but especially educators as it takes a look at our students as 21st Century learners.

Daniel Pink says, “We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computer like capabilities of the Information Age to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathetic, big-picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age” (1-2)

Pink states that there are six fundamental right-brain aptitudes and I have added some of my own thoughts as well for how to apply them to the classroom:

  • Design – Moving beyond function to engage the sense.  He discusses how improving school environments could increase test scores. If you think about it, where would you rather work/learn? At a desk and chair with pencil and paper or in a relaxed environment on a comfy couch or chair with your device. We need to get teachers comfortable in changing the environment so it is not as structured, no more rows or assigned seats. (To learn more about what I think the classroom environment should look like, check out my previous post: 21st Century Classroom Environment)
  • Story – Narrative added to products and services – not just argument. What do you remember about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster? I remember the story of the first teacher going to space, not the facts about the disaster. With students, connecting facts/events to story will help them not ‘memorize’ but think deeper about the events. This can easily be done in the classroom with digital storytelling.
  • Symphony – Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus). This works well in the classroom with goal setting. Having students looking at the bigger picture is a great way for them not to work about just one grade but how they master a concept over time. Having symphony in the classroom allows students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers because you are looking for solutions for problems. Similar to Challenge Based Learning (CBL) style. 
  • Empathy – Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition. In the classroom this is helping students having a global perspective and aware of people outside of themselves. This is part of the ‘hidden curriculum’ and part of building well-rounded students. Having students participate in community service events and getting them involved with emotions. In my classroom, I would engage the students in a few videos about the hunger problems in our world to make them aware. I then posed the question, how can we help? The students brainstormed ideas of ways that we could help and then we took it a step further and carried out those ideas for example we held a food drive. I always tied in the curriculum by having the students create persuasive ads to entice others to want to donate and I had them collect data on what items we had then graph the results.
  • Play – Bringing humor and light-heartedness to business and products. Pink discusses how we should blur the link between work and play. I don’t consider my job ‘work’ as I enjoy it, I can ‘work’ for hours on school stuff and not even realize how much time has gone by because I love it. To me, work is going to the gym, where I watch the clock and think, is this over yet? I am ‘doing it’, because I know it is good for me and I should, but I am not enjoying going to the gym. We need to do the same in schools. We need to make the classroom environment be a place where students ‘get lost in learning’ and not be looking at the clock thinking is it over yet. Pink discusses how game based learning (GBL) in the classroom can help students with this concept. Check our this site for more about GBL and A Whole New Mind
  • Meaning – the purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself. In the classroom, we need to teach concepts that are related to the real world so students see the connection.

I think this would be a wonderful book study for schools or personal learning networks (PLN). Mr. Pink even provides you with discussion questions for this book and I found a Livebinder full of resources that would also guide your school/PLN to effectively use this for Professional Development by Julie Hart & Jill Rubinstein, from University of Colorado Denver.

I know I do not do this book justice but hopefully I have enticed you enough to read it. I would love to hear what others think of A Whole New Mind and I can’t wait to read more of his books. Next up, Drive! Happy Reading!

Teaching the Hidden Curriculum: Compassion

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” By John Holmes

Character education may not be in the Common Core but as a teacher I often think about the ‘hidden curriculum’ of teaching a well-rounded student. Learning about our differences can be a powerful way for children to see from another person’s point of view helping them understand cultures; becoming more globally aware. Many wonder, ‘Can Compassion Be Taught’?

I believe compassion can be but it also needs to be modeled. This is a wonderful time of year to help teach and model compassion in the classroom. Having the class help a charity or run a food drive can teach compassion. Past service learning projects I have done with my students:

– Collecting Tabs for the Ronald McDonald House (My favorite service learning project because we do it all year and the students graph the number of tabs each month and we can see how much we have made a difference.

Toys for Tots

– Food drives for different soup kitchens

– Wrote letters of persuasion to a tree farmer asking to donate a few trees to those who couldn’t afford them.

– Reading Buddies and Tutoring help with a different grade level

– Coat drives

This is a great site to find more service learning ideas for the classroom: National Service Learning Organization

Books that help teach students about  compassion:

The Book Thief   by Markus Zusak

Wonder by R.J. Palacio 

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Yoko by Rosemary Wells

Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Great article on teaching compassion: Instilling Compassion

An Infographic by www.OpenColleges.edu.au

I would love to know what others have done in the classroom to help teach compassion and service learning project ideas.

I wish all my readers Happy Holidays! ♥

Edu Summer Reading

“Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study.  Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.”  ~Henry L. Doherty

With the school year coming to a close and my survey data coming in I have started making me book list for my summer reading PD. In the summer, I alternate ‘non-educational’ reading along with my educational books. I start to think about things I want to work on (hence using my survey data; see last weeks post) and things I want to learn more about to better my practice. I try to pick 5 books, this year my book list is…

1. Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives by Peter H. Johnston. This book is for k-8 educators about how words can shape students learning and their developement.  I chose this book because it’s good reminder about a best practice we tend to forget with new standards and ideas always coming and going in education. (CMS teachers, this will be our first summer book in our Yammer Teacher Book Club, more details in Yammer.)

2. Science Matters: Achieving Scintific Literacy by Robert M. Hazen and James Trefil. This book is for k-12 educators that want to break down science concepts so it is simple. A friend recommended this book telling me it helps explain hard science concepts so teachers can understand them and do a better job explaining the concepts to the students. I chose this books so I can better coach teachers in science concepts during planning sessions and professional development.

3. My Kids Can: Making Math Accessible to All Learners k-5 edited by Judy Storeygard. This book is for k-5 educators who teach math. I chose it as a must read as I wanted to learn more about how to close the gap for our struggling math students and learn about more instructional strategies for the RTI process.

4. Teaching as Leadership: The Highly Effective Teacher’s Guide to Closing the Acievment Gap by Steven Farr. This book’s title says it all and I chose to read it because I want to help our school close our achievement gaps after analyzing our schools data this past week. I think after reading this I will be able to better understand how I can coach teachers to also make this their goal.

5. What School Leaders Need to Know about Digital Technologies and Social Media by Chris Lehmann. With technology ever changing and now entering classrooms at a great speed, I feel this is a most read as being a technology leader for our school.

Of course my list is longer than that but if I get through these 5 this summer, I will be happy! Here are 5 educational books I have read in the past and feel are most reads if you haven’t for your summer reading list!

1.  Never Work Harder Than Your Students & Other Principles of Great Teaching by Robyn Renee Jackson. This book by far is my favorite educational book that I have read so far and I read it a few years ago!

2. Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn by Suzanne H. Chapin, Catherine O’Connor, Nancy Canavan Anderson.

3. What’s Math Got to Do with It?: Helping Children Learn to Love Their Least Favorite Subject–and Why It’s Important for America by Jo Boaler.

4. 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times by Bernie Trilling, Charles Fadel.

5. Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement by Stephanie Harvey, Anne Goudvis

I would love to add to my reading list so please share your favorite educational book in the comments.