Thursday, March 30, 2017

My Spring 2017 Student Blog Challenge

Last year we adopted Kidblog as our district blogging platform. To get more students blogging and writing, I thought I would create a blogging challenge for my district. We kick off on Monday, April 3rd and I can't wait to see what students create.

It is called the Spring 2017 Student Blog Challenge and will consist of a topic per week for 8 weeks.

Using resources and ideas from the amazing Pernille Ripp and Ronnie Burt's 50 Ideas for Student Blogging, I came up with the challenge outline.

Currently, we have over 900 students using Kidblog and I am hoping many of these students participate in the challenge and share their ideas and creativity.

You can follow the challenge and see weekly student posts highlighted on my Kidblog page.

Do you have students who want to participate? Feel free to use my challenge to support digital writing and publishing in your own school.

Have you created a challenge like this before? I would love to hear your ideas and comments.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Parent Conference Ideas and Supports

To support my teachers I developed a few tools using Google Docs and Google Forms. If they are helpful to you feel free to make a copy and edit as needed.

Parent Conference Form - start with the positive

Student Self Evaluation - let students lead the discussion

Parent Conference Schedule Template - let them decide

Parent Contact Form - keep current information

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Experience A Year At The White House With A Dollar Bill

Never before has the one dollar bill been so cool! 
Try the new 1600 app and experience the White
The White House at Christmas
House as it comes to life through your dollar bill. 

This new virtual reality app was released this month and let's you experience Marine One landing on the lawn, the Easter egg roll and even seasons changing. 

Explore 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with Virtual Reality
It is an entire year at the White House through virtual reality.

Go ahead and Explore It!

Click and see: How to see the White House on a dollar bill.

iOS app
Android App

Sunday, October 30, 2016

#FallCUE A Healthy #FOMO Habit

According to Texas A&M University, #FOMO may have negative effects on Generation Y. "With at least 24 percent of teenagers online 'almost constantly,' it's no surprise that fear of missing out is an epidemic among millennials." (ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.) While teenagers may need to focus more on their own lives, I think more teachers need to worry about missing out on what is happening in the classrooms of innovative and forward thinking educators. 

Most people have it, in varying degrees, the fear of missing out or #FOMO.
This is what drives me each year to plan for all of the conferences I will attend. I plan my calendar so that I attend certain events each year, even though we all know it is a lot of work to be away from our jobs, even for a few days.  I go to CUE and other conferences each year so I don't miss out on my own learning, making connections and experiencing the energy of being around enthusiastic educators and avid learners. It is the #FOMO that drives me to plan for and take educators in my district to conferences each year. We want to keep pushing our selves to get better.

Each year I attend at least one CUE conference and one STEM conference so I can stay current on STEM topics and learning. No longer do I think of CUE conferences as technology conferences, they are about learning. Teacher learning, student learning, fun learning, collaborative learning. That is why I attend one, or sometimes both, CUE conferences each year. To stay current with my own learning and the learning I facilitate for others. That is why I always take a team of educators with me, so we can not miss out on all things #eduawesome.

Here are the top 3 things I learned at Fall CUE 2016.

1.  Swift Playgrounds - I spent time at #cuesteampunk learning about this new coding software available to middle and high school students. Anyone who has participated in an #HourofCode knows that students LOVE coding and eat this stuff up. Apple even has Swift Curriculum on iTunesU.
2.  Gamification encourages participation - Badging is making headway in K-12 education and ChromeWarrior created a competitive and fun experience at Fall CUE. I am a supporter of teacher PD through badging - check out Edubadger - and I think the more we get teachers on board with personalized, games based learning the more our students will benefit.
I came in 8th!

3.  Create classrooms that students would attend even if it wasn't required - Teach Like a Pirate author, Dave Burgess, was on fire during his opening keynote at Fall CUE. He reminded me to keep pushing to be that teacher who creates a buzz on campus and a desire to learn in students. 

Are you a teacher with a #FOMO on what engages today's students? Then join me at a CUE conference and we will all keep getting better.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Creating a community of learners: new principal implements Smart Start

This year I was assigned an extra duty, principal of a small K-8 school. I am excited to add principal to my list of duties. To start the year right, I developed a Smart Start plan based on the work of my friend +Jon Corippo. I presented the plan to teachers before the school year started, and then scheduled time to be in class each day this first week of school. As a new principal, with a young staff, I wanted to model these lessons and set the tone for the year.  Before the first week Jon gave me advice that took to heart. He said a key component was to not get to fancy. I looked at what I had prepared, which was a bit ambitious, and pared it down into three days of academic mini mixers. I taught a lesson each day in our Grade 4-8 classroom and then again in our TK-3 room.

Here is my Smart Start Plan for Gasquet Mountain Elementary School.

There were many benefits from the Smart Start plan. Mainly, I got to know my students better, modeled academic tools and skills for students and teachers, and set a standard of learning and achievement for our school.

Here are some examples of the learning we did together.

Day 1: Frayer Model
1st Day Smart Start Activity was to Frayer a Friend - the TK-3 class "Frayered" their teacher. 
Our Grade 4-8 class started reading The Hobbit, so the teacher had the class "Frayer" hobbits that afternoon.

Day 2: Dog and Cat Venn Diagrams
After we read dog and cat diaries, students used details from the diaries to compare and contrast the dog and cat.

Day 3: Category Collages with Pic Collage

Students randomly selected categories which they had to represent in a collage. This one was triangles.

These students created a collage for circles.

They measured everything using a ruler without being told to!
By the end of the week we had a common understanding of Frayer Models, Venn Diagrams and iPad camera and photo tools. I can't wait to see how the teachers and students continue to use these skills. My plans are to do one or two more Smart Start refreshers throughout the year and after school breaks. At first, the thought of doing Smart Start for K-8 with multi-grade classrooms was a bit daunting. Keeping it simple and modifying the activities for the two different classrooms worked well. Have you tried Smart Start? Thinking of trying it? I would love to know how it goes! Please share ideas in the comments.