Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What are you thankful for this year?

Good afternoon!

As you all go off into Thanksgiving break, I wanted to share a quick note and video about last week’s site visit to Heritage and Emerson schools. We hosted 3 people from Classkick (the founder, a teacher support specialist and an engineer). They had connected with 8th grade Math teacher from Freedom, Alix Wilt, when they noticed her work with Classkick and her students. (p.s. Classkick is in self service!) 

Within 2 hours after they left the visit, I had this message in my inbox: 

"We are back in our office and have hardly stopped talking about our visit at your district and schools today. Thank you so much for an inspiring and learning-filled morning! Please extend our gratitude to all of the administrators, teachers and students. We have been in a lot of schools and districts over time and were really impressed by the intentional culture and environment you have set up as a district. The amount of ownership and empowerment you provide to students was truly unbelievable and something we haven't seen often! As people who are deeply passionate about education and students, we cannot wait to continue to support you moving forward."

Be sure to check out what I captured from the visit in the 11.16.2017 Site Visit Video!

I am thankful for site visitors who share their reflections with us! What are you thankful for this year?

Have a safe and happy holiday! 


Monday, November 13, 2017

11.08.17 - Site Visit

Yesterday’s site visit took our visitors to Freedom Middle School and Hiawatha Elementary School! We had visitors from West 40 (who are hosting iEngage-Midwest with us!) and a district parent who has a child at Freedom and will have a child at Hiawatha in the next couple of years. I captured some quotes below from the visit as well as a short video to share the learning and some examples of how you can integrate iPads into your classrooms! 

11.08.17 Site Visit Video

  • "I feel very fortunate that my students are involved in this school district."
  • "I have seen very minimal teacher lecturing - this learning environment is inspiring!" 
  • "Rarely do two screens look the same, it seems as though all teachers are thriving in this type of environment and they seem to feel lucky to teach this way."
  • "Not only is there technology, but teachers provide many avenues for students to explore and how different learners can learn In different ways.”

Overall, the visitors mentioned that the learning was purposeful, the students could explain what they were experiencing and learning and that they were impressed by the student voice and choice involved. 

Thank you for welcoming our visitors! 



Thursday, November 2, 2017

#D100bloggerPD Book Study: Hacking Engagement 50 Tips & Tools

Want to catch up with our book study?! See below :)

Hacks 1-5, Colleen Noffsinger: #D100bloggerPD's Book Study on Hacking Engagement: 50 Tips & Tools to Engage Teachers and Learners Daily, Hacks 1-5 (including a few tweets)

Hacks 6-10, Jane Bagus: https://seejaneblog1.blogspot.com/2017/10/hacking-engagement-hacks-6-10.html

Hacks 11-15, Sue Butler: #D100bloggerPD Book Study on Hacking Engagement: 50 Tips and Tools to Engage Teachers and Learners Daily

Hacks 16-20, Ramona Towner #D100bloggerPD's Book Study on Hacking Engagement: 50 Tips & Tools to Engage Teachers and Learners Daily, Hacks 16 - 20

Hacks 21-25 http://grammarmamma.blogspot.com

Hacks 26-30  https://responsiveliteracy.blogspot.com/2017/10/hacking-engagement.html …

Next up....https://msfrizzleirl.com 


Hack 31: Transcend Transience

"The Problem: Kids Move in, Then a month Later They Move Out

Sturtevant discusses the heart of John Hattie's Visible Learning book ant the 138 influences on student learning and how in the 138th place, student mobility, is a factor on student success. When one of the biggest obstacles with students are truancy, attendance and transience, how do you engage students?

The Hack: Create a Service Learning Project (SLP)

He suggests that engaging the community rather than solely the school itself, can help increase engagement and overall connect the students to their local areas. He explains that SLPs enhance connections to communities.

What can you do tomorrow? Reach out to students with attendance problems: ask them questions, use technology to interact with them immediately, and keep in frequent communication with them.

Hack 32: Engage As You Grade

"The Problem: Students Don't Read Teacher Comments"

The reality is, when you put a grade on a finished project, the only thing students want to know is...the final grade! Didn't you when you were in school?

The Hack: Engage Students By Grading With Verbal Feedback 

It's true! Voice grading: "fosters dialogue between a student and a teacher." He suggests using Kaizena to your Google Drive and begin giving student feedback, make sure to teach them how to give YOU feedback in response as we'll! 

What can you do tomorrow? Download Kaizena!

Hack 33: Roll Out The Reading Roles 

"The Problem: Many Students Are Repulsed By Reading Assignments" 

"When you read something interesting, you want to share it" - how can you create reading opportunities where students want to share what they are reading?

The Hack: Create a Literature Circle for a Reading Assignment 

Try literature circles in any area of learning that requires reading and assign the students roles - the roles helps students thrive as they lead the conversations for themselves. 

Sample roles: Summarizer - Discussion Director - Connector - Literary Luminary - Illustrator - Researcher 

What can you do tomorrow? Research literature circles - research ALWAYS helps to frame how to roll something out!

Hack 33: Let Them Build It 

"The Problem: Students Have No Idea How to Study for a Test"

But really - how do you study for a test?!?

The Hack: Challenge Students to Write Test Questions 
To succeed in tests, students need to anticipate questions - allow them to create test questions together! 

What can you do tomorrow? Include outstanding student-created questions on the test 
*Even better, skip the test and have students create an end product that shows what they know. Instead of having students create test questions, have them build a rubric that would assess their creations! 

Hack 35: Transform Your Class Into A Focus Group 

"The Problem: Teachers are Reluctant to Elicit Student Feedback"

Who is our biggest resource? Our students! So let's ask them for feedback and start to learn together with them rather than against them.

The Hack: After Your Next Presentation, Ask Students How You Did 

Treat the students as a focus group to learn about your own effectiveness - how are you doing at teaching? Giving surveys, asking them to write down thoughts, etc. are a great way to elicit feedback.

What can you do tomorrow? Create a class focus group who gives your feedback consistently! 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Be kind to yourself! Site Visit 10.26.17

Just last week, Elmhurst District 205, reached out to us to ask if they could visit us and today, we hosted our 2nd site visit of the year. The visit consisted of several Kinder and 1st grade teachers, along with tech specialists and their principal. Their hope was to see how students engaged with technology and interacted with their learning since they are embarking on a 2:1 (2 kids per 1 device) model.  

After visiting Piper and Irving, they were pleasantly surprised by the amount of differentiation, small groups, and remarked that “the students were engaged and very focused independently and in small groups!” One teacher even took it upon herself to ask 5th graders what they thought of certain apps for 1st grades “I loved having older kids give me advice on what to use for younger students!”  Their biggest takeaway away was that the “students always knew the purpose and the learning target for being on the iPad."

If you have a moment, watch the Clips video I created of today to see a quick insight of the day: Site Visit Video! 

They left us with a great piece of advice: “Be kind to yourself, it takes time to learn something new."

Thank you for letting us learn with you!



Thursday, October 19, 2017

Love the Engagement!

“Love the engagement!” - Site visitor quote 

It all started about a month ago when I received a phone call from another school district asking to see our “technology curriculum.” I explained that we didn’t have a technology curriculum but that instead we integrate it into our everyday to help enhance and transform what the students are already learning. The teacher was in awe and requested to come see it in action! She along with another group from South Holland and IXL were our visitors for the first site visit of the year at Hiawatha and Freedom.

With all classroom doors open, both schools embraced a friendly and warm environment. The visitors remarked that the students were engaged in their work and a joy to talk to about their learning. Several visitors shared how welcoming the teachers and classrooms were as well. We saw students learning all around the various areas in the school and they noted several times of the high collaboration evident within groups and online. Initially, the South Holland group had come to see STEAM and middle school only, but after touring through other classrooms in K-5, they were inspired by what the students were capable of doing, even at a young age.  

I made a quick video to share what the day looked like during the visit. There are some great examples that you may find useful for your classroom as well! (The presentation in the video is Keynote and magic move and I made this video with the Clips app)

Hiawatha and Freedom, thank you for embracing us in your learning yesterday! 

“When we open our doors to others, sometimes we learn even more about ourselves.”



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

ADE Academy 2017

It has been such a whirlwind since I attended ADE Academy in July but it has only been about a month and I am still swirling with ideas! I wanted to outline a couple of key pieces that I felt were the largest contributions to the amazing experience that I had. Of course I am sharing this to archive my thoughts but I also am eager to share with YOU how inspired I was.


It all started with this email. Actually, it all started back in 2015 when I got the email that I was not accepted. And, hey! I was ok with that. It reminded me to go back, reflect, and revisit what I was doing! All in all, it pushed me to be a better, more focused educator. I outlined the top 3 areas that I walked away with during the week.

The learning. Let me tell you about the learning! My brain was about to explode. And it wasn't necessarily because I learned some new app (although Clips is pretty great) or because there was a new strategy to try, it was because we were dialing in on what we already have and figuring out how to make it better. For example, looking at what the iPad already has to offer without going out to the app store. How can you use the simple camera to document your learning?

The people! The people! They were so extraordinary. The people that I had the chance to talk to at this conference were unbelievable. I felt like I wasn't worthy to be there. Everywhere I turned it was someone who had launched an innovative program, inspired students to change the world, or were truly changing people's lives by the work they were doing. All of the educators ranged from Kindergarten teachers to professors at a University and honestly, everything in between. The people are what make this event.  The connections were everywhere you looked. How can you take what you are ALREADY doing in your classroom and take it to the next level on the SAMR model by simply connecting with the people in the ADE community. For example, doing weather units simultaneously with two classrooms in Hawaii and Illinois and comparing/contrasting and sharing through FaceTime. What a way to extend the learning. Overall, I would say that the learning was simplified and streamlined: How can you redefine what you are already doing?

We are quite a lucky class because not only did we have our entire class to learn together but we were lucky to have one extra educator with us. Her name was Sady Paulson and she was incredibly inspirational. Sady, has cerebral palsy and taught us that a disability does not define you, but instead can inspire you. During her keynote speech, she share her journey with us, and you can watch it here https://www.apple.com/accessibility/! ADE2017 #bestclassever!

Did I tell you about the Accessibility Playground?! If I haven't, I will next time I see you. I can't stop raving about it. Apple had taken all of their Accessibility features and showcased them into a Playground for all of the ADEs to explore and play with. Imagine a room of poster sessions but replace the posters with iPads Accessibility features. These features included anything from Text to Speech to Live Listen to Speak Screen to Voice Over.

My big idea this year: have our very own Accessibility Playground at our October Institute day in our district. Let's see if I fulfill this goal!

As I reflect on the Apple Distinguished Educators Academy 2017, I realize that it all comes down to the lifetime community. I can't wait to continue to learn, explore, debate, and research with them as time goes on. For a quick snapshot, be sure to check out my friend's blog posts of the event as well! They are posts you definitely don't wait to miss.

Emily Wray - http://www.emilywray.com/blog/2017/7/24/ade-academy-2017
Christina Carbone - http://carbonesconnections.blogspot.com/2017/07/?m=1

Monday, April 3, 2017

Start.Right.Now. #D100bloggerPD

How creative is it that you are taking part in this book study virtually?! You may not know me or any of the others who are participating in the #D100bloggerPD but you can still take part! Please feel free to engage in the conversation in the comments below and/or on Twitter using #D100bloggerPD


We decided to dive into Start. Right. Now.: Teach and Lead for Excellence: Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas because one of the authors, Jimmy Casas, will be the opening Keynote speaker for our district's 3rd annual, iEngage-Berwyn Conference in 3.5 short weeks! Get your tickets here - http://www.iengage-berwyn.com/tickets.html - space is limited to see students in action and teachers share their best practices! 

Chapter 3: Show the Way

Ok so now let's get to the chapter I am covering today - Part 2 of Chapter 3 (we are so eager to participate that we split Chapter 3 into two parts!) Check out Chapter 1's kickoff from the lovely +Kristin Richey , Chapter 2's post from the reflective +Jen Lehotsky and Part 1 of Chapter 3 from the fearless leader +Sue Butler. We all reflect in different ways and I have decided to chunk each section and focus on my biggest takeaways.

Sharing Our Stories

 "Excellent educators are masterful storytellers"

I wish I could remember who said it (if you do, tell me!) but they said "If you aren't telling your story, who is?" 

This quote resonated with me as I read this portion. Often times, educators look at sharing successes or stories as bragging. But in this chapter, the authors outline how storytelling can help guide you in the right direction, drive your purpose and make your work worthwhile. With all of today's social media tools, you have the ability to tell your story through a multitude of ways! You can choose to build a brand for your district, communicate the vision for your district, or even share stories of the happenings in your very own classrooms. Story creation has never been so simple! Rather than looking at it as bragging, look at it as sharing. In schools today, we are promoting the 4Cs: creation, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration as a way to prep for 21st century skills. Often times, diving into the skills means connecting with a global audience. This is so key for us as educators to remember of ourselves to.o In previous chapters, they have focused on how modeling is an instrumental part of teaching (leadership) and the same goes for modeling storytelling! They refer to a book called: Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, which coincidentally is a book that our iCoach department is rotating to gather advice on how to collectively share visions for a better future. The book breaks down the six qualities for effective communication = SUCCESs: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and Story. This portion made me reflect and think: what story are you sharing?

Create, Don’t Critique

"The difference between amazing educators and average ones lies in their response to criticism, reluctance, resistance, or indifference."

STOP! Now re-read that quote a couple of times before you continue and let it sink in. Guys, this is hard stuff that is so powerful. When we work together to create rather than criticize, imagine what can we accomplish! A coach on our team, +Annie Forest reminded me that it takes as much energy (if not more) to complain as it does to find a solution. As the authors referred to in Chapter 2, we all have the same amount of time but it is a matter of how we use it. (Which then of course reminded me of the TED Talk: Laura Vanderkam: How to gain control of your free time - TED.com) This portion continues on to talk about the importance of sharing our joyful, passionate, energetic, and positive attitudes on a daily basis...consistently! They suggest putting joy into more of your work and approaching it with this joyful attitude, even if it is not particularly joyful. "When faced with negativity, though, they (teachers/leaders/students) avoid responding in kind and treat these opportunities to create joy, curiosity, and dreams."

On a side note, I was indulging in my guilty pleasure of listening to the Modern Love Podcast a couple of weeks ago on my way home from work. The essay spotlighted was about an individual who was seriously ill and given a few years to live. It highlighted how he had taken this prognosis and began living his life in the "Act as if" mentality. The idea is that you act as you want to live and your positivity allows you to embody what you desire. As in, "Act as if...I am always going to be healthy/live a long life/overcome my illness." (He has lived 20+ years and is still alive today!). 

So let's take his advice and "Act as if...we are joyful!"

Basic Instinct

"Master educators are not afraid to leverage their natural intuition"

This portion is simple and sweet - always allow yourself to hone in on your inner-self and trust your instinct. From classroom management, to parent meetings, to a staff conversation, it is always important to also rely on your moral compass. Remember to speak up, share what you feel strongly about and as they mention in Chapter 2 - always ask 'what's best for kids?' 

Our former Superintendent shared two things with me that I will never forget and they help guide me as a learner, leader, and educator:

1. When you walk out of a meeting, make sure you don't regret not saying something.
2. Don't be afraid to speak up if it is best for the kids.

Teach 4, Lead 4, Learn 4

I love the way they have the last portion of their chapter set up. It is all about connecting you to real life educators in the field who are accomplishing the very practices that are being explained and then resources at how to begin on your own. Check out the resources from this chapter below to feel inspired!

Teach 4

Lead 4
1. @Glennr1809 (I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at #SXSWedu on making a Genius Hour schedule in Middle School -be sure to pick his brain about this!) 

Be sure to follow the fabulous coach and teacher, Amy on http://grammarmamma.blogspot.com  as she shares her reflections from Chapter 4! 

Thank you for reading and we hope to see you at iEngage on April 28 + 29!