Friday, October 5, 2018

Ditch That Textbook! Ch.10-14

 A while ago I was asked to participate in a #D100bloggerPD and review a few chapters in Ditch That Textbook: Free Your Teaching and Revolutionize Your Classroom by Matt Miller.  I have to be totally honest, I only agreed because of tremendous respect I have for Colleen Noffsinger who asked me to participate.  Her blog, Literacy Loving Gals, inspires me to be a better educator and a better person.

Once I agreed to participate in #D100bloggerPD I was thrilled to see that the chapters I was to review were: Chapter 10 -  Build Respect and Relationships, Chapter 11 – Win and Influence Students, Chapter 12- Choose Task over Tool, Chapter 12 – What Every Tech-Using Educator Must Know and Chapter 14 – Give Students Control.  Let’s face facts, every educator could benefit from reading inspiring and supportive chapters like these!

Chapter 10 spoke to me directly as a Language Acquisition Coach.  Like the author, I too was given a lot of advice as a new teacher.  I did not take the traditional route to education. My route included a degree in Spanish Literature, an MBA in Economics and Public Policy before I finally found my passion in Linguistics.  Other well-intentioned educators advised me to educate in ways that did not make sense to me.  I knew at my core that in order for a student to learn they had to like school, like coming every day and honestly, they had to like me.  As Matt Miller says in Chapter 10, “Why show students you care?  Because they need you.”  In order for me to be a successful Coach I also need to be a good friend.  I need to show our staff that “they can count on me for a smile on a rough day, that I follow up on important issues, I care about them and their well-being and they matter.”

In Chapter 11 I was taken back to my MBA training. During my MBA program, I had to read Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friend and Influence People. I have often referred to his work especially when I was a young director in charge of groups of people. Carnegie’s work applies to education. We have the power as educators to influence our students, our families and our community. We have the opportunity to facilitate each child becoming the best person they can be.

In Chapter 12 and 13 Matt Miller introduces the key to What Every Tech-Using Educator MUST Know, SAMR. SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. SAMR was created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. The model helps educators remember that “Done well, technology integration can transform classes and enhance learning. The right kinds of tech give students experiences they never could have otherwise.”. Today students have access to the world via cultural exchange programs like PenPals. public Blogs and communities like Google.  The can publish e-books on Book Creator, use sketchnoting to represent their thoughts and ideas and so much more.

Finally, in Chapter 14: Give Students Control, Matt Miller introduces us to a goal that all educators intrinsically have, the desire to help students see the value in their education beyond the classroom.  Incorporating teacher/student collaboration in projects, using Flipped classroom approaches and varied tech allow each student to relate to the long-term investment of their education and future.

-Guest blogger 
LeeAnne Layden

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:

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

Hacks 26-30 …

Next up.... 


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! 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 -
Christina Carbone -