Sunday, March 30, 2014

Let it go......

This spring break has been a very relaxing and reflective week for me. It began with the sun shining, flowers blooming, and my girls playing in the backyard swinging from their favorite tree. We even had a chance to go for a quick swim even though the water wasn't really warm enough. I was able to "let go" of the demands of the work day and even the demands of staying "connected." My girls are obsessed with the movie Frozen right now and I have heard them singing, "Let it Go," pretty much every five minutes of this vacation. One could easily become annoyed at hearing the same song over and over and over, but in actuality, it hasn't been too bad. It hasn't driven me crazy because I see my girls enjoying life and expressing themselves through song.  I love to see the creativity as they sing, imagine, and have fun.

As with pretty much anything that happens in our lives, it is all about timing. Something that is presented to you today may not affect you the same way it will a year or two from now after different life experiences. Each book that I read this week, each movie that I watched, and each conversation that I had, kept bringing me back to reflect on life's journey. There is no waiting for next year or the year after that. We are in the midst of our life's journey right now. What I do today will affect what comes tomorrow. Therefore, I want to make sure that everything I do with my family and everything I do at work is purposeful and meaningful.

I want you to remember each and every day that every student sitting in front of you is a unique and special individual. Each student is in his/her life journey. Our students will make mistakes and will also have some amazing accomplishments. We need to be there for all of those moments. We need to present in the here and now and make the time we spend with our students the most valuable we can make it. You are creating a 53 minute experience every day, every class period. How can you make those 53 minutes the most memorable and provide the most impact as possible? Ask yourself this very simple question, "Would you want to be a student in your own classroom?"  If the answer is no, then think about how your students must feel. If the answer is yes, then keep it up and continue to create a vibrant classroom environment. 

Find the strength to "let go" of your insecurities and ask for help. Branch out and see what your colleague's are dong. "Let go" of the fear of the "test." Be creative and inspirational and facilitate your students' learning. If your students find purpose and meaning in what is being delivered they will have the DRIVE to succeed at it.  We want our students to have the best experiences every day. "Let go" of any bias you may have about your colleagues and instead work together to support one another in your professional journeys. The more we support and help each other the better we will be each day as we work with our students. 

ORDER: The way that things or events are arranged in relation to each other, for example showing whether something is first, second, third, etc. (sequence).

Many more great things are in store for Crystal!

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence! 


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Outcomes Approach to Planning and Blended Learning

Outcomes Approach to Planning:

I had a light bulb moment a week and a half ago when talking with some colleagues. The conversation was around looking at the desired outcomes of meetings and including those outcomes in the agendas. It made perfect sense to me. Of course we want the participants in a meeting to know what we the presenter expect them to get out of the meeting. I quickly implemented this approach to my agenda for the department chair meeting. My meeting agendas from now on will not only include the topics of discussion, but the outcomes I want the participants to have. I can't help but see a connection to lesson planning.

We have spent considerable time over the past few years looking at daily objectives. Teachers daily objectives now include an observable verb for the students. Let's see if we can take the objective one step further. Begin to think of ways you can tweak your objectives to read in a more outcome based fashion. Objectives written with an observable verb are valuable in the sense that you know what you expect to see students doing and students know what they will be doing, but we need to go further than that. You have to ask yourself what is the outcome I want for my students. When we focus on "topic A" today what outcome do I want? Determining what you want your outcome to be, will then guide you in the process of determing what activities you will do with your students to get to that desired outcome. Additionally, if you have a clear outcome you will be able to design assessemnts appropriate to determine if you have met that outcome.

Blended Learning Symposium:

I left early on Friday to head down to San Jose for the Blended Learning Symposium. As usual I took my notes via Twitter. You can see the entire Twitter feed for the symposium at #CaliBL14. For those of you still not yet on Twitter, I have included my Twitter notes below to give each of you an overview of the highlights from the presentation. Alan November was the keynote presenter and solidified for me that our focus on tech integration is not only a smart path for our students, but a necessary path.

All of you know that I like to think outside of the box and take on challenges. So,after listening to Alan November, I am very excited to work on ways of changing the classroom environment from the antiquated desks in rows format to a more fluid and ergonomical furniture setup that lends itself to collaboration and tech integeration. :) :) :) To quote educator George Cuoros, "We are more likely to have creative students when we have creative teachers. If we want kids to think different, we need to first." 

My Twitter notes:

Example of furniture redesign. Milpitas Unified.

How do we maximize the time in class? Use technology to ensure that time in school is the most PRODUCTIVE & MEANINGFUL

Just as we at our conferences let's allow our students to what they are learning. Impact MORE at once

Let's rethink the furniture make up in our classrooms. Design learning spaces that reflect collaboration.

RT I believe has hit one out the park on this!! I'd suggest reading thru his timeline. Great stuff.

Be a Learner, Collaborator, Faciltator, Innovator, Risk Taker!!

"If you could design the school of the future what would it look like?" --Milpitas Unified

check this out Many of the technologies shown are actually available.

Are we asking the right questions? The answers will be messy. But it will be worse if we don't ask right ??

We must prepare our students by teaching them how to question the information provided.

" Teachers still assigning assignments that were around before the internet." We MUST redesign!

Our students have the world's libraries at their fingertips. We need to teach them how to access!

When assessing think about "What don't you see?" "What is missing?" When searching the internet.

Every teacher needs to see what the student behavior on searching Google is. We do need to teach searching skills.

When students own the learning the limits are pushed way out!!

We need teachers that diagnose learning styles and push stud. Publish work globally, collaborative learning

When stu talk to one another and ask ?? that is a very diff exp than taking a test alone.

"There is no learning in taking a test. You are recording what you have already learned."  

The AP50 experience on Youtube

We can't just provide "new tricks" with tech. Must "unlearn" Shift control from teacher to students.

Our teachers need to "unlearn" the habits of the past.

Shift of control from the teachers to the learners. We MUST shift control to the learners!

Cursive knowledge, kids are social, self assessment, kids need to be creative and produce

Every teacher needs to be globally connected. Add to the library that helps other kids around the world!

Grades do not always motivate students. One thing that does is interacting socially over the internet, Twitter..

We have to let our students know that school can be about students learning so they can change the world!!

Check out tutorials in a student voice for math!!!

Socrates, one room schoolhouse, Facebook, Twitter, playground. Kids are social in their natural behavior.

We need to teach kids how to learn. Not teach kids how to be taught. --

The role of the teacher is not to give an answer but to ask the most interesting question. --Socrates

citing research that the #1 skill for teachers is how they provide feedback on student work. This will have impact.

citing John Hattie's research. Students who can self assess/self grade tend to do much better than those that don't.

"The journey with education technology will be sloppy." Everyone is still learning and it is ever changing.

Our Battle of the Books team won their last match on Thursday, making them the 2014 UNDEFEATED Champions!! CONGRATULATIONS!! 

Observe: To see and notice something. 

Many more great things are in store for Crystal!

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence! 


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Depth of Knowledge and our students

As you take time to reflect on your daily teaching practices to look at student engagement, student interactions, daily objectives, and assessments, you cannot forget to determine each lessons Depth of Knowledge or DOK. It is critical that as you plan your lessons you work to make sure that the objective, the tasks, and  the assessment are all within the same DOK level. Additionally, you want to make sure that you are planning each lesson at a DOK level 2 or higher. I have found some great Youtube videos that not only explain Depth of Knowledge but also videos that show each level in action at different middle schools. Take some time to watch the videos, reflect, adjust your lessons accordingly, and share with your students.

In conversations with many of you I have heard several people interested in doing Socratic seminars. I have seen the "fish bowl" in Balthazor's class many times and I know Lisa Lewis has incorporated the strategy with hers students as well. Talk about "engagement." Check out the two videos below and thnk about ways you might be able to implement this in your classroom. 

JUSTIFY: Justify is to give an acceptable explanation for something that other people think is unreasonable.

Many more great things are in store for Crystal!

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence! 


Sunday, March 2, 2014

The New Face of Collaboration

When many people think of collaboration, they think of getting together with colleagues in the same room and working on an idea or project together. Well... let me be the first to tell you that collaboration can take many other forms and can be just as effective, if not more effective, than the traditional form. I have worked with colleagues from both Crystal and out of our district "virtually" to put together presentations. We were able to complete all of our discussions and presentation materials without ever being in the same location. It has been an extremely effective way of collaborating. How did we do it you might ask? We used Google Hangouts to have the face time with each other, we used Google docs to capture our ideas and notes,  and we used Google Presentation as our presentation source.

I have participated in three different Google Hangouts to date. A "hangout" is very similar to Skype or Facetime. It allows mutliple users to view and hear one another at the same time without being anywhere near each other. In fact, the last Hangout I did was on Friday. I joined in while in my office, Tim Goree joined in while at the Central Office, Geoff Belleau joined in from his office in Sacramento, and two teachers joined us from San Bruno. We were able to continue our conversation in prepping for our presentation we will deliver together in April. We were able to capture all of the different ideas we want to address in our presentation. Since we were also all on the same Google doc, we were able to add in links to documents and videos as we were having our conversation. We have completed our presentation documents for our Lead 3.0 presentation, without ever meeting in person.

The Innovation Team from Crystal presented back in October at the CUE Conference in American Canyon. We had a similar pre planning experience. We did meet in person on one occassion and started a Google doc with all ideas, suggestions, and a basic outline of our presentation. From there, we never met in person again until the morning of the actual presentation. What we all did was add to the outline and notes via Google docs. Then, one member of the Innovation Team created the Google presentation with his slides complete. The rest of us on our time added in our slides to the presentation. We were able to still get feedback from one another during this process via the "chatroom" style comments section in Google presentation. We were able to complete a quite amazing presentation using this format. The day of the CUE conference we all knew what each person was going to present on, but it had not been rehearsed. It actually went extremely well and in my opinion was more authentic and real than a "canned/rehearsed" presentation can be.

Many people use time as an excuse to not collaborate. This form of collaboration can be done at any time and therefore "time" doesn't get in the way. Many people use the excuse that someone they may want to work with is in a different location. That excuse can no longer apply. All you need is to make the initial contact with the person you want to work with and then you can build a collaborative document, collaborative presentation, or just have a collegial conversation with the other person. Your options are truly limitless.

Right now you have educational experts at your finger tips. I have been encouraging all staff members to create a Professional Learning Network since last year. There is immense value in creating a PLN. I have had the opportunity to communicate via Twitter with some highly esteemed educators, merely since I am on Twitter. I have met a few in person at conferences and presentations. However, it is not necessary to meet in person to be able to communicate, collaborate, read ideas and articles, and begin to change your outlook on education in the 21st Century. Take some risks and step out of your comfort zone. I think you will be pretty amazed what happens when you do.

Here are a few Youtube videos that speak to the New Face of Collaboration.

INTERPRET: Interpret is to explain the meaning of something. 

Many more great things are in store for Crystal!

Continue to be innovative, creative, and a model of excellence!