Saturday, August 1, 2015

One (Google) Slide Newsletter

A few months ago Ryan O'Donnell shared his "One Slide Newsletters on Google Plus:
Ryan's Tech Tips.  He shared that he had stolen the idea from another member of my PLN, Wanda Terral CLICK HERE for her examples.  As I thought about the coolness of their slides, I knew they would be something I could get my teachers to look at and perhaps use as resources.  I have shared my document with my first five slides above.  There are no rules or whys or hows, you just need to make it fit your classroom, school, or district informational needs.  Here are a few tidbits if you are planning on "copying" or "stealing" the idea from us:

  • I have shared as a view only so if you want to steal, click on file and then make a copy (this will help if you want to use one of my slide templates to cut and paste your own links, information, videos, etc...
  • I used text boxes and Google has made it simple to center and right or left justify things as you move them around.
  • Make sure you use pictures that are licensed for non-commercial use (here is a quick video on how to do an advanced Google Search for images: Click Here)
  • If you use images from fellow educators who give their permission - GIVE THEM CREDIT! (Check out Sylvia Duckworth's sketchnotes and Krissy Venosdale's inspiring posters)
  • Be picky, do not try to include too much, and keep it simple.  Your goal is to make it something worth checking out and clicking on (I'm still working on that one!)
  • The one's I have created are tied to our district's areas of focus.  
I have just begun my journey with creating and using one slide newsletters.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes.  If you create some, please share!!  Feel free to share mine or make them your own!

Happy 2015-2016 School Year!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Finding My Center

Image by Krissy Venosdale

Be me, that is a message I heard loud and clear in Pernille Ripp's blog post Try To Be You.  As I read through the post I realized that the past two years I have lost who I am as an educator when transitioning from a classroom teacher to a curriculum coordinator.  The past few months I have begun to return to my roots or center as an educator and find my way as my "students" have shifted from kiddos to adults.  As I think about the beginning of a new school year, I am ready to use my foundation of beliefs about learners to support my teachers as we embark on a year of newness, challenges, fears, failures, struggles, successes, collaborations, celebrations and unknowns.

I've always been all about building relationships with my students and my community (parents, colleagues, district leadership, support staff, professional learning network, etc...).  That is my "Center" (Rise of the Guardians - What's Your Center?) my foundation - because it allows me to build trust and push my learners to take risks and FAIL so that they can learn and move forward.  The past two years I've felt lost (like Jack Frost) not knowing what my center/foundation is.  And like Jack, it was right in front of my nose so obvious, yet NOT.  Because it was part of the core of my being, I did not realize it was the key to my transition from the classroom to leadership.

One of the activities I started with my math students, I will use with my teachers this year as we embark on a new school year:
The Dot by Peter Reynolds
International Dot Day

Why I read "The Dot" to my middle school math students and why I will be sharing it with my teachers (watch the video or read the book please):

  • You have to start (even if it is ugly and awkward)
  • You have to experiment and try new things
  • Face your fear (whatever it is) and work through it (I'll support and help you!)
  • One more step, small improvements over time constitute large gains overall
  • Track your growth and reflect on what's working or NOT
In my math classes I used "The Dot" as an opportunity to let students know that if they have struggled in math or if they have failed math their year with me will be different.  I acknowledge that no student comes to school the first day and thinks "I can't wait to fail math, (or any other subject) this year."  "The Dot" is my first attempt at building trust with my students.  It allows me to let them know that I expect them to start and make an attempt in learning difficult material.  They need to face their fear of mathematics and opting out is not an option.  One step at a time is growth and reflection will drive the next steps.

With my teachers I expect the same.  As we implement LEGO robotics, Google Apps for Education, Maker Labs, and Chromebooks into our instruction this coming school year,  we are starting from ground zero.  The relationships I started building two years ago will now provide the foundation for the trust required for risk-taking, failing forward and going all in.  It will be important for the teachers to use the lessons learned from "The Dot" to allow them to be messy learners this coming school year.  My job is to support them and model failing forward on a daily basis for them.  Ultimately the goal is to support our students as they become makers, thinkers, coders, collaborators, creators, and digital citizens.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Start the Year with a Bang!

So, I am sharing what our district is crafting for our welcome back activity for our teachers (and we will probably test it out with our principals a few days before.  We would love feedback and input.  Here is a link to our document that you can edit and provide input:

Click Here

I iterated the idea from the searching I did and found from this presentation by Lisa Highfill and Amy Fadeji's Principals Who Flip Presentation.  Click the link and check it out!


Sunday, June 28, 2015

My Free Summer PD

Right now I am one of many educators who is not attending ISTE 2015 (International Society for Technology in Education).  I will admit that I do feel a little left out but I am enjoying following the action on Twitter, Instagram and Google+.  It has also got me thinking about what I will be learning this summer so I thought I would share some less obvious PD gems available.

CueRockstar Teacher Camp Resources:  It always surprises me that people do not realize that all of the resources from each camp are freely available for any and all to see, use, and learn from.  Even the resources from past camps are available.  Below I have a short screencast showing how to easily access these resources.  There are so many that I will be learning well into the fall.  The beauty is I get to pick and choose which resources and when.  

Here are some examples of the types of resources that you will find:
Adina Sullivan's Day 3 Session Thinglink (CueRockstar LaJolla):  I need to learn how to help teachers integrate more project based learning and this will help!

I am also all about learning how to make, edit, etc... videos for myself and my students.  Doug Robertson's session from the Chico camp - Adventures in You Tubery - is not only useful information but an example of how to use a Google Site to share information.

Finally, I love how Jen Roberts organizes her resources on a Google Doc (a great example to use with you students whether they are kiddos or adults! Writing for Technical Subjects - Day 2 of LaJolla camp

Just a quick post to get you started on some free and meaningful PD this summer.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

#CueRockstar Tulare, Just Like Home

If you are a Californian, you know that Tulare is "somewhere in the middle of the state."  It is an area of immense farmland and an abundance of 100+ degree summer days.  Of all the #CueRockstar sites this summer, Tulare might be considered the least glamorous.  For this year's attendees and this presenter, attending in Tulare could be considered a homecoming.

I grew up in Pebble Beach, just a slightly different environment from the vast farmland of the central valley.  However, I attended college in Stockton and Chico which required driving through and living near farm country.  I remember getting laughed at when I was 20 for stating that I had no idea who or what John Deere was.  Ironically, a few years later, I ended up spending many hours riding in John Deere combines and tractors and starting tube lines to water crops so I could spend time with my husband while he worked fields.  During that time, I found a love and appreciation for the farming landscape and all it encompasses.

Tulare was the perfect place to attend CueRockstar because it is the convergence of all that is California.  The agriculture is the foundation of our state and we were completely surrounded by it at Sundale School.  Tulare's central location also pulls in the city influence from the Bay Area, Sacramento, and So Cal.  It truly could be considered:
THE nexus of the state - the central and most important point or place, a connected group or series.

The most important thing to remember about attending a #CueRockstar event is that it is NOT about the place, it is about the people and the relationships.  Although I was labeled a presenter, I was more of a bright eyed learner driven by the enthusiasm and energy of all who attended.  Everything about #CueRockstar nurtures interactions, sharing, risk-taking, active learning and leading, inspiration and innovation.  For those of us Lone Nuts, coming together is like coming home to those who accept you for who you are with all of your idiosyncrasies.

This post is more for those who experienced Tulare with me.  I want you all to know that my heart is smiling from the permanent imprint you all left.  For those who have not attended a #CueRockstar event, the only way you can understand the impact is to go and don't think that the place you attend matters because it is the people who attend with you that matter the most.

The 2015 #CueRockstar fever has begun and will continue throughout the summer.  If there is an opening, grab it, it will change your teaching and your life (I know, that sounds so cheesy!).

Here are the daily sessions from #CueRockstar Tulare CLICK HERE - another great thing, they share everything freely!

In closing, I wrote this post back in February 2012, Is it the Place or the Relationships?  It speaks to the connections we have/make to the places that are significant to us.

Thank you all who organized, attended, presented, supported, and shared!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

#Satchatwc Leadership Countdown

Media preview

Saturday morning is not a time for me to sleep in.  I set my alarm for 6:45 so that I can rise, make coffee and get ready for my favorite twitter chat #satchatwc.  It is a chat for all educational leaders wc stands for West Coast for those of us who can't make #satchat.  It begins at 7:30 am and it inspires many of the blog posts I write. This morning we had 7 questions and the responses were enlightening, humbling, thought provoking and gut wrenching.  There were over 2000 tweets in the hour which is pretty amazing.  CLICK HERE to read some of the tweets.

Thanks Shelley and Dave Burgess for moderating the chat!

I am going to share my tweets for each question (please use them as a beginning discussion, not inspiration).  Then I am going to challenge all readers and some specific folks in my PLN to share their countdown responses. 

Q1: You have 7 Words... Communicate the vision for your school.

For both of these tweets I was not only thinking of the student who might need an educator with this perspective, but also the teachers who need leaders to understand that in their hearts they do care about the kiddos.

Q2 You have 6 Words...  Build rapport and earn your staff's support.

For these tweets I also looked beyond the surface stress and fear of the student and/or teacher and wanted to show empathy.  I have always been a Pollyanna, one who refuses to give up on people.  In the classroom or or working with educators, I will not give up on those that are skilled at challenging me.

Q3 - Creating a positive culture is critical... How can you absolutely wreck a culture in 5 words...

Read my standards based grading posts...

Q4 - You have 4 words... What message do you want every student in your school/district to hear?

I want students to know that there are many perspectives and each one is valued.

Q5 - You have 3 words...  Empower your staff to take risks.

I want the teachers I work with to decide to change 1 thing and to connect it to their passion.

Q6 - What 2 words are essential if you want to enlist the support of your community?

Again when responding to this question I thought of the teacher who pushes and fights.  I want to just sit down and actively listen to find common ground.

Q7 - What 1 word will define your focus as a leader for the 2015-2016 school year?

I will be doing more coaching and I will be a better listener and be present when working with the teachers in my school district and be present with my family.

What are your countdown responses?  Any and all respond!  Please pass the challenge onto your PLN folks!

I challenge the following folks to provide their responses:

Eric Chagala Ed D. - He was not in the chat today and usually is a great contributor I want to hear his responses.
Any and all #GEGnorCal folks - perhaps a blogging challenge!
Any and all #cuerockstar folks.
Any and all #youredustory folks.

Have a great end of your school year!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Do You Really Know Your Students?

This past week there has been much discussion in many educational circles and on social media of the twitter posts by a third grade teacher I follow - Kyle Schwartz:
Students Share What They Wish Their Teacher Knew

Initially, my ears and eyes perked up when seeing her postings because my son is a third grader. However, when I delved deeper, I saw many of the students that have entered my classroom throughout my 25 years in education in her students.

It is inspiring to see a new teacher create opportunities for her students to share in a safe environment with the intent to build relationships and an understanding of her students as they journey through life.

This takes me back to my first years teaching in a small town in the Salinas Valley.  Although I never explicitly asked my students what they wished I knew about them, I did know that their education depended on the relationship I established with them.  What they did not know was my survival as a beginning teacher hinged on the authentic and meaningful relationships I built with my at risk students. Some mornings they would come into the classroom to tell me they spent the night huddled on the living room floor while gun shots rang out in the neighborhood.  I remember leaving school each day ready to quit and waking up each morning excited to get to school and my students.  It was such an interesting dynamic and it provided the foundation for my life as an educator.

My last few years as a classroom teacher, I made sure that I had a face to face conversation with each of my middle school students each day.  I had 120 students that passed through my door each day, how did I accomplish this?

  • When the students entered my classroom, there was an activity for them to complete.  (If the students are engaged, I can touch base with all of them).
  • As they worked, I "checked homework" by going to each group and checking in with each student.  
  • If a student did not have their work, their book, their notebook or other materials, I made eye contact and ask them why (with empathy).  I had a coding system so I could keep track of each student's work patterns and level of understanding and look for work behavior patterns.  
  • I also made sure that I smiled genuinely at each student and acknowledged their successes or understood their anxiety, frustrations, and/or confusions.
  • This formative check I did with each student in each class everyday also enabled me to make sure the students knew I was there to challenge and support their learning in a respectful collaborative environment.
  • I allowed for 5-10 minutes at the beginning of class to accomplish this task and build relationships.  It was the most valuable time of the day for establishing a foundation for trust and risk taking in a middle school math class.
Now I am working to transfer this process to the adult learners I work with.  What do you do to really get to know your students?