Sunday, April 22, 2018

When In The Midst of Teaching You Know The Learning is Big



Friday I was working with my elective group- 8 students...7 from fourth grade and 1 from fifth grade all wanting to be on the CCS Lower School Tech Team. These 8 kids are awesome. They are smart, witty, creative, and self-motivated. It's an easy group to be with and enjoy.

Friday brought a smile to my face that hasn't gone away (despite the fact I whacked out my back getting out of the floor when working with 2 of them and haven't recovered yet)! You know that moment as a teacher when you are working with a group but you are also listening in and scanning the room to make sure everything is going as planned? It's an innate teacher sense...that ability to know what is going on even when you are fully immersed in the conversation at hand. I had 4 different things going on in the room at one time. One student was creating an instructional video on how to use Ozobots, two young ladies were creating a maze out of cardboard to look like the Titanic, I was introducing two other gentlemen to the Sphero SPRK+ robot, while I overheard three other gentlemen troubleshooting a Makey Makey to turn it into a piano. It was in that moment that I found the smile that I can't let go of. Each group was gleefully working together to create an Ocean-themed Escape Room experience for their teachers using STEM tools. Students were on task, active learning was happening and leaders were emerging.

As a rule, I tend to be a "finish what you started" type teacher. If a student picks something to learn, do, read, etc I encourage them to give it a complete chance. I don't force it, but I strongly suggest it (and this might even look like guilting them but that isn't my intention and I try not to push it that far).

We meet for 45 minutes on Friday afternoon for one quarter. Friday, we all had our plans we had been working on and all of a sudden some kids wanted to switch what they were doing. I let them. I was even surprised at myself. One student even said, "but what about the Scratch thing? Who is going to do that?" My answer was, "We will get to it if we get to it." (If there had been a mirror I probably would have looked into it to see who that was speaking). But here is what I learned from being flexible on Friday...

This is an elective. There is no grade and no sense of WE HAVE TO COMPLETE THIS IN ORDER TO GET THROUGH THE PACING GUIDE. These students chose to be with me. I don't take that lightly. I want them to enjoy this process. In fact, the lone fifth grader really didn't want to be in there after he realized he was the only fifth grader but since he had an injured foot, none of the other electives were really a good fit for him. He stuck with it, and I chose to empower him because of that.  In fact, I just sent an email to him and cc'd his mom because of what happened Friday. I'm even going to leave his name in here for you because I'm just so stinking proud of him:

Noah,
I want to thank you for sticking it out on the tech team elective. I know you were a bit disappointed because you were the only fifth grader that got that elective but I want you to see what I see because of you...

You are a leader. Friday when you were working with those other fourth grade boys they were listening to you intently and you were teaching them about the Makey Makey. It was an amazing moment for me. I love seeing students teaching other students! Because those fourth grade boys look up to you, they were 100% into learning more about the Makey Makey. I couldn't be everywhere in the room at one time but I tend to listen in to everyone's conversation. At one point I heard you troubleshooting and saying "Oh wait, she said we could use the metal on a pencil." Your hands-on approach to figuring the issue out without a teacher's help is just what I like education to be like. You have an inquisitive nature that will serve you well in life...especially since you have such a teachable spirit. 

Thank you Noah for being you. You have risen to become my "right hand man" in this group and I appreciate that about you. I've sent this to your mom as well because mommas always like to know that other people see how amazing their kids are too!

Mrs. Davis 

So I guess I am sharing this for 3 reasons:
  1. To suggest that you get out of your own way at times. Who I am as a person and teacher often thinks that one of the most important things to teach is perseverance. Friday, I let that part of me take second place and what I saw caused smiles. You are never too old to learn. Here I am at age 49 and I decided because this was an elective I would be more flexible in the plan. 
  2. When students get to choose their learning, they are engaged. I had a plan and we will still get there but the truth is, allowing my students to adjust and switch made for one of the biggest edu-smiles I've had in a long time. 
  3. Know your students. I have some really strong-willed guys in this group but instead of forcing them into a box to finish this process, I've let them each flourish in a way that they both enjoy and are successful at doing. For one kid, it's allowing him to do his thing by himself. For another, it's letting him become a leader, for two girls it's allowing them to be together, for other students it's pairing them based on their skills. That can't happen if you don't know your students gifts and talents. It often takes a while to see what they are. Once you do, don't stick to your grouping guns just because that's where you started, be willing to help each student shine!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

How a Cheapskate Introduces Technology Tools

I'm a visionary without a budget. I have grand schemes and wishes but no funding to have expectations. So what do I do? Improvise!  There are ways you can introduce new concepts and tools cheaply or free. I'm the queen of it lately. So here are my latest concepts:

Augmented Reality: 

  • Google Expedition AR Pioneer Program. https://www.blog.google/topics/education/pioneer-new-lessons-your-classroom-google-expeditions/ Sign up. That's what I did. Now the Google Expedition AR Pioneer Team is planning to come to Chattanooga Christian School the first week in May. What I love about this program is that it isn't Google showing the teachers the tool. You sign up for Google to show the teachers the tool and then teachers sign up for 30 minute slots of bringing their students in for a lesson plan that they are leading using the tool (with Google support on deck). It's ingenious and free.
  • The Merge Cube is 99 cents at Walmart locations. I'm not the first to tell the edtech world this...Leslie Fisher blogged about it several months back and educators everywhere have been loading up buggies of these little goodies, myself included. I actually bought one for every elementary teacher at our school and for 3of the middle school science teachers. This is a cost effective way to allow teachers to try something new, on their own time, and feel like they have been given a gift as well! When I handed them out I felt like Oprah because of all the happy thank yous. (If you are a CCS educator don't read this next line)...as an instructional technologist I am out $45 bucks and every educator in the building has a chance to see how this  tool might enhance their curriculum. I see that as a cheap win. 
Free Learning:
  • Become a Connected Educator. This is the greatest gift I give my school district. Staying plugged in and aware of new things, how to access them, and how to get training on them in a cheap or free environment. I've had edu-friends come and lead sessions for our teachers to help them grow. I've been a part of #CHAedu #coffeeEDU where once a month, every month during the school year I walk away with some tidbit of information that will be helpful for my school. I look for opportunities for my teachers to attend and I serve on organization committees to give more educators these chances- i.e. Edcamp Gigcity. 
  • Find sponsors. We've got a few families at our school that are passionate about concepts that relate to my field. Tapping into this gives them a sense of investing in something good and me away to get the job done. Just make sure you have permission to do this. You don't want everyone at your school pitching concepts and needs to the same people. Look for grants as well!
I'll be honest, a lack of funding can be weary. I'm there. I tend to fund more things personally than I should but I don't blame anyone for that. Here is what I have learned...even if the teachers I serve don't ever pick up their Merge cube, my giving it to them was a relational gesture that grows future possibilities. Even if our teachers don't take part in the learning opportunities like Google Expedition Pioneer Program Day or Edcamp Gigcity, I am giving them chances to consider seeing education differently. The truth of the matter is not everyone is enticed by the same things. I love to read educational blogs but I literally have a hard time listening to educational podcasts. There are others that are the exact opposite. Baby steps are the key...and just like we do for our elementary students- it's more about experiences than mastery of anything I share. When something clicks with a teacher, I don't have to do much but get out of their way! That's always a cheap answer. 


Monday, April 16, 2018

Don't tell me you hate AI...check out Google's "Talk to Books"





Google, with the help of Ray Kurzweil just possibly changed the world of research. Navigate to the new artificial intelligence driven "Talk to Books" website that can be found at:
 https://books.google.com/talktobooks/


What I love about it?

  • It's artificial intelligence. It wants you to talk to it like you would talk to a person. Keywords aren't it's thing. It's not how it was developed; guess what, neither were we.  Elementary students definitely struggle with keyword searches. This can change the dynamics of research!
  • It doesn't ask one book what the answer might be, it asks thousands of books. And then it gives you answers written in quotes from the book with most of the needed info RIGHT THERE. Citing just became easier too. Now I'll be honest, often when I click "show in book" I don't have access to the book but this is a FREE search engine that now allows me to know where I need to go to look further.
  • It seems to look for answers creatively. It's looking through all genres of books to come up with the answer to your question. I like that. It challenges my analytical side to embrace my creative side simultaneously and think on subjects in a broader scope. 
What I don't love about it?
  • Did we just cheapen the act of research? How much are we being manipulated by Google right now as to what our research answers are? Is this a monetized site? How do they choose the books that are part of this search engine? All questions I want answered as an educator.
  • It doesn't replace peer-reviewed research sites but I fear some students might think it does. I think this website has the potential to being a game changer when doing research. The key and challenge for us, as educators, is to teach them good digital literacy skills when curating information. This site is a great getting started tool for research purposes but we need to be even more diligent in defining what good research looks like.
  • I'm not seeing parent controls. I did a search that lead me to some pretty descriptive information that every age level shouldn't have access to. 

I'm excited about this website and interested to hear other's thoughts on the potential and pitfalls of something so dynamic in answering our daily questions. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Fornite is all the rage right now in gaming...it's free, works on many platforms, and can have multiple players for interaction. This is an overview of play according to wikipedia:
"The main gameplay for Fortnite Battle Royale follows the battle royale genre's standard format: up to 100 players airdrop from floating buses onto a consistent map, which includes random distribution of weapons, armor, and other combat support features. The goal is to be the last player (or team, if playing in small squads) alive by killing or avoiding other players. Over time, the game's safe zone (representing the eye of a Storm that is ravaging the world), decreases in size, and players caught outside the zone will take damage, potentially dying. This directs the surviving players into tighter spaces, forcing player encounters. Players can loot defeated enemies for equipment. Random supply drops will occur during a match, providing random weapons and items.
Fortnite Battle Royale's primary distinction from other battle royale games is the building system. Nearly all objects in the environment can be broken down into materials(wood, stone, and metal), which can then be used to build fortifications of limited durability, such as walls, stairs, and ramps. These objects may be used to help traverse the map, protect the player from gunfire, or slow down progression of other players.
The game is free-to-play, supported by microtransactions that allow players to buy "V-Bucks", the game's internal currency. V-Bucks are also shared with the main Fortnite "Save the World" game, which offers players the opportunity to earn V-Bucks by completing missions or daily quests.[1] V-Bucks can then be used to buy cosmetic improvements to the player (heroes, character and weapon skins, and emotes). V-Bucks can also be used to buy Battle Passes which accelerate the rate that a player increases their Tier within the game's "seasons" (each season lasting a few months). By raising their tier, they gain automatic rewards of cosmetic items typically around a theme. Players can still increase tiers without a Battle Pass, albeit at a slower rate.[2]"
With any new, popular game that is sucking our children in, I believe it is wise to think through how you feel about it as a parent and what expectations you want to put in place based on your value system. Here are some key things to consider from my perspective as an educational technologist:
  1. Violence. This game has a teen rating of 13+ for violence. I tend to check Common Sense Media for their reviews of things and on there parents are rating it at 9+. There is consistent matches to defeat other players (it kind of reminds me of a Hunger Games scenario). There is no blood, the adversaries just disappear. One person told me that the game does encourage headshots though because it is an easier kill or elimination. It is very much a critical thinking game so it combines that thought process in the game. Questions for parents to consider-
    • Does this constant "battle" desensitize the concept of killing or death?
    • Is your child ready for this type of play?
    • According to one review there is some creepy imagery, how will your child deal with that?
  2. Consumerism. It is a free game and can be played just fine in free mode but there are some in-game purchase possibilities and the ability to "earn" the V-Bucks needed to buy battle passes to accelerate play or to provide cosmetic improvements to their player (see above). Earning and being offered in-game purchases are tricky. It's a manipulation tactic by the company to pick just the right time to entice you with more to get you hooked. Games like this are striving to keep your child coming back for more. Did you know that addiction to video games is a real thing and a big problem in our country?  Questions for parents to consider and conversations to have with your child-
    • Can your child discern if they are being manipulated or not within the game?
    • Can you child set limits on time of usage well? 
    • Should you and your child set limits on how much time to spend on games like this?
    • Does your child have the ability to be aware of patterns of overuse?     
  3. Educational/positive value. This game really wasn't developed for educational purposes but it    does call for critical thinking, planning skills, collaboration and communication. There is a positive concept of helping humanity survive. I will say some educators that play find no educational value at all because its ability to cause off-task behavior with technology during the school day far outweighs any benefit there might be. 
    • Can you use this game as a catalyst to discuss the importance of the above skills?
    • Do you feel comfortable that your child is mature enough to interact with other players in a positive and safe way?
    • There is no constraints on what kind of language other users might say, should you discuss not turning the sound up or collaborating to use the game?
    • Common Sense Media suggests using this as a catalyst to talk about crisis management. Does your family have an emergency plan?
    • Would the amount of time your child wants to spend on this game allow for a good conversation about unplugging and the value of being intentionally involved in life? 
    • Should you discuss the problems of multitasking in today's world? Can they really get their homework done while playing games, texting etc? 
As a teen, I loved my Atari Pac-man game the most. There were days my sibling and friends all piled into the family den and passed off the controller for hours. I feel a little hypocritical writing this post since I am not a Fortnite gamer myself but it's impact on our students right now can't be denied. What makes this game so appealing is that it is different every time. Different gamers, with different strategies and different locations give this game a sense of newness every time you play. That constant sense of change makes it possible for the "newness" to take a long time to wear off. Technology has the ability to overwhelm us and we know so much more about how technology can influence our endorphins. Some companies prey on this fact and you need to be aware. Take this time to have real discussions as a family about digital gaming and how it can impact your family's goals and dynamics. Also I will share again the fact that educational games are most meaningful and effective if the parent plays with their child. While this is not billed as an educational game, being a part of your child's digital presence shows your willingness to be part of all aspects of their life and everything in their life is open to parenting. 


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Changing The Way We Educate Incrementally




Change is hard even if the change is exciting. Managing change and introducing new concepts is hard on leaders as well. Finding the balance on when to push and when to coast is a fine science. I like change. I enjoy the process of change. I get bored easily with the status quo. I've found that I enjoy looking at opportunities to do education differently but not for the sake of different- for the sake  of solving an issue. Below are a few ways I've been a part of creating avenues for learning differently. Some went amazingly and some have limped but I believe each concept has had an influence on changing culture in our school and/or creating opportunities for myself to have a voice or challenge.
  • Embedded PD- If you are in an administrative position you know that finding time for professional development is hard. Recently, I had this revelation that our teachers needed more training on the design thinking process in order to support and understand our goals for STEAM education. It became abundantly clear that there just wasn't time to do a day of PD on this topic so I created an experience for all school learning... Designing CCS. Every week I would send an email out to our teachers that would give them information about the different steps of the design thinking process and they would walk their students through this process. They were learning along side their students. Not all my teachers have finished but those that have felt like the process was a good one for them. Next step for me is to decide how to move forward with the teachers that did not go through the process. 
  • Innovation Incubator- Last year our fifth grade students had the chance to be part of a local innovation competition where they "shark tank pitched" their concepts to some faculty at our school and one person's design was submitted to the local competition. This concept spurred me to look deeper at innovation from a crowd-sourcing point of few. Reading the book Edupreneur and meeting a few new people at ACSD Empower18, I am ready to take this concept to a bigger level next year by creating opportunities for teachers to submit a proposal for innovation after going through the design thinking process with their idea. Innovation is best when it is organic and based on need and passion. I'm looking forward to what the small pilot of last year might lead to next year. 


  • Elementary Electives- One day when talking with our school president I said "wouldn't it be awesome if we could do electives with elementary students?" And so it began. Our 4th, 5th, and related arts teachers offer elective opportunities based on their passions. We have things like archery, basketball, knitting, woodworking, digital gaming, makerspace, campus caretakers, digital music, etc all being offered to 4th and 5th grade students for 45 minutes on Friday afternoons- you know the time...when their brains are mush. Why not offer something that might grow an interest? I love seeing this in action. It's a very simple way to embed something different into the curriculum and see how it goes. It's also a great way to pilot a concept before implementing it on a bigger scale. For many of our teachers, it gave them an opportunity to teach something they love but that just doesn't fit into the curriculum. 



  • Student-Led Tech Teams- Do you want to see student empowerment? Do you want to see a culture of collaboration and aiding others? This was it for me. I've always wanted a student-led tech team but couldn't find the time to do it. Electives allowed me to have a team last year that created how-to videos for commonly asked questions at school regarding technology. The process was an amazing one and the students even got to present at the student showcase during Georgia Education Technology Conference to show their website they created. This year's group is creating an Escape Room concept that will teach the teachers more about the STEAM tools we use at school. Something the teachers said they wanted to be more knowledgable about. Not only did I gain a tech team in this endeavor, I also gained some credibility with some students because I empowered them in the roles that they enjoy. 
  • Pilots- Look for ways to incrementally try new concepts, pedagogies and learning styles in an contained way. I love trying new things but I also know from experience that they often don't go the way you expect out of the gate. Our middle school blended learning math pilot has been a great sense of excitement for me as I have seen our school move away from the traditional sense of teaching middle school math to a more individualized approach. It's been messy, lessons have been learned and mindsets have been changed but I can't imagine taking on something of this magnitude across the board in year one. Pilots allow for a sense of experimentation in a safety net. Change doesn't have to come roaring in like a lion. Change can be that constant nagging that says "Hey, look at me. I'm different and parts of me are really good. What else can you do with what you learned from this change?"
  • Outside Your School Walls- There have been times that I've been frustrated with a lack of change within my own school. Sometimes I just need to be able to voice my educational thoughts. My good edu-friend Greg Bagby calls me an educational rebel. I honestly wear that title with pride. I don't think it's wrong to consider some parts of education as antiquated and to want more for our students. Because of this, I have often found my empowerment outside of my own school. I blog my thoughts on a regular basis for all to see. I've gotten involved with the organization of yearly Edcamp Gig City. I've created the monthly coffeeEDU meet up for Chattanooga area educations based on the hashtag #CHAedu and I've started speaking at educational workshops and conferences as well. Sometimes changing education is being a voice whether anyone is listening or not. Sometimes it just means being able for me to say my visionary ideas in a safe environment. 
Change isn't easy. Seeing your self as a change agent can be both empowering and scary. You won't be everyone's cup of tea. Creating safe avenues for change that don't seem so demanding or oppressive can change culture slowly but significantly. Sometimes I see the change most often in our students ability to feel safe to be creative. Sometimes I see the change through conversations with teachers opening up to new ideas. Sometimes I see the change in me, when I realize my change ideas aren't always good and find a way to balance. Changing incrementally by introducing concepts in a safety net makes sense to me. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Navigating Social Media as a Parent





E-parenting is not an easy task. In March of 2017 android users had the opportunity to choose from
2.8 million apps,  with the Apple app store coming in at a close second by offering  2.2 million apps to users (https://www.statista.com/statistics/.../number-of-apps-available-in-leading-app-stores/). 

How on earth can a parent manage what is out there and what is safe for their children? Recently 
I became aware of an article that warns parents of dangers associated with the apps Musical.ly and 
Amino. The concepts of each of these apps seem like a fun way to connect but with all things, 
deviant behavior can happen on these type of sites/apps. Spend a few minutes digging into these apps 
and you can find a plethora of things you wouldn't want your child to see or take part of...and for that
matter- yourself. We live in a world where the access to technology is virtually ubiquitous. This means 
that access to information, images, and relationships that can be both uplifting and demoralizing is 
at our fingertips as well. 


For adults, our frontal lobs are developed. There is an overriding belief that we have the ability to use 
self-control to make wise choices in where we navigate to consume information, personalities we 
choose to interact with, and images we choose to see. I believe we see proof in this world that it isn't 
as easy to balance as some think. For our children, curiosity is their strong-suit, not self-control and we, 
as adults, need to help them find their balance and develop their self-control. 


Recently I attended an e-parenting workshop at a local school here in Chattanooga and the speaker 
shared a great social media rating guide:

This can be found at www.safesmartsocial.com . I found the ranking of green, yellow, and red apps 
very helpful. The green apps are made by companies that are working to look at for underage users. 
If, heaven forbid, you had an issue on an app with your child that caused alarm these companies 
are willing to work with parents to get to the issue resolved. The yellow apps may or may not be 
willing to do the same thing. And the red apps will not be helpful and serve as potential safety 
concerns for your children. 

As you can see, the Amino Apps aren't even listed on here because that is the nature of the beast-ever 
changing and ever popular. If you still are only watching your child's Facebook usage, you are being
duped into thinking you are a vigilant parent! Did you know that many of today's young users have an
Instagram account AND a Finsta account? It might be using the app Finsta or it might be another 
Instagram account that they think isn't easily traced back to them. The truth of the matter is, teens 
want a virtual place they can be themselves but they know about the long reaching impact of their
digital footprint. A Finsta account or fake Insta gives them this sense of anonymity to share their "real
side" with the world. Want to know if your child has one? See who they are following on their 
Instagram account or look at the bio in their Instagram and see if it says something about where 
you can find their Finsta (or connect via snapchat, etc). 


So what do you do as a parent? Are you hands on to the point that your child isn't allowed any access 
to the chosen mode of communication in their world? Are you hands off and you have no idea what
they are doing and frankly don't care? Or are you trying to walk the line between enough and too 
much?


Here are a few resources that might help you in this navigation:

-Either be in control of what apps your child downloads on their devices or get notifications 
when your child your child downloads a new app. Use websites like www.safesmartsocial.com or www.commonsensemedia.org to make app decisions on what you think is best for your own
family.
-Follow your kids on social media. Look at their history. Have conversations that are meaningful
about positive and negative internet presence.
- Know that even the most innocent of concepts can be corrupted. Don't assume your child is
looking at sick skateboarding tricks all day long on Youtube. If you don't let them have free
- Consider something like Disney Circle (https://meetcircle.com/) or Our Pact (https://ourpact.com/)
- Be the parent. Don't be afraid to say no. Your child does not have to have access to ALL the social
media apps. And remember that frontal lobe thing I was talking about, many apps say a person has
to be 13 years old. Follow that, but also consider that 13 might be too young as well.
-Use the stepping stone method. When learning to drive, you have to be a certain age, you have to prove yourself worthy of being a lone driver, and if you fail miserably your license can be revoked.
Make a family plan for what that looks like regarding internet usage with your family. A family
contract isn't a bad idea.
-Research. Many apps of choice for teens are based out of foreign countries. Your rights as an
American citizen are null and void when you hit that "yes I agree with these rules" button. Keep that
in mind.

Lastly, don't allow the scariness of the internet to win. The awesomeness that today's world has in
connecting globally has never been available before. Empower your children to be good digital
citizens like you empower them to be good citizens. Show them examples of the power of social media for good and bad. Create opportunities for your children to showcase the positive. Model
the good and trend the positive!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

ASCD #Empower18 TAKEAWAYS



I had the marvelous opportunity of attending the ASCD Empower18 Conference in Boston, Massachusetts this week. It was my first time to attend an ASCD conference and I found it to be the bougie of large educational conferences. With keynotes like Jill Biden, Manny Scott, and
Col. Colin Powell- the level of importance placed on the attendee feels superb.Walking around and see the the expertise level of those sharing in the breakout sessions was amazing and made it very hard to choose where to attend! I brought back a ton of good stuff and it was nice to get out of my edtech conference silo as well. What I enjoyed the most about this conference is that it didn't just focus on best practice, the students, and change but there were lots of sessions that focused on you as an educator. One day I had a really neat conversation with a "teacher of the year" from Montana that was suffering from burnout and said she was ready to go back empowered. That's huge and I have been there. It was good to see that focus being fleshed out in a really stressful profession.


So here are my key takeaways from ASCD #Empower18:

  •  My role changes at my school next year, I will be the Director of Instructional Technology and Innovation. One of the immediate realizations I had during the first conversation at my school about the role of Innovation is that it felt soft. I worried about that because to me the innovation side of the job is what I am most excited about. I've been praying about how to best move forward with that part of my role and BOOM! my first session was with Dave Faulkner, "Unleashing Teacher-Led Innovation in Schools: Practical Tools That Have Real Impact." I walked out of the room inspired and with his book co-written by Aaron Tait called Edupreneur: Unleashing Teacher-Led Innovation In Schools. Get ready to dream CCS, I've got a plan once I have some funding! 
  • I really enjoyed hearing Jill Biden speak. Did you know that even as Second Lady of the USA she continued to be an English professor at a community college full time? She said, "Being a teacher is not what I do, it's who I am." That resonated deeply with me as I try to balance between my different roles in life. I am thankful for her modeling of staying true to her calling while wearing many hats. She empowered me as a woman. 
  • My next session was TECH-DOK: An In-Depth Look At Technology Through the Depth of Knowledge Lens. I walked away with this wonderful graphic below. If you know me, you know I'm not a big fan of the SAMR model. This has the potential to help teachers think deeper: 
  • I also had the opportunity to think about myself a bit by attending a session for potential writers. I am hoping sitting in this session will spur me on to keep writing my book idea. I will say that I have already come back home and started fleshing out potential opportunities in regards to this.
  • When I realized Heidi Hayes Jacobs was speaking in a breakout session I had to attend! She spoke at Covenant College a couple of years back and the conversations that were spurred from that brief conference led to good changes and framework for our school. This time she spoke with Marie Alcock on the topic of "A New Job Description: The Capacities of a Contemporary Teacher and Professional Learner." I found the conversation fascinating as we looked at how the role and definition of a teacher has shifted out from under the profession as years have gone by. No wonder the change is hard for so many teachers, the expectations have changed before their eyes and it wasn't what many of them signed up for! My favorite quote of the day that lays a framework for the ever changing landscape of education was by Marie Alcock, "70 years ago less than 20% of students went on to higher ed, today 60-70% go on. We've moved from a system of sorting students to being responsible to teach all students and meet their needs. The role of the teacher has shifted." In every decade we can see how that has changed. Perhaps it is time to admit this, ruminate on it, give teachers some moaning minutes and then empower them to adapt and adopt. What does this look like is my question moving forward. 
  • The segway from the above session to "Accelerating the Curve for Young School Leaders" by 2016 ASCD Emerging Leaders: Kyle Hamstra, Kerry Gallagher, Natalie Franzi, and Amy MacCrindle was an easy one as I had already been focused on how do I support teachers better.
    These young leaders shared good stuff in how to move into leadership as well as how do leaders support upcoming leaders? I loved the format of their session with give and take, embedded movement and time for feedback that might have actually been an introduction to a new tech tool for some of the attendees (Flipgrid).
  • As always, it's not a good session if I don't walk away with things to immediately look at that have the potential for implementation. My "I need to look deeper at" list includes:
  1. Open-Up Resources https://im.openupresources.org/ (FREE)
  2. Stay in contact with South Carolina educator, Donna Teuber @dteuber as I grow into my new role next year.
  3. Geographic Information Systems for Schools http://www.esri.com/industries/education - includes GeoInquiries and resources for multiple subject areas (FREE) 
  4. Look deeper at Go Guardian Teacher Training so that our teachers can use this tool in effective ways in their classroom. https://training.goguardian.com/p/goguardian-teacher-training
I am still kind of shocked that I was chosen to present a poster session at ASCD Empower18 but I will say the connections I made through that experience would have made the trip worth it all on their own. AND, I always love the opportunity to share about the great things happening with technology at our school!