Saturday, April 8, 2017

When Students Finish Early

I was reading my teammate, Donna Wells', Blog and came across a great post that I turned into a visual. In her post, Donna mentions ideas to implement when students finish early. You can read Donna's post here and follow her on Twitter @DonnaWells50 .

All of the ideas revolve around students creating a product of their learning.

Create a Comic Strip:
  • Pixton
  • Google Drawings
  • Educreations (iPad)

Create a Video Trailer:
  • iMovie
  • Quicktime to Screen Record
  • Educreations (iPad)
  • Animoto (iPad)
  • Paper Slide Show (iPad)

Explain your Mathematical Thinking:
  • Google Drawings
  • Quicktime to Screen Record
  • Educreations (iPad)
  • Paper Slide Show (iPad)

Create an Infographic:

  • Discovery Education Board Builder
  • Google Drawings
  • Pic Collage (iPad)

Create a Digital Story:

Create your own Quiz:

  • Google Docs
  • Google Forms
  • Kahoot
  • Quizzizz
  • Quizlet

Create an Audio Recording / Podcast:
  • Quicktime
  • Voice Record Pro (iPad)
  • Sock Puppets (iPad)

This is just a short list of ideas and resources to utilize when students finish early. Imagine the possibilities that could take place when your students begin contributing their learning processes with their classmates. Once your students begin creating, they could also begin to share their learning with the world!  

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Innovator's Mindset a Reflection

I am in my 12th year in education, and I can remember when I was going through college, being told that I should embrace being a life long learner. I feel like I have done that. I have opened the opportunity for growth and knowledge. Now, after reading The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros, I understand there is so much more to being a continual learner.

It is one thing to learn something, and then take it back to a classroom or to teachers. It is another thing to learn, share my thoughts on my learning with the world, accept feedback, then respond and grow through the process. Being a life-long learner is no longer enough. We must learn to cultivate innovation in ourselves and in others. It is no longer enough to simply learn, I must also challenge the norms and empower those I serve to find their voice and their passions. I must continually develop and cultivate relationships with those around me.

I will embrace the idea of becoming an innovative leader, not by conforming to the characteristics listed in this book, but by embracing each characteristic, challenging myself to work through them, and developing a mindset of continual growth. There are so many relevant take-a-ways from this book. I know I will read and reflect through it again. The beauty of The Innovator's Mindset is that it is not a one and done book. You can read it over and over again and it will always be applicable.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Learning is Messy

"Learning is messy, and we have to be comfortable with risk, failure, growth, and revision." 
~George Couros, The Innovator's Mindset, p. 131

Learning is messy, and sometimes the process that one must go through in order to learn something new, something different, is even messier! 

What makes learning messy? 

It looks different for different people. We all learn at different paces and in different ways. There is no cookie cutter way to learn or to go through the process of learning, and there is definitely no guarantee that I will not fail before I succeed. Since there is no prescribed formula for learning, my approach to a situation can be completely different from a colleague's approach, yet we both still learn, we both still move forward. This causes a MESS and messes can be difficult. 

I have two girls, I can remember when they were beginning to prepare their own snacks and pack their own lunches. It was messy. Perhaps there was more peanut butter on the counter than on the bread, and the jelly may have dripped onto the floor, but they went through the process of making their own snack and with practice, there is less "mess" and they have become more independent in meal preparation. At 12 and 9 years old they can successfully use the microwave, stove top and oven too (I still assist my youngest with the oven)! I could have saved the headache of cleaning up dried jelly off the floor or wiping up peanut butter off of the counter by making the snacks and lunches myself, but they were eager to help. Who am I to squelch that independence? 

In schools and classrooms there is no peanut butter or sticky jelly to clean up, but sometimes it is hard to sit back and watch or work through the difficult process of learning. As a teacher, it is difficult to restrain from giving too much assistance and information. It is difficult to watch the students struggle, but the learning that can take place when students are allowed to work through difficult processes can be beautiful. 

I have facilitated several BreakoutEDU experiences for teachers and students. I totally struggle with restraining the impulse to give too much information or too many clues too soon! I want the students or teachers to be successful in breaking out, so my initial thought is give a hint, or point them in the right direction. After a year, I have realized there is power in the process of struggling to figure something out, and when a group is successful on their own, their experience is much more meaningful. 

As an instructional leader it can be difficult to embrace each teacher's individual pace. Maybe if we are all on the same page, at the same time, going at the same pace, it will be easier to manage or prettier to look at, but when we focus on keeping teachers at the same place, at the same time, we can keep some teachers from exploring new possibilities while at the same time dragging others along for a ride they just are not ready for. 

We are all in a continual process of learning. Our paces are not the same, some strides are longer, but as long as we are all moving forward, we are heading in the right direction. 


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Focusing on Strengths and Unleashing Talent

I want to open with a question.

1.  Teachers: Do you know more about your students areas of weakness than their areas of awesomeness?

2. Principals / School Leaders: Do you know more about where your teachers need to improve or more about their strengths and passions?

Strength-Based Leadership is tapping into the areas that your staff, or students (if you are a teacher) are really good at and empowering them to continue growth in that area. I think this is a fabulous approach to working with adults, especially teachers. Many times while looking at data our sole focus is looking at what is lacking, and while this is important, it is not the only information that data provides. Focusing on strengths and passions requires an established relationship and investment in people. I think it is easy to find deficits, faults and areas of weakness, but it takes a genuine eye to focus on areas of strengths. Allowing teachers to grow and share their strengths and passions is a great way to build confidence in an individual. Passions and strengths are where our sparks come from, and it only takes a spark to ignite a fire!

Innovator's Mindset