Change is an opportunity to do something amazing! –George Couros
Change is an opportunity to do something amazing – a simple statement with great insight. Social media has created a platform that has allowed educators to connect in such a way that our profession now has legitimate Edu Rockstars who are currently practicing while also being recognized for their craft. These Edu Rockstars are also influencing innovation in districts, schools and classrooms across the United States as well as outside the borders of our nation. Add to this the incredible influence the Edu Rockstars of other countries are having on educational practice in the United States and it is no wonder that teachers, administrators and classified staff are becoming more and more comfortable pushing at perceived boundaries to create more innovative educational environments that are relevant, engaging and seek not just to educate, but to inspire a love and a passion for learning.
It was perhaps inevitable that the creation of the internet would eventually lead to social media platforms as it builds on a basic human need for social interaction. Yet, it was not inevitable that educators such as Jon Corippo, Director of Academic Innovation for CUE, Adam Welcome, Director of Innovation and Technology for the LaFayette School District and Tom Murray, Director of Innovation for the Alliance of Excellent Education would all cross paths and be recognized amongst other outstanding leaders as 20 to Watch Education Technology Leaders by the National School Board Association. Their collective influence over the past couple of years has created a dynamic shift in the conversations and the actions educators are taking to redefine how instruction is delivered and how school culture is developed.
District leaders such as Michael McCormick, Joe Sanfelippo, and Candace Singh, are setting powerful examples of what it looks like to embrace innovation and risk taking from a systems approach. They are leading by modeling and telling the stories of their districts, modeling how to use the budgeting process to revolutionize the way work is being done and the use of Open Educational Resources (OERs) to support an educational model that embraces today’s tools and resources as part of the educational process.
Site leaders such as Jennifer Klozco, Catinas Haugen, Amy Fadeji, Brad Gustafson and Ken Durham have created cultures that serve as models for embracing teacher voice, academic risk taking , innovation and joy. Whether dancing to the music with Mrs. Klozco and her disco ball, embracing the power of glitter with Mrs. Fadeji, being empowered by Mrs. Haugen, going on a PokemonGo style tour of the school with Mr. Gustafson as a new student or being given an influential voice by Mr. Durham, these Edu Rockstars are changing the landscape of how business is being done in schools today.
Classroom instruction is being redefined by innovative teachers such John Miller, Ed Campos, Marianne Emery who are embracing game based learning, active instruction and redefined learning spaces to increase student achievement. John Miller’s book, coauthored with Chris Scott, Unofficial Minecraft Lab for Kids, is a great example of the influence he is having beyond the four walls of his classroom. Ed Campos has created enthusiasm for 360 Math, active and engaged learning through his day to day work and CUE RockStar presentations. Marianne Emery’s work in her own classroom design is being passed on to other educators through her Twitter account and events such as BOLD.
Former teachers and current educators such as Sam Patue, Brian Briggs, David Culberhouse, and Ben Cogswell continue to light up the landscape of innovation as well. It is impossible to list all the great educators taking advantage of the change social media has brought to the landscape of education. The one thing they do have in common though is that they have embraced change as an opportunity to do something amazing!
I love hearing how educators are shifting their thinking about learning, teaching, and leading as they read The Innovator’s Mindset. It is amazing to see what happens when educators connect …
“I’m not sure he’s wrong about automobiles,” he said. “With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization — Booth Tarkington, 1918
This Tarkington quote could serve as a sentence starter for so many of the innovations we see in education today. Let’s play with this for a moment…
“I’m not sure he’s wrong about ‘internet’ he said. “With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization…
“I’m not sure he’s wrong about ‘smart phones’,” he said. “With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization…
“I’m not sure he’s wrong about ‘social media’,” he said. “With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization…
“I’m not sure he’s wrong about ‘cloud storage’,” he said. “With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization…
“I’m not sure he’s wrong about ‘e-readers’,” he said. “With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization…
“I’m not sure he’s wrong about ‘virtual collaboration’,” he said. “With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization…
“I’m not sure he’s wrong about ‘augmented reality’,” he said. “With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization…
“I’m not sure he’s wrong about ‘digital textbooks’,” he said. “With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization…
“I’m not sure he’s wrong about ‘game based learning’,” he said. “With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization…
“I’m not sure he’s wrong about ‘online learning’,” he said. “With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization…
Ask the average person today to imagine the impact not owning an automobile would have on their daily life, their ability to earn a living, ability to get groceries, to socialize, to seek entertainment and so forth. How will the innovations of today, that some are hesitant to embrace or see as a threat to civilization, become foundations of everyday life for future generations?
This little guy doesn’t talk yet, doesn’t walk yet, but he and his friends will be in our classrooms in the next few years. They will be coming to us familiar with how to use a smartphone, a tablet and a computer. Are we prepared to engage him and his classmates with an education that uses the tools and technology that he is growing up with and are fully integrated into his personal life?
Thus begins a typical attention getting opener I frequently use in presentations. Despite the fact, that the smartphone and similar technology are as commonplace, if not more so, than the ink pen and the pencil, there continues to be significant debate about the integration of modern technology in the educational process. Nevertheless, the technological shift is in place. The full implementation of screen and cloud based technology along with a shift in pedagogy, as well as an understanding of the skills today’s student needs to be successful for a career that will take them through 2075 before they retire, are being solidified.
It is with this in mind that I appreciate opportunities to lead and participate in discussions about the current revolution in education. I enjoy bringing presentations to other educators that support this shift. The process of preparing and researching the nuances to fit each education community I get to work with makes me a better educator. Over the past couple of days, I’ve been preparing to guide a predominately hispanic district in California through some discussions about their use of and vision for modern tools in education. As I prepared, I searched for images of a “Mexican toddler using technology.” Here’s an example of what popped:
As both an educator and the parent of a mixed race, hispanic son, I was shocked!
I decided to search for “white toddler using technology.” Notice the distinct difference in images:
The educator in me is stunned, the parent in me can hardly breathe.
“Okay,” I think to myself, “be a little more politically correct with your search term and see what happens with ‘hispanic toddler using technology’.”
I’m thinking, “Better, but do my eyes deceive me or are most of these images still of white children?”
Well, as long as I’ve started down this path…”black toddler using technology.”
“Asian toddler using technology”
What was intended to be a quick Google search turned out to have a far more profound effect on my already strong belief around the importance of the work we do in regard to equity in education. The images speak loudly. Our societal perceptions and expectations are clearly captured. What started as “a quick Google search” has become a personal call to action.
I read the book Dot by Randi Zuckerberg and Joe Berger to our kindergarten students this past year. It is a wonderful book that uses multiple meaning words such as “surfing, tweeting, swiping, tagging” to highlight a balance of spending time with technology and playing outdoors. Yes, the main character is white and no, I haven’t been able to find an equivalent book using characters of other races. Nevertheless, the story and the message are enjoyable and on point in emphasizing the importance of balancing screen time with outdoor play and discovery.
My school district enjoys being a distinctly multi-racial community and our kindergarten class shows this diversity with it’s mix of black, hispanic and white students. Despite, what the Google image search showed for technology use by toddlers from a variety of races, when our kindergarten students were asked who used a smartphone or a tablet at home, 100% of the class raised their hand. When asked what the difference is between “tagging” on a device and on the playground, two of of our hispanic students provided very clear examples of the difference of their parents tagging friends on Facebook and playing a game of tag on the grass.
Knowing that our district, our community and our parents are clearly providing more equal access than what the Google image search would indicate society perceives, alleviates some of the emotional fire I felt during this search. Reflecting on the environments and communities that most of my colleagues work in took a little more sting out of the feeling. Yet, it does not alleviate the concern around the reality we know to still exist in regard to equal access, parental use of devices to support educational applications vs. video gaming and entertainment watching. The concern about the power images hold to set expectations and influence societal realities exists very strongly.
Let us all be a part of a call to action in the shift of equity in education as we navigate the impact of the technological revolution. Let us each use this opportunity to provide equal access to modern tools to support the educational process, to provide equal access to and understanding of how to use these tools. Let us all take part in shaping our culture, its perceptions and its expectations so that an image search shows equity in the opportunities and access provided for children. As we prepare the next generation of citizens, let our students, who will be retiring in 2075, experience life in a society that provides equal access and equal opportunity regardless of race.
What an incredible learning experience!
Concierge vs Coach
Relevant vs Worksheet
Engaging vs Compliance
Try-athlon vs Comfort Zone
Personlized PD vs One Size Fits All
Future Ready vs That’s the Way We’ve Always Done It
These are just some of the shifts in thinking being embraced by the 7000 educators who attended National CUE in Palm Springs. This amazing event is like a trip into a professional development candy store. That’s right, powerful, intense learning that, to use one of my favorite colloquiums, was “sweet!”
Three days of incredible learning at #CUE16 ended with these thousands of educators leaving with overflowing knowledge on how to be Future Ready, pedagocically innovative, how to improve their personal professional practices and how to share the inspiration they found with others. The goal for many, if not all…to begin or continue implementing an increased number of 21st Century educational practices that exemplify the redefining of once traditional worksheet based or one size fits all instruction into learning experiences that are relevant and engaging. All this while, most importantly, helping students develop the dexterity they’ll need to be successful in a workforce where the jobs and skills required continue to adapt to increasing automization and adapting technologies.
Sessions challenged educators ranging from first year teachers to experienced superintendents to up their professional game, covered topics from incorporating project based STEAM activities and 3D printing to gamifying both student instruction and educator PD, to innovatively applying Hattie and Marzano’s research.
One of the most powerful things that National CUE offers is that while providing opportunities to participate in learning that is deep and to listen to keynotes that inspire, there is also always a lot of fun. It’s hard not to enjoy the flying antics of Sharknado.
Click here for the video: https://youtu.be/QuFuJUacL3Y
Then there is the always entertaining and inspiration on steroids of Jon Corippo who along with Mike Vollmert hooked CUE affiliate meeting attendees on attending this summer’s LDI (Leadership Development Institute) with this gem:
Find this video at: https://youtu.be/j-cxvTqxJP0
But, my favorite part of this year was definitely getting to hear from the creator of Kid President, Brad Montague and being reminded that the messages and that the actions that make the biggest difference are usually the simple ones:
You’re Awake, You’re Awesome, Live Like it Be Somebody Who Makes Everybody Else Feel Like Somebody Love Never Fails Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti -Kid President
It’s here! #CUE 16 and I’m looking forward to presenting the Future Gear of Personalizing Professional Learning. Click on the gears to learn more about creating a personalized approach to professional learning for your district.
Interested in where to find Twitter chats, Blab conversations or blogs to follow? Click here for a listing of EdChats on Twitter or check out some hashtags such as #kidsdeservit, #TLAP, #caedchat, #edcamp, #NGSS, #CommonCore. Have something you want to learn about or a group of people you want to connect with? Just get on Twitter and see what you find when you add the hashtag. Looking for some blogs? Check out these recommendations by Edublogs and EdTech Magazine. Who should you follow on Facebook? Start with Edutopia, Elementary Librarian and the Buck Institute for Education as well as the authors you enjoy or professional organizations you belong to. Check out Joe Sanfelippo and Tony Sinais on Blab. Prefer a podcast? Take a look at the recommendations Edutopia has to offer. Start playing, start exploring and have fun creating your own personal learning plan.
February is almost over and so the competition for the Vince Lombooki Trophy is nearing the end. The competition is stiff.
Lead Learners and Literacy Legends from across the United States began by competing in the Super Bowl of Book Talks, which following nationwide voting was narrowed down to the Final Four in the World Book Talk Championship. Brad Gustafason, Jen LeGarde and Oliver Schinkten brought their collective genius and love of literacy together to create an engaging series of #30SecondBookTalks with a fun and competitive element. From the Pacific Ocean on the Central Coast of California to the Midwest, Brad, Jen and Oliver are spreading the love of a good book. Check out Brad’s blog Adjusting Course or the #30SecondBookTalk and enjoy.
I was recently asked if I would participate in the Super Bowl of Book Talks. Whoa! What?! The Super Bowl of Book Talks! That’s Big Time! It also sounded like fun.
So I grabbed my favorite children’s book, The Night I Followed My Dog, by Nina Laden and my dog Charlie to create a 30 second book talk. I sent my video to my #LeadWild colleague Brad Gustafason and soon found myself in Round 2 of the Lead Learner bracket of the Super Bowl of Book Talks. I hope you enjoy his blog post and the 30 second rounds of book talks as much as I did.
I’ve been blessed with an incredible PLN (Professional Learning Network). Through applications such as Voxer, Blab, Google+ and Twitter I enjoy daily doses of inspiration, insights into the behind the scenes thinking of some very successful school administrators, professional development providers, teachers and influencers. Two of the strongest influences on my professional practice are Jon Corippo and my absolutely fabulous LeadWild group. You can find most of us under #LeadWild on Twitter.
Last November, we started a conversation about grants which led to Jon throwing out the idea, “What if we were able to get a grant, not for money, but for one that gave us permission to break the rules?” Ooooooooh, what if? Then I realized, as both the Superintendent and the Principal of our school and district, I can do this. I can give staff permission to break the rules. Well, a lot of the rules.
First SketchNote by Jeremiah Blackwell – @Teach_MrBwell
The first Monday of every month in our district is an early release Monday which allows for a couple of hours of monthly professional development. For today’s early release time, I chose to take a flipped approach to part of our professional learning and sent out some links to all staff, yes this includes all classified staff as well, about 20 Percent Time and Genius Hour. I asked them to read the articles, talk to each other and come up with ideas on what they would do if they could be given time to work on a project of their own choosing with the idea of doing something that would have a positive impact on the school in some way. Come up with something you feel passionate about that would improve the school for students, for employees, for the community, for yourself. Think about what you would do if you were not limited by your job description, a bell schedule, grade levels or any of the rules you think apply. I have to say it was really fun to watch the faces as I said I would like to give them a grant in which the rules don’t apply and you were given on the clock time to complete the project. Well, again, most of the rules.
Some of the ideas that came forth were building an outdoor sensory gym, creating a peace garden, creating a Minecraft Lab, getting a 3D printer to use with students, redesigning classroom learning spaces and from the custodian – working with the middle school art class to paint a mural in honor of those who serve our Country. As a school that serves military families, this project incorporates community, students, teachers and classified staff.
The staff meeting ended at 3:30. I thought we had a great conversation, came up with some great ideas, had clear parameters for next steps and had wrapped up nicely. Half an hour later, I looked up at the clock and noticed in was 4:00. No one had left! We were all still talking, brainstorming, making plans and encouraging one another. Another half an hour later most of the staff was still on campus in different classrooms continuing their sharing of ideas and plans.
I’m ready to say yes to their ideas, to connect them with resources and to give them the time they need to make their ideas a reality. Here’s to seeing what happens next. It’s hard to start breaking the rules after a lifetime of following the rules. As the culture adapts to the flexibility that allows staff time and resources to make their thoughts and dreams a reality, it will be exciting to see what they come up with.
Three months ago a young man in one of our neighboring communities was severely injured in a football game. The local community, including several towns in the county, responded with the prayers and financial generosity the American spirit is known for quickly raising over a $100,000 to support his medical care and family expenses.
This past week another local athlete, a freshman soccer player, appeared on GoFundMe. Jose is a young man I got to know while working at Flamson Middle School in Paso Robles, CA. He has been diagnosed with cancer. He also epitomizes the best of what immigrants to the United States can bring to our country. He is a hard working young man, a big brother who keeps a close eye on his younger sibling to make sure he does right. He is an athlete and a scholar with an eye on going to college. He earned his way into the high school AVID program through good grades and teacher recommendations. He is a young man worth investing in.
Yet, the community that responded so quickly and generously to Facebook posts and the GoFundMe account set up for another local high school athlete has not been as quick to respond. What could cause an anglo football player to get such a different response than an hispanic soccer player?
I hope that as you read this blog, you will consider joining me in a making a very big difference in the lives of Jose and his family by donating to the Cancer Medical Fund set up in his name. Please share this opportunity to give with friends and family and let’s see if together, we can begin this New Year by making a difference.