Thursday, August 29, 2013

Are You Celebrating STEMtember?

Are you looking for ways to integrate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in an engaging way with real world applications?  Check out the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge.

To support the kickoff of the challenge, Siemens is offering a variety of webinars, lessons, virtual field trips, and weekly giveaways!  There are many examples of how to implement Project Based Learning through collaboration within the Discovery Education STEM Network.

Register now for the Challenge and the Virtual Events!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Are We There Yet?

Are we there yet?  We have all either heard or uttered those words on a vacation at some point.  With summer vacation ending, my thoughts wander to all those wonderful destinations that I travelled to over the years.  

My greatest journey has been my education.  But, with education, I don’t think we are ever “there.”  Education is about the journey.  It is about trying out new lessons, and sometimes watching them fail.  It is from the failures that I have learned the most.  Teaching is about analyzing our best lessons, improving them, and making them more engaging.  When I get to a point in my teaching that I feel I am almost “there,” that is when I most long for a change.  If I become stagnant in what I teach, I feel that my students will become stagnant in what they learn.  

As you begin the new school year, think about where you are.  If you think you are there, maybe you need to change your lens and widen your view.  Expand your professional learning community.  Look to others that are doing things differently.  Take a chance on a new way of teaching.  Let your students see you struggle, fail, and get back up again.  Our students need to see that failure is not an end point, it is a new beginning.  Learning is about getting up and trying again.  

Good luck in the new year -- and find a way to change your lens!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Branding Your School

We often think of marketing and advertisements when referring to branding. But when it comes to visible learning in education, branding has the potential to build relationships and support learning.

I was inspired to write this after reading Tony Sinanis' blog. Tony (@Cantiague_Lead) is the principal of Cantiague Elementary in NY. As a school leader with an iPad in tow, Tony stepped away from his office to capture the daily learning opportunities taking place all over his school. He uses Twitter to publicly post, hence communicating with parents, the community and branding student learning and teacher involvement in a positive spotlight. Tony used Storify to pull the school Tweets together, wrapping them into one neat package that is easily accessible and readable by all interested parties. Take a look at Cantiague's Week in Tweets (June 7). The Tweets speak for themselves.

Communicating school happenings is one way to create an open-door policy that invites the public in, without diminishing security. This kind of branding sends the message, I am proud to show others what is happening in my classroom and in my school! My students are important, they are challenged, and they are working hard every day. Celebrating is an important part of learning. This is a great elementary example of how branding your school's image will help build relationships between school, home and community as well as support learning on many levels. I truly believe replicating this model at the secondary level will have the same positive effects! Educational leaders: step away from your office, grab a mobile device and begin branding the countless wonderful learning activities, taking place right now in your school.
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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Public school libraries: moving past the traditional

I just read a great article from Education Week: Keeping Public School Libraries Relevant, by Matthew Lynch. It puts the vision of what a school library should be into perspective. Moving beyond a place where the focus was on books and other traditional sources of information to a digital environment that compliments the traditional

 We are so proud of our WCPSS school library media coordinators who are embracing the change. They are creating a climate of innovation. While they still provide the traditional resources, they are also providing onsite and remotely accessed digital resources. These resources extend the libraries of our youth (this coming from a 50-something person) to ones that support the digital age and the integration of technology into information literacy.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


#edmodocon Tagboard

What a fantastic day of learning. Edmodocon, an online streamed conference, ran for 11 hours today and I participated in as much as I could. If you are interested in learning about collaboration, digital citizenship, blended learning environments or how to use an online environment like Edmodo, visit next week and look for the archived sessions. Every presenter shared a wealth of resources and practical ideas for implementation. Drop by and take a look...and check out the tagboard.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Bigger Picture

I spent much of my time as a classroom teacher, encouraging my students to 'see the big picture' when reading literature, magazines, news articles, digital information, and investigating and researching information. My greatest thrill was the feeling of achievement when my students became passionate about their learning, the young man who found NASA's satellite images and used them to determine the level of deforestation in South America rain forests over a span of time, another who compared the nuclear damage caused during the Chernoble meltdown to the bombs Americans dropped on Japan during World War II, the girls who learned that in more than a few countries, girls their same age are sometimes sold into prostitution by blood relatives.

When I learned the man who started the online shopping company, Amazon, purchased the Washington Post, I was forced to pause. How often does capitalism cross paths with the people we trust to report the news, the facts, the unbiased truths. Robert Frost's poems influenced me to take paths through life that are less popular, make my own path in life. I feel it is important to do the same when consuming information. After all, news is one person's interpretation, a single perspective. Like my students, I need to take many sources into account and analyze the big picture before reaching conclusions.