Monthly Archives: June 2014
Last month the Minnesota Elementary Principals Association (MESPA) published an article titled, “The Digital Leadership Challenge: Driven to Collaborate.” The article contained 33 mini challenges that were crowd-sourced from respected connected educators across the country. We currently have educators from eight states and Canada signed up for a year-long adventure and there’s still time for you to join us. You can participate by adding your name to the interactive sign-up document HERE.
This self-paced professional development was designed to support your learning by offering “choice and voice” within a framework of innovative options. Sometimes all that’s needed to get started is a path; the #DigiLeadChal is just that!
Take ownership of your learning while honing your skills in this digitally connected age. The original 33 mini challenges are posted below. You can read my original blog post and introduction to the #DigiLeadChal HERE. I hope you join us in this shared experience that will ultimately benefit our students. THEIR futures depend on our ability to usher in a new paradigm of learning.
Sign-up via the shared Google Drive link & feel free to tweet questions to the hashtag #DigiLeadChal
Challenge I: A School Communication Vehicle
Created by Brad Gustafson, Elementary Principal, MN
@GustafsonBrad on Twitter
- 1 “Badge” Point: Create a professional Twitter account and follow each of the eleven challenge submitters from this article. Observe how they collaborate with their personal learning network (PLN).
- 2 “Badge” Points: Create a separate school Twitter account strictly for school Tweets. Post one Tweet about your school each week for an entire year. Share pictures and insights about the amazing work being done in your classroom or school.
- 3 “Badge” Points: Participate in MESPA’s real-time Twitter chat on May 16, 2014 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. The chat will be co-moderated by Commissioner of Education, Dr. Brenda Cassellius. Please use the #MESPAmn hashtag to join the conversation. We’ll be following a Q & A format, and all educators are welcome.
Challenge 2: Make Your Commute a Learning Experience
Curt Rees, Elementary Principal, WI
@CurtRees on Twitter
- 1 “Badge” Point: Subscribe to an educational podcast. There are many platforms to do this, but iTunes, Pod-o-matic, and Stitcher are the most popular. I recommend these fine podcasts: EduAllstars, PrincipalCast, and Techlandia.
- 2 “Badge” Points: Share a podcast you enjoy with your colleagues. Find an interesting episode and then tell your staff what you learned. Model continuous learning by letting them know what you listen to in the car or as you run.
- 3 “Badge” Points: Record your own podcast or videocast for your school community. It doesn’t need a lot of time or production. Take your school newsletter and simply record yourself talking about upcoming events. Audioboo makes it easy to record, upload, and share your voice. YouTube Capture or TouchCast are all you need to send a video to your YouTube channel.
Challenge 3: A Window into your School
Patrick Glynn, Elementary Principal, MN
@GallyGopher on Twitter
- 1 “Badge” Point: Establish a Facebook page for your school. Create one Facebook post each week describing student learning in action…and be sure to include photographs!
- 2 “Badge” Points: Market your Facebook page to families and collect 100 “Likes.”
- 3 “Badge” Points: Link your classroom or school’s Facebook page to your school Twitter account using Facebook’s setting options. This will be a huge time saver and it will offer parents a window into your school.
Challenge 4: Public Relations in Overdrive
Jessica Johnson, Elementary Principal, WI
@PrincipalJ on Twitter
- 1 “Badge” Point: Start a UStream account at www.ustream.tv and explore how the site works. Read this post or this post to get ideas about what types of school events you might broadcast.
- 2 “Badge” Points: Use your new UStream account to broadcast a school event. Set up the channel ahead of time and add a description. Advertise that the event will be broadcasted and provide your channel’s URL so parents know how to tune in.
- 3 “Badge” Points: Make broadcasting a regular school routine. For example, if you want to increase engagement at PTO meetings, create a school PTO channel that will always broadcast the meetings. Then advertise this. Share this as a tool for teachers to try with their classrooms to engage parents for special events like Readers Theater or other classroom activities.
Challenge 5: A 21st Century Bumper Sticker
Tony Sinanis, Elementary Lead Learner, NY
Joe Sanfelippo, District Superintendent, WI
@TonySinanis & @Joesanfelippofc on Twitter
- 1 “Badge” Point: A twitter account is a wonderful way to tell your school’s story. Create a school or district hashtag and incorporate it into your school tweets. For example, every tweet Tony sends out about his school includes #Cantiague and when Joe tweets about his district he includes #GoCrickets! Tweet pictures of WHAT is happening in your space and explain the HOW and WHY too.
- 2 “Badge” Points: Encourage at least four (4) colleagues to join Twitter to tell the story of their students’ learning. It is imperative that the same hashtag is used throughout your organization to ensure that the brand is understood. When more than one member of the staff begins tweeting the WHATs, HOWs and WHYs of your organization, it becomes clear to the community that the brand promise matches the brand experience.
- 3 “Badge” Points: Provide at least one (1) new way to amplify your students’ voices so they can tell the story of their classroom or school. By doing so we are promoting critical thinking and communication skills while laying the foundation for students who will be college and career ready. Tony started doing video updates using the Touchcast app at #Cantiague. Students from each class are spotlighted every week. Give your students the microphone (or other communication tools) because they are the ones living the WHATs, HOWs, and WHYs of your learning organization. The goal of school branding is making everything about kids; that’s the perfect bumper sticker!
Challenge 6: Learner Engagement in the Fast Lane
Dwight Carter, HS Principal, OH
@Dwight_Carter on Twitter
- 1 “Badge” Point: Use TodaysMeet to create an engaging back-channel (real-time online conversation alongside a primary lesson, training, or event) in a class or at a staff meeting. Allow students/staff to post questions during a presentation or text-based discussion. Use the archive of the back-channel to assess learning and plan next steps.
- 2 “Badge” Points: Use at least three (3) monthly staff meetings as a platform for students and staff to share practical ways they integrate web 2.0 tools in the classroom to amplify student voice and increase engagement. Sample web 2.0 tools include Glogster, Edmodo, YouTube, Twitter, Skype, Polleverywhere.com, Socrative, and Facebook.
- 3 “Badge” Points: Use a current multimedia class or create a club to develop four (4) or more student-centered videos or Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that highlight learning experiences at your school. Post them to a school YouTube channel and share the link on your school Twitter and/or Facebook page. Collaborate with a teacher who is passionate about multimedia to guide the student group. Here’s an example!
Challenge 7: Increasing your Social Media Mileage
Dave Zukor, Integration Specialist, MN
@DZukor on Twitter
- 1 “Badge” Point: Your class can use Skype or Google Hangout to connect locally with another class somewhere else in your state. Research information about classroom Mystery Skypes to learn about one engaging option.
- 2 “Badge” Points: Have your students work collaboratively online to create a cross-state project with students from another class in the United States. Use Google Docs, Skype, or any online tool.
- 3 “Badge” Points: Use a social media site to reach out to classrooms around the world. Share your learning and build opportunities for your students to collaborate. Start a classroom Twitter account, Google+, or another social media site.
Challenge 8: Fueling the Engine of Reflection
Rafranz Davis, Instructional Technology Specialist, TX
@RafranzDavis on Twitter
- 1 “Badge” Point: Create a professional blog site using a blogging tool like Blogger, WordPress or Weebly. Write your first post about what you hope to gain through blogging. Share your first post using a social media tool like Twitter.
- 2 “Badge” Points: Publish one (1) blog post per week for a month. Share reflections about the process, success and failures in your classroom or school. Share each of these posts using a social media tool like Twitter.
- 3 “Badge” Points: Connect with blogs written by other educators. Write six (6) blog postings reflecting on other educators’ posts. Be sure to leave a comment in the original authors’ comment sections listing the URL to your related blog reflection/response. Share each of these posts using a social media tool like Twitter.
Challenge 9: Interstate Professional Development
Daisy Dyer Duerr, PreK – 12 Principal, AR
@DaisyDyerDuerr on Twitter
- 1 “Badge” Point: Join #ArkEdChat (Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. CST) or another great Educational Twitter Chat. Participate in online, on-demand, professional learning with educators across the globe through social media.
- 2 “Badge” Points: Participate in an Educational Twitter Chat three (3) weeks in a row; consistency will help build a PLN and give you an understanding of what to expect from the chat’s moderators. Then, introduce two colleagues or “edufriends” to the world of online Twitter Chats for Professional Development.
- 3 “Badge” Points: Administrators: Formulate a plan allowing your teachers to use Educational Twitter Chats for Professional Development; e.g. credit for participation in existing chats or use of stand-alone chats within your school/district. Teachers: Bring an Administrator who has never participated in this type of Social Media Professional Development to an Educational Twitter Chat like #ArkEdChat (Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. CST).
Challenge 10: A Unique Space to Park
Terri Eichholz, Teacher of K – 5 Gifted Students, TX
@TerriEichholz on Twitter
- 1 “Badge” Point: Read the book Invent to Learn by Sylvia Libow Martinez & Gary Stager. Then, explore the inventolearn.com website.
- 2 “Badge” Points: Read the following online blog posts: “Make to Learn” by Laura Fleming, “Making a Makerspace” by Robert Provonost, “Making a Makerspace – Two Weeks In” by Robert Provonost, and “Dive into the Maker Movement” by Adam Provost. Then, visit a Maker Fair or Maker Space in your area. One resource for finding local Maker Spaces is:http://makerspace.com/makerspace-directory
- 3 “Badge” Points: With the help of the Makerspace Playbook, and the resources above, identify a space in your school that could be used as a Makerspace, and develop a plan to make it happen! Suggested areas to add Makerspaces include computer labs, Media Centers, empty classrooms, or multi-use areas.
Challenge 11: A Golden Opportunity for our Students
Eric Sheninger, High School Principal, NJ
@NMHS_Principal on Twitter
- 1 “Badge” Point: Leverage your social media connections to form at least one (1) strategic partnership that benefits your school (i.e. pilot Edtech program, unique professional development opportunity, guest speaker, authentic learning experience, donation, etc.).
- 2 “Badge” Points: Form at least two (2) strategic partnerships and write a school Twitter or Facebook post sharing the benefit to your school.
- 3 “Badge” Points: Form at least three strategic partnerships and present at a local, state, or national conference on school initiatives. Write a blog post, media release, or website entry sharing the benefit to your school.
How to Earn Badges
15-29 points earn the Gearing Up Badge: Awarded to Digital Leaders for their collaborative efforts.
30-49 points earn the Road to Relevancy Badge: Awarded to Digital Leaders for outstanding efforts in collaboration and connectivity.
50-66 points earn the Spark Plug Badge: Awarded to Digital Leaders demonstrating innovation & exemplary 21st century practice while serving as agents of change.
Reprinted with permission from MESPA. Click HERE to view the original article.
- What are the chances that our children would choose school over another preferred activity?
- What are the chances a student will always love school? (Not just tolerate it…but literally LOVE it.)
- What should we do if a child is not captivated by school now?
- What if we gave our kids more opportunities to create and engineer in elementary school?
- How might we amplify student voice and foster a deep appreciation for authentic learning that transcends age or grade-level?
- Better yet…how can we make learning in school MORE authentic now?
- What if school was less about worksheets and filling in bubbles and more about creating and inventing?
- What might we have to give up to make school more student-centric, and are we truly willing to take that risk?
- Can students learn as much through experimentation and failure as they can through traditional means?
- How might we create a more personalized student learning experience where critical thinking and “dreaming big” were the norm?
- What would the dinnertime conversation feel like if you were able to ask your child, “What did you invent today and what challenges did you persevere through to make it happen?
The best part about education is that not only do WE get to ask the questions…WE get to answer them because WE are part of the solution! You can be part of a pilot project that is part of the work we are doing at Greenwood Elementary. Teachers are doing some amazing things and truly intent on fostering conditions that support an AMAZING learning experience for kids.
Will you help us usher in a new era of learning that builds upon the tradition of excellence in our district? We refuse to accept a disconnect between “real life” and school. We want our students to have limitless options and access to cutting-edge technology in a safe and supportive environment.
Will you please consider supporting our MakerBot 3D Printer for a new Mobile MakerSpace project on DonorsChoose.org?
If you donate by June 18, 2014 your contribution will receive matching funds. (Use the promo code INSPIRE to have your donation doubled!) If you know of anyone else that may be interested in supporting this project please pass this blog post along.
Image Credit: MakerSchmitt.blogspot.com
The following is a guest blog post from one of our very own Greenwood Grizzlies, Marit. I was recently visiting Marit’s classroom and observed some truly moving graduation speeches. While reading her words below might not be exactly the same as the heartfelt delivery she provided, it does offer a glimpse into the student learning experience at our school. Marit’s words also speak volumes about the impact of caring teachers, family, and friends.
Hi my name is Marit, and I got assigned to write an Elementary Graduation Speech that I presented to my class. My class wrote the speeches to reflect on our Elementary experiences, which I thought was very special since we are moving onto Middle School. My principal, Mr. Gustafson, listened to our speeches in front of our parents and really enjoyed them. He asked me if I’d share my speech on his blog. I hope you enjoy reading my Graduation Speech as well! Congrats to everyone graduating this spring around the world!
“Don’t be sad it’s over… Be happy it happened.”
This is one quote that really applies to leaving Greenwood or Elementary School in general! Greenwood has been a great school for me, but I’ve only been here for a few years. I really think it’s sad to leave Greenwood because it has been a blast being here. I am going to tell you all about my great years as an Elementary student. I can’t believe that I am already going to be a middle school student. Most people are nervous but I’m very excited.
Teachers are so important they shape my life by teaching me everything I know and making me a better person. If I didn’t have teachers I wouldn’t know anything near how much I know now.
Some teachers that really were an important part of my life are Mr.Vrudny and Miss Zeman. Mr.Vrudny has really influenced me. He was an awesome teacher but when he taught he always made it so fun! Mr.Vrudny was always so nice to the whole class I think he was such an amazing teacher! Miss.Zeman has helped me have a fun, amazing fifth grade experience. She is super funny and always makes me laugh! Miss Zeman always helped me learn if I didn’t understand she would help me so I understood! I will be very sad leaving Greenwood and all the great years I had.
Today I want to recognize so many people, but most importantly my family. My parents are always there for me and can help me with anything! My parents always have helped me whether its a fight, a hard subject, or basketball! I love my parents so much. Another person I would like to recognize is my nanny, Joelle. She always will be there for me and be one of my role models! I also want to thank all of my good friends for always having my back and being true and loyal friends. One friend that I really want to recognize is Sophie even though she doesn’t go to Greenwood she is still my best friend and I know that we have a strong friendship.
I could talk for hours about basketball but all I really need to say is basketball has shaped my life in many ways and taught me how to be a great team leader!
Elementary School was plain-out a great time in my life and I can’t wait for middle school. I feel prepared for middle school because I am becoming more independent and I am very excited to meet lots of new friends and be in a bigger school. I will miss Greenwood but I have had so many great memories here in Greenwood Elementary!
Walking the hallways at Greenwood Elementary I often say, “It’s an amazing time to be a student.” Meaningful opportunities to connect and create using new mediums abound. Students can use digital tools to take their learning to new levels. This year they can do the same with their yearbooks!
Our yearbooks are loaded with Augmented Reality (AR) pictures, videos, and snippets of school concert footage. (If you’re unfamiliar with AR, it’s very similar to the yellow first-down lines that are displayed on television during NFL games; the supplemental digital content adds to the viewing experience!)
Students that ordered yearbooks will receive them this week. In addition to the traditional fun of exchanging autographs, kids can experience some supplemental digital content by following the directions below.
1. Download the Aurasma App on an iPad or SmartPhone.
2. Follow the “Greenwood Elementary” channel in the Aurasma App. (This step is important.)
3. Aim your iPad or SmartPhone’s Aurasma viewfinder at the yearbook to begin hunting for the bonus photos and videos.
There are 30+ Augmented Reality photos/videos embedded in your child’s yearbook. Some of the AR photo links may be sensitive to ink smudging, so avoid excessive scribbling to preserve the functionality of embedded videos.
Yearbook ScavengAR Hunt:
- Can you find the Principal’s video greeting on page 1?
- Find the 5th grade musical, Annie, and you’ll get footage from the show via the Aurasma app.
- Locate our Head Custodian, Jesse Husby, and watch the picture of him in -45 degree windchill transform. Brrrr!!
- Search for Police Chief Mike Goldstein to hear a special message to our students about DARE.
- Find our Character Trait posters to see student-created character education videos. (Special thanks to Mr. Uselding!)
- Look for the surprise engagement photo with one of our teachers.
- Check-out the Home Base & Bright Start preschool video highlights.
- If you search long enough you’ll even find hidden Field Trip footage from a winter trip some students took.
- Each 5th grade classroom has a virtual tour linked to their class so our “graduates” will always remember their elementary years!
- Every grade-level has at least one AR surprise to find on their grade-level yearbook page…good luck!
Special thanks to our PTA yearbook chairperson, Kari, for the countless hours she invested into the yearbook this year. Kari and her team compiled some really great pictures that will help us all remember what a fantastic year this was. She was extremely collaborative and worked to make it possible to add AR surprise content to the yearbook. (If you lose this blog post she included directions for downloading the Aurasma App to the fist page of our yearbook.) A big thanks to Kari and the entire PTA team…we are so thankful for your support!