Monthly Archives: October 2014

Literacy-O-Lanterns

Pumpkin Pic 2014 group

Each year our school displays several “Literacy-O-Lanterns” in the Media Center for students to enjoy. Armed with only a Sharpie and some acrylic paint, I decorate the pumpkins with characters or cover art from popular children’s books. This year’s crop features some new titles and old favorites. Our ultimate goal is to foster a genuine love of reading, and to get kids talking about their favorite books.

How many of the characters & books represented on the pumpkins can YOU guess?

Hints:

  1. One of the pumpkins above is connected to the 2014 Global Read Aloud created by Pernille Ripp. Check out the hashtag on Twitter #GRA14 and be sure to follow @PernilleRipp for more global literacy opportunities for students.
  2. One of the pumpkins features a boy named Wendell (who also happens to be the world’s worst wizard). The title is also part of the #WorldBookTalk project. The book’s cover is a trigger image powered by Augmented Reality. Huge shout-out to John Spencer for co-authoring this enchanting read! Be sure to follow @EdRethink on Twitter to catch all of John’s blog posts too.
  3. One of the pumpkins pictured above is part of a series that my daughters LOVED. With more than 100 titles, the series kept them reading, and reading, and reading…it was awesome!
  4. One of the books below was written by my friend, Todd Nesloney. The message of the book is that we all have something important to offer the world. You can read more about the book, Spruce and Lucy, in this blog post.

Pumpkin pic 2013Pumpkins 2012PumpkinsPumpkins Mosiac 2014

Connected Learning

Our mission is to plan Professional Development (PD) opportunities that are so responsive that every single teacher walks away from their breakout session-choice feeling empowered.  Each month’s focus will align with one of our three building goals:

1.) High Student Achievement in Literacy

2.) Meaningful Technology Integration

3.) Relationships and Culture

HUGE shout-outs to our PD Chair, PD team, and our site data team. Your time and leadership has us in a great position to focus our efforts while continuing to learn and grow.

Our first round of staff PD Breakout Sessions will be Monday, October 27th and the focus will be technology. The session options below were planned based on staff feedback collected using the “Empowered Learning” forum in Moodle last spring. Sign-up for each session can be done online and Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) are available.

Session 1 (Flipped)

Connecting with Classrooms across the Country 

Guiding Question: How might we teach students to connect and share responsibly? We’ll respond to the video and discuss the pedagogy & tools to connect kids to an authentic audience.  We will also participate in a GHO video-conference with a school in another state. Please view the five minute “flipped PD” video prior to our session.

Session 2

Twitter 101: Getting Started…Getting Connected 

Guiding Question: What is Twitter and how are educators leveraging it to connect and share? Learn the basics of Twitter like how to Tweet, basics of the bio, and the art of the hashtag. There will be a time for collaboration and assistance in setting up a Twitter account at the end of the session.

We’re looking forward to experiencing many teacher-led sessions facilitated by our very own #GWgreats over the course of the school year.  This year we are also piloting an approach to making our monthly PD breakouts OPTIONAL for staff. If you’d prefer to engage with a monthly theme in a different way than what we have planned, we want to empower you to do so. Own your learning! Attend an EdCamp, organize a cross-grade collaborative conversation, observe a colleague and try something new.

A special thank you to the connected educators from across the country that took time to share a short video clip about how/why they are connecting.  They’re listed below in order of appearance. I have learned so much from these educators, and encourage you to follow them all on Twitter:

Pernille Ripp  |  @pernilleripp

Natalie Hull  |  @misshulljse

Adam Welcome  |  @awelcome

Erin Klein  |  @kleinerin

Penngrove Elementary Staff  |  @mrsnewman014 @msjanuleski @mcandersen88 @ohsposato @mrsfadeji

Brian Costello  |  @btcostello05

Celeste Mayhood  |  @celesteclm

John Fritzky  |  @johnfritzky

Justin Schleider  |  @schleiderjustin

Becca Bailey  |  @artwithbailey

Eric Sheninger  |  e_sheninger

Heather Cooper  |  @hcooper815

Shelly Roche  |  @mrsrochejse

Kory Graham  |  @tritonkory

Jeff Bradbury  |  @teachercast

Kimberly Hurd  |  @khurdhorst

Ashley Drill | @mrsdrill3rd

Jamie Tewksbury  |  @mrstewksbury3rd

Tony Sinanis  |  @tonysinanis

Creativity Reigns

This weekend our students demonstrated the power of passion! They used their imaginations and created an epic cardboard arcade from mostly used and recycled items. The entire project was inspired by Caine’s Arcade (a cardboard arcade made by a 9-year-old boy).

I was so impressed by the time and work our students put into their projects. I was humbled to see so many of our families converge on the school cafeteria to support their children’s innovative spirit. We had nearly 180 students participate and the school was packed with creative projects…and all of this on one of the nicest Saturday afternoons ever!

If you have a few minutes, please check out the video link above. While we were not able to capture every single arcade game in our video, the TouchCast does show just how amazing our students really are. We will be inviting a few students to bring their cardboard arcade games to our PTA Carnival this spring. (Some judging was done based on durability, creativity and the carnival “fun factor.”)

Congratulations to EVERY student that participated. I am really proud of your efforts and the passion you brought to your projects.

**Special thanks to the fabulous Mrs. Carrie Lunetta for bringing this opportunity to our entire school. Mrs. Lunetta is our Gifted & Talented teacher, and she also understands that each and every child has a “genius” and spark…it’s our job to help kids embrace their creativity. 

Skills for Today

When I reflect upon the important work our staff is doing I’m inspired. The commitment we’ve made to creativity is palpable, and we’re seeking new and innovative ways to put students in the center of their learning. I’m seeing our team amplify student voice while providing kids an authentic audience for their work. Some of the “learning work” our team is involved with includes:

  • Genius Hour
  • Passion-Based Learning
  • 3D Printing
  • MakerSpaces
  • Redesigning Learning Spaces
  • Flipped Instruction
  • Social Media as Learning Media
  • Project-Based Learning (Cane’s Arcade, etc.)
  • Augmented Reality
  • Back-Channeling via “TodaysMeet”

Teachers are exploring new ways to help build students capacity to connect responsibly in a digital world.  Best of all…we’ve kept a keen focus on the importance of relationships; our students are responding in amazing ways! Our staff has embraced meaningful technology integration as one of our three school priorities. We know that the work we are doing will help students develop skills for today will ultimately help them excel tomorrow.

Maximum Impact

Bumper Cars

There’s no other way for me to say this…being a Connected Educator has transformed my life and thinking. Using tools like Twitter and Voxer to collaborate with people across the planet has been one of the most exhilarating and humbling endeavors of my life. The energy and co-mingling between my Personal Learning Network (PLN) and colleagues at school helps me deliver a maximum impact for kids.

Bumper spark

At a recent family trip to the Mall of America, I was struck by the obvious reliance a bumper car has on the network of metal grates in the ceiling; my PLN is like an unceasing and conductive ceiling constantly sparking my learning.

The AMAZING staff and team we have at our school fuels a collective effort to make a difference for each and every child…together we’re able to handle the bumps and detours that are inherent in any innovative learning organization.

Most bumper cars rely on a conductive floor AND ceiling (each with differing polarities). The pole at the top of a bumper car touches the ceiling, while the contacts on the floor complete a powerful circuit. The resulting connection is rather effective…and tons of fun!

  • Where do you get your energy and “spark” from?
  • How are you able to make a maximum impact for kids each day?
  • How do you remain relevant?
  • Who inspires you to collaborate and grow?

We need to be constantly evolving and growing because our students’ world is changing. Our kids deserve relevant educators. There’s a world of collaborative educators out there willing to help…be sure to complete the circuit!

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