Blog Archives

My Pastor was Right. Again.

Snow path (2)

So a funny thing happened a few years ago. I was sitting in church and our pastor at the time, Steve Wiens, started talking about neuroplasticity. I’ve always been a big nerd at heart, so I immediately took interest. Actually, I was totally eating the science up and loving every second of it. The truth of the matter is that Steve’s message helped me overcome some gunk in my life, and it’s a message I still carry with me when reflecting on change, innovation, and education.

In a nutshell, here’s what I gleaned from Steve’s sermon. We all have habits, tendencies, or even addictions that have become hard-wired into us. Some of these habits are good (holding the door for others, showering, and saying “thank you” are a few examples). Other habits are not so good. In fact, they can be downright destructive (fill in the blank with whatever unhealthy habit or failed New Year’s resolution you have here). If you’re an advanced learner or high-flyer you’re already connecting my sermon notes to education…but try to live in the moment and bear with me one more paragraph. 

Our pastor likened these tendencies to footpaths formed in the snow. (I live in Minnesota mind you, so I hope you’re envisioning a lot of snow and very deep footpaths!) The more we travel a path, the easier it becomes to travel. Conversely, forging a new path can be extremely challenging. The first few times through the snow are always the toughest. In fact, it can be so difficult to take a new path that we might choose to revert down the same old path even when we recognize it is no longer the right direction in our lives.

Now on to the neuroscience of educational change. Creating new neurons involves linking something new to existing schema. (Remember, you can’t do this without a new path.) You’ve got to walk differently, practice, and persevere. So how might we link best practice to innovation in education? How do we connect the two in a manner that is “walkable” for others? What does that path even look like?

I believe that we’ve reached a point in education where we are collectively capable of giving kids more than they are currently receiving. All kids deserve innovative schools and I’m not okay with the fact that not all kids are experiencing this. There’s more work to do!

How do we get rid of some of the educational gunk (a.k.a. past tendencies, habits, etc.) and form some new dendrites? (See what I did there with the dendrites thing?!) I propose that we start by taking the first step. And then the next. Here are a couple examples so that this is not pure hyperbole:

  • We know that students deserve redesigned learning spaces that support the 21st-century skills they’ll need…so we should take the first step in making it happen within our own sphere of influence (classroom, school, district, etc.)
  • We know that we cannot be the experts of everything, and that connecting with other educators regardless of time/proximity only makes sense…so we should take the first step in helping a colleague on this path. We need to get more people connected so we can better serve our students.

Thinking different requires different steps. Different doing. And it is possible! My pastor was right.

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Yes! This blog is moving to a new home. Hop over to www.BradGustafson.com to see how the Adjusting Course blog looks “all grown up.”  I’d love your feedback on the new site too. 

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Join Kid President’s Cabinet (video)

IMG_3452

Click the picture to view a short video featuring kids from three different states.

What if kids were empowered to change the world? Let’s make it happen!  Your classroom can join Kid President’s “Unofficial” Cabinet.  Classrooms across the country will be discussing citizenship together on Thursday, March 10th at 9:30am CST using the #StuConnect hashtag on Twitter.

This short (3 minute) video was created by kids from Minnesota, New York, and New Jersey.  Their collaborative project sets the stage for the conversation that will occur on the #StuConnect hashtag.  Our focus will be on learning about positive character, digital citizenship, and making a difference for others.  All classrooms are welcome to participate (K-12 and beyond)!

If your classroom would like to preview the questions that we will be sharing on March 10th please see below.  The chat will start at 9:30am CST and last 20-30 minutes.  We will spend about five minutes discussing each question.  Feel free to reach out to the #StuConnect moderators if you need help facilitating this Twitter-based conversation with your students. 

#StuConnect Twitter Chat Topic: Citizenship* 

Q1: If you were on Kid President’s cabinet, what citizenship project would you recommend? How could you involve others? #StuConnect

Q2: What are some ways that students, teachers, and leaders display positive character and citizenship? #StuConnect

Q3: How do you demonstrate digital citizenship? #StuConnect

Q4: How does your classroom show citizenship outside the walls of your school? #StuConnect

*On the day of our Twitter chat, you can reply to each question by starting your classroom Tweets with the letter “A” and number of the corresponding question.  This will help others understand that you are answering a particular question.  Be sure to add the #StuConnect hashtag to all of your responses.  Example: “A4 We show citizenship by….. #stuconnect”

#STUCONNECT

Pedagogy First (video)

Our kids are counting on us to lead learning with a relevant and connected pedagogy.  The approach we use is critical to students’ long-term success.  In order to put kids first we’ve got to change the narrative.  We’ve got to prioritize pedagogy…NOT apps or devices.

In order to do this we must begin by asking better questions:

“How might we provide students an authentic audience for their work?”

“In what ways can we tap into Social Media as Learning Media?”

“How can we infuse student voice and innovation into the Common Core State Standards?”

“What is the best thing that could happen if we embrace a more connected approach to teaching and learning?”

“What traditions and educational staples (pun intended) do we need to STOP doing?”

It’s time to get serious about pedagogy.  Teaching the YouTube Generation without providing safe and scaffolded opportunities for students to contribute to YouTube is absurd.  We’ve got to connect kids to authentic learning experiences that are congruent with the collaborative world they live in.  Click HERE to view a three minute video highlighting some of the ways our team is connecting students to their world.

Students connect with a Greenwood graduate and current 3D printing professional.

Students connect with a Greenwood graduate and current 3D printing professional.

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

The Positive Power of Social Media

 

Episode #4 Coming Soon!

Click the Image to view Student Podcast – Episode #4

 

Our students have been collaborating on cross-state podcast projects this school year.  Kids from Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York have created video podcasts in the TouchCastApp to become more connected learners.  We’re learning how Social Media can be utilized to inspire, connect, and share the amazing things happening in our schools.

Our next podcast will feature an exciting new interactive element…we’re inviting students EVERYWHERE to join us in a celebration of creativity based on a “Squiggle.” A Squiggle may appear like a simple wavy line…but using your imagination a Squiggle can turn into anything!

Squiggle Pic

Squiggle PDF for Connected Classrooms Project

Here’s how your classroom can participate:

Watch our podcast about what a Squiggle is and see some examples from our creative kids. The podcast will air in May, 2014.

  1. Print the Squiggle PDF from the link above and encourage your students to flip, turn, color, and create using the Squiggle. The more creative their designs the better!
  2. Take a picture of each Squiggle masterpiece and Tweet it out using the hashtag #StuConnect
  3. Check back often to see what other creative kids and classrooms are doing…we’ll be selecting one random classroom to receive a classroom pack of new Crayola art supplies. Anyone that submits a Squiggle art drawing to our hashtag this school year is eligible for the art prize pack.
  4. Spread the word…we want our students to see the positive power of “connectivity” while simultaneously celebrating the creative genius in EVERY child!

Help us provide students an authentic audience for their work!  Be sure to use the hashtag #StuConnect when submitting your students’ Squiggle artwork.

The Principal of Change

Stories of learning and leading

In Kids' Shoes

Inspiring the Next Generation of Innovators

Reading By Example

Rethinking the Role of the Literacy Leader

Engage Their Minds

Great Minds Don't Think Alike!

Adjusting Course

Responding to the Needs of the 21st Century Student

On The Leaders Edge

A Reflection of Life, Learning and Leadership

Digital Eyes

Looking at Education Through the Lens of 21st Century Skills

Shelley Burgess

Reflections of an educational learner and leader

The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

Thrasymakos

True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

Engaged and Relevant

Just another WordPress.com site

pernilleripp.wordpress.com/

Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension

Jessica Johnson @PrincipalJ

Lead Learner, Elementary School Principal, otherwise known as PrincipalJ

The Thesis Whisperer

Just like the horse whisperer - but with more pages