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Join Kid President’s Cabinet (video)

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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

Dear Tony

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Dear Tony,

(An open response to a parent who shared some great questions/concerns in the comment section of this blog.)

I want to thank you for sharing your concerns about social media and its potential impact on foundational learning.  When I first read your comment on my blog I was struck by your authenticity and the importance of what you were asking.  My visceral response was to craft a comprehensive (and maybe even eloquent) reply.

In attempting to do so, I quickly realized that I was prioritizing my own answer over your very valid concerns.  If I’m being honest, I think that I was trying to insert my “expertness” (perceived or otherwise) into a reply because I wanted you to be as confident about the learning experiences we are trying to facilitate as I am.  This prompted me to pause.

When our answers become more important than the questions others ask we will have done a disservice to the very nature of learning.  Please know that I will carry your questions and perspective with me to conversations we have as a school about Vision, pedagogy, and student achievement.  Most importantly, I will never lose sight of the hopes, dreams, and expectations that parents have for their children and their children’s schools.

One day many of our children will have social media accounts of their own.  I can only hope that the modeling that you, Tony, have done by showing integrity, inquisitiveness, and concern in your original blog comment to me helps our kids understand the potential value of social media and other important communication tools.

I believe that the questions you’ve asked should also be part of a larger conversation about the nature of foundational learning.  For this reason I’m inviting others to join us in the conversation.  If at any point you’d like to connect directly please don’t hesitate to call or e-mail.

Sincerely,

Brad

An Invitation

#STUCONNECT

Join us on October 8th at 9:30am (Central Standard Time) for an educational Twitter chat focused on kids! We’re inviting teachers to follow the hashtag #StuConnect and engage their students in a conversation about things that make school cool.  Click HERE to view a short (3 minute) video introducing the topic.

The chat will begin at 9:30am CST and last for approximately 30 minutes.  Classrooms may join or leave the conversation at any time.  Questions will be posed by three moderators: @TonySinanis @JohnFritzky and @GustafsonBrad and be posted to the #StuConnect hashtag on Twitter.  A sample question is below:

Q1 What’s cool in your school? #StuConnect

Teachers may respond to questions by typing A1 (answer one) and then their answers.  Be sure to include the hashtag #StuConnect in each tweet.  Feel free to interact with other chat participants and share classroom resources/examples that relate to the conversation.  We’ve already received confirmation that schools as far away as Dubai (United Arab Emirates) will be joining us! This is a great opportunity to model citizenship for students while connecting classrooms to a global community of learners.

Social media is learning media, but we have to scaffold the experience for our students!

It Started with a Teacher

Recently, I was walking down a hallway in our school and stumbled upon an amazing turn of events…and it all started with a teacher.

As I was traversing the hallways I noticed two students collaborating on a podcast using their iPads.  I stopped to chat and learned that their project was part of a classroom presentation for Genius Hour.  Their teacher, Ms. Elle Zeman, empowered them to explore their passions, and on this day their passion was exploring an algorithm to solve a Rubik’s Cube in less than one minute!

I walked away from our hallway conversation impressed with our students, and even more impressed that our staff consistently put kids in positions to research, create, and communicate new information using cutting edge tools.  It just so happens that this particular teacher also tweeted out a picture of her students’ Genius Hour presentation that same morning. The tweet was shared to our school hashtag #GWgreats and retweeted.

What happened next was pretty incredible.  John Fritzky, an educator in New Jersey, contacted our school and asked if our students could teach students from his school how to solve a Rubik’s Cube using the same algorithm.  After working out the logistics and scheduling a Google Hangout (GHO video conference) our elementary students were presenting to students at Byram Intermediate School in New Jersey.

Many of our students marveled at the notion that somebody else truly valued their work and learning.  Even students who were not presenting shared in the excitement.

If you are an educator that is not using Social Media yet, I encourage you to reflect upon the opportunities that abound in this digitally connected age.  Never underestimate the power of an authentic audience.  Our students are counting on us to provide them authentic opportunities to practice 21st century skills in a safe environment accompanied by scaffolding from discerning adults.

This is a story about a teacher that amplified her students’ voices.  She shared their learning on Twitter, and the resulting connections contributed to an experience her class won’t soon forget.  Check-out the one minute video clip below to see our students in action.

I Love to Read SMACKDOWN!

Image Credit: vortexeffect.net

Image Credit: vortexeffect.net

There has been a lot of buzz about the ConnectED BINGO game that started this month.  In fact, we’re so pumped to be reading and connecting that we are issuing a Reading Smackdown for educators. That’s right…and it’s all for the love of literacy!!

I was recently chatting with a few of my principal friends from around the country on Twitter and Voxer.  We challenged each other to a Reading Smackdown…..are YOU up for the challenge?!? Participating is as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Create a short video clip of your favorite line from a book and post it to Vine.  Be creative and be sure to add the hashtag #StuConnect to your post. We can’t wait to see how educators walk the walk during “I Love to Read” month.  Special thanks to Chris Lehman for contributing this mini-challenge to the BINGO board.
  2. Join the fun, and print your BINGO board by clicking the link below. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxQP80CJnm8EelZzSUt5bS12Sk0/view?usp=sharing
  3. Tag at least three more educators via Twitter or in a blog post and challenge them to join the #ReadingSmackDown too. Don’t forget to use the #StuConnect hashtag when posting your video on Vine.

I’m tagging my friends Tony Sinanis, John Fritzky, Amy Fadeji, Theresa Stager, Spike Cook, Adam Welcome & Mark French.  Good luck!

ConnectED BINGO

February is “I Love to Read” month and we’re inviting classrooms everywhere to join us in playing ConnectED BINGO. We collaborated with authors and educators across North America to create an epic reading opportunity! The goal is to foster a genuine love of reading through social interaction and great literature.  We are striving to facilitate student-centered connections between authors, educators, and classrooms.

BINGO pic

ConnectED BINGO

Click the blue link above to print a PDF of the game board. Some activities should be completed with guidance from a teacher or parent. Cultivating good character through digital citizenship is a shared responsibility.  Students will be best served if the adults in their lives take an active role in modeling and discussing responsible use of social media, sharing, and online interactions.  We hope you have a BLAST reading and connecting.

Social Media at its Best

Much like a crayon or magic marker, Social Media mirrors the thinking and creativity of the user.  Some people can take a few simple crayons and create astonishing works of art! There are others that may choose to use the crayons in less appropriate ways. For example, I’ve seen crayons used in creative ways on playground equipment. As an elementary principal, I’m pleased to share that the overwhelming majority of time our students are using tools like crayons and markers to do really inspiring work.

The take-away for this story is that more often than not, crayons are used to spread joy and beauty. They inspire creativity and sometimes their messages even touch the soul.  I think the same can be true of Social Media.  If we begin to cultivate digital citizenship in our students at a very young age, there will be no limit to the positive impact they can have on the world.

One way to cultivate digital citizenship is via conversation. Talk early and often with children about online tools and communication. Help kids learn to leverage Social Media to make a positive mark on the world through modeling.  A great example of Social Media at its best is the Ice Bucket Challenge.  The challenge has gone viral…and for good reasons:

1.) The Ice Bucket Challenge gives us the ability to connect to a cause bigger than ourselves (ALS).

2.) Social Media is being used to connect people to each other’s “story.” The resulting communication I’ve observed has been fun-loving and authentic.

3.) The Ice Bucket Challenge and its inherent link to Social Media has helped us collectively create, communicate, and make a difference. The possibilities for self-expression and citizenship/service are very powerful.

4.) Most importantly, the Ice Bucket Challenge and sharing via Social Media have served as a catalyst for deeper conversations about ALS, service and real people that are hurting.

My wife’s uncle has been battling ALS for years. We’re hopeful that the awareness, energy, and funds being generated by the Ice Bucket Challenge leave a positive and lasting mark on a dreaded disease.

As an educator I’m also committed to teaching students responsible use and digital citizenship so that they can change the world and leave a positive mark. I don’t see this as optional anymore, and our kids are counting on us to learn, engage, and model for them so they have the capacity to thrive in a digital age.

Connected Summer Learning via Social Media

What do you get when you combine summer learning with Augmented Reality and the positive power of Social Media?! The answer is pure awesomeness…and students EVERYWHERE are welcome to join the fun.

We’re providing kids a unique way to stay connected this summer.  The poster below contains a very special Augmented Reality (AR) message.  Follow the steps on the bottom of the poster to see the drawing come alive, and to view a summer learning video from Greenwood Elementary School’s principal, Mr. Gustafson.  If you are in a pinch for time and don’t want to print the poster to experience the AR message, just click the image and a YouTube video will play. (It’s not quite the same experience…but you’ll get the important info.)Summer Learning PDF

Connected Learning PDF

After students view the surprise augmented reality (AR) video they can begin creating their projects.  Projects can use any art supplies that parents approve of, but should highlight positive character traits like caring and citizenship.  Posters might include pictures of service-learning projects, cool graphics, or important quotes. So…bust out your markers, glue, and glitter and start creating!  After your child’s Character Poster is completed you can share it using our school’s hashtag.  Students love the chance to share their work with an authentic audience!

Take a photo of your child’s poster and Tweet it to me @GustafsonBrad then add #GWgreats to the message. This project is a fun way for kids to connect to a common project and make a difference over the summer.  We’re so proud of all our students do…and we can’t wait to see the creative work that is shared.

Digital Leadership Challenge

Digital Leadership Challenge: Driven to Collaborate

Digital Leadership Badge

 A car has one windshield and when it becomes foggy the driver’s response is obvious.  The windshield of today’s school leader is not so unidimensional.

21st century school leaders are charged with leading complex change and in doing so they must serve with multiple windshields, or lenses.  Traditional lenses have included instructional leadership, culture, and community partnership. We must embrace an additional lens; our students are counting on us to provide digital leadership!

A digital leadership lens requires each of us to see the road with a new set of eyes.  Nearly every situation we encounter should be considered with this new perspective.  The reality is that our students find themselves in a connected world with limitless potential.  And still, we have barely scratched the surface of how this translates to 21st century pedagogy.

 

“If we lead today as we led yesterday, we rob our schools of tomorrow.”

~Adapted from John Dewey

 

It is a moral imperative that we model the vision and skills necessary to help students prepare for their future.  By embracing tools and technologies that are ubiquitous to students outside of school we add relevancy to the educational experience.  This is precisely where the Digital Leadership Challenge can help!

There are eleven challenges listed below for you to try.  Each challenge was designed by a connected-educator in the United States.  Submitters do not espouse to be experts in any area, and instead embrace their roles as learners.  Challenges are based upon the pillars from Eric Sheninger’s impactful book, Digital Leadership.

Educators that participate in the Digital Leadership Challenge will be eligible for an electronic badge based upon the points accrued over the next 12 months.  This badge could be displayed on a school website, Twitter account, blog, or referenced on a professional vitae.  Most importantly, your efforts will directly enhance our students’ learning experience.

The journey of 1,000 miles starts today and you are in the driver’s seat.  Best of all…you’ve got a myriad of collaborative colleagues sitting “shot-gun” and we’re eager to help.  You can track your progress by adding your name to a shared document.  Click HERE to access the shared document.  Share this link and invite other educators to take the challenge!

 

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

 

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

 DigiLead Badge 3DigiLead Badge 2DigiLead Badge 3

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 published in May, 2014.

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.

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