Why is Organizing Our Thinking Important?

john-f-kennedy-jfk-quotes-11

I am the main organizer of our district instructional technology Twitter chat #nisdNOV8.  This fall we made a purposeful move into a series approach to our chats.  In November we focused on #voiceNchoice for a 3 part series.

In December we focused on the concept of “Organizing Our Thinking” for 3 of our chats.

keep calm and curate

The first chat focused on curation. We discussed not just collecting online resources, but organizing them, sharing with others, reflecting and evaluating.  What I have realized in my learning and experience with curation is that it is necessary in the digital world we live.  So many times ideas come to us when we are not ready to act on them, yet they are important.  We have also learned when we try to retrieve those ideas when we are ready, we cannot always relocate them unless we curate them.  I had a very good conversation with an amazing and vibrant teacher.  She had been very active on Twitter, but lately had not been present.  As we talked I realized she was in information overload. She loved the ideas that were shared on Twitter and wanted to act on them immediately. However, it was causing her to spin around like a Tasmanian devil and not truly do things as well as she would like… in came the skill of curation. Now she participates in Twitter with the abandon she is used to, but with a plan. She favorites resources and ideas as the discussion occurs, then curates the resource links into a site like Scoop.it or Pinterest, and takes action on items that are relevant for her in this moment. (To learn more about this discussion on Curation go to the Archived Chat.)

THINKING_MAPS

The second chat focused on the way in which teachers and students organize their thinking and capture learning through Thinking Maps.  During this chat teachers and administrators shared how they use Thinking Maps for anchor charts, note-taking, planning professional development and organizing instruction. More importantly the discussion emphasized how at every level we need to be transparent in how we use Thinking Maps in every way for content, planning and student work so that we can learn through and with each other. (To learn more about this discussion on Thinking Maps go to the Archived Chat.)

Julie Adams book cover

Finally, in the last chat in the “Organizing Your Thinking” series we had the privilege of having Julie Adams, author and Professional Development consultant/presenter expertly lead a discussion on Note-taking. Her insight and questions pushed us to reflect on how note-taking is addressed.  It was apparent of how essential the skill of note-taking is (Marzano says it is the top 9 skills for a learner to master) for students. Many teachers remarked in the chat how it was a skill lost on them and needed when they went to college… having to learn for survival. The discussion inspired me to revisit my note-taking skills and become familiar with Cornell Note-taking. My hope is to learn this skill to the point of mastery and then integrate technology in such a way that I can support both teachers and students in a fundamental, yet trans-formative way. (To learn more about this discussion on Note-taking go to the Archived Chat.)

eye of the future

This series was exciting for me and my colleagues. The discussions and transparency was incredible. The urgency to take the ideas and practices palatable. Our Students take in more information in a day than our parents and grand parents filtered through in 10 years. They must be able to organize, prioritize, annotate, share and reflect. How are you purposefully teaching these skills that prepare our students for success in learning and with their future?

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Learning is Fun… This Time of Year!

This time of year, you walk on any campus in my district and you will see holiday decorations everywhere, holiday goodies in the lounge (hot chocolate bars being my favorite), and a general sense of good will. To describe what it is like to be in a school this time of year, it is FUN.

Learning should be fun 24-7, 365 days a year. However, sometimes you just have to capitalize on the moment. That is what two of my library media specialists, Kelley Valdez (@kjrvaldez) and Sue Fitzgerald (@sue_fitz), did to facilitate learning for educators on their campuses. I of course shared with other campuses and Tweeted out for all to hear.

Kelley is doing a “Twelve Days of Christmas: Technology Tips from Your Library Media Specialist” Canva.  I have the privilege of collaborating on a few of them with her. Here is an image of the linked image:

Christmas Canva KelleySue, after chatting with me about the idea of doing a “Twelve Days of Twitter,” coordinated with the campus administration that is doing a “Twelve Days of Christmas” surprises, and has teachers creating Twitter accounts and Tweeting. To up the interest she is sharing the Tweets with her library assistants and re-Tweeting/favoriting with elf enthusiasm.  Here is her “Twelve Days of Twitter” shared via Thinglink:
I love what this reminds me of as an educator and coach.  It is so important keep things fun, festive and engaging… but most of all provide something that ultimately allows for the learner to give back in some way.  After all, isn’t this time of year a season of giving?

How are you making learning fun for your learners (students and/or educators) during the “Twelve Days of Christmas” and throughout the year?

The #nisdPalooza anticipation builds…

TechnoPalooza

This Wednesday, July 30th and Thursday, July 31st my district is hosting “TechnoPalooza.”  Three years ago it was a in-district choice menu Professional Development focused on Educational Technology Integration. Last year it grew within the district in popularity and was open for other districts to attend as well.

This year the planners led by Karla Burkholder (@techiequeen), NISD Director of Instructional Technnology (which includes the NISD Instructional Technology Team I am a part) decided to go BIG or go home.  We opened up for presenters beyond the keynote from all over, invited attendees from all over, and brought in vendors.  On top of that, there is a staggered schedule of presentations, choose your own session menu (via app designed by our very own Rory Peacock, Northwest ISD Coordinator for Instructional Technology) and choose your own lunch hour and lunch via Fort Worth Food Trucks.

I am not just a participant this year.  I have been given the privilege of presenting 5 different sessions.  How does one go from not being a session presenter to 5, you ask?  Well, that is for another time and another post… but briefly it has to do with Twitter, my PLN, my mentors and “What’s Obvious to You…” video by Derek Sivers.

Aside from that and being amazed at the offerings for learning, there are a few things I am even more excited about.  The amazing presentations coming from my team and the campuses I support.  From my team consisting of Charles Cooper (@Thrasymachus), Cara Carter (@caracarter1), Brittany Horn (@Brit_Horn), Ashley Chapman (@AshChapman3), Rene Egle (@ReneEgle) and previously mentioned, Rory Peacock (@rorypeacock) there are over 10 presentations just from our team.

In addition to our Instructional Technology Team are the Northwest ISD teacher leaders that are presenting.  Many of these teachers I have worked with over the past year or learned about their innovative approaches through our district Tuesday night chat #nisdNOV8.  Their commitment to great instruction, student learning and technology integration make them the perfect presenters for an event like TechnoPalooza.  A special HT (Hat Tip) goes out to Nicole Wallis, Kristin Dougherty, Christie Crocker, GailAnne Smith, Penny Rosen,  Sara Thomasson, Christa Pospisil (Popsicle :-)), Melissa Griffith, Rebecca Redman, Donna Thompson, Sue Fitzgerald, Hayley Sample, Nicole Covarelli, and Shelly Stringer for their risk taking in the classroom, transparency, collaborative spirit and enthusiastic willingness to present. I am beyond excited so many are presenting at TechnoPalooza.  So sad that I cannot be at each and every one of their presentations to cheer for them and learn from them.  The choice offered from this group is staggeringly amazing. Sessions vary from using Technology and Trash to Create Musical Instruments and Music to using several technology tools to create a platform via the BookCreator App to publish student written  stories (see recent blog post from our IT team’s “Making IT Click” showcase).

In addition to all this, there is an even more personally exciting aspect to TechnoPalooza.  Through the power of Twitter I have met some amazing people along the way.  The only shortcoming to Twitter is that the people I meet globally, I don’t know how I can possibly meet them all face to face.  So when I do, I am like a 6 year old on Christmas morning.  At TechnoPalooza I will have the great privilege of meeting co-cooridinator/moderator of #MTedchat Crista Anderson (@cristama) and Revdel representative, Jason Rincker (@JD_Rincker) which I now, because of our connections via Twitter consider as friends.  She will be presenting on Wednesday about harnessing the power of Twitter for connecting and learning. With Jason’s assistance, she will also present on Thursday about ways to utilize and target school communication as effectively as possible.

If you didn’t register for TechnoPalooza this year, follow the #nisdPalooza Tweets.  Next year don’t miss it.  I have insider information that the Keynote for 2015 will be amazing!

Is it time for a ROLE Revolution?

On Sunday I had the privilege of hosting #txeduchat.  The topic was “Results Only Learning Environment” based on the book ROLE Reversal by Mark Barnes (@markbarnes19).

For a review of the book I refer my blog followers to my good PLN friend Joy Kirr’s (@joykirr) post on her blog last year ROLE Reversal Review.

Some may wonder why I have become so interested in this approach.  I have posted about my observation of ROLE at Coppell Middle School East.  I have further examined the idea of student driven learning and creating an autonomous learning environment.  My last post “What is a #growthmindset?” explains the connections that have occurred from the reading, conversations and professional learning opportunities I have had in the past few months.

All of this learning has me wondering… no inspired…. hmmm, no, more like fired up. Yes! Fired up.

I learn and lose sleep in my passion for learning. I gain great satisfaction and contentment when I set a goal, and even though it is a challenge, through perseverance reach that goal.   Why would I not want the same experience for my students and teachers? A joy for learning, if you will, well defined in @shareski’s presentation, “Whatever Happened to Joy.”

Yet, we continue to try to take some of the pieces of student-driven learning theory and retro-fit them to an antiquated grading systems and one-size-fits all curriculum. Instead of completely renovating from the ground up.

Every day I learn more about the ROLE approach.  I want to bring it to classrooms in my district, as I have never seen students transform into self-driven learners with such authenticity as I have with ROLE.  This approach seems to be made to stick.

#nbtchat meme

There are a few parameters with a true ROLE classroom… no homework and no grades.  Teaching must follow the workshop model approach and discipline is not an issue.

Intrigued? So were those that joined me when I hosted the #txeduchat on ROLE.

The following is a snapshot of the Tweets and links that were shared.

Q1A1 aA1 bA1 cQ2A2 aA2 c

@markbarnes19 blog post on Homework

A2 fQ3A3 aA3 bA3 dA3 cA3 fA3 hQ4Mark Barnes A3

@markbarnes19 blog post on Feedback

A4 aA4 bA4 dExample of Student Rubric for peer/self evaluation by Charles Cooper @thrasymachus

A5 aA5 bA5 cA5Q6A6 aLinks to school doing a ROLE Type approachSedbury School links: http://leewaysudburyschool.org/testimonials

http://sudburyschool.com/testimonials

A6 c

There was a real sense of urgency for change.  Many wanted to know how.

Challenge to be brave

Suggestions and inspiration were shared.

For integration and becoming paperless:

Going paperless with ROLE

For taking it back to classrooms:How to get it goingTo continue the dialogue and stay connected:

Mark Barnes FB gradesTeacher’s Throwing Out Grades FB group sponsored by Mark Barnes: https://www.facebook.com/groups/teachersthrowingoutgrades/

As well as the upcoming book chat on ROLE Reversal by Mark Barnes.  Anyone is welcome to join #suummerROLE if you are wanting to revolutionize education.  July 29th we will be discussing chapters 1 and 2.

I am ready to revolutionize education.  I am eager to put in motion ROLE.  I look forward to continued conversations about student-driven learning that fosters joy and autonomy.  If you still need some convincing I leave you with this:

Anti WS memeWill you join the ROLE Revolution?

 

Link to #txeduchat archive for July 13, 2014:

http://txeduchat.com/2014-twitterchat-archives/07-13-14-chat-archive

#EdCampNOV8

Click on the #edcampNOV8 Thinglink (at date of post Thinglink cannot be embedded in a WordPress blog)
The Northwest ISD IT team, that I am a part of, hosted our first #EdCamp.  It was an exhilarating experience and I was amazed at all the new #EdCampers that attended.  I created the Thinglink above as a celebration, curation and brief reflection of the event.  Additionally, I have a fun 20 second video that I took capturing our autonomous learning #EdCampers moving to GoNoodle a free dance/exercise based online program for situations like indoor recess or incentive built physical education activities.

#edCampHome and #nisdpd: Taking Control of Your PD

Events:

January 4th, 2014 #edCampHome

January 6th, 2014 #nisdpd Northwest ISD Winter Professional Development Day

Premise of Events:

#edCampHome

Educators meet up through Google+ through pre-registered event organized by David Theriault, Kelly Kermode, Karl Lindgren-Steicher, and Shawn White

Pre-registered participants post in Google+ topics they would like to discuss or moderate and others can +1 or comment on that topic the day before

On the day an introduction occurs live in Google Hangouts, streamed through YouTube and followed through http://www.edcamphome.org while participants simultaneously chat/exhange ideas via Twitter. Once introductions are done and moderators are secured, invitations are sent to participants who have selected topics to participate via Google Form. Two sessions with this approach took place.

Finally, a Slam wrapped up where participants could enter into the Google Hangout and offer an application, insight or suggestion regarding some aspect of education and technology.

#nisdpd Northwest ISD Winter Professional Development Day

For the first time Northwest ISD Department of Curriculum and Staff Development turned to their own educators and expertise to provide one another the opportunity to share learning with one another. Teachers, Instructional Coaches and Curriculum Writers were given the opportunity to create, submit proposals and ultimately present relevant educational content for district employees. Participants were provided with a menu of options through an app that gave a brief description, time of scheduled PD and location.

Offerings were as vast in variety as any edCamp from what I could tell (my experience still is extremely limited). Often courses met needs for fellow colleagues that are in the moment and speak to the specific learning needs of the teachers in our district. There were two 75 minute sessions in the morning, with time for reflection and sharing on individual campuses in the afternoon. Size of the district created an interesting dynamic that resulted in secondary teachers attending professional development tailored to 6-12 grade on one high school campus and elementary teachers attending sessions tailored to K-5 instructional needs on the other high school campus.

My Role:

#edCampHome

This was my first edCamp. I was an active participant in the “Genius Hour/20% Time” and “GAFE Discussion.” I was very nervous about getting all the technology working right with the Google Hangouts (this was my first experience with Hangouts). Because of my naivete with Hangouts I played it safe with content and chose to go with content I was more familiar with rather than content I had no previous knowledge. I kept wondering if there was a protocol or etiquette to Hangouts as we met, and was I following it. However, I knew the premise from my previous research on edCamps was a round-table discussion and collaboration/sharing was essential to the success of a session.

Unfortunately, I had to leave before the Slam session was over but listened in for a little while. I hope to budget my time the next time I attend and edCamp where I can stay for the entire Slam.

#nisdpd Northwest ISD Winter Professional Development Day

I have presented at several of my District’s professional development days, but this one was different. Not only were Teachers given choice on what they would attend, but presenters were given full freedom to develop and design their training to offer. This was unprecedented and the excitement for those presenting and those participating was palatable.

During this time I was a facilitator for Eric Braun of 30Hands.com who joined us virtually through join.me and a presenter for Genius Hour. In both cases I was hoping to share ways that teachers can enhance instruction and student product through technology integration and challenge them to move into the modification and redefinition levels of learning with technology.

Reflection:

#edCampHome

This experience was a series of firsts for me. My first edCamp, Google+ active community, and Google Hangout. I was a bit overwhelmed before it even began and looking back I think that kept me from picking sessions I knew nothing about. I already was feeling like a fish out of water with all the firsts that were occurring to add to that seemed more than I was ready to process. Now I think I should have just jumped into it. I held myself back.

Despite the mistake of not jumping into unknown with more verve I did learn so much my mind was still swimming 24 hours later. I also fostered new professional relationships, and continue to have my theory that choice and social media (particularly Google+ Communities, Google Hangouts and Twitter) are the future of authentic educational professional development.

My take away that I want to explore more was from Nikki Robertson’s share during “GAFE Discussion” where she shared about her teachers using Doctopus and Goobric: http://www.nikkidrobertson.com/2013/12/google-drive-doctopus-goobric-pd-session.html

There was a word of caution from our moderator Ryan Archer, who had experienced some challenges with teachers becoming frustrated with these two Google Apps. I like the sharing and transparency that took place. Nikki’s exuberance and Ryan’s cautious bidding helped me to mentally prepare as I step into this new “try it.”

My wish was that I had not run out of time to participate. Because of time I had to leave before time was over for the Slam session for #edCampHome. This is where each person that signs up in a Google Spreadsheet Doc can share in 2 minutes or less a new technology application, idea or idea. I have heard the 20 minute Slam session is like winning the Technology Application Idea Lottery. The next #edcampHOME is in July… I will make sure to plan so that I am able to stick around for the Slam! (Here is the YouTube of the entire Instructional Before, Mid and Slam Session part of #edcamHOME: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8hvq4tHepw )

#nisdpd Northwest ISD Winter Professional Development Day

I loved this day for what it was… and the promise of what it may be progressing towards. In many ways, even though it was more structured and had more of a lecture/presentation format, it had the subtle undertones of an edCamp. People voted with their feet. Participants determined for themselves what they would attend based on their professional growth needs.

My perspective as a presenter was different from a participant, but I heard the buzz of excitement about what they learned in other sessions. I saw teachers immediately putting into action strategies, technology and instructional practices that afternoon and into the next day.

I sensed the journey of change that began about a year ago with professional development in our district, that was gradual before January 6th, go from ideas and conversations to a full on implemented head-long run into professional development designed, driven and delivered by teachers for teachers. I saw what had been pockets of collaboration blown wide open where sharing is at a frenzy, and teachers freely turn to their right or left in a room full of instructional engineers to further their own learning.

I am excited, as I said before, about the promise of what is coming. I don’t know fully what it is, but change is in the air for our district and the approach to professional development. The change, I sense is sweet and swift. It will challenge us all. It will redefine us all. Most importantly it will benefit our students and their learning in ways our imaginations can’t even begin to fathom.

Final Thoughts
While the two Professional Development opportunities I participated in were vastly different and my role was vastly different, they are similar in the deepest and most important way. They both provide choice and put the responsibility for growth and learning firmly in the hands of the educator. Traditional professional development frameworks address learning in a one-size-fits all, lecture style, sit-n-get, sage on the stage style. Both #edcampHOME and #nisdpd Northwest ISD Winter Professional Development were progressive and forward-thinking. Attendees of either or both left with knowledge and possibility that when acted upon will do what we all hope: make the experience and environment for learning for our students challenging, motivating, engaging and future-minded.