EdCamp Elmbrook

On March 25th, we held our first ever EdCamp Elmbrook.  I didn’t realize it then but was reminded that it was something I had initiated 8 months prior in July of 2016. That was a long time ago and it took a lot of work from a lot of different agents to make it happen.

The 1st StepI’ll be happy to take credit for putting forward the idea of running and EdCamp in our district. But without the OK from my building principal Brett Gruetzmacher and our Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Dana Monogue, the idea would have stalled right there and then.

How Do We Put On An EdCamp?As EdCamps continue to increase in their popularity as a form of professional development, more resources are available for educators to learn from others.  The EdCamp Foundation has a wonderful website that helped guide our planning process.

A Great TeamOnce I got the ok and began searching out planning resources, I sent out a call for help to staff in our district.  I was surprised to see…

Choosy Mos Choose Gifs

Do you ever feel really behind the times?  Well I just recently learned how to use Giphy Labs to make GIFs from YouTube clips.  I've mainly been using them to promote the upcoming EdCamp in our district.  But, I decided they'd be a quick way for me to reflect on some highlights from Part 2 of The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros as a part of the #IMMOOC Community.

Looking forward to making more GIFs as I go.

Space to Innovate


The first lightbulb moment for me when I read The Innovator's Mindset last summer the first insight that really hit me was the idea of an innovation as new and better.  As an educator, I've had the opportunity to iterate with my instruction.  But, I really loved seeing my learners innovate with some of their work this year.

Six weeks ago, I began a new term with physics students.  Our first unit was on electricity.  Our learners we tasked to  build a series/parallel network circuit that performed a function. One group decided to build a boat. They eventually tested it out in a small pool we had in our classroom.

The boat worked quite well and they had completed the task.  But, the learners still had ideas of how they could take their idea further.  With their new knowledge of circuits, they saw how they could increase the power delivered to the motors and increase the speed of the boat.

Our next unit was linear motion.  Our unit design project for this unit was for l…

Problem Finders, Problem Solvers

The above quote comes from George Couros's Innovator's Mindset.  This is my second round with the #IMMOOC.  The greatest thing about the MOOC was that it provided me the space to reflect and connect with others using a common language and understanding.

So, what change am I looking at now?  Over the past year, my administration has embraced the idea that professional development does not have to look the same for everyone. During our PD time, educators are often given the space to choose their own path and attend staff led sessions that meet their needs. This PD has been some of the best of my career.  It was with this in mind that, I choose to take a risk as a professional.

In late 2016, I sent out an open invitation to staff in my district to see if any would be willing to come together to host an EdCamp in our district. I was amazed when over 25 peers asked to be a part of the team.  Even more impressive is that only a couple had actually attended an EdCamp.  So we have ed…

Waves of Innovation in Elmbrook: Data Driven instruction

I was able to speak to the a PLC of science teachers from a middle school in our district today.  Sheri Gajria, Rebecca Murray, and Julie Wessel teach science at Wisconsin Hills Middle School in Brookfield, WI.  They truly exemplify the power that can be harnessed from a PLC. In our interview, they discussed how they do the following:

1) Assess each student to determine his/her level of proficiency based on a rubric
2) Pool student data across their classes
3) Use data to drive instruction to meet the needs of each learner
4) Use data to determine student grouping for targeted lessons

In addition, Sheri and Julie (Rebecca was out the day of the interview) discuss challenges they've faced and how they know their model is working. The interview goes into more so please watch it.  There is so much to learn about what an effective PLC is and how educators can use formative data to drive instructional practices for each learner.

I was amazed at the level this team is working at.

The …

Waves of Innovation in Elmbrook Part 2

As I continue interviews for my graduate school project involving innovation in learning environments within my school district (find part 1 here), I was able to talk with three amazing educators at Brookfield East High School.  Again, I'll be short on the introductions to the videos because I want you to watch them.

Bill Kujawa was one of the first teachers in Elmbrook Schools to begin using technology as a lever for personalizing learning in the classroom. In this interview learn how he is able to personalize instruction in his classroom and the importance of skills based instruction for students.  Bill also speaks to how he can have students meet all the same learning targets as a traditional course but provide more context and deeper understanding.  

Molly Mathia and Lindsay Sayles embarked on a unique journey 2 years ago when they decided to merge their English 9 and World History courses into a single year-long cohort. In this interview, they explain why they undertook this ch…

Waves of Innovation in Elmbrook Part 1

As a part of a graduate project, I am looking at innovations in education within my school district, Elmbrook Schools. I am specifically focusing on those looking to provide learners with more ownership over their own learning (a.k.a. personalizing learning). I've completed 4 interviews so far.  I had no intention of sharing them via this blog.  But, I think the stories and insights of these educators really are important for all.  They were vulnerable in a way that shows their passion for what they are undertaking.  They want the best for all learners not simply students, but educators who may hear their words.  So, please take the time to listen to their stories.  

In this video, Jeff Ortman a teacher in his 22nd year, discusses implementing strategies to give students ownership of their learning in his high school English classroom.  He discusses why he wanted to change his learning environment, his first steps to bring change, how choice and feedback are key to his classroom, a…