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Showing posts from January, 2017

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…

Celebrating Learning with an Audience

On Wednesday January 18th, my physics class held its first iPhysics Expo. It was a night where students were given the opportunity to present their personal physics project with a public audience. The night was designed to be more conversational 1:1 interactions as opposed to a formal presentation.  Students were assigned a specific space in the cafeteria or Black Box Theater.  The attendees then approached a station and the student manning the station would explain their project.  Students were required to have a presentation aid and a poster at their station.  

The presentation aids varied from student to student. The purpose of the aid was to assist in presentation. The included Sports equipment to demonstrate technique Graphs and data from experiments Physical products students built Computer programs students created A selfie studio Videos presented from chromebooks

The poster could have been created physically or digitally. The purpose of the poster was to inform the audience before or …

New Google Drive Integration in Canvas LMS

I was made aware yesterday, that Google apps integration for Canvas Learning Management System was up and running.  Today, I dived in and tried a few things. I'm sure there is more here, but I'll dig in more when I have time.

Our administrator already added it for us, but it can be added as a normal LTI app through settings.

Once you authorize Canvas to access your Google Drive in a quick couple of clicks, I found there were a couple of great efficiencies for me.

I can access Google Drive files without leaving Canvas.

I can add files from Google Drive directly to my modules without ever leaving Canvas. I not longer have to go to drive and get a link and put that into Canvas.  I can go right from Canvas by adding an external tool.


Add files from Google Drive into Rich Content Editor.
I like to add instructions and rubrics to my assignments in the rich content editor section.  But to do this, I've always needed to publish the file in drive, copy the embed code, enter HTML e…

Resourceful Learners are Par for the Course

Today, we had a wonderful collaboration with our friends at Swanson.  Kate and Angela wrote a great post about the day that you can read here.

Sphero Golf! If you have not explored Sphero Balls, today is the day to check them out! Sphero is a robotic ball that pairs with your iPad or Smartphone. Using a variety of apps, you can manipulate the ball's movement through coding, programming, or a simple finger swipe.





My big takeaways from the day were the following
1) Do have your Spheros fully charged before hand. We ran out of juice on a few.  So, a couple of groups had to call it quits and join others a few minutes before our scheduled end time.

2) Do set up your Spheros to pair with a specific device.  When you have 12 Spheros in the same space at the same time it’s important to make sure you have a system. Spheros pair via Bluetooth so they remember their previous connections.  The more Spheros you use with a device the more it will automatically pair with.  I’ve run into the issue…

How to Personalize Learning Part 4: Design Lessons for all Learners

Universal Design for Learners (UDL) has been the lens through which Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey have helped us view each learner’s strengths and challenges in the class.  These insights have been the basis for choosing appropriate tools and strategies for learners. In my final post on their book How to Personalize Learning, I will focus on how they expand on the UDL lesson review process to allow teachers to design instruction that considers every learner.

The four step model the authors present is as follows List methods,materials, and assessments to be used in lesson. Describe what learners will be doing with these materials. Identify possible barriers learners may encounter Indicate which classroom tools/strategies can be incorporated to reduce these barriers

Instructional, methods, materials, and assessments Requires Learners to Possible Barriers UDL Solutions and Strategies Teacher presents information on mechanical waves during lecture. Listen and understand information presented …