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Showing posts from June, 2017

EdCamp Elmbrook 21

  We had out 5th annual EdCamp this past Saturday and it was a very different PD experience. Due to the pandemic, we help the EdCamp virtually. That meant that anyone across the globe could attend. While we usually only have educators from out region attend, we had educators across the nation and in some in Canada attend. In addition, we had an attendee from Turkey! The conference was conducted using Zoom and Zoom breakout rooms for the sessions. The team did a great job of organization and management. I could go on, but this is my first blog post in a while and I'd like to keep it brief. Below you'll find the session board for the day with notes docs linked. We had some wonderful sessions and the notes documents house some wonderful thoughts and resources. So, I recommend checking them out. Although this EdCamp was only for the morning, there was a lot of learning to be had. We had no technology issues from our end as organizers but I can imagine participants may have had iss

Empower Standards and Standards Sommelier

When I first began teaching in my current school 13 years ago, we had something called power standards. There were specific power standards for each class.  Teachers spent many professional development hours debating about them and refining the wording. These standards were eventually put onto posters to be placed on the wall. In many cases, the were just that: words that hung on a wall. It didn’t feel like anyone owned these standards. So, they had very little power at all. In John Spencer and A. J. Juliani’s new book Empower , they ask us to rethink standards. If I had been presented with the ideas in Empower 13 years ago, I probably would have argued that I need to abide by these power standards and there is little I could change. The authors reply to this is focus on the areas you have control over.  They say, “Standards are the architect's blueprint, and you, the teacher, are still the builder and designer.” (pg. xxxviii) Specifically, they recommend finding

Building Relationships

Every teacher I know has a story about that one teacher that believed in and challenged them. John Spencer and A. J. Juliani are no different. In the first chapters of their new book Empower , they tell stories of the teachers that saw their profession not simply as a job, but as a place to connect and let students learn about themselves.  These teachers challenged them but also formed a personal connection with so strong that it guides their work today. When I hear these stories, I doubt that I have formed those kinds of relationships with students. I feel like it may be one of the areas where I have the biggest room for growth as an educator. As George Couros champions in the Innovator's Mindset , it’s all about relationships. That catchy phrase “guide on the side” has poisoned me to wit in the back seat for the learning occurring in my classroom, and I’ve risked the relationships with my students. In the book, Spencer and Juliani speak of the power that a guide hold

Empower Book: OWN This Book

Imagine you’re a senior in high school physics a week away from graduation.  In one reality, your culminating assessment will be a multiple choice test created by your teacher years ago. In a different reality, you will be sharing your study of how physics connects to a personal passion to a public audience for your final exam. Which reality asks students to own their learning? Which reality is more empowering?   That’s the invitation and challenge John Spencer and A.J. Juliani put forward to us in their new book Empower . It is about several major shifts in learning environments.  The major shift, though, is moving students from the inaction of compliance to ownership and empowerment. Anyone who knows me, knows that this is the exact journey I am on in my classroom. This is everywhere I want to be. Whether you call it personalizing learning, student agency, ownership, or empowerment, this is the Kool Aid I want to be drinking.   I got the book yesterday and have found

Mo Physics Mo Problems

As a teacher I like to think of myself as someone who values the process of problem solving rather than the right answer.  But, when I look at the majority of problem sets I assign my students, they simply focus on an getting the right answer. The problems ask only about the end without highlighting the thinking that goes into it. When I think about all the work we do in our literacy training of analyzing a prompt, that work goes out the window when I give a student a calculation. I am always frustrated when students simply write down an answer to a complex problem without showing the work that went into it. But, I've come to realize that's what my practice problems have trained them to do. Basically, I've been asking the wrong questions this whole time. So, I'm rewriting my problems to force students to think through the process and respond. As a physics teacher, we have a number of formulas that students must choose from to solve a specific prob

Do Collaborate

Yesterday, I saw two of my favorite people move on to new chapters in their educational journey. Angela Patterson and Kate Sommerville exemplify what it means to be a change agent in education . Their work has inspired my efforts to transform my classroom.  So, what is so special about them? They “do”. They had an idea and they did it.  Their idea was to build a learning community in which each learner's individuality was recognized and celebrated as a source of strength for all. They changed the physical, academic, and emotional space of their learning environment. But, they did it in only a few months’ time. They understood that the perfect moment will never come along and the plan will never be perfect.  It’s the goal that matters. They helped show me that planning is important but the journey doesn’t really begin until you are doing it. Don’t get me wrong, you need a plan before you do.  Kate and Angela are meticulous planners. But, they move quickly.  If you don’t pla

A Night for Passions

We had our Personal Learning Project Expo last night.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate all of the learning students did this past term related to their personal passions, many of which tied into the physics concepts we covered in class. Below is a Thinklink with some of the projects from the term. Take a peek at some of the highlights. There's a lot to think about for next year.  I think still finding new ways to touch base with students during the process is key.  So, formalizing these conversations even more would be beneficial. I really liked incorporating Google Sites as a place for students to collect all of their materials. On their project page, they documented the entire process including: Driving question Pitch Video Process Outline Research with Sources Project Log Final Project Reflections The sites were not all well organized and this is something I need to model more. Also, I need to put a bit more thought into what is most informative and

Student Presentations in 360°

As we are wrapping up our personal learning projects, we were able to include a new option for presentation.  That is Thinglink VR .  This is the first time I've ever had my students work with Thinklink in the classroom and the VR aspect made it even better. A handful of students choose this option and a couple completed products are linked below. Note, they are designed to be viewed with VR Googles such as Google Cardboard. So, if you try to view it in non-stereoscopic mode, the hotspots can't be viewed in their entirety.  To view the images in all of their glory, you'll need a smartphone and a set of googles. Even if you don't have the googles you can follow these steps to view in stereoscopic display.  You just won't get the desired experience. It was fairly simple to create. Students used Google Drawings to create the background image for the scene.  They then used Google Slides to create each of the individual slides to be each hot