4 Takeaways from “Hilliard U”

Spoiler Alert: Kids today are different than we were.

Bonus Spoiler: We were different than our parents, too.
Three years ago, Alton Darby and Darby Creek started on a journey to see if the elementary learning experience could be different.  Many times we concluded “yes”, but there was and still is this struggle among us to accept that 1) Kids are different than we were and therefore learn differently than we did; and 2) The world is rapidly changing and therefore we need to retool and revise the learning experiences we create for kids.
We found ourselves wanting to change, but we battle ourselves over our own fears and against “but that’s the way we’ve always done it”.
We know that our fears and how we feel about the challenges that are before us won’t change kids and the way they learn and won’t cause the world to stop from rapidly changing.
We are left with one choice, which is to embrace the challenges before us and remember that what is consistent about our profession is our deep-seeded calling to help and serve children.
Last Tuesday at “Hilliard U”, many educators in our district shared the ways they are retooling and revising the learning experiences they create for kids.  Teachers shared stories about overcoming their own fears of new ideas and approaches and the positive results they experiences with their students.  Below are four of my takeaways from Hilliard U that stuck with me and continue to make me reflect on my role as an educator.

1. Our kids’ brains are wired differently.

brain
We could debate whether this is good or not, but the fact remains that our kids’ brains, how they experience the world, and the stimulus they receive from the world have created different neural pathways.  If we want to increase engagement and decrease negative behaviors, we need to consider how much instant feedback and social engagement plays a role with our students’.

2. Learning to read has changed.

 digilit
One of the sessions I attended focused on the different approaches to reading we all need to consider when reading digital content.  Scrolling, ads, linear format without pages are aspects of digital reading that we may be overlooking as teachers.  In the picture above, we rated our preference of reading format with traditional on the left and digital on the right.  It would be interesting and worthwhile to see how our students rated the two formats.  As you can see, most of the adults liked a balance of paper and digital.  I would argue that preference is one thing, but reality is another.  Stop and think about how much digital reading we do in one day.  Think about how differently we have to approach digital texts in order to understand them.  That experience should inform us of our instructional approaches in reading and the behaviors we need to teach, model and demonstrate for our growing readers.

3.  “My biggest roadblock was my own mindset…”

 blended
It’s amazing the people who are creating amazing learning experiences for kids who will also say “I don’t consider myself tech-savvy”.  This is what the presenting teachers of the keynote on blended learning said of themselves as they amazed the audience with how they provided excellent instructional experiences for the students they work with each day.  We need to give ourselves more credit for what we are capable of doing.

 

4. “We are our own best resource.”

panel
I ended the day listening to a panel of teachers from two of our elementary schools who have piloted the One2One experience this year with students.  Their honesty about failing and persevering was comforting and inspiring.  What they revealed is that we need to give our students and ourselves more credit for what we are all capable of doing.  And when we get stuck, we have each other as resource to utilize.
As we move forward into next school year, and take on the changes we have in store for our students, I challenge us all to remember that we’ve got this.  We are on the cusp of something great and it was the talents, skills, and mindset of everyone in this school community that got us to where we are right now.
Finally, I’ll leave you with an ADE student’s letter to Ms. Bednar after attending a showcase of learning projects.  I hope it captures for you what our kids are wanting from learning:
3rdGradeLetter
The kids are ready to go! Let’s do this!
Have a GREAT week!
– Herb

Worth Reading

A Principal’s Reflections: Our Work is Our Message http://esheninger.blogspot.com/2017/05/our-work-is-our-message.html?spref=tw
Projects, Passion, Peers and Play: Seymour Papert’s Vision For Learning https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2017/05/01/projects-passion-peers-and-play-seymour-paperts-vision-for-learning/

Upcoming Dates

8 – Kona Ice Truck here; PTO Meeting, 7:00; Spirit Week

9 – BIT meeting, 8:00; Retirement Party, 3:45

10 – 8am Staff Meeting; 9:30-11:15am Grades 1-4 meet in Media Center data team meeting (see email from last week); 5th grade field trip to Art Museum; last day for Get Fit Girls, 3:35 – 4:30

11 – Staff Book Talk, 8:00 am; Tornado Drill, 1:30 p.m.

12 – 4th grade field trip to Art Museum; SLSP Field Day at Darby H.S., 9:15 – 1:30; 5th grade Growth & Development, 1:30 – 2:30

14 – Mother’s Day

15 – Field Day, 9:30 – 11:30 am and 12:30 – 2:30 pm

16 – Focus fieldtrip to Falling Waters, 5:30 am – 9:15 pm; SLSP field trip to Tim Horton’s and Petsmart, 9:15 – 11:00; Fire Drill, 10:00 a.m.

18 – Principal’s Meeting (Herb AM); Staff Book Talk, 8:00 am; See Kids Dream 5th grade field trip to Riffe Center

19 – Last day at preschool; 4th grade field trip to Zoo; SLSP fieldtrip to Get Air, 9:15 – 11:00

22 – PTO Spirit Night at Dave & Buster’s, 4:30 – 7:30 pm

23 – 3rd grade field trip to Art Museum; PTO Family Luau, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

24 – 1st grade field trip to Art Museum

26 – Last Day of School!

Connected Learning? Keep it simple!

Update for Feb 9-12

Photo credit: https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8251/8551487389_3e88f2f314_b.jpg

I’ll be the first to admit that I spend a fair share of time reading up on education topics. When you have access to a world of information through your phone, it makes it so easy to learn.

My learning tools are Twitter, Feedly, Delicious and Google+ and they all help me connect to new ideas on-demand. When I co-taught a professional development series on being a “connected educator”, my colleagues asked me how I had time for reading and curating content, pointing out that it seemed like it was a lot of work.
Well, maybe to them it seems like a lot of work. But to me, learning this way is fun and it doesn’t even feel like I am working.

I have learned more about myself as a learner, as a father, as a reader, as a writer, and as a mathematician than I ever have in my life and it’s all because I am having fun connecting with others and their ideas.

There are some who have defined characteristics of “connected learning”, but I say being a connected learner means using connection tools such as Twitter or other social media platforms in a way that awakens your passion as a learner, that helps you connect with others and that allows you to share your new discoveries.

That’s it! Don’t make this complicated!

And before you make the argument that technology gets in the way of connecting with others, I’m going to suggest to you that technology helps us connect with others in ways which we were never able to before.  Take a look at this ad from Apple that helps me make my point:

If connected learning is a concept that is completely new to you, remember to keep it simple and focused on connecting with others — Start a book talk, join a Google+ community, or join a Twitter chat.  Why should you wait for the learning event to happen when you could create your own?

Just keep one thing in mind: This is a connected world.  Our students are jumping into social media as young as 8 years old.  So why not show them how they can use these tools to learn?  And if you feel that’s important, then you should be a connected learner so that you can lead the way.

A Video That Inspires

How do you react when things don’t go as planned?

Articles Worth Reading

“To Go Fast, Direct. To Go Far, Empower” from Educational Leadership 

8 Reasons You Should Have A Professional Blog | The Curious Creative.

“They Will Follow Your Lead”

“Give the people what they want”


Upcoming Dates

Feb 9
Testing meeting (Herb), 1:15
PTO Meeting, 7:00pm

Feb 10
Community Outing (Shively), 9am

Feb 11
Herb at ILC for meeting, 10am
Herb at CO for Dream Big Project update, 1pm
Conference Night

Feb 13-16
No School

Feb 17
Waiver Day — Hilliard U
Parent Committee Meeting, 7pm at Bradley HS Aux Commons

Feb 19
Admin Meeting (Herb), 8am
Testing Protocol Meeting for Staff, 3:30-4:00pm  CANCELED

Feb 24
Wellness Committee Meeting, 7pm

Upcoming Assessments:

Tuesday Feb. 24th
PARCC – English Language Arts  PBA Unit 1
4th and 5th grade students
Wed. Feb. 25th
PARCC – English Language Arts  PBA Unit 2
4th and 5th grade students
Thursday Feb. 26th
PARCC – English Language Arts  PBA Unit 3
4th and 5th grade students
Tuesday March 3rd
PARCC – Math  PBA Unit 1
3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students
Wed. March 4th
PARCC – Math  PBA Unit 2
3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students




Digital Tools for Digital Learning

Update for Feb 2-6

https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8201/8244333625_0b9f61d10a_b.jpg

Last week I shared some thoughts about developing a “brand” for yourself and the implications branding might have for students.  I argued that students are going to have to leverage themselves through the use of digital tools in order to be able to have access to opportunities.

This week, I want to expand on the idea of using digital tools to create a brand and connect it more to our own learning and development as educators.  I want to share some of the tools I have been using as a learner and how it has helped me begin to think about the implications this kind of learning has for the work we do for kids.

Social Media — aka, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.  All of these different platforms have a different way to access ideas and to connect with others.  I treat Twitter as a river of ideas and information where I occasionally “go fishing”.  It’s impossible to keep up with all of the different ideas, so just let that go and connect when you want to connect.  Just remember that connecting can help you strike gold, so don’t be afraid to reach out!

feedly — This is an extremely powerful learning tool for me.  feedly is a “news aggregator application”.  In plain English?  It’s a web-based application that allows you to subscribe to all of the different blogs and websites you check frequently.

Let’s say you love reading Seth Godin’s blog, but you don’t always have time.  Adding Seth’s blog to your feedly account tells feedly, “Collect any blog post Seth publishes and keep it here so that I can read them when I am ready.”

You can do this with hundreds of other blogs, too.  I know it sounds like a lot, but reading articles on feedly is how I start each morning.  I feel like I have learned so much from this practice; more than I ever have from a PD session.  I highly recommend checking it out.

Google Apps — The apps are getting better all the time. Word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and more.  The apps give you a full range of tools to help you create and explore.  I used Google Apps to do all of my grad school work, even my 8 billion page portfolio, using only Google Apps.  I love the ability to collaborate with any of the apps, which is one of the skills we all agree is important for students to develop.  We know that it is a powerful tool for students, but how many of us teachers are using it for ourselves?  Isn’t it time to start making the move?

Kindle app — This has been another huge learning tool for me for a couple of reasons.  First, I can read the same book on many devices.  I never have to have the book with me as long as I can connect.  I can read a book on my phone while at soccer practice, on my iPad at home, or on the computer at work which is especially helpful when I want to remember something I read the night before.

Second, the highlights! Let’s say you read some great line or passage in a book and you want to be able to find it quickly.  Just highlight it in the Kindle app.  Here’s the great part: Amazon gives you your own place online where all of your highlights are housed. I love that I can have every single thing I have highlighted from a book at my fingertips.

The bottom line for me is that these tools have helped me begin to understand how to learn in a digital world. I believe that it is important for us to be using these tools so that we can develop a deep understanding of how learning is different with digital tools and the implications it has for the work we do for kids.

Next week, I’ll some characteristics of a connected learner.

Have a great week!

Articles worth reading:

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A Principal’s Reflections: Leading Schools of the Future http://esheninger.blogspot.com/2015/01/leading-schools-of-future.html?spref=tw


Why Even ‘Good’ Schools Benefit From Trying Fresh Ideas | MindShift http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/01/why-even-good-schools-benefit-from-trying-fresh-ideas/ via @MindShiftKQED


The SAMR Model In 120 Seconds: The SAMR Model

Upcoming Dates:


Feb 3
BIT meeting, 8:00am
Kindergarten Data Team meeting, 1:00

Feb 4
Children’s Mathematics Book Talk, 8:00am
3rd Grade Visit to ILC, 9:30-11:00
Special Education Team meeting, 12:30

Feb 5
Admin Meeting (Herb), 8-11:00am
3rd Grade Data Team meeting, 9am
4th Grade Data Team meeting, 1pm

Feb 6
Yearbook Sale Ends
Newsletter home
BAC meeting, 8am

Feb 9
PARCC Testing meeting (Herb), 1:15
PTO Meeting, 7:00pm

Feb 10
Community Outing (Shively), 9am

Feb 11
Conference Night

Feb 13-16
No School

Feb 17
Waiver Day — Hilliard U

Feb 24
Wellness Committee Meeting, 7pm

Upcoming Assessments:

Tuesday Feb. 24th
PARCC – English Language Arts  PBA Unit 1
4th and 5th grade students
Wed. Feb. 25th
PARCC – English Language Arts  PBA Unit 2
4th and 5th grade students
Thursday Feb. 26th
PARCC – English Language Arts  PBA Unit 3
4th and 5th grade students
Tuesday March 3rd
PARCC – Math  PBA Unit 1
3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students
Wed. March 4th
PARCC – Math  PBA Unit 2
3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students