The last two days were filled with so much learning I was able to attend several incredible sessions that pushed my thinking and provided me with a ton of great resources. I'm excited to be able to share them with other teachers this school year.
First, I attended a session about redesigning classroom spaces. Their presentation gave some great ideas for re-purposing furniture to create a more welcoming and effective classroom space. It reminded me a lot of an article I read about Caves, Campfires and Watering Holes by Ann W. Davis and Kim Kappler-Hewitt. You can find their presentation, which includes video classroom tours, here.
Next, I attended a session by Noah Geisel focused on Chrome Extensions for literacy. As a math teacher, it was cool to check out the Chrome extensions Hypothesis, Diigo and Stackup and learn about how they can be useful to support learning in English classrooms. Each extension has slightly different functionality. Hypothesis and Diigo allow students to annotate articles and engage in conversations with their peers and the world. Stackup provides students with a online reading log that shows their time spent reading on different topics and the reading levels of the articles they have read online. It was fun to play with each of them and think about how they can be used in the classroom.
I also presented Ignite talk called "Why Educators Should Share". This was a reprised version of a previous Ignite talk I did during 2015, where I stressed the importance of teacher blogging and social media sharing. You can watch it below. I have also included the slides, which include the script in the notes.
After lunch, I attended Kevin Crogan's session, focused on planning learner progressions. His model helps teachers differentiate different levels of understanding and provide them with the vocabulary to guide learners in designing their own learning progression. You can find his presentationhere. Below is an example of his incredibly helpful planning document filled out.
I then attended a session by Galen Mitchell, focused on Universal Design. She did an incredible job illustrating the difference between differentiation and Universal Design and how we can approach creating lessons differently. Focusing on student choice and flexible lessons, Universal Design is a refreshing lens on providing students with lessons that support their learning as individuals. You can find her presentation here. Below is an excellent tweet that shows the comparison between differentiation and Universal Design.
Next, I attended the inspirational Keynote of Rusul Alrubail. While I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to many equity-focused keynotes over the past year (see previous blog posts), I feel lucky to have made such a personal connection to Rusul. She shared an inspiring message focused on elevating student voice, kindness, empathy and the importance of representation and authenticity as an educator. Below is a collection of my favorite tweets from Rusul's keynote.
Last, but not least, I engaged in a conversation with Mustefa, an innovative strategist, around design thinking and the importance of understanding context to solve a problem. Very often companies come up with complicated procedures for engaging in design work, when a straightforward and simple thinking process can help us solve our problems. Once we can identify our context, we can then consider the challenges that come up and the corresponding opportunities and risks for each challenge. From there, we can take action in the ways that best support reaching our intended goal. Mustefa emphasized how it is not necessary to engage in a complex set of structures to really tackle our problems, including those involving systems of inequity. Once we have a solid understanding of the context, anything is possible.
How has your week been at InnEd CO? What great equity-focused Keynotes have you heard?
Please share in the comments below!
This week, I am lucky enough to attend InnEdCO for another year. I am always so excited to see so many familiar faces and add new people to my network of incredible educators. Below are some highlights from Day 1.
I also had the chance to hear Ken Shelton present an opening keynote on the importance of student voice in our schools. He talked about equipping students with the tools they need to amplify their voice to share with the world. There is great power and responsibility in sharing our stories and he did a wonderful job illustrating this idea with relevant stories and touching student narratives. You can watch videos of some of his talks on his website.
I was also able to attend a session on #techquity from Kevin Riebau. This session touched on finding the intersection of Essential Skills and Culturally Relevant Education to create better instruction to prepare students for success. I greatly appreciated the combination of a formative check-for-understanding and application time built-in to the session. This made sure they could pace with the audience understanding and provide an opportunity for the new learning to stick. You can check out the presentationhere.
What are your highlights from Day 1 at #InnEdCO17? Please share them in the comments below!
As the year winds down, I hope that teachers across the country are taking some time to relax and prepare for summer. In the case you have some time to watch some great keynotes, I've decided to share two that I loved from the 2017 Carnegie Summit. I attended the summit in late March, but these keynotes have still stuck with me.
The first keynote features Becky Margiotta and Joe McCannon, who share their model for taking smaller, successful change ideas and scaling them up. Joe provides the general model, while Becky illustrates their approach through a touching story about her work finding housing for the homeless in cities across the United States.
The second video, is from Jeff Duncan-Andrade. He has given similar talks before about the importance of relationships when working with students (you may have seen is roses in the concrete TED Talk). What struck me about this video in particular, what his presentation on how focusing on increasing student sense of cultural identity had led a group of Maori students in New Zealand to increase their academic outcomes. This is a must-watch if you are feeling bogged down by the weight of the year and need a good reminder of why you are in education.
What keynotes and TED Talks have stuck with you? Post your favorites in the comments below!
When I was in the classroom, I remember April feeling like one of the longest months. This year, I find myself reflecting upon my teaching practice, specifically the technology I used in my classroom. While I was always trying new things, I decided to go back through my blog archives and pick out some of my favorite tech tools. It reminds me how much I miss my students and the ways we were able to work together to use our technology for learning. Check out each entry below to learn more about how I used it in my classroom. Enjoy!
I was fortunate enough to attend the 2017 Carnegie Summit on Improvement in Education in San Francisco for the past two days. This conference focused on using the tools of Improvement Science to help organizations solve larger problems, especially those related to issues of equity in education. While the two days were packed full of learning, I had some key takeaways from the experience.
First, many organizations are working on creating effective online communities of practice, but have limited success with implementation. It is clear that there is great potential in using the unique tools of an online space to create meaningful extended learning experiences. Participants are able to engage with different kinds of media, increase processing time and provide each other with feedback that is often neglected during face-to-face sessions. The trouble seems to be in making sure the online space is created and launched in a way that has the intended outcomes for participants. This is a problem of practice that I am very interested in studying. Since I am not familiar with Improvement Science, it was also recommended that I practice Improvement Science personally before looking to extend it to others. As a result of the conference, I have decided to practice using Improvement Science to systematically approach this problem and share my experiences and reflections with others. Hopefully, I will be able to gain some useful insights that help us better leverage the power of online communities to drive work forward.
Second, I was particularly impressed by the work of Becky Kanis Margiott and Joe McCannon and the Billions Institute. Their keynote focused on unleash great ideas in order to positively impact the world on a grand scale. Joe did an excellent job explaining the larger concept of scaling-up great work while Becky provided a concrete example through her work helping house 100,000 of the most vulnerable homeless people across the United States. The back-and-forth format did an excellent job providing a clear vision for how we can expand successful initiatives to have a greater impact. I would be leaving out a major asset to this keynote if I did not mention how vulnerable Becky was during the presentation. I was honored to hear her story of coming out and leaving the military, accompanied by several quips that played upon lesbian stereotypes. Her unapologetic and authentic approach to her story made it both memorable and inspiring.
Last, but not least, was the final keynote of Jeff Duncan-Andrade. He made incredibly profound statements, focused on the incredibly alarming inequity that plagues the American education system. Many of the elements were similar to his previous TED talk below.
In addition to his thought-provoking message, he also dug deeply into the importance of supporting students in understanding their personal cultural identity. He showed a powerful video of students at a Maori school engaging in the customs of their culture. This school focuses on and measures the students' sense of identity as a part of their educational experience. With supporting data (below), the school demonstrates how focusing on the student's sense of identity also lead to long-term growth in their academic achievement. Most importantly, Jeff points out this change occurred after several years - a length of time that would be too long for many American schools to continue with any single strategy. I believe I will continue processing this keynote both professional and personally for a long time.
I look forward to continue sharing my work related to this conference in the future and learning more about Improvement Science. If you have any tips of recommendations, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Yesterday, I was able to attend an Improvement Science Workshop put on by the Eagle Rock Professional Development Center. They offer a variety of professional development for schools across the country. We spent the day examining a problem of practice using improvement science. Thankfully, the presenter emailed out a Google Drive folder with all of the materials from the session in electronic form ahead of time. I was able to use a Chrome app called Copy Folder to make a copy of all of the folder materials at once (instead of the usual copying every file). This process was relatively easy and allowed my to select the folder directly from my Drive, name the new folder, copy sharing permissions (or not) and place it where I wanted in my Drive. I would recommend sharing this as a resource if you ever share a folder with participants and want them to make their own copy of multiple documents.
When I got assigned to my working group, I shared the folder with them and we were able to collaborate on many of the tasks from the workshop electronically. While my group members primarily engaged on the process using the posters and sticky-notes provided to us, I had the flexibility to express my thinking electronically and more importantly, capture all of my group's thinking in a way that would be easily referenced later. Oftentimes, posters from workshops are never referenced again and thrown away or recycled. By having an electronic archive, I know that our group will be far more likely to reference our work again. One document that gave me difficulty, however, was a Fishbone diagram. The electronic version was not very user-friendly for filling out electronically. Instead, I decided to use Lucidchart to create my own version of the diagram. I was satisfied with Lucidchart, but I'm not sure I would pay for a premium account. You are limited to 3 documents in a free Lucidchart account, but I think I will stick with the free account until I dig more into concept mapping software. Overall, it was very satisfying to engage with the workshop materials in a way that resonated with my working style. I am thankful that the team from Eagle Rock gave me the chance to explore what electronic engagement in a workshop can look like.
Do you give your participants the chance to engage electronically? What has worked? Share your stories in the comments!
I decided to embark on a creative project last week. I created a guide on how to make courses in Schoology more aesthetically pleasing, AKA Mattea's Guide to Making Schoology Pretty. This can sometimes be challenging, given some of the current design constraints. This is my first project where I've added a little more personality and humor and I feel pretty pleased with the results. Click the image below to open the guide. Feel free to share with others. Enjoy!
This leads me to my second recommendation. If you have never listened to the Harry Potter audiobooks, you are missing out. The narrator does an incredible job bringing the story to life, with unique voices for each character. He somehow manages to sound like Hermione while still sounding like a story narrator. This had been my newest obsession and I have found myself on to the third book in a matter of a couple of weeks. I have thoroughly enjoyed re-reading the series this way and find myself sneaking in more Harry Potter every time I take public transit to work, wash the dishes, or work on laundry. I even sometimes listen to it while working out. Who says that you can't read and be active at the same time?
Since I do not have an English background, I would be curious to hear thoughts from English teachers on how this app can be used with students. Please share any recommendations or ideas in the comments below!
I was so happy to spend the day surrounded by other education and edtech enthusiasts at #edcampdenver. Going to an edcamp always makes me feel at home, surrounded by my people. I always enjoy connecting to other educators and hearing about what they are doing in their classrooms. This is even more true this year, as I do not have a classroom of my own.
First, I make a large number of presentations and visuals as a part of my job. I was excited to learn about https://thenounproject.com/, where there are several icons you can browse to use to represent ideas. I look forward to using this site in the future as I push many of colleagues to create more visual representations of ideas, instead of relying on paragraph-style representations that tend to have little impact.
It was also super nice to connect with a variety of new people. First I connected with Colorado Teacher of the Year, Sean Wybrant, over telling the authentic stories of teachers and students in our K-12 schools. We agreed that there are many stories of students and teachers that need to be shared in order to help improve our education system and help make teaching a sustainable profession. Teachers are selected for The Colorado Teacher of the Year award based upon a nomination process. If you know a teacher who should be nominated for the 2018 award, you should use submit your recommendation on the CDE website here.
Overall, it was an incredible day filled with inspiring conversations and amazing company. I strongly recommend attending an edcamp in your area. If you know of any that are coming up or would like to share your own reflections on an edcamp, feel free to leave a note in the comments.
Mattea Garcia is a passionate educator dedicated to improving instruction by utilizing technology. This blog is dedicated to reflections on educational technology tools, instructional coaching, and educational equity.