Today is Thanksgiving. Many people report that Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday because it is mostly about enjoying time with family (and eating a lot of food).
What are you thankful for this year? Please feel free to share.
Here are the top 5 things I am thankful for:
- My Family – My wife and children are everything to me!
- My Extended Family – Having family spread out sometimes makes it hard to connect, but I always know I can count on my my mom, brothers, sisters, aunts/uncles, and cousins
- My Friends – Not sure what I would be able to do without my friends. For some reason, they choose to be there for me
- My PLN – Many people in my PLN have become trusted friends, and mentors
- My school – I always say that I work in the best school, with the best people focused on the right things!!!!!
What are you thankful for?
Saw this video on YouTube. I feel it is very appropriate for the Thanksgiving holiday! Thanks teachers ….for all you do!
Have you ever used Powtoon? According to their website, Powtoon assists students with staying engaged and generates motivation in any classroom no matter the age!
Signing up is easy, all you have to is sync your Google +, Facebook, Linkedin or register through an email. Once inside Powtoon, you can watch the demo lesson or get right to work. Powtoon will help you enhance your presentation or help you explain a concept.
Here is Mrs. Devita’s Powtoon on Author’s Purpose that she used in her flipped lesson:
Once you give Powtoon a try, let me know what you think!
I recently watched the TEDx Talk by Dr. Terry Singh and I highly recommend it (I embedded it at the end of this post). Before you watch it, I want you to think for a minute…. are you stuck? Maybe at your job? classroom? or maybe it’s physical? emotional? Maybe your leadership is stuck? organization? department? There are many factors that can make you stuck. It happens to everyone, but only some people recognize it, and still fewer decide to get unstuck.
For instance, maybe you are looking to become more productive and you have a lot of ideas. You start researching, or talking to people but you just can’t seem to put a plan together. As time goes on, you think less and less about the plan, and more and more about the fact that you are not progressing. You throw in a few excuses, and the next thing you know… you are stuck!
Some people may only be stuck for a day, a week and there are others who are stuck for a month, a year or even a decade. So how do you become un-stuck? In the TEDx speech, Dr. Singh recommends, “You have to stop feeling despair before you can feel any happiness.” He goes on to point out that most people jump into the solution before defining the problem. Dr. Singh gives some advice on the process of getting un-stuck… You have to focus on your experience of being stuck. So maybe you need to explore the problem you may have your organization, classroom, or personal life.
You have to focus on your experience of being stuck ~ Dr. Singh
Check out the video….
@AppleLouChi and I at #edcampNJ
The next generation is here. Picture you are in college and you happen to have a professor like Kyle Calderwood. Kyle, for those of you who don’t know, is a professor at Stockton College, and has been a connected educator since 2009. He has had an enormous impact on southern New Jersey as the founder of TeachMeetNJ, and is a mentor to many aspiring educators.
In class, Kyle reviews the power of being a connected educator, and among others, Louis Apalucci is in his class. Louis said his eyes were opened by Kyle, and that he never knew Twitter could be a professional learning tool. Louis graduates in May 2014 and begins his teaching career in September 2014 as a middle school math teacher. As a new teacher, armed with a previously established PLN, Louis dives right in. He has been talking about the power of being connected at his school. He attended EdcampNJ to connect face-to-face with like-minded educators so that he could learn more. I was lucky enough to chat with him over lunch with Glenn Robbins. He has so much potential, such a willingness to learn. This is only the beginning.
Now fast forward 10 to 15 years down the road when newly hired teachers will reference teachers in elementary school that encouraged them to blog, tweet, and post responsibly to Instagram. They will have a PLN. They will have connection. It will be second nature. They might even teach a seasoned Louis Apalucci a few things
My math wasn’t adding up. I even had to double check on Google. I found the site Epoch Converter which confirmed my dilemma… I was a day off.
In doing the blog 365 project I have been blogging every day. I keep track of the progress in the title of each of the posts. So I decided to go back through the posts, and I found where I messed up on the numbering. It was back in October and I used the same number twice. No big deal.
Instead of going back and re-numbering all of the posts I just decided to add another post. Day 327 of 365. I only have 38 more blog posts to write to complete my goal.
How is your New Year’s Resolution going???
I went to EdcampNJ, and attended the Maker Fair set up in the gym. Meredith Martin, an awesome educator and innovator, set up a few opportunities for people to make stuff. When I asked her about the cost of setting up a Makerspace, she said that most of the materials are available at Dollar Stores or in a desk, or storage area. So basically, there is not a lot of money required to start one.
Meredith encouraged visitors to either follow directions she set up or just follow their inner inventor! She uses Makerspaces in her school to give students time to tinker, invent, or improve. I can really see a Makerspace complementing the Genius Hour at our school.
Here are a few pictures of the MakerSpace:
A catapult made from rubber bands, spoons and Popsicle sticks
@SPSantilli and @Glennr1809 tinkering around
Want to start your own MakerSpace? Here are some resources:
Meredith’s Pinterest Page
Create a Makerspace in 3 simple steps
Mr. Cooper, regional director with the Toastmasters
Our school is fortunate because we have parents who are dedicated to assisting students with whatever they need. One of our new parents, Mr. Bruce Cooper, proposed a public speaking group for our students. As a Toastmaster Mr. Cooper has competed at the highest levels of public speaking. As a regional director, he had the idea that we could create a similar experience for our 3rd, 4th and 5th graders to grow future leaders.
In fact, after some research, we found that there is no public speaking group focused on students this young. We are also planning on having a culminating, TED-like talk this spring featuring the students who participate in the group. It will be epic!
In our first meeting we had 20 students and 3 parents attend. The students were excited (and a bit nervous) about having to speak in front of people. We are following a process and we realize that the students are only beginning. Just by showing up, though, they showed an amazing courage. If they stay focused, and dedicated they will be on center stage in the spring of 2015!
Want to learn more about the Toastmasters? Checkout this video:
Here is the deal… if you are not modeling life-long learning as a leader in your organization, than how can you expect your teachers to learn? Adult learning is the key to improvement, and lets face it, the staff meeting is your time to lead or it is your time to lose. The choice is yours… How can you lead the learning….
Questions to ponder:
- Organization – Do you send out agendas ahead of time? Does your meeting have a purpose? Are there time limits? Areas for input? Do you allow suggestions for further improvement? Do you have a note taker?
- Instruction – Are your staff meetings displaying the type of instruction you want to see from your staff? Do you use a combination of collaborative, whole group, pairs, and individual learning opportunities? Do you use higher order activities that require them to apply, analyze, evaluate or create?
- Technology – Do you model use of online formative assessments such as Kahoot, Plickers, or Google Forms to gain insight? Do you use videos to allow for a deeper connection or to flip the instruction? Do you encourage a back channel on Twitter, Today’s Meet or Poll Everywhere? Do you blog about your organization? Do you have a PLN?
- Follow up – Do you send the notes out in a timely fashion? Do you include resources?
How do you lead the learning in your organization?
If you have been on a walk….then you have stepped on somebody’s toes. As leaders we make decisions all the time, and without even know it, we step on people’s toes. The difference that great leaders make is they know the difference between stepping and stomping on toes.
I know this is short today, but what do you think? Do you realize you step on toes? Do you realize if you stomp on toes?
If you never stepped on anybody’s toes, you have never been for a walk ~ Elaine McEwan