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Posted by on in Blended Learning

royals

This summer, I intend to go to Disney World and other parts of Florida, the Outer Banks, Ocean City, New York City, a Kansas City Royals baseball game, the Grand Canyon, the White House, a NHL Finals game, a cruise, and I plan to go to all of those places without leaving my house. How? With the Cardboard Camera app, Google Cardboard, and Google Classroom.

I have given my sixth grade students one last assignment, and this assignment will run all summer long. Their assignment is to bring along their classmates on their summer vacation trips using the Cardboard Camera app, by uploading their images to Google Classroom for their classmates and myself to view on our Google Cardboards (we had a Google Cardboard make and take night in early May, so the students are really into VR now), and finally collaborating on a Google Slide (Take Us With You On Vacation).

Benefits to this assignment:

1. Let's start with the obvious. It is really cool. Who doesn't want to try out VR? The students absolutely love it, and because they do, the assignment is relevant and meaningful to them. They will end up exploring and learning so much because they just want to. No grades given. No doing this assignment to collect points. No due date to meet. Just learning in its purest form. 

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Posted by on in Blended Learning

pirate

I had been sailing on a clear course for about 13 years before I decided to drastically change course for blended learning. I've been on this blended learning course for about two and a half years now. I thought I had prepared well for my change in course, but there were many times early on in my change of course, I wasn't sure I was going to make it. I hit some pretty rough water and I had some real heart-to-heart conversations with myself. But the more I kept sailing, the more treasures I kept finding. This year's travel was full of so many treasures like Breakout EDU's, Mystery Skypes, 3D printing, G Suite tools for students and teachers, and engaged learners like never before. I realized that with all of these treasures I have collected, I have become a PIRATE. 

Blend like a PIRATE:

Purpose 

  • My first year of running a blended learning classroom was frustrating to say the least. Just when I was thinking I was making progress, something always seemed to come up to derail the progress I thought I had made. And while that year was full of frustration and uncertainty, it was also full of learning and adventure. (Read about my mistakes and my corrections from an early post Surf's Up: First Year Blended Learning Mistakes and Ways to Correct Them) Through all of the learning and adventures, the biggest thing I learned was understanding my purpose of running a blended learning classroom. I knew prior to starting a blended learning classroom, I needed to try something new and different for my students, but I was unclear of the purpose. My purpose for blended learning, which I discovered as a result of all the frustrations and hardships, is that blended learning is a way for students to find meaning, relevance, and themselves in their education during their time in education. So as I went through my second year of a blended learning classroom, I kept that purpose in mind all year long. By having understanding that purpose this year, I was able to focus more and piece together the puzzle pieces to create an effective and engaging blended learning environment for my students.

Imagination

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Posted by on in Professional Development

neurons

Spring is here. The birds are chirping. The grass is growing. The weather outside is beautiful. So, what do you think teachers are doing on those beautiful spring evenings and weekends? Why, professional development (PD) of course. More specifically, gamified PD. Over the first 30 days of our gamification approach to PD, we have had our pilot group of teachers put in over 300 hours of learning during their own time.

Driving back from PETE&C 2016 with my district's technology director, Justin Arthur (@JustinTech), we started talking about all the fantastic things we saw like blended learning, G Suite for Education, and the gamification of classrooms. This lead to a discussion on professional development, and how we could bring those aspects from what we saw at PETE&C 2016 into PD. That discussion became the starting point for the gamification of PD in our district, which evolved into what it is now, Learning Pathways PD.

What is  Learning Pathways PD?

It brings all of the elements of collaboration, customization, relevance, supportive, engaging, competitive, anytime, anywhere learning together through the use of G Suite for Education. We call our gamification of PD, Learning Pathways PD.

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Posted by on in Education Technology

3d printing shapeways

"PC load letter?!" Can't say I've said that in a long time. I love G Suite for Education, so there is little need to get frustrated with the printer, let alone print things out. Unless that is, you want to print something with a 3D printer!

At the end of January, I wrote a grant for the Polar3D printer, and as luck would have it, I was fortunate enough to receive the grant. My Polar3D printer arrived in my classroom last week, and hopefully we will be printing tomorrow. Not only is this my sixth grade students' first opportunity to use a 3D printer, but it is also mine. So it is a very exciting time as my students and I explore this new piece of technology together. We are both learning so much already, but what I am seeing and learning from my students is incredible.

Students as engaged learners

Before allowing my students to print, I had my students go through the tutorial lessons on tinkercad.com which is the free, web based platform we will be using to create our 3D projects. There are six tutorials which take students through different parts of the design process. Some struggled, while some excelled, but every student was an engaged learner. They were hooked as soon as they saw the 3D printer in the classroom. So when they went through the tutorials, they were asking questions without any prompting and they were answering their classmates' questions without any prompting. 

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

principals office door

For seven weeks, I was an interim, elementary principal in one of my district's elementary schools. It was an opportunity and experience that was invaluable. When I began I was nervous and full of anxiety, but when I ended, I had wonderful memories, great new relationships, and a very real and meaningful learning experience. 

So as I look back on my seven weeks as an elementary principal, and try to put things into perspective, these are my top ten things I have learned.  

Be Visible

From my very first day, I knew I had to be out of my office and in the halls, classrooms, cafeteria, and out on bus duty. I needed to show students, parents, teachers, and staff I was there for them. I could not do that from staying in my office trying to sort through all the emails and paperwork. While those needed attention, being visible was more important. 

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