Call Me Loopy but I’ve Loved Looping!

The 2016-2017 school year provided the opportunity to loop up with my 3rd graders to 4th grade.  Everyone I knew and/or met asked me what I thought or how it was going before it was way too early to tell.  But now it’s nearly the end of the school year, and there’s been time to reflect.

The negatives of looping up:  (I haven’t personally experienced any negatives but want to be clear that they exist.)

  1. It needs to be a mutual decision.  The teacher and the family should opt in to make the journey for another year together.  I had two families opt out for various reasons, but it was the best decision for everyone involved.  Two other students were placed in different classes because it was going to be best for their academic experience.  I love all 4 students and their families to death, but it wasn’t about me, it was what was best for them.  One student moved out of  our school’s base area, and the rest of us chose to spend 4th grade together.
  2. The teacher needs to be passionate about educating in the 21st Century.  This covers a lot, but a year with any adult with a poor attitude and an arsenal of worksheets is too much, let alone two years.  Just saying.

The positives of looping up:

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Reflecting is Sharing

Participating in the #InnovatorsMindset Book Study along with the opportunity to attend #EdCampWake had my mind exploding in a way that wouldn’t have come close to making the 200 word challenge this time.  The chance to meet, connect, and share with so many #EduHeroes inspired me to tweak a Fractions Hyperdoc I found at #TsGiveTs … Read more

Are You Engaging or Empowering Students?

I totally ‘stole’ George Couros‘s idea for switching up his lesson delivery in Health (page 98) and tried it in Science   We were still in the middle of our Landforms unit and starting to get to the part that includes a lot of pictures and videos versus the hands on learning we experienced with the stream tables.

I reflected in an earlier post that my students had already been curating some amazing links in our Google Classroom stream. So instead of showing the pictures and videos in the plans, I let my students choose between landslides and mudslides.  From there, we had two landslides groups and four mudslides groups.

Each group had a laptop or mini laptop to access the Google Slide Deck I had assigned in Google Classroom.  Their directions were to access the slide deck, add a slide, include their group members’ name, and start researching facts on their chosen topic.

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Are You Teaching at Blockbusters or Netflix?

Sylvia Duckworth’s image of “School” versus “Learning” from George Couros’s “The Innovator’s Mindset” captures the latest great divide that is happening in education today.

When Couros writes, “I’m not saying today’s schools are irrelevant yet,”  I believe he’s thinking of innovative communities like those at the Mount Vernon Exploratory School in Georgia.  From their mission statement:

 “While allowing for some degree of student “voice and choice,” rigorous projects with a STEM focus are carefully planned, managed, and assessed to help students learn key academic content, practice 21st Century Skills (such as collaboration, communication & critical thinking), and create high-quality, authentic products and presentations. “

After listening to A.J. Julianni interview Bo Adams, Executive Director of the Mount Vernon Institute for Innovation, I’m convinced the schools that Adams’s team works with are “starting with questions, exploring deeply, pursuing passions, challenging perceived notions, and creating.”

But what if you’re at a school that leans heavily toward the “School” side of Sylvia’s image?  What if you’re still enabling students to complete those “Rite of Passage” Grade Level projects without even stopping once to ask why or what if?  

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Consuming Doesn’t Equal Learning

If you’re like me, you could spend weeks choosing which Blog Prompt to reflect on and/or even more time making that site just right, but Bill Ferriter’s post encourages me to forget about the verb “blog” and focus on the verb “reflect”. The adjective “reflective” happens to be the eighth characteristic of the “The Innovator’s Mindset”.

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Why We Need More Blue In Education

Diego Téllez Rodríguez posted this animated short film, Alike for the Innovative Teaching Academy group in early April.  Shortly afterwards, A.J. Jullianni thankfully shared his own reflection here because otherwise I may have missed this tiny treasure:

There are so many ways to reflect on this short film, but one thought is how we have squashed creativity and wielded compliance in so many aspects of what we call school.  Regardless of how we earned our teaching certificates, it’s unlikely that this was ever a vision that we created for ourselves or for our students.

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Changing the Way I Teach Has to Happen Yesterday

A sample of the book, “The Innovator’s Mindset” by George Couros, had been in my iPhone Kindle Library for some time.  An invitation from Dave Burgess to join a global book study with over 2000 participants and to share my reflections via blog posts and social media was just the nudge I needed. Here’s my “uh oh” moment that literally made me take pause and consider why changing the way I teach has to happen yesterday…   

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Innovation is Believing

To me, innovation is believing:  It’s just not easy trying something new and different … you have to believe there is a need.  Without this conviction, a journey already fraught with trials and tribulations will feel impossible with every bump along the way.  While a certain company’s beverage debut has received a lot of press attention this week, one would think that they believed there was a market for the drink.  A whole team of somebodies likely decided that any possible failure and ridicule was worth the potential for success.

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