Monday, February 19, 2018

Boldly Go Flexible!!

Classroom Redesign Journey

In 2016 CUE held what was then called Classroom Cribs conference. In 2017 the name changed to CUE BOLD and I attended the first CUE Bold event. In the fall of 2016, I was a newly assigned Instructional Technology TOSA. Having been a music director for 25 years I knew what great innovative music rooms look and feel like. But I did not have a good grasp on what an Innovative Classroom outside the music world looked and felt like. This is where CUE BOLD helped fill the gaps in my knowledge.

The main thing I like about CUE BOLD is that pedagogy is put first. I should stop here and say that BOLD stands for Blended and Online Learning Design! I came back from the Classroom Cribs one-day event excited and ready to start transforming our schools. I meet with my Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent to share what I had learned.

After going to CUE BOLD in 2017 I had a more focused idea of how to move forward in creating flexible learning spaces. After several meetings with our Deputy Superintendent, we developed a plan that went as follows.

We held a series of informal meetings at all five of our campuses (K-12) to talk about and answer questions teachers had about flexible classrooms. Due to the passing of a large bond we had the money in our facilities fund that we could use to start transforming classrooms. Teachers that attended these meetings were then given the opportunity to fill out a Google Survey on their interest in moving forward with redesigning their classroom. In this survey we asked questions like:

What kind of changes would you like to see?
If you had to prioritize one change what would it be?
Thinking about addition but subtraction what would you subtract?

All completed surveys were reviewed and site principals had a chance to way in on which classrooms they would like to see redesigned. Once we had narrowed down how many classrooms and grade levels of these classes we meet with Meteor Education. Meteor helped us define the types of furniture we would put in each classroom.

Our School Board approved the plan we had designed and the purchase order was placed near the end of the 2016-2017 school year. Due to the time needed for furniture to be shipped and arrive we scheduled the install for October 2017 during our Fall break. For phase II we will have the order placed in time for install during the summer but for phase II liked that students started the year with the old and had the room transform physically during the break. Seeing the student's faces and their excitement the first day with the new furniture was priceless!  

I don’t want to fool anyone, it has not been all rosy with the changes made. The new room design has stretched some of our teachers. We have had some failures with desks that have broken and engeryball chairs that students have punchered with pencils. But the benefits far outway the problems. Many of the teachers whose rooms we redesigned have been purging their rooms of items that very easily clutter a classroom. Items such as large teacher desks being replaced by a small workstation, bookcase, and filing cabinets.

Now when I walk in the classrooms that were redesigned you see heightened student engagement, increase in collaborative work and students taking ownership of their learning.

We are not finished as our journey has just begun to shift our classrooms. It has been an exciting journey to BOLDLY GO FLEXIBLE!

Thursday, January 4, 2018


Recently I have seen a number of folks posting on twitter their #OneWord for 2018. I've never been one to make New Year Resolutions. But I decided to pick a word for myself for 2018. What you say is that one word? Well if you didn't guess by the title of this blog, it's TIME.

Why time you may ask? I'm mean come on I have seen folks I know post words like Possibility, Focus, Trust, Purpose, etc. So why TIME?

Simple I wear a lot of hats (TOSA, CTA State Council, TKSCC Chair, CTA/ABC). Each of these requires a commitment of time. Time spent prepping, teaching, leading, planning, etc. But what about myself? Do I deserve Time?

Recently a friend didn't ask me to do a task, instead, she said "Nora, you do it. You don't have kids so you have time." I didn't say it but I thought just because I don't have kids doesn't mean I have time to do what she wanted. I mean I wear a lot of hats and they all require time from me.

The last day of school before our Winter break I attended a meeting with a group of fellow teachers. We meet to create the questions for a survey that we need to give. It took us about 45 minutes to hammer out the questions for our survey and write them down. I had told them after we formulated the questions I would create a Google Form to use for the survey. So after we finished writing down the question one colleague asked when would the survey be ready to send out to everyone. The leader of our group turned to me and said it will be ready tomorrow right? My response was "No". No? The look on several peoples faces was what? See I had plans for Christmas and was leaving the next day for San Francisco and I said I would not even start working on the Google Form until after I returned.

Why did I do this? Because even though I have many hats and spend a large amount of time devoted to them the one thing I have not been doing is scheduling time for me.

If I want to be happy and healthy I have to schedule time for me. Time to recharge my batteries. Time to do things I enjoy. Time to read and not just read books, magazines, and blogs related to my work but time to read for personal pleasure. Time to go to the movies or dinner with friends.

So while I will schedule time for all my hats in 2018 I will also schedule time for me. If you want time for me and there is no time left in the day, week or month then the answer will be no or not now but later.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Goodreads Challenge 2017

Goodreads Reading Challenge 2017

Here is my list of books read in 2017:

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Red Mars (Mars Trilogy #1) by Kim Stanley Robinson

George Lucas: A Life by Brian Jay Jones

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King

Lead Like A Pirate by Shelley Burgess & Beth Houf

Jim Henson Biography by Brian Jones

Shift This! by Joy Kirr

Dark Money by Jane Mayer

Company Town by Madeline Ashby

The Intercept by Dick Wolf

Assessments That Matters: Using Technology to Personalize Learning by Kim Meldrum

The Snowden Files by Luke Harding

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Hacking Leadership by Joe Sanfelippo and Tony Sinanis

Marvel Comics The Untold Story by Sean Howe

Wonder by RJ Palacio

Above the Line: Lessons in Leadership and Life from a Championship Program by Urban Meyer

Auggie & Me by RJ Palacio

Plaster City by Johnny Shaw

Term Limits by Vince Flynn

Grit by Angela Duckworth

American Assassin by Vince Flynn

Social LEADia by Jennifer Casa-Todd

Artemis by Andy Weir

Kill Shot by Vince Flynn

Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn

Monday, January 1, 2018

Walt Disney Family Museum

Walt Disney Family Museum 

The Walt Disney Family Museum is located in the Presidio in San Francisco. Opened in 2009 it is a must for any fan of Walt Disney. The Museum is not owned by the Disney corporation but by the Disney Family Foundation. 

Below is a sample of photos I took at the museum in December of 2017.