Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cue Rockstar & the Flu

When the flu hits the day before Rural Rockstar one would think that would mean all hope of the best summer PD is over. But I was not to be fully denied access to Rockstar. So laptop, iPad and phone close at hand, twitter open and texting a fellow teacher from my bed I made the best of it.

I might not have spent an hour or two putting together a lesson for the up coming school year but I was able to collect some resources and names and twitter handles of folks to contact if I have questions before the fall.

Both John Miller (@room162) and Sam Patterson (@SamPatue) presented on blogging. While I started blogging with students last year for the first time it is always great to see what other educators are doing with their classes.
John Miller also did a session on Minecraft Edu. If there was one session I truly wish I could have been in the room for this is it. However that being said I have the link to John's web page of resources which I hope he does not mind me posting the link here

My friend that was texting me said that Will Kimbley (@willkimbley) did a great session on google chrome apps and extensions. 

Kristen Berg (@mrsqueenberg) APPs that APPly to Common Core is worth a look for anyone using an iPad in the classroom. Check out the link here

Having been to CUE Rockstar Hornet I can say going in person is definitely the way to go. However if life gets in the way and you can't show up in person don't let that stop you from gaining from the great educators at Rockstar!

Be Our Guest

What is on your summer must read list? A little over a year ago my Superintendent took me to a one day Disney Institute Workshop, recently while at Disneyland with my school band and choir I saw the book "Be Our Guest" and picked it up to add to my summer reading list.

What can schools learn from Disney or any business for that mater about how to more effectively run a school? The subtitle of 'Be Our Guest' is Perfecting the Art of Customer Service. Disneyland is know as the happiest place on Earth and with the thought that happy students make more receptive learners I opened the book and started reading.

You don't even get out of the introduction and one lesson more schools could learn rings true give people effective training to support the delivery of exceptional service. And you celebrate success. Never stop growing and never stop believing.

Each school can not be a cookie cutter you need to know your individual students or as Disney puts it Guestology know your customer. At Disney Parks there are four quality standards safety, courtesy, show, and efficiency. They understand that employees are their most important asset, something many schools could stand to take a lesson to learn from Disney.

When it comes to safety the entire cast is taught safety procedure and location-specific safety practices. This was never more evident this past week then when a fire broke out in the back stage area of Disneyland yet with a highly trained staff park guest where kept calm. Can we say the same about our schools? If a fire breaks out in a classroom does the kitchen staff know what to do? How about maintenance staff? Have we trained teachers how to help the sub next door in the event of an emergency?

Disney showed how much he valued his cast by adding a democratic element to his system by adopting the very best ideas, no matter where they originated. At Disney parks they believe that "our front line is our bottom line." Wow what if schools believed the same thing and thought the teacher was the most important thing and not the District Office.

Ever district office should ask itself this question. What kinds of messages do your employment settings and experiences send to job applicants and new hires?

Don't underestimate the power of a good orientation program.

Six Tips for Culture Building
1. Keep it Simple
2. Make it Global - Include everyone
3. Make it measurable
4. Provide training and coaching
5. Solicit feedback and ideas from the team
6. Recognize and reward performance

R. Buckminster Fuller the creator of Spaceship Earth at Epcot said this "You can't change people. But if you change the environment that the people are in, they will change." Disney has truly mastered this belief with setting. To many schools look and feel like prisons and students act like they are prisoners.Imagine if we made schools more inviting places to attend just by how they look. At my current school we have lines painted on the side walks so student traffic flow is one directional. While I agree with the traffic flow, I have heard more than one student say they are like prison lines. So the question is could we have the same thing with foot prints or colored arrows or even crooked arrows so they don't look like the straight lines of a prison? Disney has lines, they have painted directions on the ground, but no place in the park does it look like a prison.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Educational Professional Development in a National Park

 A few months ago I saw a post on twitter about EdCampYosemite. I had heard the term EdCamp before but was not sure what an EdCamp was all about. So like any curious educator I did a little research on EdCamps. So where did my search start will with a quick "Google" search of course. What I happened upon was the Edcamp Foundation web site.

So how does the Edcamp Foundation explain edcamp? A form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs. Read more here. After reading my first thought was sounds cool and if it is boring, well I will be in Yosemite so I could just leave and enjoy the National Park.

Well EdCampYosemite was definitely not boring. I started the day by attending what had been advertised as I pre-camp Instagram and Action Movie FX walk in Yosemite lead by Jon Corippo (twitter @jcorippo) and Walt Hebern (twitter @whebern). I have used Instagram for a while and had Action Movie FX on my iPad but had never used it. So I showed up around 8:15 armed with a iPhone, iPad and Digital SLR ready to take a walk around Yosemite Valley. Jon showed me how to take better pictures with my iPhone for Instagram. He also sparked a great idea for using Instagram for better outreach with parents on a trip I will be taking with students in May. Plus ideas on how to use Instagram with a class. Walt in mean time showed my how to use Action Movie FX and has opened up a whole new world for me to explore with my students.

Next up was check-in were everyone was given a form to fill out with topics for the day. Then the opening welcome talk by Rushton Hurley (twitter @rushtonh). For the first session of the day I had wanted to know more about Mindcraft for education, I was not the only one to write that down for a topic. Fortuantely John Miller (twitter @room162) was on hand to share his passion for Mindcraft Edu with everyone.  I now know who to turn to when I try out Mindcraft with students.

Next I went to see what Rushton's new project Geo-Video was all about. It is a very interesting sounding project that got me to thinking about could I get students involved in the project and if so what would the focus be?

"Things That Suck" was very well attended and a lively debate. I can tell you one thing that does not 'suck' EdCamp!

Since my school is talking about starting 'Instructional Rounds' I went to the session with a small group of teachers/administrators talking about Instructional Rounds. I heard how some people are having success and others are not. I did not talk much during this session as I just soaked up as much information as possile both good and bad so hopefully as a member of the leadership team at my school I can take back ideas on how we should and should not implement Instructional Rounds next year.

When the day started I was not sure about the concept of Edcamp. I came away saying I would be back for the one at Yosemite next year and I would attend any Edcamp within driving distance of my location. This was one of the best PD's I have been to and it was free other than the gas to get me to Yosemite.

Massive props to Marlena Hebern for being the founder of EdCampYosemite (twitter @edcampyosemite). You Rock!

Monday, January 27, 2014

First Exeter 'Appy Hour'

I hosted the first 'Appy Hour' for teachers in my District today at a local coffee shop. The District is piloting iPads in a few classrooms this year so today a few of the teachers joined me for an hour of sharing what is working and what is not.

One of my favorite new apps that I shared today was "AppsGoneFree" by AppsAdvice.com. This app is a great way to find apps without paying a dime. Or using a teachers favorite F word - you can get apps for FREE by using this app. You can read information about the apps online at http://appadvice.com/appnn/tag/appsgonefree

Board Cam was shared by one of the other teachers present as her favorite app for using the iPad as a document camera. Read more and check out the app in iTunes

The group also checked out my new stand that I'm using in my classroom for my iPad. I have the Justand V2. You can check out all the details on the Justand V2 at http://ipaddocumentcamera.com/pages/justand-v2
I love how this stand is easily portable from classroom to classroom. You can also plug your iPad into the stand for charging when using all day.

We talked about how trying the lite version of apps to try about a new app is fine but if you find it to be a useful app in the classroom then paying for the full version to get ride of ads with worth the money.

Another point brought up by the group was how if you have an app on your device for more than two months and you find you are not using it then delete it off the device because it is not worth keeping. Also keeping apps organized on your device was also brought up as an important thing to do.

It was a great time of sharing and we will be getting together again for another 'Appy Hour'

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Teacher Driven Change

This past weekend I attend California Teacher Associations Good Teaching Conference North in San Jose with fellow teachers from my school. As the association President I encouraged teachers to attend the conference as our association dues helps pay for these conferences.


Click on the picture above to go to the conference website to see a full list of workshops

You go to conferences like this and there is so much information thrown at you in a very short amount of time that it can be very overwhelming.How do you pick which session to attend, which vendors you spend time talking to, what do you spend money purchasing or do you even purchase anything, do you hang out with just your fellow teachers you came with or hang out with new friends you meet?

As the local President and a returning GTC attendee I felt it was important to give new teachers attending some direction on what to do, while still giving them freedom to make choices. One of the best things we did all weekend was to go out to dinner together on Saturday night. We shared about what sessions we had all attended during the day, what we had learned and thought we could take back and implement in the classroom. Then we talked about how the year has been going and got very real with each other the good and the bad.

Saturday started with the Uncluttered Teacher Tammy Duggan. Tammy did a bonus session on how to unclutter your classroom and your life. This is something I need help with and I did purchase Tammy's book "The Un-cluttered Teacher". On Monday the first day back at school I asked my principal about an idea I had to get backpacks up off the floor and out of the way. She said let's go for it and gave the maintenance department permission to put up hooks on the wall in the computer lab. So today we did a trial run with six hooks.

Several of the other teachers that went have also start putting in place small changes. We brought back some new material that will make better at our craft which we can share with our fellow teachers. Teacher driven change.. When given freedom to grow and learn we will thrive. We want what is best for our school. We want what is best for our students.

Come and join us for our first 'Appy Hour' (Thanks Kathleen and Chris for the title) on January 27 at Cappella's - I picked up a few new awesome apps this weekend!

Up next for me - I read the book - "Teach Like A Pirate" now I will see the head pirate himself Dave Burgess in Oakhurst

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Road to 1:1

The long and winding road...



And so the journey begins towards making advancements in educational technology in the school District where I currently teach. Change can be a painful process. When you are looking at spending a large amount of money you never want to jump into anything to fast but when the world is passing you by you also don't want to move to slow either. Finding the right balance is often a hard thing to do.

First big question was do we really go 1:1 or can you have a class set of devices for every two classes to share. My view was that at the very least by middle school you must be 1:1. If we are looking at textbooks being electronic then there is no question we have to be 1:1 with students taking the devices home. Which now leads to the question of what device do you purchase?

So the debate begins - will it be iPads - or maybe iPad minis, how about Chromebooks, what about laptops? There is a pause in the conversation. We move on to something else.

I make the mistake of saying what about something like the HP device that works as both a tablet and a laptop. The tech next to me says yeah the um hybrids. We can't think of exactly what they are called at the moment (Slates) and someone pipes up your wasting time.........

Yep it is going to be a long and winding road......