Monday, July 16, 2018

Summer Learning for Educators: The Someday/Monday Approach

Image result for someday monday
This post is week 6 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators from To find out more, click here.

Summer learning for educators; there can be so much of it. Conferences, book studies, twitter chats, sessions at the local co-op. etc... The question always is, "how am I going to implement all of these great things into my classroom next year?" The answer is, "you may not... and that's okay." 

A few years back, Feb of 2015, I was able to attend a summit from the EdTechTeacher team. At the summit, I was able to see a fantastic member of their team, Tom Daccord. At the end of Daccord's presentation, he gave some advice: Take the Someday/Monday Approach.

The Someday/Monday approach is simple, but important to those of us that love to soak in tons of professional learning. 
  1. Think of your "someday." That is what your classroom will be like once all of these pieces are fully implemented. "Someday my classroom will ________." Write it down, capture your vision. This may even be a multi year plan. 
  2. What is the first step on "Monday" that you can accomplish towards this goal? Keep it simple, keep it small. Don't try to change too much all at once. 
The key is to constantly revisit your "someday" and check on your progress towards it. Once a step is made/implimented, plan the next step. 

I invite all of my fellow educators to create your Someday/Monday plan, before day one of the school year! Feel free to share in the comments below. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Empowering Students to Share Their Learning

This post is week 5 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators from Find out more by clicking here.

Most of us have been there before as either the teacher or the student. It's the first week of school, and out comes the predictable prompt: "What experiences did you have during the summer?" Now don't get me wrong, it's a decent prompt for building rapport between the teacher and their students, but there has to be a way we can shake it up a little bit, right?

Think about what your students have been doing most of this summer... They've been on social media, sharing (sometimes oversharing) almost every day. Selfies at the ball park, a victory on Fortnite, hanging by the pool, etc... All of this leading to the question, "How do we get them to connect their life experiences to their classroom experiences?" My answer, let them share. 

Social Media of THEIR Choice:
Instead of that writing prompt the first week of school, why not set up a social media prompt. "With the platform of your choice, share an experience you had over the summer and include what you learned from the experience." Then create a hashtag for it... or better yet, let the class create the hashtag for it. SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, the platform doesn't matter. Have them get out their phone and share not only something they did, but what they LEARNED from the experience. Remember social media is only for students ages 13 and over, check out other options below. 


Flipgrid Sharing:
If you are timid of the social media route, then set up a Flipgrid for your class and ask the same prompt. Flipgrid will keep the videos private within your class, but students can still respond to each other. 

Shared Videos via QR Code:
Allow students to use classroom or personal devices to record a video of themselves answering the prompt. Save the videos to a cloud drive, such as Google Drive, then take that link and create a qr code. There are many qr code generators out there, just Google qr generator and you will be good to go. Print and post the qr codes in your classroom or in the hallway of your school.
Why do this?
There are several benefits to this activity:
  • Student Voice: You are starting the year off by asking them to share something that THEY want to share. They have control over what they share with the class. 
  • Digital Citizenship: It's important for students to learn to post and respond appropriately on social media. 
  • Sharing their Learning: If students are sharing their learning, they are taking ownership in it. Taking these steps will encourage them to begin to share what they have learned, without a teacher directing them to.  
The Real Challenge:
Keep the sharing going all year long. Frequently ask them to pick something from the class that they learned about, and make a post about it in what ever platform you desire. Even if it is just on a Padlet Wall or in Google Classroom, keep them sharing what they learn. 

Imagine months later, your students are at the dinner table. When the parent asks the inevitable "What did you learn in school today?" Their response, "I posted it on Instagram for you to see!"

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Lifelong Learning: Leading by Following

This post is week 4 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators from Find out more by clicking here

Here is a thought I have as I sit down to write this post: Can we be a leader without being a follower? 

I think of many of the professional leadership opportunities that I've had over the last several years: instructing PD sessions, coaching teachers, consulting administrators, writing blog posts, engaging in twitter chats. None of those things are possible if I am not following the work of others. 

A few years ago, I began training in a program called eMINTS. At first glance, eMINTS is looked at and described as a program that teaches teachers how to effectively integrate technology into their classroom. Similar to other professional development groups, eMINTS places you in a cohort. You become part of a family of educators. eMINTS also teaches you about the importance of setting up a PLN, (professional learning network). 

Once I began to develop a PLN across Google+ and Twitter, my leadership opportunities grew exponentially. Why? Because I was able to follow the lead of so many educators across the globe, and bring it back to those around me. The funny thing is, at the time, I didn't realize that I was being a leader. I thought I was just sharing things that I had learned. 

To this day, that is how I continue to lead; by following. I enjoy seeing the work of others, and sharing that work. This process causes great dialogue to happen between myself and my peers.

I don't just follow the lead of those who post things on social media, it's also important for leaders to follow what is going on in the school around them. I try to visit classrooms often to see the work that is going on in the building. I invite teachers to share their work with me in person as well. As great as it is to share strategies and ideas that I see on media platforms, it's even better to share things that are happening right here at home with others. 

There isn't a way to be a leader with out being a follower.