A Year in Review 15-16

A Year in Review 15-16

I haven’t made much time to blog this semester…..OK….this year. But what a year it has been! I am currently writing this sitting at Rialto Beach on the coast of Washington. One of our favorite ‘get off the grid’ places to go. We hike in about a mile, no Internet, no cell service. Just the waves, nature and prana. It’s here that I find time to finally sit and reflect on this year’s journey into amazing new educational adventures with more on the way. Eduro: Marysville School District I wrote last year about the 5 year contract we signed with Marysville School District and the work the team and I would be doing there. The first year has been simply amazing. From August when we started training 150ish teachers in Cohort 1, to deploying over 8000 Chromebooks to students 6-12 grade in October and November. Then “Doing the Work” to start changing teaching practice to understand how to make the most of this new tool and connected classrooms…it’s been tough but exciting. Last week at a training that Kim and I were facilitating for Cohort 2 (the next 150 teachers) a math teacher said to me, “I’ve started using Google Forms and ‘Flipping’ my class, but other than that I’m not doing much.” Let’s see, you made a transition from a PC to Mac operating system, you are learning and are continuing to learn the power of Google Apps for Education. You also have started to change lessons, units and overall pedagogical approaches you use in the classroom. Yeah…..I think you’re doing plenty for a 7 month roll out. So often as teachers, we don’t take time to step back and reflect on the journey we have come on in a year with our students and with ourselves. The changes are so small at the time that we don’t often see that they add up to something much larger. If this is where we are at in 7 months. I can’t wait to see where we are in 2018 and beyond. Cohort 1 is on training 7 of 12. Cohort 2 is on training 5 of 12 and Cohort 3 starts their training the end of June. Soon we will be changing learning for students from 3-12 grade across a district. Impacting the learning of roughly 11,000 students. What an honor! COETAIL: Another Cohort in the Books! Who would...

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Doing The Work

Doing The Work

If learning something new was easy everyone would do it. One of the reasons I love working with school districts and teachers over a long term basis is that you get to really dig in and do the work. I have started many presentations over the past year with this: “Raise your hand if you were ever taught in your pre-service program what learning looked like in a 1:1 environment?” “Raise your hand if you were ever taught classroom management strategies in a 1:1 environment?” “Raise your hand if in your Master’s degree you learned teaching and learning strategies for a 1:1 environment?” “Raise your hand if the curriculum you have to teach from was created for a 1:1 teaching and learning environment?” In the past year I’ve asked these questions to hundreds of educators. The only question that ever sees a hand go up is the Master’s degree and even then we’re talking 1 or 2 in a staff of 300+. Here’s the thing….once your school or district decides to go 1:1 everything changes. The curriculum in a moments notice needs upgrading. Your classroom management changes, and what we can do, know that we need to do, and how learning happens all changes. It changes in ways that most educators were never taught to teach in. These are the reasons long-term focused PD sessions need to be implemented once a school decides to go 1:1. No one-off conference or one-off PD day is going to be able to address the deep pedagogical shifts that happen once every student has access to the Internet the moment they want to learn something. It changes everything. School leaders need to understand that investing in this type of long-term, pedagogically focused PD is the difference between devices becoming replacement for paper and pencil and becoming something transformational in the classroom. It’s not a teacher’s fault that they don’t know how things change, because chances are they were never taught to be prepared for this change. So for better or worse we have to “go back to school” and learn how to adapt our teaching methods, ideas, and understandings to a new connected classroom where we have leveled the content knowledge playing field. We have to “do the work” to be OK with this and to become learners again ourselves. To open our minds and understand we’re not saying any one is a...

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’15 by the numbers

’15 by the numbers

Not sure how it got to be December already…and the end of December at that. Where did 2015 go? It’s been a year to remember for me as many things continue to change and grow as we make our home here in Seattle. This is our 3rd full year living here…one more and we match our longevity record of Bangkok. So we’ll see if that holds true. As I have been thinking about writing this blog post I can’t help but think what went wrong with The Thinking Stick this year. By far the fewest blog posts I have written since I started the blog in 2005. Yes…10 years of blogging this past September and that didn’t even dawn on me until just a few weeks ago. Why haven’t I been writing more here? Does it mean that I’m not creating content anymore? I’ve been thinking about this over the past few weeks and I think I’m producing as much as I ever have, it’s just not all in one place. For better or for worse there are now four different companies that I am a part of and each of those have me creating and producing content in some way shape or form for them. Maybe my goal for 2016 should not be to blog more here, but to make sure that more of what I produce in other places ends up here as well? So here’s 2015 by the numbers. 117,000 miles flown I’m really liking this first number. A far cry from the 250,000 miles I flew in 2013…and I’m really excited about that. I would like to keep this down to around 100,000 miles a year if possible. That’s a good number for me. 14 countries and roughly 100,000 miles is a good goal for 2016 as well. As I continue to do more here in the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region in general the less traveling I’ll have to do. I still want to travel and I know the opportunities will continue to be there. It’s just nice spending more days at home than traveling. 29 Blog posts 15 here on The Thinking Stick and 14 over on the Eduro Learning Blog which honestly surprises me a bit. I really didn’t think I had written that many blog posts. If you missed them here are a couple of my favorites from this...

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Gamifying Classrooms

Gamifying Classrooms

The idea of using game based ideas in the learning environment or gamification continues to gain momentum with teachers…but more importantly with students. Let’s not mistake “using games in the learning environment” with “gamifying the learning”. They are two different approaches to using technology within the classroom. Gamification is using the ideas that are found in games to motivate students in a fun, competitive and engaging way that speaks to their inner kid. Gamification really seems to be taking off in the later elementary years like 4th and 5th grade and middle school. Hannah Kingsley in her COETAIL Final Project gives us a great look at gamification in action in a middle school spanish class. You can visit her blog to get the full details along with links to the software she used and a unit planner outlining the process. If you want to learn more about Gamification and Game-Based learning, join Robert Appino in his new course Gamification of Education. Game-Based Learning Overview from Eduro Learning on Vimeo. The course runs from June 22 – July 31st and is going to be a great way to do some summer professional development while you “level up”. Photo Credit: flickr photo shared by chrisgj6 under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA )...

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Institutes and Conferences

Institutes and Conferences

As the school year comes to an end….and I know it’s coming to an end because all my teacher friends are busy monitoring, agonizing and stressed out about the testing happening this time of year….and those are the teachers…wonder what the kids feel like? To help take minds off of the endless hours watching kids take tests, I thought I would share PD opportunities that I am directly involved with either in creating, organizing or advising on. Eduro Learning Summer Institutes July 2nd – Eduro Learning Summer Institute in Seattle Hosted at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center, this 1 day institute looks to inspire educators to be creative. Check out this venue! We chose this place because too often we find that educational conference venues are dull and boring and do not spark that innovative, creative feel. Being on the pier on the Seattle waterfront you can not help but feel inspired. Follow Eduro Learning on Twitter and look for promo codes to save some money! July 6-8 – Eduro Learning Wired with Wine Institute A brainchild of mine when my wife and I were wine tasting in Walla Walla a year ago, I just kept thinking that there is no reason why professional development for educators can’t be fun!  This 2+ day institute offering the same strands as the Seattle Institute just allows us to go a whole lot deeper in thinking and creating when we have more time together. Hosted at the historic Marcus Whitman hotel and within walking distance to 70+ tasting rooms this event will be fun on many levels. Check out the schedule and I really hope to see you there! What’s the difference between a conference and an institute?   Learning2 Conferences Registration is now open for the fall Learning2 Conferences. This year Learning2 will be hosted in Manila, Philippines and Jo’Burg, South Africa in the fall and we’ve just announced Milan, Italy a year from now. If you have questions about any of these please contact me or leave a comment...

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