Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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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

eduro logo 800x300I 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!

COETAIL

Who would have thought a program started in 2009 to help the teachers at one school (International School Bangkok) would 7 years later have over 1000 educators going through this learning journey……not us.

A couple weeks ago our 6th online COETAIL Cohort completed their 18 month learning journey with some amazing final projects. You can view them here (link to blog) or follow COETAIL on Facebook or Twitter as we release them once a week over the summer.

The program continues to get rave reviews from educators who complete it. Full disclosure our dropout rate is roughly 15%. This is not just some courses that you do to learn. This is a community you join to truly reflect on your teaching practice and make the most of the technology you have available to you in your classroom. Our instructors and coaches (COETAIL graduates who want to continue supporting the community) are what make this program work. The program continues to focus on being reflective in our practice while learning together to better ourselves as educators. A simple approach with an amazing impact. Our next Online Cohort starts in September. If you want to be a part of this amazing community of dedicated, learning focused educators please join us.

Learning2: Expanding Globally

L2-profile

It’s been a big year for Learning2. Our 8th successful Asia conference was incredible in Manila this past October. Then off to South Africa for our 2nd Learning2 Africa conference. Then it was on to our first ever Learning2 Europe in Milan, Italy where Stephen Riech and Carrie Zimmer helped to pull off an incredible start to Learning2 in Europe. This conference does not have a big keynote speaker but rather teachers doing “Learn2Talks” or 5 minute inspirational talks on their ideas, passions and thoughts. Follow Learning2 on Facebook and Twitter to get a weekly talk sent to you, or subscribe to the Learning2 YouTube channel to get all the Learn2Talks past, present and future.

Next year not only can you find us in Asia (Saigon) in Europe (Warsaw) but we expand to South America (Quito) in October. With flights from the US being around $800 I hope to see some American teachers expanding their PLNs and making connections in South America this coming school year.

Personal Consulting: Enumclaw School District

Doing the work in Enumclaw #esdimagine
Doing the work in Enumclaw #esdimagine

This past year I had the honor to lead the Connected Classroom Teacher (CCT) in Enumclaw on their learning journey to 1:1. This group of 15 teachers not only did the work. They did it in a humbling fashion. Taking failures (First Attempt In Learning) in stride, learning not only a new OS (Chromebooks) but also thinking differently about teaching and learning in a connected classroom. Chris Beals, IT Director in Enumclaw and myself put together a case study of our work and partnership together here. The work continues with three more CCT Cohorts this coming year. Work once again that I am honored to be apart of. There is nothing like a 6am drive towards Mt. Rainer on a clear morning to remind you to be humble and be present.

Personal Consulting: Auburn School District

As Auburn School District prepares for their 1:1 rollout they have put together ATLA Cohorts (Auburn Teacher Leaders Academy). Cohorts of teachers to go through a series of trainings to think about teaching and learning in a 1:1 environment. Our work continues next year with a new group of ALTA teachers.

Auburn SD this year also launched #techconnect a one day conference for their teachers to come together and share their learning, their classroom practice and have conversations around teaching and learning with devices. I was honored to be this year’s keynote and look forward to continuing our work over the next year.

Keynote: Washington State School Directors Association

A true highlight and memorable moment of this past school year was being asked to be a keynote speaker at the Washington State Schools Directors’ Association (WSSDA) Conference. To be asked to keyonte, inspire and push the school board directors’ in the state that I was educated in, love and call home was simply an honor.

Selfie with students after Keynote
Selfie with students after Keynote

I have now had the pleasure of working with over 25 school districts in my own state and was able to bring my knowledge of what I’m seeing, hearing and thinking about to those ultimately responsible for leading the change in our schools. It was great to be able to talk about the above mentioned school districts, to highlight the great work I have seen being done on behalf of students across the state and at the same time to push for a future of schools within Washington State that will prepare students here for a future that is continually evolving.

Whatever I said must have hit home as I will be keynoting this year’s conference as well. This time in the town where I grew up Spokane, WA.

Then there were the countless other experiences. Keynoting the WCTSMA student conference in Kennewick, WA. The State of Education address to parents and community in Enumclaw. The work with Everett School District’s Leadership Team over the past year in preparation for their Tech Levy passing, which it did, this April, and starting our work together to bring 22,000 students and 1,100 teachers into a 1:1 teaching and learning environment.

It has been an incredible year. Full of learning, of meeting new people, and most importantly helping schools help students prepare for their future not our past.

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+.

Teachers from Marysville School District pitching their unit ideas
Teachers from Marysville School District pitching their unit ideas

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 bad teacher-there isn’t judgement. We’re saying we changed the landscape on you and with that comes a new way to approach learning.

Schools need to understand when they decide to go 1:1 they must make sure to invest pedagogically in their teachers as well. Not PD focused on devices and software but focused on new ways of learning and understanding what the 4 C’s really mean in today’s connected world.

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 year.

Understanding Wikipedia in 3 clicks

The Millennials are here

Where do we teach email?

The death of cursive writing

Citizenship and Chromebooks

8 Podcasts (COETAILcasts)

CC-profileEvery year I find a way to continue to podcast. The last couple of years it has been over on the COETAIL site. Our COETAILcast is approaching 30 episodes for COETAILers and everyone alike to listen to us discuss some of the pressing issues in education and educational technology. It’s a global crew that gets together once a month to just talk and learn together. Find us in all your favorite podcast apps as well as on YouTube. Hangouts continue to get better and so do we with producing these monthly discussions.

87 Days of Training Delivered

I delivered 87 days of training over the year from what is in my calendar. This still is where my passion lies in helping teachers learn how to authentically and purposefully use technology with students. I’m excited as I look at my calendar that I’ll probably end up right around this number of days again in 2016.

3 Days of Substituting

mruOn days when I can, I substitute for teachers at the school my wife works at. This past year that was 3 days total. Not a lot, but 3 days that I got to be in a classroom in front of kids and allow a teacher to take a sick day, or do some PD training themselves. Just a small way for me to give back to educators that do the day to day hard stuff of teaching students.

Day to day running of 4 companies

Who starts four companies? All this means is four bank accounts to manage, four company taxes to keep track of and a host of talking with lawyers and accountants to keep things going. By far my greatest learning this year and where all my “downtime” was spent was learning about businesses. Everything from Eduro Learning with stockholders to Learning2 which is now a Non Profit 501(c)3. Each one of these companies (COETAIL and my personal consulting being the other two) serves a different purpose and all of them have different needs. I have learned more about business law, accounting and taxes than I ever really wanted to know. However as I look back on what I’ve learned this year, it truly has been a journey of learning something and learning that has not always been fun or what I have wanted to spend my time on. To that end however, all four businesses seem to be doing well moving into 2016. What does it take to make it as an educational consultant today? It means having your hands in many different areas of training.

83 more COETAIL Graduates!

CIRCLE-RGB-300pxBetween our Online2 and our Online3 cohorts we’ve graduated another 83 COETAILers. This program continues to be some of the best professional development that educators say they have ever had. Why? Easy…it focuses on classroom practice, reflection, and doing meaningful work with students. If you have some time go check out some of the final projects and if you want to join COETAIL or know somebody that might want to our next online cohort starts in February so register today!

6 more online classes start at Eduro Learning

google-plus-profileOver at Eduro Learning we created 6 online courses for educators with more coming online soon. Over 100 people have already taken the courses and our goal for 2016 is to continue to build these courses and create courses that teachers want to take and are meaningful to them and their classrooms.

1 School District in Transition

MSD Logo_Only_MSOfficeBy far the biggest announcement of 2015 and where the majority of my time has been spent and will be spent for the next few years is with Marysville School District (MSD). Eduro Learning signed a five year contract with Marysville in early 2015 to take roughly 450 educators through three years of training on teaching in a connected classroom. This past October/November the school district rolled out over 5000 Chromebooks to all of its Middle and High schoolers. Now it is our duty to help the district and the community understand what that means in the way of learning. It is a long slow journey but one that I am very excited about. You will be able to follow along with us over at the Eduro Learning PD training site. We have made all our training materials open to the web to help others and to see the training we are taking this district through. More to come on this long-term training over the years, however 2015 marked the beginning of this incredible journey.

Overall, it was a whirlwind of a year. Looking back I did create content just not all of it in one place. My content creation is mirroring my work life for sure…..kind of all over the place. We’ll see what 2016 brings.

Happy New Year!

gamesheader

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 ) license

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 logo 800x300

Eduro Learning Summer Institutes

July 2nd – Eduro Learning Summer Institute in Seattle

BellHarborHosted 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

whitmanhotelA 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

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.

L2-L-logos-7xL2-L-logos-7xL2-L-logos-7x

If you have questions about any of these please contact me or leave a comment below.

google-plus-profileJust a quick announcement that our third Eduro Learning Online Professional Development course will begin soon. We’re really excited about this one as it is one of those things we talk about teaching but A) Never get training on and B) Don’t really make it a priority.

Our fear is that even though educators told us they would like to have a class on how to teach Digital Citizenship to students we’re not sure if people will actually sign up for such a class. I guess time will tell. Space is limited to 25 participants so if you’re interested now’s the time to sign up.

Here are the details:

Instructor: Chrissy Hellyer

Overview:
Over the past few years, Digital Citizenship has become the unwanted step child of academia. Everyone is talking about it, but no one wants to teach it. How do we teach it? What do we teach? How do we integrate it into the curriculum? Our goal is to move educators from a world of fear to a world of empowerment.

Participants in this course will uncover a variety of ways to balance, respect and protect themselves and their students through the lens of digital citizenship.

Here’s the link for more info and to register for the course!