Tuesday, April 11, 2017

START. RIGHT. NOW. Grow Each Day

This is the 2nd installment of the #D100BloggerPD book study for today. Make sure you read the post from +Lauren Slanker at Ms Frizzle IRL. 


If you need to catch up, here are the links for chapters 1- 4. 
Chapter 1 - Teaching is Leading, Leading is Teaching at Reading and Owl of the Above
Chapter 2 - Know the Way at Teaching and Learning Redefined
Chapter 3 - Show the Way Part 1 at iShift
Chapter 3 - Show the Way Part 2 at iLearn
Chapter 4 - Go the Way - Part 1 at Grammar Mamma
Chapter 4 - Go the Way - Part 2 at Show Your Thinking 

I have really enjoyed reading this book. It has forced me to be reflective about what I do well and what traits I need to work on to become a better leader.  Nobody's perfect, there's always room for improvement. One of the biggest reminders for me was the section - Know When to Say No. I need to work on that. I know the pitfalls of saying yes all the time but I do it anyway. I've started saying no sometimes. Part of my problem is I don't want to miss an opportunity to learn and grow.

I also enjoyed reading the educator profiles from each section of the book. I'm lucky to know 3 of these incredible people personally. +Maureen Chertow Miller is very involved in our Illinois network of ed tech educators and has always been supportive of all my efforts. +Kara Welty is no longer a teacher leader. She will be a building leader at Rockwood South Middle School as the assistant principal. I'm so proud of Kara. She has worked so hard to build relationships and get to this point. Check out Kara's blog. Finally, +Kayla Delzer is an amazing educator. I had only known Kayla as part of my P2LN until she came to Chicago one day last summer and we hung out together for part of the day. It is so great when you meet members of your virtual P2LN. An additional bonus is when it is confirmed to you by meeting them in person that you are both "on the same page". Kayla's blog Top Dog Teaching has a lot of resources. Being highlighted in this book as influential school leaders is no surprise to me!

Now on with the book review. Chapter 5 is entitled, Grow Each Day. This is the section where the authors discuss growth mindset, who you surround yourself with and the power of feedback. 

Run the Experiment. Reflect. Repeat.
This section is about being bold and daring and trying something new in your classroom or school. As an instructional coach this is what I do daily. I push teachers and sometimes building leaders to go outside their comfort zone in order to grow. It's about taking calculated risks and reflecting on the success or lack there of. It's ok if a lesson doesn't go as you planned. REFLECT! Do you totally scrap the idea, sometimes the answer is yes, but most times the answer is take the best parts and retool the lesson till it works. As a classroom teacher I was always tried to be honest with my students when things weren't working as I planned. There were quite a few times where I would interrupt the lesson and just tell them we were changing something or starting over. I also remember during my first year as a classroom teacher almost every student did poorly on a particular unit test. Instead of complaining that the students weren't paying attention or the material was too hard I wrote the parents a letter. In that letter I said that I would be reteaching a portion of the material because clearly I didn't teach the material in a way that would help students be successful on the test. I was really taking a risk. I thought the parents were going to hate me. Instead the opposite was true. They were so happy that I was going to take the time to make sure their child knew the material. I know you don't teach to the test, but we are talking about 1994. My mindset has changed since then.

The authors' advice about change and trying something new is something that our coaching department tells our coachees all the time:
1. Start small
2. Try something new
3. Learn from your students

From my personal experience many teachers have the hardest time with number three. They think they must be the be all, end all in their classroom. With the explosion of information and technology skills that are available to our students their is no way any teacher can know it all. Our students are our greatest resource and we should utilize them any way we can to improve teaching and learning. 

Surround Yourself with Excellence
I love this! I feel that as part of the instructional coach team in my district I am surrounded by excellence. We are like minded people in the fact that we are passionate about wanting what is best for kids and always starting with the WHY? We all have different paths for getting there and bring so many different strengths to the table.


I'm so competitive that being surrounded by excellence drives me everyday to do better. In the past I've told my teammates when one of us fails we all fail, when one of us succeeds we all succeed. 

I love this quote from the book. How would you answer this job interview question? 
"Our goal is to hire someone so amazing that when we hire you, I'd rather the other teachers in the school become more like you than have you become more like the other teachers. Tell me something so amazing about you as a teacher that I would want every other teacher in our school to emulate?"
Whoa!

Breakfast of Champions  
"Regular feedback - much like breakfast - is a healthy way to grow." I have been told that I am good at telling the kind truth. Meaning that I am able to give constructive criticism in a way that is palatable. It is easy to look at others and give feedback. It can be more difficult to receive feedback from others. When I am told the kind truth it takes me awhile to process the information, but I am usually able to use it to help me grow and move on. "We firmly believe that providing and receiving clear feedback on a regular basis is not only an excellent strategy for improving performance, but also for instilling a sense of pride and satisfaction among those receiving the feedback. "

The other point brought up by Whitaker, Zoul and Casas is that teachers should be actively and regularly receiving feedback from students about their learning. Since our district does standards based reporting I feel like this is going on often in the classrooms in our district. What about your school or district? 

Teach 4, Lead 4, Learn 4
Check out these find educators who do what they can to Grow Each Day. Add them to your P2LN

1. Andrea Trudeau @Andrea_Trudeau
2. Starr Sackstein @mssackstein
3. Paul Solarz @PaulSolarz - I saw Paul speak pre - LLAP - he was very good!
4. Cindy Kube @cindyqb

1. Heidi Veal @VealHeidi
2. Barry Salde @Barrykid1
3. Sanee Bell @SaneeBell
4. Dennis Schug @schug_dennis

Steps you can do to Grow Each Day
1. Attend and Ed Camp professional learning event. Check - I've attend Ed Camp Chicago and Ed Camp Tampa Bay both well worth it!
Find one here
2. Participate in a Twitter Chat - Check - Love me a good Twitter chat! I have really found some amazing people to add to my P2LN through these chats. We have our own district chat #d100chat on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month at 8 pm CST. 
Find one here
3. Test your growth mindset - Check - Great stuff from Carol Dweck.
4. Watch One Second Every Day TED Talk and use the app. This one I still need to watch. While I have not tried the app yet, my teammates love it.



The final chapter will be reviewed by +Kristin Richey at Reading and Owl of the Above. Hope you enjoyed the book as much as I have! Thanks to Todd, Jeff and Jimmy for writing this book that helped me reflect and grow as a leader.  




Friday, February 24, 2017

Design Thinking and Novel Engineering in 5th Grade

I have been working in a 5th grade classroom for the last month. The co-teachers asked me to help them with fresh ideas to make their science block better. My mind immediately went to Novel Engineering. You can read the official definition on the website. I describe it as - a process where students design or engineer a realistic solution to a problem that a character is having in a piece of non-fiction literature. Some books lend themselves to this challenge better than others. The website has a list of elementary and middle school books. I'm sure that you can come up with others. We chose the picture book the Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats



As a framework for the students designing a solution we decided to use the LAUNCH Cycle. The LAUNCH Book is written by A.J. Juliani and John Spencer. It gives the teacher and students a simple language to follow using design thinking. 

I read the book to the class two times. The first time I asked them to just listen and enjoy the book. The second time I asked them to close read the book through the lens of trying to discover the Peter's problem or problems in the book. This was L - Look, Listen and Learn.
Next I asked the students to list the problems that Peter had in the story. They came up with three. 
1. Peter wanted to keep his snowball, but it melted in his pocket.
2. Peter was not able to play with the big boys in the neighborhood.
3. Snow fell on Peter's head when he hit the tree with a stick. 

Next we defined the word prototype. I told the class that they were going to design something to solve Peter's problem. They had lots of questions about the parameters of their designs. I told them that we would like something that actually works. They asked about designs that had computers or motors in them. I told them those kinds of things were ok. Their design had to have a basis in fact. One student talked about a force field. I told him that was not realistic.

I asked them to identify one problem they would like to help Peter solve and write or draw some initial thoughts in Notability. I also told them that through out the whole process we would continue to ask the question, "How can we make this better?"

The next time we met I had them do some research. I gave them some links to information on refrigeration, insulation, and how snow is formed in the atmosphere, to get them started and give them some background knowledge. Next they had to look on the Internet to see if their item already existed. If it already existed then they had to improve the existing item.
At this point we met as in small groups to share our ideas. The purpose was two fold here. The first was so that I could see where they were in the process. The other was so that they could receive positive feedback from their peers regarding their solution. Before we broke out into small groups I shared my ideas with students in order to model what I was looking for. 


The calendar said it was time for Winter Break, which was perfect timing. Students had two weeks over break to create the prototype of their solution to Peter's problem. Here is a video showing my prototype. I used Koma Koma, a free stop motion iOS app. 





I had students work on H, highlight and fix, while they were building their prototype. I explained that their design might changed based on a number of factors, available materials. I asked students to write a 1 paragraph reflection on their prototype building process when we returned from Winter Break. 
The final part of the process is to share the final product with a wider audience. The students came up with two suggestions a Google Site, and a You Tube Channel. I also suggested a Padlet Wall. I put up a poll on our Schoology wall and let students vote. The overwhelming choice was a You Tube Channel. Here is the link to the 5CL You Tube Channel. Please enjoy our videos of our solutions.  

If you are interested in the LAUNCH book the District 100 Blogger PD crew did a book study. You can find links to all the blog posts here. You can follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #D100BloggerPD. 



ADE Megan Ryder sketchnoted the book. You can find her sketches at  @MrsRyder58 on Twitter. Here is her sketchnote for Chapter 4 the chapter that I covered for the book study. Thanks Megan!