#DBC50Summer 26/50: Shift This

You know the saying “It’s all downhill from here”? I just spent the last little bit in an internet time warp looking up what that meant. It’s one of those rabbit holes. There is discussion online (apparently, a LOT of discussion online) about whether this is said in positive or negative connotation. I’ll spare you the details, but I choose to see it as a cyclist who has made it over the highest hill in a race, meaning things will get easier from here on. That’s what I thought would happen when I reached halfway in #DBC50Summer. I’d reached the top of the #DBC50Summer hill and could see the “end” (waaaaayy off in the distance). It’ll be easier now that I’m halfway, right?

Things. Are. Definitely. Not. Easier.

I am continuing to be stretched and challenged as an educator to truly know my educational beliefs as I read these books published by Dave & Shelley Burgess! I’m having to be more thoughtful about creating an implementation plan for these books that is realistic and attainable, while still making big waves. (Because, you know, Pirate ships do that – Pirate Pun, check!)

Book 26 was an empowering book! I’m currently ready to run through the halls yelling to the top of my lungs that I’m making changes and I want everyone on board. I’m ready to use my word from Lead Like A Pirate and be relentless in not accepting the status quo from teachers or students that I have the pleasure of serving. Shift This by Joy Kirr was so incredible that I have actually read it TWICE since last night. With that said, just go ahead and get your copy now! Seriously, it’s that good.

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Here’s a little tidbit about me. I don’t like confrontation, in any form. I very much dislike arguments. I am a people pleaser (Yes, me too, Joy!) If someone confronts me face-to-face, I typically just bow out of the conversation with the quickest escape route I can find. If I do manage to find the guts to stand my ground, it usually ends with me stumbling over my words and tears. Mine. It’s embarrassing to be honest. If the confrontation is digital, I avoid that person like the plague until it blows over (or an appropriate amount of time has passed).

This book equips me with so many options for coaching teachers, and dealing with the dismissal and pushback that will likely happen (which in my eyes feels like confrontation – remember I take everything personally even though I shouldn’t). Finding a teacher’s comfort level in making changes in their classroom is so important. Allowing teachers to be in charge of their own changes makes change seem less intimidating. That leads to a higher success rate through sustaining said change. Thanks to Joy, I now have 4 scaffolded levels of change for topics that are very near and dear to my heart. These topics include:

  • Classroom Environment
  • Classwork
  • Homework
  • Grading
  • Social Media
  • Student-Directed Learning

Each of these includes small changes that feel “safe” while making a ginormous (yes, I’m choosing to use that word) impact on student empowerment and lifelong learning. I could easily see where I was in regards to the sliding scale of shifts on each topic and could find a shift I can make in the new year to make an even greater impact. I love that Joy repeatedly states that this was not an overnight large-scale change! She mentions frequently that the changes she has implemented in her classroom are from YEARS of small changes. I also respect that Joy speaks about the next step she is going to make as well! It shows that she’s not done growing and changing, and I appreciate that so much!

This book is like taking a snapshot into Joy’s classroom, seeing it from Point E to Point L, with the understanding that the story was already in play (Point A to Point D) and it continues to evolve now (Point M to Point “Retirement”). I’m sure even at this point, Joy is making small shifts for the her school year and that’s incredibly powerful to me!

I have got to meet this lady. We share so many educational philosophies and through my first reading of the book, I spent the majority of the time standing on her soap box with her, agreeing with every passionate sentence she wrote (sometimes even agreeing out loud). I would love to sit and discuss these beliefs about student empowerment, grading, homework, etc with Joy! There would be a lot of nodding. That’s for sure!

The second time I read the book, I read it through the eyes of an instructional coach. I could literally place every teacher I work with on the sliding scales included with each topic and can see what small change could be made in the coming school year. I want the teachers to be comfortable with the changes because, as Joy says, “Whatever you do has to work for you. If you are not comfortable with something, the students won’t get out of it what you hope for them.” Through discussion and reflection (both with students and within themselves), these changes can be tweaked to meet the needs of their classrooms.

Here are some quotes that I absolutely loved from the book!

 

 

 

One of the things I love most about the DBC, Inc books is that the resources shared within the book, and readily available after reading the book, are abundant. Joy’s book is no different. She includes links to all kinds of goodness via tinyurl.com in her book! I’m looking forward to diving into these links even more, as I know they will provide “a-ha” moments beyond what I read (which is already impressive).

As I mentioned, I can seriously make an implementation goal for every single section within the book. For example, in regards to grading… I have the luxury of not assigning grades to students as I am the media coordinator but I do provide feedback. Joy makes me want to shift this to have students select the work they’d like to turn in for feedback. That small shift gives students choice and allows me to see their best work. I appreciate that!

The implementation goal I choose to complete is related to social media. As I read the section of the book about social media shifts: lurking, then sharing I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Joy and I have very similar stories about our first experiences on social media. (I, too, came home from a conference and spent hours checking out the hashtag when I got home, Joy!) I have reached a point in social media where I’ve been thinking what’s next? as I already share my own content and blog and get new resources and have an amazingly supportive Professional Learning Network (PLN). Joy gives me the next step though, and it is so obvious for it to be the next step (couldn’t see the forest for the trees kind of obvious)… hand it over to the students. Give them the opportunity to blog and tweet out their own content! The best part about this… my principal and I just had a similar discussion this week in which we’ve decided to generate a social media team of students who will get the ball rolling with student-led blogging and social media. We’ll get to see the school from the eyes of our students, and we’re both so excited about what this will look like at the end of the year! The initial social media team will work out the kinks, set the parameters (with some guidance from the principal and I on policy and student safety) and teach other students how to write a blog and share on social media. This group of students will also fulfill one of the implementations from Your School Rocks, which was to create a school hashtag (we had one, but I didn’t put two and two together, so I’m sure the students hadn’t either… now the new one will be clearly stated and shared). We are allowing the students to use their voice by sharing their hashtag ideas for our school, then vote on their favorite to select one! It’s going to be awesome!

I am excited with and empowered by this book! You should visit Joy’s website which has incredible information, including the resources for the book, blogs about shift stories where teachers have shared their stories about their own small shifts leading to big changes, and podcasts with Joy including The Wired Educator. The community on Twitter uses the hashtag #ShiftThis (Be careful with that one, ha! Joy has a funny story about that!) and the chat will resume on August 21, 2018 at 8:00 pm EST! We will meet (almost) every Tuesday night after that. I have the privilege of moderating the chat on December 4, 2018 about Shifting Mindsets! True to Joy Kirr fashion, she is shifting how she moderates Twitter chats, so click here for more information about that small shift! I’m expecting it to lead to massive impacts!

As always, the flipgrid is wide open for global collaboration! Share a story about a small shift you’ve made and how it impacted your classroom. If you should need a password, use DBCSummer to access the grid. A massive thank you to Andrea Paulakovich, a superstar educator from Kansas, for sharing the genius idea to open a global collaboration space for every DBC book!

Book 27 is Unmapped Potential by Julie Hasson and Missy Lennard, the Purposeful Principals! I just purchased this book at the beginning of July, so I’m thrilled to read it for the first time! Look for the blog soon!

 

Creating Community – A Schoolwide Project

All 270(ish) students in my elementary school collaborating on one big project over the course of a month, each part of the project relying heavily on another group doing their part.  That was my goal.  My principal had mentioned a collaborative project, and it had grabbed my interest.  I had no idea what to do from there.

One morning a few weeks later, while in the shower (where all amazing ideas are born), I had a fleeting thought about my oldest daughter’s upcoming field trip to a fire station.  This sparked a little genius hour project of my own to see the scope and sequence of the study of community helpers through elementary school.  It turns out that every grade level has some mention of community helpers/citizens woven into the North Carolina Essential Standards for Social Studies (K-2, 3-5).

So I wrote a DonorsChoose project for a Community Helper Lego Construction set and an Ozobot.  The majority of the project was funded by our friends at Paradise Games, a local gaming store in our community.  (A HUGE thank you to these guys!)  The idea?  To use Lego bricks to build a community and have an Ozobot programmed to move through it using codes created by markers.

Here was the plan:

PreK, Cross-categorical class, and Kindergarten: Research various community helpers using PebbleGo  and create a list of community helpers they would like to see in our own community

1st grade: Use the list created by PreK, CC, and Kinder to determine where those community helpers worked.  For example: Kindergarten said we need a doctor.  1st grade decided that doctors work in a hospital and a doctor’s office.  They also mentioned dentists, so we included those as well.  These buildings were compiled into a list for 2nd grade.

2nd grade: Create a blueprint for the community.  Use the Lego blocks to begin building the workplaces of the community helpers.  *This was where I saw real engineering and the STEM element of the project begin to emerge.  My students did not understand the proper way to build with the Lego blocks; they didn’t get the purpose of the overlapping of bricks to create an interlocking wall.  The walls would crumble when moved. Lots of devastated kids and a few tears, but they figured it out and created some excellent building foundations.

3rd grade: Put the finishing touches on the Lego buildings and review the blueprints for the community with a suggestion prepare for 4th grade.  This group also laid the foundation of the community (white bulletin board paper) onto two large rectangle tables in the media center.

4th grade: Place buildings throughout the community.  Heated conversation ensued about the location of the church (which was insisted upon by my 2nd grade students), the proximity of the school to the police station/jailhouse, and the ability to move from the doctor’s office to the hospital quickly.  These students also created the “sidewalks” to signify road spacing on which the Ozobot would travel.

5th grade: Using the open road spaces for the Ozobot, the 5th graders designed a color-coded roadway that allowed the Ozobot to visit all of the buildings in our community.  It started in the entrance to the community and went to every single building performing various tricks, tasks, and moving at different speeds along the way.

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The project took only one class period (45 minutes) for each class in the school.  There are 14 classes.  With snow delays and my media schedule switching each week, this schoolwide STEM project took nearly 6 weeks to complete.  Overall, all students in the school worked toward a common goal, collaborating each step of the way.  The younger students took delight in seeing their community helpers and the buildings come to fruition on the tables in the media center.  The workspace was out front and center where everyone could see it as they entered the learning space.  During the creation of the community, the workspace was organized chaos.  Students left it, as is, when their class time was over.  Our faculty still held meetings here, students still circulated books, and we still held media classes and small group instruction.

It is my hope that this project continues to push forward a change in school culture.  For me, this project was never about the materials (which were an awesome addition to our makerspace collection).  It was the idea of my entire school working together to make something really cool.  I almost cringe to call it a STEM project because STEM seems to be becoming another “buzzword”, a label to put on something to make it sound educational.  Truly, this project was an adventure.  This project allowed my students, in all grade levels, to see a long-term goal met with research, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.  It was a mess throughout much of the process, none of us knew what we were doing, and we pushed through and made a masterpiece.  Our students’ future is not about coloring in bubbles on an answer sheet, sitting in desks taking notes, and listening quietly to an adult talk all day.  Their future is about engagement, empowerment, and enthusiasm.  Through this schoolwide project, these students were all engaged, they were empowered by creating a community of their own, and they were more enthusiastic than ever before.

*Video on YouTube.

#EdCampQC 2.0

I honestly didn’t think they could do it… truly, I didn’t!  There was no way that the #edcampqc group that organized the first EdCamp Queen City at Hawk Ridge Elementary School could possibly outdo themselves.  The sequel is NEVER as good as the first, right?

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Wrong!  I’m a firm believer in giving credit where it’s due and the organizers for #edcampqc are amazing!  This team has got it together; everything seemed to run very smoothly and whoa – look at this session board (with collaborative notes) the participants created!

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I attended Something Gaming first where I learned more about ClassCraft and shared my 3dGameLab course I have created for my Battle of the Books students.  Stepping out of my comfort zone I am considering having students create their own games to show mastery of content.  We talked about the resource GameStar Mechanic which looks very exciting!  I hope to be able to incorporate this into the media center or with my Battle of the Books team this year.

Following Something Gaming, I hit up the Twitter as a PLN session.  It was the very first Twitter session I had ever attended where EVERY SINGLE PERSON was a Connected Educator on Twitter!!!  It was awesome; there was so much energy in the room!  This allowed us to take the conversation to a new level by discussing an educational revolution and how to pull more people onboard the Twitter train.  One idea was to show reluctant peers the difference between twitter for personal use and twitter that is used professionally.  Derek McCoy (follow him on Twitter: @mccoyderek) shows the difference using current feeds of two people, like Charlie Sheen vs Steven Weber (follow him on Twitter: @curriculumblog)

The third session had so much goodness packed into 45 minutes that I couldn’t possibly attend all of them, even with the rule of two feet!  This is honestly the very first edcamp that I have relied on the collaborative docs to fill me in on the conversations.  With topics like Genius Hour, Inquiry-Based Learning, Personalized Learning, Green Screen, Teach Like A Pirate, and a discussion on School News, I was torn.  I ended up in Green Screen and walked away with new ideas for this week.  Thanks to Megan Mehta (follow her on Twitter: @megan_mehta) we stopped by Starbucks before leaving Charlotte to grab green Starbucks straws and coffee stirrers to use in puppet shows with green screen! GENIUS!!!

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Lunch was superb.  Ooo-Wee BBQ was soooo delicious & I just had to purchase ice cream from a legit ice cream truck!  Being from a small town in the country, I didn’t have ice cream trucks while growing up.

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Finally, my last session was Digital Formative Assessment.  I signed up to facilitate this session.  Many of the teachers in this session learned about Kahoot! in an earlier session, so we did a mini-smackdown of Digital Formative Assessment tools including GoFormative, Kubbu, Plickers, and ThingLink.  We also touched on GooseChase, a terrific scavenger hunt app!

As if the day couldn’t get any better – I won an autographed copy of Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess!  Thank you, Dave (follow him on Twitter: @burgessdave)

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It was an excellent day and I am already looking forward to my next edcamp experience!  These things are the best educational rejuvenation!  I get to see my fabulous Professional Learning Network (PLN) and I always leave with so many new ideas that I can share with my peers at work and implement in the classroom.  I am constantly amazed at the people that I meet and humbled to be considered a member of their PLN.  If you’ve never attended an edcamp, you should seriously find the next one coming your way, clear your schedule, and attend!  I have never been disappointed!  If you are near me – I will even drive you there; no excuses!

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