Friday, November 11, 2016

Kindness Journals

Today we officially rolled out our kindness initiative in Mrs. Cross' fourth-grade class! We began by reading Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts. This story, about a boy who wanted the same shoes his classmates wore, resonated with many of our students.

Following the story, we had a great discussion about the feelings people have when they want something they can't have, and how those feelings change when someone does something nice. We asked our students, "How do YOU feel when you receive an act of kindness?"

Students responded with "good" and "great," then we asked them to dig deeper. "What do those words mean? Are there any other words that might better represent the feelings you have?" Oh my goodness! The adjectives tumbled out of our students like rolling rapids! Look at all these awesome descriptors our students shared:

One student replied, "bad" and we asked him to tell us more. "I feel bad when people are nice to me, because I feel like I have to do something nice right back. It feels bad to receive kindness and not do something in return." This is was a very insightful response from a nine-year-old! We discussed how kindness does sometimes makes us feel odd for several reasons: we're aren't used to receiving kindness from others, we don't know what to say in return, we feel like it's wrong to take something from someone one else without an even exchange. We decided the word "uncomfortable" best described this feeling, so we added it to our list.

Next, we created Kindness Journals using composition notebooks and decorated them using markers, tagboard, and tape. The students allowed their creativity to shine as they designed their book covers.

Since today is Friday, we created a #FlyHighFri section in our Kindness Journals to keep a running list of any kind acts we see and do on Fridays, which we will share throughout the year with our classmates and on Twitter.

Students also applied this concept of kindness to their writing as they replied to a #FlyHighFri prompt in their Google Classroom:

It's such a joy to see our students helping each other in class and sharing their experiences with kindness. We have lots of activities planned this year to create a culture of kindness at our school and today was just the beginning! 

A special thanks to the Hanover Education Foundation for funding this grant proposal, "A Passion for Kindness." We can't wait to showcase all the ways our students can be kind to others!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Sofa, Tables, and Books, Oh My!

The first two weeks have passed in the blink of an eye! The hustle and bustle of starting a new school year mixed with my children's Back to School nights and the start of fall sports have me running nonstop from morning to night. Surely you can relate!

I have so many wonderful updates to share about our Tiny Tech Cafe. This project, which began as a little dream of mine, has quickly taken shape and continues to evolve with great support from students, teachers, community members and even complete strangers! (For those of you wondering, "What's a Tiny Tech Cafe?" click here for our first round of updates.)

In my last post, I outlined the structure and purpose of the cafe and shared a few photos of our green screen area, our bar-height table and chairs, our logo and SAMR display. Now I am excited to share that our Tiny Tech Cafe includes a bookshelf, a sofa, an additional table, two bar stools, and a hanging curtain divider, all financed with the generous donations to our GoFundMe campaign!

WOW! Can you believe all that's happened in just TWO WEEKS?! It's incredible! 

The Tiny Tech Cafe was dedicated on September 6, 2016, the first day of school, in memory of my mother-in-law who would have celebrated her 69th birthday that day. She was a Mechanicsville Elementary School parent almost forty years ago and in my early days as a classroom teacher, she would lovingly make curtains and tablecloths for my room. Even though she passed away in March of this year, I wanted a little bit of her to shine through our cafe, so I created a small memorial in her honor:

We've been blessed by several random acts of kindness these past two weeks as well! One teacher made a lighted display and another custom-ordered a JOY pillow from two of our parents. We also had a visit from one of our retired teachers who donated additional pillows to our cafe so we can switch them out for the seasons!  

Oh, the indescribable JOY of so many people working together to make a vision come to life!

Our Tiny Tech Cafe campaign will remain active through the month of October with our focus now shifting to stocking our Lending Library with  awesome, new, relevant, inspiring books for teachers to borrow and read. (If you have a suggestion of a great book, leave a comment on this blog post! Better yet, if you are the author of a great book, we would love to have a signed copy of your book donated to our cafe as a wonderful random act of kindness!)

In addition to receiving support, we've also had the joy of blessing others with our campaign. Just this week we celebrated the accomplishments of two well-deserving teachers who attended eight (yes - EIGHT!) of my Tiny Tech professional development sessions last year. All of these sessions were optional, so their attendance and implementation of what they had learned was incredible! These ladies will enjoy a sweet treat at Starbucks thanks to the generous donors of the Tiny Tech Cafe!

Below are all the blog posts I've shared about our recent updates (believe it or not, this post is only a brief summary!) Click the links below to discover our latest news:

Post 1 - Tiny Tech Cafe
Post 2 - Coffee, Anyone?
Post 3 - When You Wish
Post 4 - Making Progress
Post 5 - Cardinal Love
Post 7 - We Have a Sofa!
Post 8 - Sit or Stand

To date, we've received funding from 17 donors - so amazing! I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for all your support! It's our goal to purchase the Green Screen app in the next week and start filling the bookshelf with more books. If you would like to join in as one of our donors (and earn rewards, too!) click here! When the campaign closes at the end of October, we will have a sign displayed in the Cafe listing all our donors and contributors, celebrating the joy that's created when we all work together to achieve a goal!

Please consider sharing this blog post with a friend or a member of your PLN. Perhaps they, too, would be inspired by designing a Tiny Tech Cafe in their building!

Thanks again for all your support - we couldn't have done this without YOU!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Celebrate Monday

Ahhhh... today is the official last day of Summer Break for those of us in Central Virginia. Tomorrow begins a brand-new school year with smiling faces, happy children, and joy, joy, JOY!

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job as an educator? :)

This past week has been a flurry of activity as teachers have set-up classrooms, organized folders, and prepared to meet students and parents at Open House. I, too, have been busy, playing more of a behind-the-scenes role helping teachers with creating parent surveys, setting up computers, and planning for tech integration lessons and projects to come.

But right here in this moment, as I sit on my back deck snuggled under a lightweight fleece blanket listening to the early-morning sounds of summer chirping around me, I want to take a moment to #CelebrateMonday.

For those of you who are new to the Twitter scene, #CelebrateMonday and #FlyHighFri are two of my FAVORITE educationally positive hashtags to follow. They begin and end my work week with joy and help me find other positive thinkers in the sea of Twitter followers.

Today I am celebrating the progress on my Tiny Tech Cafe.

If you know anything at all about me, you know I am PASSIONATE about education, educators, and children. But I am also passionate about random acts of kindness. My vision for turning our sterile and stoic computer lab into an engaging Tiny Tech Cafe is starting to gain momentum as friends, family, and community members join together for a shared purpose.

It really is mind-blowing to see how it's all coming together!

I've written several updates throughout the week on the progress and wanted to share them with you as well:
Post 1 - Tiny Tech Cafe
Post 2 - Coffee, Anyone?
Post 3 - When You Wish
Post 4 - Making Progress

I am humbled to see so many people supporting this project! It is incredible! Best of all, I can already see an increased engagement of conversation with teachers, students, and parents who want to know more about the Tiny Tech Cafe.

In a recent post by 4 O'Clock Faculty, we were asked to share our goals with the world. Here are my goals for the Tiny Tech Cafe this year:

Together we can achieve great things!

If you would like to join in and be a Tiny Tech Cafe Supporter, please click here! We would love to make our vision a reality through a fully-funded campaign!

I am excited to see what the first week of school holds for us at Mechanicsville Elementary and I hope your week shines with brightness, too! What are you doing today to #CelebrateMonday?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Tiny Tech Cafe - Rationale

Our official work week began last Thursday and I could not wait to get back in the groove! Don't get me wrong - I adore my three children and I can assure you that I have literally poured every ounce of stay-at-home-mom-mode into their summer experiences! But there is something about a new school year that brings joy to my soul like nothing else!

New beginnings. New classes. New joy!

As a technology integrator in an elementary school, my main purpose is to provide training and support for students, teachers, and administrators who want to use technology as a part of their learning process. This looks very different from person-to-person, class-to-class, so as you can imagine, I stay pretty busy during the school year! Last year I shifted my mindset to move away from the "one shot" professional development sessions to a more personalized PD approach where I tried to provide training on what teachers wanted to learn and provide quality support throughout the entire year.

With more than 40 educators on staff, this was challenging, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I began the year by asking teachers to complete an in-depth survey identifying areas of interest, then I offered numerous training sessions on those topics throughout the year. I also made a point to do "check-ins" where I asked teachers how it was going and provided additional support/resources if needed. For me, the exciting part of this process was getting to know my teachers on a deeper level, strengthening that relationship, and watching them succeed in learning something new. When they became confident enough to continue the learning without me, I knew this was the right way to provide professional developmnet.

It was like watching a caterpillar spin a cocoon and emerge as a beautiful butterfly. Fascinating!

This process of providing personalized PD made me realize that I need to offer more opportunities for teachers to build relationships - with their students, with each other, with me. I quickly discovered that having teachers collaborate with me in our laptop lab was less than ideal. I have a desk in the back corner, with no additional seating unless a teacher moved items off a table. Teachers would come and pull up a chair beside my desk, its sharp angles poking at them as they tried to look from their laptop to mine. If we were collaborating while another class was using the lab, it was difficult to hear and focus on our training.  

Even working one-on-one with students was frustrating. If I was helping a third grader with their digital writing, I would have to scrunch down beside them, trying to whisper so as not to distract the other children nearby. When students worked on collaborative projects, such as our fourth graders creating Google Slides presentations about Regions, there was no area of the room that invited them to sit and chat as they worked out details for final publication. 

In addition, several teachers showed an interest in learning more about using a green screen with their students (where we photograph or record students against a green background then use technology to insert images making it appear they were in that location, similar to what you see on a traditional weather report.) Unfortunately, there was no place in our lab to hang a green screen curtain with our furniture arrangement of long tables, laptop carts and overhead document camera stands. The computer lab was just that - a sterile lab that was functional, but not inviting at all.

This summer, following the ISTE Conference in Denver, CO, I noticed a trending hashtag on Twitter: #StarbucksMyRoom. It showcased classrooms stepping away from conventional desks and chairs to offer students a more flexible seating arrangement, much like what you might find in a Starbucks cafe.

The concept got me thinking. What if I could somehow transform my little workspace in the corner of the computer lab into a Tiny Tech Cafe? Immediately my creativity kicked in and I imagined a space that was warm and inviting, maybe even offering coffee or tea for the teachers who might want to collaborate or receive personalized training. I could even picture students using the Tiny Tech Cafe to work with their peers or conference with their teachers on their projects. I would love to have a collection of new-release books available for teacher checkout, written by some of my favorite educators and administrators whose innovative leadership makes learning fun, empowering, and impactful.

With that vision in mind, I decided to jump in and make it a reality!

I started with baby steps - designing a unique logo and scouring yard sales and online forums for low-cost furniture. I quickly discovered that my grand intentions didn't quite match my meager budget! Eek! We all know that teachers have to purchase things our of their own pockets to outfit their classrooms; however, I wanted to create something our school would be proud to use and showcase to other schools as an example of an innovative learning environment for teachers AND students.

This is when I realized I couldn't do it all on my own. I needed to reach out for help. 

My next few posts will showcase the things I have made and purchased to make this dream come true, but I could really use your generosity as well! Please visit the Tiny Tech Cafe GoFundMe page and consider donating or sharing with your friends. No amount is too small and every person or company who donates will receive recognition on social media (Twitter, Facebook, and my blog) as well as have their name displayed on a sign in the Tiny Tech Cafe. Together we can make an incredible impact on student and teacher learning, by providing a space that is open, engaging, and productive!

Check back soon or subscribe to this blog so you can be kept up-to-date and see how the Tiny Tech Cafe progresses. I can't wait to share it with you all!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

12 Month Human - My Reflections

As part of my morning wake-up, when the dew is still glistening on the blades of grass and the birds are exchanging their high-pitched hellos, I am perusing my social media sites for inspiration. Sometimes it's a clever meme that makes me smile; often it's a word or two from a member of my PLN that diverts my attention and causes me to ponder. Today it was a blog post that lit a fire in my soul, causing my spirit to shake and shout, "YES! THIS!" 
I am a 12 month human.
In today's 4 O'Clock Faculty post, Donna Donner (@DonnaADonner) illustrates with painstaking truth the struggles we have as educator moms (and dads!) trying to find balance in all that we do.
I. Struggle. Daily.
Like many of you reading these words, I find myself caught in the never-ending swirl of self-imposed perfectionism. I want to be the best I can be in all the roles I maintain. In my role as technology integrator, I bob along the waters of my profession as the waves ebb and flow. My contract clearly states each year that I am employed for only 10 months, with two months of vacation time to spend as I see fit. However, I find that I never stop learning, never stop sharing, never stop enhancing my craft with every opportunity that comes my way.
I'm also a mom.
I have three children ranging in age from 6 to 17. I guard my "summer break" with such ferociousness, you might compare me to a Mama Bear protecting her cubs in the middle of a forest filled with campers. My summers are for my children. They are the few weeks a year that I get to fully immerse myself in motherhood. I use my summer-break-mom-mode to relieve some of the guilt I harbor from being so crazy busy during the ten-month school year. I travel with my family to unique locations. I make forts, prepare picnics, and visit libraries. I revel in the joy of making omelets for breakfast and eating ice cream cones during an after-dinner walk through my neighborhood. I soak up the simplicity of childhood and breathe in the air of contentment.
But at the end of the day, I'm still a 12 month human.
Work is never far from my mind. Wait, scratch that. "Work" is not work; "Work" is my passion. I'm an educator. A learner. A leader. I'm a walking conglomerate of all these parts, all the time, with one role shining brighter than the other depending on the season or need.
Each year I choose to spend one of my precious "vacation" weeks immersed in professional learning with amazing educators from across the world. This time last week I was going, going, going, 24/7, complete "fill me to overflowing" mode at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference in Denver, CO. My brain is still swirling, my sponge of learning leaking, as I try to organize my thoughts from that expereience into words.
I am now in Week 3 of my summer-break-mom-mode. Week 1 was spent unpacking children's backpacks and putting the final touches on my ISTE presentations. Week 2 was spent immersing myself at the conference as I helped my daughter write a college reference letter request through Google Docs. Week 3 has me returning from a 48 hour family beach trip with overflowing ideas on how to transform student and teacher learning.
I am a 12 month human.
Donna Donner's words remind me that I don't have to choose between one or the other. I'm an educator. I'm a mom. I'm a thousand other things as well, that never actually stop, but fall back from the limelight of the center stage to patiently wait in the wings for the next act to begin.
It's ok to do it all. 
It's ok to feel the tug of one role over the other.
It is NOT ok to harbor guilt or feel inadequate because one role shines brighter than the other in various moments of our lives.
It's about balance. It's about acceptance. It's about taking all the bits and pieces that make you YOU and rotating them around from time-to-time so that all the parts receive a spark of sunlight.
I am thankful I don't have to choose between being an educator and being a mom. I am so blessed to do both! I am appreciative to have a supportive PLN that encourages me to write, reflect, and share about ALL my passions, whether it's random acts of kindness, personalized PD, or my favorite #TeachersWrite summer camp
(Sidebar plug for #TeachersWrite - if you want to grow as a writer and learn how to engage students through the craft of writing, please make sure to check out Kate Messner's blog! We are entering Week 2 and it's never too late to jump in!)
Thank you for recognizing the truth when I couldn't see the forest for the trees.
I am a 12 month human.
And so are you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

MES App Challenge

As an eight-year veteran of instructional technology, I've seen many changes over the years. Technological advances have swept the educational realm with warp speed; the traditional tools of the trade have rusted in their metal toolboxes. VCR tapes flattened into DVDs, now we stream from YouTube. Chalkboards became whiteboards then SMART Boards. Overhead projectors were cast aside for handheld document cameras. Floppy disks became USBs and now we store our files in the Cloud. Seven years ago the iPad didn't exist.

All these changes in the tools we use, the manner in which we conduct business, and yet... some things haven't changed. We still work a 10-month contract, still spend countless hours (and money!) outfitting our classrooms, and still do PD the same way as decades before. 

I wanted this year to be different.

I started in September with an interest survey, asking teachers what they wanted to learn about. There was an overwhelming interest in learning more about iPad apps, which was great, but an area I didn't have much expertise. Sure, I knew how to use my favorite apps like Edmodo and PicCollage, but how could I meet the needs of all the different grades? Where would I start? Which apps were the best of the best? How could I transition my teachers from handing students an iPad to "play" and instead make that instructional time meaningful and productive?

I spent a few weeks connecting with my PLN on Twitter, asking for ideas and suggestions. I started making Twitter lists, sorting my followers by grade level and subject area. I read app reviews on Common Sense Media and asked teachers "What do you want to do?" instead of "What do you want to use?"

This was the year to change me.

I wanted PD to be fun. Engaging. Inspiring. What could I do differently to share what I had learned with my teachers?

What evolved from my quandary was the MES App Challenge. I planned 10 PD sessions for 30 minutes each, highlighting a specific app and its use. The goal was a quick "in and out" intro with time for independent exploration. I also implemented a badging system where teachers could add app icons to a laminated iPad, earning perks in the process.

All sessions were optional, held during the last 30 minutes of the day after students had left the building. I created a Remind account to keep teachers connected with upcoming PD sessions and to send out shout-outs for awesome achievements. I also posted monthly visual reminders around my building about sessions: on lab doors, in the teacher's lounge, and at the sign-in desk.

Best of all, I provided personalized PD on topics of interest. This provided the opportunity to really get to know my teachers and the types of goals they had for their students' learning. I was able to follow-up and provide support throughout the year for classroom implementation and several teachers invited me in their classrooms to showcase what their students could do!

As I reflect on this year, and my first attempt at providing personalized PD, I'm excited! I want to continue to support my teachers' use of iPads in the classroom, but I also want to extend this PD format to other topics as well. My brain is already swirling with ideas to make PD more relevant and engaging next year.

How are you providing personalized PD? Are you using badges as incentives for teacher PD? Do you have any "must have" free apps for the elementary classroom? Comment below and share your expertise! I would love to learn and grow with you!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

PD by the Numbers

Much of my job as an ITRT revolves around professional development. Our role in the school is to provide "on-demand professional development support for students, teachers, and administrators." No small task indeed!

Traditionally, PD has been a laborious duty of "sit and get." Three-hour sessions. Don't fall asleep. (I'm reminded of the theme from Gilligan's Island - "A three-hour tour.") Teachers vocally share their frustration about mandatory PD, begging for choice and flexibility. Why is there such a divide between what teachers want to learn and what they have to learn? And why must the sessions always be so long?

I have struggled with this disconnect for quite some time and decided that THIS would be the year I changed how I provided PD to my teachers. If they could pick any topic to learn about, what would they choose? What tech tools were new to them? Did they have any grand ideas of projects or themes where I could provide support?

I didn't know the answers because I hadn't asked the questions.

Sure, I had participated in grade level meetings and offered suggestions or support. I asked what they needed and was met with cordial smiles with a few teachers on the side approaching me for additional help. But this was different. I wanted to know their personal thoughts about technology PD. Not with their team. Not with me. I wanted the barriers of peer pressure and assumed expectation stripped away for raw, honest responses.

I wanted answers that required reflection.

It was expected that we would support two PD initiatives focusing on Google Implementation (our first year as a GAFE district) and Interactive Achievement. I could have easily offered sessions on these two topics alone and filled my calendar for the year.

But I wanted to know more and I was convinced my teachers did, too.

I started the school year with an in-depth teacher survey where they could share their thoughts on what they wanted to learn about and how interested they were in various topics. The survey was subdivided into three sections: Google products, Tech Integration, and Digital Tools. There was also a free response section where teachers could type additional information they wanted to share. I provided the teachers two weeks to complete the survey and the results were fascinating!

A Sample of Google results

A Sample of Tech Integration results

A Sample of  Digital Tool results

After analyzing my data, I discovered a strong interest in "Good, Better, Best for iPad Use in the Classroom." I created an MES App Challenge where various apps would be spotlighted for a quick, 30 minute max PD session various times a month. (More on that in my next post!) I also discovered through the free response section of my survey that an entire grade level was interested in learning more about how I used instructional videos with EdPuzzle for center rotations. Even though that question didn't score very high in the school-wide survey results, I made EdPuzzle training and support a priority for this specific grade level.

I created a Remind account and asked teachers to join. Several times a month I sent reminders of upcoming PD sessions or shout-outs teachers who reached learning milestones. My goal was to make learning easy and fun while strengthening relationships in the process.

I also realized I needed to learn more about Personalized PD and the nuances of managing such an overwhelming style of PD. I connected with other like-minded educators on Twitter and followed the hashtag #personalizedPD. I joined a #personalizedPD Voxer group and sought out Personalized PD sessions at local and virtual conferences.

The one thing I discovered that ALL Personalized PD has in common?

A growth mindset.

Yes, I know that's a trending topic and I also know the buzzword has been used so often it's starting to lose a bit of its luster. But the sentiment holds true: in order to grow, you have to be willing to learn new things.

In April, I asked several teachers to reflect on their progress, with whatever topic or tool they chose to learn about this year. The results were astounding!

A progress chart based on ski slope symbols

Results of teacher growth through ongoing PD

This is worthy of CELEBRATION! We now have experts in our building, many of whom feel confident enough to teach others what they have learned. WOW! So empowering!

I sent out this infographic to our staff, to showcase a few of the milestones met this year through our revamped PD structure:

The best part is that our district is changing, too. For the first time ever we are offering teachers choice and flexibility in their required PD trainings. They now have the option to earn their PD points in sessions offered throughout the summer instead of the typical all day "sit and get" structure of years past. They can take an eLearning course, or choose sessions on various days. 

Choice. Flexibility. Interest.

There are some exciting things happening in Hanover County Public Schools and I consider myself blessed to be part of the process! It has been a phenomenal year!

Friday, April 22, 2016

ECSE Personalized PD

This week I joined in with ITRTs Jamie Mullenaux (@JamieMullenaux) and Jen Hicks (@jenhicks) to provide personalized PD for Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) teachers in our district.

Training was limited to an hour and fifteen minutes, so our challenge was to provide personalized PD in a limited amount of time. We knew there were varying numbers of available hardware in each class (iPads, SMART Boards, and SMART Tables), but we weren't sure who had what or which area they wanted more training. We decided to offer time for conversation, learning, and reflection as shown below:

We offered three stations focused on creative uses for iPads, SMART Boards, and SMART Tables, allowing teachers to choose the training they wanted to receive. We prepared digital guides for each session along with targeted questions to encourage active participation.

Our introductory conversations showed that many were comfortable using basic apps on the iPad, but were looking to learn how to use SMART Boards and SMART Tables. We still offered three stations, but found that providing flexibility for teachers to choose what interested them most made the greatest impact on learning.

As teachers interacted with the SMART Board and SMART Tables, they shared ideas for implementation, including which features they thought would be most appropriate for their PreK students. They also shared suggestions for troubleshooting common issues such as editing templates from the SMART Exchange and moving the SMART Table for naptime.

It was great to have all the ECSE teachers together to share in the learning experience! A special thanks to Solita Wilson for allowing us to use her classroom for training.  We learned quite a bit in such a short amount of time!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

First Writing EdCamp

Last week I was invited by a fellow ITRT to attend the first ever EdCamp hosted by our district. It was organized by ELA curriculum coordinator, Tami Slater (@tami_slater) in collaboration with ITRTs Casey Nugent (@edtechdonuts) and Heather Causey (@hcausey). Even though the event was geared specifically for high school English teachers, I joined in the fun because I am always looking for ways to improve my own writing as well as strategies to support my beginning writers at the elementary level.

The morning was spent grading essays with the afternoons set up for an open sharing time of various topics. Each "room" was labeled after a famous writer, set up as tables across the cafeteria to allow for convenient movement between sessions.

Each session included a hyperlinked Google Doc for convenient sharing and note-taking. Teachers chose which session they wanted to attend, carrying laptops with them for each rotation. I definitely was the "odd man out" being an elementary-focused educator, but I enjoyed listening to the teachers share their struggles and successes.

Some great sites that were shared included Moving Writers and Storybird for motivating struggling writers. Other sites such as Canva and Piktochart were discussed for students to use in creating infographics. Grammarly was another hot topic for editing and grammar reteaching. We loved how it not only told us what to correct and how, but it also described in detail why we needed to correct our errors. Talk about empowering! Our only wish is that is synced with Google Docs! (Yes, we know we can copy/paste into the Grammarly website, but an automatic analysis would be such a gift!)

I loved listening to the teachers share their ideas of how to run writing stations in their classrooms- so inspiring! From having students rotate from one station to the next crafting a single story or individual stations to reinforce vocabulary and digital writing, it was clear that our teachers are looking for creative ways to engage our students with writing.

I left this EdCamp excited to share this PD concept with teachers in my building as well as the resources described. My hope is that this EdCamp structure grows to the point where we can have multiple EdCamps across the district focused on meaningful conversations as teachers continue to learn and grow!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pi Day 2016

For the past month, our 5/6 compacted math students have been researching the concept of Pi and preparing collaborative presentations to showcase all they've learned. From the origins of Pi to the history of Pi Day, even with corny jokes in-between. Each group created a ten slide Google Slides presentation and honed their public speaking skills as they presented to the class.

Today, March 14, is the official "Pi Day" celebration across the world (math geeks unite!) For those who confuse pi with pie, you will definitely want to peek at our student presentations to learn more.

Ms. Brockel, our GT teacher, is such a wonderful addition to our staff as she guides students throughout the year with enrichment projects. She invited me to their class today for a final wrap-up of presentations, then surprised me with a gift and a card signed by all the students, thanking me for my assistance with their project. I was completely surprised by their thoughtfulness!

When I opened the gift, I was speechless - Ms. Brockel and her class had purchased me my very own Pi Day shirt (in my favorite color!) JOY!!

The class was fully engaged in various Pi-themed activities, from online scavenger hunts using the iPad to making a paper chain of Pi (which, at some point, had to come to an end even though the number itself is endless!)

Online Pi Scavenger Hunt

Counting the digits in Pi

The Pi link is growing longer!

And what Pi celebration would be complete without examples of pie? 

Today I was reminded of the JOY we can experience in the classroom when we allow our curriculum to align with our passions. I'm so proud of all the hard work our students have done with their projects - click here to see their presentations!