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Showing posts from 2017

Not Just Any Summer Assignment: A VR Summer Learning Experience

This summer, I intend to go to Disney World and other parts of Florida, the Outer Banks, Ocean City, New York City, a Kansas City Royals baseball game, the Grand Canyon, the White House, a NHL Finals game, a cruise, and I plan to go to all of those places without leaving my house. How? With the Cardboard Camera app, Google Cardboard, and Google Classroom. I have given my sixth grade students one last assignment, and this assignment will run all summer long. Their assignment is to bring along their classmates on their summer vacation trips using the Cardboard Camera app, by uploading their images to Google Classroom for their classmates and myself to view on our Google Cardboards (we had a Google Cardboard make and take night in early May, so the students are really into VR now), and finally collaborating on a Google Slide (Take Us With You On Vacation). Benefits to this assignment: 1. Let's start with the obvious. It is really cool. Who doesn't want to try out VR? The students ab…

The Gamification of PD

Spring is here. The birds are chirping. The grass is growing. The weather outside is beautiful. So, what do you think teachers are doing on those beautiful spring evenings and weekends? Why, professional development (PD) of course. More specifically, gamified PD. Over the first 30 days of our gamification approach to PD, we have had our pilot group of teachers put in over 300 hours of learning during their own time. Driving back from PETE&C 2016 with my district's technology director, Justin Arthur (@JustinTech), we started talking about all the fantastic things we saw like blended learning, G Suite for Education, and the gamification of classrooms. This lead to a discussion on professional development, and how we could bring those aspects from what we saw at PETE&C 2016 into PD. That discussion became the starting point for the gamification of PD in our district, which evolved into what it is now, Learning Pathways PD. What is  Learning Pathways PD? It brings all of the elem…

3D Printing

"PC load letter?!" Can't say I've said that in a long time. I love G Suite for Education, so there is little need to get frustrated with the printer, let alone print things out. Unless that is, you want to print something with a 3D printer! At the end of January, I wrote a grant for the Polar3D printer, and as luck would have it, I was fortunate enough to receive the grant. My Polar3D printer arrived in my classroom last week, and hopefully we will be printing tomorrow. Not only is this my sixth grade students' first opportunity to use a 3D printer, but it is also mine. So it is a very exciting time as my students and I explore this new piece of technology together. We are both learning so much already, but what I am seeing and learning from my students is incredible. Students as engaged learners Before allowing my students to print, I had my students go through the tutorial lessons on tinkercad.com which is the free, web based platform we will be using to create ou…

Blend Like a PIRATE

I had been sailing on a clear course for about 13 years before I decided to drastically change course for blended learning. I've been on this blended learning course for about two and a half years now. I thought I had prepared well for my change in course, but there were many times early on in my change of course, I wasn't sure I was going to make it. I hit some pretty rough water and I had some real heart-to-heart conversations with myself. But the more I kept sailing, the more treasures I kept finding. This year's travel was full of so many treasures like Breakout EDU's, Mystery Skypes, 3D printing, G Suite tools for students and teachers, and engaged learners like never before. I realized that with all of these treasures I have collected, I have become a PIRATE. 

Blend like a PIRATE:

Purpose 

My first year of running a blended learning classroom was frustrating to say the least. Just when I was thinking I was making progress, something always seemed to come up to derai…

Top 10 Things I Learned from Being a Principal for Seven Weeks

For seven weeks, I was an interim, elementary principal in one of my district's elementary schools. It was an opportunity and experience that was invaluable. When I began I was nervous and full of anxiety, but when I ended, I had wonderful memories, great new relationships, and a very real and meaningful learning experience.  So as I look back on my seven weeks as an elementary principal, and try to put things into perspective, these are my top ten things I have learned.   Be Visible From my very first day, I knew I had to be out of my office and in the halls, classrooms, cafeteria, and out on bus duty. I needed to show students, parents, teachers, and staff I was there for them. I could not do that from staying in my office trying to sort through all the emails and paperwork. While those needed attention, being visible was more important.  Be Real While I was filling in for another principal in his building, I still I had to be myself as I addressed issues and worked with others. I co…

Above and Beyond

Teacher, "Recess time!" Students, "Yeh!" Teacher, "Let's play some football!" Students, "I wanna be on your team!" Teacher, "I'll be the all-time quarterback, punter, and ref." Students, "Yeh!" Teacher, "Ready. Set. Hike." Students, "I'm open! I'm open! Throw it to me! Throw it to me!" Recess is one of the best parts about elementary school for students, but also for teachers and principals. It is fantastic to see the enthusiasm that comes out from students at recess and how engaged they can really be. One of the things that I am quickly realizing as principal (just over one month in) is just how important it is to the students, parents, and other staff members to have teachers that go above and beyond for their students in ways that are meaningful and personal to their students. When I have teachers volunteering to be all-time punters, quarterbacks, and referees at recess they are building lasting …

My First Few Weeks as Elementary Principal

On January 23rd, my 15-year career as a classroom teacher changed dramatically, as I began a new role as interim principal in one of my district's elementary schools. Then on January 24th, my wife and I celebrated our third child being born. It was a week full of emotions but most of all excitement.  Being a father of two, I knew what to expect with our third child. Late night feedings, sleepless nights, changing diapers (lots of diapers), and a return to the 5S's. But being a first-time principal, it was a lot like being a first-time parent. You could read all the books and get all the advice, but until you actually went through it, you couldn't really understand it.  Much like bringing my first child home from the hospital after she was born, I had some, well a lot, of anxiety going into my first day as principal. I had scheduled a full faculty meeting to introduce myself, and while I was only an interim principal in another principal's building, I still had to be myse…

Enter The Twilight Zone with Blended Learning

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone. 
I feel that opening part of the show The Twilight Zone directly relates to my school year this year. This is my second full year of running a blended learning classroom, and I feel as if in some way my sixth-grade students and I have crossed over into the Twilight Zone. Strange but wonderful things are happening in and out of my classroom, that I have not, unfortunately, witnessed before in my 15 years of teaching. Students are embracing the idea that learning can take place anywhere, anytime and that their voice matters to others, as they enter a whole other dimension in Google Classroom. They are seeing learning opportunities on their own outside of the school day and wanting to share their experiences wit…