Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Inspiration List 2011

Ann has talked with me about her one-word-journals for some time now.  As she finds ideas, thoughts, and revelations related to her WORD, she documents them in one special space.  It provides a focus for the year, inevitably replacing the traditional “resolution”.  

Many words have bounced around my head in the past two weeks, as I have been trying to decide upon THE one-word that will fit me in 2012.  Choosing one word is a difficult process, as I compiled a long list on my iPhone in just a short amount of time.  Believe, think, inspire, humble, cultivate, calm, explore, and respect had all made the first cut.  My final decision came this past week when I finally realized (very deeply) what word I should pick.  It was while reading Doug Johnson’s Post regarding his “2011 Shipping List.”  This post was inspired by Seth Godin, which in turn inspired me.  And that’s when I decided upon INSPIRATION as my one-word.  My own “shipping list” is just that; professional successes that will carry over into 2012 as encouragement.  The inspiration around me needs to be my focus for the year in order to keep me charged and moving forward with my growth mindset intact. (I see this WORD directly aligning to the goals I have within my personal life as well!)

Friday, December 30, 2011

5 Ways to Cause Your Own Personal Shift Towards "Teach Less, Learn More"

This shift {Shift #2} has really helped us to focus on the individual needs of students, in relation to 21st Century skills.  We have found ways to get through our day with "teaching less" but have our students "learning more".  Here are 5 suggestions to help make "the shift" possible:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Shift #2: Teach Less, Learn More!

Teach Less, Learn More! is the educational framework Singapore developed to meet the demands of the 21st century. This chapter, within 21st Century Skills:  Rethinking How Students Learn, resonated with us because it is necessary and important that we face the reality in which our students and children are living, and it generates the change through the work of PLC teams. The world is a developing place and in order for us to best prepare students we must recognize this reality, rethink what we do and how we do it, and redirect our work into creating a model that engages students effectively. Communication and development within each PLC can make this a reality. Fogarty and Pete (2010) explain, "This vision is the frame and the fuel for the conversation within the school system's PLCs. What begin as ordinary conversations among colleagues evolve into practical missions for school teams" (p. 114). PLC efforts must generate a system wide shift in perspective, a call to action.  Understanding this perspective, the immense collective talent of each PLC team can forge ahead through the 5 R’s of recognize, rethink, redirect, re-engage, and re-envision, thereby regenerating education for the 21st century. Fogarty and Pete (2010) state, “The change process is about evolutionary thinking, not revolutionary thinking, and it all begins with these critical collaborative conversations” (p. 101). So what does it mean to Teach Less, Learn More? Well, read on to view my synthesis of this model:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

5 Ways to Cause Your Own Personal Shift Towards “Research is Crucial”

Ann and I have found this “Shift in Thinking” {Shift #1} to cause us to travel down a different path, changing the course of our journey for the better.  Here are 5 suggestions to make the “Shift”:

1)      Partnership for 21st Century Skills This national organization advocates for 21st Century readiness for all students.  If you have not utilized their website, we highly recommend you doing so.  The Framework is thought provoking and may change your perspective, and possibly even your philosophy.

21st Century Learning: Shifts in our Thinking... Shift #1-RESEARCH IS CRUCIAL

Wordle: CHANGE

Education is constantly in a mode of change.  We all know the pattern:  strategies, philosophies, ideas, etc. come and go and then they come around again and again. This spiraling effect, though, has truly changed.  The technology that exists today was never part of the equation before.  Educators have entered a new era where time is of the essence, and an innovative way of thinking is necessary.  We can only control how we move forward, and on this journey every second counts.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What's Your Mindset?

Last summer I took an amazing class about developing the affective domain.  We spent some time reading and discussing the work of world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck about fixed versus growth mindsets.   I was fascinated and quickly connected this information to students I had had in the past as well as to my own three children at home. At the same time I wondered, if it could apply to students, couldn’t it also apply to teachers?  This thought led me to a new understanding.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reflecting today...

Just read a powerful post on Connected Principals written by Shawn Blankenship.  In his post, he discusses what principals can do to possibly become an instructional leader, rather than just being thought of as an evaluator, which would be The Ultimate Gift.  Many quotes throughout the post got me thinking, but here are 2 of my favorites:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Digital Literacy

This school year I set out with several personal growth areas:  Science, Brain-based Learning, Student Book Clubs, and Formative Assessment.  I can proudly say that I am making strong gains in all 4 areas, as I devour literature on these topics any chance I get and apply my learning directly in my classroom with my students and alongside my teaching partner.  But one additional area snuck its way into my daily life through my own personal growth process; Digital Literacy is now on the forefront of my mind.  In my professional life, as well as my personal life, I am now “connected.”  I finally feel like I understand our present technological world, and I am more prepared than ever before to face the future advances that technology will have to offer.   

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Understanding themselves, AS LEARNERS

I think, believe, and feel deeply that a student's attitude directly affects their ability to learn. Negativity is a form of stress, so when students go to that "bad attitude place" it inhibits their ability to meet their potential. When students are in this place they shut down or check out from the discussions or activities at hand. However, when students are in a positive place it allows them a little perspective. They can think more clearly, be aware of the learning that is taking place, and participate with the conversation.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Team teaching partnerships are something like a marriage.  You have to be patient and flexible, kind and appreciative, aware and cooperative in many different situations.  Plus add 50 kids, as opposed to the usual 2.5 per household, and you can really spice things up!  Yet as I reflect on the fact that we are nearly half way through our school year I am amazed at how EASY it has been to teach a 3-4-5 classroom this year thanks to my partnership with Celina.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Learning: Intrinsic VS Extrinsic

As you know, the reality in education is there are things we can control and things we cannot. In every situation I do what I can to keep with my building/district/state mandates without compromising my own perspective/philosophy and my students' needs. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Metaphorically Speaking

Given the extent of the standards and curriculum that we are expected to teach in a single grade, let alone a multiage, classroom it is easy to feel overwhelmed.  Especially when you take into account the varying needs of the students (as both Celina and I have posted previously) it could almost be considered an insurmountable task.  Yet the reality is that things will not slow down, so the one thing you can change is how you approach it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Believe It to Achieve It!

I woke up today with a sore throat. Of course I had not been feeling great, but it wasn’t until I acknowledged it fully that the cold symptoms hit in earnest!  It had me reflecting on self-fulfilling prophecies, or that whole “believe it to achieve it” idea. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

We hooked another....

Well, we did it... We captured another student recently... Hook, line and sinker! With our group we are realizing that there are some that have very deep rooted issues, inhibiting their positive personal belief system.... students Mrs. Ripp references in her post.

Student Learning Communities

Professional Learning Communities are the topic of many conversations within education: the culture that is imperative for success, the goals we choose to focus on, the protocols we should follow, the structure that must be in place, and the realities that we face. There is an abundance of research I have read to support how PLCs are necessary in improving students’ learning.  I myself belong to an amazing PLC (as well as many micro PLCs within my PLC).  But my thoughts lately have been on how to take the characteristics of successful PLCs and apply them within the walls of the classroom for students. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Backpack of Strategies

In approaching the school year with our new multiage program, we were on a mission to establish an environment that allowed for students to engage in deep conversation with their peers, guide their own learning path set by their individual goals, and understand and appreciate the unique qualities of each individual brain within our classroom of learners.  So, in essence, we planned a variety of activities that would teach students the importance of emotions in relation to the brain, as well as how to build and foster relationships with each other.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Redefining Nerd

According to a nerd is a “dull person devoted to a nonsocial pursuit”.  It also discusses the origin of this word coming from 1940’s slang for a “crazy person”.  All of this makes us laugh… Since our team-teaching endeavor began (in relation to our new program) we may act a little crazy in our pursuit for knowledge, but we have had nothing but a social experience.  We read/research, reflect, discuss, and collaborate regarding every book we that ends up in our hands. (…and when we don’t have a book in our hands we buy another…)
We are joked with frequently for being "crazy nerds" who read books, research, websites and blogs for fun in our free-time.  We are happy with it, we love the title and wear that crown proudly!!  Our take on Nerd Day was the true defintion of a Nerd... two teachers celebrating, "We're nerdy and we know it!"

Our new definition for the 21st century:  A nerd is a person who is Notorious for Enthusiasm, Reflection, and Discussion in regards to a specific topic.
We encourage you to celebrate your “Inner 21st Century NERD"!!