My #OneWord for 2016

My #OneWord for 2016 is:


As an instructional technology coach, I spend a lot of time in the elementary and middle school classrooms of my district. I am very fortunate in that I am able to interact with a large number of students and teachers on a daily basis. One of my goals is to make sure I make a positive impact on each and every individual I interact with. A bright smile, a few words of praise and/or a high-five go a long way in making this come to fruition.

In 2016, make it your goal to ELEVATE the students, their parents, and the faculty in your school. Make it your mission to encourage the people in your life to feel GOOD about themselves. Brag about them in person, on social media, wherever and whenever you can. Make a positive phone call home praising a student or tell your principal about an awesome project your colleague is doing in her classroom. Lift individuals up with words and actions. ELEVATE them on a daily basis!

Make 2016 the year you ELEVATE all those around you… and then take it one step further. Through your actions, inspire them to ELEVATE the people in their lives. Model and demonstrate how it’s done. Be the exemplar for it and watch it GROW.


What is your #OneWord for 2016? Write a blog post about it and share it on Twitter using the hashtags #oneword and #oneword2016

Passion-Driven Learning For Educators: Using The Genius Hour Model For PD


As the standardization of education continues to infiltrate the nation’s classrooms, and high-stakes testing is directly linked to teacher evaluation, the unfortunate “teaching to the test” trend dominates in many schools. Entire school districts have reorganized programs in which only the subjects being tested have priority. Elementary teachers can be heard saying that they have no time to do the “fun stuff” anymore, let alone the Social Studies and science curricula. The push to perform has stifled the individual, creating a climate for the automatization of an entire generation of learners, and unfortunately their teachers. Thankfully, there’s a movement that promotes student choice and innovation in learning that has been sweeping the nation. This passion- driven movement, which is known as Genius Hour, or 20% Time, allows students to become innovative creators of content rather than just consumers of it. In fact, the Genius Hour model has been so successful in schools at all levels that this framework can be used for more effective and meaningful professional development for educators.

Click this link to continue reading.

Passion-Driven Learning For Educators: The Genius Hour Model For Powerful PD

Follow Your Bliss

I’ve been doing Genius Hour projects with my sixth graders for the last three years and the student response has been extremely positive. The children say it’s the best project they have ever done in school and they absolutely love how they get to choose their own topics; researching things they are most interested in by following their bliss proving that passion-driven learning truly makes a difference. One enthusiastic student recently blogged about her experience with this exciting project here:

Genius Hour Experience by Amy S.

The student topics chosen get more interesting and entertaining each year. 2015 examples include a study of accidental inventions, a step-by-step guide to video editing and an exploration of the Bermuda Triangle. I’ve collected a few examples in a beautiful Smore online flyer that can be accessed by clicking the image below:


What If The Genius Hour Model Was Used For Professional Development?

I began to think about this essential question as the student enthusiasm for this project continued to grow. Could this model work to facilitate passion-driven learning for educators in an informal setting? I began to visualize the successful application of my idea:

I imagined teachers excitedly embarking on pedagogical explorations this summer and beginning the school year super-charged with new instructional strategies to utilize with their new students.

I envisioned teachers of all subject areas and levels using powerful tools like Twitter to personalize their PD.

I contemplated educators collaborating online as they pursued similar pedagogical passions – sharing “web gems” and “twitter treasures”

I began to formulate a plan for Passion-Driven Learning for educators using the Genius Hour model I described here:

Plato Would Have Loved Genius Hour

This is what I came up with. Click the image below to view it.


Apps For Administrators: Curate, Create and Share Content

Apps For Admins2

Click the image to view these awesome applications.

These digital tools help building and district level administrators maximize communication with all members of the school community. Principals can create beautiful Smore online flyers spotlighting upcoming events at their schools. District superintendents can use Remind to send important text-based notifications to their leadership teams.