My #OneWord for 2016

My #OneWord for 2016 is:

ELEVATE

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.

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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

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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:

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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.

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Apps For Administrators: Curate, Create and Share Content

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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.

App Smashing For Educators: Leveraging Tools to Maximize Communication

My latest guest blog post on ImagineEasy.com

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Parent-teacher communication has always been a cornerstone for success in education.

For decades, schools have attempted to build and maintain this crucial bridge to lasting learning. Research shows that the stronger the connection between home and school, the greater the academic achievement can be for students.

Click here to continue reading.

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How I Hacked My PD: The Power of Twitter As a 24/7 Learning Tool

THE BEST VIEWHave you ever wanted to be in two places at the same time? Do you often feel as if you’re being pulled in twenty different directions? In my roles as District Coordinator of Instructional Technology, ELA teacher, and father of four I frequently feel this way. Saturday was a good example of this as there were two education conferences in the NY Metropolitan area that I really wanted to attend, but family responsibilities prevented me from going to either of them. However, Twitter made it possible for me to “be” in three places at once!

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Long Island Connected Educators Summit 2015 (#CELI15)

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Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project 88th Reunion (#TCRWP)

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Learning NEVER Stops on Twitter

The awesome power of Twitter allowed me to participate in both conferences simultaneously while at my son’s snowy LAX practice. As I sat in my car, I “rode” or followed both hashtags simultaneously using TweetDeck. I was immersed in learning: gathering lesson ideas for my ELA classes, favoriting new EdTech apps for my students and teachers to try and interacting with the participants in both conferences. This was pure bliss for an education technology geek like myself. It’s a prime example of Personalized PD and it’s absolutely FREE!

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Six Take-Aways From My Personalized PD Session on Twitter:

  1. Six Signposts Prezi Presentation: Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading is an excellent book co-written by one of the keynote speakers at the TCRWP  reunion. I’m somewhat familiar with the book, but the golden nugget I found yesterday was discovered via the #NoticeandNote hashtag. Jamison Renfro had shared a truly awesome Prezi of the six signposts that authors of fiction use to alert you to important information. This outstanding presentation includes video link examples for each signpost. It is one of the coolest Prezi’s I’ve seen. You can view it and save a copy of it here: Six Signposts Prezi The Six Signposts
  2. Sneak Preview of the Six Nonfiction Signposts: Kylene Beers gave attendees a preview of her brand new Nonfiction Signposts and Allison Wasserman tweeted it out.      CBNhyocUMAEqJvx-2
  3. ParentCamp & Voxer: Amy Nardone shared her team’s entire presentation on google slides. Now the world can view this awesome presentation on maximizing Family-School partnerships! ParentCamp & Voxer Presentation ParentCamp & Voxer - #CELI15
  4. Teaching Figurative Language With “What Does the Fox Say?” Paul McNeil shared this excellent video that I will use to review different types of figurative language in class tomorrow. 
  5. Scratch: If you’d like to change the face of education, implement Scratch Julian Aptowitz shared this amazing website that allows students to create and share stories, games and animations while learning to code. You can check it out here: Scratch super_scratch_programming_adventure
  6. SLIME: Students of Long Island Maker Expo: WWP Library in Farmingdale, NY shared this flyer for an amazing expo celebrating the creativity and innovation of Long island students in grades K-12. Click the image to get your free tickets to this event.

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This is just a little taste of what I learned in one afternoon of riding hashtags. The awesome power of self-directed, personalized PD on Twitter is simply remarkable. I’ve learned more in a few months on Twitter than in years of traditional professional development. I strongly suggest you choose a hashtag or two and RIDE!!

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For Further Reading

How to Become a Better Educator

How and Why Educators Use Twitter: A Survey of the Field

Engagement Through Microblogging: Educator Professional Development via Twitter

 

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