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Showing posts from 2016

EdCamp Elmbrook Wants You!

In 2013, I attended my first EdCamp.  It was EdCamp Milwaukee organized by Chad Kafka, Tammy Lind, and Beth Lisowski.  At that first EdCamp, I met a lot of new faces that I would soon realize were great innovators in education.  It was the day I realized the power of a personal learning network. I learned about gamification from Michael Matera, Google tips and tricks from Jennie Magiera, fantastic tech toys from Tricia Louis, innovative PD design from Jason Bretzmann, and met essential people in my PLN like Brian Durst.

The great thing about this network was that it was not grade level or subject specific.  We all had something to contribute to the conversation and something to learn from each other. All the unconferences I have attended have been great experiences.  That is why we have a team that is organizing an EdCamp in own district. It will be held on March 25, 2017, at Brookfield Central High School in Brookfield, WI.  All are welcome and registration is free.
Registration ope…

Separate and Equal

I had a good time the last two weeks shifting schedules and experiences around for my physics students.  There was a very good reason for this shifting. Two of my 3 physics classes had the opportunity to share the physics of sound with 4th graders from Swanson Elementary.

It's always a struggle when it turns out that some of your students will be able to have a special experience that the others won't.  There was a similar experience earlier this year when we had a different collaboration with Swanson.

So what is a teacher to do?

It's times like these where some of the greatest physics experiences come in.  I'm able to step out of activities that feel like they have a product that is for assessment.  The end product of the student work will be for them to share or simply be a challenge that will integrate some learning that deals with physics. It's enrichment.  It's not about introducing new content, but extending that content. There's nothing wrong with a …

EdCamp Elmbrook is March 25th 2017

In the tradition of connecting educators in the area to innovative practices and creating a community of sharing, we are proud to announce that EdCamp Elmbrook will be held at Brookfield Central High School on March 25th, 2017.

EdCamp Elmbrook will be a day for educators from around the area to gather, share, and learn. An EdCamp is an unconference where the attendees determine the day's session. So, come with an idea you would like to propose and discuss. A session might explore a technology tool, a discussion about best practices or a collaborative presentation with multiple facilitators. You will have the opportunity to attend up to four sessions. The rule of the unconference is to “vote with your feet” or "follow your passion". If a session doesn’t meet your needs, simply get up and move on to another room.

If you don't have an idea, don't worry.  You'll be sure to find sessions that can provide an opportunity to inform your current practice with other educ…

iPhysics Expo

I really love the idea of genius hour, 20% time, and passion projects.  Last year we had students complete one in physics.  While it was a very enjoyable experience, the one thing it lacked in the end was an audience outside of our classroom. So, this year I'm taking a bit of a risk along with my students.
Rather have students present their findings to only their physics class, we're holding an open expo on January 18th from 6 - 7 PM. I'd like to consider this a formal invitation for you to attend. The expo is intended for all ages and is free.  We have a wide range of topics including sports (like baseball, basketball, and soccer), music (both vocal and instrumental), vehicles (cars, planes, and boats), photography, and even make-up. The goal is for students to communicate how physics connects to a personal interest.  It is not meant to be overwhelmingly technical.  It is meant to be personal.

The structure of the expo will be pretty straight forward. It will be a one ho…

SLATE Day 2: A GAFE Summit in 60 Minutes

The second day of SLATE is only half a day.  We had a great closing session with Dr. James Rickabaugh. I feel like I’ve discussed his book in a few previous posts including a wonderful Video Q & A with him. This video quality isn't great but the quality of the information is.
I attended a session by Rita Mortenson that blew me away.  Rita is the Educational Technology Coordinator for Verona Area High School. Her session was titled Google Tips and Tricks to Know Before Your Students Do.  It was filled with so much stuff I did not know that I am excited to bring to my classroom.  The presentation is below.  I’d love to run through some of my highlights.  This extension allows users to download videos from YouTube.  It is currently blocked by my district.  I hope we can change that soon. If you are interested, you can get the extension here:
Drive Template Gallery: Move you and your students beyond the basic templates wi…

SLATE 2016: Day 1

Today, I attended the School Leaders Advancing Technology in Education Conference, aka SLATE. The conference as the title suggests is geared towards implementing technology k-12 education.  The sessions at the conference are focused on different levels of implementation from classroom level, to district level, all the way to state initiatives. The keynote today was by Jaime Casap. He is Chief Educational Evangelist at Google.  His sermon today focused on what we are asking students to do in our schools and if it is making them ready for the jobs that they will be applying for.  Jobs that have yet to be created or in some cases even imagined. The biggest takeaway for me was the roles we are creating for students in the classroom.  Jaime proselytized that we should be creating students who are problem solvers.  Students should be focused on solving problems that have meaning to them. Because ,it is the process of problem solving that will make them ready for the jobs that have yet to be c…

Can I Believe These Numbers?

Our union put out the results of a recent district survey.  The number of those who responded to the survey was low in comparison to the total number of certified staff. But the number and comments related to personalized learning struck me as troubling.

Based on this data, over half of the district staff polled are not onboard with the district's vision for personalized learning.  I would argue that not knowing the district vision for personalized learning is synonymous with not understanding what personalized learning is. The mission of the Elmbrook School Districtto inspire every student to think, to learn and to succeed.  By personalizing learning, we hope to achieve that mission.
I begin to question have we put the phrase before the meaning?  Have we thrown out this word without intention?  Have we made it to much of another thing to do rather than a method to achieve our shared vision.
These numbers shake me to the core.  After the recent presidential election, I realized I was…

These Honeycomb Kids Are Honeycomb Big

What's a Honeycomb kid? It's more than just this...

Today, some of my students from last school year took the reigns and presented at the Institute for Personalized Learning's National Convening. The focus of this presentation was sharing the elements of the honeycomb that benefitted their learning the most. In addition, they explained what these elements looked in practice. A year ago, I never imagined that a group of my former students would be presenting.  So how did we get here? Well we ...

The first step in this process was realizing how strong my students were in reflecting on their learning in our classroom.  Reading their end of unit reflections made me realize that the learners were thinking deeply about what was helping them learn, not helping them learn, and ideas they proposed for the next unit. I then decided to introduce them to the Teaching & Learning elements from the honeycomb and rate how instruction in our course met those elements. They rated my pract…

Mo Years Mo Blogging

Two years ago, I published my first blog post. To celebrate 2 years and 144 posts, I thought I'd share 10 insights linked to my blogging.
Pirates Publish Great PD

Over the last two years, I have had the privilege to read some great books published by Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. These include Teach Like a Pirate, Ditch that Textbook, The Innovator’s Mindset, Explore Like a Pirate, LAUNCH, and I just started Pure Genius.  These books are great because they are accessible and practical.  The collection of books are like the Marvel Movie Universe in that they are all connected and have a unified vision.  But, they each have their own focus.  Let’s hope there is no Civil War in the Pirate Universe anytime soon. I’ve loved using my blog to reflect on the books I’ve read as I read them.


I have a significant level of social anxiety with my peers.  So, I’m not one who seeks out conversations with fellow staff members.  My blog has allowed me to share what I do in a way that doesn’t fee…