Of course we have all heard the phrase, "Practice Makes Perfect." In a conversation I had with a young child recently, I was just about to say that phrase when I knew that I didn't quite believe it. I certainly understand its sentiment, as noted in my blog post from earlier in the year. I understand the phrase, but I don't agree with the destination or desired outcome. As we all know, there's no such thing as perfect. Every thing that amy be deemed as perfect can always go through another revision. And so, the phrase, "Practice Makes Perfect" isn't something I wanted to say to the child. Instead, I wanted to shift the focus to ongoing learning, ongoing effort, ...
#FlipgridFever has definitely hit educators all across the globe. Flipgrid is a tool for creating video-based discussions online and has been used in so many ways already. Teachers, students, administrators, and even parents have used the platform to share ideas, answer questions, respond to prompts, collaborate, and crowdsource projects. Flipgrid definitely helps amplify voice from all learners in classroom and beyond. It's one of those services that extend the classroom and learning environment beyond the four walls and the 6 hours of the school day.
This summer, @TOSAchat is using Flipgrid for its book study of Trevor MacKenzie's book, Dive into Inquiry. It's been an incredible experience so far reading Trevor's book, answering each week's prompt on Flipgrid, and engaging in conversation with other readers. Head over to @TOSAchat's dedicated site for the summer book study to check out the online discussion. [Another blog post reflecting on Trevor's book will come later.] Check out the #booksnaps of #DiveintoInquiry. Plus, hear Trevor speak about the book study in the video below.
It has indeed been such a pleasure and privilege serving as the Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA for PAUSD's Elementary Education Department. What an honor it is to work with so many teachers, their students, and administrators to influence and impact the learning and discovery of students.
I recently wrote a Year 2 reflection and it was incredible to reflect on my second year in this role. This post is meant to accompany that earlier post with the following image I recently completed. Inspired by Ryan O'Donnell (@creativetech) last year with my Year-End Reflection after year 1, I just completed my process of tallying, calculating, and summing my second year. Again, this in no way reflect every aspect of my 2016-2017 year but it does give a glimpse into my work as a Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA and offers a nice overview of my work. Just like last year, I was surprised by the numbers.
There are many highlights to my second year as a Math & STEAM Coach. Here are just a few:
It has truly been another incredible year collaborating with teachers in PAUSD and beyond, connecting with coaches and TOSAs from all over the globe, partnering with administrators, and ultimately continuing to impact students.
My #OneWord for 2017 is Joy. This one word definitely represents everything about this year. Live joyfully, experience joy, and share joy with the world.
This morning I was tagged on a tweet by Jennifer Williams reminding her PLN about the #OneWord campaign. It was a mid-year check-in. Her tweet included her blog post from the beginning of the year sharing her story of her word - intentional. It was such a wonderful tweet, blog post, and reminder for everyone in her PLN to reflect on their #OneWord.
How have I been doing with JOY? There are indeed so many reasons this year of 2017 is characterized as Joy. Here's my pie chart (as inspired by Jen's post). My pie chart will detail how I am living with joy in terms of fitness, work, relationships, and personally.
Fitness: I have always known the importance of setting a priority to stay fit and live healthy. With a family history of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other ailments, I have made it a point to focus on fitness. Baseball, touch football, basketball, track and field in my youth started me off in many organized team sports. During college, I picked up golf, tennis, rock climbing, and cycling, which included three separate century bike races. In the past five years I have really picked up my running. It's been an incredible journey on my feet. (I use my Instagram account to chronicle my running) I remember my first 5K, back in 2012 where I struggled to keep up with my friend and my goal of finishing under half an hour. Five years later, I have many done many races, including 19 half marathons, and will be running my first full marathon at the end of this month. I feel incredible pride and joy about my accomplishments so far in fitness. JOY
Work: I recently wrote a post about this incredibly joyful journey I'm on in education. After 10+ years of teaching first, second, and fifth grades, I have had the privilege and pleasure of serving as a Math & STEAM Coach for PAUSD's Elementary Education Department. It has been such an honor to partner with, support, and, as my boss always emphasizes, influence and impact the work that teachers, administrators, and district personnel do on a daily basis. I absolutely love the work I engage in with teachers collaboratively and collectively assisting children in their discovery and development of their interests and passions. JOY
Relationships: The joy I've experienced in the area of relationships is by slowing down, being aware, reflecting, being mindful, and experiencing everything my relationships bring. Sitting with a friend, going on walk and talks with a colleague, sending a tweet to my PLN, connecting with the #TOSAchat tribe, phoning family and friends, writing a card to celebrate someone's special day, and more are all ways I've experienced the joy in relationships. In addition, I accept and thank others for their compliments and feedback, receive gifts with gratitude, listen to stories without distractions, and more. Joy in relationships definitely isn't just about the positives. I experience all the frustrations, confusion, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings. Those uncomfortable feelings are indeed part of the pie in any relationship and I know the importance of not only experiencing them but working through them in order to maintain/grow the relationship. JOY
Personally: Joy in my personal life is hearing, seeing, and holding my baby boy as my wife and I welcomed him into the world on June 22nd. He is in fact laying on me as I write this post on my iPhone. He is my JOY.
JOY is my #OneWord for 2017 and I have so many incredible reasons to live joyfully, experience joy, and share joy with the world. [Thank you Jen for your tweet and inspiration to do a mid-year check.]
It's the end of my second year as a Math & STEAM Coach and it has absolutely been an amazing journey so far. Throughout my time I've always said, written, and tweeted that it's a pleasure and privilege to be in a position of support to so many teachers who work with and inspire children. After 10+ years teaching first, second, and fifth grade, it has indeed been a pleasure and privilege. I, along with all the TOSAs and Coaches out there, get to work with countless teachers, curious students, and administrators at the school level and district level. The position of a coach is one that involves focus, humility, perseverance, constant growth, and lots of reflection and refinement.
At the beginning of this second year as a Math & STEAM Coach, I identified three goals for the year.
-Make systematic changes and support in math content knowledge and instructional practices in teachers through PLCs, Learning Walks, and Lab Days.
-Complete the Maker Mobile proposal and get ready for its launch after securing funding from the district's fundraising organization.
-Facilitate workshops on NGSS and begin the 3-year rollout of the Next Gen FOSS modules.
How was my year in relations to those three goals?
1) I focused a lot on a systematic method of engaging grade level teams in a standards mapping exercise to identify, understand, analyze, and map the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics. Each experience was a powerful, collaborative, and collective revelation of CCSS-M. The grade level teams were able to identify a progression of each standard and domain to address throughout the school year. Teachers gained a better understanding of the concepts that are important to assess and the building blocks of those concepts. Some teachers even shared, "I didn't know that that's what the standards said," "We've been teaching things that are no longer required in our grade level," and "I don't think my study of the standards was as complete as what we just did." This standards mapping exercise is definitely something I want to continue bringing to grade level teams across the district.
2) For the second goal, the Maker Mobile didn't come to fruition. However, the point of the project was to bring the Maker Movement to schools across the district, with a big emphasis on mobility. This goal was accomplished, not by the Maker Mobile, but through a partnership with the district's Advanced Authentic Research Department (AAR). The AAR Department brings a powerful experience of an authentic research experience for students at the two high schools in the district. As my colleague, Leslie Faust, and I shared our goal of bringing the Maker Movement to the elementary schools in the district, Dr. Jeong Choe of AAR jumped on board with our project of establishing the "Creativity Project" for elementary students to engage in creating, exploring, and making. The Creativity Project brought Maker Carts (a K-2 cart and a. 3-5 cart) to three elementary schools for our phase one of deployment that began during the winter trimester. Four more schools received carts a couple months later. Three more schools received their carts through a grant I wrote through the district's fundraising organization. Dr. Jeong Choe and her team decided to complete the project by funding the remaining elementary schools. It was truly incredible to partner with the AAR Department to bring a modified version of my second goal to the schools.
3) NGSS and the workshops my colleague, Leslie Faust, and I facilitated were indeed successful. We carefully planned the theme of studying the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP) with the teacher leaders at our STEAM Inquiry Group meetings. The teacher leaders were able to then take the learning back to their school sites to share with their staffs. The TOSA Team also planned and successfully facilitated two district-wide NGSS workshops, one in August called NGSS 101 focusing in SEP 1 and the other in February called NGSS 102 focusing on the Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) and the Crosscutting Concepts (CCC). I was also a part of the South Bay Science Collaborative where we delivered three workshops during the school year on Science Notebooks, Design Thinking, Design Challenges, and Breakout EDU. It was an incredible year continuing to be immersed in the Next Generation Science Standards and STEM/STEAM Education. Having the chance to attend the California STEAM Symposium in October in Anaheim was indeed a fantastic way to immerse myself. [And of course, I got to meet Kelly Martin, a fellow co-creator of #TOSAchat, for the first time.]
It has definitely been a tremendous journey serving as the Math & STEAM Coach for the Elementary Education Department for my second year. Successes, challenges, courageous conversations, shortcomings, careful planning, missteps, #eduwins, errors, and everything the year brought are all reasons to celebrate. Celebrate what has been the journey - every part of the journey.
What an incredible honor to be able to present at this summer's edtechteacher summer workshop in Menlo Park! I had the pleasure of co-presenting two edtechteacher workshops last summer with Sabba Quidwai. It was definitely a fantastic experience partnering with Sabba to present ways to use the iPad in the classroom, Design Thinking, and more. Last year's workshop included experiences with BreakoutEDU and a trip to Stanford's d.school. It was from that workshop that the edtechteacher team reached out to me about presenting at this summer's workshops. I am beyond excited to facilitate the workshop on Design Thinking.
Menlo Park Summer Workshop
Creating Innovators with Design Thinking and Makerspaces Workshop
I saw the following mug at a store today with mixed thoughts and feelings. I understand there's a perception that the summer months are reasons for people to become teachers. This concept is often brought up at gatherings and dinner parties. If you're a teacher, I am sure you've heard it before too. You've probably heard it so many times you can't keep track. You probably experience that internal (or external) eyeroll, have your go-to response, and/or technique for ignoring the other person's ignorance. Yes, there is this perspective out there. Educators definitely enjoy the weeks during summer as a break from the school year (for those who are not in year-round schools). The summer months definitely bring a time of relaxation, recovery, and reguivenation.
However I know countless teachers who will say June, July, and August are NOT the reason they entered the profession. The only reason the mug is correct is if June, July, and August are names for three of the many students a teacher has in their class.
Teachers, how would you change the mug?
No matter who you may ask you will find very few, if any, people who would disagree with the statement that “Teaching is one of the most important professions in the world.” Being an educator goes beyond teaching content, engaging minds, managing classroom behaviors, planning field trips, conducting parent-teacher conferences, and summer vacation. Being an educator is about influencing and impacting young minds. It’s about helping raise young children. It’s about guiding them to do things they want to do but may not know how. It’s about reaching the minds, hearts, souls of children and their parents.
As another school year draws to a close I reflect on my influence and impact as an instructional coach. I reflect on my work each year and this year’s reflection includes being courageous with having conversations about mindsets. The end of the school year involves wrapping up units and projects, preparing students for their next school year, completing progress reports and report cards, cleaning the classroom and sending things home with students, and preparing for summer break. Recently I had several conversations with teachers about the mindset we take on toward the end of the school year. It’s not uncommon to hear the phrase, “There’s x days of school left until summer” coming from students and teachers. The anticipated start to summer definitely brings with it excitement, relaxation, adventures, sunshine, and even a sense of freedom with what the day brings - for both students and teachers. Of course there are countless media sources that portray this feeling. Videos of commercials, songs like “School’s Out for Summer.” Of course summer vacation is a well deserved break from the incredibly intense work educators experience for 180+ days of the school year. Summer is a chance to reflect, recover, and recharge from the past school year and in preparation for the next school year. I definitely value and am grateful for summer break. However, I challenge the focus of the above statement. In conversations I’ve had with colleagues and teachers I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of coaching and supporting, I encourage the shift of focus in that statement from summer break to the incredible value of our influence and impact. Instead of “There’s x days of school left until summer” I suggest “There’s x days of school left to make a lasting impact.”
180 days of influence and impact. What an incredible gift we have as educators to make a lasting impact in the minds, hearts, and souls of young learners and their parents. So, let’s not count down in positive anticipation for the beginning of summer break but instead count down in positive urgency of the work we do daily with children. Everyday we have with children is a gift. Let’s make the most of that gift.
It's been a rough few days, personally and professionally. However, in the midst of the struggle, it is truly amazing to experience the kindness, thoughtfulness, and care from others around me.
Today, I received a handmade quilt for a gift that incredibly touched my heart. There's really so many emotions I'm feeling but I don't think I can articulate them so I will just leave it at, Thank You Former Classroom Family.
Each year, teachers engage in goal planning, reflection, and numerous professional learning experiences to meet those goals. As a Math & STEAM Instructional Coach, I have been looking at my work and my goals these past two years. It's been an incredible process of dreaming big, identifying my growth areas, reflecting on my growth, and determining next steps. Below is the mid-year TOSA self-reflection I submitted to my supervisor a week ago based on the three CSTPs I chose for the school year.
Alignment, flexibility, purpose, manageable, and meaningful are key words that describe this 2016-2017 school year so far for my work as a Math & STEAM Coach.
Alignment: This word begins my reflection as it is the word that has guided my work in both math and science. This is true in standards mapping activities in math I’ve facilitated with several grade level groups, connected to my CSTP #1 and #6. Each session was highly successful in helping teachers align their mindsets and their understand of the Common Core Math Standards. Teachers commented that they weren’t aware that their grade level’s standards had changed in content that’s covered, content that’s no longer required in their grade level, and the specific language of some of the standards. Having a foundational understanding of the Common Core Math Standards is paramount as new math curriculum is anticipated to be introduced next school year. This is true for the teachers in the Math Adoption Pilot Committee as well as every classroom teacher. In addition to the specific grade level CCSS Math standards, I have facilitated study sessions for teachers to examine, implement, and apply the 8 Math Practices in their own practice and in their students. With each demo lesson, co-planning, co-teaching, and debrief session, the teachers and I always have an eye on which of the 8 Math Practices are being used and fosters in each activity.
In science, alignment is also a key aspect of my work this year so far. Along with Leslie Faust, our STEAM Inquiry Group has been studying each of the 8 Science and Engineering Practices (SEP). As we’ve learned more about the direction of science education in California during the school year, particularly the timeline of when curriculum will be available that’s specific to California’s Next Generation Science Standards, Leslie and I have directed the group’s focus on the three dimensions of NGSS. In our meetings, we explore each of the 8 SEPs, look at science phenomenon through the lens of the 7 Crosscutting Concepts (CCC), and explore the changes in each grade level’s Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI). This was definitely evident in the design and implementation of the February professional learning day on NGSS 102. Continued work on this is definitely important and essential to transition to new NGSS-aligned science curriculum.
Flexibility: This is a must in both math and science this year. As the year begin, the plan was to explore the new Next Gen FOSS modules anticipating a possible easy transition from CA FOSS modules to the Next Gen modules. After attending the NGSS Rollout Phase III sessions that fits with my goals for CSTP #6, Leslie and I gained a better picture of the specifics with California’s NGSS adoption, science frameworks publication, and an anticipated timeline for new science curriculum that’s aligned with CA’s NGSS. Due to these changes, a process was needed to clarify PAUSD’s science instruction of elementary education. Partnering with Barbara Harris, Leslie Faust, the TOSA team, and the STEAM Inquiry Group members, a carefully and purposefully crafted message was shared with the elementary classroom teachers. My CSTP #3 goal at the beginning of the year indicated a project of creating content maps for the Next Gen FOSS modules. As a result of the changes in California’s timeline, this project is not as critical now. Another flexible element to this is the addition of Discovery Education and Mystery Science in our exploration of science curricula. Managing the feedback from these explorations have called for careful purpose, attention and flexibility.
In Math, flexibility has been a must with the math pilot process. Barbara, Mangla, Amanda, Nikole, Amy, and I needed to be flexible throughout the year. This started with adjusting the curricula choices from last year’s exploration year for this year’s pilot, sharing and explaining the process of the explanation year into this pilot year to the school board, and patiently working through the demands for third-party validation of a curriculum teachers wanted to pilot. I foresee the continued need to be flexible with both Math and Science as the school year continues. Continuing to connect with other coaches and professionals, engaging in continued professional learning that’s aligned with my CSTP #6 goal, and keeping an eye on student data that’s aligned with my CSTP #1 and #3 goals will help me and the entire TOSA team with the direction of both math and science.
Purpose: As a result of not mentioning anything about my work with summer school at the beginning of the year’s goals, I want to focus solely on that for this word of purpose. For the past few years, summer school for elementary students have taken on a STEAM theme. This definitely matches my passion and I was excited to be charged with organizing the summer school program. After reviewing the documents and objectives of the past years of summer school, I wanted to be purposeful in the changes and revisions I envisioned. I wanted to bring the A in STEAM to summer school. I wanted to build in dedicated music instruction by PAUSD music teachers and art instruction from Spectra Art teachers. Since the role of summer school coaches wasn’t completely utilized and maximized last summer I decided to use the funds that went to the coaching role to bring music and art teachers to the summer school program. For the past years, music and art instruction during summer school fell on the classroom teacher and there wasn’t any consistency with that structure or expectation as well. Purposefully building in art and music instruction into the summer school structure will help bring more of the A in STEAM to the STEAM-themed elementary summer school program.
Manageable: Throughout the year I have really worked on ensuring that every project I take on is manageable for my workload, schedule, and the products. In addition to the joy in managing my schedule and the support for classroom teachers, I have enjoyed working on projects and initiatives that include the Math Pilot Committee, the STEAM Inquiry Group that now has expanded to include parent and community members, professional learning sessions for science, CCSS Math standards mapping, summer school, partnering with Leslie on the City of Palo Alto Utilities Grant, the SouthBay FOSS Collaborative, the AAR Creativity Project, and the PiE & AAR Grant application to secure additional funding for the creativity carts. Reading the list I just typed up makes me realize how much I have grown since my first year as a coach last year. I have been increasingly able to manage my time, focus, and schedule on the projects I have. I have maintained a balance of my energy and focus in supporting teachers and students at the school sites and the district-level projects I manage and co-mange. I have been able to support teachers in using student data to inform instruction and engage in ReEngagement lessons - aligned to my CSTP #1 goal. I have engaged in professional learning for myself through webinars, speaker sessions at Stanford, local edcamps, STEM and STEAM symposiums, and more - aligned to my CSTP #6 goal. Within the structure of the Math Pilot Committee, I have worked with teachers to understand, analyze, and organize math concepts and content for effective math pilot - aligned with my CSTP #3 goal, although I didn’t write it for goal #3 at the beginning of the year.
I wrote a recent reflective blog post about my attitude towards my work and the effort, attention, and passion I have for the projects. This may or may not add to my mid-year reflection, but I want to share it nonetheless. http://jyoung1219.weebly.com/blog/progress-not-perfection
Meaningful: This word encompasses all of my work. Is it meaningful? Is it meaningful for teachers? Is it meaningful to students? In all I do - the math pilot, standards mapping, STEAM Inquiry Group, SouthBay FOSS Collaborative, summer school, AAR Creativity Project, and supporting teachers - I always ask if it’s meaningful. Is what I’m about to do something that will positively impact students and teachers? Is what I’m about to do something I want to keep doing? If the answer to any of those questions is no, I engage in reflection and evaluation of my work. I want everything I do, or at least as much as I do to be meaningful.
Day 9's prompt for the #Sketch50 (https://sketch50.org/) movement was "interests and hobbies." That was a fun prompt to sketch. That was also an easy one to complete as I've always done that with my own "Student of the Week" posters I made when I was a classroom teacher.
Like most lower elementary teachers, I had a student of the week when I taught first grade and second grade. Obviously, it's a way to learn more about the student, provide opportunities throughout the week for the student to share about their lives and interests, and students always looked forward to when they were the Student of the Week. During my student teaching placement in a first grade classroom with Nicole Christophe in West Sacramento, CA, I picked up a structure for activities during the student of the week. The most important part of that structure was creating a "body" poster where the student wrote, sketched, or glued pictures to different parts of the body to show their interests, hobbies, places they like to go, and more. I liked that poster so much that I made my own poster each school year (regretfully, I haven't made one since becoming a TOSA/instructional coach). It was a way for me to see my own changes and growth.
As a result of writing and drawing my interests and hobbies each year, I found yesterday's #Sketch50 prompt to be super fun, nostalgic, and special. I've definitely added a few more interests and hobbies since my Student of the Week body posters, one of which is #TOSAchat.
Below are some of the sketches from Day 9 that either inspired me or made a strong impression on me. I will probably add more as I discover more sketches from Day 9. Enjoy!
"Ethnic diversity adds richness to a society." Gary Locke
I had the pleasure of seeing a buddy activity between a Kindergarten class and a 5th grade class today at one of the schools I support. The buddies collaboratively worked on drawing the flags of countries around the world, especially the ones of their ancestor's origins. On the other side of the maps, the fifth graders were creating puzzle piece drawings of the US map. In just that short time of seeing the pieces on the floor of the 5th grade classroom, I saw the powerful symbolism in that project. The United States is truly a diverse country with numerous cultures and ethniticities. What an incredible powerful activity from five, six, ten, and eleven year old students!
Today marks the first day of #Sketch50 - a movement in creativity and sharing that I learned from Ann Kozma's tweet.
This #Sketch50 movement is definitely such a fantastic way for playing, learning, and sharing. It's a great way to be creative with our sketching and drawing. For this first day of #Sketch50, I shared two sketches. The first was a self portrait that I created a few weeks ago at a professional learning session for the Spectra Art teachers in PAUSD. The second was the sketch for Day 1 of #Sketch50. https://sketch50.org
I have always enjoyed anything creative - design and engineering activities, sketching, writing my own songs, photography, videography, and more. I believe everyone is creative too. Recently, I had a conversation with a colleague who said that she's not creative and isn't as artistic as others. Immediately I wanted to convince her of the opposite but I knew I needed to take a different approach. I told her that I understand how she feels. In my mind I felt that she said those comments because of fear. She feared what others thinks and would say. I told her I understand.
I remember feeling that fear. I remember the first time I was critiqued for my drawings. I remember the first time I was criticized for my songwriting. I remember how I felt. And I also remember how I felt when I did draw, sing, write, create, design, ... pretty much any verb, including dance, play, and even skip. I feel free. I feel alive. I feel creative. And that's because when I do those things, those verbs, I am living in the moment. I am doing what I enjoy, without fear of ridicule, criticism, or judgment. The reality is that I know those are things I can't avoid, but when I'm in the moment I don't think of those crippling things. I just live. And that's what I told her, draw, sketch, do anything just for you. If you enjoy it, do it. And also know that someone will be impacted by your work.
There will be times when you do something just for you with no one ever to see the results of it and there will be times when others will see it. Don't let others' eyes stop you from enjoying the moment.
Having spent the first 11 years of my career teaching first and second grade, I definitely believe K-2 can too. The youngest learners are capable of deep academic discourse, higher levels of thinking, sharing their voice through writing and podcasts, creating multimedia presentations, and collaboratively working to solve problems.
As a first grade teacher I enjoyed seeing my students discover themselves as readers. I have to mention this first because it was the reason I became a teacher, the reason I love first grade, and the reason I will always be a first grade teacher at my core. It's truly incredible to witness students enter first grade experimenting with letters, words, and sentences, followed by determination, struggle, and perseverance, and then celebrating the success of becoming a reader. What a gift! As a first grade teacher I've had the pleasure of watching my students analyze different texts, evaluate math problems, solve problems with flexibility and a variety of strategies, and become "makers." My students loved making and designing their own science experiments. They loved story boarding and writing their original pieces of writing. They loved creating iMovie projects and sharing their expressive voices on GarageBand enhanced podcasts.
K-2 can too.
Now as an instructional coach I am always advocating for our youngest learners. This includes Math Talks (or Number Talks), Open-Ended Problem Stems, deep academic discourse during interactive read alouds, and integrating Educational Technology in their work through apps like iMovie, Google Apps, SeeSaw, Swivl, and more. I love sharing design challenges and going through the design thinking process with students in grades K-2.
Recently, I learned of a few Breakout EDU games for students in kindergarten, first and second grades and was excited to try them. Ann Kozma, a TOSA for #fsdlearns, shared a Thanksgiving-themed Breakout EDU game back in November that I can't wait to try with the classes, teachers, and students I support. [It's incredible how your professional learning network, PLN, shares! The #TOSAchat community is indeed an amazing tribe!] Susan Stewart, an Ed Tech consultant, from Fresno, CA, shared a Dr. Seuss-themed Breakout EDU game that I was able to facilitate with three classes (a kindergarten and two first grade classes) at Escondido Elementary School this past week. It was definitely such a great experience for everyone involved. The teachers were all initially nervous about how it would be considering their students hadn't experienced a whole-class collaborative game like Breakout EDU games before. I could tell that a couple of teachers nervously watched their students work out the clues and puzzles. At the end of each game, the student cheered excitedly as they opened the box, the teacher felt an incredible sense of pride at how the students worked out the problems, and everyone wanted to have another Breakout EDU game. At the end of each game I closed the activity by asking the Kindergarten and first grade students what they learned about Dr. Seuss and what they learned about themselves. The answers to the second question was definitely examples of how #K2CanToo.
"I learned that I'm good at solving puzzles."
"I learners that we can break into the box when we all work together."
"I learned that we can keep trying if we don't get it open the first time."
"I learned that it's better to work as a team than by yourself."
This is a simple, short post about today, March 14th. For math folks, it's known as Pi Day. There are so many ways to celebrate Pi Day - getting and eating pies, working with Pi in math problems, and doing a Breakout EDU game about Pi (a colleague of mine, Valerie Sabbag, did that today with her fifth graders). How did I celebrate Pi Day?
I went on a 3.14 mile run at the end of the day. The first screenshot was after I rotated the map, although it doesn't show the distance. The second screenshot shows the distance (you may notice my slow down at the end of my run because I answered a phone call - oh well).
My supervisor, PAUSD's Chief Academic Officer of Elementary Education, told me to take that on as my new mantra. Progress, not perfection.
This came up during a conversation I had with her about one of my recent projects. Like all educators, my role as a Math & STEAM Instructional Coach involves a lot of projects and initiatives. Some of the projects I have are co-managing the elementary math pilot along with the other Math TOSAs, designing the 2017 Elementary Summer School program, creating an upcoming professional learning workshop for the SouthBay FOSS Collaborative on STEAM & NGSS, working on a new pilot program to bring maker carts to three elementary school sites, and writing a grant application to receive funding for additional maker carts. (No wonder I'm tired.) Another recent project I worked on that prompted this conversation I had with my boss was co-designing our district's February professional learning day examining the Next Generation Science Standards. For this PD Day, we identified four goals for the session:
Meaningful, manageable, authentic audience, student voice, Mindfulness, and empowerment. Those are words that stand out from my experience at today's MDUSD's 2nd Annual STEM & EdTech Symposium (another info link from East Bay CUE). What an incredible day of professional learning, making professional connections, learning together, and finding ways to impact, inspire, and empower students.
The day started with an inspiring keynote by Nicholas Zefeldt. How can we make our students' experience meaningful and manageable for us? Nick inspired the crowd of over 400 educators with many concepts, including two key points - providing our students with authentic audiences and the value of student voice. Whether through blogs, podcasts, Twitter, students' work from Writer's Workshop, when we give our students an authentic audience it changes how they see themselves as writers. Students will then be more empowered and willing to share their voice. Focus on listening to our students. Focus on student voice. Nick took the crowd through a segment about podcasting and shared a wonderful web based resource that's simple to use - http://vocaroo.com. It was super cool the way Nick creating an interactive part of his keynote by creating a podcast with the 400 educators in the room, giving tips on how to create podcasts with students, teaching students to say, "Whoops, what I meant to say was ...," and singing a childhood favorite song. Check out Nick's tweet below, especially the link to the podcast!
Nick also shared several pro tips, including offering extra recess as a purposeful teacher move and using QR codes to connect physical elements to the internet. His keynote was indeed an amazing way to kick off the day! Nick pointed out the necessary step of asking yourself two questions - Is what you're about to do with your students meaningful? Is it manageable?
Is it meaningful? Does it change the learning opportunity in some way? Saying it's engaging isn't enough.
Is it manageable? You do something amazing. Three days (weeks, months) later can you do it again with ease? Do you want to do it again?
STEM & EdTech Symposium Sessions
The sessions I went to focused on ways to incorporate EdTech tools in the classroom for student discovery and empowerment. Breakout EDU is always a topic that draws curiosity and interest and the sessions during the symposium today were full, engaging, and fun. A session I had the pleasure of going to was one offered by Roni Habib focused on Mindfulness, positivity, and relationships. Participants in his session learned about the impact of games in the classroom. When teachers incorporate collaborative games in the classroom it promotes positivity which in turn fosters an environment where learning thrives. Roni referenced the work of a psychologist whose study showed that positivity leads to a greater ability to learn. It was great to hear Roni share some of the practical things we can do in the classroom. The following is just a part of the list.
A huge highlight for me at today's MDUSD's 2nd Annual STEM & EdTech Symposium was partnering with THE Karly Moura for a session on Virtual field trips with Google Expeditions. I have had the pleasure of partnering with Karly on many projects and initiatives, include #TOSAchat, #GAFEhelp - now known as #gsuiteEDU, and various edcamp planning. Today Karly and I facilitated a session on the use of Google Expeditions for a room full of educators. It was great to begin with a discussion of what VR is and what participants thought of virtual reality in the classroom. There were thoughts of positive use and aspects of VR in the classroom, such as access for students, being cost-effective (after the initial cost of the equipment), and creating global connections. It was also good to hear the devil's advocate and cautious point of view of VR too. Is it just a gimmick? A participant said since 3D in television hasn't taken off even though it was projected to, is VR also something that's getting premature attention? The discussion was definitely a great way to set the tone for the session - emphasizing and referencing one point from Nick's keynote in the morning - it's not about the tools, it's about the teacher. It's the verbs we want our students to engage in. Empowerment. Creativity. Access.
It was definitely a fun, hands-on session with devices from the Tesoro's MDUSD STEM Lending Library. Karly and I took participants through three virtual Google Expeditions field trips connected to three curricular areas - Social Studies with Pearl Harbor, Literacy with Roald Dahl's estate and stories, and Science with the human body. All three field trips were definitely very engaging with the images, notes from the guides, and interactivity with the iPads and headsets. Special thanks to the Golden State Warriors and Accenture for supporting our session with the donation of the virtual reality headsets!
The session ended with a review of the value of the verbs and concepts such as access, empowerment, and connections, rather than focusing on the tools. I'm always reminded of the image below.
Let's all remember to make our learning and teaching meaningful, manageable, impactful, and inspirational for our students. I will end this blog post with the video Nick shared at the end of his keynote. The video will definitely speak for itself.
Update as of Tuesday, February 28th: Since the STEM & EdTech Symposium, Karly and I have gotten great feedback about our Google Expeditions session and experiences with students.
"You need a robot to tell you to stand up."
This was a comment directed to me a few days ago when I stood up at a meeting after I received a notification to stand on my Apple Watch. Of course it's hard to tell tone in the text of this blog post (although I'm guessing you may know waht it was). The tone was definitely sarcastic and somewhat demeaning.
I understand that technology often plays such a large role in our lives that it may seem like technology runs our lives. How many of us have felt that phantom buzz in our pockets from what we thought was our phone buzzing, or now on our wrists with smartwatches. Technology is in our cars, in our homes, at work, and in our pockets. At times it feels like we can't escape it. I'm guessing that's where that comment came from - an effort to not let technology run our lives.
As much as I understand and align with that perspective and effort, and believe that there was no ill will from the person who said it, I also see the benefits of technology on our lives - our healthy lives. First, we rely on technology to help us wake up. There really isn't anything wrong with setting an alarm so we can get up in time for work, for important meetings, or even just to not miss out on the possibilities of the day. We rely on technology to help us get around. I'm sure there are still times when people pull out a paper map to find their way around (maybe at theme parks) but most directions and methods of getting around now involve technology - Waze, Google Maps, ... (Many theme parks now have mobile apps to help you get around too.) Another example of how technology benefits our lives is through communication. This is done through email, phone calls, Twitter, Voxer, and so many more platforms for communicating ideas and learning from other people's words and perspectives. Although I am not active on Facebook anymore, many people often speak about how Facebook helps them stay in touch with friends from years ago and in different countries and continents. Technology benefits our lives.
So, do I rely on technology, namely my Apple Watch, to tell me to stand up? Yes. Why shouldn't I? I appreciate the notifications to stand up. I appreciate being able to look down and see my progress on the activity rings. I appreciate the notifications to breathe - to pause and focus on being mindful. I appreciate being able to see how many steps I've taken on my Fitbit One (yes, I use both an Apple Watch and a Fitbit tracker - my Fitbit One is the basic model that serves its purpose). I appreciate the social aspect of technology to help promote healthy living.
I've used the Fitbit platform since February of 2014 and the social aspect of the platform has really helped motivate me to stay active, to get my steps in, to live a healthy lifestyle. The challenges with others have really helped me and I know it's helped others who are in those challenges too. Maybe it's the competition, the cheers, the comparisons, the analytics, ... that help the challenges. No matter what the reason is, it's helped me maintain my focus on activity and healthy living.
Recently, another educator, Mark Loundy, shared with me a benefit of the Fitbit challenges for him. Mark sent me a screenshot of one of data collection options in the Fitbit platform. He said that ever since I connected with him on Fitbit and initiated the challenges, he's seen his body weight go down. It's really incredible to see his excitement and sense of accomplishment. What an incredible example of using technology for healthy living.
So, do I rely on technology to tell me to stand up, to move, ...? Yes, I choose to - because I see the benefits of it.
Elementary school teachers in PAUSD experienced the second of two professional learning sessions on the Next Generation Science Standards during this 2016-2017 school year on Thursday, February 16th. This second NGSS PD day, titled "NGSS 102," followed "NGSS 101" in August where teachers were introduced to the architecture of the Next Generation Science Standards, an overview of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP) of NGSS, and a look at SEP 1 - Asking Questions and Defining Problems.
For this second PD session on NGSS 102, there were three session goals to bring elementary school teachers into the awareness phase and the beginning of the transition phase.
It was great to continue examining the architecture of NGSS from the Fall into this Winter session analyzing the changes in the Next Generation Science Standards vs. the old 1998 California Science Standards. Teachers were given time to not only explore their grade level's Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) but dive deeper into NGSS with the other boxes in the standards. As noted by teachers in the sessions, the words of the 1998 science standards are, "Students know ...," "Students know ..." while the words of NGSS identifies other verbs and goes into higher levels of thinking - analyze, evaluate, predict, model, and interpret. The analysis of the words and phrasing in NGSS' performance expectations, three dimensions, and connections to CCSS ELA and Math definitely showed a more complete approach to the next generation of science instruction.
The second session goal of diving into Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) during NGSS 102 completed our study of NGSS' three dimension (SEPs in the Fall and throughout the year and DCI during session goal 1). This was certainly a completion of only an introduction to the three dimensions of NGSS. There will certainly be a lot more professional development in the future. This second session goal was definitely a very engaging time as teachers engaged in two activities that the PAUSD Elementary TOSA Team received from the California Academy of Science. The Crosscutting Concepts Speed Dating and Station Rotation activities definitely gave teachers the chance to become familiar with what the CCCs are and how they are defined.
The third session goal provided teachers the chance to engage in inquiry based instruction through a video (below) as well as a hands-on exploration called the Skittles Experiment. It was great to connect the CCCs in this activity. Teachers were asked to choose one of the seven crosscutting concepts to view the phenomena through and record their noticings and wonderings. Teachers were very engaged, asking questions based on their observations that could lead to more experiments, and working collaboratively to write their scientific explanations with claim, evidence, and reasoning. Below are pictures of the Skittles Experiment along with other pictures from NGSS 102 from the professional learning session with PAUSD fifth grade teachers.
NGSS 102 was a very successful day of engagement, awareness, conversations, planning, and professional learning.
EdCamp Silicon Valley 2017 took place on Saturday, February 11th and was a great day for professional development. I have definitely enjoyed the format of edcamp for organic professional development, engaging educational conversations, and the freedom of helping to create the session board and switch sessions as needed. The two videos at the bottom of this post are very helpful if you're unfamiliar with the format of an edcamp.
I've had the pleasure of being on the organizing team for EdCamp Silicon Valley for the past three years and have really enjoyed making connections with other educators, helping to provide a day of educator-driven professional development, and engaging in educational conversations myself. EdCampSV has been around since 2014. This year's EdCampSV was definitely unlike previous years for several reasons.
Math & STEAM Coach / TOSA in Palo Alto Unified School District.