Josh Stumpenhorst’s Learning Commons: Drones, Literature, and Creativity

Episode 128 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Josh Stumpenhorst @stumpteacher is directing a library revolution and evolution to Learning Commons at his school. And yes, they’ll be flying drones in the library! Let’s talk about the focus groups and critical questions driving this transformation from a place where students “have to go” to a place where they “want to be.” He also discusses the importance of literature and creativity in the library. Let’s do this!

Sponsor: Owl Eyes

Owl Eyes has hundreds of free ebooks — the Canterbury Tales, The Odyssey, and all of Shakespeare’s work. But Owl Eyes isn’t just an ebook reader. You can have a private ebook classroom and interact with your students inside their ebooks as they highlight, annotate, ask questions, and talk about the books they are reading inside their ebooks!

Right now through August 31, 2017, they’re giving away 10 free 60-minute lesson plans for lit teachers – go to owleyes.org/teachers to sign up free and get your lesson plans now. Owl Eyes is a must-get for classical literature teachers.

Listen Now

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Listen on iTunes

Below is a transcript modified for your reading pleasure. For information on the guests and items mentioned in this show, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

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Transcript for Episode 128 

Josh Stumpenhorst’s Learning Commons: Drones, Literature, and Creativity

Shownotes :www.coolcatteacher.com/e128
Download the Transcript
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Twitter: @stumpteacher

Why Reinvent the Library?

Vicki: Oh, I’m so excited! Today we have Josh Stumpenhorst with us, and he is just one of the most motivating, exciting teachers, and he has a new learning space in his library. So, Josh, tell us what excites you about what you’ve done.

Josh: Yeah, I’m super excited about the new space. I was in there the other day, and they had quite literally gutted the entire space and are re-doing everything from the flooring to the colors, the lighting, the furniture. I’m just beyond excited to be able to see what students are going to be able to do in this new space coming up in the fall here.

Vicki: So, what’s the purpose?

Josh: The purpose was… we ‘ve kind of as a district have been rebranding our libraries. In fact we’re not even calling them libraries, we’re calling them learning commons. And the goal here is to have these spaces be more flexible, more design thinking, more maker space kind of oriented so that literacy is still going to be such an important part for bringing all these other things in to really create a truly enriching space for kids and for teachers.

What Kinds of Changes are Happening in the Library?

Vicki: So what kind of things are you bringing in?

Josh: We’re going to be starting a coding academy, so we have a little space, a little creative lab where we’re going to have all of these different tiered activities for kids to work through to code, with the pinnacle being we’ve got these brand new Parrot Drones, which I’m super excited to get kids playing with. They’re going to fly drones through obstacle courses that they’ve coded. It’s just with Spheros, with drones. We’ve just got all these great activities that are going to allow kids to learn about coding, but also for some of our more sophisticated kids to really develop that skill set and that digital literacy.

Vicki: Josh, you’re going to be flying drones in what used to be called a library, but now is a Learning Commons? You’re literally going to be flying drones in there?

Josh: Yes. That is the honest to God truth, and I cannot wait. We had a couple. We got them the end of this last school year, and the kids… I was flying them through, just to tease them for this coming year, and they’re just, as you can imagine… the kids are beyond excited.

How Do Librarians Feel About These Changes?

Vicki: OK, some librarians listening to this are sick to their stomach right now. How do you tell them why you’re doing this?

Josh: Yeah, and I’ve already heard the bellyaching and the groaning, and the, “Why would you need a drone in the library?” And of course my initial reaction is, “Well, why NOT?” And it’s really taking these spaces and some people think, “Well, we need to get rid of the books.” And that’s not true. We need a combination of all of these things because we know that kids are going to go into a world or are living in a world where all of these things are there. And the way in which they interact with technology is going to be a huge part of their futures. And so anytime we can bring these kind of learning opportunities into the school, then we should. That’s what we’re doing. Any time that you can get kids excited about interacting with technology, to me that’s a huge win.

Josh’s “Stump Speech” About Why We Need Changes in the Library

Vicki: You’re known as “Stump Teacher.” I want you to give me your “Stump Speech.” Take us inside, for when you pitched this kind of thing to your administration. Why this shift? What do you tell people when you’re selling, or you’re trying to pitch this so you can have this in your library?

Josh: The nice thing is that I have a fantastic administrator who supports and pushes me to do these things. We had the conversation, and the end goal of this is that there are a lot of library spaces that are underutilized. They’re places where kids go to check out a book, and are yelled at if they talk too loud or make too much noise. Kids don’t generally WANT to be there. One of the first things I did when I took over this job was that I started having focus groups with kids, and I said, “Tell me what you love about this space, and tell me what you hate about this space.” And those conversations are what have driven our huge shift, in not only just the physical space, but also the pedagogical thought behind why we’re doing these things and making this space a place that kids want to be and are engaged in learning all the time, all the kids, and the teachers. That’s kind of the end goal, to make this a space that is useful, empowering, and – you know what – a little bit of fun, too.

The Results of Student Focus Groups About the Library

Vicki: So Josh, what shocked you the most about what the kids said in these focus groups?

Josh: What shocked me was how so many of the vast majority of them saw the library as a place they HAD to go. It was someplace they went with their English teacher when they needed to check out a novel. Or it was a place that they HAD to go with their history or science teacher when they needed to check out a nonfiction book for research. It wasn’t a place they WANTED to be, and I was kind of a little hurt by that, thinking, “Well, you know, why wouldn’t you want to be in the library?” But then, you know, as we started these conversations, they were asking me, “Well, why would we want to come here?” And I think that anytime you can take that question to heart as an educator, “Well, why would a kid want to be in your class, in your school, in your library?” If we don’t have a good answer to that, then we do need to relook at what we’re doing.

Why Would Students Want to Go to the New Learning Commons?

Vicki: So why do they want to come there? They’re obviously going to be driving drones, and you’ve got full color and lighting and that sort of thing. But what are your “why”s now?

Josh: Well the “why”s are that it’s going to be a space that’s all about learning and in the broadest sense of the word. And we’ve got these collaborative spaces for kids to work together when they’re working on their group projects. Yes, we have the technology and the cool toys they’re going to be able to play with. But it’s also a place where they can come and have a conversation about a book. One of my big things that I have been pushing is this whole idea of literacy growth – because it is still a library, and I believe in this day and age and our political and social landscape in this country – having those conversations around some really tough topics that literature can allow us to, is a great space. So just having kids want to come and have conversations about what they’re building, what they’re reading, what they’re doing, and what they’re learning – and just have them WANT to be there. That’s the goal.

The Biggest Mistake Librarians Make When Moving to the Learning Commons

Vicki: What do you think is the biggest mistake many librarians or Learning Commons leaders make these days?

Josh: I think one of the biggest problems they have is that people think that this shift to a Learning Commons is about innovation and creativity… and that’s true. But they still want to hold onto the old bard of compliance and the standardization of the space. When you do that you can’t have innovation and creativity if you’re still obsessing with compliance, you’re still obsessing with the rules of noise or the rules of managing the resources – which are a critical part of what we do — but sometimes our librarians focus so much on the management piece of the library that they miss out on the just incredibly powerful learning component and connections that you can make with kids in those spaces.

What About Keeping Up with the “Stuff?”

Vicki: But do you feel like some librarians feel overwhelmed? I mean, they’re supposed to keep track of everything, right? I mean, there’s all this STUFF… and now you’re adding more STUFF.  I mean, you’re adding little pieces of LEGOs and it’ just… For those talented librarians, and librarians are very talented, and do many things that I know I couldn’t do. But is it asking too much? Are they going to be overwhelmed? Can they do this?

Josh: I think, you know, it’s one of those questions where it’s a double-edged sword for sure. All of those things are important. It’s important that I keep track of my STUFF, as you put it. But I often say this to some of my colleagues, “It’s just a book. And if a kid doesn’t return a book, I’m not going to spend hours tracking a kid down, harassing the kid, and obsessing over it. We’re going to move on to the next day and the next activity, because it’s just a book.” And I don’t mean that to be any sort of negative thing, but I think sometimes we shift our focus, and it’s no different than a classroom teacher obsessing over missing work or missing papers when the real value of what a teacher does is making that connection with a kid. So as a librarian, yeah, it’s a lot of stuff. And I think that’s OK, because I don’t sit down very much. That’s what makes the job exciting and fun.

Libraries are Still About the Students

Vicki: I think the contrast is, “It’s just a book,” and again we’re not meaning that disrespectfully. But when you look at those kids… It’s a child.

Josh: Yeah, and you’re exactly right. And so I could spend my time running my reports of how many books I have out, how many fines I’ve got to find, you know, to track the kids down. But I’d rather go up and have a conversation with a kid about something they’re reading, or working them through the problem they’re trying to figure out with their Sphero and the maze on the ground, or something like that. To me, that’s going to pay dividends in that child’s life way more than tracking down a missing book.

30-second Pep Talk for Teacher-Leader-Librarians and Media Specialists

Vicki: OK. Josh, give us a 30-second pep talk on why we need to level up our libraries.

Josh: I think we need to level up our libraries because while a lot of us like to say that the library is the center of innovation and creativity, sometimes it’s just talk. We need to actually back that up with some action because the library should and can be and will be the hub of learning in a truly — to use a kind of a catchy term — the “future ready school.” The schools of the future and the hub of learning, of technology, of literacy, and personal growth. That’s where our libraries need to be. And I’m really, really excited about ours going there – and so many other ones that are already there.

Vicki: The biggest thing I want to come back to is, “Is your library a place that kids HAVE to go, or is it a place they WANT to be?” And that question really tells a lot about your library.

END

Some of the links in this transcript are affiliate links.

Full Bio As Submitted


Josh Stumpenhorst

Josh is a junior high learning commons director in Naperville Community School District 203. He’s author of The New Teacher Revolution.

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers.. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post Josh Stumpenhorst’s Learning Commons: Drones, Literature, and Creativity appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


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Simple Virtual Reality in the Classroom with Google Streetview and Google Cardboard with Donnie Piercey

Episode 127 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Donnie Piercey @mrpiercey , co-author of the Google Cardboard Book, shows how we can add simple augmented reality to our classrooms.

Sponsor: Owl Eyes

Owl Eyes has hundreds of free ebooks — the Canterbury Tales, The Odyssey, and all of Shakespeare’s work. But Owl Eyes isn’t just an ebook reader. You can have a private ebook classroom and interact with your students inside their ebooks as they highlight, annotate, ask questions, and talk about the books they are reading inside their ebooks!

Right now through August 31, 2017, they’re giving away 10 free 60-minute lesson plans for lit teachers – go to owleyes.org/teachers to sign up free and get your lesson plans now. Owl Eyes is a must-get for classical literature teachers.

Listen Now

//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/5642979/height/90/width/640/theme/custom/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/autoplay/no/preload/no/no_addthis/no/direction/backward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/2d568f/

Listen on iTunes

Below is a transcript modified for your reading pleasure. Donnie has sent photos and items to embed for you! Enjoy! For information on the guests and items mentioned in this show, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

****

Transcript for Episode 127 

Link for this show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e127

Simple Virtual Reality in the Classroom with Google Streetview and Google Cardboard with Donnie Piercey

Download the transcript

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e127
From Audio File: 127-transcript-Piercey-Donnie
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How Donnie started using Virtual Reality in his classroom

Vicki: Happy Ed Tech Tool Tuesday! Yes, we CAN do virtual reality (VR) in our classrooms. Today we’re talking to Donnie Piercey, who’s doing it NOW. (Twitter handle is @mrpiercEydonniepiercey.com)

So, Donnie, how did your students do VR in your classroom?

Donnie: The original idea this past October… You know, I’d given them some geography questions to work on, as I’m a fifth grade social studies teacher. I always like to use Google Maps. I find that it’s one of the most up to date tools, it’s “real life,” kids use it every day, so when I’m giving them questions to answer in class, I like to use Google Maps. It tends to be something they like. The questions that I’d given them involved our community. I teach in a small rural community called Eminence, Kentucky. When they were kind of researching and looking around at some of the street view images, they noticed that a lot of the images had been really out of date. It almost looked like the Google Maps car had driven by once, ten years ago, and that was it.

Check out the embedded Google expedition that Donnie’s students made (embedded above.)

How to update Google Streetview Images

Donnie: So they said, “Mr. Piercey, is there anything we can do to kind of update this image?” We had recently got a new building and we were adding on to our school district. I kind of showed them this App called Google Street View https://www.google.com/streetview/  which is on iPhone and Android. What it allows the users to do is – first, to access any 360 image that’s on Google Maps, and view it. But what’s cool about it is that you can, either a 360 camera like the Ricoh Theta S, or you know Samsung has one as well now, or even your own camera on your iPhone or Android phone, you can actually create an upload your own 360 degree images to Google Maps.

You can contribute to the greater community, which is really neat. I showed it to my students, and they said, “Well, that’s really neat. That’s pretty cool. How does Google go and collect these street view images?” They were looking at some, and they realized, “I’m pretty sure that the Google Maps car can’t go onto this mountain here… or can’t go into this cave here…” The Google Maps team has these things called checker bags. They’re basically backpacks with the massive Google Street View cameras on the back of them, typically what’s on top of those cars. So they did some research and found out that buying one of those is a little bit out of our school budgets…

Vicki: (laughs)

Their Equipment

Donnie: So essentially what they ended up doing was they got a tripod. They took a 360 camera that we had recently purchased for about $300, put it on the tripod, put it in a backpack, and basically made their own. Right? So for a project that they did for class, they went and they basically paraded around town and the school district to capture and update Google Maps, just through this simple little 360 camera hack that they created. It was cool, though. You talk about the idea of virtual reality or even starting to transition to augmented reality by this point. Google Street View app allows you to view any 360 image on Google Maps in a virtual reality form. Right? If you have Google Cardboard (Google’s $15 viewer that’s kind of like the Viewmasters from the 1980s, 70s, 60s and all that), you can just click a button and view any 360 image on Google Maps, like you’re there.

Vicki: Wow!

Their Vision and Work

Donnie: Yeah! And so like my kids took these images that they collected inside and outside our building, and they actually presented and shared at the International Society for Technology (ISTE) this year, which is really neat. They got a poster session. They presented with Google Expedition’s team at the Google booth. They even spent some time with the Google Earth people, kind of just sharing a little bit of their new updates and how they can use Street View imagery. So it’s been kind of a neat experience for them, since they basically just stuck a 360 camera in a backpack and went for a walk.

Vicki: Oh, that’s so much fun! Now what did they learn as they did this, besides all of the incredible technology?

Donnie: What was really cool? They just said, “This could be fun. Let’s try to create something and go out for a walk.” But what I didn’t tell them is that the Street View, as people start to search for “Eminence, Kentucky,” or our new building that we recently constructed called the “Eminence Ed Hub”… If you go to Google Maps and search for “Eminence Ed Hub” those images that they collected as they did that is what pops up. And kind of like on YouTube, it actually creates a tally for you of how many times people have viewed those images. The images that they’ve update are in Google Maps and the new Google Earth so far have been viewed close to 90,000 times.

Vicki: Wow!

Donnie: Yeah! So you know how you always talk about, “What kind of impact are you making? How do you know that people are actually viewing your community, like these images that you put on there?” Well, there I can see through the app that this has been viewed X number of times, so there’s the proof right there. And for kids who, a lot of them have never left the city of Eminence before, or Henry County in Kentucky where Eminence is — for them to know that people from all over the world have been looking at their images — it’s a really unique way to kind of connect them to the larger world. And vice versa, too.

Vicki: Now you’ve authored the Google Cardboard book, so I’m assuming this is one of many examples. Can you use Google Cardboard? Can kids create things, besides just viewing?

Donnie: Yeah! So the book that I helped co-author – I wrote it with four or five other people – is called The Google Cardboard Book.

It’s all about 1) different ways that you can collect 360 imagery, but also, more importantly, how you can take this idea of virtual reality, where students can put their device into a viewer like Google Cardboard, for example, and feel like you’re actually in a place or view a 360 view on YouTube. You know, how can we as educators use this brand new technology to really kind of change the learning in our classroom? What’s the difference between, say, watching a 5-minute clip on YouTube as opposed to viewing, say, a 360 film that was filmed underwater as sharks are feeding around?

If you’ve had the opportunity to view anything in virtual reality, knowing and feeling like you’re ACTUALLY there is something which students – even my daughter who’s five, she’s starting kindergarten this year – she LOVES it. I do feel that if you can actually visit places — like you’ve got a great museum that’s in your town, or if your school district has the resources to take your students to Washington D.C. or a national park — definitely take that opportunity first, but you know school budgets are, you know, not always the (especially in a public school district like I teach) sometimes you’re kind of limited. The idea of virtual reality is something which can give students the next best thing.

Vicki: Now we’re going to be doing a giveaway with the The Google Cardboard Book, and I know you’re going to give us a link to the 360 camera that you got, right?

Donnie: Yep! The one that I like (and there’s several on the market now)… the most popular one that schools and students and educators are using is called the Ricoh Theta S,. There’s different models of it, and there’s supposedly a new one coming out. Maybe it will be out by the time this airs. I’m not sure yet, but the Ricoh Theta S runs for about $300-ish, depending upon where you’re looking.

Vicki: So this is approachable for all of us. And we can do this in our classrooms, and can do some really amazing things. Our students can CREATE virtual reality experiences and use Google Cardboard. This is so fantastic. If Donnie can do it with his fifth graders, why can’t we?

Donnie: And that’s the best part. I spent maybe five minutes just showing them how to use the app, and then they took it and ran with it from there. There were many weekends when I sent the camera home with them, and then they came back with like “Hey, I was at Disney over Spring Break,” or “I went caving this weeknd,” and here’s some images that I collected. Once you take a couple of minutes to frontload and show students how to use the tool, then you’d be amazed what they can do with it.

Vicki: Incredible.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Full Bio As Submitted


Donnie Piercey

Donnie Piercey works in a hybrid role as a fifth grade teacher and district technology integration specialist for Eminence Independent Schools in Kentucky. He is always trying to find new and innovative ways to incorporate technology across the curriculum in order to increase student learning and engagement. You can always check and see what his students are up to by visiting his classroom website, http://www.mrpiercey.com.

Donnie has run a 1:1 iPad, Chromebook, and Macbook classroom over the course of his ten year teaching career. Donnie received a B.A. in Theology from Asbury University and got his Masters in Education from Auburn University (Montgomery). Donnie is also a Google for Education Certified Innovator, a Google for Education Certified Trainer, and the North American lead for Google Geo’s Education Trainer Network (GETN). He currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky with his wife and two children.

The post Simple Virtual Reality in the Classroom with Google Streetview and Google Cardboard with Donnie Piercey appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e127/

A Terrible Thing Happened on Awards Day: Here’s What I’m Doing About It with Amber Teaman

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Amber Teaman @8amber8 , principal, shares something that happened at her school this year relating to wards day and what she and her team are doing about it. Her transparency, openness and leadership are a great thing to motivate us today!

amber teaman awards

amber teaman awards

Sponsor: Owl Eyes

Owl Eyes has hundreds of free ebooks — the Canterbury Tales, The Odyssey, and all of Shakespeare’s work. But Owl Eyes isn’t just an ebook reader. You can have a private ebook classroom and interact with your students inside their ebooks as they highlight, annotate, ask questions, and talk about the books they are reading inside their ebooks!

Right now through August 31, 2017, they’re giving away 10 free 60-minute lesson plans for lit teachers – go to owleyes.org/teachers to sign up free and get your lesson plans now. Owl Eyes is a must-get for classical literature teachers.

Listen Now

//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/5638616/height/90/width/640/theme/custom/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/autoplay/no/preload/no/no_addthis/no/direction/backward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/2d568f/

Listen on iTunes

Below is a transcript modified for your reading pleasure. For information on the guests and items mentioned in this show, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

****

Transcript for Episode 126 

A Terrible Thing Happened on Awards Day: Here’s What I’m Doing About It

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e126
Monday, August 14, 2017

Vicki: Today we’re talking with Amber Teaman. Amber is a principal, and I have to give a shoutout to my friend Kasey Bell @ShakeUpLearning because she told me about Amber. Today for Motivational Monday, you have a fantastic very transparent story that you told about awards. Would you tell us that story?

Amber: After the end of the school year, you know, you have a couple of weeks “downtime” where you just kind of get to clean out your office and process. My teachers are gone. My kids are gone. So I just highly enjoy this time to purge and reflect, right? And I had a mom e-mail and ask if she could come meet with me to talk about just a couple of different things about her daughter.

Honestly, Vicki, I was like, “OK. Sure. I WOULD love to meet with you.” But of course my head wasn’t there. My heart wasn’t there. But of course I scheduled the meeting. She comes in, and she’s coming to talk about (and really brag on) the teacher that her daughter had had the previous year, and some things that she had done to make her feel good about herself. The student struggled a little bit, had some initial tutoring that she was doing outside of school, and really, the entire meeting was phrased to make me feel proud of my teacher — and hopefully, make sure that her daughter landed in a place in fourth grade with a teacher just as supportive, just as reassuring.

In the context of that conversation, she mentioned to me that… You know, she said, “We struggled this year. Our student celebrations are difficult. My daughter didn’t receive an award the entire year. And that got to be a struggle for our family. And her self-esteem really struggled from that.”

What Amber Did When the Realization Hit

Amber: That wasn’t the point of her conversation. That was just an aside that she mentioned. I had to pause, and I had to ask her, “OK. Wait. What? She didn’t receive an award? The whole year?”

And she said, “No. In fact she actually asked me not to come the last day of awards because she was so embarrassed and so ashamed that she knew she wasn’t going to get to walk up to the front of the cafeteria. She just would rather have not had me there.”

And oh my gosh, I mean, my eyes filled up with tears. I just had to close my notebook, where I was trying to take diligent notes, like a good principal. And I had to apologize to this mama that I had allowed her daughter to have struggled, who had had – ultimately, a very successful year – and that we had just failed to recognize her for anything the entire school year. And it just broke my mama heart. It broke my principal heart. It was a very humbling moment for me.

What were they celebrating at Awards Day?

Vicki: So give us some context. What kinds of things are you recognizing at student celebrations?

Amber: Well, my first year when I came in, I’d just left Chris Wejr, who has written about the impact of awards and how very dangerous they can be. Anyway, so when I came in, I had asked that we change the words from “student awards” to “student celebrations”. So I’m just trying to reframe the context for my people – of what it looks like, of what it could be about, ____ and that kind of thing. So this was last year’s awards.

So we have kind of “saved out” a lot of the awards and we’re trying to focus them more on our character development program. Here at Wiley, we call it the “Wiley Way” and every nine weeks, we focus on some particular character traits like “Have Respect and Responsibility” in celebration.

So third grade – they do A and B Honor Roll, A Honor Roll, a program like an extra math program looking at automaticity in math facts. And that’s really all that they do, and then they’ll do some character awards. In their classrooms. So on one hand, I was so proud of myself because I’ve gotten rid of gratuitous social studies awards, or gratuitous reading awards, that it was just levels of achievement. But I still managed to miss that that still isn’t celebrating everyone.

Vicki: Of course there’s a pushback that – you know, it’s obvious that this child had tenacity. This child had persistence. There’s obviously some character traits that this child has.

Amber: (agrees)

Should kids get awards when they don’t deserve them?

Vicki: But you know, it’s also so harmful to lie, and give somebody and award when they don’t deserve it. I mean, how do you handle this tension here, because there’s an honest, genuine tension with this whole thing.

Amber: Absolutely, and I think that I live and breathe in this academically successful environment that my kids here THRIVE in. And honestly, our culture WANTS that. And so to personally disagree is difficult, and so what I’ve learned (in my two whole years as an experienced principal now) is that and this is bad, right? I can ask questions. And I say, “How are we celebrating each learner? How are we celebrating each student? In what ways can that student be celebrated?” We have kids who struggle. If there’s a math program that is gauging the quickness that you answer a math fact, then if you have any sort of learning disability or a processing (strength), you don’t react as quickly. And so it just doesn’t seem fair sometimes that you also don’t get an opportunity to be celebrated for those things.

But on the flip side, I am not, by all means, the queen of “everyone gets a cookie” and thinking that we should hand out shiny trophies to everyone. Bu again, going back to that mindset, you can’t tell me that that baby girl did not do something, all year long, that she didn’t deserve to be recognized.

How are they working to make sure this doesn’t happen again?

Vicki: So what are you going to do differently with this?

Amber: I already have a meeting with leadership. My teachers come back in just a week and a half, and I have some time set aside for my leadership meeting. Instead, again, of coming down and trying to make it the “Amber Team and Way” and the” Amber Team and School” that reflect the way that I think. I’m just going to tell them the story. I’m going to say, “What can we do? Help me, guys. Help me, you team of leaders on my campus, you veteran and amazing hardworking teachers, who I know do not in any way or intention mean to hurt children. What can we do to help celebrate babies that don’t necessarily perform in this standardized version of what we call education?”

And I’m really hoping that we’re going to (do something). Other schools are doing it. I know that they are. I’ve reached out to Chris Wejr and we’ve kind of gone back and forth on some different things. But looking at ways to genuinely celebrate.

My kinder teams have gone away from awards completely, and they just do a portfolio-based recognition. So the parents just go to the classroom, and they get to sit down with their kid. Their kid’s folder is “I learned my FAT words, and “I counted this high,” and “I did X tasks.” It’s personalized, and they’re still some celebration there. But it’s individual.

So it may be that we move to a portfolio-based system campus wide. I don’t know if we’re ready for that. But it’s definitely a conversation that I want my teachers in. Again, this is not just a random story that I am telling from the internet. This is so-and-so’s kid, in such-and-such’s class. They GO here.

Why is Amber so transparent on this issue?

Vicki: And you know, this is an important conversation. You’re obviously moving forward to a much broader conversation by being transparent. But you know, there are a lot of principals who are listening to you thinking, “I would never admit that I screwed up.” Because, ultimately, right, “Harry Truman: The buck stops here.” Right? You’re shouldering responsibility, and that’s what’s beautiful about this story, because things happen. We can’t control everything. Is it hard for you to admit that this happened?

Amber: Oh my goodness. No. And yes. I am the queen of only making a mistake one time. I will only make the mistakes once. And in my entire first year as a principal, full of missteps and rethinks and wishing I could take situations back. I’m so lucky that I have a graceful staff who loved me through it – and had no problems telling me where I had stepped off the path. I should have rethought some things, and they were very clear in some of that feedback, which I have written about on my blog. But the end result is that I’m much better. I’m stronger. I’m stronger professionally. Our relationships are stronger personally. And that’s the only way that I know how to learn. If I didn’t have amazing people — like Kasey Bell @ShakeUpLearning, like George Couros @gcouros – people that I can call and talk to and say, “Oh my gosh. I messed this up. Help me fix it.” Or “How have you done this? Can you talk me through this?” There’s no manual with my position. There was no, “Here’s How to Be a Great Principal.” You just kind of walk in and hope that you can figure it out. I’m lucky enough to be connected to some incredible people that I can call and say, “Alright. This is what I did this week. Help me figure this out.” But I think that also endears me to my teachers – for them to see, “I’m not perfect. I don’t expect you to be perfect. I make mistakes, and I have bad days. I’m a mom, I’m a wife, I’m a friend. I also have “down” times. I don’t expect you not have those things either.” So, hopefully, that transparency lends itself to that.

Vicki: I think your transparency is just tremendous.

I also am thinking of three “C’s”.

I think that first of all, you’re being Courageous. You are putting yourself out there, and moving the conversation forward, both at your school and broader.

You’re being Coachable. This is a hard one for principals, because you actually have this relationship with your staff where you’re learning from them. And you know there are a lot of principals out there – this would be a whole other show that I wish that I could talk about – that two-way street that really needs to be there when you’re a successful principal. Everybody telling you what to do. The buck does stop with you.

But that listening – just listening – and the Cooperative. I love it that you are not saying, “I have the answers.” What you’re saying is, “I have a great staff, and I know that we’ll figure out the answer together.”

Amber: Absolutely. And again, I do have incredible people who are supportive and who are open to me, too. I don’t come to the table without a skill set. I do have things to offer and things to share. If you are open and willing to listen and learn, then I also am willing to listen and learn. And that’s just how I want the culture on our campus to be, from kids to secretaries to teachers.

Vicki: So, remarkable teachers, this is a Motivating Monday. So get out there and apply what you’ve learned.

Full Bio As Submitted


Amber Teaman

Amber Teamann is the proud principal of Whitt Elementary in Wylie ISD in Wylie, Texas. During her educational career, Amber’s comprehensive understanding of student learning has resulted in a successful blend of technology and teaching.

From a 4th grade teacher at a public school technology center, to her role as a Title I Technology Facilitator responsible for 17 campuses, Amber has helped students and staff navigate their digital abilities and responsibilities. She transformed the way information is shared in one of the largest school districts in Texas by piloting a communication initiative that launched Twitter, and led to 100-percent campus participation.

Through her campus level leadership, she has helped initiate classroom change district wide, empowering teachers at all levels. In addition to blogging for Connected Principals  , she is a firm believer in modeling a digital footprint. Her educational philosophy and digital portfolio can be found at Love, Learn, Lead  or on twitter, @8amber8.

The post A Terrible Thing Happened on Awards Day: Here’s What I’m Doing About It with Amber Teaman appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e126/

Owl Eyes: The Must-Get Web-App for Classical Literature Teachers

Edtech Apps that work

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Owl Eyes is a new, simple-but-powerful, and FREE web-app for reading classic books with your students. Literature teachers are sure to be excited! Track student progress and interact as they read and annotate. You can embed questions and quizzes into the text while they’re reading. In this post, I’ll share about the features of Owl Eyes. Then, we’ll look at their 10 free lesson plans for literature teachers. Finally, I’ll help you get started signing up. This product is worth a look because it works on any device — and it’s free!

owl eyes

This is a sponsored post.

What Does Owl Eyes Do?

Owl Eyes does several things for reading literature:

  • You can create a classroom and invite students.
  • Students can log in with their Google ID or set up an account.
  • You can assign texts for students to read.
  • As students read, teachers can track their progress.
  • Expert annotations help students with reading comprehension.
  • Students can make annotations and ask questions inside the text.
  • Teachers can answer student questions and embed quizzes in the text
  • Discussions happen inside the book, so as you discuss, you’re literally “all on the same page.”

Click to see Owl Eyes

A Quick Tour of Owl Eyes

What Books Are Included?

Browse or search the Owl Eyes library to see if your upcoming book is included. Many great authors are included, like Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, and more.

How Do Annotations Work?

Expert annotations are included in the text, and students can make their own annotations as well. As they read, they can highlight text and add notes. They can also ask questions. As the teacher, you can see and reply to their annotations within their book!

How Do Teachers Assign In-Text Quizzes?

As students read, you can assign questions to check for comprehension and point out important items. Just highlight a place in the chapter or book where you’d like to add a quiz. Now, as students read, they can find and answer those questions.

How to Use Owl Eyes

  1. Teaching. I think every classical literature teacher should have an Owl Eyes account just to access the annotations and lesson plans.
  2. Create a classroom with your students. This is the ultimate goal. Your students can read on their device, you can be on the same page, and they don’t have to lug their books to class. If you’re in a 1-to-1 classroom with iPads, Chromebooks, or any other device, this free tool is a MUST-USE. No doubt about it!
  3. Collaborate. If you’re co-planning with other teachers, Owl Eyes will make it easier to share and discuss the texts you’re covering.

Sign Up Before September 1, 2017 and Get Free Lesson Plans

If you sign up now (August 2017) for Owl Eyes, they’ll send you 10 free 60-minute lesson plans. (Make sure you do this before September 1, 2017 – this is only for August so tell everyone you know now!)

Click to get free lesson plans from Owl Eyes

Here are the topics included:

  • Themes in The Canterbury Tales / “The Canterbury Tales: The Role of Fate and Free Will in ‘The Knight’s Tale’”
  • Literary Devices in “The Cask of Amontillado” / “‘The Cask of Amontillado’: Characters Revealed Through Irony”
  • Literary Devices in Macbeth / “Macbeth: Character Revealed Through Literary Motifs”
  • Character Analysis in Macbeth / “Macbeth as a Dynamic Character (Act II, Scene i)”
  • Literary Devices in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” / “‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’: Poetry Devices that Convey the Mariner’s Tale”
  • Themes in “Ozymandias” / “‘Ozymandias’: Theme Revealed through Characterization”
  • Themes in Pride and Prejudice / “Pride and Prejudice: Themes Related to Social Class Developed Through Characterization”
  • Character Analysis in Romeo and Juliet / “Romeo and Juliet: Mercutio and the Death of the Festive Clown in Act III, Scene i”
  • Vocabulary in The Scarlet Letter / “The Scarlet Letter: Creating Atmosphere Through Diction”
  • Themes in “The Devil and Tom Walker” / “‘The Devil and Tom Walker’: Moral Decay Revealed through Motifs and Symbols”

So, tell every classical literature teacher that you know about Owl Eyes. They’ll thank you!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a sponsored blog post. The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies that I can support. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”.)

The post Owl Eyes: The Must-Get Web-App for Classical Literature Teachers appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/owl-eyes-the-must-get-app-for-classical-literature-teachers/