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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Teachers Teaching Refugee Children via Skype with Koen Timmers



Episode 132 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Koen Timmers @zelfstudie is a teacher in Belgium. He has founded the Kakuma project where teachers are helping teach in refugee camp via Skype. In today’s show, he talks about this project and his Human Differences project. This top 50 global teacher prize winner is inspiring.

project kakuma

Today’s sponsor is Kids Discover. They’re doing awesome things to drive inquiry based learning. The Kids Discover online platform lets students enter discovery mode. This fun, visual tool lets students explore 150 different science and social studies units for elementary and middle school learners. And while they can explore a wide variety of topics from the US Constitution to Ecology and Ancient China, I also like that you can assign these nonfiction texts at three different lexiles to supplement what you’re doing in the classroom. Go to http://ift.tt/2v6Yj8m and get started for free. They support single sign-on with Google and Clever.

Listen Now

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 132 

Teachers Teaching Refugee Children via Skype with Koen Timmers

Shownotes: http://ift.tt/2v9YkZm
Download the Transcript: Episode 32 Transcript
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Human Differences Project

Vicki: So, I’m here at the National State Teachers of the Year Conference here in D.C., and a friend of mine, Joe Fatheree @josephfatheree, who is a Global Teacher Prize Finalist, told me about this amazing person, Koen Timmers @zelfstudie, who is a teacher from Belgium, who’s a Top 50 Global Teacher Prize Finalist recently.

Now, Koen, you’re real big on collaboration. Could you describe for us one of the examples of the projects that you’ve done collaboratively?

Koen: Yeah. So, one project I’ve been running is the Human Differences Project. That was about two months ago, and that project is about collaboration on a global scale. In this project, we had fifty different schools over thirty-seven countries across six continents who participated. And it was a student-centered project, so the students had to do all the research, the thinking, discussion, brainstorming. They had to present and share their findings during each week about several topics.

This project was basically about, “How are people different in their own classroom, in their own country? Why do countries decide to build walls? How do conflicts start?” And also about finding solutions, like how to build bridges instead of walls. And we also did an anti-bullying campaign and also about gender equality. And the students? Well, they really amazed us. Some of the students, they began to dance. They went to interview people on the street. The Nigerians students, they even composed their own song. The students from Egypt, they even came to school during holidays, so we had some pretty amazing outcomes during the project.

How did you connect with the other schools?

Vicki: Wow. So how did you connect with the fifty schools?

Koen: Yeah. So, I’m also an MIE –that’s a Microsoft Expert Educator – and that’s a wonderful community of about 3,000 different educators. And once you’re in the community, it’s pretty easy to set up global projects, actually. It took me a few days to find about fifty different schools over a lot of countries that were willing to participate.

Project Kakuma and teaching refugees via Skype

Vicki: Now you also have another project, Project Kakuma. Tell us a little about that.

Koen: Yeah. So, two years ago I had a very emotional skype call with Moses. Moses is an outreach assistant in the Kakuma refugee camp, and this refugee camp houses 200,000 refugees who fled from war and hunger in Sudan, Burundi, Somalia, etc. And I promised to help him increase the level of education in the camp by having regular Skype calls with them – with refugee kids, actually. During my first call with them, I realized that I was kind of naïve, thinking that having a Skype call with the refugees was going to be like having a Skype call with my friends and family. They told me that they have very little resources in the school. They have 30 schools, and each classroom houses up to 200 refugees.

So, imagine 175 students taking a look at one laptop screen while I’m teaching them. But, apart from that fact, the project became an instant success. They requested skype lessons on a daily basis, and so I had to find global educators willing to participate. And, at this moment, 100 educators from around 40 different countries are participating. They are teaching them on a daily basis.

Project Kakuma

How teachers can help

Vicki: So how can we help?

Koen: Well, basically, you can support the project by also volunteering to teach the refugees. We have a lot of teachers from the U.S. and from Asia. All continents, basically.

Vicki: You have a website or a place we can go to volunteer?

Koen: Yeah… projectkakuma.com

Vicki: It just amazes me what you’re doing. So, they’re teaching a variety of subjects?

Koen: Yeah.

Vicki: Many different topics?

Koen: We are teaching them maths, science, English, even art. Most people, they really love the fact that we are offering free knowledge and we are teaching them. But basically, we also bring empathy into the global classrooms. Most people forget about the students involved from all kinds of different countries, who are now offered the right perspective into what it’s like to be a refugee. But also, they talk about habits, religion, culture, about sport. They basically have fun. And so, we fight against misinformation, against polarization, and yeah… That’s also very valuable, I think.

The biggest mistake teachers make when trying to collaborate

Vicki: As you’ve collaborated – because you’ve done a lot of collaboration now – what do you think the biggest mistake that you’ve made with collaborating in the classroom is?

Koen: Well… Don’t overdo it.

Vicki: (laughs) Been there. Wish I hadn’t. (laughs)

Koen: Most people, when you advocate or you present about collaboration, they think it’s all about collaboration. They forget to instruct. Because collaboration takes a lot of time, and I think you need to shift between every approach. Sometimes you need to instruct your students. Sometimes you need to shift to flipped learning. Then you have to collaborate. And then you have to do learning by doing in maker space… So I guess that a teacher as a pedagogical engineer who decides which approach is the best at that time, for that subject, for that topic, etc.

Vicki: I love that… “pedagogical engineer”… That’s a great way to think about teachers, isn’t it?

Koen: Yeah, I think so. Yeah.

The CARE! Model of Teaching

Vicki: Yeah. Awesome. So, you have a CARE! model.

Koen: So I think that teachers have the responsibility to do different things, and it’s not only about offering knowledge. It’s about also… The “C” from CARE! is about collaboration, but it’s also about guiding. (ADVISING) In most cases when students graduate, there’s a large gap for them. I think teachers also have to make sure how they can keep on learning – the lifelong learning concept, that’s it. In my case, I don’t want my students to be limited to my knowledge as well. I want them to learn from each other, but also from experts on social media, from their friends. We have to point them in the right direction and teach them that not every resource is a reliable. We have to fight against fake news as well. Yeah. I think that’s also the duty of the teacher. Yeah. Not only offering knowledge, and that’s it. Instructing in that sense.

Vicki: So give us the “R” and the “E” and the exclamation point for CARE!.

Koen:  So in the CARE the “R” is for real problem solving. Well, I believe in project-based learning, and in many cases — and I didn’t mention this before, but I’m a computer science teacher – and in most cases, people teach about the computer. I think we need meaningful subjects, and we need real problems to solve. You can use a computer for data as well. I already explained about the “E” — the empathy. The explanation point is that most frameworks, most people who talk about their framework, think that it fits in every case and every scenario. And I think it doesn’t. We all teach different subjects, different ages, and in different schools. They all have different financial resources, so I think in some cases, blended learning works. And in some cases, teachers have to fill the gap themselves, and they have to figure out what their students basically need, I think.

Vicki: Teachers, we’ve learned some remarkable things. Please check the Shownotes for links. I know and hope that some of you will help teach the refugees with Project Kakuma. Please let me know if you do, because I think this is a project worth following. And it’s also – can you think of a better way to spend our time volunteering and helping? So, Koen Timmers, thank you so much for being on, and thank you for your leadership on the worldwide stage that you now have.

Koen: Thank you so much.

 

Full Bio As Submitted


Koen TimmersKoen Timmers

Koen Timmers is an educator, author and keynote speaker. He’s a 2017 Global Teacher Prize top 50 and founder of an online school Zelfstudie.be. He’s passionate about collaborative and technology enhanced learning. Koen founded several global educational project including the Kakuma project – in which 100 educators over 40 countries offer free education to African refugees via Skype – and the Human Differences project – in which 50 schools across 6 continents focus on how to build bridges instead of walls.

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 and are from companies I can recommend. 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 Teachers Teaching Refugee Children via Skype with Koen Timmers appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://ift.tt/2v1Up4K
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Monday, August 21, 2017

This Amazing South Bronx School Grows 50,000 Pounds of Vegetables a Year



Episode 131 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Stephen Ritz @StephenRitz grows 50,000 pounds of vegetables in the Bronx. As founder of the Green Bronx Machine, his students grow plants while learning more and going onto college. Exciting!

Today’s sponsor is Kids Discover. They’re doing awesome things to drive inquiry based learning. The Kids Discover online platform lets students enter discovery mode. This fun, visual tool lets students explore 150 different science and social studies units for elementary and middle school learners. And while they can explore a wide variety of topics from the US Constitution to Ecology and Ancient China, I also like that you can assign these nonfiction texts at three different lexiles to supplement what you’re doing in the classroom. Go to http://ift.tt/2v6Yj8m and get started for free. They support single sign-on with Google and Clever.

Listen Now

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.

The Power of a Plant Book Giveaway Contest

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Enhanced Transcript for Episode 131

The Power of a Plant with Stephen Ritz

Shownotes: http://ift.tt/2v6yBRp
Transcript: http://ift.tt/2ww8OWv
Monday, August 21, 2017

50,000 pounds of Vegetables in the South Bronx

Vicki: Stephen Ritz @StephenRitz is with us today, a finalist from the 2015 Global Teacher Prize, and just a very excited amazing person who really has a green classroom. So, Stephen, describe for us what you’ve done in your classroom.

Stephan: Well, in the poorest Congressional district in the America in the least healthy county of all of New York state, in the largest stretch of public housing, in a 100+ year old building, we are growing food! And I mean tons of it. Fifty thousand pounds of vegetables! And fifty thousand pounds of vegetables later, my favorite crop is organically grown citizens. Grant you, it’s members of the middle class, it’s kids who are going to college.

But I took the money from the Global Teacher Prize and created this National Health Wellness and Learning Center, which is a state of the art facility, four stories up in a walk-up building, mind you, where we grow food, we cook, we have integrated science labs.

Stephen Ritz and his students are gardening and growing food for their school and neighborhood.

It is net positive on food and energy. We have bicycle-powered blenders. We have a Green Bronx Machine mobile classroom kitchen. We have solar generators, bicycle blenders, bicycle-powered kitchens, a TV studio. And it’s all low-cost, replicable, and of course, there are our incredible tower gardens where we are growing food in a food-insecure community using 90% less water, 90% less space, and sending home 100 bags of groceries per week. Aligns to content area, instruction, and Common Core Next Generation Science Standards.

What can any teacher do to add sustainable practices to their school?

Vicki: Wow! Now you have a book called The Power of a Plant which is going to help our teachers who are completely overwhelmed and have their jaw on the floor be able to do this, because is there something that an average everyday teacher can do, because it seems like so much!

Stephan: Well, nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something. That is the mantra and the premise behind my book, The Power of a Plant: A Teacher’s Odyssey to Grow Healthy Minds and Schools.

I literally realized six years ago I was over 300 pounds myself, so The Power of a Plant really talks about so many things, but getting specifically to the book – the book will make you laugh, the book will make you cry. Realize I started teaching in 1984 when New York City, the South Bronx was in shambles and burnt to a crisp. So it highlights my odyssey, if you will, across pedagogy, across scaling, across dealing with administration, about dealing with your own personal tragedies and conflicts and challenges within the teaching profession. So it’s 100% inspiration, 100% perspiration, but it is a blueprint.

It also has a growing guide, all kinds of suggested tools. It has letters from students, letters from teachers, 45 luminaries have blurbed the book. Really, it’s designed for one thing – to help you make epic happen in your personal life, in your professional life, and in every single community you serve.

So. as we like to say in the South Bronx, “Si, se puede!” or “Yes, we can!” If I can, you can. That’s the purpose of this book, The Power of a Plant. In fact, it comes with a double-your-money-back guarantee. If you buy the book and don’t like it, I’ll buy it back for twice the price. All the proceeds are being donated to public education, so this is an opportunity for all of us to pay it forward and celebrate the profession that we all know and love.

What is a day in the life of a student at Stephen’s school like?

Vicki: Love it! OK, Stephen, could you take me through what a day of students that you work with, what they’ll do in a day with you?

Aeroponic methods help students grow plants indoors. Units are taught and integrated with the plants that grow alongside student’s growing minds.

Stephan: So, we believe – that’s a great question – we believe that the art and science of growing vegetables aligned to content area instruction grows healthy students, healthy schools, and high-performing resilient communities.

So, in the course of a day, you will come into this lab, where it’s 25 periods of weekly classroom instruction. Before school, lunchtime, after school and weekend programming. And you will get thematic science programming, aligned to Next Generation Science Standards. We do all the ratio, proportions, statistics and measuring aligned to seed propagation, so we touch on math. We touch on literacy, making prediction, doing measurements, if-then conditional statements, the whole art of ordinal direction, of prediction. Then we do a whole lot of science, we do a whole lot of cooking. Then this classroom is aligned to 25 periods of in class content area instruction.

So we believe that the art and science of growing vegetables and taking a garden and putting it at the heart of school, in a classroom, indoors, is not a band-aid so to speak but is a whole school solution. We are not an add on. We are a whole school program that really teaches children in food-insecure communities how to grow food, get the parents involved, brings parents in and aligns it.

Believe it or not, next week we are meeting with the State University of New York to create K-20 programming! Because the one thing about food and plants is that without all of it, we’d all be naked and hungry, and that’s not a thought that looks good on radio or sounds good either.

How do you have time to garden and teach school?

Vicki: (laughs) OK. So I’m a farmer’s daughter. I grew up on a farm. I’m trying to figure out when do the kids work in the garden? Growing plants is actually very hard work, as you know.

Stephan: Well, we have an indoor garden and an outdoor garden. So the outdoor garden is done after school, and not that I am anti-soil, I’m actually pro-soil and pro-garden-time but I’m actually very pro-instructional-time.

During the school day, our plants, our garden is indoors using aeroponic systems known as a tower garden, where the plants are literally growing themselves. The only thing that’s not happening is that they don’t take care of themselves, so the children take care of them, but no school uniforms are ruined, I have reading plant programs, I have leaf monitors, I have Ph patrols, you name it. Kids taking care of plants can document, collecting data, aggregating data, they’re talking about it, discussing it.

And we grew tremendous volumes of food, so deciding what we’re going to do with that food, what we’re going to do with the profits that we sell. Those are the kinds of collegial and professional conversations that really dictate a productive and proactive healthy school culture and climate.

And, it’s being evidenced in our test scores, our school report card, our teacher retention, our teacher satisfaction, our ability to attract new young dynamic teachers who LOVE coming to school in this state of the art facility.

And that’s what we do, so kids are in here literally from about 7:00 in the morning — another set will be coming in here soon – until 7:00 at night. We have about anywhere on any given day, 50-100 kids showing up after school in one of the most productive soil gardens in all of New York City — in the heart of a housing project, I might add – and we do cooking programs, TV shows.

We have our Green Bronx Machine (mobile kitchen) which is a state of the art food truck on wheels for a fraction of the cost which goes classroom to classroom. So it’s not only teaching kids to HAVE food, it’s teaching them what to do with it, giving parents access to it, giving grandparents access to it, and flooding our community with a whole new set of options aligned to help, wellness, and 21st Century college and career readiness.

Stephen’s 30-second Pep Talk for Every Teacher

Vicki: You’ve given us so much. It’s so very exciting. Could you give us a 30-second pep talk to every teacher out there listening about what they can do today?

Stephan: The secret sauce to all of my success is three things – passion, purpose and hope. And I believe that passion, purpose and hope will get you close. And sometimes you just need to take that endless leap of faith to get to the finish line. But teachers, don’t be afraid to fail. If anyone has perfected failing in life, it is me. But I have some hard buttocks, I bounce up quickly, and I keep falling up the ladder of success, saying “Please,” and “Thank you, and “Have a nice day,” and “How can we work to make things better?” And that’s what this is all about, growing the next generation of healthy students, healthy teachers, healthy schools, and healthy communities.

Vicki: Well, teachers. What we’ve heard is truly remarkable. Please go to the Shownotes. We’re giving away a book, The Power of a Plant. I’ve known Stephen for quite some time, and he always amazes me with how much he’s doing and how much we all need to be doing to be going green in our schools.

Full Bio As Submitted


Stephen Ritz

Stephen Ritz, Founder of Green Bronx Machine, Top Ten Global Teacher Prize Finalist, one of NPR’s 50 Greatest Teachers and BAMMY Laureate – Elementary Educator of the Year is a South Bronx educator who believes that children should not have to leave their neighborhood to live, learn and earn in a better one.

Stephen and his students have grown more than 50,000 pounds of vegetables, indoors, farming their way to the White House and back, using 90% less water and space, en route to outstanding personal and school performance which is highlighted in his new book via Rodale: The Power of A Plant with co-author Suzie Boss. To learn more about Stephen’s revolutionary program, see this powerful new two-minute video via Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

 

 

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 and are from companies I can recommend. 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 This Amazing South Bronx School Grows 50,000 Pounds of Vegetables a Year appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://ift.tt/2wpcom2
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Searching for the Ability to Think: Training our Kids to Go Past Google



5 Ways to Teach Students to Think

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Next week, my tenth graders will have to invent a new way to access the Internet. It doesn’t have to work, mind you, but it does have to include plausible technology. We’ve been doing this project eight years now.

The first time I saw the “tile” product that we now use to locate keys and phones, it was my student’s invention. I’ve seen smart basketballs that keep score, and smart jackets and pants that charge phones or that you try on and buy wearing a green-chroma key body suit. I’ve seen drones following a birthday boy around and taking pictures. I’ve even seen contact lenses that take photographs. But what I haven’t seen is kids Googling anything to help them with this project.

A video my student, Rebekah, created for the Invention Project. Her talent won her an internship with a company in Atlanta (she telecommuted as a sophomore and junior in high school.) She starts this fall as a freshman at Savannah College of Art and Design. 

Cathy Rubin in her Global Search for Education has posed these questions in my inbox for this month’s global search for education column: “What should we teach young people in an age where Dr. Google has an answer for everything?” According to the Center for Curriculum Redesign (CCR) “We must deeply redesign curriculum to be relevant to the knowledge skills, character qualities, and met-learning students need in their lives.” If you had the power to change the school curriculum, what would you do? This blog post is my answer.

There’s a reason why this Invention project is a Google-free zone. One requirement is that if students have seen the technology in action, it’s disqualified from being the topic of their video — a commercial pretending that their invented technology actually exists.

Donnie Piercey’s students use a backpack they created to update the Google Street view of their city and school.

This is just one of the many un-Googleable projects that I like to assign my students. Today’s students have come to depend upon Google as an external brain of sorts. They often take the first few search results as gospel and rarely look deeper. What’s the point of memorizing something when they can Google it? As our Internet search tools get closer and closer to our eyeglasses and contacts, we’re sure to see our dependence on them increase.

In previous centuries, students had to build their own Google. In other words, they learned and built their own knowledge base. To expand their knowledge, they had to assemble a library and know how to find books in it. The focus was on learning.

Now, it seems to be on finding. But it shouldn’t be. We need to teach people how to think.

5 Essential Ingredients for Teaching Thinking

What use is an Internet full of knowledge if no one can pick it up and harness it for good? I can have shingles popping off my roof and a hammer and nail sitting on my kitchen table, but if I don’t know how to get on the roof and hammer in that nail, my roof is going to leak.

Right now, we have leaky roofs when it comes to connecting, thinking, and acting on knowledge in different spaces. Many students see science, history, literature, technology, and math as totally different subjects without understanding the connections. If we want students to think, we need them to link the knowledge they find and understand the creative thought processes available within their own minds. I believe the following five things are essential to helping our students think and not just type in search keywords:

1- Complex real-world problems.

The student is programming a video game in a maker space using Bloxels.

Students should invent, create, and solve problems. Let’s take them out into the community to observe, consult, and brainstorm to make things better. If there’s a problem at school, let our in-house consultants (our students) tackle it with the advice of a great teacher.

When students meet a problem that they can’t Google, they must venture forth with teamwork, creativity, and tenacity — all things that they need to be successful. We let kids work problems in math. They should “work problems” in every course, because life is full of problems seeking solutions.

2 – Creative materials.

Classrooms need well-stocked maker spaces and creativity stations. Librarians like Micki Uppena and Chad Lehman are stocking everything from paper roller coasters and Mandala coloring books to green screens. Josh Stumpenhorst has students flying drones in his library.

Micki says green screen is one of the most important things for a modern library to have.

Micki Uppena says green screen is one of the most important things for a modern library to have.

3 – Space and time to create.

Today in class, we had some time for making and inventing. One group of students used Bloxels to create pixel characters for a video game. Another group learned how to fingerprint with a CSI fingerprinting kit. Others built robots or drove my Dash Wonderbot. We had students finding light reading apps for the solar eclipse, and another student let her imagination run wild with a cartoon creation kit.

Without the 30 minutes of “genius time,” these students wouldn’t have been able to explore and invent. Granted, I had some structure and guidance for this time. You can’t have teachers prop their feet up, say “play,” and expect kids to learn. Teachers are still needed in this process. But if students don’t have spaces to create, they won’t be able to use the creative materials.

4 – Empowering and guiding adults.

Chad Lehman’s maker space includes challenges and lots of choices for students. Chad presents those choices to students so they aren’t overwhelmed.

As teachers, we should watch and guide students as they explore and learn. Many times, real-world problems require teachers to play more of a consulting role. Incorporating real-world problems requires risk taking and ingenuity to flex each year’s curriculum.

You can’t standardize creativity, and therein lies a problem. Factory-like schools will get factory-like results with a pretty high failure rate. But individualizing teachers and schools can help each child reach his or her own potential.

Children are unique, so our approach to them must be unique as well.

5 – Willingness to relate even if it looks eccentric.

 

Great teachers are a different breed. Sarah Reed, a Kentucky State Teacher of the Year, described dressing like an endangered bumblebee for her students. When I asked how her colleagues felt about that, she said,

Sarah Reed dresses up to help kids want to save the Rusty Patch Bumblebee.

“I’m going to be a little eccentric because I’m here for the students, not for the adults.”

Too many educators are playing to the wrong audience. To reach kids, to truly empower and guide them, sometimes we have to risk looking odd. I’ve dressed like a zombie and done crazy things to relate to kids — if adults think I’m weird, I’m OK with that.

The Search Commences

It’s time for educators to start approaching school differently — and many of us already are.

In today’s world, we’re searching for answers to many problems. And those answers won’t be found in a Google search box. Only when some genius starts putting together all that knowledge will we start finding the novel solutions that the world really needs. Those answers won’t show up on Google because they haven’t been invented yet.

So the search commences.

It’s our mission to connect the human brain with all this knowledge in a way that will truly unleash the search inside every child to do good, seek the truth, and create a better way for the world to behave.

Maybe that will click.

Recently, I’ve begun using an awesome editor to help me on some of my biggest projects. While he doesn’t like attention drawn to his work (he wants authors to shine), I want to give a shout out to Alan K. Lipton http://ift.tt/2vTf8Vr for his tremendous editing work on this piece.

The post Searching for the Ability to Think: Training our Kids to Go Past Google appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://ift.tt/2wswAm6
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Friday, August 18, 2017

5 Ways to Help At Risk Children Succeed



Episode 130 with Basil Marin on the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Basil Marin @basil_marin takes us on a journey to help at risk children with these five steps. From the inspiring books to the essential mindsets, Basil will help us reach at risk kids because he speaks from experience.

 Owl Eyes: The Must-Get FREE Web-App for Classical Literature Teachers [Today’s Sponsor]

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

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 130 

5 Ways to Help At Risk Children Succeed

Shownotes: http://ift.tt/2wmn0Bb
Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford
Friday, August 18, 2017

Download the PDF Transcript

1 – Believe in them

Vicki: Today we’re talking with Basil Marin @basil_marin about five ways to help at risk children succeed. What an important topic, Basil, and how do we start?

Basil: Right, so, thank you for having me here today. I think when we look at the five ways to help at risk kids – again, we must think about, “What is the best way to reach these kids?” These children grew up in different ways from you as a teacher, and they just need to know that you care. I love the quote, “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” So, for me the five topics that I would like to cover today… first starting off with Belief. You know you have to believe in yourself, and also understand that other people are going to believe in you as well, and that will push you towards your destiny.

Vicki: We have a saying in our family, “You gotta believe to receive.” If you look at Hattie’s research, teacher expectations are right up there at the top of the list. Isn’t it hard, sometimes, though, to look at kids and adjust our belief about what we believe they can do? What are some things we should believe about them that can help us adjust that attitude?

Basil: Yes, absolutely. So, one of the first things is you have to understand that student’s interests. So sitting down and having a conversation with them about, you know, “What do you want to be when you grow up? What are some of your challenges? What are some of your areas that you’re really good at?” and just kind of learning the student first. You have to know where they are before you can take them to where they need to be. And so, just that belief, “I was also a struggling learner as well, we can work together.” That’s what really helped me in the classroom as a teacher, kind of bringing myself down from this pedestal, and saying, “Hey, I’m on the same level as you, and I just want to help you get to where you need to be successful.” So just having that belief and powerful, positive conversation.

2 – Build relationships

Vicki: What’s our second?

Basil: Alright. So the second is Relationships. Relationships are key, and again I think every educator should listen to the TED Talk by Rita Pierson. Relationships help form everything in the school, and then positive school culture and moving things forward.

Vicki: I say this all the time on the podcast, so all the listeners are probably tired of hearing it, but “You gotta relate before you can educate” don’t you?

Basil: There it is. That’s the main ingredient.

3 – Have a vision and set realistic goals

Vicki: OK, what’s our third?

Basil: Alright. So, the third is you must have a vision and set realistic goals. I think for me, you know, at a very young age I was always goal-oriented, and I knew where I wanted to go, and that just help me to propel through my career as an educator. We must then model that for our students and help them understand, “OK we want to get out of high school and then we want to graduate, and then are we going to go to a trade school or are we going to a college? What are your next steps?” But they also, the most important part is they have to be realistic.

Vicki: So, Basil, you know I’ve heard some educators say, “Well, THAT child, it’s not realistic for THAT child to go to college.” Now, is that what you mean by realistic, or what do you mean?”

Basil: When I say realistic, there’s kind of a different layer to it. We know if you’re a great teacher you will know your kids. So, for some kids we do understand that OK, them going to college might not be for them, so then that’s when you have to implore other ideas in terms of trade school, you know for our females they’re going to go to cosmetology school. You still have to give them a craft to be good at. And then some kids are your struggling learners like myself, to talk a little bit about my experience. I struggled in school, but I still had someone that believed in me. My goal was to go to college, I was a little hesitant, but they believed in me, and they helped me to get that extra cushion to get to college. So, you still have to go back to that first initial things I talked about, belief, and you have to believe in the kid and tell them, “You can do it, with the supports that are here, we can get you what you need.” So, it can go both ways, it can go both ways.

4- Grow as an educator through professional development

Vicki: OK, what’s our fourth?

Basil: The fourth one is professional development. I think it is very key to always be in a position of growth, always wanting to better yourself. You can do that by reading books, and I have three good books that I have read: From Good to Great from Jim Collins, Start With Why from Simon Sinek, and Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck. Those books will help you as an educator to take yourself to the next level. Also going back to school, earning a higher degree, or listening to podcasts like this. This helps you to understand and to formulate your sense of what it takes to be a good educator.

Vicki: Yes, and you know, all professional development is personal. My strategy is innovate like a turtle. Two to three times a week I take 15 minutes and learn something new, and a lot of times it is through podcasting because I’m really, really busy. But we have to decide we’re going to do that. We can’t wait for somebody to schedule our PD for us.

Basil: (agrees)

5 – Find a solid mentor

Vicki: So, what’s the fifth?

Basil: The fifth one is find a solid mentor. I think this another one of those key things that really helped me to achieve my success at such a young age. You want to find someone that is where you want to be and just glean and take from them as much as you can. Just be around them, go to conferences with them, sit down and have personal conversation – either informal or formal – and just kind of pick their brain about how did they get to where they were. If they a great mentor, they want to teach you everything they can to help you to get to where you need to be.

Vicki: The old saying goes, “Don’t wait for somebody to take you under their wing. Find somebody amazing and climb up under it yourself,” (laughs)

Basil: There it is. (laughs) There it is.

Vicki: So, all of these things, you know, are about helping at risk kids, but what about the challenges emotionally on a teacher? Because you know, at risk kids – hurting people hurt people – and sometimes it can be emotionally challenging for a teacher to work with kids who are at risk.

Basil: So, again part of that goes back to that personal development, so listening to podcasts like this would give you certain strategies to help these at risk students. Again, I think it all comes back to — you have to start with your “Why” as an educator. Why did you get into education in the first place? And the things i, for our student achievement, student development. So, those students who are in the rougher places and have more turmoil or emotional things they have to go through, that just means you have to develop a stronger relationship with that student and get to know the deep crevices of who they are so that you can bring them up out of those situations to help them to reach the general curriculum and to be successful academically.

Sometimes it just means that you have to hear that student out and practice active listening when they come in the door. They might tell you about what happened at home or what happened over the weekend. You just being a listening ear and building that relationship will help you be successful as a teacher.

Understanding the kids, I believe is the first step. I think the second step is that you have to model for those kids what it means to be a good person. You might be the first positive person they’ve seen and they want to be like and they want to emulate, but you have to show them how to do that. And then I think again, that going back to that belief and saying, “This is where you started from, this is where your mom and dad have come from, but you can pull yourself out of that and change your trajectory, change your future.”

But as we talked about earlier in the podcast, (saying) “That’s up to you, and you have to want to be that agent of change for yourself. But I’m here to help you as your teacher and as an educator in this room.”

Vicki: OK Basil, as we finish up, you say something in your work, “Failure is not a dead end.” Give us a 30-second pep talk as teachers about how failure can’t be a dead end for us or our students.

Basil: Yeah, so I think failure is just an opportunity to look at the situation again and do it again more brilliantly. And so as educators we have to understand that it is our job to reach all of our students in the classroom. So if a student is not getting what you’re teaching, again, you need to think about a different way to reteach that lesson, a different way to get it to the student. I want you all to understand that I am a product of a great teacher understanding that I needed some extra support and help, and they were able to help me to understand that, you know, “We’ll get this a different way. You’re not slow. You’re not dumb. I just need to teach to where you are.” So I want all educators to understand that all students are reachable. It takes time, patience, and relationships. If you’re able to do that, you’ll be able to reach those at risk kids, and one day the at risk kid will come back to you and say, “Mr. So-and-so, or Ms. So-and-so, thank you so much for what you did for me. Now I am, you know, the vice president of this company, I’m in college, I’m doing certain things.” And I had the pleasure to do that with my teacher in ninth grade. I was able to call her up the last week and say, “I’m a new assistant principal.” That was a product of what she did for me way back in ninth grade.

Vicki: I love it that you went back and you thanked her. That is remarkable. I think we as teachers need to go back and thank our previous teachers. I was actually just mentioned in a Georgia Tech magazine talking about my favorite professor, who’s now in his nineties, and you know just having that relationship and going back and saying, “Thank you for what you did!” That’s the kind of currency that we need to pay each other as teachers, because we are transformed when we have amazing teachers. And we transform kids every day!

Basil: (Agrees.) And that’s what we do again. That should be our mission and vision. Again, students are going to come to you and say, “I can’t do this.” As an educator, it is your job to say, “Hey, let’s remove that apostrophe, let’s remove that “t”. Let’s make it “I can.” That’s what you do as an educator. You help the student see it in a different way and have belief in them and let them know that anything’s possible through hard work and determination.

Full Bio As Submitted


Basil MarinBasil Marin

Basil Marin earned his Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Business Administration from Eastern Mennonite University and Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in Special Education from Liberty University. He recently completed the Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree in Educational Leadership from Old Dominion University before joining the Ph.D. Educational Leadership Cohort 3. He is pleased to announce that he will be transitioning into a high school assistant principal role within Portsmouth Public Schools for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Basil is a humble and down to earth individual who is passionate about creating opportunities for all students to succeed educationally. He has a strong desire to work with at-risk youth. He firmly believes these students are our future and he is willing to provide the necessary support to see all students succeed. These students are regular human beings just like anyone else; however, these students have lower academic skill sets or untamed frustrations that often disrupt their learning process. He feels that God has given him the passion to work with at-risk youth and to show them that through education anything is possible.

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 and are from companies I can recommend. 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 5 Ways to Help At Risk Children Succeed appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

5 Ways to Reach Even Resistant Writers with Writer’s Workshop



Episode 129 with Angela Stockman on the 10-minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Angela Stockman @AngelaStockman gives our writing workshop a makeover. The author of Make Writing, Angela is passionate about creating writing workshop experiences that are relevant to today’s learners and accessible to even the most resistant writers.

angela stockman resistant writers

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

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

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.

Enter the Giveaway Contest for This Episode

Make Writing by Angela Stockman giveaway contest

****

Transcript for Episode 129 

5 Ways to Reach Even Resistant Writers with Writer’s Workshop

Shownotes:http://ift.tt/2fNNPIo
Download the transcript:
Thursday, August 17, 2017

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

@AngelaStockman

Idea #1: Expand Your Definition of Writing

Vicki: Oh, teachers are getting so excited and geared up, and today with us we have Angela Stockman, and we’re going to talk about five ideas to amp up writing for the new year. Now we’re also going to do a giveaway of her book, Make Writing: Five Teaching Strategies That Turn Writer’s Workshop Into a Maker Space, where she has five more ideas. Angela, what is your first idea for amping up writing for this new school year?

Angela: I think one of the things we can do to get kids excited about writing, you know, especially to engage kids who resist it, is to start redefining what we mean by writing. I believe very strongly that words are way too important to be confined by print, and that if we can get kids involved in building and in using modalities other than print to communicate stories and to share their opinions and to even construct poems, you’re going to be able to engage quite a number of kids in the process who tend to tell us that they hate it. It also helps kids who love writing conceptualize the things that they’re writing about in a very different way, and it leads to better details.

Vicki: Do you mean they can voice dictate, or do you mean that they can do audio as writing?

Angela: I mean that they can build things and call that writing. So instead of dictating or audio recording a description of a character, I would like them to build their character using loose parts and materials. I’d like them to “make” that character. Once they make it, they’re often able to use their words to describe it either orally or in print. Sometimes kids will label different parts of the objects that they built and their creations, and it helps them come up with better words. But if I’m walking around the room as a writing teacher, and I want to know if kids are able to create a really complex character, sometimes putting building materials in their hands and loose parts enables them to conceptualize and create that character far better than beginning with words or beginning with print. The fact is that we often see things in images and in dimension before we are able to conceptualize the words that we want to use. So I like to go there first.

Vicki: And our bodily kinesthetic learners and a lot of our ADD kids are really going to thrive with that approach.

Angela: They’re out of their seat!

Idea #2: Coach students to treat text like “loose parts”

Vicki: OK, what’s the second?

Angela: I think it’s really cool to coach kids once they start using words to treat text like loose parts. I believe in writing bit by bit, and so if we’re starting from the ground up with a text that they’re creating on their own, if you understand what the components of a story are. If we’re writing a story where somebody wants something but there’s a problem, so they try to intervene and correct that problem, and then there’s a solution, that’s five parts to a story. If kids can write those parts on index cards instead of on a single draft of paper or on the screen, they can start to mix, remix, and brainstorm different possibilities for each part, one small bit at a time. So when we treat text itself like it’s movable and mixable, that’s really engaging for kids. It’s also more manageable when we try to give feedback and have kids revise, because they’re not looking at redoing the entire piece, they’re able to revise just around the small bit that we’re giving them the feedback around. When we have students cut them apart, physically, so that we can isolate the pieces that we want to look at, it drops the noise around the text as a whole. We’re only zeroing in on that small piece. We also can mix and remix mentor text. It makes working with writing a far more experimental and creative process, but it also – when we shrink things down to their smallest bits – we’re able to engage with kids who struggle the most in a way that is least overwhelming for them. So I like treating text like loose parts, too.

Vicki: I love that because, you know, so often when I teach kids, I’ll give them some revisions for a paragraph, and because I teach in a computer lab, I can watch them edit. I can’t tell you how many kids will just erase the whole paragraph. And I’m like, “Nooooo, just move this one here and move this one there.” So many of them don’t realize that once they’ve drafted, they can move things around to really make it a better piece.

Angela: Yeah, I think that if we can make that a very physical experience, at least for some kids, they really make the connection even when they return to the screen. And I think it’s important to say these ideas aren’t things that we have to impose on kids, they’re just ideas that you might want to try with kids who prefer not to sit, or not to write on paper or a screen. Some kids thrive there, and I think you should leave them there, if that’s where they do best.

#3: Find evidence of learning while on our feet

Vicki: Great! What’s number three?

Angela: Number three is to stop relying our gradebooks so much and to start scooping up evidence of learning, on our feet while we’re teaching kids. There are so many opportunities with our cellphones in hand to take pictures, to audio record, to apps like Seesaw, to be able to use different kinds of evidence of learning to determine how close kids are getting to the targets that we’re helping them to reach. So instead of seeing data as numbers and something that we calculate off of things like tests or even final drafts of writing. Instead they have a target in mind. I want to know if my students are able to write a really forceful claim. Audio record them when you’re conferencing with them. Take photographs over their shoulders of their drafts in progress. Let them share their brainstorming with you, and capture images of that. Use that to determine how close you’re getting to your target. It saves a ton of time. People are not hauling tons of papers home and consuming their whole weekends with full drafts. If you assess along the way, in this way, on your feet, by the time kids turn in those final copies, the quality is that much better because you provided bits of feedback along the way.

#4: Make sure students are writing in a way that makes a difference

Vicki: I love that. Assess on your feet, not at midnight on your weekend. OK, what’s number four?

Angela: Making sure that kids are writing in real ways that make a real difference. This is especially true for primary teachers who often struggle to kind of conceptualize how kids who are that young might actually find real audiences. Thinking about the ways that a kindergartener or a first grader might actually make a contribution to a real audience, as well as our middle school and high school students. These are really important things. One of the most inspired things that I saw once was… we had first graders in a classroom that I coached in. Heather Becka in Lockport, New York, worked with her friend Molly Kelly, who’s a first grade teacher. Heather was bringing in chicks and they were going to be hatching. And she had the first graders from the previous year skype into the classroom and share informational pieces with the kindergarten students about what they could expect and how to take care of those chicks, based on their experiences the previous year. There are lots of opportunities for kindergarteners to write to local leaders and make recommendations about the state of their playground in the community, or to be able to make requests to the principal about the speakers that should be brought into the school. If you’re going to have a visiting author, it’s a great way to do persuasive writing with kindergarteners around the authors that they would like to see that PTAs bring into school, too. Be really creative but genuine about authentic writing for kids. I think is huge.

#5: Move from Celebration to Exhibition

Vicki: And we know authentic audience improves writing. What’s our fifth?

Angela: The fifth is to think a little bit about exhibition instead of just celebrating writing. We do a lot of this, particularly in elementary schools, where we have kids celebrate the writing that they’ve accomplished. I think it’s also really important on an almost daily basis, inside of writing workshops especially, to pay attention to what kids are doing that we didn’t expect them to do that is really cool. Then illuminating that for the rest of the class. So, if we’re in a sixth grade classroom or a fifth grade classroom or even in a high school classroom, and kids are starting to use dialogue in a way that’s pretty different from how other kids might use it. They’re doing something sophisticated or even trying, in kindergarten, I think it makes sense, at the end of the class period, not just to celebrate the effort of writing or what was produced but to put that kid up in the front of the room and say, “Teach the rest of the class what you were doing today so that we can learn from you.” Exhibition is a little bit different from celebration in that it showcases the learning, the strategy, so that other kids cans scoop it up and use it in their own writing. I think that’s incredibly important.

Vicki: Teachers, we have so many remarkable ideas to really take writing to the next level. I challenge you. How is your writing workshop going to be different? How are you going to engage all of your learners? How are you going to have them write on their feet and you assess on your feet? Angela’s given us so many great challenges.

 

Check out the show notes for the book giveaway, Make Writing: Five Teaching Strategies That Turn Writer’s Workshop Into a Maker Space.

So many great ideas! Thank you, Angela!

 

Full Bio As Submitted


Angela Stockman

Angela Stockman facilitates professional learning experiences for K-12 literacy teachers within and beyond her home state of New York. The author of Make Writing, Angela is passionate about creating writing workshop experiences that are relevant to today’s learners and accessible to even the most resistant writers.

The post 5 Ways to Reach Even Resistant Writers with Writer’s Workshop appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://ift.tt/2wikqvR
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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

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 128 

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

Shownotes :http://ift.tt/2uI9pnZ
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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