Recently a team from my district, Rocklin Unified, visited the Ponderosa High library as we're looking for ideas and inspiration in what do with our high school libraries. You see, we are re-purposing space as books which are no longer being used are being moved out. The “what to do with this space”, is a tough question as everyone from teachers to librarians to admin, all have an opinion.
I am part of this team which is looking into options and I thought I would share a little as we begin our process.
I have been recently inspired by both seeing incredible share outs from the CUE BOLD conference earlier this month (check out the hashtag #cuebold to see the conversations about space and lesson design) AND I finished reading this book which you should all get your hands :
“The Space: A Guide For Educators” by Rebecca Louise Hare and Dr. Robert Dillon
The description, “a revolution is happening in education concerning reshaping school spaces to better support learning. This book goes well beyond the noise on learning space design that focuses on pretty Pinterest classrooms and moves towards a more sophisticated conversation about how learning spaces support and drive brain-friendly learning” is a testament how we can look at the classroom and other spaces like libraries as a key ingredient to help student learning and connecting to schools. It is an easy read and will serve as an inspiration to you or to others whom you may be trying to nudge in this direction.
I will just share two of my takeaways from this trip… 1 Big… 1 Small
1) Big Takeaway
What she has created is NOT about the furniture or the tech. It's NOT about revolutionary, crazy images you see on Pinterest. Its IS ABOUT A MINDSET SHIFT of changing the culture of your space. She shared that “the library is the heart, the hub of the school” and they have a belief that “when someone needs help, they go to the library”. This a shift away from the purpose of some libraries which act as a quiet place to go for silent study or to check out materials. Pondo’s library is a place which wants students to come to learn and to socialize and to connect to the school; not just to check things out. Jennifer shared that they had to think about both the physical space and their purpose as a library staff. .
Here’s some of her early ideas:
“Light bulb idea #1: Ask my principal if I can be at the new teacher orientation next year.”
“Light bulb idea #2: See if I can embed myself into a new cohort of teachers”
Here are some of my photos from this trip. You will notice that is not the high end expensive flexible furniture and tech but from reading her blog, you will see how see even with a small budget and a purpose, you can create a shift.
I loved how it shows that she is also a reader and life long learner. It can be a conversation starter about books that can lead to connecting with kids which is always a win.
During my drive back home I said… “I’m making one of these for me and offering to do one for each of my teachers” (oh... I did ask Jennifer about this!)
And here is what I did.
I made this in Google Slides, shared with the staff in a video tutorial how to embed their Bitmoji using the Chrome extension and had them make their own slide. A few staff had me do this for them and others made their own. I picked up some of these stand on Amazon, printed them in color and then sent them over.
Want one for yourselves? Here is my template, feel free to make a copy and modify it as you wish. Customize yours too, for example I changed it a bit since I love listening to podcasts plus I talk about film in my video production class, so I put my most recently watched film.
I’d love to see yours!
Last month was a bit of a PD whirlwind for me. The two big events I was part of were CUE 18 in Palm Springs and the California Council of Social Studies in San Diego. I have wanted to spend sometime blogging about these events for all the reasons why journaling is important.
But, with that being said, I still haven’t begun to put down my thoughts from those events yet. The reason for this post is simply that I want to reflect and share ONE inspiring moment. ONE moment which I am bringing back to my own district and ONE in which that I feel is more meaningful than almost any tool or tip I’ve shared before.
These are the words from Diana Hess from her keynote “Teaching in a Time of Political Change” from the CA Social Studies conference.
In trying to digest the her keynote, I found myself without a seat, standing in the back and feverishly trying to take notes on my phone. This is NOT the best way to record one’s thoughts and feelings, but there I was with backpack on and swiping away on my phone. Has this happened to you... been in this situation where you are feeling that swell of emotion and motivation but questioning yourself as you write and wondering "how can I get down on paper how inspired I am feeling now, and better yet… how can share these feeling to my colleagues back home”?
That was me.
How can I replicate those emotions and passions I am feeling?
But I did have a few things going for me to help:
1) I had someone filming parts of her speech from his seat in the audience
2) I found a modified version of her keynote on YouTube
3) I bought her books!
After trying to digest these, I've created this post
We are teaching in an extremely challenging age politically; it’s hard to argue that democracy itself is in good shape. Hess showed an impressive collection of data that demonstrates just that point, showing an ever increasing polarization of the left and the right in our country. (see below an animation showing this)
But should this mean we bury our head in our curriculum and stay the course?
No, now should be the time to have these conversations!
“every student in the United States regardless of where they live; regardless of their race, or their ethnicity, or their religion or their social class or their citizenship is afforded a high-quality political education”
~ Diana Hess
Starting this is not easy. There are barriers. And like any barrier, it will be a challenge to overcome it.
What teachers can do are to create and scaffold lessons where students have opportunities to discuss (not just listening to the teachers). In these discussions teachers can help students to learn to speak clearly and back up ideas with evidence as well as learning to listen with civility with those of different views.
Arghh... hold on... I feel like I am not doing a good job in getting her message across.
So, how about this... I found a shortened version of her talk online. Check out the video below. I will be sharing this clip plus my notes from this with educators back in my own district in Rocklin. You can view the video link and my notes from this on this document.
Best of luck to you all on your journey with these kinds of conversations.
I have wrote here in my blog about using Padlet in EDU and yesterday the company itself announced that they are switching to a subscription model. They say there will always be a free option but it appears as if this version is extremely limited. This subscription they are pushing is a $99 per year per user. They did not offer any education pricing plan and needless to say, the response on Twitter has been pretty harsh. The feedback shows a mass of frustrated and disappointed teachers who are either asking Padlet for an education price or looking for alternatives to turn to.
I have a few thoughts on this subject, I’d like to share.
First… This reaction to this announcement is pretty telling. It shows that users of this tool love it and that they know how to use social media to try and demand change. From looking at Padlet’s responses on social media, it’s quite clear that they heard from the world of education. Now, it will be interesting to see how they respond.
Secondly, I am supportive of developers and feel that we as users should pitch in and help fund those who make programs we use. Many of us have grown accustomed to software being free. And to me this is quite odd. How many other services or goods do we use daily that we don’t pay for? But, the trend in software has changed from “buy it once and I own it” to “pay for a yearly subscription”. It's clear that the reason for this is that these developers need an ongoing stream of revenue. The problem for the general classroom teacher though is, “I like this XYZ program but do I like it and find it useful enough to pay for it yearly for god knows how long?”
In education we use tons of software on a daily basis and much of that is often district or site based and the classroom teacher does not take on the burden on paying for this out of their pocket. And as some of the news reports as of late from teachers in states standing up and striking is that many of us already are paying out of pocket for supplies.
So… if I can give some advice to Padlet, here it is. One… go back in time and don’t roll this out in the middle of the national dialogue about teachers not having enough funds for the classroom supplies. Two, talk to educators (and by this I mean REGULAR CLASSROOM TEACHERS) before you come up with your price point. The dilemma I see is
“do you charge a lot like $100 a year and get a small number of folks using it”
“do you drop it down to $20 a year and get a higher volume of teachers?”
I would lean towards quantity not quality.
For me there are several apps and tools I use which I love (Voxer for example) that I would really LIKE to pay for, but their pro account is just too steep
Lastly… I have an idea for those of you looking for an alternative to try out. I started this a year ago when I got more and frustrated with Padlet and their backgrounds. You see, I wanted to make my own graphic organizers and have kids add their comments and contributions to specific areas of the document. But, you see, Padlet’s backgrounds adjust based on people’s screens… which means that it is impossible to do a lesson like this. I decided after realizing this to switch to GSlides as backgrounds there are fixed.
So, I added a few more backgrounds plus added some tips for teachers and created this GSlides Template. For those of you who don’t play with the MASTER in GSlides, it's a neat way to create placeholders for text where the user will be forced to write. Once you get the document, look at the slides and then go to SLIDE LAYOUT and see how I changed all of these to different Brainstorming and Graphic Organizer choices to pick from. Please play with these and if you have a layout or idea you would like to see added to this, please reach out to me and I will try to add more.
Like so many other educators, recently I have been moved to tears and emotions with the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
In this blog, and also the two podcasts I am part of, I share about teaching ideas, resources, and other musings. But it was the conversation I saw today to the arming teachers with guns which inspired me to speak up and share about something different.
As I saw the president bring up the conversation about arming teachers, I truly became even more frightened. Seeking a solution of an arms race between the “good guys” and the “bad guys” is a recipe for disaster.
Gun control today is not a “political statement”
Gun control today is a NECESSITY
Have you had one of those moments where you saw something that rallied a spark inside of you? For me this was the #ArmMeWith movement. This is the reaction on social media by thousands of educators who are sharing what they REALLY want to be armed with.
This began with two teachers Olivia Bertels and Brittany Wheaton
Check out the #ArmMeWith search on Twitter and get a glimpse of what we are all saying we really need
So here is what I can offer.
I can offer my voice. My voice here on this platform saying “now is the time”
I can offer my support to the masses of other educators who feel the same
Lastly, I can offer my templates (yes, how I love templates) where you can make your own #ArmMeWith images
Click here to get a copy of this Google Slides template
Please join the community out there if you feel like now is the time to let the nation know what you need.