To Reach the Unreachable Star #MondayMotivation with Kim Clayton

Episode 116 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Kim Clayton @kaclayton tells her story of reaching students who have been “given up on” by many. You’ll be encouraged not only to reach the unreachable star but to teach them! Remember why you’re in the teaching profession and be the teacher and reacher!

kim clayton e116

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This episode is sponsored by Bloomz.com

Sponsored by Bloomz I’ve been using Bloomz for three years now and I love it. Go to www.coolcatteacher.com/bloomz to find out why Bloomz is the best parent-teacher communication system out there. I’ve included a comparison matrix with features to help you figure out what system is best for you.

Learn Why Bloomz is the Best Parent-Teacher Communication App

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 116 

To Reach the Unreachable Stars

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

VICKI:          Happy Motivational Monday, teachers. Today we’re having a conversation with somebody I feel like I’ve known forever and have collaborated with her, Kim Clayton @kaclayton from Texas. I finally got to meet her at ISTE, I was so excited. But she had left a comment on a post we had done a while back about how she’s a teacher of what other teachers might call “bad kids” but you know what? This is a really good story. So for those of your struggling with kids right now, let’s take a listen to Kim’s story.

So, Kim, tell us about your “bad kids” and to be clear, you don’t call them bad kids but other people probably would.

KIM:            No, I don’t consider them bad kids at all. But I am currently working in a small school. This school is called the Simon Youth Academy http://syf.org/   and it is a joint collaboration or a joint partnership between the Simon Youth Foundation and the School district I work for which is Katy Independence School District here in the greater Houston Area. And this program is specifically for students who have dropped out of school and they are coming back and trying to finish up their high school diplomas.

Learn more about the Katy Mills Mall location of the Simon Youth Academy. Kim Clayton teaches youth that many have ignored. I first met Kim through global collaboration with Flat Classroom and am excited to see this new venture in my friend’s life!

Build Trusting Relationships

Some of them have a lot left to finish, some of them may only have one or two classes. But the common denominator is that most of these kids, because they have dropped out of school, they feel very marginalized and they feel very, sometimes, unworthy. They’re not very trusting of adults and especially teachers and administrators because most of them have had a very bad experience somewhere along the line that has caused them to drop out of school and feel like they just could not continue in a large school environment. All of the high schools in our districts are very large.

Remember that students who are struggling often feel “unworthy” as Kim says. They are not trusting of our adults. Before you can teach, you have to reach. Before you can educate, you have to relate. We have to work to connect with students and build trusting relationships.

Difficult Students often come from Difficult Circumstances

[00:02:00]

So they come to us with a lot of issues and some of them, to be frank are kind of unlovable. And the very cool thing is we have very small classes. My largest class last year was four students. And so I really get to know the kids, I get them to be able to trust an adult and all of the teachers that our academy are very good at understanding kind of what these kids need.

I’ve had students that have been in jail, I’ve had students that have children, I have students that have run away from home, many of them have been kicked out of their homes by their parents. And so these are the kids that when you have them in a traditional classroom are considered the bad kids. Most teachers do not want to work with these kids who might be acting up not for anything the teacher is doing but just because there’s circumstances in their lives that make it very difficult for them to learn.

VICKI:          And I’m tearing up just as I listen because every child deserves love.

KIM:            We tear up almost every day, Vicki.

VICKI:          It just breaks my heart because, honestly, some of the kids I teach, anybody could teach. I can sit alone in a classroom with a book and teach themselves. And I feel like when I “earned my keep” as a teacher is when I reached those kids that everybody else has written off. And that’s all you have. So tell us a story about the difference you’re making.

We have to be the kind of teachers who reach kids, not write them off. Be a difference maker.

A Story of a Grocery Clerk Who Changed Course and Got Her Diploma

KIM:            Well, let me tell you a story about one of our students who graduated this past year and I must add this was the first year of this program so this was our inaugural graduating class and we had 11 that would not have graduated had it not been for us. And so that makes me feel like I’m doing my job. But I want to tell you a story. [Name removed] actually came to us kind of half way through the year, she came to us through her boyfriend who is a student at our academy.

[00:04:00]

And he just happened to mentioned, well, by the way I have a girlfriend and she’s living with my family and she didn’t finish high school either. And so my principal reached out to her and came in and she only had a credit and a half to finish. And this poor little girl, very beaten down had been in the foster system since she was 12 years old, doesn’t have a home, has been living with the boyfriend and the boyfriend’s family for the past two and a half years since she’s been dating the boyfriend.

And was working at a local grocery store as a checker and really thought that’s what she’d be doing for the rest of her life. And I think she was just very shy, very meek, very deferential to her boyfriend and we started talking with her and realized she was incredibly bright, incredibly capable, she had just never been given a chance. And we found out that in our state if you have been in a foster system anytime during your middle school and high school age group you are entitled to a free education at a state college. And she did not know that and we did not know that.

When she found out that she was going to be able to go to college, if she finished high school, this really motivated her and really empowered her. We saw her just blossom.

VICKI:          Wow.

KIM:            The day she finished – our kids graduate, basically, when they finish. We have a graduation ceremony but when they finish they’re done. And when she finished she walked into my room with the biggest smile on her face and I just burst out into tears because you know that you’re making a difference when you see a girl go, “I’m going to college, Ms. Clayton.” And it’s like, “Yes, you’re going to college.”

[00:06:00]

                    And this is the girl who thought she’d be working at the grocery store for the rest of her life. And so that is why I continue doing what I do. It’s for those kids. And this girl is 20. So she had dropped out of school several years ago and coming back and finishing at the age of 20 which is just very cool.

Game changers. That is who we need to be. Like Kim, you can change the life of children and young adults.

A Pep Talk to Reach Kids Who Struggle

VICKI:          So Kim, this is Motivational Monday and honestly I think every teacher has “those kids.” Those kids who you struggle to love or those kids who just have a hard time. Hurting people hurt people, and they’re hurting. And so they lash out.

And I just want everybody listening to be the kind of teacher who is like you, Kim, and goes for these kids and takes the gauntlet of the challenge of “this is somebody I’m going to reach. “

So give us the pep talk to do what it takes to reach those kids who struggle.

KIM:            Well, my advice to you is just don’t give up. It’s so easy when you’re in a traditional classroom especially if you have 25-35 kids and you have that one child that is lashing out at you, that is causing problems or you have that one child that is quiet and you can’t reach and you know there is something there.

Find it in you to be with that child, to be what that child needs and to reach or to approach that child where they are rather than where you think they ought to be because a lot of these kids have home environments that we cannot even envision. I don’t know what it’s like to be homeless, I don’t know what it’s like to be in poverty.

[00:08:00]

And if we can just meet these kids where they are and be accepting of them, these kids will start to perform for you and they’ll start to open up to you and it just makes all the difference in the world.

You can make all the difference in the world. Just start by getting to know students. Then, you can teach them.

Reach the Unreachable Stars

VICKI:          So at risk of somebody just thinking this is ridiculous, but I keep hearing that wonderful song from Don Quixote to reach the unreachable star, because these kids are stars.

KIM:            That is true, they are stars. And just because they have dropped out of school – most of these kids are extremely bright, they have not dropped out of school because they are not capable, they have dropped out of school because they have had a bad experience. And we as teachers need to make sure we’re not part of that bad experience.

VICKI:          Totally we need to be the one reaching the star, not making them unreachable.

KIM:            Right.

VICKI:          Remarkable educators, I don’t know what other motivation we all need to really go try to reach that unreachable star today. So I just encourage you, take that child who is your unreachable star and make an extra effort today just because you heard what Kim said.

Thank you to Today’s Sponsor

Today’s show is ponsored by Bloomz I’ve been using Bloomz for three years now and I love it. Go to www.coolcatteacher.com/bloomz to find out why Bloomz is the best parent-teacher communication system out there. I’ve included a comparison matrix with features to help you figure out what system is best for you.

[End of Audio 0:09:04]

[Transcription created by tranzify.com. Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email lisa@coolcatteacher.com]

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 To Reach the Unreachable Star #MondayMotivation with Kim Clayton 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/e116/

Why Bloomz is the Best Parent-Teacher Communication System for Me (and Probably You)

Build a better classroom

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Bloomz is my parent-teacher communication system. Last year we implemented it school wide.  It has been a great decision. We’ve gotten more compliments on Bloomz than any app we’ve ever used for parent-teacher communications.

In this blog post, I’m going to share three things:

  1. Comparison with Other Apps  – How does Bloomz compare to other tools? See a full comparison of every feature.
  2. Features – Learn about the 9 features that I think make Bloomz so special
  3. Getting Started – Learn how to get started with Bloomz

bloomz best parent teacher communication system

This is a sponsored blog post. All opinions are my own.
  1. How Does Bloomz Compare to Other Parent-Teacher Communication Apps?

Bloomz has the features I need. The best resource with a side-by-side comparison of Remind, Bloomz, Class Messenger and other tools is the comparison chart from Jessica Meacham. I’ve linked the photo below to the Google Doc where Jessica has this chart. While I chose Bloomz three years a go and she implemented it more recently, now there are more reasons than ever to pick Bloomz.

Jessica Mecham has a comparison of all of the parent-teacher communication systems. She chose Bloomz and I did too. While I chose Bloomz three years a go and she chose it more recently, now there are even more reasons to choose Bloomz.

Jessica Meacham has a comparison of all of the parent-teacher communication systems. She chose Bloomz, and I did too. Click to see the full comparison matrix that Jessica created.

2. My 9 Favorite Things About Bloomz

Here are my nine favorite things about Bloomz.  While some of the other apps can do a few of these, Bloomz is the only parent-teacher communication app that can do all nine. You may have different features that are important to you, so check the chart above.

Click to See Bloomz

#1. The most compliments on any tool I’ve implemented in the last 15 years

parent-teacher communication system

Communication with parents can be easy. Plus, you don’t have to get messages on your cell phone late at night anymore. Bloomz solves so many problems for me. See how it can help you have a better classroom.

At my school, we have a school-wide Bloomz system. Since I implemented it last year, Bloomz has received the most parent compliments of any other tool. I’m glad we set it up.

#2. Parents can choose how to receive updates

Once parents get their invitation for Bloomz, they don’t have to join to get class messages. Immediately, parents start receiving emails every time the teacher or school posts. So, people aren’t left out until they “join.”

Why would you join? Joining lets them choose how they get notifications. Some parents don’t want emails. No problem! Once invited, parents only have to join and install the Bloomz app. After they install it (or log in online), they can set their preferences. They can be notified by:

  • Email
  • Text Message
  • Smartphone Notifications
  • Smartphone notifications (with a quiet period where they won’t get notifications – like at night or weekends)
  • Logging in the website

Notifications are very flexible. Parents are in charge of how they receive information.

#3. Scheduled Updates

Additionally, you can schedule updates. That way, if you need to remind everybody next Tuesday night – you can schedule it today to go out then. The scheduling feature is so convenient!

#4. Share Pictures with Parents Easily (and Privately)

I used to feel the pressure to put all of my pictures online. While I wanted to share some pictures on our Facebook page, I didn’t feel comfortable putting so many pictures online because I take so many! I might dominate the school page.

I also want to respect the privacy of students. Sometimes we’re just having fun. Parents might want the pictures, but maybe not everyone else.

I no longer feel that pressure. Now, I’m able to share all the pictures (or videos) I want with just the class in Bloomz. I’m able to identify individual students, but I’m still able to keep the pictures private. Parents can download the pictures they want. They can see their child doing work, laughing, and engaging in meaningful work in my classroom.

Learn Click to See Bloomz

#5. Private Messaging Takes Things Off Email and My Phone

I also love the private message feature. People can comment people can like things in there, but if they have a question they can message me privately, and I can just help them.

Plus, you can private message to groups of several parents in the app and on the web (something Remind doesn’t do.)

Bloomz private messaging helps me communicate with everyone without having to give my cell phone number out. Because before Bloomz, my cell phone was buzzing all day and night with parent questions! I couldn’t relax. It was too much. It was hard to have private time with my family during the school year.

#6. Quiet Hours Make it So You Can Just Be Contacted When You’re Ready to Work

In your account settings, you can go to notifications and click Quiet hours. This sets the times you do not want to receive email or push notifications. The participants will also see you're in quiet hours, so they'll know you wont respond then.

In your account settings, you can go to notifications and click Quiet hours. This sets the times you do not want to receive email or push notifications. The participants will also see you’re in quiet hours, so they’ll know you won’t respond then.

Bloomz has quiet hours that you can set. So, you set times when you won’t be responding. Those sending messages will see you’re in quiet hours and know that you’ll respond when you’re back online.

Please turn this on if you’re a teacher! Part of having a great relationship with parents is setting expectations. You also need a personal life.

#7. Sharing Video is Easy

This year, I did several fun team building activities. I didn’t really want the video to go on YouTube. I directly uploaded these to my online classroom. (This is something else that not every app will do.)

#8. Group Creation for Sports and Clubs is Easy

Coaches are also thrilled that they can create groups for their teams and clubs. This is something unique feature.

#9. Simple Calendar Import from my SIS

I use the iCal calendar link from my Learning Management System (LMS) and linked it to the class calendar. This saves time. The assignments calendar is in Bloomz right there from my LMS! This is a feature exclusive to Bloomz.

Other Features You Might Like

I haven’t used all of these features but some of them will be interesting to some of you elementary teachers:

  • Behavior Management
  • Student portfolios
  • Volunteer Sign Ups
  • Parent Teacher Conference Coordination
  • Language Translation in more than 80 languages

There are many more features.

3. How Do Teachers Get Started?

Learn More about the School Version of Bloomz

How much does Bloomz cost?

While the Bloomz is free, there are some features that have me looking to upgrade. Premium is $4.99/month. For schools, there is a school-wide premium option which includes SIS integration, an administrator data dashboard, cross-year student timelines, more class storage, and premium support. The free school version lets an administrator invite up to five classrooms. 

Get Bloomz


Now is the time to set up your classroom or your school.

It just makes life easier.

How to Sign up

There are two ways to get started. You can sign up as a teacher or as a school if more than one of you at a school want to connect and share.

Getting Bloomz Approved

This is my favorite video that shares the features of Bloomz. You can share it with your administrators or others who need to approve its use.

How Do I get help?

After you join, the help center of Bloomz has step by step instructions that will guide you. Now is the time to get set up! Tweet or send me a message if you use it for your classroom. I’d love to hear your stories.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Additionally, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. 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.) Please also note that all opinions are my own or belonging to the guest on the show and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of any sponsor or employer.

The post Why Bloomz is the Best Parent-Teacher Communication System for Me (and Probably You) 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/bloomz-best-parent-teacher-communication-app/

5 MistakesTeachers Make the First Week of School

Episode 115 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Linda Kardamis @LindaKardamis shares five mistakes teachers make the first week of school. This episode is intended to be a helpful reminder that will help every teacher start the school year well. We can do this!

Linda Kardamis first week of school

This episode is sponsored by Staples.
Staples is my go-to back to school shopping source. Check out coolcatteacher.com/pro for my 10 Ways to tackle back to school like a pro. And remember to sign up for Staples Teacher rewards for free shipping on orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staples has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to www.staples.com/backtoschool for more information and great deals!

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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 115 

5 Mistakes Teachers Make the First Week of School

www.coolcatteacher.com/e115

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

VICKI:   So today we’re talking about five mistakes that teachers make the first week of school with Linda Kardamis @LindaKardamis from Teach 4 the Heart. And I have to give a hat tip to my friends at Sherwood Christian Academy because they told me about Linda.

So Linda, let me understand and help all of us understand, what are the five mistakes that we do not want to make that first week of school?

Mistake #1: Forgetting How Important the First Week Is

LINDA:         That first week of school is so important and that first mistake is just that, the first mistake is not realizing how important the first week of school is. So sometimes you just think, “Oh, I’m going to jump in, I’m going to be excited” but you don’t realize how important it is to set aside time to really teach your procedures, to establish structure and really make sure that you have all your docs in a row. Because if you make mistakes that first week of school it can really derail the rest of your year but if you start out right it’s really powerful.

VICKI:          It is so much and it is very important how you start. I want somebody to go home and talk about my class the first day because that’s one of the only time parents will say, “Hey, what classes do you like.”

TIP: Work to be memorable. If you want some of my procedures, read Tips on Starting the School Year. Also, our guest, Linda Kardamis, has a Back to School Webinar to check out.

MISTAKE #2: Expecting Good Procedures to “Just Happen”

VICKI: It’s usually what did you do wrong. Okay, what’s the second one?

LINDA:         The second one is expecting good procedures to just happen. Sometimes teachers make two mistakes underneath this one, sometimes we don’t think through our procedures, so we just think, “Oh, we’ll just go to the restroom” without thinking, “Okay, I need a plan for how we’re going to go to the restroom.” The other mistake is just tell your students your procedures. So instead of you just tell them, okay, here’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to pass in our papers. Instead, you actually have to practice it with them.

And I take it a little further, I say don’t just practice. If someone does something when you’re practicing it kindly correct them, be very encouraging and then have them redo the part that went wrong. And if you do that then your students will have amazing procedures.

[00:02:00]

It will take time in the beginning but it will pay off the whole rest of the year.

VICKI:          And my sister who was a teacher for many years said you can never be tougher than you are that first week. And that’s really the time we’re trying to teach, isn’t it?

LINDA:         Yes, exactly.

Two tips here:

  1. Think through procedures
  2. Help students practice procedures consistently, especially at the beginning of the year

Mistake #3: Letting the Little Things “Go”

VICKI:          Okay, what’s our third?

LINDA:         The third one kind of goes along with what you just said. It’s letting little things go. And I did this my first year especially, I didn’t really know how to deal with issues. Honestly I had good intentions, I didn’t want to whack kids on the head for just talking out loud or having their head down or something little like that. but what I did instead is I did nothing, I didn’t say anything, I just let it all go. And what happened was those little problems don’t stay little. They started growing because students thought, “She doesn’t really mean what she says. She says to do this but nothing happens when I don’t”

And so I learned to address small issues the first week of school. And I learned that that doesn’t mean you have to give a consequence but it does mean you have to address it. So even something really simple like, “Greg, we don’t run in the classroom, please step back outside and come in calmly.” Just addressing them instead of letting them go is huge because it’s sends a strong message to our students that procedures matter, we mean what we say and we’re here to focus and learn.

VICKI:          And procedures actually give us a lot of freedom to be creative. Because I know if I didn’t have my procedures in my classroom I would be focusing on the little things and not being able to do these other exciting things, you know?

LINDA:         Right. And I really believe that those first few weeks of school, if you can focus and put on the work of establishing the procedures, establishing structure, then you’re able to do fun stuff the whole rest of the year whereas if you sometimes jump in on the fun stuff before you have your procedures established, then it’s like a right the whole year and you’re not able to do as much as you want to do. Then you can do, like you said, so many fun things you can do with your class.

[00:04:00]

Work to establish the procedures and practice the procedures. Sometimes the little things can become much larger if not addressed at the beginning.

Mistake #4: Worrying too Much About Being Liked

VICKI:          Okay, what’s our fourth?

LINDA:         Number four is worrying about being liked. I mean, we all like to be liked but do we worry about it. And if we let that desire drive our decisions we’re going to set ourselves up for trouble and ironically our students often end up not respecting us and not liking us. So I like to think of it in this way, instead of trying to be a student’s friend, strive to be a mentor. So instead of thinking yourself as a friend, think of a mentor. Because a mentor doesn’t let things go, they have higher expectations, they’re pulling their students up. So you can be both kind and firm, personable but not a pushover, understanding, kind, compassionate but you deal with issues.

And when you’re that type of teacher you gain their respect and they actually often even end up liking you.

VICKI:          I always tell my students you’re going to thank me when you’re 23. That is my goal. That’s when I want them to like me. Not now, because they’re kids and I love them. But kids are kids. Even us adults we make mistakes. And I love the idea of redemptive teaching, of trying to help kids to be able to turnaround that attitude. And also, though, if look at Hattie’s research, the number one thing is teacher expectations.

I was telling somebody the other day. If a teacher says these kids can’t learn go ahead and take them out of the classroom and don’t even waste your year because whatever the teacher believes is what they’re going to receive from those kids.

READ: Hattie’s Relative Influences – “Teacher Estimates of Achievement” are at the top! And remember, you have to have strong expectations of achievement of both your students AND your ability to teach them. What kind of year do you EXPECT to have? Work on your expectations before you show up for work. Your expectations work for you far more than you can understand. If you can raise your expectations, you can raise achievement.

This is especially important for students in poverty. Listen to Dr. Anael Alston about Poverty and the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations.

Mistake #5: Not Being Prepared

VICKI: Okay, what’s the fifth?

LINDA:         The last one is just not being prepared. Do you know what you’re going to do when a student blurts out an answer, then they get up and wander around the room, if they use profanity or any other classroom issue. My first year I didn’t have a plan and because I didn’t I lacked confidence. And so, when these things inevitably came up I did nothing and we already talked about when we did nothing.

So, it really helps to have a plan ahead of time. I even recommend writing it down. And you will talk to other teachers, read blogs, do whatever you need to do but come up with a plan, even if it’s not the best plan in the world it’s better than no plan because if you have no plan at all you’re going to freeze and not know what to do. But if you have a plan it will really help your confidence and your students will be able to see that.

[00:06:00]

Vicki asks Linda about a plan Vicki has to make this year: Students talking when others are talking

VICKI:          And you know, I feel like I have a plan for almost everything but I’m going to give you one of my problems. So I love having classroom conversations but when the kids get excited they over-talk each other and then sometimes they’ll even do it to me. And I teach older kids so the stuff that works with elementary kids is kind of demeaning for the older kids. So, Linda, do you have an idea for me?

LINDA:         When the students are talking they start talking over the top of each other?

VICKI:          Yeah, they’ll start talking over the top of each other and then if I don’t stop it then they’ll do it to me and I just can’t stand it because I feel like each person needs an opportunity to be heard. Sometimes your extroverts will do this more often than your introverts and it can really make it difficult for those introverts to be heard.

LINDA:         Yes. Well, one thing that comes to mind is – Michael Hyatt talk about this all the time and he has the rule and it’s just we have one conversation.   He does this even at his dinner table. And obviously this does take a lot of teaching of the procedure but he just basically says we always have one conversation, in other words one person is talking. If someone else is talking, kind of just teaching them to let the other person finish first. And just not to break into those side conversations.

READ: How to Have Better Dinner Conversations

LINDA:                    Because I know that’s where often where things happen is two students will start talking on the side and then they’ll draw someone else in and like you said, soon everyone is having side conversations. But if you kind of create that expectation that we’re having one conversation, everyone participates in the one conversation and not the side conversations maybe that will help a little bit, I’m not sure. That’s how best I can come with on the top of my head.

VICKI:   I know. And I sprung that on her. But this is just one example of many of the awesome things you can get from Teach 4 the Heart. http://teach4theheart.com/

We’re going to include in the show notes a full webinar that you do, Linda, one the five mistakes teachers make the first week of school.

[00:08:00]

LINDA:         Yeah. If you go to teach4theheart.com/backtoschooltraining you will be able to sign up for this training. There’ll actually be a video [replay] so you can watch it on your own time and get all your tips. We just go into this in much more detail and then we talk about how to correct them and how to start the school year right.

VICKI:          Teachers, get out there and be remarkable and don’t make these mistakes. So I’ve gotten some great advice and I even got some advice for the thing I’m studying on this summer which is – I love this, I love Michael Hyatt too, having one conversation. I really like that. And that will be on my list. And you can see how all of us have something that we need to improve on every year. It’s part of being remarkable, it’s part of improving.

LINDA:         Absolutely.

[End of Audio 0:08:43]

[Transcription created by tranzify.com. Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email lisa@coolcatteacher.com]

Bio as Submitted


Linda KardamisLinda Kardamis provides practical advice and Biblical encouragement for Christian teachers on her website Teach 4 the Heart. She is also the author of Create Your Dream Classroom and the creator of Classroom Management 101 and Teach Uplifted.

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 MistakesTeachers Make the First Week of School 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/e115/

Inspiring Math Excellence in the Classroom with Po-Shen Loh

Episode 114 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Po-Shen Loh @poshenloh, National Math Coach and Carnegie Mellon Professor gives us a refreshing take on teaching math. From giving kids problems with the right level of difficulty to solving problems with students, learn how to take any math student to the next level. You’ll also learn about the open source resource, Expii invented by Po-Shen Loh and how you can use it.

114 po-shen loh math

Thank you, Staples for sponsoring this episode

Staples is my go-to back to school shopping source. Check out coolcatteacher.com/pro for my 10 Ways to tackle back to school like a pro. Sign up for Staples Teacher rewards for free shipping on orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staples has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to www.staples.com/backtoschool for more information and great deals! 

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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 114 

Inspiring Math Excellence in the Classroom with Po-Shen Loh

 

Download the transcript

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

VICKI:   Today, I’m so excited about our conversation with Po-Shen Loh @poshenloh. He’s a professor at Carnegie Mellon and also coach of the USA International Math Olympiad team  , and founder of Expii. And I do want to give a shout out to my friend Junior Bernadin  at Ron Clark Academy, because he emailed me and said, “Vicki, Po is awesome.”

READ: Learn about the USA Math Olympiad Team

Po-Shen Loh founded Expii, but we’ll learn more about what that is later in the show. The site is for high school and middle school students. If you’re working in Math or gifted, it is a site to check out.

See Junior Bernadin’s previous show on the 10-Minute Teacher: How the African Step Dance Ignited Kids at Ron Clark Academy

How do we help students get excited about math?

VICKI: So, Po, people ask you all the time about math and helping students do better in math, and people get excited about math. What’s your answer to that?

PO:              Yes. I actually do get this question quite a lot because I work as a math coach. The answer I give is maybe a little bit disappointing for people who are looking for a recipe of, just do this problem or just do these problems or just read this book.

Actually, I just give the answer, work on things that are hard for you but not impossible. What do I mean by this? So I take inspiration actually from athletic coaching, where what you do to get better is to try to do things that challenge you. What I’m saying is that things for which your chance of success when you’re doing them might be somewhere in the range 25% to 75%; actually we might call that a zone of proximal development.

Don’t believe this number? Listen to Jane McGonigal talking about this in her TED Talk, Gaming for a Better World

READ: Learn more about the Zone of Proximal Development or ZPD

How do we get students in their “zone of proximal development” or appropriate level for math problem difficulty?

 PO: Now, with regard to math practice problems or studying math in general, I actually use the same philosophy. So, for example, sometimes students who are struggling might be on the below end, in the sense that they have an even less than 25% chance of succeeding at these questions.

Then, of course, what we understand is we have to give them more basic questions that they have a better chance on. But on the very high end, the same problem is also true, where we hear about some of our students being bored in class or just trying to get those high 90%.

Actually, if you ever talk to a sports coach and said that you were going to the gym to lift weights and you were lifting weights that you were basically sure you could lift, coach would say, try lifting more. And so that same idea is how I approach the math learning.

TIP: This story Po shares about math problem difficulty relating to athletic training is one that many students and teachers can relate to and understand. Use it when you introduce challenging problems to students.

What is Expii and how can K12 Teachers use it?

Note that Expii is used for science and math problems. https://www.expii.com/ 

[00:02:00]

PO:                    And that’s actually why with Expii the philosophy was, to build a system where we could collect all of the practice problems that people came up with around the world, creative comments open license them, and then serve them to people using this mechanic where we would sense what a person can do and pitch them that question, which is that 50% success probability question.

VICKI:          I love this. So it’s adaptive and free. And it just adapts to what a student knows to give them questions that are challenging but not too easy.

PO:              Yeah. And the key idea I had here was that, we have millions of people all over the world doing practice problems. And if we use the Creative Commons license system, we can basically pull all of this global knowledge from our wonderful teachers and our students and collect – we don’t have to collect other people’s questions; we can write our own questions. But once we write them, they’re permanently free.

So, by using the Creative Commons Licensing system for these math problems, you can pretty much use these problems as you wish (except to sell them.) This means that you can write your own textbooks, share them, or use them as you would any other OER or open education resource. This makes Expii valuable for math teachers and students because of your flexibility in using them.

What makes Expii unique?

PO: And then the idea is that if the software can use the fact that the world is doing these problems to figure out which problems are easy, medium, hard and so on, and then use that statistics in the software to actually feed you a question that is statistically at your level, then you actually have this dream of reaching these questions which are at your level, starting from how ever basic to actually how ever impossibly difficult. But for you, at that point, it won’t be impossible; it would just be 50-50.

So, this means that the algorithms help students solve problems within their zone of proximal development. They’ve done the calculations for you. This helps give students problems at their appropriate challenge level. This is a free site to share with math teachers although it may take some getting used to, particularly for students who have not been challenged in math.

How can creative problem solving happen in math class?

VICKI:          Po, you also talk about creative problem-solving. Now, there are a lot of people who just think, you know, math worksheets; math is math; nothing creative in math. But you disagree. How?

PO:              Right. So I think that a lot of people think that math is about memorizing formulas and concepts and sines, cosines and logarithms. And this is indeed what we see in worksheets. But, actually, those are the triumphs of mathematicians who did creative thinking. What I mean is that the formulas that we learn are the results of creative thinking of the people who found the formulas. And I think that the biggest value of math as a subject is that it lets people get that creative discovery of analytical ideas.

[00:04:00]

So, for example, I just told you about sines, cosines, logarithms; these are things that previous mathematicians did. But when you work on creative problems, which can be challenge problems, then you get a little taste of that feeling that the mathematicians of old had when they did that.

So, for example, when I think about creative math problems, some of the challenge problems in your books or on your exams might be this kind; but, also, I come from the background of math competitions, in the sense that I work with – well, the Mathematical Association of America is the organization that manages the United States’ participation in this International Math Olympiad.

The Mathematical Association of America is convening its #Maathfest starting yesterday, July 26, 2017. Follow the hashtag to learn more.

Learn More: The International Math Olympiad

What is the Mathematical Association of America and what K12 resources can I access?

PO: And the Mathematical Association of America is a historic and distinguished organization with over a century of work in promoting and advancing mathematics. And along that time, some of the things that they created are some really high-quality problems created by professional mathematicians, where the questions themselves are not things that you’d immediately recognize as, oh, I see this, I just use that formula; but rather they’re questions for which when you look at the question, you say, I have absolutely no idea how to approach this, and then you spend the next 15 minutes, 30 minutes being that professional mathematician yourself, coming up with a new way to solve the problem. And that art of creative discovery is actually what gives this taste of creative problem-solving in mathematics.

I mentioned this; I mentioned Mathematical Association of America  so that I can maybe point out a few resources that maybe people can use. These are accessible, findable online. They run competitions called the American Math Competitions.  And the old questions on these contests, called the AMC 12 or the AMC 10 or the AMC 8, or even there’s a wonderful middle school math competition called Math Counts; if you find these old problems, these are a treasure trough of questions that you can think about where you wouldn’t expect a student to immediately know how to do it.

[00:06:00]

LEARN MORE: American Math Competitions  and the Math Counts middle school competition

The old questions from previous math competitions. These are used to help put bright students on the path to participate in the International Math Olympiad.

What are the benefits and challenges of using challenging math problems?

 PO:                   And the fun part is the student wouldn’t have the pressure of feeling like they’re supposed to know how to do it. And instead, the student would have this feeling of discovering a park; or when you go into an unknown place, this, at first, scary feeling of, oh, no, I don’t know what to do, followed by the pleasure of, well, let’s try and let’s learn while we try. So these are ways that one can find such questions.

VICKI:          Do you think some teachers might be scared of introducing these problems into their classroom that they might not know how to help the kids?

PO:              That’s a really interesting question. One thing I should say is that it is actually – I’ll agree; it’s a scary moment to be in a classroom, in front of the classroom, without knowing how to solve the problem.

This is, by the way, how I feel when I teach one of my classes at Carnegie Mellon, which is the math problem-solving class. And I basically am the moderator at the front of the room while people are putting forward ideas on how to solve a problem. And when they go on their new ideas, sometimes I don’t actually know where those ideas will lead. I’ll agree that this is a scary feeling.

But I also feel like sometimes it humanizes me as the teacher, where what I mean is that the students start to see that we’re all just working together to try to solve these things. So there is definitely a moment of scariness, maybe several moments of scariness. If you have the time to build up this rapport with the students, where you all feel like you’re in it together; my sense I get from teaching this class at Carnegie Mellon is that in the end, everyone really seems to enjoy the activity much more because it feels very unscripted, and it feels like the whole room, including the person at the front of the room, is working together to solve this problem.

Is it OK for a Math teacher to say “I don’t know?”

 PO:                   And also, by the way, if I don’t know how to do something, I will say, I don’t know. And then sometimes we’ll just try to figure it out ourselves. If I can’t figure it out during the time, what I’ll say is, well, let me try to figure it out and I’ll tell you next time.

VICKI:          Do you realize, Po, that you have just given all of our K-12 teachers listening permission to say I don’t know; because, Po, you’re a professor at Carnegie Mellon, and you’re admitting you don’t know to your class, and everybody would just expect that you knew how to work all the problems out there, right?

PO:              Oh. Well, you’re right.

[00:08:00]

PO:                   And I will say, the permission to say “I don’t know” is something that I think we all deserve.

Because I think that one message that I like to communicate to my students is, first of all, I don’t know everything; but second of all, if I ever encountered something I don’t know, I am extremely curious to figure out what is true. And that’s actually what they see. Basically, what my students see is that, whenever we get to a point where I don’t know something, suddenly I get really interested in trying to figure out how to do it. And we’ll pull up Google; you know, anyone can help. And I’ve learned so much from teaching my class, where students have taught me things that I didn’t know before. But I think that this mentality that the students will get is that, actually, nobody just knows something; we all discover it from a point when we didn’t know it before.

VICKI:          Well, we’ve heard so many great things. And, teachers, check the show notes, because I’ll put links to all of these resources as well as to Expii, which has a fantastic website. I’ve never heard of it before. And I think it’s just a treasure chest for math teachers everywhere. But I think even besides these resources, one of the greatest things that you have gotten today, math teachers, is an encouragement to solve problems with your students, to say “I don’t know,” and to be in it with them. And it really makes for a remarkable experience in math.

PO:              I’ll actually say, this is what makes it fun for me to play as a teacher as well. I used the word “play” because I always feel like the unknowns are the most exciting things to attack. Thank you.

[End of Audio 0:09:28]

[Transcription created by tranzify.com. Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email lisa@coolcatteacher.com]

Bio as Submitted


Po-Shen LohPo-Shen Loh is a math enthusiast and evangelist. He is the national coach of the USA International Mathematical Olympiad team, a math professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and the founder of expii.com, an education technology startup providing a free personalized learning platform on every smartphone.

As an academic, Po-Shen has numerous distinctions, from an International Mathematical Olympiad silver medal to the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award.

His research considers a variety of questions that lie at the intersection of combinatorics (the study of discrete systems), probability theory, and computer science.

As an educator, he led Carnegie Mellon University’s Putnam team to its first-ever #1 rank among all North American universities. His approach to coaching the national Math Olympiad team received significant press coverage after the USA’s historic back-to-back #1-rank victories in 2015 and 2016. Through Expii, Po-Shen extends his activity to the global mainstream, combining algorithms and crowdsourcing to deliver a free artificial intelligence powered tutor for the world of math and science.

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 Inspiring Math Excellence in the Classroom with Po-Shen Loh 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/e114/

Creating a Nurturing Environment for Kids with Nancy Blair

Episode 113 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Nancy Blair @blairteach, middle school principal, and #edchat leader gives us practical ideas to create a nurturing environment in our schools. As a result of these programs and ideas, Nancy has seen discipline problems reduced in the last three years she has served as the principal.

113 Nancy Blair Creating a nurturing environment

Podcast Sponsor

Staples is my go-to back to school shopping source. Check out coolcatteacher.com/pro for my 10 Ways to tackle back to school like a pro. And remember to sign up for Staples Teacher rewards for free shipping on orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staples has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to www.staples.com/backtoschool for more information and great deals! 

See Staples Back to School Deals

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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 of Episode 113

Creating a Nurturing Environment for Kids with Nancy Blair

VICKI:   Today, we’re here with one of my favorite principals, Nancy Blair, @blairteach to talk about creating a nurturing environment for students. So, Nancy, you’re a principal. How do we create a nurturing environment for students?

NANCY:       Well, and let me say, I’m also a middle school principal, which is an interesting age to connect with children because you have so many children that do want to connect, who still want to hug on you, and you have other ones who want to be considered adult-like and they would just assume you won’t end their sphere.

So, it can be a critical challenge to build relationships with children in middle grades. In our building, we’ve made that a priority. We’re a [Georgia] Lighthouse School to Watch, so that means that we make an extra effort to be not only culturally responsive but that we also want to be socially equitable and developmentally responsive in addition to the academics.

Read: Georgia Lighthouse Schools to Watch

Idea #1: Activity to Determine Your “Disconnected” Students

VICKI:          Wow. That sounds like a big task, Nancy. I mean, how does that look with creating a nurturing environment? Because — it’s a lot of big words?

NANCY:       Well, when I first came here, that was a primary goal of mine. And so about halfway through the year, we did an activity and we had the teachers, in five minutes, list the names of all the students that they knew; not only ones they were currently teaching but any students whose names they knew. And we compiled a list. And then we found all the children that nobody in the building, 60-some teachers, nobody mentioned.

[00:02:00]

And then talked about why does this happen, how can this happen, and what do we need to put in place to make sure this doesn’t happen. We over time have continued that kind of practice to make sure that every child has some kind of positive contact with people that somebody really knows them. We take the time to build relationships with children through teambuilding activities and just conversation.

Tip: Take time to do this activity during pre-planning. Give each teacher 5 minutes to list every student they can remember. Then, compile a list of those teachers don’t know. Divide up students to make sure each child has a teacher who is relating to that child on a personal level. You could also do follow ups to see how you’re doing. What a fantastic idea!

Idea #2: A Technique to Build Connections Between Teachers and Students

VICKI:          What would a teambuilding activity look like between you and your students?

NANCY:       Well, this isn’t exactly a teambuilding activity but it’s something that we started this year, which has also led to increased student relationship building and the sense of belonging and caring in the building. And we started an activity period once a week that’s cross-grade level. And it’s interest-driven.

The children had over 50 options to sign up their first, second and third choice, and they range from physical kinds of activities like team sports or running or walking, to robotics and working on their science fair project. There’s a quiet reflection room for children who want to just think and be and pray, whatever they want to do quietly to themselves; reading, do-it-yourself groups.

And so, tapping into the children’s interest and allowing them not only to sign up for what they wanted, but they are free to suggest activities that they would like us to have a group to do, it’s made a huge impact on the student population. And the teachers talk about getting to know the children in a different way, and children that they don’t normally see. It’s been really quite incredible to watch that unfold.

READ: Connect with Students: Getting and Staying in Touch with Every Student – if you need to understand how you as a teacher can do this in the classroom, Jenny Magiera has some ideas for how to do this from my previous podcast show.

VICKI:          So that’s once a week for how long?

NANCY:       That’s a 45-minute period. And it changes quarterly. So, we are encouraging children to try new things, but if they have a passion and an interest, just keep that, if that’s what they want to do.

VICKI:          So, you’ve given us two incredible things. You know, in five minutes, listing all the students you know, and that’s just an unbelievable activity. And then having these unique experiences. Do you have any other ideas?

Idea #3: Create opportunities for older students to relate to younger students

NANCY:       We do have our sixth graders who write letters to the incoming sixth graders, telling them what to expect. We have a group of students called Panther Partners, because we’re the Rising Star Panthers, that tour and connect with every new child who comes in the building.

[00:04:00]

So that we, from the very beginning, make sure that children have somebody to connect with. We’ve increased, through our literacy program, problem-based and passion-based learning so that children feel like they’re the drivers of their learning and that they’re invested in what they’re doing.

A conversation about disconnected students

VICKI:          I’d like to go back. I’m just really sitting here thinking about, you know, every school probably has these kids that nobody knows as deeply as they should. Did it just break your heart when you found that there were students that people didn’t have close relationships with?

NANCY:       Yes. And more importantly, teachers were shocked. And I can’t remember – this was almost three years ago; I can’t remember the exact percentages. But they were shocked at the high percentage of children that nobody mentioned. And it did vary by grade level.

VICKI:          Wow. So, did you see anything change when you really focused on those students who had kind of, I guess, been left out of mind?

NANCY:       Yes. Because I think that just bringing that to awareness of the faculty helped a lot. And they’re much more intentional about the kinds of things they’re doing with children, the kinds of conversations they’re having with children. We’ve really made an effort to engage children in people-to-people conversation and not just only academic conversation. And I think that helps.

Relationships Can Improve Discipline

VICKI:          Well, we have to relate before we can educate. Do you feel like that the relationships have improved over the last few years?

NANCY:       I do. And our discipline figures have declined every year over the last three years. So I think that that plays into it. We also administratively make a very big effort to be visible and make connections and conversation with children, especially at lunchtime. We wander through the tables and engage children in conversation so that they see us as people.

CHALLENGE: Go look at the lunchroom at your school. Are administrators and teachers interacting and speaking with students? Can you tell that there is a relationship building.

Read: 5 Ways for Living Large in Lunch Duty Land

VICKI:          Wow. And you can see so many things at lunch. I mean, you can see the kid eating by themselves, you can read the body language. I mean, there’s just so much you can pick up on at lunches, isn’t there?

NANCY:       Right. That’s very important.

VICKI:          Okay. So just be in there; you’ve got some fantastic ideas for nurturing.

[00:06:00]

How do we define nurturing?

VICKI:                   And let me ask you this, Nancy – and we probably should have done this at the beginning but we didn’t – how would you define nurturing? Because, you know, I know some people who don’t really like the word “nurture”. I don’t know why, but they don’t.

NANCY:       Yeah. I would define nurturing as caring in a supportive way, that we need to provide the supports necessary and the relationships with children to – it’s like watering flowers. They need care and love and support in order to be the people they need to be.

The vision of our school is to inspire and prepare children to succeed, and it ends right there. Because our goal is that children be successful in whatever they choose to do, and that they have the skills necessary to be prepared to be successful. Whether that next thing is high school, whether it’s further on in life, we want them to be prepared; inspired to do something, and prepared to do whatever it is they need to do.

How does the lack of nurturing in some homes impact what we do at school?

VICKI:          I think one of the most heartbreaking things, Nancy, is that some kids maybe aren’t being nurtured at home. Do you see that?

NANCY:       Yes. We do see that. Of course, we make every effort to be the area where children can connect when they don’t have somebody to connect with.

VICKI:          Yes. And that makes nurturing more important than ever.

So, remarkable educators, to be remarkable, you have to have that relationship. You do need to nurture students. You do need to encourage and care about students. And we have gotten some fantastic ideas from Nancy Blair. I also want to give a shout out to EdChat Radio, her podcast program in the weekly chat, and all that she does alone, because she does share with a lot of us her experience as a middle school principal.

SUBSCRIBE: Listen to Nancy’s Podcast #edchat Radio

NANCY:       Well, thank you, Vicki, for having me.

Thank you to our Sponsor, Staples

VICKI:          Staples is my go-to back-to-school shopping source. Check out coolcatteacher.com/pro for my 10 ways to tackle back-to-school like a pro.

[00:08:00]

And remember to sign up for Staples Teacher Rewards for free shipping on orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staples has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to staples.com/backtoschool for more information and great deals. Good luck with back-to-school.

Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at coolcatteacher.com/podcast. Never stop learning.              

[End of Audio 0:08:37]

[Transcription created by tranzify.com. Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email lisa@coolcatteacher.com]

Bio as Submitted by Guest


Nancy Blair taught middle school English and reading before becoming a middle school administrator. Her varied career includes a stint in the USAF, work with non-profit groups, public school teaching and administration, and school improvement consulting before assuming the principalship of Rising Starr Middle School, a Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch. Nancy co-moderates #edchat weekly on Twitter and co-hosts the Edchat Radio podcast.

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 Creating a Nurturing Environment for Kids with Nancy Blair 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/e113/

23 GSuite Ideas to Excite Your Students about Learning with Eric Curts

Episode 112 – The 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Eric Curts @ericcurts  teaches us twenty-three ways to use Gsuite tools in our classroom. With ideas for Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, and Drawings for all subjects and ages, you’ll want to scroll down and follow the links in our enhanced show notes.

eric curts 28 ways to use gsuite

Podcast Sponsor

This episode is sponsored by Staples. Staples is my go-to back to school shopping source. Check out coolcatteacher.com/pro for 10 Ways to tackle back to school like a pro. And remember to sign up for Staples Teacher rewards for free shipping on orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staples has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to www.staples.com/backtoschool for more information and great deals!

Check out back to school tips for teachers

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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 of Episode 112: 23 GSuite Ideas to Excite Your Students about Learning with Eric Curts

Download the transcript

VICKI:          It’s back to school and so many of us are getting ready to introduce the G-Suite of tools in the classroom for those of you who don’t know what that is. That’s all these Google tools. And Eric Curts @ericcurts from Control Alt Achieve   and co-leader of their higher Google Educators group has so many fantastic ideas. You’d definitely want to check the transcript and show notes for all of these ideas.

This blog post is being added to 100+ Great Google Classroom Resources for Educators. This resource has a curated list of Gsuite resources, books, and tips.

You’ll definitely want to go to Eric’s website Control Alt Achieve and his YouTube channel.

VICKI:                    So Eric, give us some cool ways that we can use G-Suite to start of the school year with a punch.

ERIC:               What I’m going to take a look at here as we run through these today are just some of the common Google tools that we tend to use but maybe look at them from a different angle and some fun ways they can be used. So why don’t we start off with Google Docs. http://www.controlaltachieve.com/docs

Today, Eric goes through some engaging ideas for using 4 of the Gsuite apps:

    ERIC:               Most people think of that as Google’s word processing program which obviously it is and that’s a fantastic way for students to write reports and wrote stories on all the normal things. But some fun twists that you can put on this, some folks don’t know that Google Docs support emojis. You can actually insert emojis right from the ‘insert special characters’ menu and it’s going to open up a lot of really fun activities for students.

Idea #1: Write Emoji Stories

Idea #2: Summarize Something You’ve Seen or Read Using Emojis

If you’re looking for a way to get them engaged and excited early on in the year, they can write emoji stories or they can summarize a story or a movie or something they’ve seen recently using emojis.

See: 5 Emoji Activities for Google Docs  where Eric describes how to do all of these emoji activities including the emoji math picture shown below.

Idea #3: Use Emojis to Explain Math Variables

ERIC: They can also incorporate this into math. Yes, I used to be a math teacher so I just have a soft spot for math.

[00:02:00]

Emojis can be a great way to replace variables to bring a better concrete understanding of what you’re doing when solving math problems. And then there’s a lot of other possible neat examples. And like you said in the show notes, there’d be links to all of my blog post that go into the specific details on those. But that’s a fun thing.

Emojis help variables come alive and make sense. See Eric's blog post on emojis in Google docs to learn how to do this.

Emojis help variables come alive and make sense. See Eric’s blog post on emojis in Google docs to learn how to do this.

Idea #4: Black Out Poetry in Google Docs

ERIC: While still on the topic of docs another neat thing to do is to use the highlight tool but not for highlighting. Let’s turn it on its head and use it to black things out. In Google Docs you can use the highlighting tool to do blackout poetry where students start with some text and then remove all the words except what they want to leave for their found poem, you can also use the exact same tool to do summarization.

Idea #5: Article Summarization with Black Out in Google Docs

It’s a process called text reduction strategy which is typically done with a big black marker and an actual piece of paper or an article, but you can do it in Google Docs as well, you can take an article from one of the many excellent websites like DOGO News, throw that in there and have the students go through and remove everything that’s not critical so that they end up with their summarization of the article. It’s a great way to help move students toward those summarization skills.

Read More: Improve Reading Comprehension with Google Docs “Black Out”

Idea #6: Choose Your Own Adventure Stories

Beyond that, lots of other fun things you can do include creating choose your own adventure stories. Create one for students to work together in a group where they write a story and use hyperlinks inside of the doc to jump to different pages as they write their choose your own adventure stories.

Those are just a couple of Docs ideas.

Read More: Choose Your Own Adventure Stories with Google Docs

Idea #7: Teach Anchors and Hyperlinks

VICKI:          And plus, choose your own adventure, we give you the ability to teach about anchors and teach about hyperlinks. There are so many things you can do with these ideas. I love them, Eric.

A hyperlink links to another web page. (Just go to insert –> Hyperlink.) However, an anchor links within the document. This lets you skip down a long page. I do this an easy way in a long document by making headings. Then, insert a table of contents. The headings automatically become anchors. You can also insert anchors manually.  they are a big time saver for students and teaches on long documents, for example, if you’re writing a book.

ERIC:           Absolutely.

VICKI:          Okay, what’s next?

ERIC:            Sure. Let’s jump over to Google Slides. http://www.controlaltachieve.com/slides

A lot of times we think of Google slides as the presentation tool, which of course it is, and there’s nothing wrong with that, please don’t get me wrong. It’s fantastic for kids to just do a presentation. Stand up in front of the class, do a book talk or talk about their explorer or their animal. But there’s a lot of other fun things you can do with slides.

Idea #8: Comic Strips with Google Slides

[00:04:00]

ERIC: One way to do is to create comic strips with Google Slides.   And what you can do is think of each slide as a different panel of the comic strip. And students could then insert clip art and animations and speech bubbles. And when they then published that to the web you’ve got an online animated comic strip, whether it’s to explain a vocab term or science concept or retell part of a story.

Read more: Creative Slide Uses for Students

Idea #9: Create eBooks or Storybooks with Google Slides

In the same vein you can create eBooks or storybooks with Google Slides   where each slide is a page of the eBook and you are allowed to change the page dimensions, it doesn’t have to be the normal landscape. You can make it portrait, you can make a square to make it whatever size book you want.

Read: Google Slides for Student Created Storybooks

Idea #10: Create Stop Motion Animations in Google Slides

Other fun things include stop motion animation. This is a fun trick you can do with slides where basically you just speed up the slide show by hacking the URL just a little bit on the presentation so that you get each slide going by maybe a quarter of a second and you can either take actual photographs using the built-in webcam of your Chromebook or whatever device you have or you can just add images and move them around from one slide to the other.

Read: Stop Motion Animation with Google Slides

Idea #11: Dr. Seus Manipulative Slide Show

But, again, it’s another great creative way for kids to tell stories or express their understanding. Beyond that, some other fun things you can do especially with the little ones – I do have a bunch of manipulative type slide shows. We’ve got a one-fish, two-fish, red-fish, blue-fish sorting activity,   that’s great when you’re doing Dr. Seuss stuff.

Read: “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” Sorting with Google Slides

Idea #12 Build a Snowman Creation and Writing Activity with Google Slides

I’ve also got a Build a snowman one.    You may want to hang off on that a little bit further into the winter month, there’s great template that allows students to build their own snowman with a wide collection of eyes and noses and mouths and ears and hats and all sorts of other things. And so they copy and paste those onto their snowman and then there’s a box where they write a little story about what their snowman has done that day or what he’s going to be going off to do.

So lots of real fun things that you could do with slides besides just a traditional presentation.

Read: Build a Snowman with Google Slides

Idea #13: Pixel Art in Google Sheets

VICKI:          Now, all these hacks, you have cute little videos and tutorials and things to help us. So we’re just giving you teachers an overview and then you could pick what you want. So do we have time for another?

[00:06:00]

ERIC:                Sure. Google Sheets  is another fun one. We usually think of Google Sheets as something for math or for doing charts and graphs and it certainly is. Don’t forget that it’s always great for that. But it’s also a great way to do things like pixel art.   I have a template that you can use where you simply put in some letters there and it creates a colored in box for each one of those and you can make pixel art.

Read: Pixel Art Activities for Any Subject with Google Sheets

Idea #14: Random Writing Prompt Generator with Google Sheets

ERIC: Or how about language art with Google Sheets? Absolutely. Sheets are great for randomization.

So I’ve got two templates for random writing prompt generators.  One gives works being randomly put together…

Read: Random Writing Prompt Generator with Google Sheets

Idea #15: Random Emoji Writing Prompt Generator

ERIC:  …another one is random emojis being put together.   And both places, it allows you to generate a whole bunch of random writing prompts that will be great for journal entries, short stories or poems.

Read: Emoji Writing Prompt Generator with Google Sheets

Idea #16: Create Graphic Organizers with Google Drawings

ERIC: Beyond that, if we can still squeeze something in I’ll throw in Google Drawings. http://www.controlaltachieve.com/drawings

One of my favorites, I think it’s overlooked a lot of times because it’s kind of hidden down in the menus there but Google Drawings is a great way to do loads of things including graphic organizers…

Read: Language Arts Graphic Organizers with Google Drawings

Idea #17: Create Interactive Posters with Google Drawings (These are like Thinglink)

ERIC: …interactive images which is like ThingLink, people are familiar with that.  You can use Google Drawings to make images and put hyperlinks on that branch out to videos and websites and additional information.

Read: Googlink: Creating Interactive Posters with Google Drawings

Idea #18: Magnetic “Drag and Drop” Poetry

ERIC: Google drawings is a great way for creativity with magnetic poetry, drag and drop poetry.   It’s also fantastic for math.

Read: Eric has two articles on magnetic poetry

Idea #19: Use Manipulatives and Tangrams in Google Drawings

ERIC: A lot of great manipulatives and interactives you can do such as teaching congruent figures and similar figures,  partitioning shapes…

Read: Pattern Block Templates and Activities with Google Drawings

Idea #20: Download Templates to Teach Shapes and Algebra So You Don’t Have to Create Them Yourself

ERIC: we’ve got algebra tile, pattern blocks, lots and lots of templates that I’ve created that you can just hit the ground running with those.

Read: 11 Ways to Teach Math with Google Drawings

Idea #21: Create Greeting Cards Using Google Drawings

ERIC: But Google Drawing also services well as a desktop publishing tool because it really isn’t something built into Google Suite that quite does what Microsoft publisher does. And so Drawings is a nice stand in for that for things like creating greeting cards, I’ve got a couple of templates for that…

Read: How Your Students Can Use Google Drawings to Make Greeting Cards

Idea #22: Make Motivational Posters in Google Drawings

ERIC: as well as making educational, motivational posters.  We’re used to those big black posters with the big picture and word at the bottom with a neat saying. Those can be done for actual motivation topics or you can pick a vocab term of the week and then add an appropriate image to go with it and a definition in your own terms.

Read: Have Students Create Educational “Motivational Posters” with Google Drawings

Idea #23: Explore Templates on Eric’ Site

[00:08:00]

ERIC:And all of those again, those templates are all available on the control of the ControlAltAchieve.com website.

Read: Here is an index of templates on Eric’s site. What a fantastic resource!

VICKI:          Teachers, I know your mind is blown but here’s the thing, you’ve all got great ideas, whether it’s emojis for variables in algebra there’s so many ideas. So one of the greatest things to do with kids is to show them something they’ve never seen before. And the best time to do that is in the first week or two of school. Blow their minds.

Follow the links in the show notes and I love Eric website particular because he shows us how to do stuff but also all the free templates. I have been tweeting out and sending out stuff of his all day, the day we’re taping here just because I love it. It’s great resource for G-Suite. And good luck with back to school. And get in there and use these tools and have some fun.

Thank You, Staples, for Sponsoring Episode 112 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast!

Staples is my go-to back to school shopping source. Check out coolcatteacher.com/pro for my ten ways to tackle back to school like a pro. And remember to sign up for Staple’s Teacher Rewards for free shipping orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staple has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to staples.com/backtoschool for more information and great deals. Good luck with back to school

Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at coolcatteacher.com/podcast. Never stop learning.

[End of Audio 0:09:43]

[Transcription created by tranzify.com. Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email lisa@coolcatteacher.com]

Bio as SubmittedEric Curts


Eric has been in education for 25 years, and is currently serving as a Technology Integration Specialist for the Stark Portage Area Computer Consortium in Canton, Ohio where he oversees Google Apps for Education implementation, training, and support, as well as online learning and other technology integration initiatives.

Eric is an authorized Google Education Trainer and a Google Certified Innovator and provides Google Apps training to schools, organizations, and conferences throughout Ohio and across the country. He is a co-leader of the Ohio Google Educator Group (GEG) at tiny.cc/geg-ohio and runs the award-winning blog www.ControlAltAchieve.com where all of his Google Apps and edtech resources can be found. Eric is married with four children.

The post 23 GSuite Ideas to Excite Your Students about Learning with Eric Curts 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/e112/

Transform Learning this School Year with Eric Sheninger

Episode 111 – The 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Eric Sheninger @E_Sheninger motivates us to transform learning this school year. We’re starting Season 2 with a bang and a big book Giveaway, Learning Transformed by Eric Sheninger and Thomas C. Murray! Enjoy!

episode 111 eric sheninger (2)

Podcast Sponsor

This episode is sponsored by Staples. Staples is my go-to back to school shopping source. Check out coolcatteacher.com/pro for my 10 Ways to tackle back to school like a pro. And remember to sign up for Staples Teacher rewards for free shipping on orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staples has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to www.staples.com/backtoschool for more information and great deals!

Listen to the Show
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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 of Episode 111: Transform Learning this School Year with Eric Sheninger

Download a PDF of the transcript

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

Today’s show is sponsored by Staples, my back to school shopping location for my classroom. Stay tuned at the end of the show and I’ll tell you how to get my tips and trips for back to school.

Get motivated to transform learning this school year. This is episode 111 and the start of Season 2.

The Ten-minute Teacher podcast with Vicki Davis. Every week day you’ll learn powerful practical ways to be a more remarkable teacher today.

Eric Sheninger and Tom Murray have a new book, Learning Transformed. We’re hosting a giveaway. Click here to see how to enter.

VICKI:   Welcome to Season 2 of the 10-Minute Teacher. Today we have one of the most motivational people I know for our Motivation Monday, Eric Sheninger @E_Sheninger has a new book that he has co-authored with Tom Murray @thomascmurray called Learning Transformed. http://amzn.to/2tWOSLF

So, Eric, how can you get us pumped up to transform learning this school year?

ERIC:           When we think about transforming learning I think we have to look first and foremost at why we do what we do and ask our kids. All kids have greatness hidden inside them, it is the job of an educator to help them find and unleash it.

An essential mindset for starting the school year

Our mindset is perhaps one of the most important things we have as we start the school year. If we look at students as having greatness inside and view our job as unleashing greatness. It makes a big difference!

ERIC: How do we help them unleash it? You know what, first off, we got to focus on the ‘what ifs’ instead of the ‘yeah buts’. We have to look at the opportunities and the potential of the tools, the ideas, the pathways, the strategy that we have now to unlock creativity and limitless potential of our kids.

I think as we begin the year it really comes down to this, don’t prepare students for something, prepare them for anything. So as we reflect on our practice, how do we prepare kids for anything, how do we move past the status quo, how do we change our thinking? Because if we utilize the same old thinking we’re going to get the same old results. And when we think about transforming learning, Tom Murray and I spent well over a year looking at the research.

[00:02:00]

We unearthed over 180 research citations to focus on the why. I love the work of Simon Sinek @simonsinek, and if you have not watched his TED Talk on leadership  and focusing on the why. It is a great way to start the year.

Motivate and Inspire Yourself to Be Remarkable

Start the school year with your colleagues by showing a video get in the right mindset. The Simon Sinek TED talk is a great one. If your principal doesn’t show you videos, watch it yourself to get in the right frame of mind. Don’t let the doing keep you from being the kind of teacher you need to be!
https://embed.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action

ERIC: But if we don’t articulate the why, our vision, our mission, our values it is kind of fuzzy. My message, Vicki, to everyone listening is as we think about out beginning of the year, celebrate our success, celebrate what we do well, but keep an eye – where do you want to be? And what are those areas of our roles that we can do what we do better?

VICKI:          The why is so important and I hate say this – and my mom won’t be listening to this particular podcast, I hope, but sometimes our big ‘buts’ get in the way, they really do because so many times you talk about something transformational and then somebody look at you and here you see, and it’s coming and it’s coming and they say, ‘but’ and you’re like, “Please, let’s just focus on these students.”

We start building a culture of trust with our colleagues and students on the first day.

ERIC:           Yeah it’s interesting. ‘Buts’ really put up a barrier, a roadblock. And that road block inhibits us from building a culture of trust. We need to build a culture of trust with our kids, with each other. When we think about our work, when we think about learning, it all comes down to relationships. Without trust, there is no relationship, without relationships, no real learning occurs. And those ‘buts’ just enable us to, again, revert back to a fixed mindset, status quo, this is the way we’ve always done things and yeah, I guess it’s worked.

But when we think about kids the world is different. Kids are learning differently, the environment in which they learn is different. So we need to think, learn and act differently.

VICKI:          Yes, you have to relate before you educate.

Yes, you will hear me say this a lot. You have to relate before you educate. Before you create. Before you innovate. You relate first. I believe I’m a better teacher now because I’m better at relating and building those relationships. On Wednesday in episode 113, Nancy Blair will talk about a genius idea to help a whole staff relate better to students.

VICKI: Now, Eric, I want you to travel back to the time when you were principal and you’re looking at those teachers and you’re thinking about the first day and you’re about to give the a pump-up speech to really reach those kids and leave the past behind and move behind, what do you say?

[00:04:00]

Eric Sheninger’s essential reading list

Leaders are readers and readers are leaders as John Maxwell says. (I paraphrased a bit.) I keep a list of books I might want to read in my to-do app. Many years a go, I read that Brian Tracey says to be in the top of your field, you need to only read an hour a day. That has been my habit for at least eight years now and it does make a difference. Here are some great books to start reading.

ERIC:           Well, I can tell you what I did many, many years ago. Part of my mindset shift was reading a lot of books. I read Drive  by Dan Pink, Linchpin by Seth Godin, Outliers   by Malcom Gladwell, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and I read another book, it was called the No Complaining Rule  by Jon Gordon and the rule was simple. Let’s not complain, we don’t want our kids to complain but complaining helps to create an environment that’s not conducive to change innovation. So when we think about our complaints and we think about our challenges which we have, we have realistic challenges. I would encourage everyone to think about solutions. If we focus on solutions as opposed to excuses and challenges we can truly begin the process of implementing the type of changes that our kids will appreciate.

And the other thing I would say is put yourself in the shoes of your students. Would you want to learn under the same conditions as your kids? Would you want to learn in the same environments as your students? And I think that gives us a lot of motivation to begin to change our practice, help our kids see value by modeling and implementing a better way.

The Biggest Mistake Educators Make Starting the School Year

We need to lear from our mistakes. But if we learn from the mistakes of others, we can get better, faster.

VICKI:          So Eric, what’s the biggest mistake educators make when they start the year?

ERIC:           I think the biggest mistake is we’re so focus on getting the schedule set up, going through our syllabus, going through the rules the expectations, going through them monotony of school. Basically, we’re prepping the kids for another year of school. And I think we have to flip it. I think instead of going through the monotony of the job and what we think we have to do because that’s the way it’s always been done, what about thinking about asking kids, engaging them, why are they here? Why is learning important? How can we together create an amazing learning experience for you? What do you need to be successful?

[00:06:00]

And I think taking Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5Tw0PGcyN0 , the why, the how, ‘the what’ to sort of flip that first experience we have with our kids can really jumpstart learning and begin to set the stage for a pretty exciting things as the year goes on.

VICKI:          So Eric, how do you have that conversation? Because honestly, some kids, if you say why are you here, it will be “because mama dropped me off”?

ERIC:           And that’s the challenge. If kids don’t see the ‘why’, we don’t engage kids enough at understanding the significance of learning. And I think we have to have those more conversations, we can’t be afraid of having difficult conversations because if we let that mentality go on, as the year goes on we just run the risk of losing kids more and more. And I think that ‘why’ is tying into the bigger picture, the bold new world of work, the exciting world and thinking about our interest of our kids, aligning that in the beginning days to the work at hand. It’s a difficult conversation, Vicki, but I think it’s a conversation we shy away from much too often.

A remarkable school year starts by captivating kids on the first day. How will you do it? Sure, we need to cover procedures but think about what students will SAY about your class on the first day when they go home to their parents. The first day is an important first impression. Use it well!

VICKI:          Well, and I believe that a remarkable school year starts by captivating students on the first day and I don’t know if anybody’s syllabus is exciting enough to captivate someone’s mind and capture their heart.

ERIC:           I don’t think so. And I think in our book, Learning Transformed, Tom and I talked about redesigning learning experience and we really don’t focus as much on personalized learning as we do personal learning. Get to know your kids, find out how their summers went no matter how old they are. Find out what books they read, what did they do with their free time and use that as a catalyst to plan future lessons, future units, future projects. Get kids excited about why they’re in your classroom and what they’re going to gain from that experience.

VICKI:          So Eric, we’re going to do a giveaway of your book, the information will be in the show notes. Tell us quickly about it.

[00:08:00]

About their book Learning Transformed

Enter the book giveaway competition.

ERIC:           Learning Transformed was Tom Murray and my attempt to bring all of the research together to, again, emphasize the ‘why’ but the showcase innovate practices in action. We don’t just present a ton of research, we present educators across every position that are implementing change, that are getting results. Sir Ken Robinson @SirKenRobinson said in his words, “This is a manifesto for the change that we need in schools.” And that’s a lot coming from Sir Ken who’s work on creativity we all appreciate.

So I think educators will find it research-driven, evidence rich and sort of it showing how we can bring efficacy to all the amazing ideas that we’re talking about.

VICKI:          So educators, let’s get out there and have a remarkable year. And Eric is giving us so many wonderful ideas. So let’s get motivated.

Thank you Staples for sponsoring this episode.

Our sponsors help keep this show going. I’ve been sharing my favorite products for makerspaces and other tips for back to school shopping for this year. Thank you for supporting our sponsors.

Staples is my go-to back to school shopping source. Check out coolcatteacher.com/pro for my ten ways to tackle back to school like a pro. And remember to sign up for Staple’s Teacher Rewards for free shipping orders over $14.99 and 5% back. Staple has everything we need in stock all season long and ready to go for school. Go to staples.com/backtoschool for more information and great deals. Good luck with back to school

Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at coolcatteacher.com/podcast. Never stop learning.

[End of Audio 0:09:49]

[Transcription created by tranzify.com. Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email lisa@coolcatteacher.com]

Bio as Submitted


Eric is a Senior Fellow and Thought Leader on Digital Leadership with the International Center for Leadership in Eric SheningerEducation (ICLE). Prior to this, he was the award-winning Principal at New Milford High School. Under his leadership, his school became a globally recognized model for innovative practices. Eric oversaw the successful implementation of several sustainable change initiatives that radically transformed the learning culture at his school while increasing achievement. He has emerged as an innovative leader, best selling author, and sought after speaker

Competition to Win the Book

Learning Transformed Book by Eric Sheninger and Thomas C Murray

The post Transform Learning this School Year with Eric Sheninger 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/e111/