The trend of positivity continues at Brandon! Our Executive Director of Education, Mrs. Spann, began our day with great professional learning about Cultures of Thinking. At Brandon we are all about making thinking visible and intentionally nurturing the cultural forces in our room to help every student recognize the value of their thinking. We value thinking of students, families, and staff.
Always leading by example, Mrs. Spann led the K-5 Brandon staff in a "Word, Sentence, Phrase" thinking routine. The routine works like this: "Review the text that you have read, select a sentence that was meaningful to you and helped you gain a deeper understanding of the text, a phrase that moved, engaged, provoked or was in some way meaningful to you, and a word that captured your attention or struck you as powerful." (from arizona.edu, taken from Project Zero) Mrs. Spann used a web tool called Padlet to capture the teachers thinking about the article. Padlet is a flexible tool that operates like a digital cork board where users can post in a "sticky note" format. It's a great way to collect thinking quickly using computers, tablets, or smartphones.
The second part of our day was led by my teammate and partner teacher, Mrs. Gieselman. She is also the math coach for our elementary schools. Mrs. Gieselman led great development about the new Bridges math program we adopted district wide. The program uses visual models and multiple strategies to help create a deep understanding of math for students. Mrs. Gieselman used Infuse Learning to collect feedback about her training today. She will use the data collected to meet the needs of teachers and students in the future. Infuse Learning is a learner response system that works on many platforms as well, and allows a teacher to collect information quickly and efficiently.
Tonight was Back to School Night at Harvey-Swanson and Oakwood Elementary. Back to school night is always a great opportunity to meet with kids and families. Both principals made outstanding welcome back videos using iMovie for the iPads. Mrs. Stewart and Mr. Phillips uploaded the videos to YouTube and we were able to show them to our parents as they visited our rooms. It was fantastic to see technology used to effectively communicate in this setting.
Some teachers also used iiMovie to create some introduction videos. These short videos were also uploaded to YouTube, like the videos the principals made. The videos were then attached to a QR code and hung outside classrooms. What was neat about teachers doing this was the wonderful teamwork that went into making the videos and troubleshooting the many steps necessary to attach them to QR codes. "QR" stands for Quick Response. The codes were originally used in the automotive industry in Japan, but now are used for many different things. Check out the Wikipedia article for more information than you ever wanted to know about QR codes.
It was such a pleasure to meet each family and student that came tonight. I can't wait for Tuesday!
Today was an excellent day to be an HSE teacher and a "high tech hawk," as our new shirts declare! HSE teachers had their staff retreat followed by popsicles with the principal. It was great to feel the energy from both the families and the staff about next year. We're on to some great things here in Brandon. Check out the gallery below of teachers and administrators working together to make cup pyramids using a rubber band with four strings attached. The activity made us communicate, respond quickly, learn from mistakes, and create a plan. On top of exploring some great teamwork activities, we explored some great technology and apps that we will be using next year. We went through our plan about rolling our technology to teachers, students, and families. There was certainly a buzz at Harvey-Swanson today! Also, If you haven't got the buzz for this year, watch the video below. Kid President is certainly inspirational.
Today I attended my fourth edCamp "unconference." It's called an unconference because of it's unstructured nature. There isn't a predetermined schedule for an edCamp, whoever comes gets to post discussion ideas and lead conversations about certain topics. Edcamps are open to anyone interested in staying on the cutting edge of education and learning from others, but they are mostly attended by educators. Edcamps are a great place to build relationships, learn, and have fun.
This was the first edCamp held in Flint. I saw a lot of faces I recognized from other edCamps, and I met a lot of people too. You may notice Mr. Medvinsky in the pictures, it's great to be able to stay in contact with great teachers no matter where they are in the world. The sessions were great, and I feel fortunate to have connected face to face with other educators from all over Michigan. I was able to lead a discussion about the transition to 1:1 for Harvey Swanson next year. I received a lot of great insight from other teachers that will certainly make our transition better. I also met some other teachers who will be valuable resources to call on as we continue to embrace the maker movement in Brandon. I'm grateful to The Holmes STEM Academy in Flint for hosting us today!
Instructional Technology Coach