In today's climate of personalized instruction, the classroom space needs to be conductive to learning. The design of our classrooms need to support collaboration, flexible grouping, station rotation, and preferential seating in order to optimize on teaching and learning.
Join Amanda Grundel (@agrundel) this Sunday night (9/25/16) to discuss ways to design a classroom that is conducive to collaboration and learning.
The last few years has seen tremendous changes in the educational landscape and technology has been at the epicenter of most of that movement. There are more schools today that have laptops or tablets in the hands of their students. Many schools have been able to move to a completely 1:1 initiative and some states, led by Maine have done this throughout the entire state. The initial reaction to this would be that it will have an entirely positive impact, but is that really the case. Are all educators, schools and districts embracing this shift and preparing themselves properly to be sure that if technology is in the hands of their students, are they utilizing it properly and effectively.
With this infusion of technology, their must be changes in pedagogy and terms like Blending Learning and Flipped classroom are often heard. What exactly does that mean and who is doing it well. I must tip my hat to my friends at the Highlander Institute and all of the ground breaking work they are doing with teachers throughout the state, known as #FuseFellows. These teachers and administrators are being trained on cutting edge Blended learning strategies and techniques and then taking that knowledge back to districts throughout the state and sharing this knowledge with their colleagues to help support our statewide growth towards fully embracing and implementing the opportunities that technology and a blended learning approach offers our students.
This past year we saw our state, under the leadership of Governor Raimondo, fully embrace a movement toward computer science for all, a initiative known at #CS4RI. The goal of this initiative is to see every high school offer computer science by December of 2017. The statistics show that there are plenty of jobs out there in the field of computer science, but not enough qualified talent. The goals of this initiative are admirable and we are hopeful as a state to get there. One of the biggest underlying issues that comes along with is not only producing the talent, through computer science instruction, it is properly preparing the teachers to be able to teach the computer science courses. The state through the Office of Innovation has designed a planned and rolled out a number of unique offerings and opportunities and our higher educational institutions will be called on to join in this effort.
Finally, our students, know as Generation Z, also know as Digital Natives, have been growing up with technology all around them, in their hands or at their finger tips. What are we doing as educators to embrace this reality, or are we still just saying no, shutting off access, or making students turn off and put away their technology upon entry to our schools or classrooms. I would argue that we can no longer, as educators ignore that technology must become part of the instructional process in our schools. I would also point out that terms like Digital Citizens and Digital Footprint need to become part of our vocabulary and we need to both understand them and implement plans to address them. In today's times all students must be taught what it means to be a digital citizen and how they need to be aware of and positively design their digital footprint. Once again statistics show that colleges and careers are looking and through their digital footprint, students are making a first impression, whether they like it or not. Let's help them to make sure that it is a positive first impression.
Join us Sunday night at 8 PM on #EdChatRI as we kick off our 2016-17 school year with this very important conversation that is impacting all of us.
For the past 20 years I have worked in the field of Public Education, first as a teacher in both upstate NY and RI, then as an assistant principal at both the Middle and High School levels and finally as a principal for a Transformation High School in Pawtucket, RI, Shea High School for the last 4 years. At each step along my journey I was pushed by a desire to improve the lives of the students I worked with. I wanted to make sure that because of the time they spent with me, these students would have a better opportunity for success in life, whether it was through our social interaction, or the knowledge that I was able to impart on them. That is largely why I moved from the classroom to administration at the age of 29. My hope was that in each new role I might be able to impact a larger group of students. Instead of impacting the 120 or so students that I had in my classes, I was now working with the 1000 or so students in my school.
About 5 years ago I became what many of us in education call a Connected Educator. By using the power of the internet and social media, first Twitter and now LinkedIn, I expanded my influence and benefited greatly from the knowledge of others. I have been able to learn an immense amount in short period of time. At one point a few years ago, I tweeted that "I have learned more in 18 months, than I did in the last 18 years, because of Twitter". For someone who is not connected that may seem like a ridiculous statement, however it was best explained by Todd Nesloney (@TechNinjaTodd), a colleague who I have been digitally connected with for about five years, but only met for the first time at the 2016 Model Schools conference last month. He said, "connecting on social media is like going to Disney World…it is difficult to describe to people who have never experienced it”. The experience of being a Connected Educator at Model Schools was best captured in a recent blog post The Magic of Being Connected, by another friend Chuck Gardner (@charleswgardner), who I also originally connected with virtually, but finally met face to face at Model Schools.
I have always believed that relationships are the key to everything that we do in life and certainly in the field of education. The reality is that relationships today are in many ways much different than they were when we were younger or even five years ago. Today, many relationship start online and often never result in face to face interaction. However, it is the conversations, the learning and the networking that occurs across states, countries and even the world, that helps us improve ourselves and in turn, those around us, including our teachers and students. Having experienced the growth as a Connected Educator for the last five years, I believe that we have an obligation now to our students to help teach them how to become Connected Learners. In doing so, we also have an obligation to teach them how to become successful and appropriate digital citizens, because although the internet and social media can be a tremendous tool to use in personal growth, it can also be a place where people, students in particular, create a negative impression of themselves, know as their digital footprint. This footprint, can stay with them for life and it can impact them as they apply to colleges and eventually careers. Research shows that colleges and employers are looking and using the information they find to make determinations about acceptance to schools and/or hiring of employees.
Although schools have a major focus on content knowledge, specifically in the areas of ELA, Math and now STEM, it is clear that the soft skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, public speaking and networking are going to be vital to their success in life, so we need to make sure that as educators we are supporting our students with the tools and knowledge to grow in these areas as well. Knowledge is changing and doubling so fast. In his article for Industry Tap, David Russell Shilling, examines how prior to 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of WWII knowledge was doubling every 25 years, compared today, where it is doubling every 13 months and according to IBM, the build out of the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours. Since we are preparing our students in many cases for jobs that do not yet exist, let's make sure that we teach them these soft life skills to better prepare them for any workforce setting.
As I’ve myself experienced the value of networking and benefited from the many connections I have made over the last 5 years, I am excited to now be in a position to impart these lessons onto many students. I’ve recently taken on a position as VP of Education Innovation at GoEnnounce. I am very passionate about the award winning learner profile platform GoEnnounce has created which helps students develop, grow and understand the value of a Personal Learning Network (PLN). Continued use of GoEnnounce teaches students these important people skills and empowers them to be connected learners. I believe that with continued use of GoEnnounce students will learn these important people skills and be empowered to grow their own network that will ultimately be able to do the same for them as it did for me.
Another amazing year of #EdChatRI has come to a close. This year we had guest moderators from all of the country who covered many different topics. Each year #EdChatRI has continued to grow and improve and embrace the idea that we always had for it. A place where we can all come together as educators to learn, grow and improve. In #EdChatRI we have created a powerful Professional Learning Network (PLN) that supports the work we all do as educators.
Also, this year we will have a sponsor for the first time for our Summer Party. GoEnnounce, which is an e-portfolio platform that helps students develop, grow and understand the value of a Personal Learning Network (PLN), while at the same time teaching digital citizenship and preparing our students with the skills to be successful in college and a globally competitive career market.
This year's #EdChatRI summer party will take place on Friday August 12th, the day after the RIASP Summer Conference. Time and location to be determined. Keep an eye out for the invitation that will follow in the next couple of weeks. We hope to see many of you there, for some food, drinks and a great time.
Parental involvement is an important factor in a child’s education. Due to that fact, it is necessary for schools to work with parents effectively. Some school districts offer opportunities for parents to be part of the decision-making process by sitting on panels; but, many schools struggle with including parents. Many parents work or simply do not know how to be involved. Since parents and educators are partners and open communication should take place, the question becomes: How can schools include parents in the decision-making process?
Join @agrundel on #edchatri this Sunday at 8 pm as she moderates a very important discussion on parental involvement.
In January 2016 a 19 person team was appointed by the Rhode Island Senate known as the Ocean State World Language Learning Commission. Under the direction of Senator Juan Pichardo our team is tasked with studying the impact of the state school funding formula on English language learners, dual language learners and multi-language learners. We are also tasked with making recommendations on how to position Rhode Island as a national leader in language learning as outlined in the Rhode Island Roadmap to Language Excellence.
As Senator Pichardo stated, “Rhode Island has an opportunity to capitalize on a great resource, a multilingual citizenry which can help position Rhode Island as a national leader in language learning and position the state as an economic leader and compete in a global society.”
We have a great opportunity to take a lead role on the national scene regarding the education of language learners and on Sunday night we are going to utilize one of our state’s best platforms for learning and communication, #EdChatRI.
The data has shown that our English Language Learning population of students is growing and it is no longer just isolated to the Urban communities, so come join us Sunday night at 8 pm, where you can find out how to better serve our ELs and how to better prepare our teachers.
In education we always hear, “lifelong learner”, but what does that really mean? In a very fast paced field, where there is change happening all around us, is there more effective ways that adults learn? Are we effectively utilizing professional development?
Join guest moderator @YanaizaGallant this Sunday, at 8 pm, as we explore adult learning and how it impacts our profession.
Join Kirsten LaCroix (@PRNRI) and Donna Braun (@PRNofRI), from the Center for Leadership and Educational Equity’s (@leadforequity) Principal Residency Network/Learning Leader Network, as we engage in dialogue on the importance of building and supporting leadership development in Rhode Island. The best way to ensure any school improvements are sustainable is to build the capacity of all educators in schools to work as leaders. A commitment to leadership throughout a school is a key force to ensuring high and equitable student learning for All RI students.
Sunday’s #edchatri will provide us with the opportunity to engage in discourse about the best ways to empower leadership at all levels of the school, from building the capacity of teachers to facilitate learning communities, to supporting novice and experienced principals to stay the course and make urgent and sustainable changes that serve all our RI students. We will discuss the many ways that facilitative leadership practices create the culture and conditions to increase efficacy of a school community. Specifically, we will share resources and collective knowledge on key practices, such as creating a learning community that can give and receive feedback that is critical to their practice, and urgent to the learners that they serve.
Integration is an important aspect of any curriculum. It is beneficial for students when they start to see how subject areas cross and blend into each other. Art integration is especially helpful in the content areas because it helps lead children on engaging, creative, and personalized learning paths.
Join Amanda Grundel (@agrundel) this Sunday, April 3 for #edhcatri as we explore the possibilities of blending the arts into content-area classes.
Behavior…ours, theirs, the good, the bad, and the ugly! This week’s #edchatri topic will be all about behavior. When most educators hear the word “behavior” they think of compliance type behaviors (e.g. sit in your seat, raise your hand, use appropriate language, etc.), but behavior is much bigger than that. Academic behaviors, for example, like taking notes, studying, managing your time, are critical behaviors for success in school, college, and career (I bet you know adults that could still use some work in this area, right?). Engagement, motivation, attendance, even 21st Century Skills are all behaviors and all instrumental to student success, but ironically educator preparation rarely includes much training on the topic of behavior.
Join Nicole Bucka (@nbucka) this Sunday night, March 20th at 8 pm, to collaborate and share resources around shaping skills that some would argue are even more critical to college and career than academic learning.
Don Miller -