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Monday, November 11, 2013

Verizon Commercial and How to "VTS this picture." It's as easy as 1,2,3!

#edcampKC was November 9th at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art

#edcampKC group photo on the front steps of the Nelson Atkins!

Our learner-created Flickr Set of pictures was a focus of our day since...

One of our big themes for #edcampKC was visual learning. 

  • Teachers and kids in schools live in a world of largely written text. 
  • We should use art and visuals (create and view them) in learning more than we do, but how? We need some help there. Common Core Standards address this as well.
    • Lucky for us there's a method that the Nelson recommends and teaches teachers to use. It is called VTS or Visual Thinking Strategies. A plethora of resources on VTS can be found at The Nelson is well on its way to becoming the VTS hub/training center for the midwest. Watch for training on VTS and educator courses. I'm signed up for all educator art courses in the winter/spring. 
  • If you have any questions about using VTS, these are your (3--it's as easy as 1, 2, 3) people at the Nelson-Atkins! They work with teachers from the greater KC area and beyond. They are looking to SKYPE into classes. That could be into YOUR class. :)
Adrienne Lalli-Hills
Coordinator, School & Educator Services
Rosie Riordan
Head, School and Educator Services
Sarah Sims
School Partnerships Liaison

During #edcampKC, Sarah Sims and Rosie Riordan led an activity/discussion/questions on VTS.

Can all teachers feasibly work VTS into their units (all subjects)?!


    The heart of VTS'ing a picture is the 3-step method that's easy as 1,2,3...
    VTS. ALL teachers, ALL Contents.

    • It's open ended/non-judgmental, inquiry based, taps into emotions, and asks for evidence. 3 questions. Once you do it in your class a few times you can tell your kids to"VTS this picture" and they will know what to do! (...and I'll bet you they'll like it.)

    FYI: VTS is a group discussion experience. It is not designed to be individual, although it should start with time to look quietly before sharing and listening. I took part in a VTS activity with art in the Nelson in October. I learned so much and SAW new things and NOTICED new things as a result of sharing by members of the group.

    None of this--> 'That's the right answer, Johnny." Just acknowledge their statements and seek the next hand up. Let each learner share and add to the group's growing knowledge. It's a cool experience.


    Here's an example of people being asked to approach art in an open-ended way similar to VTS. Just saw it on TV after #edcampKC actually, and I thought VTS immediately. It's a nice place for someone unfamiliar with VTS to jump in and see that it is accessible and doable.
    Watch this short commercial. What parts the 3 steps above are used? Which are not?

    The 'teacher' says the following 2 starter phrases akin to the 1st one in VTS series!
    "How do you react when you see this?"
    "What do you see here"

    He does not follow up with asking for evidence or pushing on, but this is just a commercial looking to make a point. :)

    Notice how Verizon used art/visuals/map instead of TEXT and it was effective....both for content and for the commercial. Can you imagine them reading the answer and doing the commercial? LOL

    Adrienne, Rosie, and Sarah all recommended this New York Times series of VTS picture activities--and it is a weekly event! These are easy to access and understand. We can all do VTS. It's as easy as 1,2,3!

    Good luck getting started. 15 minute activity. 3 questions. Group activity/discussion. You can do it. Now just try it!

    More ideas and info on VTS in the future!

    Learner-created #edcampKC 2013 Flickr Set -- Nelson Atkins Museum of Art

    2 #edcampKC learners on the front lawn of the Nelson. (Connecting and Photographing)8:15 morning view of the Nelson-Atkins: #edcampKC Nov 9th --  67 degrees and sunny was unbelievable forecast.Sign crafted by Adrienne Lalli-Hills of the Nelson Atkins!#edcampKC t-shirt!Your #edcampKC Lead Learners yukking it up for the camera. :) (Be proud. LOL.) We had THE BEST time arranging OUR day of learning at the @nelsonatkins! THANK YOU NELSON ATKINS STAFF! You are a true gift to our #kansascity #community since you help bring kBefore the rush of arriving learners!
    Nelson-Atkins Bloch LobbyBefore the mad rush of #edcampKC learning community comes in the glass doors....things are ready! StartupWelcome! The very start of the check-in at #edcampKC at the Nelson Atkins Museum!"I went to a museum and an edcamp broke out! #edcampkc" @wmchamberlain on TwitterTwo #nkcsedu colleagues starting the day off with laughter!#edcampKC learners looking colorful and bright!
    2 friends from way back! #edcampKCAquila Court: #edcampKC TECH CAFE location complete with fountain (Yes, it will be ON!) Pull up a camp chair from the hallway!edcampkcUP the Nelson Atkins and a world of wonder! #edcampkcFree photography books the Nelson had out for #edcampKC!Chris and I
    #edcampKC organizing team! Laura and KyleNew Friends at #edcampKC!Don't forget to fill out your official Raffle Ticket!!Filling out his official #edcampKC raffle ticket!Amazing educators and colleagues! (one of them is a former student and pre-service teacher at KSU!) #nkcseduReady for a great day of choice-based learning--#edcamp Style!

    My dream of holding #edcampKC at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, a Kansas City cultural icon, came to fruition on Saturday, November 9th! A heARTy thank you to Adrienne Lalli-Hills who answered a million questions/emails from me and who truly helped make this dream happen! If not for her efforts, kindness, and work, we couldn't have experienced edcamp learning at the Nelson.

    Kyle Pace and I had a grand day in the 4th #edcampKC and 1st one at the Nelson-Atkins.

    The venue itself took our day and our learning to a new level. The weather was 67 degrees F and sunny. Group picture on the front steps went off with lots of laughs and a funny passerby-camera-dude. A mural/art room complete with Kyle Pace's mom's cookies. The Educator Resource Center where the staff signed teachers up to be on committees with them to help get art into all contents via Skype and more! A packed-house raffle at 3:30 thanks to Kansas City coming through with many awesome KC gifts acquired through JUST CALLING AND ASKING! Raffle was fun.

    Our #EdcampKC themes at the Nelson were Visual learning (VTS-visual thinking strategies), Conversation, Learning out Loud, and Reaching out to and engaging the Community.

    Kyle is sending out a feedback form to all attendees today along with an attendee badge for blogs or websites. I've already talked with the amazing staff at the Nelson today about #edcampKC 2014. Adrienne has set a tentative first planning date in February.

    Our issue of the day was, you guessed it, wifi. We crashed it and people could not access from computers/tablets unless they had hotspots. Once people jumped off, you could get on but it was a frustration we'd hoped would not present itself. It pushed the focus to conversation and people adjusted. We want to erase that problem next year. The Nelson education staff told me today they want to help solve that issue. :)

    More blogposts to come on #edcampKC takeaways and on VTS.

    Thanks to everyone at #edcampKC. Every person present was an important part of the cumulative experience, the conversations, the learning, and the FUN.

    Enjoy the Flickr picture set as your VISUAL story of our day. The set is still growing as #edcampKC'ers send their pictures to my Flickr email address.

    Monday, October 28, 2013

    Our school's Cancer Awareness Fundraiser Event in pictures!

    Our school's cancer awareness fundraiser was a positive and moving experience because it involved teachers and students working together in FUN for a good CAUSE. Purpose, people!
    The orchestrator!!
    Ms. Lloyd!

    The orchestrator was this lady right here, Ms. Lloyd! She worked tireless hours on this and it happened because of her drive and vision to DO IT. It was a school-wide effort but thanks to her passion and drive it HAPPENED! 

    Teachers and kids want this to be an annual event. Perhaps at an #edcampNewMark one of the teachers (or kids?) will write this down as a session and work it from there. 

    Here's how the hour-long assembly was set up!

    **Anyone in our school learning community could buy tickets at a dollar each throughout the week leading up to it. The assembly took place in the gym and outside the gym on the blacktop from 8:10-9:10 am.
    "100% of proceeds will be donated in an equal split between Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer."
    **Buying a raffle ticket earned kids the chance to be picked to do one of the following activities to a teacher during the assembly:
      • Pie a teacher in the face--9 teachers signed up for this
      • Flour-bomb a teacher--8 teachers signed up
      • Escort a male teacher in a dress--7 teachers
      • Shave a teacher's head--2 teachers
      • Cut a teacher's hair for Locks of Love--4 teachers, 1 student signed up!

    **The Raffle drawings took place the the afternoon before the assembly: Winning students for each of the activities were announced via intercom. They went to the Commons for a quick meeting with Ms. Lloyd about how the fun was going to unfold the next day. :)

    The next day the gym was filled with 'us' and with music and applause, and laughs and smiles. Tarps all over one corner of the gym. The events simply played out, one after the other. We ended outside with the flour bombs. 

    All this fun was to help raise awareness of and funding for a serious disease that has affected so many of us.

    Click below to see the VISUAL STORY of our day ON FLICKR:

    Flickr photo set: NMMS Cancer Fundraiser Campus Event!

    American Cancer Society Receipt from our school's Cancer Fundraiser Event--$1,175.00 to Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer!
    Receipt from American Cancer Society in KC!

    <-- We raised $1,175.00 for Cancer! Ms. Lloyd delivered the money to the American Cancer Society here in Kansas City. The money was split equally between Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer.

    Funny: 4-picture PhotoSTORY of Ms. Nguyen's flour-bomb experience! (as seen in the Flickr set)
    Makes me laugh every single time I look at them. You can run but you can't hide! :)

    Let's do this! Flour power!
    On the run......! Flour power!

    You can run but you can't hide... Flour power!
    Is that a dress?! Flour power!
    This is the GOLD MEDAL (flour) shot. Wow!!
    (photographer: Sy Porras)

    The Beauty of Flickr: Coach Porras took many of the pictures and we uploaded them to my Flickr account (via our shared Dropbox picture folder). Students who took pictures sent them to my Flickr email address. Once in Flickr they can be edited, tagged, commented on, and ultimately shared. 

    Instead of keeping this event and celebration within our school learning community, we can share it via pictures on Flickr, blogposts, and tweets. LEARNING OUT LOUD to share with others our day and our experience. 

    Here's to more sharing and caring between connected learners!
    Cure Cancer!

    Friday, October 25, 2013

    Put a Vertical Panorama on your Horizon.

    So how do you do a vertical panorama?! 

    I stood in the MIDDLE of the Pin Oak and Red Maple you see below.
    The trees are actually very close together. You can't see much of the sky in between them.

    I selected Pano on my iPhone 5, turned my phone on its side, then SCANNED up into the sky….. from the ground UP the trunk of one tree to the top and then down the trunk of the other tree to the ground again. 


    I took at least 6 panos trying to get the arc just right so that the trees were straight on the top and bottom. LOL Going SLOW was the key. 

    Vertical Panorama flip: Earth below me, earth above me. Here is my best tree pano from this afternoon in 3 different looks . (Linked to my Flickr account.)

    Vertical Panorama: Earth below me, earth above me. Vertical Panorama: Earth below me, earth above me.

    Sunday, October 20, 2013

    Night at the Museum: My experience using Visual Thinking Strategies ( in an educator class at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

    Check out this website, which was the basis for my educator art class story below.

    And the story begins.....

    So there I was signed up to take -------> the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. Date: October 17, 2013. Time: 6:30-8:00pm. Wasn't sure what to expect. I was excited about it, though. A nice byproduct of having #edcampKC at the Nelson is that I've needed to explore it so I'm familiar and can set up experiences educators can learn and grow from on Nov 9th and beyond. I belong to the museum now and am spending more and more time there by choice and desire.

    The clipboards!

    At 6:30 pm, the Nelson-Atkins instructors welcomed us talked to the 25 educators in attendance about VTS strategies as a way to get kids immersed in art and developing their inquiry and verbal skills. 

    Adrienne then took us, along with our darling cardboard clipboards, to a gallery room to EXPERIENCE VTS! ----->

    Here we go from our classroom in the Ford Learning Center (right in the middle of where we'll be for #edcampKC) down the hall and up the stairs to the heart of the art!

    We arrive in the room with our focus piece of art, a piece by Max Breckmann called "Baccarat." It's to the left of the center of this picture.

    We all assemble around the artwork and our wonderful VTS leader, Adrienne.
    (Adrienne, by the way, has been instrumental in making #edcampKC a reality at the Nelson. She is truly an art educator extraordinaire and I am happy to be working with and learning from her.)

    This is what Adrienne and the Nelson-Atkins instructors let us experience. Adrienne led us through this masterfully and then asked us for our feedback; about how the process felt to us.

    Off topic but artsy: I used Flickr's Splash editor to pop the art out of the black and white version.

    This is Adrienne in action--a quiet VTS kind of action. :)

    Art: "Baccarat" by Max Breckmann

    • "What do you think is going on in this picture? What do you notice?"
    • "What do you see that makes you say that?"
    • "What MORE can you find?" (Instead of, "What else can you find?")

    Adrienne validated our responses and clarified using art terms what we saw. She did not say, "Good job" or "That's right." She honored this open-ended inquiry process, this jumping-into-a-picture activity. She let us interact with it---TOGETHER.

    My thoughts during the process

    When I originally looked at the piece of art I found myself doubting. Inner dialogue went something like this....."I don't know art terms. I'm not an artist." (Got a B- on a self-portrait I did in 3rd grade. I was really proud of that thing. I still remember that feeling. It hurt.) Anyway, I also found myself thinking for a moment, "What is she looking for in this question?" No, no, no. That's what school is too often about and we get used to it; living apart from our own thinking. Learning becomes about what OTHERS want us to think, find, learn.

    So the first hand goes up in our VTS exercise around "Baccarat." This person says something I hadn't thought of, and once she said it my brain had something to feed off of. The next person went and that person's comment fed off the first comment. The world was expanding for all of us, with each shared view. It went on and on. I'd say about 8 people added to our collaborative view of this artwork. I am much richer for interacting with that piece of art--IN A GROUP of curious learners. Now, every time I go to the Nelson and go in that room, I will have a great memory AND I feel like I have a sort of kinship with that piece of art. VERY STRANGE and COOL at the same time. Powerful.

    When Adrienne asked us to share our reactions to VTS... 

    • We felt safe in responding and sharing our observations, thoughts. 
    • It wasn't about who could get the 'right' answer or who had it 'wrong.' 
    • We learned from each other's comments and it made us 'see' things we wouldn't have otherwise seen
    • It felt positive and non-judgmental
    • It opened us up to looking at art (an other things) in a new way. We also heard new words, terms, and were curious about Baccarat and what the picture really WAS about. All with a few quiet minutes of observation and group inquiry/sharing.

    Okay, so onto the SCIENCE and ART idea I heard Adrienne talking about.

    Adrienne said a Science educator she knows uses Pieces of ART and then pictures to kick off her units. They spend time using VTS methods for open inquiry with the art and pictures to create common building blocks in the kids' minds that all future learning in the unit (and beyond) will stack upon.

    Mind blown. Of course. I've never used famous art as a kickoff for any unit. I've never used art systemically at all. I know far too little about art and well, I can't wait to change this reality for myself.  I have this new world to pursue and explore; one that I think is EXCELLENT for kids and for all learning communities. :)

    My next Nelson-Atkins educator class is in November, the week after #edcampKC. The classes beginning in January merge STEM with Art...for STEAM. Educators, sign up here.

    One view in the Nelson-Atkins. Halls of wonder.

    Tuesday, October 15, 2013

    Use your Flickr Email address to create a group, event, or class PhotoStory. #edcampKC

    Photo-collaboration using my Flickr Email at MOREnet conference
    Photo created at MOREnet conference, Oct 14, 2013;
    sent to my Flickr email address to build a group photo-story.

    This is one of the photos created by educators in my Picture Perfect session at the MOREnet conference on October 14, 2013. Mike took this picture of me during our time together, edited it with the WordFoto app (which several of us then downloaded 'cause we liked it), and EMAILED it to my Flickr email address.

    All those emailed pics went into this set:

    MOREnet Conference Flickr Set! #2013M3 The conference as seen through many eyes--not just mine. I talked a lot about the opportunities Flickr affords educators during my session.

    How to find your Flickr email: Hover over your picture in upper right, click on Settings, and click on Emails and Notifications. Cool thing: You can CHANGE your Flickr email. If you give a group your email or tweet out the email, no worries about people having YOUR Flickr email address and photo-bombing you so to speak. :) You can change it whenever you want.

    Growing this idea at #EdcampKC in the perfect place and event for visual group storytelling.

    Taking this same idea on a bigger scale to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for #edcampKC on Nov 9th. We will build a group-created Flickr set from all of us. We'll be able to see our day at the Nelson-Atkins through 300 eyes (ok, 600) --instead of just 2. Through 300 minds, visions, hearts.

    During EdcampKC 2012, I took the pictures and made a Flickr set. I added a few pics from other people; mostly just my 'views.'

    This year--everyone that wants to can build our Flickr set into something big, bold, and beautiful that can be used with kids, the museum, with educators. They can edit the pictures that day in the many beautiful spaces in the museum, in the auditorium during photo sessions and at home during the next few days.

    I can't wait to see the beauty and the stories to unfold before our eyes....

    Sunday, October 6, 2013

    Making Science Matter to Kids: Connect 'em to Scientists in the Community (Story/Video from my 6th grade classroom)

    After doing Workshop Model unit planning this summer with +Sam Bennett and working off Cris Tovani's use of a Roundtable event in her classroom, I set a Scientist Roundtable idea as a goal for our 6th graders near the end of 1st quarter. Bounced idea off of Sam and coach +Jamie Neibling and went from there. I work with 3 energetic and FUN/BRILLIANT 6th grade science educators, a.k.a. co-conspirators who also wanted to run with it. I contacted Patty Dailey, Program Director at Science Pioneers, to help us find scientists for this event. She gave me a list of science mentors to contact.

    We sent out an invite (created a Smore form) with an embedded google form to about 30 KC scientists on the Science Pioneers science mentor list, and to our 6th grade parents, asking them to give us leads. We had about 12 scientists show up in the morning and 12 in the afternoon, ~3-4 per classroom. (Note to KC area educators: Science Pioneers is working to get the scientist mentor list live and accessible on the web to educators in early 2014, with easy scheduling options! Contact Science Pioneers with any questions.)

    The outstanding local scientists that came to share with my lucky and happy kids:
    Scott Hageman, Paleontologist, Park University
    Associate Professor of geology/geoscience and Assistant Sean of the School of Natural and Applied Sciences. Brought fossils and let science stories of snails drilling holes in shells unfold before kids' eyes. :)
    Dr. Greg Claycomb, Chemistry, Park University
    Assistant Professor and program coordinator of chemistry. Brought demos and portable projector. Cool!
    Betsy Betros, retired; B.S. Entomology, M.S. Environmental Science Engineering
    Author of A Photographic Field Guide to the Butterflies in the Kansas City Region by Betsy Betros (Sep 9, 2008) SHE SIGNED ONE of her books and donated it to us! Shared her love of books and stories.
    Dr. Larry Finger, retired crystallographer, Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington; grandpa to one of the kids. The mineral Fingerite is named after him!
    Kate DelehuntBlue River Watershed Association Education Director.  Works with kids and with teachers! She's a dynamo!
    Gary Engemann, retired; Chemist and teacher; grandpa of another of the kids! Great stories!
    Hospitality crew committee prepares signs,
    name tags,  table layout for Scientists visit!

    One of the signs the kids created in
    a short amount of time!
    THANK YOU, local science community of KC, for your time, knowledge, and love of learning! You impacted our kids' minds and hearts today. :)

     Takeaways from the Scientist Roundtable event:

    1. Power of CONVERSATION--the power of stories and the chance for kids to be active participants, talking WITH real scientists and being able to ask them questions when the questions hit 'em in the brain as important and necessary to know!

    Writing in their SmashJournals
    in their own format/style. 
    Writing her notes, her way.
    2. Power of IDEAS and PEOPLE and EXPRESSION over facts and tests to foster love of learning and lifelong learning--The common goal of both kids AND scientists on Friday was to get smarter and share with each other their knowledge, questions, wonders...and a little piece of themselves, which is most precious. 

    Result: Amazing day that the kids ENJOYED. Autographs were asked for!! At 3:00 the kids were still going strong and only left due to bell and buses. 
    Result: Already hatching plans to work with most of the scientists in our upcoming units. The kids will contact them if they want their help in crafting awesome learning experiences..and I know they will. The scientists were gung-ho about it.
    Result: Behavioral, Emotional, and Cognitive engagement. Hearts and minds moved.
    **We educators need to deliberately reach out to and plan with community resources, especially people, in mind. We can do a better job of that. There is great untapped power in connecting kids to people and resources in the community. I know there is much more I can do. 

    Organizations that arrange for scientists to work with kids on a regular basis, gently mentoring and extending a big arm 

    If we get kids DOING the work of scientists WITH scientists, we're setting kids up to ENJOY science. We DO things we enjoy. Too few kids even consider going into science because they know so little about jobs and possibilities out there in the world. We have to let kids get curious and find out through talk and interaction.

    I have learned this very lesson from setting up events for #edcampKC---JUST ASK!! You just have to ask. People really do like and WANT to do things for kids/educators/learning. The thing is....we don't ask 'em!

    Watch the kids and the Scientists. Why haven't I done more of this connecting kids to the community?! Lookout, community, 'cause here we come for ya. It won't just be me this time; the kids will be seeking you out, too. :)