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Monday, September 30, 2013

RSCON4: Worldwide educator conversations that need YOU

YOU have a seat at the WORLDWIDE table of BIG IDEAS in education--at the Reform Symposium Conference. Well, it's more like a bunch of tables all pushed together filled with the bustle of excited people speaking different languages, on a variety of devices; some in pajamas and others in their work clothes. It's completely free and no plane tickets to buy. Please get a drink, sit down, listen, talk, connect, and learn Oct 11-13 with passionate and connected educators like yourself! There are plenty of chairs, plenty of choice, and the company is stellar. :)
 photo credit: Loco Steve via photopin cc
I am fired up and ready to experience RSCON4 (Reform Symposium Conference 4) and share my stories with others.
  • I'm sharing in 2 sessions about things I'm passionate about for kids' learning--the benefits of large areas of dry erase surfaces and the need to get kids ACTIVELY talking BACK to information that is omnipresent in books, websites, photos, tweets, videos. Empowering kids to feel able to TACKLE information and not fear it is vital. Kids run from opportunity in classes and careers because they fear information and they lack confidence. Time to get personal with information and make it yours! 

  • My passion centers on giving kids the tools and skills to interact with their world and learn with abandon. Learning, at its core, is a beautiful state of flow that, if given time and wings, will take care of itself happily; will accomplish its goal and then some. Let the learners lead and their natural learning, curiosity, and zeal will take over transform them.

My Reform Symposium sessions: Join me here


The 2013 REFORM SYMPOSIUM E-CONFERENCE is being held online and is free to attend. Please consider registering at this site so we can keep you updated with any information or instructions, however you do not need to be registered (or to have your registration confirmed) in order to attend any sessions.

In a few days, thousands of educators from various different countries are expected to attend a free 3 day virtual conference, The Reform Symposium, #RSCON4. RSCON will be held October 11th to 13th in conjunction with Connected Educator Month. The entire conference will be held online using the Blackboard Collaborate webinar platform. Participants can attend this online conference from the comfort of their homes or anywhere that has Internet access. This amazing conference provides educators new or currently active on social networks the opportunity to connect with educators and professionals in the field of education worldwide.
Useful links (click on any item for more information):

We would like to thank the incredible organizers- Shelly Sanchez Terrell, Steve Hargadon, Clive Elsmore, Chiew Pang, Kelly Tenkely, Chris Rogers, Paula White, Bruno Andrade, Cecilia Lemos, Greta Sandler, Peggy George, Marcia Lima, Jo Hart, Phil Hart, Dinah Hunt, Marisa Constantinides, Nancy Blair, Mark Barnes and Sara Hunter

We hope you can join us for this incredible professional development experience!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Visual Tour: Our day using IdeaPaint-ed Tables to respond to Rachel's Challenge

Part I: Backstory to Rachel's Challenge assembly at NMMS

Story setting:
  • A sunny and hot Friday; September 6, 2013
  • Rachel's Challenge presentation is today; we have one every 3 years so all 6, 7, 8 graders experience it.
  • 6th graders have heard team teachers say: It's powerful and moving; all 3 team teachers cry by the end of it.

Big screen in the classroom

I learned out loud during the assembly using Twitter and pictures. Because I learned out loud, the kids were able to use my takeaways back in the classroom.

My takeaways (tweets) from the 50 minute assembly.
Our Rachel's Challenge facilitator was someone we thought looked familiar but we couldn't quite put our finger on. Hmmm. I stopped and introduced myself to Michael Dorsey afterwards and thanked him for his energy and leadership. I asked him if he was on Twitter. At his 'yes,' I asked for his Twitter handle. He shared it with me. Long story short, I forgot it by the time I was ready to use it -- a whole 2 minutes time. Back I went to see him. He told me again and at my curious looks he said, "You may recognize me from The Biggest Loser." Ahhh yes!!! Picture time!

Back I go to tell my 2nd hour this news, but first I tweeted this out. "I know why you know him!" I tell the kids. Eyes big. Anticipation. "You know him from The Biggest Loser...." A couple of my girls jumped up OUT of their seats squealing, "I LOVE that show!" I hear snippets of chatter about how inspirational he was and about his child and his STORY from the show

The story gets better. 

The ladies in yellow and blue stayed to help clean up at the end of 2nd hour. They were hopeful the 2nd assembly would get over so they could show Michael what the class made at Rachel's challenge to do so--the chain. What do you know, the timing worked out. They were grinning from ear to ear.

Well, these girls knew one other girl who SO wanted to meet Michael Dorsey. This girl was the one that jumped out of her seat and talked on and on about him during 2nd hour. Could we try to make her day?!

We asked Michael if he would be here for a few more minutes. At his YES the girls and I hightailed it to the office and called her down from class. She came into the office and we simply pointed to the auditorium. She grinned from ear to ear and sprinted there and then down the aisle to meet Michael. Michael was so kind, warm, compassionate and funny. He answered all their questions about Rachel's Challenge AND the TV show. Here is the picture after she calmed down enough to stand still. She is the tallest of the girls in the picture. :)

Note: A couple of the girls decided they want to be coaches on that TV show AND do what Michael did today, speak for Rachel's Challenge to help kids and learning communities find a way to act and exist that brings peace, happiness, and belonging.

Part II: How the kids used IdeaPaint Tables to express their thoughts/feelings

How class unfolded:
After the Rachel's Challenge presentation yesterday morning, I let each of my hours go where they needed to go in terms of processing the emotional presentation. Each class chose NOT to do the M&M's experiment we had planned for today. All classes ended up writing/drawing/expressing themselves on our IdeaPaint whiteboard tables (writings, quotes, drawings) for a good while (longer than I'd expected) and then writing their own positive thoughts on paper and making a long physical paper chain--thanks to Rachel's challenge to do so. They wanted to go outside to stretch out the chain and take pictures to document their work and their caring. I took *a few* pictures. 

The kids cannot wait to see the visual story of our Rachel's Challenge Day -- and see themselves as 'actors' in it. I'll show this to them tomorrow. I am still spurred on by the keynote of Darren Kuropatwa in NKC encouraging us to make things VISUAL and to tell STORIES and let kids lead their learning--as a big and vibrant learning community. 

IdeaPaint Tables were a CANVAS for kids to express their thoughts and emotions. 

I played Jewel's "Hand" at a student's request during each class. This was the background music for the ending video in the Rachel's Challenge assembly. Powerful. Kids were thoughtful and caring and absolutely invested in expressing themselves on the tables and later in the paper chain.

My only prompt at the start of class was this: I want you to think about the assembly today and express yourself on the tables or paper or both. I had my tweets up on the screen.

These pictures tell the story of what the kids did from that point on....

One of my favorite pictures. Everything you see was done and designed by them, including chain. 

Engaged kids. Blank walls waiting to be decorated using visuals
effectively. Our iPads just arrived today.

A poignant picture to me. So much thought and care. She wrote more on paper, too.

Another student comes by to read and observe. Serious contemplation; now
writing in her Science Smash Journal.

So much detail and caring.

These designs are eye-catching and powerful.....and yes, the the metaphor involves LICE. :)
See the Rachel Chain around the world...with the umbrella added to it from our team metaphor.
These girls worked in the open workspace in the room with our mini-whiteboards. Creative. Awesome.

This table is split into 3 parts in a cool way.

Wisdom from an 11 year old.

This picture touched my heart!

Part III: Making a chain and Going Outside with their CHAIN REACTION and Umbrellas for our Umbrella Metaphor visual!
Views from the room and from our time outside.
Stillness. Action. Juxtaposed.

Stillness. Action. Scene 2.

See 2 different collaboration groups
here: 1 making chain, other looking
at Golden Rule poster.
The chain is now 3 classes long (entire team) and about ready to travel outdoors!
A smile from the sea of positivity.
The Golden Rule is a giant UMBRELLA over us, protecting us
if we all follow it!

The chain created by 2nd hour kiddos! All their idea.
Chain as created by 5th hour. They added to 2nd hour's chain. GROWING!
Chain now has positive links from all kids on the team and stretches far.
Both the chain and the umbrellas together--perfectly paired on Rachel's Challenge Day.
Be you. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Community.

Umbrella metaphor again

Umbrella selfie with one of my 6th hour learners. :)
(Note to 6th hour---I didn't say 7th hour now did I?!) 
View from under the symbolic Golden Rule Umbrella. Great place to be!
Signed at lunch by entire school and staff!

STRAIGHT-UP classroom footage from one of my classes:
When kids are given time to process and a canvas (IdeaPaint Tables) on which to express themselves, beautiful things happen...

This day goes down in my top 5 teaching days in my 19 years as a K-12 educator. I did not have the whiteboard tables 3 years ago when we last had the Rachel's Challenge assembly.