Archive for November 2008

On a Personal Note

November 30, 2008

Most of you who read this blog are probably aware that I am pregnant and expecting to deliver any day now.  If I have not delivered by Monday, December 8th the doctor is planning to induce, so one way or another, Kyle and I should be bringing the baby home within 8 days… which is a little nerve-wracking.

Because I am a bit of a nerd and because I thought it would be the easiest way to share pictures and information with friends and family, I bought a domain for th baby and Kyle and I have been posting some pre-baby news and pics. Once the baby arrives we will be updating with the exciting news and some pics, so if you are interested, you can follow along with us at

Since I will have my hands full for a bit, it may be awhile before I get a chance to post here again, but as always, I will make it back at some point.


I Dream a World…

November 19, 2008

Langston Hughes is one of my favorite poets, and I Dream a World is one of my favorite poems of his.  I was thinking of this poem today, and I was frustrated and irritated by some things at school (probably because my patience is down due to being in my 9th month of pregnancy) and the combination of these two things prompted this post…

It is the time of year on my campus when students are tired and frustrated, teachers are tired and frustrated, and we are all in need of a break… thankfully we will get a week of “break” starting Monday.  But more than a week of vacation, I think we need a “break” from the current educational philosophy that seems to abound in this country, our state and our district.  We need a break from how education has always been run; we need a break from all the bureaucracy that envelops education, and we need to seriously evaluate what is important in regards to educating our students.

With this in mind… this is what I dream…

I dream a world where education

  • is not governed by people who are out of touch with students’ abilities, goals and needs
  • is not judged as effective based solely on standardized test scores
  • is more about learning and relevancy than it is about meeting AYP
  • encourages individuality, creativity, questioning and stepping outside the boundaries of the traditional
  • addresses student needs on an individual basis instead of measuring everyone with the same stick
  • is a priority to students, parents and society in general
  • is not always viewed as passing assessments equals mastery of content
  • is collaborative, innovative, and fun
  • doesn’t have to occur the way “I learned it”
  • doesn’t just mean focusing on the core classes but allows students to investigate areas of interest to them
  • doesn’t expect students to be experts at all subjects (because let’s face it, most of the adults I know are not and they are still successful)
  • encompasses skills that matter for success outside of the classroom (time management, information management, team work, balancing a budget, social skills, etc.)
  • encourages students to want to learn so they continue to do so when they leave school
  • rewards effective teachers based on their relationships with students, their continued growth and their zeal for teaching (instead of what percentage of students passed a test)
  • does not base a child’s graduation on the passing of four tests
  • values the students’ and teachers’ individuality
  • realizes that teaching a concept well takes time and allows teachers the opportunity to work at the pace of the kids in his/her room
  • emphasizes the importance of  teachers building relationships with students
  • allows time for teachers to continually grow professionally

I am sure by now you get the point, and I could probably go on forever. The short of it is, I need education to change, to evolve into something that fits the society where we currently reside and prepares our students to effectively navigate in this fast-paced and continually shifting world.  I need it to be better, and I am tired of waiting.

So my questions to you are…

What do you dream? And how do we make these dreams a reality?

Irving ISD and the K12 Online Conference – My Notes and What I Learned

November 8, 2008

We began the morning with a brief overview of the K12 Online Conference and then watched Chris Lehman’s keynote for the Leading the Change strand.  As always, I agree with Lehman’s ideas and assertions.

The Voices of School 2.0 – Some of the ideas I relate to most from the keynote…

  • What is it that we are willing to unlearn and re-learn to make our schools better?
  • Break the barriers of traditional teaching – people learn more with a human connection.
  • We need to make our schools more inquiry driven.
  • What would happen if we started viewing school as real-life instead of just preparation for real-life?
  • What would happen if we dared kids to change the world?
  • We need to discuss meta-cognition with students.
  • We need students who can learn when they leave us.
  • Move away from the recall-based classroom
  • Project-based learning does not mean doing projects along the way – true project-based learning is the work that is valued most
  • If you really want to see students engaged then give them a project so they can create and apply what they have learned
  • Certain technologies are not additive – they are transformative

– Great discussion ensued about balancing what students want to know with what students “need” to know.

Presentation One – Current Leadership Models are Inadequate for Disruptive Innovations – My notes and thoughts

Presentation based on books The Innovator’s Dilemma and Disrupting Class by Dr. Clayton Christensen’s

What is a disruptive innovation? Disruptive innovations change the game. They repsresent new paradigms.

– More than need line

– Good enough line

The lines of progress sustain innovations – over time products get better and better.

Implications for school administrators

  • Most admins have not realized that K12 is facing disruptive innovation – personalized learning
  • Our existing educational model is not a given – public education is being complacent
  • Schools are not immune to the natural laws of disruptive innovation
  • Number of K12 students taking an online course has grown exponentially (growth in charter schools, home schooling and alternative schools)
  • What is now new and different will soon become common place

What can admins do?

  • Start with under-served students
  • Do not wait for “stakeholders” to jump on the wagon
  • Use different metrics of success
  • Allow the spin-offs to compete directly with the old paradigm

The time to move is now, so they are not eclipsed by new entities that better meet the needs of learners.

Hmmm…. thoughts the presentation spurred…

  • How does one move a district or school towards disruptive innovation?
  • How do you balance doing what is expected by you (from the state, district, school, etc.) while still moving towards teaching in a disruptive way?
  • How does the traditional model “fit” within the disruptive innovation model? Is it thrown out entirely? Used as a basis to begin?
  • Are students open to changing from the “traditional” model to a more disruptive one? Is their a learning or adjustment curve for students?

Presentation Two – The Lie of the Community – My Notes and Thoughts

Presentation by Bud the Teacher

This presentation is more of a conversation… difficult to take notes on. It is more about building your network and discussing how that network works for you.

  • What is a network?
  • What is a community?
  • How do you build a network?
  • Expose yourself to people who think differently than you.
  • Should students create their own personal networks?

Whole group discussion…

  • Using Google notebook for vocabulary, interactive notebooks for social studies – archived for next year
  • How much time do I give up teaching them the technology? It takes time away from content. – Horizontal teaming important when teaching technology skills.  Students will work on learning the tech skills outside of the classroom.
  • Learned about back channeling – “How do you grade something like that?”, “Do you have to grade everything done in your class?”
  • Idea to use Voice Thread to respond to a question by video instead of text only
  • How do we come up with good questions and problems for our students to solve? How do we intersect these questions with the curriculum?

Although the group was pretty small, I think the discussion went pretty well. Most of the eductaors present were pretty positive about their experience with the K12 and liked the face-to-face discussion piece. We will be hosting the second session next Saturday. Please join us.