Monday, January 16, 2017

2017 Beginning of the New Year: A Learning Discovery Escapade

The holiday break was very well needed and appreciated, and allowed for me to personally and professionally take a break from my education strategist job and relax with some amazing educational research articles to read- as they have been sitting on the back burner for a few months. Some topics of interest that have caught my interest and full attention is the most recent case studies on our student learning population of Generation Z. Yes, these are the kiddos born from 1995 -2010, and these are the young adults now entering the majestic years of college for the first time or are deeply engaged in a full-time job as their new career.


Did you now that these Gen Z students are completely different than Gen Y? Yet many of our k12 educators, and university professors are still teaching to the knowledge base of Gen Y, and have not caught up to the new learning needs and student interest of this dynamic population. Everything they are learning is through a multi-sensory and multi touch interactions focused on snackable chunks of content broken down into bite size pieces. The learning experience is immersed in touch if not multi-touch with smaller devices, 8 second attention spans, tinkering and making to discover through a new way of learning. And best yet, they want to own it- they want their voice to be heard- they want to explain their reasoning of understanding, they want choice in their learning experiences, and they will not settle for the standard quo.

Most Gen Z students are dedicated to the learning process, persistent in finding a new solution, and are ok with failing, as they realize they will have another chance of trying a gain and making the end results so much better. They are the true pioneers of their time- and I am an active observer to soak up this learning moments from their experiences. Yes, I can truly learn from this younger generation of students to forge ahead, challenge my thinking, change up my facilitation style and delivery to better prepare our future educators and veteran educators for this dynamic learning journey. CHANGE IS GOOD!
To showcase my new adventures and new gained understandings, I kicked off my new year with diving into some new opportunities of online and face to face workshops. Currently I am immersed in the new Apple Teacher Digital Badge Program with refreshing my Apple and Mac skills while rediscovering new learning opportunities to meet the iOS need of educators and students that I work with daily. I am also very curious to see how the every changing face of the iOS and creative app deployments and devices are capturing student and adult learners attention with personalized learning opportunities with a student-centered approach. I am also particularly interested in the new Swift Playground that Apple is providing with a STEM approach which focuses on coding and programming, and can’t to see how this will jump start and revitalize the focus of STEM in the K12 teaching and learning space.

I also attended and actively participated in a Design Thinking face-to-face workshop at Standford University the first week of the new year, to strengthen my background knowledge on design thinking strategies to better prepare me personally and professional of how I approach solving problems, being more observant and present as an empathetic listener to focus on a human-centered approach to actively place myself in another person’s shoes, to better understand when they are explaining their reasoning. Many tips and strategies were shared from IDEO facilitators of how to be a more empathetic
listener and active reflector- loved it! Then as we continued - we ultimately brainstormed ideas as a collaborative quad team to solve a problem while designing a new creative solution that focused on improvement, efficiency, productivity and high creative- using the “and” not “but” strategy. These savory bite size chunks of learning in this course resonated with me as a perfect fit to meet the needs of today’s Gen Z students and many of our adult learners. My brain dendrites were truly firing off in my head like a July fireworks show. MY brain was happy with this type, style and work flow of learning.
Many of you know I am very passionate about STEM in K12 education. Through my professional deliveries with my own Innovative Educator Consulting company (IEC Network) these past 8 years I have designed and delivered a multitude of STEM related courses and workshops with my IEC teammates, and edtech focused keynotes. STEM is the game changer for Gen Z. It provides our students of today the opportunity to critically think, problem solve, verbally reason, try and fail again and again through multiple learning opportunities. It truly meets the demands of those short attention spans with instant engagement and challenging motivation activities, while filling the learning hunger pains of perfect bite size snackable content chunks.
This STEM inquiry led me down a virtual path of research during my past few weekends by finding the most interesting STEM, mobile learning tools and creative assessment strategies for today’s students. Here are my most recent discoveries of learning to inspire more opportunities for choice and voice in your classroom while igniting learning passions with your students and colleagues.

Baamboozle - game based learning
DocentEdu  - creating snackable content chuck activities
Edji - emoji writing and reflection engagement
        Lets Recap - personalized video assessment tool/feedback
        What’s Your Learning Style                                             
        What Kind of Educator Are You?                                            
        What Kind of Super Hero Are You                                                         

Friday, November 13, 2015


I am so very excited to share out with you some inspiring ideas to support innovative teaching strategies I have gleaned while attending and presenting at the Practical Pedagogies conference in Toulouse,France in October. The #PracPed15 conference is a must attend and present at conference if you ever get the opportunity. The whole conference focuses on how to engage and support inquiring minds of teachers and learners. It is not about the is about the learning. A very special thank you to Russel Tar for organizing this conference and for the personal invite and to present at this global event! Russel is well know for the website with so many amazing just in time tools to activate and inspire learning for teachers and students.

Ewan Tosh provided the inspiring keynote for thisconference on “The Failure Talk”, which sets out how one might deal with the inevitable tension of seeing something new, not necessarily seeing how to apply it, or being provoked with research that conflicts with “what we’ve always done”. This uplifting talk set the context for learning over the days ahead. The key pedagogical concepts introduced are the idea of students being able to lead their learning more effectively sometimes without a teacher, and the power of no longer awarding grades, just feedback, as well as what we know about effective teacher learning. He interjected humor, compassion stories, real life events, and responsive questioning techniques to engage us and that were reflective in our own ideation of connecting the dots. I was intrigued and responsive to the new ideas set forth to launch us into the next two days of community learning. 

I also attended several sessions, besides presenting at this particular conference, and was on a mission to be a “learning sponge” to gain new and insightful ideas to bring back to my US teacher friends and administrator teams. I was most intrigued with two particular sessions on Socrative Questioning Gamification led by by Kathryn McGilvray, Innovation Technologist from Australia and Hexagonal Thinking let by David Faure, Curriculum leader of Science for the Toulouse, France schools. Both of these sessions were infused with student-centered learning approaches, enhanced team collaboration through questioning techniques, inductive reasoning, strategic planning and empathy by appreciating the differences and learning styles of others. 

Led by Kathryn McGilvray, Innovation Technologist Twitter: @Kathmcg1 
This session was designed for secondary teachers with a focus on game design and examined current pedagogy and research in the area of game design with a focus on developing critical thinking skills through game design. The workshop was not focused on a particular technology classes but a focus on how gaming can be used over many subject disciplines to engage in learning and development of communication and critical thinking skills. This was a hands-on session and teachers were encouraged to examine how they can incorporate new research and thinking in relationship to pedagogy and game design into their classes. 

Led by David Faure, Curriculum Leader for Science Twitter: @d_faure
This session showcased how to give your “cut and stick exercises” a makeover. By scaffolding levels of understanding with SOLO hexagons a simple card sorting activity can become a more open ended task which provides a scaffold for formative assessment and helps students to understand a topic more deeply, making connections like never before. David did a great job with introducing and following through on this activity of how to create a step by stepprocess of making a proper cup of tea as a small group then wholegroup exercise. It is amazing the questions that were accessed to put our steps of action into order, as we discovered from different parts of the world, we all make simple cup of tea so differently. I wonder if I gave this exercise to WI, MN and IA teachers of how to create and make the proper brat for a football game, how would it take off. We will see, as it will be included and showcased in an upcoming workshop event with Innovative Educator Consulting. 


My learning charge from both of these sessions was to recreate teaching and learning scenarios infusing hexagonal thinking activities for our MidWest technology leadership groups, Intel Global Leadership Summit event, and for future workshop trainings. Here are the new teaching examples and creative grouping technique I createdand introduced on hexagonal thinking to our Intel Global LeadershipSummit in Portland, OR this past week. The purpose was to get them up and moving to think in dynamic duo and trio groups, as a collaborative and social deeper thinking activities for teachers to discover and realize your hidden passions for teaching and learning. As an extension to this activity, the talented Deb Norton took a portion of the Hexagonal Thinking idea a step further as a Google Slides student-centered rotation station activity at the Intel Global Leadership Summit. She tapped into Russel Tar’s hexagon creator found and made this a center activity for teachers to create their own Hexagonal Thinking activity. I so love Deb’s creative activity design to involve all participants and their comfort levels and engage them with new digital creation ideas. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Reenergize and Refocus This Summer- Change Your Mindset!

It has been a whirlwind of a month already and it is only June 3rd. It has been an amazing week working with my Intel family in Phoenix, AZ. The experience to design, create and contribute to the greater good of the future of education has filled my edtech bucket. I am so very thankful and grateful to Vanessa Jones, Theresa Maves, Anne Batey, the entire Big Monocol team and Lars Lindstrom's video crew as a collaborative team we worked on an incredible upcoming video segment to support a game-infused learning series of online coursework. Cannot share any more at this time- but this content will be a game-changer of how we deliver ongoing professional development in the education world. 

Working with inspired educators and incredible talented videographers has truly grounded me again this week, knowing that there are individuals in the edtech industry that constantly give 200%, never complain and contribute to a finalized product that will impact so many in so many countries worldwide. It gives me goose bumps! I just wish this same feeling of excitement and exhilaration for teaching and learning could be experienced by every single educator in the nation. So many educators are in dire straits right now due to extensive budget and job guts, and demands of too many initiatives and state mandated assessments- that it is so hard for them to focus on the good things that are occurring all around them. The many advancements in education that teachers and administrators are missing out on is the 24/7 PD of online collaboration from social media and free online conferences, the learning impact with their students of allowing creative choice and voice in their learning
through mobile learning tools, and the opportunities of newly redesigned or refreshed classroom learning spaces to transform the learning experiences for all. The ultimate question- “How do we get these teachers out of this funk that cannot get past the policies, procedures and negativity?”

Well what I have to say about this- change your mindset! In order to change behavior we need to model the learning outcome we want to transpire in and out of classroom.  It has to impact us on a personal and professional level- as what impacts you in the educational setting also ultimately impacts your home and family environment- so put your family first- to make change in your classroom. Model the family friendly behavior and safe environment that reflects a positive nurturing and caring family setting in your classroom daily. From your everyday caring words shared with colleagues, to students to parents with an emphasis of voice and tone reflection when you speak of “you matter” as good friend Angela Maiers would say.  Words and positive gestures do matter, and a simple act of kindness from a friendly smile, to an active listening ear, to a simple touch on the shoulder can make a huge difference in someone’s life more than you may ever realize- so contribute to the greater good - change your mindset and take positive action!

Because all of you matter so much to me, I would like to share with you the opportunity to tap into many FREE learning opportunities this summer that you may not be aware of through the Intel Teacher’s Engage community at and that further reach many other global PD events as well.  Checkout all the amazing collaborative and self chosen learning opportunities to get reconnected with the importance of life-long learning and inspire your love for teaching once again.  Hoping these resources engage you personally and professionally and prepare you for a highly productive kickoff to your Fall school year with your students! 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Breaking Free From A Culture of Dependency With Professional Development Trainings

How are you breaking free from a culture of dependency when it comes to "hand holding" some teachers with Professional Development training's, and instead empower educators and lead with a focus on centered- leadership, as a challenged based teaching and learningmodel for staff in-services?

I pose this question as there are still a lot of teachers needing/wanting/demanding the "cookie cutter approach" or "hand holding" or "spoon feeding" when it comes to professional development training. They want you to show them but also want you to do it for them when it comes to learning something new. The self-directed and self-motivated teacher is lacking in our educational system, but how can we change this teaching and learning scenario?

I have come to realize the importance of modeling many new types of new learning through varied and active learning strategies in my training's. My continued focus will be to jump
group_meeting_pc_400_clr_3625.pngstart most of my F2F training's with a game-infuse learning challenge and throughout the day of training- as a collaborative team setting. Setting up educators in "dynamic duo's or transformation trio's"  collaborative groups, is necessary so all learners can experience a safe game-infuse challenge, and work on the challenge in a team setting. When given a challenge singally, many teachers may struggle to solve the challenge or feel they are falling behind by the competitiveness from other teachers. We do not want teachers feeling isolated as a single "lone ranger" to be left out in the dark and give up on the challenge on their own, when in all actually they need to be social and to interact, and actively listen from one another to showcase how creative they truly area. This modeled strategy of creating collaborative groups as "dynamic duo's or transformative trio's" allows for me as the facilitator to now rotate through to meet with each group individually, to actively listening to their problem solving and reasoning skills, to document accountability from each team member, and to interject only where necessary more critical thinking questions to have teams think more deeply about the topic. That's when the real learning takes place, and I as a facilitator am now their guide - to reinsure I am still there within reach, but letting the teams dig into active learning through discovery from their peers.

To ensure each team member is pulling their weight, I also assign student job task cards to each participant to be accountable for their individual effort to contribute to team success of the learning process. I have linked the varied student job task cards with their assigned tasks, and I have created for you to use. You can print off the student job task cards, and cut out and place in a badge holder attached to a lanyard. This visual badge allows for me as the instructor to see who is doing what in each group when I do my MWA's - "Mobile Walk Around's" and this is key for me as the instructor for documentation of accountability for each individual learner in the group.

So in conclusion, how are you going to model, implement and empower educators or students with a "centered- leadership, challenged based teaching and learning model" for your next staff in-service or student led activity? Can't wait to hear your ideas.

This post is also cross referenced in the Intel Engage Community- come on over to join thousands of educators world wide in this free, active and collaborative online community with mny game-infused learning challenges.