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 http://engage.intel.com 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

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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.
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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.  https://engage.intel.com/message/145912#145912 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

All Within One Year and A New Educational Calling For Our Entire Family

It has been officially one year since our son's in-line of duty military motor vehicle accident occurred on April 5th. Our entire family has come so far to deal with this life-altering situation. Our Jacob has and will always be a fighter, but coping and dealing with a TBI has been very difficult. This condition is permanent- which will affect Jake's personal, professional and social skills for his entire lifetime. Jake is coping and everyday is gaining a stronger sense of the severity of his accident, as he broke close to 70% of his bones in his body and the realization that the TBI occurred from the initial impact of the accident causing the sheering action of his head and then the final blow to his right side of his head, which caused his helmet to crack and penetrate into his right frontal lobe of his skull.  

Jake was never suppose to live from this accident. We were told this by doctors in Texas that Jake had less than 25% chance of survival that he would even make it through first night. We were also told he would be vegetable for life and that he would never walk again either. Even some nurses in this trauma unit stated there was little hope for him as they work with patients like this all the time. These negative projections and ill-fated outcomes made Jeff and I fight even harder and stay more determined than ever to fight for our son Jacob in his state of unconsciousness, and get him the hell out of this Texas hospital. 

I look back to these accounts and verbal statements and would now like to prove to those doctors and nurses how very wrong they were. Yes- they may see many cases that the outcome is so dire, but to provide a false outlook which is now the complete opposite- makes me truly question the health profession in these types of situations. I believe these healthcare professionals need to be educated on the most current research on how the brain is constantly changing. And how one's environmental and physical conditions and factors contribute to one in an unconscious and conscious state can positively contribute to the outcome by a supportive and nurturing family, the physical touch of one's hand to another, the soft-spoken words and gentle kiss on the forehead to an individual to acknowledge that someone cares and is there for them every single day. The natural drug of human touch and kind words heals the body and its soul at such a profound rate- way beyond any medical drug- as we have lived through this and proven this with our miracle soldier Jacob Harm.

This week, Jake and my husband Jeff made the trip to Fort Riley, in Kansas where Jake will be honorably discharged from the US Army. They have completed an enormous amount of paperwork, met with a multitude of Army individuals and officials to get signatures to complete the discharge paperwork process, and sat through many sessions and round table discussions as closing activities. Yes it takes a week "to get out of the Army" and it is ridiculous. As the Army treats every soldier the same- they do not take into account Jake's physical disability of barely walking and his TBI condition.

Information and visual overload is the most critical factor that can set any TBI individual over the edge to cause dramatic irritation, onsets of excruciating headaches, confusion, and a state of anxiety. After the second full 10 hour day, Jeff laid into an Army official and stated that this closing out process for Jake is the most inappropriate practice for any person with a TBI. You see the Army
doesn't have a clue as they are just now starting to try to understand the wounded warriors that have suffered a TBI, so in return- they treat everyone the same- like no other- you are a number in their system.  

Jeff declined the final commitment on day 2 of 4 to attend a dinner in Jake's honor with the other retiree's, which would have put Jake at a 13 hour face-to-face day day with the Army. Why the decline- these types of social situations of mass amounts of people leads to a total state of a confusion for a TBI individual. TBI individuals are trying to constantly keep up with the conversation, but at times can not because their new processing speed and rate of their condition is 2-3 times slower and more at sometimes than your's and mine. This social interaction with mass amounts of people causes mental frustration, anxiety, undue levels of stress and emotional state of confusion, and a sense of entrapment. See, the Army does not get this-  yet 370,000 wounded warriors so far have suffered a TBI since 1995, and because of their very slow process and procedures of getting something done in the Army, they are just now starting to recognize that maybe we should address this. 

Once again all of our societal issues and problems result from communication breakdowns, lack of current research and educational practices of understanding, and the cumbersome and convoluted paperwork to complete a simple task. We see this in healthcare, we see this in the US Army, we see this in educational system- and we see this in our everyday world.  Communication is key and simple is better, especial when you are dealing with a TBI.

Jeff is working on trying to educate many Army personnel through discussions on the importance of TBI conditions with individuals this week in Fort Riley, Kansas- as they want to learn from us- as if we are their case study. Jeff has introduced many to the Rancho Los Amigos - Revised a scale of levels of cognitive functioning. http://www.neuroskills.com/resources/rancho-los-amigos-revised.php as the US Army individuals he is talking with now - were not even aware of it. We were introduced to the scale at the Bethesda TBI Hospital in Minnesota, but never at the Texas trauma one hospital- where we should have been. Jake is one out of 370,000 soldiers that has a TBI, and they are still trying to scratch the surface of understanding this condition in the US Army. 

Our family's calling now will be to educate the US Army, the healthcare system and our nation's educational system. As there is a dire need to help those that are not self-directed learners in their own field of study dealing with TBI and its condition. Our family is writing a survival book on our son the "Miracle Soldier Jacob Harm," to educate future families, doctors, nurses, teachers and the entire US Armed Forces on the importance of understanding what a TBI is, its life-long health, emotional and physical conditions, and how to interact and socialize appropriately with individuals that have suffered a TBI through the Rancho Los Amigos - Revised scale during and after year one, two three and so on.

Another chapter in our lives will be starting with year two of Jake's ongoing recovery of his physical impairments and his TBI wellness program. We are looking forward to the positive progress Jake will make and watch from the side as his parental guides-  as he reaches to attain his futuristic goals of going back to college and pursuing an educational degree of becoming a brain scientist and doctor someday. We also look forward to Jacob pursuing a future relationship with a very special person to be his companion and soul mate for life. And who knows, maybe someday, Jake will have a child of his own too. The possibilities are endless, as Jake now has a second chance on life and love again. 


You can continue to read Jake's health and progression updates on his dedicated Post Hope page found here: http://posthope.org/we-love-jake


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Taking "Time" To Learn and Apply New Technology Is A Lot Like Cooking, Cleaning and Exercising

The technology "Time" word and discussion continually comes up in many conversations, workshops, webinars and in services I provide nation wide. Many teachers seem to get "stuck in a rut" to find adequate time to apply new technology understandings and skills once introduced to them.  I at times have a hard time understanding this statement or reasoning when it is presented to me. If you are truly passionate about improving yourself professionally and want students to be more engaged with creative mobile learning strategies in the classroom, we make "Time" to make these meaningful connections of learning happen.

An analogy to put this all into perspective of "Taking Time" To Learn and Apply New Technology Is a Lot Like Cooking, Cleaning and Exercising" is a comparison of cleaning your house, or learning to cook a new
family entree, or finding time to exercise. If you do not make time to apply your new skills you have learned you will have nothing to show for it- with the exception of living in a dirty house, eating processed food/TV dinners, and ultimately becoming overweight. No body wants that! The same goes for  technology, if you do not use it- you lose it- and have nothing to show for it- end of story!

In my home, my husband and I make time everyday to clean a portion of our home- we love a clean home and it is the satisfaction of knowing that everything has its place. It should be the same philosophy with technology or learning anything new, take time to make time to see where it best has its place, where it fits into your curriculum, and then the satisfaction will come of knowing the technology does have its place of importance in your professional and personal life too!

At times I power clean in a frenzy for 15-20 minutes and then move on to my professional work. Even in 15-20 minutes of any cleaning- I get in a quick workout too, but it is amazing what you can accomplish to make things shine and get the satisfaction of a job well done to move onto the next task. Same can easily apply with technology, focus on a "technology frenzy of learning" for 15-20 minutes each week, and set the timer and stick to it. Focus on one or two items you want to improve upon a specific tech skill- this can be done through listening and watching to a 3-5 minute YouTube EDU or Teaching Channel video clip, and then practice and apply the new gained concept or skill. It also could be participating in an online after school tech webinar that personally and professionally interests you. Or you collaborate through a Google Doc of
adding a new tech share/resource each week with your colleagues, and state how it is used to enhance a lesson. If each teacher contributes to this Google Doc each week- just think of the wealth of resources of digital ideas to utilize in your classroom for the upcoming week. Or perhaps- making a point to meet up with a collaborative team of teacher friends before or after school at your local coffee shop to exchange 15-20 minutes of "tech brewing of ideas" to add to the positive culture change, creative conversations and positive mindset of making tech fun and rewarding in your classroom practices again.
Just remember, one needs to make time, time to prioritize, time to make it relevant to you, time to stick with the task at hand and time to document/reflect on the new learning so it has purpose. Some teachers keep a technology checklist or learning log as to make sure they prioritize their schedule to include 10-15 minutes of new learning each week. Then they check it off their list once applied in their classroom practice, shared their new learning in a 2 minute conversation with a teacher friend for feedback, and then reflects on their learning of how it has improved their instructional approach, engagement for students or collaboration between student conversations. 

I hope these examples will inspire you to make a new weekly effort to try a technology idea, app or resource to energize your instructional approach. To jump start your October efforts, I am including Innovative Educator Consulting's "Technology Bytes" free monthly enewsletter as a PDF. It is full of wonderful resources to immerse yourself in 5, 10 or 15 minutes of new technology learning this week. ENJOY!