#StuCamp What I Learned and How I Have Changed

This post is way overdue. It is almost a week since the event and I have just struggled to find words. Not in a bad way, but in a way to bring all these powerful and eye opening ideas that are floating in my head to this electronic paper.

I will start this off by simply stating that #StuCamp has changed me. Yes, that might sound cheesy, a bit dramatic, and strong, but the four hours working and listening to students during the event has me really thinking about several key issues in education right now.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 6.13.54 AM

Before I jump into those issues, I want to give thanks and my deepest gratitude to the handful of students(Iowa High Five) who worked to make this event happen. I had four 8th grade students really do a nice job working behind the scenes and staying after Friday for a few hours setting everything up. Additionally, we had two high school students help with the planning along the way starting back in December.

IMG_1611

After months of planning with Dane Barner through Voxer, Google Hangout, and email the structure was in place to make this event happen. We had over 140 students sign up for the two events. At our location in Bettendorf we ended up with over 40 of those students showing up. This is a great turnout for the first event where not many people could really grasp what StuCamp was all about. Those 40 students were one of the most powerful groups I have been part of as I listened to their ideas and PASSION about education and topics that impact their learning. I give much praise and thanks to all of the students, admin and educators who gave up a Saturday to talk education.

Saturday morning started in a bit of a panic. We walked into our school to have everything the students put together taken down and discovering we had to move location. Despite my frustration and panic with this, we did not have time to mess around and quickly transported the whole event to our media center and surrounding classrooms in about 45 minutes as students started to show up. We pulled it off and it worked out great. Once again showing the power of students.

IMG_1620

Starting at around 8:15 people started to show up. We had breakfast served and after most people had consumed their food we had students take lead and assemble the Awkward Family Photo Challenge which was designed to mix students up and get them talking with other students from different schools.

 

IMG_1614
At 9:00 we kicked off the event and it was important to stress the power of student voice. I felt it necessary to remind them time and time again that those of us who organized these events believe in student voice and their ideas WILL be heard. This is not just a feel good day, but a day to inspire students to connect and come back to their schools and make education better.

After explaining the concept of EdCamp and how to create sessions we dived right into developing the day. I thought I had this recorded, but it did not record. To me, this was the most powerful part of the day. Listening to students share ideas, tweak the sessions, move and merge ideas being shared was amazing. Grades 6-12 were talking on the same level. In a matter of 15 minutes we were ready.

IMG_1618

We grabbed some food and headed off to the rooms for breakouts. For each session students formed circles and started sharing, talking, brainstorming, and developing awareness, connectedness, and inspiration for their own schools.IMG_1617IMG_1622

 

This is the beauty. Students begin to realize that perhaps grass is not greener on the other side. Perhaps they are all in this together. Perhaps they can learn the great things other schools and students are doing and import those into their own schools. Perhaps they can develop an action plan to make positive change. This whole event is about sharing the good in education to make the good –> great. When issues arise that need to fixed instead of complaining they worked to develop solutions.

Perhaps………

But it takes agency. It takes action. It takes adults to REALLY listen to their ideas. I mean really listen. We don’t have to agree, but when was the last time schools actually stopped and really listened to what students are wanting, saying, and thinking?

After all the sessions we wrapped back up with some closing activities. We did a gallery walk with all the notes shared in the hallways. Some sessions ran longer because they had so much to say. Some just connected back in the media center. There was some real powerful conversations happening. At this point there was no need for adults. They were in complete control making this day about and for them.

We concluded with students working in teams to develop paper slides of what they learned. They had 15 minutes to create their slides, record and share out.

Here are the three that I received

 

Finally, we took one big awkward family photo and called it a day.

IMG_1636

Overall, it was one of the proudest things I have done as an educator. I was and still am moved by the power of students. I see my job as an educator and advocate of students to provide the platforms for their voices to strengthen and move into agency. This is something students need help with and I can help. I can help put together an event like StuCamp and leave it to them to make the day special.

I could not believe how fast the event flew by. It took so much time and effort to organize and get ready and just like that it was over. To operate on a budget of zero(except for a small sum of grant money left over for food) and pull this off is amazing.

I hope that students are organizing plans to make change. From the event we have created a Google Community for students to stay connected to share what they are working on in their schools. We would love to get more students and educators involved to keep the momentum going. Even if you did not attend StuCamp, but want to learn more and get involved please do.

Working with Dane we are so excited for the potential of the future of student voice. There are so many great things in development and I cannot wait to share when they are ready and look forward to pushing the boundaries of student empowerment.

To all of you who attended StuCamp at either location THANK YOU! Thank you for being brave to activate your voice. Thank you for taking charge of your education and learning. Thank you for taking the risk to join us as we work to find ways to allow students to take charge in their education.

Please take time to look at the photos, read the notes, check the drawings. We have many more coming in so check back soon. Feel free to reach out and let me know your thoughts.

We hope to gather more strength in numbers and voice as we plan for another event next year.

Until then, keep believing in what matters most……students.

Last, here is what you can expect in the near future.

  • Check out the Student Voice rally coming up next month
  • Be on lookout for a podcast from students as well as myself
  • Be on the lookout for a video from the day as well as my own paper slide video coming shortly
  • If you would like to get involved and get connected please reach out to me as we work to build a structure that is open to all students, schools, and educators
  • Join the Google Community mentioned above
  • Follow the #stucamp and #stuvoice hashtags
  • Keep checking back for some big announcements.

In the near future I will expand on the issues in education based on the sessions, but for now I celebrate the day and the students.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (1)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Student Voice and Participation in Teacher Project Tuning Session

As our building continues to push forward with Project Based Learning (PBL) and striving to challenge our students and ourselves I have reflected on the many key areas we need to work and develop to make the necessary steps to achievement.

As an instructional coach I have noticed that one of the key elements to developing a quality project for learning that is missing is project tuning.

Project Tuning is a systemic approach to helping a teacher tackle a question or mental block that they have in their development of their project. It is an approach that is very powerful and allows the staff to bond and offer insight. It allows the teacher who is tuning to hear perspectives from outside of their department and/or grade level.

Project Tuning is awesome and is something that we have continued to improve upon as we do more and more of these. The issue is that we don’t have enough teachers using this key piece. As we work to provide a structure and schedule for teachers to tune I also started working on another key element to project tuning: STUDENT VOICE

This first semester we had 8th graders work on a Choose2Matter project that we titled #BettPassion. One of the groups, Iowa High Five, is focusing on Student Voice. I brought them in last week to discuss the possibility of branching out student voice to a “behind the scenes” element of project tuning.

Last week we met with them and the principle to discuss this idea. They were excited at the opportunity. We talked about the system and things that need to be worked out.

I typed up two documents for them as well as the teachers to provide them with some structure.

Wednesday we were able to pull four of the girls into my room to do an actual project tuning and give them some practice. We had the opportunity to tune a project for a teacher that has an idea and is able to put his guard down to allow these students to practice.

It was amazing! We had one other teacher show up along with our principle and myself. The students jumped right in and nailed it. They provided some great insight that we don’t always think about as teachers and adults. They were open and honest and really provided a lot of great ideas. I was quite impressed by their maturity and honesty. I know it can be tough to really open up as a student to teachers and admin.

We are going to continue to find ways to include at least two students in each project tuning session from here on out. We will have to work on developing a pool of students to use. It really needs to be thought through because you need students who are honest and willing to speak the truth while also having a maturity level to handle this opportunity.

I am so excited to continue this journey and help enhance the power of student voice in our building. I will continue to provide documents, reflections, and hopefully a few video sessions to show how these project tunings operate.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Why Thinking About Design in Education is Vital Part 2 #coffeechugPLN

#coffeechugpln

I scribbled a bit on one of the interview titles and share this on Instagram a few weeks back, but I think it raises a very valid point.

How do we get students to take the leap of faith? I should add to this How do we get TEACHERS to take the leap of faith? We need to challenge the boundaries of how things are currently being done. It scares people. There is comfort with staying the course. This is needed to a certain extent, but we have many students and kids that we are losing because they are pushing the envelope and we are losing ground more and more every year.

The first thing that has to happen is to “engender trust”(page 94). This is nothing new, but we have to connect to the emotions of people(students and teachers) and bridge in a quality product(lesson or project). As we push the boundaries we have cannot lose sight of keeping things simple and the focus of the goal. It is easy to fall off the course and make things more complicated than what it needs to be.

As we try out new ideas and push the boundaries we cannot be so narrow in our vision. We must look big picture and figure out how all the “different pieces of the experience need to be fused into a cohesive whole?”(page 97) With this thought I think of staffing. Each educator brings some unique and different to the landscape of education. Not every teacher can be the same. Educators need to make up several different roles. We must learn and figure out how to blend these educators into “Design Teams” that create an experience for each student to gain maximum learning opportunities.

You can read Part 1 here

Part 3 drops tomorrow.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Passion Is Key To Education

Here I am in the summer. School has been out for over 3 weeks and I am super excited about the learning taking place.

Earlier in the year starting in April I had some students work with Angela Maiers on her Choose2Matter project which is all about students pursuing their passions in life.

As I have time to help out with my Storytelling team for this project I am so impressed by the students who are still working throughout the summer. It is not all of them who were working during the school year, but to see any student in the summer still working is so exciting to me! It gives me great hope to continue to push down the path of PASSION! I am reading the books of Angela and through my own various projects I continue to see how powerful passion can really be when it comes to education.

Over on the site you can see the projects submitted by students from all over the world including the awesome Bettendorf students(sorry, had to put a plug in for my school and students!)

Talking with some educators the other night I was thinking about how awesome this project has been for me. It has helped to reshape my focus on education. It opened up my eyes to how amazing students are no matter their background, intelligence, or grades. I have kids as young as 6th grade working social media like they have been doing it for 15 years. I have a 7th grader creating videos along with his very own published music showcasing his talents in multimedia. I have several students whose projects showcase a side of them that schools have never allowed them to showcase before. Going through the projects in the link above and working with the students who are part of the Dream Team behind the scenes making this project happen has ignited my PASSION for learning and teaching.

As I pursue a new job in the fall, one of the key benefits will be my scope and reach with so many students. I will be able to expand beyond just the gifted population and help all students find their passion and purpose along with teachers. I look forward to the opportunity. I look even more forward to where this Choose2Matter project will lead next. I really believe it has just begun.

Angela Maiers energy and passion is contagious. I have yet to meet her in person, but just through social media her energy and excitement permeates through the computer screen. She along with others has been a great breathe of fresh air to me this past year and summer. She has helped me find a new path in my educational platform and helped to fine tune my thoughts and ideas.

I really hope to continue to work with Choose2Matter because through working with this project my own passion has increased and my own project of expanding my reach to many students of all shapes, sizes, ages, and backgrounds has just begun.

Please take time to check out the project links. They are really amazing!

Here are my prior posts about this project

1. Email to teachers
2. Teacher Reflection #2
3. Teacher Reflection #1
4. Crowdsource Video
5. What Am I Teaching?

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Powerful Quote on Gifted Children

It is surprising that very highly gifted children do not rebel more frequently against the inappropriate educational provision which is generally made for them. Studies have repeatedly found that the great majority of highly gifted students are required to work, in class, at levels several years below their tested achievement. Underachievement may be imposed on the exceptionally gifted child through the constraints of an inappropriate and undemanding educational program or, as often happens, the child may deliberately underachieve in an attempt to seek peer-group acceptance“.

� Miraca U.M. Gross4

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Quail Project: Updates 3 Alive and 2 Dead

Way back in the fall we started up a quail project where my 4th and 5th grade ELP students incubated and hatched quail eggs. This project has continued and we now have four mating pairs. From these pairs we have plenty of eggs and one of our 7th grade homerooms has taken on the challenge of hatching the eggs of our original quail.

This entire quail project has been quite interesting to follow. We are all in this together learning and figuring things out. We have quail all over in various cages at student homes, teacher homes, and school.

Recently we attempted to release some quail in a courtyard at one of our schools. It was an experiment because we were not sure if they would fly away or remain. We are happy to report that after a few weeks the quail have found the courtyard to be a place called home. We have lost only one baby quail so far, but still have a mating pair laying eggs daily and two younger quail.

This whole piece is interesting. The courtyard was created to remember a student who died. Nicole was a student at Hoover Elementary School. Nicole Wooldridge, 9, died in May 2001 after battling neuroblastoma cancer for most of her life.

A cool thing emerged from the courtyard and that was a pair of ducks who mated and raised ducklings in the courtyard each year. This year was the first time that the ducks did not return. We find it only ironic that we had a successful year of hatching quail and found it fitting to continue the tradition of nature and the life cycle.

While we are working through this whole experiment I had a 7th grade homeroom class take on the challenge of hatching quail. They would come in the morning, lunch, and after school to check the temperature and rotate the eggs. This past Wednesday, May 15th, was the 23rd day of incubation. We were not sure if any eggs would hatch because often times the first eggs quail lay are not the strongest and it takes time to develop good quality eggs.

We were thrilled to have three quail hatch. We then added a fourth on that Thursday and Friday we had to help one guy hatch giving us a total of five.

Three are doing quite well. One of the original quail that hatched died Friday. He had a serious neck problem. Saturday morning my son and I found the quail that needed help hatching had died also. This is part of nature and somethings that we can talk about and learn from as a class.

So, with one week left of school what are we going to do with the quail? My son wants to help raise them so with only three quail we will be building a cage to help take care of them at my house over the summer. This should be one interesting story to unfold.

During the week we do livestream the quail via Google Hangout and YouTube so be sure to tune in. We run it live starting around 8 – 8:30 am Central time.

The quail are now 5 days old and it is amazing how much stronger and bigger they have become in such a short amount of time.

Here are several videos and images from our quail adventures in the past few weeks. I will be adding to this set every couple of days.

And last a short video documenting the hatching of our quail named Oreo

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

What is the purpose of education? We want to hear from you!

I posed this question to some of my students for an assignment the last week and I think you will be intrigued by their answers. I have created a Padlet where all their submissions are posted

http://padlet.com/wall/purposeofed

I would love it if you would check out their answers to this question. Please leave a comment or two here on this blog post for them. Pick their brains more. Ask them more questions, tell them what you agree/disagree with, etc. They want more discussion on this and they only can handle so much from this teacher.

Even better, craft your own answer and share. We would love to have others to compare answers to and even better from other educators. Leave your answer on the page. It is open for others to post and share.

Are educators and students on the same page or are we off?

What really is “education”? Are we stuck in old ways of thinking or is that the right way?

Let us know.

We will be uploading throughout the rest of the day.

Please share and spread the word to help my students gain some active thinking.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Bald Eagle Student Showcase: Video of Presentations and Link to Visuals

Here is a video link to some of the student projects from our ALCOA Eagle Eye to the World Showcase. 30 students from the Bettendorf ELP program in grades 4 and 5 presented an independent study project on one aspect of bald eagles.

Here is a link to the video – http://youtu.be/3PxDIW19g0I

This is the link to our bald eagle global project page as well as all things we have done with the eagles – http://eagleeyecamera.wikispaces.com/Final+Showcase

Feel free to check out all the things on the site above.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Bald Eagle Project – Classroom Work From Around the World

In case you have not had time to check out the wiki, Theresa Trevino and her class are doing amazing things in their school. They just uploaded a ton of podcasts that the students have created. Check them out and give them a listen.
Donna Roman and her students in Geneva, Illinois are doing amazing things as well. You have to check out the pictures of the students and their displays. I love the window idea. I just wish I had windows to decorate like that! 
 Very cool! This is what global collaboration is all about. It is fun to talk and connect with other schools while working on the project, but what I love even more is how teachers take an idea and make it their own. So many cool things happening in all the classrooms. I just love it!
Check out the work and pictures here – http://eagleeyecamera.wikispaces.com/Classroom+Projects
Remember, if you are doing something cool, then please post it on the wiki for others to see.

Thanks to Donna and Theresa for sharing the amazing things happening in their schools

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)

Teaching Ideas: Eric Collard, Nikola Tesla, and Controlling The Weather

Here is an incredible inspiration for students who might like to be challenged to make a difference.
Eric Dollard has been working on recreating the inventions of Nikola Tesla – who was way ahead of his time.
It is alleged that Tesla was killed at the request of Thomas Edison. http://listverse.com/2012/06/07/10-ways-edison-treated-tesla-like-a-jerk/
Dollard forces us to dig out of the thinking ruts that we all get into.
Here is Dollard’s fascinating story:

Here is Dollard’s indiegogo presentation:

Tesla himself can be incredibly inspirational and gifted beyond words.
Inventions and the inventive process have been suppressed:
Can our weather be controlled?
One of the members of our Innovation Initiative Co-operative inventors group claims to be able to control the weather using radionics devices. While discussing this with him, I suggested that if could do what he says then he could divert a typhoon that I had read about away from Taiwan. I followed the satellite weather images and sure enough the typhoon was diverted. Peter also claimed that he arranged to have a bright sunny day for his niece’s wedding. The forecast had been for rain that Saturday. He has a team of people that he works with.
Other claims: the central west USA was in drought situation last summer. He and his team brought rain clouds down the Rocky Mountains to give rain. He and his team have diverted many hurricanes that approached the US from the Atlantic including the big one that was supposed to hit New Orleans again.
CHALLENGE : Come up with a way or experiment to try to prove that he is actually controlling the weather.
Can
What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Boring (0)
  • Sucks (0)