Wednesday, May 9, 2018

MRVED Update

MRVED Business

This is the last update of the 2017-2018 school year.  We hope you gained something from reading the updates this past school year.  We strive to create and pass along content that is relevant to our member school districts.  If you ever have a topic or something you think other teachers would enjoy reading or attending, please let Brandon know and he will gladly place it in the update.

Have an enjoyable break!  As every year, the MRVED offices will be open all summer, so stop by, grab a piece of candy (or a cup of coffee) and say hello.  We always enjoy summer visitors and hearing about all your adventures during the break.  If you need anything over break, do not hesitate to let us know. Get rejuvenated and some rest for another school year. Thank you all for another great year and we will see you in September!

Paraprofessional Conference
The Paraprofessional Conference is going to be on August 15, 2018 at the Benson Schools. Walking Tacos will be served for lunch that day. Registration information has gone out to the districts, please register if you have not.

Upcoming Meetings
May 23 Superintendent's Council

June 13 MRVED Board
June 27 Superintendent's Council

August 15 Paraprofessional Conference

Last Update of the School Year

Wow!  Another school year has come and gone.  It's amazing how fast a school year can go.  This year we had some amazing opportunities in the MRVED.  We started the year in August with your annual paraprofessional training for over 150 paras from our districts.  We then jumped right into our October professional development day which featured a variety of sessions.  One of the biggest names in PLC's, Solution Tree, joined us to help strengthen the PLC process in our schools.  We also were able to hear from one of the hottest and upcoming stars in education, Kayla Delzer.  The October day also featured a variety of curriculum breakout sessions throughout the day.  A couple months later, in January, the annual MELT conference was held at LQPV High School.  This year was bigger and better than ever.  The MELT featured over 100 sessions from local teachers to a professor from Duke University.  From the MELT it was "full-steam" ahead to our spring common day, held in Dawson.  Here we had the opportunity to hear from one of the best minds on innovation, George Couros.  Couros hit a note with many of our teachers and provided the MRVED districts with what they needed to hear to move forward in the area of innovation.

The MRVED would like to thank all the teachers and staff in our nine districts who participated, help plan, and worked the common days.  It is no easy task to host these events and each district that hosted did a phenomenal job.

Next year is the year of the PIRATE!  Teach Like a Pirate!  Dave Burgess will be our keynote in October and we will keep the Pirate theme going all year.  If you have not had an opportunity to see Dave in action, spend some time on his website or looking at YouTube videos.  His book, Teach Like a Pirate is a book you won't be able to put down either.  We look forward to "arrrrrgubly" the best year ever!

You can see all the great action from this year by following the Twitter hashtag #WeAreMRVED.

Summer Reading List

Every year I like to provide a summer reading list for those that are looking for some casual reading throughout the summer.

Teach Like a Pirate - Dave Burgess
Kids Deserve IT - Nesloney & Welcome
Innovator's Mindset - George Couros

Let us know what you are reading by telling us on Twitter with the hashtag #WeAreMRVED.

A Powerful Way to End the School Year

Year-end mapping!  What a great idea to end the school year.  You could do it in a variety of ways, but it could be a collage of the most memorable learning throughout the year.  I picture a collage of pictures in the hallway outside my classroom for everyone to see what we learned throughout the year.  It's a great way for kids to see the progression of learning.  Here is an article on the idea of year-end mapping.

Top 12 Ways Teachers Can Rock Summer Break

By the end of July many teachers are wondering where their summer has gone.  Here is a short list of things you can do on your summer break (that is, if you are not working already).

Top 12 Ways Teachers Can Rock Summer Break

Tweet us this summer with the hashtag #WeAreMRVED to show us how you are rocking your summer break.  In all the busyness of summer, don't forget to get in a little "me" time as well.  Enjoy it, every summer seems to go faster and faster!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

MRVED Update - April 25, 2018

MRVED Business

Paraprofessional Conference
The Paraprofessional Conference is going to be on August 15, 2018 at the Benson Schools. Walking Tacos will be served for lunch that day. Registration information will go out to the Districts by May 4.

Upcoming Meetings
May 9 TAC
May 23 Superintendent's Council
June 13 MRVED Board
June 27 Superintendent's Council

Legislative Updates

The legislative session is moving along quickly and there are once again a handful of issues that pertain to education.  The first, and probably most important information to stay up to date on is information from PELSB (Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board).  MREA does a nice job of providing updates, you can read about the PELSB updates HERE.  The second legislative issue pertaining to education are the new mandates that are proposed.  You can read about the new mandates HERE.

MREA Annual Conference Call for Proposals

MREA seeks dynamic presenters to share best practices, solutions, and research at the 2018 Annual Conference on Engaging Students Now. Presenters will have the opportunity to positively impact more than 400 rural education leaders from across Greater Minnesota. Proposals are due May 18.

2018 Annual Conference: Engaging Students Now

Engage Students in Learning Process

As competition for student engagement in the learning process has changed over the years, the biggest hurdle for any school or teacher is finding ways to make learning relevant, authentic, and valuable in students’ lives. How do we evaluate whether what we are doing in our classrooms is truly worth being engaged in?

Effective student engagement is not about quick fixes, but rather instrumental changes in our teaching philosophy. MREA seeks student engagement and rural education presentations that will:
  • Share promising strategies, tools and best practices
  • Demonstrate innovative ideas and solutions and what’s possible
  • Challenge the experienced rural educational professional
Presentation Focus Areas

Focus areas for Sunday evening early bird and Monday breakout sessions are:
  • Curricular design that engages and builds understanding
  • Instructional practices that engage and empower students
  • Classroom management strategies/programs
  • Personalizing learning
  • Taking learning beyond the classroom
  • Sharpening the saw: strategies for educator continuous improvement
  • Additional topics such as school safety and teacher license renewal requirements
View focus area details

Proposals are due by 5 pm on Friday, May 18.
Call for Proposals View proposal requirements.
Interested in Presenting? Submit proposal online.
Important Dates

April 9: Call for Presenters Opens
May 18: Deadline to Submit Proposals
June 15: Presenter Notification Begins
June 30: Presenter Commitment Deadline

Questions? Call the MREA Office at (320) 762.6574.

Tech Tip of the Week - PBS LearningMedia

I was reminded of this hidden gem last week.  PBS LearningMedia is an awesome website with tons of great PBS content.  You can find short clips to images to lesson plans.  There is so much awesome FREE stuff here.  There is something for every grade level and content area.  My favorite is searching the Ken Burns Collection and watching segments of his Civil War, Baseball, and Prohibition documentaries.  The best part, I don't have to fast forward through a DVD to find the segments I want to watch.  Check it out today!

Teach Like a Pirate Introduction

This year we have had a focus on innovation.  The MRVED principals have looked at the topic, our TAC has explored innovation in education and the Superintendents are reading The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros.  Next year will be the year of the pirate, Teach Like a Pirate.  Dave Burgess will be our keynote in the fall.  I highly, highly suggest reading his book Teach Like a Pirate prior to hearing him speak in October.  It would be a super easy summer read.  Order the book today!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

MRVED Update - April 11, 2018

MRVED Business

March 29 - George Couros
Thank you to the Dawson-Boyd school district for allowing the MRVED to invade their space on March 29th.  The building was set up perfectly and everyone was able to easily get from point "A" to point "B" throughout the day.  The MRVED hopes you had a great day listening to George Couros.  We have spent the last year going through his book in each update.  If you bought his book as a result of his keynote, look back through the MRVED update to read a short synopsis of each chapter.

Also, if you have not filled out the evaluation for the day, please do so by the end of the week.  The link can be found below:

March 29 - George Couros Evaluation

Other Business
Mary Brown retired as of April 6. Thank You to all who were able to attend her retirement party and/or gave her well wishes. She will be missed. Reminder, there is an additional date for a TAC meeting which will be Wednesday, May 9 at the MRVED Offices beginning with rolls at 8. The meeting will be from 8:30-12.

Upcoming meetings
April 11- MRVED Board 
April 20- Title III Teachers
April 25- Superintendent's meeting

May 9- TAC
May 23- Superintendent's meeting

June 13-MRVED Board

Science Standards Review Committee

The application for the Minnesota Science Standards Review Committee is now posted on the MDEScience page. This committee will review current standards and recommend any changes. Committee members will represent teachers, administrators, professors, scientists, business and community. It will have geographic and racial diversity. We especially encourage you to recruit scientists and community members that could make a contribution. The deadline for submitting applications is April 23.

The committee will meet approximately monthly from August through April for full day sessions.
Applicants will have to commit to the full schedule of committee meetings. Technical writing teams (mostly teachers) will meet more frequently and likely electronically. The committee schedule and assumptions guiding the committee work are posted at the same site. The review process and considerations are described in a series of articles at the MnSTA Science Standards page. Contact for questions.

Educational Hashtags

If you were able to hear George Couros in the afternoon on March 29th, you would have heard him talk extensively about creating a worldwide network.  He mentioned Twitter being a great place to create your network and connect with other professionals.  He talked about the use of hashtags to help you find information.  Below are a couple lists to help you find hashtags to follow.  If you have a hashtag for your classroom, tweet it out to the hashtag #WeAreMRVED to share with everyone in MRVED.  You can also tweet at the MRVED @MNRVED or Brandon (@braymo22) or Karen (@KAKJacobson)

The Grief of Accepting New Ideas - Rick Wormeli

Rick Wormeli Tweeted this article out the other day and I thought it was very fitting coming off the heels of listening to George Couros.  Couros said in his keynote, "The only constant is change".  Change in education is unavoidable, and this article talks about the emotions we go through with change.  The article offers strategies to deal with the change and/or support one another through the change.

The Grief of Accepting New Ideas by Rick Wormeli

The Innovator's Mindset - Wrap Up

Last update we finished The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros.  Finishing the book the day prior to hearing him speak was very beneficial.  The one quote from his keynote that has really stuck with me is, "Make the positives so loud the negatives cannot be heard".  We tend to focus and give the negatives so much of our time and energy.  If the positives are louder than negatives, we won't even hear them, thus not have to spend the time on them.  We can be the positive voices, either in person or on social media.

My final thoughts after reading the book and meeting George Couros is every one of us has a story to tell.  Every one of us knows something that someone else does not.  Every one of us have different talents and abilities.  How can we leverage the technology today to help share our story?  To share our talents?  To share our knowledge?  We can consume and gather knowledge all day long, but it's when we give back to that community is when we see the full breadth of a true network.  Nobody may ever retweet or quote your tweet, but what you share may impact someone, somewhere and you will never know it.  Believe that what you are sharing, creating, or doing is important and others will believe it too.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

MRVED Update - March 28, 2018

Mary's Retirement Bash

Please join the MRVED staff on Friday, April 6th from 2:00 - 5:00 as we celebrate the retirement of Mary Brown.  Mary is retiring on April 6th from the MRVED after 24 years of service to the organization.  Please come wish her well in her retirement and offer your appreciation for the many years of service.  Refreshments will be served.

Mary Brown Retirement Flyer

MRVED Business

March 29 Information. The next MRVED Common Day is on March 29. It is going to be held in Dawson at the Dawson-Boyd School and George Couros is the keynote speaker. George Couros is the author of  The Innovator's Mindset. There will be over 500 staff attending on March 29. The schedule for the day looks like this:

8:00- Breakfast-compliments of the administrators
9-9:45- District Time-Staff Prep for George Couros
10-11:45-George Couros Keynote Speaker
12:30-1:30-Elementary meet w/ George Couros
                   Secondary in District time
1:30-2:30-Secondary meet w/ George Couros
                 Elementary in District Time

Upcoming Meetings

March 2018
March 29, 2018     George Couros (Common Day)

April 2018
April 11, 2018  MRVED Board (Executive Committe prior to this mtg)-NEW DATE
April 20, 2018  Title III Teachers
April 25, 2018   Superintendent's Council

May 2018
May 23, 2018    Superintendent's Council

Unleashing the Positive Power of Differences with Dr. Jane Kise

Learning Forward MN is offering a workshop with Dr. Jane Kise.

Learn to examine new initiatives and strategies to manage polarities, which are conflicting sets of values that, over time, benefit from interacting with each other. Understand how to map the values and concerns of various stakeholders. Experience using that information to plan professional development, determine action steps, and identify potential implementation imbalances. Hear how polarity thinking minimizes pendulum swings in policies by addressing competing needs and setting common goals.

When: Friday May 4, 2018
8:30 am - 2:30 pm
Where: Roseville Skating Center
2661 Civic Center Drive
Roseville, MN 55113
Cost: $150 includes workshop, light breakfast, lunch and book

Registration Link

Tech Tip of the Week - Rocketbook

Rocketbook has been featured in the past.  Since the last time it was featured, there have been numerous updates to the app.  Rocketbook is "smart" notebook.  It allows the user to use the camera on their device to scan in a page of written notes.  The user can then interact with the written notes digitally and send them to a digital home.  There are different notebook options to choose from, one notebook requires a microwave to clear, whereas the others require moisture or dry-erase.  It really is a cool product, check it out today!

Rocketbook Website

The Innovator's Mindset - Chapter 13 & 14 & Wrap Up

We will wrap up the book The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros one day before Couros is set to be with MRVED teachers.  It's set to be a great day of learning and conversation.  Couros will make you laugh, cry, and reflect all in the same breath.

Chapter 13 & 14 Recap - Are We There Yet? & The Biggest Barrier and "Game Changer" to Innovation in Education
As I read chapter 13, I was reminded yet again that a standardized test can only measure certain things and not necessarily measure the things that Couros mentions in his book.  Yes, the test can measure how we are doing in math, science, and reading, but it can't measure creativity or the ability to problem solve.  Couros suggests surveying the students and asking these 3 questions:
1. Do you consider yourself as a successful, contributing member of society?
2. Why did you give the answer above?
3. What impact do you think school had on your answers?

You won't get a nice pie chart or visual graphic of these answers to measure, but the answers will tell you what you really want to know.  Did your schooling contribute to being an active member of society?  If one really thinks about it, do you ever look at someone and say, "boy, he's really bad at science.", probably not!  But we have looked at someone and wondered what role they play in society.  This little example should tell us what we value more as a society, and that maybe what our schools value and what society values are misaligned.

To get realigned we need a mindset shift - thus The Innovator's Mindset.  We need to create a culture in our schools that value the 8 characteristics of the innovator's mindset.  We need to let our legislature know what it is we value.  We also need to allow the pendulum to swing back from the focus on standardized test to creativity and problem solving.

Chapter 14 is a continuation of chapter 13, but does a nice job of summing up the book.  In chapter 14 Couros writes, "If we only teach students the curriculum, we have failed them. (Couros 223).  Insisting that there is more to school than just learning "the facts", there is a hidden curriculum.  This "hidden curriculum" is the 8 characteristics of the innovator's mindset that we have a difficult time measuring.

One of the most telling paragraphs in this book comes at the bottom of page 226.  Couros talks about a new app that came out and some people only focus on barriers of the new app, where others see the new app as an opportunity.  My favorite quote follows, "You choose your perspective.  It's okay to ask questions.  Just make sure your questions aren't really excuses in disguise." (Couros 226-27).

In closing the book, I will leave you with one last quote, "...the biggest barrier to innovation is our own way of thinking.  I am also reminded of the biggest game changer - and it isn't technology.  The biggest game changers in education are, and always will be, the educators who embrace the innovator's mindset." (Couros 227)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

MRVED Update - March 14, 2018

The next Common Day is March 29 in Dawson-Boyd with George Couros as the keynote speaker. The day will start with breakfast (compliments of the administrators) and everyone will break off into district time to prep for Couros before attending his presentation. Everyone will receive a personalized agenda when they arrive so they know where to go and when. The full schedule:
  • 9-9:45 District Time-Staff Prep for George Couros
  • 10-11:45 George Couros Keynote Speaker
  • 11:45-12:30 Lunch
  • 12:30-1:30 Elementary with George Couros
    •  Secondary in District Time
  • 1:30-2:30 Secondary with George Couros 
    •  Elementary in District Time
Upcoming Meetings

March 16- Title III Paras
March 23-Principle Meeting
March 28- Superintendent Meeting
March 29-George Couros (Common Day)

April 11- MRVED Board
April 20- Title III Teachers
April 25-Superintendent Meeting


The Minnesota Rural Education Association (MREA) offers districts a great news resource on their website.  MREA does an excellent job at informing districts on legislative and school issues.  Spend a couple minutes getting caught up on the latest in Minnesota education news by going to the news section of the MREA website.

Science Standards Review Committee Applications

The application for the Mn Science Standards Review Committee will likely be posted on the MDE Science page on March 26. This committee will review current standards and recommend any changes.

Committee members will represent teachers, administrators, professors, scientists, business and
community. It will have geographic and diversity distribution. We especially encourage you to recruit
scientists and community members that could make a contribution.

The committee will meet approximately monthly from August through April, for full day sessions.
Applicants will have to commit to the full schedule of committee meetings. Technical writing teams
(mostly teachers) will meet more frequently and likely electronically. The committee schedule and
assumptions guiding the committee work will be posted at the same site. The review process and
considerations are described in a series of articles at the MnSTA Science Standards page. The deadline for submitting applications is April 13. Contact for questions.

5 Parent Resources to Support Children in Being Safe & Responsible Digital Citizens

In our ever more connected world, it becomes even more important that we are teaching our kids how to navigate the vast reaches of the internet.  Tech & Learning came out with a list of 5 resources you can send home with parents or students to support them in keeping the kids safe online.

5 Digital Citizenship Resources for Parents

Innovator's Mindset - Create Meaningful Learning Experiences for Educators

This chapter is a great reminder that if we expect our students to be self-guided learners, we ourselves need to follow suit.  We need to take control of our own professional learning.  Will Richardson says, "Kids wouldn't wait for a blogging workshop.  Adults shouldn't either" (Couros, 184).

Couros takes the same graphic from a previous chapter about 8 Things to Look for in Today's Classroom and applies it to professional development.  If we want things to change, our professional development needs to look different.  Couros states, "...if lectures and traditional staff meetings ar the only way we try to improve the profession, we are more likely to maintain the status quo than move forward." (Couros 182)

The 8 Things to Look for in Today's Classroom (Professional Development) are as follows (read the chapter to get examples from Couros).
1. Voice - Being able to share ideas
2. Choice - Choosing what to learn
3. Time for Reflection - Time to reflect on learning
4. Opportunities for Innovation - Time to be innovative and support
5. Critical Thinking - Questioning the status quo
6. Problem Finders/Solvers - Not only solve problems, but find problems that exist
7. Self-Assessment - Being able to assess if we are doing things correctly
8. Connected Learning - Being connected to others

Bottom line is that we expect our students to be innovative, but our students will never be innovative if our teachers, administrators, and schools are not innovative.  Our schools need to take the same approach we want our teachers taking with their students.  Couros says it best, "...people need to move from their point A to their point B.  Learning doesn't happen by simply distributing information" (Couros 199).  These are two critical pieces of information to understanding innovation and progress.  We are all at different points, so the important thing is that we are able to go from our point A to our point B.  Learning and innovation will not happen by providing a staff meeting on innovation, people need to experience it.  Couros offers a variety of ideas on how to do that in this chapter.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

MRVED Update - February 28, 2018

MRVED Business

The next MRVED Common Day is March 29. It will be held at the Dawson-Boyd Schools with George Couros as the keynote speaker. Registration for the March 29 common day opened on February 26. Just a reminder this will close on March 9 @ 4pm. Here is the link again to register. Registration Link

Upcoming Meetings

March 16-Title III Paras
March 23-Principal's Council
March 28- Superintendent's Council
March 29- George Couros (Common Day)

April 11- MRVED Board (Note DATE change)
April 20-Title III Teachers

Minnesota State Standards Update

There are going to be many changes in state standards in the upcoming school years.  Make your voice heard and apply to be on committees or attend town hall meetings.  If you have any questions, please let Brandon know.

Arts - 1st Draft in comment period until March 1 - Link (Don't miss the opportunity to comment)
ELA - Next review in 2019-20 School Year - Link
Health/PE - New Standards in 2018 - Link
Math - Next review in 2021-22 School Year - Link
Science - Next review in 2018-19 School Year - Link
Social Studies - Next review in 2020-21 School Year - Link

In short - you should see new standards in:
Science - 2019
ELA - 2020
Social Studies - 2021
Math  - 2022

Minnesota Association for Children's Mental Health Annual Conference

When: April 15-17
Where: Duluth, MN
Who: Anyone who works with children

The MACMH Child & Adolescent Mental Health Conference features an awesome lineup of keynotes and breakout sessions.  It's one of those conferences that has a little bit of everything for everyone.  You can take advantage of early-bird pricing until March 8.

Conference Website

Tech Tip of the Week - Using Alexa in the Classroom

Over the past month I have had a couple teachers ask me for ideas on how to use an Amazon Echo (or Alexa) in the classroom.  My children each have an Echo Dot and they love it.  I enjoy sitting and listening to my 5 year old ask Alexa all sorts of questions.  We use ours so much that our 1 year old actually tries to tell Alexa what to do - from time to time the 1 year old will enunciate well enough that Alexa catches on.  Here are a couple things you can do with Alexa in your classroom and then a variety of links that will provide you with more ideas and/or skills to teach Alexa.

1. Set a timer
2. Random number generator
3. Roll dice
4. Flip a coin
4. Lookup a definition
5. Tell a joke
6. Ask for weather forecast
7. Set a reminder
8. Do math problems

Alexa Skills for the Classroom - Erin Ermis & Emma Kopitzke
Voice Commands for Alexa
Alexa: Your New Teacher Assistant - Dr. Bruce Ellis

The Innovator's Mindset - Embracing Open Culture

The chapter on embracing open culture is mostly about how to make meaningful connections.  One of my favorite quotes in this chapter is right at the beginning.  Couros says, "today, isolation is a choice educators make" (Couros 168).  This statement couldn't be more true.  Connectedness and collaboration should be the norm, not the exception.  With 24/7 access to experts on any topic, teaching in isolation should no longer happen.

I was reminded again the other day about the concept of 21st century skills and how many people still look at them and talk about them as if they are futuristic.  We just started the year 2018 - 18 years into the 21st century.  I think we can start talking about 21st century skills as if they are the skills our students need today.  The same goes for our teaching.  Are we still teaching as if we are in the 20th century?  Are we still in our silos?  Have we embraced the open culture of today?  Have we allowed our students to harness the open culture for learning?  Are we showing our students how to navigate the 21st century world of open culture?

Couros uses the examples of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc... to show how some schools have embraced this open culture.  Most teachers would agree, they learn best from other teachers.  There is a vast network of teachers on Twitter willing to share their content, teaching strategies, and ideas.  On Twitter, the information flows to you - you don't even have to search for it!  Couros talks in depth about how to make the learning in your classroom go viral.  He provides one example, and it phrases it in a question; "What if all teachers tweeted about one thing a day they did in their classrooms and took five minutes to read other teachers' tweets?" (Couros 177)  Think about that!  Think how powerful that could be.  Think about the ideas that could be generated.  That is an example of an open culture.

There is obviously much more to this chapter and I encourage anyone to read Innovator's Mindset before George Couros speaks with the MRVED on March 29th.