Wednesday, October 3, 2018

MRVED Update - October 3, 2018

MRVED Business

The MRVED Common Day will be October 17 in Dawson at the high school.  Dave Burgess will be the keynote speaker. Registration closes October 3 at 4pm. The last day to cancel lunch for the day will be October 5, after that you will be held responsible for the price. The day will begin at 8:40 with Dave Burgess speaking until lunch. The afternoon will consist of staff broken into two groups. Group 1 will be with Burgess while Group 2 is in specified rooms discussing content areas. Then Group 2 will be with Burgess while Group 1 is in specified rooms discussing content areas. Everyone will get an agenda when they arrive letting them know where they will be during the day.

On Monday, October 22, everyone will receive an email with a link to an evaluation for the day. Please take the time to fill this out as we use it the information for planning future MRVED Common Days.

Upcoming Meetings
October 17, 2018 Dave Burgess-MRVED Common Day
October 24, 2018 Superintendents’ Council
October 26, 2018 Principals’ Council

November 9, 2018 Joint Principal and TAC
November 16, 2018 Principal's Council
November 28, 2018 Superintendent's Council

2019 MELT Call for Proposals

The MRVED Educators Learning Together (MELT) conference will be held at Lac qui Parle Valley High School on January 21, 2019.  To help make this conference the best ever, we need your help.  The MRVED is looking for enthusiastic people willing to present on something great happening in your classroom.  This can be anything from Google Drive to differentiation techniques in your classroom.  Show us how you Teach Like a Pirate!  Technology or no technology proposals are welcome.  Presenters will be paid a small stipend for your work.  You may submit as many presentation proposals as you wish.

**We are actively seeking any Pre-K people that would like to present, as well as anyone that Teaches Like a Pirate!**

**By filling out this form you are not committing to presenting, just providing the MRVED with your name and topic.**

Link to Proposal Form

Tech Tip of the Week - Flippity

Flippity is a great tool to use in the classroom.  If you can get over having to use a Google Sheet, this tool can transform how you do things in your classroom.  You can easily turn spreadsheets into flashcards, quiz shows, crosswords, etc...  There are so many different things you can do within Flippity.  You really need to experience it to see the power it has.

If We Don't Allow A Redo, What Are We Teaching?

Rick Wormeli tweeted this article out the other day on redos.  It is well worth the read.  It is an account from an English teacher on why he allows redos.  There are some really good points in here.  Take the time to read this article today, especially if you are on the fence about allowing kids to redo assignments.

Teach Like a Pirate - Ask & Analyze, Transformation, Enthusiasm

For those of you on Twitter, there is a great Teach Like a Pirate conversation that happens all day long!  Follow #TLAP.

Ask and Analyze
Burgess talks about the ability to think creatively in this chapter.  In a hilarious anecdotal example, he talks about how "creative people" simply walk around and are smacked with creative ideas out of the blue.  Being creative is not something that you are born with, it's something you can become better at.  Carol Dweck - growth mindset vs fixed mindset!  Being creative is all about what questions you ask yourself as well as the ability to change.  The bottom of page 34 and top of page 35 offer an awesome way to ask yourself questions that can guide you to be creative.  Once you find that creative change, you must then have the ability to change your lesson.

"Safe lessons are a recipe for mediocrity at best" (Burgess, 48).  I love this quote!  It is so true...we need to be able to take risks in our lessons.  Burgess talks about the 1000's of lessons that have been disasters.  It goes back to the Ask and Analyze chapter though.  When we fail we need to ask ourselves questions about the failure, analyze what we did, and then make adjustments.  We shouldn't continue to teach the bad lesson again and we shouldn't settle for mediocrity as well.  Our kids don't deserve mediocrity - they deserve our best!

Creating engaging lessons is also in the chapter on transformation.  I wanted to share a few quotes that hit home with me.

"If you can't explain why someone should pay attention to what you're saying, maybe we shouldn't be saying it." (Burgess, 62)

"History isn't boring, their history class was" (Burgess, 62)  I think of the phrase that I heard in my classroom, "this is boring".  What the student really meant, and I wish he/she would have said it, was "YOU are boring".  Burgess is right, your content area is not boring, it's the delivery that is boring.

Bottom line - you need to be enthusiastic about what you are teaching.  If you are not enthusiastic, then you need to fake being excited.  This is a big part to this book, so I'm not going to beat it to death here.  You really are an entertainer in your classroom.  You need to have enthusiasm for what you do, or the kids won't want to be there.

I'm going to leave these two thought provoking questions from the transformation chapter for you to think about:

If your students didn't have to be there, would you be teaching in an empty room?

Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

MRVED Update - September 19, 2018

MRVED Business

MRVED Common Day
The next MRVED Common Day is fast approaching. It will be October 17 at the Dawson-Boyd Public School. Dave Burgess will be the keynote speaker. Registration has been sent to the Principals for them to forward on. The registration will run from September 19 -October 3 with October 5th being the last day to cancel your lunch if you so choose. The day will start at 8:40 with Dave Burgess addressing all staff in the Auditorium until it is time for lunch. Staff will receive an agenda for the day when they arrive letting them where to go in the afternoon.

Upcoming Meetings
September 21, 2018 Title III Paras
September 26, 2018 Superintendents’ Council
September 28, 2018 Title III Teachers

October 17, 2018 Dave Burgess-MRVED Common Day
October 24, 2018 Superintendents’ Council
October 26, 2018 Principals’ Council

MRVED Principals and Teacher Advisory Council Meeting Update
The MRVED Principals and Teacher Advisory Council (TAC) were recently at the MRVED for their first meetings of the year.  It was nice to see new and returning faces in both groups.  There was much catching up to do from a busy summer at the MRVED.  Much of the time in both groups was spent putting the finishing touches on the October 17 day with Dave Burgess as well as providing Brandon with possible sessions for MELT 2019.  Both groups are an enormous asset to the MRVED and provide the MRVED with valuable feedback as well as help in planning our common days.

2019 MELT Call for Proposals
The MRVED Educators Learning Together (MELT) conference will be held at Lac qui Parle Valley High School on January 21, 2019.  To help make this conference the best ever, we need your help.  The MRVED is looking for enthusiastic people willing to present on something great happening in your classroom.  This can be anything from Google Drive to differentiation techniques in your classroom.  Show us how you Teach Like a Pirate!  Technology or no technology proposals are welcome.  Presenters will be paid a small stipend for your work.  You may submit as many presentation proposals as you wish.

**We are actively seeking any Pre-K people that would like to present, as well as anyone that Teaches Like a Pirate!**

**By filling out this form you are not committing to presenting, just providing the MRVED with your name and topic.**

Link to Proposal Form

Tech Tip - MRVED Twitter

Be sure to follow the MRVED on Twitter.  Anytime you do something with the MRVED or anytime you want the MRVED to see what you are Tweeting feel free to use the hashtag #WeAreMRVED.  We will also be using the hashtag #TLAPMRVED to go with our professional development this fall with Dave Burgess.  TLAP stands for Teach Like A Pirate.

Teach Like a Pirate - Passion, Immersion, Rapport

Let's set sail and start our adventure!

Burgess starts the chapter in an interesting way.  He states that, "we are not passionate about everything we teach".  As an example, I am passionate about social studies, but I'm not so passionate about World War I and World War II.  It's shocking because in every class I taught, it didn't matter if it was Sociology or US History, the same question emerged at some point..."when are we getting to Hitler and World War II?"  Don't get me wrong, WWI and WWII are super important topics in the scope of world and US history, but I just don't have the passion for it as some of my colleagues.  I do, however, love the Civil War.  I am also very passionate about Sociology (but not the chapter on the fathers of sociology).

It is OK to admit you are not passionate about everything you teach.  It's nearly impossible to be passionate about EVERYTHING.  The trick is to finding a way to bring passion into the area of your content you are not as passionate about.  To do this, Burgess asks us to think about 3 questions:

1. Within your subject matter, what are you passionate about teaching?
2. Within your profession, but not specific to your subject matter, what are you passionate about?
3. Completely outside of your profession, what are you passionate about?

For example, if I am not passionate about WWII, but I am personally passionate about baseball, can I somehow meld the two to create a passionate lesson/unit about WWII?

This is one of my favorite sections in the book.  Immersion is SO important to not only teaching, but in every relationship and interaction we have.  Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and you KNOW that person is not present in the conversation?  How did that make you feel?  Imagine being in a classroom where the teacher is not present.  Where the teacher is thinking about what is going on next hour, creating practice plans for an after school activity, or thinking about the staff meeting from that morning.  The kids can tell when you are not fully present in your teaching, and they feel exactly how you feel in a conversation with someone that is not present.  It's a HORRIBLE feeling!

The majority of this section talks about the way Burgess plans the first three days with his students.  It's all about building rapport with students.  Making sure they feel emotionally and physiologically safe.  Showing students that your classroom environment is a safe place to take risks and ask questions.  If you don't have rapport with the students from the beginning, you will be fighting an uphill battle from the beginning.  You'll have to buy the book if you want to read in depth about his first 3 days (this part is totally worth the cost of the book by the way!).  Building rapport helps minimize misbehavior in the classroom and allows students to "buy-in" to what you are selling.  Think about a door to door salesman...what is one of the first things the salesman will do?  Build trust and rapport.  The kids will never "invite" you into their minds, much like you would never invite a salesman into your home, if they don't have the trust and rapport.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

MRVED Update - Sept 5, 2018

MRVED Business

Welcome back!  The MRVED staff hopes you have had a restful and rejuvenating summer.  The MRVED staff has been busy all summer getting ready for the upcoming school year.  Here are some dates to put on your calendar:

  • October 17,2018 - MRVED Common Day - Dave Burgess @ Dawson-Boyd
  • January 21, 2019 - MELT @ Lac qui Parle Valley High School
  • April 18, 2019 - MRVED Common Day - 
We look forward to seeing all the familiar faces throughout the year as well as meeting new friends.  If there is anything the MRVED can do to assist you in meeting any of your goals, please let one of us know.

Minnesota River Valley CTE Collaborative

Over the past couple years there has been a group of administrators, counselors, higher education, and business people that have been meeting bi-monthly to administer a variety of CTE courses for our students.  This program has mainly been housed out of Minnesota West in Granite Falls.  Over the past year, this collaborative has seen tremendous growth.  As the program grew, administration of the program by a committee became very difficult.  It was decided in the Spring of 2018 to start the process of looking for a director for the collaborative.  The MRVED was chosen as the entity to "host" the program and hire the director.  Bruce Bergeson, longtime Montevideo high school principal, had been a member o the committee since the beginning decided the director position would be perfect for him as he enters retirement.  Bruce was hired as the Director of the Minnesota River Valley CTE Collaborative and began work in early July.

Bruce has been busy creating and communicating the Minnesota River Valley CTE Collaboratives brand and mission.  The collaborative currently consists of RCW, Lakeview, YME, Montevideo, and MACCRAY.  If you would like more information on the program, or would like Bruce to visit with your counselor about the courses, please let him know.  His contact information is:

Tech Tip - FlipGrid is FREE

Early in the Summer, Microsoft purchased the education tech start-up Flipgrid.  With this purchase, Flipgrid is now FREE!  Flipgrid is an awesome educational tool to incorporate in your classroom.  Students can create selfie videos for a variety of projects.  There are 1000's of examples on their website.  This announcement is huge for a couple reasons.  First, it shows the Microsoft is finally starting to make a play into the educational app market.  This will drive competition and spur so much more development in the Ed Tech world.  Second, Flipgrid is a Minnesota company, and it's always great to see Minnesota companies thrive in the Silicon Valley world of technology.

Teach Like a Pirate - Introduction

Dave Burgess will be our keynote speaker this Fall for the MRVED common day.  Burgess is a phenomenal speaker who will catch your attention from beginning.  If you don't know who Dave Burgess is or have never heard of Teach Like a Pirate, we'll spend the next couple months examining the book.

I highly recommend buying the book and following along.  Last year, we spent most of the Winter/Spring on Innovator's Mindset by George Couros and then had the opportunity to see Couros speak as our Spring keynote.  There were a handful of people within the MRVED that followed along as we highlighted each chapter.  Many of the people that did this, said it made seeing Couros so much better.  They were able to understand and comprehend so much more of the keynote.

Teach Like a Pirate is broken into three parts:
Part 1- Teach Like a Pirate (Passion, Immersion, Rapport, Ask and Analyze, Transformation, Enthusiasm)
Part 2 - Crafting Engaging Lessons
Part 3 - Building a Better Pirate

The ship will set sail in the next update.  We'll examine the first 3 parts to teaching like a pirate; passion, immersion, and rapport.

Show us how you "Teach Like a Pirate" on Twitter by using the #TLAPMRVED or #WeAreMRVED

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.