Wednesday, November 2, 2022

MRVED Update - November 2, 2022

MRVED Business

MRVED Meetings

Tuesday, November 15, 2022 - Community Education Directors' Meeting
Friday, November 11, 2022 - VIRTUAL Title III Meeting
Friday, November 18, 2022 - Teachers' Advisory and Principals' Advisory Council Meeting
Wednesday, November 23, 2022 - Superintendents' Council Meeting

October 19 Recap

Unfortunately, due to last-minute unforeseen circumstances with our presenter, the MRVED Superintendents agreed it would be better to cancel the MRVED event versus trying to put something together last minute. It was decided that the districts would plan their own professional development for the day. The MRVED would like to thank Benson schools for being willing to host the event. Our hope is that your day was productive and worthwhile in your districts. We look forward to moving forward into MELT with a stronger lineup than ever before!

MELT 2023

MELT 2023 is fast approaching. There are currently over 60 individual sessions planned from people from all around Minnesota as well as many of our great local teachers. If you want to present or know of someone that should be presenting, please let Brandon ( know. There's always room for a couple more sessions.

IMPORTANT: MELT registration will open on Wednesday, December 14th at 7:30 AM and close at the end of the day on December 22nd. Be sure to register early as sessions fill fast. Your principal will be sending you the brochure and registration materials a couple days prior.

MELT 2023 Networking Facilitator Sign-Up

The MRVED is looking for people to be facilitators of networking sessions for MELT 2022. As a facilitator, you are not expected to be the expert or present on anything. Your job is to facilitate the meeting. Start and end the session on time and keep people positive. You will also have the ability to email the group prior to MELT to gather ideas and plan for the hour. Sign-up link is listed below. Facilitators are paid a $100 stipend and allowed access to early registration.

**Please note; Any networking sessions that does not have a facilitator, will not be held.**

MELT Networking Facilitator Sign-Up

Professional Development

Election Resources

With the election drawing near and campaign ads filling our television screens, it creates a great teachable moment for students. Students may have lots of questions as to why we vote, who are the candidates, how do you vote, etc... Many of these questions can be difficult to answer, especially for younger aged students. Fortunately, there are some great resources for teachers to help them talk about the election with their students. Below is a listing of some awesome resources.

iCivics - Election Headquarters


PBS Election Central

CNN Politics

Why I Stopped Giving Zeros

This enlightening article was posted on Edutopia this past week by Mary Beth Townsend on grading practices was a quick read that makes you think about the purpose of grades. It also provides small steps a teacher can take to begin grading equitably in their classroom. Reading the article reminded me of a short video I saw a few years ago by Doug Reeves on Toxic Grading Practices. Give the short 6 minute video a watch today and reflect back on your own grading practices. The one line in the video that stands out to me is "The penalty for not doing the work, should be doing the work - not a zero".

Instructional Coaching - Everyone Needs a Coach

Within the MRVED, we have a small group of teachers and leaders that gather monthly to discuss instructional coaching. It is one of my most favorite groups that I meet with monthly. We have great conversations about continuous improvement not only in teaching practices, but in our own careers. The group is currently reading the book Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. The book is centered around vulnerability and how to react to that vulnerability and lead people through that vulnerability. It is an excellent book that I highly recommend for any teacher leaders. I was reading our section of the book for our discussion and had a few thoughts. Why do we, in education, view working with a coach as a punishment? Why do we view it negatively? I think it all goes back to vulnerability. Brown defines vulnerability "as the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure (Brown, 19)." Working with a coach is a risk..."what if it doesn't work?" "What if what I am doing is wrong?" "I don't need help." Through experience, as a coach, the reward certainly outweighs the risk. If you are interested in going through a coaching cycle or want to learn more, please reach out to Brandon ( Brandon can coach anyone in our districts and there is no additional charge to your school. Watch the TED Talk below from Atul Gawande on why everyone needs a coach!

Jon Gordon's The Power of Positive Leadership for Teens

Last fall the MRVED had the privilege of hearing Jon Gordon speak. Jon's books are inspirational and full of life nuggets. The books are very easy to read and can be applied to almost any area of your life. On December 4th, he is offering a 2-hour workshop on The Power of Positive Leadership for Teens. The cost is very reasonable at $59 per person (with group rates available). If you are an advisor of an activity or coach of a sports team, this would be a great training for your student leaders. Jon is very influential and can help your student leaders grow. Check it out today!

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

MRVED Update - September 28, 2023

MRVED Business

MRVED Meetings

Wednesday, October 26, 2022 - Superintendents' Council Meeting

Friday, October 28, 2022 - Principals' Council Meeting

Welcome Back

Welcome back to the 2022-23 school year. It's been fun to see all the smiling faces back in the buildings with lots of learning happening. The MRVED staff wishes you the best school year ever. If there is anything we can do to help you accomplish your goals please don't hesitate to call or email any one of us. Our main goal is to be of help and service to our member school districts. Have a great year!

Karen Jacobson - Director

Brandon Raymo - Assistant Director

Katie Raymo - Administrative Assistant

Pam Bruns - Administrative Assistant

October 19th Common Inservice Day

The MRVED has prided itself on providing high quality professional development opportunities for the past 25 years. For the past 6 years our nine school districts have collaborated during 3 common inservice dates per school year. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances with our keynote speaker, the October 19th common MRVED inservice date will now be converted back to district controlled time. The MRVED is thankful to the Benson School District for being willing to host the day. Your administration will be in contact with you about your individual plans for the October 19th inservice day. We look forward to coming together during the MELT Conference on January 16, 2023 at Lac qui Parle Valley High School.

MELT Call for Presentations

The 2023 MELT will once again be held at Lac qui Parle Valley High School on January 16, 2023. This conference is the envy of many around the state of Minnesota. There aren't very many school districts in the state of Minnesota that send their whole staff to a conference like this, let alone 9 school districts!

Each year, we rely heavily on local presenters to share what they are doing in their classroom. This year is no exception. There are so many great things happening in all our classrooms. Please consider sharing your ideas & talents with your colleagues. There is a stipend and perks to presenting.

The Call for Presentations is NOT a guarantee or agreement to present. It is simply providing your name and idea for the committee to consider. Brandon will contact you by the middle of October if your session is selected.

MELT Call for Presentations Link

Paraprofessional Conference Recap - August 17, 2022

MRVED hosted the annual Paraprofessional Conference on August 17, 2022 at Benson High School. Over 120 paraprofessionals attended the conference and participated in a variety of breakout sessions throughout the day. The day started with a general session focused on poverty presented by Heather Jesertiz and Angela Larson from United Community Action Partnership. After the general session there were breakout sessions the remainder of the day. Breakout sessions that were offered are listed below. Thank you to all that attended and to those that were willing to present.

Poor vs. Poverty Follow-Up - H. Jeseritz & A. Larson

Para 101; Karen Jacobson

Phrases para la classe - Ana Pieda & Missy Ochsendorf

Minnesota Standards Update - Brandon Raymo

Why I'm Right and You're Wrong - Dr. Jennie Gunlogson

Suicide Prevention - Brian Skogen

From Para to SPED Track - SMSU Professors

Fine Motor Strategies - Peggy Knutson

Intro to Google Apps - Aimee Thalberg

What is LETRS? - Sheri Schneider

Immigration Process - Rafael Antonio Valenzuela Charver

Behavior Regulation Strategies and Supports - Angie Young

Race and Culture for Ourselves & for our Students - Hope Schmidt

What Would You Do? - Brandon Raymo

Math Tips, Tricks, & Games - Karen Hartke

Para 201 - Karen Jacobson

Professional Development

Perpich Center Regional Arts Teacher-Leader Network

The Regional Arts Teacher-Leader Network is a virtual cohort of Minnesota arts educators (dance, music, theater, visual & media) working collaboratively through multi-year professional development to advance their leadership skills and classroom practices. This opportunity is hosted by the Perpich Center.

While an Interest Form is available now, more detailed information will be coming as applications open, which they are anticipating will be in late October. Applications will close in December with an anticipated start date of January 2023. As this is a multi-year professional development network, applications may not open again for two or more years.

SWWC It2 Conference

Date: October 27-28, 2022

Location: Willmar Event Center

What: The conference begins on Thursday, October 27, 2022, at 1:00 pm with a series of concurrent sessions. New this year, the Exhibit Hall will have exclusive hours during the conference from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, during which appetizers and refreshments will be available. Our Exhibit Hall challenge will make a return this year, which is your ticket to enter the drawings for some awesome door prizes. The conference will resume on Friday, October 28, 2022. Our keynote speaker, Steven Baule, will begin the day at 8:00 a.m. with breakout sessions to follow. The breakout sessions should conclude around 3:00 p.m. with the door prize drawings held after.

Registration Link

Standards Update

In the past four years we have seen updates to the ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies state standards. While implementation of these standards are a few years away, there will still be valuable work that needs to be completed to be ready for implementation and the first testing of the new standards. Currently all four documents are in the rulemaking process. This process can take upwards of two years after the final draft has been completed. Sometime this winter we should see ELA and Science exit the rulemaking process and move into implementation. Social Studies and Math will likely be in rulemaking throughout this school year.

There are significant changes in all the standard areas, so an implementation plan should be in place in all our districts to prepare ourselves for the first testing of the new standards. All new standards are linked below. Please note - these standards are NOT what our students are CURRENTLY being tested on.

ELA Standards

Math Standards

Science Standards

Social Studies Standards

Brandon's Books to Read for 2022-23

I always enjoy getting book suggestions from people. It helps me narrow down my search for the next book I'll read. Here is my list of professional books I am currently reading, have recently read, or are on my list to read.

Dare to Lead - Brene Brown

Teach Like a Champion - Doug Lemov

Leaders Eat Last - Simon Sinek

You Win in the Locker Room First - Jon Gordon & Mike Smith

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More, & Change the Way You Lead Forever - Michael Bungay Stanier

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

MRVED Update - March 9, 2022

MRVED Business

MRVED Meetings 

Friday, March 11, 2022 - Title III Paraprofessionals

Friday, March 18, 2022 - Title III Teachers (Virtual)

Wednesday, March 23, 2022 - Superintendents' Council

April 14, 2022 Information

The April 14, 2022, MRVED Common Inservice Day will be held in Benson at the Benson High School.  Registration will be sent out early next week.  If you have a student teacher this spring, please have your student teacher register through the registration link as well.  We need to plan our seating accordingly.  

The schedule for the day is as followed:

9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. - PJ Fleck
10:00 a.m. - 10:20 a.m. - Break/Breakfast
10:30 a.m. - 11:20 a.m. - Networking
11:35 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. - Community Building Activity
12:20 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. - Lunch
1:05 p.m. - 1:55 p.m. - District Choice

For lunch, your administration is asking everyone to eat at Benson High School due to a shortened lunch time.  The cost is $7.00 and is to be paid to your district. DO NOT SEND ANY MONEY TO THE MRVED.  The following are your lunch options:

Option #1:  Chef Salad with a breadstick, fruit, and a cookie.
Option #2:  Chicken Salad Croissant with fresh vegetables, fruit, chips, ranch cup, and a cookie. 

If you choose NOT to eat the boxed lunch, you are asked to bring your own lunch to eat at Benson High School.  Please note that there is NOT a cooler to store your lunch and a microwave is NOT available to warm up food, so please plan accordingly.

You will receive an email prior to the April 14th Common Inservice Day with everything you need to know for the day.  A personalized agenda will be handed out when you arrive at the Benson High School. 

***Registration will close on Friday, March 25th @ 4:00 p.m.***


Ukraine/Russia Conflict Resources

As teachers we make an instructional decision to talk or not talk about current events. Sometimes we shy away from topics that may seem controversial, or we shy away from topics because we don't fully understand the topic ourselves. Either way, we know our kids are hearing and seeing news from Ukraine. Here are some resources to enrich your own knowledge of the Ukraine/Russia conflict.

Legislative Update

You might have heard about Minnesota legislation pertaining to the "Parents Bill of Rights" or a requirement to have at least one, full-time social worker in every building. It can be very difficult to keep up to date on everything that is being proposed in the legislature. The Minnesota Rural Educators Association (MREA), does a fabulous job keeping track for you. Check out their latest legislative update. The Minnesota School Board Association also does a nice job with a summary document weekly.

Professional Learning

Testing 1,2,3

Testing 1,2,3  has been shared previously, but as we start gearing up to MCA testing, questions about testing seem to arise. The Testing 1,2,3 website developed by the Minnesota Department of Education is a great resource to help answer many of your questions. It has everything from data analytics, to test specs, to ideas on how to teach certain standards and benchmarks. There is a TON of information on this website, check it out today!

Book Study

Row the Boat - Chapter 7 & 8

Chapter 7 & 8 in Row the Boat by PJ Fleck is all about his first couple years in Minnesota. How he had to establish the RTB culture to a team that was divided. Going through the growing pains again of building the RTB culture.

Coach Fleck tells the story of Casey O'Brien, a five-time cancer survivor. Coach Fleck was looking for that one person in Minnesota that would be his rower. Casey O'Brien came to him one day and asked if he could join the team. He was everything that Coach Fleck was looking for. Check out the two videos below, the first one tells the story of Casey and the second video is him getting into his first college football game.

One part of this chapter, other than the Casey O'Brien story, is when Coach Fleck is talking about the decision to come to Minnesota. After making his decision, his wife told him, "You will make your biggest impact where it will be the hardest" (Fleck, 64) He quotes the Cadet's Prayer..."Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won" (Fleck, 64).

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

MRVED Update - February 23, 2022

MRVED Business

MRVED Meetings

Friday, March 4, 2022 - Principals' Council 

Friday, March 11, 2022 - Title III Paraprofessionals

Friday, March 18, 2022 - Title III Teachers (Virtual)

Wednesday, March 23, 2022 - Superintendents' Council

April 14, 2022 Information

ESL Consultant Needed

The MRVED is looking for a part-time ESL consultant to help assist districts in creating a newcomer program. Must have an ESL license with at least 3 years of experience in the field. You can read a more detailed description on Edpost or contact Karen or I for more information.


The Advantages of Heterogeneous Student Groups in Math

I recently read an article from edutopia from Joseph Manfre that really made me think about teaching and learning in the classroom. The article talks about students who are fast processors of information, in this case math, are often times isolated from learning experiences. It really made me think about students who are fast & slow processors of information and then how do we effectively differentiate in our classrooms for those students. It's a quick read, and you won't be disappointed.

The Advantages of Heterogeneous Student Groups in Math by Joseph Manfre

Professional Learning

LETRS Training Offered Free from MDE

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) is excited to announce a new initiative to offer LETRS professional learning to educators across the state.

The Minnesota LETRS® Science of Reading Professional Learning Courses will provide sustained and job-embedded professional learning about the science of reading, at no cost to educators. These impactful courses will be based on Lexia’s LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) literacy professional learning and are being offered to thousands of educators.

Who is eligible?
Funding is available for licensed Minnesota educators. Priority will be given to educators in the following roles:
  • K-3 classroom teacher
  • Administrator
  • Elementary special education teacher with responsibility for reading instruction
  • Elementary reading interventionist/reading specialist or literacy coach
  • Literacy professor in MN Institute of Higher Education

Book Study

Row the Boat - Chapter 6

As we near our April 14th Common Inservice day with PJ Fleck, I'm getting more and more excited to hear him talk about Row The Boat. Chapter 6 is a short, but crucial chapter in the book. It provides the context and symbolism around RTB.

There are three key components to rowing the boat; the oar, the boat, and the compass. "The oar is the energy of your life - your mission and your purpose" (Fleck, 53). The oar (your energy) is the only thing that moves the boat. It is up to you if your oar is in the water or not. When the waters get rough, we need to row a little harder, but we need to keep rowing through the storm to get through it.

The second component is the boat. The boat represents sacrifice. The more you give the bigger your boat gets. During those rough seas, having a bigger boat helps you get through those times a little easier. 

The third component is the compass. The compass provides you with direction. If you want to be a doctor, point your compass in that direction, pack your boat, and keep rowing!

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

MRVED Update - February 9, 2022

MRVED Business

MRVED Meetings

Friday, February 11, 2022 - Title III Teachers
Wednesday, February 16, 2022 - MRVED Board Meeting
Wednesday, February 23, 2022 - Superintendents' Council
Friday, March 4, 2022 - Principals' Advisory Council


Valentine Day Math Resources

Valentine's Day is approaching. If you are a teacher of math and looking for a way to incorporate the big day into your lessons, Sara VanDerWerf provides some excellent ideas from her blog. Sara was a presenter at MELT a couple years ago and is now the Math Specialist for the Minnesota Department of Education. She is full of knowledge and ideas, not to mention an awesome person. If you have any math related questions, need ideas, or are wondering about the new math standards, don't hesitate to shoot her an email. (

Teaching With the Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics are in full swing. This is a great opportunity to bring current events into your classroom. Pretty much all content areas can work the Olympics into their classrooms in some way. The students can really get connected to the Olympics as there is so much variety and it is covered widely on television. Here are some resources for teaching the Olympics.

We Are Teachers

The Teachers' Corner

Home School Olympic Resources

Professional Learning

Testing 1,2,3

The Minnesota Department of Education created a website specifically for MCA testing called Testing 1,2,3. This resource is very rich in all information related to the MCA's. I particularly like the "Assess" tab. It covers everything from how the tests are formulated to offering retired questions. It is really worth the time and effort to dig through this material to give you a better understanding of the MCA process. The Testing 1,2,3 website would be a great tool to bring into any PLC. There are also webinars to go along with most of the pages. Check it out today!

Book Study

Row the Boat - Chapter 4&5

I hope you are following along with the Row the Boat book study. By no means is my interpretation or writing about the chapters a replacement for buying the book and reading it. There are so many tidbits one can take away from reading the PJ Fleck book. If you don't have a copy, go get one today! It's a cheap read, not to mention very quick!

This week we will look at chapters 4 & 5. Chapter 4 talks about the Row The Boat philosophy and chapter 5 talks about the beginning & launching of Row the Boat at Western Michigan.

"Row the Boat" is a never-give-up mantra and an approach to life and work that anyone can adopt and implement. (Fleck, 29). Take note that this is "Row the Boat" not "Paddle the Boat". When you row, your back is to the front of the boat and you can't see what's coming. This represents your future. You don't know what's coming and you have to react to it as it happens. When you row the boat, you are in the present, and the only thing you can control is the oar in your hands. The past is represented by what is behind you. Since you a rowing, you can see your past. Learn from it and move on. Fleck does a much better job of outlining his philosophy in chapter 4, but for sake of conversation, we'll leave it short.

Chapter 5 goes into detail about the first 4 years Coach Fleck instilled Row The Boat at Western Michigan. He talks about the 4 different stages. I won't go into detail on the stages, but simply outline them here. He likens RTB to building a house. The first stage is digging the hole. The second stage is pouring the foundation. Stage 3 is putting up the framing, and the last stage was putting in the windows. Coach Fleck mentions how the first couple years his team barely won any games and how doubt crept into his mind. But he used his own RTB philosophy and kept rowing through the storm. By year 4 his team finish 13-1 and playing on a New Years' Day bowl game

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

MRVED Update - January 26, 2022

MRVED Business

MRVED Meetings

Thursday, February 3, 2022 - Teachers' Advisory Council
Friday, February 4, 2022 - Principals' Advisory Council (Postponed)
Friday, February 11, 2022 - Title III Teachers
Wednesday, February 16, 2022 - MRVED Board Meeting
Wednesday, February 23, 2022 - Superintendents' Council

MELT Feedback & Reflection

MELT 2022 is in the books! The weather was great & it was fun to see everyone collaborating together in-person again. A huge shoutout to all our presenters and facilitators for sharing your talents and expertise with us. Without these willing people, MELT simply cannot happen. Once again, LqPV was a gracious and welcoming host. A special thank you to the janitorial staff for getting the parking lot and sidewalks cleaned after a dumping of snow the Friday prior.

Our Teacher Advisory Council(TAC) and Principal Advisory Council(PAC) will be reviewing the feedback from the evaluations and be making recommendations for future common inservice days. Thanks to all that participated. It was a great day of learning!


Don't Forget About Google Drawings

I was helping a teacher last week brainstorm ideas about activities for an upcoming lesson. We were looking for a type of digital whiteboard. While there are many options out there, we really didn't find one we liked. Then it hit me...Google Drawings! We often times forget about this long lost app from Google. You can do some awesome things with Drawings. Shake Up Learning has a great article on 20 Ways to Use Google Drawings. She has some really neat ideas on how to use Google Drawings in your classroom.

Teaching With the Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics start next week. This is a great opportunity to bring current events into your classroom. Pretty much all content areas can work the Olympics into their classrooms in some way. The students can really get connected to the Olympics as there is so much variety and it is covered widely on television. Here are some resources for teaching the Olympics.

We Are Teachers

The Teachers' Corner

Home School Olympic Resources

Professional Learning

FETC Conference

The Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) is currently being held in Orlando, Florida. If you, like me, weren't one of the lucky ones to get out of negative temperatures to enjoy this great conference, you can still follow along on Twitter. Follow the hashtag #FETC for all the great behind the scenes chatter and resource sharing. FETC is a great conference and one of my favorites to follow along with on Twitter. The cool thing about Twitter, is you can scroll back through previous tweets to see everything that was talked about in days prior.

Book Study

Row the Boat

If you haven't purchased the book Row the Boat by P.J. Fleck and Jon Gordon, you still have time. This week we will get through chapter 3. Please know that my analysis and thoughts about the chapters is by no means a replacement for buying the book and reading it. When you read it for yourself, you always can grab a few nuggets for yourself.

Chapter 2 is Jon Gordon talking about how the book is set up, basically a Q & A with P.J. Fleck. His first question for Coach Fleck was how he came up with Row the Boat.

Most times, if you look hard enough, you can see some sort of silver-lining through tragedy and adversity. Row the Boat was built out of the tragic loss of Coach Fleck's first son minutes after birth. Through the grieving process he needed something to help him through the process. He liked water, he like boats, he was an elementary teacher at heart and Row, Row, Row, Your Boat came to mind. Row the Boat.

The interesting part about Row the Boat, was that his first head coaching job was in Western Michigan. Western Michigan is in Kalamazoo, Michigan and their nickname is the Broncos, nothing to do with boats or water. It takes a really big leap of faith to put out a slogan that would need a lot of PR to get people to understand. The line that struck me from this chapter was, "I learned that if you are going to brand and make public something so personal, you had better be confident enough and ready for the critics to attack it and not take it personally" (Fleck, 26).

This quote made me think about projects we are part of in our own lives. Sometimes we get really caught up in our projects, so much so that we fully understand them, but sometimes forget that others are not as invested as you and may criticize what you are doing. 

As a school district, we know what we are doing. We know our mission and vision statement? But does the community? Does the community care? If not, how do we make them care? If you were to stop a member of your community, or even a parent in your district, and asked them what the mission statement is of your school, could they tell you?