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?

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

MRVED Update - January 12, 2022

MRVED Business

MRVED Meetings

Wednesday, January 19, 2022- Superintendents' Council
Thursday, February 3rd, 2022 - Teachers' Advisory Council
Friday, February 4, 2022 - Principals' Advisory Council 
Friday, February 11, 2022 - Title III Teachers

MELT Information

MELT 2022 is fast approaching!  If you have not registered yet, please contact Katie ( at the MRVED office to do so immediately.

MELT (MRVED Educators Learning Together)  will be held at Lac qui Parle Valley High School.  The conference has over 600 individuals registered with around 100 sessions throughout the day.

Please look over these important points regarding the conference:

  • You will enter through "Door #5" (follow the walkway to the left of the eagle statue).  
  • Please make sure you stop at the registration table in the commons area to pick up your registration packet (personalized agenda with session selections, room numbers, clock hours, and lunch ticket, if applicable).  It will be in the alcove (by the pop machines) to the right of the doors as you enter. 
  • Please note that we will be spreading out the registration tables throughout the Commons Area.  Alphabetical signs will be posted.  Please respect the personal space of others when picking up your registration packet and during lunch.  
  • Breakfast will be available when you arrive.  
  • The first session will start promptly at 8:40 a.m.
  • You are NOT able to switch sessions the day of the conference as the sessions become overcrowded and there may not be enough seating availability. 
  • Please dress in layers; some rooms may be warm, while others may be cool.
  • If you are not eating the school lunch, please bring a bag lunch.  
  • This year, to help with social distancing, participants will be able to eat lunch in the classrooms.  Please be respectful to LqPV and make sure there is no food dropped on the floor and all garbage is placed in the garbage can.
  • There will be rooms available for nursing moms; please see Pam Weber in the high school principal's office for availability.
  • Please be aware that there is poor cell phone reception inside of LqPV school.  
  • There will be press at the conference taking photographs or video.  Presenters may be taking photographs or videos as well.  Please let Katie, Brandon, Karen, Pam, or the presenter in your session know if you do not want your picture/video taken.
  • Face coverings/masks are strongly encouraged, but are not required at this time.  If you feel unwell or have any COVID symptoms, please stay home.  Please note that we will not be providing masks.
  • We ask for your patience and understanding in the case that a presenter(s) becomes ill at the last minute.

If the weather is inclement, any cancellation or delay relating to MELT will be posted by 6:00 a.m. on the WCCO website under "Quicklinks/School Closings".  We will be listed under MRVED (just the initials).  This will also be posted on WCCO's TV channel (CBS) and our MRVED website ( under "Latest News".

All registrants should have received an email with detailed information regarding the conference.

We are looking forward to a great MELT!



Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego

I used to love watching this TV show and can remember playing this game on the computer in school. It's a great way to have kids explore the world, learning some geography and history, all while having fun. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego utilizes Google Earth to play the game. You and your students will enjoy tracking her down and exploring the world. Check it out today.

Professional Learning

The Truth About Being the "Stupidest" in the Room

I watched this 2 minute video by Simon Sinek, not necessarily because I was looking to learn something, but because the title was interesting. When I watched it, I was both entertained and perplexed. It really made me reflect on my own interactions as well as make me think about how students feel in the classroom. Questions I asked after watching this short video.

When I don't understand something, am I really the only person who doesn't understand? Probably not?

How do we create a culture where asking questions is accepted?

Is the environment I create in my workshops conducive to allowing people to feel safe to ask questions?

"Better to be an idiot for a minute than an idiot for a lifetime"

Book Study

Row the Boat - Introduction & Chapter 1

Row the Boat by P.J. Fleck and Jon Gordon was selected as the book this winter/spring because P.J. Fleck will be our keynote speaker during our April 14 MRVED common inservice. We are excited to host coach Fleck in Benson's new Performing Arts Center.

Row the Boat is a book about coach Fleck and how to lead, build a team, and improve culture. It is a quick 2 to 3 hour read and well worth the time. This book is not about football or football strategy. It uses the life of coach Fleck, which happens to be through football, and show how to build a winning culture.

Chapter 1 is completely about Coach Fleck and how he came into being a coach. If you are familiar with P.J. Fleck, he's not a big guy. He's not your typical NFL player, especially wide receiver. Fleck talks about growing up having to be tough with a never-give-up attitude. He talks about how he was able to impress coaches in NFL training camp, which gave him his opportunity in the NFL. Fleck also mentions the adversity of being injured and how an injury lead to him getting the opportunity to coach. He also lays the ground work for some of the influential people in his life.

P.J. Fleck has an elementary teaching degree and has the energy of 3 kindergarten teachers! When you read Row the Boat, you can really hear his voice come through. The whole Row the Boat culture is build upon reacting to adversity. Rowing the boat through high seas and calm days. Building a culture where we all are working toward the same goals and ambitions. Even if you don't like football, there is so much to learn from this quick read. Join me this Spring as we Row the Boat together. We will look at Chapters 2 & 3 next week.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

MRVED Update - December 15, 2021

MRVED Business

MELT Registration

MELT Registration opened on Monday. Over 3/4 of MRVED teachers have already registered! We have already had to close sessions, so if you haven't registered yet, be sure to do it now! Registration closes December 22nd at 4:00.

MELT Brochure

MELT Registration Link


Bias Based Bullying Resources

The University of Minnesota conducted a study on bias-based bullying, using both the Minnesota Student Survey and qualitative interviews and focus groups of Minnesota students, parents, and school staff. The study was seeking to understand both the scope of BBB in Minnesota's schools and the related individual and structural protective factors. They have produced a number of factsheets for school administrators and for teachers and staff. Please share this information with your school colleagues. For more information on bullying prevention and intervention, see the Minnesota Department Of Education’s Ensuring Safe and Supportive Schools resources.

Book Study

The Power of Positive Leadership - Chapter 11&12 & Wrap-Up

First off, thank you for reading along with my reflections of The Power of Positive Leadership by Jon Gordon. My hope is that you have learned as much, if not more than I have while reading this book.

Chapter 11 talks about positive leaders having grit. If you are familiar with Angela Duckworth's research on grit, you will fully understand this chapter. If not, and you need a refresher, here is a short TED talk she did about grit. Bottom line is, positive leaders find a way to get it done, no matter what! They battle through adversity, critics, failure, and self-doubt.

I'm not going to expound on some of these quotes from the chapter, but just leave them here for you to ponder.

"If you don't love it, you'll never be great at it." (Gordon, 172)

"Fear is draining, but love is sustaining." (Gordon, 172)

"It (failure) doesn't define you; it refines you." (Gordon, 173)

"Don't let praise go to your head and don't let critics into your head." (Gordon, 176)

One part of this chapter that really hit home for me, was the part Gordon talks about not letting the results get in your way. Even if the numbers, wins, etc... don't show it, he says "keep doing things the right way...Trust the process." (Gordon, 175) Again, this is something I preach to my baseball teams. I coach JV baseball, and I fully believe that my job is to get my players ready to play varsity baseball. This may mean playing players in positions they aren't comfortable with. Stealing a player that might get thrown out. We are putting them in multiple different situations to see how they react. We may lose some games because of it, but I preach to my players, "trust the process". We need to do things the right way and good will come to us.

Chapter 12 is the finale to the book. It basically sums up all the other chapters with stories of positive leaders. You can read it on your own :-)


I hope this book was life-changing for some of you. Jon Gordon provides so many useful strategies to help make you a positive leader. Throughout the book, I was blown away by the mind-blowing quotes that made me stop and reflect on my own leadership qualities. My hope is that by reading this book I can become better at everything I do. From being a coach, teacher, teammate, father, and husband. This book will stick with me for a really long time! If I ever feel like I am becoming an energy vampire, I'm pulling this book out and reviewing my highlights in it. If you didn't buy this book, I HIGHLY recommend getting it and reading it over winter break. Better yet, buy 2 books, keep one for yourself and give one to a friend! If you liked this book study, you are going to LOVE the next one.

Row the Boat - Preview

Since I enjoyed reading Jon Gordon's book The Power of Positive Leadership so much, I decided to dive into another of his books that he co-wrote with PJ Fleck, Row the Boat. Much like The Power of Positive Leadership, this will be my 2nd journey through this book. Row the Boat is such a quick and easy read, however, my plan is to take my time through it and do a lot of reflection. PJ Fleck will also be our keynote speaker in April! I hope you can join me on the journey as we start the next book study on January 12th, 2022. Let's Row the Boat together!!