Friday, February 27, 2015

MRVED Business

Upcoming Meetings

March 2, 2015 - Agriculture - CANCELLED
March 3, 2015 - Industrial Technology - CANCELLED
March 5, 2015 - Business
March 13, 2015 - Community Ed
March 17, 2015 - Guidance Counselors
March 19, 2015 - Social Workers
March 20, 2015 - Title III Paraprofessionals
March 24, 2015 - FACS
March 25, 2015 - Superintendents' Council

Communication Briefings
There is some confusion over which article a or an to use with nouns and adjectives beginning with the letter H.  The rule of thumb is to use the word "a" when  the "h" sound is hard like in history or hippopotamus.  Use the word "an" before H words that begin with a vowel sound like honor.

Tech Tip - YouTube Kids

YouTube Kids
On Monday, YouTube launched YouTube Kids.  You can read all about it on the official YouTube Blog.

Horizons Report - Rethinking Learning Spaces

Rethinking Learning Spaces
Last week we introduced the Horizons Report (see original post).  Our first post in this series will deal with rethinking learning spaces.

Learning spaces is a "hot topic" in the educational world today.  To get a full understanding of what a learning space is and should look like, peek into almost any early elementary classroom.  There are spaces for reading, art, small group, large group, collaboration, etc...  As students progress through school, these learning spaces gradually move into spaces of desks in rows or clusters.  Once in college, the space becomes a large lecture hall.  Why is this?  Is this best for kids?

Why can't all learning spaces look like the kindergarten classroom?  There are multiple places to learn and multiple ways for students to show what they know.  As teachers we choose what our learning spaces look like.  If all desks were taken out of a classroom, and a teacher could design their learning spaces without the desks, what would the space look like?  How would it change instruction?  Would learning look different?  The very first line about learning spaces in the Horizons Report says, "New ways of teaching and learning require new spaces for teaching and learning".

Looking at some of the most successful companies in the world (Google and Apple), their workers are not sitting in rows creating an assembly line product.  Their learning spaces are large open areas where people are encouraged to collaborate and learn.  Google even has napping pods!

Why are we confined by rows?  Does this replicate a real world work environment?  To me, rows represent assembly line learning.  If we want to get to a more personalized learning environment, we must first look at our learning spaces.  If our spaces aren't conducive to personalized learning, then we will never get to the point of personalized learning.

Think about all the different things you have in your classroom and different activities kids are doing.  Now think about your learning space.  Has it changed in the past 10 years?  Has it changed in the last 5 years?  What if you took all your desks and tables out, what could your space look like?  Can all classrooms replicate the kindergarten classroom?  I don't think you have to be as bold and totally redefine your learning space, but what can you do tomorrow to make your space more conducive to learning?

Professional Development FAQ

Professional Development FAQ
The Minnesota Department of Education has updated their FAQ on the  professional development statute in Minnesota.  The Document lists a variety of different questions from "What is professional development" to "How can staff development funds be spent".  It is a worthwhile document to look over and become familiar with as it will give you a better grasp of what state statute says about professional development.

MDE Professional Development Link

Friday, February 20, 2015

MRVED Business

Meeting Recap
Teachers' Advisory Council
The Teachers' Advisory Council (TAC) met at the MRVED on Thursday February 19.  The morning consisted of learning more about the coaching and observation process.  The teachers had the opportunity to learn about their own personalities and how to work with people with like and different personalities.  Lunch was delicious and lots of great conversation was had.  The afternoon was spent looking over MELT evaluations and providing feedback on how to make the day better.  The group had great insight into what the MRVED can do to help make our teachers better.

Upcoming Meetings

February 25, 2015  Superintendents' Council

March 2, 2015  Agriculture
March 3, 2015  Industrial Technology
March 5, 2015  Business
March 13, 2015  Community Ed
March 17, 2015  Guidance Counselors
March 19, 2015  Social Workers

MDE Math Webinar

Mathematics Webinar for Teachers

Date: February 24, 2015

MDE, in partnership with the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM), is offering webinars designed specifically for K-12 mathematics teachers. Typically the webinars are for K-6 and 6-12 grades; in this case, the same webinar is offered twice at 2:45-3:30 p.m. and 3:45-4:30 p.m.

Each webinar will include a brief update from MDE followed by a presentation by a Minnesota Math Teacher. The February 24 webinar is titled “Identity and Its Impact on Math Success” and will be presented by Nicole Bridge, Middle School Math Coordinator, Minneapolis Public Schools.

Presentation description:
“So often we hear people say things like "I am not a math person," or "I actually liked math in high school." How are these identities formed? How can we help to students to develop positive identity around learning and doing math? This session is meant to be a start to helping teachers think about their own identity around mathematics and the identities of their students. The goal is for participants to leave with a deeper understanding of how to examine their own instructional practices, and strategies to help their students create a positive math identity.” Nicole Bridge

View the MDE Calendar for more info and to register!

View Past Mathematics Webinars

For assistance with questions, email Terry Alvarado.

Horizons Report

Horizons Report
Earlier this year we did a series on grading practices.  Our next series will feature information from the Horizons Report.  The Horizons Report is put out by The New Media Consortium which is a community of hundreds of leading universities, colleges, museums, and research centers. The NMC stimulates and furthers the exploration and use of new media and technologies for learning and creative expression.  Last week they released the Higher Ed Version of their report on trends in educational technology and challenges of implementation.  The video below gives a brief summary of the report.  Each week we will highlight one of the trends or challenges.  Once the K-12 report is released, we will focus on trends in challenges in K-12.

Full Report Link
Summary Report Link

6 Trends
1. Evolution of Online Learning
2. Rethinking Learning Spaces
3. Open Educational Resources
4. Rise of Data-Driven Learning and Assessment
5. Agile Approaches to Change
6. Growing Importance of Open Communities

6 Challenges
1. Adequately Defining and Supporting Digital Literacy
2. Blending Formal and Informal Learning
3. Complex Thinking and Communication
4. Integrating Personalized Learning
5. Competition from New Models of Education
6. Relative Lack of Rewards for Teaching

We will start our 3 month series next week looking at the evolution of online learning.  I hope you will following along every week!

Tech Tip - Turtle Diary

Turtlediary is a website that has learning games and videos for toddler through 5th grade.  There are a variety of aspects to this site which make it appealing.  Aside from the games and videos there are also printables that can be used.  Subjects range from Science to Literacy.  The only downfall is the free version is highly ad supported.  Still give it a look today.  These games would be great on an interactive whiteboard.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

MRVED Business

Upcoming Meetings
February 19, 2015  Teachers' Advisory Council (TAC)
February 20, 2015  Principals' Council (11:30 a.m. start time)
February 25, 2015  Superintendents' Council

March 2, 2015 Agriculture
March 3, 2015  Industrial Technology
March 5, 2015  Business
March 13, 2015  Community Ed
March 17, 2015  Guidance Counselors
March 19, 2015  Social Workers

MDE Science Update

Science Update From MDE
Click the link below to access the Science update from John Olson at the Minnesota Department of Education.

In the update this month:

  • MCA Item Samplers are now available
Events and Workshops
  • MnSTA Conference on Science Education
  • Mn STEM Network Conference
  • NSTA STEM Expo in Minneapolis
Teacher and School Awards
  • Presidential Awards
  • Gardening and School program grants
Student Awards and Competitions
  • National Youth Science Camp

A Dictionary for 21st Century Teachers: Learning Models and Technology

A Dictionary for 21st Century Teachers
As I was looking for another piece for the update this week, someone forwarded this article on to me.  It came at the perfect time, so I thought I would share it.

This is a great list of words and phrases that are used in the educational world today.  I think we all have our own definitions or ideas of what some of these terms mean.  Many of the definitions on this list are straight-to-the-point.  Take a look at the list today and you may learn a new word or definition.

Tech Tip - What Was There

What Was There
If you are doing a lesson about a certain place, you can show students what that place looked like at a certain time, and what it looks like today. is a website that does exactly what it says.  There are a variety of places around Minnesota and lots of places throughout the USA that have photos uploaded.  Check it out today!

Friday, February 6, 2015

U of M Research to Practices Brief

The University of Minnesota has done research on the achievement gap and college readiness.  They have started to put out short briefs on the research.  Below is some information from the brief on working with EL students.

The Research to Practice Brief will provide school leaders with information and resources on current Minnesota issues related to closing achievement gaps and preparing students for postsecondary success. Each brief will provide short guidance on a topic and include resources available at the University of Minnesota and beyond. School leaders can use the Research to Practice Brief as a framework for applying current research to best meet their school’s needs.

Decades of research tells us that the most effective instructional approaches for ELs follow three principles. Effective instruction:
  1. supports the development of the students’ native language;
  2. provides high quality, rigorous English as a Second Language (ESL) education that differentiates instruction based on students’ prior experience with formal schooling; and
  3. provides access to the full academic curriculum through demanding content courses that support learning content and language skills, including development of academic language (beyond conversational language).
Reaching across all three principles is an emphasis on literacy, reading, and academic language. Both oral and written academic language skills need attention.

Tech Tip - BrainRush

I stumbled on this gem the other day!  BrainRush is a website with a variety of adaptive games.  The games are customizable to fit your needs.  The game has a "flipcard" feel to it.  The awesome part of this site is that the games are geared toward mastery.  The students really have to know their material to move on.  Try it today!  I was blown away when browsing the website.

PLC at Work Institute Coming Back

PLC at Work Institute
The Professional Learning Communities at Work Institute from Solution Tree is coming back to Minneapolis this summer, June 22-24.  This is a great conference for those looking to strengthen their PLC process.  You will need to act quickly as these events fill up very fast.

From the Website:
The Professional Learning Communities at Work™ process is increasingly recognized as the most powerful strategy for sustained, substantive school improvement. This institute gives you and your team the knowledge and tools to implement this powerful process in your school or district.

For three days, you will have the opportunity to network with some of the most insightful minds in education, including the architects of the Professional Learning Communities at Work™ process. The presenters, all educators who have successfully led schools through the PLC process, are accessible to you throughout the event.

The program includes time for questions during the breakout sessions, a panel of experts to address questions from the audience, and time for teams to reflect and seek the advice of the presenters. At the end of team time, you will focus on next action steps, with presenters on hand to guide you.

For those just beginning to explore PLCs, this is an excellent way to build your knowledge base. For those who are already involved in deep implementation, this institute is the perfect opportunity to revisit your mission, introduce new team members to the process, and get answers to new questions.

As you delve deep into the three big ideas of a PLC—focus on learning, build a collaborative culture, and results orientation—you will gain specific, practical, and inspiring strategies for transforming your school or district into a place where all students learn at high levels.

For more information visit the PLC at Work website.

MRVED Business

Upcoming Meetings
February 9, 2015  Title III Teachers
February 11, 2015  MRVED Board (7 p.m.)
February 19, 2015  Teachers' Advisory Council (TAC)
February 20, 2015  Principals' Council (11:30 a.m. start)
February 25, 2015  Superintendents' Council

March 2, 2015  Agriculture
March 3, 2015  Industrial Technology
March 5, 2015  Business
March 24, 2015  FACS (Willmar tours)