Innovation: Sharing Is Caring

Last week was the best educational experience ever!  I was fortunate enough to get to attend TCEA for the entire week.  After spending Thursday learning from George Couros, or as someone said, “Day of Couros,” the concept of innovation had many thoughts swirling in my head. Then, when I read his blog yesterday it stirred up even more in me!

Just recently, a principal friend, Matthew Arend mentioned in his blog, how during one session George took the concept of using a Google Doc to curate many inspirational videos. In both blogs, the mindset of innovation is discussed. The idea of using a Google doc was not a new concept to me at all.  In fact, this past week at TCEA many of us had one that we were all adding to while attending as many different sessions as we could so we could divide and conquer.  And boy did we!

In The Innovator’s Mindset, George defines the notion of innovation as a way of thinking to create something new and better.

We have collaborated on Google docs in our faculty meetings, with our students, and each other.  What made this innovative in my eyes was the “new and better” part of it. When George crowdsourced this document to gather even more ideas, THAT was “new” to me.  I never thought of sending it out to people who are not part of the making of it, and can I tell you how much “better” this one thing made this experience!  First, so many people responded with quality videos that now it has saved me hours of searching for the perfect video. Second, do you even know how many people have circulated this document and how many people it has helped!?  THIS is creating new and better with something that we already use. I am not writing to discuss this experience, but how this experience has led me to thinking about something else.

What if the document stopped there? What if someone saw it and thought, that’s great, but I am not going to use someone else’s list of videos.  If not applied, does it truly make the idea better? In short, yes and no.  Yes, for those who take this idea and use it to enrich the learning experiences for their students.  No, for those that hear the idea and then go back to doing it the way they always do it for whatever reason.

Take the above example and substitute curated videos with teaching strategies, classroom management strategies, technology lesson ideas, classroom climate/culture suggestions…you name it.  Unfortunately, I think so many teachers are hesitant to use things like this because they are afraid it is “stealing or copying.” Or they feel like if it isn’t something they came up with themselves, then they are frauds. Maybe that is a little dramatic, but the point is…this is a huge misunderstanding out there with teachers that needs to stop!

For many years people have said, “Why reinvent the wheel?” Now I hear, “We are better together.  The best idea is a lot of ideas.”  I wholeheartedly believe the latter one. We are better when we work together. Every person you meet has something to teach you.  We all have different backgrounds, experiences, and thoughts.  Why wouldn’t we capitalize on this for the sake of the children we teach?  If our mindset is in the thinking that “sharing is caring” then it is a win-win situation!  🙂  Who wouldn’t want that?

  • We need to let go of the thought that as teachers we have to do everything ourselves.
  • We need to let go of the thought that innovation is some huge thing and involves the best and latest technology.
  • We need to let go of the thought that we have all the answers.

We don’t.  We can’t.  We need to turn to other awesome educators out there and be better together. How can you use the power of your PLN to make this happen today?

Virtual Voyage – Kaizena

When I first looked at this word I wasn’t sure what it was, how to say it, or if I wanted to spend time finding out.  SO GLAD I DID!

The link that was on our Virtual Voyage led me to an amazing tutorial and very easily walked me through using this.

I began using it on a Google doc that my PLN (shout out to my Digital Divas) and I are working on to submit for a TCEA Techstock presentation.

Even though I used Kaizena on this document for our memory purposes, I can see where it will have the greatest benefit using in the classroom on peer editing or feedback from the teacher in the writing process.

I wish I would have known about this when we were doing our writing process using Google Docs this past year.  Since I had first graders, this would have made the process a little less labor intensive at times.  It also would have given any ESL students a chance to get their thoughts out without the intimidation of spelling correctly or having to “correct” a partner’s paper.  Just another great tool to do another thing to support our students!  Try it out.  It’s kind of fun!  🙂

Virtual Voyage – It’s All About That Google

It appears Google has taken over – in the education world that is.  I began using Google Drive a few years ago with my class of second graders.  It was the BEST thing ever and I am not sure how I survived pre-drive days!  Here are a few ways I have used these things.

Google Drive
– Mainly used as the place where the students would submit their work, in the portfolio kind of way.
– I would monitor who had turned in work when I had a sub.
– It served as the perfect Open House showcase.  The students would open their drive and it was all right there.
– I was able to share pictures back and forth with parents and students through folders.
– My student intern and I shared lesson plans (another voyage badge assignment) through Google Docs in a Google Drive folder.  We both edited and made changes.  It was nice for her to see when I made changes the night before, and for me to see when she added things as well.
– The kids used Google Drive to share their stories they had written in Docs while editing and working together.

Google Classroom-
– I set this up and tried using a few times. Since I had run Google Drive since Day 1 of school, switching to this did not make sense to my first graders so we stuck with Drive.
– Is pretty much exactly the same in the sense of sending and sharing work, turning work in.  Only difference, which I imagine works well with upper grades, is that it will quickly check and list who has turned it in with a grading capability.  That was not necessary for lower grades, so we stuck with what we knew well.

– Google Classroom vs. Google Drive = To Each Their Own!

Google Forms-
– Love these!  Have used them in different situations and will continue using these whenever possible.  Feedback is so important and what an easy way to get this.
– Beginning of school form for parents to fill out Parent/Student Info.
– Beginning of school form for parents to sign up for Conferences.
– Form for parents to list their preferences in ways to receive communication.-

Google Power Searching Class-
WOW!  I had only dipped my toe into the pool of Google Searching before watching this class series.

The most powerful thing I learned was how important it is to enter key words in your search.  By entering extra words or other things it can lead your search a whole different direction.  It amazed me to see how to really hone in on similar pictures to what you are looking for you simply click a few buttons!  I was also amazed at all the ways to refine your search by clicking things I have seen there, but never really paid much attention to!

The funny thing is, even after going through this entire class on all the million ways to refine your search, I still go back to my old ways.  I try to remember it is more effective to try one of these new power searching techniques, but old habits die hard.  🙂

21st Century Writing in Google Docs – with 1st graders!

So, I will begin by saying I am very blessed with an amazing student intern right now!  As we began our fairytale writing unit, we had our plan of how the gradual release would happen.  As they wrapped up their partner fairytale writing last Friday she said, “Hey, why don’t I take these home and type each of them up in Google docs and you can share them out to each of them.  We can do the edit and revise process through Docs and each kid can change up the story how they want.  They will probably even come out with different stories.”  I thought, oh that is awesome!  I have done this thing in 2nd grade, but this is 1st grade and they are still learning this process, but hey…..if you know me, I am up for anything challenging! Give them something and just see what they can do with it. Plus, isn’t this what we do when we write?

Sidenote: For these little ones, having to write an entire story (which can take multiple days), go back to edit and revise at a first grade level (once again, multiple days), THEN have to rewrite the final so that it is readable and presentable….well, it takes every ounce of the love of writing out as well as makes for some irritable children!  This experience opened eyes to new things!  It almost seemed that for once, they were engaged in the writing process because it meant something to them.  Not that this was the first time we had done this, but because it was on the IPAD!  Amazing, right?  This is an example of 21st century collaborating skills at their finest!  I cannot tell you how much more creative their stories turned out, as well as the language they used from taking the time to change words!  Friday afternoon we printed the story and began the illustrations.  I will post pictures of them when we read to our Kinder friends next week!  They are SOOO proud! I am glad Ms. Osen suggested it and I went for it.  Teamwork! 

That Monday, when the kids opened up their typed story I shared to their Google Drive, they went crazy! From that day on, every spare moment they wanted to change their stories and work on them.  It was hilarious to see their faces while they were working on it and Ms. Osen and I would pop in to see what they were doing or help them.  They would see our flashing cursor because we were also in the document.  They said, “This is just like Minecraft!  We are in the same world!”  Who knew, writing and Minecraft were alike?!

Here is a picture of them working on changing overused verbs and making them vivid verbs after a mini lesson we had. They wanted to use the resources, but no one wanted to take them and go so they pulled up a chair and working like a “movie theater” they said!  HA!  These kids crack me up!

More work in progress happening here.  They were reading and rereading, changing words to be more exciting, deleting phrases, and paying attention to what they were writing!