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  • January 15, 2020 7:48 AM | Anonymous

    In today's episode of Teachwell Teachers, sponsored by IDEA, Dr. Didi and Dave complete their set of tech-focused shows with a return to the cinema classroom. Dr. Didi and Dave check out the YouTube cult classic, Starfleet Academy, to see how teaching and learning takes place in the hi-tech Star Trek universe and to give the teachers a little instructional advice. Oh, and Paula fails another quiz.

    The Teachwell Teachers Podcast is a bi-monthly show featuring veteran teacher, Dave Narter, and instructional coach, Dr. Paula. Years ago, Dave found, in the walls of his classroom, Mr. Teachwell’s Guide to Teaching Better. Now, in every episode of Teachwell Teachers, Dave and Dr. Paula talk about an educational issue, laugh far more than people in school ought to, and read a chapter from that amazingly ridiculous book. Oh, and Paula takes a quiz!

    Where to stream / download your episode of Teachwell Teachers:

    We hope that you enjoyed these episodes of the Teachwell Teachers Podcast sponsored by IDEA and subscribe to it for future posts. Be sure to stayed tuned to IDEA to see which podcast we will feature next month.

  • January 08, 2020 1:43 PM | Anonymous

    by Lindsay Zilly (originally posted on TeachBoost Blog December 10, 2019)

    How can you bring friendly competition to your organization that supports professional learning, you ask? Lindsay Zilly, Director of Professional Learning for Illinois Digital Educators Alliance, relays how she created an environment that promotes risk-taking through gamification as a fun alternative to standard professional development.

    What we can learn from Julia Child

    I never would've imagined that my gamification origin story would include cooking game shows and Julia Child. But that's the thing about inspiration: you just never know when it will strike. Follow me down this rabbit hole and you'll see how I got there!

    When Julia Child first started out as a professional cook, she took risks and challenged norms. It was in the imperfections of her lessons that the most learning occurred. This style of playful learning broke down barriers and allowed other chefs to innovate in ways that revolutionized the cooking industry. Shows like Chopped and Master Chef embody Julia's advice: "Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" When I watch these kinds of shows, I see the contestants as innovators—they are handed a basket of ingredients, given a pantry of supplies, and then told to create something incredible.

    Now, let's look at this philosophy as it applies to teachers and education. Isn't it the same? We are asked to be innovators in our classrooms; risk-takers who think outside the box and challenge norms. While in some schools it's a slow shift from traditional practices, in others we see educators like Zack Gilbert jumping in the deep end. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Zack, an intermediate social studies teacher at a lab school in Normal, IL, and was in awe of the shift in his practice. I asked him how he was able to reach everyone in his classroom to which he responded, "I learn their interests. Interests are based on schema and the most common connection I find amongst my students is games."

    Inspiration strikes

    Armed with these ideas of playful learning from Julia Child, Zack Gilbert, and reality TV, I set out to apply them to my craft. Teachers respond well to personalized PD sessions that are authentic and relevant, so it made sense to create bite-sized opportunities for educators to learn at their own pace. Learning about something of interest to them made the experience more engaging and memorable. Gamification games made learning more fun and added an element of competition that encouraged all teachers to find a way to participate at a level they felt comfortable with.

    Gamification for goals

    The "Gamification for Goals" method creates opportunities for teachers to self-select a skill they'd like to develop. For example, teachers might choose to develop a deeper understanding of Apple or Google tools. As they proceed through their learning, they advance through four different levels, not necessarily starting at level one—just like a game they would play. Once they get to level four, they are asked to do something with their newly developed skills in order to earn a badge.

    The goal of the badges was to make something for everyone and they were created based on teacher feedback and ongoing educational trends. Our badges are set up for ISTE standards, Twitter, cultivating a growth mindset, and many more. As the teacher levels up, they accumulate badges or stickers to put on their device. This not only encourages other teachers to see and inquire about the gamification goal process, but it also creates teacher leaders that educators can turn to for assistance.

    Putting teachers at the center

    The idea never would have taken root if teachers weren't at the center of it. Some of the badges were designed by teachers, but all were created from feedback received from everyone. The result: teachers' computers were filling up with stickers! Teachers were sharing new learning experiences with each other, going into one another's classroom to observe their learning in action, and teachers who normally felt nervous to take risks were sharing out at staff meetings. The gamification goals process was a success and it was so successful because it was designed with teachers in mind.

    Soon after the development of the gamification badges, it was obvious that teachers wanted more! This led to the birth of the Will Ferrell rating scale, Jimmy Fallon Brain Breaks, and even life-sized Candyland.

    Final note

    Adding a gaming component to professional learning or even classroom lessons doesn't need to be "one more thing." It should be the way we're learning the content, not a reward for learning it. If you are looking to try something like this in your district my advice is simple: teachers love to learn; keep them as your focal point.

    Ready to try your hand at some gamification in your classroom or next staff meeting? Candyland 2.0 is a great activity for professional development, institute days or within a classroom setting. This version can be played to introduce a new topic, review a topic already presented, a beginning of the year kickoff, PBIS incentive and much more! After creating the gameboard, customize your individual cards according to your learning goals and then reuse your gameboard time and time again! Thanks to Lindsay Zilly, Kim Darche and Christine Borst for sharing this with all our members!

  • January 01, 2020 1:38 PM | Anonymous

    Happy New Year!

    In the latest episode of Teachwell Teachers, sponsored by IDEA, Dr. Didi and Dave talk about the many digital distractions students and teachers contend with and discuss the research on this topic with Kurt Schuett. And while Mr. Teachwell didn't see cellphones coming, this week's chapter has plenty of complaints about the distraction of "chewing gum and cigarette-smoking Fonzies"! Oh, and Paula fails, yet another, quiz!

    The Teachwell Teachers Podcast is a bi-monthly show featuring veteran teacher, Dave Narter, and instructional coach, Dr. Paula. Years ago, Dave found, in the walls of his classroom, Mr. Teachwell’s Guide to Teaching Better. Now, in every episode of Teachwell Teachers, Dave and Dr. Paula talk about an educational issue, laugh far more than people in school ought to, and read a chapter from that amazingly ridiculous book. Oh, and Paula takes a quiz!

    Where to stream / download your episode of Teachwell Teachers.

    Stay tuned for the next episode of Teachwell Teachers.

  • December 19, 2019 1:33 PM | Anonymous

    In the latest episode of Teachwell Teachers, sponsored by IDEA, Dr. Didi and Dave interview Bryan Weinert, director of technology, at Leyden High Schools where he instituted one of the country's first 1:1 all-school initiatives almost ten years ago. They talk about the difficulties of instituting big tech changes and if his ultimate goal is an all-robot school. Oh, and Paula fails another quiz!

    The Teachwell Teachers Podcast is a bi-monthly show featuring veteran teacher, Dave Narter, and instructional coach, Dr. Paula. Years ago, Dave found, in the walls of his classroom, Mr. Teachwell’s Guide to Teaching Better. Now, in every episode of Teachwell Teachers, Dave and Dr. Paula talk about an educational issue, laugh far more than people in school ought to, and read a chapter from that amazingly ridiculous book. Oh, and Paula takes a quiz!

    Where to stream / download your episode of Teachwell Teachers.

    Stay tuned for the next episode of Teachwell Teachers.

  • December 09, 2019 3:11 PM | Anonymous

    We are excited to tell you about our newest podcast partnership with Teachwell Teachers.

    The Teachwell Teachers Podcast is a bi-monthly show featuring veteran teacher, Dave Narter, and instructional coach, Dr. Paula. Years ago, Dave found, in the walls of his classroom, Mr. Teachwell’s Guide to Teaching Better. Now, in every episode of Teachwell Teachers, Dave and Dr. Paula talk about an educational issue, laugh far more than people in school ought to, and read a chapter from that amazingly ridiculous book. Oh, and Paula takes a quiz!

    In their latest episode, sponsored by IDEA, Dr. Paula and Dave put down their fidget spinners, have the homework debate, read another chapter from Mr. Teachwell's Guide to Teaching...Better. Oh, and Paula fails another quiz! Check out this episode and more by clicking on one of the links below.

    Where to stream / download your episode of Teach Better Talk.

    Stay tuned for the next episode of Teachwell Teachers.


  • December 02, 2019 12:48 PM | Anonymous

    As a computer science teacher, this was truly the most wonderful time of the year for me. I would decorate my classroom over Thanksgiving break so that my students would come back to a winter wonderland. As they entered the computer lab, Andy Williams would belt out “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” on the speaker. There was a genuine excitement in the air because the kids knew that this meant that we would be coding for the rest of the month. To me, there was no “Hour” of Code… it was a whole month.

    I caught the Hour of Code bug during its first year and on the very first day I knew that I had found a winner. My students were completely engaged, the classroom was silent for the entire 45 minutes, and every student left that class period exhausted because they had worked so hard. You see, it’s not that we expect every student to work for Google one day, but every student should benefit from practicing the problem-solving skills that computer science encourages. Moreover, computer science helps nurture creativity and problem-solving skills to prepare students for any future career.

    If you have never coded yourself, please give it a try. Just go to hourofcode.com and try out any of the hundreds of activities available for FREE. That’s right… for FREE! If you are not crazy about one, don’t despair; try another. At first, the coding activities may look like you are playing a video game. The learning has been disguised as a game, but trust me, the problem-solving skills that it takes to make it through the game are many. As you (and your students) progress, you will find limitless opportunities to not only hone those problem-solving skills, but also stretch your creativity. Computer science truly allows you to use both sides of your brain.

    And, as I already said, the skills learned will prepare your students for any future career. As such, you can find ways to incorporate these same problem solving activities into any curriculum. You definitely do not have to be a computer teacher to try the Hour of Code in your classroom. You don’t even need a device to participate! I always introduced the idea of coding by asking my students to give me directions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As your students yell out the instructions, do exactly what they say - even if they skip a step. Then explain how a computer does the same thing… it can only do what you tell it to do. This is just a simple activity that you can use to explain the concept of computer science without a computer. You can find other activities like this on the Hour of Code website tagged “unplugged”.

    If the Hour of Code activities page looks daunting, we’ve even narrowed down a few tried and true options for you to try in your classroom. As you can see in the image below, created by IDEA member @iTeacher5th, we’ve even indicated the experience level in an effort to make things easier for you. Simply click on the icons in this Thinglink to be taken directly to the resource.

    We hope that you join the millions of students and teachers in over 180 countries starting with an Hour of Code. The Hour of Code takes place every year during Computer Science Education Week, the first week in December. This year, the Hour of Code will happen December 9-15, 2019. Organize an Hour of Code event during December 9-15, and register it. Then check out this resource on “How to teach one Hour of Code with your class”.

  • November 25, 2019 2:02 PM | Anonymous

    In this week's episode of the Learning Through Leading podcast, sponsored by IDEA, Nick and Matt discuss their journey into podcasting, how you might use podcasts in your school or classroom, where they're going next, and how you can be a part of their podcast in the future!

    Enjoy! 

    Where to stream / download your episode of Learning Through Leading.

    Many thanks to Nick and Matt for sharing their podcast with us this month. Be sure to subscribe to the Learning Through Leading podcast so that you don't miss any of their upcoming content.
  • November 17, 2019 2:21 PM | Anonymous

    In this week's episode of the Learning Through Leading podcast, sponsored by IDEA, Dr. Nick Sutton takes us on his visit to the first ever TeachBetter Conference in Ohio. Along with presenting, Nick recorded a number of quick interviews with some of those in attendance to learn more about what's happening across the educational landscape.

    Nick and Matt apologize in advance if any names are misspelled, etc. The environment was a little loud and some audio may be a bit difficult to understand in places. However, they think you’ll find that this episode highlights a lot of what educators are interested in at the time of this recording. 

    Enjoy! 

    Clip 1: WearCareShare.com  

    Clip 2: Joshua Stamper of the Aspire Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get podcasts 

    Clip 3: Michelle White, Dunlap, IL, elementary educator reflects on culturally responsive education 

    Clip 4: Nick Mann of TeacherFit.fit discusses educator wellness 

    Clip 5: Alex Oris of Cuyahoga Falls, OH, discusses technology integration 

    Clip 5: Mark Losey and Milo, the Robot for Autism

    Clip 6: Jake Miller, from the Educational Duct Tape Podcast

    Clip 7: Crystal Parker, English Teacher from Florida

    Clip 8: Jen Molitor, Instructional Coach, Educator, and author of The Happy Teacher's Handbook

    Clip 9: Christy (??) Instructional Coach from Akron (OH) Public Schools

    Clip 10: Christina Florence, educator 

    Clip 11: BreAnn Fennell, presenter 

    Clip 12: Tiffany Ott,Director of Curriculum Development for the TeachBetter Team 

    Clip 13: Latezeon Balentine, educator and author 

    Clip 14: Amanda Post and Maggie Gifford, educators from rural Ohio 

    Clip 15: Don Epps, education leader from southeast Kansas


    Where to stream / download your episode of Learning Through Leading.

    Stay tuned next week for the next episode of Learning Through Leading.

  • November 12, 2019 10:02 AM | Anonymous

    In this week's episode of the Learning Through Leading podcast, sponsored by IDEA, Dr. Nick Sutton and Matt Jacobson talk with Thomas C. Murray about preparing students for the future, designing learning spaces, and his new book, Personal and Authentic: Designing Learning Experiences that Last a Lifetime.

    Future Ready Schools are “...schools that put kids before adults… (and) do whatever it takes to support all kids… schools where people want to be… where people respect people.”

    Learning space redesign is “...not about being pretty for Pinterest, this is understanding how the brain works (and) learns and how do we maximize spaces for learning.”

    Where to stream / download your episode of Learning Through Leading.

    Stay tuned next week for the next episode of Learning Through Leading.

  • November 05, 2019 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    This December the Hour of Code will celebrate its seventh year. Started in 2013 by Hadi Partovi of code.org, the Hour of Code was launched during Computer Science Education Week as a fun one-hour coding challenge to give students an introduction to computer science. By the end of 2013, 20 million learners had taken part in the Hour of Code Challenge and the week-long event had become an educational movement, totaling over 720 million participants by the end of 2018.

    The Hour of Code takes place every year during Computer Science Education Week, the first week in December. This year, the Hour of Code will happen December 9-15, 2019. Be a part of the movement by organizing an Hour of Code event December 9-15 in your classroom or community. Register your event with the Hour of Code, then check out this resource on “How to teach one Hour of Code with your class”.

    In honor of the event, we've also created a new resource to help you introduce your learners to coding and computer science. Check out IDEA’s Coding Kitchen and try out some new coding recipes. There you will find tasks to create innovative learning experiences that focus on coding. Select a main ingredient from our pantry. Each ingredient is linked to a guide, activity or task. Try one or try them all! Bon Appetit!

    More Resources for Introducing Coding in Your Classroom

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