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  • November 09, 2021 8:53 AM | Ashley

    Learning by doing: Podcasting in your classroom

    By Mario and Alberto Herraez-Velazquez (a.k.a. The eTwinz!)

    We all remember those tedious classes in which the teacher did all the talking and all we needed to do is to sit there and listen at what he/she was saying. That was one of the main reasons why we struggled in school through junior high. We were not made for that; we don´t learn by listening. We learn by doing, we learn by experimenting with the content, by creating meaningful connections and by researching interesting topics.

    One of our main goals when we joined education was to change this paradigm. We wanted to transform our classroom into a place where students learn by doing. A place where our students feel safe to drive their learning, make mistakes and grow.

    The world is changing, and we as educators must change with it. We must consider the direction it is taking and focus our efforts towards preparing our students for this new future. No one is going to ask you to fill the blanks of the project you need to finish by Monday or to choose between three words to complete the PowerPoint your boss have already created for you. Students are going to be asked to think critically, to solve problems and collaborate with people from all over the world.

    “We must teach looking at the future and stop teaching thinking about the past” - eTwinz

    We have attended many trainings in which we go home thinking that we learned a lot about the theoretical context of the approach or strategy, but practical examples were not shown or explained. For this reason, our sessions and trainings are not only based on research and theory, but they are full of examples of how to start your own PBL project in your class.

    Are we ready to enter the world of the podcast as an educational tool?

    The power of podcasting

    The popularity of podcasts has risen a lot in recent years. Many are the public figures who have started producing their own podcast. The rise of this popularity helped podcasts to become a powerful tool for many teachers around the world. Podcasts not only develop important skills for the future of our students, but it also stands out for their ability to deliver content.

    When we produce a podcast with our students, we can focus on any of the content that we are teaching in class: The destructive capacity of volcanoes, the biography of Pythagoras and its importance in history, the differences between the British and American vocabulary.

    There are many types of podcasts that can be used in class: interview podcasts, monographic podcasts, historical podcasts, discussion podcasts, rating podcasts (products, cities, cars, sports…).

    And it is not only the different types of podcasts that make them an exceptional tool, but also the grouping in which they are carried out gives us many possibilities. We can produce podcasts individually, in pairs, or in groups. We can produce podcasts with students in our class, connect with other classes in our school, around the world, or even have guests from our community or a different country.

    Our approach

    We break all our projects into three different stages: Pre-production, production, and post-production.

    • Pre-production: This stage is probably the most important one and includes all the actions we need to take before pressing the record button. Organization is crucial for a project like this. Students need to organize the steps they need to take, the different roles they will have throughout the project and create the rundowns and the scripts of the podcast. They will also need to do the settings of the platform or software we are using and create the music, intros, and outros.

    • Production: This stage focuses on creating the content of our project. Students will need to record the podcast using the software the chose. Normally, they need to record several audio clips before coming up with the final version. Each of the students have a different role in this phase from sound technician to the anchors or reporters.

    • Post-production: This stage houses all editing activities before delivering the final product. During this time, we can see students working on editing the podcast. They add the music, make changes to the audio clips and much more.

    There are many benefits of using podcasts in the classroom, but many times we do not know where to start or how to carry out such a big project.

    Would you like to know more about the three stages of the project?

    Do you want ideas of how to create roles for the students to be independent and drive their own learning?

    Are you excited about starting this project in your school, but you don’t know what is the best option for your podcasting equipment?

    Have you already started with this but would like more ideas for lessons, worksheets, and new materials?

    Don’t worry, we got you covered! Find our session during the 2022 IDEAcon conference!

    Register for IDEAcon 2022 here. Don't wait! Early-bird pricing ends Nov. 30

  • November 08, 2021 9:27 AM | Ashley

    Let’s Talk STEAM! 

    Introducing the IDEAcon Thought Leaders for a day dedicated to STEAM

    In honor of National STEAM Day on November 8, we thought it was a perfect time to announce our IDEAcon Thought Leaders for STEAM Day at the con. 

    That’s right - on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2021, IDEAcon is dedicated to all things STEAM (check out the other daily themes here).

    Drum roll, please!! 

    via GIPHY

    Dr. Kate Biberdorf 

    First up is our day 3 keynote speaker, Dr. Kate Biberdorf a.k.a. Kate the Chemist

    As seen on the Today Show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Dr. Kate Biberdorf is breaking stereotypes and blowing stuff up—all in a good pair of heels. Through her theatrical and hands-on approach to teaching, Dr. Biberdorf is breaking down the image of the stereotypical scientist, while reaching students who might otherwise be intimidated by science.

    We absolutely CAN’T WAIT for Dr. Kate’s session! In the meantime, check out her website here - she has some awesome books and resources for your STEAM classroom. 

    Victor Hicks

    Does this name sound familiar? It should! 

    “Coach” Victor Hicks was one of our keynote speakers at ideaU this summer! He is back as a thought leader for IDEAcon, with a session titled, “Coding with Culture: Providing Culturally Responsive and Sustainable Computer Science Experiences in Computer Science.” 

    Coach Hicks  serves as a CS and STEM educator in Atlanta,Georgia  and is the founder and lead instructor of Coding with Culture, an organization designed to teach computer science and digital literacy through an “HBCU-Ready” lens to scholars in grades K-8.

    Check out his website here and stay-up-to-date by following him on Twitter @codingwculture.

    Jaime Donally 

    Jaime Donally describes herself as a passionate technology enthusiast. If her name sounds familiar, you may have read her blog with ISTE last year about creating AR with apps. It’s a pretty cool read … 

    Jaime provides staff development and training on immersive technology as an edtech consultant. She is an expert on ARVR, and she will be bringing her expertise to IDEAcon in February!

    Excited? Us, too! Learn more about Jaime here

    Jorge Valenzuela 

    We are lucky enough to have thought leader Jorge Valenzuela join us for multiple days of the conference!

    On STEAM Day, he will be leading a session titled: “Using Project Based Learning to teach STEM and Computer Science.”

    Jorge is an adjunct professor at Old Dominion University and the lead coach at Lifelong Learning Defined (LLD). Through modeling direct instruction in tandem with evidence-based strategies and educational protocols, Jorge provides sessions for educators that are inspirational, actionable, and fun.

    Read more about Jorge as we all anxiously await his sessions on his website here

    Bellen Woodard 

    Bellen is a super special thought leader. She may be young, but she is already making a big impact on the world.

    She realized that the “skin” color crayon did not represent herself and many others. Knowing that wasn’t right, she decided to take things into her own hands. That is when the More Than Peach™ Project was born. 

    Combining the art piece of STEAM with important equity discussion, this is one session you can’t miss. Learn more about Bellen here

    Victoria Thompson

    This name should also sound familiar! Victoria Thompson has been a thought leader for IDEA before, leading important discussions in equity. Victoria is a STEM Instructional Coach and ed tech consultant. 

    Victoria was kind enough to create a lesson plan just for IDEA to celebrate STEAM Day! It’s all about mathematical thinking and logic, and it is applicable to all grade levels. You can check it out here

    This is a thought leader you won’t want to miss!

    Who else is even more pumped for IDEAcon 2022?!

    You probably noticed that a lot of our speakers are not only STEAM focused, but are also making strides in equity.

    Here at IDEA, we have three big initiatives: Computer Science, Equity, and Teacher Wellness. You will see these themes throughout the conference - not just on these theme’s dedicated days. 

    For example, we have more thought leaders on STEAM Day that will be solely equity focused. We will be welcoming back Sarah Said, Nyree Clark, and Evan Whitehead - all were involved in ideaU this summer. 

    We also will have Sawsan Jaber, Paul Gorski, and Carol R. Collins Ayanlaja join us for sessions on Wednesday.

    So, even if STEAM isn’t your thing, we promise there will be something for you to learn on Wednesday!

    Check out the full schedule here, and be on the lookout for our next blog with more details on our IDEAcon Thought Leaders!

    Click here to register for IDEAcon today! 

  • November 03, 2021 3:40 PM | Ashley

    Jack Kinsella, the Director of Bands at Jerling Jr. High and Liberty Schools, has a passion for sharing music with the world.

    And it all started in the 7th grade.

    “I was inspired by my teachers,” said Jack. In middle school, “my band directors encouraged me to attend a military band concert. That was just an amazing experience.”

    That concert officially set Jack on the path to a career in music. After participating in band all through high school, Jack attended Northwestern University to study tuba and music education with a plan to teach and perform music for a living.

    He landed a teaching position immediately after college where he still teaches today, accomplishing his first goal.

    And then within his first year of teaching, he was also able to achieve his second goal - to perform - by joining the Illinois Air National Guard to play in their military band.

    “It’s been a tremendous experience over the past 21 years,” Jack said, referring to his time in the Air National Guard. “I’ve performed in multiple states across the country - from coast to coast. Our performances celebrate our nation’s history through music, while also supporting our troops, communities, and veterans.”

    It was important to Jack to pursue a position in a military band, inspired by that concert in 7th grade and the patriotic music of the late 80s.

    “It was that national pride and the power of music -- how it has influenced our country,” said Jack. “It was something I had to be a part of.”

    As a Senior Master Sergeant (SMSgt) in the 566th Air Force Band, he most often is the tuba player, but plays a variety of other brass instruments depending on the mission.

    He has even played “Taps” on the bugle at the Abraham Lincoln National cemetery. Of course, as a band director, he plays a multitude of instruments - everything from brass to woodwinds to percussion.

    Jack has been teaching band for grades 5 through 8 since 1999. Over the years, he prides himself on not only sharing his love of music with students, but also creating a sense of community for the kids.

    “I, as a student, appreciated the applause, but I also appreciated the band community I grew up in,” he said. “Creating that sense of band community for our students and their families has been tremendous. I’m still in touch with many of my students after they graduate and get to see them perform in bands throughout the years.”

    Those bands have included Big Ten schools, like Illinois and Iowa, and also Notre Dame.

    This sense of community is also present in the military band. But with the community also comes connection, an important aspect of the military band for Jack.

    “Hopefully, the excellence that we execute through our music and performance represents the excellence of all the jobs that so many tremendous men and women are doing in the military,” he said. “When I appear in uniform, I am representing an untold number of men and women doing dangerous jobs that are necessary for our defense.”

    Jack is retiring from the Illinois National Guard this coming January.

    Thank you Jack for serving our country and the future leaders of this country!

    Jack stressed he feels he is a torchbearer in music, and that it is his job to pass the torch, so to speak. This photo is an awesome example of that! 

    Pictured is Jack, second from left, with his junior high school band director Ray Forlenza (far left), and his past student who is now a band director himself, Mike Roberts (third from left), and Ray’s son Nick, who was taught by Mike and is studying to be a band director, too!

  • November 03, 2021 12:08 PM | Ashley

    IDEA Partners make it possible for IDEA to achieve its mission. 

    And in case you didn’t know -- Our mission is to inspire, connect and provide the educational community with opportunities that transform teaching and learning through technology. 

    That is why we are thrilled to welcome back as a Platinum Partner, CDW-G!

    CDW Government (CDW-G) is a leading provider of technology solutions to government, education and healthcare customers. The company features dedicated Account Managers, Solutions Architects and Engineers who help customers choose the right technology products and services to meet their needs and assist customers with the implementation and long-term management of those solutions.

    CDW's purpose is to help our customers achieve their goals by providing them with the technology advice and products they need, when they need them. CDW understands modern learning. For technology that enables better educational outcomes, you need IT Orchestration by CDW•G. 

    Check out more about CDWG here

  • November 02, 2021 9:18 AM | Ashley

    IDEA Partners make it possible for IDEA to achieve its mission. 

    And in case you didn’t know -- Our mission is to inspire, connect and provide the educational community with opportunities that transform teaching and learning through technology. 

    That is why we are thrilled to welcome back as a Bronze Partner, CodeHS!

    CodeHS is a comprehensive teaching platform for helping schools teach computer science. They provide web-based curriculum, teacher tools and resources, and professional development. The mission of CodeHS is to empower all students to meaningfully impact the future.

    CodeHS believes that in the 21st century, coding is a foundational skill, just like reading and writing. That’s why they say: Read, Write, Code. CodeHS does this by providing great curriculum, tools, and resources to teachers, students, and schools to implement high quality computer science programs. 

    CodeHS believes that everyone should get the chance to learn coding, and that it’s a skill that provides limitless creative opportunity to students. They want to help make computer science education fun and accessible, and believe you need both great tools as well as a great community to make this happen.

    Check out more about CodeHS  here

  • November 01, 2021 2:29 PM | Ashley

    IDEA Partners make it possible for IDEA to achieve its mission. 

    And in case you didn’t know -- Our mission is to inspire, connect and provide the educational community with opportunities that transform teaching and learning through technology. 

    That is why we are thrilled to welcome our newest Gold Partner, Technology Resource Advisors, Inc. - TRA for short

    TRA specializes in assisting districts with planning, beginning, and maintaining their 1:1 initiatives with Chromebooks and Windows Devices. 

    Most districts seek TRA for their Chrome Care warranty. The Chrome Care warranty is a full accidental warranty offering for Chromebooks/Windows Devices. It covers drops, breaks, spills, manufacturer defects and hardware failures.

    Check out more about TRA here

  • October 19, 2021 10:40 AM | Ashley

    Work Smarter Not Harder: 

    Use these simple Smart Classroom Management Techniques to help your classroom run more smoothly.

    Blog written by Teresa Engler, K-12 Instructional Technology Coach

    Do you feel like a hamster in the wheel when it comes to classroom management?  Do you wonder why some teachers make it look so easy, but for others, it is a daily struggle?

    Follow these steps to help improve student behavior and bring calm and joy to your classroom

    Students are more likely to follow the rules they create.  

    Teachers have a set of standards and general practices they’d like students to follow, and those particular ideas should not be compromised.  During the first few hours of the first day of school, teachers review these standards and display them on charts or posters in the room.  To the students, the rules (and the poster) belong to the teacher, not to them.

    When students are asked to contribute to the rules and procedures for their classroom, they gain a vested interest in actually following them.  Take time to ask students to discuss what rules should be in place.  Ask what the expectations were the previous year, and add to them, or take away ones that no longer make sense.  Encourage students to write the rules on their own posters.  Let them decorate their posters and use the colors that mean something to them.  When the rules are broken, refer to their posters and remind them of the expectations they collectively agreed to follow.

    Students are more likely to behave when they are involved.

    Classroom jobs are common in elementary schools but are just as valuable in middle and high school classrooms.  

    Some examples of modern jobs could include the following:

    *Tech Assistant:  helping with simple tech issues

    *Charging Station Monitor:  assist with making sure devices are charged or helping students with finding the correct charging cord.

    *Safety:  regularly check the hand sanitizer, masks,  and paper products supply

    *Office Runner:  periodically take things to the office or pick things up from the office

    *Class announcements: compile a list of announcements and post them to a class chart or online

    *Class Ambassador greet any new students, show them around the building, explain class procedures

    *Transition Specialist  announce when there are 5 minutes remaining in class or when it is time to take a break (similar to a traditional class timer)

    *Gaming Yes, gaming.  (See the next section for more information)

    It’s important to include everyone by rotating the positions weekly or monthly.  Post the job descriptions to eliminate any confusion and to support accountability.  As with developing the class rules and procedures, be sure to get student input about specific jobs as well as the job descriptions.  This reinforces the importance of engagement, and it encourages students to take ownership of what happens in the classroom.

    Students thrive with consistency.

    The unknown is confusing and can cause chaos.  It also gives students the power to test the waters and to push boundaries.

    When clear, concise, and consistent rules are in place, students feel safe and secure, and the mystery of “What would happen if….” disappears.

    Make it clear:   Eliminate any gray areas when giving directions or defining expectations. Checklists help set boundaries, and, in turn,  give students a sense of security knowing that if  X occurs, then Y will happen.  

    Be concise:    Use very simple terms when giving directions or explaining procedures.  Less is best.  The more you write, the more confusing it becomes.

    Maintain consistency:  Start class on time, keep your routines exactly the same on a daily basis, and stick to the rules and procedures without wavering.  Unpredictable management of the classroom causes confusion and uncertainty which can be unsetting for students. 

    And, finally...

    Students respond positively to kindness.

    Do you know that old saying, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?”  Well, it’s true.  The more kindness you show your students, the better behaved they will become. It’s a mutual respect, a collaborative effort, and the end result will be worth it!

  • October 15, 2021 1:32 PM | Ashley

    On August 18, 2021, the Illinois State Board of Education met and under the Consent Agenda for that meeting, they approved the “*Rules for Adoption- Part 1 (Public Schools Evaluation, Recognition, and Supervision) Computer Science Standards." For more information on that meeting and what was approved, please see the links below:

    In addition, there is currently a Computer Science working group that has been formed. This group is working directly with ISBE to design resources that will support the integration of the computer science standards into classroom instruction. 

    We look forward to continuing to support educators in the development of computer science skills and implementation of these standards into the work you are doing. Currently, we are offering the following computer science professional learning opportunities:

    In addition, we are excited to be offering a number of sessions on computer science, design thinking, computational thinking and more at IDEAcon 2022. We will have engaging sessions daily focused on these concepts as well as hands-on learning activities. On Wednesday, February 16, we will have specific thought leaders, presenters and even our keynote (Kate Biberdorf) who will share about everything STEM/STEAM and Computer Science! 

    We look forward to connecting with you soon!

  • October 13, 2021 10:20 AM | Ashley

    If you’ve checked out our event calendar lately, you’ve probably noticed how jam-packed it is. 

    Here at IDEA, we do our best to provide numerous (and fun!) opportunities for educators to earn their required professional development hours (PDHs). We have webinars, bootcamps, cohorts, and even playgrounds. 

    This month, you may have also noticed the word “academy” on the list. So, what is that all about?

    via GIPHY

    Well, we talk a lot about teachers, but IDEA is dedicated to ALL educators - including administrators and coaches! The IDEA Academies are for those educators who don’t necessarily fall into the “teacher” bucket. 

    IDEA is here to help you earn your professional development hours in a fun, interactive environment. 

    Here is what we have planned so far:

    • IDEA Admin Academy | Leveraging Ed Tech to Connect With the Future (AA #3019)

      This course, facilitated by Stan Gorbatkin, is designed to support district leaders in the development, evolution, implementation, and promotion of programs and initiatives which will best support students in the future. 

      Join us on Dec. 16, 2021 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Joliet, iL. Click here to register.

    • IDEA Coaching Academy

      Don’t worry, coaches -- We didn’t forget about you! Join us and our friends at TCEA November 11 and 12 for a two-day networking event dedicated to helping you be the best coach you can be. Check out the schedule here

      If you missed out on our Coaching Academy, you can catch the virtual replay through Jan. 1! Click here to register and earn PDHs on your own time. 

    Watch your inbox and follow IDEA on social (@ideaillinois) for more details on future academies. Click here to view all upcoming IDEA events. 

    Questions? Email our team at info@ideaillinois.org

  • September 22, 2021 1:52 PM | Ashley

    Raise your hand if you’re a teacher-mom!

    via GIPHY

    As a teacher-mom of school aged children myself, I struggle with this internal battle of “helping” my children’s teachers. You see, because there’s a fine line between helping and annoying. I’ll admit, there are times where I toe the line, but overall, I think I do a decent job of not overstepping. However, something that is incredibly important to me is my children's relationship with learning. The line fully disappears for me on this issue. If you asked me to come up with some phrases to characterize myself, the same one always pops up first: life long learner. I consider myself a lifelong learner because early on in my educational career I had some amazing teachers that took the time to establish a relationship with me, which in turn formed my relationship with learning. 

    While this idea of building relationships with students isn’t a new one, if we know anything in education we know that if it exists, we’re going to turn it into an abbreviation, hence the birth of SEL.

    What’s Trending

    A focus on SEL, or social emotional learning, is trending in schools. School leadership sees it as especially important to address being that some of our students spent an entire year learning from behind a screen and now many more are learning from behind a mask. So while the focus seems to be consistent throughout schools and districts, the approach to SEL has taken on quite a bit of variety. Let’s take a deeper look at what SEL really is, where we can find some good information to support implementation of social emotional learning and fun SEL distance learning activities.

    What is it?

    According to the leading SEL guru, CASEL, SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.” Wow, pretty important, huh? Now, let’s unpack that, shall we? First, CASEL states that it is a process. This means that SEL isn’t a checkbox. You can’t schedule SEL into your daily routine and consider it done for the day. No, SEL needs to be embedded throughout everything we do. The link, or common thread in all content is that students are going to feel something about what you are teaching them. We have to address those feelings with them, in that moment, regardless of whether or not it was scheduled. Next, CASEL argues that  SEL is in fact a  pretty broad topic.

    • Acquire and Apply Knowledge

    • Healthy identities

    • Manage Emotions

    • Achieve Personal and Collective Goals

    • Feel and Show Empathy

    • Establish Supportive Relationships

    • Make Responsible and Caring Decisions

    When we break it down like this, it’s hard to argue that we shouldn’t be teaching SEL. In fact, it’s hard to argue that we don’t! But, how do we ensure that we are spending the time necessary to truly support our learners?

    Where Do I Start?

    Ok, before you work yourself up thinking you have one more thing to teach, relax, you don’t. As I said earlier, SEL should be the common lens through which all content is taught. Much of this can be accomplished through modeling and capitalizing on teachable moments. Engaging in conversations with your students instead of simply imparting pearls of wisdom into their empty vessels! For some, this may seem super, natural and easy to start. For others of us, it can seem like a superhighway of information and you’re not sure which on ramp to use. Never fear, I’ve curated some great resources to help get you started!

    SEL Activities for Distance Learning Hyperdoc

    Social Emotional Distance Learning Activities

    1. Getting Unstuck: Naming Emotions

      a. Have students start the day with you by naming the emotion they are bringing with them to class. Naming emotions helps bridge the gap between thoughts and feelings and allows teachers a peek into what’s going on in their students' world.

      b. Create a word wall where students can either add their emotions to or use to find a good fit word for what they are feeling. It could be a physical board in your room or a digital one!

    2. Pick a Prompt Emoji Slide

      a. Whole Hearted School Counseling frequently (like daily!) share free resources that can be used with your students instantly, like this pick a prompt guide. Share the images with your students as is, or cut them into individual cards and have them pick and respond. Responses can be gathered on a Padlet, Wakelet or Shared Google Doc.

    3. Rules of the Red Rubber Ball

      a. Kevin Carroll is one of my heroes. He’s an author, speaker and all around great guy! I’ve adapted his book, Rules of the Red Rubber Ball into a passion project for students to use to help them find their voice, discover their passions and achieve their goals. 

    4. The Purpose Challenge

      a. Imagine you are 40 years old and things in your life have gone as well as you could have hoped. What will you be doing? Who will be in your life? What will be important to you? Why? 

    Teachers Are Students Too!

    SEL doesn’t just end there though. In CASEL’s definition it clearly states that SEL is a process for young people and adults. I’m looking at you teachers! School leadership must also provide support for teachers--after all, they’re learners too. This article really helped actualize what adult social emotional learning both looks like, and can do for a school. Check it out!

    Call To Action 

    When in doubt, don’t stop asking questions. The right question can open up a whole new avenue for you to explore with your students. But maybe you don’t have the right questions just yet. That’s ok. Find someone who does. Above all, we need to show our students empathy but empathy alone is not enough. For students to take action, it’s important for students to hear stories from people like them. People they admire and respect. People they relate to. Don’t limit your students' experiences to the answers you have, provide students with opportunities to explore on their own through podcasts, articles, guest speakers and collaborations with each other. Be courageous in your adventure on building your own SEL Culture!

    -Lindsay Zilly, IDEA Director of Professional Learning

©2019 Illinois Digital Educators Alliance. All rights reserved.

Email: info@ideaillinois.org
Call: 630 628 1088

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