Traveling the World

... without leaving your classroom

Back in September Google Launched the Expeditions Pioneer Road Show in our district, Des Plaines. Since that time we have been accepted in to the Expeditions Beta program and have put together a couple of Expedition kits throughout the district. The kits are composed of an Android tablet, 6 refurbished Android phones, and 6 View-Master VR goggles. Teachers around the district have been (virtually) traveling the world with their students. They are asking big questions, planning interesting lessons, and sharing their learning in a Google+ Community.

Two weeks ago a music teacher who has been studying opera with her fifth graders was able to put her students on stage during the opera. They used a YouTube 360 video of "Lohengrin" that was recorded in São Paulo in 2015. Then they were able to explore through the Royal Opera House in London using Google Streetview.

Last week I worked with a second grade teacher to plan a Flat Stanley activity. St…

Innovation Incubator Launch

Students need the time, space, and support to be problem solvers in their schools and communities. I am confident that a lot of teachers want to be able to support their students that way, but a lot of them need support to do that. At the GEG Leadership event a couple weeks ago I proposed an idea that turned into Innovation Incubators. The idea is that teachers will apply to participate in a school year long problem solving experience. Over the summer teachers will attend a professional learning opportunity all around design thinking. Teachers, with a group of students, work together to identify a community based problem, experience a design thinking process, get feedback from each other and develop an action plan. Over the year there will be checkins to help keep teams on track. In the spring teams will create videos of their journey and will be invited to share those stories in a large group event and celebration.

I am super geeked! We opened the application this week! If you are in…

GEG Chicago Leadership Day

Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in the GEG Chicago Leadership Day at the new Goggle offices. We kicked off the day with some networking and team building -- it's always great to get to meet new people. Then we jumped right in working in teams to craft a mission statement for the GEG that would guide our work for the rest of the day. After several iterations we landed on "Empowering Educators to Innovate, Collaborate, and Inspire." From there we started the design thinking process around professional development and events that we could organize for the members of the GEG. Event ideas were voted on and people broke in to teams based on interest to begin planning. Overall the day was a huge success and I can't wait to see all of these plans come to fruition!

Digital Learning Day in D62

I am in shock and awe with the participation by our D62 staff in Digital Learning Day! Originally when we were planning how we would celebrate we in our district we had a whole slew of ideas, but decided since it was the first year we would be participating to start small. We planned a twitter prompt for the day on our then sparsely used #62learns hashtag. I'll let the numbers speak for themselves in this beautiful graphic Jennie put together...

Can you believe it 94% of the certified staff participated... when there was less than 20% previously participating in the hashtag. Amazing! I look forward to watching this community grow together and also see the possibilities, connections, and learning that twitter makes possible! Can't wait to see everyone's response to next weeks prompt!


A few years ago I helped a first grade teacher with a career project. Students picked a career in their community that they were interested in and interviewed a person in that role. I will never forget this little girl who started out her presentation saying, "I wanted to be a teacher so I could make kids follow directions and be quiet, but being a teacher is a lot more work than that." My heart broke a little that day seeing my profession through her eyes. To me teaching is all about helping students learn, grow, and explore, not about making kids do what I say. That being said I see the compliance monster rear it's ugly head all of the time in schools. The worst is when compliance is sold as teaching responsibility.

Embed from Getty Images

Mission:iPad Launch

We are embarking on a new journey!

After reviewing over 75 applications and ordering almost 1000 devices Mission:iPad is almost ready to launch.

We will be going 1:1 with iPads in 53 classrooms this year! Teachers will attend three whole group professional development days, one in the fall to kick everything off and share expectations, a mid-mission check-in in January, and a celebration in the spring. They will also be meeting twice a month for one-on-one support with their school's Innovation Advocate, Ben or I (depending on which side of the district they are on). There will also be a Google+ Community for teachers to share their work and ask questions of the group so that we can all learn together. I am excited for all of the possibilities that will be available to our students and teachers with these new devices and supports!

It's Time To Do The Dishes

I have spent this summer, as I do every summer since becoming an educator, learning. I have expanded my learning by attending conferences, reading, attending edcamps, and having some really thought provoking conversations. Inevitably in every conference or conversation the notion of teachers' plates being full and not wanting to add anything to those plates arises.

I agree that there is a lot being put on teachers at this time in education. I do not want to make things harder for teachers. I have in the past viewed my role as an instructional coach as helping teachers to balance their plates. I couldn't fix their plates, but I felt like I could help make things easier for them. I know that teachers have done a lot of rearranging and prioritizing of things to try and make their plates work.

Frankly, I'm just tired of talking about full plates. I think it's time to do the dishes. Clear them off completely.

Once our educator plates are completely clear and the dishwasher …