Thursday, May 24, 2012

8th Grade Promotion Speech

When I Grow Up....

When I Grow Up...

I want to be a great storyteller. Storytelling is truly a 21st century skill. It allows us to reach new audiences with our messages and ideas. It allows us to connect with those with similar passions.

Look at the power of the viral video, Kony 2012. A storyteller wove together the awful legacy of Joseph Kony for the world to see. He started a movement, and hopefully, justice will be served in the near future.

Great storytelling has so many outlets these days from Blogger to Twitter to YouTube. These social media outlets allow you to tell your story to the communities across world. Each of your digital stories provides me hope that we have helped to build a new generation of storytellers that are passionate and focused on being a part of change where needed and using story to celebrate the wonderful things in life.

When I Grow Up....

I want to be passionate about something, look the world in the eyes and make a difference.

When I Grow Up....

I want to be filled with ideas to solve problems.

When I Grow Up...

I want to use technology to make our community a better place.

When I Grow Up...

I want the world to have a great sense of commons, where everyone realizes that without appreciating the shared gifts that we have no future will look at bright.

When I Grow Up...
When I Grow Up....

I've realized over the years that we never grow up, it is never the right time, and no one else is going to accomplish our mission.

We are all GROWN UP. We are all ready to lead.

I need all of you to DREAM BIG, no DREAM BIGGER.

We can't wait to grow up. We can't wait for tomorrow.


Begin to lead today....great leaders, lead by serving others. Search for the INVISIBLE people that surround us and lift them to the next level. Look for random acts of kindness each day as they will sharpen your desire to lead and serve.

Begin your journey of scholarship today. SCHOLARS solve problems. They engage in tough conversations, look for ways to compromise while remaining strong in their principles.

Scholars are looking for ways to feed 10 billion people on this planet by 2050, and scholars are looking to make sure that no one has to live without clean drinking water.

Scholarship requires daily work ethic that can't wait for tomorrow.


Being a global citizen starts today. Find a cause support it with your time, talent, and treasure. We can't fix the world until we are strong or until our local community is strong. Big ideas in action civics start in our own community.

Great ideas here can grow into worldwide movement.


Don't let this school be your only education that you receive. Learners, Leaders, Citizens are taking control of their own learning because WE don't have all of the answers. How are you taking control of who and where you want to be?

What Learning will you be a part of after high school? It is no longer an IF or a POSSIBILITY, but reality says that LEARNING has to be life-long.

EMBRACE LEARNING, PRACTICE LEARNING, ENJOY LEARNING. This is the safest learning that you will do.

Work until you FAIL....we will catch you.

I want to know inventors that feed the planet.

I want to know bold ethical leaders that pursue their passion.

I want to know caretakers that grow families, take care of the most vulnerable.

I want to know teachers.

I want to know people that spread joy.

BE AWESOME....don't settle for normal, OK, or good enough.

Finally, I want you to know something. YOU MATTER.


YOU MATTER to your school

YOU MATTER to your community

YOU MATTER to your planet.

Congratulations Class of 2016.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Why 1:1

A guest post by Mark Pullen

After 12 years of elementary school teaching with limited access to technology, such as a once-a-week computer lab time and a cart of laptops that came to my room one afternoon per week, I had the chance to teach in a pilot 1:1 classroom my district was creating. With great joy, I received a class set of laptops which were to remain in my room to be used whenever my third-grade students and I needed them. As my second year of teaching in a 1:1 classroom comes to a close, I am now prepared to offer one teacher’s answer to the all-important question: “How has your classroom improved because of 1:1 technology?”

More Differentiation: 1:1 technology allows me to differentiate and even individualize my instruction much more powerfully than ever before. I frequently utilize math websites that adjust the difficulty of each student’s problems based on that child’s previous answers. Even the best tiered lesson, without the help of technology, can’t do that.

The Advantages of EBooks: Although my students do read physical books part of the time as well, reading online allows students to search the text of the book they’re reading (for example, to track character development over time), comment on what they’re reading and read others’ comments in real time, and look up definitions of unknown words immediately.

Going Beyond the Classroom: Constant access to 1:1 technology has expanded my students’ horizons. My students used to have to rely solely on me (and the finite number of books we had in our room) to teach them whatever they wanted to learn. Now students can access all of the world’s knowledge with a quick Google search. If that’s not sufficient, they can (and often do) email their remaining questions to subject matter experts outside our classroom.

Writing for Real Audiences: My students used to write for their classmates and me. Now they often write for a potentially global audience on their blogs.

Student Motivation: Because 1:1 technology has made learning more real to my students, they love to learn all the time! The end of the school day in no way ends their learning – I continue to see my students learning throughout the evening and on the weekends. Whether they are composing their next editorial for our local newspaper on Google Docs or conquering a few extra math levels on, the students are typically so inspired to do more that they go above and beyond normal classroom
expectations day after day.

Tech Skills: Although I always use technology to teach content, not just to teach technology, it’s very clear: my students from this year and last year have become far more tech-savvy than the students I had before getting the laptops.

Access to 1:1 technology has revolutionized my classroom, and I would never willingly go back to teaching without it. I believe that every child (no matter what grade level) deserves and would benefit from this kind of unlimited access to technology in the classroom.

About the Author:
Mark Pullen has been an elementary teacher for 13 years, currently teaching third grade in East Grand Rapids, MI. He’s an advocate for classroom technology integration, and writes extensively on that subject on behalf of Worth Ave Group, a leading provider of laptop, tablet computer, and iPad insurance for schools and universities:

Five for Friday-Links and Ideas

This is one of those books that hurt my brain and push my thinking. 

The concept of compassion links students, community and the global as a deeply held tenant of good. How can we better support compassion?

An incredible story about global poverty, lack of the education and the cycle that it creates. 

Some of our teachers presented on play-based learning at the conference last week. Here are more thoughts on giving kids room to play. 

Great teacher video about transforming his class using game based learning. 

A Positive Lens on Common Core

I have been a slow adopter on the importance of the Common Core Standards. I've claimed that I'm too busy with other innovation to truly dig into Common Core. I get hundreds of e-mails about conferences, seminars, and resources. Clearly, Common Core is a big business for lots of people, but I'm just not ready to have a Common Core party and dedicate every moment of every professional development session on these national standards, but I finally read something that gave me some hope, some perspective, and some impetus to change. My superintendent is working with Peter Senge to find deep value in Common Core, and she recently wrote this.

The Common Core Standards provide an opportunity--not necessarily because
they are so revolutionary but because they offer  a consensus  rare in
education. For a brief moment in time public schools across the nation
have an opportunity for genuine innovation. The focus of the Standards is
increased rigor in both the content students are learning and the thinking
processes they are using as they learn.. 

We believe the Common Core Standards will help us align with college-level
expectations for text complexity and amount of text assigned as part of
high school class work.  We also believe that The Common Core is pushing
more sophisticated analysis and interpretation of text than we currently
are expecting across all grades and content areas.

We believe the Common Core will support us in establishing overarching
themes and processes in science and social studies that can lead students
to civic and environmental action.

We believe the Common Core can help teachers scaffold  conceptual
understandings for students that support success in 8th grade algebra
which has proven to be a critical gatekeeper to high school success. This
will lead to greater enrollment in higher level math classes at the high

We believe the Common Core might accelerate innovative uses of technology
to differentiate instruction and to encourage students to engage,
communicate, and create.

We are hopeful that  the increased focus on rigor and reduced number of
standards of the Common Core will promote long term learning projects,
encouraging iterative learning and peer critique.

We are also hopeful that the Common Core will encourage interdisciplinary

As you can see, we want the Common Core to make a difference...and we plan
on using it as justification for moving our programs to the next level!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

School of Life-Sir Ken Robinson

There are days when I could just listen to Sir Ken Robinson tell stories all day. He is life giving, energy boosting, and funny in an English sort of way. I hope that you enjoy more thoughts On Passion by Sir Ken Robinson.

Who's Telling Your Story? Recapturing the Beauty and Power of Our Schools Through the Art of Storytelling

Are you telling your story? If not, someone else is, and they may not be painting an accurate picture of the success being achieved in your classroom, school or district. As educators, we are battling against the mental models and images created by movies, the news media, and citizens' own educational experience. Many of these images and mental models fall short of the truth about the success of our schools. The laser-like focus on scholarship is drowning out the importance of leadership, citizenship and stewardship in the development of the whole child. Educators must begin to tell the stories of success to a series of audiences so that a proper dialogue about education can exist on a foundation of truth surrounding our schools. In our global interconnectedness, the wisdom and beauty of schools can be shared in real-time with audiences around our community and around the world. The tools to share images and story are easier than ever for students, teachers, and leaders. From YouTube, to Flickr and Twitter just to hit the tip of the iceberg, the tools are endless to bring a new story and a new reality to the larger community about our schools. Each educator has to be the storyteller in chief to their slice of the education world. To do this, we need to develop our skills in seeing the story, shaping the story, and proclaiming the story to all that will listen. Our stories are powerful, but they are battling a constant noise of those with a partial understanding of what success in a 21st century school truly looks and sounds like. We must allow the power of our story to permeate to the masses so that with common vocabulary and a common vision of the future, we can make this era of education one that we can proudly proclaim as our time and our future.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Game Based Learning

This video really pushed my thinking especially how we have been doing it all wrong by giving the "everyone has an A" speech from the beginning of the year. How can we take the best part of game theory and infuse them into a next practice for education.