September 29, 2017

Flexible Seating

Back in January, we talked about flexible learning spaces and how they can transform the learning environment in your classroom. Teachers around the district are continuing to drop traditional seating in favor of flexible seating.

Ms. Madron's Classroom at Classen SAS makes use of a variety of seating options while maintaining a table or two for students who prefer traditional workspaces. 

Students can store their supplies in the white bins that double as their seats. The use of exercise balls as seating is becoming a popular option for students who need to fidget without being disruptive. These exercise balls have a base to keep them from rolling away. Since this is a large classroom the teacher has chosen to spread the students out to fill the space.

Bean bag chairs with arms and backrests discourage students from excessive lounging and are easily shuffled out of the way for group presentations. Most teachers arrange the bean bag chairs in groups of three or four, but there are many options as your space allows. Rugs are another, often overlooked, popular option with students.

Ms. Hyatt's Classroom at Classen SAS makes use of many different seating options along with soft and natural lighting.

In addition to many seating options, there are several distinct areas where students can collaborate. The students in this classroom work in close proximity to each other and when extra space is needed, the teacher utilizes the narrow hallway leading to the room. This classroom also has a north facing window which allows in natural light. 

Along with natural light, this classroom also features soft lighting in the form of matching floor lamps. Students also have the option to sit on barstools or work standing at the tables against the back wall. Barstools often stack and can easily be pushed under their tables or to a corner when not in use.

For other Ideas:

Things to Keep in Mind:

Classroom management is a must
Teachers have the need to educate diverse students within a complex classroom context and this can be achieved by effective classroom management. Teachers must take action to create a learning environment which supports both the academic and social-emotional learning of each student.

Donor's choose is not just for IPads!
Instead of adding an IPad or two, why not invest in seating options?

Don't be afraid to stand
Standing desks are gaining popularity and are a great way for students who don't do well sitting for long periods of time.

Don't forget the lights
Flexible seating is a great way to transform your classroom, but why settle for harsh florescent lighting when you have other options. If you are lucky enough to have a window in your classroom, use it.  Don't be afraid to bring that old floor lamp from home up to your classroom.

Students will learn more when they are comfortable!

Ideas, Examples, and Resouces
Flexible Seating Student Centered Classroom-Kayla Delzer
So you want Ipads in your classroom
Flexible Spaces Flexible Learning

September 13, 2017

Maker Movement: Makerspaces

What is a makerspace?

"Makerspace" is a term used to define a space that provides hands-on, creative ways to inspire students to think outside the box. It provides the opportunity to design, test, construct, and create based on problem-solving skills. Students are able to construct ideas and practice socialization skills, while engaging thought provoking tinkering, engineering, and other 21st-century skills. No one makerpace looks like the next, but the foundation is consistent across the board.

Maker Movement

The maker movement is changing the way we look at hands-on self-driven learning. Makerspaces are beginning to make the move out of libraries, museums, garages, and informal "faires" straight into K-12 classrooms. Advocates for hands-on, student-centered learning are in support of this fresh take on classroom experiences. Many educators are discovering student-lead learning is more impactful and long-lasting than a teacher-led classroom. The shift with the maker movement presents itself as a way to breathe fresh air into the 19th-century designed classrooms.

The World Economic Forum estimates 65% of the future's workforce doesn't even exist yet. One of the greatest skills students will need for a successful future, is complex problem-solving strategies. Other skills which are in great demand or have been highly rated include, but are not limited to, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and emotional intelligence. The maker movement is having a great impact on the notion of creation and problem-solving based learning.

Where do makerspaces come in you ask? As recently as 2015, the maker movement along with makerspaces was identified as being a top development in educational technology. The NMC Horizon Report for 2015 stated, "Makerspaces are increasingly being looked at as a method to engage learners in creative, high-order problem-solving with the use of hands-on design, construction, and iteration.' There is potential to effectively prepare students with necessary 21st-century skills through the use of makerspaces.

Jackson Enterprise Elementary School Makerspace



Blogs & Websites

Sylvia Show
Caine's Arcade
Makerspace for Education Blog
Makerspace for Education Website
Renovated Learning
Renovated Learning Makerpace Resources
Curiosity Commins Makerspaces
Resources for School Makerspaces
Makerspaces Supply List
Makerspace Impact Infographic



August 31, 2017

Spice Up Your Staff Meeting

Staff Meetings are one of the most difficult requirements for administrators and teachers. How can we model instructional strategies in our staff meetings? How can we add value to our meetings? How are you going to spice up your staff meetings?

Flipped Faculty Meeting 
There are many ways to flip a faculty meeting. Flipped faculty meetings allow for more meaningful face-to-face time by front-loading basic information. This allows teachers to consume information before the meeting, thus allowing for deeper discussion during the meeting time. 

Jennifer McKay, principal at Southern Hills Elementary School flips her staff meetings by sending out all information a week before, which has allowed her team to consume the information before meeting time. Then at the meeting, they take a deep dive into discussions. 

Jack Reed, principal at Emerson North School flips his faculty meeting by creating a video and having staff watch the videos. Check out his YouTube channel, which houses his flipped faculty meetings. 

Hoonuit offers a variety of professional learning topics; everything from Google Classroom to classroom management. This is a great anytime, any place professional learning platform. Administrators can assign content to staff members and then staff members can print off certificates of completion.

Staff Meeting Bingo
Create a bingo card for staff to complete which also creates a fun learning experience. Bingo can help spark creativity and innovation.  This version of Bingo also allows for differentiation of activities. 

Pineapple Chart
The Pineapple chart allows educators to invite others into their classroom for informal observations. A chart is set up somewhere in a highly visible location in the school. Then teachers can sign up or "advertise" the awesome things they are doing in their classroom which others might want to observe. This is voluntary with no documentation or evaluation attached and a great way to learn from your peers.

Observe Me
#ObserveMe is similar to the Pineapple Chart idea, in that it allows educators to invite others into their classroom for informal observations. This idea increases the frequency of feedback, allows for more opportunities to have a growth mindset and will ultimately positively impact our students. Educators post a sign on their door identifying their room as an #ObserveMe room with their goals listed. Then observers can provide instant feedback.

These are just a few ideas, and there are MANY more. Below are a few links to other ideas, examples, and resources. 

Ideas, Examples & Resources

Forget Faculty Meetings
Coolidge Staff Blog
F.D. Moon S'mores
Transform Your Staff Meetings
Leading Innovative Change

August 23, 2017

Implementing Change With the Least Resistance

It is no secret education is experiencing a major overhaul and there has been a mind shift of how teachers teach. Education is moving from teacher-centered to student-centered, and technology integration is going to play a pivotal role in that shift.

Technology is quickly becoming the standard in classrooms worldwide; it is becoming the new pencil and paper. Change can be difficult to accept for some and exciting for others. Regardless of how we feel about it, change is happening.

Are you a principal modeling the use of technology by asking staff members to turn in their lesson plans on Google Drive? Are you a teacher who is working towards introducing Chromebooks to your students? Some are set in their ways. However, as we transform the face of education, we must remember that the quality and follow through of implementation is most important.

As uncomfortable as change can be, here are a few suggestions to help you through the process.

Explain the WHY
The goal when implementing anything new for staff and children, is to create a “buy in” mentality.  Your staff and students need to know how the new tools are going to make their lives more efficient and why you feel it’s necessary to utilize.

Phase In
Have you ever walked away from a training or a class feeling like your mind has been blown away by all of the information tossed at you? Avoid overwhelming staff and students by introducing new tools in pieces, focusing on each piece alone until comfort levels are high.

Evaluate and Review
Before moving on to the “next thing”, devise a system that works best for your site to evaluate the benefits.  If everyone agree a tool is non-essential, try something new.

Change has come, but it does not have to be a fearful and scary experience.  


August 17, 2017

Engaging Students with SMART Notebook

This blog post is rather long but very informative. This post covers everything from downloading the latest version of SMART Notebook, troubleshooting your board, and engaging students with SMART Notebook through interaction with the board.

What is SMART Notebook?

SMART Notebook provides an opportunity for assessments, student collaboration, and game-based learning to engage students in the learning process. 

How do I get SMART Notebook?

First, locate the Symantec Software portal icon located on your desktop. Then double click the icon and log in with your OKCPS credentials.

Once logged in on the Symantec Software portal, you have access to a list of pre-approved software through the district. You will need to click on SMART Notebook 17. Then a box will pop up and select done. It will take approximately 20 minutes to push the software to your laptop. Then repeat the process with SMART Gallery Essentials and SMART Lesson Activity Toolkit

How does my SMART board work?

Now you have the software, SMART Notebook 17, but you want to make your board interactive! Check out SMART Board & Notebook 101. This video tutorial will help you troubleshoot your board, set up your board cables, and much more! If you need additional cables for your SMART board, please work with your campus tech committee and administration to purchase those items needed. 

How can I engage my students with SMART Notebook?
When you first download SMART Notebook 17, a tutorial will pop up once you open the program. Click on Learn the Basics and walk through this tutorial as it provides many helpful tips and ideas for use. This section will also show new features of the software. 

Check out the videos below for more ideas of how to use SMART Notebook in your classroom.

Assessments with SMART Notebook 17 and SMART response2.

Game-based Learning with SMART Notebook 17

Helpful Hints
After reading this post, hopefully you have discovered how to acquire the SMART Notebook software on your laptop, how to troubleshoot any problems which may pop up and various ways to engage your students. Below is a short list of helpful links just for you!

Do you want to take your SMART skills to the next level? Click HERE to earning your badge.