Posts Tagged ‘Education’


Many readers may be familiar with the Humans of New York, a series that shares interviews with people in New York City. It’s a great way to tell the story of that city from many different points of view.

Here in Vermont, there’s a Twitter handle called @ThisIsVT, where each week, a different Vermont resident shares their story, their view of Vermont, and offers different perspectives of this great state via tweets. The bio for the account changes each week to reflect who is doing the tweeting.

We have a fairly active Twitter hashtag for education and educators in Vermont, #VTed. It’s used for all things education, including tweets from those at meetings and conferences, school or district shares, and as a vehicle for educators to connect and build their PLN. There’s a chat every other Thursday evening at 8 pm EST. We hope educators know that all are welcome, even if you don’t live in Vermont.

ardl1s_0_400x400A new Twitter account, @ThisIsVTEd was born in September, building upon the @ThisIsVT idea and expanding it to education. It was an organic evolution among the facilitators & participants in a #VTed chat last year. Each week, a different school or school district takes the helm and tweets out their story, their happenings, and their point of view of education in Vermont. Thanks to Ned Kirsch (@betavt), Jason Finley (@finleyjd), and The Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education (@innovativeEd) for getting the ball rolling with this great idea!

Last week it was our turn in the Williston, VT schools. While we didn’t capture every element of what happens in our schools or even each teaching team, it provides a nice window into what makes our schools special. Here’s a Storify I put together to showcase last week’s tweets from @ThisIsVTEd, as well as tweets and Instagram shares with our schools’ hashtag #wsdvt.wsd-logo

@ThisIsVTEd has rotated to a new ‘tweeter’ this week. Be sure to check out the bio on Twitter to see who is tweeting! Regardless, it’s a fabulous way to see what’s happening in Vermont Education. We’re back to tweeting from our usual account, @wsdvt.


Window photo: Creative Commons/Flickr via James Lee https://flic.kr/p/8mN4qm

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I’ve started to see, once again, members of my PLN on Twitter sharing their one word for 2016. They’re awesome and inspiring and got me thinking. I’m seeing words like #be and #empower. I imagine over the next few days as we near and enter 2016 that we’ll see more.

As educators, we’re often asked about that one teacher we remember. Or the one experience in a classroom we never forgot. Once I became a teacher, I wanted to be one of those teachers for my students. I imagined, as we followed the Iditarod live in the early days of utilizing the Internet for such things (around 1995), that my first and second grade students would always remember me as the teacher who guided them through that experience. Then we started creating websites and blogging, and I thought perhaps that was it.

But when I do run into students from the past, they often bring up what I shared as my ‘favorite word’ and how they never forgot that. Long ago, my students cut out 4 foot letters that spelled out the word TRY, decorated each of them, and helped me affix them to the wall.

Whenever a student was stuck or said, “I’m finished” after very little effort, I just pointed up to the word on the wall. As I thought about this post, I realized that my favorite word was a harbinger of times to come- before #grit and #mindset hit the scene.

That’s my word for 2016, as it has been for many, many years. I’m only sorry that I couldn’t find a photograph of the original.


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This year’s effort in our two schools for the Hour of Code surpassed last year’s. Thanks to the support and energy of a number of adults in our buildings, more of our students were exposed to plugged and unplugged activities!








In the Allen Brook library, Denise set up a grid and engaged students in a physical coding activity.

robot turtlesWith our enrichment STEAM teacher, Julie, students programmed BeeBots and also played Robot Turtles, a fabulous board game to build coding skills.


Special thanks to Linda for supporting the effort both in the computer lab with the Minecraft code.org activity and in kindergarten classrooms with Daisy the Dinosaur on the iPads.








One of our kindergarten teachers, Sharon, invited parents to come in after the students had already been introduced to coding. They kept it going throughout the rest of the week and plan to continue those efforts. Here’s her blog post about the week.






Over at Williston Central School, many of our third/fourth grade students had support from Colin, an 8th grader. Our school requires that all 8th graders complete an 8th Grade Challenge, a capstone project. Colin’s focus was on Hour of Code and helping younger students get on board. Both he and Sagui worked with most of the 3rd/4th grade classes.


Colin K Helps Out - Dec 2015

Colin K Helps Out – Dec 2015









In the WCS library, Ellen set up Drop In and Code times, along with coaches to support fellow students.


Many of our middle school teams incorporated the Hour of Code last week and others continue this week. Thanks to Sterling, Swift, and Full House for getting on board!

IMG_2327       sterling1

Leah, our Design/Tech educator hosted an arcade at the end of the week for other adults and classrooms to visit. Throughout the trimester, students were coding using Scratch to create games. Then they used any materials (and they were varied!) to create controllers for the games, and finally they utilized Makey-Makeys to connect the two.


In addition, 10 of our middle school girls were treated to a Hangout with Marguerite Dibble, founder of Game Theory, a Vermont company. They asked questions, learned about her path, and got a glimpse of real life. Here’s a link to the recording of the Hangout. A special thanks to Lucie deLaBruere for her help in making this happen.


Of course, the work and fun continues Beyond the Code. Students and teachers are inspired and motivated. We’re hearing that it’s extending at home too! Thank you to everyone that made this possible.

I’ve put these photos, along with many more, together in a short video to showcase some of the highlights from last week. I know it doesn’t capture everything and everyone, but it’s a glimpse into the wonderful events that transpired.




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Yes, the 30-Day Blogging Challenge came to an end for me, but thankfully now there’s Thoughtful Thursdays! The folks at TeachThought are encouraging us to blog on Thursdays during Connected Educator Month.

Here’s today’s prompt: What does “connected education” mean to you?

I have blogged quite a bit about being connected and the value of my PLN. Feel free to check out the tags to the right to view some thoughts about this from past posts.

To reflect on the question for this post, I’ll share events from recent days. This week in our schools, each of our teaching teams were given a half day out of their classrooms to plan integrated/interdisciplinary units. I sat in for some part of each team’s meeting. It’s been a whirlwind week; I’ve visited with 14 teams so far with one more tomorrow!

Throughout the course of these meetings, I’ve added technology integration ideas to the brainstorms and planning. I was happy to hear a number of teams ask how they could provide opportunities to move up on the SAMR model through different activities and events. I shared many ideas, like the Global Read Aloud, Mystery Skype/Hangouts, and classroom collaborations.

Some teachers asked, “What would be the one activity or tool that would give the most bang for the buck?” I do find that the topic of blogging is usually my answer many times to such question; blogging accomplishes so many things in a simple way. Students are working toward Common Core Standards, technology standards, improving keyboarding in an authentic manner, and learning valuable skills about digital citizenship as they compose posts and comments for one another. They are writing for a larger audience, often beyond their classroom and even the school. This impacts their motivation and drive to write well. To kick it up a notch, teachers can connect with another class and leave comments for one another.

42 secondsThen I’m asked,  “How do you find other classes to connect with for this purpose?” I often have to say that I can help them connect through my networks and PLN. I can put it out there on Twitter, using hashtags that I know will reach the audience we need. I can access a number of Google+ communities on which I can seek other classrooms for projects or blogging. I can reach out directly to groups that I’m a member of, or even specific individuals that I’ve collaborated with in the past. I’m ready to go and help them connect. But why can’t they do this themselves? They can, but are much more limited if they’re not connected educators.

I notice that I feel I have all of these networks and resources, but that some of the teachers inquiring don’t. That’s the benefit of connected education for me. I can turn to experts around the world for assistance, not just those in my school building. I can seek answers to specific questions and get better results than I would with a Google search. I feel informed about developments in education because I’m reading tweets, posts, and articles I come across daily. I access and pass along this information and then find that I’ve seen it long before it gets shared through other channels. As a recent commercial stated, “that was so 42 seconds ago.”  I’m on the leading edge.

This is a ramble more about being a connected educator than connected education. But it’s all connected, right? There’s real value in this, for many adults and many students.

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Post 18 in the TeachThought 30-Day Blogging Challenge: Create a metaphor/simile/analogy that describes your teaching philosophy. For example, a “teacher is a ________…”


A teacher is… a chameleon.

changeThis post connects to yesterday’s where I talked about how many hats we wear. In addition to the many roles we play, we also must be adaptable. Things in education change, our communities change, the new initiatives change, and so on. Everything is always changing and we need to adapt and change with it.

I like Tom Whitby’s recent post, “Why Do We Do What We Do?” and how many of us say, ‘because that’s the way we’ve always done it.’ Often the many changes that come our way in education are not those that we can control. But there are many areas in which we can make positive change. We can be in control of adapting what we do to the times we live in and using the resources we have available.

Change is good. Adapt. Make things happen.


image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by lezumbalaberenjena: http://flickr.com/photos/14020964@N02/7515883628

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Post 17 in the 30-Day Blogging Challenge: What do you think is the most challenging issue in education today?


That’s a difficult one, there are so many issues in education today.

I think what is impacting our schools the most is the fact that so much more is happening in our buildings. Teachers have always work many hats. I remember, long ago when I was teaching in Boston at another school, the faculty did a collaborative costume for Halloween. We each dressed up as one of the many roles we assumed as teachers. There was the teacher, the counselor, the nurse, the advocate, the artist, etc.

Many years later, that is still the case, but it has expanded tremendously. Schools act on behalf of many agencies to support all aspects of each child’s life. But often the funds, the personnel, and the know-how aren’t in place for this support. And while all of this is happening, we’re being held accountable for providing an excellent education as well. Test scores and data drive what we do.

Shouldn’t it be the children who drive what we do?



Image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by arbyreed: http://flickr.com/photos/19779889@N00/14252502879

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Post 9 on the 30-Day Blogging Challenge: “Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).”


Well, that stumped me. I’m a fairly public person when it comes to my work, but the “that no one knows about (or may not care)” proved challenging. I even went to visit some long-time colleagues to see if they could trigger something for me.

Here’s what they suggested I write about; it feels like I’m tooting my own horn, but  oh well.

Last year in our supervisory union, we had consultants come in and assess the status of technology integration in the various schools. The outcomes were presented to the supervisory union school board and elements have been shared with our local school boards, communities, and faculty. I’m going to share some of it here now, quite publicly.

In the last 5 years, since I’ve been in the role of Technology Integration Specialist, I played a part in building upon and further developing a positive culture around technology integration. I also give most of the credit to the amazing administrator with whom I work, Walter Nardelli, and an even more remarkable faculty in two schools.

visionHere are some tidbits that were presented in the findings about the schools in which I work:

“When the vision is clear and leaders communicate plans and expectations and provide adequate resources and infrastructure, conditions for success are in place.”  (this in a paragraph describing the success in Williston)

“Students at WSD are more likely to have similar experiences in acquiring technology literacy skills.”

“Teachers at WSD understand expectations about the use and application of technology and are held accountable to meet these expectations.”

Part of the study was a survey for faculty. Here are some tidbits from the survey:

At your school, how frequently are educators exposed to innovations and technology integration strategies? 87% of those who responded said “on an on-going basis”.

Over the last two years, have you participated in school or district-offered PD that was in any way related to technology use? 85% of those who responded said YES.

Innovative, technology-supported teaching practices are recognized   98% said yes.

Educators are excited about learning new ways of using learning technology to improve student learning in their content areas or grade levels.  90% said yes.

We are thinking ahead- how do we continue to improve and provide deep, rich learning experiences for our students? Where and how can technology support that work? We’re fine-tuning our next steps. Stay tuned.


Image: creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by Celestine Chua: http://flickr.com/photos/celestinechua/12011208754

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