Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The @BlackboardK12 BITS Learning Sessions #13 #BbK12Live

I've partnered with BlackboardK12 to share out the awesome sessions they are having this Fall. Educators can sign up to attend and share with other great educators what they have learned. I'll feature the session and the description on my blog each week and on my Twitter account. If you have questions, feel free to shoot a tweet to @BlackboardK12. Have fun learning and sharing!

50 Shades of Data

While some data can be very unappealing, the right tools and support can increase your staff and students’ awareness and engagement, allowing you to fully utilize your resources and maximize end-user adoption of your LMS. Learn how Lawrence Public Schools maximizes personalized learning for students and staff in a data rich environment by utilizing a learning management system (Blackboard) complemented by adoption-success software.

Angelique Kobler, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning Terry McEwen, Director of Assessment, Research, & Instructional Resources

Angelique Kobler leads a team of education administrators for Lawrence Public Schools. As the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, she partners with dynamic educators who are leading the way in innovative classroom practices. She shares her passion for disrupting the status quo via social media. You can reach her at or through Linkedin. Terry McEwen currently the Director of Assessment, Research, and Instructional Resources for the Lawrence (KS) Public Schools. He has been in the district office in the Lawrence Public Schools for the past 12 years.

Previous to his tenure in Lawrence, he was a senior high school Instrumental Music teacher and then a senior high school English/Language Arts teacher in west-metro Denver for 25 years. He chaired of a 20-teacher English Department in a high school of 2200 students in Jefferson County Public Schools. In his teaching life, he has literally taught Kindergarten students through seniors in high school - and every grade in-between.
Terry completed his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Kansas, which led him to his current position in the Lawrence, Kansas School District. His doctoral research focused on the curriculum design of mathematics and resultant student outcomes.He also serves as an adjunct professor of education at Baker University School for Professional and Graduate Studies in Overland Park, Kansas; and an adjunct professor of graduate studies in education at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas.

Twitter: @akobler @terryomcewen

When: Monday, November 24, 2014 3:30PM EST

Monday, November 17, 2014

An Apology To My First Hour #EdChat

This is really a letter of apology to all of the classes that get the first run through of a lesson. Today is just another example of how teachers change on the fly to make lessons better as the day go, but I feel bad for my first hour. 

Today, I had my students use TodaysMeet as their exit ticket. They needed to re-write a good topic sentence based on an old topic from earlier in the year. My thinking, which was terrible, was that I would give them a thesis I wrote based on a question they encountered earlier in the year. Even explaining it is complicated. Students seemed confused and had a hard time coming up with a new topic sentence because they did not write the thesis. Ugh. It was a mess, but my students did the best and completed the task. 

As the disaster was unfolding, I realized that I would have my 6th hour just rewrite one of their claims from the essay in front of them. It was so simple, I should have just gone with that in the first place. I managed to talk myself out of it and I'm not sure why. 

The good part is that I'm reflecting as I teach and making changes as they are needed. However, what about my first hour? Are they forever doomed to get the "not as good" lesson? I really wish I had a rotating schedule here so the I would see different classes at different hours so the first hour would always change. 

Anyone have any thoughts on dealing with the first lesson of the day mess-ups?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Week 11 Reflections #NerdyCast #EdChat

Here are some thoughts on student projects and teacher evaluations. I've thought about instructional goals for the evaluation process, but I have never really thought about Leadership goals. I wonder how many teachers have approached it the same way I have over the years. Here are my thoughts on the week. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

#20Time Student Blogs #EdChat

Here are the student blogs for my students this year. I have students that want to be stand-up comedians, one wants to build a boat, and others are exploring publishing their own writing. Check them out and leave a comment to encourage as they pursue their dreams. 

         1st Hour

  1. 6th Hour

  2. Matthew A
  3. Nathan B
  4. Kiriel B
  5. Alexander B
  6. Luke B
  7. Louise B
  8. Jack B
  9. Caroline C
  10. Audrey D
  11. Emma E
  12. Catharine F
  13. Brian F
  14. Cameron F
  15. Adam H
  16. Jack H
  17. Philipp H
  18. Lauren H
  19. John K
  20. Katherine K
  21. Lucy L
  22. Ava M
  23. Halle M
  24. Madeline M
  25. William M
  26. Allie P
  27. Rachael P
  28. Lindsay R
  29. Emma R
  30. Cameron S
  31. Kara S
  32. Madeline T
  33. Patrick W

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A @GoSwivl Class Example #FlippedEd #EdChat

I've written about Swivl on my site before here and here, but here is a great post on a how a new teacher has used it in her classroom to accommodate a student who misses school due to illness. This is a great reason to consider Swivl for your classroom.


My name is Katie Parent and I’m an English teacher in Michigan. I’m writing today about Swivl, a piece of technology that I recently tried in my classroom.

I have an honors student who is chronically ill and is hospitalized for treatment one out of every five weeks—we’ll call her Rebecca. Rebecca is a star student, always putting forth 100% effort and contributing to class discussion; school is a positive place where she can excel. As you can imagine, having a debilitating illness can get in the way of this. Rebecca’s mother contacted me before her first hospitalization this school year, wondering if I would be comfortable recording my classes so that her daughter can watch them while she is receiving treatment. I was eager to do so, but faced one issue: I am very mobile in my room, hardly staying in one spot for more than a few seconds. How would I be able to record myself as I moved around the room? Enter: Swivl.

A couple of coworkers threw out the idea of utilizing Swivl. It’s a “robotic mobile accessory, app, and cloud service” that tracks the subject as he or she moves freely about a space ( As long as the subject holds or wears a small infrared sensor (about the size of a lighter), the Swivl docking station will pivot and tilt to track the subject. The dock fits iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. I was initially concerned about recording the hour-long class on my iPhone, as I have minimal memory remaining. Fortunately, Swivl has an app that uploads the recording directly to the Swivl Cloud, saving you precious space on your device.

Setting up the Swivl was seamless. It was delivered to my room 2nd hour, and by 3rd hour I had it up and running, recording my lesson. Students were fascinated with the device and were eager to learn about how it works. I placed the Swivl on a file cabinet in the back of my room, where it would minimally distract students. The gears and motors in the Swivl are so silent that the students didn’t even hear the device pivoting and tilting throughout the lesson. There were times where the device took a couple of seconds to sync with the sensor, but overall, it tracked me rather well.

One hiccup was that my phone locks every five minutes, which meant that the recording stopped every five minutes. This was quickly fixed by changing the lock settings on my phone so that the lesson would be recorded in one take. However, it would be nice if the app could do that automatically.

This product has been a huge help to my classroom. Rebecca was able to stay on track, despite missing five consecutive days. I didn’t have to explain anything to her once she returned because she saw it all firsthand. I plan on using Swivl for every treatment week or any lesson that I would like to have a recording. Swivl has helped me accommodate a student in need and will prove to be an asset, especially when working with students who have extenuating circumstances.

-Katie Parent

Grosse Pointe South High School