Thursday, January 31, 2013

Building Resilience

Building Resilience--sounds way better than my first title, "Letting Kids Fail".  Really, the two go hand in hand.  In order to build resilience, kids have to bump into difficult situations in life.

In my reading this week, I stumbled across this graphic from the book Reducing the Risk, Increasing the Promise: Strategies for Student Success by Sherrel Bergmann and Judith Allen Brough.   My disclaimer is that I have not read the book--but I did find this chart interesting as it gave actionable ideas for how to build these skills in students.  It ties into an article I read yesterday about parenting and the importance of letting your child fail (which of course snowballed into lots of other reading--I will put those links at the bottom!).  I think my mind has been tossing that idea around that children need to learn how to fail and learn from mistakes--and so when I saw this graphic highlighting the importance of building resilience--it all fit together.  Hopefully it will for you, too!

Want to read the articles I read about letting kids fail?  Here are some that I came across:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Genius Hour/20% Time/ShipIt Day

I've blogged about this idea before, and I seem to keep bumping into the concept in my reading.  Have you heard of Genius Hour or Google's 20% Time or Atlassian's ShipIt Day?  These are all basically the same concept--each with it's own interpretation or branding.  

My learning in this area came first from hearing of Atlassian's ShipIt Day (although I think it used to be called Fedex day) where employees were given a day quarterly to develop an idea of their own.  It's like a day to be creative--and get paid for doing it!  It was an intriguing concept to me, but I hadn't really seen it applied to the school setting.

Then I read about Genius Hour.  Author Dan Pink (one of my favorite authors so how could it be bad!) wrote about Jen Schefner who had developed an idea to spend 60 minutes per week, whenever the employee desires, to develop ideas or sharpen skills.  This led teacher Denise Krebs to work to create a Genius Hour for herself.  The idea snowballed into creating Genius Hours for students.  

As is typical now--once you start reading about an idea you find yourself stumbling on lots of people implementing the same type of thing in the classroom setting.  To learn more about what other teachers are doing, you may want to check out:

The crazy thing is that this is the list of links I found in about 2 minutes...there is much more out there to learn if you want to try this in your classroom, during a prep period, or maybe even in the superintendent's office...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Award Winning Books...

I attribute my love of reading (all types of books!) to my Mom and Dad.  They both love to read (and can still be caught with a great book in hand and a big smile on their faces), modeled reading to me as a child, and made it a priority to take me to the library regularly to check out arm-fulls of books.

Some of my favorite books were books that won the Caldecott or the Newbery book awards.  The American Library Association today released the 2013 award winners--and you may want to check them out!  Also, if you have not yet read these books with your children, now is the time to look at the list, head to the library--and share the job of reading a great book together.  Help your child learn to love to read for a lifetime!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Is Your Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

Lately I've been noticing more and more how many view life through the mindset of the glass being half full.  While that one Facebook post that takes a negative view of whatever happened that day might just signal a bad day--perhaps it is bigger than that and speaks to who we are becoming as a society.

I know from personal experience that when I get into that rut of negativity it seems like everything around me seems to be bad.  The funny thing is that usually it's not that bad--it's just how I'm choosing to view it!  Thankfully for one reason or another I've been able to reset and refocus my perception which allows me to move in a more positive direction.

But what if society doesn't reset the way it thinks?  What if taking a negative view of everything becomes our new normal?

I, for one, do not want to see that happen.  I'm not sure what that means for you--but for the next month I'm going to make a conscious effort (and plan to make this a forever habit) to try to stop myself in my tracks when I start to allow negativity to control my thoughts.

I'm choosing now that this negative speech and thought is not who I want to be.  I don't want to tear down--I want to build up and encourage.  Perhaps I'm just one person--or perhaps you will join me in this quest toward positive thinking and speech.  This is who I want to be--who I am--and the community in which I want to work and live!  Let's join together to make this happen!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reflections on Leadership--Would You Rather Be Liked or Effective (article by Allison Vaillancourt)

As you've gathered if you are a regular reader of this blog--I love to read.  Today's post is from an article I read by Allison M. Vaillancourt on leadership.  She takes on the age old question of whether or not leaders can be liked and respected--or if a leader must choose one.

This caught my attention as my dissertation was on the journey of female leaders to the role of the superintendent.  What I found was that these leaders were highly relational, and used this relational leadership to drive how they led the district.  For them, the question wasn't which to pick--relationships or respect.  Instead they built relationships and knowledge of the district, students, staff, and community to help them be more effective leaders.

In the article "Would You Rather Be Liked or Effective" Allison Vaillancourt writes:

"Leaders who see value in being both liked and effective appreciate the importance of helping others see the need for change, attending to individual and group dynamics, honoring cultural traditions, and creating optimism about the future rather than fear of what might happen if others don't go along.  Importantly, the most successful leaders appreciate the value of creating a reservoir of goodwill, building solid relationships, and providing they are worth following.  These individuals appreciate the limitations of going solo and tend to get a lot done because of, not despite, the trust-based relationships they have established."

I see a lot of similarities between what this author thinks and what I found in my research.  Interesting...

So what does that mean for me?  Well, as a first year Superintendent, I have spent the first six months getting to know students, staff, and parents.  I've been working to learn by watching and listening and to become part of the culture of this great school district.  As now I turn toward looking at the future and planning strategic next steps, it will be important to rally the team with me as we begin to plan next steps.  

Make sure you click here to read the entire article--it is worth your time!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Make the Difference in the Life of a Child

Here's a great chance to enjoy great food and help provide scholarships to children in need at Hilltop Neighborhood House.

Great cause, great food--here's your chance to make a difference in the life of a child today!

If you would like tickets (or want information on how to be a sponsor of this event), you can contact me at

Legislative Forum and Update--Porter County




Saturday, January 26, 2013
Bailly Elementary School
800 S. 5th St.
Chesterton, IN 46304

Registration 8:30 to 9:00 a.m. (CST)

Each attendee may submit a written question at registration.

Forum and Update 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.
Moderator: Former legislator, Ralph Ayres

All members of the Indiana General Assembly who represent any part of Porter County have been invited to participate.


If you want more information, contact
Dennis Norman – (219) 759-2332 or
Barbara Stroud – (219) 926-4962  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Do You Have a "Time Famine"?

Today's post falls into the category of "things that make me go hmmmmm".   First I'd like to say I thought it was a clever way this Ph.D. candidate put her research out to the masses.

Once I began to watch, I realized that I often do feel like I suffer from a "time famine" having to pack lots of things in my day into the 18 or 19 hours I'm awake.  In fact, I'm betting the words "time famine" are going to pop out of my mouth often now!  I know this researcher has spent months of her life living and breathing this idea--so I'm going to take some time (hahaha) to let this idea soak in!

Monday, January 21, 2013

How Do I Build Creativity in Children/Students?

As you can see from my other blog posts, I'm a fan of building creativity in the school and in the home environment.  I'm also a fan of learning through inquiry.  Sometimes it's hard to think about how to do that.  Here are some articles that I have found recently that might help you explore some ideas!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

PARCC Math Item Samplers--A must see

Have you been looking through the PARCC prototypes?  If not, here is a great link for the math items.  Use the navigation in the left column to pick the grade level.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Amanda Ripley: Ask the kids

OK...I'm going the wrong way with video length--but this one is very interesting for those interested in comparing US education to the international playing field.  This caught my attention as I've been spending time lately reading about education in Finland...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

BRAIN POWER: From Neurons to Networks

This is about 10 minutes long--but awesome.  Take a break and take a look!

(And Jeanie, if you are reading this--all the talk of how the brain works will always make me think of you.  Thanks for teaching me--and lots of kids--about this!)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Social Networking for Educators

I consider myself fairly technologically literate and one who keeps up on the latest and greatest happenings.  As I prepare my blog posts--it inevitably results in me adding more blogs to my reader feed.  I love to keep current on what's happening in the world of education.

I stumbled across this article about the Top 18 Social Networking Websites for Teachers and was SHOCKED at how few of them I've used.  Turns out I'm not quite as hip as I think, hey!  Check them out!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Estimation Tool

Do you ever get tired of teaching concepts the way you always have?  Check out this interesting website that puts a different spin on estimation--and more importantly building number sense!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Writing Prompts

Ever looking for a different way to create your own writing prompts that will stimulate student thought?  Check out this easy to use tool!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Obsession with Quotes Expands!

If you have been to my office you know I love quotes.  Lately I've been seeing people that are combining graphics with quotes--and I'm even more fascinated.  You can find lots of them here, but here are a couple I really liked that I pulled out of the pool!



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Do Classrooms Build Curiosity?

Here's an interesting article (just one in a series of articles on curiosity--I also liked this one!) that questions if our classrooms encourage curiosity that is natural in kids.  Interesting thoughts to ponder!  Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 7, 2013

You Don't Want to Miss...

There are some great events coming up through the office of eLearning and the Indiana Department of Education.

Check these out:

Upcoming Events from the IDOE Office of eLearning - January is a busy month in the Office of eLearning. Please plan on joining any or maybe even all of these webinars. Click on any of the webinar titles to register for that webinar.

·         Tuesday, January 15, 4 p.m. EDT – Flipping the Classroom  – Three classroom teachers (elementary, middle school math, and high school science) will be discussing their flipping experiences: why they decided to flip, what software they are using to create their videos (or where they are locating videos), successes, and challenges. There will also be opportunities to ask the presenters questions and to have discussions with other educators on the call. Each webinar attendee will earn one PGP point.
·         Wednesday, January 16, 4 p.m. EDT – Celebrate Digital Learning – Once again, Indiana will go beyond Digital Learning Day and sponsor Digital Learning Month. Beginning February 1, you are invited to participate in any or all of our three Digital Learning Month events. You can learn more about our Digital Learning Day plans and how to represent our state in our Indiana DLD webinar .
·         Tuesday, January 22, 4 p.m. EDT – Indiana Curriculum Connection  – Join us for this webinar to learn about the  resources available to Indiana educators in the Learning Connection.
·         Tuesday, January 29, 4 p.m. EDT – NBC Learn  – Looking to engage students and provide authentic, relevant content that is aligned to the standards? Join the Office of eLearning as we explore NBC Learn, a resource available to all Indiana educators and students. NBC Learn offers unique collections of video resources, primary sources, historic footage, images, mini documentaries and text resources designed for use in the K-12 classroom. 
Here's an interesting article on automated scoring for essays on standardized tests:

Here's another interesting take on that article:

Friday, January 4, 2013

Welcome to 2013!

At times keeping up with this blog can be daunting!  However, I've had some free time to catch up on my blog feed and there are some things that I've got to share with you!

Today's installment comes from our friends in the world of Mathematics.  Check out this interesting take on graphing stories.