5 Takeaways from Innovation Exchange


Summer, I love. Not only to recharge and spend more intentional time with my family, but to invest in myself professional. I've never enjoyed reading until recently. I couldn't find books that peaked my interest or could hold my attention. Isn't that sad? I am 31 years old and just NOW figured out what I love to read. Summer is my time to read and learn more about my craft. It's not an extra thing for me to do, or a burden. I truly love to learn more and perfect my skills for my students. The summer weather is also perfect for me to grab a book/blog/twitter chat and sit on the front porch.

I attended my first Innovation Exchange this year, and was blown away by the keynotes, sessions, and the sharing of knowledge. There are a number of things I took away and I would love to reflect and share in hopes that it would ignite something in you.

1. Blended Learning: I loved learning from Amanda Moore on Blended Learning. You can follow and read more about her at @teachforthewin on twitter and teachforthewin.com. Blended learning is a blend between traditional teaching and virtual learning. You blend the two by using online tools to teach/reteach/enrich and then the student's learning paths can be personalized depending on what they need. This is taking place after you have a whole group mini lesson and then you are meeting with small groups while they are working on their online lesson.

I am going to start small and am excited to incorporate more blended learning into my math block. I currently use many resources to form and plan math lessons. We tie in our math standards into projects, but teaching kindergarten means we need to cover many foundational skills. I feel like blended learning would be a great step to try so I can better meet all my students needs.

2. Keynote Takeaways: Have I told you how much I love John Spencer and Trevor Muir? If you follow me on twitter, you saw all the takeaways I had from their keynotes.They are amazing storytellers and their work inspires me. I fell in love with John Spencer's work when I read his book Empower. His quotes, drawings, and videos truly tell an engaging story that draws me in and makes me think. Then, Trevor Muir. He is an AMAZING storyteller! He captures his audience and knows that authentic, real-life experiences stick with students and teach them more than worksheets and traditional old school teaching. That every student and teacher has a story and it impacts their learning and teaching. Below are some quick takeaways.

"It may not change THE world, but it changed THEIR world." John Spencer

"Every roadblock is a chance to solve a problem." John Spencer

"If you assign a project and get back 30 of the exact same thing, thats't not a project, that's a recipe." John Spencer

"A teacher's influence is not temporary." Trevor Muir

"When we craft a lesson we are crafting an expeirence, a story," Trevor Muir

3. Stories: Trevor Muir told so many amazing stories that tied perfectly into his keynote and lesson. Now I know he rehearsed and planned this, but it made me think... How can I incorporate more stories into my lessons to grab my student's attention? Could my stories connect me better to my students? Kids are amazing at this. They come in each morning and tell me 5 stories of what happened last night. As we grow into adulthood, we seem to lose this. Maybe it's because we feel like we have no time, and don't truly engage with others stories because it takes time. Or we don't want to impose on others time to tell the whole story of what happened to you.

A few ideas...

a. Share a story each morning during community circle

b. Share a story during a behavioral conversation to relate

c. Share a story to introduce a lesson/topic/project

d. Share parts of my story with collegues and parents to build an authentic connection.

4. Music: I love music! My house is filled with dance parties, music, and singing. I started incorporating Music Monday's towards the end of the school year with my kindergarten class. It started our day off with some fun! At the Innovation Exchange I was able to play with a Mash Machine. You can read about it more here. It was so much fun, and made me remember how much music brightens my day. I've been thinking of ways to incorporate more music into our school day. During Smart Start (morning play time), community circle, writing, brain breaks, outside, etc. How do you incorporate music into your classroom?

5. Feedback/Assessment/Student Conferences: I went to a breakout session with John Spencer and he shared many meaningful ways to assess, give/take feedback, and how student conferences can be a form of an assessment. I have used conferences during my reading and writing workshop times, but I haven't ventured off to use them during project/inquiry time. Which is a shame, but next year, this is a goal of mine. Some conferences he shared were advice conferences, reflection conferences, and a mastery conferences (more standards based). You can read more in depth about these conferences here. I am hoping to make a schedule to do one conference, with each student, every week. There is so much more you can take away from a student by discussing rather than a paper and pencil.

One of my biggest takeaways was to teach my students how to give and receive feedback. The difference between flattery, hating, affirmation and critical feedback. I know this will be tricky with kindergarten students, but I'm up for the challenge.

Read more here from John Spencer about assessments to use during PBL.

What are my next steps?

1. My next steps are to read more on authentic assessments at the kindergarten level.

2. Write a grant to have more drums and musical instruments in my classroom.

3. Create a blended learning lesson for my math block. Try it come September/October and see how it goes.

4. Continue sharing MY story through my blog, my podcast, social media, and with my students. The more connected I am to my audience, the more impact I can have.

What were your biggest takeaways? Is there something above that ignited your interest? How can you have a bigger impact on your audience (students, parents, PLN, community)?