Thursday, November 24, 2016

Breaking Down Walls with Tech Integration

I recently attended the H.E.C.C. conference and walked away in awe of what is possible. The conference was filled with aha moments and thousands of ideas and possibilities to take back to the classroom.

Never before had I considered looking at apps or programs that were created for businesses, to use in the classroom. For example Augment, Sketchup and Holobuilder. These are great tools for the classroom but they were not created with that intention. I loved hearing about how educators tweeted out about how they use Holobuilder and now Holobuilder is using suggestions from educators to improve their product!

On the last day of the conference I accidentally attended an I.T. session. Wow, talk about being lost. At first I thought, great this session is a waste. As they continued to dive deeper into the backside of what makes technology work in the classroom, I began to see how the I.T. department plays a crucial role in technology integration.

They know the ends and outs of the programming of the devices, apps and programs we use with students. Think about what could be achieved if educators and I.T. personnel collaborated on projects. What would be possible if we collaborated to make the inconceivable, conceivable?

In order for successful technology integration to happen, educators and I.T. personnel need to be collaboring and co-creating.
-How often do educators and I.T. personnel connect and share ideas and knowledge?
-How can you begin to co-create together?
-Why not work together in the classroom to make the inconceivable, conceivable?

Break down walls and barriers and make things happen!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cooking Club!

Cooking Club Blog
After reading a story about a muffin munching dragon, students discussed their interest in learning more about cooking and baking. As a group we discussed resources we had at school and began to develop a plan for a cooking club!

I am excited to announce that we will be having a cooking club twice a month during fourth grade recess! This group of students will have 30 minutes to learn and make a food item. The students have expressed their interest in learning how to make the food items listed below. We would love for parents and community members who also share a passion in cooking to volunteer to lead a session. Students are wanting to learn more about cooking and are excited about it! Our students also plan to add blog posts to our shared blog at and upload videos on Youtube on Melissa LaShure's Youtube channel.

If you are interested in leading a session please contact Melissa LaShure at If you would like to donate cooking items please click here to see a list. You can drop them off at the school or mail them to West Noble Elementary ATTN: Cooking Club 5294 N US 33 Ligonier, IN 46767.

Students are interested in learning how to make the items below.
Chicken Strips
Eggs - sunny side up etc.
Cake - They would also like to learn how to decorate a cake.
Ice Cream
Rice Krispy Treats
Jello Treat
Dirt Pudding
Cinnamon Rolls

Friday, October 21, 2016

Are You Stuffing the Suitcase or Are You on the Adventure?

I was recently at a conference and as I was packing up to leave,  I was struggling to get everything stuffed into my suitcase. I am sure we have all been there before, where we think if I just sit on it, I know I can get it closed. However, many times it does not work and we end up having to take stuff out.

As I was going through this process, I began to think about how this relates to education and how we often try to stuff as much information into short spans of time in order to meet the testing deadline. I had to stop and laugh because my suitcase was a great example of how this approach to teaching is not successful. Unfortunately, I must admit that I have spent the majority of my teaching career stuffing the suitcase. This has resulted in frustration for my students and myself ultimately leading to learning that only lasts until the test is done.

This year I have decided to stop stuffing the suitcase and get on the adventure of learning. I have been fascinated with makerspaces and have decided that this year I am going to have a makerspace classroom. I spend 10-15 minutes on a mini lesson and then students choose stations around the room to explore and practice the skills taught in the mini lesson. I do not set a timer, when students complete a task or are ready to move on they do so on their own. I either rotate through stations or stay at one station to provide more instruction one on one or small group. This small change in my approach to teaching has had an amazing impact on my students. (I should pause and say that I teach 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade special education. They are now excited to come to school even though it is tough for them.)

As part of being on the adventure I ask students to share what they have learned in a short video reflection. These reflections have been great! My students love to do them and it is a great way for me to see who understands the concept and who needs a little help.

Are you ready to stop stuffing the suitcase and get on the adventure? If you are I suggest that you start by reading the book The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros and check out his book study on

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Learning Plans vs. Lesson Plans

How often when making lesson plans do you ask yourself why am I teaching this? How often is the response, that it is on the test? Let's face it, many teachers today find themselves teaching to the test and ultimately losing their passion for teaching. No one goes into teaching with the hopes and dreams to teach students how to pass a test, so why are so many teachers stuck in that mindset?

Unfortunately school and teacher evaluations have been linked to student performance on high stakes test. Therefore, teaching has turned into cramming as many standards in, as quick as possible in order to prepare students for a test. This approach to teaching has left our students dreading school along with teachers. In fact, many of the issues that we as teachers complain about are due to the fact that we are teaching to the test and on a fast paced schedule in order to cram it all in.

How many times have your heard someone say, 'My students cannot problem solve.', 'I have created fun things to do but I still have behavior problems.' or 'This if very important, it is on the test.'? Let's pause, step back and reflect. Would you enjoy doing what you are asking your students to do each day? Are you excited about what you are doing with your students? If the answer is no, then there needs to be change.

Let's step into the shoes of our students and start seeing the world from their perspective. Think back and remember all of the things you enjoyed doing as a kid. Then ask yourself, how can I incorporate that into a "learning plan"? Stop lesson planning to death, just to get kids to pass a test, instead get innovative and create learning plans that provide students will real life application and turn them into lifelong learners.

Below is a picture of just a few of my thoughts on what a learning plan is versus a lesson plan. This is not the be all, end all by any means, so feel free to take from it and add to it.

Teaching students through play and allowing them time to problem solve creates a desire in them to want to learn more. Many times we just want them to memorize the steps to solve each particular problem, but what they really need is time to sit and problem solve on their own. If they can figure the problem out on their own, they have ownership of their learning.

How we teach should not just engage students but empower them. Student engagement is at the surface level. Student empowerment is getting to the heart of every student. Every teacher wants to touch the heart of their students and give them an upward trajectory. Today, are you teaching in a way that touches the heart of every student?

When starting to shift your mindset from lesson plans to learning plans, ask yourself these questions:
1. How can I weave play into teaching this concept?
2. How can I relate this concept to how students can apply it in their lives?
3. Why am I teaching this concept and what is the best way to teach it?
4. If I were my students what would I want to do with this concept?
5. Will this lesson empower my students and create life long learners?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Collaboration to Co-Creating - Creates School Teachers

In the majority of schools today there is time set aside for teachers to collaborate. How effective this time is used, depends on the process or design that leaders have set up. So, how effective is your collaboration? What product(s) are coming out of your collaboration time? Should collaboration be re-branded as co-creating time? If so, how do you make this change?

Kaleb Rashad discussed the need to move from collaboration to co-creating, in episode 3 of IMMOOC. How do we co-create? How do you lay a foundation for co-creating?

Image result for 5 ways to lay the foundation for innovation
It starts by building a culture that is human centered design. People need to be empowered and inspired in order to be innovative, this can only happen after trust relationships are built. How are you creating an innovative culture? Have you built a culture where people feel that they can take risks? Do people ask for permission or guidance? (Katie Martin)

Once trust relationships are built and an innovative culture has developed, collaboration can move to co-creation. When teachers begin to co-create, they become school teachers vs. classroom teachers. They begin to work together to create learning experiences that benefit all students in the school not just the students in their classroom.

What are teachers getting out of their collaboration time? Do they feel empowered when they leave or was it a waste of their time? How can you begin to move your culture of collaboration to an innovative culture where teachers are co-creating?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Making Innovative Changes in the Classroom

         During the second episode of #IMMOOC, there were many great ideas to help improve my teaching practices. Some of the things that I took away from it and I am currently working on are: Un-training students, having students publish their work, having students create tutorial videos, connecting problem solving to the real world, and blogging to reflect on my teaching practices.
       1.  I love the concept of un-training students from the traditional classroom. The way that parents and teachers were taught is outdated and does not prepare students to successfully navigate the world they will eventually be working in. It seems that the business world has embraced the collaborative concept and the education world is struggling to make this change. There are many positives to students and teachers working collaboratively and it ultimately prepares students for success in their future careers.

      2.  Get your students publishing their work. When students are publishing their work, it gives them more ownership of their learning, in turn helping them gain a deeper understanding of concepts. There are many examples where students who have built up a positive digital footprint/portfolio and through social networking, have been able to use this to get acceptance to college and even jump start their careers. Having students create tutorial videos is one way to get students to publish their work and build their digital portfolio.

       3.   Make learning real and relevant for students. If we never address the why behind the standards/concepts we teach, students will never take it to the level of application. Students need to know why they are learning a concept and how it applies to their lives.

         4. Teachers should always be reflecting on their teaching practices. Blogging is a great way to evaluate your teaching practices and figure out if what you are doing is new and better, and therefore innovative, or not.  Reflecting makes us ask the deep questions that help move us from a growth mindset to an innovative mindset.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Back to School Night Celebration
     Check out the new posts under the classroom journal page to see the exciting things that are happening! I have also added a Chromebook 101 presentation with basic tips on how to use a Chromebook.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Welcome to my blog! I have been teaching for seven years and have decided to create a blog to share resources with other teachers. Please continue to check back for updates!