This week I attended the WCSS, Wisconsin Council for Social Studies in Madison. It was a great conference filled with young and veteran educators exchanging ideas and connecting. I was fortunate to get to hang out with amazing educators, including Chuck Taft and Michael Matera. These two are incredibly talented, creative and most of all passionate about education and kids. Each time I get to connect with them I am filled with energy and inspiration.
I was also fortunate to hang out with Erin Patchak who is an incredible middle school teacher and an Ambassador for National History Day. Between sessions she and I were talking and she shared that she was working on a Presidential March Madness project for her students. I shared that I had done a similar project a few years ago. As we were talking through the activity, she mentioned that she was struggling to find a bracket that you could enter the names in and edit it beyond the first round. So many allow you to enter the information in for your first round teams and then you have to print the bracket and record the subsequent rounds by hand. I started to search for an alternative and found an example made in Excel. It didn't do what I wanted, but it provided the inspiration to create my own version.
I worked Sunday and Monday during the conference when I had some free time to fine tune the bracket so that teachers would have a template that would meet multiple needs. I created a sheet that can be used for multiple bracket configurations. You can do an 8, 16, 32, 44, and 64 team bracket. To use you go to the Team Names tab and enter the names of the teams in column B. These names will then populate each of the various brackets. If you want to use the 32 team bracket, you need to enter 32 team names. You can delete the names in column B for 33 to 64. The same is true for each of the other brackets. Only enter the number of teams, people, topics that you want to use.
If you want to use images instead, you can add the url of the image in column C on the Team Names page. This will put images into the brackets just like the names. I put examples of numbers and images to show that you can use numbers to outline the seeds for your tourney, or you could even use the team logo instead of team names as you move through the bracket.
When you click on the brackets there are additional directions to help you set up the brackets.
I am including the link to the Team Bracket Tourney. Please let me know if you use it and what you think. I appreciate your feedback and how you used it with students.
Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, and the list goes on. And unfortunately the list goes on. We say never again, and yet just weeks ago we witnessed another tragic loss of life. Each time the typical response from our elected officials is "Thoughts and Prayers" or it isn't time to talk about guns, or it's a mental health issue. Each time the difficult conversation that would lead to change never happens.
This time a group of young people have said enough is enough. They have begun to mobilize and call for action, no they have begun to demand action. Unfortunately, some who are afraid of engaging in the conversation attack these students instead of hearing them and try to change the narrative or distract us from solving the problem.
I am seeing a different response to school violence than I have seen in the past. Maybe, hopefully we engage in conversation that results in real action, real change and ends school violence. I have children of my own and knowing they have to do ALICE and active shooter drills. That they have to think about what they would do in those situations, or hearing people talk about adding more guns to schools, Tonight I want to engage in conversation about what we can do to prevent these events from happening. How many children have to lose their lives before we say enough?
In case you missed it, the Winter Olympics has been showcasing the best athletes in the world. I am a huge fan of the Winter Olympics because of the unique events. I mean you have a huge range of events, most I can't do. I tried downhill skiing once and left with a badly sprained ankle. #neveragain And the halfpipe where they contort themselves and complete insane tricks is even more amazing as it calls for not just ability but a little insanity that you would fly out of a halfpipe of snow that is 22 feet high and propel yourself another 14-17 feet higher revolving and flipping before coming landing on a curved wall of the pipe to do it another 5 times before your run is done. Then there are all the games on ice. Well most of them are again mind boggling to me. Ice skating, speed skating and hockey take talent to be able to run and jump while on the ice. It is inspiring to watch the figure skaters leap in the air, much like the snow boarders flying through the air with reckless abandon.
The one event that I could remotely have a chance at participating it is Curling. I have gone curling. And while I only did it once, I didn't leave with any injuries. I don't want to portray curling as easy, as my experience demonstrated to me that there is a lot of skill involved. However seeing people of all ages participate in curling provides hope that this could be an activity that I do participate in for years. While I don't have delusions of grandeur that I would be an Olympic athlete, I love the fact that the winter Olympics has such a variety of events that inspire people to get up and move even when temperatures fall.
One great example of this was the Men's Cross Country event where one of the athlete's fell down after getting tangled with a group in the front of the race only 150 meters into the race. He fell, was hit in the head and had another athlete fall on top of him. This athlete upon getting back on his feet found himself at the end of the pack, in last place. The question for him at this point is what to do next? He could have given up. I am sure he was hurting from the blow to the head and the rest of the fall. He could have given into the pain and disappointment. He didn't chose to give up, instead he decided that he came to the Olympics to do his best. As the race went on the announcers discussed the leaders, strategy, and the back and forth action of the lead group trading places in the front. The race continued with little notice of the racers who fell so long ago. It wasn't until the final leg of the race that this determined individual was able to catch the lead pack. Then incredibly he was able to move up to the front of the pack, but even more amazing was that he broke away from the pack and was able to win by a sizable margin.
The Olympics has been an inspiration experience for me and the basis of this week's chat.
Check out the questions here.
I have been working on a PD project the past month using Google Forms, Sheets, and the Add on Autocrat. The set up is to have participants complete tasks and submit their artifacts of learning using a Google Form. The next step is to create a template to share the badge and data from the sheet on a Google Doc or Google Slides template. You then use the Add On Autocrat to merge the data from the sheet to the new document. It sounds easy enough, but getting it set up perfectly takes a little practice.
When you get it right, it is magical. You can use this to create self directed, self paced activities for students that the sheet can analyze and push the results out to students immediately. It may sound similar to what Forms Quiz can do, but there is so much more with the addition of Auto Crat.
So this week I have been exploring what else it can do, and I created a Trading Card Template that pulls from the form and creates a Google Slide. Yes you could just create each slide yourself, but the vision here is to have students collaboratively add their information to the Form and then create something amazing that all students can access together.
I am just starting to explore this tool, but am seeing so much potential for a tool this tool.
Tonight's questions are made using this set up and I hope you will check out AutoCrat.
I hope to be able to add the templates and set up here soon.
Process - Create the form, slide template, then use AutoCrat in Sheets.
Everyday that I get on Twitter, I am inspired by the dedicated, passionate, creative, risk taking educators that I am connected with. I get to engage with teachers who inspire me to be more than I was yesterday. They share their love of students and their desire to change the face of education. I get excited by what I have learned from them and the things that I have been able to do as a result of their work.
I spent the last month working on a personalized PD model for Google Tools. I used the work of Alice Keeler and her PD spreadsheet as the inspiration. She created a badging system that outlines skills and tasks for staff and then when they complete it they earn a badge. I wanted to adapt this for our teachers' needs and went about finding suitable tasks. I came across Kasey Bell's list of Google level 1 certification tasks. What came out of this inspiration is a list of about 150 tasks each with a unique badge to recognize the work that staff have done to learn about using the tools.
The process I developed with the help of one of our district's amazing technicians, allows staff to submit their artifacts via a Google form and after I acknowledge the submission, they are sent a certificate of completion and their badge. They also are added to a leaderboard to show who has earned the most points by completing the most or tasks. I will share out the process in another post, when we are out of Beta testing.
I wanted to share this because the countless hours of work I have put into this system has taught me many lessons. Some of them are even positive. The biggest takeaways from this experience has been seeing what is possible when you set your mind to something. I often doubt what I am capable of, or accept my current reality as good enough. When I see what others are doing, it rekindles the fire to do more, and be more. I appreciate my PLN for providing the inspiration to not only reflect on the areas I need to improve, but also providing guidance and support in leading me to take risks, try new things, and grow.
This week's chat is about Inspiration. I have taken a few quotes and used them as the basis of our conversation.
This week I have found a number of great resources about professional practice and professional development. I have been inspired by these resources by amazing educators and wanted to share them with you. I hope you find them useful and meaningful as well.
Thanksgiving the holiday is a little over a week away. Thanksgiving the activity should be an everyday occurrence. We should be thanking those around us for the support they provide, for the actions that bring us joy, inspiration, and challenge us to be the best we can be. There are people in our lives who help us do what we do and continue to do the awesome things we are able to accomplish.
I came across a post the other day by Stacy Jennings @sjennINSPIRE where teachers created a video where teachers tell the students they work with how the student inspires them. I think this is a phenomenal idea. I know many teachers share with students notes or conversations letting the student know they are making good progress, or doing a good job. This was to me, a little different. It was about how the student inspired them. How the student has impacted their life. The conversations seemed focused on the student as an individual who has unique personality traits and behaviors that were appreciated. This went beyond academic or athletic performance and showcased the student as a powerful force of inspiration who made the teacher's life better.
The video is below
A number of weeks ago, I shared another example of celebrating others and giving thanks. This one was aimed at teachers, or colleagues and what they do that makes our lives better. I wrote about it in my post Superheroes. I had asked teachers to share how awesome teachers and their colleagues are. What do teachers do to help students, to support us, to challenge us to be our best?
So this week I want to issue a few Thanksgiving Challenges to you.
You can share these in tweets, infographics, or videos documenting your successful completion of these challenges.
1. Share with a student how/why they inspire you to come to school, to do your best, to teach, to learn and grow as an educator.
2. Share with members of your PLN how they help you learn and grow. How do they support and inspire you to to be the best you can be?
3. Share with members of your staff how they help you learn and grow. How do they support and inspire you to to be the best you can be?
4. Document and share your acknowledgements of colleagues here - https://flipgrid.com/3349de create a video expressing how you are thankful for and why.
5. Share a strategy, tool, technology, etc. that you are thankful you have learned as it has made a difference in your educational practice.
6. Share with a family member(s) how they have supported you and helped you succeed and why you are thankful they are in your life.
7. Add your own challenges to others.
How do you create an environment where students feel respected, appreciated and cared for? This week I have met with several teachers and many of the conversations have had a common theme; teacher student relationships. There were some conversations where teachers expressed frustration with student behavior. Yes this happens. Students sometimes don't meet our expectations or behave in a way that can be frustrating. When this happens, how do we respond? Are we able to take a step back and deal with the behavior, or do we struggle to separate the behavior from the student? If we address the issue with the focus on the student rather than the behavior we can negatively impact our relationship.
Tonight is about ways we can build a positive learning environment for our students. Join the conversation and share your strategies for making your classroom a safe space for students.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.