"We are living a public life on a global stage, the ones who can express themselves best, will be heard." -Laura Hill Timpanaro, Artist, Author, Educator

Sunday, October 11, 2015

#whatisschool July 16, 2015 Making Community Connections

Making Community Connections

#whatisschool Thursday July 16, 7PM EDT

Gwen Pescatore @gpescatore25
For the last few weeks #whatisschool has been talking about ways to infuse your lessons with technology and open your mind to new ideas, especially new teaching strategies.

This week #whatisschool looks at ways that you can tap into your community, inside school walls, outside where your students live and on a global scale!  

Joining us is classroom connection expert and personal friend @gpescatore25, a leader in parent in edu-conversations at  Community Facilitator Co-host of  () & Marketing Mgr  (Check Gwen out at www.parentschoolpartners.wordpress.com)

Questions #whatisschool 
Thursday July 16, 7PM EDT

1). How have you connected students with their community? 
2) How can students collaborate and learn from others in the scholastic community? 
3) What community resources can you use to enrich lessons, with information, services or technology?  
4) How can you tap into cultural and real world experiences for your students? 
5) How can parents facilitate bringing real world experience into the classroom and getting student driven ideas into the community?

The Growth Mindset, An Idea For Success #whatisschool Thursday October 15, 7PM EDT

The Growth Mindset, An Idea For Success
#whatisschool Thursday October 15, 7PM EDT

Every so often a groundbreaking idea comes along. This is one of them, Growth Mindset. 

This simple idea was discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck after decades of research on achievement and success.  Dweck determined that in a fixed mindset people believe their basic qualities, intelligence or talent are fixed traits and that these traits alone create success without effort.  She went on to describe that in a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. So how do we foster a growth mindset in students?

Join the AMAZING Mark Weston @shiftparadigm as he co-hosts #whatisschool with me  @candylandcaperThursday, October 15, at 7PM EDT when we will be exploring the ins and outs of implementing a Growth Mindset in the classroom.

Questions #whatisschool 
Thursday October 15, 7PM EDT

1) How can you foster a growth mindset in your classroom, school, or district? #whatisschool

2) What tools and strategies could be used to help students, teachers and administrators embrace a growth mindset? #whatisschool

3) How can you help students overcome pitfalls, failures and frustrations they may encounter while pushing their limits? #whatisschool

4) How can you teach in a growth mindset and still meet benchmarks and standards? #whatisschool

5) How can technology or alternative teaching methods and environments foster a growth mindset? #whatisschool

6) What would teachers and administrators need to change to make their school a growth mindset leaning center? #whatisschool

Read more about Growth Mindsets in my blog post Growing Your Brain By Changing Your Mindset

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Why I Write With Children, Part 2

by Laura Hill

I am often asked to speak about how my daughters, then 5 and 8, tricked me into to writing a book series with them about a land where all the stories ever written come to life, The Great Story World Mix-Up.  I have to admit it’s been a huge undertaking.  Now two years and eight books later the process has given me a lot to reflect upon, much of which I feel is relevant, even in step with the ideas surrounding changes being implemented in progressive schools around the globe.

When my daughters first asked me to write with them my initial reaction was, NO! How do you write with children? What ideas could they possibly have that would develop into a good story arc?  What I found was that their ideas were much more relevant than mine as they were the same age as the market we were writing for. Time and time again they bested me with their ideas even with the series title, The Great Story World Mix-Up, which I had proposed be called The Rainy Day Club.

This got me thinking. How many other artists and authors have gotten their great ideas from children?

Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series began as bedtime stories for his son. Mary Pope Osborne thanks two children for their ideas and inspiration in her first Magic Tree House book Dinosaurs Before Dawn.  Martin Scorsese made the book Hugo into a movie at the suggestion of his 12-year-old daughter, Francesca. Walt Disney made Mary Poppins into a movie at the urging of his daughters.  And Harry Potter was originally published because a book executive's child begged him to do so.

So what is it with kids and their great insight?

I think it’s that kids see what “is”.  They don’t necessarily focus like adults do, through lenses colored by what is “supposed” to be.  They don’t try to fit an idea into their long term goals or a set of tasks. They are living in the moment and they know a good thing when they see it.  I also think kids give more freely and emotionally connect more deeply than adults. Any parent with a child who has a stuffed animal collection knows what I am talking about.  I believe this is because they are just starting to empathize and develop the emotional intelligence that makes us become compassionate or hard, ruthless or kind; and they are not yet jaded by the world’s definition of success.

The question that persistently pesters me is how then can we expect kids to be creative and emotionally connected when we constantly tell them their ideas aren't correct.  We start in kindergarten and pre-K when we tell them to use a blue crayon to color the sky. I’ve seen fiery sunsets filled with purple, orange, pink, red and gold, so have you. Why isn’t this an option?  As we continue trying to develop ways to educate a student body who is more adept at technology and more adaptable to thoughts that will foster new invention, we are going to have to try really hard to balance our listening and guiding.

My daughter’s are ready to go out and execute their own ideas but they still need help, and they are forward thinking about what they want to accomplish.  We are now adding video components to our books that magically appear on the page to give young readers another layer of experience that gets them excited about reading.  My daughters are brainstorming ways to update our website to make it more interactive and to bring each land in Story World that our heroes Penelope and Jilly have fixed to life.  The more I step back and give them the opportunity to run with it, the more they will.  

We need to open our minds and give kids credit for the great ideas they come up with.

If we want to foster a generation of great thinkers we need to be guides and listeners who not only applaud good ideas but who help children get those ideas into the world AND give them credit for it. To do this we need to shake loose from the shackles that conform our thought to set routines so that when flashes of brilliance arise we are flexible enough to steer off the beaten path and try something new. And fail. And try again. 

My older daughter is moving up to middle school today. She will not be recognized for being the student who taught her classmates how to present with Prezis and websites.  She will be one of the many who are not recognized because their talents don’t conform to those measured in our district, despite her excellent grades.  She is well grounded because she knows first hand that her talents are valuable.  But what about the kids who don’t.

Today, next year, while you are teaching, you have the opportunity to not only celebrate the talents in your classroom but to create a culture of learning that will lead to amazing ideas that you can help students execute upon.  We are so close!  You as educators are doing so many amazing things in your schools, but it's not enough, be bold!  I don’t want my daughters to grow up feeling like they are wasting their time because they are bored in class.  I want them to feel that they have had the opportunity to come in contact with extraordinary educators and peer groups who helped guide and shape their great ideas into reality.

Be brave, don’t give up…we are counting on you.

Kayla did win an award tonight in a new category for Language Arts!  It made me excited and inspired to think that anything's possible....

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Turning CyberBullies into Digital Citizens

Yesterday, in the neighboring High School, a 15 year-old boy was arrested for using the social app YIk Yak to make shooting and bomb threats against his school.  A student in his grade saw the threats and alerted his parents, who then alerted school officials, who called the police.

This wasn't the first time a bomb threat was made using Yik Yak.

Yik Yak is a social app that allows users to post anonymous messages to anyone in a 1.5 mile radius. In schools where BYOD is policy, (and where it’s not), apps like Yik Yak, Whisper, Snapchat, Kik and Tinder make it easy for cyber bullys to post malicious, hurtful messages to entire student bodies.  And though Yik Yak has enforced the use of geofences, technology that limits access within a defined radius of middle schools, because users are anonymous students using these apps to bully, intimidate or threaten other students will largely remain identified.

This is a cultural problem.

In today's teen culture it is easy to express feelings of anger, hatred and frustration in ways that are socially unacceptable. What's frightening is that irresponsible behavior is no longer constrained to on-line. Rude or mean comments made face to face, dishonest and cruel behavior have all been amplified and in some instances have resulted in tragedy, as in the case of the BFF killers; best friends who killed one of the trio after the implied threat that embarrassing photos would be leaked on-line.

Education about digital citizenship is not enough.

In a myopic world where social isolation breeds insensitivity, teens need to understand the effect their actions have on others, and on their own futures.  By creating a digital footprint they are creating a history that employers and college boards take into consideration.  Case studies of teens being denied opportunities due to actions, postings or photos put on-line are becoming commonplace.

Why not teach students how to use social media to improve themselves?

On twitter, thousands of teachers join together each day for professional development, reaping the collaborative benefits of sharing ideas and programs that make their jobs more effective, fun and relevant.  Are we giving students the same opportunity?  In addition to teaching them about being good digital citizens and decent human beings who act responsibly towards each other, we should be showing them ways to use social media to work together for social good.

How much would your students benefit from a self run anti-bullying twitter style forum? Or a collaborative that works to improve the community within the school or even outside it's walls?  How about directing attention towards betterment through real life experience by interviewing local business people, politicians and others to build a living history and explore potential job opportunities. Or even simply setting up a homework study group where help can be found 24/7.

Cyber bullying is more than an action it's a reaction to isolation and lack of self-esteem.

Companies like Yik Yak, who just secured $1.5 million in funding after an initial $10 million infusion are not going away. With more and more time spent in cyber isolation teens and adults need to relearn the value of community and there’s no better place to start than your classroom. Instill the values of working together for common good and hashing out problems in inventive positive ways. You'll be showing your students there are alternatives to problem solving that are much more effective than using apps to lash out anonymously at helpless victims.  Sure there will always be those who resort to bullying but wouldn't it be great if your class was the one that started a culture of community in your school, your district and your town?  You'd be teaching students how to succeed in life while making their world a better place. Isn't that what teaching is really all about?


Being Brave For Peace: Big Idea for children

by my daughters Ava and Kayla

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Whatisschool May 7, 2015 Digital Safety

Digital Citizenship and Cybersafety – is it a subject to be taught or integrated into everything?
This week we welcome one of the most passionate educators I have in my PLN, Beverly Ladd. Beverly is a 2nd Grade Lead Learner from USA and it is my pleasure to have her co-moderating with me.
This week we take a look at digital citizenship, cybersafety and digital footprints. A core subject area that links across all curriculum areas within our schools. With more access to technology brings more opportunities to connect and engage. This opportunity also brings negative consequences. As 21st Century Educators we need to support our students through quality digital citizenship learning.
whatisschool digcit1
This week #whatisschool takes a look at digital citizenship and how in today’s 21st century classroom, educators across the globe are tackling this topic.
Our chat times for around the world are:
  • Thursday 4pm Pacific Time
  • Thursday 6pm Central Time
  • Thursday 7pm EDT
  • Thursday 11pm GMT
  • Friday 7am Singapore/WA (Perth) Time
  • Friday 9am AEST
  • Friday 11am NZT
DIgital Citizenship
Join the conversation on Thursday 7 May at 7pm EDT (Thursday 11pm GMT, Friday 9am AEST, 11am NZT, 7am Singapore) as we discuss What Is School? #whatisschool
Questions #whatisschool, May 7, 2015 7PM EDT
1) What does Digital Citizenship mean to you? How are you a responsible educator?
2) What are the Characteristics of a digital citizen? Does it differ between age groups? How?
3) What does Digital Citizenship Learning look like at different age levels?
4) How can we make Digital Citizenship part of a school’s culture?
5) What is the most important element of a Digital Citizenship Program and why?

6) Share your favourite Digital Citizenship resource, image, video, link, article or program.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Whatisschool April 30, 2015 Diversity

Diversity In Schools, A Problem Or An Opportunity?
#whatisschool April 30, 2015 7PM EDT

Everyday the global community shows up in our classrooms reflected in the material we chose to teach, the technology we use and the student body.  As we educate students to be 21st century leaders and creators  it is easy to see they will be working in a diverse, multicultural, global arena.   So what is diversity anyway?

The belief that knowledge and understanding flourishes best in a climate of sharing through debate dates back to the Socratic tradition, but it is also a part of current global perspectivism.

Diversity can be described in terms of gender, age, sex, race or ethnicity but in the broader sense it refers to a concept that embraces the richness of human differences.  Through dialogue and discovery diversity broadens the learning experience for all students. By engaging in multicultural learning we extend the meaning of personal, social,and moral growth by learning from the unique perspectives of different populations.

Allison in 7/8
French immersion class
This week help me welcome outspoken educator and student voice advocate Allison Fuisz (@allison_fuisz) who will be sharing duties as co-moderator and ambassador of classroom diversity with me.  Allison is a passionate, energetic teacher who is packing a wealth of international experience. She created an authentic co-learning space for her students and fellow teachers where she brainstormed and promoted Ontario’s Students as Researchers (STAR program).  Using integrated technology Allison has opened up the world to her students, making their voice heard and exposing them to diverse cultures while helping them gain the skills they will need to be future change makers.  Make sure you check out her excellent blog The Enthusiastic Learner and give her a big welcome to #whatisschool.

Questions #whatisschool 
April 30 2015, 7PM EDT

1) What are the challenges of a diverse classroom? 
2) How can you use structured classroom activities to highlight diversity? 
3) How can global classrooms and technology increase diversity, awareness in your student body?
4) How can teachers, parents and communities create opportunities for students to experience diversity?
5) What can you do to increase student
voice, empathy, understanding and acceptance of diverse populations?
6) How can embracing diversity in class prepare students to be active members of a global community?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Whatisschool April 23, 2015 Gamification

#whatisschool, April 23, 2015 7PM EDT

Classroom learning through Gamification

Games and gaming culture are playing an increasingly large role in the lives of people all over the world with an estimated 7 hours a day being spent on-screen. This fast growing sector that has already outpaced music and will soon eclipse the movie industry in sales now has its eye on education.  So what is Gamification anyway?

Gamification is defined as “the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems.”  In education this could amount to learning apps or game specific models for learning that work on a reward or point based system.  Outside of education these game techniques are used every day by adults as frequent flyer miles and credit card points.   So how can games be integrated into education?

This week #whatisschool welcomes special guest tweeter and edtech consultant Justin Hardman (@jahardman) who is working with schools in South Korea to support the integration of technology and games in the classroom.   Justin will be offering our #whatisschool PLN a chance to win a ticket to the 21st Century Learning Conference in Hong Kong (Feb 18-20, 2016), where Mr Kemp will be speaking and offering a master class! This winning ticket valued at US $500 will be given to one of the top 25 tweeters at #whatisschool this week who will be randomly selected.

So let’s get our game on!

Questions #whatisschool, April 23, 2015 7PM EDT

1) What does gamification mean for you? Give a 1tweet summary for those new to the idea.
2) What are the key learning benefits to gamification?
3) What apps/resources are useful in employing gamification in K-12 education?
4) How do you know when gamification has been effective?
5) Can gaming replace intrinsic motivation? How? Why?
6) How could educator professional learning be gamified?

BONUS 7th Question this week only: What will have a bigger impact on learning: Games for learning or gamification of learning?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Whatisschool April 16, 2015

Student Centered Learning
#whatisschool  April 16, 2015, 7PM EDT

"I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn." -Albert Einstein

We are in the midst of an education renaissance brought on by a rapidly developing technology sector and a shift in learning focus from industrial skills to global communication. With this change has come a host of teaching innovations.

Join us this week as  #whatisschool takes an in-depth look at student centered learning where the teacher turns from "sage on stage" to mentor and coach, and the students take more responsibility for furthering their own education.

 #whatisschool Questions 
April 16, 2015, 7PM EDT

Q)1 What types of student centered learning have you employed in your class, what were the results?
Q) 2 Does student centered learning increase engagement and retention or cause chaos?
Q)3 What programs or technologies have you employed to facilitate student centered learning opportunities?
Q)4 How can educators switch to student centered models and reach scholastic learning goals?
Q)5 How much responsibility should students have to drive their own education and at what age?
Q)6 How can student centered learning provide diversity and equal education for all students?

Read my post  Opting Out Of A Broken System and Opting Into Life Learning 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Whatisschool April 9, 2015

High Stakes Assessment GLOBAL SMACKDOWN!
#whatisschool  April 9, 2015, 7PM EDT

There are over 700,000,000 million students in elementary and secondary schools around the world.

Before the break, parents and teachers in my district engaged in in-depth, sometimes animated, discussions about high stakes assessments and the classroom.  Parents were urged to opt out of tests but with little promise that classroom time would be re-devoted to activities that encourage critical thinking, collaboration or the building of modern skill sets.  Teachers likewise were frustrated. The students became political footballs, confused about why they worked hard all year to prepare for a test they weren’t obligated to take and in some people’s mind has no value.  So how do we get our classrooms back and return to the business of growing student skills for a new generation of 21st century learners, leaders, thinkers, creators and doers?

In our first ever GLOBAL SMACKDOWN #whatisschool is asking YOU to send your thoughts about balancing classroom time with assessments to laurahillbooks@gmail.com or DM @candylandcaper between now and Thursday, April 9.  Your ideas will be posted as graphics during the chat while heavyweight global educators Mark Weston @ShiftParadigm and Brett Salakas @MRsalakas man the helm and moderate this week’s #whatisschool Q&A.

After the chat you can download the SMACKDOWN at www.whatisschool.org.  Make a difference, join us as we re-imagine education #whatisschool!

High Stakes Assessment GLOBAL SMACKDOWN!
Questions #whatisschool April 9, 2015, 7PM EDT

1) How do you balance preparation for high stakes assessments with teaching and learning in your classroom?  
2) What value do high stakes assessments bring to your students, how does it affect their future?
3) How do you motivate students who are aware at a very young age of their scholastic rank and academic measure against their peers?
4) What can administrators and districts do to create balance in the classroom and refocus education on nurturing student’s skills.
5) How can parents and educators work together to change high stakes assessments without bringing students into the political arena?
6) Smackdown! With high stakes assessments still in the mix, what can you do to make a change in your classroom?


Read the books I write with my children.