Sunday, August 19, 2018

Why Go For #GoogleEI? My answer is #StrengthBasedEDU

Applying for the #SYD17 Cohort

My application to become a Google Innovator began with the dream of supporting all students in developing a strength-based approach to education. My dream was to support student, like my own adopted son, who struggled and were frustrated in school. I wondered, what if school where all students discovered their own innate talents, then built those talents into lifelong strengths. See my Google Innovator video application below for a before picture of my innovation project!

Pivoting my Project

Image of Judy Blakeney, Gareth, Monika Limmer, Adam Brooks, and Becky Shorey
#SYD17 Crew on A Day Trip, August 2017
In the Google Innovators teacher academy, I reconsidered how to support all students. My initial solution was for students to create digital portolios showcasing their talents and passions. Through the Design Thinking process led by @LesMcBeth from Future Design School @fdesignschool, I began to understand that the users of StrengthBasedEDU were not students at this time, but was in fact educators. As such, my design to launch changed. I understood that this challenge called for me to develop an educational process and resources to support educators, rather than students directly.

During the 2018-2019 school year, my partner in this work, Dr. Tricia Hyun, @drtriciahyun, and I presented our approach at a variety of conferences, from regional and National CUE conferences, to an EdtechTeam Summit in Orange County, as well as at California Teachers Association training events. Tricia and I began this work several years ago, working with the Institute for Teaching (IFT), where we both volunteer for the South Orange County Think Tank. As we presented, we refined our own understanding of Strength Based Education, and how we might best promote and develop this movement.  
Photo of Dr. Tricia Hyun and Judy Blakeney
Dr. Tricia Hyun and Judy Blakeney at SGVCUE Conference

Currently, we are writing a book on strength based education with members of the Southern California IFT think tanks. Additionally, we are developing a podcast that would share examples of IFT's work, particularly through grants to teachers . In fact, I am the recipient of a $5,000 grant, titled Exploring Coding and Career Focused Education for use in the 2018-2019 school year. I am returning to teaching in the classroom this year at Aliso Viejo Middel School where I will teach several Career and Technical Education courses. I plan to use this opportunity to expand and center my exploration of strength based education with children. I am excited for this adventure to begin, and to expand upon starting small and thinking big which was our goal at #GoogleEI #SYD17. 

We were recently featured in the TLC Ninja podcast, Nancy Minicozzi's (@coffeeNancy) Google Innovator project,  so if you want more information, listen to our explanation of Strength Based Eduction.

Future Opportunities
The training that Tricia and I have offered will continue to evolve. Take a look at our current website, Follow us on our Twitter handle: @strengthbaseEDU and watch the hashtag #StrengthbasedEDU to share this journey with us on this long and winding, ever-expanding road. Let us know if you would be interested in having us present our story, whether in person or digitally.

Monday, July 3, 2017

What's Hot at #ISTE17 - @FlipGrid

I've caught #FlipgridFever. Flipgrid is a web-based tool for sharing a quick video. Grids hold the topics that can be responded to with a link and a browser, or the app on a phone. Follow the link to my ISTE17 Grid is below if you want to respond, or just lurk to look at others' responses. What's great for teachers is that the smart minds at Flipgrid have a free version for teachers, Flipgrid One with one grid, which is available to teachers.

So how could you use Flipgrid in a classroom? Here are some ideas:
  • Welcome message to students and responses with their introductions
  • Answering a question about a text, experiment, or math problem
  • Stating a claim with evidence, for other classmates to respond to
  • Getting teachers to respond to a concern within a school
There are plenty more ideas, I'm sure. What do you think? 

Respond to this link to a Flipgrid topic to share your ideas:

Maybe you will catch #FlipGridFever too! If so, you might want to become a Flipgrid Certified Educator. Check out this Flipgrid Blog Post for more information.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Gone #sketch50 Wild!

Have you heard about #sketch50 (website ), where educators are creating sketches using either digital or analog means to build skills at representing ideas. Check out the description of this challenge on the website or Twitter handle @sketch_50 and hashtag #sketch50.

In case you have missed it, #sketchnotes are all the rage. Sylvia Duckworth keeps creating them, demonstrating how to represent understanding visually. Now the rest of us can give the opportunity to stretch our growth mindsets and let go of the “I can’t draw” fixed mindset.   I have started and have a challenge for you: I’m adding my visual representations, day by day, to a Google Slides, which I am posting to a Padlet created by the #sketch50 team. Here’s the link! Can you join me on the journey? I am excited to document my growth over the 50 days. I may even redo some of my sketches, after I gain more skill and confidence. 

Here's a link to my Google Slide deck. Share yours on the Padlet and let's get #bettertogether! Thanks to +Cate Tolnai +Ann Kozma and +Lindsey Blass for their work on this great idea!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

New Ways to Learn with a Book Club

Learning is Social

Thanks to the brilliant Ann Kozma (@annkozma723), I am participating in the #MLmindset book club. Bri Buck @bbucktech is co-moderating the book club. I really appreciate how they set it up. It got me thinking about what the elements help support adult learning, particularly in shared and open learning environments. This is a book club that is taking place on Twitter, using visual images!

Voice and Choice

The sign-up took place using a Google Form survey, inquiring how the participants wanted to connect and share learning. Options included Twitter chats, a Voxer group, and posting learning using visual tools. The group chose using visual learning tools. Sample results can be viewed at the Twitter hashtag #MLmindset. My own creation was done on Canva, a free online design tool that also has an app for mobile use. Allowing for a creative way to respond to the book club was motivating and fun. Using a visual tool allows readers to translate the learning into a visual expression. Here's a link to Ann Kozma Adobe Spark creation on Chapter 1 of Mobile Learning Mindset: The Coach's Guide to Implementation by Carl Hooker. Very impressive, Ann!

How to Bottle It?
Thursday, March 16th at 3:30 p.m. #CUE17

Just as legend has it that the way the creator of  Coca Cola was told how to make money on the fountain drink was to bottle it,  I wonder how to replicate this book club plan with teachers in my district. Not all teachers use Twitter, but we are a Google Apps for Education district, so creating  Google+ Communities is a way to create a safe and closed community. Would that work? I'm going to explore it more. Lindsey Blass and Amanda Haughes will present at the CUE National Conference on Mobile Professional Development with Voxer Book Clubs. There are many ways to creatively provide opportunities to connect and learn together. One of my favorite ways is to connect with others on educational Twitter chats, like #TOSAchat on Monday nights at 8 p.m. PST. I'll be moderating on 2-27-17, discussing blogging with the TOSAchat crew. I hope to see you there. Let me know if you have more ideas on how to creatively "bottle it"-- professional learning, that is!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Recipe for a Growth Mindset

I have been spending some time with Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. and Jo Boaler (both Stanford University Professors) lately, reading each author's book on mindset and its effect on learning. Dweck, a Courtesy Professor in Stanford University's Graduate School of Education, has done extensive research on learning within a fixed versus a growth mindset. 
A person with a fixed mindset believes that talent and innate ability drive success. A student with this belief will not try if he is convinced that math is his weakness, because working will not make a significant difference. However, a person with a growth mindset believes that expending effor makes all the difference. So if a student has a growth mindset, hard work on difficult math problems make math achievement more than possible, it is  likely.

Why is this important?

For students, teachers, and parents, the insights about a fixed- versus a growth-mindset have implications for our success in school and beyond. In one of Dweck's studies, with two groups of students working on math problems, one was praised for intelligence (fixed-mindset group), whereas the other was praised for effort (growth-mindset group). In this study, when the fixed-mindset group that had been praised for intelligence attempted more difficult problems, students gave up. In fact, members of the group were not able to complete the same level of problems as before receiving praise. However, students in the growth-mindset group, were willing to attempt challenging problems, not viewing the difficulty of the problems indicative of their intelligence (Dweck, p. 71-72).

Here is the significant point: Praising students for intelligence inhibits their willingness to risk failure, which would prove their lack of intelligence. The risks and failure needed to build intelligence are avoided by those with a fixed mindset. However, those with a growth mindset are willing to risk failure and learn in the process.

WIFM: What's in it for me? (and those around me...)

As an instructional coach, I can find a way to share this with administrators and teachers at the sites where I work, supporting students in the process. As a parent, I can recognize efforts of my children, rather than praising their intelligence. As a spouse, I can laugh at my failings, working harder to be a better partner, even after 30 years of practice. As a person, I can take risks and laugh at failure, knowing that it is simply the indication that I am attempting the difficult, which helps me grow as a person.

What is nice for me is that this focus on a growth mindset extends beyond my own locus of control to encompass work that is taking place at the school district where I work. I'm excited to see how this change in culture of leaders, teachers, and yes students will affect student learning in the near future. For more information, read their books! Also, Boaler has an active public Facebook Group: Jo Boaler's How to Learn Math which is worth exploring.


Boaler, J. (2016). Mathematical mindsets: Unleashing students' potential through creative math, inspiring messages, and innovative teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; a Wiley Brand. 

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY: Random House. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

What's with Formative Assessment?

Formative Assessment is Assessment for Learning

Formative assessment is getting a great deal of notice of late. Chapter 8 of the State of California ELA/ELD Framework focuses specifically on this topic. This post will explain what it is as well as some best practices will be identified. Also, information about some online and digital formative assessment tools will be provided.

The definition of Formative Assessment from Chapter 8 (page 822) is to “provide information about student learning minute-by-minute, day-to-day, and week-to-week so that teachers continuously adapt instruction to meet students’ specific needs and secure progress”. Instead of providing information at the end of a learning cycle, Formative Assessment provides learning information to teacher and student alike.

There has been discussion about whether it is appropriate to grade Formative Assessment. Learners may not have all mastered a topic when a Formative Assessment is given. The teacher learns who has and has not learned material, then can adjust teaching strategies. Students learn what they do not have a complete grasp of, so must work toward that goal.

There are a variety of tools that can be used to assess learning during the learning cycle. Some are tried and true, while others are digital and new. Each has its place. The State of West Virginia provides examples of Formative Assessment at this site. Some tried and true elements are exit tickets, graphic organizers, and discussion. Some new resources include digital games and websites that gather important data about student knowledge. These include: Socrative, GoFormative, and Kahoot. These new tools are worth investigating, as they can help gather the formative data needed to evaluate student learning, while engaging students at the same time.

When addressing the formative assessment and grading question, teachers ask, “How can we motivate students to try?” I challenge them to observe a classroom playing Kahoot to ask that question. Novelty is worthy. It keeps the learning interesting and the learner motivated to learn. Try these new learning tools!

Want more information? Check out this Edutopia blog on having a Courageous Conversation about grading practices.

This blog post is dedicated to my friends at #TOSAchat where the Formative Assessment discussion began several weeks ago. I expect it will continue!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

TOSAs Chat Up Twitter #TOSAChat and #ConnectedTL

This Twitter thing is hot! I know that I"m behind the times, but am working hard to catch up. There are so many educational chats out there, I didn't know where to begin.  Since I will be starting a job as an Instructional Coach in the next week, I wanted to find a PLN (Professional Learning Network) that I could learn with and from. Then I found two, while at the #CUERockStar Black Label sessions for TOSAs (Teachers on Special Assignment) on August 15-16, 2015.

The first, @TOSAChat and #TOSAChat, held its first chat ever on Monday, August 17, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. PST. It was lively! Luckily, I just added Tweetdeck the day before, so I could follow the chat. Holly B. Steele (@hollybsteele) gave me the great suggestion of opening up two columns for the chat, one for old and one for current tweets. I'm going to use that strategy next week! Here is a link to the Storified version of the inaugural chat.

A short 23-hours later, the @ConnectedTL and #ConnectedTL (short for Connected Teacher Learner) began at its regularly scheduled time, Tuesdays at 7 p.m. PST. The hosts of this ongong Twitter chat are @rhondacorippo, @mrvaudrey, and @catetolnoi. This chat is really organized! The chat has a Pinterest Board with resources and posted the questions before the chat, which was really appreciated. That kept me from having scroll fever during the chat, wondering what the current question was...and what the answers being posted related to.

If you are a TOSA, TOSA-wannabe, Coach, Administrator, or Teacher on the lookout for good stuff, I encourage you to check out these chats...and start following some of the innovative teachers in these chats! Start off the new school year by building a PLN that meets your needs, whether as a TOSA or otherwise.

Need to find more educational chats, I suggest having a look at the cybraryman educational chat schedule and list of educational hashtags. Find a PLN that fits!