Tag Archives: professional development

Mapping My Summer Learning in 90 Days: An Experiment in Metacognition & PD


You know the old saying…teachers teach for 3 reasons:  June, July & August.  This statement has always infuriated me.  As most teachers, I believe I work with an incredible intensity in the summer months.  The time off from school allows me to regroup my thoughts, reflect on lessons taught, learn new things, read … a lot, attend conferences, and learn for the joy of learning.  These months provide the fuel I will need for the next year and inspire me to challenge myself and my students.

Recently, my position has changed to a more administrative role in curriculum.  Luckily, I will still be teaching, but I am now responsible for professional development, curricular initiatives, individualized teacher support, and a new mapping initiative.  Our first attempt at mapping a few years ago did not go as well as planned and it was abandoned.  Three years later, I have been thinking about how to make the process of mapping manageable and purposeful to the faculty.  I think I’ve got my answer…but that would require a lengthy blog post, so let’s just leave it at…I’ve been thinking about mapping and learning a lot.

June 1st arrived and I was thinking of the significance of that date.  I wanted to find a way to document my learning experiences over the summer so that I could use it to share my summer professional development.  I decided that I would map my learning for 90 days.  I would choose one thing that really stood out to me each day and explore what I learned, my learning path, and further learning. I will consider my Google Reader and Twitter accounts as my true maps of daily learning, but I want to document those things that push me to think differently, encourage me to research, facilitate discussion, and truly give a glimpse into my professional learning experience.

You can follow along with me this summer as I map my learning for the next 90 days here.  I’d also encourage you to do something similar….think about what you’ve learned every day and do something with it…embed it, share it, talk about it.  Reflect on your learning…it’s what we ask our students to do every day.  Be a student this summer for yourself, your colleagues, and your future students…create the kind of professional development you always talk about, but never seem to have time for.

Educon 2.2: Professional Development in my pj’s! #educon


Sounds too good to be true, huh?  Professional Development in your pajamas?  That is exactly what I did this weekend.  Unfortunately, I did not get tickets on time to go to educon in Philadelphia, so I had to go with plan B.  I had my laptop up and running with my #educon twitter feed running in one window and the Friday night keynote panel discussion:  What is Smart? streaming on vokle.com in another window.  Here, I heard Loren Brichter, Martha Farah, Happy Fernandez, Eddie Glaude, and David Shenk discuss their thoughts on what they thought smart was.  While the discussion was going on, I was having other discussions about the topic on twitter.  What did I learn from the keynote panel?

  • Howard Gardner was right.
  • Dewey is still awesome.
  • Smart means different things to different people.
  • It is really hard to follow a neuroscience professor.
  • Passion for something is vital for being “smart” in it.
  • Elementary teachers resonate most with “smart” people.
  • My favorite question posed:  How do we make smart?

I woke up Saturday morning to watch the vokle stream of the morning keynote Marilyn Perez.  I found myself more concerned about what conversations I was going to attend than listening to the stream.  It was a good thing, though, because I got into my first choice conversation for session 1:  Teaching Big Ideas to 21st Century Learners with Ben Hazzard and Zoe Branigan-Pipe.  I will have to admit, that the technology of the elluminate session was painful at best to begin with.  So, while they were working on that, I was adding to my PLN (personal learning network) by searching through the #educon twitter feed.  Wow!  I am blown away by the people that I met and what they have to say about education and learning.  So, what did I learn from Zoe and Ben?

Ask yourself these questions when thinking about Big Ideas..

  • What are the relevant topics you can address with your students?
  • How can you make learning meaningful?
  • What are the Big Ideas your students will find relevant?
  • What 3 takeaways do you wish for your students.  Answers from the session can be found here.

During lunch, I followed Will Richardson to a demo by Jeff Han via ustream of the perceptive pixel, a multitouch interface that was amazing.

Next, I decided to multitask and attend two conversations.  The first was by Christian Long with the Alice Project.  The second was by David Warlick about Learning 2.0.  What did I learn here?

  • If you don’t establish boundaries, you can’t release creativity.
  • Ask students great questions and demand they prove it in public.
  • What does great learning look like?
  • Wow… The Alice Project
  • There are cool new tools for Blooms that were introduced here.

My last session of the day was with Chris Lehmann, the principal of the Science and Leadership Academy called, Leadership 2.0:  Who do we need our leaders to be?  Currently, I’m finishing my Master’s in Educational Leadership and working on my principal’s certification, so this one was the one I was really looking forward to.  There are some people that are born to be leaders; Chris Lehmann is one of them.  What did I learn from Chris?

  • Leaders need to use inquiry, technology infusion, and communities of care.
  • In inquiry learning, follow the lead of the students.
  • Technology should be a part of every day and transformative.
  • A caring community is one that is 24/7…in school, out of school, online, and off-line.
  • Character education needs to go deeper than the posters we hang around the school.
  • Teachers need to know the vision/mission of the school in order to incorporate it into their lessons each day.
  • Servant leadership is top down support for bottom up ideas.
  • Leadership is being able to get everyone on the same common ground, then move them forward.
  • You can’t bully teachers into caring for students.
  • Every good teacher knows how to outlive a mandate.

So, my mind was absolutely spinning from the day.  I took the kids out to Target and out to dinner.  When I got home, I went back to the #educon twitter feed to see what I could catch up on.  This community of learners were now synthesizing the information they learned in the other sessions that I couldn’t attend and were sharing it with all of us…now those are some great teachers/learners/leaders/collaborators!  I came across an ebook that was made in Ben Hazzard’s second session here:

Amazing how a group can collaborate so effectively!  Thanks to all who helped create the field guide.

Now it is Sunday morning…unfortunately, I won’t be attending any virtual conversations today because I have to catch up with the real world and everything I ignored yesterday.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely!  This was an amazing learning experience for me.  I have built a personal learning network that I will be able to learn from every day.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to meet them in person next year!

So….what did you learn this weekend???  ;o)