Archive for the ‘Thought Fulls.’ Category

Like many of my fellow chirpers I am regularly amazed at what I learn on Twitter, connects me to educators all over and every so often I am led to a video which illicits a lil giggle. But here is a story I was not expecting.

Last year I landed upon a Tweet by @mskbordner – aka – Katie Bordner giving an all call to let us know that she had signed up for free conference: #edcampchicago at East Leyden High School. Should I join here? Well.. what could it hurt so I signed up.  Still didn’t know if I would have the time or gumption to go and back then I had no idea what the heck an edcamp was anyway. But heck, as my husband says “everything is better when it is free.”

In the end I do attend #edcampchicago put on by folks like @jmarkeyAP – aka- Jason Markey and @mrsebiology – aka – Terie Englebretch and it just about ruined me for all other conference experiences. I sat down in the East Leyden library waiting to figure out what the heck I was to do next, occasionally I glanced up and looked for @mskbordner or another tweeter @@KarynTeaches – aka – Karyn Keenan. Would I recognize them? Would they recognize me? How do you approach someone you only met on Twitter? Golly Gee! Just as @jmarkeyAP started speaking someone plopped down next to me and holy mackerel it is @MsLaidler – aka – Autumn Laidler. I follow her on Twitter and I observed in her classroom…so I sat there for a bit before I actually told her about our connections and how odd it was that she plopped right down next to me! Crazy!

I did meet other Twitter friends later in the day and I wanted to hug them without even thinking about it. But here comes the weird part.. I mean the more weird part.

In about 4 days I am starting my shiny new job @cathcookschool as a technology specialist.(Uh-huh I am counting down. ) A day or two ago I get this:

What the?! And there you have it, I was meeting folks from Catherine Cook School before even starting. @klhellerman – aka – Katie Hellerman and I have chatted and now I can’t wait to meet her. She is reason number 73 I am bubbling to start my new job. Wowza!

Once again, the power of Twitter reveals itself.

Ditch the Desk

Posted: June 22, 2013 in Thought Fulls., Uncategorized

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Much like the historical tale of women of the 1960’s burning their bras for equal rights, I am challenging the teachers within my District to “Ditch the Desk”. Removing one of the very familiar icons which said “I am your teacher, I am in charge, I am the leader,  do not question, do what I say,  watch me and repeat.”

Brave teachers who remove the iconic desk say “Let’s work together, I am ready to collaborate, I want my students to take charge of their learning, I am ready to allow you to discover, I will not hang on to piles of busy work papers and traditional means of assessment! I am ready to redefine!”

It is much more than just a piece of furniture, it could be the start of a change!

Human Connection

Posted: June 21, 2013 in Thought Fulls., Uncategorized

So my new job has me in the District Office and it is relatively more quiet over the summer. One of the goals I have set for myself is to reflect and blog more often.

This past year has been a year of change for the Darche Household, new house, new job, thankfully no new pets, so what better time to reflect.

Throughout my teaching career I have been blessed with the opportunity to make a connection with so many people but one gentleman whom I worked with for short time, the connection I had with him made an impression. Good ole Mr. Kruse.

At Mr. Kruse’s school when you wanted to meet with someone you “set a meeting” and tried to squeeze connecting, exchanging, collaboration and general niceties into that lil meeting. So I “set a meeting” with many teachers but Mr. Kruse was one of the last ones, I can’t say why really, but he was none the less. (And of course as he reads this he is most likely saying ‘well you saved the best for last Darche’ )

Time for our meeting came and there was Mr. Kruse longer hair, funny tie and wearing a college polo of a college he did not attend, needless to say I did not know what to expect.

When we talked the first thing we did was exchange the stories. First he told me his.. his history both in school and out of school and how he came to teach. Then he did something particularly memorable he said “Now tell me yours” and he never looked at the clock once.

To this day I don’t think I have had a better first meeting. Mr. Kruse connected with me on a level deeper than just exchanging ideas.  He worked to connect with me. And that connection has stuck cause I miss him. Now and again when I see him, he gives me a hug and the connection immediately feels fresh and tended to.

Making that connection is one of the things I have brought to my new place of innovation. It is this sense of connection that I can make with teachers and in turn the teachers will make with their students, parents and colleagues.

In a great TED Talk given by a very wise lady, Rita Pierson discusses the value and importance of human connection. She states “kids dont learn from people they don’t like” and I know Mr. Kruse’s kids learn from him cause he works to make the connection and his students like him as much as I do.

—-Just enough to break the ice!

My 10 year old’s favorite joke, currently.

But now that my clever introduction has been completed….

I am just recently back from ICE Conference 2013 and of course it was filled with some of my favorite people and so many of them inspired me and I actually can’t wait to go to work on Monday… don’t linch me.

And before I try and elaborate on many things, let me tell a quick story of what I came home to yesterday. Heading to the kitchen table, I see two of my son’s papers. One from his teacher – Image

Fine – Ok… just an update – full of good intentions.
Then next to that, I discover this –

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It says-

 “Dog Caller – Mom and Dan this is a dog caller, if the dogs wont come in from outside, just squeeze this and they will come inside. Love Tim Darche”

Signed in his best NHL goalie signature, which no one can read.

And yes I knew what it was it was the inerts of a squeaky toy which lost its life to the jaws of our cockapoo, but I squeaked it anyway and sure enough –  two dogs at my feet.

It was there in black and white, what is happening in education verses the real innovation and curiosity happening within our kids.

I am inspired.

Today I got to take my kids and visit a “start up” company, which actually turned out to be a start up floor in a high rise in the city. There were about 12 or so start up companies all on this floor, filling up offices, sitting on a random variety of chairs, balls, even the floor – creating – some without shoes on, some without! I think it is funny, as teachers, technology or otherwise we almost forget how other professions work. People really do negotiate their contracts, “lunch”, and get time to think! It was groovy for me to see how MentorMob and its crew worked. Granted I am not a start up company guru but you know i have seen pictures of the Google Campus – duh.

Hanging out on the 25th floor, I got to share my ideas with MentorMob and my kids got to talk to some of the founders of the web app and ask questions and learn stuff. What? They were learning stuff – “but mom we were just going to meet your friends”. Yet they learned a bunch – through flow charts and trial & error and diagrams. They learned and talked about it later with me, teaching me what they learned. It was like hiding vegetables in their hamburgers! It was like shoving the cauliflower in their meatloaf – they had no idea! It is this authentic learning – involving technology or not – that really change and effect us as people and what we take with us on our adventures.

MentorMob works that way. It allows playlists of websites or files to be created and shared publicly or privately, and commented upon (you can work a pop quiz in there too!). It is a pretty slick web app and I know the original thought from the company is that it is to be used to “teach” but I want to use it as a way for kids to learn. My students will be the ones creating the playlists. They will need to chose websites which explain research topics or projects clearly: including website which they evaluated before including in their playlists, annotated pictures, videos and an explanation of their process. Curating, creating and learning by making a playlist! Cool beans! I feel bad for the poster board companies.

PS- My son was watching me write this and I asked him what he thought about what we did today.

Start from Timmy, don’t call me Timothy – “It seems like a really fun place, like how they write on the windows and like if you were in New York you could draw King Kong hanging off the Empire State Building in that was in the view. It was a fun, creative place with an idea to be found everywhere you go. Did you know that all types of technology that use the same thing and then the flow chart about our school day, that was really cool.”