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Go ahead–break something! August 5, 2010

Posted by Sandra Dop in Uncategorized.
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Educational leaders from across Iowa were treated to an inspiring conference by the School Administrators of Iowa staff. We were told the State Board of Education is focusing on compentency based instructionand accountablity and virtual learning (Max Phillips, State Board memeber). And we were encouraged to disrupt the status quo (Michael Horn, author), to take risks because every time something breaks there is postential for new (Sarah Brown Wessling, National/Iowa Teacher of the Year), that our personal learning networks can be more powerful than a graduate course (Daron Durflinger, high school principal), and to visit classrooms to find out who owns the learning (Alan November, educator). Each of these is a gold nugget–a piece of the whole. But for me it was the final thoughts of the day that I am continuing to chew on: since the world is flat and information is expanding at exponential rates, the most important thing we can teach our students is to teach themselves, and the only way to do that is to become master learners (David Warlick, educator, author).  How will you increase student achievement by furthering your own learning? What one thing will you do differently this year to learn something and to promote 21st century classrooms for our kids? I WILL start twitter!


Reconneting and Flying Out! May 13, 2010

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Am I smarter than a fifth grader?  I am not so sure anymore!  And I spent 7 years in fifth grade–only one as an 10-11 year old.  I almost said only one as a student, but I have been a student all my life and I realize those years I spent in 5th grade taught me more than the kids learned.  Today the Van Meter students presented to the State School Board and I realized I had started this blog in January when they presented to the legislature and then never returned.  When I consider what they have done since then, I am shamed.  I can also say I have seen growth in the students who came today–more confident, more prepared,–granted they ahve done the presentation a few times now, but not having seen them for several months means I can see what those who see them every day may not–growth!

And here I am ready to fly to Finland tomorrow.  I hope to visit 2 to 4 schools while I am there.  I will then have something to write about. 

So why is it that adults think we have to have “something to write about” in order to blog, but students just blog? 

I hope you enjoy our trip to Finland and beyond.  I may even take you north of the Arctic Circle.


Iowa Students Speak to Legislators January 28, 2010

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I witnessed history today.  Several Van Meter students presented to members of the Iowa legislature.  They were poised, confident, capable, and young–some of them very young.  I sat there thinking that one day we may be able to point back to January 28, 2010, and say it was the turning point—the day a couple seventh graders and a fifth grader swayed the Iowa legislature and forever changed education as we know it.  I know, the high schoolers were impressive too, but those representatives and senators nearly fell off their chairs when their superintendent John Carver said “fifth grader.”   She demonstrated her blog on things she and her friends are reading.   

When the legislators asked, “So what can we do to get out of your way and let you go?”  I nearly cried.

 I will forever be proud to have witnessed it!

And now I want to know more.  What is happening in other Iowa schools and across the nation that would wow a standing-room-only group of highly educated, very successful adults?