Monday, December 5, 2016

Innovation and Creativity Matters


We chose to discuss "Innovation and Creativity" for our December 5th #plearnchat, because we believe it is time for teaching and learning to change. George Couros' (@gcouros) book "The Innovator's Mindset" and Sir Ken Robinson's (@SirKenRobinson) book "Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That's Transforming Education" opened our eyes about the importance of innovation and creativity.

So we invited educators from all over to join us to discuss why teaching needs to be more innovative, why we need to create innovators, and why creativity can transform education.



We put together questions around Innovation and Creativity that stretched the conversations out of everyone's comfort zone using the Q1, A1 format:



The holidays are almost here so we know how busy educators at this time of year. But that didn't keep people away. Just read from a few of the amazing educators who were innovative and creative with their tweets they shared:


Carol Frey Reinagel @MrsReinagel

As George Couros said, "Never hold a learner back based on what you don't know." from @gcouros' book: The Innovator's Mindset.

Michael Vose Ed.D @KHS_AP

"Lead learners (teachers) as equitable learning design engineers and not data driven automatons in standards driven compliance."


Kathy Renfrew @KRScienceLady

"Characteristics of innovation: open-minded, curious,willing to grapple with new ideas, persistent, risk-taker, understands tech is accelerator not the driver."


Meredith Johnson @mjjohnson1216

"Creativity blooms quickly when learners collaborate and work closely together."

Greg Gazanian @GregGazanian

"Foster innovation and creativity by applauding exploration. Offer space to learn and grow and resources to support."


Kory Graham @korytellers

"I would like to think that many educators already have had an Innovator's Mindset. Now we just need to get everyone on board."


Darren Ellwein @dellwein

"Creativity with makerspace philosophy of freedom to create; combine @YongZhaoEd entrepreneurial model and BOOM!"


Lisa Murray @LMurray_

"I think that teachers are more likely to change & grow. Try new things. Helps create environment that fosters creativity."

David Truss @datruss

"Creativity itself won't transform education. I see COLLABORATION and SHARING transforming technology by fostering creativity."


Susan Zanti @SusZanti5

"The more teachers think not just outside the box but outside the book; the more creativity in teaching and learning."


Trevor Bryan @trevorabryan

"Allowing room for creativity creates space for all learners voice; their voice builds community."


We wish we could share tweets from everyone who joined us. But there were so many educators with great ideas that we had to choose just a few. Make sure you read the archive below so you don't miss any of the tweets and resources shared. 


Here's one more that is so sweet from Lemarr Treadwell M.Ed @lemarrtreadwell
"Boy, is our janitor going to be surprised when he receives over 100 thank you notes."



We decided to give 2 books away for this chat because of the holidays and that our next #plearnchat is not until 5 weeks from now: January 16, 2017. 

Congratulations to Beth Topinka and Evan Brudney who both won signed copies of How to Personalize Learning.


Beth Topinka @BTopink

Beth Topinka is the S.T.E.A.M. lab teacher for grades 2-5 at Millstone Township School District in central New Jersey. She’s a vocal advocate for interdisciplinary, problem-based learning, and was recently selected as a state finalist for the 2016 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

She taught middle school science for 12 years, earning a Gifted Education Certificate from Rutgers along the way. On her mission to “be the change,” she moved to Millstone’s elementary school to help teachers transition to the Next Generation Science Standards.

Memorable classroom activities include training Madagascar hissing cockroaches to prefer peppermint over vanilla (the students proudly shared their results with an expert in Japan), and an investigation exploring the design possibilities of the invasive Phragmites plant. Check out Beth’s resource on hydrophobicity here and more about Beth at the Science Friday Educator Collaborative


Living in a comfort zone "mold" is so stifling and confining. How can we make risk-taking thrilling rather than scary? My students are so joyful when they have a chance to create. We need to start with our youngest learners.

Beth Topinka @BTopink



Evan Brudney @The BrudneyBunch

Evan Brudney, ebrudney@wcpps.net, is a 4th grade literacy teacher at Lynn Road Elementary School in Raleigh, NC.  Evan attended Syracuse University in New York and then went to graduate school for his teaching license at North Carolina State University. Evan is in his second year as a 4th grade literacy/social studies teacher and serves on the media/technology and advisory committees. As a beginning teacher last year, he was nominated for Wake County's prestigious Dian Kent Parker Beginning Teacher award.

Evan allows students time to collaborate during whole class lessons to discuss concepts and process their learning with each other. Recently, he was awarded a private grant and received 7 iPad minis to be used to enhance literacy instruction and to promote more collaboration. Evan is a big proponent of flexible seating within his room for part of the week- bean bags, yoga balls, stools, etc. during Daily 5. His goal is to create a literacy-rich environment with 21st century facets and the 4C's.

Evan's class website: www.thebrudneybunch.weebly.com


Now more than ever, students need creativity and
critical thinking to succeed in the 21st century. 


Evan Brudney @TheBrudneyBunch



How to Personalize Learning is your practical guide to getting started and going deeper with personalized learning. Corwin has offered our followers a 20% discount code. Go to Corwin Press and use the discount code N169O6 for your own copy.




Save the Date, Monday, January 16th (5 weeks) for our next #plearnchat

4pm PST, 5pm MST, 6pm CST, and 7pm EST

Topic: Equity and Social Justice



We archived the entire #plearnchat about Innovation and Creativity below for your convenience and as a resource.





Monday, November 21, 2016

The Importance of Self-Advocacy

Self-advocacy is about learners of any age having a voice about what they believe in and to speak up for themselves. This aligns with our goals for personalizing learning. So we decided to focus on self-advocacy skills for our November 21st #plearnchat topic.

We believe that every learner at any age needs self-advocacy skills. They need to find out about their rights and to know how to get the help they need when they need it. They also need to know how to find the information that will give them the background knowledge of a topic so they can defend any position.


We put together questions around self-advocacy that stretched the conversations using the Q1, A1 format:



Just read how some of the educators who joined us in #plearnchat were able to advocate for their positions about these questions from the tweets they shared: 



Travis Lape @travislape

We need to get learners away from compliance and competition in school. It is about what is best for their learning.



Colleen @bergincolleen

Teaches learners how to stand on their own two feet - no greater pride than knowing you did it on your own without help!



Brian Rozinsky @brianrozinsky

Those self-evident truths (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness) -- nobody's serving them up on a platter; they demand agency.



Carol Frey Reinagel @MrsReinagel

Goal-setting and accomplishing. Have them self-evaluate. Give them a voice, no matter how soft it may be. Give them choices.


Mike Mohammed @Mo_physics

Self-advocacy is all about knowing what you want and what you need to get there. Or simply put: LIFE


Lisa Murray @LMurray_

I wish I snapped a picture of the learner I met with today who met her goal for the week. Her smile was priceless.

Evan Brudney @TheBrudneyBunch

Self-advocacy helps learners tailor their learning to fit the best way possible. Increases their motivation to learn!



Darren Ellwein @dellwein

Our group building/mindset activities in the first four weeks help learners develop the skills of self-advocacy. Learning inventories are a must to understand how they learn.



Susan Zanti @SusZanti5

Celebrate attempts at learning, show them as opportunities for growth, Listen to understand, and encourage effort.



Mark Levine @LevineWrites

We need to let them have voice and unlearn that we are the Master Minds...we are guides and they are the voice! 

Lemarr Treadwell M.Ed @LemarTreadwell

Opportunities to allow learners to Make Their Thinking Visible.




Congratulations to Meredith Johnson for winning our book, How to Personalize Learning


Meredith Johnson, @mjjohnson1216, is an Intervention Support Specialist at Collier County Public Schools in Marco Island, Florida. She seeks out others to work collaboratively with in the integration of 21st Century Learning skills.  Meredith participates in annual self-assessment monitoring of student records in compliance with all requirements of IDEA and its regulations; Florida Statutes related to Special programs for Exceptional students; and Exceptional Student Education/Florida Education Finance Program (ESE/FEFP). She assists district and school-based administrators with F.T.E., student projections, compliance monitoring, and federal, state and local reports.


"Self-advocating increases joy, motivation, ownership in success
and is a choice we all make each day."

Meredith loves working with children, guiding them in developing their academic achievement and using technology as a tool to help them achieve their goals. She is a passionate educator who has loved every minute of the past four decades working with teams of teachers to improve the educational process for children. Meredith is looking forward to adventures with future innovations that will help students become well prepared for the future ahead of them.

"How about holding discussions with learners about what these
self care ideas mean to them? Beginning steps in self advocacy."






How to Personalize Learning is your practical guide to getting started and going deeper with personalized learning. Corwin has offered our followers a 20% discount code. Go to Corwin Press and use the discount code N169O6 for your own copy.




Save the Date, Monday, December 5th for our next #plearnchat

4pm PST, 5pm MST, 6pm CST, and 7pm EST



We archived the entire #plearnchat about Self-Advocacy below for your convenience and as a resource.



Monday, November 7, 2016

Getting Started and Going Deeper When Personalizing Learning



Our new book, How to Personalize Learning: A Practical Guide to Getting Started and Going Deeper, was just released on October 18th, 2016. We have been getting amazing feedback from so many that we decided to share our excitement with fantastic educators who joined us in our #plearnchat on 11/7/16.  We went through our book and came up with some general questions using the Q1, A1 format:

We wanted to share a few of the insightful tweets from the conversations around personalizing learning with you.


Brian Anton ‏@FHS_Anton

"Common beliefs/language allow for all stakeholders to understand expectations and common goals."

Jay Eitner @Jay_Eitner

"A common language is paramount for every learner, parent, and student. It keeps everyone focused and on the same page!"

Pam Hubler ‏@specialtechie

"The what, how and why of learning. The only way to create buy-in and ownership of learning. Best practices work for all."

Shelly Vohra PhD @raspberryberet3

"Learners need to know 'why'; why do I need to learn this? Why should I learn this?"

Lisa Murray @LMurray_

"Learning styles may limit students by relying on one mode. Different activities/skills may require different strategies."

Andrea Kornowski @andreakornowski

"Agency helps to build college and career readiness skills and success later in life. More agency = increased engagement."

Carol Frey Reinagel @MrsReinagel

"Agency is about being purposeful, which gives them buy-in and motives learners to learn more deeply."

Colleen Bergin @bergincolleen

"Choice boards, allowing learners to choose how to demonstrate mastery of skill, give feedback on activities to improve."

Rachel Murat @MrsMurat

In inquiry learning ask learners to compare responses to non Googleable questions. Why did they answer that way? What's different?"

David Truss @datruss

"We need students and educators to Care, Share, and Dare!"




Congratulations to Charity Dodd, @CharityDodd, for winning our book, How to Personalize Learning



Charity Dodd @CharityDodd, Specialist in Learning and Leading for Battelle for Kids, leads the Professional Learning work stream to engage with twenty-seven school districts in Ohio to help increase student achievement.

She has over 15 years experience in education at all levels. Her goal is to improve teacher effectiveness to college and career readiness for students, and encourage collaboration among school districts in Ohio.


Charity accelerates college and career readiness within schools by providing professional development in career pathways, teacher leadership, improving teacher effectiveness, formative instructional practices, student motivation.

"Schools (teachers, administrators, students, parents, community) must know the goals and how personalized learning supports them."

"Agency is such an important life skill! We cannot "spoon feed" students. They need to be empowered...all students!!" 




Our new book, How to Personalize Learning, has launched. Yeah! This book is your practical guide to getting started and going deeper with personalized learning.  Corwin has offered our followers a 20% discount code. Go to Corwin Press and use the discount code N169O6 for your own copy.


Save the Date, Monday, November 14th for our next #plearnchat

4pm PST, 5pm MST, 6pm CST, and 7pm EST


We archived the entire #plearnchat about Getting Started and Going Deeper into Personalized Learning below for your convenience and as a resource.