Monday, October 26, 2020

Teaching Simulation for Practice

CAPS Teacher Education students have been working with SimSchool, an artificial intelligence-operated teaching simulation program.  The program gives students a chance to practice their teaching strategies in a low-risk environment with avatar students. 
After some initial training sessions, students, this week, chose various age levels, abilities, and subject areas to add more focus to their practice.  At the end of their sessions, the students get a report which analyzes their interactions with the “students” to determine whether or not they want to re-teach the same group or move on to another class of students.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

RIP Sir Ken Robinson

 I had the opportunity to meet Sir Ken Robinson at FETC in 2018.  I can't deny that I was kind of a Groupie and waited an inordinate length of time just to get a chance to speak to him, shake his hand, tell him how I valued his work, and have him autograph one of his books. 

Each year that I have worked with future teachers, I have played a few of Sir Ken's TED talks and had tremendous discussions with my students about his views and the example he set for charging forward and trying to reform education to provide the best opportunities for students.

I was saddened to hear that he passed away on August 21, 2020.  Though he is physically gone from our world, his soul and spirit for exciting educators everywhere will never go away.

I will continue to keep his spirit alive, and my students will always know his courage, his views, and his life as a great forward-thinker in education.


Friday, May 1, 2020

A New Era for Teaching...

If someone had told me that I would be teaching totally online for the rest of the Spring semester, I would not have believed them.  I do teach online for two universities, so it's not that I am a stranger to the format, but taking away the f2f opportunities of students in a hands-on future teacher program just wasn't in my wheelhouse.  As a result, I and my colleagues, who teach at a career center embedded in design thinking and project and profession-based learning, have had to re-think the way we interact with students who are also having a difficult time dealing with the change.

I feel for my seniors who lament that they are missing their proms and graduation parties, but I also see this as an opportunity for them (and us) to put things in perspective.  Missing a grad party seems minuscule compared to dying from a disease or losing one's financial support for family.  It is time to take a long look at ourselves and the way we manage and execute our daily lives.  My daughter mentioned that she had never seen so many families out doing things together.  While that is true, I fear for those students whose positive vibes were solely provided by their interactions with students and teachers at school.

This is a time when we can reimagine and think of what could be.  Education will likely never be the same after this.  Teachers have learned new techniques and districts have considered scheduling and operational changes.  Let's not let this time spent be wasted but rather used to reinvent ourselves and look forward to change.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The New Normal for us All

This week began a new era in our Teacher Education program history at CAPS...moving online.  The students were great and seemed eager to see each other again! 

Instruction will certainly change.  Normally at this time, the students in our program would be out doing internships in classrooms, observing, teaching, learning; however, we will be looking ahead to try to simulate activities as closely as possible to the college course curriculum we would be continuing face-to-face if this all had not happened.

That being said, it was GREAT to see the students' faces and catch up with what is going on in their worlds.  I look forward to many more Zoom calls and conversations as we proceed.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Kansas Educators Rising State Conference Results February 2020

The following students competed at the state Educators Rising Conference on February 11, 2020, held at Emporia State University.  As a result of their results, they have qualified to compete at the national Educators Rising Conference in Washington, D.C., June 2020:

Kateann Penrose, state Vice President
Madilyn Veatch, 3rd place, Creative Lecture/TED Talk
Molly Stasieluk, 2nd place team, Ethical Dilemma

Samantha Randazzo, 3rd place, Educators Rising Moment Talk
Mackenzie Paul, 1st place team, Children’s Literature K-3

Jaden Webster, 2nd place, Impromptu Speaking
Jaden Webster, 2nd place team, Ethical Dilemma
Veronica Weng, 2nd place team, Ethical Dilemma
Justin Pfeiff, 4th place, Impromptu Speaking

Dasha Carver, 1st place team, Children’s Literature K-3

Friday, November 15, 2019

Thoughts on "Five Principles for Workable Client-Based Projects: Lessons from the Trenches" by Lopez and Lee

In "Five Principles for Workable Client-Based Projects:  Lessons from the Trenches" (2005), Lopez and Lee discuss considerations for making experiential-learning opportunities successful.  The benefits for client-based projects (CBP's):
  • Providing active-experiential learning
  • Promoting skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, communication, teamwork
  • Adding "realism" to coursework
  • Increasing student motivation and engagement due to developing products for an authentic purpose
Often, teachers shy away from these types of opportunities because of time, uncertainty of assessments, and unfamiliarity with the process of finding clients.  

Teachers should be selective with the client search and develop projects of varying scope...semester-long, month-long, year-long, etc.  This might present a problem for teachers who are still dealing with a traditional school schedule and grading system.  The recruitment of clients should be thought out carefully in advance with objectives clearly in mind.  In addition, teachers should carry high expectations for clients and outline the process well in advance to avoid any misconceptions.  Periodic and productive means of feedback need to be built in to the process as well.

Teachers in this environment should work to develop their networking skills and should always be looking out for potential clients.  At the early stages, it would be great to have a centralized "client center" so that teachers feel confident in connecting with a quality and vetted client population.

For students, using a project management system online, such as Basecamp, Trello, or another, would allow consistent checkpoints and accountability.  

It is important to look for a client who has an identifiable problem that can be addressed, has appropriate time availability to guide students effectively and is available to students and the teacher, has great interest, enthusiasm, and a positive outlook but who understands the risk of failure and has realistic expectations.  It is also good to seek out the client's reason for working on this project and his/her open-mindedness about the outcome.

Lopez and Lee designated types of clients:
  • The Talker-talks but gets off subject-teacher would have to spend a lot of time re-directing students so that they stay on target
  • The overaccommodator-too open and not structured enough with requests-again, teacher would spend a lot of time making sure that objectives remain clear to the students
  • The undecided argumentative client-internally, the client's organization is not sure of direction which could confuse students and ultimately cause frustration, confusion, and lack of interest
  • The add-on client-keeps adding new ideas to the project-again, this could add to student frustration and confusion, leading to less than desirable buy-in and results
The teacher's role would be to mediate between all types of clients and the students, ensuring that projects stay on course for all.  This would require training for teachers who are not used to fulfilling this role in a traditional school setting.

One of the largest issues for teachers coming from a traditional setting will be scope of the projects and dealing with students who have short-term vs. long-term projects.  There could be an issue with structuring traditional class time when students are dealing with projects of varying length, demand, and deliverables.

Students and teachers will need clearly written/created instructional aids providing the guidelines for beginning and managing a successful project.  Aside from the normal design process, students not used to such a structure will need clear instructions and flow charts to allow them to navigate through this type of learning.  Accountability will need to be present for students of varying interests, abilities, and learning styles.  Pre-work with self-assessments such as Indigo or YouScience, and discussions around group dynamics and teamwork would be critical before any set up with a client on a project.

The quantitative assessment involved might be at issue with teachers as well.  With subjective "grading" that goes with the feedback process, it would be imperative to develop guidelines and rubrics ahead of time that meet student and teacher needs within this changing paradigm.

Something else that must be available to students would be a toolkit of resources that can be used, many to help with the soft skills necessary for students to communicate and work with clients on a professional and authentic basis, ie. guidelines for writing professional emails and reports, recording of data, asking good questions, conducting effective meetings, etc.

Non-disclosures should be discussed with students, and expectations should be set for regular feedback for teachers and students.

In summary, time and care should be put into making teachers feel comfortable with experiential learning opportunities and finding ways to merge this and complement teaching styles already in place.  By including teachers in the planning process from step one, their ownership in the process will be instrumental in the success of the project work.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Thank you to our Mentor Teachers!

Several times a semester, CAPS Teacher Ed reaches out to educators to provide opportunities for observations and interactions for our future teachers.  We would like to thank the following teachers for being part of our journey and for welcoming our students into their classrooms and schools!

Thank you to our Blue Valley District Educators:

Megan Holsapple, Wolf Springs Elementary School (CAPS Teacher Ed Alum)
Ryann Regier, Heartland Elementary (CAPS Teacher Ed Alum)

Polly Blair, Wolf Springs Elementary
Alyson Maher, Timber Creek Elementary
Taylor Douglas, Wolf Springs Elementary
Mark Mosier, Blue Valley High School
Madi Elpers, Blue Valley High School
Mary Garretson, Sunrise Point Elementary
Molly Gafney, Heartland Elementary
Cheryl Kerns, Blue ValleyWest High School
Cristi Clark, Sunrise Point Elementary
Jeff Ruelberg, Oxford Middle School
Chris LaValley, Blue Valley Northwest High School
Michael Richards, Oxford Middle School
Michelle Phifer, Oak Hill Elementary School
Melissa Humphreville, Leawood Middle School
Amy Young, Prairie Star Middle School
Katie Geist, Timber Creek Elementary School
Bill Smithyman, Blue Valley Northwest High School
Valerie Golden, Blue Valley Northwest High School
Kelsea Clayton, Stanley Elementary School

Also thank you to our other welcoming schools and educational organizations:

Kelly Chandler, Nativity Catholic School
Denny McKee, The Children's Place

We look forward to working with many more Blue Valley and other educators this school year!

Teaching and Technology Conference 2019

On October 9 and 10, CAPS Teacher Ed students traveled to Pittsburg State University where they presented two concurrent sessions each day at the Greenbush Teaching and Technology Conference for Teachers.  The presentation, entitled "Teachers in Paradise:  A Second Chance for Innovation in Learning," was created by and presented by all students in the program.

Kateann Penrose and Ashley Geer put together an opening video, featuring all of the CAPS Teacher Education students as a way to introduce themselves. 

Jade Ratterman joined in with her presentation of "Managing Type I Diabetes in the Classroom: What Teachers Need to Know" and Madilyn Veatch also added her presentation, "Lost in Space: The Importance of Environment on the Well-Being of Students."

Students who attended and presented both days were Halley Kern, Jade Ratterman, and Madilyn Veatch.

Other students who attended and presented one of the two days were Dasha Carver, Audrey Crawford, Jordan Durocher, Riley Hinmon, Regan LeValley, CaiLyn Nye, Mackenzie Paul, Leo Rakowski, Evelyn Lawler, Macey Lewin, Jordyn Messenger, Olivia Mueller, Molly Stasieluk, Chandler Traul, Jaden Webster, and Veronica Weng.

CAPS Teacher Ed students will present again at the 6th Annual Educators Rising Kansas Conference to be held November 6, 2019, on the campus of MidAmerica Nazarene University.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

CAPS Teacher Education Off to a Great Start!!

CAPS Teacher Education provides a transformational environment in which education is studied as a career, as a concept, and as a vehicle for change in the future.  Besides learning attributes of quality teaching and learning environments, students participate in regular collaborative project sessions and plan events outside of the CAPS environment.

Congratulations to Ms. Hannah Spencer, CAPS Teacher Education alumni and current student at the University of Kansas who has been named the recipient of the CAPS 2019 LULA Entrepreneurship Scholarship.  The Lula CAPS Entrepreneurship scholarship is exclusive to students who have successfully completed a CAPS program. Applicants provided transcripts, letter of completion from their CAPS program, resume, and an essay on the topic, “How did the CAPS program help you?
·       Students were also to be enrolled at any 2-year or 4-year university in the Fall of 2019.
During the week of September 2, the CAPS Teacher Education students visited Harmony Elementary to view their progressive and flexible physical environment and to discuss how the environment impacts learning and teaching.  They also spent a day at Stanley Elementary, reading to students ranging in age from Kindergarten to fifth grade for National Read a Book Day. 

During the week of September 9, the CAPS Teacher Education students are beginning their “duty assignments” at district elementary schools and soon will be traveling to their “teaching assignments” as well.  For duty assignments, the students travel to one elementary in the distric to help with education activities and responsibilities.  Many assist with car duty, lunch duty, or classroom duties.

On October 9 and 10, Teacher Ed students and Dr. Fry will travel to Pittsburg State University to present to practicing teachers at the Greenbush Teachers Technology Conference.  The student-created presentation will be interactive and is entitled Teachers in Paradise:  A Second Chance for Innovation in Learning.  Students will be presenting twice each day to an audience of teachers and administrators from many Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma school districts.

On November 6, the students will be assisting with hosting the Educators Rising Northeastern Regional Conference at MidAmerica Nazarene University.  Students from Blue Valley CAPS Teacher Education and Olathe’s 21st Century Future Teacher Academy have worked behind the scenes of the conference to develop theme, branding, web resources, programs, signage, and programming.  In addition, student will be presenting their conference presentation to high school students from across northeast Kansas and will also take part in competitions during the day.  These events will lead up to the Educators Rising state conference to be held at Emporia State University in February.  The logo for the conference was designed by CAPS Digital Design student Chloe Kuckelman.

CAPS Teacher Education already has many projects under way:

·      POZIKC will be selling manipulative dough again this year as a part of our CAPS Teacher Education student-run company, in conjunction with EdCorps and Real World Scholars. 
·      A plan is in the works to assist with curriculum development for autism-awareness puppet presentations for children in conjunction with ChaseKC
·      Dr. Shivers, Director of Elementary Education, Manhattan KS schools and CAPS Teacher Education students will again collaborate to build a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering,Math) lesson to be taught to Manhattan 5th graders virtually by our Teacher Education students.  This year, we will be incorporating alumni who are students in the Teacher Education program at Kansas State University.
CAPS Teacher Education students will be involved in a research study conducted by LeanLab EDU and Indigo Project.  The study will survey students from various strands at CAPS who will take the Indigo personal assessment to measure
career readiness, self-confidence, and personal direction.  A group of CAPS students will take a 5-hour online course to determine if the content helps to better the students’ career focus, self-awareness, and personal direction.  The study will take place over the Fall semester.
·      CAPS Teacher Education student ambassadors will assist in forming an Educators Rising Club at each of our high schools for students 9-12.  This club’s purpose will be to promote the profession of teaching and to get students involved in educational activities and collaborating with educators and administrators across the district’s schools.  The clubs will be beginning initial activities during September.

We are excited about what the year will bring to our students and the start of a possible career in education!  Follow us on Twitter: