Monday, November 12, 2018

Eastern Kansas Regional Educators Rising Conference 2018

"Calling All Teachers" Kansas
Regional Easter Region
Educators Rising Conference
MidAmerica Nazarene U
November 7, 2018
On Wednesday, November 7, CAPS Teacher Education students joined in with a group of over 300 other students, teacher leaders, and administrators, to attend the Kansas Eastern Regional Educators Rising Conference held at Mid-America Nazarene University in Olathe, KS.

Opened by student officers, two of which are Taylor Falkner, state co-vice president and current CAPS Teacher Ed student, and Megan Andrievk, current K-State student and CAPS Teacher Ed alum, and members of the planning committee, including Emma Hines, CAPS Teacher Ed student, the conference got off to a great start with keynote speaker Rachael Mann, co-author of The Martians in Your Classroom and founder of Teach Like TED.

The keynote presentation was followed by three sets of sessions, all themed by social media:  "Snap That" focusing on applications that can help students openly discuss their ideas and thoughts on educational activities and featuring ideas to help enhance learning in an innovative way to benefit every student in the classroom, "Tweeter" featuring information about branding and social media Do’s and Don’ts and building one’s digital image, "Find My Path" focusing on encouraging students to think about the opportunities in and magnitude of future career options, "Instacapture" focusing on how students/future teachers can openly share ideas with other students while maintaining a more focused and active engagement in a classroom environment, "Team Time" focusing on how the use of communication tools  allows students to enter a teamwork-based environment, which allows students/future teachers to improve their teamwork skills while also allowing them to engage more openly in classroom settings, "U-Moji" encouraging students and future teachers to create and realize the importance of  their own personal brands in both the business and social world, and "Charge Me" helping to recharge the conference experience with snacks and visit displays on innovation and teaching, including displays by Microsoft, TeachLive, MNU Progressive Technology, a concession stand, and more. Students attended various sessions of their choice throughout the day, and some students competed in education-related competitions.
CAPS Teacher Ed students who placed in competitions:

Amanda Epperson, 1st Place
Maddie Nei, 3rd Place
Hanna Patterson, 1st Place
Sal Norris, 3rd Place
Jada Harper, 2nd Place
Jacqueline Keith, 3rd Place

 CAPS Teacher Ed students also presented their concurrent session:  Relationships, Technology, and Mental Health.  

The conference came to a close with the words of another keynote speaker, Erik Erazo of the Olathe, KS, School District. 

The conference was a great experience for our CAPS Teacher Ed students and all other students in attendance.  CAPS Teacher Education students in attendance (and who presented) were Jacqueline Keith, Madalynn Nei, Hannah Patterson, Maddie Peterson, Christian Spitz, Sean Suchma, McKenzie Allen, Paige Archambault, Cole Clayton, Amanda Epperson, Taylor Falkner, Ally Farris, Katie George, Savannah Greathouse, Jada Harper, Emma Hines, Lorily Mitchell, Sal Norris, Madelyn Slaney, and Macy Talkington. First and second place winners of the competitions will advance to the State Educators Rising Conference to be held on February 27, 2019 at Friends University, Wichita, KS.

Friday, November 9, 2018

“Conversational Leadership is the … intentional use of conversation as a core process to cultivate the collective intelligence needed to create business and social value.”

~ Carolyn Baldwin

On Friday, November 16, CAPS Teacher Education students will connect with students from an elementary classroom in Edmonton-Alberta Canada.  We are planning a Mystery Skype (Microsoft) to share concepts of culture and learning with the students there.  The school uses the Nehiyaw Pimatisiwin Cree Language and Culture Program which provides students with an education that promotes an appreciation of cultural diversity in all aspects of learning.
Our students will engage in a conversation with these students in order to learn about their culture and to share aspects of their own culture in the United States.  The experience proves to be an enriching one for both groups of students.  Dr. Tammy Fry, CAPS Teacher Education Instructor, and Mr. Bryan Strong, 1st Grade teacher at the elementary school in Canada, will guide the students through the conversation process as a means of establishing cultural appreciation and opportunities for deeper learning.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Are you Ready?

Every year, a new group of students walks into the CAPS Teacher Education program in the Blue Valley School District.  Never knowing the students' backgrounds or abilities, it is always a great deal of fun watching emerging leaders and shaping our activities to the interests and passions of each of them.  

Last week, students were able to join other students in the other CAPS Strands for an all-CAPS Hackathon.  The Teacher Ed students worked on varied teams with other CAPS students to come up with solutions for issues presented by some of our business and professional partners!  It was fun listening to all of their pitches, and the clients were blown away by the professionalism of all of the students!

Just this past week, we had our first full week of classroom time.  Though we only had five days, we packed a great deal into our schedules.
  • Students brainstormed on topics for presentations of concurrent sessions at conferences and came up with "Relationships, Technology, and Mental Health:  A student-focused conversation" The thoroughness of our discussions is revealed in the conference session description: "Technology has had a positive place in education with its resources for learning and communication, but it also has received negative press considering addictions to devices, time on task, and isolation of students.  Students, however, feel that they are not connected to devices but rather connected to a network and community in which they live. Educators could feel more comfortable with this concept if technology could be viewed as an asset rather than a distraction.  Join us to hear from students on how teachers can leverage technology to not only build better relationships with students and each other, but also as a way to promote mental health, confidence, positivity, and acceptance into a lifelong community of learners.
This session is created by and presented by eleventh and twelfth grade high school students who are a part of a Teacher Education program at the Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional Studies.  They work with practicing teachers and their students and also research and study innovations in learning."
We have submitted our proposal to present at the Greenbush Educational Technology Conference this Fall and are now waiting to see if our proposal will be accepted to present.

Students, this week, were also introduced to the professional side of Twitter, many being asked to create a Twitter account just to use with education professionals with whom they associate as a part of our class activities. Time was also spent playing a game of Family Feud and participating in an activity to get to know each other better. In addition, the students went on a virtual scavenger hunt using the Goosechase App, to learn more about the CAPS building and some of the people in it.

All students set up their Educators Rising accounts at so that they can collaborate with future and practicing teachers across the nation.

Projects were discussed, and students had an opportunity to designate some as those they might want to pursue because of their interests or passions. We are still coming up with project ideas as well. Some of the projects we are planning are the following:
  • WHITEHORSE-working with the Indigo Project on developing curriculum for students of the Navajo Nation who attend school in Utah
  • STEM virtual teaching-working with Dr. Lucas Shivers, Director of Elementary Education in Manhattan, KS, to design a STEM workshop for 5th graders and teach it virtually using a Double Robot
  • LITERACY project-working with Stanley Elementary on reading strategies and mentoring 5th graders as Instructional Coaches as they work with 2nd graders
  • CAPS KIDS--what would happen if we could start our own school?  Many students are interested in researching and looking at the possibilities!
  • …and other projects are possibilities as well!
Students also took the INDIGO surveys this week which provides to them information about their strengths, skills areas, and dynamics of group interactions.  We will continue to look at these results as we work with each other and with students and teachers in classrooms.

Very soon, our students will be entering classrooms to work with students and teachers.  After this week's discussions on design thinking, growth and fixed mindsets, and project/problem based learning, our students will have a very authentic approach to working with their students and creating learning activities.

I'm sure this next week will be packed with more incredible genius and fun!  Please watch our website for upcoming events and information: and follow us on Twitter: @wevegotclass

I have seen the future of education,( I see the makers every day), and it is great!

Graphic credit:

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What Have You Gained????

For the past few years, my goal has been to complete my Ph.D. at the University of Kansas.  Along the way, my end goal was always in sight with little consideration for the changes that were occurring along the way.  Having my head buried in reading, working on coursework, and writing, sometimes I would ask myself, “what am I doing?” 

Early last Fall, I was answering to my doctoral committee on questions and issues in educational technology, focusing on what I had learned from my reading and research and on how I would put that all to use in constructing my research proposal and methodology. 

I was thrown when one of my committee members asked me what I had gained from working on my doctorate at KU. In the throes of coursework and networking, I had lost sight of exactly what I was doing and how it was all transforming me. 

You see, I always viewed this degree as an end…a sign that I had proverbially “made it” in terms of my education and academic career.  Upon finishing, I would have time to breathe and relax and really take in the world around me.  Just the opposite happened.

I find myself reading and writing even more, partaking in synchronous and asynchronous discussions on a regular basis, elevating my need for information, and researching topics to transform my work and interactions.  I see now why that committee member wanted me to reflect on my work at KU.

So, Dr. Zhao, in a long-awaited answer to your question that you asked last October, my experience through this process has transformed me. I crave more quality and research-driven information.  I’m constantly reading and researching, and my experience has made me entrepreneurial in the sense that I want to seek out the “why” of every issue I encounter.  I feel a charge to change my world and that of others.  I read journals and papers now with a renewed sense of critical inquiry and hope. 

Thank you for asking the question that has been stuck in my mind since it was asked.  I thought I was getting a degree; instead, I gained a vision of who I truly am and why this journey was so incredibly important to me.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Differentiating Learning Opportunities

Learning is the interactions between students and content and how each affects the other. The practice of learning something occurs when a student is able to understand not only literal content but also the way that content affects him or her. Many confuse learning with a student’s ability to recite or to memorize content, but the student truly needs to be able to interact in a cognizant way with the content before true learning occurs.

I know that I learn best by interacting with content visually. I always have to make a chart or picture of something before I can truly “see” and understand it. By seeing a visual depiction of what I am supposed to learn, my brain truly begins to make the connections of understanding. I have come to the conclusion that I am a visual learner over time. I used to make lists in my notes when I would study for a test, but, now, looking back, I realize that I could picture those lists in my mind, and many times, I could remember something simply by remembering where it was on the page of my notes. I also used mnemonic devices as I learned. To this day, I remember that Thomas Hooker founded Connecticut by visualizing the “hook” “connecting.”

The teacher’s role in seeing learning as a true interaction is to be a catalyst for new ideas and activities that can be used to cultivate the learning within all learning styles. While I am a visual learner, others will be audio learners or kinetic or kinesthetic learners. All of us need differentiation in the provision of methods to interact with content. As a teacher, I am constantly trying to find different ways to present material to my students. I realize that in order to learn that which I desire them to learn, I must provide varied experiences.

Last semester, I provided a list of MENU items (My Educational Networking & Understanding) for students to complete. For each of the objectives for our course, I offered three different options/types of activities the students could complete. I also left a blank for suggestions for each. Some of the students came up with very creative ways to go about accomplishing particular objectives. I feel that they learned more from choosing interactions with which they were comfortable than what they would have learned if I had assigned the same thing for all.

As I see learning as a true interaction between content and students, there is no better connector than technology. With technology, students have a variety of ways that they can interact with even the same content. I might interact with a video from which I can acquire a true understanding of the objectives desired. Another student might do better by listening to someone else talk about the content. Technology can be the great leveler in education if used in a productive and meaningful way.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Libraries and the Future

In viewing the “State of the Libraries 2017” report from the ALA, it is obvious that the role of today’s libraries is as strong as ever.  Libraries and the media specialists managing them have been a crucial entity in keeping up with the changes of the 21st century.  In the recent report findings, the library is seen as having a specific effect in the following areas:  instruction in initial coursework, student success, collaborative academic programs and services, and information literacy.
It is hoped that the ESSA or Every Student Succeeds Act will provide more widespread support for libraries in the recognition that library personnel play an integral part in the area of instructional support.

The library could very well have been a dying breed with the onset of sophisticated digital tools including virtual book checkouts and ebooks; but instead, this collective group turned these changes into opportunities to better serve students.  Unlike many areas of education which refuse to change a system developed long ago, the library has embraced the challenge and risen to recognize, enhance,  and fulfill the needs of 21st century learners.