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December 2013
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Tag – You’re It! Blog Meme

December 29, 2013   

Many thanks to Ben Wilkoff for tagging me in a blog meme –what a great way to reflect as 2013 comes to a close!  Ben was tagged on  Jeremy Inscho’s blog, who was inspired by Dean Shareski’s post.  I decided to follow Ben’s lead in tagging some Colorado bloggers – many from my school district.  I hope you’ll play along.  Here’s my homework:

11 Random Facts about Me

  1. I started my education career as a music teacher, and my first job was actually at an early childhood center on Bolling AFB in Washington DC.
  2. During the height of the aerobic craze of the 80s – I taught aerobics in Hampton, VA and once was in a mall show with Richard Simmons!
  3. I have been participating in social media since the early 90s– a favorite hobby is planning vacations for my family and I used electronic bulletin boards and cruise critic travel boards via Prodigy and AOL back then to do this!
  4. I have played guitar since the 5th grade, and have sung in many weddings over the years.
  5. I lived in Germany with my Air Force husband for 3 years, and visited 12 different countries during that time, in addition to Volksmarching in multiple German towns every weekend.
  6. I grew up in the St. Louis area.
  7. In my sophomore year, I became president of our school’s chapter of Future Teachers of America.
  8. When I was in high school, my first job was at Six Flags Over Mid-America (St. Louis).
  9. I’m left-handed.
  10. I am very proud of my 2 daughters – one in Seattle who is a former Peace Corps volunteer (Guinea) & recruiter, now working for the Department of Immigration, and one who is an Air Traffic Controller in the Denver area, after serving 6 years in the Air Force.
  11. I just celebrated my 30 year anniversary with my husband – the love of my life, and my best friend – who received his PhD last week in Engineering- Security.

11 Questions from Ben:

  1. Where do you go when you want to think? It’s not so much a place as a time. My favorite thinking time is actually just as I am waking up in the morning. (Often times, this happens earlier than I’d like!)
  2. What is your writing ritual? I have been known to get up out of bed and write down some ideas –usually in the form of lists.  I tend to do my best writing early in the morning while these ideas are still percolating.  But leisurely weekends are nice too – I read some of the gems shared by my PLN, follow links, add to my curated topics on Scoop-It, and realize I have some new insights to share  as a result of this process.
  3. What is the best thing that you can cook? Lasagna! A close second, in the dessert category, is Chicago-style chocolate chip cheesecake.
  4. When did you know you wanted to be an educator? Since about the 9th grade.  I was inspired by my high school choir teachers, Miss G. & Mickey and also from a “cadet teaching” experience.
  5. How do you learn best? Through personal research, reading, reflecting, creating my own visuals—essentially curating. If we are talking about learning a new skill, though—I Iearn by doing, as I believe all people do. Practice, practice, practice!
  6. What is the most amazing thing you ever saw a kid do (your child or someone else’s)?  What comes to mind –the first time your children offer to pick up the bill when the family goes out to eat—you know they’ve “made” it. 🙂
  7. What is the one thing you want to do most before you shuffle off this mortal coil? I have always felt truly blessed to have such a wonderful family, the opportunity to travel, meet interesting people, have a job that I love to do and the ability to continuously learn and grow. I really can’t think of anything that is a “must do” at this point.
  8. What do you think of Google Glass? Since I am traveling to China in March, the language translation capabilities are the most intriguing to me at the moment. Otherwise, I haven’t really given them much thought.  I tend to be “on the fence” with new technologies until I see a way that they can be transformative – rather than just another fad.  Time will tell, I guess.

    Stained Glass by Margaret Hansen

  9. What is the best piece of art you ever purchased? A good friend, Maggie Hansen, is a stained-glass artist.  I like to think of

    my living room as a “Maggie Hansen art gallery” –with a 3-panel Tuscany stained-glass scene, and a beautifu mountain scene.

  10. What would the tagline for a movie about your life be? “Lifelong learner.”
  11. What do you do when there is a jar that you just can’t open? First I get one of those rubber jar-opening gizmos and see if that will do the trick. If not – I hand it over to my husband to open for me!

Now It’s Your Turn: Tag –You are IT!

  1. Susan Murray-Carrico: Paradigm Shift  – @FrauSusi
  2. Phil McIntosh: Mister McIntosh Says  – @mistermcintosh
  3. April Gudenrath: The Blended English/Ethics Classroom  – @agudteach
  4. Matt Pacione: Matt’s Math  – @mattsmath
  5. Ryan McClintock: The Collaboraider  – @ryanmcclintock
  6. Cathleen Nardi:  Exploring Digital Culture  – @cathleennardi
  7. Zoe Midler: Not a Rocking Chair Librarian @zmidler
  8. Deanna Dykstra: Forthcoming  – @dkdykstra
  9. Matthew Woolums: The Village Green –  @matthewwoolums
  10. Doug Hinkle: @doughink –This is a challenge to Doug to use this opportunity to start a blog – I know he has a lot to share!!
  11. ??? – Who in my PLN wants to take this challenge?  I leave this slot open for you!


11 Questions for these Bloggers

  1. What is your favorite technology tool for personal use?
  2. What is your favorite technology tool for students?
  3. What is your favorite book?
  4. What is the “next big thing” for education?
  5. Who do you most admire?
  6. What topic/topics are you currently researching?
  7. What is a favorite place you have visited?
  8. What inspires you?
  9. Who was your most memorable teacher?
  10. Were you a good student?
  11. How do you learn best?

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS: When you are tagged…

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.



Thoughts on Defining Innovation in Education

December 12, 2013   


I’ve been doing some thinking about how to best define innovation in education.  I’ve been reading a lot of mission statements lately for schools and districts and keep finding the word “innovative” used, yet little sign of practices in the objectives, tactics and goals to back this up. The tactics  and action plan seem to be oriented towards producing test scores and the practices seem 20th century at best.

If Business Innovation is defined this way:

The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.

…does this definition for education innovation follow?

Implementation of a new design, process, idea, or learning environment that increases an individual student or group of students’ ability to learn, as evidenced by their ability to make meaning and transfer.

Then I started translating additional parts of the business innovation definition for education this way:

Business: Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful products.


Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources

This could be resources of time or people as well as money.

In business, innovation often results when ideas are applied by the company in order to further satisfy the needs and expectations of the customers.

In education, innovation often results when ideas are applied to satisfy the needs and expectations of the students.

CC Photo by Brad Flickinger. Available

CC Photo by Brad Flickinger. Available

This is a powerful statement when you think about it –do we intentionally design and plan for the needs of the students? The individual student? How do we know what those needs are?  Do we go beyond test scores and consider the whole child when determining those needs? Their learning style? Their 21st century skills? At what point do we address the individual student needs in the backwards planning process? There is an obvious connection to personalized learning here.  Universal Design for Learning offers a framework that provides one possible approach.

I continued reading and translating the Business article for education:

In education, innovation helps create new methods for collaboration, interdisciplinary learning, flexible time ,  and flexible learning environments.  Innovations are divided into two broad categories:

  1. Evolutionary innovations) that are brought about by many incremental advances in technology or processes and
  2. Revolutionary innovations which are often disruptive and new.

risk takerInnovation is synonymous with risk-taking and organizations that create revolutionary changes in services and learning environments take on the greatest risk.

Given this definition, is your classroom, school, or district innovative?