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Campfire: Igniting Education with Blended Learning
53 minutes | Dec 15, 2015
Justin Bruno is a Research Associate for the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute, a division of Michigan Virtual University. Justin is a colleague and, for the past year, a fellow podcast host. The Virtual Viewpoints podcast features interviews with K-12 online and blended professionals. Conversation centers around how the power of applicable research enhances the quality of teaching and learning. Justin talks with practitioners, policy makers, administrators and researchers from around the nation, giving them a platform to share their stories. Justin and I reflect on the conversations with the guests we've had on our podcasts over the past year. We each chose clips from past guests that we felt were thought provoking, important to the profession or simply interesting to us to guide our own new conversation. We hope you enjoy and we both look forward to chatting with new guests in the year to come.
50 minutes | Dec 10, 2015
Ashlie O’Connor is an Instructional Technology and Data Coach for the Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational Service District and Alcona Community Schools itself. I met Ashlie this past summer at the Boyne Tech Conference. We both presented sessions in the same room. I really enjoyed her fast-pace presentation style and the practicality she brought to demonstrating EdTech tools. Since that time we’ve had a handful of deep educational conversations. My mind gets a good stretch with each one. In the podcast we talked about her efforts to help teachers establish digital communication channels with parents and we spent at least half of it getting practical about student data collection, interpretation and the practicality of personalized learning with it.
60 minutes | Oct 14, 2015
Erin Luckhardt is an 8th-grade social studies teacher at Boyne City Middle School. She’s one of the organizers of the Boyne Tech Conference which has been held the last two years in late June after school ends. If you haven’t been up before, there are a lot of great sessions led by teachers sharing their best practices. In our conversation, we talked about the components that help support effective technology PD, how to sustain learning beyond the initial PD session and applying competency-based learning at the classroom level.
63 minutes | Sep 1, 2015
Andrea Zellner is a Technology Integration Specialist at Oakland Schools, working exclusively with the Pontiac School District. She is also a Ph.D student in the Educational Psychology and Educational Technology program at Michigan State University, a Red Cedar Writing Project disciple, a former high school English and biology teacher and a self-proclaimed “shenanigans instigator.” Andrea told me about the Tech Cafe, a drop in professional development center they’ve recently established in Pontiac where teachers can receive educational technology support. We spent a great deal of our conversation thinking about the impact of social media on teaching and learning. We also talked about the kind of informal learning that can happen in social media, while also exploring the value of anonymity and disposability as well.
61 minutes | Aug 26, 2015
Rachelle Wynkoop is the Supervisor of Secondary Curriculum and Professional Development at the Port Huron Area School District. She is an active member of the #michED community and a regular presenter at education conferences throughout the state. Rachelle’s also a remarkable champion for the benefits of blended learning as a companion to great teaching.
49 minutes | Apr 30, 2015
Cresta Wright is the Instructional Technology Coordinator at Pennfield Public Schools in Battle Creek. Her career in education started in Pennfield as a classroom teacher where she was dabbling in blending learning before the phrase had much buzz. Between her Pennfield tenures she was a Technology Integration Specialist at Union City Community Schools. Cresta and I talked about shifting from a consulting to coaching mentality while working with teachers, how growing up in an agricultural environment shaped her understanding of teaching and learning from an early age and the unexpected learning that can happen when you share your work, no matter how good you think it is.
29 minutes | Apr 22, 2015
Sarah Wood is is an Educational Technologist at Godfrey-Lee Public Schools in Wyoming, Mich. She works with K-12 teachers to utilize the technology resources that the district has available. There is no such thing as a “normal” week in her role, something she enjoys. Over eight years she says her responsibilities have morphed as technology has evolved. I was excited to talk to Sarah about Godfrey-Lee’s Rebel U event, their own educational technology conference that takes place during teacher days in August. We also chatted about how she approaches using tech integration to meet districtwide goals.
48 minutes | Apr 15, 2015
Kerry Guiliano is a Technology Integration Specialist at Oakland Schools. As part of the intermediate school district’s shared services model she works exclusively with Southfield Public Schools, helping educators to use technologies thoughtfully for teaching and learning. Before Kerry’s current role, she was a Spanish and technology teacher. As an elective teacher she worked with an incredible range of students from a young fives program all the way up to 12th-graders. Kerry shared her story as an educator and described her transition from a technology using teacher to more of a blended facilitator. We also discussed her coaching relationships with teachers and how she’s helping administrators to start providing professional development using blended strategies.
47 minutes | Apr 8, 2015
Kit Hard is an Education Technology Specialist at Marysville Public Schools. Part of his professional responsibilities are to provide training and support to teachers, which he focuses predominantly around blended learning instruction and formative assessment. He’s also a Universal Design for Learning evangelist, a Maker movement supporter and a #michED leader. I love having a conversation with Kit because he’s always got exciting news about projects that he’s working on with teachers in his district and it’s fun to hear him share very detailed stories of the learning that’s taking place in Marysville. This time we chatted about the collaborative PD community that he’s helping to cultivate with teachers and his role in building up teacher capacity to use blended learning strategies with their students. Particularly, I found the way he’s using the station-rotation model as a starting point for lesson design and adaptive curriculum packages to off-load some of the content creation responsibility to be a really practical approach to support teachers just beginning to blend their classroom.
37 minutes | Apr 1, 2015
Elaine Mantinan is a Spanish teacher at L'Anse Creuse High School - North in Macomb, Mich. When her principal approached her to be among the first educators in L’Anse Creuse Public Schools to pioneer their blended learning initiative, she was excited to take part. Over the past two school years she’s been designing, building and teaching a blended Spanish course. We chatted about the infrastructure and course design considerations necessary for this new course type. We talked about the culture building that needed to happen for students to acclimate to a blended learning environment after years of traditional schooling. Elaine also shared her thoughts on proactive and reactive designs for differentiated student learning. She’s really skilled at creating conversations that flow between the online and face-to-face environments that encourage interactions that deepen language learning.
53 minutes | Mar 25, 2015
Attending the MACUL conference is one of the biggest highlights of the year for Michigan educators. Over 4500 attendees descended on the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit to soak up sessions put on by teachers throughout the state as well as international thought leaders in the field of EdTech and innovation. Jamie, Brandon, Roman and I attended MACUL, representing MyBlend as presenters and connecting with folks at our booth in the vendor area as well. We enjoyed connecting with lots of #michED friends, making new connections and engaging in deep thoughtful conversations on the whole. In the days following the conference, we’ve been trying to unpack and share our reflections as so many others do. Personally I was having a bit of writer’s block. Brandon suggested we do a podcast so I booked a meeting room here at MVU and put a mic in the middle of the table. I didn’t have guiding questions but I think the four of us did a pretty good job of improvising. There is a lot of merit to planning and preparation. We are deeply thoughtful people. But sometimes you just need to jump and trust that you’ll do well. Listening to the recording now, I like the rawness and I’m glad that we captured these thoughts for us to do something with them in the future. Ironically that’s the power of reflections, to look forward as you think back. See more reflections from others on our blog post: http://myblend.org/blog/myblend-stories-macul15
71 minutes | Mar 3, 2015
Chris Stanley is a 21st Century Teacher with Fraser Public Schools. This is an interesting position that the district has created: part instructional coach, part classroom teacher. Primarily he supports secondary level staff and students in integrating technology to enhance learning. In fact he is currently working exclusively in this capacity. Yet as recently as last semester he was also teaching two ELA classes at the high school, a content area that he’s taught since 2008. We chatted about personalized learning strategies that strike a balance between proactive and reactive differentiation, which led us to talk about the power of structuring learning around inquiry and his early impressions of using a competency based learning approach with his students.
47 minutes | Feb 24, 2015
Ann Smart is an instructional coach with Adrian Public Schools, the same district she attended as a student. After completing her bachelor's degree at Adrian College in 2002, she developed her craft as a high school reading teacher and literacy coach in Colorado for a year and the state of Washington for six. In 2010, she returned to Adrian to teach reading at the middle school, before transitioning into her current role as instructional coach. She is in the midst of her third year in this position. We discussed her favorite aspects of being an instructional coach, her work with teachers in implementing inquiry based learning strategies and the district’s exploration of learning environment design as part of their model classroom initiative. This is her story.
22 minutes | Feb 17, 2015
We had the pleasure of talking to Tara Becker-Utess about how she began to explore blended learning as a result of connecting with the Michigan flipped classroom teaching community, and how her class has continuously evolved and improved as a direct result of the feedback she has received from her students along the way. With more time to engage with her students in the classroom, as well connecting with various personal learning networks, she rediscovered her love for teaching. Follow Tara on Twitter (@t_becker10)
35 minutes | Feb 10, 2015
Since 2007 Angela Mellott has been a teacher at Brandywine Community Schools. Brandywine Junior/Senior High School serves grades 7-12 and staff is shared between the middle and high school grade levels. Identifying opportunities to differentiate learning for her students, Angela began to explore blended learning in April 2014. She chose to work with MyBlend to support her growth in applying blended learning strategies to her course design. In our conversation she references two MyBlend professional development courses that focus on blended learning. One is an introductory level course that takes a comprehensive look at teaching and learning online and in a blended format. The second is a more advanced course which focuses on studying instructional design strategies and the digital tools for creation of content in a blended course. If you are interested in learning more about these courses, visit our enrollment page. http://myblend.org/enrollment I’ve worked closely with Angela as part of the Teacher’s Workbench, a component of MyBlend that pairs teachers with an instructional designer to support blended learning in their classrooms. Since August 2014 we’ve developed and implemented a blended learning design to a course that she previously taught all face-to-face. The course that she chose to blend, her Advanced Business course, consists of 13 Juniors and Seniors who have completed the basic business course that Angela also teaches. Angela mentioned that many of these students maintain jobs. With this in mind the school decided to implement a three-day onsite, two-day remote, weekly schedule in order to provide greater flexibility to their school/work balancing act. Our partnership has been unique, due in large part to the full access she has given me to her curriculum and the open dialog we’ve been able to have in regards to pedagogical choices to meet learning targets. Our conversation focused on her continued growth as a blended teacher, but I was happy to also capture some of the brainstorming conversation that we regularly have when discussing her students’ learning. My hope is that by having these conversations in the open, you can better understand the nature of our work together. This is her story.
62 minutes | Feb 3, 2015
Andrew Shauver began his teaching career in 2006. After going through the struggles of a first-year math teacher, he sought to create opportunities for his students that focused more on value and less on one-size, fit-all tasks. Before blended learning was a buzzword, he was developing online environments that gave students greater control over place, pace, path and time. In his career as a teacher with Webberville Community Schools and Pennfield Schools he continued to seek out designs that increased the accessibility of learning. There was a theme that flowed through our conversation, one of open learning and collaboration. The unpredictability of how learning objects will be used in a digital space is interesting to both of us. We discussed how we see this in the blogosphere, in social media and in classrooms. This learning ethos is built upon learning in the open, contributing ideas in expectation that they will be useful to others’ learning. But another key aspect of this ethos is that learners engage with the ideas in their own personal ways. I visited Andrew on the Ingham ISD campus to record our conversation. In November of 2014 he signed on with the ISD as an Instructional Technology Specialist, tasked with assisting teachers and schools throughout the county in their educational technology endeavors. We explore his approach to leading teachers in this capacity, Ingham ISD’s vision for developing a county-wide framework for blended learning as well as a teacher learning network to foster collaborative idea building throughout the county. This is his story.
32 minutes | Jan 26, 2015
Mary Wever has been teaching elementary school students since 2007. Currently she teaches a great group of third graders at Whitehills Elementary School, East Lansing Public Schools. We recorded this podcast during Mary’s plan period and then had the opportunity to teach Mary’s students about the recording equipment that we had set up. We talked with a lot of students. You can hear more of these clips on the other side of our conversation with Mary. We know Mrs. Wever quite well after visiting her classroom last year in addition to connecting with her through social media and at conferences. Mary taught at East Lansing’s Red Cedar Elementary until it closed last year. She relocated to Whitehills for this school year. Mary has utilized the opportunity of moving to a new building to explore the design of the physical learning spaces of her classroom. She was a finalist in the classroom cribs challenge in the fall of 2014, recognizing the way she designed the interiors of her room to compliment the students’ learning needs. We also discussed how curriculum mastery informs her blended learning choices, the state of teacher education and professional development and the tweaks that could be made to improve these systems, and she offered a fascinating self-analysis of her leadership style. To learn more about MyBlend, visit myblend.org
50 minutes | Jan 8, 2015
Since 2002, Melody Arabo has been a third-grade teacher at Keith Elementary in the Walled Lake Consolidated School District. In May, she was named the Michigan Teacher of the Year for the 2014-2015 school year. Literally overnight, she became the lead voice of educators throughout the state. We talked about blended learning strategies, building a culture of collaboration in education and got a sneak preview of her new book, “Diary of a Real Bully.” Follow Melody on Twitter: https://twitter.com/melodyarabo
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