Students Communicating Ideas Through Videos @ECVHS! #guhsdtech

screenshot-2016-12-21-at-12-10-29-pmscreenshot-2016-12-21-at-12-11-16-pmI’m writing this quick post while sitting in Mrs. Miller´s AVID class watching as students showcase the videos they produced using WeVideo. Amazing ECVHS AVID teachers Mrs. Miller and Mr. Millican are preparing their students to write University of California Personal Statements by having them create personal statement videos this semester. I’ve had the pleasure of viewing many student videos in which students communicate their hopes, dreams, and experiences. I am inspired by the young people at my school who have allowed themselves to be vulnerable enough to share themselves.

screenshot-2016-12-21-at-12-12-03-pmscreenshot-2016-12-21-at-12-12-26-pmIn addition to WeVideo in AVID, I’ve seen Mrs. Jones have students create Adobe Spark videos for a cultural project and Ms. Goodin and Mr. Enerva have students share research findings through Adobe Spark videos. I love that students are getting practice communicating ideas through videos!



QTEL Summer Institute

#INFO233 PLN Post 4

The week of July 18th I was able to go to The Quality Teaching for English Learners Summer Institute in San Francisco with a team of educators from my school. I was connected to this professional development opportunity through Brent Enerva (@mrenerva). Brent was drawn to this institute as a science teacher working on effectively implementing Next Generation Science Standards with a high English learning population. However, he initially thought that the cost would be prohibitive (flight, hotel, registration would add up to about $4,000). Still, he asked our school site council, and not only was he approved, it was suggested that he bring a team of educators. To make a long story short, with the support of our school site council and our principal (@KimPattersonECV), Brent brought a team of five to this valuable (and expensive) learning opportunity.

20160719_151959One lesson from this experience is that it never hurts to ask when you see a valuable PD experience come along. I am very glad that I got to participate in the QTEL Summer Institute. I spent about 6 hours a day learning in my sessions, and then I spent time in the afternoons exploring San Francisco with colleagues while processing what we were learning.

Summary of Learning20160718_080808

The institute was held in the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio. I was able to hear from icons of English learner instruction such as Aida Walqui and Kenji Hakuta. Our session leader gave us instruction on QTEL’s 3 moments approach to designing lessons for English learners: Preparing the learner, Interacting with the text, and Extending student learning. As a Trainer of Trainers in SDAIE, I was familiar with these concepts, but participating in an immersive training like this Summer Institute helped me internalize how keeping QTEL’s 3 moments in mind will ensure effective implementation of ELD standards. I look forward to bringing what I learned to future meetings and trainings with staff members this school year.

Take Aways

The most significant connections I made during this training were:

1. If learning, especially language learning, is social, then we should facilitate the kinds of interactions among students that promote language exchange.

2. ZPD! Is it bad that after 10 years of being an educator that I’m still growing in my understanding of Vygotsky’s concept? Before, I thought of ZPD as a magical realm in a student’s ability where he/she could still access a slightly more difficult task, like a step on a staircase that’s not too easy and not too hard to take. Now I understand ZPD, I believe, more accurately. The Zone of Proximal Development is the space in which all learning occurs. It is the zone in which a learner has ventured out of what is known and taken a risk to build new knowledge. This knowledge building path is something that, in order to be authentic and substantive learning, the learner must take on his/her own. This is why it is soooo much more meaningful to have learners “discover” concepts rather than simply having the teacher tell him/her the concept. In order for the learning to “stick,” the learner has to be the one to build the learning in his/her own mind (through things like quality interactions with peers within learning activities). It’s the teacher’s job to notice when and how a student is venturing into the ZPD and supporting that journey as needed through instructional scaffolds.

20160719_2027273. Instructional scaffolds! How appropriate that right across the street from my hotel, there were scaffolds set up! I had to snap a picture. Just as with ZPD, I feel like my understanding of what scaffolds are have changed due to this training. Before, I thought that instructional scaffolds were those meticulously pre-planned supports that I, as an educator, would put into place as part of a lesson in order to help students reach a high level of understanding. Now I understand instructional scaffolds to be:

  • temporary (I already knew that)
  • given to students as needed (I kind of knew that, but now I understand why)
  • based on the risks students make venturing into the ZPD (wow!)

That last point is what felt new to me. So, in order for any real learning to occur, a student must venture into the ZPD, take a risk, to build new knowledge. That step, that risk taking, must be based on something the student wants to do/learn. If the thing the student wants to do/learn is too difficult, that’s when the teacher adds scaffolds. With my misunderstanding of scaffolds, I was creating scaffolds for a path of learning that I predetermined students would take. That’s not how people learn. Instead, I should be providing scaffolds to help students with a learning path that they want to take. Put it this way: if a worker needs to get work done on a 4th story window of an east-facing wall, I shouldn’t be constructing scaffolds to a window on the 6th story of a south-facing wall. The worker doesn’t want to get there, so the scaffold is useless. I can hear the opposition to this idea: “But I want my student to learn X, not Y!” I get it! But if we don’t get our students to want to learn X, no scaffolds in the world are going to cause them to truly learn it. And until we figure out ways to get students to want to learn X, why not experiment a little and learn some Y?



Last year, I was lucky enough to notice TEDxKidsElCajon being promoted on Twitter. I quickly registered for the event and had a fantastic time. Earlier this year, Liz Leother presented TEDEdClubs at the East County Tech Fest, and she happened to mention that registration for this year’s TEDxKidsElCajon was live. I was registered within minutes of Liz’ presentation.

IMG_20160417_234312It was easy to convince my 13-year-old daughter to attend with me again–she had a blast last year and she was eager to come back. Here are my pictures from the event–I highly recommend you plan to attend next year!

I was also very glad to have a handful of El Cajon Valley High School students attend as volunteers. I hope one day to provide students at ECVHS with the opportunity to share their ideas on a TED stage, so I’ve started the process to become a TEDEdClub leader (thanks again to Liz Leother for your guidance!). I already have a handful of students interested in joining the ECVTEDEdClub. I can’t wait to see how they express their ideas worth spreading.

Also in attendance at Liz Leother’s East County Tech Fest presentation was Dr. Gary Woods, Grossmont Union High School District Board Member. He and I talked briefly and it was obvious that we both agreed that TEDEdClubs could be great for GUHSD students. A few weeks later I was at a district meeting, and I got to talk with Dr. Woods and Theresa Kemper (GUHSD Assistant Superintendent). From this conversation, I was invited to TEDxElCajonSalon. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought perhaps the TEDxElCajonSalon event was a 2nd take of the TEDxKidsElCajon event, but I gratefully accepted the invitation to go because I figured the more TEDx events I saw in action the more I would be prepared later to help make one happen at ECVHS or GUHSD.

The TEDxElCajonSalon event was not a 2nd take of the TEDxKidsElCajon event. The venue, Irwin M Jacobs Qualcomm Hall, brought amazing presenters to the stage (Cajon Valley Superintendent David Miyashiro, Vista Superintendent Devin VodickaChief Digital Officer for Vancouver Public Schools Mark RayDirector of Professional Learning @USDMTLC Katie Martin, and many others–even Irwin Jacobs himself!). I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to listen to the great ideas shared on stage. I even heard a few good thoughts to add to a presentation that I need to finish up by Tuesday! I did feel a little out of place, as a TED novice, but I had a great time. I will say, though, that I’m pretty sure I was the only one wearing jeans (Since when does “business casual” include a suit jacket? Come on! Here are my pictures from the event–tell me if you see anyone in jeans).

IMG_20160417_234452I feel very lucky that I was able to attend both TEDxKidsElCajon and TEDxElCajonSalon. Thank you to Dr. Gary Woods and Theresa Kemper for including me in your trip to Qualcomm! Thank you to Reuben Hoffman for the great conversation throughout the day! And, again, thank you to Liz Loether and everyone at Cajon Valley Union School District working to bring this amazing TEDx presence to El Cajon.

Day 1 of the Information Literacy Workshop at CSUSM

Before our awesome librarian retired, he emailed me information about an Information Literacy workshop at CSU San Marcos. I registered and today was the first day of the workshop. A science teacher at my school (@MrEnerva) agreed to come with me–just for the chance to learn something new (how cool is that?!).

IMG_20160123_164359The CSUSM library staff shared their boot-camp-like courses designed to give incoming freshmen the research skills that professors expect college students to have. Those courses are:

The CSU San Marcos Library staff applied for and received a grant to share their Information Literacy program with surrounding high schools and middle schools in an effort to share their work and to help guide teachers prepare their students for college research expectations. I was very glad to learn about what CSUSM is doing at the college level considering that the GUHSD Library Council met just a couple weeks ago to develop research guidelines to help our own teachers lead students through the research process. Seeing this kind of work valued and shared by CSUSM helped legitimize the work our librarians are doing to promote the research process at our schools. I’m very excited to share what I learned (and my notes) with my librarian colleagues at our February 1st meeting!