Celebrate School Library Month

School Library Month is the American Association of School Librarians’ celebration of school librarians and their programs. Every April school librarians are encouraged to host activities to help their school and local community celebrate the essential role that strong school library programs play in transforming learning. More about the history of School Library Month.

The 2016 theme is School Libraries Transform Learning.

The official hashtag for this year’s celebration is .

We salute our White Oak ISD Librarians:

Carol Stewart, Michelle Cooper and Shaynee Elder. 

National Library Week

Take the challenge to get connected

Connected Educator

WOISD Connected Educators,

As you look forward to this weekend, I’ve just one request– that you take on this challenge to do just ONE thing on social media:

  • Create a Twitter account and start looking for great educators to follow.
  • Add a blog post
  • Respond to a Tweet or Facebook post
  • Join a Book Club and respond to a discussion there. Some of you have joined the WOISD Book Club, which kicks off on Monday, Oct. 26th.
  • Join the Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) community at plpnetwork.com
  • Introduce yourself on Twitter if you haven’t already.
  • Share on social media one activity or lesson your students are learning about.
  • Visit the connectededucators.org page for ideas.

Just imagine all we can learn if each of you (approximately 106 WOISD teachers and all administrators) take steps to connect.

Enjoy your weekend! The WOISD Book Club kicks off their study of ‘Classroom Habitudes’ on Monday!

Connected Educator Week Activities

Time sensitive reminders about two activities that we have going on this week:

(both of these activities qualify for the new professional development BADGE system–see details below)

1. Tonight is the #TXL chat on Twitter at 8:00 CST. Our own Michelle Cooper, MS Media Specialist is one of the moderators for tonight’s chat, and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach is the featured guest. Remember to use the hashtag #TXL Chat to join the conversation.

2. This is the final call for staff to sign up for the book study on, ‘Classroom Habitudes,’ by Angela Maiers. Please click on the link below by tomorrow, Wednesday, October 14th to sign up and participate in this study. We will order books Friday, October 16th, and begin the study the last week of October.

Book study announcements and updates will be made through Edmodo. And we will participate in 3 to 5 Twitter chats during this study, with Angela Maiers joining us along the way.
The district is in the process of rolling out a new professional development system that will enable our teachers to earn ‘Badges’ based on training events and hours earned. Badges will accumulate to earn credit in place of summer training days. More information will be coming soon!



Join the #TXL chat for Connected Educator Month

#txlchat image

As a part of Connected Educator Month please mark your calendar to join the Texas Librarians (#TXLchat) on October 13, 2015 at 8:00 pm. (CST). They have a wonderful treat for us. Special guest will be Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. Sheryl, along with other Librarians/Educators will be discussing the importance of connections and to show we are not alone as professionals–that we are more powerful together.

Friends from #KyLchat (Kentucky Librarian’s Chat) will be joining us as well. Moderators for this chat are Sandra Carswell, Shawna Ford and our own Michelle Cooper. Hope to see you there! http://sched.co/4Qvw

WOISD participant names will be saved and logged as having attended this Twitter chat. This training can be applied toward earning a Badge in our new PD system. Badges will accumulate to earn credit in place of summer training days in 2016. More information will be coming soon!

Be a ‘this century’ connected educator

Connected Educatorown-it-920x460

Connected Educator Month: Those who do, teach. Own it, year-round. October 2015.

What is a connected educator? You know that the world is changing… New and emerging Web technologies are connecting our children in ways never before possible. Through blogs, social networking sites, multimedia and other Web 2.0 tools, their world is becoming more and more networked and participatory. Your students spend time every day in virtual environments that are highly engaging and encourage creative thinking and problem solving. They frequently participate in games and social media where they routinely acquire and apply knowledge and collaborate with friends.

…but schools are not. Schools have by and large been resistant to these shifts. Yet, this networked landscape of learning challenges you to re-envision what you do in your school and classroom, or risk growing irrelevance in your students’ lives. At the core of this challenge is how you and I, as educators, realize the potentials of these technologies in our own professional and personal learning practice as educators.

If you want to become a 21st century connected educator — and prepare iGeneration students for an exciting but unpredictable future — you first have to become a 21st century learner. That’s right. The “connected learner” is YOU. To become a connected educator, you must first become a connected learner.

Think about it. Kids today seem to have been born with chips in their heads. They’ve grown up with remote control everything, smart phones, constant communication, and instant access to information in entertaining formats. Almost everywhere they go they are connected, engaged and plugged in. Through various social media, their worlds are becoming more and more networked, creating environments for learning and collaborating that look very little like the classrooms in which you and I grew up.

Thanks to our friend, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, CEO of Powerful Learning Practices, for this message and the work she and others have done to make these powerful resources available.

Get involved at connectededucators.org.

Create lessons that inspire, challenge students

There is much discussion about how teachers across the country are integrating Bloom’s Taxonomy in their lesson planning and if the instruction includes high level thinking skills to challenge students in a ‘this century’ classroom.

Many teachers work tirelessly to integrate the various levels of Bloom’s so students can reap the full benefit of being a life-long learner. Other times you read pages of lesson plans and all that’s ever integrated into the instruction is the lower level thinking skills that include remembering and understanding (formerly known as knowledge & comprehension), along with some application.


While it is integral for us to include the bottom levels of Bloom’s (after all, we need to introduce the lesson, explain the importance of the event, and provide the background information,) we must think about what instruction and learning would look like if we integrated all levels of Bloom’s, from bottom to top, as appropriate to the lesson.

By using the chart above or referencing other resources, we can pinpoint what we need to teach and how we will teach it.

For example we could look at a social studies lesson plan on the use of the Atomic Bomb to end World War II. Typically we would have students read and memorize key terms and facts. While this information is the basis for the lesson, all we’ve included for the student is lower level thinking skills. Students can memorize and regurgitate the information, but they’re not using any higher level thinking skills that will help with long-term learning or motivate them to think for themselves.

Perhaps a better approach to this lesson (after you’ve had time to provide the background information and share through classroom discussions) is to ask students to write a paragraph ‘evaluating/judging’ Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb. We can still have students learn key terms or significant decisions through this assignment, but now we’ve asked students to formulate an argument and/or support an argument based on information they have researched and learned. Because students are having to craft this short written piece, they have single-handedly had to formulate their own thoughts about the war and how Truman’s decision impacted this country and the world.

Another option would be to ask students to debate the pros and cons of dropping the atomic bomb. This would require some research on their part, but the value of analyzing and evaluating this information allows students to take ownership of their learning and stretch their learning far beyond the traditional memorization.


Welcome to Genius Hour

Genius Hour Image

What will your students learn when they are following their passion?

Angela Maiers shows you in her just released e-book, ‘Liberating Genius in the Classroom.’ The book contains 20 days of lessons to help students be better readers, writers, thinkers, and most important, passion-driven learners.

This is the foundation and the rationale behind Genius Hour and/or Genius Time.

Genius Hour is our promise to students that their passions will matter; that they will do work that matters, and we will make time during the school day for it.

Every teacher has hopes and dreams for the new school year and they ask students about their hopes and dreams as well.  It sets the stage for awesome learning to follow. Posing it can have a profound effect on the classroom and community.

It’s important for students to know that:

  • what you care about matters at school;
  • your hopes and goals are taken seriously;
  • you have a say in what and how we will learn.

As a teacher we should help articulate their hopes and dreams and set a tone of collaboration and mutual respect. It fosters reflection and self-awareness by prompting children to ask themselves questions such as:

  • What do I want learning to be like?
  • What do I want from the experience of school?
  • What matters to me most?
  • What am I worried about?
  • What am I most excited to learn more about and learn from?
  • What am I going to become more awesome at?

Sharing hopes and dreams also creates a meaningful context for establishing classroom protocols and procedures. Once hopes have been articulated, discussions can begin about what “rules” will be needed to help everyone’s hopes and dreams come true.

#LiberatingGenius happens best within a classroom in which:

  • There is time for thinking about our own and others passions
  • Rich opportunities exist for exploring passion
  • Passion-driven learning is regularly modeled
  • The process as well as the products of thinking are valued

Liberating Genius is designed to help teachers collectively focus on the implicit messages about thinking being sent in classrooms and across the school.

Welcome to Genius Hour.

Have you downloaded Liberating Genius yet?

You Matter!







Happy Constitution Day!

Constitution Day

Today marks the 288th anniversary of the United States Constitution. Check out Constitution.org for resources and information for you and your students.

Included on the site is an Interactive Constitution and a link for the Constitution Day Live Blog where experts are answering questions.

In honor of Constitution Day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the U.S. Constitution; this year we are asking all schools around the country to join in a National reading of the Preamble called The Preamble Challenge!

Post your photos, videos, or activities on your blog.



Goal-setting: Begin with the end in mind


As a district we are participating in the new Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS).  The article, Goal Setting for Teachers: 8 Paths for Self-Improvement, provides you with a list of ideas to jump start your thought process and help you develop meaningful and relevant goals to support your professional growth.

Figure out what you need or want to do differently and write your goals so they align accordingly. A few suggestions for goals may be:

1. Strengthen Your Tech Skills

2. Take a fresh approach to content knowledge and pedagogy (TPACK)

3. Adjust your growth mindset

4. Be fearless when it comes to providing the best education for students. Take a chance and develop engaging and empowering lessons to provide ALL students with a ‘this century’ education.

For more information visit: www.cultofpedagogy.com





YOU ‘Be the Difference’

Do Something Amazing

The first day of school has finally arrived. So much to do, so many faces and names to learn, and a multitude of tasks to complete–all in the span of seven or so hours.

One thing for sure–there won’t be another first day of school for this year. This is it. This is your chance to show students they can ‘DO SOMETHING AMAZING.’

Take a chance. Be the risk taker. Teach in a way you’ve never taught before. Create the environment you’ve always dreamed of. And then ask yourself if you’ve created the kind of lessons that you can ‘sell tickets’ to. Would the students come? Would it be all they’ve dreamed of and hoped for? Would your classroom be the ‘Best Place They Are ALL Day’?

Judging by the kind of teachers we work with every day, day in and day out, the answer would be yes.

Then bring your best tools, put your game face on, and be ready. Your students are counting on it, and they are counting on YOU!