Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Become a Google Superhero!

** Note: This class is now full for this session, but we plan to offer it again in the summer. Watch for it in the Office of Professional Learning's newsletter in May. **

Do you want to be a Level 1 Certified Google Educator? Or maybe you want to become a Google Superhero? Then take our Google Course!


This course is online and self-paced: finish it all over spring break or take your sweet time and work on it from now until May 5th. This class combines Google Training modules with additional coursework in Schoology to give you credit for studying to become a Level 1 Google Certified Educator. This course is designed for teachers who would like to increase their knowledge in using Google Apps in their classrooms. Through the companion coursework in Schoology, we will provide lots of opportunities for you to practice using all that Google has to offer with your classes. AND you get 1 credit. Could it get any better?

We�ve extended the deadline to sign up to this Friday, March 3! So if you thought you missed out, you are in luck! Sign up today through ERO and send a check to Joni McRoberts at SARC. The SRN # is: 20168064301

Check out the flyer below for more information:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

We LOVE Breakout EDU, Part II

In last week's blog post, we talked about Breakout EDU and how it has been used in Elementary classrooms in Cherry Creek.  This week, we'll focus on Breakout EDU at the secondary level. 

To recap, Breakout EDU is about creating challenges for students to solve in order to open a series of locks and eventually solve the challenge for some kind of prize.  The challenges covered in this week's Bright Spot video were from Sky Vista Middle School and Cherokee Trail High School.  

At Sky Vista, students from 6th grade Social Studies classes worked on solving a challenge using their skills in Geography.  At Cherokee Trail, students on the Newspaper staff worked together to learn more about Journalism and how to work together to solve problems. Click on the video below to see how Breakout EDU engaged and challenged these secondary students. 

To learn more about Breakout EDU, go to http://www.breakoutedu.com/ and click Learn More. If you'd like help getting started with your class, contact our office. We'd love to help you!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

We LOVE Breakout EDU

It's Valentine's Day, so we thought we would share about something we've come to love, Breakout EDU. As described on Breakout EDU's site

"Breakout EDU creates ultra-engaging learning games for people of all ages. Games (Breakouts) teach teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, and troubleshooting by presenting participants with challenges that ignite their natural drive to problem-solve."

Using Breakout EDU in the classroom, students typically work in groups to solve puzzles/problems to unlock clues to open the locks on the Breakout EDU box. The group is given a limited amount of time to get the box opened, so collaboration is imperative and engagement is high. Once they figure out all of the locks, the box opens, and there's a surprise of some kind inside. It might be a piece of candy, a homework pass, or even a ticket to the symphony, as students at Buffalo Trail found...

To learn more about Breakout EDU, go to http://www.breakoutedu.com/ and click Learn More.

If you'd like help getting started with your class, contact our office. We'd love to help you!

Check out our Blog next week to see how secondary teachers in CCSD have used Breakout EDU with students.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Igniting Passion for Learning through Genius Hour


The holiday season is gone, the excitement of the new year has worn out (perhaps the resolutions are tossed aside?). It�s cold and dark outside. You�re in the thick of the second semester, and spring break feels oh-so far away.

Given the time of year, I decided to write about passion. Not just because Valentine�s Day is right around the corner, but in these dark February days I find it important to reconnect with what lights you up and gets you excited to get out of bed in the morning. What do you do that you can spend hours and hours working on and lose all sense of time? If time and money were no object, what would you be doing?

Have you ever asked your students these questions? They also long for more time in the day to do the things they really love to do. They get lost in researching and exploring topics of their interest, just like we do. What�s amazing about our profession as teachers is that we can create time in the day for our kids to do just that.

Thus...Genius Hour! Genius Hour (a.k.a. 20% Time or Passion Projects) is based on Google�s 20% Time, in which engineers are allowed to research anything they want as long as it has the potential to benefit the company. Many apps have been developed through their 20% Time, such as Gmail, Google Maps, Adsense, and Google Talk. Educators have latched onto this idea in order to inspire excitement and motivation in their students by allowing them to research any topic of their choice for a percentage of class time. At the end of the year or semester, students present their work in a variety of different formats.

Does it sound awesome, but scary? Are you thinking, �Cool, but I don�t have time for that�? I totally get that! I have been in your shoes, so here are a few suggestions:

Genius Hour Within Your Content

Rarely in our careers are we given time to do anything we want. Even Google has parameters around its 20% Time. So why not have your kids research anything  they want WITHIN your content standards? Give students parameters  and let them discover their passion within your content. They might just discover that they really do love a subject they thought they hated.
Genius Hour to Solve a Problem

How about having your students identify a problem in the world? What is happening in their communities that they feel is an issue? What resonates with your students that they feel needs to be addressed? Have this become the focus of your students� genius hour. You could even combine this with the content area suggestion to have students discover a problem within your content area.
Genius Hour in Student Resource Period

Do you have a Student Resource period everyday/every other day (Cornerstones, Access, Aspire, SSR)? Why not do Genius Hour with these students? This would be the perfect opportunity to implement Genius Hour without having to worry about taking away time from teaching content.

While it may seem intimidating to launch, I can promise you that it will be so worth it. In the three years that I ran genius hour with my kids, I have seen students do the most amazing things. Here are just a few examples:
  • Create apps for iPhone and Android
  • Raise awareness and fundraise for important social issues like sex trafficking, global warming, and mental health
  • Form new clubs and in-school support groups
  • Learn how to play new instruments
  • Write songs and compose new music
  • Engineer a better football helmet using 3D printing
  • Teach a 7-week course on meditation to adults
  • Write a novel
  • Design and sew shirts to sell on their website
  • Launch YouTube channels

The list goes on and on. Oh, and did I mention that these were ninth grade students? Yep, ninth grade. Many of these students have gone on to form businesses out of their genius hour projects. This project has the potential to open so many doors for your students, simply by igniting their passion and excitement for learning. And it just might do the same for you.

***If you are at all interested in launching Genius Hour, or if you are already doing it, please let me know! I would love to support you in this awesome adventure!

CCSD Bright Spot: 5th Graders Create YouTube Style How-To Videos Using WeVideo

When Technology Teacher Jen Sevy from Fox Hollow Elementary kept hearing her 5th grade students explain how they learned to do things they...