Be the change, being a student, being a teacher, new year, PD, student choice, Student Engagement, student voice

Final Free PD Masterclass: Getting Ready for Going Back – How Do We Learn Best?

This summer has been one of worry. Of anxiousness. Of too much time spent thinking about possibilities that seemed to shift every day. Of waiting for answers. Of too many times trying to not think about the fall. But the countdown to go back to school has started for many of us, the future, while still uncertain, has at least been hinted at, and I still have so many questions.

A few weeks ago we were told we would be fully virtual for the first quarter and with that information I knew that I could stay overwhelmed and anxious or I could move into solution mode. To take it day by day, rather than try to figure out my whole quarter; focus on the first week, and then have an idea for what might come after. It has helped calm me as I think of all of the unknowns. (Not that I am feeling calm by any means).

And so, as I move ideas into action, it is time to invite you into the thoughts and discussion in my final masterclass of the summer: Masterclass – How Do We Learn Best – Embedding Authentic Choice and Voice. While some of the underlying research and ideas will not have changed from May when I offered it last, I have updated it with ideas of how I plan on establishing conditions to build community, to determine how we can feel safe with one another, how I will embed choice and space for students to speak up and change our time together as we start fully online. This class dives into why it is vital that we center the voices and identities of students as we plan on our instruction and interrogate the systems we have in place. It is meant to inspire, spark discussions, and also offer practical ideas. The accompanying office hours will allow you to ask follow up questions, to share your ideas, and also to have a collective of experts help you with your problems of practice.

So join me for this free PD session offered through CUE and sponsored by Microsoft, just hit the “Join this Session” at the time listed and it will allow you access. Spread the word if you think this masterclass will be helpful to others. This will also be the final free PD I offer for a while as the school year looms large and I have to balance the virtual schooling of my own four kids with the needs of my 80+ students while also trying to keep my sanity.

The class sessions will be:

  • August 13th 7 PM PST/9 PM CST
  • August 20th 7 PM PST/9 PM CST
  • August 27th 7 PM PST/9 PM CST

The office hour sessions will be:

  • August 15th 8 AM PST/10 AM CST
  • August 16th 8 AM PST/10 AM CST
  • August 23rd 8 AM PST/10 AM CST
  • August 30th 8 AM PST/10 AM CST

Don’t forget to check out the other incredible free PD sessions as well that are still being offering during the month of August.

Also, if your district or conference are interested in bringing me in virtually throughout the school year, please see information here. I have been supporting teachers remotely and in-person as they plan for meaningful literacy instruction in an in-person, virtual or hybrid model throughout the years and would love to help others as well.

being me, Passion, PD, Reading

Summer Literacy Academy For Teachers in Wisconsin

I am proud to be a part of a district that takes their literacy training very serious and also taps into their own experts, while focusing on what is best for all kids.  Since this is open to the public but has not been advertised much, I thought I would use my blog to offer more people this opportunity because I think it is going to be amazing and is one of the cheapest professional development opportunities I have seen in a long while.  As part of  working for the district,  I do get to be the keynote speaker for it and also head a few of the training sessions.

Oregon School District Summer Academy – June 17-19, 2015

The Academy, co-sponsored by CESA 2, focuses on literacy best practice and current hot topics within English language arts. The Academy will kick off with keynote speaker Pernille Ripp, OSD teacher and author of Passionate Learners: How to Engage and Empower Your Students. Oregon District staff, CESA 5 Literacy Consultant Heidi Walter and the Cooperative Children’s Book Center are just some of the experts that will be presenting a variety of sessions in the areas of reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Need course credit? Registrants of Friday’s full day option “Need a Writing Intervention for RTI? SRSD to the Rescue” presented by Heidi Walters may be eligible for 1 graduate credit through Edgewood College (1 credit/$165). Registration is $25 for a single day or $50 for two or more days. To review session options and register please use the links below. We hope you will join us, be engaged and leave with a passion to put what you learn into practice!

For more information on Sessions:

To Register:
All Questions to Oregon School District Contact:
Sheryl Helmkamp | | (608) 835-4007

Be the change, being a teacher, PD

Small Moment PD or How To BE a PD Ninja

image from icanread

I am busy working on my second book to be published by Corwin in the fall hopefully, tentatively titled “Empowered Teachers – Empowered Students” it is all about how to change the climate of a school and a classroom.  One of the things that I have been writing about is the need for “small moment PD,” particularly as we get busier and busier in our educational lives.  What follows here is an excerpt from the draft, I would love to add your ideas to it or just get your thoughts.

 So where can small moments of professional development happen?

  • 5 minutes after the first bell.  This may be a sacred time for attendance but why not dedicate it instead to article reading time or video viewing time. Send a short blog post or article for teachers to read the first five minutes during the day.  Students are typically settling in, working on morning work, listening to announcements, and getting ready for class to start.  While you read they could still be doing all of that or they could also be reading an article to benefit them.

  • Create school-wide independent reading time.  Once a day or once a week, everyone should drop everything and read.  Often teachers think that independent reading time (if at all implemented) should be used to meet with students, grade papers, get ready etc, but instead give permission to just read something.  You can choose whether it should be something pre-determined or whether teachers can choose their own reading material but give them the time.

  • Buy professional books for book clubs.  Some teachers thrive in informal book club discussions but don’t want to spend their own money buying the books needed.  So why not allocate money for staff to pick their book club books and then highlight that a book club exists.  Often all it takes for teachers to start reading is to give them a nice, new inspiring book.

  • Forward on condensed magazines filled with information.  One of the biggest obstacles to quick professional development is finding the time to find things to share.  Magazines such as “The Best and Next in Education” do the work for you.  All you have to do is subscribe and then pass it on to staff.

  • Preload iPods with podcasts.  I know teachers who drive for more than 45 minutes to get to work, why not have pre-loaded iPods ready for them to check out with great new podcasts to inspire them?  There are so many wonderful podcasts available for free that is destined to inspire.  What’s more many podcasts nowadays are 15 to 10 minutes long, that means even teachers driving short distances can benefit from these.

  • The all school read in.   Why not have a weekly or bi-weekly read-in in the gym where teachers can drop their students off and meet in teams to learn something together?  Often teachers are eager to learn but don’t have the time to meet, so even a 30 minute read-in can provide the time needed with minimal supervision required.

  • The bathroom article.  The one place that all teachers go at some point is the bathroom, so why not post relevant articles in them?  While this may seem silly or disgusting to some, having reading material right in front of you usually means you will read it.

  • Bribe teachers with lunch or coffee.  Where this is food, there can be learning.  Once a month, my incredible PTO provides a teacher appreciation lunch, why not combine this with a great video or discussion group.  While it could not be made mandatory, if the content being delivered is worthwhile, you should see at least some teachers choose to participate.

  • Combine PD with students.  Some of my best best PD has been in discussion with mystudents after watching a video or reading an article.  Now these are 5th graders so the content being delivered has to fit the appropriate age group, but I have always left these student discussions with ideas to implement in our classroom the very next day.

As I said, this is not the ultimate list, but rather a beginning to spark ideas for you.  Every school is different, as is its culture.  Brainstorm with teachers and students where to find the time for extra professional development.  Create the opportunities and then highlight the teachers that take it.  Lead them into new leadership positions where they can share their new-found knowledge, after all, it is not just meant to provide teachers with more knowledge, but for them to become experts in their own right.

 I am a passionate (female) 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classroom Back to Our Students” will be released this March from Powerful Learning Press.   Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

being me, learning, PD

So You Say You Don’t Have the Time – PD for Busy People

image from icanread

One thing I know we all face in this multi-tasking world is the concept of not having enough time.  Even when we save time, there still isn’t enough left over for us to feel like we are caught up, like we relaxed, like we actually had time to spare.  We just add more things to our day and then hope that by the end of the day we will feel fulfilled, we will feel in satisfied, we will feel time balanced.

When I speak to people about Twitter and having a PLN, they never get where I find the time.  Besides the fact that I make both of those things a priority, I am always trying to explain that being part of both actually save me time in the long run.  Time I then get to spend somewhere else, while still growing as an educator.

So when someone says they don’t have the time to get inspired or that PD is too time consuming, how about trying this…

  • Set up a reader with people that inspire you.  I access my reader in the morning when I have my cup of tea.  I read those that I feel like, share others that inspire me, and sometimes even leave a comment.  It all depends on how much time I want to spend.  And sometimes I just mark all as read because I just didn’t get to them and that’s ok too.
  • Take 5 minutes on Twitter.  I don’t spend a whole lot of time on Twitter interacting, it is hard for me to focus on it with a 3 year old at home but every day I tune in for at least just 5 minutes and try to reach out to someone, to have a human connection, rather than just share my ideas.  
  • Listen to a Ted talk.  I know people think they have to watch all videos, but the truth is I find it much easier to just listen to most of the.  that way, while I am cleaning or playing, I at least can hear some of the great things being said by others much smarter than me.
  • Subscribe to the most emailed stories on NPR.  I love this podcast and listen to it in the car.  we run a lot of errands in the summer and the radio drives me nuts after a while.  NPR continues to be my favorite for staying on top of news, but how about subscribing to other podcasts.  NerdyCast is another favorite of mine or even Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.
  • Ask someone a question.  I have learned so much about myself as a teacher or even my teaching style from asking my husband questions abut his experience as a student.  When I was just in the hospital many of the nurses told me about their children’s schools, their own schooling, and their expectations.  The point is, ask someone about school and you will probably learn something, I know I do.
  • Read something non-educational, like a really great book, a magazine, or whatever floats your boat.  I just finished The Strain trilogy and found myself wanting to blog about several sections in it even though those vampire books have nothing to do with education.  That’s the beauty of inspiration, it doesn’t have to come from somewhere scholarly but just from somewhere.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.  Do you know how often I come up with a blog post from reading a sign, seeing a bumper-sticker or even overhearing a snippet of conversation?  When we pay attention to the world around us, we can learn a lot.
authentic learning, being a teacher, lessons learned, PD

Thoughts on Professional Development

  1. Why do we even call it professional development? Being in education is so much more than just being a professional and development happens continually around us. Perhaps we should call it something different like expanding as an educator or how about just growth? Either professional development smacks of something that can only happent at a set time and is just not true, which leads me to my next point.
  2. Why the limitations on what counts as pd? I often learn more spending an hour with my reader or even engaging in a twitter chat. Depending on who you immerse yourself with provocating thoughts abound, as does reflection.  Go into a teacher’s lounge and engage in a conversation, I think they have gotten a bad rep unnecessarily.
  3. Who says you have to be an expert to conduct pd? I think there are many people in educations that are experts at something, oftentimes, they just do not know it because nobody gave them the title. Go to an edcamp and see how many experts are there, heck, go to a school and be amazed at all the knowledge. We don’t need a fancy title to have something valuable to share.
  4. Get rid of the limiting agendas. There seems to be a perpetual fear that if administration or whomever is putting on this pd doesn’t set an hour-by-hour or question-by-question agenda that all of the time will be worthless. That the conversation happening will only be moaning and procrastination. Maybe sometimes but not all the time, let those involved set the agenda and then trust them; there is far too little trust in education overall.
  5. Enough with the crazy buzzwords!  I don’t feel like listening to someone discuss what a 21st century learner looks like…hmm 5 foot 2, brown hair with a smile?  Or even how the flipped classroom is going to save education.  Common core standards, differentiation, value-added learning, PBIS and any of the other billions of acronyms hunting us all.  Just give me titles I can understand and a discussion worth participating in.
  6. Give me a chance to participate.  Much like our students crave the recognition that their voices matter, so do PD participants.  How else explain the back channels happening at even the tiniest of conferences?  I have been tempted to pass notes even, anything really, to ask  my questions, get some feedback and get the discussion started.
  7. Enough with the stories.  Educators love great stories and we all have them.  Our aha moments, that kid that we stayed teaching for, those parents that challenged out assumptions, yep we all have them so let’s acknowledge that and move on.  I love a great story over dinner but not the ones without a point and sometimes at PD sessions they just drain time.  
  8. Fair enough if you have something to sell but perhaps keep it to the end.  I had the chance to sit through an inspirational speech where the much paid presenter kept starting stories only to never finish them because we could read how it turned out in his book.  Seriously.  If you are sharing a story make it relevant and tell the whole thing.  
  9. Do you really need a Powerpoint?  I know it is so cool to bash Powerpoints but I think there is a huge reason for that.  If your message is short, sweet and to the point give me some pictures to go with it, have dancers perform it behind you, or skip it altogether.  Images behind you are a direct competition to your words so pick wisely.
  10. Keep it short.  And not just for my attention span, but also because even the most incredible learning opportunities will lose their luster after the message is repeated over 40 minutes.  Shorten your message and open up for conversations, participation or even brainstorming.