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  • April 29, 2020 11:33 AM | Jenna (Administrator)

    Be sure to check out Illinois Digital Educators Alliance's (IDEA) newest podcast partner, Reimagine SchoolsIn this episode, New Jersey school superintendent Glenn Robbins talks about his experience in providing positive leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic that has closed schools from coast to coast for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. As a former National Digital Principal of the Year, Robbins also shares his approach to connecting with his school and community stakeholders through Facebook Live and how he's been able to bring in many of the nation's most inspirational speakers via Zoom video to provide uplifting messages of hope and reassurance during difficult times in our schools. Finally, Robbins talks about some of the struggles his district has faced with remote learning strategies and how working collaboratively with teachers and parents in his district has created new opportunities for innovation and problem solving.

    Download this week's episode here. Then, stay tuned for the next episode of Reimagine Schools.



  • April 21, 2020 9:16 AM | Jenna (Administrator)

    Be sure to check out Illinois Digital Educators Alliance (IDEA) newest podcast partner, Reimagine Schools. This week, Dr. Greg Goins talks with internationally-acclaimed child psychologist and New York Times best-selling author Dr. Ross Greene. Listen as they discusses Dr. Greene's research that includes the Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) model for effectively managing child behavior and explains why kids with social, emotional and behavioral challenges are often misunderstood. He also shares insights as to why the traditional reward and punishment approach to school discipline often fails kids as we place the focus on correcting behavior rather than true problem solving. From his books, Raising Human Beings, The Explosive Child, Lost At School and Lost and Found, Dr. Greene lays out a three-step plan that includes empathy, defining adult expectations and offering the child an invitation to become a partner in solving challenges in the classroom. As the Developer and Executive Producer of the award-winning documentary The Kids We Lose, Dr. Greene closes the episode by shinning a light on the dark side of how too many kids are mistreated and manhandled in our schools due to high levels of frustration and hopelessness.

    Download this week's episode here. Then, stay tuned for the next episode of Reimagine Schools.


  • April 15, 2020 4:21 PM | Jenna (Administrator)

    Hosted by Dr. Greg Goins, the Reimagine Schools Podcast features many of the nation's top educators, authors and innovators in P-12 education with an emphasis on leadership development, scaling innovation and transforming our school systems. Guest have included some of the world's most prolific thought leaders on education, including Ted Dintersmith, Ted Fujimoto, Ian Jukes, Alfie Kohn, Grant Lichtman, Marc Prensky and Dr. Tony Wagner. The Reimagine Schools Podcast is a proud member of the Education Podcast Network (EPN) and is also part of voicEd Radio, a 24/7 Internet-based Radio Station dedicated to both broadening and deepening the conversations we have about education. Be sure to join the conversation with #ReimagineSchools.

    This week's episode features Ross Cooper, a school administrator and co-author of Hacking Project Based Learning: 10 Easy Steps to PBL and Inquiry in the Classroom with Erin Murphy, talks about how passion and autonomy can lead to amazing results in the PBL classroom. He also reflects on how basic projects might serve as an entry point to PBL implementation, and why having some well-defined school goals and strategies can provide greater feedback and collaboration among teachers and students within PBL teaching models. Finally, Cooper offers some advice on how to get started with PBL and explains the difference between assessment and grading within project-based instruction.

    Download this week's episode here.

    Stay tuned for the next episode of Reimagine Schools.

  • March 18, 2020 10:39 AM | Jenna (Administrator)

    If you were at IDEAcon this year, you saw us introduce our new IDEA Authors book series. The books were such a hit at the conference, we had to reprint and replenish our stock before offering it to everyone else! But now we’re ready to brag about our authors.

    Last year, Illinois Digital Educators Alliance invited its members to share stories about how they were making a difference in education. Their stories resulted in the creation of three books including: IDEAs to Inspire your Classroom, IDEAs to Transform your Classroom, and IDEAs to Connect your Classroom.

    Edited by IDEAcon featured speaker, Robert Dillon, the series tells how educators in Illinois inspire their students, transform their environment, and connect with other educators and classrooms around the world. Forty-four authors are highlighted. Student writers provided a foreword for each book.

    In IDEAs to Inspire your Classroom, you’ll be inspired by Jennifer Smith designing science as a verb, Billy Spicer outlining the growing power of esports, and Michael Earnshaw sharing dad’s advice.

    In IDEAs to Transform your Classroom, you’ll hear how small moments have transformational power, as seen when Matt Meyer finds guidance from his ten-year old self, Michael Kosko shows the power of growing with his students, and Megan Hacholski designs space for learning.

    IDEAs to Connect your Classroom brings together many ideas. Jeremy Rinkel connects us to a healthy digital life, Drew Witherell shows the power of connecting through instructional coaching, and Stephanie Suklow looks at connecting teachers through social media.

    These are just a few of the many stories that can be found in the new IDEA Authors series. Books are now available for purchase online at www.ideaillinois.org/IDEA-Authors.

    Congratulations to all of the authors that participated in this IDEA Authors project including:

    IDEAs to Inspire your Classroom

    Renee Bogacz, Michael Earnshaw, Jennifer Egget, Nancy Gadzala, Jessica Green, Mia Gutsell, Kim Knigge, Jason Kruski, Bethany Martino, Greg McDonough, Andrea Rechner Perrin, Carolyn Skibba, Jennifer Smith, and Billy Spicer. Foreword by Mitchell Brown and Scotty Vrablik.

    IDEAs to Transform your Classroom

    Julie Ahern, Dr. Marlo Barnett, Anne Marie Chobot, Tricia Fuglestad, Megan Hacholski, John Hayward, Rae Hughart, Traci Johnson, Michael Kosko, Matt Meyer, Dr. Li-Wei Peng, Dr. Jessica Pilgreen, Michelle Thorne, Andrea Trudeau, Douglas van Dyke, and Lauren Wysocke. Foreword by Kyla Naganat.

    IDEAs to Connect your Classroom

    Michelle Anderson, Steven Baule, Ben Hartman, Michelle Susberry Hill, Jessica Iovinelli, Dr. Matthew X. Joseph, Shannon McGrath, Mitchel Meighen, Jeremy Rinkel, Stephanie Sukow, Derrick Swistak, Yvonne Tretter, Jen Waldvogel, and Drew Witherell. Foreword by Nate Butkus.


  • March 13, 2020 2:30 PM | Jenna (Administrator)

    Last week we sent out an email with information and resources to assist and support educators during the mandated school time off. We are continuing to update those resources and provide educators in Illinois the most relevant and robust resources we can. With the most recent updates from ISBE regarding “Act of God” days rather than E-learning days, we have adjusted the resources we are offering accordingly.

    As such, we have created (and will continue updating) our website at ideaillinois.org/Home-Learning with learning activities focused on skill development in the areas of SEL and the 4 C’s (Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity). We will be going live on Monday, March 16th, at 10 a.m. (on Facebook Live and Twitter) to unpack the resources in our calendar. Also, please consider posting your stories of inspiration and ways you are supporting students to #ILschoolsstepup for all to see. As always, please remember, we are here for YOU. Reach out and let us know your needs!

    We are in unprecedented times but we know that as dedicated and passionate educators, together we will find a way to rise up and create positive opportunities for those we serve. With that, the IDEA staff has been gathering suggestions and resources to support you during your planning and preparation for possible e-learning within your districts. We have attempted to compile information for all grade levels and for whatever current learning platforms you may be using.

    We wish each of you the best and please know that we are here to support you! We will be utilizing #IDEAil & the #ILedChat to share questions and best practices throughout the next few weeks. In addition, we can find other creative ways to make the best out of this difficult situation, including setting up virtual meetings with you and/or your students, creating unique learning experiences, sharing resources, or just to listen and give feedback. Please reach out to us via email or on social media (@ideaillinois) if you need our support.

    General Advice

    1. Remember your WHY! The skill development and learning targets continue to be the goal. Don’t make the technology the center of your design. 

    2. Don’t focus on trying to recreate the “normal content” you would in the classroom. Instead take part of what you normally do and create remote learning experiences around that. It's not about what the students complete but instead what you create for them to work on.

    3. Start practicing now with the framework and tools you'd consider using for remote learning.

    4. Don't add too much "new". While there are plenty of tech tools available, it’s important not to water down the content you are delivering with too many new tech tools at once.

    5. Plan your remote learning experiences around what you want your learners to be able to know, do and understand. Capitalize on moments when students can demonstrate this in creative ways. For example, can they record a video of themselves reading a recipe and demonstrate their understanding of fractions while cooking in the kitchen versus a worksheet or online program?

    6. Consider accessibility and equity. Now is more important than ever to provide voice and choice. Some students will easily be able to continue learning at home. Others, it will be incredibly difficult for them. Make sure you have alternatives for students who will be impacted differently. We can’t just plan online content and expect that to fix everything. This is also true for sending home packets of papers for students.

  • February 17, 2020 1:19 PM | Jenna (Administrator)

    This week, Punk Rock Classrooms discusses how schools can become successful in pushing all students forward by getting everyone involved. Schools must build a camaraderie and unity to bring the best for our kids, that's why we're all here! We can't let staff watch from the nose bleed seats. We need to pull them into the pit and become a part of the show. This involves giving staff voice and input into what changes and implementations need to take place for success. After all, not every decision needs to be, or should be, made by the principal.

    The Punk Rock Classrooms podcast wants to bring a punk rock mindset to the classroom! Schools need passion, community, and some DIY attitude!

    Each week hosts Mike Earnshaw (principal from Illinois) and Josh Buckley (teacher from Arizona) discuss how punk rock shaped their education philosophy and show educators, punk or not, how they can bring a punk rock mindset into their classrooms and their schools.

    Where to stream / download your episode of Punk Rock Classrooms.

    Stay tuned for the next episode of Punk Rock Classrooms.

  • February 10, 2020 11:52 PM | Jenna (Administrator)

    This week, Punk Rock Classrooms brings us a reflection episode. In this episode, sponsored by IDEA, Mike Earnshaw discusses how we need to expand our PLN - our crew of educators - beyond our grade level, beyond our schools, and sometimes even beyond or district to make sure we are doing what is best for students. He explains that it's crucial to cross lines and be a part of various groups. We must also teach this to our students, that one label or crew doesn't need to define who you are, such as a jock, skater, or school band.

    Where to stream / download your episode of Punk Rock Classrooms.

    Stay tuned for the next episode of Punk Rock Classrooms.

  • February 04, 2020 10:28 PM | Jenna (Administrator)

    We are excited to tell you about our newest podcast partnership with Punk Rock Classrooms (@PunkClassrooms).

    Punk Rock Classrooms wants to bring a punk rock mindset to the classroom! Schools need passion, community, and some DIY attitude!

    Each week hosts Mike Earnshaw (principal from Illinois) and Josh Buckley (teacher from Arizona) discuss how punk rock shaped their education philosophy and show educators, punk or not, how they can bring a punk rock mindset into their classrooms and their schools.

    Their latest episode "Working with your Crew", sponsored by IDEA, focuses on dropping the egos in education and relying on the strengths of others not only in our buildings, but across the world through means like social media to bring the best learning experiences for our students.

    Where to stream / download your episode of Punk Rock Classrooms.

    Stay tuned for the next episode of Punk Rock Classrooms.

  • January 15, 2020 7:48 AM | Jenna (Administrator)

    In today's episode of Teachwell Teachers, sponsored by IDEA, Dr. Didi and Dave complete their set of tech-focused shows with a return to the cinema classroom. Dr. Didi and Dave check out the YouTube cult classic, Starfleet Academy, to see how teaching and learning takes place in the hi-tech Star Trek universe and to give the teachers a little instructional advice. Oh, and Paula fails another quiz.

    The Teachwell Teachers Podcast is a bi-monthly show featuring veteran teacher, Dave Narter, and instructional coach, Dr. Paula. Years ago, Dave found, in the walls of his classroom, Mr. Teachwell’s Guide to Teaching Better. Now, in every episode of Teachwell Teachers, Dave and Dr. Paula talk about an educational issue, laugh far more than people in school ought to, and read a chapter from that amazingly ridiculous book. Oh, and Paula takes a quiz!

    Where to stream / download your episode of Teachwell Teachers:

    We hope that you enjoyed these episodes of the Teachwell Teachers Podcast sponsored by IDEA and subscribe to it for future posts. Be sure to stayed tuned to IDEA to see which podcast we will feature next month.

  • January 08, 2020 1:43 PM | Jenna (Administrator)

    by Lindsay Zilly (originally posted on TeachBoost Blog December 10, 2019)

    How can you bring friendly competition to your organization that supports professional learning, you ask? Lindsay Zilly, Director of Professional Learning for Illinois Digital Educators Alliance, relays how she created an environment that promotes risk-taking through gamification as a fun alternative to standard professional development.

    What we can learn from Julia Child

    I never would've imagined that my gamification origin story would include cooking game shows and Julia Child. But that's the thing about inspiration: you just never know when it will strike. Follow me down this rabbit hole and you'll see how I got there!

    When Julia Child first started out as a professional cook, she took risks and challenged norms. It was in the imperfections of her lessons that the most learning occurred. This style of playful learning broke down barriers and allowed other chefs to innovate in ways that revolutionized the cooking industry. Shows like Chopped and Master Chef embody Julia's advice: "Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" When I watch these kinds of shows, I see the contestants as innovators—they are handed a basket of ingredients, given a pantry of supplies, and then told to create something incredible.

    Now, let's look at this philosophy as it applies to teachers and education. Isn't it the same? We are asked to be innovators in our classrooms; risk-takers who think outside the box and challenge norms. While in some schools it's a slow shift from traditional practices, in others we see educators like Zack Gilbert jumping in the deep end. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Zack, an intermediate social studies teacher at a lab school in Normal, IL, and was in awe of the shift in his practice. I asked him how he was able to reach everyone in his classroom to which he responded, "I learn their interests. Interests are based on schema and the most common connection I find amongst my students is games."

    Inspiration strikes

    Armed with these ideas of playful learning from Julia Child, Zack Gilbert, and reality TV, I set out to apply them to my craft. Teachers respond well to personalized PD sessions that are authentic and relevant, so it made sense to create bite-sized opportunities for educators to learn at their own pace. Learning about something of interest to them made the experience more engaging and memorable. Gamification games made learning more fun and added an element of competition that encouraged all teachers to find a way to participate at a level they felt comfortable with.

    Gamification for goals

    The "Gamification for Goals" method creates opportunities for teachers to self-select a skill they'd like to develop. For example, teachers might choose to develop a deeper understanding of Apple or Google tools. As they proceed through their learning, they advance through four different levels, not necessarily starting at level one—just like a game they would play. Once they get to level four, they are asked to do something with their newly developed skills in order to earn a badge.

    The goal of the badges was to make something for everyone and they were created based on teacher feedback and ongoing educational trends. Our badges are set up for ISTE standards, Twitter, cultivating a growth mindset, and many more. As the teacher levels up, they accumulate badges or stickers to put on their device. This not only encourages other teachers to see and inquire about the gamification goal process, but it also creates teacher leaders that educators can turn to for assistance.

    Putting teachers at the center

    The idea never would have taken root if teachers weren't at the center of it. Some of the badges were designed by teachers, but all were created from feedback received from everyone. The result: teachers' computers were filling up with stickers! Teachers were sharing new learning experiences with each other, going into one another's classroom to observe their learning in action, and teachers who normally felt nervous to take risks were sharing out at staff meetings. The gamification goals process was a success and it was so successful because it was designed with teachers in mind.

    Soon after the development of the gamification badges, it was obvious that teachers wanted more! This led to the birth of the Will Ferrell rating scale, Jimmy Fallon Brain Breaks, and even life-sized Candyland.

    Final note

    Adding a gaming component to professional learning or even classroom lessons doesn't need to be "one more thing." It should be the way we're learning the content, not a reward for learning it. If you are looking to try something like this in your district my advice is simple: teachers love to learn; keep them as your focal point.

    Ready to try your hand at some gamification in your classroom or next staff meeting? Candyland 2.0 is a great activity for professional development, institute days or within a classroom setting. This version can be played to introduce a new topic, review a topic already presented, a beginning of the year kickoff, PBIS incentive and much more! After creating the gameboard, customize your individual cards according to your learning goals and then reuse your gameboard time and time again! Thanks to Lindsay Zilly, Kim Darche and Christine Borst for sharing this with all our members!

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