1st Annual Educational Academy

What I learned: by, Katie Crofutt

Session 1: making Learning Visible: Strategies to maximize K-12 Student engagement

This session focused on student engagement through focusing on structured lessons. Brittany Upton, the present from the Minot REC, talked about strategies that are based in common core ideas: I can statements and tiered vocabulary. We worked on determining the difference between domain specific vocabulary and academic vocab. Words like cytoplasm, plot, economics, tangent would be examples of domain specific, or tier 3 language. Words like cite, analyze, explain, explore are examples of academic vocab, tier 2, words that are common across the curriculum. It is important that we deliberately use tier 2 words across the curriculum as these are the words that incite the crucial critical thinking piece that we desire from our students.


Brittany also discussed using little tricks to keep kids engaged, including "ya'll do"s which consist of activities for saying, writing, and doing that the class does as a whole. These are located on page 8 of the document linked below.


The rest of the session looked at different forms of formative assessment that are highly effective in the classroom. All of her fantastic ideas are located on pg. 9-13 of the handout. Many of them, we are already doing, but some are truly innovative.

Session 2: Smarter Balanced Digital Library

The Nitty Gritty

This session was meant to inform educators on the Smarter Balanced Digital Library, which the state is in the process of obtaining rights to for all of the schools in the state. Essentially, it is a library of material (lessons, strategies, assessments) for teachers to have free access to. There are a lot of resources out there that do that, however, what sets this apart is that the sources go through a rigorous screening process. They have at least 5, highly experienced, educators approve the source. It also includes a section for reviews on each resource. I just got word that the state has gotten us in and I work on getting logins for all of us!

Session 3: The Wrong Emphasis: Youths Learn What Adults Teach

Dr. John Tufte- Superintendent for Wing Public School

This guy was my favorite (I think Mr. Sherwin's too) speaker for the whole conference. He didn't have any flashy powerpoints or strategies for keeping us engaged: he was just engaging. His message was not revolutionary, except in that he said everything I feel like I can't say because it would be too controversial. He was very mater-of-fact about the fact that we are educators. Students are students. Parents are parents. He focused on "soft-skills" such as communication, hygiene, clothing, eye contact, hand shakes: you know those things that successful people have. Somewhere along the way it became the school's job to teach those things and we shouldn't be afraid to do it! Demand that a kid looks you in the eye and addresses you properly. It's ok. I've linked the handout below; but he has book coming out soon that discusses these ideas and I will be purchasing a copy for the resource shelf in my office. Get in line!

My favorite quotes from the session:

"Our job is take kids and make them better than they are"

" We can be friends when you are 30"

"Notice kids for what they are NOT known for"

"Grit- the ability to work hard and stick at it"

" Successful people have grit. If you don't have it, it doesn't matter how smart you are."

Session 4: Web 2.0 Tools to Engage

Andrea Noonan, Tech Instructionalist at West Fargo Schools

This session was awesome! Andrea had some really neat, easy web tools to use in our classrooms. In fact, that is where I learned about smore. Below are links to the tools she showed us. I spent a good three hours on storybird, so I tell you to proceed with caution in your explorations!

The Beat of the Brain

This is the second time I have gotten to see Monte, and he is just fantastic. He has been a teacher, principal, professor, recording artist, Grammy winner; all that is missing is astronaut. His session looked at what an incredible tool music is in the classroom. He talked about the brain wants pattern, repetition, shape and the more we can provide those things to our students the better. Check out his website by clicking on his name in the title of this article!

Session 5: Using Data Walls to Guide Instruction and Intervention

Erin Lacina, NESC

This session looked at using data walls (constructed of poster board and sticky notes) to get a visual image of student data. We will be doing this this fall with our spring MAPS scores and then again with our fall MAPS scores. Attached is Erin's notes and also what Devil's Lake did with their data walls. They went waaaaaay beyond MAPS scores and included all of the data points listed and assigned scores based on those points. We won't be doing that, but we will be constructing the basic wall and using it to improve scheduling, instruction, etc.

6+1 Traits Documents

Here are some 6+1 documents that Margie brought back from the 6+1 training. These are great places to get started with the traits and writing in general in your classroom!