Patriot Update

April 10, 2016

Praise and Mindsets

Carol Dweck - A Study on Praise and Mindsets

Elements of 21st Century Classroom Design

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Visualizing 21st-Century Classroom Design

Problem-based learning, maker spaces, flipped learning, student blogging -- these are becoming perceived staples of 21st-century learning. With such ambitious practices taking the spotlight for how people regard modern classrooms, it's not surprising that a murmur of impracticality or skepticism is still a frequent response when they're first introduced.


So how do we encourage teachers everywhere to believe that great changes can happen in their classrooms? By helping them envision small, practical steps that will lead them there. Here are five elements of 21st-century classrooms, along with concrete suggestions that teachers can visualize and implement today.


Element #1: Zones

21st-Century Learning Principle

Instead of requiring students to learn, work, and think in one place all day, consider how your space might become more flexible.

Practical Steps

  • Designate a whole-group special gathering zone (class meetings, wrap-ups, mini-lessons) by laying a second-hand rug or taping down a perimeter -- even for older students!
  • Maximize space by having your desk do double-duty with the kidney desk, but maintain office space with shelves on the wall behind you.
  • Get creative with the student workspace zone by providing spaces for working as individuals, pairs, and groups.
  • Request donations for beanbags and oversized pillows, and check thrift shops.
  • Add casters to chairs, and top individual desks with plywood for flexible group tables.
  • Arrange furniture to create nooks.

Classroom Design Piktochart by Mary Wade (Click image to enlarge)


Element #2: Accessibility

21st-Century Learning Principle

To walk the talk of a real classroom community, we must ask ourselves if all of our resources are designed and arranged for the convenience of all learners.

Practical Steps

  • Ask your students for feedback on how they use and would like to use classroom resources.
  • Ask your administration's permission to have the custodian adjust the height of bulletin boards, whiteboards, hooks, and anything else that isn't as functional as it could be.


Element #3: Mobility

21st-Century Learning Principle

We need to be sure that we're not catering to just one type of learner. Be mindful of your introverts, extroverts, collaborators, solo thinkers, writers, dreamers, and fidgeters -- and design a flexible environment that can meet everyone's needs.

Practical Steps

Create a tech station to allow students more choices in how to research, practice, and present learning. Don't have 1:1 or even 30:1? Start today by submitting a DonorsChoose project requesting a tablet or laptop. Chromebooks are under $200 and iPad Minis under $300. Then, immediately install an arsenal of apps or Chrome apps to help preclude the all-too-common "what do I do with these devices?" dilemma.

Blogging apps:

Math practice apps:

Research help apps:

Publishing/creating apps:

Fun fast-finisher apps:

Classroom organization apps:

Examine low-tech options:

The abovementioned casters will help your students easily roll their chairs away if they need to work solo for a bit, or to collaborate with multiple people around the classroom. Add a clipboard, and voila -- a budget-friendly version of the Node chair.


Element #4: Inspiration

21st-Century Learning Principle

We often expect students to passively wait until we present opportunities to create, and then we expect them to turn on that creativity like a faucet. We should find ways to foster ongoing inspiration and creativity.

Practical Steps

  • Set aside a creation/inspiration zone that's open to students as often as possible (Genius Bar, Wonder Shelf, makerspace, etc.)
  • Explicitly teach and emphasize process over product, growth mindset, and metacognition. We cannot cultivate risk taking, failing, and perseverance -- all essential characteristics of creativity -- if we repeatedly demonstrate to students how all that really matters is neatly filling out our worksheets.


Element #5: Respect

21st-Century Learning Principle

Consider our students who don't do school very well. You know the ones -- the kid who rarely earns stars and class bucks, the kid who never brings homework, the kid whose name is called far more frequently than others (but usually for remonstration). For them, traditional school quickly becomes a game of "me vs. the teacher." For their sake, we must find ways to dissolve this mindset, replacing it with the real reason why we're all at school -- genuine learning and growth.

Practical Steps

  • Carefully examine your reward systems and ask yourself: "Do they perpetuate or lessen the perceived game of student vs. teacher?" Take steps to minimize extrinsic rewards that often do nothing but reinforce to struggling students the futility of their efforts.
  • Focus on your one-on-one relationship with each student. Greet them at the door, ask them about their interests, and listen.
  • Fiercely safeguard time for end-of-lesson wrap-ups and reflections. Those moments are the perfect opportunity to highlight the conversation of ownership. After all, this is about student learning. Model and let them learn from others how individuals make learning personal and genuinely apply it to their lives.


What small changes can you visualize in your room today?

Keller University - July 18-21

Did you miss team meeting this week or want to review the KU highlights? Click here to get up to speed.
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Heart at Work!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

~ Margaret Mead


Michelle McConaghy, you've got heart! - What an amazing, kind hearted teacher/person you are! Thank you for thinking of me and our music department! You have no idea how much we needed that portable system! Thank you soooo much!


Amy Morgan, you've got heart! - Amy has been so helpful and accommodating. We have been scheduling some times to meet and they've had to be rescheduled a couple times. I appreciate her understanding and kindness she's made it simple and easy to make new arrangement. Thank you!


Stephanie Edwards, you've got heart! - Stephanie has been so welcoming and supportive of me as a new teacher coming in mid-year. She answers my endless questions, points me in the correct directions, and has helped me navigate my new environment. I am so thankful to have her help!


You make such a difference in the lives of our kids, families, and staff! Thank you!

April 23 - Fourth Annual Keller ISD Education Foundation Inspiration Gala

This year's theme is It's a Celebration, as the Keller ISD community is invited to celebrate the Foundation's 10 years of service to the District and help recognize KISD's finest teachers. A celebration of innovative efforts in the classroom, the event will recognize this year's Education Foundation Grant Recipients and Campus Teachers of the Year. Keller ISD's District Elementary and Secondary Teachers of the Year will also be announced.

For the final year, the Foundation will also name a Lisa Veitenheimer Memorial Award winner, honoring an outstanding first-year teacher in the District.

The Gala will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Texas Motor Speedway. Enjoy an evening filled with live entertainment from a Keller ISD jazz band, delicious food, and unique silent auction items.


The Keller ISD Education Foundation Inspiration Gala is an annual fundraising event which supports teacher grants and student scholarships. Tickets will be $100 per person, however, employees can purchase a ticket for themselves and a guest at a discounted rate of $50 per ticket

Campus Happenings

Mondays & Fridays - Drama Team

No Drama Team on 4/15

Tuesdays - Running Club

April 26 - Running Club season finale

Thursdays - Choir Practice

April 12 - Faculty Meeting

17,000 Classroom Visits...bring your learning journal and book as well as anything Ulyana requests by email