PVE Friday Focus

March 18th, 2016

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News and Notes

Who gets to decide what’s innovative in education?

by AJ Juliani

(This post copied by the blog of AJ Juliani which can be found at: http://ajjuliani.com/ )

I was talking with a teacher in my school district yesterday who said, “I just don’t know if we should try this again in class. It seems like lots of people online have already done it, and I read a few blog posts that really criticized it.”

I asked her, “Well, how did it work for you and your students the first time?”

“It was great,” she said. “The kids enjoyed it and want to do it again. But a lot of people think it’s all fun and games, not necessarily any substance to it.”

I asked again, “Well, what do you think? Did it have substance and purpose in your class?”

“Yes, the kids were engaged and excited to learn. It was fun but also had purpose.”

I left the conversation happy we had talked it out, but also upset that others who were not in her class were trying to dissuade her from trying something new (and in her mind innovative) with her students. In fact, I was a bit angry.

I’ve seen a lot of blog posts, articles, and videos where people are deciding what’s innovative for everyone. And while I respect the opinions of everyone sharing their thoughts online, I’m a bit tired of the judgment being placed on teachers and school leaders and people trying to do innovative work.

There seems to be a big misconception, that if something was done before and it didn’t work in one classroom then it’s not innovative. Or if something has been done for five years already and it’s being done “everywhere” then it’s not innovative.

If you’re a teacher, school leader, or parent who is trying something new to help your kids and your students learn better that’s awesome! Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s not innovative, and you shouldn’t try it, and it’s already been done before.

We seem to forget that there’s this giant continuum we are all on. Some of us jump on at different points, and some of us experiment with different things, and some of us don’t know everything that’s been done before in other schools.

It’s About the People Doing the Work

If you’re a teacher and want to flip your classroom and you think that’s going to work for your students, then do it and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

If you’re thinking of doing Genius Hour or a 20% project but you’re seeing people online say, “well that’s not enough”, just do it. What your students are learning and creating will prove them wrong.

If you want to use a new app, new tool, or something that people are saying is just another “fad” go ahead and experiment. If you think it’s going to work in your classroom, with your students (that you know best), then go and do it and don’t let them tell you it’s not innovative.

If you want to use pencil and paper (or cardboard and duct tape) in new ways then go and do it because that’s what’s innovative and may work for your situation.

There’s not some governing board that gets to decide what’s innovative and what’s not innovative. There’s not some expert out there that gets to say “well that won’t work in your classroom” because they don’t know your classroom. They don’t know your kids. They don’t know your circumstances.

I wish we would spend less time debating what’s innovative work and more time celebrating what’s happening in our schools right now this very moment.

Because there is so much good happening.

Don’t let others sway you from trying something new in your class or school. Don’t let the opinions of people who know better stop you from doing things that might work.

If it’s a new idea to you and your students and it works in your class then it’s innovative.

The only people who get to decide what’s innovative are the people who are actually doing the work. Those that are teaching, leading, creating, sharing, and learning.

From our coaches

If you want to know if your students are engaged readers, you can do a reading engagement check-up. To do this, you would spend a silent reading time observing your students’ reading behaviors and recording what you see. This link will take you to a great form to use along with easy instructions for what you will want to observe. This simple tool can help you learn a lot about your students reading habits and their level of reading engagement.

As always, please let us know how we can help!

Carly and Kathy



Saturday, March 19th

- Musical 5:30 and 7:30 Performance

Monday, March 21st

- STEM Planetarium

Tuesday, March 22nd

- STEM Planetarium

- Principal Retirement Meeting Adv. Center. 8:00 a.m.

- The Reading Strategies Book book study

- Statewide Tornado Drill

- 4th Grade Ready Set Grow Program - 3 classes – 4th Grade Boys Mybeck’s Room (Dawson, Mikesell, Mybeck) 10 -11:15

- 4th Grade Ready Set Grow Program - 3 classes – 4th Grade Girls Dawson’s (Dawson, Mikesell, Mybeck) 10 -11:15

- 4th Grade Ready Set Grow Program - 3 classes -4th Grade Boys B114 (Kiel, Carney, Smith) 12:50 -2:05

- 4th Grade Ready Set Grow Program - 3 classes -4th Grade Girls B115 (Kiel, Carney, Smith) 12:50 -2:05

- PTO Yogurt/Ice Cream Bar from 11:00 – 1:15

- Box Town Set up – LGI, Upper Gym 12:00

Wednesday, March 23rd

- STEM Planetarium

- Third Grade Box Town LGI and Upper Gym

- JRFH Envelopes Due

- Setup for Jump Rope for Heart 3:30 Upper Gym and LGI

Thursday, March 24th

- STEM Planetarium

- Jump Rope for Heart - Upper Gym and LGI

- Kdg. Food Rescue

Friday, March 25th

- Spring Break Begins

Tuesday, March 29th

Happy Birthday, Britt Stemme!


- NWEA Testing Window April 7th –April 21st

- April Birthdays

o - 10th - Kelly Miller, 11th - Chris Alt and Lauren DeWees, 12th - Tina Boudreau, 13th Kasey Cope, 15th - Kara Seever and Katie Seymour

- April Tribe (1st Grade)

Monday, April 4th

-ZEF Spring Classroom Grants Due 4:00 pm Dr. Robison’s office

Wednesday, April 6th

- Resource Swimming at ZCHS Aquatics Center 9:05 – 10:30

- Drop Everything and Read 9:30 – 9:50

- Drop Everything and Write 2:30 – 2:50

Thursday, April 7th


- ZMS Music Visit to Fourth Grade – See events calendar for schedule

- Staff Meeting 8:10 Adventure Center

- Kdg. Food Rescue Pickup

- PTO Spring Luncheon

Friday, April 8th


- Fourth Grade Science Day – schedule on events calendar

- Office Meeting 8:15 – 8:45

- First Grade Author Visit 12:30 – 3:30 Adventure Center

Sunday, April 10th

- Happy Birthday, Kelly Miller!

Design Day Planning

Planning has continued for PVE’s first ever Global Day of Design. A group of teachers met again this past Tuesday to help plan this event for our school.

Global Day of Design will take place on Monday, April 25th at PVE. This is a change to the original plan, but it works best for the school schedule. Please mark your calendars! GDD (Global Day of Design) will be a day when our students will embark through the design process. Each teacher will lead design challenge of their choice with a group of kids. The students will spend an hour and a half with you working on this challenge.

We need the challenge that you would like to lead for GDD! If you have an idea already, submit it now! If you are in need of a little inspiration, here are a few resources that might help:

· Global Day of Design Activities

· Stanford Design School Challenges

· Pinterest: Elementary Design Challenges

These are a few resources to get your started! I am sure Teachers Pay Teachers and other web searches will bring up even more inspiration.

Please have your design challenge for GDD submitted before leaving for spring break! Click here! Thank you in advance for making this day a huge success.