Friday, October 21, 2016

Nationwide is on Your Side


Lunch with Lance

I love lunch. Yes, I have a deep appreciation for food, but that's not why I'm discussion my love for lunch. I try to spend the lunch hours hanging around the teacher's lounge due to how precious that time is. Teachers frequently ask questions about technical issues they are having or ways to better implement the tools they are currently using. It is such a valuable time for teachers to learn a new tool, tip, or trick that will in some way benefit them and their class. I have no actual data to prove the benefit of being available during lunch in comparison to holding before or after school training sessions, but I do believe it is of more value due to the fact that teachers visit in shifts. I can personalize the learning experience at a much better level than having a sit-n-get session.

Lunch is also of value as the most important ingredient in driving change is to make connections with people. Gaining trust is vital to the process of building a culture of growth. It is interesting to me because this truth is exactly the same with my fourth graders from six years ago. I don't proclaim to be an expert in building a great culture, but I understand its value and want to strive to get better. I certainly have had great examples in the importance of culture. I think of Heather Green, principal at Rome City Elementary, when I was at East Noble School Corporation. She made connections with teachers very quickly and gained their trust merely by listening to people. My transition to the MSD of Steuben County was no different. I quickly built a connection with Ann Rice, principal at Angola Middle School, and have been amazed by how connected her staff is to her. She invests time into people. Great leaders connect with people in ways that make them want to improve. I'm so grateful for these examples. 

Nationwide Vocabulary

So what does this have to do with the Nationwide jingle? I created a 'Nationwide Vocabulary' Google Slides Template due to these lunch-n-learn sessions. It seems like the best ideas come from my conversations I have with staff as I learn about specific classroom needs. My lunch sessions aren't always about technology. I tend to gather technology ideas when the discussion is seemingly unrelated.

Not long ago, I was sitting in the lounge at Carlin Park Elementary; we were discussing the horrible performance by the Indianapolis Colts as of late. Every Colts fan that is perturbed by the 2016-2017 Colts will eventually connect the conversation to the Peyton Manning era. Somehow (my memory doesn't serve me very well here) the conversation shifted from Peyton Manning to a discussion about vocabulary instruction. That's when I had an epiphany and Nationwide Vocabulary is born. 

Vocabulary instruction must go beyond words and definitions. I think back to the era when I had a list of words and looked them up in the dictionary. How much did that really benefit me? I didn't even learn what the word meant as I copied the dictionary. (Even less beneficial today as students can merely copy and paste the answer straight from dictionary.com.) Students need to work with words in a way that will cause them to go beyond memorizing a definition and knowing the word meaning at the most basic level. Can a student synthesize new meaning and ideas with the vocabulary words? My Nationwide Vocabulary template forces the student to know the definition, but they must change it to fit the tune of Peyton Manning singing, "Chicken parm' you taste so good." If the student can manipulate the definition to meet the turn of the Nationwide jingle, they have to really understand what the word means.

When I brought home my great idea to my wife, she of course wanted an example. I had referenced my idea as an 'epiphany' of some sort. So she naturally wanted an example: 


The Template

You can find my slides below. When the students are in edit mode in Google Slides, they can click the plus to add a new slide and it should automatically give them a new slide so that the students can add a new word to the template. You can download your own copy to your Google Drive by clicking here. 




I've been thinking a lot lately about hyperdoc templates that teachers can use to better utilize the Chromebook. Creating hyperdocs makes workflow so much easier for teachers and Google Classroom. There are a lot of learning experiences that are on paper or on the Internet that can be duplicated through Google Docs or Slides that would be much more time efficient for students and teachers. I will continue to be a listener in the teacher's lounge and scrounge up some more fun activities that I can Googlify.