Dare to Care

create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

16/Mar/2015
by Denise Krebs
6 Comments

Explore, Create, Contribute: the Best in Free Online Resources for Educators

I’m excited to lead a WizIQ webinar called “Explore, Create, Contribute: the Best in Free Online Resources for Educators.” It’s free and coming soon on 2 April 2015 at 2:30 EST.  Hopefully you can come!

In these days of ubiquitous free online resources, you may be wondering about my use of “the best” in describing the online resources we’ll explore. You may ask yourself, “How would she know the best online resources?”

Well, there is a hint in the title: Explore, Create, Contribute. In this webinar, we will definitely explore excellent free online resources. In fact, they are the most useful resources I’m using right now for teaching English language learners in Bahrain.

What will make them even better, though–the best–is when you join in, sharing your gift, creating and contributing, as well. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to do just that. Join us!

2 April 2015 Explore, Create, Contribute for WizIQ

06/Mar/2015
by Denise Krebs
6 Comments

The Ultimate in Differentiation: Genius Hour

I’m excited that I got up early this morning for the #geniushour chat. It used to be at a convenient time when I lived in North America. Now I’m living in the Middle East, and so I have to get up by 5:00 a.m. on a Friday, which is a weekend day here. Not so bad because I became re-inspired and re-ignited in a topic I am passionate about.

That topic is handing the reigns over to my students. Allowing them to learn and make and choose how to show their learning. It’s not always easy to give choices when we are mandated to test and cover so much material. However, when students are entrusted with learning–real learning, not just to pass a test learning–they are empowered and motivated. It makes every moment of school better!

This morning I actually was the moderator for the #geniushour chat because I wanted to ask questions about differentiating genius hour for students with special needs or English language learners. My questions were timely because months ago I signed up to lead a session on genius hour: “Genius Hour: Productive, Creative, and Empowered Students.” That session is tomorrow at the ELT Conference here in Bahrain, “Differentiation That Makes a Difference.

Here are the questions we asked and answered at this morning’s chat…

Q1 – Do you differentiate during #geniushour? How?
Q2 – What are some of the most common reasons you need to differentiate #geniushour?
Q3 – How do you help your ELL students? Do you need to differentiate for them?
Q4 – How do you adapt #geniushour for students with IEPs? Any tips to share?
Q5 – Why do you think #geniushour is great for all learners?
Q6 – Any general #geniushour successes that you want to share? Tips and links to share?

I was excited to hear the answers from such a variety of teachers. Many shared that the nature of genius hour is already differentiated. Pure differentiation. Others had suggestions for how they differentiate. Here are a selection of the tweets they shared:

 (Click here to go to the archive of all the Tweets.)

After this morning, I tend to agree with the pure differentiation crowd.  Students decide what they will learn and how. The term differentiation is usually paired with instruction, but really it’s always about learning.

Students will learn in the right conditions. According to Carol Ann Tomlinson, we can help create the right conditions when we take into account the student characteristics of readiness, interest, and learning profile, which includes these four facets of learning profile: gender, culture, learning style, and intelligence preference.¹ Teachers can differentiate the curriculum when they make adjustments on content, process and products.²

In genius hour we hand over power to the students. They choose what they are ready for. They choose what they are interested in. They choose based on their learning profile. They choose the content they want to learn. They choose the process to use to get to that end. They choose the product to show their learning. Throughout, the teacher is available for scaffolding, guiding, helping, leading as needed. Primarily, it’s about the learning, not the knowledge the teacher is imparting.

In my current work as an English teacher in a foreign country, though, I am learning that genius hour looks a little different here. (Or is it the fact that I moved from junior high to kindergarten.) According to most of my friends this morning at the Twitter chat, it seems that the very nature of genius hour is differentiation at its best.

Do you agree? Is it already differentiated or are their special things you do for ELL students? What if they are all ELL students, like mine?

If you have something to share, will you please add one or more tips for using genius hour with English language learners to this Linoit? (I’ll share your comments with the participants at the conference.)


¹”Faculty Conversation: Carol Tomlinson on Differentiation.” University of Virginia. Curry School of Education, 15 Feb. 2011. Web. 06 Mar. 2015. <http://curry.virginia.edu/articles/carole-tomlinson-on-differentiation>.

²Allan, Susan D. “Chapter 1. Understanding Differentiated Instruction: Building a Foundation for Leadership.” Leadership for Differentiating Schools & Classrooms. By Carol A. Tomlinson. ASCD, 2000. web. 06 Mar. 2015.  <http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/100216/chapters/Understanding-Differentiated-Instruction@-Building-a-Foundation-for-Leadership.aspx>

11/Oct/2013
by Denise Krebs
4 Comments

The World Needs Your Contribution! How My PLN Changed My Life

I loved telling my story about how my teaching life has been transformed over the past three years, thanks to my PLN. It was called The World Needs Your Contribution: How My PLN Changed Everything

Below you will find the slides from my Reform Symposium Conference session (on Twitter: #RSCON4). The presentation has links to all the resources mentioned.

Here is a link to the recording if you want to listen to the 53-minute recording.

Whiteboard for my RSCON4 session

PDF of Chat from my session

Recordings for all the sessions at RSCON4 here.

More about RSCON4 here.

27/Sep/2013
by Denise Krebs
Comments Off on RSCON4 Coming Soon

RSCON4 Coming Soon

RSCON4 Attendee Badge

In a few days, thousands of educators from various different countries are expected to attend a free 3 day virtual conference, The Reform Symposium, #RSCON4.  RSCON4 will be held October 11th to 13th in conjunction with Connected Educator Month. The entire conference will be held online using the Blackboard Collaborate webinar platform. Participants can attend this online conference from the comfort of their homes or anywhere that has Internet access. This amazing conference provides educators new or currently active on social networks the opportunity to connect with educators and professionals in the field of education worldwide.

Some of the sessions I’m looking forward to are Gallit Zvi on Genius Hour, Jason Levine on Call and Response Tunes to Practice Verb Tenses (sounds fun!), Michael Griffin on Working in the Global Classroom and Chris Wejr on Education Leadership: Creating the Conditions for Passion and Innovation. And I haven’t even begun to look at all of them!

I will be facilitating a session on October 13, Sunday, at 6 p.m. It is called: The World Needs Your Contribution–Really! How My PLN Changed Everything.

Three years ago, I joined in the world of connected educators and learned new ways to teach and learn—things I had not learned in 15 years from other educators around me. Everything changed (and is changing) for me. It wasn’t just about using technology in the classroom; I had always done that. This was much more significant—rubbing elbows with amazing educators in my PLN taught me a whole new set of skills, attitudes, and behaviors in the classroom. Five changes for me and my students include issues with choice, trust, learning, grading, and homework.

I’ll tell my story and leave time for others to tell theirs. Please join us if you have a story to tell, or if you don’t yet and want to learn how to transform your teaching for the better.

I’ll also share a reading and viewing list of the resources that have been most significant for me.

Many friends in my PLN say this with me–we are better educators as a result of our connectedness. I hope you can join with me in this session to share how your teaching has been turned upside down! Stories shared will help others who have yet to experience these significant growth opportunities.

Useful links (click on any item for more information):

We would like to thank the incredible organizers- Shelly Sanchez Terrell, Steve Hargadon, Clive Elsmore, Chiew Pang, Kelly Tenkely, Chris Rogers, Paula White, Bruno Andrade, Cecilia Lemos, Greta Sandler, Peggy George, Marcia Lima, Jo Hart, Phil Hart, Dinah Hunt, Marisa Constantinides, Nancy Blair, Mark Barnes and Sara Hunter.

We hope you can join us for this incredible professional development experience!

08/Nov/2012
by Denise Krebs
6 Comments

ITEC 2012

Connected educator. Leader. Learner. Colleague of my students.

My life as an educator has changed dramatically over the past two years. One of the ways can be illustrated in my experience with ITEC, which is Iowa Technology and Education Connection, a conference held each October.

2010Brenda and Mary went to ITEC and came back telling me all the exciting things they had learned about connectedness, Twitter, blogging, and more. “What’s ITEC?” I asked. They explained.

2011 – The next year, I was anxious to go myself to learn more about this new connected educator I was becoming. I wrote about Day 1 and, several months later, Day 2.

2012 – This year, I went back to ITEC, excited to learn more, but I also decided to contribute. I signed up to lead a session about genius hour, where students are given time and autonomy to learn, create, and produce something meaningful to them.

I suppose it was because of my interests, but each session I attended (except “Bringing History to Life Workshop” by Karen Lampe) included some reference to genius hour learning.

I went to ITEC for just one day this year because I had committed to present on Tuesday at Northwest Iowa Reading Council on being a connected educator. (Remind me not to present two days in a row again–for a while, at least!)

I am thankful for the professional development opportunities that my school gives me, like the chance to go to ITEC and other conferences.

It’s hard to explain, but ITEC and other PD experiences have helped make me more connected and a willing leader, given me a renewed love for learning, and led me to develop a collegial partnership of learning with my students.

I am profoundly grateful for the journey I’m on!

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