Chief Learner

 I used to teach my students,

But now, as chief learner in my classroom, we create learning together.

I used to use technology to enhance student learning,

But now I empower geniuses to use technology to connect, create, contribute, and collaborate.

I once was the teacher up front,

But now I sit in a student desk elbow-to-elbow with learners.

If I could I would give the gift of lifelong learning to every child.

I would always be patient and guide them to their passions.

I will not quit my quest to inspire and empower them,

But I need them to keep inspiring and empowering me as well.

I’m not always successful,

But I do love them and will keep telling them they are geniuses until they believe it.

I won’t give up,

But I get discouraged when students can’t seem to unlearn the old ways.

I used to teach my students,

But now I am the chief learner in my classroom.

~Denise Krebs

August, 2012. It’s been a busy month.

Early in the month, I had a week of relaxing vacation where all I did was read and hike. Then I came back to a classroom needing attention. Now, I’ve just finished my first full week of a new school year.

It’s also Connected Educator Month, where I have had three awesome experiences!

It’s been a great month! I wrote the poem above because I was inspired by my connections. Thank you, PLN!

Twitter Chat for #geniushour

What a wonderful surprise I got from Gallit Zvi when she asked me to co-moderate a Twitter chat about #geniushour. We have both experienced this transformational approach to learning with our students, so we were excited to see if others wanted to talk about their experiences or had questions about genius hour.

We chose a day–March 7, the first Wednesday of the month–and a time–6 p.m. Pacific Time and 8 p.m. Central Time, Gallit’s and my timezone, respectively. Then we advertised a bit, and waited for the time to roll around.

We wondered if anyone but us would come.

We sat for a minute or two and wondered some more. Hugh, a committed genius hour teacher, wasn’t able to be there, but he had submitted his thoughts about genius hour an hour or two before the chat. It was nice to have something to get us started.

Then, we were pleasantly surprised to find that others DID come, passionate educators who are committed to student-centered  constructivist learning. (Here is a Twitter List of participants in the first #geniushour chat.)

A few contributions from our first #geniushour chat:

Gallit created a #geniushour wiki for all of us to share information and archive our tweets.

Based on the feedback at the end of the chat, I think we all learned from and enjoyed it!

I enthusiastically learned and enjoyed. I had two significant takeaways, which will change the course of my school year.

  1. In my classes we will now be having genius hour once a week, quite possibly due to this question Gallit posed. 
  2. I will let students continue working on projects until completed, as Joy does with her students. Instead of presenting after every genius hour, which has been my practice, now each person can determine when s/he is ready and present at that time (or once a month).

Simple ideas, but on my own thinking I had not figured these out. When I talked to others in this chat, I was challenged, inspired and empowered. My thoughts about this important idea were strengthened. If you want to read more of the tweets from our first chat, visit for the archive.

My students are happy I participated in #geniushour chat because coming up next Monday is our first weekly genius hour!

I’m already looking forward to the next #geniushour chat on April 4 at 9:00 pm ET. Who knows what I’ll take away from that one? I hope you will join us!

Top Three Posts of 2011

During 2011 I joined the online conversation. Even though I had blogged for a year before, this is the year I enjoyed meeting new people through blogging, Twitter, and Flickr. As a result I have become a better educator, writer, photographer, and person. Thanks to all my new online friends!

The top three most-viewed posts of 2011 according to my Edublogs stats include these. What I love most about these posts are the comments–great illustrations of the conversation I’ve joined.

The 2011 Edublog Awards – My nominations post.

Twitter Non-Guidebook – My mistakes and learnings as a new tweeter.

Genius Hour – A lifelong way to learn.

The Top Three Most-Viewed Blog Post Linky Party is hosted by Fern Smith at her Classroom Ideas blog.

You Are a #Rockstar

Tracy Watanabe has tagged me in the #Rockstar meme for bloggers. Originally started by Miguel Guhlin, the meme has been traveling around the globe for about three weeks now. Thanks for including me, Tracy!

5 Ways Blogging Has Rocked My World

  1. Like-minded colleagues – Like Tracy, I too am energized by those who are passionate about education. In her Rockstar post, Tracy said, “I thrive when I’m having fun learning, creating things, connecting, and making a difference in the lives of students and teachers. My batteries recharge when I’m around others who have the same passion.” Yes, indeed. Me too! I have been energized and more engaged in teaching since I began blogging.
  2. Writing – I’ve always written and wanted to be a writer. Now I am, in my own bloggy sort of way.
  3. Contributing – Sometime during the past year, I dared to contribute, as Miguel suggested. I began to participate in the online conversation. It was actually quite simple. Instead of just randomly wandering to an occasional blog post, I became deliberate. I signed up for free online services and began making an online presence for myself. I joined the conversation by logging in, leaving comments, and sharing my own writing.
  4. Connecting –  As a result of daring to contribute, I have made connections. I have new friends and collaboration partners through my experiences blogging.
  5. Inspiring – My students are bloggers too. We inspire each other. They have seen me make connections over the past year, and several of them are stretching beyond the limits of what I’ve asked them to do on their blogs. They are making connections and contributing to the world. I would like to think that I inspired some of that, and that rocks my world!

Blogs I Follow

I have dozens of blogs I follow, and on any given day, hundreds of blog posts wait patiently in my Google Reader. To be honest, most of them I just glance at the titles.  Many I scan. Few I read. The ones I read most faithfully are by those that I have connections with. When I see that these folks have posted, I read their posts from top to bottom. These people have become my friends, and I want to see what they are saying. Tracy Watanabe, Sheri Edwards and the fine bloggers below are some of those who have made blogging special for me.

One of these is a local friend who has been blogging longer than I, one is a brand new blogger sharing her beautiful photographs, one is a young teacher fairly new to blogging, and three are friends I met in the teacher blogging challenge in January of 2011.

Nancy CarrollTeaching is Elementary


JoAnn JacobsColor Wheel Symphony

Theresa AllenCSRN Technology

Lyn HowlinCosy Corner

Laura CoughlinLove::Teaching

How Has Blogging Rocked Your World?

I am tagging these six to join us in the #Rockstar meme. Should you choose to accept this challenge, you can write a blog post telling how blogging has rocked your world. Link back to the original post by Miguel and then tag five (or six, as Sheri and I did) more participants.

Thanks for rocking my world with your beautiful blogging and the connections you have made with my students and me. You are all ROCKSTARS!

Posting a Directory Map at RSCON3!

Where are you?

My online life this summer has taken some amazing turns. I am having a delightful time learning and growing as a creator and contributor. I’ve connected with more people, and I’m collaborating on two big events right now–the Global Read Aloud, which I wrote about last week, and the Reform Symposium Conference, which starts tomorrow. Reform Symposium Conference, or RSCON3, is an online educational conference with hundreds of planners, moderators, and presenters, as well as 8,000+ participants. I’m looking forward to it–a three-day conference of genuine professional development.

Well, I’m a bit nervous about this, but I volunteered to lead a session at RSCON3 about uploading a directory map onto a wiki. It was something I learned to do this summer, and it has some tricky steps.

I decided to make this blog post for a couple reasons.

  1. There are those who may be interested in the subject, but can’t make it at 8:30 a.m. Central Time on Saturday, July 30. (That would also be called UCT-5. I love that we are learning so much geography as we connect and collaborate globally.)
  2. Some participants in my session will need to come back here for more information.
  3. Some of you who read this will decide to attend the Reform Symposium Conference. It’s not too late to sign up, if you are seeing this before July 31.

Anyway, in this post I am not going to explain how to make a map, but I am going to add my slides and a Google Doc, all of which will be helpful if you care to add a map to your webpage.

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you will attend my session on Satuday morning. Here is the link to the Elluminate room 42, where my workshop will be held. I will be waiting there with bells on! Here is the schedule for the complete conference.

The session I’ll be leading will mostly talk about making a self-updating map, but is another way to make a directory map. It is a very simple process. In this screencast I show you how.

Global Read Aloud

The Global Read Aloud Project.

What is it? “One shared read aloud – One global connection” the tagline on the blog reads. Pernille Ripp designed this global project just last year. For 2011 we are going to read Flat Stanley or Tuck Everlasting, depending on the age of the child you’ll be reading to.

I was inspired to write this post when I read both Jee Young Kim’s post and Jen Diaz’s post about the Global Read Aloud. I’m fairly new to connecting and collaborating–it was just last week that I participated in my first chat–and, like Jee, I am looking forward to participating in global projects this year.

Last year I was an infant on Twitter, so I did hear about the Global Read Aloud, and it fascinated me. I was curious, but I didn’t have the gumption to join in.

In less than a year, however, I have joined the Global Read Aloud–I’ll be reading with my 7th grade class–, and I even signed up to help with the planning. I jumped right into the wiki and added a few links and pages, including a participant map.

Learning to make the map and getting the code to work on the wiki was very rewarding. As a result, when Clive Elsmore, @CliveSir, was looking for a couple more presenters to fill in the last of the schedule for RSCON3, I volunteered to show how to add a map to a webpage. But that’s a topic for another post!

I hope you will join us in the Global Read Aloud. If you are hesitant, like I was a year ago, remember what Ms. Frizzle always said, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy.”

Just say yes! I, and hundreds of others, will help you along the way! Any questions? Just leave them here and I will answer or find someone who can help.

By Scott Kidder, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0