Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What to do with Design Thinking & Teacher Learning #rebelu16

Rebel U is so much more than just a gathering of teachers sharing cool tools they are using in their classrooms.  Although that is a part of it, the collaboration, conversations, experimenting, community, and much more are also critical components of the day.  Each year we are grateful that we are given a full day to work with teachers and administrators, so we work hard to make sure that are day is design with not only our end users in mind, but also making sure that it is aligned with district goals.  We try to make sure this is a seamless integration, where sometimes you aren't sure where the learning ends and the implementation begins!

This year, our Tech Team partnered with the Teaching, Learning, and Accountability Department in our district to align Rebel U to our district focus of Human Centered Design.  Our Team is by no means an expert in this area, so we were ready to learn all we could about the concept and how this translates to the technology that is being utilized by our teachers and students.  In a nutshell, we are all designers and the approach we take can follow an uniform process, but the end results could be very different and personalized.
This year at Rebel U, we opened with our very own Carol Lautenbach, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching, Learning, and Accountability, with an introduction to design thinking.  She shared a document with our teachers that to help them think beyond the content to the reason, the essence, and the purpose of what is being learned—the WHY and WHO.  This was demonstrated through a quick activity about cell phones that helped demonstrate the WHY and WHO of design thinking.

At the end of the day, teachers were asked to separate themselves into one of five groups that they would like to explore further.  In exploration of this group, we were asking them how they could connect the ideas, tools, and resources they learned about during the day and use them to enhance communications and relationships.  Below is a breakdown of the number of teachers and the relationships they chose to explore further.
In addition to the focus group, we asked them how they would incorporate an element of the 5Cs into the process (bringing the higher-level thinking!).  The purpose in asking this question was to really think deeper about the relationship that is being explored.
When you take those two tidbits of information collected and combine them together, you get a nice looking chart that allows you to see the relationships and 5C focus for the district as a whole.  It is easy to see that the majority of our staff would like to focus on the teacher to student relationship, with largely a creative focus.  This makes us excited because of the potential for risk-taking, student exploration, and learning opportunities that might grow out of this activity.
What is interesting about this snapshot is that you can clearly see the focus areas defined by our teachers that are important and will help improve not only the teaching process, but also build relationships within our community.  Where we go from this point is in the hands our teachers, students, imaginations, and so much more!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Building for Today and Improving for a Future Tomorrow #rebelu16

Every year with Rebel U, we work at improving things from previous Rebel U events and trying out new things.  One thing our Tech Team has always tried to be open to is taking risks.  We took a few risks trying new things this year and some worked well, others not quite like we had envisioned.  As part of our evaluation each year, we like to ask attendees what they feel we can improve upon so that the next Rebel U flows better and meets teacher learning needs.  This year, we knew two big areas where we fell short in providing you with the best learning experience possible...and you let us know too (which we love the constructive feedback, really!).

According the evaluation results, the two main topics that frequently came up were the Internet/wifi connection issues as well as general concerns about the location.  We want you to know that we truly value your input and would like to share some of the concerns as well as what we know/can do about improving.  Like previously stated, we are not afraid to take risks.  We took a risk by having Rebel U at a new location.  The Kent ISD was booked, and we have learned from previous years of Rebel U, it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold within district due to the growing number of staff, availability of air-conditioned space, and appropriate seating for adults.  We also like to respect the fact that many teachers spend a lot of time prepping their classrooms for the beginning of the school year, and having 150 come into their teaching/learning space can throw off work that has been put into preparation.  We know that no amount of apologies can change the lack of wifi access (despite our many inquiries as it if it could handle our load!) and room temperature/size issues that were present this year, but we appreciate your open minds and positive attitudes as you moved forward throughout the day.

Listed below are the other areas of concern that were brought to our attention (other than the Internet/wifi and location concerns).
We are by no means perfect, but we try really hard to create a positive learning environment for you at Rebel U.  Based on your feedback, we would like to share some insights and feedback with you.

  • First and foremost, Rebel U is an EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY day.  As long as the Technology Team, it will continue to have an EdTech focus.  We are the first to say that technology is not the be all, end all to classroom instruction.  The teacher is essential to student learning and the technology used for the teaching and learning process is simply a tool.  We also understand that other professional development is needed for teachers.  Please do not hesitate to speak to your building administrator if you feel you need other non-technology related PD.
  • We open Rebel U up to teachers and administrators in the district to present, as well as other professionals outside of the district.  We do not select certain presenters, but rather celebrate those that step forward to give of their own learning time at Rebel U to share their knowledge, expertise, and experiences with others.  If you feel you would like to learn more about a certain topic at Rebel U, please feel free to let Sarah or another member of the Tech Team know and we can work to find someone to share about that particular topic.
  • We partnered with the Teaching, Learning, and Accountability Department to include a Human Centered Design component this year as part of the district initiative that is taking place.  Technology in the classroom should not be separate from the content learning that is taking place, but rather integrated to support the curriculum.  The HCD component this year was not something that was meant to be new, or added on to something you are already doing, but rather for you to help organize your thoughts about your learning for the day.  The things you learned about in your sessions are the "WHAT" and the "HOW" in design thinking and the "WHY" and the "WHO" help you get to the heart of learning.  This took the place of the Collaboration Block/Reflection Time that we have had the previous years.
  • Due to a complex calendar, we do not get to pick which day Rebel U will take place.  Our Tech Team is SUPER happy that we are able to have one day to work with all teachers in the district.  Unfortunately, the day we have been given the past couple years has fallen on the day of the elementary open houses. We would love for you to have a relaxing day, be able to dress up, and not have to worry about the evening events, but unfortunately, we can't always make the calendar perfect.  We try our best to make the day fun for you though!
We hope this has been helpful in answering some of your questions about Rebel U.  If you mentioned something that was not noted here, it does not mean that we haven't read what you shared!  It is helpful for us to reflect on why we do what we are doing, what we are intentional about, and of course, what we can improve for next year!

Rebel U 2016...Sevenfold #rebelu16

It is hard to believe that Rebel U has been going strong for seven years!  Each year when we do our Call for Presenters, we gather basic information about each person so we can make sure we have the right contact information, t-shirt size, etc.  As our program has progressed, this information has also allowed us to compile basic statistics about our presenters.

In reviewing our presenter information this year, we uncovered some fun facts!

Rebel U 2016 was another fun year of learning and sharing, despite a few hiccups.  But hey, without those hiccups, we wouldn't be FAILING FORWARD.  If you like charts and graphs, you have come to the right place!  Below you will see charts representing information about our presenters.  Over the past seven years, we have had eighty-four unique presenters, and some of those presenters have presented multiple times at multiple Rebel U events.  We must be doing something good if they keep coming back!
In addition to having 2 presenters that have presented at all eight Rebel U events (seven "traditional" plus one "Virutal Edition"), we have had many presenters that keep on coming back.  We thank everyone who continues to present for us as well as those who might be presenting for the first time.  Each and everyone of you is super important to the success of Rebel U!

Rebel U 2016 - Past, Present, and Future #rebelu16

Last year on the Rebel U evaluation, we asked our attendees if they had any suggestions for a theme for Rebel U 2016.  We wanted to hear from our attendees what they would think a fun theme would be be for the day.  The majority of votes we received were in favor of the 80's.  Totally rad, we said!  We loved the idea, but wanted to make sure that our day was aligned with our Rebel U goals, and not only the decided theme.  So, the Past, Present, and Future (1986 / 2016 / 2046) is what it was!

As always, we encourage our teachers to embrace the theme by dressing for the day, or sharing something personal.  This year, we loved what the 80's brought to our day!

If you are interested in viewing more pictures from our day, please visit our Facebook page!

So, what have been our themes from the past?  Listed below you will see the themes as well as a collage of our presenter t-shirts from each year.  It is so fun to look back and see how how themes have grown and evolved as well as our shirt designs.

The themes we have had in the past are:
2010: Inaugural year of Rebel U - no theme
2011: Innovation Through Collaboration
2012: weLearn
2013: A Day with the Stars
2014: Superheroes
2015: Heroes and Villains
2016: Past, Present, and Future

As part of our registration this year, we asked participants to share their favorite TV show when they were growing up (the PAST), which fictional character they would vote for president this year (the PRESENT), and a gadget invention that would make their life easier (the FUTURE).   So, what did our participants tell us?

Rebel U 2016 {All About Our Presenters} #rebelu16

Each year we put out a Call for Presenters for Rebel U.  This is a public call for presenters and open to anyone inside or outside of the district.  If you have a love for teaching and learning and a passion for educational technology, Rebel U is the place for you!  Each year we have teachers that give of their own learning time to share their knowledge, expertise, and experiences with their peers so that we can all learn and grow together.  We also try to find other professionals who have really cool things to share!  Every year, we are amazed, impressed, blow away, and inspired by the ideas that our presenters step forward to share.  To celebrate the amazing things our amazing presenters are sharing this year, we wanted to share some amazing data about what Rebel U has to offer attendees this year!

Below is data that we have collected and would like to share about our presenters this year.  We were excited to have presenters from almost every building and about every grade level!


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