Starting this blog has been the best professional development in my 15 years of teaching. Learning about the teacher community of social media that supports and encourages one another has been an incredible inspiration alone. I’ve also discovered other blogging teachers who share fantastic ideas and resources. The most important professional development has come from making professional connections to teachers around the world. One of those teachers is Kasey Bell from Shake Up Learning.
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After attending my first EdCamp, the information I learned from Kasey’s blog was invaluable to my classroom. You see I didn’t have the time to drive half an hour on specific days to attend training in order to learn how to better use Google Classroom with my students. Instead, I read every blog post and resource Kasey had posted on the topic and taught myself in the convenience of my own home, and usually in my jammies. There was so much she had to teach me, so when her email swooshed into my inbox asking for book reviewers I immediately responded. Reading the book, Shake Up Learning, opened my eyes to a number of new ideas, but also validated so much of how I already teach.
Change is inevitable
“Learning has changed, and it will continue to change. Before we can tackle all the technological changes in our classrooms, we must first take a step back and redefine what learning is and what it looks like in the twenty-first century.”
YES! Change is inevitable. We can either let it break us or we can learn to find ways to turn it into an advantage. We’ve all probably heard much of this before and been made to feel like we have to change the way we do things in our classroom tomorrow. However, this is not Kasey’s approach to adapting lessons in our classrooms. At the end of each chapter, Kasey very clearly lays out action steps. This provides teachers a plan of attack for accomplishing the transformation to our lessons that students need. I remember attending a technology conference in the first few years of teaching and the lead speaker said that 80% of our students are in school training for a job that doesn’t exist yet. Now I have no idea if that percentage is currently accurate, but I can’t imagine in a decade this has decreased. Either way, this idea has stuck with me and encouraged me to create the kind of lessons Kasey describes in her book.
The second part of this book goes into detail about the attributes of a dynamic lesson. Kasey begins by stating, “…it’s going to be uncomfortable.” Teachers are possessive creatures. We take pride in our classrooms, we attach ourselves to students and it takes a lot of blood sweat and tears to pull off a successful unit. So when someone tells us we need to make changes it can sometimes sting. Teachers are also passionate about learning, whether it’s their own or their students’. This is why we should be willing to learn new ways of bringing content to our classrooms.Teachers are no longer the gatekeepers of content. It is free and readily accessible from just about any device, around the clock. @ShakeUpLearning Click To Tweet
A dynamic learning experience is about empowering students to take a lead in their own learning. It’s like I’m always telling my writers, show them don’t tell them.
The last part of this book walks you through the steps it takes to produce a truly dynamic learning experience for your students. Starting with the planning process and even sharing a few sample units. In the online resources available there is a template to help as well. With all of the online resources for each chapter and Kasey’s self-paced workshop, I’m looking forward to some curriculum planning this summer.
The book, Shake Up Learning, was just the beginning of what Kasey has created for helping teachers turn those static lesson plans into dynamic learning for their students. She now hosts a Shake Up Learning podcast that drops new episodes every Tuesday. Have a listen to my favorite episode, the one where Kasey coaches me through a lesson that was a struggle for me. I enjoyed the collaboration and push she gave me in order to transform this idea.
Another free opportunity Kasey offers is the online book study. She hosts a self-paced and community collaborative book study in her Facebook group. Grab a copy of the book and join the next book study that begins February 13, 2020.