Mimio Educator

Genius Hour Part 2: Making Genius Hour Work

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Thu, Jul 12, 2018

In the first article on Genius Hour, we provided an overview of the philosophy behind genius hour and why teachers should consider trying out the concept. We also gave some considerations for getting started—things like how to schedule the time, the standards to support the learning, and the comfort level with putting it all together.

If a teacher is ready to pull the trigger, what happens next? It is hard to know where to start or what to do. Should I dabble in it or go full steam ahead? Should I start the year with it or wait a few weeks to get routines down? How am I going to grade this—or should I even grade it at all?

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Topics: Administrator Resources, tips for teachers

Genius Hour Part 1: Genius Hour Overview

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Mon, Jul 2, 2018

Over the past few years, the term “genius hour” has caught fire and become more common in classrooms. If you have heard this term before but weren’t sure what it means, here is a short primer about the topic.

The origins of genius hour are pretty simple. In Daniel Pink’s book Drive, he discusses some insightful research about motivation. He cites three key areas that are most effective in motivating people (and students): autonomy, mastery, and purpose. He asserts that traditional incentives for behavior—things like rewards and punishments—only work with certain types of tasks, like rote learning or repetitive tasks. For tasks that require depth of thinking, creativity, and problem solving, we are much more motivated by having a sense of purpose, a feeling of autonomy, and a hope of mastery.

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Topics: Administrator Resources, tips for teachers

Creating Strong Teams in Your School

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Thu, Jun 28, 2018

Schools are comprised of teams, and these teams working together create the “team” that is the entire school. Although teachers are often stereotyped as preferring to work alone isolated in their classrooms, most teachers love working within a team—at least within a strong team. Weak or ineffective teams can be frustrating and potentially toxic. Because of this, the aspects of a strong team are critical for teams and leaders to know and understand.

There isn’t a step-by-step list of how to develop strong teams, but there are some universal guidelines and expectations that can help teams to become more effective. Here are some of the key ingredients for a strong team:

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Topics: Administrator Resources

Maintaining Trust to Build School Culture

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Thu, Jun 21, 2018

The school year is off to a great start and all school teams are working together without issues. Everyone has a positive attitude each and every day. Teachers leave meetings with a sense of efficacy and support all the decisions that come from administration.

Well, maybe not exactly. But we can dream, right? I have been part of 18 different school years thus far in my career, and each year is filled with highs and lows. At times, there is a positive energy in the school and the culture is great. Other times, it feels a little more like “work” and there are top-down decisions that are hard to support. 

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Topics: Administrator Resources

Building Trust Within a School

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Thu, Jun 14, 2018

Cars must have gasoline to run, and in a similar way, school teams must have trust to operate effectively. In both cases, any momentum will come to a screeching halt if the “fuel” that drives the system isn’t present. 

Why does trust matter so much in schools? The answer is complex. Teachers tend to operate in their own classrooms to teach finite sets of students. We know that this isn’t always best for student learning, but it is the defacto manner in which most schools operate. School leaders know that collaboration between teachers helps to improve outcomes. When best practices are shared from classroom to classroom, teachers improve and so does student learning. But this isn’t natural for most teachers—and this is why trust is so critical.

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Topics: Administrator Resources

Facilities Matter: How to Create Effective Spaces for Learning and Teaching

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Tue, Jun 12, 2018

For all the time, energy, and money we put into books, technology, and curriculum, it’s easy to forget about the importance our school facilities play in student learning. The spaces we provide for students to learn in create an environment that is conducive—or not conducive—to deep learning. And while it might feel that as teachers we can’t impact our physical classroom too much, we can have a greater impact than we may think.

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Topics: Administrator Resources, tips for teachers

Visible Learning: How to Apply the Research

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Thu, May 31, 2018

Professional educators should always seek out best practices. Because this term is thrown around a lot, teachers can feel confused and overwhelmed by all the “research” that is available about what we should do (or not do) in our classrooms. It can make our collective heads spin.

One solution to assist teachers with this is John Hattie’s research on Visible Learning. This resource can be very beneficial in keeping our heads on straight, but Visible Learning can be a bit overwhelming, too. There are 252 different categories of research sorted into a number of domains and subdomains. This is a lot of information to sift through, and if you’ve read the book, it is a formidable experience. 

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Topics: Administrator Resources, tips for teachers

Funding the Interactive Classroom

Posted by Travis Rink on Tue, May 15, 2018

Money in education is tight, but there are plenty of funding opportunities available if you know where to look. Searching and applying for funds can be time-consuming, so we’ve made it a bit easier by finding some incredible opportunities that can help you receive funding while enhancing classrooms.

Check out these useful guides, which offer funding that aligns with the Boxlight Classroom family of solutions: 

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Topics: Funding, Administrator Resources

Tips for Teachers to Avoid Burnout

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Tue, Apr 24, 2018

Teaching is a tough profession, and as a result, it is common to hear that a teacher is becoming “burned out.” This can mean a lot of things to different people, but for the most part, people become burned out because they have lost a passion for what they do. This isn’t good for schools, students, or the teachers themselves.

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Topics: Administrator Resources

Zones of Regulation: Supporting Students Through the Zones

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Tue, Apr 17, 2018

A wealth of research is coming out about the zones of regulation and how this idea can help students in our classrooms. The zones are a way to conceptualize and visualize the internal feelings that a student may be having at any particular moment. Ideally, our students will come to us calm and ready to learn, but if something happened that was stressful or emotional—whether at recess or before school—that may not be the case. 

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Topics: Administrator Resources, tips for teachers, Classroom Management


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