Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Are you “Google Strong?" Engaging Students in Google Apps for Education through a One-Day Google Boot Camp by Heidi Trude


Google Boot Camp was developed by Gesina Korte (Instructional Technology Resource Teacher and Google Certified Educator) and myself (French Teacher and Google Certified Educator) at Skyline High School to promote the use of Google Apps for Education (GAFE) in the classroom. Both of us share a passion for all things Google and decided that we needed to create an event that could serve as an enrichment activity for our students. 

After attending the EdTechTeam Virginia Google Summit, we were filled with ideas and knew that we needed to make Google Boot Camp a reality for the students of Warren County Public Schools. Even though our school system has not gone to a 1:1 deployment of Chromebooks, Google Boot Camp prepared the students with the skills needed to be ready for more integration of GAFE and Chromebooks in the classroom. 


 Elementary level recruits were drafted by their teachers to participate in a one-day Google Boot Camp, which introduced them to some powerful GAFE ammunition. The recruits were led by high school Google Generals from Skyline High School and Warren County High School. They were divided into four squadrons, Blue, Red, Yellow, and Green. Throughout the day each squadron braved Google challenges issued by CHROMEander Korte and Sergeant YouTrude  in Google Classroom.  Google colored stars were earned upon the completion of these challenges. These Google challenges prepared the squadrons for G-Day! Answering the call of duty recruits battled it out in the Chrome War.  Those who proved to be "Google Strong" were awarded the fifth star, the Chrome Star. The recruits who survived Google Boot Camp have now become official members of the Collaboration Corps and are expected to lead the way as student Google leaders at their respective schools.   


The recruits and the generals arrived bright and early on May 9, 2015 to the GBC (Google Boot Camp) Headquarters, Hilda J. Barbour Elementary School in Front Royal, Virginia. Upon registration, the recruits began their first challenge - to create a military fort using Build with Chrome. After the recruits finished their forts, we sent them their next challenge. They needed to create an Android using the features in Google Draw. With no instructions, the students began their mission. After a few minutes and some assistance from the Generals, we began to see Androids appearing on the screens of the recruits’ computers. The recruits completed both challenges independently and earned their first star, the Red Star.  

By this point in the day, the recruits appeared to be homesick, but we reminded them that they could always see their home while they were in GBC.  It was time to introduce the recruits to Google Earth and Google Maps.  The recruits searched for their home address in both Google Earth and Google Maps. After checking in with their Generals, it was back to the next mission.  The recruits also collaboratively created a mission supply list in preparation for the Android Search & Rescue Mission. They used Google Sheets to complete this challenge. 

 After successfully earning their Green Stars, it was time to issue the challenges for the Blue Star. The recruits utilized Google Maps to find the five missing Androids in action which were hidden throughout the premises of the school. The recruit assigned at the command center inside of the school communicated to the rest of their squadron via 2-way communication radios.  If we had had wifi access outdoors we would have used the Nexus tablets and Google Hangouts for the Search and Rescue Mission. 

This challenge turned out to be a real challenge for some of the squadrons as the wind had blown some of the Androids to other locations! Through it all, the recruits worked diligently to rescue their Androids and return them to headquarters. For the second challenge for the Blue Star, the recruits had to create a collaborative squadron cadence utilizing Google Docs.  One recruit created the first copy and shared it with the others to collaborate.  The cadence was then printed and taped to the back of poster board androids so the recruits could chant their cadence as they entered the battlefield for the Chrome War. With some assistance from the Generals, the recruits completed the challenge and were ready to earn the next star, the Yellow Star. 


To earn the Yellow Star, the squadrons collaboratively created a Google Slides Presentation to introduce their Android soldiers that they had created earlier in the day using Google Draw.  The recruits were required to insert their drawing after they converted it to a jpeg into the presentation. Then they had to describe the special strengths or powers their Android Soldier possessed. The recruits worked quickly on this challenge as they all were eager to participate in the Chrome War and earn the coveted Chrome Star. 

The recruits had easily completed all the challenges and were ready for battle. Each squadron marched onto the battlefield chanting their squadron’s cadence that they had created earlier in the day. After a quick explanation of the rules,  it was time for G-Day, a day that will go down in GAFE history.  It was a Googley battle to the end as Google colored water and balls were launched as the recruits tried to capture the other squadron's flags. In the end, it was the red squadron that tasted victory as the Google stained blue, green, and yellow squadrons surrendered.  

Google Boot Camp proved to be an exciting and educational experience for everyone from the recruits, to the generals, and even the teachers. Seeing the excitement on the students’ faces and seeing them embrace GAFE was amazing. The event was a complete success and one that we hope will become an annual event for the students in Warren County Public Schools. To see videos and images from Google Boot Camp, visit our Google Boot Camp site. 

Heidi Trude is a Google Certified Educator and French Teacher and Academic Team Coach at Skyline High School in Virginia and attended the EdTechTeam Virginia Summit where she was inspired to bring the world of Google Apps for Education to her students. 


Find her on Google Plus or on Twitter @htrude07


We'll be hosting a Hangout On Air with Heidi on June 3rd at 1:30pm PDT to learn more about this event and other EdTechTeam Student Summits we've hosted. Join us!


EdTechTeam will work with you to design a Summit for your students!  Request one here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Inspiring Learning Spaces (Welcome to David Jakes)


In 2010 and 2011, I made a point of visiting as many innovative schools as I could. I wanted to see what made them different... and if there were things I could help share with other schools. One of the things that struck me then (but took a few more years to come into focus) was the importance of Inspiring Spaces for learning.

One of the first times I remember visiting what I now consider a Future Ready School (long before James Sanders gave us the phrase to describe what we were seeing) was at Minarets High School in 2010. They had gone 1:1 with laptops - and were working hard to be "all" project-based learning. Not coincidentally, many of their learning spaces didn't look like an ordinary school. Their Media Lounge in particular struck me as important. This was the building originally designated as the Library, but as Jon Corippo and Mike Niehoff pointed out to me at the time, if they had called it a Library "kids wouldn't have come." Instead they created a space "more like Starbucks" with couches, high top tables, monitors, and plenty of shared gathering spaces... nevermind the view they took advantage of. (And, yes, they still presented a collection of 10,000 books in easily accessible and attractive shelves.)

minarets_01.jpg
The Media Lounge at Minarets High School
Since 2012 I've had the good fortune to be able to visit many more innovative schools all over the world... the host schools of the EdTechTeam Summits featuring Google for Education. One of the first International Schools I visited was Singapore American School, where I found a wide variety of themed learning spaces and flexible furniture (often on wheels), and once again I was struck by the fact that it didn't feel like an ordinary school. At the American School of Bombay even the book shelves and walls were on wheels, and teachers (in a large shared area) reconfigured the space to meet the needs of the day. Incidentally, there were no bells at the elementary school of ASB... teachers decided when was the best time for their students to go outside or take a lunch break. The space reflected the flexibility in their practice.

At Parklands College in South Africa the importance they placed on technology serving a purpose (rather than being an end unto itself) was also clear in their spaces; their students worked in sustainable organic gardens and an impressive recording studio - neither of which looked or felt like school, and both of which allow students to express themselves in very human ways.  Iolani School in Hawaii also showcases a sustainable garden on top of the Sullivan Center, and the bottom floor is home to an expansive makerspace, where (among other things) students experiment with generating electricity while biking in order to power appliances (or video games). The students are also responsible for redecorating the building elevator each quarter, complete with sound track, lighting system, and design elements they manufacture on the first floor. The focus on student agency is evident even in their interior design.

IMG_20140320_145037.jpg
The Maker Space at Iolani School (2014)
In New Zealand, Albany Senior High School has a building that powerfully reflects the culture of the school, with wide open learning commons (again with flexible furniture). If you can win the game "where's the teacher?" then the principal says they're doing it wrong. Glass conference rooms surround the commons for when small groups need a separate space for collaboration, and all teachers share multidisciplinary office space... not unlike what we've seen in Google's offices, which are modern spaces designed for highly effective collaboration (and creativity). The school buildings and grounds at Albany are even rich with evidence of students 20% projects (the Impact Projects that all students spend all day every Wednesday on)... including murals, windmills, gardens, open source software, and more.

Ashs-learning-common-miro.jpg
Learning Commons at Albany Senior High School
Back in the United States we have also been lucky enough to host an annual event at New Technology High School in Napa Valley, where they have been 1:1 with laptops since 1996, and where they have institutionalized project based learning, complete with their own online learning management system (that looks and feels a bit more like social media, and what might be called a digital learning space). Their classrooms are all glass walled and double wide (with two teachers' classes in them... making traditional teaching methods all but impossible), and the shared spaces once again feature flexible furniture reminiscent of a starbucks... but with the addition of several projectors and monitors students can hook up to for a shared visual focus as they work.


Gunn High School in Palo Alto, host of our flagship summit has also experimented with new learning spaces, including classrooms with Idea Paint to make the walls "white-board" writable, individual white boards for students, rolling furniture, and a variety of gathering spaces. The IDEA (Innovation, Discovery, and Engagement Area) at Glenbrook North High School in Illinois also sported idea paint on the walls (and columns), a variety of collaboration spaces, and easy access to all the resources of the library.

IMG_20140718_171415.jpg
Classroom at Gunn High School
By early 2014 our team was coming to the conclusion that Inspiring Spaces were an important part of our host schools' success with students. We believe it is not a coincidence that the schools that inspired us all look so radically different from traditional schools (and from each other, too, for what it's worth... there is no one way to do learning spaces well... but there is a common way for doing them poorly that we need to move away from). This belief led us to include "Inspiring Spaces" as one of the elements in the visual "honeycomb" we developed at this time last year to illustrate what makes a Future Ready School. We feel each of the elements is important - and dependent upon the others. You can't just add devices to a school (to go 1:1 with Chromebooks or iPads for instance) without also changing the learning spaces, especially if you want to move from substitution (and perpetuating the old ways of "teaching) to redefinition (and previously inconceivable new experiences for students).

Now we're ready to take the next step in sharing what we've learned for the benefit of other schools... and it begins with us needing to learn a lot more ourselves - and needing to build our team's capacity in this area. We've gotten to work with around 3000 presenters over the past three years producing summits around the globe, and there was someone who stood out to us as particularly well prepared for this effort.

David Jakes was a public school science teacher and technology coordinator before he left to join the Third Teacher Plus and spent the next two years working with designers and architects to create learning spaces in schools. David was a featured speaker at last year's flagship summit at Gunn High School, leading a strand of sessions on Inspiring Learning Spaces. Over the past year, I've learned a lot from David about the process behind designing effective spaces, the need to help schools and districts develop their own drivers for their designs, and the wide variety of furniture and finishings available - not to mention a whole new vocabulary around architecture and design. I've also learned how important professional development is for the educators involved, both before and after a new space is created. When David became available in March, we knew it was time to act, and started talking to him about the possibilities.

David Jakes, Director of Learning Spaces, EdTechTeam, Inc.
I'm thrilled to announce that David is now working with EdTechTeam to help design and launch our Learning Space Design Studio. We're set for a soft launch (or pre-launch) at ISTE this year and a hard launch at our flagship summit in July back at Gunn High School. Today you can already reach out to us via our request form for help redesigning your learning spaces - or for the professional development you might need in preparation for that process. We look forward to working with you to create Inspiring Spaces for your students, whether you've got a minimal budget for your own classroom - or a community bond to modernize your school. Let's build something better together...

#FutureReady #InspiringSpaces #SpacesMatter #DreamOutLoud #OnlyTheBeginning

PS. David is only one of several new members of the EdTechTeam in the past 12 months, many of whom I haven't properly introduced. Stay tuned for a number of other introductions here on the EdTechTeam Blog in coming weeks. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Future Ready with Kaitlin Morgan


“Picture a classroom...the first thing most of us think of is a square room with rows of desks….this traditional classroom space is the product of an industrial-era model education. Just like factories, schools were designed to categorize students by age and (supposedly) ability, then deliver curriculum in an assembly line format.” As a history teacher, this statement made by Kevin Brookhouser in his The 20time Project hit me in the gut. 


One group discussing their thesis: Although more women are represented in the workforce, a wage gap still exists- impeding women from advancing in society- making it necessary for them to be paid the same amount as their male counterparts..

While my classroom does not look as Brookhouser described, elements of my instruction still did. I was increasing rigor within my content, but I still had to teach my students in way for them to do well on our CST style benchmarks despite the recent inclusion of short responses. This had been weighing heavily on my mind so when I heard this quote at the EdTechTeam Google Summit in Minarets earlier this month, I felt guilty and ashamed that I was not making my students "future ready."

Thankfully, I was not alone in my concerns and convictions regarding the way to teach history, even prior to the Google Summit. My department head was also feeling the same way so we collaborated and came up with a PBL (Project Based Learning) lesson for our students to complete regarding the Civil Rights Movement, which was a modified version of one I found online. Rather than just lecturing and informing students in an engaging way about the Civil Rights Movement, we decided to have students explore various minority groups (African Americans, Hispanic Americans, LGBT, and Americans with disabilities--one group requested to do women, which I allowed) in literature, politics, movies, and working place. In their groups, students selected a specific area of a certain American group to do a research project on; for example, LGBT in movies or Hispanic Americans in the workplace (instructions here).

After students selected their topics, I explained that what they cover was up to them completely. For example, if they were research African American in movies, they could do actors, directors, representation in film, etc. The only set criteria I had was that two students in the group research from 1900 to 1975 and two from present day. Based on that criteria, I asked them what they expected to find/discuss and they came up with milestones, compare and contrast, progression of rights/equality, etc. I then set them free to do general research on their topic. We did a Pear Deck discussing how to evaluate resources, including discussion of Tree Octopus and the CA Velcro Crop and then after a day or two of information gathering, I had students complete (as a group) a Research Thesis; even though they weren't writing a paper, they still needed to come up with a guiding statement to help keep their slideshows, videos, or posters focused. 

The group leaders then share their document with another group, who evaluated their thesis on the rubric provided. We did two rounds of this officially and if a group did not receive at least a 3, then I met with them individually to help.  As students began their presentations (all chose to do a Google Slideshow...there was some interest in Prezi, but their Chromebooks needed a Java update), we discussed expectations for presentations by brainstorming what make a good presentation: 

Finally, their ten minute presentations began after about a week and half of work and students evaluated each group on a four point scale. By the end of the week, everyone in the class had a great deal of knowledge dropped on them. 

As a teacher, this entire process was very strange to me. While they were researching and creating their presentations, I stood back and guided them when they asked for help instead of spewing information at them. When I did teach, it was regarding skills that they needed for the project rather than information and details. Yet I saw the students engage in the material in ways I hadn’t seen before. Almost all of my students were on task and excited about the project since they were given the freedom of what they could discuss and research. I heard them arguing over whether a site was a legitimate source and excitedly brainstorming ways to engage their audience. 

By the end of the project, I was surprised at how much they were getting out of the project that didn’t involve me directly teaching. As self-centered as that sounds, its true. I grew up with teachers that stood up and directly explained information. Even though I made my direct instruction engaging and thought provoking, I was still directly explaining information to them in an assembly line fashion. It was very strange to step aside and allow students to find their own way through a historical period. It was even more strange that I couldn’t give the students an assessment at the end of the unit since every students learned so many different things; it worried me that maybe the students didn’t learn anything from the research, but I know from their passionate conversations, presentations, and eagerness to complete the project that they did get something meaningful out of it.   

While this project was not a 20time project that Kevin Brookhouser discussed, I felt as though I had taken a step in the right direction, away from the assembly line classroom. 


Kaitlin Morgan is a Google Certified Educator and Social Science Teacher in the Central Valley of California. She recently attended the Central Valley Summit this month and you can find her online @missmorgan810.

You can learn more Future Ready techniques at an upcoming Future Ready Summit-- EdTechTeam has one coming up in Orange County and in the Tri-State area.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Weekend's Here: Time to Binge-Watch Education On Air On Demand!



Move over Game of Thrones and House of Cards, the Google Education on Air Lineup is full of the same thrilling plots that make us watch one after the other but for our own practice! Here's an easy way to grab your laptop, some wine, and snuggle up in bed this weekend for your own professional development.



First, make sure you philosophically set the stage and breeze through Day 1's Keynotes, a great mix of leaders in different industries designed to get you thinking about the big picture. After all, you wouldn't jump into Season 4 without at least watching the recap, right? The interface is better than any of your cable provider's On-Demand technology, and you can toggle to the one you want, take a screenshot of that a-ha moment, or go back and relisten.

Here's a few gems.

The Economist Intelligence Unit looked at What are the Skills of the Future, and Zoe Tabary shared some insights into her research investigating digital literacy, leadership, and creativity and whether those skills meet the needs of employers. A salient point from the report was:


But the support for this is lacking. Zoe kicks things off with a panel about being #futureready and digital leaders! We loved seeing Jaime Casap and Ken Shelton who present at our events share HOW we can prepare for these skills with student-centered strategies.

I know we're all making change in our classrooms and schools, but it can be so infuriating when we have the best intentions. Lisa's talk discusses how to anticipate and activate change, and these three steps she covers is such a good start to thinking about change in learning technologies at your school!

Lisa Bodell, "Make Change Happen: Three Tools for Better Problem Solving."



Jennie Magiera, "Power to the Pupil." Jennie got to edu-nirvana with three lessons! How to cultivate curiosity, how to outwit obstacles, and how to play purposefully. Get inspired!

Richard Curtis,"Take Part in the World's Largest Lesson." World's Largest Lesson is here to help this be the last generation to be threatened by climate change and the first generation to end extreme poverty, and teachers make this happen!

Day 2 is full of Hands-on and interactive strategies you can take straight  to the classroom. Here's just a sampling of awesome ones, but dig in, watch a bit, take some notes, and move onto the next. The beauty is that they are always here!

Data's Not So Scary | Jay Atwood Session Materials 
Data and spreadsheets sometimes get stigmatized for being tough, but Jay's smooth style helps anyone understand how to make the best use of data with your students. I love that he pumps his example spreadsheet with notes with hints and tricks, so an interactive template! Love!

Extreme Pedagogy Makeover Using Multimedia Text Sets and Hyperdocs | Lisa Highfill | Session Materials
Lisa's style is so fun to listen to, and I particularly loved her notes on how to package your lessons using Google Docs.

Google Apps Admin Console Best Practices | Peter Henrie | Session Materials
Peter goes through the admin console in such an easy and step-by-step way, especially for such a complex topic!

You Think You Know Google Search? | Lisa Thumann | Session Materials
You and your students Google ALL DAY LONG. Get these quick and easy efficient tips and modifications for students, like microphone search, using Google as a dictionary, and more!

There were SO many more fantastic sessions we couldn't possibly highlight them all, but you can! Let us know which were your favorites.

Please follow these amazing presenters, and go to see them present live at our EdTechTeam Global Summits! Which is the next one near you?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Battleship with Google Docs by Mark Littlefield

I recently attended a GAFE summit conference in Tennessee and presented on implementing Google Drive with kindergarten and first grade students.  One thing I love about conferences is getting awesome ideas to try out from other attendees.  After the session, a teacher came up and asked if I had ever tried playing Battleship with my students using Google Drive, which I hadn’t.

I normally set up a public Google Drawing and demonstrate a game of Tic Tac Toe with students as a means of teaching collaboration and sharing and to teach the kids how to share and open a document, but a game like Battleship?  Nah, it sounded a little too complex.

However, curiosity got the best of me the following days. First chance back in the classroom, I pushed back our regular plans for the week and gave Battleship a chance. My schedule is set up so I have four classes of each grade a week (k-4).  It may be unfair, but the first class usually helps me get things oiled and working smoothly for the other classes. I created a public text document and had two tables on it. The top one was for my ships and the bottom was to keep track of their torpedoes.  

The first run-through didn’t go so well. I didn’t demo as well as I should have and the map was way too big. I set it up 15 x 15 and left too much of a variety of ships. Some of the kids created the wrong size or too many or too little.  There were too many misses in such a short class time to actually enjoy playing the game.

The second class went much better. The playing area was narrowed down to 8 x 8 and the ships were just 4 blocks long and they had to put four ships on the map. We then confirmed with our neighbors (not our enemies) that our ships were in fact 4 x 1 and that we had just four. We had half the class divide up around two computers on opposite sides of the room.  

After about six or seven shots (including some teacher advised locations…:), the students got the idea. We went over key vocabulary words like hit, miss and ship sunk! We also worked on coloring in locations of hits and misses on the maps by either using specific letters or by filling in the cells. 

They also utilized the undo button, which solved a lot of unnecessary hand raising for help during the first class when they accidentally adjusted the map or colored in an entire portion by error.

It went extremely well the second time around. We worked on hand signals and mouthing our torpedo shots instead of shouting them. Surprisingly, it didn’t get very loud in the room.We set a timer of about 15-20 minutes. The goal was to sink as many ships as you could and if all of them were sunk, then you started over. Plus, the kids worked on map coordinates without even knowing it.

Thanks to that kind stranger for telling me about this excellent idea. The kids learned many valuable tech skills at the same time.  Give it shot; you’ll love it and the kids will too.

Use Mark's Battleship template here! Mark Littlefield is the lower school technology coordinator at University School of Nashville where he teaches technology to grades k-4.  He can be found online at www.mrlittlefield.com or on Twitter @littlemarkfield.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Classroom Rewind

Movie making and digital storytelling do not have to be multi-class activities. They can be done in minutes and be a great way to recap classroom learning. A great app to try for iPhone and iPad is YouTube Capture. It is possible to shoot, compile, edit and upload to the web in minutes. More than likely, you should even be able to cobble together enough student devices even if you are not in a 1:1. 

YouTube Capture takes all the complexity out of digital storytelling and keeps the focus on the content. You can do some lightweight editing like trimming clips, add music and upload straight from your device (or export to your camera roll). This is an advantage because it will keep your students from spending all their time on themes, transitions and keep the focus on what they are saying, learning or showing.  

Encourage your students to be documentarians of their learning. Capture video of science labs, art projects, poetry clips, proper phys-ed techniques, paper note sheets, or even main ideas in a lecture. All of those digital artifacts sitting on camera rolls can then become content for students to mix and remix into classroom rewinds

YouTube is famous for their year-end YouTube Rewind and you can take a page out of their book by having your students recap and reflect on their learning (minus the high production value) at the end of a unit or lesson. Take all those learning experiences and digital artifacts and synthesize them into a classroom rewind.  


Rewind Tips:

  • Teach your kids about the rule of thirds when filming.  
  • Set privacy to unlisted to allow for easy sharing.
  • You can skip posting to YouTube by exporting finished videos directly to the camera roll (this can be a little tricky).   
  • Another piece of advice...give up the Oscar...it does not have to be perfect.
  • Turn down the volume on the music so it does not overpower the audio in the video clip.  
  • Have students submit video links to a Google Form so they can watch other video and review from each other’s videos.  


Ben Friesen is an EdTechTeam member and Digital Content Specialist based in Minnesota and you can see him present at EdTechTeam Global Summits around the world! Say hi @benjaminfriesen.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Inspiring Spaces. Deserving Faces by Amy Fadeji

What does your classroom say about the learning that takes place within the four walls of your room? Is learning dull? Bright? Cluttered? Organized? Exciting? Full of compliance? Are students seen as only individuals or is teamwork a priority in your room? Has your “teacher desk” turned into a “teacher corner”?

 Yikes. Over the past year and a half, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time working with staff members to create intentional inspiring spaces on campus. Why? We see them every day: deserving faces.

 Our students deserve to learn in places that are fun to be in, that make them excited about learning, and that foster creativity. Spaces that that inspire, not require. Think about your favorite coffee shop, wine bar, or another neat space where you find yourself wanting to spend time simply because of the environment and space. For me, comfy seating is a must, and great music, laughter and cheerful decor go a long way too.

 Last year, one of the 3rd grade teachers at Penngrove came to me and shared that she wanted new desks because hers were too big. Being the supportive principal that I strive to be, I invited our Congressional Budget Officer (CBO) to campus to take a look at the classroom and see if we could purchase some different desks.

When that attempt went nowhere, I pretty much told Ms. O’Neil, “Sorry, just do the best you can.” About a week later Ms. O’Neil came to me and said, “Amy I HAVE to get rid of these desks, they are getting in the way of learning for my students.” That was all I needed to hear. I was all in.

Within a week, Ms. O’Neil transformed her classroom. A fun trip to IKEA, a little bribery with her fiance and my husband, a couple of Winter Break “vacation days” and we were in business! Desks were replaced with tables. White board paint filled the room. A variety of seating options scattered for student choice. A table for Chromebooks. Fun carpets. Less “stuff." Less teacher. More students. 

After the transformation in Room 7, little spaces all over campus began to change. A teacher “storage room” was turned into the “5th grade lounge.” An old book room suddenly had a couch, bean bag chairs, twinkling lights, and became the hip hangout for 6th graders. Special reading corners and nooks popped up overnight. And all because our staff was reflecting on inspiring spaces and deserving faces.

For anyone ready to wrestle with this exciting adventure, these guiding questions may be helpful:
What vibe/feeling do you want to create for the students in your classroom? 
What does your classroom say about you? What do you value? 
If students were given the choice, would they come to your class each day? Would they want to be with you? In your room? 
Far too often, we fill our walls with too much stuff, just because it is what we have always done. Consider simplifying. Fewer distractions. Less clutter. Not as many bulletin boards. Allow yourself to create a blank slate. A clean canvas. Re-think your space and make a few simple changes that create a happier learning and working environment for all. After all, everyone is worthy of inspiring spaces. Especially deserving faces.

 You can learn more about inspiring faces at an upcoming Future Ready Summit near you! We'll be in Orange County on June 20th and in the Tri-State area Nov. 7th.

Amy Fadeji is the principal of Penngrove Elementary in Petaluma, California. In her third year as principal, she has found herself reaching out to educators across the country to build a growing network of innovative and inspiring colleagues. After attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and later the University of Southern Mississippi, Amy taught second and third grades for seven years in Mobile, Alabama and San Anselmo, California before launching her career in administration. Amy is passionate about supporting teachers, modeling and encouraging risk-taking, and collaborating with other educators around the country. You can follow Amy on Twitter (@mrsfadeji) or read her latest blog post at mrsfadeji.blogspot.com.