Book Bites: Top 5 Hacks from “Hacking Education”

June 17, 2017 No Comments

Book Bites: Top 5 Hacks from “Hacking Education”

June 17, 2017 No Comments

If you are an educator and you haven’t read the Hacking Education series, you’re already behind.  The books are quick reads and give great, easy examples that you can take back to your school or classroom the next day.  Really.  Part of each hack is titled, “What You Can Do Tomorrow” and it’s always something you can actually do tomorrow.

Hacking Education is a combination of hacks from other books in the series, which I am slowly working my way through.  This particular book provides hacks for school culture and climate, leadership, technology, and more.  I can’t wait to implement some of them in my building next year.  Below are my favorite hacks from the book, in no particular order.

1.  Pineapple Charts

This is GENIUS.  I know that one of my favorite things about being a teacher is getting feedback after an observation.  (Is that weird?  That’s probably weird.)  I love knowing where I stand and how I can grow.  Pineapples are the universal symbol of hospitality and pineapple charts are calendars where teachers list what they will be teaching during a certain period of the the day.  Other teachers can use the chart to find teachers or lessons they may be interested in.  Read more about pineapple charts here.
We learn best from other teachers, but sometimes we’re afraid to ask if we can come observe someone we think is a rockstar teacher because we don’t want to intrude.  This takes the pressure off altogether.  If you’re really feeling like stretching and growing, make a quick #ObserveMe chart and feedback form for observers.
2.  Teacher Quiet Zones

If you’re anything like me, all you want to do during lunch time is to sit in a quiet, dark room.  Keyword being quiet.  I love my students, as I’m sure we all do, but they are loud most of the time.  Or take another scenario: you’re in your room working hard on a unit plan or grading, only to be interrupted by another teacher or an administrator who wants to talk…. forever.  This hack proposes that somewhere in the building is a room that is strictly a quiet zone.  Teachers can go in there to work on something or take a break, but the key is that it is quiet.  This should not be a room such as the teacher’s lounge or the copy room, but rather a place where silence is respected.  If you need to speak to someone who’s in the Quiet Zone, you leave before starting the conversation.  If you need to answer a phone call, you have to exit the Quiet Zone.  Silence. Is. Golden.

3.  Marigold Committees

This one seems like a no-brainer, but I have taught in schools where it’s not happening.  Start a Marigold Committee for new teachers in the building.  A Marigold Committee is a team of veteran teachers available to welcome and help new teachers as they begin their educational journey.  Anyone can be on the Marigold Committee and there is no requirement to be a part of it.  The authors suggested meeting on a regular schedule so that new teachers have the opportunity to meet with veteran teachers, ask questions, and learn the ins and outs of the school, district, and teaching profession.  At these meetings, topics could range from planning lessons to fire drill procedures to navigating the district benefit selections.  (Am I the only one who struggles with insurance?  I can’t be the only one.)
4.  The In-Class Flip

The flipped classroom is nothing new to the education world, thanks to the rise of technology.  In a traditional flip, students would get the direct instruction part of the lesson outside of class via video or some other virtual means and the teacher would facilitate more of a hands-on guided practice inside the classroom.  While I LOVE this idea, I know that I would run into lots of hurdles, including lack of Internet and device access.  The book offers a different approach called the “In-Class Flip” where all of the instruction still takes place in the classroom, but it looks much different.  
In the in-class flip, students rotate through stations, one of which is a video with direct instruction.  This would normally be an at-home activity in a traditional flip, but moving it to a station during the school day ensures that all students have access to the material.  The authors gave very specific instructions on how to set up the stations to have the most benefit for your students.  I’m not going to go into all the details, but they suggested 5 stations:  a warm-up writing activity, review of prior learning, a hands-on activity, the video of direct instruction, and application of the new content.  In this model, the teacher is freed-up from direct instruction to facilitate learning in other ways.  This is something that is DEFINITELY happening in my classroom this year.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted on our journey!
5.  The Glass Classroom
I am no stranger to social media, but I know that sometimes it feels like taboo in the education world.  Principals and teachers can be reluctant to use social media to engage parents and families, but this hack suggests using social media to create a transparent classroom and allow the community to be involved.  What happens in our classrooms should not stay in our classrooms.  I’m excited to use a common hashtag and Twitter account to share what’s going on at Camp Taylor Elementary this year. 
Have any of you read the Hack series?  What are your favorite hacks?  Are you interested in implementing any of these this year?  Let me know!

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  • Chasity Gregory June 22, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Love the idea of the in-class flip! I'm facing a similar struggle. I wonder– could you have kids watch the video at home as an enticing way to allow them to skip a station?? Hmmm… thoughts?

  • Sheryl Woods June 24, 2017 at 1:04 am

    I am implementing an in-class flip this upcoming year! I know, in my situation, lack of device/Internet access will impede their ability to watch a video at home. That's the biggest obstacle I'll face. I would hate to give one student a reward incentive when another really doesn't even have the option. It may work in your situation though. Let me know how it does if you decide to try!

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    About Me

    Hi! My name is Sheryl and I am so thankful you've found your way to the TeacherLadyKY blog! I'm an elementary educator from Louisville, Kentucky who is passionate about building relationships and literacy skills with my students, as well as empowering teachers around me to be leaders and rockstars. I've taught everything from kindergarten to fifth grade and I can't wait to share my experiences with you! Enjoy! Read More


    • I moved into my house in late June of 2012. As I was sitting on the porch, less than a week later, this black and white baby came running through my yard and up to me, eager for some loving. 
She was tiny for her breed - nearly 20 pounds underweight and basically a bag of bones. She was so dirty.  Kids from the neighborhood said they had no idea who she belonged to - she’d been running for a while now. I took her in the backyard and she became a part of our family almost immediately. 
It took her a while to trust us. She wouldn’t let us pick her up. She bolted out the door anytime it was open. Even to this day, she hated fireworks and thunderstorms, which gave her such anxiety that she’d pant, pace, and shake.  We had no idea how old she was,  but we knew she’d seen a lot in her years. She had been terribly abused and, with us, she found a new life of love. 
And she loved so deeply. After a while, she learned that there were plenty of pets, kisses, and treats to go around. She leaned into our sides when she wanted some attention. She begged for walks and car rides. The last seven years of her life were good - so good.  She loved us all, but her Grandpa Dennis Boyd especially. She made our family of puppies complete and we couldn’t imagine life before her. 
Our sweet Hallie Grace crossed the rainbow bridge this afternoon, joining our Annabelle. I will miss her, just like I deeply miss my Belle, but I take comfort in knowing that they are together. ❤️❤️❤️
    • A couple of months ago, I posted about how I’d be moving from fifth grade down to fourth. Well, things change!

This week I accepted an offer to serve as the Backpack Leader at Foster Heights Elementary in Nelson County. I am so thrilled for this position since it allows me to work with teachers and help them level up their skills, but also allows me to stay grounded in my first love: teaching. I will still be responsible for a group of students each day and focused on deep learning with them.

It is bittersweet leaving a school and a district that I love - but when I feel the need to jump, I jump.  I can’t wait to do amazing things with some amazing people in NCS! #npossible
    • A rare day in summer when my makeup is on and my hair is down.  I am absolutely loving these lazy, summer days, but I’m also excited about all of the professional learning that will be happening over the next two weeks.

I’ll admit - it’s hard for me to take a break. But when I do, I break HARD! Learning how to balance and make process, while still taking care of myself.

Enjoy your summer, teachers! You’ve deserve it!

#teacher #teachersofinstagram #teachersonsummerbreak #teacherlife #teachersummer #professionallearning
    • It’s true. You are only as good as the people with whom you surround yourself.
    • Anyone else read two books at once? I keep switching between the two of these. They both started out slower than I wanted, but are starting to pick up.

Brave, Not Perfect is about learning to combat your inner perfectionist and focusing on being brave instead.  It’s a powerful message that more people need to hear and take to heart, myself included.

Everything All At Once is the story of Lottie, whose very famous writer aunt recently passed away, leaving her with 24 letters that includes directions for accomplishing specific tasks. It’s starting to get really good!

#bookstagram #booksofinsta #bookstagrammer #bookstagramit #bravenotperfect #everythingallatonce #teachersofinstagram #summerreading #summerreadinglist #teachersonsummerbreak
    • Did you know that elephants like to give triceratopses piggy nose rides? *Not to scale.

    • Ten years ago, I brought a little hound puppy home from the Kentucky Humane Society after begging my mom for YEARS for a dog. I knew Annabelle was ours the moment she bit my ear.

From there, Annabelle ruled the house. She sat co-pilot in the car. She was the absolute best snuggler. She loved wearing clothes. She could smile bigger than any dog I’ve ever met. 
She was also a mess and a half. She stole food from wherever she could get it. She was jealous - of other dogs, of Justin, of my new nieces. She plopped herself in my lap anytime she could to claim her territory, but when she was mad at me, refused to turn her face to look at me.

She was the leader of the pack, the first of four. 
Today we had to do the hardest thing I, personally, have ever had to do. Having a dog as an adult is way different than having a dog as a kid. My heart is broken into a million pieces. Mama loves you, Belly girl.
    • I took a trip to the library yesterday and gobbled this one up in a couple of hours. I picked it from the shelf on its name alone and it did not fail to disappoint. Audacious is a novel written in verse from the perspective of a girl who has a knack for pushing the boundaries in every way.

It was a beautiful reminder of the beauty - and the chaos - that comes from walking the unknown, just because you felt like it.

#audacious #audaciousbook #bookstagram #bookstagrammers #teachersofinstagram #teachersonsummerbreak #kentuckyteacher #teacherswhoread #youngadultreads #youngadultnovel #youngadultlit #yalit #ya #read #reader #readersofig
    • Summer reading book #2 is finished! This sweet book, the sequel to #therosieproject, failed to hold my attention as well as the first, but was still so perfect. Don is one of my absolute favorite characters, as cringeworthy as he is. I give #therosieeffect 4/5 stars!

Up next on my summer reading list is #bravenotperfect by @reshmasaujani.

#summerreading #summertime #teacherswhoread #teachersonsummerbreak #bookstagram #bookshelf #teachersofinstagram #teachersfollowteachers #stopteacherguilt

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