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Book Bites: Top 5 Hacks from "Hacking Education"

Friday, June 16, 2017
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!



2 comments:

  1. 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?

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    1. 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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