Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2015

This is my "Looking Ahead to 2015" post. Below you will see different projects, websites and products I hope to use in 2015. If you're interested in any of what I describe and want more information, please don't hesitate to contact me on Twitter (@ArinKress)  Also, if you're interested, here's my "Looking Back on 2014" post where I explain many changes that occurred for my students and I during the past year. 

Most Exciting Project for the Students on My Team:  Distance Teaching Project  
In November, Mike Soskil asked me to join the Distance Teaching Project. Here's a quick write up found on the site: 

On this site you will find videos created by students. Since students learn more of what they teach than what they consume, students from around the world will be sharing their learning with each other. This project started as a collaboration between students at the Wallenpaupack South Elementary in Pennsylvania, USA  and students at the Cheery Education Centre and Havila Children's Center in the Kibera Slum of Nairobi, Kenya. Since then it has grown as other teachers around the world have seen the power of peer teaching. Through teaching, we hope that all students involved learn a wide variety of content, the joy of helping others, and cultural understanding.

My students will be in charge of contributing science videos with students from the following states and countries contributing videos in the following subjects: 
Grove City, Ohio - Science
Newfoundland, Pennsylvania - Math
New Hyde Park, New York - Reading
Surat, India- Physical Education
Nairobi, Kenya- Foreign Language - Swahili
Draguignan, France- Foreign Language - French
Shenzhen, China- Art

Here's our first submission. In the video below, one of my students teaches about what causes day and night:

Please check out the Distance Teaching website periodically as more videos will be added in 2015! Mike, thank you for your leadership with this project and for asking my students to participate!

Most Exciting Project for The Students At My School:  Playground Transformation 
One frequent complaint from my students is the lack choice during recess. My students only have 15 minutes a day for recess and can choose to jump rope, play four square and basketball. One great thing about the 'playground' is that it is comprised of a LARGE paved area. Therefore, I hope to help bring more choice to my students. We are looking into using Fit and Fun's plethora of stencils to give the students more variety during recess, keep them active and even give teachers the opportunity to use the stencils to add a kinesthetic layer to their lessons. My favorite stencils as a teacher are the numbers grid, the US map, and compass rose. I think my students will enjoy the MAZE, agility ladders and Skelly Board game the most. I'm excited for this project and will hopefully write posts as the transformation occurs.

Most Exciting Project for a Small Group of Students:  Lunch Group 
The week before Christmas break another teacher and I started a lunch group for students who expressed interest in strengthening friendships. We had a great first meeting and I'm really looking forward to the opportunities this groups provides the students who participate.

Most Exciting Project for ME:  AssistEdShift 
Oliver Schinkten (@schink10) is one educator who continues to inspire me to push boundaries. Oliver and I began collaborating in the fall of 2013. He is one of the most passionate educators I know and he has an incredibly tireless work ethic. Oliver decided to step out of the classroom for the 2013-2014 school year as a 'moral imperative to make positive change in education.' He admirably offers his expertise and services in any way possible to help educators. He also spends time speaking to and inspiring others around the country as both himself and his alter ego, Big Ron Crowley. Here's my favorite video from Big Ron about standardized tests:

Joking aside, I predict that 2015 will be a huge year for Oliver. In addition to all of the above, he has created AssistEdShift (with minimal help from yours truly.) Right now it's in its infancy, but the great thing about AsisstEdShift is that it's envisioned as a one-stop shop for educators with a collaborative twist. Right now, AssistEdShift is made up of recommended blogs, podcasts, videos and other resources from educators around the globe. However, what Oliver and I have have planned for 2015 is very exciting and we need YOUR help. Think about what YOU want changed in your classroom, at your school, in your district. How can we help provide you with resources, guidance and inspiration. Oliver and I know that together we truly can make positive change. We want to ASSIST you as we SHIFT EDUCATION in a positive direction. Please join us on our journey! To learn more go to and follow @AssistEdShift on twitter.

Most Exciting Conference I Plan to Attend:  ISTE 
In June, I will attend the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Philadelphia. I am very excited to learn from top educators from around the world and I hope this conference will be a highlight for me in 2015.

Most Exciting New Website to Use with my Students:  BlackRocket  
Just two weeks before Christmas Break, I introduced Black Rocket to my students. Black Rocket allows students to create their own video games based off content being taught in class. My students have only been on Black Rocket twice at school and they are extremely motivated to create and play the games. I can see Black Rocket adding a lot to my classroom in 2015.

Most Exciting New Website I Plan to Use  PledgeCents 
PledgeCents in a great website and company who helps educators raise funds for supplies in their classroom. I created a cause and am waiting for approval within my district. PledgeCents representatives have been EXCELLENT to work with and you can tell they have their priorities right when it comes to working with teachers. @PledgeCents participates in Twitter chats and daily tweets positive encouragement to educators. I look forward to using PledgeCents in 2015 and recommend others use it as well!

Most Exciting Product I hope to Get in My Students' Hands:  Sphero 
If I can get my PledgeCents cause funded then my students will have access to ten Sphero robotic balls. If you haven't heard of Spheros before here's a quick video on how it can impact math and science instruction. On Sphero's Education site, lesson plans for math and science are available with many other resources.

As you can see, it looks like 2015 will be another very busy year. Thanks to all the educators and companies above who will continue to inspire me and many others around the world! Happy New Year!

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