Winter and Spring PD Offerings

Here is a huge compilation of conferences to choose from in the second semester!


10-11: Alhambra, CA  Tools for Classroom Instruction That Works: Classroom-Ready Techniques for Increasing Student Achievement  

12-15 Dallas, TX, Kagan Brain Friendly Teaching, Win-Win Discipline, Cooperative Learning or Structures for Little Ones

20-21 Agoura Hills, CA, CUE Rock Star Teacher

29-31 Palm Springs, CA, EdTech Teacher Summit


 9-10: Pasadena, SoCal Kindergarten and 1st Grade Conference ,

15-17 San Francisco, Learning and the Brain, The Science of Innovation: Teaching Students to Think, Create, Innovate and Inspire

17-20 Columbus, OH,  Reading Recovery and K-6 Literacy Conference

27-28 Colorado, Marzano: The New Art and Science of Teaching


2-3 San Diego CA Association for the Gifted Annual Conference

3: Los Angeles, Kagan: Brain Friendly Teaching

7-9 Atlanta Annual NAIS (Nat’l Association of Independent Schools) Conference

9-10 Nashville, TN: “Teach Your Heart Out” Conference

14-17 Palm Springs, CA Annual CUE Conference- Tech & Innovation

17-21 Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, FL Music Teachers National Association Annual Conference

15-18 Atlanta, GA Annual National Science Teachers Association Conference “Science on My Mind”

20-24 Nashville, TN, SHAPE America-Health and P.E.

22-24 Seattle, WA National Art Education Annual Conference

22-24 Atlanta, GA Music Research and Teacher Education Conference

21-24 Atlanta, GA Learning Disabilities of America Annual Conference

23-25 Orlando, FL Stop Girl Bullying

24-26 Boston, MA Annual ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) Conference

28-30 San Diego, CA Deeper Learning Conference HTH


 3-4 Cincinnati, OH Annual NCEA (National Catholic Education Association) Conference

15-17 Palm Springs, CA Leading from the Middle: Developing Leadership Skills

19-21 New York, NY Learning and the Brain: Educating Mindful Minds: Using the Science of Stress to Raise Resilience, Behavior, and Achievement

19-21 San Antonio, TX National Council for History Education Annual Conference

25-28 Washington, DC Annual National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference 


 8-9 Colorado Marzano: The New Art and Science of Teaching

17-19 Whistler, B.C., Canada National Physical and Health Education Conference

21-23 New York, NY Columbia Teacher’s College Digital and Media Literacy Institute


6-9 San Antonio, TX Teaching with the Brain in Mind- Jensen Learning

12-13 San Diego, CA SPARK After School Institute

18-22 New York, NY Columbia Teachers College Writing Institute

25-29 New York, NY Columbia Teachers College Reading Institute

19-22 Wilmington, DE Hands-on Advisory: Curriculum, Themes, and Activities

20-23 Atlanta, GA Stop Girl Bullying

21-22 San Diego, CA SPARK Technology in PE Institute

24-27 Chicago, IL Annual ISTE Conference (Int’l Society for Technology in Education)




Virtual Reality is Here and We’re Not Ready

***This article is a summary of the incredible presentation by EdTech teacher, Greg Kuloweic who has done extensive research on VR in education. Here is a link to the presentation and his resources. I highly recommend looking at the current research from Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab.

The EdTech Teacher Summit 2017 created a more realistic picture of where the world is going in technology and how quickly education must change to keep up. From virtual and augmented reality to wearables that measure emotion, modern technology brings exciting and moral implications to our world. These tools open major opportunities for bringing learning to life but they also pose serious threats to our understanding of truth and intellectual property.

The Answer for Teaching Empathy

Current research is quickly discovering that the immersion of people in a virtual world is an unbelievable tool to teach empathy. Imagine giving a middle schooler a headset that brings them to a Syrian refugee camp. They can see and hear things as if they were there. As they turn, so does the camera: up, down and side-to-side. Now imagine that while they are wearing the headset, they also are wearing a suit that hits more senses like feel, or smell to make the experience more realistic. You actually don’t have to imagine because these tools are already available.

Moral Implications

But with this great tool comes a lot of ethical questions. Imagine how scary or haunting an experience like this could be for someone because of how real it feels. The research has shown that people who have VR experiences actually remember the moments as if they were really there. And, the memories trigger from the emotional response. Think about the biases of the creators and how this might impact reality. Should textbook companies be creating these? News companies? Religious institutions?

Why should we care? In the age of ‘fake news’ our obligation to teach students to critically analyze the bias and intent of a media source is about to get a lot harder. Think about it. If consumers of VR actually remember experiences as if they were actually there, VR creators have the power to shape memories and therefore perceived truth.

Next Steps for Teachers

What should we do about it? Well, waiting for VR headsets to be as ubiquitous as iPhones to address this issue is definitely not the responsible response. We did that with social media and look where it has gotten us. Instead, expose your students to VR and while doing so, have open discussions about the pros and cons. Give them opportunities to critically examine these technologies by asking the right questions and taking the novelty away early. This could have an important impact on its growth and regulation in the future.

Let Students Consume VR

VR can be consumed or produced. The easiest way to immerse the students in your subject area and experience VR in a meaningful way is through the Google Expeditions app. The virtual tours allow students to travel around the world, outer space and even inside the human body. You guide the tour by giving them directions for where to turn. When they hit certain places, you can read information provided or guide them with your own information. This is basically PowerPoint on steroids. They can use iPads or they can use Google Cardboard headsets with their phones. Best of all, it’s free!

Give Opportunities to Produce VR

There are a ton of amazing ways you or your kids can produce VR. You don’t even need to take a 360 degree photo. Use one that already exists to create VR tours of famous places and museums. Open source 360 degree photos are available on and Flickr. In Flickr, you can search ‘The Commons’ for open source pictures and then ‘equirectangular’ to get a curation of 360 degree photos that are available for personal use. For 360 videos, go to YouTube and type “360 degrees” in the search.

Take 360 degree photos yourself! With the Google Streetview app, you can take them anywhere, and it’s free! This app does not seem to exist on the iPad. There are other apps that do a better job for a low cost.

After you have the picture, you can create a virtual reality tour for others to experience being in ‘your’ shoes. There are rumors that Google Expeditions will soon be allowing others to create their own Expeditions. This could be amazing for teachers especially if there is a library of non-Google created content for others to use. This will be an awesome way to make projects for a real purpose.

Google Tourbuilder, Roundme and Story Spheres are all programs that allow you to build your own tours although all are limited in what you can add. while one allows audio, the others only allow added texts. Tourbuilder is not available through an iPad. I encourage you to look through these as there are amazing examples on each of the websites.

CoSpace Edu seems by far the most expansive. You can add your own picture, one you downloaded from the above sources or you can choose from their library. Some environments are fictional and cartoon-like. You can add 3D models created on Tinkercad to your virtual world and you can access Google Poly library for open source 3D .stl files. Finally, there is a coding component you can add using block coding like Scratch to make the 3D objects move. It is fantastic and second graders can use it.

Ideas for Producing VR in your class:

  • Create a VR scene to a poetry reading
  • Create a scene in history or from a story
  • Take 360 photos in students’ favorite spaces on field trips. Kids can bring them back and curate a virtual fieldtrip
  • Find pictures of rooms in museums around the world and students can create their own virtual field trip.

Lead Discussions with Your Students

Discussion questions that can be adapted for all ages:

  • What is cool about VR?
  • How did it feel to be in another person’s shoes? How did it change your perception of that person or place?
  • If you could immerse yourself in another environment which would you choose? Where would you go? What environment would you not choose?
  • How could we use VR to help people?
  • How could we use VR to scare people?
  • Think about the creators of the VR environments. Do you think there is potential for bias? How could this become a problem?How could we solve that problem?
  • What rules should be in place to protect people?
  • Is it actually a benefit to empathize with people we disagree with? How so?
  • What about VR games? How cool would Minecraft be as VR!? How would it change the way you play the game? Is it possible to make a VR game too realistic? How could a violent video game like Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty be too realistic in VR. If so, how can we protect people?

I encourage all of you to follow @gregkuloweic and @arvrinedu to stay up on this technology and how it is impacting education.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this series: Wearable Technology Taps into our Emotions

The Simplest and Most Awesome App Ever: Post-it Plus

Most of us, staff included, have led a workshop or class where participants walk around and add Post-its with thoughts to a large piece of paper. Each piece of paper usually has a different topic or question written at the top. Afterwards, ideas written on the post-its are shared by the instructor or via gallery walk by the participants. The extent of use usually ends there, because, at the end of the workshop, you must decide what to do with those large pieces of paper. You don’t want to throw them out because you may want to reference them later. But, they are large and awkward to store and the Post-its usually lose their stickiness and get all mixed up shortly after.

With Post-It Plus, not only do these problems disappear, but, there are also so many more cool things you can do with these same posters later on. Let me explain. Post-It Plus takes a picture of your large papers and scans each Post-It note separately. Therefore, your external poster has now becomes a digital platform to interact with the post-its as if they were still paper. You can reorganize them, categorize them and even combine Post-its across topics.  Therefore, an entire room of people can be using the same sheet of post-its on their iPads or iPhones and be reorganizing and grouping based on their own perspectives.

See It In Action

Here are some screenshots from the Post-it Website that shows some of the cool things you can do with it.



Not only can you name your boards and subcategories, you can then reorganize the Post-its based on these changes.  You can add new notes with many colors to choose from and you can draw or type. You can also pull notes from other boards and add them to new boards. Finally, you can save it as a .pdf or as an image to save for later or turn in!

Here is a screencast of me playing with the app. I don’t have a poster of Post-its to take a picture of so I did the demo version where it pretended to upload a picture.

Ideas for Use

I have a ton of ideas for taking the old lessons we have all done and taking them a step further with the app:

  • Make words or sentences using mixed up Post-its. Mix them up on the board. The students scan the board and go back and sort at their desks.
  • Write equations and number sentences. Students could make a number sentence, mix it up and then trade iPads and solve each other’s problems.
  • Annotate a book with post-its. On each post it, put the page number and the quote, thought or question.  Students can leave them inside the book and at the end they can curate their thoughts by scanning the post-its and categorizing them. Keep the notes for future writing assignments and to study for tests!
  • Trace the routes of a famous explorer, traveler/ human migration patterns. Students can use Post its to mark their path and then scan the post-its to see the shape.
  • Create a timeline using a Post-it for each event. Students organize in order.
  • Re-sort Post-its based on new categories they come up with or you give them.
  • Students can add two more Post-its/Take away ones that don’t ‘fit’.
  • Organize them (example: from least to greatest importance.)
  • Respond to one post-it in a reflection, speech, or persuasive essay.
  • Save as .pdf and submit to teacher/presenter to serve as a formative assessment.
  •  Tie it to one of Harvard Project Zero’s thinking routines! See below for ideas for a few of the routines. Click on the link to be directed to the Project Zero website and see the routine explained in full.
    1. What Makes You Say That? -students could choose one or two post-its on the sheet to question. Students find the author of the two Post-its and asks “What Makes You Say That?” This will further the conversation and get students to think deeper about their ideas and opinions.
    2. Circle of Viewpoints -after writing down various viewpoints of a topic on different post-its, students can scan them, sort the viewpoints into categories and create questions they have for the various perspectives. This would be amazing for a pre-persuasive essay activity or speech/debate prep.
    3. I Used To Think….,But Now I Think -This could be done as a culminating activity. Pull out the KWL  post-it chart from the beginning of the unit; students can scan it (or scan it at the beginning of the unit and save for later) and analyze how their thinking has changed.  Likewise, it could be about hot-button current event discussion. They could start with their preconceived opinions and after research and a structured class discussion like socratic seminar, students can revisit their early opinions and reflect.
    4. Compass Points -This would be great as an introduction to a self-driven project, Genius Hour, or even as an introduction to the class service-learning project.  Students could make their own virtual poster filled with Post-its containing ideas for projects. They can organize their ideas into categories. Then, do the Compass Points thinking routine to narrow down ideas.

The Nuts and Bolts

  • Travis has added this to Self Service for the 7th, 8th and faculty iPads. He has sent the app to Library, the Hayden cart, and 3rd and 4th grade class iPads. So they should be there when you need them! #thankstravis
  • It is recommended that you use a dark colored marker or felt-tipped pen when writing on the Post-its so they are most likely to show up when scanned.
  • This app works best with regularly-sized square Post-its.
  • Make sure the Post-its are not overlapping and are about 1/8inch apart from each other. This will make scanning much more seamless.
  • You can take numerous pictures of the same board if the board is too big. After you have captured one “board” you can hit the plus sign to add another photo to the same board.
  • Unfortunately it doesn’t let you collaborate with others within the app. But, you can export it to another device. What I mean is, you can send it via email and open it on someone else’s Post-it app for further organizing. When you export it, just save it this way. (see below)  So, this way numerous people can edit the same file as long as it is one-at-a-time.

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 3.40.13 PM

Happy Post-it-ing!

How Will You ‘Make’ This Year?

We are ready to start our second year with our amazing D-Lab! Many of us already have ideas about how to integrate making, creating and design-thinking into their curriculum this year. Just in case you need some inspiration, here is a collection of of some cool ideas I found on Pinterest and other sites. If any of these piques your interest let me know and I will get you more information and start planning with you. Many of these projects can be altered to fit any curriculum!






Some Light Summer Reading

Below is a curation of interesting articles for us to ponder or dive deeper in over the summer! I will continue to add to this, so please send me any you would like to add to this list!

Edutopia: Flexible Seating Assignments in Middle School

While free seating seems to have a lot of potential to grow voice and choice and help our more fidgety students stay focused, at times assigned seating is necessary to improve social interactions and formal instruction. This teacher found a way to have both!

Mindshift: How Turning Math Into a Maker Workshop Can Bring Calculations to Life

Makey Makey is for all ages!  Use this fun tool to practice programming and math skills.  (See Adrienne to use them) They also talk about using sewing to teach pixels and curves along a grid. A lot of good concrete ideas here.

Education Week Opinion: Why Don’t Educators Want to Be Coached?

Peter DeWitt, Ed.D., has done his research on education leadership and summarizes some of the reasons teachers might not be as open to coaching as other professions. Where do you fit in?

Goals From a New School Year: #observeme

For those of you who read the last article and are thinking, “I would love some coaching,” here is a blog post from a teacher who is joining the #observeme movement. Hope Teague-Bowing, the author of this post explains, “Math teacher, Robert Kaplinsky, is challenging educators to rethink the way we pursue feedback by making it easy and immediately obtainable.” #observeme is something you probably will see next year at MJS, so it is worth a closer look!

After Seeing These +15 Maps You’ll Never Look At The World The Same


The True Size

As a history teacher, I find that one amazing way to get kids excited about almost any topic is through maps. And, there are maps about EVERYTHING! From the most popular baby names in each state to world hunger statistics around the world, there is a map for your class. This two websites shows how the Mercator Projection used for navigating has warped our understanding of how big countries and continents are in relation to others. A greater potential for empathy can start with understanding our place in the world!

Students Email Their Parents About Missing Work

So this is a genius way of holding kids accountable. The article explains how students are required to send formal emails to their parents explaining why they didn’t do their work. This would work so great with 7th and 8th graders with the iPads. They must CC you!

Mindshift: What Neuroscience Can Tell Us About Making Fractions Stick

This article delves into specific strategies for teaching fractions and what the brain needs to actually learn them. From visualizing strategies to conceptual understanding, researchers have discovered that fractions can only be learned through multiple approaches utilizing multiple senses.

Mindshift: Taking Notes: Is The Pen Still Mightier Than the Keyboard?

Typing skills are important. People can type at a much faster rate than they can write; therefore, it would appear that typing is the better option for taking notes. Researchers argue differently.

Print Custom Sticky Notes with Google Slides

So three different people shared this link with me. Something tells me people know I like school supplies. Katie was the first to show me how to do this so see her for tips! But, this is an awesome way to make short rubrics to stick on rough drafts and to make cute personalized notes for kids.

What Do We Mean By Cheating?

This is a blog post that poses an interesting thought: “If our students are successfully cheating in how they go about finding correct answers, perhaps the real problem is that we are asking them the wrong questions.”

9 Great Young Adult Novels For Politically Engaged Readers

This is a curation of novels specifically focused on creating empathy on social justice issues that are current and relevant to people in our country.  They focus on lack of equity among adolescents of different upbringings,  gender, culture and sexual-orientation.

Teachers Going Gradeless

This is a blog post that focuses on current research debunking the myth that grades motivate students. An interesting and relevant read!

Teaching in Beta: What We Can Learn From Software Developers

This blog, “Cult of Pedagogy,” is by far the best education blog out there, from my perspective. I highly recommend following it on Facebook, Twitter or directly through email. Jennifer Gonzalez was a middle school English teacher who is now a full-time blogger. In this article, she talks about how teachers feel this need to be perfect the first time at all attempts to try something new. She argues, if we look at every attempt to try something new as the “beta test” we will be more apt to try new things and be ok when it doesn’t work out perfectly the first time.

Choosing Your Own Learning Adventure: Enrichment Menu For Writer’s Workshop

A school librarian designed a ‘March Madness’ menu of choice for students during writer’s workshop or when they finish early. There are some great ideas in here to keep students on task while giving them voice and choice!

Teaching Students To Write About Contraptions

Yes, we know, skills are becoming increasingly more important than content knowledge for our future students. They need to be creative problem solvers who can converse and work with others. BUT, they also need to write. Computer coders and innovators who can’t write are less marketable than ones that can! Nobody will ever be able to duplicate what they have created if they can’t write an instruction manual that is readable for a broad audience.  This article talks about how to blend these skills of problem solving with the ability to write.

Muslim Kids as Heroes

As Islamophobia is on a rise, it is important that we give students an opportunity to see Muslims as humans and as heroes that many are. Here is a compilation of children’s stories that attempt to do just that!

How Kids Benefit From Learning To Explain Their Math Thinking

Is the ultimate end the right answer?  Or, is it an ability to explain why it is the right answer? Watch this video from MindShift that argues the latter.

View story at

OnCampus? What’s That?


Hopefully everyone is aware that we will leave Schoology behind next year and begin using a new Learning Management System (LMS), OnCampus. For those of you who would like to experiment with OnCampus and make your transition more seamless, here is a short screencast video I made for getting acquainted with the program. I am a beginner as well, so this is purely an introduction. Sara Torres, Bridget, and Adrienne will teach us through upcoming meetings and workshops to deepen our understanding. It will be part of our summer homework to become comfortable with the new system.

This video will

  • help you find OnCampus.
  • show you the most important aspects of the website.
  • examine some differences between OnCampus and Schoology.

*********It is important to  note: we will no longer be able to access our resources and materials on Schoology after June. Therefore, transferring your material onto OnCampus or into another program is necessary! More information for how to best do this will come!

If Our Walls Could Talk, What Would They Say About What We Value?

We do so many great things at our school. Nobody will ever work a day at Mayfield and say they are bored. Our inspiration from the kids, autonomy from our administrators and our annual traditions keep us regularly on our toes and continuing to grow our teaching practices.  I don’t know about you, but I left my MEC meeting feeling reminded of how joyful I feel to be a part of this special community of educators. Having said this, I would like to spend a minute talking about something that our school could work on: what and how we display on the walls.

Last week I attended the Deeper Learning Conference at High Tech High in San Diego. I wish I could truly put into words what it feels like to walk in the doors of the High Tech High schools. You can tell immediately that they value deeper learning, process, reflection, and community. You know just from looking at the walls and ceilings that they give their students opportunities to do and create amazing things.

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 10.07.29 AM

At Deeper Learning, I had the opportunity to attend a Deep Dive eight-hour session called Curating Student Work.  The presenter was the superintendent of a rural public school in Kentucky who is doing some incredible work in this area. I have some key take aways from this experience and hopefully with this post you will see some examples of ways we can express our values more clearly and more professionally.

Before you create an exhibit, make sure it connects to one of our goals

Here’s the thing. There are some student work worth curating and some that are just not. When we take a minute to think and reflect about work we choose to display, we also have the opportunity to reflect on the work we assign.

All displays should follow these three rules:

symmetry          repetition        surprising

Here is an example of this and a cool project idea from HTH: Each document is framed and students made laser cut sunglasses for final reflections! My favorite part is it is writing about empathy in math class!

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Take away the barriers of bulletin boards

The fadeless paper that inevitably fades mixed with the cheesy bulletin board borders limit us to space and size. It also sends the clear message to the kids that they are not making real or authentic work, but “kid work.”  And, no, this space should not be to hang cheesy posters.

There are simple ways to make this happen. Using curtain rods, clips and wire, clip boards, driftwood backgrounds, shelving you can make all student work, even work in progress, look professional and improve the standard of what you expect from the kids. These structures will also make hanging work simple and reusable and allow for more displays on the wall!

Here are some examples from HTH:

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Use the laser cutter or other creative materials to make titles

It looks so much more like a professional exhibit when you take the time (with the help of Adrienne! 🙂  And guess what! You can reuse them! Here are some examples from HTH:

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Make a placard to explain the project and process

A simple framed piece of paper that explains the project, grade level and a bit of the process it took to create allows the community to have a better understanding of the work that went into the creations. Here are some examples from HTH:

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Get help!

This is a huge undertaking. These schools have had help from the art teacher who is partly hired to design these exhibits. Some have even hired part time curators. We are definitely not there….yet. 🙂 But know that there are people to help you. This is a perfect assignment for that artistic parent volunteer. There are also incredibly creative artists who are here to give you ideas. Penny and Peggy have been inspirational for me and have great ideas to share. Sara C., our resident weaver, is beyond creative and is so amazing at thinking outside of the box. Adrienne can help with the laser cutter and has quite the design aesthetic as an experienced graphic designer. While I cannot say that I am artistically inclined, I am beyond willing to get my hands dirty to help you along the way.