Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bellevue Kids are Coding!

This year The Hour of Code had the goal of reaching 100 million participants.  The Hour of Code took place from December 8-14 during Computer Science Week. It was sponsored by people such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. People across the world were encouraged to complete one hour of code. While the goal wasn’t quite met, they did reach approximately 80,000,000 people, and 4,300,000,000 lines of code were written by students.  That is an amazing accomplishment for something that sounds very difficult.  Here in Bellevue we had students six to 18 participating in the Hour of Code.   

The truth is coding isn’t all that hard.  With websites like  and apps like Tynker, Kodable, Lightbot, and Cargo-bot anyone can do it.  All our students had to do was give coding a try for one hour.  Skills like critical problem solving and patterning are taught through coding and all of the activities are individualized through the sites and apps.  Kids were challenged and successful in creating programs and video games through coding!  

Here are some of the amazing quotes overheard during coding:
  • “There are jobs where you do this?” -Lauren, high school student
  • “This is hard, but I really like it!” -Madison, third grade student
  • “This is fun and it makes my brain really move!” - Brady, third grade student
  • “Look at this, look what I did! I unlocked the rainbow! - Preston, first grade student
  • "I could feel the power of thinking in my classroom during Hour of Code! The kiddos lit up the classroom with their excitement in every line they created!" - Megan Cinfel, 1st grade teacher
  • “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever done.” - Darin, 2nd grade student
  • "Our students live in a technology driven world. When my students participated in the hour of code not only were they 100% engaged and excited,  they were creating and problem solving. Every student felt empowered with each success along the way." - Monica Evon, 4th Grade Teacher
  • “ I started to learn how to code on a Commodore 64 that plugged into a tiny 10" TV when I was in 4th grade. It was awesome to watch my own 4th graders begin their Introduction to Coding during the Hour of Code. It brought back a lot of memories for me. I also told the class about a 15 year old kid named Michael who learned about coding when he was their age. Michael is just starting high school but already has 5 Apps available in the App Store. So we downloaded one called "Color Deception". The students had a blast with the App and I think some of them started to realize that you don't have to be an adult to code.” - Garrett Sims, 4th grade teacher
  • "Coding = Problem Solving  I like how students work together or alone to solve a problem. They think its fun and a challenge. I also like how they experienced success very quickly and how determined they were to solve the puzzle and get it right. No one gave up!" - Terrie Brown, 2nd grade teacher.

There are not enough Americans to fill all the coding jobs out there.  According to Forbes, The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting that jobs for what it calls “computer and information research scientists” will increase by 19% between 2010 and 2020, a healthy rate. For software developers, the forecast is even better, with a projected growth rate of 30%. Coding is a necessary skill for careers of the future.  The Hour of Code and the abundant resources available makes it easy for every student in the United States to give coding a try. Becoming a computer scientist is one of the hot careers for the next 10 years. As President Obama said, “Don’t just consume things, create things.”

Want to know more or encourage your students to learn coding?  
For students who wish to continue coding all year long, there are a lot of resources on for beyond the hour of code. Both the high schools offer coding courses and students in elementary and middle school can participate in after school robotics clubs to continue to hone their skills.   

Want to fuel the coding passion in teachers?

According to the site, “ has developed an elementary school curriculum that allows even the youngest students to explore the limitless world of computing- at no cost for schools. The courses blend online, self-guided and self-paced tutorials with “unplugged”activities that require no computer at all. Each course consists of about 20 lessons that may be implemented as one unit or over the course of a semester. Even kindergarten-aged pre-readers can participate.  To find a workshop near you, click here.

We are thrilled that Ken Steen, a trainer, will be offering the Coding for Teachers in-service mentioned above on January 10th from 10:00-4:00 at Lewis and Clark Middle School. This is a tremendous learning opportunity for our K-5 teachers and the workshop filled shortly after registration opened.  Teachers will receive training and curriculum materials to use with their students so they can code all year long.  

We were truly inspired by the determination and problem solving skills the students in Bellevue Public Schools displayed while participating in the hour of code. We hope you will follow in their footsteps and give and hour of code a try.

Written by: 
Jenny Krzystowczyk @jennykbps
Ann Feldmann @annfeldmann1
Jeanette Carlson @mrsjcarlson

Works Cited
"The Cities With The Most Computer Science Jobs." Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <>.
"President Obama Kicks off the Hour of Code 2014." YouTube. YouTube. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <>.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Look Back to Move Forward: 10 Things You Don't Want to Leave Behind

2014 turned out to be a great tech year!  There were new iOS devices and operating systems. We were able to work across devices and laptops seamlessly.  The sharing of information, photos, and documents became easier and easier as the year went on thanks to Apple.  For our teachers, there seemed to be an endless supply of new learning opportunities to stay on top of effective teaching practices using technology.  Many people jumped on the opportunity to use The Hour of Code to get students involved in basic coding skills.  Genius Hour or 20% Time took off as a way to engage kids in their own passion for learning and online design tools like Canva made online publishing beautiful for anyone!  

Here are a list of 10 things we think you should take into 2015.  This list has the staying power to sustain your love of integrating technology in the classroom for months to come.  

  1. #HourofCode: Did you know 48 million people signed up to participate in the hour of code this year?  There are not enough Americans to fill all the coding jobs out there?  According to a Forbes, The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting that jobs for what it calls “computer and information research scientists” will increase by 19% between 2010 and 2020, a healthy rate. For software developers the forecast is even better, with a projected growth rate of 30%. coding is necessary skill for careers of the future.  The hour of code and the abundant resources available makes it easy for every student in the United States to give coding a try. Becoming a computer scientist is one of the hot careers for the next 10 years.  Check out for tutorials and more coding opportunities for students beyond the Hour of Code. As President Obama said, “Don’t just consume things, create things.
  2. Genius Hour or 20% time:  What is genius hour? According to, “Genius hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom.  It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school.  It’s not easy to determine where the idea was originally created, but there are at least two events that have impacted genius hour.”  Teachers are finding as they implement genius hour, there is a shift in classroom energy. Students are fueled with drive and curiosity is rekindled.  This engagement leads to new ideas, inventions, and new levels of learning. A hot new book is Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level by Don Wettrick.  “One of the benefits to a passion-based project is that students learn to love learning,” Wettrick said on page 31 in his book.
  3. Connected Educators:  One of the ways to be inspired is to learn from other educators. Bob Dillion (@ideaguy42 ), keynote speaker at the Fall NETA conference in Kearney, NE, challenged us to find five people who do our job better than we do and learn from them. What better place than Twitter, Google +, or Facebook to learn from others. The website is a great resource to help you get connected. Here are 12 great ways to get connected.
  4. Canva: Canva, is a free online design platform.  Canva lets you create banners, posters, postcards and more for online publishing.  Students can use Canva to create images to post to or their own websites.  It can be used as an alternative to posters or collages.  It is also a great tool for infographics.  Most designs are free and those that are not free are only $1.00.  
  5. #tlap:  Teach Like A Pirate has taken off since last summer and hasn’t slowed down a bit!  We have used Dave Burgess’ (@burgessdave)  book for online book studies, in-person trainings, and all around inspiration for shifting attitudes about teaching and filling teachers with the enthusiasm they once had for our profession.  The hashtag #tlap has a huge following on Twitter and is worth a few minutes a day for inspiration and fresh ideas.
  6. Google Classroom:  Google Classroom is a great way to manage your classroom with or without a 1 to 1 set-up. Teachers can use Classroom to send assignments to students, make announcements, and grade student work all from your computer. This is a one stop shop for students and teachers to connect. We are seeing many clubs and organizations using Google Classroom also. Student council, sport teams, NHS organizations, and clubs have found great uses for Google Classroom.
  7. Google+ Hangouts:  Google+ Hangouts provide a variety of opportunities for teachers and students alike. Imagine connecting with another classroom in a different state, or country, for that matter and having your students participate in an activity where they ask descriptive questions to figure out where the other class is locate. This is a Mystery Hangout. Each student is assigned a role, including mappers, questioners, and videographers. It is a great collaborate activity that all ages and disciplines can benefit from. You can also use Hangouts to connect with experts and bring them into your classroom. How about connecting with a zoo and talking about habitats or an astronaut and talking about space exploration, or connect with a musician and play music together. As a teacher, you can use Hangouts to connect with other educators and discuss ideas and best practices. The options are truly endless. Find great people in the Google Plus Connected Classrooms community.
  8. Global Projects:  Global projects take the shape of many different learning activities.  One that we love is the global readaloud.  This was started by an 7th grade English educator, Pernille Ripp,  who wanted to connect students across the world through literature.  Tapping into the Google Connected Classrooms Community is another great way for educators to connect with others and create your own activity. For example, Spanish classrooms in Bellevue connected with a Spanish class in Alabama for a conversation activity.  Students enjoyed using their  conversational Spanish with a purpose and had fun meeting new friends too.  Project Based Learning (PBL)  is another way to facilitate global projects as PBL lends itself to utilizing connections throughout the world to make their projects happen.  Check out the Flat Connections Global Classroom Project and sign up for a 2015 global learning experience for your students. Students of all ages can participate.
  9. EdtechTeam iOS NE Summit: Definitely look for this in 2015!!!  This one is so hot, it sizzles! For the first time ever,  Bellevue Public Schools will be hosting the Nebraska  iOS Summit this summer, July 29-30 at Bellevue West High School!  This will be an amazing event for educators. This event will focus on the use of technology to support teaching and learning. The session will be intended for an audience of teachers, school leaders, and IT managers (with varying technology skills) from schools in the region. The content will focus on iPads, iOS and educational apps used to leverage learning in the classroom.  Not only will there be high caliber national presenters, there will also be amazing local presenters too! Registration is open and you and your friends can register here at:

10.  #Edcamps: Edcamps are still all the rage and gaining momentum across the country.  As long as people attend and share content, edcamps will continue to be a popular venture for committed, innovative educators.  Edcamps are basically non-conference conferences where there is no schedule, no keynote speakers, and NO COST!   Edcamps are free for educators, but does accept donations to help keep it afloat.  Check out an edcamp near you!  If you are in the midwest, you won’t want to miss #EdcampOmaha which is coming March 21, 2015.  

Written by:
Jeanette Carlson @mrsjcarlson
Ann Feldmann @annfeldmann1
Jenny Krzystowczyk @jennykbps

Works Cited
"The Cities With The Most Computer Science Jobs." Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <>.
"President Obama Kicks off the Hour of Code 2014." YouTube. YouTube. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <>.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Five Ways to Grow Your Mind as a Teacher Leader

Educational leaders give lip service to a concept called growth mindset.  It is brought up in PD sessions and teacher assessments.  There is even a hashtag #growthmindset that is on Twitter.  

Growth is defined as, the process of developing.  Mindset is defined as the established set of attitudes.  So growth mindset must mean to develop your attitudes, right?  

How can leaders facilitate a growth mindset from a set of teachers within a district? First, our leaders must examine their own set of attitudes and take responsibility for their own growth.  Growing attitudes takes time and conscious work.  It doesn’t happen overnight and certain behaviors can help facilitate growth among educators. Consider these five steps that leaders can embrace when moving people to different attitudes about learning in the classroom.

1.) Model a growth mindset
As a leader, try new tools, read relevant books, and engage in critical conversations about growth.  Talk about what you are reading, share new skills you are learning, or tweet out content you find valuable to your own learning.  If you aren’t learning something new, how can you expect others that you mentor to do the same?

2.) Support risk-taking
If an educator comes to you with an idea, be a good listener.  Too often fear guides decisions.  The what if’s and worries get in the way.  Instead, attempt to  provide whatever support the teacher needs to make their ideas come to fruition.  Who knows?  You might learn something new in the process.

3.) Focus on passion in the classroom and not the tests.  
It is a true statement that tests receive the most attention within the classroom despite the grade level.  Let’s move away from testing as an end all and go with passion for learning instead.  After all, if students don’t love learning, what is the point of school?  Passion is where its at and genius hour is one great way to kick off some passionate learning in the classroom.  Conversations needs to shift from, “What does your data look like?”  to “What are your students loving to learn about right now?”

4.) Provide opportunities for growth.  
Seek out learning opportunities for teachers that might spark their passion for learning.  Be open to ideas for conferences, twitter chats, and collaboration.  Provide interesting and engaging literature for teachers like Teach Like a Pirate by, Dave Burgess or The Relevant Educator, by Steven Anderson and Tom Whitby.

5.) Allow teachers to take responsibility for their own learning.
Instead of providing professional development that is a sit and get model, provide more engaging and transformative PD in the form of collaborative spaces, big ideas, and teacher leaders.  Professional development can and should be differentiated. We love using Google communities, Twitter, and Google docs for collaborative work spaces.  

The gift of time is also critical for effective professional development.  Learning can take the form of many different avenues and leaders should be open to all of them.  

I love this post from Steve Anderson about creativity and a crisis in leadership.  He states that “we all need to ensure kids have opportunities to learn, reflect, grow and follow their passions, through learning.”  I believe educators have the same need and I believe educational leaders have the responsibility to support, model, and facilitate this need.  Maybe then our lip service to a growth mindset can come to fruition.  

image from

Written by,
Jennifer Krzystowczyk