Personal Learning Networks
I like to consider myself a lifelong learner and consistently pursue professional and personal knowledge. And I think it’s important to model that behavior for children so they understand that learning doesn’t just occur in school. When I became a teacher, one of my first objectives was to locate and add professional connections to my Personal Learning Network (PLN). I have found these connections to be invaluable and recommend a robust PLN to both new, and more-seasoned, professionals.
- Subscribe to a website aggregator like Zite. Instead of searching individual websites, Zite will retrieve articles and online information specifically tailored to your interests. The more articles you open and “thumbs-up”, the more focused Zite’s searches for you become.
- Find a blog that provides you with valuable information and subscribe to its RSS feed (like WPE’s Teacher Tools blog!).
- Take advantage of all the great webinars on org.
- Join a social learning network like the Knowledge Building Commons (KBC) of INFOhio.org.
- Join an educational listserv specifically geared towards your interests.
- Read! Or better yet, start a workplace book study. (I recommend the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck)
- Set up a group in a Course Management System (CMS) like Schoology and invite like-minded professionals to collaborate and join online chats.
- Become involved in community organizations that support the schools like Westerville Partners for Education (WPE), Westerville Education Foundation (WEF), your school’s Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), or Westerville Parent Council (WPC).
- In addition to attending district waiver days and individual building meetings, try out an educational conference like one listed in the following article: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/09/26-great-conferences-for-teachers-to.html
Whether you decide to try out one new thing or several, the important thing is to keep learning! Not only will you benefit from the others’ knowledge, but others will also appreciate your contributions.
Westerville Partners for Education
Volunteers from Westerville Partners for Education and Kiwanis of Westerville brought a very special Birthday Book Bonanza! program to the Early Learning Center on Tuesday. Teachers chose a special book from the Book Bonanza! collection for each students who had celebrated a birthday over the summer months. WPE supplied the Early Learning Center teachers with enough books to ensure that all the preschool students will receive a book from the Book Bonanza! collection to celebrate their birthdays this year. The Birthday Book Bonanza! program at the ELC aims to inspire students to develop a lifetime love of reading by encouraging them to bring the book home, act out its stories with their families, explore the illustrations and discuss the story.
Westerville Partners for Education and Kiwanis collect gently used books from Half Priced Books and from the community and create book distribution events at schools called Book Bonanza! McGraw Hill generously sponsors this program. There are thousands of used children’s books, in great condition, on shelves in homes and around town. Volunteers collect and repurpose these books, review them to ensure they are in good condition and the material is appropriate, research their AR level, and get them in the hands of kids in the Westerville City School District. To find out more about Book Bonanza! and other Westerville Partners for Education programs (or to donate books!) click here or find us on Facebook or Twitter (@WVillePartners).
We’re hosting a very special version of our popular Book Bonanza! program next week! We’re having a Birthday Book Bonanza! at the ELC! We’ll be handing out a “just right” book for every child who celebrated a birthday over the summer months. We’ll be leaving a special stock of books with the ELC teachers to ensure that, going forward, all the children of the ELC receive a book to keep on their birthdays. We hope families will read the book together, explore the illustrations, act out the story and just having fun with their book. We put on the Book Bonanza! program in partnership with Kiwanis of Westerville and it is sponsored by McGraw-Hill Education.
There is so much information online that it’s difficult to not only locate useful resources, but to also keep up with the latest and greatest tools to support learning needs. As a school librarian, one resource I frequently use with parents, students, and teachers is INFOhio.
Since 1989, INFOhio has consistently improved to fit the needs of Ohio K-12 education. This summer, INFOhio overhauled its website and refined its navigation to make it easier to locate information and valuable resources. Students continually benefit from INFOhio’s research tools, online encyclopedias, digital video collection, ebooks, Learning Express Library, and multiple databases. Teachers find useful the online learning networks, webinars, iMatrix, lesson plans, College and Career Readiness resources, and curriculum toolkits. Parents benefit from the Adult Learning Center, Career Center, Job and Career Accelerator, and Computer Skills Center of Learning Express Library 3.0 as well as multiple other resources.
There are so many amazing tools and sources of information available on the INFOhio website and INFOhio offers trained professionals (ICoaches) in the Westerville City School District to teach teachers how to use INFOhio and effectively integrate its plethora of resources into their classrooms. The district’s first Professional Development day for the school year is tomorrow. Students will not have classes on this day while district teachers attend various learning sessions at Westerville Central High School. Throughout the day, District certified ICoaches will provide several learning opportunities for teaching professionals.
If you get a chance, check out INFOhio. Some resources require a username and password to access from home. This information can be obtained from any librarian or teacher in the district. Conveniently, login is automatic when students are accessing INFOhio from school. Regardless of the access point, you’ll be amazed at what’s available at your fingertips. And the best part is it’s all FREE!
For more information on resources for teachers and tools to support education right here in our district, check out Westerville Partners for Education on Twitter (@WVillePartners). You can also see a list of local and regional organizations interested in working with teachers and supporting classroom education through our STEAMHub program (westervillepartnersforeducation.org).
Volunteers from Westerville Partners for Education and Kiwanis of Westerville brought the Book Bonanza! program to Hanby and Emerson this week. In partnership with Kiwanis, our volunteers collect gently used books from Half Priced Books and other donation sites (such as the BOO! for Books program in October), research and note the AR level of those books, and create book distribution events at schools called Book Bonanza! At these events, teachers and volunteers help a student choose a “just right book” and students keep the books they select. McGraw Hill generously sponsors this program.
There are thousands of used children’s books, in great condition, on shelves in homes and around town. WPE and Kiwanis repurpose these books, review them to ensure they are in good condition and the material is appropriate, research their AR level, and get them in the hands of kids. The program aims to get more books into the hands of more kids to promote literacy in the Westerville City School District.
To find out more about Book Bonanza! and other Westerville Partners for Education programs (or to donate books!), sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@WVillePartners).
Westerville Partners for Education is excited to announce a new partnership with Pointview Elementary. This year, we are sponsoring and overseeing a tutoring program for 2nd graders in conjunction with the Columbus Tutoring Initiative. We have recruited some wonderful tutors from Westerville Community United Church of Christ and are still in need of others. If you are willing to commit one hour of your time a week and enjoy working with children, please consider joining our tutoring initiative!
Tutors must attend one training session: Sept.11 or Sept. 25 from 11:30-1:00 pm at Grace Polaris Church, 8225 Worthington-Galena Rd, Westerville, OH, 43081.
Tutoring dates: Tuesdays, 11:30-12:30, October 7 through April 28
Contact Julie Nisbet @ 614 657-3028 OR sign up online at: tutorcolumbus.org
We’re excited to announce that we’re mixing it up for Starry Night 2015! We’re having the event on April 11 a SATURDAY from 2-6pm. So mark your calendars now! AND we’re moving to North High School this year! It’s our North Starry Night.
Having the event on Saturday will allow our guests, exhibitors, and volunteers to feel more leisurely about their late afternoon and evening with us, instead of rushing back home to prepare for school and work the next morning. Moving our location from South to North was a decision we debated extensively. South has been a great home for Starry Night for the past two years-their custodial staff, in particular deserves a special shout out, but the layout of South sometimes challenges our event. We struggled to get our guests through the whole event from one wide end to the other. North’s layout is more centralized, and North provides the event with ample parking. It’s also pretty easy to explain to people how to get to North (once you get past the idea that North isn’t the high school in the north, that’s actually Central issue, which kind of blew me away when we first moved here…).
Our Starry Night Planning Team begins meeting at the end of September, and we’d love to have new ideas and more help. Contact Amy to be added to the contact list for that Team! (email@example.com).
And remember, Saturday, April 11, from 2-6pm at NORTH High School. It’s going to be FANTASTIC.
Science. Tech. Engineering. Art. Math.
Are these specific five fields the best? Is that what we are saying?
STEAM is a great buzzword right now. STEM too. It’s everywhere. You can’t search for education on Twitter without reading about STEM or STEAM in education. If we aren’t talking about STEM or STEAM, we aren’t moving forward, right? We aren’t cutting edge. We aren’t being innovative, right? That’s the vibe right now. But what do we mean by STEAM? Let me tell you what we, at WPE mean by STEAM. When we talk about our STEAMHub and when we refer to Starry Night as a STEAM Learning Expo, I want you to know what we mean.
We are developing a STEAMHub for Westerville City Schools, and we are pretty passionate about it. The idea behind it is to create a network of organizations and businesses interested in working with and supporting our schools, educators and students in a variety of ways. We use the acronym STEAM to refer generally to science, technology, engineering, arts, and math, but more broadly to refer not to promotion of any of these fields individually, but to the cross-pollination of education and to interdisciplinary learning. Our use of STEAM includes service learning and world cultures and leadership and reading and vocal education and robotics and creative writing and sign language, and refers to how learning inter-relates and cross-pollinate. How architecture relies on art and physics and math. How music draws on math and rhythms and art and, sometimes, athletics, too. And that vision of supporting interdisciplinary learning is our vision for supporting STEAM learning at Starry Night and in creating the STEAMHub-to build these relationships between organizations and our schools.
We are very excited about STEAM in education. We are passionate to support it here in Westerville. We’re always looking for organizations and individuals who share that idea for our schools. Join our email list to stay informed about our STEAM events, opportunities for interdisciplinary learning and ways to help support the schools! Click here to join our email list of supporters!
The countdown is on. School begins in just 14 days. And we, at Westerville Partners for Education, are so excited! This summer we said good-bye (and THANK YOU!) to our board member, Stacy Keenan, who will be Hanby’s PTA president again this year, and we welcomed a whole crop of new board members to our organization.
John Tansey comes to us from Otterbein’s Chemistry Department. John has volunteered with and exhibited at Starry Night 2014. He helped us out by getting up (super early) to help us out with our Good Day Columbus Starry Night promotion. John has also worked with Blendon Middle School’s Robotics Club and attended our pilot STEAMHub event at Cherrington in May. John is interested in developing partnerships between Otterbein’s science department at Westerville Schools and we are thrilled to have him on board with us!
Jean Trimble is the fantastic whirlwind of energy and innovation at the core of Walnut Spring’s Media Center. Jean was a part of our Starry Night Planning Team for 2014 and is also a parent in the district. She runs the Walnut Springs website (likeagoodbook.com) and worked with WPE to bring in some new speakers for Walnut’s Career Day. Jean’s enthusiasm for innovation and passion for education is contagious and we’re so excited to work with her this year.
Mary Curry is the talented artist behind our beautiful Starry Night logo. She has been a long-time volunteer with WPE-helping us out with design work for the past three years, and we are delighted to have her join our board. Mary is a parent in the district and Art Director at Prism Marketing. She has a lot of fantastic idea on how we can improve the Starry Night experience with better maps, directions, signage and consistent branding throughout all of our programs. It’s going to be a great year!
Julie Nisbet is a parent in the district and former school psychologist in the district. Julie has been working to set up an exciting new tutoring program for WPE. She has a passion for supporting intervention and support for students with reading disabilities and her passion will connect so beautifully with our Books for Break program and the relationship we’ve built with Kiwanis of Westerville to support literacy. Welcome, Julie! Look for more news about our tutoring program coming in the coming months!
Stephanie Henderson, Assessment Practice Leader at Leader OnBoarding, joins our board this year and brings her passion for arts education to our mission. Stephanie has been a longtime advocate for the Arts at Westerville North and across the district and will be developing a plan to strength the arts in our schools. Stephanie’s mission supports education at all levels in the district, and we are so excited to work with her and take on this important issue in the district.
John O’Connor actually joined our board a couple of months ago, but I wanted to formally introduce him here today. John is President of Westerville Kiwanis and has a passion for supporting literacy. John has been instrumental in working with us to develop the Books for Break program last year and was also one of our pilot Library Volunteers. John volunteered at Starry Night 2014 and is interested in improving the reach and accessibility of our Books for Break program (transitioning it into a classroom experience called Book Bonanza!). John single-handedly collected books from Half Price Books and has leveled hundred of those books on his own. He also took our Books for Break program to the WARM lunch sites this summer. He is a dynamo for literacy and we’re so proud to have him on our board.
Bronwyn Ginty joins our board this year too! To know Bronwyn is to know a fantastic whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm for education and students. Bronwyn volunteered at Starry Night in 2013 and 2014 and was a part of our Starry Night Planning Team for 2014. She is a parent in the district and is Director for the Goddard School on Executive Parkway. We are so excited to have her working with us this year!
Meet Lori Jung: Thoughtful, Creative, and Fantastic
(Lori is pictured here with Cam Piatt. Lori and Cam directed our volunteer team at Starry Night 2014 and were amazing!)
In the past few years, we’ve come across some talented, passionate, brilliant, dedicated people. It’s been inspiring for us when they’ve been willing to contribute their time and energy-as WPE volunteers, partners, and sponsors-to strengthening and enriching education in our schools.
We decided to share the stories of these special collaborators and volunteers with you on Fridays! Enjoy!
1. How did you get involved with WPE/what do you like about volunteering with WPE?
I had heard about WPE and then volunteered for SN 2013. What I noticed right off the bat was the positive perspective from EVERYONE involved. I feel there are big and little opportunities to contribute in meaningful ways, and all are welcome in this district-wide effort. The mood is always collaborative and constructive.
2. From your perspective, what are some needs in our schools?
I often feel as though the guidance counseling staff is simply overwhelmed with the quantity of work and students they need to address. I think it would be nice to offer a more comprehensive approach to guiding and mentoring students at all grade levels so they can choose relevant course options and perhaps even explore careers through mini-internships. I also believe students would benefit from more integrated coursework, such as the magnet schools have offered. I think students need to understand how their daily effort helps them not only reach their goals, but also reach beyond their classroom to do meaningful work. I appreciate how WPE fosters this sense of community, which is vital to a thriving district and city. I think exposure to careers, research, exploration and problem solving will only make our students stronger people and more confident global citizens.
3. What are some of the great things already happening in our district?
I appreciate the collaboration I have seen in recent years…sharing information and resources, business and community partnerships. I love the huge volunteer base and seeing these volunteers anywhere from Starry Night to elementary libraries and athletic events. I know of many teachers who work hard to make very specific and relevant experiences accessible to students, from foreign exchanges to research projects, from leading theater and ski clubs to mentoring leaders through IB and Key Club. I am amazed at our programs that, despite often being at risk regarding funding, thrive and make passionate statements throughout Westerville: students’ art in public places, bands winning awards, theater presentations that knock your socks off, teachers providing interesting and integrated coursework. I like how WPE’s role is to observe and listen to what people need in order to build and sustain these relationships. Rather than, “We should or you should…” they offer, “How can we help make this happen for you?” I enjoy being a part of that.
Get involved with us! Click here to sign up for our newsletter. The first edition comes out in May, and you don’t want to miss it!