Monday, January 25, 2016

NPPD STEM Lab Visits ESU 8 School

Today I had a chance to visit the NPPD STEM Lab in action at O'Neill High School.  NPPD is working with select Nebraska schools to pilot its innovative STEM Lab/Makerspace and O'Neill High School was lucky to be one of the host schools this winter.  NPPD set up the STEM Lab for two weeks in the OHS Library.  There all students, teachers, and even potentially community members can have access to the equipment and activities which cover a wide range of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills.  At the heart of the concept is the belief that students learn by "doing," and that by troubleshooting their failures, students can discover deeper learning outcomes.

Mr. Lowell Brown has been utilizing the STEM Lab with his high school science classes and Mr. Kevin Morrow has allowed his 8th grade Science classes time to experience the activities, but the learning does not stop there.  Students drop in to the library nearly every period-- during their study halls, over lunch hour, etc.-- and try out all the stations with unlimited access. Jennifer Swerczek, part of NPPD's Education Team, demonstrated a brief introduction to many of the stations.  However, when I discussed her role in managing the STEM Lab with students, she explained that each station was designed for independent exploration and discovery.  With task cards and challenges, students can truly learn many of the tasks with little or no adult help.  This is a listing of the cutting edge equipment that NPPD's STEM Lab offers:

Equipment list
The most exciting information that I learned in my visit at OHS today included NPPD's future vision for the STEM Lab/Makerspace.  At every school that they are currently testing out the lab, students and teachers are adding feedback in "Engineering Notebooks." This feedback, along with plans for additional equipment and activities, will be incorporated into the final completed lab which they hope to release at NETA (April 2016). Here they will also begin to accept reservation requests so that other Nebraska schools can have access to the entire package for 2 weeks at your school, too! Hopefully many of our ESU 8 schools will take advantage of this incredible opportunity through NPPD.  Whether your goal is to evaluate equipment for your own purchasing or to spark a disengaged student's interest, the NPPD STEM Lab seems to be a perfect learning opportunity for all!

View more photos here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Student PSA contest: Drive4Life

From an email from Scholastic:

Student PSA Contest to help prevent distracted walking
Drive2Life Student PSA Contest - Grades 6-12 - Learn More
Help Prevent Distracted Walking - Student PSA Contest
Encourage your students in grades 6–12 to create a public service announcement (PSA) for the 2016 Drive2Life Contest to help prevent distracted walking.
One Grand Prize student winner will receive $1,000 and a trip to New York City to work with an Emmy-winning director to turn his or her vision into a 30-second PSA. Plus, the winner will be featured on the nationally broadcast TV show Teen Kids News and in select Scholastic magazines.
Four student runners-up (two from grades 6–8 and two from grades 9–12) will each receive $500.
The teacher of each student winner will receive a one-year subscription to a Scholastic magazine.
Go to for free lessons on pedestrian safety and creating a PSA.
See Official Rules.
Learn More. Contest Deadline: 2/5/16
The National Road Safety Foundation
No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. The Drive2Life Contest (“Contest”) is open to students who are currently enrolled in grades 6–12 in one of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia, who are legal residents of the United States, and who attend a public school, accredited private school, or home school (“Schools”) in compliance with the laws of its state. To enter the Contest, each student must create a storyboard or written script on 8.5 x 11-inch paper for a 30-second public service announcement (“PSA”) to help prevent distracted walking. One entry per person. One Grand Prize student winner will receive $1,000 plus a trip to New York City, where a professional film team will transform his/her PSA into a 30-second commercial. Four runner-up student winners (two from grades 6–8 and two from grades 9–12) each receive $500 (Total ARV of student prizes: $4,950). Teachers of winning students receive Scholastic magazines (ARV of each subscription: $247.50–$299.70). Entries must be postmarked by February 5, 2016, and received by February 19, 2016. See complete Official Rules at
Visit For Teachers | For Parents | For Kids
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Digital Learning Day Scheduled for February 17

Information from an email from Digital Learning Day, Center for Digital Learning and Policy

Digital Learning Day: February 17, 2016

On February 17, thousands of schools and local communities will celebrate the fifth anniversary of Digital Learning Day and, more importantly, will take part in the exciting transformation of teaching and learning powered by technology. It may not be the only day where educators and students go digital, but it is a day that challenges everyone to be actively involved in reimagining the education system.

Getting there is not just about using digital devices, it is about using them in ways that promote deeper and more engaged student learning. It is also about making sure that all students have access to those opportunities, not just those fortunate enough to attend the best schools.

On February 17, celebrate education innovation by sharing how you will reimagine learning in your classroom, program, school or district. This could involve pairing up less experienced educators with more experienced ones to do a joint digital lesson or trying out new ways of using technology in classrooms. Whatever you do—however small—makes a difference!

How will you celebrate?

Official registration for local Digital Learning Day events is now open. Registration is easy and only takes a few minutes. Share how you plan to celebrate the day and your event will be added to the map of events across the country (and the world).

Enter to Win an Apple Watch

This year, Digital Learning Day is partnering with Participate Learning to find the best collection of digital resources and lessons. Educators can upload their favorite digital playlist of resources, websites, or lesson plans to be considered for the contest. A panel of expert judges will review the collections and a winner will be announced on February 17–Digital Learning Day!

Call for Submissions - Excellence and Innovation in Secondary Schools

Thank you to all of the schools and districts that responded to the 2015 Digital Learning Day Call for Submissions. Two finalists will be honored on Digital Learning Day and selected to be featured in an upcoming project that highlights some of America’s most innovative schools. Finalists will be notified by January 22.

empowered by Salsa

Sunday, January 17, 2016

ESU 8 Midwinter Workshop held January 14, 2016

The 2016 Winter Workshop was successfully held on Thursday, January 14 by ESU 8 and Norfolk Public Schools.

Dave Weber launched the day in the Johnny Carson Theater with a rousing keynote address entitled, "STICKS & STONES EXPOSED: The Truth Behind Words & Relationships" or also known as "Some Days You're The Pigeon... Some Days The Statue".

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Dave spoke of the importance of relationship building and the direct correlation with academic success. Humor and sensible advice framed the talk, and all who attended felt motivated to improve social skills with colleagues and students.
Standing ovation for Dave Weber in Norfolk's Johnny Carson Theater
Following the keynote address three different time slots offered over 90 different break-out sessions throughout the Norfolk High School building. Presenters traveled from across the state to share with ESU 8 educators and the quality of content presented was top-notch. Session descriptions and related resources are linked on the event webpage which can still be accessed here:
For those who attended, be sure to complete the feedback form linked to the site and check out resources of the sessions you weren't able to attend.  Likewise, if you weren't able to attend, this site can serve as a rich source of information on a wide range of relevant education topics.

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A huge shout of appreciation goes out to the ESU 8 and Norfolk Public Schools planning team and all those who contributed to make the 2016 Midwinter Workshop such a successful experience. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Looking for Digital Innovators from ESU 8...

PBS LearningMedia Announces Call for Entries For Digital Innovators Program

LINCOLN, Neb. (Jan. 4, 2016) – Educators from across the country who excel at using technology and digital media to support student learning are encouraged to enter the 2016 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators Program.

PBS LearningMedia, the free media on-demand service from PBS that offers more than 100,000 digital resources for educators, has announced the fourth annual program in which K-12 teachers and administrators are recognized for their creative and unprecedented use of digital media in the classroom.

The call for entries will remain open through Feb. 8. Educators are asked to submit a 60- to 120-second video to showcase their innovative use of digital technology and tools in their classroom to inspire students. Entrants will also be asked to complete a profile and answer two essay questions. The PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators’ online application is available at

The 2016 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators will be announced in March. For more information on PBS LearningMedia, visit

For the first time since this program launched, all educators who meet the entry requirements, follow the guidelines and submit their application to the Digital Innovators Program, will be accepted into the program and rewarded with year-long professional development opportunities.

These include: unique virtual trainings focused on digital best practices, access to exclusive resources from PBS LearningMedia Custom, invitations to special events, a free PBS TeacherLine professional development course, networking opportunities and more. PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators will also receive ongoing support from their local PBS member stations.

PBS LearningMedia is available through NET via the NET Virtual Learning Library at With lesson plans that tie to state standards, NET’s Virtual Learning Library is an anytime, anyplace resource that captures students’ imaginations and nurtures a love of learning.

NET operates the statewide public service network which includes NET Television, NET Radio, NET Learning Services and NET Technology Services. To learn more, visit

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Refocus to reign in a new year

New Year's Resolutions are definitely an opportunity to refocus, to realign our goals. However, resolutions can often focus on the negative, and even more often elicit results which lack success.  Rather than resolutions, consider this year a #oneword for 2016.  Choose just one simple, powerful word for the new year to help focus and motivate towards action.

This movement towards action is what motivated me to give it a try.  My One Word for 2016 is ACTIVATE. I chose it because it begins with those three powerful letters: act.  While the part of speech for your one word is not prescribed, it was important to me that it be an action verb.  I enjoy the challenge of lighting fires and inspiring others to do more each and every day.  In addition, ACTIVATE would score a Scrabble bonus, which is always a great thing!

More powerful than resolutions, here is my #oneword for #2016. Chosen bc of its part of speech, leading 3 letters, emphasis on service & support in my current role. Plus it would score a Scrabble bonus too! :)

Whether you participate personally, professionally, or with your students, take a moment to reflect on your #oneword for a new year. Do something with clarity, purpose, passion, and power.  Share your #oneword for #2016 today!