METC Podcast - Episode #19 - Student PD

September 22, 2017

In Episode 19 of the METC podcast, I sit down with Erin Lawson from the Orchard Farm School District to learn about Student PD.  We had an awesome conversation on what it means to have a Professional Development Day for students!  This “Conference” was completely driven by the students!  Below is some information about why Student Voice and Choice is important and some great ways to possibly get started within your school/classroom.  


Be sure to connect with Erin to learn more about this amazing event!


Episode's Guest:

Erin Lawson - Orchard Farm School District - District Technology Coach



Why Student Voice and Choice?

“What matters more than the aspiration is the execution.  Universal aspirations are swell, but students differ in their abilities, gifts, and needs.  Not every student will go to college.” (Frederick Hess in Educational Leadership magazine, 2016)

  • In order to truly prepare our students, 21st century skills, soft skills, college and career ready..whatever you want to call it...we must move the responsibility from the adult to the student. Teachers are-consciously or unconsciously-trained to have students be dependent on us for their learning.  This causes a ceiling for their learning.  
  • Encourage students to have a strong, positive mindset and give them opportunities to explore and identify areas of interest.  This will motivate them to perform.
  • Personalization is KEY to have success with student voice and choice.
  • Non-cognitive skills must be taught in order to achieve a “well-rounded” education. 2015 State of St. Louis Workforce study had Student PD all over it! (collaboration skills, seeing the world through other people’s eyes, public speaking, interview skills, strong handshake etc.)
  • Teachers need to learn how to speak and act by FIRST learning to listen to students. Student voice should always have a role in teacher preparation of future lessons.
  • 2014 Annual Student Survey of Academic Experience: Top 3 culprits of classroom boredom...1. Assignments are just busywork. 2. There’s no variety in what we do from day to day.  3. The teacher talks too much.
  • Teachers should be doing more listening than talking, following than guiding, and more negotiating than dictating.


How can teachers implement this into their classrooms?

Student PD- whole school, grade level, classroom

  • Offer CHOICE
  • Before starting a unit, introduce it. Relate it personally to your students.  Ask your students what they think would be the best way to learn the content. Are there any projects they can imagine would work well with this unit?  Design the unit around student input.  After the unit, ask your students if there was anything else they wanted to learn about before moving on to the next unit.  

    • Here are some things we will be learning about.  Which three topics sound most interesting to you?  Explain why you chose each one.
    • On a scale of 0-5, how interesting do you find what we’re working on right now? Explain your rating.
    • What might make you more interested in the topic we’re studying?
    • Given a choice tomorrow, would you rather learn about this topic by watching a video, reading about it, or listening to a podcast?
  • Curriculum and projects spring from relevant questions and issues that teachers and students are passionate about.
  • Have a group of students be the “mentors” for the teacher.  Meet with those students to get student feedback on how your class/lessons are going.  
  • Have your students discuss what they believe “good teaching” looks like.  
  • Genius Hour- Once a week for one hour of your class, let students work on a “capstone” or project of their own interests.  Teach them how to reach out by email/Twitter to people in the community that could help guide them.  
  • Build teacher-student and student-student relationships.  Start with a survey:
    • What do you enjoy spending time on?
    • What do you struggle with? Explain.
    • If you could invite anyone to a dinner party, whom would you invite and why?
    • What’s the best story you’ve ever seen or heard (from a book, article, movie, TV show, friend, or family member)?
    • What does your “space” look like, feel like where you are able to relax the best?
    • When have you felt proud of yourself, inside or outside of school?
  • Pose these questions to students at the beginning of the school year: Who do you want to be?  What do you want to be?  Record student aspirations in SISK12.  


State of St. Louis Workforce 2015 -


Technology Tools for Student Voice and Choice

  • Google tools for collaboration (Google Forms for feedback)
  • Google Sites
  • Blogger
  • FlipGrid
  • TodaysMeet
  • Twitter chats with a class hashtag
  • Padlet


Differentiate-Personalize-Engage students-Make it relevant for their future


METC Podcast - Episode #18 - Creating Coders Camp

September 15, 2017

Last episode we heard from the students that participated in our Creative Coders Camp this past summer.  In this episode , we hear from a few of the teachers that participated in the event that ran concurrently, Creating Coders Camp.  We learn about what brought them to this new camp.  What they were able to get out of the camp and what goals they have for themselves as they started the new school year.  Many talked about how engaged the students were with the coding tools.  Even though it was a week during the summer (with beautiful weather I might add), the students participating within the Creative Coders Camp were very engaged within the coding tools and learning SO much more than just coding!  Others also loved the space.  Shoutout to Amber Bell-Christian at UMSL’s EdCollabitat for allowing us into your amazing space!  


Both Creative Coders & Creating Coders had access to many different coding resources.  All of them are listed below.  The students explored on Monday & Tuesday.  Teachers came to observe their exploration on Wednesday and then got to explore on their own Wednesday afternoon.  On Thursday, the students taught our teacher participants how to use a particular tool.  We closed the camp with some time to create an action plan to think how they want to integrate coding into the classroom.


This Camp was an amazing event!  The students were AMAZING, the teachers were great and the space was wonderful!  I am excited to begin planning for next year’s camp!  If you were not able to attend, I would be on the lookout for this camp Summer 2018!


Episode’s Guests:

Section 1:

Aimee Valuck - 3rd Grade Teacher at Premier Charter School

Kelly Foushee - 5th Grade Teacher at Premier Charter School

Section 2:

Kaye Rueschhoff - Lindbergh School District - @kayerueschoff

Tarren Fritz - Lindbergh School District - @tarrenfritz


Section 3:

Lauren Tyler - 4th Grade at Premier Charter School

Eric North - High School Technology innovation - Hancock Place - @ehnorth86

Coding Resources Used for Creative Coders Camp & Creating Coders Camp

Ollie & Sphero

Dash & Dot


Raspberry Pi


Scratch & Scratch Jr.

CS First (Google)

TouchDevelop (Microsoft)

Swift (Apple)

LEGO Mindstorms & WeDo 2.0


METC Podcast - Episode #17 - Creative Coders Camp

September 1, 2017

This past summer, METC partnered with the YMCA to bring a coding experience to students and teachers within our area.  The camp for students was called The Creative Coders Camp.  This camp took place in late July, Monday-Thursday from 8-12.  We had 10 students participant in our 1st annual camp.  The purpose of this camp was to engage students through play and coding.  Students had access to many different coding tools or some may call them "toys".  They spent their first couple days exploring each of the toys.  They researched the tool to learn more about them.  Then, on day 3 of the camp, students chose 1 tool to focus on and become "experts" on that particular tool.  They knew that their end goal was to teach teachers at the end of the week about their specific tool.  


The students did an amazing job!  They were so engaged and excited to learn how to code, it was incredible to watch.  Their interaction with the teachers was awesome too!  They really stepped up and enjoyed teaching others!  In this episode, Orlando Sharpe sits down with our Creative Coders and discusses their journey as a participant within the club.  These students shared some great ideas and offer some great perspective into why it is valuable to bring coding into classrooms to engage students!

Episode's Special Guest:

Orlando Sharpe - STEAM Program Director for YMCA Community Development - @Col_Furious


METC Podcast - Episode #16 - Podstock 2017

August 17, 2017

A little over a month ago, I had the privilege to attend a very unique conference, Podstock!  Podstock is an annual conference put on by ESSDECK.  Each July, teachers from all over the states come together in Wichita, KS for this experience.  So, if you are anything like me, you may be asking, “What is Podstock?”  According to ESSDECK’s Podstock website, “It’s a tech integration conference.  But it’s more than a conference. It’s learning. It’s conversation.  It’s family.”  After experiencing this three day event, I agree, it is definitely family!

So, while attending my first Podstock, I thought I would try to capture some of the participants thoughts on Podstock as well. I would like to thank each of my guests for sharing their thoughts and ideas!  I also want to thank the ESSDECK family for having us and making sure we were part of the family! If you haven’t been before, it is definitely something worth checking out!  When you get there, be sure to say hello to Kevin Honeycutt (@kevinhoneycutt),  Ginger Lewman (@GingerLewman), Katie Perez (@perezhasclass), Dr. Mike Cook and the rest of the ESSDECK family!!  They are good people!


Episode Guests: Be sure to follow each of them!!

David Hendershot - @HendershotDavid

Ariel Jankord - @MrsJankord

Whitney Burns - @BW_MrsB3

Suzanne Murray - @ArtsySuzanne

Lenell Puchalla - @LenellPuchalla

Rachel Stover - @rae_stover


Also check out Andre Daughty (@andredaughty)


Check out ESSDECK -


METC Podcast - Episode #15 - Summer Institute

August 1, 2017

This is the METC podcast episode 15.  In this episode, I speak with 4 different participants attending the METC Summer Institute. These participants came from all over the state of Missouri.  We had one presenter and 3 attendees in this episode.   Listen to this podcast, as each participant shares out what they learned at this amazing summer event. Each of the guests are highlighted below.  If their Twitter handle is given, please connect with them.  Any resources mentioned in these interviews have also been listed and linked so you can click on them and check them out for yourself.

I want to thank all of you for listening to this podcast.  We greatly appreciate your support.  We hope that you continue to listen.  Please rate us on iTunes or Google Play. If you know of anyone or if you yourself would like to be on a future episode of the METC Podcast, please connect with me on Twitter @jleetechpercent or you can email me at


Episode’s Resources:







This Episode’s Guests:

Guest 1 - George Yates - Fulton Public Schools - @MrYatesFMS

Guest 2 - Emily Libbert - @emilylibbert

Guest 3 - Vicki Mikow - Fox School District - @giftededuc8or

Guest 4 - Jody Fox - 12 years middle & elementary science and gifted teacher


METC Podcast - Episode #14 - Building Resiliency

July 21, 2017

In Episode 14, I have a one-on-one conversation with Krissy Venosdale.  We discuss the power of building resiliency within students and teachers.  Krissy asked a very simple question during her keynote at the METC Summer Institute, "Are you planting seeds or are you mowing down possibilities?" What a great question!  Krissy talks about the importance of letting go of control within your classroom.  Give students some voice and choice in their own learning.  We also discuss the idea that if students are getting things right on the first try, then they really aren't learning.  Everyone has struggles & successes.  This is true for all students, gifted students included.  This is true for teachers as well.  Leaders need to support their teachers through their failures.


Be sure to connect with Krissy!

Episode's Guest:

Krissy Venosdale - Innovation Coordinator - Houston, TX 

~ Twitter - @krissyvenosdale   ~ Instagram - @krissyvenosdale  ~ Blog -


METC Podcast - Episode #13 - Makerspaces

July 17, 2017

In Episode 13, I have a one-on-one conversation with Steve Dembo about makerspaces.  We have a great conversation about how to get started with makerspaces, how to manage them and how to get students making.  Steve shares his experience in this area.  He also provides some tips and tricks.  Steve finally explains what a makerspace isn't!

Be sure to connect with Steve Dembo!

Steve Dembo - Teach42 LLC - @teach42 -


METC Podcast - Episode #12 - Design Thinking

June 22, 2017

In episode 12, I talk with Josh Howard about Design Thinking.  Josh shares key steps in the process to implement design thinking successfully.  We talk about the book LAUNCH and the LAUNCH Cycle that authors Spencer and Juliani have shared.  Josh shares the benefits of infusing the design thinking process into curriculum to get students to be creators and display their growth & understand in purposeful ways.  


Connect with Josh on Twitter.  He loves sharing what he is doing within his district!


Episode’s Guest:

Joshua Howard - Instructional Technology Facilitator


Professional Development Mentioned within Episode:

METC Summer Institute - July 10 & 11 - Liberty High School


SAMR Institute & Camp - July 19 & 20 - Clayton High School


Creating Coders Camp - July 26 & 27 - UMSL - Ed Collabitat


METC Podcast - Episode #11 - FIRST LEGO League

June 13, 2017

In Episode 11, I discuss the benefits of bringing the FIRST LEGO League to your school or community with our local resident LEGO experts.  Krista and Amanda share their experience with running & managing teams over the past couple years.  They share some key statistics about the benefits of students participating in FIRST LEGO League pulled from the FIRST website.  They also share some key tips and ideas on how to get started.  


Be sure to connect with Krista and Amanda  on Twitter.  They are excited to help others in getting started with their own team.  


Episode Guests:

Krista Rouse - LMS - Blackhurst Elementary - @MsRouseInTheLIB


Amanda Morris - 3rd Grade teacher - Monroe Elementary - @msmorrislearns


Benefits of FLL

- Core Values


- Getting girls involved

- Engaging students in learning

- Being a team

- Potential Patent for research project

A 10 year study shows:

- 88% FLL alumni are more interested in going to college

- 98% FLL alumni have improved problem solving skills

- 95% FLL alumni have improved time management skills

- 76% FLL alumni have improved communication skills


Helpful links mentioned within Episode:

STL Article on Robotics

First Impact Website

First Impact Infographic

First Team Basics

First Core Values

First Products/Pricing


METC Podcast - Episode #10

June 5, 2017

Within this episode of the METC Podcast, I have a conversation with Samantha Nieman.  Samantha has been working in some early childhood classrooms at Immanuel Lutheran School in St. Charles, Missouri.  Samantha talks about her experience of coding with early childhood students.  She talks about how excited they get when they complete coding activities.  Samantha brought her students to the METC Student Innovation SHOWcase this past February and were a HUGE hit!  The METC conference attendees loved watching these students complete different activities all centered around coding.  Samantha and I talk about how easy it can be to teach students this basic skill.  She explains ways to connect it to early childhood curriculum.

Samantha shares all kinds of ideas throughout this episode.  We have copied them below in case you want to learn more about them.  We have also linked the article Samantha referenced within the episode.  Be sure to check it out.  Also be sure to connect with Samantha on Twitter as she is moving to West Bend, WI soon!  


This Episode's Guest: Samantha Nieman - Immanuel Lutheran School in St. Charles, MO - Early Childhood


Complete Show Notes -