copenhaver institute

Copenhaver Institute 2017: Day 2 & 3

Day 2 dawned early, and I felt well rested after my early bedtime the previous night. I had a lot more sleep, so I was wide awake and ready to go. I met up with Heidi for breakfast and we talked of looking forward to hearing George Couros speaking. I knew how passionate he was about opening sharing and being connected through social media, such as with Twitter. Based on what I’d seen so far on Twitter from the Copenhaver hashtag, very few people actually used Twitter regularly. It had been disappointing because I was so used to seeing other people’s notes on learning.

Let’s just say that I wasn’t disappointed when it was time to hear George speak. He even recognized my face, and realized that he had been reading my tweets a little while ago. I was pleased. I love being recognized. Then again, who wouldn’t? I had a front row seat, and settled myself in with my Chromebook for some great learning.

George made many educators uncomfortable in the room. He totally threw them out of their comfort zone, and it was amazing. He wanted them to connect, share, and take risks. He did not apologize, and in fact, he said himself that he would make many uncomfortable and didn’t care. I would giggle to myself as I tweeted out bits of learning here and there.

A large portion of the time was spent on detailing why educators should share online. There is no longer an option to say “I can’t” because technology is so easily available to teachers. Teachers make the choice not to, and they harm themselves and their students in this regard. They are not regularly exposed to new ideas, viewpoints, or a connected network that they can reach out to at any time, not to mention the myriad of resources that can be found.

Discussion also focused on being open when it came to educational things. There is no separation of personal and professional online lives. Just because you think that your Facebook is locked down, doesn’t mean it truly is. It never will be, and to think otherwise is to have a false sense of security. There isn’t any need for a locked Twitter account. What are you hiding there? Why do you not have a bio, a good profile image, or a digital portfolio of any kind? What is holding you back? Are you the one holding yourself back?

When educators learn to use Twitter for educational purposes, they unlock a new community of educators, resources, and ideas. These educators are willing to grow and learn and try new things. They are also willing to help others as well. George even said at one point that if you can’t learn to use Twitter then you shouldn’t be an educator. It’s a very strong statement, but true. Why keep yourself away from 24 hour access to amazing things? Why harm your students in that way?

If you’re looking for ways to get started with Twitter, but aren’t really sure how, then there is a book you can read. I actually picked this up at Copenhaver myself so I could have it for the resources for other teachers. It does give you tips on getting started, and ways to use Twitter as well.


You can find it on Amazon


George certainly did not hold back. He moved on to talk about a balanced lifestyle. We always hear of folks talking about leading a balanced lifestyle, juggling work, hobbies, family, etc. What is balanced for one person is completely unbalanced for another, or is not something they consider important. Instead, one should frame it as “Do I lead a meaningful life?” This way it can be adapted to anyone. Each person decides what the most meaningful things are in their lives and then determines how they fit together. If you can answer “no” to that question, then you need to reconsider your life and what you consider to be meaningful.

The final part of Couros’ presentation focused on leadership. He talked of how one person can make a difference within their faculty. Of course, that could be a good or bad difference. Twitter can help those who want to become better leaders, as well as books, such as Lead Like a Pirate. I haven’t read it yet, but my colleagues who have say it’s fantastic and worth it. I don’t want to be an admin at all, but I do want to lead better in the role that I have as an ITRT.

After George’s session, I was able to get my book signed and speak with him. He’s a great guy, and if you haven’t seen him before, you should. Be prepared for his brutal honesty though because he doesn’t hold back, and he doesn’t hold hands. He expects you to think and work the way that we want our students to think and work.

After that, it was off to the afternoon sessions! There were two this time head for, and I chose to hit up “Innovative Tools and Strategies that Solve Problems and Inspire Creativity” as well as “Books to Promote Creativity”. The innovative tools one was interesting, though many of the tools were things my district does not have the funding for or prefer. There were iPads that were driven by robotic legs, Google Cardboard, and an augmented reality sand table that focused on topography. The augmented reality table was built by hand, and after I shared video on Twitter, I ended up with instructions to build my own. Yes, Twitter is that amazing!

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This table was programmed to teach topography. As one manipulated the sand, the topography would change and update. It was a lot easier to see how changes to the land affected topography. I wish I had this as a kid!

When it came to “Books to Promote Creativity”, the session had so much to share, and so little time to share it in. The presenters talked about how it takes just one book or picture or phrase to spark something in a student. After all, most of us could recall our favorite books as children, and the impact they had upon our young selves. Many books today can be found on problem solving, creativity, and failure. These books fit perfectly into the innovator’s mindset that we want our young ones to take on. I would say STEAM/STEM, but this is truly a mindset that we want others to carry with them in all aspects of their lives. There were many extras to pick up at the end of this session, but I didn’t have time because I had signed up to join a crew on the River Walk. I hope that in the future they provide time between the final session and that so it’s not such a rush to get there!

Day 3 was mostly a reflection day, followed by a lunch and awards ceremony. We spend the morning reflecting on the things we had learned, and were able to travel to other rooms to see what had been generated. We basically were split into elementary, secondary, or admin groups, and in each room were bits of chart paper with headings. I actually was disappointed to see this, as George had mentioned the dreaded chart paper in his presentation. I posted a picture on Twitter, and was called out on it:


I was happy to respond. Chart paper is always used to gather ideas, but is never used further than that. Often, it’s just tossed in the trash. The point of the paper in this case was to gather our ideas on what we had learned on different topics. It would then be typed into a list and shared on the Copenhaver website. This list would give no further ideas or details. There was no examples to go with it to show how or why this learning was relevant. It is an outdated mode of learning. Instead, why not show this learning in a video, a tweet, or other fashion and then link to that instead? It’s just a list, nothing more. What will you do with the information on the list? That’s what really counts.

Finally, there was the dinner and awards ceremony, which was nice. I did try asparagus soup for the first time in my life. And I won a nice prize as well, which never happens. At this point though, I was ready to head home (or to my parents to visit, in this case) and let the things I had learned marinate inside my head.

Copenhaver was definitely a blast, and I learned a lot. I’m so glad to have had the chance to hear Burgess and Couros speak, and to have met up with some amazing educators. This is exactly the kind of workshop I live for!

Copenhaver Institute 2017: Day 1

I just got back from Copenhaver Institute today, and man is my brain on fire! I loved this training, and am so glad that I had the chance to go this year. I’m so glad that my district helped to sponsor so that I was able to go on scholarship. I couldn’t miss, and in fact, I would have been so disappointed if I did. The only reasons I wanted to go to it was because both Dave Burgess and George Couros were going to be there. I knew it was a rare opportunity to see both men in the same place, so I happily volunteered to go.

I arrived early Monday morning around 7:15. This was a task in itself, as I had had a concert the night before in Richmond and didn’t get home until 11:30. Then I had to get up at 3:45 AM and hit the road by 4:30 AM. I was tired and sleepy, but my coffee was finally kicking in. Check-in was easy, and I was able to take my gear to my dorm room (yes we stayed in those!) before things got under way.

Day 1 meant welcoming Dave Burgess to Copenhaver, and he did not disappoint! I had known he was high energy and passionate, but nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed during the morning session. I kept joking that there was something extra in his coffee and that “Teach Like a Pirate coffee” would be a good seller for teachers.

Dave lived and breathed his presentation, and he definitely had us on our toes. He talked of how to incorporate the PIRATE system into teaching methods, and even demonstrated some ways to do/not do lessons. Educators had to learn that they cannot compete with the media and gizmos that students have today. Their content is not some raw, bitter pill that they need to make students swallow. If they don’t take risks and try new ways to teach, then they will never get better at their craft. An educator’s work isn’t supposed to be easy, but it is supposed to be worthwhile and fulfilling.


Now why might he have this Victoria’s Secret bag?…

For the first time, 3 hours passed very quickly and I was in awe of the things that he covered. I wanted to bottle that passion and enthusiasm for myself. I decided that I would begin working on a plan for my WVSTC presentations. They would become my test run.

The afternoon was filled with workshops. We attended one with Dave, and then one with other presenters. The latter were first. I chose to attend the sessions geared to middle and high school educators, since I work with students and teachers in that area.

The first session dealt with creativity and technology, and it was horrible. It introduced both learning streams and hyperdocs to attendees. Learning streams were no good for me, as my district is working with Classflow. However, I was disappointed with the hyperdocs setup… I love hyperdocs, and this presentation did not make me want to go any further with them. It was cut and dry and bland. The presenter wasn’t engaging either. I had hoped for better.

Thankfully, before Dave’s session, I met up with some other educators who felt the same as I did about the session. We split ways, but I ended up staying with a wonderful new friend, Heidi, who had also attended the session. Heidi and I became fast friends. We shared very similar views on Dave and George, and we lived and breathed learning and expanding our minds at these sorts of things. People began to think that we had known each other before Copenhaver, but were surprised to learn that we had just met. It was great. Give her a follow on Twitter, especially if you teach foreign language at the secondary level or love technology: @htrude07.

Our second presentation was with Dave. He let us have a question and answer session with him, and he gave us some feedback based on his experiences. I think a lot of people started to shut down when they found out that he was no longer going to be in the classroom. He is working on building his publishing company and getting the word out about the PIRATE system. Another part that shut down educators was the discussion on homework. They did not agree with him, but that’s all right. However, I think for some it was the final straw.

A reception was held at the end of Day 1 for Dave. There were plenty of drinks and food. Dave signed books and took pictures with folks. He also had other books from his publishing company available. I could have totally picked up quite a bit. However, I only bought 140 Twitter Tips for Educators. I had been eyeing this book on Amazon, and it was the only copy left that Dave had brought with him. I took it as a sign and snatched it up. As he signed it and my Teach Like a Pirate book, he told me that tip #127 was the best and the most powerful in the book. At the table I discovered that it was not only powerful for it’s words, but also because Dave wrote that particular tip. I asked him to then write something witty for that part, so he did.


Dave’s powerful tip!

The reception ended with Dave performing some magic for us. Heidi and I were right in the middle of the action, and she helped Dave with the card trick that he was doing. Even while doing magic, he was able to incorporate some of his hooks into his little show. I was glad that I got to witness it. He had presented this vibe all day, and I was still reeling from it even after heading for dinner. I couldn’t wait for the second day to begin!


Dave performing some magic for us!

Teach Like a Pirate: Here We Go Again

In March of 2016, I began reading Teach Like a Pirate. I made it all the way to the “R is for Rapport” chapter before I stopped. Things got crazy, things got hectic. The end of the school year was upon me, and I was also job hunting at the time. Summer led to a new job, which led to a move to a different state and a start at a different school. The year became filled with searching and seeking and learning all about my new position.

Summer is once again upon me. Well, sort of. School is finished for the year, and teachers were finished on Tuesday or Wednesday (dependent upon if they were high school teachers who attended graduation or not). I am still finishing out the remainder of the days on my contract, and I’ll also have 2 weeks of KidsCollege to teach in there as well. I certainly don’t mind, especially since KidsCollege will pay me for teaching the things I love.

After KidsCollege comes Copenhaver Institute, which means I will get to meet two fabulous folks in education- George Couros and Dave Burgess. I have already received a package from the Copenhaver folks, and in this package was a copy of Teach Like a Pirate. We have been told that it is highly suggested that we read the book before the Institute. I already have my own copy of the book, but it was a reminder that hey, I’d better get my butt in gear.

So I am going to read the book again, and I am going to start from the beginning. I will end up reblogging about the 3 chapters I had already read. I am also going to continue the tradition of creating QR codes that link to my blog posts. These codes are printed and taped into the book on the corresponding chapter. That way I can easily go back to see what I wrote about that chapter, and if I have read it more than once and reflected, I can see how my thinking has changed with time.

So here we go again: Teach Like a Pirate: Round 2!