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Growing up, one of my favorite movies was the Wizard of Oz. I was so enthralled by the Land of Oz – the elaborate outfits, the vibrant colors, the enchanting characters…One of my favorite parts of the movie was the “horse of a different color” scene, where Dorothy is captivated by the steed that seemed to shift its shade as it pulled her carriage through the Emerald City. How did they do that?! Magic, perhaps?

"Horse of a Different Color" from the Wizard of Oz


How thrilling it is for eager young minds to believe that every day, ordinary events and places can be transformed beyond our wildest dreams. Of course, we all know that Toto pulls the curtain back on the Wizard, revealing an ordinary human being, just like us, creating extraordinary illusions. And that “horse of a different color?” Did you know that the production crew created that using Jell-O powder on four different white horses and some simple camera tricks? The horses had to be prevented from licking the powder off of themselves between takes! Magic tricks seem mystical, until you know the secret behind the sleight of hand.


We are in for an unforgettable summer as we kick off the NAAE Virtual Book Club reading Make Learning Magical by Tisha Richmond! You don’t have to rub Jell-O on horses or wave a magic wand to make your classroom a place of excitement and inspiration for your students. This book will pull back the curtain to show you new strategies and gamified experiences that you can easily implement into your curriculum. Let’s get started!


In chapter two, Tisha describes the ways she creates “Memorable Beginnings” in her classroom using the psychology of color, homey accents and sincerity in getting to know students. Before we begin our journey together, let’s take some time to get to know each other!


1. Tell us who you are, where you’re from, and a few of the classes you teach.
2. Answer at least one of these:


- If you could wave a magic wand and create the perfect classroom, what would it look like? (Draw a picture and post it with your response!)
- What is a tried and true strategy or idea you have already implemented into your teaching that makes learning more magical for your students? (Let's swap ideas!)

Welcome and thank you to those who have signed up for this summer's book club.  We are excited to get started and hope everyone was able to purchase the book.  

Our first assignment is to read Chapters 1-3.  We will post the discussion questions and activities on Monday of each week and we would like for you to complete the discussion questions as well as any activities for this first assignment by Friday, June 14th.  Please be on the look-out for the complete assignment timeline to be posted very soon.  


Happy Reading!!!

Authentic Grit

Posted by Katie Wood Jul 15, 2018

 *There is no discussion post for this week.*


Grit. Perseverance. Self-Awareness. All parts of being a great teacher, and a great person. 


Chapter Nine discussed roadblocks. Just like games that you lose a turn, have to start at the beginning, or go back three spaces, sometimes this can happen in our classroom and in our life.


Especially when we are trying something new in our classroom, roadblocks will appear. That dang joker will jump out of the cupboard and yell, "Surprise!"


What are those roadblocks that you struggle with? Are they personal/professional/both? 


Do you have ways to cope with those struggles? Are you still learning how to deal with them head on?


CoP has updated, so when you go to upload your content, you may notice that the buttons on the leftside of the content page are gone. They are now found under the "Actions" tab in the upper right hand corner of the page. I have updated the instructions here: Uploading and Categorizing Files for Assignments.docx 


If you want to, you can "Create a Document" under the actions tab. This works like Google Docs, in the sense that you can write the document and revisit it and edit it later, but it will post once submitted. It is all housed under CoP. It can also be categorized as well. That may help those of you that don't have Microsoft Office. 

I can not think of one specific unit that I would like to give a total overhaul to- but there are things that I would like to change about every unit.  I feel that each year I am always looking for new activities to change things up and add more activities or better quality activities.  


These are some of the general things that I would like to work on this year: 


expectations-I admit that I am guilty of settling for less that what I originally wanted.  Reading about it really hit home- I start out strong in the beginning of the year and can really see myself wavering as the year goes on and then I get frustrated.  


environment- I love the idea that Hope and Wade change up their entire theme in their classroom.  I don't know if I am ready for that big of a step to continually change it, but I am moving to a new facility and building this coming year and would like to set it up more like an actual veterinary clinic (I teach vet science).  I am hoping with things that I have asked for as it is renovated that I will better be able to do this.  


energy- I am NOT a morning person...I can't see myself singing to 11th and 12th graders, or them being willing to do that...I am brainstorming ways to start out class each day to get the kids (and myself) motivated!!


empowerment- I think that out of these four things, this is probably my strongest.  I have a lot of independent/group projects that really allow the students to take ownership for their learning and for themselves.  It is something that I work towards over the course of two years and by the end of year 2- the students always surprise me!  I tend to see it the most in the studying for their final exam.  I have also started a student of the month where the kids nominate one of their classmates.  I like the idea about changing this up to recognize everyone, because not every students is going to be recognized throughout the year.  I also send notes HOME when students have done something above and beyond- and above and beyond is different for every students- sometimes it is coming to class for 5 days in a row.  

Samantha Srp


Posted by Samantha Srp Jul 5, 2018

This assignment is difficult for me as throughout my 11 years of teaching I have tweaked and changed and learned and added.  I’m also a big supporter of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, so I have incorporated various activities that way.  While there is no single lesson I’m looking to change, there ARE 2 things I am working to incorporate.  The first I’ve been slowly building through having each activity as something an entire class did so I can see if it is a liked activitiy and should be included.  The second I know absolutely nothing about and am just trying to build off Pinterest posts.


1.  Student Choice Tic-tac-toe Board

This is a grid of 9 blocks.  Instead of me having 3 written exams and a written six weeks exam, students will choose 3 activities from the grid and tailor it to whatever content they choose from the six weeks.  Activities include things like making posters, creating and performing a song or skit, giving a speech, creating a game, etc etc.  The 3 activities they pick have to touch like in tic-tac-toe. Rubrics are used for grading each assignment which will count as a test grade.  The 3 items averaged together make the six weeks exam grade. They are given this at the beginning of the year, know the expectations and have the freedom to turn in when they want BUT the deadline is the Friday of the 5th week of the six weeks.  That way there is time to call parents if needed, 


2. Escape Room Activity

Ive never been (and don’t want to go)to an Escape Room.  These are popping up everywhere and the kids are REALLY into them.  They are even all over the education portion of Pinterest.  I’m guessing my Scavenger Hunt could be modified to this, but I just don’t know anything about their design and flow.  


Posted by Katie Wood Jul 5, 2018

Risk. Battleship. Settlers of Catan. Donkey Kong. The list could go on and on of the possible games that need strategic thinking. 


For this week's assignment, we are going to be strategic. We are going to harness the brain power of the group to idea share and plan for next year. Discussion Post 3 is going to be about a successful lesson that really gets your students engaged. This hopefully will turn into a thread of ideas that can be shared.


Your assignment is to pick a lesson plan that you would like to work on. Take the four E's into consideration: expectations, environment, energy, and empowerment. How can you transform that lesson to be one of your tried and true lessons?


Remember what the Kings say, "Please notice that 'expense' is not included with those four Es! As we told you in Chapter Two, your budget is not a valid excuse for why your students are bored. You don't have to spend a lot of money to create engagement."(p.91)


PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS: What is a lesson plan that you have created/used in college, that you could change up, or really dive deeper into?


There is no template for this assignment. You can upload your original lesson plan that has an addendum of the changes you would make. You can write a synopsis of what your lesson currently is and how you would like to change it with highlights that fall into the four Es. 


CoP did an update this week, so when you go to upload your content, you may notice that the buttons on the leftside of the content page are gone. They are now found under the "Actions" tab in the upper right hand corner of the page. I have updated the instructions here: Uploading and Categorizing Files for Assignments.docx 

If you want to, you can "Create a Document" under the actions tab. This works like Google Docs, in the sense that you can write the document and revisit it and edit it later, but it will post once submitted. It is all housed under CoP. It can also be categorized as well. That may help those of you that don't have Microsoft Office. 

Reflections Ch. 6

Posted by Katie Wood Jun 29, 2018

The Domino Effect


Reading this chapter, it kept bringing to mind dominoes. Maybe not the standard games we are used to, but the dominoes that are popular on YouTube. The designs that are intricately laid for hours- days even, just to be knocked down to create a beautiful (and strangely satisfying!) design, like this one:


The “domino effect” has a reputation for being known for one domino falling and causing a chain reaction. When it comes to reflection, there are two different domino effects happening. There are the pre and post domino effects, if you will.


The pre-domino effect is your reflection, when you are setting up your dominos. You think of your teaching as it is now, from each aspect, like the ones provided in the book: your personality, class size, grade, subjects you teach, culture of class, discipline and so on. Each of those topics is a domino that you are setting up. And from those guiding aspects in the book, you may reflect on topics that weren’t mentioned, but are related to what was mentioned. Even more dominoes in your design. You can also have a completely unrelated topic that you reflect on because it is relevant to you as a teacher, your school philosophy, or your students. Again, more dominoes. While you are reflecting, you also need to reflect on your goals-personal and professional. Are you meeting them? Do they need to adjust? Are your goals correct for what you want/are trying to accomplish?


Once your dominoes are set up, and you set the wheels in motion to try and meet your goals, or improve what you reflected on, that is when the post-domino effect happens. Each step, or domino falling can be easy, or there can be some corners, where you aren’t sure it will fall into place to make the next domino fall. But, when you get to the end and all of the dominoes have fallen, that is where you see the change and the big picture. Not only for yourself, but for your students. The beautiful design takes shape!


So with that lengthy description of dominoes and reflection, take some time to reflect on the topics that are brought up to be considered in this chapter. I have template that has a section for each of the headings that was brought up in this chapter. You don’t have to answer all of them. You can even cover topics that are not in the chapter. It’s about you and your classroom.

As for your goals, I will have a section for this. It can be one goal or five. They can be strictly professional, or include some personal goals as well.


TO POST YOUR ASSIGNMENT: Since there is a large group this year, and for management purposes, instead of just uploading an assignment, you will also "categorize" it. This is very easy. It is simply an extra check box while uploading your document. I have some step by step instructions with screenshotsHERE. There will be more categories as more assignments are added. Your assignment will still appear in the general content tab, but I can click on the week's folder and see everyone's assignment in one space. It also helps if you want to read other participant's assignments.

Awareness & Desire

Posted by Katie Wood Jun 20, 2018

Let progress, not perfection, feed your desire to improve.


This week, you will want to answer Discussion Post 1- Ch 4 & 5  first. Those questions will help get you in the mindset for this assignment.


After evaluating your “WHY,” did you have any feelings of desire? Desire to be a better educator? Desire because you had strayed away from your why? Desire to try something different when school starts in the fall? A sense of accomplishment because you are living into those desires/goals (either some or all)?


In Chapter 5, Wade and Hope talk about the three zones of organizational psychology: Comfort, Creative, and Panic. Think about it like the target below. The green comfort zone is where we feel, well the most comfortable. It is “safe,” and what we are used to. It is big because it is the easiest target for us to hit personally. The blue creative zone is where we try new things that we are still pretty comfortable with, but it may not be something that we typically do. It’s still a fairly large target because when we have the motivation, passion, and enthusiasm, we can pretty easily hit it. The red panic zone is where you feel overwhelmed, and as the Kings put it, “The stressed out emoji on your phone keyboard makes a frequent appearance in your text messages.” (p. 58)


The area is pretty small, because we don’t want to live here. As a teacher, and even more so as an ag teacher, we can get overwhelmed and have anxiety from so much that goes on in and out of the classroom. Sadly, sometimes that panic zone grows to be the largest zone, and can cause teachers to leave the profession.


While it is a part of life to live in all three zones at different points in life, we want to focus on comfort and creative. But what can we do as educators to take the situations or ideas that cause us to panic and make them more palatable in the creative zone?


This week use the attached document to evaluate your desires as a teacher. Where do they land on the target? What are your ideas to make those desires a reality when class starts in the fall? Is there something in the panic zone that you want to make more accessible in the creative zone? I have attached my target as an example. Keep in mind, mine will look a little different, because I am not in the classroom.


Pre-service Teacher? Think about what you feel comfortable with before entering the classroom. What are you not comfortable with and want to learn?



TO POST YOUR ASSIGNMENT: Since there is a large group this year, and for management purposes, instead of just uploading an assignment, you will also "categorize" it. This is very easy. It is simply an extra check box while uploading your document. I have some step by step instructions with screenshots HERE. There will be more categories as more assignments are added. Your assignment will still appear in the general content tab, but I can click on the week's folder and see everyone's assignment in one space. It also helps if you want to read other participant's assignments.

The Game of Life

Posted by Katie Wood Jun 12, 2018

Coincidentally, my favorite board game growing up was The Game of Life. I loved the different career paths you could choose, and I always hoped to draw the Farmhouse from “Euell B. Milken Realty.” I also always hoped to retire in Millionaire Estates (isn’t that the dream?).


After reading the first few pages of Chapter One, we see a description of Wade and Hope’s childhoods and how they are very different. The essay that they refer to about life actually not being like Monopoly can make you take pause. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all started in the same space at the same level, and be assured that extra $200 as we pass GO? Yes, but that is not reality for our students or for us.


However, in this book club space, we are all starting at the same place. We are starting at page one together. But, before we delve in, let’s meet our players!


If you could design your own game piece or player from any game (digital/board/certain card character) to represent you, which would it be? What game is it from? Why that specific one? Or, do you have a character that is all your own (plot twist!)?


Please share a picture of the piece and a short explanation, or link a video as a comment to this post.


Katie's Game piece:

Katie Gamepiece Intro - YouTube

The Finish Line?

Posted by Katie Wood Jul 28, 2017

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

                              -Lao Tzu

After a wonderful summer together, our journey is coming to an end. But is it the finish line?

Where is the finish line? How will we know when our journey is complete? This is different for everyone.


In order to stay the "know-go-show-grow" course, we've created our mission, our vision and our "game plan"/goals. As the authors mention on page 203, "Excellence, in any area, is a habit- a way of living." How do you plan on living your goals? What is something tangible to remind you of your goals/mission/vision?


Some of you created beautiful art/posters that you had mentioned hanging your classroom. Is that your reminder, or is there something/one else? Or is it a new creation entirely that encompasses your mission/vision/goals in one poster or art piece?


Please share what your reminder of your goals will be attached to this blog, or upload it as a new document. If your mission and vision statements are already posted in your classroom, we'd love to see a picture of them! There aren't really "terms and conditions" on this assignment because it is personal to what will work best for you; what inspires you.


Thank you all for being a fantastic and flexible group. The conversations are always a pleasure to read, and the assignment responses are personalized. Such a joy!


Housekeeping: There is no discussion for this chapter. Just this final assignment. I have adjusted this on the assignment tracker and the schedule. The new assignment tracker will be posted by the end of the day.

One Day at a Time

Posted by Katie Wood Jul 18, 2017

As we're nearing the end of our readings together, we need to look at the big picture. How are we going to put our mission and vision into action? And more importantly, how does that fit into our personal and professional goals? This can be a huge task. But as the saying goes, what's the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do we integrate our mission and vision into our classroom and our professional goals? One day at a time. It's a journey that takes more than a day, a week or even a year to get use to.


While the reading may have attributed "The Breakfast of Champions" to the feedback process, it can also be attributed to our goals. The breakfast of champions is usually a healthy balance of protein and carbs. Some days might have veggies, others fruit, and when we're feeling really decadent, chocolatey/sugary goodness! This correlates to our goals. It is important to have a balance of personal goals and professional goals. In addition to those goals, our veggies might be exercising/wellness goals, fruit may be financial goals, and those decadent goals are those lofty goals of traveling to an exotic place, winning the lottery, getting something special we've always wanted.


Today we are going to focus on those personal and professional goals. Marcie Faust shares three simple steps:

1. Start small.

2. Try something new.

3. Learn from your students.

(Faust, pg 175)


These goals are specific to you. If you already know what your five year goals are, by all means, plan away, but if your goals are new, it may be good to start small, with a year long goal. Please use the attached template to fill your plate with your goals. Then answer the follow up questions to make a short term action plan to put your goals in action. How are you going to implement your mission and vision into your goals?


Please upload your plate worksheet as a document to the Book Club. You can respond using a plate infographic, but I do recommend using the worksheet to answer the remaining questions.

The Hours We Keep

Posted by Katie Wood Jul 7, 2017

Well, I do apologize for severely messing up the dates of assignments. This holiday week has me all out of sorts. You will notice that I have shifted the assignment schedule. Go Each Day is being posted today, and will be due in two weeks. Grow Each Day will be posted next Friday (14th) and will be due in two weeks, and so on. You will also notice that I posted the final deadline for all assignments and discussions as August 10th. My goal is to process professional development hour certificates by the 15th.


Alright, now that housekeeping is over, let's move on to The Hours We Keep!


"Go the Way" focused on leading by example, or "practicing what you preach." This chapter has a lot of thoughtful ideas and discussion points to prepare us for the "Grow Each Day" chapter. In order to prepare for the "Grow Each Day" assignments. We are going to answer some questions to lay the ground work for Grow Each Day. These questions may seem elementary, but it is important to go back to basics every now and again, to make sure we can still answer those simple questions.


Please place your response in the comments, or upload a word document.


1. What do you do in your classroom to lead by example?


2. What do you do for colleagues/student teachers/ teacher mentees to lead by example?


3. When times have gotten overwhelming, have you asked for help? Who did you ask? How did it alleviate the situation?


4. On page 124, in The Hours We Keep there is a list of ten common characteristics that the authors feel set educators apart in their journey to "Go the Way." How many of these characteristics do you implement into your classroom or are in your teaching philosophy, already? Which would you consider integrating?


Talk to you next week!

20/20 Vision

Posted by Katie Wood Jun 23, 2017

First, let me say, I finally got some office time to catch up and read through your posts/discussions. I agree with Robin McLean, there needs to be a love button like on Facebook! It has been a pleasure to see the conversation organically manifest in our posts.


Second, I got to travel to the Oswegatchie Educational Center in upstate New York for the New York teacher’s conference this week. NAAE hosted an Agriscience Inquiry Institute as part of their professional development program. There is no service or internet there at all. It was so refreshing to be unplugged. And- as I am sure you can all relate- a joy to be with a group of people that share [at least a part] of your vision.


Speaking of vision… that is what we are going to be discussing for the “Show the Way” section of the book.


“At the start of any lesson or unit of study, great teachers show their students what they will know and be able to do upon completion…Like everyone else, these educators make many mistakes- and learn from these mistakes. Their ability to stay focused on definite end goals enables them to take risks and keep going when they encounter obstacles and challenges along the way. They are not shy about sharing where they intend to take others because they believe the goals they have set-once realized- will achieve ultimate excellence for those they serve. You might say they have perfect, 20/20 vision when it comes to what success looks like.”

–Whitaker, Zoul, Casas, pg. 63-64


Now that we have created our mission statements, and we know the way, we need to show the way. We are going to turn our mission into a vision. What is our end goal? What do we want to see happen/manifest in our classroom?


“Moreover, they are so passionate about this vision of a better tomorrow that their vision soon becomes a shared vision, collectively pursued by those in their presence.”

–Whitaker, Zoul, Casas, pg. 64


How can your vision become a shared vision? In your classroom, department, or with your school administrators? How will you share your vision?


For this assignment, please create your vision taking into consideration the questions prompted above. I have attached a PPT to help you work through these questions to create your vision statement. I also recommend watching the short video, “How to Write an Inspiring Vision Statement” from Rapid Start Leadership, and the “Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose” video from Dan Pink. Answering the “Show the Way” discussion post first, may also aid in crafting your vision statement.


If you would rather discuss your vision statement as a response to this post, or turn your vision statement into an infographic or poster for your classroom, go for it! If you want a tangible video to share with others, feel free to complete your assignment that way. Let your creative juices flow!

Start with Why

Posted by Katie Wood Jun 13, 2017

“Learning can be a messy and difficult process, but, then again, most things worth doing are not clean and easy.”-Whitaker, Zoul, Casas, pg.45


As ag teachers don’t we know that all too well in both the literal and figurative sense? Right now, we are focusing on “Know the Way.” And, “Knowing the Way” may not always be the clean and easy path. When we get into those messy times, don’t we sometimes ask why we do what we do? Why are we teachers? Why are we agricultural educators? Why do we put so much time into professional development, etc.?


You may have answers to these questions. You may not. But are they thought out into a personal mission statement? We spend time advocating for our schools, our departments and our programs, but do we advocate for ourselves? How does our mission statement tie into what our school or program’s mission statement is?



This week we will be exploring what our personal mission statements are. Please review the QR code links to “Personal Mission Statements of 5 Famous CEOs” (pg. 55) and “How to Write a Mission Statement that doesn’t Suck” (pg. 57). Use the attached PowerPoint to work through creating your mission statement. This can be a work in progress. It may change as you read the book. I have included places to put your school mission and your department/program mission. If your school, department and program don’t have these that is alright! If they do, that also doesn’t mean your personal mission statement doesn’t have to complete align with those either.


New to QR Codes?

  1.       In your App store on your tablet or cell phone, search “QR Code Scanner.”
  2.       Several options should pop up. This should be a free download.
  3.       Once installed, it may request access to your camera. This is simply because the scanner takes a picture of the code in order to retrieve the link.
  4.      Once the QR Code Scanner has successfully read the QR Code, it will pop up with a prompt box asking if you want to copy the link or open it. Copying the link allows you to text or email it with someone, and opening allows you to immediately read/watch the content.

Good afternoon all,


I just wanted to keep you posted on the second assignment. This will be posted first thing Monday morning. I am travelling this week and very unfortunately, I forgot the book on my desk in my office! As teachers I am sure you can understand my frustration of taking notes and tabbing important information just to leave the book at home while you are writing your lesson plans at school. Thank you for your understanding in this mishap. Consider it more time to read "Know the Way" and review the content at the end of the chapter.


The assignment tracker will also be posted on Monday. I am still trying to read through everyone's posts. Your jerseys are so creative! The assignment tracker will be linked on the front page in a widget named important information. There will be a link to this post too, just in case anyone doesn't catch it.


Which brings me to another housekeeping note... Are you "following" the book club? Several of you have asked if the first post is up or are looking for other information. Following the book club is the easiest way to stay abreast of what gets posted to the group.


On the homepage of the book club look for this icon towards the upper-right hand corner:


Click on Follow and this dropdown will appear:


Make sure that the following box is checked. From here you have a couple of actions. Clicking "Email Watches" means that when something is posted to the book club, you will get an email about it. If you check "Inbox," you will get a notification in your CoP inbox.


I hope that helps. Thank you again for understanding. I will talk to you all on Monday. Enjoy your weekends!