Ringing in 2017: Professional Learning in Paradise

To quote the CeCe Penniston classic from 1992, “finally it happened to me/right in front of my face/and I just couldn’t hide it.”  My two proposals were accepted at a conference.  It wasn’t just any old conference, because I have presented at conferences before, but an International one…in Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii.

CeCe found the real man of her dreams in 1992, and I found out about this conference in the Fall of 2015 and submitted a couple of proposals.  They were accepted.  I was elated.  Unfortunately, I had to pull out of presenting because apparently it takes money to send someone from Atlanta to Honolulu.

The Fall of 2016 rolled around and I applied again.  This time I planned ahead and used my savings from my side job (we can talk about that bit at another point in time), and travelling to Hawaii went from being a dream and became a reality.

Being a rabid fan of the recent “Hawaii Five-0” reboot, I was ECSTATIC that I would be able to travel someplace new and augment my memory banks with more Professional Learning awesomeness. (No lie, I totally made sure to stop by all of the landmarks shown in the show beforehand, especially the famed King Kamehameha Statue which is in front of Five-0 “Headquarters”, which is really the Justice Building.)

I was so excited to see that my afro puff could be used to block the sun! #nofilter #afrofilter

So today, I begin this adventure of “Professional Learning in Paradise” here at the Hawaii International Conference on Education in super sunny Honolulu.  I can’t wait to learn, present what I know, and expand my professional learning network which will, in-turn, help me help my CCSD colleagues more.

The Adventure of New Beginnings

From the moment I left the halls of East Cobb Middle School last May, each day has brought a new adventure.  If you followed me through my #56DayVacay on Instagram and Twitter, you saw that I had the opportunity to travel for most of my 8-week break.  It was a truly magical experience to top off an amazing year with dynamic students, their parents/grandparents/guardians, and amazing educators.  Last year and leading into this summer, was a collection of some of my favorite moments in education.

This year, a new adventure has begun.  I was honored to accept the position of Digital Transformation Coach with the Cobb County School District.  I am the only one, and am so grateful for this opportunity.  When asked what I now do as “Digital Transformation Coach” I put it quite simply: “I am like Disney World for educators.  I help teachers make their dream lessons come true.”  As Digital Transformation Coach, I have been afforded with the opportunity to pursue another love of mine: helping educators tap into their “inner kid” to create amazing lessons and learning spaces that encourage students to have a veritable addiction to learning for learning’s sake.  I also help teachers meaningfully apply the use of technology in their instruction to take student learning deeper.  An iPad can be a replacement for pen and paper or a window into the world beyond Cobb County.  Which one would make learning more meaningful?  This is the question teachers and I seek to answer with every interaction.

I had SO much fun in the seven years I spent in the classroom as a day-to-day teacher of 7th or 8th graders.  People would often scoff or reel back in surprise when I told them that I genuinely LOVED working with middle schoolers.  I mean, why not?  It was the best of both worlds.  I could create a safe space where my students and I could be mature and thoughtful, but silly at any moment.  I honestly wish more adults tapped into their inner middle schooler.  Leaving the classroom was not a decision I took lightly, but I knew it was time to help others bring more excitement and engagement to their classrooms by sharing my love of creative lesson planning and educational technology integration.

A new role now means a new look for MsWillipedia.com.  As you may have noticed, this site has already undergone a redesign.  Most notably, from now on, this site will no longer be “Ms. Willipedia’s ELA World” but will don a new name: “Ms. Willipedia’s Education World.”  It has also changed locations here on the web as part of its ongoing redesign to fit what I will be able to offer beyond classroom activities and adventures.  Hopefully, you will join me in this new endeavor!

Here’s to new beginnings and limitless opportunities for us all!

-Nadia a.k.a. Ms. Williams a.k.a. Ms. Willipedia

Monday, November 12th, 2012

This Monday, the students were introduced to our second unit.  With Expository Writing as the focus, I took the time to present the students with a “showcase” of examples of Expository Writing in the real world.  These examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Travel information
  • News articles
  • Owner’s Manuals/Instruction Manuals
  • Informational Text
  • Reports (such as):
    • Police reports
    • Experiment/Lab reports
    • Research Reports, etc.

After our showcase, the students completed a timed writing on any of the topics below:

oExplain why you admire a particular person.
oDescribe the major stressors in teens’ lives.
oExplain why you do (or do not) like to work in a team.
oExplain how music affects your life.
HOMEWORK: Read for 30 minutes, bring any library books that need to be returned back to school, and study for the Benchmark Exam.