Tuesday, December 31, 2013

TOP 5 Educators of the Year and a whole lot more: The Crowleys

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge."

                                                                                                   - Albert Einstein

1st Annual Crowley Awards in Education
"It is all about Tradition"

In the year 2013 I followed and learned from THOUSANDS of teachers.  It was an amazing experience. This is the first year that I have really used social media for professional development, and I believe that I learned 10X more than I have ever learned in my whole life.  There are some outstanding teachers, principals, authors, etc..... out there to learn from.  Wow!!!

For the past month I had been stockpiling a list of teachers that I thought deserve the "TOP 5" educators of 2013.  I thought that by doing this it would force me to look over everything these teachers have done in more depth, and determine what I thought was the most important.  I also thought it would be nice to give credit where credit is due, and to help other people discover these teachers so they can follow them and learn from them as well.  

Ultimately, I had to make a decision based on what they have shared out.  I have not been in the classroom of these teachers, so it is impossible for me to know how truly effective they are.  For the insight and ideas they have shared, for the thought provoking questions they have raised, and for the inspiring stories they have told, however, they have made a lot of teachers better.  These educators are game-changers.

THE PROBLEM:  The problem that I ran into, was that I thought it was going to be easy to decide on a top 5 list of teachers.  IT IS NOT!!!  I officially had my list narrowed down to 29 finalists a week ago.....and down to 17 as of yesterday.  I considered not even posting this list, because there are many people that are well deserving of being honored, and I do not intend to leave any of them out.  Everyone on my list, and many others, have helped me out this year more than they could ever imagine.  I have been motivated and inspired by them all.

I am still doing it:  I will mention right away that it is insane and not fair that I have to leave so many superstar teachers, such as Joy Kirr, Tim & Scott Bedley, Starr Sackstein,  Garnet Hillman, Brad Waid, Rick Leib, Victoria Olson, Rafranz Davis, Paul Stolt,  A.J. Juliani, Brad Weber, Todd Nesloney etc.......  and many more off of this list.  In the end, I just had to make a final decision.  I truly respect everyone that was written on my list a TON.


VICKI DAVIS - @coolcatteacher - If I have to explain who Vicki Davis is, you are probably not very connected in the education world.  Vicki is clearly a superstar teacher.  Vicki is a teacher and IT director in Camilla, Georgia.  I have no idea how she has the ability and time to do as many wonderful things as she does, including blogging, writing books, podcasting, sharing stories & resources on social media, speaking, etc...  I feel that some day I am going to find out there are actually "FIVE" Vicki Davis's that all look the same and do the same stuff.  There has to be some magic trick involved.  If you do not frequently visit her blog at http://www.coolcatteacher.com/, I highly recommend that you start doing that.

 DREW MINOCK - @TechMinock - Drew is a superstar teacher from the Detroit, Michigan area, who knows a lot about technology.  He, along with Brad Waid (another 100% rock star), started the show Two Guys and Some iPads,  http://www.twoguysandsomeipads.com/, which if you do not watch, you should.  Drew has worked very hard to share his love for technology, and especially Augmented Reality, over social media.  There may be others that know as much as Drew does about technology as Drew, but they most likely will not match his enthusiasm to share it in order to improve education.  I have a learned a lot from Drew this year.

KIMBERLY HURD - @khurdhorst - Kimberly is a wonderful teacher and an even more wonderful person.  I really enjoyed her Seeds For Learning blog at  http://seedsforlearning.blogspot.com/.  Through Kimberly I learned how to be more kind-hearted and considerate in my teaching.  Kimberly does an unbelievable job of giving feedback to other Tweeters on Twitter and has constantly given suggestions, complements, or insight regarding posts I've had this year.  She really helped me to reflect upon myself.  Kimberly is also very brave and is willing to try new methods of teaching, assessing, etc...  For this reason, she is a great model teacher for anyone who is afraid to take a chance.

PAUL SOLARZ - @PaulSolarz - Paul is a 5th grade teacher in Arlington Heights, Illinois, and a top-notch superstar in the education world.  Paul could easily be at the top of anyone's list for educator of the year.  I am jealous of Paul in that he not only has many wonderful and innovative ideas, but he pulls them off and documents them so well.  He is obviously a very hard worker.  I really love Paul's vision on education.  He believes strongly in the incorporation of 21st Century Skills, giving students autonomy, challenging students to make a positive impact on the world, and then he showcases their work to the world.  If you have not checked out Paul's website, DO SO NOW.  http://psolarz.weebly.com/mr-solarz-eportfolio.html
Every time I visit Paul's website, my head hurts because he has so many wonderful ideas and projects that he does with his students.  I believe his students are very lucky to have someone that is truly preparing them to be successful in the real world and setting a great example as a hard working, passionate, compassionate, game changer.  I have learned a TON from Paul this year, and his hard work and innovations are greatly appreciated.

and last, but definitely not least..........


ARIN KRESS - @ArinKress - I had the opportunity to work with Choose2Matter this year, and through this I met an educator that has had a tremendous impact on my teaching and life, Arin Kress.  She is an extremely hard working teacher from Ohio who, like Paul Solarz, has the most incredible ability to come up with innovative teaching ideas, and then GET THEM DONE!  Arin does not have as many Twitter followers as some of the others mentioned above.  She hasn't updated her blog in a while!  She will never be trying to promote herself and shine any light on herself.  If, however, you got to know Arin Kress, you would most definitely rank her in your top 5 teachers on the planet.  She truly cares about each and every student and their families and community.  She also really cares about education and trying to improve it so that every student has the opportunity for a top-notch, relevant, education in which they have the opportunity to change the world.  Follow Arin on Twitter and read her "HATE CHALK" blog at http://hatechalk.blogspot.com/.  She doesn't post as often as some others, but her posts are always awesome and inspirational.  This year I learned a lot from Arin as I saw her execute many innovative ideas in her teaching.  She ran an intense after school program in which she helped a large group of students work, outside of school, to change the world.  She used Skype and social media to run professional development at her school in an EXTREMELY innovative fashion.  She has connected with a class in Australia and used Skype to conference back and forth with them in order to connect the two classes.  Etc......  At some point Arin will be a household name as she continues to help change education for the better.  I highly suggest following her for ideas.

Thank you to everyone who works to help kids.  I believe that being involved in Education is the most important, most difficult, and most rewarding job that exists.  I absolutely love education and plan to be involved with it forever.  I am so happy that I finally got more into social media and connecting with so many great educators.  I have learned a million things in 2013 via social media, and I hope next year I learn a million more things.  



JIMMY CASAS - @casas_jimmy - Bettendorf, IA - Absolutely inspiring superstar in the education world.  Check out his website and prepare to be inspired and enlightened.  Jimmy is a superstar and a great person. http://jimmycasas.blogspot.com/


STARR SACKSTEIN - @mssackstein - She could easily change her name to SuperStarr and could EASILY have been in the top 5 educators* (I actually cannot believe that I left her out, she definitely deserves to be there).  I have no idea how she does all of the high quality writing that she does, but it is awesome, thought-provoking, inspiring, and I absolutely love reading it.  If you do not read Starr's blog on a regular basis, you should begin.  http://starrsackstein.com/ - She is a brilliant writer and a very thoughtful and innovative educator.  I believe that she will be a major leader and game changer in Education Reform in 2014.  Starr also manages to find time to share a ton on social media and recently published a book "Teaching Mythology Exposed" which I highly recommend.  http://starrsackstein.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/cover.jpg


INQUIRE - This book by Thoughtful Learning @inquirebook and published by Zaner Bloser @ZanerBloser - is an ABSOLUTE GEM!  The first time that I saw this book I absolutely fell in love with it.  I really, really, really, really wish that every human being on the planet was required to read this book.  It is the BIBLE of 21st Century Skills and Relevant Education.  The topics that are covered in the book are absolutely wonderful.  The way the information is presented is very straight-forward, easy-to-understand, applicable, and realistic.  I sincerely believe that education needs to begin requiring the implementation of 21st Century Skills (Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity, Inquiry, etc...) and this is the book that will save the day.  There is an elementary, middle school, and high school edition.  If you have not already read it, DO SO.  If you do not yet have this book at your school, figure out a way to get it there.  The kids deserve it.  http://www.zaner-bloser.com/media/zb/zaner-bloser/T0004/index.html


Compassion-Based Learning - I admit I very biased on this one.  This is very similar to 20-time, Genius Hour, and Passion-Based learning.  It is a way to give students autonomy, purpose, and mastery while motivating them to change the world.  I love it and wish that it would happen in every school.


A.J. Juliani - @ajjuliani - His writing about 20-Time & Genius Hour as well as "ALL THINGS EDUCATION" are brilliant and wonderful to read.  He is a great writer with the ability to break things down logically.

Check out A.J. on his website, "Education is My Life"  http://educationismylife.com/author/admin/


Joy Kirr's Genius Hour Live Binder - there are a lot of great educational resources online, but this one is amazing.  If you are thinking about giving students autonomy and trying 20-time, genius hour, ComPassion Based Learning, or passion based learning.....look no further than this website.  It is FULL of excellent content, examples, etc....  http://www.livebinders.com/play/play/829279


Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) - nothing more needs to be said other than "READ THIS BOOK" - http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Like-PIRATE-Engagement-Creativity/dp/B00C7EX5O0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1388537379&sr=8-2&keywords=teach+like+a+pirate


COMMUNITIES at Oshkosh North High School - @communitiesonhs - I am slightly biased in this decision also, but I believe that this is the way of the future for education.  It is an interdisciplinary program that incorporates science, social studies, literacy, and leadership content, along with 21st Century Skills, life skills, while giving students hands on experience to learn in real-life situations.  The program works extremely hard to provide authentic audiences (businesses, community members, organizations, parents, etc...) for all of the students projects.  The students "learn in the community, with the community, in order to make the community a better place" - When you give students autonomy and responsibility, they have the most incredible ability to make a positive impact on the world.  I love all of their projects from the veterans event, to their sustainability work, to their new iPads for Autism campaign, and on and on and on.  It is possible to teach altruism and create lifelong learners while showing that life is more interdisciplinary than we give it credit for being.

Check out the website - www.communitiesonhs.org
Check them out on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/communitiesonhs
Check out the blog - http://communitiesonhs.blogspot.com/


RONALD "BIG RON" CROWLEY - (@bigroncrowley)"Big Ron", known as the "King of Educational Hip Hop", also won the award for the "Best Overall Rapper & Hip Hopper" and pretty much Hip-Hopped his way onto the scene in 2013.  He loves education, innovation, hip hop, and he pretty much always Gits R Done.  He has produced songs for Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) & the Teach Like a Pirate Book (#tlap), the Bedley Brothers' show (@BedleyBros), and the Aaron Maruer (@coffeechugbooks) podcast "Living on the Edge of Chaos).  He also managed to put out two albums titled: "Straight Cash Homie" -https://soundcloud.com/ronald-crowley/sets/straight-cash-homie  and "I'm Sick" https://soundcloud.com/ronald-crowley/sets/the-sick-album  as well as creating flipped classrooms and a YouTube channel of strangeness:  http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOYTQCegcv4eU8J2OyGu21A?feature=watch.  Join him in 2014 as he plans to reform education and continue to Git R Done, and stuff.  www.bigroncrowley.com


Looks like a "Poor Man's" Drew Minock
DON ALLEN - Don is my good friend and a major influence on my life and career.  For entertainment purposes we both take jabs at each other once in a while and I thought it would be fun if he was one of the first people ever awarded the "Worst Educator of the Year" award.  In actuality he is a wonderful and hardworking teacher.  He may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but he is a wonderful friend and person.  Ha!  Donnie!

Normally I would be afraid that Don would try to retaliate, but I'm not sure if he even knows how to type.


I hope that educations is TRANSFORMED in 2014!!!

I love my Twitter PLN!  I have learned so much from you all!

Thank you to my wonderful family.  They have taught me more about strength, love, and perseverance than I ever imagined that I would know.  They are the only thing I love more than my PLN & my students!

Oliver Schinkten
Twitter:  @schink10