Who Owns the Learning Space?

Via Melanie Farrell, NCPDK Emerging Leader
The current trend in education is to ask students to take ownership of their learning. Can that be done in a traditional classroom setting? Today I watched a student do everything but sit in his chair. For the first ten minutes of class, he sat with his legs sprawled. He moved and squirmed in his seat. He was easily distracted and he easily distracted others. As the lesson progressed, he slowly slithered out of his chair. His learning space took form and his learning began; he engaged. No longer was his chair a place of comfort to him. It had become an obstacle. Once he knew he didn’t have to be confined to the conventional learning space, his work flourished and his creativity was unleashed. He stood, he moved, he kneeled. Periodically, he was reminded the chair was near by when he briefly brushed against it, but he never returned to the sitting position during that lesson. Once this student was able to be free of his confinement, he was able to learn in his newfound space. 

Watching this student transform his space before my eyes, I was reminded that all students have different needs when it comes to their optimal learning space. As we try not to deliver a one size fits all lesson, we should also keep in mind that a one size fits all environment does not always work either. If we want students to choose the best learning environment to fit their learning needs, we need to provide them with choices. Here are a few things to consider:
Desks and chairs can still be a good option. Keep them.

Tall tables against a wall. Create an area for students to stand and work. 

Bean bag type chairs offer flexibility. They can be moved to different places in the room.

Rugs. Sitting/laying on the floor provides open space for collaboration.
Sometimes just a few small changes in a student’s environment can open up doors to their learning.
As I watched him become an active learner, I was reminded of the need for student ownership, not only in their learning but their learning space.
If we are going to urge teachers to ask themselves, “Who owns the learning?” I say let’s take it one step further and ask, “Who owns the learning space?”


It All Begins With A Smile

How will this apply to the work you do with our children?

Melissa Nixon

After an especially challenging and emotional week, I found this in my Twitter feed.


The message within made me smile. Not only should we smile, and help others to find their smile, but acknowledging the power of touch and personal connection as REAL factors that affect us every day.

I won’t say I’m the best at giving, but can definitely say with conviction that emotional energy, that kind that is found in a kind and caring statement a friendly hug, an empathetic smile, an acknowledgement that I add value to a situation or someone’s life IS one of the most powerful forces affecting how I approach each day.

Days that are absent of this are difficult. Simply put. I understand too that giving to others is fulfilling in itself. My emotional cup though, still requires a lot of input before I can easily provide for others.

I accept your challenge…

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Prospective Educator Scholarship Fund Applicants Announced

NCPDK is Committed to Supporting Future Educators

NC Phi Delta Kappan would like to congratulate the following students for applying for the NCPDK Prospective Educator Scholarship:

  1. Assata Parkins
  2. Danielle Wilson
  3. Emily Yontz
  4. Tyler Brownlee
  5. Briana Crumley
  6. Samantha Chester
  7. Hailey Baskin
  8. Christina Perez
  9. Megan Munson
  10. Taylor Dunham
  11. Samiara Waters
  12. Alyssa Douglas
  13. Colleen Locklear
  14. Madison Hopper
  15. Margaret Dillon
  16. Zoar Flores Sanchez
  17. Alaina Dennis
  18. Samantha Sgavicchio
  19. Rachelle Farrior
  20. Amber Carter
  21. Erika Traywick
  22. Eric Rhodes
  23. Alicia Williams
  24. Margaret Carpenter
  25. Kaitlyn Langley
  26. Isaac Forsgren
  27. Louise Brady

NCPDK is proud to offer an opportunity to sponsor the future learning plan of one of these applicants. We encourage all the applicants to pursue their teaching careers and commit to building a strong education program in North Carolina.

We will make an announcement about the award results May 15th! Please continue to refer back for results!


Meet our Presenters for our Oct 21 Event!

Join us October 21 from 5:00 – 7:00 pm for the second in our series on Digital Leadership!

This event will be hosted at the Friday Institute on the campus of NC State University.


John is the principal of Discovery High School in Newton-Conover Schools. He has been a 6-12 ELA teacher and school administrator. He advocates using social media to promote best school practices and change teaching and learning.  He is firm believer in the promise of project-based learning and authentic assessment, and the place technology has in education. In addition he is passionate believer in the promise of public education. In this session, participants will get a quick overview of apps and techniques for making the most of technology to get organized. This session includes a quick review of useful mobile device apps, web apps, and desktop apps that can help even most disorganized get organized.

John’s session is Organizational Hacks and Tech Ideas for the School Leader.


Dr. Jake Henry is the Director of Instructional Technology and Innovation for Guilford County Schools.

Jakes’ session is Training Digital Leaders. 

During Jake’s session he will discuss the importance of flexibility and adaptability when implementing change.  Guilford County Schools was the recipient of a multi-million dollar Race to the Top federal grant and Jake can talk about some of the challenges associated with wide-scale reform efforts and the varying degrees of knowledge in teachers and principals.

Join us on our Learning Journey for dinner and great professional conversation!  Register here.

Your Plate is Full…so what?

Leading the Way

Over the past several years, one thing I have learned is that in education, our plates aren’t just full for a minute, they STAY full. New initiatives, new personnel, new mandates. Couple that with ongoing expectations for timelines, observations, and timely responses to parents, our plates are FULL. Learning to compartmentalize and prioritize all of goals, strategies, and associated tasks allows us to make slow but steady progress each day. We must learn and accept that priorities must be kept in sync and that the work will be there when we return the next day. It is MUCH easier to type these words tonight than it is to follow them each day. I am an achiever, a do-er, a check the box off kind of gal. Working to keep that which is truly important in the grand scheme of life is an extremely challenging task for me. Please know that…

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Digital Leadership Series – High Point Event

NCPDK would like to thank all the members, visitors and presenters for our Sept 26th event who helped make our inaugural Digital Leadership Learning series a success! A great deal of planning and organization went into launching this learning event and it yielded incredible results!

We are thankful for the NCPDK members from across North Carolina to take part in the learning and sharing. Everyone in attendance raved about the presentations and information.

Dr. David Stegall, Superintendent of Newton-Conovoer City Schools and Steven Anderson, Director of Instructional Technology for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools were our presenters for the evening. These two school leaders shared tools and strategies for personal growth and helping move our teachers, schools and districts towards embracing new tools and new thinking.

Steven Anderson, @web20classroom

Dr. David Stegall, @davidstegall

NCPDK thanks these two NC administrative visionaries for sharing their knowledge, insight and resources to our group. This was an incredible kickoff event for this year’s Digital Leadership series.

We hope to see you at our next presentation in Raleigh at the Friday Institute. This link will give you information on the remaining events and how to join NCPDK [remember, joining NCPDK allows you access to PDK resources and to attend our events for free].