Teaching is their passion and their goal is to help students become independent learners. They believe in the philosophy that all students are able to achieve and they have created an environment to help students do just that. This dynamic team created a program called PICE, which stands for Personalized, Independent, Connected, E-Learning pedagogy for the classroom.
Ashley and Jamie talk about their backgrounds and career paths (2:10)
Both Ashley and Jamie knew they wanted to become teachers when they were small children (3:30)
All about PICE (Personalized Independent Connected E-Learning) – what it is, how it came about, the needs it’s designed to address, and how it works (4:19)
Some of the obstacles Jamie and Ashley have faced in getting PICE implemented in their classrooms (11:09)
The teachers discuss some of the results they’ve gotten after creating and implementing PICE in their classrooms (12:21)
The important role a very supportive administrator played in helping them get PICE off the ground (15:20)
How their fellow teachers are responding and coming on board with PICE (17:55)
What Jamie and Ashley would do to convince a reluctant administrator to try PICE or other educational innovation (20:27)
The qualities a person needs to be a great educational leader (21:35)
The advice Ashley and Jamie would give to principals for working with teachers (22:16)
Apps and tools mentioned in this episode
Connect with Ashley Drill and Jamie Tewksbury
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Educators Lead Ep. 29
The Teachers And The Principal Are All On The Same Team | PICE: Personalized, Independent, Connected, E-Learning | A Classroom Pedagogy That Works!
Show notes: http://www.educatorslead.com/PICE/
Welcome to Educators Lead where we interview leaders in education to offer inspiration and practical advice to help launch educators into the next level of leadership. I’m your host Jay Willis and I want to thank you for subscribing to our show.
Jay: Hello Edu Leaders! Jay Willis here and we have a unique episode and I am excited to introduce two featured guests today Ashley Drill and Jamie Tewksbury. Ashley and Jamie, are you ready?
Ashley and Jamie: Yeah, We’re ready!
Intro: Ashley and Jamie are elementary teachers with more than 20 years of teaching experience. They teach 3rd grade in Plymouth Minnesota at Greenwood elementary school alongside their Principal Dr. Brad Gustafson from episode 9. Teaching is their passion and their goal is to help students become independent learners. They believe in the philosophy that all students are able to achieve and they have created an environment where students are able to do just that. This dynamic team created a program called PICE, which stands for personalized, independent, connected, e-learning pedagogy for the classroom. That’s just a brief introduction but why don’t we start off with one at a time you guys telling us more about yourself what made you decide to get into teaching and the journey to where you are now.
Jamie: This is Jamie Tewksbury and I have been teaching for 10 years. When I went to college, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do and I ended up at the University of Iowa which was a great school and after doing some volunteering at an elementary school and just seeing how teachers can be so effective and pushing in a child’s life I decided that’s what I wanted to do. So I’ve been teaching ever since then and I enjoy it very much and I had a wonderful opportunity to meet Ashley here and we’ve been teaching for a long time ever since.
Ashley: And this is Ashley Drill speaking. I have a similar story to Jamie’s, I graduated from Minnesota which is where we are right now and I went off to school for an undergrad at Miami University which is in Ohio not Florida, Oxford Ohio, and right from 3rd grade I knew I always wanted to be a teacher and followed that goal all the way through and was able to graduate from Miami University and got my first teaching position here in Plymouth Minnesota and in 3rd grade right where I wanted to be for the last 11 years
Jay: So in both situations was there some kind of an incident that just kind of sparked that interest for you say “You know what? I want to teach”
Ashley: You know what, mine was back to 3rd grade and even further back to kindergarten where that’s like It’s always what I wanted to do and I just followed that I goal I think I just had a natural ability to teach.
Jamie: this is Jamie, my mom always says how she remembers me like setting up my dolls in front of a white board pretending I was a teacher and I think from the beginning I just had this natural ability to want to get up in front of kids and just always thought it as being a fun experience and a fun opportunity for a career
Jay: That’s neat. So tell us more about the PICE program, first of all am I saying it right, it’s PICE right, ok so tell us about that program.
Jamie: Well PICE is an acronym and it stand for personalized, independent, connected and e-learning and basically it is a, the 21st century way of teaching is what we’ve developed it to be it connects literacy with technology and in paced training it’s a pedagogical approach for connecting those 2 things the curriculum standards that helps kids become 21st century learner; independent learners. We’ve noticed that over the last, you know, our ways of teaching are 20 plus years old and we’re trying to improve reading, Language, art lessons that date back to the 90’s that are still being practiced and we realized that we’ve got to change, that we’re in a 21st century classroom where technology is at the front and center of our learning and we’ve connected it with literacy It’s kind of a quick overview of it
Jay: so how did that come about? I mean obviously you saw a kind of a need, you say hey let’s get out, you know; let’s not stay in the 90’s forever. How did that come about?
Jamie: Well there was a big push in our district to use technology and we noticed that for us in our classroom it was more, get out the iPad and use this app and check it off the box, you know, we use technology and we noticed that kids are coming in and obviously a little bit more advanced than we were and we just decided we need to get ahead of them and we had to figure out the best way to reach them and teach them with technology. We started reflecting on what we were doing and we were just trying to figure out a way that we could change it and make our teaching more interesting, get the kids connected. You know we saw this big push for connecting kids and connecting with other classrooms and we just sat down one summer and we were like, how can we do this. And we spent a lot of time thinking how can we use technology but also connect our state standards with literacy.
Ashley: As a 3rd grade teacher, we just like Jamie just said we, the standards are huge, the state standards and we decided that we … what do we want the kids to learn? We, want learning to become personal, we want them to become independent learners we want to connect them to each other, connect them to us teachers and connect to the world. And with technology and of course the E-learning PICE, those are our 4 main goals so then we developed an acronym and that’s how we developed our literacy lessons.
Jay: So I guess, dig in a little bit to try to explain to our listeners how a PICE program works like kind of like the bird’s eye view and drill down onto the details
Jamie: so the PICE program really works with rotations and each rotation is one of the letter that stands for, that’s in PICE so we figure out always at the beginning of our week what is the skill or the standard that we want the students to learn so if it’s main idea we say how do we want our students to learn main idea in a personalized station; in an independent station, connected station and then e learning station and we go through and decide what are some activities and skills that they can use with technology to learn that standard.
Jay: so what’s like this week for example?
Ashley: This week we did comparing and contrasting and the story we use actually is our curriculum base. So our district requires us to use that curriculum. So what we do is we look at that story and the story was a non-fiction text so we are basing the 3rd graders around nonfiction so we’re building nonfiction skills and we’re comparing and we’re contrasting and we’re gathering facts so within that lesson a quick bird’s eye view would be in the PICE station the kids are exploring all different kinds of picture books and they were able to explore nonfiction stories that have to do with earth’s features because we’re learning about volcanoes and they compare and contrast two things and then in an independent station they’re actually using a QR code and they’re working on what we call PICE power words with other vocabulary words that they need to focus on and learn about in that story to increase their vocabulary. For the connected PICE we differentiate actually all of these and we were able to do that because we were team teaching but what Jamie’s doing with her connected PICE looks differently than what I am doing with my connected PICE on my classroom and that mine is connecting to the teacher right now, We’re building their fluency and their comprehension.
Jamie: We do the same thing in my room I have some higher level readers and so it’s a lot more independent and what they are reading is a lot more detailed than at the reading level for being higher readers and then in the e learning station, the kids we have been using Pebblego on their IPad, researching, gathering information and at the end of the week they’re making a project with that around the idea of earth features, earth’s volcanoes
Ashley: so we keep with the same theme of the genre or the idea of the story and build the skills of the technology within that
Jamie: and then throughout the week we have something we call connected learning challenge which is through twitter and we tackle a lot of digital citizenship and we use all different apps. Just this week we’ve used … I’m sorry not apps, just different tools. We’ve used Pebblego, we’ve used QR Codes we used something called seesaw which where they are able to take all their learning take a snap shot of it and send it straight to us for our assessment all within one day. The kids are all using about 5 different tech tools and it’s seamless
Ashley: they enjoy it and they don’t even realize what, that, they’re learning.
Jamie: And they’re comparing and contrasting and conclusion
Jay: Yeah and at 3rd grade, this is awesome
Jamie: It’s really cool to see, we’ve had a lot of teachers coming in and observe us from the district and we get to see that from them and they’re just amazed an d they think how can they get this started on their classroom
Jay: Yeah. Well so what have been some of the obstacles you think you faced in getting this implemented in your classrooms?
Jamie: I think the biggest obstacle is that there are so many pieces to it where we had to just start small. And that’s the advice we can give to anyone just start with one piece
Ashley: We do a lot on twitter and try to really have the kids understand what it means to tweet and to connect with people and in different way and I guess the biggest thing is we always recommend teachers to start small and a good place to start is by using twitter to connect with other people, other students, get resources and so that’s our best recommendation and we have kids that actually do the tweets every day and so they write them out and we of course tweet them and we were talking to kids about what you are doing every day is really meaningful and talking about being a digital citizenship and how what you are putting out on the internet is saving your digital footprints so where we stress the importance of that as well.
Jay: Yeah. Well so I don’t know if you have maybe a specific story. But what some of the benefits and the good things you’ve seen come as a result to this program
Ashley: I have some of the lower readers on my class than Jamie’s we differentiate them and my biggest story is we had a teacher in here observing and there was this one reader who was low and he gets so excited for PICE and he turned to this teacher who was observing and he just randomly said “I love PICE” and she just said well what do you love about it and he said it makes sense to me I understand what I’m doing and just that story in itself was great because there are so many technology tools that he is connecting with and he is building on his fluency and his comprehension as well for a 3rd grade reader.
Jay: Yeah. So that’s gotta be awesome to see him so engaged in learning
Jamie: and even in my classroom with some of the higher readers if they have to called for like a gifted and talented program they ask when they are able to come back and work on their PICE work because they get sad or upset that they actually have to miss what we were doing in the classroom. I am not gonna lie beforehand they were excited to go out and do some other things but then they always want to come back and … can we finish this rotation, can we finish what we were doing and just hearing kids talk about that is just really invigorating for us.
Jay: Yeah I can imagine, it’s kind of like this cycle right? You get charged up which means you’re more engaging for the students when they get charged up so yeah.
Jamie: We also see just the success stories of these tweets that we are doing. Connected learning challenge where we will post a question that will say something like… show us geometry around the world.
Ashley: We take PICE an hour, almost extending to other subjects which is neat to see but just the connected piece of PICE that see connecting on twitter that kids could see the post on twitter about this geometry CLC that we’ve tweeted out and they can connect to each other that way.
Jamie: We are able to see the creativity the kids have when they have the time at home to continue their learning
Jay: Yeah that’s neat so obviously Educator’s Lead is like helping people move to the next level leadership and so one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on this show is to offer a different perspective to PICE which I definitely want to hear about and I’m sure that a lot of the listeners are thinking how can we implement this or something like it in our own school but then just getting this off the ground. How would you say your principal and let’s say other school administrators; how did they help support you in this process?
Jamie: Dr. G is very supportive of us in trying new things in our classroom and so I think the biggest thing was he knew we wanted to change and he pushed us to find out what that meant and he reminded us to just try and start small and see what happens. So I think we had his support to try something new in our classroom and to use technology in a different way was really helpful
Ashley: It’s like he has these tools up his sleeve and he’ll pull something out and say we’ll give this a try and we weren’t afraid to give it a try even if it fail and then he’d check on us to see how’s it going or is it going well but instead he kind of inspired us because he was also learning from us and he’d show the support he is giving us like saying this is really cool, how can I learn it? Cause he genuinely just wanted to learn from us as well
Jay: Yeah well he probably saw some kind of a spark or maybe you saw the need and you addressed “hey we see this need” and then he encouraged that so what are some ways he encouraged you specifically to develop this program?
Ashley: he would pop into a classroom and see what was happening and then he’d follow up like what is that that I saw that was really cool? Didn’t want to distract during learning or he’d just crouch down with the kids, “what are you doing here this is really cool. “
Jamie: Just to follow up, he wouldn’t just come by without a care; he’d pop in see what’s going on and then follow up with us after that.
Ashley: And Dr. Gustafson is a pretty big twitter user which I’m sure some people follow him and know and just having those conversations with him about what it’s like to tweet and even just the connected piece cause that’s something that we really wanted to focus on with our kids. He just always had ideas it was kind of like take it or leave it if we didn’t use to, it’s ok we were able to change it and adapt to it with our students
Jay: Yeah so how have you been able to get other teachers in the building on board with your mission?
Jamie: It’s a slow process and we’ve been doing this. PICE has really come together like in the last 2 years and I think that they have narrowed it down to where we see it being the most successful it can be. As we’ve had a ton of teachers come in and observe our classroom and just say we want to start this, we want to start this next year so we just keep trying to encourage them, give them ideas, sit down with them have us help them plan their lessons because we are here just to help any teacher in or school.
Ashley: and we’ve done some presentation at the TIES conference in Minneapolis and just the interest level from that teachers saying “this is what I need; I need a change” because teachers are afraid to change but at the same time they are aware that they need to change but change is hard and we actually put a blog on our PICE website just talking about its ok to change your classroom and then make that and it’s ok to start small and build and I think that’s the hardest piece of it. Teachers are always looking at us and saying “oh you guys have this all in place, I wouldn’t know where to start” and were saying, well you can you just have to picke one piece from it that you want to start with cause that’s how we started.
Jay: Yeah so what’s that website I want to put it on the show notes too?
Ashley: It’s www.PICElearning.com
Jay: Ok Awesome
Ashley: We have lots of things you can download there, ideas, we do sample lessons, we have a blog where we write about different things that; even problems we encounter and how we would fix it next time and suggestions. Pictures of how we have our classrooms set up and give ideas as well
Jamie: One thing we’ve really tried to encourage because as any teacher, educator knows … It’s so hard to put in words what you are doing in a classroom because what you’re doing can’t be put in words.
Ashley: on our website we try as best as we can to verbalize this is what we’re doing. We really say our numbers are there our emails are there, contact us if there is anyone that wanted to give this a try or observe or anything like that
Jay: That’s great! So kind of shifting to those listeners who are in leadership or close to being leadership what advice would you have to help a school admin or let’s say there’s a teacher listening who wants to implement this what advice would you have for them to help lead a school administrator who’s maybe not as receptive as Brad is?
Ashley We have been so fortunate to have a support we never have thought about it the other way. I think probably as every classroom is different so I think it’s important for administrators and principal to kind of figure out what is working best in every classroom. What’s working best right now in our classroom is PICE and it might not be what some other teachers are able to do they just have to be open and understanding to that every classroom is different and I think you just have to encourage what your teachers are doing.
Jay: Yeah, That’s good another guest put it “getting a habit of saying yes and kind of develop a culture of saying yes” rather than say no to things. So obviously you call him Dr. G right? What are one qualities you look for in a great leader and when you think of a great leader what are some qualities that a leader has?
Jamie: Definitely someone who is open to try new things and who you feel is very supportive of you. One of the main things is just like we talk to our students I’m gonna learn from them as much as they’re going to learn from me and I thing that’ the same mentality for an administrator is they can learn from the teachers just as much as we can learn from them and having that connection and that relationship.
Jay: So kind of along those lines if you could give advice to any principal out here who might be listening. What advice would you give in regards to working with teachers in their school?
Ashley: I think it’s important to be present because I think sometimes you know principals can get so busy with so many parts of a school in a district and so I think it’s important to just to be present and have teachers see you, have the students see you and stop in a classroom to so that everyone knows you are there and that what we are learning is important and we all have the same goal where it’s about the kids it’s always about the kids and just realizing we’re all in the same basket.
Jay: yeah, all in a same team working with the same goal right?
Jaimie and Ashley: Yes exactly.
Jay: That is great! Edu-leaders this has been a great interview today. For the show notes of today’s show and other resources visit educatorslead.com and type the word “PICE” into the search tool to find more information about this episode. Ashley and Jamie thank you for sharing your journey with us today.
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Educators Lead is a podcast created to help launch educators into the next level of leadership. This show is for you if you are interested in educational leadership as an assistant principal, principal, superintendent, teacher or someone who hopes to be a school leader one day. Educators Lead offers inspiration and practical advice to help you lead more effectively. Jay Willis interviews school leaders three days a week to discuss why and when these educators made the decision to move into school leadership, challenges along the journey, and stories that made it all worthwhile. Educators Lead is a great resource for any educator looking to make a greater impact.
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