“We need to reform how lessons are delivered. Technology is a tool for integration, but without a change in the design of learning and daily lessons, nothing will change.” – Krissy Venosdale, USA

Take one look at Krissy Venosdale’s blog, and it’s obvious just how much she loves her job. “Bottom line: I want my classroom to be one of the most exciting places a child ever visits,” says Venosdale on her blog. “Better than Disney World, as cool as flying to the moon, and most of all?  When they leave my classroom, I want them to remember our time together and take part of it with them. Every day is about building connections. Every moment counts. As W.B. Yeats said, ‘Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.’   Light it.  I want every child to have the best life possible.”

Now, take a look at her classroom’s blog, and it’s clear that she’s fulfilling her classroom goals. Whether they are building their own Mission to Mars rovers, creating original works of Greek art, or holding mock elections, her students are engaged.

Venosdale has taught for 10 years and currently teaches gifted education. She has been to Space Camp several times, and the STEM subjects are frequently featured in her teaching. Collaboration is a big part of Venosdale’s growth as a professional, and she is active on Twitter and with her Personal Learning network. She attended the 2012 PiL U.S. Forum in Redmond, where she shared her class project, Iditarod: The Great Learning Journey. “With the live race taking place in February of every year, the event opens the door to authentic learning,” Venosdale says on her site. “Creativity of designing products, collaboration in working with classmates and Skype interviews, challenge of learning new skills, and communication through technology are all explored.”

I hope you enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Krissy Venosdale.

Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?

I have been through eMINTS training and have been working hard to share my love of teaching with technology with others. I share and help others in any way that I can, and am active on Twitter where I have been sharing and learning a great deal. While my advanced degree and professional development have helped me greatly, it has been the experiences of meeting others at events such as Partners in Learning U.S. Forum 2012, Honeywell Advanced Space Academy 2012, Mickelson Exxon Mobil Teachers Academy in 2012, and my travels when I make presentations, which have allowed me to grow by learning from others. Through these amazing experiences and adventures, I have realized that you are never finished learning. When you are finished learning, you are finished teaching.

What has changed as a result of your efforts?

I love when my students make a connection with something they are learning about. I love it just as much when another teacher comes to tell me that they have used a tool in their classroom that I had shared or presented about. An email from a teacher telling me that my presentation inspired them to try something new makes every bit of a busy day I have completely worth it.

How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

We cannot get caught up in what we do not have access to. We have to find a way to make what we have work for our students.

How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

Twitter has allowed me to develop a network of other teachers to collaborate with; Skype has allowed my students to learn from the world. Technology in our classroom has given my students the freedom to dig as deep as they’d like in learning. I can’t imagine my job without technology. Reflecting on my blog, connecting with other teachers, and as a student tool? It’s invaluable!

What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education? 

Education has become watered down to meet standards. Standardized testing has forced education to be about standards instead of about thinking. The creativity, exploration, and thinking have been squeezed out of education. This compression has made it difficult to give students what they need. It’s not impossible though, and I will never use testing as an excuse for my students to learn or not learn in my classroom.

What is your country doing well currently to support education?

The US is constantly saying there is a need to improve STEM education and I think this is recognized. However, this does not trickle down into the schools. We cannot have emphasis on standardized testing AND authentic STEM-based experiences. It just doesn’t go both ways.

What conditions must change in your country to better support education?

Emphasis must come off of standardized testing and we need to move education toward a more project-based, constructivist, and inquiry-based approach. Learning must be authentic. We need to bring the passion back into the classroom. For teachers, for students, for learning.

What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

We need to reform how lessons are delivered. Technology is a tool for integration, but without a change in the design of learning and daily lessons, nothing will change.

What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)? 

Teach courageously. Learn endlessly.

What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?  

Helping: Inquiry and hands-on learning. Getting in the way? Emphasis on buzzwords that end with discussions that draw the focus off learning and off students.

If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

The Internet. You don’t need textbooks. The Internet lets you Skype with China, research polar bears in the arctic, examine prices of gasoline around the world, and that’s all before lunch.

About Krissy Venosdale

  • Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Current residence: Hillsboro, Missouri
  •  Education: Masters in Education, Ed.S in Educational Technology, currently writing dissertation for Ed.D in Educational Leadership
  • Website I check every day: Twitter…because my PLN (Personal Learning Network) inspires me!
  • Person who inspires me most: Walt Disney
  • Favorite childhood memory:  Loved making movies, designing signs on the old dot-matrix printers, and creating greeting cards.
  • Next travel destination (work or pleasure):  Walt Disney World
  • When was the last time you laughed? Why?  Today. A kid told me that he was surprised I didn’t get fired for being so awesome. It made me laugh, and then I felt grateful that I get to work with such amazing students every single day who never cease to make me smile or inspire me.
  • Favorite book:  We Are All Weird by Seth Godin
  • Favorite music:  An eclectic mix on my iPod!
  • Your favorite quote or motto:  Steve Jobs, “Connect the Dots” quote or “There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy. And its only reward is that it’s easy.”
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