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Work With Kayla

Flexible Seating Resources

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Learning with a Forensic Scientist

Learning with a Forensic Scientist

Last week our school had a very special visitor from Bend, Oregon teach us all about her job as a forensic scientist. Tori Dickerson, my sister, shared about fingerprint analysis, DNA, and real life application of science and math in her job. The kids tried on real lab coats and goggles, and received hands-on experience with discovering their own fingerprints on paper using special magnetic powder and brushes. It was rewarding to hear how many students across all grade levels left excited about her job and the possibility of becoming scientists later in life. Her visit reaffirmed my beliefs about the importance of teaching kids directly from experts with 21st century jobs, and providing hands-on experiences so students can learn by actually doing. More pictures from her visit can be found on our school Facebook page.

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Kayla Delzer

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Education Write Now: Changing the Way We Think About Relationships

Education Write Now: Changing the Way We Think About Relationships

This summer was full of many adventures for me. I flew down into the heart of the Grand Canyon in a helicopter, and I coauthored my very first book titled Education Write Now! I am excited to be able to share some behind-the-scenes insights about this special project with you.

When I was first invited to join the Education Write Now team by Jeff Zoul and Joe Mazza, I was intimidated looking at the list of people I would be writing with. My coauthors are absolutely my education heros, and to have my name on the cover of a book with them is an incredibly humbling honor. Each of them epitomize what it means to be passionate about education, and they consistently put the needs of kids first. If you want to improve your practices or just be inspired by the amount of drive and energy of this group, check out their social media accounts.

The premise of this book is unique for a few reasons.

First, we all flew into Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for a writer’s retreat for about 72 hours. The goal was to write the entire book (55,000+ words) during our stay. We were each challenged with writing our own chapter, or about 5,000 words. During the 72 hours, we had a regimented schedule that included time to check in with writing partners for feedback, invaluable writing tips and tricks from Routledge Publishing Company, as well as time to write alone. I learned a lot about myself as a writer during these few days. I do my best writing away from everyone else. In fact, most of my chapter was written on day two between the hours of midnight and three o’clock in the morning while alone in my hotel room working in my pj’s. I guess you never know when inspiration is going to hit you.

Second, each of the authors wrote about something urgent in education right now. I had some ideas about what I wanted to write about and topics that were on my heart and burning in my soul lately regarding education. Before my trip, I crowdsourced on Instagram and asked my followers (most of which are educators) what they’d like to see me write about. Overwhelmingly, they asked me to write about standardized assessment pressures, flexible seating and classroom design, and relationships. Luckily for me, those are three topics I felt pretty comfortable with. The topics were determined during the first day of the retreat, and I got to write about relationships in education. #luckyme #winning Specifically, I wrote about ways to build relationships between educators and students, between students, and between educators and families. My chapter offers research as well and simple practical ideas and tips (both my ideas and ideas I received from my PLN on instagram) to implement right away.

Third, while I follow each of the writers on social media, this retreat was the first time actually meeting some of them face-to-face in real life. The respect I have for each of the people I coauthored with grew every hour. They challenged me, supported me, and believed in me. They became more than just coauthors. They became friends.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading this expert from my chapter of the book, Changing the Way We Think About Relationships…
Relationships Between Educators and Their Students
I once had a principal approach me a few weeks into school saying he noticed how much effort I was putting into teaching the expectations, routines, and norms. In his next sentence, he expressed concern that I had not dove deeply enough into our content yet. He asked me when I was going to get going on all of the curriculum. I told him that the first six weeks of school were foundational for the relationships I needed to establish and nurture. How could I expect students to learn from me if they did not understand me or trust me? I convinced my principal that I had a handle on everything and that I knew exactly what I was trying to do. As a result of this investment up front, we did not spend much time later that year dealing with management or expectations. Sure, some students needed reminders from time to time, but for the most part we could focus on learning and growing together. My students averaged a growth of 1.9 grade levels that year academically according to our end of the year standardized test (which by the way, relationships are not measured on). I am confident that we would not have seen as much growth if we had not taken the time early in the year to put the focus where it needed to be:  relationships and growing as a classroom family. The following ideas have been classroom tested and are approved by fabulous educators around the world to help empower your students and strengthen your relationship with them.

  • Establish a new tradition to deliver words of affirmation consistently. Each Friday, I write love notes to every single student in my class and I stick it right to their mailbox. I do not write the same message for every child, nor do I write paragraphs for each child. Each child receives a simple sticky note with a unique comment or note from me about something I appreciated or noticed that week. Often times, my students collect these notes in their take-home binders or inside of their lockers. They take such pride in receiving an individualized love note. And you know what’s even cooler? Seeing my kids begin to write love notes to each other and even me. I started to collect the notes throughout the year and displayed them around my bookshelf. I wanted to show kids that I valued their love as much as the valued mine. I have really grown in that respect throughout my career. During the early years of my teaching, if a student told me they loved me, I would often reply with a “thanks” or an awkward hug. I was trained not to be my students’ friends and not to get too personal or close with them. I even had an educator once tell me not to smile until December! That does not work for me. My mom, Deb Hoerth, is my inspiration in all things elementary education. She was my kindergarten teacher, and now in her forty-second year of teaching, she epitomizes what it means to love kids, and I do not recall a single day that she did not smile at us. As a third grade teacher, I tell my students I love them often even if they do not say it first, and #lovenoteFriday is a favorite tradition of mine and the students I serve. Regardless of whether you serve ten kids or hundreds of kids, if you make this tradition or something similar an intentional priority, it will become a reality in your school.
  • Attend your students’ activities outside of school. I can not even begin to count the number of hockey games, baseball games, gymnastics meets, basketball practices at the YMCA (yes, you read that right), swim meets, dance recitals, or Lego league events I have attended over the past ten years. At the beginning of each quarter, I text families asking for the schedule of extracurricular events their children participate in. I explain that I think it is imperative that students know I value them as people and that all of their interests matter to me. Most of the time, parents are surprised that I would take time out of my non-contracted personal life to support their students. For me, I cannot imagine it any other way. Obviously, I cannot attend every event of every child, but I do make every effort to attend at least one event of each child. Yes, I am spending a couple of hours on a weeknight or a Saturday at the event, but the look on the child’s face when they glance over to the sidelines and see me is invaluable. Also, the two hour investment I made on a Saturday pays huge dividends for the entire school year. A modification of this idea comes from Katie Van Dam in Coolidge, Arizona. She puts up a large calendar in her classroom where her students write their special activities like baseball or soccer games. She is able to see which events she can attend, and she said her students use the calendar to attend each other's activities as well. That’s a win-win!


While this was just a short sneak peek of my writing, I hope you enjoyed it. This post is actually the third in a series of posts by each of the coauthors about the experience.  You can check out Jeff’s post here and Tony’s post here. The fourth post will be published by one of my new friends, Starr Sackstein. You’ll want to check out what she has to say about this project!

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Kayla Delzer

Monday, August 7, 2017

#GeniusHour Master Course Opportunity with AJ Juliani

#GeniusHour Master Course Opportunity with AJ Juliani

If you've read this article from the spring of 2015, you know my students are super passionate about their Genius Hour time and they have absolutely blown me away with what they have become experts on. I also reference the importance of student led learning and Genius Hour in my TEDx Talk, and in this post I wrote for ISTE 2016. I believe Genius Hour has a place in every classroom, and I'm excited to share a unique opportunity with you...

My friend AJ Juliani, who is widely known for his work involving all things design thinking and Genius Hour, is offering a fantastic master course for you! The price of the course is $125 from August 6-August 16, or use my code KAYLA and the price drops to $99.

You can register up until August 16.
save 20% on your purchase by using the code KAYLA

Here's what the full course includes:

  • 70 Videos walking you step-by-step through the Genius Hour process
  • Year-long Private discussion group for course members with AJ (Facebook/Voxer)
  • 4- Week Unit and 7 lesson plans mapped to standards, 21st Century Skills, Bloom’s Taxonomy and Webb’s DOK
    • K-2 Unit and 3-5 Unit
    • 6-8 Unit and 9-12 Unit
  • 8- Week Unit and 10 lesson plans mapped to standards, 21st Century Skills, Bloom’s Taxonomy and Webb’s DOK
    • K-2 Unit and 3-5 Unit
    • 6-8 Unit and 9-12 Unit
  • 12- Week Unit and 14 lesson plans mapped to standards, 21st Century Skills, Bloom’s Taxonomy and Webb’s DOK
    • K-2 Unit and 3-5 Unit
    • 6-8 Unit and 9-12 Unit
    • Mini-Genius (Two Lessons) Activity mapped to standards
    • Student Genius Hour Notebook (print and digital)
    • PowerPoint for each unit
    • Starter Question pack for teacher and students
    • Parent letters
    • Assessment rubrics for process and product
    • Handouts for everyday and every stage

    Bonuses only available during launch week:

    • Guide to student blogging (step-by-step how to)
    • Guide to social media in the classroom (What to use and how to use it)
    • Genius Hour Journal (the popular GH resource PPT)
    • Wordpress 101 (how to create your own blog and get it up and running)
Of note...

  1. This course is evolving. Each month new lessons will be added based on community discussion and feedback.
  2. It is everything you need to run GH at any level. Lessons are differentiated for K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. This is not for one specific grade level, it is for K-12.
  3. All videos and materials are downloadable to your own device/computer so you can take them on the go and use without wifi etc.
  4. All files are editable documents. Nothing is in PDF, it is all Word Doc and PPT files that you can adjust to for your classroom needs.
  5. If you don’t have devices in your classroom, don’t worry. All the materials are print/handout ready, and you can run GH without computers for your students.

More info about Genius Hour from AJ's blog...
How Genius Hour Benefits the Entire School Community
10 Reasons to Try Genius Hour This Year

Remember, the course registration closes August 16!
Save 20% on your purchase by using the code KAYLA.

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Kayla Delzer

Sunday, July 23, 2017

BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Flexible Seating and Student Centered Learning Spaces

BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Flexible Seating and Student Centered Learning Spaces

If you've been following me @topdogeteaching or this blog over the last few years, you know I am extremely passionate about flexible seating and all things best practice in learning spaces. My current interviews, podcasts, articles, research and photos can be found right here on my blog

And now, the next step in this journey...

Last week I went on a helicopter tour from Las Vegas down into the heart of the Grand Canyon. In the spirit of inspiration and adventure, I brought along my newest book contract to sign. I'm proud to announce I am authoring a book all about flexible seating and redesigning student learning spaces! My book will be published by Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. during the spring of 2018. Cheers to new adventures with the Dave Burgess Consulting family!

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Kayla Delzer
[name=Kayla Delzer] [img=] [description=Award-Winning 3rd Grade Teacher. International Keynote Speaker. Classroom Designer. Flexible Seating Guru. TEDx Speaker. Columnist. Technology Champion. Digital Citizenship Expert.]

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