Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What a trip! A Visit to John Swett Elementary #teamkid

It was a beautiful day for a visit !
I'm not really a morning person, but I was actually looking forward to my 4:30 am alarm this morning! I have been excited to visit John Swett Elementary in Martinez and meet principal Adam Welcome in person! I'd been following Adam on Twitter for awhile, and then in December I happened to see his school featured in a Mind/Shift article about finding creative ways to bring music into any school. That day, I contacted Adam to schedule a visit to check out his music program. I later discovered that writing and technology are also in full effect at John Swett, so I invited Joe Wood to join me! (You can read Joe's post "Living #teamkid" here)
TK Writers

I have a dream...
Adam had described some of the awesome things happening there via email- kids blogging, Google Apps, 1:1 laptops in 4th and 5th grade, 1:1 iPads in 2nd grade, six iPads in each kindergarten classroom, and writer's workshop. Today we got to see all this and more in action!
Genius hour coming up- Edcamp style!
Genius hour project ideas
When we met Adam, he was busy greeting parents and directing traffic in the parking lot. His energy is contagious- you can feel it throughout the school. He shared that after school, he and another teacher were headed to another school to have a Twitter party -- PD around sharing the power of connecting with other educators on Twitter. Every teacher at Adam's school is on Twitter!
Blogging on Kidblog
Fraction Poster

The students were excited to share the things they were working on. Kids were researching rocks, planning genius hour projects, and writing blog posts. One 4th grade student shared "I like blogging because I can share my ideas with others and they will tell me how to improve. We can agree or disagree." The TK kids were excited to get started on their writing, and we saw kids playing the drums (and their knees and hips) to the beat with their amazing music teacher John Buschiazzo. 
 PVC instruments

There are many things that make this school amazing- Adam described his teachers, a very involved parent group, and fantastic kids. But it's also very clear when you talk to Adam that he's a true instructional leader. He taught a class one day when a class failed to get a substitute. His weekly staff PD "Wired Wednesdays" features sharing of a tech tool in just 15 minutes. He's headed to New York in February to attend the Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project institute, and he regularly connects with other teachers and administrators across the country via Twitter. He knows what's going on in every single classroom- what students are learning and how they're learning it. They even have their own hashtag-- #teamkid. 
Google like a boss!
Wonder Wall

Students in every class greeted him with a wave and "Hi, Mr. Welcome!" It's clear the kids dig their principal! 

I have long been a believer that the best way to learn is to get out there and see what's happening in classrooms and schools. I now have so many new ideas to add to our dream list as we plan for next school year. There are two things that I'm going to start right away: tweeting from each classroom at least one day each week, and making positive phone calls home to families. Adam's teachers give him index cards when kids do something awesome and he makes a phone call home. The wall above his desk is filled with index cards-- each one reflects a phone call home.
Check out these seats!

Wireless headphones in kindergarten
If you have a chance, take a trip to Martinez and check out John Swett Elementary-- where kids and teachers are filled with wonder and everyone is on #teamkid!


  1. Such a great visit yesterday with you and Joe! We love sharing the work at John Swett and I learned a ton from our conversations yesterday Jennifer! #teamkid

    1. Thank you for having us! it was awesome to hang out and see awesome in action!

  2. Replies
    1. Hi Shelly!
      Thank you! Such a great way to spend the day. I loved meeting you all! Have a great weekend!

  3. What a super inspirational school! I love seeing the exercise ball too- a nice low-tech solution to keeping kids engaged- if you stop paying attention, you fall off! Thanks for sharing!