Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Filled Up & Ready to Pour
It is easy to be a teacher on the go even throughout the summer. However, we spend nine months pouring ourselves out for the students and their families until there is nothing left of us. Oh sure, we get the little breaks here and there for a sanity boost so that we don't totally fall apart, but that is not enough. It is certainly not enough for me. My favorite part of the summer was shutting down, turning off and tuning in to nature, my family and the world I am part of that has nothing to do with teaching for the month of July. I took all of July off with the exception of #edcampSurfIA hosted by my friend Steve Kwikkel, which ended up to be a road trip with my besties and my daughter.
In the end, it doesn't matter what you do to relax, to debrief, to unplug, to undo. It matters that you do just that because if you do not, you won't have enough in you to pour out on your new students and families when the year starts!

Wishing you all a fantastic school year! Be the change!


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Everybody WINS In Math (Guided Math)

Image result for guided math
Guided Math allows for differentiation using a flexible framework to meet the needs of all learners. It is NOT whole group instruction, nor is it an emphasis on pencil and paper learning so as to become a worksheet wonder. Instead, by providing more opportunities for 1:1 engagement and observation, I can use guided math then to observe so much more closely what the standards the students are excelling in and which they need more help in.  I find that my background now with Guided Reading and my four years so far of Guided Math have helped me understand the content so much more deeper so that I can reach right to where the student struggles. I really enjoy this process.

Everybody WINS In Math is a vigorous schedule. I use the word vigor over rigor on purpose (see below).


1. a (1) : harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment : severity (2) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible : strictness (3) : severity of life : austerity b : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty
2. : a tremor caused by a chill
3. : a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold
4. : strict precision : exactness
5. a obsolete : rigidity, stiffness b : rigidness or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli

Does that sound like fun? NO. That is a horrible horrible way to learn.


1 : active bodily or mental strength or force
2 : active healthy well-balanced growth especially of plants
3 : intensity of action or effect
4 : effective legal status

Here is the debut of how I will use Guided Math in the 5th and 6th grades starting this school year 2016-2017.  Here is my previous blog post a few years ago about BUILD math, which still is very effective if you have a longer class period.

I wish you all a great school year!

Kimberly Hurd Horst

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Along Came TED

The Beginnings:

It all started with TED and TED started in 1984 as a conference on Technology, Entertainment and Design. TED made its way into my life with various talks I watched. Then three years ago, I had a great idea. Why not incorporate them into my classroom? So, I did and we watched a few. Then I thought why not have the students write and practice and speak their own? So, for the past two years, that is what they have done.

Here they are below.

2014-2015 The theme was Everything Is Awesome & What To Do When It Is Not. I had a group of fifth graders.

The TED Days

2014-2015 Photos Only


The TED Days

2015-2016 The theme was The Change Begins With Me In Grade Three. I had a group of third graders.

On the first go around,  I incorporated all that I had learned from models in the field of Geniushour such as Joy Kirr  and Angela Maiers and I had picked a theme from the beginning of the year that was based off of the LEGO Movie song, Everything Is Awesome. It is a catchy song, but it is not true. Sometimes, things are NOT awesome and life will get you down and the lessons are learned in those moments.

The trick to implementation is starting on the first day of school. You know, you get in the end magnificent results if you do all the hard work in the beginning. Though you can't hear the TED Talks from this 2014-2015, ones that stand out to me are: Divorce and Me, Sports Leadership, Attitude Is Everything, Obstacles Can Make You Awesome and All Things Are Possible, School Is Hard--But I Am Amazing.  I recall many tears shed by myself. I was trying to Instagram it all, and I was pulled into each speech with my heart.

By the time 2015-2016 started, I had prepared all summer for what would be the foundation of the school year. I wraped everything around a theme. I settled on The Change Begins With Me In Grade Three and I looked for connections to that all year long. What went well was the incorporation of valuable lessons written out by Angela Maiers in Liberating Genius. If you don't know where to start, start there. It helped to read Paul Solarz' book over the summer as well to continue to create a student owned classroom.

What is magnificent is the growth in the students throughout the year that I can document by something that is not a test. It is a growth of character. See, by the time each year that we got to the TED Talk time, the students had already done two other Geniushour speeches and had been in the process of practicing how to give a public speech.  I had gone in both years from students who could barely stand in front of classmates, to students who couldn't wait to share their passion and hearts with the world.

That is why I teach.

The How

Preparing students for TED talk speeches is NOT easy.


There are many ways that people are doing Geniushour and not a single one of them is the right way, instead, you have to figure out what is the right fit for you and for your students for that year only. There are great resources to help you and that you might want to consider reading. Then set it up from the beginning of the school year, and give many opportunities for public speaking, invite the general public and families and celebrate wildly.



Genius Hour Guidebook: Fostering Passion, Wonder and Inquiry In the Classroom

Pure Genius

Teach Like A Pirate

Learn Like A Pirate

Passion Driven Classroom

Public Speaking Skills:

It was from my friend Sandy Otto that I learned first about PVLEGS and let me tell you, that works! She introduced me to Eric Palmer's speaking and listening which helped me to frame better the lessons behind Geniushour which are public speaking empowerment so that your story, your heart can be heard!



Well Spoken

Teaching the Core Skills of Listening and Speaking

The Importantance of Mattering:

As Angela Maiers says, Mattering Is the Agenda! It all comes down to that and I believe it to the core. So much beauty comes out of the moments when we take the time to listen to each other's hearts. We enjoyed heart mapping tremendously!  Watch the video in the link!


Angela Maiers TED Talk


Liberating Genius

Classroom Habitudes

The Why

It is so simple to find the why for me. It is simply centered around genius and passion. We are all born with gifts and talents that the process of "doing school" had not in the past cared much about in its educational high academic quest, but matters of the heart do indeed matter.  I want to be caught up, I want to be found in the middle of helping students on their path of self discovery and along the way, grow into strong leaders with excellent speaking skills! That my friends, is 21st Century learning to me.

As I transition to a new post next year at a new school, I hope to bring this core element of learning with me and continue on with our TED Talks, because it helps the students put their DOT on the world in a tremendous way and to realize that they can color with all the crayons in the box! !

Along Came Steve

My friend Steve drove up from Iowa just for the kiddlets in my room for one day of presentations. Here is his reflection. 

TED Talks For Kids: Also it is a good thing to study PVLEGS while watching these people give their TED talk.

Thomas Suarez: A 12-year-old app developer

My Philosophy For A Happy Life

Overcoming Hopelessness

Caine's Arcade

How Do You Define Yourself

My Invention That Made Peace With Lions

Inside the Mind of A Maker