Posted in NCPTS - Standard 5, Professional Development

Teacher Talks – CMS Foundation

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I attended a Teacher Talks series at the McGlohon Theater in Uptown Charlotte on Wednesday, March 15. It was an evening of inspirational talks by six teachers in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School district. The background for each teacher varied both in their teaching position and in their life/teaching experience. They ranged from elementary to high school teachers and from Science to Physical Education teachers. Some were teachers straight out of college and others worked in the corporate world for a while before moving into the education field.

For me, these various backgrounds were what made these talks so interesting. I loved hearing about what these teachers did, or were doing, in the classroom, but I am equally as fascinated with how they arrived in the position they are today.

The quote at the top of the page is from the last speaker, however, I am not sure it is entirely hers. I think she said it might have come from her principal. She went on to explain how the heart work is why she teaches. I hope I am not misquoting, but it was a great line that stuck with me throughout her speech.

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Katie Weed shared her personal story and her topic of Grit: Passion and Perseverance. The line above was something she said towards the end. She proposed the idea of bringing our passion into our planning meetings and not just the test data we have on our students. She urged us to follow our passion or find our passion.  It gave me a lot to think about what I bring to the classroom and to each of my lessons.

The next speaker was Mary Soliman and I do not have a quote from her. I hope this does not appear as a lack of interest on my part. All of the speakers were equally captivating, and at times I was more involved with listening, than trying to save a quote on my phone. She spoke about creating independent learners in the classroom, as opposed to spoon feeding them the information. She said that teachers should illuminate the way for students, like a candle.

Peter Panico was the next speaker and accompanied his talk with some great videos and images of the work he was doing in the classroom with his students. I was particularly impressed with the cardboard roller coasters he had the students create to teach force and motion. He also spoke about “finding your tribe” or a group of people that you relate to and relate to you. The establishment of strong, positive relationships is stressed by so many educators and I don’t think it can be stressed enough. If you are going to teach with passion and do the “heart work”, you can’t do it alone. You need that strong, positive support.

Doug Smith led the next talk and started off by getting us up and moving.  He had us stand and do some quick activities that got our bodies moving after sitting for about 30 minutes. This was the introduction to his talk about active and healthy schools. He stated that “sitting is the new smoking” in terms of how damaging it can be for our bodies and minds. How active are we? How much time do we spend sitting – at school, in the car to and from school, at home? How are we bringing movement into our classroom and giving our students a chance to be active and healthy in order to do their best work? He mentioned some pretty shocking statistics, but he also recommended some simple activities we can do throughout the day to help get kids moving and stay focused. He also mentioned two books in his talk:

Brain Rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school – by John Medina

Spark: the revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain – by John J. Ratey with Eric Hagerman

 

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Melissa Ligh was the next speaker and used the term “screenagers” to describe the students of today. She brought a positive view to the use of technology in the classroom. I could relate to so much of what she was saying, although I don’t think I have the same level of interest for online shopping as she does. The quote above was another one that stood out to me and put into words the reason why I started a blog. Since starting this blog three weeks ago, I feel it has had a major impact on how I reflect on my experiences in the classroom.

Jordan Todd rounded out the evening. Her talk was filled with passion as she explained why she was a teacher and why she did the heart work. I decided to start off this post with her quote because it seems to describe all of the teachers who spoke. They all do the heart work and it was clear in the way they spoke that night and the work they were doing in the classroom.

The evening also featured an introduction by a student from Northwest School of the Arts and musical performances from West Charlotte High School and Myers Park High School.

I realize this post does not do justice to the inspiration and motivation that these speakers provided.  I think a video of this teacher talk will soon be available through the CMS Foundation.  If this is the case, I highly recommend taking the time to listen to what these six educators have to say. It will be time well spent.

 

Posted in NCPTS - Standard 4, NCPTS Standard 3

Using Jacob’s Ladder with song lyrics

As a music major, I try to incorporate various aspects of music into the class. One idea I had from a PD session at school was creating our own Jacob’s Ladder to song lyrics.

I started using the ladders this year with song lyrics as a way to help students with theme. Determining the theme of a story, poem, song, etc. is a concept that students struggle with when studying larger novels, short stories, and especially poetry.  I thought  with a shorter 3 or 4 minute song it might make it easier before moving on to harder text.

The biggest problem I had with this was that my taste in music is usually different than my 10 year old students. So far this year, I have only used songs that I selected, but I might open this up next year to having students choose some songs and develop ladders around them.

This idea first came to me last year when we did The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt. The story is set in a middle school in Long Island during the 1967-68  school year. Topics such as the Cold War and the Vietnam War come up throughout the story and I was looking for ways to teach about these topics and show the emotional impact they had then and now. I was a big Billy Joel fan growing up (still am) and was in high school when his Storm Front album was released. The song Leningrad immediately came to mind and I played it for the class and we discussed the lyrics.  This year I decided to create a ladder based on the lyrics. The other song I played at the end of the novel was Goodnight, Saigon.  I was a little hesitant about this because of some of the lyrics (Playboy and hash pipe), but this really did not come up at all in our discussion. I made a ladder for this to go along with the novel and give us more focus in our discussion.

The Storm Front ladder is something I use as a way to introduce the music and lyrics of Billy Joel to the class.  I also use it as a way to discuss theme. I remember when I first heard this song I took it in the literal sense and thought it was strange that he would be writing about going out fishing.  It wasn’t until I heard an interview when he explained the metaphor behind it. The urge to shrug off stability and ride off into a storm despite the dangers. I realize my students might not get this concept, but at least it gets them thinking on a higher level.

Posted in NCPTS - Standard 4, Professional Development

Atomic Learning Training

In my last post about Atomic Learning I said I would continue the discussion later about some of the training modules I took and what I thought of them.

Coding in the Classroom

If coding is new to you, this is a training module you need to take. It gives some important information about how coding can help students and why it is important for them to learn. It also has a variety of sources and ideas for how to learn it yourself and how to incorporate it in your classroom.  There is also a follow up to this course called, Moving Forward: Coding Grades 3-8. This is on my To-Do list for training in the next few weeks.

Another point about coding in the classroom is to take them time and do the offline, paper activities that can be found on Code.org. These are great for getting students to think about algorithms and connecting it to what is done with coding online and how they use these aspects like algorithms and functions in their everyday lives. I made the mistake of jumping right in to the websites and now I am backtracking and doing the work offline.  Next year I know to start with these activities and really spend time with them.

Canvas LMS Training

There are a few of these on Atomic Learning. In the screen shot below, you can see what they offer.

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I completed the Canvas Instructor and Grading & Assessment Training. I am currently going through the Mastery Gradebook training. If you are new to Canvas and thinking about using it, then the Instructor training session is where you need to start.

I enjoy using Canvas, but I realize it can be a little overwhelming because there is a lot you can do with it. I started using it last year and learned the hard way to take it slow.  At first, I tried to do all the subjects I taught.  This was a bad idea and I backed off and took it one class at a time.  The first class I used it for was Language Arts. For me, it was easy to lay out the design for this class by using modules for novel studies, writing, EOG review, etc.  I would suggest doing the same and taking one class and really working on how you want to lay out the material and present it. I hope this helps.

Posted in NCPTS - Standard 4

Use of Storify

Storify is a great site for creating stories and linking to outside sources like Twitter as a way to communicate with parents, students and other public forums. I am still a little unsure about how to use it in the classroom. When I researched samples on the internet, I saw that it is used almost as a running news story of a particular event.  Some people used it as a way to post moments throughout a concert and others used it as a way to post recent developments in a news story.

One way I plan on using it in the classroom is to create an online record of an event that we have at school for parents who might not be able to make it because of work or other commitments.  I think this will be a great way to keep them connected to the class and their child. We have two events coming up where I might explore this site.  I hope to make use of this for our class trip and Science Olympiad event coming up in April and May. I think this will be a great way to keep parents informed about what we are doing throughout the day.  If anyone has other ideas or suggestions, I would love to hear them.

Posted in NCPTS - Standard 4, NCPTS - Standard 5, Professional Development

Using # to keep a running record on Twitter

This was another NCTIES session with George Couros on March 3, 2017. I got so much out of the one the previous day, that I attended both sessions he had on March 3.

The title of this session is Creating a Blended Learning Environment. #nctiesgc #ncties17.

There was a lot of information in this presentation, but what I took away from it was how to use Twitter and #’s as a way to organize your posts, docs, and tweets.

Unique #’s for your tweets.

Using specific #’s in Twitter can help to keep your tweets organized and easy to find.   If you set a specific # for a class or a topic, then the students can just search that # to find information.  However, be sure to check if that # is already in use. Can also use # to tweet out to parents. An example of this for my school would be me using #nasifeBAC17. by doing this, parents or students can search this particular hashtag and see all the tweets I sent out, or they sent out with this tag.

One area of technology that I am always struggling with is the amount of emails I receive in a day.  With this idea of tags on tweets and docs it seems like a great way to eliminate some emails. Parents and students can just search the tag and see any information that might be posted.  By using 17, it is a way for me to distinguish the year this was used and make it an archive for that class. This way I can look back and see what was done in previous years and have a record.

Hashtags in Title for Google Apps

Hashtags in the title of docs, forms, sheets, etc. are important. This is a more cloud based way to organize instead of putting things in folders. Hashtags create a way to search easily in Google Drive.

Other Points from this Session

  1. Use bit.do as a better way to shorten links and customize them. It allows you to customize the title of the link.
  2. Instead of searching for videos for students, have them search for it.  Create a form for them to label it and place it and explain why they think it is important.  Teaches them to access information online. Can also do this as a way to check in with them and see how they are doing academically or socially.
  3. Don’t spoon feed others with the basics of technology.  They need to learn basics on their own, so we can collaborate on the big ideas and bigger themes of collaboration in the classroom. This was something that really impressed me.  This was a session about how to use Google Apps, Twitter, etc. effectively in your classroom. There was an assumption that the basics of these apps was already known.  It was not a session to learn how to create a doc or a form, how to title it, or how to share it.
    • There was also a discussion about how to pass this information along to other teachers and how to get them to buy into it. “Try to recreate the experience you want to see with your students when you try to get other teachers to do this.” – George Couros. This quote made a lot of sense to me and something I need to consider as I try to get others involved in this.
  4. Set the bar higher for students.  Don’t always tell them stuff they should NOT be doing on Twitter, instead tell them and show them the great things they can do with it.

 

Posted in Professional Development

Blogging and Digital Portfolios

This was a session at #ncties17 with George Couros on creating blogs and portfolios for students and teachers.

The session was about how we can use blogs and portfolios as a way for teachers and students to keep track of their life and work over a long period of time.

Some of the steps to writing a blog post are below.

  1. Write – Put your information here, pics, videos, links, etc.
  2. Categorize – Ex. Teacher Observations – Categorize by standards. Think ahead and align standards to what you want – if you want administration categorize by leadership standards for admin. Plus 1 – Personal. Categories are big ideas or standards. This is something I am still working out and trying to figure out the best way to use. I’ve started really looking at the design of other people’s blogs to see how they use this.
  3. Tag – Along with tagging the content of your post, you might want to tag yourself, so it shows up on Google search.
  4. Publish

Blogging and Portfolios apply to all teachers and all subjects. Blogs should not be seen as an additional assignment, it should replace other assignments. “Not a plus, a replacement.” – George Couros.

As you can probably tell from this post and the others on my blog, this is new to me and I am trying to make it a consistent practice as a way to reflect on what I do as a teacher. I also hope to make it a resource that other teachers might be able to read and find something they can use.  At the conference, I was using this as a way to take notes on everything that was being discussed during the session. Going over it now I hope to edit it and make it sound more like a blog post and less of a note taking practice.

Posted in Professional Development

NCTIES Conference – Thursday March 2

I am here in Raleigh at my first NCTIES conference and feeling a little overwhelmed by all the great ideas out there. The opening keynote was great.  I would highly recommend following Jennie Magiera – @MsMagiera onn Twitter. Also, went to a great session on Hyperdocs and Legos. Some great resources in the link. Getting ready for Coding in the Classroom session. Will post again with more resources and ideas I picked up.