Thursday, October 12, 2017

Just One Thing #IMMOOC

I am not sure why I did it.

Maybe it was because I was a new teacher.
Maybe it was because everyone did it.
Maybe it was because I thought that it would actually work.

When I started teaching first grade, I required a reading log. It started as a activity that parents and children would do together. 

Spend every evening reading wonderful books.
Record the minutes, record the title and author. 
Turn it in to me on Monday.


The harsh reality of the reading log was made clear to me once I had my own first grader at home. Every night after tubbie time, we would climb into her bed with a pile of wonderful picture books. 

We would laugh at the stories.
We would wonder about the characters.
We would let the beautiful illustrations take us to lands near and far.


....until Sunday night (or maybe Monday morning)...when I realized that I had to complete the reading log and record all of that wonderful reading that we had done! Yikes!  As a teacher I could recognize those "Sunday night journal entries" that were sitting in the hand-in basket.

NOT Wonderful...

Years later I started to question.

What was the purpose of that log?
Was it really making a difference in the reading lives of my students and their families?
What information was I getting from that log?

I really had to make a decision about the value of that log and after looking at those hard questions, I decided to abandon it.  On my assignment sheet I would write "Read with your child for 10 minutes a night".  In reality, those families that were snuggling up to read every night did not need to record it and the families that did not read, were recording but probably not reading anyway.

NOT Wonderful....

I decided to take a new approach. I started sending books home with kids so that they could "borrow" them. As they were returned, I would send more home.  I started helping the children make better choices during their library time and the most important thing I feel I did was to start author studies.

Total immersion in the works of
Mo Willems,
Kevin Henkes,
Rosemary Wells,
Helen Lester
And so many more.

Children started pressuring their parents to go to the library to check out books that I had not found. They also would devour and reread the favorites. I started growing a community of readers who did not need a reading log to read and love pictures and words. So I don't regret getting rid of the reading log and changing my thoughts to do what is best for learners.

Not for one WONDERFUL minute!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Innovation in Education #IMMOOC

I was SO cool.  When I went away to college I took this computer with me.  Had it in my dorm room. Was the envy of all of my typewriter-owning friends. I word-processed all of my papers on it.  I let others use it, inserting their own floppy disk, of course.  I could not afford a printer so I had to take the floppy into one of the computer labs to print my papers on the dot matrix and make sure I tore the dots off the sides.  I was SO cool.

Fast forward a couple of decades....

I just sent my firstborn off to college for the first time.  When we went shopping for computers (an item that was clearly expected for him to have), I was blown away by the number of options.  I have continued my love affair with apple for the many years since college but knew that we were looking for something different for Nate.  We came across this Lenovo Yoga.  A-MAZE-ING!  This thing is a laptop, a  tablet and everything in between.

I tell you these 2 stories not to demonstrate how old I am or how far computers have come but to make a point about innovation in education.  It is not about the stuff.  There was innovation in education LONG before the technology that we all use now.

I think that the innovation comes from the mindset of the educators.  Their willingness to try new things, explore and take chances are what moves the field of education forward.  Teachers' excitement when offered opportunity is a district's greatest asset.

The story of the 2 computers is relevant because I will say, even as an apple girl, my next computer may be a lenovo or whatever cooler version of it follows.  I would investigate it, not because of all the cool things that it does, but because of the possibilities it provides.

Possibilities for innovation.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Digital Conversion...slow and steady

Imagine that you find out that you are going to be getting 1;1 laptops in your classroom for the next school year!  What is your reaction?  My guess is that most of us would be excited at the opportunity to explore using new tools for digital learning. Or you feel your palms start to sweat, your head throbs and the room starts to spin as you think "What now?"

In an attempt to ease the minds of our teachers before the full digital conversion starts next school year, we held a half day digital conversion inservice. We spent our first hour of the day giving the teachers the "meat and potatoes" of next year's conversion.  We explained the Schoology Resource file that is housing all of our materials.

We also made classroom resources for teachers and I even added some custom color schemes because I know that we teachers love our classroom themes.  The posters were designed in primary designs as well so that even our littlest learners can take responsibility for their own learning!
I have included some examples below.

Our second hour was a "scavenger hunt" through the classrooms of our pilot 1:1 teachers.  The teachers labeled examples of different ISTE standards demonstrated in their student work.  There were also scenarios posted in each room that gave real-life examples of ISTE standards in action. Below is an example of one of the scenarios and the ISTE standards that were addressed.

The third hour was devoted to collaboration between teachers to create/plan some kind of system or product that would help them or benefit their team in the new school year.  Many teams worked on management systems for their devices and programs.  One kindergarten team designed a virtual field trip activity that addressed American locations that correlated to a story that is in our Wonders reading program.  They even designed a "tour book" with questions about the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty, etc. 

Our teachers are doing great things with the ISTE standards in their classrooms and I hope to continue highlighting them as the school year goes on.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017

LOOKEE!!!!   Thanks Liz!!!!  What will you inspire me to do next?????
Sunday, May 14, 2017

Digital Conversion...a new frontier

As the 2016-2017 school year comes to an end, my school district is reflecting on the 1:1 technology pilot program that has been underway in grades 2-5.  We have learned so much on this journey including the ever popular lesson learned -- pace yourself. There are SO MANY fun, fantastic, convenient apps and programs out there and available to teachers and students. Which one to use?

This is an exciting question when you have teachers that have volunteered to pilot a 1:1 initiative, have laptops available to all of the students in their classrooms, are told "go with it" and are thrilled to do so.  What happens when you tell all of the other teachers that they will also have this opportunity?
For some, they will be as excited and the itinitial group.  And for is a terrifying new frontier. 

In my position as K-5 Instructional Specialist, it is my job to help ease this transition.  There have been facutly meetings discussing the upcoming changes, a full afternoon of sharing between the "veterans" of digital conversion and the brave new entrants. In order to give our colleagues a starting point I created a "Top Tech" handout.  We polled the current teachers and asked what their "go-to" web sites and apps are. See belowfor the results!