Writing my way through the school year!

Archive for February, 2011

ANOTHER PLC DAY!

The word that comes to mind, after today’s conference  is “rethink.”  I have used that word so many times between today and yesterday, it’s unbelievable. But trust me when I say I am not using the word in vain!  It is the only way I can describe what PLC is making me do.  It is making me RETHINK the way I have been teaching.  Now mind you, I consider myself a pretty good teacher, not perfect, but good.  I keep my students engaged, I maintain discipline,  I teach using a variety of methods, and hey, we’ve even begun incorporating PLC in my school .  However, this  PLC summit  has brought me to the realization that I have not done the best that I can for my students!

 I know, you’re thinking, isn’t this the same person who was trashing professional development about two posts ago? Yes, that was me. 🙂  But this summit, this is what I want! I don’t know how many people were in that room, but each presenter, and I mean, each presenter, had us engaged practically every minute.  If teachers were talking , they were talking about PLC, not about where to go for lunch.  We met so many teachers from so many places, and we learned, not only from the presenters, wait for it, but from EACH OTHER! Wow!

 I have to share what I learned, so over the next couple of posts, I am going to share some key concepts that were presented.  Hopefully, this will twinge your curiosity and you will  find out what PLC is, and what it can do for your school.  Tonight, I am going to the top of the Hyatt and eat at the revolving restaurant. I’ll be ok, my head is still spinning from all I’ve learned in the last two days. 🙂

PLC- “Please,Let’s Collaborate!”

That’s not what it means, it means Professional Learning Community, but it’s  the essence of this concept.  Teachers collaborating, working as a team for the better of our students.  I am in Phoenix, Arizona, attending the Solution Tree PLC Summit 2011, and boy has it changed the way I think. I honestly thought we were implementing PLC in our school, but, we aren’t there just yet. It was good to see that we are on our way though.  The biggest obstacle is CHANGE!  A lot of teachers resist it, and it makes it difficult to get them to see it for the good that  it can do.  However, my  colleagues and I  are going to try our best to persuade them to see the  benefits for our students.In future posts,  I will  share the concepts I learned from this workshop. For now, I’m hungry, and I’m going to go out and enjoy Phoenix! 🙂

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Professional(?) Development

I attended a professional development workshop today.  I spent  three hours with  a roomful of 4th and 5th grade teachers who were being taught strategies from people who work with math, not with  students, math.  They are not teachers.  Yes, they go into classrooms and try out their ideas, but they do not teach.  I and my colleagues sat for three hours in a room, listening to  something we  could have been told  in an half-hour.  And let’s not  forget, the forced collaborative activities, just to liven things up!   They lost us in the first half hour. Have you ever been to a workshop in which teachers have no interest? Hushed, some not so hushed, conversations, doodlings scrawled all over agendas, eye rolling, and blank stares are witnessed all over  the room. Rude? Yes, I agree, but having been stuck in countless situations like these, I empathize.

Why not let teachers choose what they would like as professional development?  I would think that we would know what we need.  I am fortunate to be in a school where my principal values our opinion, however, that is not always true of the district. Not only is attendance mandatory, but then, you are forced to use what you are taught, good or bad.

I have to admit, the first half-hour of the workshop was beneficial,  but the entire workshop would have been even more beneficial and effective  if  the teachers in attendance from various  schools were able to  sit together and share ideas.  Who better to learn from, then another teacher who is successful?  Here’s another idea, why not let us work in our classrooms?  Three hours of classroom time in the middle of the school year?  Manna from heaven, seriously! Why are these options not available to us?  My colleagues and I have come to the conclusion that ” they” are afraid we are going to goof off.  So  like children, our time is monitored.

I’m not saying all district professional development workshops are horrible.  There have been some really good ones, where, I not only learned a lot, but I used what I learned in my classroom.  I would just like to see teachers treated professionally more often, and have our opinion count in the developing of our professionalism.

Environmentally-friendly lessons!

We just received new copiers. . Big ,big, heavy-duty copiers, meant to run off lots and lots of paper. I have come to the conclusion,  that teachers,mind you this opinion is  not based onany  research, use more paper than any other profession.  Between assessments, handouts, flyers, and the” 25 pages that were copied 2 sided/2 sided because someone forgot to clear the machine” or “the teacher who used it before you forgot to remove the pink paper,’ we waste a lot of paper!

That being said, I was so proud of myself when I created an environmentally friendly lesson.  As a matter of fact, more and more of my lessons are “green.”  I owe it all to my friend, technology.  I was teaching the skill making inferences and it  was almost completely green. First, my whole group lesson was  obtained from SMART exchange and was shared on the SMARTboard.  The students followed and interacted on the board, no paper. Next, they watched the video, “Miss Nelson is Back”, courtesy of Discovery Education’s United Streaming.  After viewing the movie, they completed the  “Organizing Inferences” sheet,that was  posted on Edmodo, turned in on Edmodo, graded on Edmodo, AND their grade was viewed on Edmodo. And as an icing on the cake, “Mrs.Nelson is Back” was  assessed using the quiz I obtained from United Streaming and typed onto Testmoz.com.  The quiz was  taken online, graded online,and the  scores were given to the students instantly! I tell you, how much more “green” could I get? 

More and more, because I have access to these tech tools, I have been moving away from the use of paper in my classroom ,and it’s a good thing. My students have begun suggesting lessons where I don’t require the use of paper. Our reading and math program have online assessments where the students’  grades can be accessed online.  I have created an answer key for assessments though, it’s always good to have a hard copy and some parents do not have Internet access at home. Our state testing program is online as well. I’ve found that being “green” is not only good for the environment, but it’s good for my classroom as well!

Smartbored? Never!

I recall years, and I mean years, ago when I was introduced to the Smartboard.  I was excited because this was a board you could touch and make things move! Wow!  First, we had portable Smartboards that were shared by the staff.  I was one of the few who was willing to drag it  into my room,  Eventually, we were able to get mounted Smartboards, and our principal awarded them to us based on the content of a 100 word  essay. That Smartboard is still mounted on my wall,  still waiting for the projector to be mounted, but I digress.

However,   I had come to the point, where, I believe, I was using the Smartboard  as a giant projector.  The past few weeks I’ve spent my time learning about all the cool features that Notebook 10 software has to offer, and I’ve fallen in love with my IWB again. I’m taking a class where I am learning about features of the Notebook 10 software that I didn’t know existed. How is it possible to have something for so long, yet know so little about it?

 Our facilitator is great, and the ideas that are being shared are amazing!  I am now at the point where I am creating lessons, even though I still take advantage of SMART Exchange, I mean why reinvent the wheel?   One of my homework assignments was to create a list of “Top 10 Cool Tools that I had learned about in this class. What a productive use of my time, all the cool tools have already been applied in my classroom.  I have taught them to my students, who are my willing guinea pigs.:) Today, I left my colleague glued to his computer, after sharing the wonders of the IWB.

My favorite new tool is the Random Word Generator. I inserted my students’ name in the generator, press “Generate” and Voila, it selects a student to read, come up to the board, etc…. My kids watch the board as it flicks through their names, “Pick me, pick me”, they chant softly. And when it lands on a name, they all call out the person’s name. It makes me laugh every time. 🙂

I know there are those who believe this is just another” tech tool”, but it’s not the tool, it’s what you do with it. I know what I do, I engage my students, and involve them in the learning process every day, using my SMARTboard.

“WeAreTeachers” Wants to GIVE Teachers Money!

   

 Check out this wonderful site. You will definitely find something you need!

        We Are Teachers  is a site to behold, pun intended, ideas, communities, and resources.  It is a site that shares ideas by teachers for teachers. Thousands of teachers get together on this site and share teaching ideas and best practices.  I am pretty new to We Are Teachers, so I haven’t had a chance to explore it as fully as I want to.  But one thing did catch my eye, the chance to win a grant for my classroom, just for posting an idea!  How cool is that?  This just doesn’t happen once, this is something they do all the time! You have to check it out yourself. Here’s what they’re about: “ WeAreTeachers provides a powerful online community for teachers, combining the expertise of our member community, the resources and knowledge base of our partners and the momentum of social media to recognize and reward innovative teaching ideas. With thousands of teaching ideas submitted for cash and prizes, WeAreTeachers offers a unique forum for innovation and collaboration.”

 

 

 

EdVoices- Teachers Talking!

It’s funny, but teaching is a profession where it seems that everyone’s opinion is important, except the teachers. It almost seems as if our opinion, our knowledge, our experience, doesn’t really matter.  We need to be heard. We need to have a voice. We need  a place where teachers can share and discuss all things education.  EdVoices was created by  NEA (National Education Association) to be a site where “bloggers committed to improving public education” share fresh viewpoints on all things education.  Their blog categories include Classroom Management,Education Technology, Education Policy,Lily’s Blackboard, and an “Around the Web” section that includes education blogs from, of course, all around the web.  As of today, I will post blogs from time to time on EdVoices. Check out my introductory post, I am that ‘ordinary” teacher! I’m really excited about adding my voice to EdVoices!

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