Writing my way through the school year!

Archive for June, 2012

Two New Posts on “Diary of a Public School Teacher” on Blogger!

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Race from the Axe РYoutube satire about teacher evaluations

I Have to Stop Reading Diane Ravitch’s Blog!– Find out why!

Moving to Blogger!

Sorry to say I will be moving “Diary of a Public School Teacher” to Blogger. ūüė¶
I love WordPress, but I also love embedding videos and using plugins, and I can do that on Blogger.
I will leave this blog in place, but will start all new posts on Blogger!
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101 Web 20 Tools for Teachers!

AND….I’M OFF! ( Summer “Vacation?”)

Today was the last day for the 2011 – 2012 school year! Yeah! Boo! As always, it was bittersweet. I will miss this group, their laughter,¬†creativity,and ¬†goodwill. I won’t miss all the testing, micromanaging, etc…, although I know it awaits me in the near future.

BUT… what will I do with my time off? A colleague told me to do things that I enjoy, no work! ¬†But it is so hard for me to abide by that,¬†because¬†I will be “working”, at least by her standards. I will be involved in things that have to do with school, and I can’t help myself. I ENJOY learning new ways to teach, especially edtech, ¬†and introduce the curriculum to my students. (So, I guess I am abiding partially).

I LOVE discussing and sharing ideas with my wonderful PLN on Twitter, Linkedin, my blog Facebook page, any place, anywhere, anything education.

I anticipate growing my PLN, and learning innovative ideas that I can now take my time and explore. I will read Zite, blogs, education articles, and Facebook pages, and share on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I will post my teacher thoughts, opinions, and lessons throughout the summer.

A ¬†friend of mine described me as a “teacher’s teacher” after we attended an education conference on a Saturday. Yes, (gasp), a Saturday! But, she loved it, and we learned so much.

I already have two webinars scheduled for tomorrow. One is for Nearpod, an Ipad app for interactive multimedia presentations. The other is Edmodo, a secure¬†social¬†learning network for teachers and students. Nearpod is new to me. However, I have used ¬†Edmodo in my classroom for two years, but they keep adding stuff, and I don’t want to miss anything! I know these won’t be the last two for the summer. ūüôā Lifelong learner!

There are so many teachers like me, who “work” during the summer. The “work” is a way to leisurely explore new ways to engage our students. Tons of teachers don’t see it as a chore, but as something fun!

I do enjoy my summer. I don’t do summer school, and I do not attend any district workshops. ¬†My summertime is my time, and I want to be able to delve deeply into what I choose, not the mandated stuff. (Except this year I will check ¬†out Common Core). I travel, go to the beach, work on my novel, have barbeques, hang out with friends and family, and even enjoy a glass or two of wine on my deck. ¬†But I am not going to feel guilty about indulging my passion for teaching, even when I’m supposed to be off! ūüôā

Tweet Arne Duncan!

Merit Pay for Teachers? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Bribe!

COMING SOON?

And you know they would! ūüôā Merit pay, how realistic is it that our pay could actually be tied to test scores? Very realistic!

What is merit pay?  Noun :extra pay awarded to an employee on the basis of merit (especially to school teachers)

What “think tank” thought up this idea, maybe the same one that stated that smaller class size doesn’t matter? I am amazed by what people (non-educators) come up with in order to hold teachers “accountable.” Or is it to make sure that the “better” teachers get what they deserve? No matter the reasoning behind this premise, it is ridiculous! ¬† I know it probably sounded like a good idea, but it is difficult to come up with criteria in the education field that would allow this idea to work.

Tie our pay to test scores? Are all students equal? I don’t think so. If that was the case, why would we need differentiated instruction? If Teacher A works ¬†in a school with struggling students and Teacher B works in a school with high achievers, does that make Teacher B a teacher who is deserving of merit pay, and Teacher A is not?

If Teacher A and B engage their students, and provide ample opportunities for their students to learn, but Teacher B has enough students that pass the test, does this mean Teacher B is a better teacher?

Or what if Teacher B does nothing but teach to the test, while Teacher A works to establish a well-rounded student?  Is Teacher B going to get paid more if more of his/her students pass?

I believe that most teachers are dedicated, hard-working people, who don’t need to be “bribed” to do their job. Teachers don’t do what they do for money, that is obvious from the salaries we make. ¬†I partially agree with¬†Arne Duncan, teachers should be paid up to $150,00. But pay them for all that they do, not because their students scored high enough on a test!

Does Size Matter?

Yes, it does, at least when it comes to class size.

Recently Governor Romney visited Pennsylvania and made the remark, “a¬†think tank¬†type group went and looked at South Korea¬†and Singapore and around the United States¬†and said, gosh, in the schools the highest performing in the world, their classroom sizes are about the same in the United States¬†.” Is education a priority in those countries? ¬†I bet it is.

Arne Duncan, the Education Secretary, has also called class size “a sacred cow,” “and I think we need to take it on,” said in¬†March 2011. He¬†later said, “My point there was that I think the quality of the teacher is so hugely important. I’ve said things like, give me the parent, give me an option of 28 children in a class with a phenomenal teacher or 22 children in a class with a mediocre teacher. If I was given that choice, I would choose a larger class size. I¬†probably¬†would too, but why should I have to?

This is not about politics, this is about what is best for our students. I agree that teacher quality is important. I agree that parental support makes a difference. But class size is just as important.

A number of my students are¬†chorus¬†members, and one day they had to leave for rehearsal. ¬†That left 15 students in the classroom. ¬†What a difference their absence made in my room! The remaining students asked, “Mrs.M, what if there were this many kids in the room all the time?” ¬†I smiled. In my mind, I was thinking of how much more I could accomplish. ¬†How less draining the day would be. ¬†I thought about the way I would be able to give each student individualized attention.

Don’t get me wrong, I managed with my group of 23 this year, and I realize 23 isn’t a pretty bad number. But I know others are not as fortunate as I am. There are schools, where there are almost 30 students in a classroom. Even a “phenomenal” teacher ¬†would have a difficult time with this number.

I remember in the 80’s when I had 30 students in my room, but it was different. The parents were involved, the students listened, they sat in rows, and I taught out of a textbook. The classroom was ¬†easier to control , to manage. But now, when the dynamics have changed, it’s not so easy anymore. Not when you want to engage students, create critical thinkers, and differentiate instruction.

I wish I could get the “think tank” and Gov. Romney in a classroom of 25 1st graders. I wish Arne Duncan would spend the day in a room full of 30 middle schoolers.

I am realistic. Presently, the economy is in a turmoil , money is tight, and budgets are cut. But if so much is expected of educators, if we are to work  in a productive environment, why not provide us with something that would help, a smaller class?

Data! Data!Data! and Presenting Playfully!

This post is twofold, a little about data and a little about a playful presentation about data.

We celebrate data, “Data Day!”, on June 11, this is a districtwide thing we got going on. Every school gets together as a staff and “celebrates” the data that we have gathered. I have nothing against data. ¬†As a matter of fact, my team got a better understanding of how to use data to guide instruction this year. We used data to plan carousels(students travel from room to room to hit on a certain skill), focus on particular strategies, etc….

However, ¬†I did have an issue with my new friend, data. In order to gain data, I had to assess my students, assess, assess, assess. ¬†It became an endless round of assessing, and my students were sick of it! I can’t blame them. Formative tests, pre/post tests, DCAS, common assessments(district), universal screening… And then, guess who has to input the data if it is not on a scantron form?

That’s enough griping, on to the playful part! For Data Day, we have to “think outside the box” and highlight the data we are most proud of. I used Sliderocket ¬†to “show off” our data. Below is the video I made with GoAnimate¬† and placed at the end of our presentation. ¬†Sometimes¬†you just have to have fun with these things or you will go crazy! LOL ¬†Here’s something to think about next time you want to get your point across and have fun at the same time!

 

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