Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers (Day 3)

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers (Day 3)

Today's Topic:
Discuss one “observation” area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.

This year the big buzz word is "equity" and I have been trying since about May of last year to think of equity in different terms in my classroom. We have been asked to consistently think about the impact of our lessons with our ELD/ELL and SPED populations, especially using the "equity" lens. Not that this is a new concept I just feel the importance of it more than ever before. So I would like to see in my observations that my admin sees me making significant gains in this respect. I hope that it not only shows up in my data but also in the overall approach to my daily lessons and feel of my room.

More to come on equity throughout the year I would imagine! 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers (Day 2)

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers (Day 2)

Today's Topic:
Write about one piece of technology that you would like to try this year, and why. You might also write about what you’re hoping to see out of this edtech integration.

So this will be hard to pick only one piece of technology that I want to try this year. Because generally I glom on to something new all the time and integrate it as soon as I can. I will say overall however I would like to use internet publishing for my students as much as possible this year. Yes, they will be creating a website again, however I want to go beyond that. For instance the author/ genre study where students will be writing an explanatory piece hopefully for the website WritingSuperheroes.com will be one of the first steps. 

Beyond that though since I have had restrictions placed on my students websites being made public I have to be thoughtful about how to get online interaction happening with people outside my district domain. I am thinking about ways to have the students get feedback through their LMS, posting their essays and being able to read one another's pieces and commenting on them. Then picking the best of the best for the website (both #writingsuperheroes and my own websites for the students).

I also want to think about ways to publish online that allows for interaction between classes in our own building. For the last year or two I have been preaching about the idea of breaking down the walls of our classrooms but I always think in terms of connecting classes nationally. But there is power for sure in connecting within your own state and your own district & building. We rarely think about ways to get multiple classes interacting within our own building and I am hoping that with different lessons we are already planning we will be able to do that more. 

It actually started last year with us creating courses online for students to interact depending on what books they were reading when we did a unit on bullying. We also planned our first library day where all three 8th grade classes were in the library together checking out books. Then we have also started talking about when we start Genius Hour allowing students to get together in the library or cafeteria to show their pitches to other students and get feedback.  

Overall good ideas to make writing more authentic by publishing online, and breaking down the walls of the classroom however that might end up looking! 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Great Flipped Classroom Infographic

Sophia.org and Flipped Network Survey Results: Flipped Class Infographic

So I am a little slow on the uptake, I was messaged last school year through my blog from Sophia.org about this great little infographic that they made with the latest survey results put forth from the Flipped Network Ning's survey results. 

Simply click here to view it! 

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers (Day 1)

Goals for the Year:

So I am starting this a little late but as my fellow Tech Coach Krista told me, "What have you got to loose?"

So I do have to figure out goals anyway for when I meet with my admin but these will be more reflective on my own teaching practice and my personal aspirations for the school year with my current peeps.

I think one of my biggest goals this year is to develop deeper meaningful relationships with my students. I believe last year was a bit too overloaded with outside influences, developing my professional teaching persona outside of the classroom. Which was good, don't get me wrong but it was distracting to say the least for my personal lesson planning and relationship building with the kids. I am not sure if the kids would say they noticed but I did. I didn't feel as connected to them as I have in years past. So this year I would like to say goal #1 is to develop better relationships.

Beyond that this summer was really transformative for my department, we broke through some barriers and really started collaborating and working together to push each other to higher levels. We have been developing a more student centered two year curriculum (we only teach 7th & 8th grade in my building) and we were able to have some very hard discussions on why we are teaching what we are teaching. A part of that was also having many of us in the department do some book studies over the summer, the two highlights being Book Whisperer by Donallyn Miller and Read, Write, Teach by Linda Rief. Do to these two books the entire school is participating in the 40 book challenge, including teachers! It is through this 40 book challenge that I have already seen better relationships develop with my students through our book discussions. So my second and third goal of the year relate to both topics discussed in this paragraph: #2 continue to work on collaborating as a department, and #3 maintain the current momentum with the 40 book challenge.

In addition to goals #2 & #3, I am looking to help the entire school- not just myself. With our 1:1 iPad program we are collecting data and trying to prove that this new technology works when combined with proper rigorous teaching practices. Unfortunately we saw a dip in our scores last year for our state tests. I would like to add that the #4 goal is that we see an overall improvement on our scores school wide for reading and writing. Now I know a lot of people would say, what? I thought you were a good teacher, good teachers know that test scores aren't everything and you are right. BUT... Without teaching to the test I believe we are doing things school wide that should show an increase in test results, even with the switch to common core and the new SBAC tests. We are, with the 40 book challenge providing more time for reading in class, we have a reading intervention happening in half of our advisory classrooms, we are collaborating more with both social studies and science classrooms on writing and have established expectations across the board for small written responses (similar to what they will be asked to do on the new SBAC tests). So I am confident that without "teaching to the test" we will see better results this year.

And finally, last year I really prided myself on the idea that I was a paperless classroom however, I know now that there needs to be a fine balance between paper and digital content. Note taking and rough draft writing I think can benefit from paper. So this year I have asked my students to keep a spiral once again, for their notes on the flipped classroom and for their writing process- rough drafts specifically. Everything else is digital. I am finding that by setting up the expectation early with bring your spiral and book to class everyday the students are responding. So final goal #5 is to find a better balance between paper and digital content for the betterment of the student workflow process.

Goals for 2014-2015 School Year:

  1. Develop better student relationships.
  2. Better collaboration in my own department.
  3. Maintain a positive momentum with the 40 book teacher challenge.
  4. School wide improvement on reading and writing scores.
  5.  Find a better balance between paper and digital content to reduce stress on students.

Ok! This post got long, so I will stop now. I think I will like this challenge. Side note, I am also hoping that this will get me blogging on a more consistent basis. Only time will tell!

For more on the 30-Day Blogging Challenge click here!
Another friend and fellow tech coach that is also participating!

Genius Hour TED Talks (post 5)


As another of my colleague and I were talking about Genius Hour on the phone last night we were both commenting that it is some of the most rewarding work that we have done in our careers. The ingenuity that the kids are displaying in their topics, and presentations is outstanding. The fact that their topics are so varied just makes every presentation that much more enjoyable and interesting. I have had students present on skateboarding, cooking, zodiac signs, and theories on the universe. Some are deciding to just give a talk, others are using videos, nearpods, prezi's, or google presentations. Their tools to present are as varied as their topics. It is exciting to note that they have been exposed to enough technology this year to pick and choose what works best for them. Which I think is yet another great thing to come out of this school year. 

I had one student that created a youtube channel just to post his iMovie video of his progression with skateboarding and once he posted it overnight he got over 300+ views! Amazing! 

Student Work:

Here is the playlist of some of the videos used during this year's TED Talks:

Here is a power point put together by a student that was learning about photography.

Here is a presentation that a student did, using prezi, on learning about zodiac signs:

 Here is a presentation a student put together on Teenage Sociology:

This student talked to us about buying brand names vs. generic. This topic sparked a lot of debate and I think prompted more discussion than our presenter was prepared for

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Genius Hour (post 4)

Materials for Teaching TED Talks:

I started introducing TED talks by showing a few in class. We used an analysis sheet that I found in Joy Kirr's live binder. I pretty much used exactly the same format but I think next  year I might add in some actual written reflection vs. just a point system.

I have also come up with a list of some of the school appropriate good examples. I did however task the kids to go out and find two of their own, which opened them up to finding topics of interest to them.

Here are both examples:

1. TED Talk Analysis simple
2. TED Talk Analysis with reflection & notes

After I had the students analyze some TED Talks I also put a discussion thread up on our LMS, Schoology and asked what they believed created the best TED talk. They had to submit their own ideas first before they could see anyone else's answers, and then they also had to respond to someone else. Either ask a question, post a link to a video, agree with someone, etc.
Here are some screen shots of those conversations:

I also provided them with a Planning sheet, again also tweaked from something I found in the Live Binder. Here is that example!

Grading Benchmarks

Now again, not many people believe in grading the genius hour projects, I do. I have created several benchmarks (things that I graded) for the students to complete as they go through the process of learning about their topics, they include:
  1. Video Pitch
  2. Essay Pitch
  3. Essential Questions
  4. Website/Blog Reflections
  5. Book to Guide Research
  6. Mentor Interview
  7. TED Talk 

Next year I am hoping to start sooner, I am thinking November. I will break up the grading pieces by grading the following items first semester:
  1. Video Pitch
  2. Essay Pitch
  3. Essential Questions
  4. (2) Blog Post Reflections
I will grade the following items second semester:
  1. Book to Guide Research
  2. (5) Blog Posts Reflections
  3. Book to Guide Research
  4. Mentor Interview
  5. Final Written Reflection
  6. TED Talk
This might need some revision as I look at modifying for ALL my students vs. just my honors students but I feel like these are all GREAT components! 

Autocrat Rubrics!

To grade the TED talk I have put together a rubric, using Google Docs, the original came from Mariana Garcia again from the Genius Hour Live Binder, I have added color (my kids are on iPads and I can add color and pictures- which believe me is a change from a year ago when I purposefully made everything in black and white because why bother?) as well as changing some- but not all- of the wording. I have also installed the autocrat script! If you haven't messed around with autocrat you should, it is one of the best things to come out of all my tinkering this year! I especially love using it with rubrics!

Basic Steps for Autocrat:
1. Create the rubric template on a doc
2. Create a google form that matches your tags on the doc
3. Install the script on the form response sheets (this step is a bit more complicated than just installing the script see the other post on how to do this).

It is working beautifully!

*Make copies in your own drive and install the script autocrat. See my post here, for a more detailed description on how to do this

So after I fill out this form:

The students are gifted with this beauty in their shared folder on their Google Drive! I keep rubrics to "view only" and sometimes I even include that they have a signature and turn in back in. Middle schoolers definitely need direct instruction on looking at the rubrics and reading all the feedback. I know we think they are devouring all of our feedback but I have found they just seek out the points unless you develop a culture in your classroom where they actually pause, take a few minutes, and look over the whole thing.

Hope this helps!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Genius Hour (post 2)

Loss of Interest Reflection

What do you do when you have students that lose interest in their project? 

Is there an ending culminating project that you could have them do instead of a TED talk? 

Or do you have them do a TED talk as they finish each time?

 I worry that I have some students that don't have enough time to finish their projects and then I have others that are already done or want to move on. I totally want them to move to a new topic and to continue to use their time wisely, but how do I end one project and start a new one and still feel like they understand the inquiry process? I feel like some sort of protocol needs to be in place.

Obviously you work on a student by student basis and that is where the whole "coaching" comes into play. But I can't help but wonder if there is something that can be done.

Beth Onig on twitter mentioned another teacher doesn't have a set time for Genius Hour presentations, it is just a revolving door. When students are done they present. This could work. I have to think of something though. Especially if I want the project to last longer throughout the year next year.