Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I'm excited about our Skype conversation tomorrow; I missed the last one! Tonia, Nicole, and I are going to have a collaborative meeting tomorrow afternoon, so it will be a great time to touch base.
Just got off of my fall break and am getting back into the swing of things. I attended the Star teacher inservice, which was really interesting in regards to uncovering the standards framework and moving toward consistency in district planning. Be sure to check out my Star Teacher Blog when you have a moment.
It would be really cool if we could have students create SmartBoard presentations on specific topics and then share those presentations with classrooms around the district. A "SmartBoard Exchange" program, if you will. Lots of student-to-student opportunity there.
I've used my Smard Board plenty this month but I still need to become more familiar with it's functions other than camera shots and writing on the board. I'm working with other global learners to incorporate virtual communication across the district. I'm more of a wiz with United Streaming and using my laptop and projector as a scaffolding tool. My goal for next month is to prepare my students for blogging.
Monday, September 29, 2008
After taking a math technology course this summer, one of my projects was to prepare a tech lesson extending past our comfort zone. With me, it's the SmartBoard. I planned a lesson around congruency shortcuts of triangles because I thought that the ability to manipulate the tools (ruler and protractors) as well as the triangles themselves would be an appropriate use of the capabilities of the SmartBoard. I felt a had a great lesson, with background-building vocabulary, questions with answers covered with the screen shade, sequential topics to investigate which short-cuts work, and conversation topics for each slide--all prepared on the SmartBoard notebook.
However, as I'm sure we've all experienced, the lessons that seem great in theory flop in the classroom. I struggled very hard to line up my ruler and protractor using my finger, so measuring 3 pieces of two different triangles was long and frustrating. Even sorting objects by dragging them around seemed difficult and tedious. If I got a student brave enough to attack the tools, it still left the rest of the class unengaged and bored quickly. I adapted the rest of the lesson in order to cover the main points. Any writing I did was very hard to read since my orientation was off no matter how many times I tried to readjust (and my SmartBoard was against the wall.)
The main points of the SmartBoard that I would like to exploit are the ability to work out problems and record in real time and/or save and the manipulablity. Without these features, I don't see much difference than projecting on a regular screen. I try to be very cautious about using technology effectively and not just for the sake of using technology. However, I do not feel that the ability to save is great enough to offset the difficulties in writing and reading the work. And the ability to manipulate items can be powerful... for the person doing it, but leaves the rest of the class unengaged. It would be no different than me manipulating something from my laptop or with a wireless mouse for the class to view on a regular screen.
With this, I am looking forward to the Global Leaner chat this week, which happens to be about SmartBoards. I would love feedback on how the SmartBoard is used effectively in your classes, especially with secondary students. How does it keep the whole class engages? How does it benefit students who miss class? How can the benefits over projecting on a screen be maximized? And how can all of this be done on a regular basis?
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I try to find a lesson everyday that goes along with what I am teaching in math. There are great lessons on estimation, rounding, greater than/less than, odd and even, fact families and more. All of these are in our GLETS and the kids have so much fun. They are all participating and paying attention when we use the Smartboard!
Friday, September 26, 2008
For now, the blogs have been pretty basic and have been limited to simply answering a question of the week. As the year progresses, I will be adding expectations to the blogs and get closer to the ideas presented in the Richardson book. We're off to a great start, though!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Enjoy and feel free to ask questions!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I am honored to work not only with fellow Global Learners but many other teachers who make 21st century learning a priority in their classrooms. As teachers in my school get introduced to new forms of technology they are impressed, inspired, and motivated to incorporate it into their classrooms and professional practices. In turn, I am inspired by their ideas and creativity with how to do it!
Laurie Arnold has created a student blog called Third Grade Bloggers that her students used last year and she plans to use it again this year. Brianna Sealy is always using video clips to support her teaching and she utilizes clickers with ease. Katie Coggin has started using the laptop cart during Writing and utilizes many math web based activities with her class. These are just a few of the many ways these teachers and others at my school have been proactively teaching with techonolgy.
Do teachers you work with utilize technology in their classrooms?
Monday, September 22, 2008
Elections tools for teachers
The Mock Election
This year, Google is working with the National Student/Parent Mock Election to get students of all ages excited about the November elections. Students engage in activities to learn about the candidates and issues, then cast mock ballots that are counted along with those of millions of other students across the nation.
This year's Mock Election takes place on October 30, 2008. Enroll your classroom now.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Happy International Day of Peace, everyone! I read an article in the paper reporting on how various factions that have been involved in armed conflict have agreed to not fight at all out of respect for the day, which begs the question, if they can do it for one day, why can't they do it permanently?? *sigh*
We had the laptops in my classroom for the entire week, which should have been great, right? Yeah, well.... *ahem*.
The biggest frustration was students who couldn't remember their passwords for their blogs and/or their school email accounts (even more so the ones who'd forgotten them from the day before). I expected that the first day would be refreshing memories, but we ended up losing two days to that, and even more for some students. Add to that the various technical difficulties, including Google not publishing posts on blogs even though I watched the student write the blog and click "publish now," and it made for a very interesting adventure, to be sure. There were times when I felt like just saying "forget it, let's just use paper and pen or pencil," but then I remembered that for some students, this technology is completely new to them, and as such, require a certain amount of patience from me. Just because this generation has been called "digital natives" doesn't mean all of them were born in the same technological land (figuratively speaking). The digital divide was very prevalent in the room, and I almost blinked and didn't see it.
I think that by and large, the week was a success. Yes, there were some students who in spite of my watching over them and giving and paying as much attention as I could still managed to slip through the cracks, but most of the students took advantage of the opportunity, so I'm pleased.
This week we go back to the "regular" world of not having instant access to all of the technology we need. I have six desktops in my room now so up to six students can blog or work on their essays at a time, though, so I expect we'll still get a lot done; maybe even more since I only need to watch six instead of twenty-six or so.
I've started reading over some of the personal narratives, and there are some really amazing pieces of writing there. There are some structural issues and the like, but last week was about getting the words down; this week is about making them better. I'm looking forward to the finished product, and I am thinking of asking some students about posting their work to the web, and since Google docs has that as an option, it will be really easy to do, and I can put the link on the class webpage... yet another way to make the writing more "real world."
For this assignment, each student finished the phrase "I have always wanted to know more about _____________". Now, I am going to email friends/family/colleagues/professionals to leave comments about each statement. Also, my students will use their research skills to try and answer their own and other students' posts. So, if you guys get a chance, they would love to read any comments you have about their posts. Thank you, Dave, for the posts already, they have loved reading them (and, by the way, I moved all posts to our blog; some of them were posting on the GL blog accidentally).
Thanks in advance.
Friday, September 19, 2008
I'm happy to help him and feel that the GL program is kind of infectuous... word gets around & people see how classrooms are different w/ tech goodies... students are more responsive...Cool!
I estimate that this is worth about 15 sec of my 15 min of fame.....
(Andy Warhol RIP, ---> Velvet Underground rules!)
I even used the downtime to help the rest of my team create class webpages on Google Sites, and I even got the math teacher to (finally) set up his blog and link to it on his class webpage.
A great night from a Global Learner point of view. :-D
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
"Inspiration" will be releasing in a public beta Webspiration, their online visual thinking tool. (Webspiration will be available to the public this Wednesday for a free sign-up)
More information available (and its also a good blog to rss :)
More information available (and its also a good blog to rss :)
Signups are here:
Signups are here:
Needless to say, I switched back to the Smart Board for the rest of the day. :-)
Monday, September 15, 2008
A Simple Blogging Rubric
The following will be used to evaluate your posts / comments to the AP IB Blog.
0 – did not post
1-3 very poor performance: comment / post is limited to a few words, misspellings and grammar errors, does not fundamentally address the assignment prompt. It is clear that little time and attention was put into the post / comment.
4 – poor performance: comment / post is stated minimally with errors in grammar, spelling and syntax. There is an attempt to address the assignment prompt but it is incomplete or at a level below the expectation of the class.
5 – mediocre performance: comment / post is stated concisely with errors in grammar and spelling. The assignment prompt is addressed but at a superficial level. The assignment is completed at a below-average level in terms of planning and completion.
6 – 7 satisfactory to good performance: comment / post is stated and the while the assignment prompt is addressed, ideas expressed are not necessarily original. The content shows a casual writing style with a lack of attention to style.
8 - 9 – very good performance: comment / post is stated and characterized with an above average writing style. The content demonstrates that the student read the prompt and attempts to address it completely but only partially references the original article.
10 – excellent performance: comment / post is well written and characterized by elements of a strong writing style. The comment / post has addressed the assignment prompt fully and expresses his/her ideas clearly showing originality. The original article is fully referenced.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
We will also be starting pen-pals with a class in China and a class in Vail. So with the class in Vail, I'm hoping to be able to do a webcast lesson with them. It's a matter of helping that teacher find a webcam for her class. That should be interesting. Either way, I think we will be doing emails and sending short video messages to each class... still trying to figure out how to fit it all in.
I can't believe we are starting our fourth week of school!
I love technology! :-)
develop content knowledgedevelop strategies for using web resources
develop skills for working collaborativelyFor my class at Walden University I've developed an internet workshop that I will be using with my students.
You can check out the internet workshop here.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I'm also looking into the possibility of getting up to that other high school I'd mentioned in an earlier post to train their teachers on digital classrooms. I mentioned the whole thing to Stevi Quate (you know her if you've been involved in the UCD teacher candidate program), who, as it turns out, is familiar with that school and their staff; she "knows people" there, and so is going to look into getting them up to speed as well... stay tuned on that one.
What have I gotten myself into?? ;-)
On a side note, I've recently written an article for an online magazine, Elephant Journal, about digital classrooms. It's the first of a series on education that I've been asked to collaborate on with them. If you're interested, you can check it out here, but you'll likely have to do it at home... last I knew, the SmartFilter blocked it at work. And check out the shirt in my pics. ;-)
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Slow and Steady, steady and slow, that is the way we always go!
First grade is tough. The kids learn how to be students. Then as students they learn! A lot! Patience is needed each day when something as simple as a child blowing his nose can cause an entire classroom frenzy in fear of germs. Upon entering my fourth year, I feel like a new teacher all over again. I don't know if it's the new batch of kids, the accessible technology or the new certificate. Whatever it is, I hope it stays for a long time!
Slow and steady, steady and slow is the way I'm taking my students this year. Slowly students are getting introduced to technology. First it was how to treat our technology, then a few SmartBoard activities, a United Streaming video introducing addition and tomorrow…our first blog entry! The goals I have committed myself to include: improving students’ blogs, experimenting with webquests and increasing and enhancing SmartBoard lessons.
Blog - Tonight my job is to update our 2008-2009 class blog and put in each students name and color choice. Tomorrow my students will produce their first blog entry. A blog is still a far away concept for my students, but they sure are excited about their colors! Keep a lookout Thursday afternoon for exciting news from a first grader's perspective!
SmartBoard - I'm not as far along as I'd like to be with my SmartBoard lessons. Again, slow and steady...So each day we have a math warm-up using our SmartBoard. They include counting activities that must be taught per the GLET's, but often take all year to learn.
Webquests - So I've noticed some teachers have been doing these since 1995. I'm curious to know if anyone out there has made or completed these in the past and what your thoughts are on these. Is there another catch-phrase for these that I have missed? My search continues to look for ideal examples. Perhaps with collaboration, some great ones can be created!
1. GMobileSync: Sync Google Calendar with a Windows Mobile device, you can use this with almost any Smartphone (Shadow, Blackberry, Touch) this lets you exchange info with your Google account. I’m still experimenting with this feature, other programs include: Schedule World
2. Calendar Sharing- View calendars that others have shared with you, and let your friends and family see your agenda. I have synced my Google Calendar with my Google Site and post my daily assignments for all students to access.
3. All assignments, work, reference materials, and curriculum information is kept on my Google Site: http://sites.google.com/site/maxwillssite/ I have my students access this material weekly and remind them that this is a good starting point for further research. If a student is absent I politely ask them to check the calendar and site for needed work. And it’s as good as a flash-drive for saving stuff.
Did this infusion of technology save me from the dreamy shadow of slack? In short no… I fear that I will always be a late bloomerJ but it sure is forcing me to be a lot more organized.
I have really become comfortable in utilizing the SmartBoard in the classroom. Interestingly enough, I had issues at the beginning of the school year in getting the SmartBoard out of "mouse" mode (blinking green light). It would not let me use the full capabilities of what I knew it could do, so I jumped onto their user-friendly support help site. I followed through with the instructions, but, alas, to no avail (dreaded red light). I ended up reinstalling a driver, and the thing's kickin' up like new (steady green light-Yes!). I also went on ebay and got a fifty dollar wireless presenter mouse for twenty-two bucks; I HIGHLY recommend it for those of you who enjoy the mobility of checking student work while being able to emphasize points and present from anywhere in the room.
I believe that I expressed some of my frustration at the limited access that we had been granted on putting new programs on our classroom computers. We were juggling in the first few weeks just to retrieve our files, which really didn't add to the overall happiness. Still, kudos to the tech folks for dealing with a bazillion open tickets at one time.
I am really excited about being able to mentor other teachers in incorporating technology into their classroom.
Comin' soon to a blog near you...
"Ending the Isolation - Collaboration Rules!"
Monday, September 8, 2008
Kudos to the people responsible for getting us our StoryTown passwords. The on-line components have many possibilities! I like the mini-lessons/games that go with our "focus skills" in the Student Ebook edition. Of course, they have to support the all-important GLET's!!! I plan on using the ebook with the SmartBoard if I ever get somebody to mount it on the wall for me.
Today my students loved reading along with the leveled ereaders component of StoryTown. I projected it onto the wall (it will be better with the SmartBoard when it is up,) and in their small groups they took turns pushing the sound icons and using a pointer to follow along. It was good to see them work collaboratively to figure out how to get everything to work and to see them so actively involved in their learning.
I also thought it might be motivating for students to use the SmartBoard as a giant Frayer Model for vocabulary and then publish them on our our wiki... only I don't know how to do that. I thought it would be a good "starter" collaborative technology/content project. The great thing is that I could do it with my Science students and then they can take their new-found tech-knowledge back to their homerooms.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
On the other hand, my son's best friend attends Horizon High School and wants to start getting his teachers involved in technology. He asked his history teacher for their email address so he could email assignments to them, and was rebuffed with a rather unclear explanation: "something about the school email addresses not being able to do it for some reason." That may be true, but at the same time I wonder if it again is simply fear and unwillingness to use new technology. I'm tempted to see if I could do a presentation to the district 12 teachers on green classrooms. Perhaps I could get Blake (my son's friend) to see if his teachers would be interested in a training along those lines. After talking with Zach about CSU going green and his instructors use of technology, the idea that teachers aren't using technology when they can is rather disappointing. I've been invited to be a presenter at the CLAS conference this spring around the use of blogs, Google docs, etc., but I would like to get the ball rolling on this sooner... besides, if I can get in to do a training at district 12, then I can get practice before I do it this spring. :-)
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Cross posted on http://MrFisherGlobalLearner.blogspot.com/
Lots of possibilities for our students with limited English language abilities. Might be paired up with a language text translator (ex: babelfish ).
Kind of cool...
Thursday, September 4, 2008
What does this mean? Let’s take a GLET from the 7th grade Reading Pacing Guide. Standard 4c says, “Students will be able to infer information not directly stated in text.” Ok, so my students need to be able to show that they can “read between the lines” when reading and comprehending texts. In my class, we are reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and in Chapter 2, students should be able to infer why Papa brings Mr. Morrison home. My content partners and I feel that being able to infer is an essential skill that will allow students to reach proficiency. So we posed the question, on a handout, “What can you infer about why Papa brought Mr. Morrison home?” A response that reflects proficiency will include the idea that Papa brought Mr. Morrison home because he wanted to make sure his family was protected from the night riders. Mr. Morrison is a large, muscular man and, therefore, threatening. This information is not directly stated in the text.
What about the other 100 GLET’s I have to teach in this unit? The assessment above took about 10 minutes total from start to finish. I was able to peek over my students’ shoulders and check for understanding. I can tell you that this particular class did not comprehend the inference so I was able to go back and discuss with my students the meaning by asking higher-level questions that made them synthesize the text immediately. I will go back and re-teach this skill, as it needs to be repeated in order for mastery, but I know where my students are without having to guess or await test results. Please understand, my daily activities do include more than one GLET and I do assess for understanding in different ways but when I’m taking monitoring notes, I am taking a snapshot of one GLET that my partners and I have decided to focus on.
How do I keep track of these monitoring notes? This is a great question with a personal answer. I don’t know how you like to collect data but I’ll tell you what I do. I print out a blank spreadsheet from Infinite Campus. I put the GLET at the top along with the date and put three different marks indicating proficiency. If a student does not understand the GLET, I mark a 0 next to their name. If the student kind of understands (and it’s a GLET that allows for that), I put a check mark, and if a student fully understands, I give them a +. There is no “right” way to take a monitoring note so try different things until something finally works for you.
Does this mean more work for me? Let me be honest, at the beginning, yes, this means a little more work in the respect I find myself taking more student work home. However, I can tell you that I have been using these notes for the last few weeks and have no clue as to how I survived without them. I feel like I know my kids better now than when I just knew their MAP and CSAP scores. I can modify my instruction fully knowing what my kids struggle with, I can pull small skills groups to explicitly teach the skill to those who have no understanding, and I have a body of evidence on each student, which, let’s face it, is essential in this day in age.
I encourage you to try monitoring notes if you are at all interested in the concept. Our school has moved to a monitoring note system to enhance our progress monitoring (weekly assessment of student achievement). We are working hard to move our kids to out of unsatisfactory and partially proficient to proficiency and advanced placement and to do so, we have to dig deeper to increase student understanding. I have attached a few links, courtesy of my Assistant Principal. The last one contains actual monitoring notes for math.
As an exit slip out, or a monitoring note, my students are responsible for correcting additional sentences with mistakes that were addressed in the mini lesson. For example, we are working with homophones right now. I gave my students a sentence (found in the 7th grade Write Source). They corrected the sentence by choosing the best homophone. They left their Mug Shot Exit Slip with me and I was able to quickly go through all of the papers to determine who understood the concept and who didn’t and what needs to be re-taught.
Stay tuned for more about monitoring notes!
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
On a side note, here is the link to my class webpage. It's a pretty basic site, at least for now, but it has links to the subpages I set up for each individual class (including links to the podcasts) as well as links to my teacher blog, my students' blogs, the climbing team website, and even the climbing team blog. Feel free to peruse and comment. The students' blogs still need a good bit of work... I haven't yet had the chance to work with them around various concepts, including what is and isn't school appropriate- I am seeing a good number of "wat's up, yo" entries, but with time, I think they will get it, particularly once I have some exemplars to show them (aside from mine, which I think they don't think "counts" since I'm a teacher and all...). For now, I'm just pleased that they actually want to do it... it was much less of a fight to get them to write than I thought it would be (as I've mentioned before).
Got up early this morning and really wanted to go on a bike ride, so I pumped up the Cannondale, got in the saddle and off I went. It was an absolutely perfect morning for a bike ride. I headed north and found myself on highway 7 before long, then I headed west. Next thing I knew, I saw a sign that said "Lafayette 6; Boulder 17." I smiled and decided to make the trip to Lafayette. It didn't take me anywhere near as long as I thought it might; an hour or so after I left my house, and I was in Old Town Lafayette. I hung out for a while, then made the trip back for a total of 28 miles in roughly two hours. I was pretty psyched, and it's most of the way towards my goal of riding my bike to Boulder. Since I was roughly 10 miles from Boulder, I definitely know that it's within my reach to finish it out to Boulder. I have to admit that I was glad I turned myself around, even though I was tempted to finish it out to Boulder. I like to finish out the last half-mile or so to my house on a dead sprint, but that just wasn't going to happen today. About five seconds into the sprint, my legs gave me a very firm "Nope, not gonna happen, buddy" response, and I decided instead to do a nice, easy warm down ride instead. Heh.
I've been using the Smart Board quite a lot now, and it's been working out fantastically. We were working on the 11-sentence paragraph in class last week, and what could have been dry and boring ended up being a lot of fun. We spent some time filling out the graphic organizer together on the Smart Board, and I had 100% engagement for 100% of the time in all of my classes; not bad for a Friday afternoon before a long weekend.
I think I've actually perfected the podcasting, too. I recorded each of my classes on Friday, and I'll be uploading and linking them on my class website later on today. (I also plan to upload and link the Power Point presentations I used, though I will likely upload them as .pdf files since not everyone may have Power Point or even Microsoft Word, but Adobe Acrobat Reader is free.) Initially I was going to do all sorts of editing of the podcasts and only upload the "best," but the principal encouraged me to just upload them as they are and let the students fast forward through them as they need to.
Of course, there are some definite implications around doing that, not the least of which is that my classroom walls are definitely going to disappear and there will be full transparency, particularly since not only my students can listen to the podcasts, but their parents can as well. I told my students not to worry... I know how brilliant they are, and now their parents can hear it as well. :-) I do plan on emailing the link to as many parents as I have email addresses for, and while it seems a little scary to open myself up like this, I don't see it as a bad thing at all. I'm really excited about it.
I've gotten most of the students logged on and blogging already, and that has been a fantastic experience so far. The students have the option of blogging or reading during independent reading time, and it's not unusual to have a line of students four to six deep waiting to blog. So far I only have two desktops in my room, though I'm trying to get more put in. If you go to the class website, I've linked to the students' blogs there, so anyone interested can read and comment on their blogs. There is still some tweaking to do around the blogs, but they've gotten started, so the biggest part is done. I'm planning on working with my reluctant colleague after professional development this week and want to have her up and blogging as well.
I hit upon a bit of a flash as well around sub plans. What I hope to do on days when I know I'm going to be out is to upload my lessons as Power Points and record what I want to say in advance, along with a notesheet for my students to fill out and email back to me, then email links to the Power Point and podcast to my students, along with the notesheet to fill out. Then, on the day(s) when I know I'm going to be out, I simply reserve the computer lab for my students, the sub takes them down there, where they then log in, and can watch the presentation, listen to the podcast, and do the work there. Chances are I'll let them work collaboratively, but certainly any student that wants to work alone could... I guess it will depend on the nature of the assignment. I can even check in on them while I'm wherever I am and address issues/questions as needed. They really CAN have class 24/7! Of course, making sure I have access will be an issue, but I think it's one I can resolve (I hope).
The implications for all of this on my teaching is mind boggling. How on earth did I get anything done in the classroom before?? ;-)