As I’m sure many of you will agree, summertime is a great time to learn; the amount of time you dedicate to learning is up to you, you can choose what you investigate, and with multiple free web offerings out there you can even stay in the comfort of your own home in your pyjamas if you want.
I’ve been spending several hours watching the free Teach with Tech conference videos and as a result I know a little more about digital escape rooms, using We Video, gamification, Digital Scoots and using Autocrat to provide feedback. The problem is ... the more you know ... the more you realize what you don’t know! Sigh. So much to learn, so little time.
Not really complaining. I love it! If you haven’t checked out the Teach With Tech conference, be sure to visit. Videos are only up until July 29th.
In the last week, I've read Alice Keeler's 50 Things to Go Further with Google Classroom AND her Teaching Math with Google Apps. I've also learned to:
hide and reveal text (thanks Erin Flanagan @Erintegration)
use Google Keep to provide fun feedback with Bitmoji badges
made my own little library of Google Keep bitmojis
earned how to make my own GIFS AND how to use them in a Google Doc (thanks Kasey Bell @ShakeUpLearning), and I've learned how to use the Pear Deck Add On to do some very cool things in Google Slides (thanks Eric Curts @ericcurts at CtrlAltAchieve.com).
Why was I able to do all this?
The luxury of TIME! It is essential to my summer recharge. I'm so excited by all the new things I'm learning. Wahoo!
Thank you to all those who share so generously of their time and expertise.
School is out for the summer and this is typically when I find time to reflect and blog. It was a fabulous year and I can honestly say probably one of my most enjoyable ones in my entire teaching career but also one of my most exhausting. Out of all the activities I had students use in order to show their understanding, the one I am happiest with was my choice menu for our inquiry into water. There were five topics a group was responsible for understanding and they had a choice of nine items they could do as products such as a breaking news video about the topic, a song, an editorial, a monologue, a cartoon, an interview OR a product of their own choosing done with my permission. I had them post all of their products on a Padlet and I’m thrilled with the results.
Definitely something I will keep and refine for next year.
There are three examples of figurative language in this sentence (see photo below) from page 15 of a new YA book called Zenn Disgram by Wendy Brant. There's a simile, hyperbole and alliteration.
I'm challenging PDSB readers to the Figurative Find Challenge.
Here are the rules:
1. Readers are trying to find ONE sentence with as many examples of figurative language as possible. Even if their sentence only has one example, they should enter anyway (the prize is drawn randomly).
2. They can ONLY look in books found in their school library circulation and published after 2009.
3. Once they find a sentence, they take a photo of the book cover and type the sentence over the top of the cover image.
4. Tweet the image and be sure to use the hash tag #FigFind2017
5. Be sure to include the school and teacher or TL's name in the tweet.
6. Challenge is open until Friday June 29th, 2017
7. Teachers can enter on behalf of their students or enter as a class.
8. I'll randomly select three entries and send them a literary reward for their class or, if an individual entry, for themselves. 9. Sorry but challenge is only open to Peel Didtrict School Board students and staff.
I worked with a principal who used to call the time after March the month of AprilMayJune, and this year, that really seems to be the case more than other years. It could be because I'm changing schools, and seem to have this pressing need to get more things done than ever before because I want to leave the library as organized as possible OR it could just be because I've been pursuing more PD than usual and it's eating up lots of my leisure hours. Regardless... I can't tell you what happened to April.
Just recently, I read a post by George Couros, and it was perfect timing. I'd had a difficult conversation with someone on staff, which I'd been putting off because I suspected they would get defensive, rather than see it for what it was; an attempt to make better use of library resources. While I don't regret the conversation, since it needed to happen, I was starting to wonder whether I should have just let someone else initiate the conversation. And then I read this post georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/7360 and it made me straighten my shoulders and hold my head up. Enough said.
It was a tough month with the very unanticipated need to euthanize my 7 year old German Shepherd, Zoey. On the Wednesday night before March break, she suddenly experienced a cardiac taponade, the result of a cancerous tumour bursting, filling the pericardial sac with fluid, and making it extremely difficult for heart to beat, and tough for her to breathe. The vet aspirated the fluid but subsequently discovered that she had cancer everywhere; spleen, liver, lungs and heart. There was no hope, so we went on Thursday to say goodbye to her. It was definitely one of the most difficult days I've experienced this year.
During the break, I took a first aid course offered by Peel, and then returned to school and made sure I was familiar with our AED (Automatic External Defibrillation) unit.
In terms of tech breakthroughs - there have been a few. I'm convinced that one of the teachers I work with is finally comfortable with Google Classroom, and is using it effectively. A second teacher that I work with is using it with my assistance to help provide formative feedback to students.
Just the other day, I suggested to yet a third teacher that she try using Flipgrid to have her students record the first two sentences (the hook) of their speeches so that they could view each others. The free version of Flipgrid doesn't allow for written feedback, but there was nothing to stop students from recording their ideas on a Google doc and then sharing their feedback with their peers. The teacher seemed quite excited when she realized that, quite easily, she could set up a station in her classroom to allow students to regularly record responses to prompts.
One of the grade 8 classes is almost finishing up the menu board activities that they were working on for Black History month. They had to complete on straight line of activities from a 3x3 menu of choices. I'm excited to see the results since each line involves something written, something oral, and some kind of "dramatic presentation". They are using a variety of technology; Audacity and Beansprout to create a podcast, imovie to create a Heritage minute, Pic Collage to document their tableaus, Explain Everything or Adobe Spark to create a photo essay. I provided a series of rubrics to help them identify what was important to their final products from a "technical" standpoint, and their teacher co-constructed the criteria for the academic content criteria. Overall, a very satisfactory collaborative effort.
Pink Sheets are coming out soon so I'm updating my information. I am looking to work in a place where I will feel like I can continue to grow.
Have re-introduced Plickers to both K.C and M.M. Thought that if I printed out a set for both of them, they might be more likely to use them. I really like the idea of using Plickers in conjunction with group work. Show the students the question, have them work in groups to answer it, and then, have each group attached to a card which they use to register their vote. I also like how great it is for just a quick exit ticket. I've made sure that the Plickers app is on the Teacher iPads so that a teacher does NOT need a personal device in order to use the Plickers program. They had seen it used with individuals, but not with groups.
Have also joined a Peel Twitter book chat (Grading Smarter Not Harder) which is pretty fast and furious. I'm a bit disappointed by this month's book because EVERYONE agrees with everything the author is saying. It's a lot more interesting and exciting when there is some dissension among participants. I do however, love the #PeelABC format. They send the book for free and you meet once a week, but only chat for 30 minutes.
Signed up for a Book Talk with Kristin Clark and managed to convince several others (LS. KC. and MT) into participating with me. Our first meeting was postponed due to icy weather, but we've been able to start digging into the book. It's called Bringing Math Students into the Formative Assessment Equation - Strategies for Middle Grades and it's using Learning Intentions and Success Criteria. I can always use practice in this area because often I'm not sure that I've worded my LI and success criteria correctly. The great reminder for me at our first meeting was that a Learning Intention or Learning Goal should NOT be identifying what a student is going to be doing. For example, "We are learning to make histograms" is not a good learning goal. It would be better if the goal was, "We are learning that data can be displayed in many different ways" or "We are learning about the advantages and disadvantages afforded by displaying data using histograms."
God grant me the serenity...
When you're part of a big organization, such as a school board, it's important to have patience when things don't happen as quickly as you might expect or desire.
Last week was a heat wave and I'm sure that didn't help my disposition but after four years, the air conditioning in the library is still not working, and I'm a little frustrated when the line I'm being told is that they are not turning on the ac because they want to save money. Hmmm. Nope, not believing it. I think it's just plain broken and it still hasn't been fixed. Other than reporting it to my principal and custodian, it is beyond my control, but it sure is frustrating.
Still waiting for our iPads to uniformly be set up. Again, I'm not clear as to the hold up, and since I've reported it to those who are in a position to do something about it, all I can do now is wait...
I think I need to work on my patience this year.
So, as I usually do, I've now taken a couple summer workshops.
Normally, I come out of them inspired to implement a few new things in my classroom.
Normally, I have no problem filling out the reflection sheets and talking about, "What are you going to try to implement" or "What are a few of the things you learned in this workshop."
Sadly, I didn't feel like I learned much from the technology sessions that I took. Now, it could be because I try to use technology a lot already or it could be because I wasn't looking for the newest app or the latest site - I was looking for innovative ways that the technology was being used to transform learning and improve thinking...and that's what was lacking.
I did, however, have a much more positive experience taking an OTF session on teaching geography and how to help make my students people who might change the world. The focus was on critical thinking and relied a lot on materials published by the Critical Thinking Consortium https://tc2.ca/
If you don't already know of the work they do I strongly suggest you check them out. Also, find out if your board is a "partner", because some of the material is then available to you which you otherwise might have to purchase. Check it out (but make sure you have LOTS of time!) :-)