Thursday Links- 2-15-18

Sticky Learning: Digital Brain Dumps with Flipgrid and Socrative– I just tried Flipgrid-I am interested to see how it works for my students-they create a video of what they know of learn. (Works great a s a digital version for Kagan processing.

How Nature Inspires Better Design and (What This Means for Students)– Great look at biomimicry and how we could use it in the classroom.

How Furniture and Flexible Seating is Turning Classroom Design into a Fad– If we don’t change our thinking about teaching, changing our furniture won’t matter.

I Stopped Holding my Students Accountable and Here is What Happened– Michael Linsin tried an experiment in his class.

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Leadership (EDUBlog #3)

Whoa, three weeks in a row! That is good for me. Hopefully I can keep it up.

Today’s post has to do with leadership. One of the things this reminds me of is the activity a teacher started by having his students write “I wish my teacher knew…” Some extended this to “I wish my parents knew…” and “I wish my principal knew…”

If I had any foresight, I might have interviewed some folks about what the principal should know. But, I didn’t. Sorry. So, I decided to steal from this post about this idea. These responses were from a WeAreTeachers survey and not necessarily reflective of my current or past administrators. I may be tenured, but I’m not stupid.

Treat us like professionals. This is a big one for our field, it seems. I am fortunate to be working for an administrator who does this. He understands that we have worked hard to get where we are, and that our time is valuable. It is very helpful when he is able to trust us to do our jobs, as professionals.

Be Positive. As the educational leader of our school, the positive attitude of the administration is good. Getting “called to the principal’s office” is still a source of anxiety for many of us. Because teaching is so difficult and emotionally draining at times, getting a realistic (and genuine) positive comment can be what helps us keep moving forward.

Lighten Our Workload– Not that our Admin doesn’t have enough on their plate, but helping us to lighten our load can boost moral and respect. There are many things that are a part of the natural ebb and flow of teaching, but lightening our workload (or not adding unnecessary things) can help the overwhelming-ness of teaching not seem so overwhelming.

We Want You to Provide Consequences/Discipline. One teacher mentioned wanting someone else to ‘be the bad guy’ sometimes can help. While we work our own classroom discipline plans, knowing we have the support of Admin on this issue can really help relieve some of the burden. Sometimes, another call home from the teacher is not going to help. Sometimes, we need that contact to be from someone else. That, we the teacher, are not simply picking on ‘their kid”.

We Appreciate You. Sometimes, as teachers, it can be tempting to see the admin in an adversarial role. Sometimes this is our own issues; sometimes it is because of the leadership style of the admin. No matter what your leader “looks like”, let them know you appreciate them.

They are often the one parents call. They also have a boss and have expectations given to them that they have no control over, just like us. They mess up. They forget stuff. We should be able to empathize with that and sometimes we should: treat them like a professional, trusting that they have our students’ interests in mind, be positive. They get a bunch of stuff too. They lead our school, the best they know how. They are often still learning, too. Give them some grace, too.

We are leaders, whether it is over a school or our classrooms. We are in this together.

Derrick

 

 

My Classroom-Organization (EDU #2)

So, hey, this is the second topic from the EDUblog prompt. 2 weeks in a row! Haha. Sadly, the topic is about the classroom environment.

I say sadly because I have a very passably functional room. I have a few posters in my room that are mostly to fill up the white space. Many of them have content, but also one of the reasons I don’t spend a lot of time decorating…they have become what I call visual white noise…No one really looks at them other than to notice the occasional new poster.

Kids are kids and unless I use the posters often, they just fade into the scenery.
https://giphy.com/embed/q8C0Ljmy4F6Ss

via GIPHY
We are also school that focuses, and has been trained with the Kagan Cooperative groups, so my desks are in groups of four, with a few outliers (islands, I have heard them called). This is good and bad. There are times where I would like to move things around…but I don’t feel like taking 30-45 minutes for set up and take down of something new. LOL

As far as organization…well I have work to do. My style is “buy/find (copy paper) a box to put stuff in to hide it from looking cluttery but then losing what it was forever”.

Though I am proud of my library organization. One summer I reordered all my books by “genre”. (I use the term loosely because some were “I looked at the cover and saw animals…therefore “animal genre”). Then I numbered the plastic tubs with a number and labeled all books with corresponding number. This is helpful when I want students to put books back in a semi-organized way. They are kids, after all. 🙂

That is all for now.

Derrick

Friday Links 2-2-18

First off, Happy 16th Anniversary to my wonderful wife, Tracy. Thanks for saying yes. And putting up with me.

Also, Happy Groundhog’s Day. 🙂

Here’s your links:

6 Easy Tips for the Disorganized Student Maybe they’ll work for you.

How to Build a True Culture of Innovation at Your School AJ Juliani shares his thoughts.

Why Content and Knowledge are Important for Innovation– George Couros explains why kids need to create, yes. But without knowledge to back it up, there will be limitations.

24 Great Education Tools for Teacher Toolboxes– Check out the list of tools by Global Digital Citizen

Happy Friday!

Derrick

My Blogging Story

I often have a hard time coming up with new ideas for blog posts, but I found a thing by Edublogger that had 50 prompts. This is the first one. My hope is not that these will be long-who has time for that? Rather, I hope to be more consistent with original content from my own strange mind. 🙂

I used to have a blog that had a different focus. A big part of it was just a way for me to put into words what was on my mind…not the best. There was not always a clear focus, but it got me to enjoy the writing process. One of the scary things about writing is how someone will take what you are writing.

I like what George Couros says about his blog. He says he writes it not just to help others but for himself to see how his learning is changing and growing. (that is paraphrased). If it helps someone else, great.

I read many different blogs and over time I hope to have some posts that share some of those. Though to be fair, I often have a link post that shares many of the ones I am reading.

If you are new to the blog world and are interested in trying it (or having your students try it), just do it. There are several free sites that can help you get started, like Blogger or WordPress. Then, just try it out. Start writing, even if it is just one thought or one paragraph.

Who knows, you might even like it.

Derrick

Wednesday Links/Thoughts- Accelerated Reader Edition 1-17-18

This week’s posts question the efficacy of the Accelerated Reader program and, in some cases, offers some alternatives.

The Argument Against Accelerated Reader– Just what is sounds like from 2001- Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy

How to Accelerate a Reader– Donalyn Miller, the Book Whisperer shares her concerns with AR

Schoolwide Independent Reading Program– Read about how one school moved away from AR

Why Labeling Books Disempowers Young Readers– The author also shares how Fountas and Pinnell, remind us that A-Z Guided Reading labels are a tool and not how we should label (and limit) students.

Some Thoughts + Recent Articles about Life without Accelerated Reader (AR)– This blogger, and mom adds some stories about how AR has the potential for harming students by not encouraging reading for the sake of reading, growing or even rereading a favorite book.

Someone Get Me a Donut!– This is more than a delicious sounding title. Mr. G. deals with some myths and facts about AR and growth and love of reading.

With the research and article and blog reading I have done, I am certainly moving away from some of the bad practices I have done wrt AR. However, our school site pays for and uses, in some capacity, the STAR/AR testing. So, there is a balance, of sorts, that it seems one needs to have.

A goal for my students is that they become lifelong learners and readers. I would hope they leave my class with a love of reading that transcends my classroom walls. For some AR will help with this. However, I don’t think it always helps all my students. Therefore I use it sparingly.

The more I read, the less I want to use AR, but I also know that to hold my kids accountable for reading and ensure that they are all reading and growing…well, that takes time. AR can be a simple solution for some of the low level comprehension questions (DOK1). However, just because it is easy to use for me as a teacher, does not mean it is best for my students, especially my developing readers.

So, how do we combine the 2 (love of reading and AR) in a way that is beneficial for students and uses a resource our site is paying for? That is one side of a common question we often have in our profession. I have no easy answer.

But I do know I do not want anymore of my students leaving my class loving reading less, because of a program, or even worse…because of me. Let me know your thoughts on this.

Derrick