Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Making yourself a better teacher~ Community Connections

I had the pleasure this week of working with a team of instructional coaches in Northern Valley. It is a really remarkable group of teachers who have that attitude from the smartblog I tweeted earlier. We are all works in progress and can improve our teaching all the time. It was a rewarding and inspiring day. One conversation I had with some colleagues was about ways to engage community entities with the schools. I then read about the teachers in Leesburg VA (shout out to my friend ChrisG) who are doing an externship, and going into workplaces that feature math, science and technology to get ideas about how better to make learning applicable to life situations for their students. Very cool!

I also ran across two great resources from opposite ends of the spectrum. An archive website that takes our countries' charter documents (constitution, bill of rights, articles of confederation) and makes them very accessible to students. They also have an interactive timeline that pretty succinctly summarizes a US History 1 class. Fabulous resource!

And for emerging readers has a very nice sight word bingo game for reinforcement. I tried some of their other resources and not every App had easy directions but the sight word bingo was really good.

I don't want to fill up my blog with too many links, so follow me on twitter (HollyProcida) If you want more info about anything I mention here.

So... I am wondering what kind of community connections can you think of ? I know most businesses and corporations have a community service element. Do you think local workers would come into your classrooms to read? present? Does anyone have good experiences to share ? Either as the giver or receiver of community support in schools ? Don't be shy about commenting if you have things to offer about topics I bring up. Many people really are reading this blog and I am positive they don't ONLY want to hear what I have to say.. let's make it a conversation :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Read Alouds and Technology Hints

As I reviewed all of the overwhelming bits of articles and data that came my way this week, I wanted to add a few personal notes to some of the topics before I throw another opinion back in the mix. I am still in the baby blogging stages with this blog so I haven't made my full fledged effort to promote it and get into the rings of educational bloggers who might have real interest in the topics discussed. So for now I publicize it on facebook and a few of my super bored friends may read it. Many are teachers, so I hope I at least give food for thought.

My 6th grade teacher Mrs. Perry had a big impact on me. She would read aloud to us. I remember thinking "aren't we too old for this ?" but once I was mesmerized by her voice reading the" Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe " it didn't matter how old I was. I even recall having some of my later high school teachers read powerful pieces of Literature and helping it make more sense... Mr. Hurf and "Dante's Inferno"... Ms. Moceri and " Merchant of Venice".

I tweeted about the Global Read Aloud, an interactive internet project promoting read aloud in the classroom. I do some read aloud in my SS class.. they particularly LOVE the gross and whacky moments in history book. I would encourage all ELA teachers to check out the global read aloud!

I also passed along technology sites. It is very common to get small lists of sites sent in email, tweets, blogs with little blurbs under each. Because I see many of the Apps and tools referred to so often I get familiar with many new trends. It is nice to have these "tools" in your "toolbox" when designing lessons and instruction to achieve all of your goals. One interesting piece came up and it is a common problem with technology... On one of the lists was a sign generator.. you can alter premade signs to say what you want. For example it will be a photo of a McDonalds sign and where it usually says "billions served" you can type in other text to have it say what you want. There were lists of several dozen.. but one person wrote in and said they couldn't use this resource because they saw an example posted that wouldn't be appropriate for class. It is a very common problem when using the internet for technology that there will be parts of it not appropriate for class.

I have a pet peeve with people that seek out these examples and want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It is so easy in class to move along and avoid bad examples. Kids have to do it all the time on the internet. There are frequently less than ideal advertisements. No different than driving down a road with a less than savory place on it.. you just keep driving.

So my advice for today.. read aloud to students whenever you can.. and don't throw the baby out with bathwater when using technology.. Good teachers react to teachable moments all the time. I trust good teachers in my school, my kids' school and hopefully a school I will be an administrator in to redirect professionally and promptly into technology that is useful and promotes the standards we want to teach.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

School Leadership/ Common Core

My stated purpose of this blog is to get educators thinking about what are best practices with students and teachers. I am attempting a shift to school administration and I would love to build skills of being an effective instructional leader. Just like with my classroom students, I want to create risk taking environments where learners of all styles get plenty of opportunity to collaborate and think critically. I have been tackling a new resource called "109 Resources for the Common Core" My goal is to wrestle through it and produce a presentation or professional development module which can be helpful to teachers to digest the tons of information available. Once I get some things together, I hope to get some feedback about how interesting/useful it is.

Also don't be afraid to interact with me even if you are not one of my "teacher" friends. Decisions about students need to know and be able to do, should come from all community members. You have to live and work with the products (students) we produce... you definitely get a say in what should be going on in schools.

If you are following this blog, it might also be helpful to follow me on Twitter (HollyProcida) because I sometimes reference things I've tweeted . (like right now) An opinion article in Chicago tribune by an English professor did a great job of questioning "freedom" this week... and I was happy to see a middle school summer course on 9/11 for younger students. It is a powerful and meaningful topic and I wrestle every year with how to do it justice.

So back to my Common Core work... I'll keep you posted :)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Thinking about Independence Day

Since I don't teach summer school, I have never thought about the teaching choices I would make about independence Day, but it is a similar reflection to other units and currents events. Now, with the Common Core I have a new spin when thinking about content. What should students know and be able to do to be college and career ready ? I think about what the holiday SHOULD mean and what in practicality it does mean. I also ran across a few great resources on Edutopia this week which I would like to incorporate in this Blog post.

A basic premise of my personal teaching philosophy is that I am going to give students something to start with... A lecture, a movie, a photo, a primary resource, a question or problem to solve. And they are going to have to expand on it. One way I keep track of their expansions is in an Interactive notebook. Here is a link explaining this concept fully  :  ( I also teach a course on using them) . So part of what I do, is think of what I can give, share, plan start with, and also ways students can expand on these concepts.

Edutopia had a post about Independence day and it made me realize that even though younger students traditionally make crafts, I have adult friends who take a lot of pride in decorating their homes and organizing parties and events to commemorate the holiday. Think of all the math that goes into planning a party ? hmm interesting. Also my Science friends probably are really jazzed up about the pyrotechnic aspects of fireworks another traditional aspect of a July 4th celebration. Of course as a history teacher the big idea of July 4th is our historical fight for independence. I read an incredible book this week by Jack Levin  It is a short but very visual and detailed account of the battle of Trenton.

Another note about having students, particularly younger ones, have to interpret world events was addressed in another Edutopia Blog this week. As a Geography and World events teacher, countries gaining, fighting for and winning or losing Independence is a constant theme. Often times it is difficult to judge the groups fighting, but this blog does a good job of helping to keep a positive and fair attitude.

Finally, I just wanted to mention a really cool bit of technology that I think could enhance all of these concepts including my interactive notebook concept as well as things about a holiday or a big unit or theme like independence. Augmented Reality Using this Aurasma App students take a still picture and similar to the QR codes on a smartphone they connect to additional content. But the coolest part is having the students THEMSELVES create the link to the content.

I feel like Goldilocks when I am blogging, first not enough content, then too much. Don't worry eventually I will get it just right!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer and Kids

Let's try something a little lighter - 

What kind of experiences should children have in the summer ? 

Yesterday I tweeted about a Computer Science summer camp for girls. It allowed girls to be on computers for the week, exploring all of the capacity; games, puzzles, apps, programming, art, math, music etc. There were female speakers in the computer science field. It sounded really interesting but I wondered how you could make an equal offering for boys.

So as a parent Do you want .. sports.. down time.. reading (forced?) .. travel.. pool.. chores.. camps (day or sleep away). Should kids be connected , disconnected ? On bikes and out alone.. or in structured programs ?.. what ages is that OK ?. Our childhood summers seem very different from a perfect summer for our children. Are we missing educational opportunities ? , should school be year round ?

What are your kids doing this summer ??

Monday, July 1, 2013

Jumping in... New Fiction/Traditional story, myth or religious work

Thought to work on this week :

I am a social studies teacher. My 6th grade curriculum focuses on ancient civilizations. What is enduring ? What should we take away from earlier groups ?

I am an avid reader. What are the themes do I see recurring ? How do they relate to these same themes, or characters or plot events that also were important to earlier cultures ?

Here is one of the new common core LA  curriculum standards for 8th grade literature :

Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of
events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or
religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the
material is rendered new.

Questions I'd like to explore when "unpacking this standard"  and deciding how students can benefit from having this skill .....

 What is considered modern fiction ? 20 years ? 50 years ? If this is a grade 8 standard do you think they mean a childrens story or one for adults ? 

What are the "traditional stories", myths or works from religion that YOU consider worthy of being part of our cultural texts.

Should we talk about American culture or multicultural ? 

So teachers, friends, parents, scholars, professionals.. chime in ... list some texts new or old that you think are worthy of being explored to address this standard.

Also a prediction on assessment. Do you think students will be asked to provide their own example of this in an essay ? Do you think they will be given two texts ? Will it matter if they are/ are not familiar with these texts ? 

I'd love to hear from you, but will also be trying to collect my own examples and share them as we go along !

First Post

This situation is much like the summer I spent in 1984 at Crystal Lake Pool hanging around the high dive platform much too afraid to actually dive off. Oh, I easily went in the rest of the pool with great confidence, making it seem as if I was an expert swimmer. I even spent a good portion of the time on the platform flirting with the lifeguards to disguise the fact that I was actually sizing up the jump.

But here I go... I am going to blog as a professional educator. Now to be fair, I have blogged as a classroom teacher so I am not a complete novice at this. And I actually misuse facebook as a mini personal blog all the time. But my purpose in this blog is to hone my educational leadership skills. I want to process the large amount of interesting information I collect from the internet and observations I have about teaching and schools. I’d like to put my spin on it through my lens of experience and be able to get others to comment, interact and add to my understandings and perspectives. I am going to keep my window wide open and process all subjects K-12.

In a complete all-out technology effort I am also simultaneously going to begin to use Twitter to also interact with educators. I have many websites forums and blogs I follow now,  but so many of them are excited about Twitter, I figure if I am jumping..... I should really jump, and hurry up before the next trends come along and I am too far behind.

I hope you will follow along and give input. I am interested in my educator friends interacting with me, but also parents and professionals in other fields I would be very happy to have your perspectives on the trends and issues I will be discussing. After all, our job as educators is to get students ready to be productive citizens, so the types of learning and behaviors that you successfully use as a productive adult are what we are aiming for.