Vol.#104: Published

type-1161952_1280Even though I have been writing here for several years now, I’ve never considered myself “published”. Last fall, I was approached about writing on the flipped model of instruction in ELA when my student teacher’s professor came to observe me last year.

Fast-forward over a year, and here it is: Applying the Flipped Classroom Model to English Language Arts Education.  My contribution is listed as Chapter 5.

It’s a university textbook, so I guess I shouldn’t be so shocked that it is so expensive, but still! Yikes!

Vol.#103: The Unfailable Quiz

When I publish a new tech tutorial, it is blog worthy here too? Do I need a separate “vlog”?  Is cross-posting about my new YouTube video as a post on my Teaching Speaks Volumes facebook page as well as here on TSV wordpress obnoxious, or just good marketing?

While I sort this out, here’s my latest “Two minute Tech Tool Tutorial for Teachers” video:

Vol.#102: NCCAT Revisited

This week, I went to the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching and attended the usually funny and always insightful sessions of Dr. Deb Teitelbaum during a program entitled “Teaching Beyond the EOG“. I hadn’t been to NCCAT since June 2012 as a Kenan Fellow. I wrote about that experience way back in Volume #5 when TSV was in its infancy.

I have taught middle school language arts for seventeen years, have a master’s degree in teaching, and am twice national board certified. One might wonder if there were professional development that could significantly improve upon the instruction of a teacher with this much time and training already dedicated to perfecting the craft. However, this week at NCCAT will unquestionably make a profound impact on teaching and learning in my classroom. I appreciated learning, practicing, discussing, and analyzing research-based pedagogical strategies. The time we were given to create materials using these high-quality strategies and then share them with each other was particularly valuable.

I learned about one particular strategy for students completing nonfiction passages on standardized assessments. This nonfiction strategy didn’t have a catchy name or clever acronym, as most all pedagogical techniques do. I was initially very skeptical, since it called for students to not necessarily read the entire passage. (*gulp*) Then we actually used the strategy on an 8th grade EOG passage. I got 100% of the questions correct. This was clearly a game changer.

I determined that to be comfortable using it with my students, I needed to convey to my students that I was not saying, “only read these parts”, but how to mark what to go back and reread as they completed the questions. After all, to get every question correct, I never read all of the body paragraphs, but I did read one of them three or four times.

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 8.40.48 PMSo, with this message as my goal and my penchant for  designing these types of things, I created an alliterative name and an analogy to using GPS technology. These are the resulting directions for students. I am most excited to use it with my students in the coming weeks.

 

 

Vol.#101: Hiatus

It has been exactly one year to the day that I have posted anything here at TSV.

I’d built today day up as sort of “D-day”. Either I needed to start to publish again, or accept that I just wasn’t going to be blogging anymore. And since I am not ready to make that decision, here I sit, writing without being sure of what I want to say.

No small part in this hiatus has been my adjusting to changes on all fronts. In this year’s time, I have sold and bought a house, changed schools to a new school in its inaugural  year, and changed both my children’s school as well. I’ve had a student teacher. I’ve been a contributing author in a book “Applying the Flipped Method to English Language Arts”, currently in press. However, saying “I’ve been busy” is an oversimplification that borders on disingenuous.

Mostly, I have been struggling with what to even say in regards to the state of education in the current political climate. It’s not that there hasn’t been much to discuss, goodness knows. Betsy DeVos’s appointment alone should have warranted a diatribe or two from me. I’m just… struggling with outrage overload. Also, I’ve been feeling like what I post doesn’t “don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” In the face of all of the problems with the current direction in education, my posting about teaching just seems so…futile.

I realize educators, more than ever, need rallying cries and inspiration, not the fruitless twaddle that’s been bouncing around in my head lately. To that end, I am closing TSV post #101 with the brilliance of Bald Piano Guy. He does both with musical talent and humor:

 

 

Vol.#100: Read Theory Tutorial

My principal encourages us to be able to explain the great work we do at our school in a “five floor elevator speech”. I like the vivid case for brevity when delivering powerful information. Therefore, in honor of the one hundredth volume, I have created the first installment of what I hope will be a recurring series here on TSV: “Tech Tool Tutorials for Teachers in Two Minutes”.

There are so many tools and teachers have so little time. They need to know what tools are worth their time exploring further. Plus, as a language arts teacher, I’m a sucker for alliteration. 🙂

Have a tech tool you’d like to see me cover in two minutes? Make sure to leave it in the comments!

Vol.#99: Missing Work Memes

As a teacher, one of the most difficult things to do is get students to complete and turn in missing work.  I feel I am constantly chasing down students who have not yet submitted an assignment. I have too many students missing work to speak to every student individually. I have tried emailing parents, but this has not been very effective. Also, parents become dependent on an email and instead of being appreciative, they are angry when I do not email about every single missing assignment.

I’d tried a colleague’s method of writing all the names of students who are missing work on the board, but that was very time-consuming. I then moved to printing the missing assignment report the computer gradebook program can create. I would post this by my door. This was simple and worked well initially, but students eventually stopped checking. They did not seem to notice when the list was changed and new names or assignments had appeared. The novelty had worn off.

I decided I needed a way to indicate that a new list was posted. My students love memes, so I decided I would change my meme when I changed the list. This would catch their attention and let them know the list was updated.

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 10.23.25 AMDuring a nine week quarter, I would post a meme and an updated missing work list twice before interims and twice after interims but before report cards. For example, it might look something like this:

  • Week 1 = begin quarter
  • Week 2 = collecting grades
  • Week 3 = post missing work list
  • Week 4 = post missing work list
  • Week 5 = Interims
  • Week 6 = collecting grades
  • Week 7 = post missing work list
  • Week 8 = post missing work list
  • Week 9 = Report Cards

Since I post the lists by my door, it has facilitated some great conversations with my students during class changes. As I stand by the door during transitions, I can glance at the reports and talk to students as they come and go.

Here is where you can get my 16 memes or of course you can make your own!

What are some strategies you use to facilitate getting your students’ missing work? Please share tricks of the trade in the comments!

Vol. #98: 2015 in Review

My unintentional hiatus from TSV had two distinct stages. At first, I was buried in an unusually busy second quarter. School Improvement Plan Co-Chair on a re-write year, Department Co-Chair, a student teacher starting in my class, the usual day-to-day chaos teachers deal with, all in addition to being a mom of two very active boys…all overcame my weekly writing aspirations.

However, then my year-round calendar afforded me some time, and I entered a second stage. I was at a loss as to how to re-enter orbit. I couldn’t think of a topic that would acknowledge and/or make up for the absence. I wanted to set the right tone, or at least find a way to transition onto future posts.

Then, my digital PLC came to my rescue, as they often do. I read this post by the faithful blogger Bill Ferriter, and I had my answer! A top-five list of posts from 2015? Perfect.

My top-viewed page by far was the “Home Page/Archives” which is the main blog page when someone is viewing a current post. I took that out of the equation. number-698604_1280

So, without further ado, here are the five archived posts with the highest number of page views during the 2015 calendar year:

5.Vol. #46: The Teachers’ Time Off Myth“A math teacher’s email resulted in my infographic and accompanying post. Second only to “Vol. #34: Thank God for North Carolina” for inciting encouraging spirited arguments discussions, this post always raises strong opinions mostly from two camps: teachers and non-teachers.

4.Vol. 59: Four Things I Wish Parents Knew About Grades Online”  My list of advice for parents in a digital world of immediate grade reporting, born out of four specific frustrations, got some revisiting and re-sharing this year. It would seem they speak to other teachers and are still relevant.

3.Vol. #82: Read Theory” I’m thrilled the post about this specific tech tool was passed around in 2015. I still use Read Theory in my classroom, now even more than when I wrote this post. What a great free tool.

2.Vol. #25: FREE iPad Apps for the English Language Arts Classroom” This list of 26 tech tools in alphabetical order with descriptions is almost three years old, yet had the second-most views in 2015. Clearly, it’s time for a re-visit and update. Hmm…

1. Excluding the Home Page and Archives, the most viewed post in 2015 was “Vol. #84: Is This A Grade?”. Frustrated and annoyed from hearing this question, I set out to never answer it again. And I haven’t. Objective achieved.

So there you have it, the top 5 posts with the most views in 2015. I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings. Requests, suggestions, or observations for posts in the new year? Please leave them in the comments!

VOL. #97: NC Budget & Education Update

So, a budget finally passed.

The North Carolina General Assembly voted to pull funds away from the already bled-dry public schools. Charter schools got instructional per pupil funding, but now also get a portion of everything: A portion of transportation funding even if they don’t provide busing. A portion of child nutritional services funding even if they don’t have a cafeteria. How is this not a misappropriation of funds? HOW is this now LEGAL? My guess is more tax payers’ funds will be used to fight this in court.

Meanwhile, the Wallet Hub’s annual study of 13 key metrics for the best and worst states for teachers now ranks NC #50, up from #51 previously. Cue The Jefferson’s Theme here.

It’s worth noting that not all legislators agree with the approved budget. For her part, Rep. Tricia Cotham of Mecklenburg County said the funding for public education was barely adequate, calling the one-time $750 increase an “insult” to veteran educators [1 minute 51 seconds]:

In the midst of the budget release, DPI released a report to the legislature about the latest teacher attrition data.

I’ve included a few highlights here in an infographic:

Untitled Infographic

Vol. #96: NC Budget & Education

After three continuations, there were rumblings Friday evening of a budget deal finally being reached. However, leaders in both houses declined to give any specifics, so we don’t know if the $500 raise or even the $750 one-time bonus discussed for teachers made it in.

Since they haven’t offered to give any details, I thought I’d put a few details and specifics together in an infographic.

NC Budget

Vol.#95: New Rule

I’ve written many times about the importance of educational technology the tools that can differentiate for students, engage them, and provide data for teachers.

However, it’s not imperative that a teacher be an expert in #edtech. Like our students, there’s a range of abilities and circumstances. Also like our students, what makes the biggest difference is the approach, the attitude, the  willingness to learn

And I have to say, teachers are oftentimes the worst learners. It amazes me when teachers offer up excuses they would never allow a student to give them.

We are months away from 2016. Being a tech expert is not required, but ignoring educational technology is no longer an option. It’s in the standards. It’s part of your job.

Make. An. Effort.

So, borrowing the concept from Bill Maher’s segment of the same title: “New Rule”…

New Rule:

If you wouldn’t allow the excuse, don’t offer it as your own.

Tech Rules

/soapbox

I feel better. 🙂

Writing Volumes About Teaching Whist Learning Volumes About Teaching

%d bloggers like this: