Category Archives: education

Vol.#24: iPad Apps for the English Language Arts Classroom

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Our school has recently acquired a cart of iPads for check out to use with students, and in anticipation I wrote (and have since received) a grant for Apple TV for my classroom.

I’d read things like this and this and this and this all about the uses of Apple TV in the classroom, and was stoked to get started.

Then…it arrived.

And there was paralysis by analysis.

am was unsure of where to start my students on the actual iPads. I knew I could start…

. . . a n y w h e r e .

Continue reading Vol.#24: iPad Apps for the English Language Arts Classroom

Vol.#23: What’s at YOUR Teaching Core? [Cross-Post]

pixlrI was afforded the opportunity to have “blogging training wheels” in the way of writing a few Guest Posts for Scripted Spontaneity throughout the year before I started Teaching Speaks Volumes this past June. One of these posts from about a year-and-a-half ago still remains one of my own personal favorites that I’ve written on education.
So, I hope my readers don’t mind a cross-post as I include on my own blog, and will perhaps even provide some fresh perspectives in the comments.

“If our core belief is based on what other people think, then we eventually will allow their opinions to become our reality.” ~Darren L. Johnson

image credit: Wikimedia Commons user unununium272
image credit: Wikimedia Commons user unununium272

Our school is currently developing Core Belief Statements. First, each of our interdisciplinary teams and elective departments generated their own and submitted them to administration. Now these statements have been compiled and shared with the staff. They’ll be used to create Core Belief Statements for our school.

It’s wonderful that this process has opened dialogue, but it begs the question: Does something so personal coincide with asking for a standardized consensus? Perhaps I am borrowing trouble and these statements will be vague enough where everyone can agree, but some people have very passionate beliefs when it comes to teaching and education.

Scripted Spontaneity followers know there’s been recent discussion here about standardization of teachers’ practices. But what about standardization of Core Beliefs? Even if teachers can all agree on a statement like, “We value what is in the best interest of the students,” . . . what if we don’t agree on what that should be? What happens when caring, brilliant teachers who work daily with purpose and precision … don’t agree on what these practices are?

Case in point.

Continue reading Vol.#23: What’s at YOUR Teaching Core? [Cross-Post]

Vol.#21: Wake NC State STEM Early College High School

This is the final of four schools from the discussion started in Volume #17 about the County’s various options for parents. 

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Our group of forty-four 2013  Kenan Fellows is pretty amazing, but even in this elite company I zeroed in on wanting to visit Carrie Horton immediately. Her school, Wake NC State University STEM Early College High School, as the lengthy title implies, is committed to instruction in STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Ms. Horton, like myself, is an English Language Arts teacher. Also like me (probably more so) she is tech-savvy and innovative.

Image Credit: WRAL @ http://wraltechwire.com/business/tech_wire/biotech/blog/7521546/?s=255
Image Credit: WRAL

So, I get the “T”. I’m totally on board with the “T”. But, what about those three other letters? Science, Engineering, and Math… in an English class? What does that look like? I simply had to know. Full disclosure: I wondered how she couldn’t possibly help but be a second class citizen as an ELA teacher in a STEM school.

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My first glance could have confirmed my suspicions. Continue reading Vol.#21: Wake NC State STEM Early College High School

Vol.#18: Enloe High School

In my last post I discussed my County’s various options for parents. My year round school’s track outs provide an opportunity to visit the several types of public schools while they are in session.  This is the first of the schools I will discuss in a series of four.

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I visited my esteemed colleague and fellow 2013 Kenan Fellow Priscilla Chappell at  one of the magnet options: Enloe High School. She has an ease and rapport with her students that is obvious immediately upon seeing her interaction with them. A theme emerges if you peruse her online reviews; while not considered “easy”, she consistently has top marks for being helpful and clear. (This, in my opinion, should be the goal of all teachers.) It’s no wonder she was a Teacher of the Year semifinalist for Wake County in 2011, which any teacher in Wake can tell you is no minor accomplishment.

Enloe Hall

So, onto what makes Enloe…Enloe. Continue reading Vol.#18: Enloe High School

Vol.#17: A Choice Education

“My neighbor’s kid has been in Wake County schools for six years, and his school has changed six times. He has no childhood friends. Why does the county do that?”

I have no answer for this stranger who, upon learning I am a public school teacher for WCPSS, demands it. His tone is curious with only a hint of accusing. He knows I personally did not set any policies, but he’s grappling for a logical reason. Some counter argument which I cannot provide. This county is infamous known for the sometimes contentious board meetings and how it repeatedly rearranges student reassignment. Though the news has explained they are touting choice and address-based models and assuring students will be “grandfathered in”, it does not always seem to coincide with the stories from some parents like this one speaking to me now.

Actually, as a parent I know little about it as well. I am fortunate that the county accommodated my request to have my son at the year-round elementary school that is adjacent to and feeds into the middle school where I teach. There’s even a bus that runs to and from the school to bring him from and deliver him to my school. Therefore, I missed much of the agonizing analysis many parents experience.

Image Credit:http://artschools.com/resources/how-to-choose-an-art-school
Image Credit:
http://artschools.com/resources/how-to-choose-an-art-school

This past week, letters went home to parents about the 2013-14 school year assignment and their choices. I sent them home to my homeroom, as well as received one from my son’s teacher. I decided to go to the Wake County Student Enrollment & Assignment page myself. There’s lots of information on choices and many, many magnet programs. Curious, I entered my own address into the page provided to look up base schools we’re assigned. Continue reading Vol.#17: A Choice Education

Vol.#15: The Edmodo Education

I started using Edmodo over the past couple of months. Specifically, I offered it as one option to complete a reading project. I’d thought having a smaller group of students to start would help me ease into it, however over 75% of my 109 students opted for the Edmodo choice instead of the more traditional alternative.

 
I used the Edmodo quizzes as part of the assessment for the project. Now having used them, I see the quiz feature as having a likely future in my classroom as formative assessments, such as homework, as opposed to actual “quizzes”. Edmodo does not allow retakes easily and both the timed feature and occasional glitches in the system make quizzes that “count” stressful. However, the instant feedback it provides would be very vaulable in the formative stage and would reduce class-time reviewing answers on completed assignments, allowing for more time on new, engaging tasks and collaboration.

While pondering the future of this possibility, I had my students complete the following Consens-o-gram. Continue reading Vol.#15: The Edmodo Education

Vol.#14: Technology and the Common Core [2]

In my previous post on technology and its role in the Common Core curriculum a couple of months ago, I described an integrated approach. Tech should be infused in the instruction, while the content is the educational objective. However, upon further reflection I worry that I under-emphasized a seismic shift in this curriculum as it relates to technology. Namely, that Common Core also expressly states technology as part of the curriculum. This is to say, technology IS now an overt educational objective and not merely a by-product.

For example, on page seven of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts document it states:

Students who are College and Career Ready in Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Language: “…use technology and digital media strategically and capably. Students employ technology thoughtfully to enhance their reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language use. They tailor their searches online to acquire useful information efficiently, and they integrate what they learn using technology with what they learn offline. They are familiar with the strengths and limitations of various technological tools and mediums and can select and use those best suited to their communication goals.”

This gives a picture of a capable student as one who knows how to acquire and communicate facts, not one who has memorized them. Our children live in a world where they hold the entire sum of man’s knowledge in the palm of their hand. They will (rightly) find a quiz about the dates of World War II rather a waste of time.

Further, Continue reading Vol.#14: Technology and the Common Core [2]

Vol.#13: Metamorphosis

met·a·mor·pho·sis

a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism

This past week marked the third and final Professional Development Institute for myself and the other 2013 Kenan Fellows. It will likely be the last time we see each other until the celebratory events planned at the end of the year when the Fellowship is completed. It was wonderful to see everyone, though it was far too brief. As always, I learned so much more from them than it feels I must ever give back. (I’m looking at you Karen and Vance.)

I don’t know if other Fellows have been experiencing some of the same seismic shifts at their schools that Continue reading Vol.#13: Metamorphosis

Vol.#12: Social Media @Classroom #Revolution

As I continue my work this week at the North Carolina Department of Instruction with the Kenan Fellows program, I have been presented with the following intriguing question:

“As some districts ban the use of social media in and out of classrooms, and others encourage its use, how do you explain such polar viewpoints?”

Welp, in a nutshell: Continue reading Vol.#12: Social Media @Classroom #Revolution

Vol.#11: Instructional Smackdown

Back in July, I read a wonderful post by Edutopia titled “Ten Ideas for Teaching Teachers :Technology“. In early August, I forwarded it to my colleague Luke Miles who is widely heralded as our school’s resident techie guru. I stated, “I bet we can get Drew to agree to #4.” Continue reading Vol.#11: Instructional Smackdown