Tag Archives: best practices

Vol.#58: 30 EdTech Tools in 13 Minutes

Our Technology Facilitator Luke Miles recently offered a “30 Tech Tools in 30 Minutes” session at our school. I was familiar with some of these technology options and others I’ve been trying out since. I asked him if he’d “film it to flip it” and was thrilled when he did. I love being able to reference it (“what was that great one he said that…?”) and thought some of my readers would enjoy it as well. I’m grateful he’s agreed to let me share it with you from his blog coolhandED thoughts.

Bonus: He got it down to about 13 1/2 minutes…and these tools are all FREE!

Check it out:

Advertisements

Vol.#51: Edtech in Images

For this week’s post, I’d like to share a few images with quotes in relation to my thinking on #edtech. I’ve talked about my passion for integrating technology from free iPad Apps for the ELA classroom to my list of tech tools for this upcoming yearI’ve also said technology is the power tool of education, and if you have a leaky pipe but grab a hammer, you are missing the point. A tool is only as good as the user.

I saw this picture via a tweet from Zach Snow which makes a similar point brilliantly:

 

This brilliant tweet from the brilliant Josh Stumpenhorst explained how too many teachers have this attitude surrounding technology integration:

 

At first glance, it would look like these two images might be poking fun at those that use educational technology at all, but really it’s about using it correctly. Here’s a wonderful list about this very concept by the radical Bill Ferriter:

 

Even if one weren’t inclined to use technology in the classroom, its use is required in several Common Core standards. So…What makes technology an effective power tool? How does one know if s/he is using it “correctly”? Is there a litmus test? I pondered this question and came up with:

new-tech2

 

What do you believe makes a technology tool “flash over substance” versus a valuable classroom tool?

Vol.#43: Literacy Data

countsSeveral years ago, an ELA colleague and I were presenting writing strategies to another middle school’s PLTs. The IRT’s office was in the PLT meeting room, and during a break between our sessions she remarked how she always had math teachers coming in to scan the results of their County required standardized test benchmarks immediately. However, she always had to chase down the language arts teachers to “make” them scan the bubble cards for the data. They’d given the test as required, just not scanned the cards for the results. She asked us what to do about it, and we sheepishly admitted we were often the same. Amazed, she asked… “Why?”

“Well, that data doesn’t really tell us anything we don’t already know.

Standardized data from the math benchmark practice tests tells our math teammates if students are struggling with decimals, or fractions, or two-step equations. In short, if students need more help…and if so, with which with specific skills.

The truth is…the data on these reading benchmarks tells us that since our AIG students score higher gifted readers must be better readers and our ESL students who are learning English don’t score as well on a test for…reading English.”

Image Credit: Pixabay User Websi
Image Credit: Pixabay User Websi

None of that is new information to any literacy teacher, and even if it were it doesn’t speak to how to shape his or her instruction. We are Data Rich, Information Poor. (D.R.I.P.) Analysis of that data does not help us see the path forward clearly for our students. Perhaps worse, it doesn’t necessarily even reflect the quality of instruction they’ve been given.

And while greater educational titans like Alfie Kohn have already explained  the many problems of relying on standardized data for, well, anything, it is my contention that using it to measure English Language Arts, both for measuring teachers and students, is an exceptionally erroneous practice.

Standardized testing by definition is supposed to be an “objective” assessment. However, subjective factors such as beliefs and values aren’t shouldn’t be separable from measuring literacy. While math is cut and dry (there is a right answer) interpretation of a literary work it not black and white. The students who can argue support for more than one of the four cookie-cutter answers – and do so in their heads during the test thereby often choosing the “wrong” one – are likely in reality the best readers. Disagreement on what an author meant by effective figurative language use or dissention in supporting different possible intended themes are not to be transcended in analysis and assessment of literature but embraced.

Am I missing some insight in interpreting formative standardized benchmark data? Is there some value here that I am overlooking? Please let me know in the comments!

Vol.#33: A Fresh Year, A Fresh Perspective

bud
Image Credit: Pixabay user JamesDeMers

A new school year is budding: I teach in a multi-track year round school, and our students’ first day of school is tomorrow.  We both have wonderful staff members returning and are welcoming a large number of new staff members to our building. The faculty kick-off last week was truly exciting.

We have a very large staff, and we learned from a clicker session by our media specialist that we are almost exactly divided into thirds between Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y.

We viewed some funny & informative clips from speakers on generations in the workplace like Jason Dorsey and Cam Marlston like this and this, as well as looked at other information. Teachers were asked to reflect and discuss which parts pertained to them and which did not.  It all led to a really rich discussion of our staff, the strengths of each generation, and led to what it means in terms of technology and instruction.

We then shifted focus from who we are …to who we teach. 

Continue reading Vol.#33: A Fresh Year, A Fresh Perspective

Vol.#32: Help Navigating the Road to ELA Common Core

bridge-69396_640
Image Credit: Pixabay User “PublicDomainPictures”

It was about a year ago this very week when I started my journey with four other Kenan Fellows at DPI. My Kenan Fellowship last year was an amazing opportunity; one of tremendous growth in my teaching practice.

The culmination of our work together and our intensive study of the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards [ELA CCSS] is a library of resources which has been created and compiled in order to help other ELA educators to transition their own instruction to the demands of the newly adopted ELA CCSS. Continue reading Vol.#32: Help Navigating the Road to ELA Common Core

Vol.#22: The Dark Side of Choosing School Choice

Freedom-of-choice-a22077920During the time I was visiting these four schools and writing these posts, this article was released about Wake County dropping the choice plan. However, when I entered my address in the Student Assignment page today, I still got a total of 16 elementary schools, 10 middle schools, and 9 high schools in varying Base, Calendar, and Magnet options for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year. This still looks far from resolved, however.

So…what does all this mean? After visiting an array of options as both a teacher and a parent, what is my final analysis? I have two responses to these two questions, one for each of my two roles.

As a parent… Continue reading Vol.#22: The Dark Side of Choosing School Choice

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.

IMG_5252

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.#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.#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