Tag Archives: teaching

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

20130402-190721.jpg
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.#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.#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

Vol. #9: Reflecting Pool

Today was the first day of school for the traditional calendar schools throughout the state.  There are 36 middle schools in the county in which I teach, but ten of them, including mine, are multi-track year-round schools. So while the majority of the county welcomed students today for day one, our students arrived for day 36.

The sight that greeted them on this day was a sight most students never see: the halls being20120827-174943.jpg painted. This would normally be done when the students are out of the building (likely during the summer) but with the exception of Christmas break, there are students and staff in the building of a multi-track year-round school – literally – year round.

This means several things are fundamentally different logistically, Continue reading Vol. #9: Reflecting Pool

Vol.#6: Changing the Core

As a multi-track  year-round teacher, I’ve just completed the first week of school: a new administration, a new demanding schedule, a new PLT, a new batch of seventh graders, and many other new challenges. However, this group of students is wonderful, my new PLT is off to a great running start, and this new administration has expressed unwavering high standards for its staff. If your undergo a change in your surroundings, I think it’s safe to assume you’ll change as a result as you adapt.

So looking ahead to this school year, I realize this new context coupled with the unique and intense Kenan Fellows experience will be nothing shy of completely transformative for me. Continue reading Vol.#6: Changing the Core

Vol.#4: My Top Ten Tech Takeaways from NCCAT

I attended NCCAT in Cullowhee, NC this past week along with the other Kenan Fellows. While lots of experiences were built into our stay, the instructional focus was on educational technology.

It. Was. Amazing.

I am passionate about learning educational technology and integrating it into my classroom. Therefore, I was thrilled to be immersed into such a rich technology training environment over several days.  It was the most powerfully intensive technology training I’ve ever experienced. Continue reading Vol.#4: My Top Ten Tech Takeaways from NCCAT

Vol.#1: Saying Goodbye

This blog has been a long time in the making.

Granted, mostly in my head. Like most educators and moms of young children, I have plenty of important priorities to point to and say, “I’m too busy”. Despite this, ideas like the concept, the title, and images had been chiseling away at the back of my conscientiousness for months, even before creating a WordPress site in which they could be housed.

Hello. My name is Erica Speaks, and I am a perfectionist.

I think you should know that about me right off the bat. In fact, my husband looks at this blog endeavor dubiously. Not because he thinks I’m not a great writer, but that he knows I absolutely agonize over details, especially when I’m writing.

So, it looked like this blog was going to be an idea that I toyed with but never came to fruition. You know, like building a roadster from scratch or backpacking across Europe.

However, I came across the following quote:

“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.”

~ Ivan Turgenev

and decided to jump in with both feet and hit “Publish”.

As with all new beginnings, I am saying, “Goodbye,” to several things.

Like all educators this time of year, I said, “Goodbye,” to a group of students. I try to take what I’ve learned each time and get ready to begin anew with fresh challenges and perspective. My year-round school’s calendar starts in July, and hopefully some of it will be blog-worthy.

Also, I have worked diligently over the past ten years “perfecting” lessons from my state’s Standard Course of Study that I will say, “Goodbye,” to in favor of the Common Core alignment coming this school year. I am very fortunate to have been granted a Kenan Fellowship with which I can start this new process. I am certain some of that will be blog-worthy.

The start of this blog also marks one other, “Goodbye.”  I had become very comfortable with my arrangement of having a colleague use some of my writings as guest posts on his own professional blog. Changes have me saying, “Goodbye,” to that safety net, as well.

So, as I anticipate the drive out of my comfort zone on many fronts, I take a long look in the rear view mirror at where I’ve been. I ponder a moment at how I’ve arrived here. It has not been perfect, and I recognize a difficult new stretch of road lies ahead in my journey.

But I’m ready to begin driving forward.