Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tech Integration... WIN

This week I had a proud moment with technology and curriculum integration. I serve on a tech team where we assist teachers with the implementation of technology in their lessons. One of the problems I see is that when teachers implement technology they often do it for "fun" or as a lesson hook... this can be great at times... but often times teachers do not understand how to authentically use technology to enhance core learning.

A new teacher came to me this week with a problem... her ELL students need more pictorial guides. They need to be front loaded with pictorial references and then have the ability to go back throughout the unit to refer to the pictures as a review.

She said she often uses Youtube videos as an introduction and stops along the way to discuss and ask questions. She asked if there was a way to give her students access to the videos with pictorial support that they can view at any time through the unit. She wanted them to be reminded about the discussions they had the first time it was used to front load information. She also wanted to avoid having inappropriate youtube ads pop up as her students went back for review.

We discussed her class needs and I showed her a video creation tool that sounded like it would fulfill her need, Zaption. She came after school for a quick 5 minute tutorial on how to create a video with Zaption.

She left my room excited and filled with ideas on how to use the tool to enhance her students resources.

Two days later, I got an email from the teacher that was full of !exclamation! marks... she was so excited because she was able to create a video to front-load material for her students. They used the stopping points as a whole class discussion. Then, the video was shared with students. Students were able to go back and reference the video as needed for scaffolding. The students thought it was "so cool" and it served an academic purpose.

This teacher found an area of need in her classroom and found and authentic way to use a fun tech tool to assist her students in the learning of core curriculum.

Now THAT my friends is a technology implementation WIN!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Welcome Autumn!

Today is the official end of summer as we fall into a new season, AUTUMN! As each season changes into another I find myself as excited as I was as a child. Each season is my "favorite" upon arrival. We are lucky to line in a place where we usually have each season and can feel and see the changes around us.

Looking forward to fall....

Crisp leaves, 
Cool breeze, 
Crunching sound under your feet.

Leaf piles, 
kids jumping
a chill in the air

pumpkin patch
cider warming
pumpkins transforming
jack-o-lanterns glowing 

a hay ride
filled with laughter
scarecrows placed on haybales
pumpkin patch

kids in costume
trick or treat

colored leaves
bare trees

Autumn has arrived!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Too Busy...

When did we get too busy to care?

It seems like no matter what month we are in, no matter which season it is, no matter how many or how few items are currently on the to do list ...we all remain in a constant state of busy.

We hardly have "time" to stop and socialize. We often get so wrapped up in checking things off the to do list and going from one meeting to the next that we often don't stop to check on each other. Some of these people I have worked with for years and I couldn't tell you what they face at the moment. If conversations derail from the current meeting or agenda we are often then forced to apologize for veering off topic and steer back on course. A substitute in our building last week asked why none of the teachers were eating in the teacher's lounge. I responded... "We are too busy."

Too busy.
Too busy to eat?
Too busy to socialize?
Too busy to allow ourselves to connect with those around us?
When did we get too busy?
How did we get too busy?

I have learned that the best and most productive meetings are in an environment where people feel comfortable. Sometimes a teacher has a headache and needs to not take the lead that day. Sometimes there is a sick kid at home and the teacher's mind is elsewhere.

We do not expect our students to learn and grow in our classrooms without nourishing their souls and making personal connections. We strive to create a culture of care with our kids. The same should be true of teachers. We are all people working on the same team toward the same goal.

Take a minute to ask how someone is doing and really listen to the answer.
You never know when someone may need to unload.

Next time you feel like you are too busy to make a personal connection ask yourself WHY?

After all, we are in the business of making personal connections.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

What's Happens in September?

September is when settlement happens.

*Students become acclimated with their teachers and peers.
*Teachers settle into a routine as they tackle their new block schedule.
*Teachers cultivate a community as learn about each of  the members of their new tribe.
*The Christie community begins to shift their thinking about planning and how it should look.
*Thoughts of summer dissipate as fall starts to creep upon us.
*Routines are established.
*Expectations are set.
*Relationships are built and solidified.
*Classes dive into learning as students and teachers are pushed out of their comfort zones.
*There is noise and things that once looked brand new start to show signs of wear.

In all of this season of great change we must not forget the most important part of our job is to touch the heart and mind of a child. We must teach our students that building positive relationships and cultivating friendships is of equal importance to math and reading concepts. Working in groups and becoming a positive member of society should be a key focus throughout the year.

In September we are building communities, positive productive citizens, and instilling a love of learning. If these things aren't happening, then really what's the point? Students must feel valued before they will grasp and retain educational content.

So raise your water bottle (or coffee mug) and let's cheers to a September of settlement!