Thursday, April 30, 2015

Our First Blog Post

We are winding down our first official week of Genius Hour.  One of the requirements is to do a blog post every week about what they worked on for their project.  Here is the link to our Kid Blog.  Check out what they are doing.

We have made several connections in the community for interviews and mini field trips and everyone has been gracious and helped us out.  I am so excited for these kids.  I really wish I could go on a field trip too.  I hope they know how special this is.

Please check out their blogs posts!  They would LOVE it if someone besides their classmates and their teacher comment on their posts.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

5 Things We Have To Stop Pretending

+Rae Fearing challenged me to come up with ways to #MakeSchoolDifferent.

Here are my 5 things we have to stop pretending in education.

1. Teachers can do everything on their own.
This probably has more to do with the teacher themselves, but I know that I want to do everything on my own.  But I can't and I need help, not just someone to make copies for me, but to help me learn and grow as a teacher.  I'm almost 5 years into this profession and I am STILL trying to figure everything out.  I don't believe teachers who have been teaching for 20 or more years have it figured out.  

2.  If teachers attend Professional Development they will take it back into the classroom and use it right away.
I'll be honest, I have attended a lot of professional development, but I haven't used half of what I have learned.  Like my kids, I need to be shown how to do things.  If I get to participate and really understand what is being taught there is a greater likelihood I will take what I learned back to my classroom.  But there also needs to be a follow-up to see if I need any assistance.  What I think will be great about my PLC Coaching job is that I get to be the one to follow-up and help out.  It's one thing to expect a teacher to implement something without support, it's another to provide that support.

3. Your text book will cover all your standards.
Now that we are moving towards the Common Core, our text books are not the end all be all.  There are many standards you will have to go elsewhere to find and cover.  I would love a magical book that has everything I need, but it's not out there and teachers need to realize that.

4. Just because I don't know anything about technology, doesn't mean my kids don't either.
I have jumped on the technology bandwagon and ran with it.  I have been trying so many things lately that I didn't even know existed.  Some of them I liked myself and others I didn't care for.  But all of them my kids loved!  I understand there are teachers who don't know how to use technology, but these kids do!  It's hard to not be in total control of a situation, but it's good for you and it makes you learn new things.

5. You have to do the same thing all day, everyday. 
I realize kids need consistency, I am a HUGE advocate for it.  But education is changing everyday and you as a teacher need to change with it.  There are so many different things kids can be doing to show their understanding, engaging and fun things!

This was really hard for me to come up with.  I know I'm learning all the time to be a better teacher for my kids.  I feel like they have gotten a variety of educational experiences this year.  There is always room to grow and get better!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Oh...the Possibilities!!

I can't tell you how exciting it was today in my classroom!  My kids are starting to pick their Passion Projects for Genius Hour.  For the last 5 school days, I have been giving them a question to answer/finish on a little piece of paper.  Then I would post them under their name.  These were the sentences I had them finish to help them think of ideas for their Passion Project.

1. I wonder...
2. I would like to learn how to...
3. If I could have any job in the world it would be...
4. The one thing this world needs is...
5. If I could visit anywhere it would be...

And here is what my wall looked like when we finished our questions.  They really thought about their answers, but I think they loved listening to what the other kids wrote.  I had forgot to read them one day, and I got so many questions as to WHEN I'm going to read them.  

+Rae Fearing and +Charlene Knowlton came out today to help my kids think through their Passion Project ideas.  We have some wonderful projects in the works.  Their goal today was to pick a Passion Project and think of an essential question to drive their research.  This was a hard task for some.  They have so many ideas and to narrow their question down was hard for some of them.  Once they picked their project and wrote an essential question they wrote it down on construction paper and I posted it on the wall in our classroom.  The point of this was to think about their question and refer back to it.  They can ask each other questions and I will put them up on the wall too.  Just so they can see what other people are thinking and wondering about their projects.
If you don't know me...I'm a bit of a control freak, so this project is going to test me as a teacher.  I am going to let the learning happen and see where this takes us.  I know they will learn so much once this is over, but I just have to trust them...and breathe.  Let the learning commence!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Talking to an author is ...SO COOL!

My 4th graders are so lucky!  We got to do a Google Hangout with author J.B. Cantwell today.  Jen has written a series of books called Aster Wood.  They are about a sick boy who has adventures and travels to far off places.  As a teacher what I found so interesting is that she talked about the writing process she goes through with each of her novels.  4th graders go through the writing process too, but for some reason they think they are "finished" with a story without making any changes to it. :-)  Jen explained how she sends her drafts into her editor and they send back notes on how she needs to improve her story.  I could go on and on how much I learned today talking to Jen.  I was so inspired by her!  I hope my kids were too.  They asked her some great questions and she was gracious enough to answer all of them.  Please visit her website at J.B. Cantwell. Thank you +Jen Cantwell  for talking to my kids!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Planting a Seed

Today I planted a seed, I don't have a garden, but I do have 4th graders and they can be similar.  The seed I planted was Genius Hour.  My kids this year are yearning for knowledge, they want to know more.  Way more knowledge than I can provide.  I have been interested in Project Based Learning and this is a great way to try it out.  For the next week, we will be thinking about what kinds of things they want to explore.  If you asked any adult what they would spend 20% of their time on each week you would get all kinds of answers.  I can't wait to see what they come up with!  I will keep you posted.  I am looking forward to this new adventure with my kids as the school year comes to an end.

Saturday, April 11, 2015 the Digital Age

My class Teaching in the Digital Age is over, yet I feel like my journey has just begun.  I didn't imagine when I started this class I would learn so much.  I really didn't know what I was in for.  But I know now that I have this hunger for kids to have technology in their hands and for them to have options on how they want to show me what they know.  It's opened my eyes to so many possibilities that my kids would have never knew existed if I hadn't wanted to learn more myself.  I think our kids reap the benefits every time we learn something new and get excited about teaching.  We need to be in a place where we are willing to take some risks with lessons and technology.

Two standards stick out as areas of strengths, student learning and creativity and professional growth and leadership.  I have really gave my kids the "OK" to be creative in their learning and presentations to me.  I think it's so important, especially with technology, to not put so many limitations on what the kids can and cannot long as it's within reason.  I have a new role coming up next year and I really think this benefited me by showing me what kids can do so I can be helpful in showing other teachers what they can do with their kids.  I think I will always be working on Digital Citizenship.  It's like teaching them how to be good people.  It's a full time ongoing job.

I have already been applying what I have learned in my class with my kids.  They LOVE it when I teach them a different technology tool.  I also want to make sure I keep everything I learned close, to show my teachers next year.  I am looking forward to what the future holds.  I'm excited for new opportunities and getting to working with some talented people.  Keep following me to see what clever things my kids come up with.  They love it when I share their work!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Earth Day Sketchnotes...

Well, here are some WONDERFUL sketchnotes made by my creative class. We have been learning about Earth Day,  The Triplicate gave our class the Earth Day supplement and we read the articles and then made sketchnotes about what they read.

Rae Fearing is always challenging me to do different things with technology and I love her for that.  She challenges me, I figure out how to do it and most of the time things work out.  I feel compelled to follow through and complete these tasks.  It's nice that I feel comfortable to try these new things, I think that is key for me and my kids. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Do Dreams Really Come True??

My Ideal something to ponder.  I have to say I don't think it's the classroom I am in now.  First off, it's too small.  I have 30 kids and there isn't much more room in there for them all once we give them desks.  I guess that would be my second change, no desks.  I really do love desks. I think there is a place for them in the classroom. But moving forward in my thinking of the modern 21st century classroom, they are obsolete.  So I would put in tables.  I like the idea of different sized tables.  Small, tall, short and long tables would all work.  It gives kids options.  I think making them comfortable is key.  When you are somewhere you feel comfortable, you will take risks and try new things and that is what we are asking our kids to do.  I also think we need our classrooms to be carpeted with nice comfortable carpet, not industrial carpet we see in classrooms now.  The kids need places to collaborate, read and just have fun.  Throw in some couches, bean bags and pillows and the kids have a place to do just that!  I would also want a gathering place where we could come together as a class.  It could be a huge rectangle or round table we could all be around at once.  I want them to have technology at their fingertips, so I want all kinds.  I have my preferences as a teacher and learner myself, so I know the kids do too.  Some things work better on one device rather than another, we need options.

This looks nothing like what I have now, but it is something I think I would like to pursue.  Like with everything, we can make small changes.  Chuck the desks, get tables.  Get rid of the teacher clutter and make room for the couch.  Buy nice carpets with pillows and bean bags.  I'm not sure how I can get a bigger room, that might be tricky.  But it's definitely something to think about.  I know if I asked my kids on Monday what they want our classroom to look like, it will be more like my ideal classroom rather than what we have now.

A Sketchnote on Learning Environments

I made this Sketchnote for learning environments.  I've got to say, I didn't much like it.  You either had to use your finger to draw and write or a stylus. I didn't have a stylus, so my finger felt too big to write the way I wanted it.  I also felt like the iPad wasn't big enough for what I wanted to do.  I can see the value in using Sketchnotes with kids.  It's fun, creative, you get to show what you know without the paper and pencil.  It's not for me, but my kids would LOVE it...and that's all that matters!  I now have one more thing to put on my tool belt to help kids be tech savvy 21st century learners.