Monday, May 18, 2015

Final Reflection

I learned so much this year.  I learned from Inspired Writing, having Dana come to my classroom numerous times (even for 5 minutes when I desperately needed help), and the Inspired Learning Conference.  I also learned from my students, who were so eager and proud to show me what they knew about technology in the classroom.  That is important to me, because that shows our students are invested and proud.  I love hearing my students ask if they can try to convert a paper/pencil task into a technology-based format.  That being said, I am also proud of my students who know what works best for them and aren't afraid to stick with paper/pencil.

I can't wait to weave things I have learned this year into my teaching next year.  I wish I could take Inspired Writing again!  

Thursday, May 14, 2015


We have 6 school days left.  We are tired, our students are anxious and some are falling apart. We are trying our best to hold everyone (and everything) together for a few more days ;)

I keep going back and forth between being excited to relax this summer and feeling sad because I will really miss the kids in my class.  We have become a little family at Euclid.  I was thinking about what to write for my final blog post and came across the 9 videos to inspire a teacher at the beginning of the year.   Why not watch these videos to inspire me to give it my all this last week of school?!  

I am glad I did.  What a great reminder of why we do what we do.  Instead of thinking about the last lessons I need to squeeze in, the grading I need to do, and the final assessments I need to give, I think of the growth my students have made…. academically, socially, organizationally, etc. I have witnessed positive changes.  All the work we do throughout the year is definitely worth it. And that is a wonderful feeling!

Empowering my Students

I love the way “The Balance of Screen Time” asked three questions to guide the use of technology in the classroom.  

1. Is it appropriate?
2. Is it meaningful?
3. Is it empowering?

All three are very valid questions, but “is it empowering” really resonated with me as I read through the article.  This is a question I ask myself everyday as a teacher.   I teach in a smaller Core where every student is at risk for something… academically, organizationally, and/or socially.  Some students benefit from our core because they desperately need to make a connection with a teacher and teacher to student ratio helps facilitate that relationship.  Every student needs to feel empowered at school.  This is easier for some than others.  I feel passionate about my students feeling empowered.  I also feel a great responsibility.  That is one reason incorporating technology (when appropriate and meaningful) has been so empowering for me as a teacher!  

I love this quote:
It's not that introverts can't speak up in a group. It just isn't our preferred method. The screen isn't a crutch. It's a way to make minor adaptations to make the interaction one that creates energy, rather than expends it.”
I used to worry that students who weren’t raising their hand and actively participating in class discussions weren’t engaged or learning.  I have changed that way of thinking because, by incorporating technology, students have proved me wrong.  They are able to show their knowledge and participate.  I now know the students who gain energy and thrive off constantly raising their hands and verbally sharing their learning.  I am also comfortable knowing that some of my students cannot do that.  And I am comforted in knowing I have ways to level the playing field and meet my students where they are at.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Exit Slips

Image result for what stuck with you today

I need to use more Exit Slips.  I have a “What Stuck with you Today?” poster in my room.  Students can use sticky notes to answer quick questions at the end of class.  I have used Padlet.  But I don’t use them enough!  I teach, teach, teach until the last minute and by the time I think of an Exit Ticket, it’s time to go.  Exit Ticket ideas become questions on longer assessments.  These days we are often asked about student progress.  And DATA!!!  We know our students, we have so much data in our heads.  But we have to have data that can be analyzed by others.  Exit tickets are perfect!  After reading “The Many Uses of Exit Slips”, I have even more ideas for Exit Slips.  We can use them to gauge understanding of a lesson not by asking a content specific question, but asking “what are you still confused about after this lesson?”.  What a powerful question! I learned a cool trick at CCIRA.  I love it because I always wonder where to keep all this data.  When we are asking questions about specific content we can use a file folder to collect data.  One side is labeled “Got it”, and as students are walking out the door, we can glance at the sticky note to see if they do have it.  Those sticky notes are placed there.   The other side is split into two sections and labeled “Quick re-teach” and “need more support”.  Just a quick way to see where our kids are at!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Digital Writing - Exciting!

Digital writing and teaching makes me excited.  But within all the excitement I also feel overwhelmed.  How do I teach all these new tools and strategies to my students and fit everything else in?  I read “Troy Hicks: About Digital Writing and Teaching” and immediately felt better.  Does every student have to know how to use every tool perfectly right now?  My first thought is that would be wonderful.  But that would take away from my love of teaching.  If it all worked out perfectly the first time we taught a concept, what would we have left?  My teaching partner and friend Derek always says that if every student came into our classroom perfectly behaved, scored perfectly on every test we gave them, and “caught on” right away that he wouldn’t want to be a teacher anymore.  I agree with you Derek.  The challenge is what makes us better at what we do.  Do I want my students to use these tools that I am excited about?  Yes.  But, I love that the Troy Hicks article encourages us to help our students continue to improve their writing craft while keeping “the bigger picture in mind, give yourself and your students permission to play (and fail) with the tools, and then work intentionally as you model the digital writing process.”  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

My First Inspired Writing Blog Post!

Oh wow!  So many ideas floating through my head.  All exciting ideas, but I have to remind myself to take it slow and make sure to try each new piece of technology slowly in order to ensure I use it to benefit my students in the best way possible.  I feel like there is a ton of pre-teaching involved, but all worth it in the end.  The teach 6th grade at EMS.  I co-teach in a core of students who are either on an IEP (not quite half the students) or are at academic risk because they struggle with organization, etc. Our core is built on modeling organization skills, structure, and and other positive elements to be a successful student.  We have advanced students who need that extra support to organize their knowledge as well as the structure and flexibility to stay on task while being provided with diverse tools to meet that end goal.  Structure and flexibility all the time?!  How do we make that work?  There are days (most) where it takes us a long time to get through a lesson.  We are constantly modeling what "being a student" looks like.  What it looks like to have an organized notebook.  I think I take it for granted that I know what it looks like to be organized.  One day I asked a student to organize his notebook.  He stared at me and started shuffling papers around.  It hit me that he didn't know what and organized notebook looked like.  So, we sat down and organized it together.  We made a checklist and now he can do it himself.
Anyway, I am going off topic, but that's the population I teach... and I love it!
Our first writing project of the year is a narrative.  We do a "movie of your life" project.  We start off by brainstorming meaningful life events.  Students can use past, present, or future events.  Since starting IW, we had a class discussion, but also posted ideas on Padlet.  Dana showed me the graphic organizer resources so my students could start brainstorming ideas and continue with a rough draft in one document.  So great!  I made the mistake of having students make a copy of my template... because I forgot to change the settings to "view only".  Oops!  But, we learn from our mistakes and next time we try this I am prepared!!