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!!