Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Public Service Announcement Review

As a teacher viewing these videos, I felt sad for the state of technology integration in some schools.  These videos had clear messages supporting technology and it is a shame that we still need to convince educators to use it in their classrooms.

In reality though, I'm sure viewpoints are similar to those when the first car, t.v., or personal computer were invented.  There were people that embraced it and others that did not.  It took a little convincing before everyone was on board with the new technology.  

My Interpretation
This video had a powerful message.  I believe people thought the young girl was crazy for the ideas presented in her essay.  The students laughed, the teacher took her to the principal who called the parents, they took her to the doctor, and then to the psychologist.  People couldn't even imagine anything like that being true and the girl was quite proud of her ideas.  

Video 2 - Role:  Teacher
As a teacher viewing this video, I thought the message being delivered by the student gave it that much more of an impact.  Our teaching should be student centered.  We should embrace creativity and originality from our students and encourage them to dream.  Sometimes the ideas that seem crazy, are the ones that matter most.  As educators we should not be shaming our students for thinking outside of the box, but rather learning from them.  Our world revolves around creativity and design.  They are the reason each brand exists.  Their products have been designed slightly different and that is why people purchase them.  We are creating innovators, not robots.  Times have changed and our practices in the classroom need to change as well.  The scenery and costumes in the video made the viewers feel as if they had gone back in time.  This helps us remember that we are in the 21st century and the future is now.  

My Interpretation
This video I did not find quite as powerful as The Essay.  I found the music to be very distracting and almost daunting.  The message seemed exciting and the music didn't seem to fit.  While watching this video, I felt as though I was watching a movie with subtitles.  It became tiresome and lost my interest quickly.  This is a shame, because it had a great message that I think people would benefit from.  

Video 3 - Role:  Teacher
As a teacher viewing this video, I thought the message was excellent.  With technology these days, the people have the power.  We have the ability to discuss any topic with people from all over the world.  I believe the graphics used provided perfect symbolism.  For example, the bowl of spaghetti representing the confusion that comes with all of the various components of the internet.  I also loved how they used overlapping boxes, almost like a venn diagram repeatedly throughout the piece.  This represents how we are all connected now and we can use that to our advantage.  Everyone may be talking at the same time on the internet, but that is how ideas become reality.  Talking leads to innovating.  Teachers should be communicating with each other and also giving our students opportunities to communicate with other classes that have similar interests or even with experts in the field.  The illustrations were a wonderful way to express the main points throughout the film, however I believe a stationary infographic would have been an easier to follow representation rather than a moving infographic such as this.  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Infographics In The Classroom

Infographics appear to be the "poster" of the 21st century.  It is a highly effective way for students to display their learning while incorporating a variety of technology and artistic skills.
Due to the fact that I teach first grade, I am not sure I would use this in my classroom.  First graders have a difficult time reading and writing independently.  That combined with the extensive number of computer skills (clicking, dragging, rotating shapes, recoloring, etc.) could lead to a very frustrated class.  
If I taught an older grade, I could absolutely see the value of this assignment.  Students could work on their infographic anywhere without carrying around a variety of supplies.  Each student would have the ability to create their infographic in a creative way that represents themselves as a graphic designer.  This would be a great way for students to summarize their learning across the subject areas.  I feel that students would enjoy making a polished graphic such as these. Language arts teachers could use this to compare and contrast novels, science teachers could have their students summarize their learning about the various topics, social studies teachers could use them to create a timeline.  I feel as though, the possibilities are endless and infographics enable students to try out something other than the basic Google or Microsoft products.  Students could also include the use of a QR code that could take viewers to a video or audio recording to accompany their infographic.
I created two infographics for my current class and one for a previous class.  I have to say the one for my previous class is my favorite.  For this class I used Canva which did not allow me to lengthen my graphic without joining.  I simply had to add a page to the graphic.

Piktochart was used for my previous class and it was a little more user friendly and I was able to lengthen my infographic as much as I needed.

Of the three, the statistical infographic was probably my least favorite.  It seems like it is slightly better than a poster, but not nearly as polished as a full infographic using Canva or Piktochart.  I felt it was difficult to find a picture that would make sense when you sliced it into the various data points.  

All in all though, I think infographics will continue to build in popularity in schools and will enable students to feel a sense of ownership in their work while expressing their creativity and making the project uniquely theirs.   

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Online Presentation Reflection

I explored two different online presentation tools this week and created classroom ready projects for both.

Padlet was up first.  Padlet is a collaborative digital bulletin board.  People from anywhere around the world with internet access and permission can add material to the board for everyone to view in real time.  This creates a wonderful way to have a class discussion, work on a group project, or collect work samples for display.  Learning about continents and oceans in first grade can be very challenging for our students as many of them don't know their own address, let alone anything about the rest of the world.  If we were to create a group project we could upload our findings to Padlet to keep track of our learning.  I believe with some practice, even a first grader could learn to use Padlet by the end of the year.  Click on my sample Padlet below:

Padlet would also be an easy way for students to document their learning with a photo or answer a question rather than using whiteboards.  It gives everyone the opportunity to have a "voice" without having to speak at all.  This is very beneficial for your shy students that are unsure about offering an answer.  Digital portfolios could also be created for each student to document their learning throughout the year.  After speaking with other teachers about this app, the main downside is that students do not have to write their name in order to post.  This leads to students anonymously  making inappropriate posts.  Other than that, I believe this would be a great tool.

Adobe Spark Video was the second tool for this week.  I chose to focus on cause and effect as it is one of the more challenging reading comprehension areas for first graders.  I try to introduce reading topics without a book so that students feel successful before getting bogged down with actual text.  I find that once students realize they experience cause and effect all the time, they are better able to apply it to what they are reading.  I searched online for creative commons licensed images that students could relate to.  I then uploaded them to Adobe Spark and added my voice to each slide.  The entire process was simple and fast which is what we need for tech based lessons for our students.  I believe that upper elementary students would easily be able to complete a video using this tool.
You can check out my video here.

Implementation In My Classroom:
Implementation of these tools at my school may be challenging.  Our computers at school are outdated and many do not have microphones or working headphones.  In order to properly record a video, students would have to use an iPad and even those are not up to date.  We are currently not 1:1 in our building, so students would have to share devices.  I believe using these tools to complete a group project would be our best bet.  Both of these tools would be end of the year projects for my students as many cannot read when they come to me.  Navigating the internet would be challenging, but with proper guidance, I believe we could get it done.  This may be a great project to focus on during centers so that I could meet with one small group at a time.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Fail to Plan...Plan to Fail

I hate to say it, but you need to start getting organized for next year, now, not in August.  You should be able to walk out of your classroom at the end of the school year and feel prepared for next year, rather than overwhelmed.

Map out your available times throughout the day and figure out what you can get done during each time slot.  If you know you can type your newsletter up during lunch & recess, then write it down.  If you know it will take you all day on Friday to make your copies whenever you have a free moment...write it down.  If you make a plan and stick to it, you will accomplish more at school and have less to worry about at home.

Now for the "big" planning...First up, is creating a list of what works and what doesn't.  Just the other day I found a mistake on a word work paper and jotted it down so that I remember to make the correction for next year.  I recommend printing off these sheets and keeping them with your grade book.
For now, take the first step and print these sheets and make sure to write down anything you think of right away.  There is one for each major subject area and a blank one at the end that you can write in your own if there is one I missed.

The columns are for:
Lesson: the unit and specific lesson so that you remember
Mistakes: anything you need to fix
Eliminate:  things you want to eliminate for next time
Special Notes: manipulatives you need, things to add, etc.

Don't feel the need to make notes for every lesson, just the ones that you need to change.

I do not want you to think that you need to have a "cookie cutter" method of teaching.  I know our kiddos aren't robots, but your same basic schedule happens throughout the year, and if you can streamline it, you can save yourself hours of unorganized chaos.  If you always teach polar bears and penguins in January, why not write it down?  It's one less thing you have to lay awake at night trying to remember.  Here is a PowerPoint document that you can use to help get you started.

Job #1
Determine how each subject will be structured.
Do you focus on one week at a time or one unit?  It's ok to have a mixture of the two, but know ahead of time how you want them structured.

Overall I think of my year based on weeks.  In general, each year is 36 weeks.  (We count minutes, not days in school in Oklahoma so I don't quite reach 36, but it gives me a general idea to shoot for.)

I broke down and started using my filing cabinet this year because of our unreliable computer system.  We don't have Windows operating system or Office products, so none of my documents will open correctly at school unless I save them as a PDF onto a USB and then take them to the printer and print the entire document.  Or try to get one of our school computers that is actually hooked up to the printer to work.  It's very frustrating when you only need one page printed.

 Each week has a file folder in it for core subjects, guided math, math center, guided reading, and reading centers.  The majority of our centers are hands on games and puzzles, however sometimes you just need a quick review of a certain skill.  I mapped out subjects so that I knew which week we would be covering each standard so that the materials we have are organized accordingly.  If I am just introducing a topic, I make sure to have a paper a few weeks later (rather than that initial week) so that it is independent work, and not something I will need to help them with.

I also created a file for each month for our "sub tub."  We have very few substitute teachers available and they are typically unable to follow "real" lesson plans.  By organizing all of the papers and graphic organizers, I can easily grab a substitute file for the month we are in and head to the copier.  There is nothing worse than trying to hold a two year old with the stomach virus on your lap and try to print from the slowest computer in the world at 6 am.

Science and social studies are a bit tricky.  Based on our required minutes of reading and math, there isn't much time left over for science or social studies.  They way I have worked around this is by teaching science three days/week for 4 weeks and then social studies three days/week for 4 weeks.  We follow this pattern each marking period so that we can at least discuss everything we are supposed to cover.  Our science and social studies standards are rather extreme and difficult to incorporate into our fictional reading units.  I find it much easier to cover them separately.

Here are samples of my content area overviews for next year:

Job #2
Choose your easiest subject area, for example if you follow a set curriculum, write it down first.  You will feel a sense of accomplishment for getting one whole subject area mapped out. Just, write down the basic gist of either each week or each unit.  Remember, this is a list, not lesson plans.  

Continuing making lists for each week/subject area for each unit.  Be prepared to cross things out and move them around when you actually see them on paper.  

When you are trying to create your units/weeks ask yourself what you actually want your students to learn.  What are the essential questions that need to be answered for each unit/week?
Job #3
Now that each subject area is mapped out with the units for the year, tackle one subject area at a time and start writing down the lessons.
Job #4
Here is the calendar that I complete for each year.  I have used this method for the last 5 years, and it is a lifesaver.  I made the first month for you and you can copy and paste it as needed.  As you can see below, I black out the days we are off school, but I still leave my plans on there because next year, Labor Day may not fall in Week 3 and conferences may not fall in Week 5.  When there is a week where we have time off, I simply plan around those days and pick and choose which lessons to cover.  I would rather over-plan, than under-plan.
Job #5
Think of each unit or week as a whole and determine the materials you need.  There is a sheet in the packet at the top of this post to keep track of both materials and books.  Write them down as you go so that you don't forget anything.  You can always go back and add to it as you work out the details of each lesson.

Job #6
Tackle the lessons.  Why not type up your lessons?  It doesn't mean you are forced into them and can't change them if you find something better.  Don't forget to continue to add to your books and materials lists.  I type up each lesson in Word based on my weeks.  Then, when I type my lessons each week, I can just copy and paste them into my plans.  I refuse to hand-write my plans.  I know some people enjoy doing this, but I don't have the time for it.  Especially, because I write each step of my lessons and do not simply write "Review 2D Shapes" or "Penguin Time Worksheet" I always modify the lessons as needed, but the general idea is written out.
Job #7
Organize the stuff.  I have cubes in my room where I sort out my center games for each week.  If it is Week 1 - I grab tub 1, Week 3 - I grab tub 3.  Those sight words that you have to sort through each week to find the ones you need...can now be kept in the proper week's tub.  Those pom-pom balls that you only use for that one craft project each year, can go in the proper week's tub.

I also label all of my masters in my filing cabinet with these slips.  I print them on colored paper and chop them so that I have 6 copy slips.  I attach them to the papers I need to copy with a paperclip so that I don't have to remember what color construction paper to use, or if it is supposed to be double sided or single sided.  Everything is done ahead of time.

You may get your new class and need to adjust your plans, but for can rest easy because the hard part is done.  Every year, I try to get a little more organized than the year before, but why not try to make this year, your best one yet?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Target Teacher Deals Starting 1/8/17

Raise your hand if your closet is slightly less than organized.  Raise your hand if you are suddenly out of glue sticks!

This is the time of year where your kiddos are finally a little more independent and you can actually think about how you want your closet to be organized, what you want to change for next year, what supplies you need to add or delete from the supply list, etc.

Target has a few deals for teachers this week that might help you out.

Remember these deals start Sunday, January 8th so the prices online won't match until then.

Sterilite 20 Gallon Latching Totes

Sterilite 66 quart Clearview Latching Totes

Sterilite 66 quart Clearview Latching Totes

Room Essentials 3-Shelf Bookcase (Black)

School Supplies
Buy 1, Get 1 25% off
There are many of our favorite brands in the ad such as Crayola, Elmer's, and Paper Mate.

HP 61 Ink Cartridge Twin Pack - Black (CZ073FN#140)
HP Ink
Buy 1, Get 1 40% off
For those of you that aren't involved in HP's Instant Ink program.

Logitech Wireless Mouse