When we discuss the importance of instructional environment, there are two major themes that often arise. Flexible Seating and Classroom Management are indeed worthy hot topics. I mean absolutely love my standing desk and understand why that option is a near must in 105 minute block classes. Asking High Schoolers and let alone Elementary Students to stay seated in a hard desk all day long in nearly unconstitutional, cruel and unususal. Having said that I don't believe that seating optionas are the paramount ingredent to a high quality learning environment. I also believe that class structure, procedures and expectations are high on the list. Any group of students need to know what thier parameters are. Those limits will be tried and tested just to see i they are fixed or fluid. Students want to know where the lines are. There is actually a feeling of safety that comes from know what is and is not acceptable behavior. However, I do not believe this is the most important element in a learning environment.
In my opinion, students need to know that thier teachers and administration are in a continual learning journey themselves. I think we often do our students a disservice when we as educators act as if we have nothing left to learn. Students should know that we are making a constant effort to better our craft. We, as educators, should be striving to become better educators and to be come better educated. I am saddened and ashamed of teachers and principals who act as if they have done thier time and have no more energy left to learn anything new.
I am so proud of the staff of my new school! We are adopting a new LMS (Schoology, just in case you were wondering) and so many of the teachers are diving in head first. Teachers who have 30+ years of experience are just as eager to learn how to optimize our 1:1 learning environment as our brand new teachers who have started thier careers this year.
There is so much research that is readily available to support the use of gasification in the classroom to help boost student engagement. We all know that there is a high correlation between student engagement and student achievement.
The psychology behind gamification is really quite simple.
The courses have always had assignments so that the teachers can show that they have gained mastery over certain functions of the LMS and other Edtech tools that we use. This year as I am moving into a Digital Administrative position, I will also be awarding small point values for menial task such as weekly lesson plans and surprise challenges such as posting to PLC discussion boards and even #TwitterChats.
Another great feature available through Schoology is the ability to add members of a course to grading groups. This is especially good because a course member can belong to multiple grading groups. For example a first year science teacher can belong to the mentee grading group and the Science PLC grading group. These grading groups will allow for assignments to be sent to individual groups versus the course as a whole. The trick will be to ensure that all members will be able to earn the same number of point as the end of the game even if they are on different tracks.
It's 1849 and there is Gold out in there in the hills, but you've got to dig for it. So many hundreds of thousands of people heard that anthem and packed up and headed west. The same can be said today there is a gold mine of valuable information available to those who join the Twittersphere.
At this point I must get on my soapbox
I talk to so many teachers who haven't taken the leap into the wide world of Twitter. Many have the same misconception that I did. " Twitter is just a bunch of narcissistic teen's posting what they are eating, doing, watching, blah, blah blah" But I was wrong and so are they! -End of rant-
Twitter may be the biggest PD tool I have found. I learn so much from following national and regional leaders, EdTech companies and personal colleagues. Twitter is how I reach and connect to so many members of my PLN.
If you've joined twitter but haven't participated in a twitter chat I strongly suggest it. It is a great way to mine for Twitter gold. There will be nuggets of information that will you may have seen once or twice before, but I always learn something new. For example, Last night in the #Edtechchat I learned about tweetedeck, a differs way to view your Twitter feed(s) in columns so that you could actually participate in multiple chats at once #mindblown
With Some schools you can literally feel a difference when you walk in the door. There is something in the school culture that is almost palatable. The students are enthusiastic. The teachers have a high morale. The building is energized. Along with most things that feeling, that school culture and climate starts at the top with the building's administration.
You may ask, " What does that have to do with a school's LMS?"
Let me illustrate. When a building administration allows student government the power and ability to make the school announcements or post teacher of the week photos and highlights athletics and awesome class projects it makes a difference. Having an awesome LMS such as Schoology give administrators a place to send out positive moments at the blink of an eye. That's just the update feature.
Schoology also gives student groups such as robotics, sports, debate teams, SGA, FFA, FCA and other groups a space to collaborate on group projects. When coaches and groups sponsors/leaders post updates to groups all members stay informed and in-sync with group information.
If you add the calendar functions of Schoology, the LMS becomes and all important informational hub for teachers, students and parents alike.
Ok, I'll be honest I've never been a huge Google user other than an old fashion Google search and a long time Google Drive user. But when Schoology announced that I would be integrating Google docs in to the interface, I thought that I might ought to see exactly what Google had to offer. I am amazed! Now we will not be using the Classroom side of Google but there is definitely a lot of information that we can share with our teachers about Google docs, slides, sheet, and forms. I am so glad that I went through the certification process. It was literally a case of I didn't know what I didn't know
We have added a google training session for our teacher summer TechCamp!
Monday, June 5 1:00-3:30.
Here is a new tool that I found last week. It is an awesome app and website. The short story is this: Once a teacher has created an account, they can pose a question of discussion topic. Students are then able to record a short response to the question. Students can view each others responses and comment to build the conversation.
One of the best examples I've seen was an early ed class explaining how the worked a math problem.
If you want more information try use this link
One of the greatest compliments I have received was about my organizational skills. Oddly enough this is an area of my life that I feel that I am in a constantly struggle to stay ahead. My desk may not be the picture of organization but I try my best to keep my personal and professional life as organized as humanly possible. Honestly with our a few key principles and two killer apps it would be a losing battle.
1. Plan to Plan - I know that sounds a bit odd but I set aside a space of time every weekend to plan out my week. I actually catch a bit of flack form some people I know for doing this but as busy as life gets If I don't stop what your doing sometimes to lay out a plan I feel like I'm just chasing my tail. I do the majority of the cooking in my house, remember I have a restaurant background. So every Sunday, after church, I plan out the week's menu. I also check with my other family members to see if they have anything else that needs to be added to the calendar.
2. Keep a Calendar - The only way I can keep anything straight, or keep a commitment is to to keep it on the calendar, the iCalendar to be exact. To be even more specific a shared iCal. The weekly menu that I mentioned, yep it's a shared iCal. Both my wife and my son can look on their devices and now what's for dinner. This eliminates that daily question!. But we share several iCal's (menu, my work, her work, a family calendar) doing so helps us from over committing ourselves and it helps us know when and where everyone is supposed to be. I must also mention that the ical will sync with almost anything. For example, at work I use Acuity to book appointment with teachers and clients. I do a little catering on the side. That company uses When I work for it's scheduling. both of the web based service sync with my shared iCal.
3. Make to do List - I have to apps I could not live with our for this. One is Out of Milk. Out of Milk a a shared app that my wife and I use to update the shopping list. Whenever some realizes we are out of anything or that there is an item that needs to be purchased by who ever goes to the store next, They simply added to the shared list. Whoever goes to the store next, checks the app and buys what's needed. Wunderlist is the other app that I use to make my to do list. The beauty of is that you are able to have more than one list and share those list with different colleagues. Other advantages are that you are able to add subtask to each task, attach files, set due dates, custom reminders, and yes it will sync with iCal
4. Take Time for Yourself - This last key to my organizational strategy is remembering to take a time out. Again it might sound counter productive but I make a point to get out early and run a few miles, hike in the woods or wet a hook. It is during these times when can get away from the craziness of life that i seem to find the most clarity. Often during these times of solitude, I remember to add things to the iCal or my Wunderlist.
In the midst of young children Play=Learn with out them even realizing it. We, as adults, often forget that. The people @playosmo have remembered it. The may different Osmo kits use tactile learning strategies having students manipulate numbers, letters and other objects to complete various math, spelling and problem solving task. This physical interactivity with objects outside the screen brings the objects to life on the screen. Children are spending time learning and reinforcing skill taught in the classroom thought the act of play. They are able to trade boring worksheet for fun, interactive and collaborative play.
Osmo's Newton (above left) is one of my favorites. In Newton children can sue a myriad of objects to learn about the laws of gravity and motion while sharpening their creative problem solving skills. My personal children can't get enough of this one...including my middle schooler.
For more information visit the Osmo site at Playosmo.com
We here at Lowndes county school system just received several MakerBot 3D printer as part of a grant. Teachers have had their first round of training on how to set them up and use them.
Now students are learning all about engineering through the use of @Tinkercad. This program allows students to see the complexity of working with 3D models. They are able to manipulate different shapes and build different prototypes.
There are boundless ways that this will come in to play with Challenge based learning.
Currently there is a competition in place to design a earbud holder to help them stay organized at their desk.
Stay tune for results....