Thursday, August 9, 2012

Theme: A Focus on the Weaker Side to Achieve Gold

I love the Olympics: the fierce competition yet complete respect, the display of God gifts & talents enhanced through hard work, and the gripping stories of human determination in reaching dreams of just even competing in the Olympics. However what is really special for me is the the "cold" reflection that takes place immediately after relishing in a victory or heart-breaking defeat- the post interview. It is at time that we get a glimpse at what went right or what went wrong.

Last night I listened to Aries Merritt after he won GOLD in the 110 M hurdles in his "cold" reflection. His respect to mentors, his confidence, and his passion in his voice caught my attention, but more important his answer to the interviewer NBC Lewis Johnson's last question. Merritt had a weakness; over the past year he worked on his technique of switching from eight steps to seven steps between each huddler. Now the average Olympic fan like me would never notice that slight change, but to Merritt and his coaches that made all the difference between not only a GOLD medal, but achieving his dream.  Merritt said, "Diligence. It took me a long, long time and hours and putting power on my weaker side to balance things out. I think that is why I have had so much success this year because I focused so much on my weaker side and balanced things out and now I have equal power..."

Wow! I know Usain Bolt wanted the world to say that after his victory, but I was saying that after Merritt's on-the-spot reflection. He had perfectly summed up where I would be heading this year in my growth as a person and a teacher: a focus on my weaker side. So what is my weak side? This is one aspect- BLOGGING- opening myself up to have that "cold" reflection. I need to make sure this journey of focusing on my weak side is recorded and shared.This is my first step; my plan - a reflection each month with the theme being on my weak side. Beginning an intense focus on my weak side whether that would be listening and learning with my students, peers, instructional leaders, and data which will help me grow. "Take your marks...."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A dEePeR uNdErStAnDiNg oF mY rEaDeRs

"What have you been doing as a reader?" -A beginning question to start a reading conference. Is that where thinking happens DURING the reading process?

Let me ask questions...let's have a class discussion; let me ask deep thinking questions.....Is that where thinking happens DURING the reading process?

Annotate, Annotate, Annotate! On a piece of paper, hidden by a cover, shoved in a crate; is that where thinking happens DURING the reading process?

Can I peek in your mind? Can I see in real time -DURING the reading process? Isn't that the key to understanding; where did comprehension occur or break down?

As I settle into my first month of Project Connect, I have finally been given the tools to dissect thinking and reading LIVE DURING the reading process. With tools such as screenr, VoiceThread, and GoogleDocs, I am finally getting a deeper understanding of my readers DURING the reading process.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Learnings from the Write to Learn

I can smell it; it always happens when I come back from a great learning conference- The Write to Learn! I am refreshed and ready to get back to my children at school and put into practice all the ideas I absorbed. My thinking was reinforced & yet challenged at the same time.

"If we wish an elephant to grow, we feed it. You know we don't measure it all the time."

The big theme of the conference was to create deep thinking for our readers and writers. As I listened to Sharon Draper, I was in awe the rich text that she shared with us: Tears of a Tiger, November Blues, Forge by Fire.

After our Friday keynote, I hustled to my first breakout session - Emotion: The Driving Force. During this session, Mary Kim Schreck shared with us the facts on a teacher's power tool. Emotion is energy in motion and studies have shown a link between a teacher's emotional state and student achievement and motivation. If we get students to create and think, then the energy comes alive.
Lots of theory was presented..
"My Fair Lady Effect"
Difference between encouragement statements in professional home (32 positive for every 5 negative), Middle Class (12 positive for every 7 negative), and welfare homes (5 positive for every 11 negative).
Difference between discipline problems and motivation problems
We also worked with a lesson that we could take back into the classroom- Eyes. This is one I will try with my students.

In the afternoon, I had the chance to meet and learn from Linda Rief. In this session, we discussed the reading and writing notebook. We also practiced this writing. I can't wait to try this out with my students.

Another Resource she shared with us - SAM.

On Saturday, we jumped kick the day with Kelly Gallagher. He really had lots to share. The theme of creating smart people vs. smart thinkers really tuned in with my learning with Keene! If we are going deep with our students, then they can handle anything that is thrown at them. Check this activity out!

I know that I am ready to go tomorrow with my positive energy for the next round of learning in my classroom thanks to all this great learning.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Journey into Uncomfortable Technology

First off, let me say, I will overanalyze every word that I publish on this blog. If someone would describe me and my learning, give me my journal and pen and let me go sit in a corner of my classroom and write for ME to reflect. As a I was reading the excerpt from Dr. Dial's blog about Robin Fogarty and Brian Pete’s From Staff Room to Classroom, I kept debating if I was the over-achiever and the omnivore- I have come to the conclusion I am more focused on the input. Let me soak it up and reflect on it for awhile. But I have decided I am taking a giant leap and post my thoughts publicly for the first time to let everyone read about my journey into using uncomfortable technology.

I knew I would be pushed this year by my instructional coach, Terri! Darn it, I was hoping to slide back into my world of studying the best practice of reading and writing- where I feel most comfortable at working with improving my instruction in that safe area. But with Bode having a school improvement plan of professional development in the technology world, I was knocked into enhancing my instruction with those resources.

Safe! A Ning! I love nings and have used them before so I was safe! I used one last year with my class, so I was very comfortable with that resource! I have created groups (reading & writing) within the ning. All of our writing is posted to the ning and it has been a great place to communicate with parents about learning happening on our team!

Safe again! We worked on goggle documents in our staff meeting; I can do that! In fact, I used it the day after, and had students publish their thoughts! I also made a firm decision to use that with our benchmark writing team for the 2nd Unit!

Out! What do you mean??? What is this VoiceThread? Never heard of it! I had made up my mind; I am and will not use this tool! There's too many tools out there and I wanted to get good with one of them before I start on another. Yes, I admit I said that many times to my team members. But of course, with me being a little bit of an overachiever- I crumbled! It was the day before our tech day (we meet with our instructional coach one day a week) to play with and learn about many of the resources the world of www offers and we had an assignment that was starring me in the face. A voicethread! I will try it, I guess! In my writing workshop classroom we were at the point in writing where the students needed models in order to revise their own writings. So I thought how can I make my students play with it and then tell me what their thoughts are. So I threw my models of writing onto voicethread and told the students to PQP (praise, question, and polish) my writing through voicethread. My 3rd hour writing class I learned lots! They were so focused on voicethread and not the task. Boy, and of course, they loved their voice and loved playing with the pencil and scribbling all over it. But it was their first time applying the tool in the workshop classroom. I had not done my job as an educator in making sure to model the expectations associated with using this powerful tool! But learning through my students, the tools were there! I had only tapped the surface of this door opening resource. My next hour writing class I did things much differently. I showed them the models of writing without voicethread- first! Then I said I wanted them to share with me via voicethread. A HOMERUN! My student's responses grew in quality! Loved it and every student had a voice either through typing or an actual voice!

I thought hard that night about the aspect of using it during conferences with students about their reading and writing! So I had them upload their writing and I conferenced with them via voicethread. Check it out here and here. I was conferencing so much faster outside the classroom walls and immediate feedback was given to my students so they could revise. Loved it and they loved it! Every student has a voice and it is made public for everyone to learn from no longer in a closed notebook. Or that" eager beaver" who wants to conference with me now has the opportunity to get feedback beyond the classroom walls! Discussions about mood and the impact of words on mood is taking place outside the classroom! Check this out!

I can't tell you how much the "reach of learning" has been expanded because of voicethread! Like I said, I know I am just tapping the surface with this tool! I would love for other teachers to help me reflect at going to a deeper level. Thanks for pushing me into an uncomfortable arena!