Sunday, January 31, 2016

Tech Ideas

Looking for a way to infuse more technology into your classroom? Check out the list below and choose ONE to investigate more.  

Kathy Schrock - - HUGE collection of resources and ideas!  You can't go on this website and not learn something! 

SAMR Thinglink - SAMR Smash from @hneltner - Click on the ThingLink for more info on these SAMR infusion ideas! 

SAMR ThingLink - from - quick and easy list of how to reach the levels of SAMR in your classroom!

Great list of Free Apps for Educators from Gary Toews to help you get started.  Pick one and go from there! 

Start with the basics - Google Drive Cheat Sheet from holds Step by step directions on how to learn more about how to organize everything Google Drive!

Instructional Strategy Ideas

Teachers are always looking for something to 'hook' their students.  Here's a short list of my favorite strategies to get high-leverage results.

Classroom strategies -- Reading Rockets gives examples of classroom strategies for phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing

Task Cards or Choice Boards -- give students flexibility to learn independently on their own schedule by allowing them choice of tasks to show proficiency of a concept.

High Yield Literacy Strategies -- great list of strategies and graphic organizers to use for specific skills

Glossary of Instructional Strategies  -- thorough list of terms and strategies

Whip around  -- after instruction, have students quickly go around the room and state a fact or idea.

Pause and reflect -- have students pause every 3-5 minutes to talk with a partner about their learning.

When reading a passage, -- have students create questions, outline the sequence of events, give them a checklist of key points, agree/disagree T chart

Independent connections -- allow students to find connected texts to what you are learning in class

Pause and reteach -- have students pause after learning a big idea and reteach to a partner.

Student modeling -- have a student model the correct way to accomplish a task.

Non-examples -- have a student model a non-example of how to complete a task.

Survey -- have students create a quiz or review for their group members to complete.

Circle retell -- have students sit in a circle and retell a story or sequence of events.

Sporting event -- divide students into 2 teams, put a line down the middle of the board.  Students try to get the ball to move to their side by answering questions to make a goal.

Stump a classmate -- have students craft questions they think will stump their classmates.

Fishbowl -- as students ask great questions throughout a lesson, write them down and review with these questions at the end of learning.

Exit tickets --  I was surprised when...; I think I will...; I would have liked...; Now I understand...; I wish...; I could be more successful if...; I learned that...

Spot the error -- have students write questions or sentences with errors and see if their classmates can spot them.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Keystone Elementary Learning Walk

Teachers learning from one another is one of the most powerful ways to grow as an educator.  Keystone Elementary recently took advantage of an opportunity to get into each other's classrooms to view teaching strategies and classroom management techniques.  We have heard over and over that teachers want to get into other rooms to connect but can't find the time to make it happen. With the prompt of a video from The Teaching Channel called The Learning Walk, we organized the day so teachers were able to visit several classrooms and then have the opportunity to debrief with peers after the observation.  We were fortunate to have a combined planning period that general classroom teachers were able to use, so they did not require substitutes or lesson plans.  Specials teachers and special education teachers needed to be out of their classrooms and prepare substitute plans for 30-40 minutes in order to participate in the learning walks.

Our schedule looked like this:

We scheduled four to five classroom observations for each group of teachers.  We were able to schedule five to six teachers in each group to help the discussions during the debrief be more rich.  The order of observations were carefully timed so the teachers were able to see key pieces of instruction when visiting classrooms.  We stayed in classrooms for three to five minutes and then stepped into the hallway to debrief after the observation about take-aways from the visit.

Teachers were also able to jot down positive feedback for the teachers to be compiled and given to them at a later time.  Another document teachers had to reference for ideas of what to look for is included below.

Additional resources for teachers to look for during observations were included in this great resources from Ms. Houser's Instructional Coaching website.  She has a great number of resources for educators, so if you haven't stalked her website, I highly recommend it!

The final document included in the teacher observation packet was a teacher feedback form.  These were completed by the observing teacher and compiled later to give to each teacher before we left for Christmas break.  The purpose of this feedback was to give teachers an idea of some of the great things they are doing in their classrooms and to reflect on how to make that even better after break.

I would say that our first go with Learning Walks was a success!  We have had great feedback from the teachers who were able to participate, and we are already looking for ways to improve for our next Learning Walk!  Let me know if you have ideas for us, or if you'd like me to send any of our resources your way.