Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Favorite Tech Links

Sites to check out

Favorite Instructional Strategies

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, April 11, 2016

Learning Walks and #LoveMySchoolDay

Today was a day full of learning and sharing at Keystone Elementary and many other schools.  All you have to do to witness this is check out the #LoveMySchoolDay hashtag on Twitter or Instagram.  I was fortunate enough to find out last night that our April Learning Walks landed on #LoveMySchoolDay!  We were able to share all of the awesome things going on at Keystone Elementary on this fantastic hashtag and share in our excitement and passion with educators from all over the nation and world!

Our building's Model Teachers helped make this round of Learning Walks go off without a hitch.  They jumped in and helped modify the experience to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency for teachers.  We took feedback from past learning walks and were able to modify our routine for the day.  We arranged for subs to come in for the classroom teachers rather than the specials and special education teachers.  The past two times our classroom teachers went on their walks during their prep time.  Our special education teachers had substitute teachers hired for the past two Learning Walks, but this time they were able to go during their prep time.  You can learn more about our past Learning Walks at my post here.  This time we were able to take 30 to 60 minutes for each team of 3-4 teachers to go on their walk.  It felt more laid back and I think the observations and conversations were much more rich not having to rush around to 4-5 classrooms in 30 minutes like during our past two walks.

We had teachers take a feedback survey to gauge how they are feeling after three sessions:  December, January, and April.  It's apparent from the results of our survey that teachers find value in Learning Walks.

It's also apparent that teachers have a variety of different purposes when they enter each other's classrooms.  Classroom management techniques and student engagement are two of the top look-fors.

The goal of Learning Walks is always to get teachers out of their comfort zone and into other classrooms to learn from each other. There is SO much on teachers' plates, we know they are not looking for another thing to add, but this gives evidence that they find it valuable enough to go to each other's rooms to learn from one another outside of the designated Learning Walk times.  

If you'd like to check out more of our posts from #LoveMySchoolDay, please check out our Instagram page!  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

2016 Iowa 1:1 Reflections

Today was a whirl-wind day spent in Des Moines with educators from across the state of Iowa. I spent most of the day at the Iowa 1:1 Conference before heading back to some late afternoon professional learning with the Model Teachers in our district.

According to their website, the focus of the Iowa 1:1 Conference is to:
While the title of the conference suggests it is for 1:1 schools, it is certainly not a requirement.  There are a variety of topics discussed from team and culture-building and ways to evoke creativity and student empowerment to resource and app sharing.  While this was my first 1:1 conference, I certainly hope it isn't my last!  Here's a recap of the sessions I attended!

1.)  Ooh and Aah Moments with Devin Schoening @dschoening
Wow is this guy a dynamic speaker. He is a great story-teller to help make personal connections and is very engaging. He gave supreme examples of Ooh and Aah moments he experiences in classrooms he is a part of as an Instructional Coach in Council Bluffs. He also talked about the characteristics of excitement (connecting, engaging, talent, passion, creativity, being genuine, fun / silliness, building relationships, evoking interest, and finding purpose). He challenged us to reflect on how many of these are in our daily plans. A few (OK - more than a few...) of my favorite take-aways from his session were: 

2.) Beyond the Blue Share Button with Beth Swantz @betswan and Amber Bridge @abridgesmith

There were so many great tips and tricks shared in this session; I can't wait to make time to investigate on my own. It is SO important to provide authentic and timely feedback to students and this session certainly provided resources and ideas for how to do this effectively.  Some of my top favorites included JoeZoo Express, Alice Keeler Drive 20, and Screencastify, all found as add-ons or extensions in Google. They also shared a few "must follows" for GAFE resources - Alice Keeler and Matt Miller .  I am so blessed that these two are part of the rockstar @DLGWAEA team and I have them at my fingertips whenever I might need them!

3.) Social Media 3.0: Developing a Connected Mindset Through Intentional Practice with Dan Butler @DanPButler

I have been following this guy on #IAedChat as a participant for about a year and a half. I now get to work with him each week as we co-moderate #IAedChat together. We use Voxer to plan and communicate about our weekly chats, but it was great to meet Dan in person and get the chance to sit down and listen to him tell his personal story of why using social media to build relationships is what drives him. He's very passionate about his work and that was very apparent today in his session. I'm so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him on a weekly basis. His passion for making positive connections and building strong relationships makes me want to just be better! If you get a chance, check out this article that speaks of being intentional in your connections.

I also had the great pleasure to host an #i11i session with two of my colleagues - Kim Fisher @Mrs_KFisher and Anna Upah @AnnaUpah. It was titled Share Your Inner Awesome: Using Social Media to Connect with Families and Teachers.  We talked about the What, the Why, and the How to share teachers' and students' inner awesome.  We spoke about our favorite connection platforms of Blogger, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Voxer, Blab, Pinterest, and Google Plus.  While we may use a variety of avenues to connect, it's important to remember that teachers need to use what works for them and for their audience. Teachers need to think about their intended purpose for sharing, who the audience is, and what is being shared.  Don't try to do all of them at once. 

 Our session resources are linked above and the Google Slides are filled with hyperlinks galore.  If you currently live on any of these social media platforms, please, look us up!  We'd love to connect and see how you're sharing your inner awesome with families and stakeholders to strengthen your partnerships!

Hosting a session at a state-wide conference is something I would not have ever thought possible before taking on a leadership role in my district. While I enjoy helping teachers think outside the box in my role as an Instructional Coach, it is certainly a two-way street in my building. I have teachers who also push me to continue to be a learner and step outside my box on a daily basis. I am very thankful for teachers who help me keep my mind fresh and always search for new ideas and passions!