Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thoughtful Thursdays: Empowering Our Learners & Leaders

A big trend here in the land of Wisconsin goes with our state university at Football or Basketball Season: Teach Me How to Bucky. If you haven't heard of this before, watch the YouTube Video Below.

This video got me thinking so much about what we do to teach our students and allow for personalized learning and universal design - we flip the learning. Kids learn from watching how other people have worked through a learner progression, and rewind/rewatch as needed. 

With this notion of learning comes another thought - empowering our learners and leaders through videos. As my school is preparing for a 5-8 device rollout, we brought up the idea of having learning modules to teach the tech tools and ways to use them. These app flashes are not only universal and grounding for our students, but also for teachers to have an opportunity for those conversations alongside our students and embody the mantra of lifelong learning together with and for our students. What a better way to start our journey!

Have you done the groundwork with a student tech team around learning modules? How would you envision this? Share your ideas - let's collaborate together!


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tracy's Tuesday Tech Tip: Ask Away

Many of us have heard of the Danielson Framework - the tool in which teachers practices are evaluated. Teachers are assessed in four basic areas - planning for instruction, classroom management, instructional strategies and professionalism with colleagues, etc. There are various components to each area, but a major part of all of them is communication with students, as well as facilitating the environment for learning with student collaboration. How are we creating an engaging learning atmosphere for each one of our learners? How do we attest to their individual learner variability within our learning environment and allow them to truly express their thoughts and demonstrate their knowledge of deeper, higher order thinking skills.

I've recently become even more entranced with discussion boards or blogging - that medium we use to get kids discussing how they feel, what their thoughts are, their reflections on various things. I've used both KidBlog and the discussion board within the Blackboard Platform. Now, by exploring the uses of Google Classroom, my energy for utilizing these means for integrating writing, thinking process, reflection and student-goal setting has been key. For me, as a new teacher in my school and district this year, engaging with these middle school students has helped me get to know them in a closed format - where they can write and say what they truly feel and not fear what others will say in response to their answer. This is a key to success in my classroom and also the Danielson Framework - creating a culture for learning where students are not afraid to take risks.

So many of the kids' responses are amazing to read - well-written, very thoughtful, and also, feedback for me - what a better what to create the culture and excitement for learning than for students to know they have a forum to share their thoughts and reflections. I've already assigned multiple prompts within our Google Classroom interface, some of which works with our website, listening activities and more - it amazes me how much kids know and how much they will share with you if you just ask.

Give your students an opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings in a way that works for them, whether it's blogging, sticky notes, journals or more. They ask us questions all the time where we facilitate their learning to help them find their answer. Return the favor through your questioning and start asking away!