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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Wrapping up the blogging challenge

I gotta end this thing now!  The blogging challenge was fun, but I am swamped with work, so unfortunately I need to end it.  Thanks for reading, if you've been keeping up.  I'll go back to blogging when I am inspired . . . 

Day 23
Write about one way that you “meaningfully” involve the community in the learning in your classroom. If you don’t yet do so, discuss one way you could get started.

I think that learning a second language would help me a lot in my current setting.  I have a good head start on Spanish, so I should continue with that.  I'm not exactly sure how I could improve my abilities to get the community into my classroom--I do a lot of activities that have the students share about themselves, and I do keep parents updated on our work.

Day 24
Which learning trend captures your attention the most, and why? (Mobile learning, project-based learning, game-based learning, etc.)

I wish I had more time to learn about Accountable Talk and instructional coaching.  

Day 25
The ideal collaboration between students–what would it look like?

On topic conversations where students refer to the text and help each other understand topics--it almost happened in period 3 recently!

Day 26
What are your three favorite go-to sites for help/tips/resources in your teaching?

I use the College Board Web site a lot.  I also do Tweet Chats on Twitter and use the AP Language Community on Facebook.

Day 27
What role do weekends and holidays play in your teaching?

I generally relax on the longer holidays, but I work all weekend.  That lifestyle is getting old, so I'm trying to find more fun things to look forward to one weekends.  Balance!

Day 28
Respond: Should technology drive curriculum, or vice versa?

I think it's obvious that curriculum trumps technology, but getting them to work together is the goal of 21st century education.  Right now, I'm happy with less technology and more basic skills.

Day 29
How have you changed as an educator since you first started?

I've changed a lot, and I think in good ways.  The more experienced I get, the more I know how to do things right, but doing things right takes a long time.  So I put more time in, but I find more satisfaction in my work.  I am also much more flexible than I used to be.

Day 30

What would you do (as a teacher) if you weren’t afraid?

I think I'd do less content work and more self-exploration for students, but with 180 days, I have to make priorities.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Blogging Challenge: Days 17-22

I can only get these done in chunks, I think!  Fell a bit behind . . . September is the hardest month!

Day 17
What do you think is the most challenging issue in education today?

For me, it's time management.  To assess the ways I want to and plan the way I want to, I need so many hours before and after a class session.  I am blessed to have two prep periods in our seven period cycle (meaning some days I have 45 minutes of prep and some days I have three hours of prep), but it's still nowhere near enough time.  I work before school, after school, and on the weekends, and I still struggle to do a good job.  I'll just keep fighting the good fight!

Day 18
Create a metaphor/simile/analogy that describes your teaching philosophy. For example, a “teacher is a ________…”

Friend who makes you feel good about yourself and learn something (hopefully).  Maybe this isn't the best definition, or the most rigorous image of teaching, but it's what I think I'm trying to do right now.  

Day 19
Name three powerful students can reflect on their learning, then discuss closely the one you use most often.

I need to work on this.  I used exit tickets, journals, and some metacognitive writing.  

Day 20
How do you curate student work–or help them do it themselves?

I take a lot of pictures and hold on to student work while I still have room for it!  I am trying harder to display more current student work.  I have a good folder of good examples that I use in my classroom of the essays I assign often.

Day 21
Do you have other hobbies/interests that you bring into your classroom teaching? Explain.

I used to bring more music in--I'll need to get into that again.  I try to buy a lot of postcards when I travel and visit museums, and I use those in the classroom.  I have brought in Scrabble quite a bit!

Day 22

What does your PLN look like, and what does it do for your teaching?

I had a terrific time with my PLN over the summer--Twitter fun, EdCamps, etc.  Now that school's back on, there is less time, but I love having friends all over the state (and the country!) that can help me out with new ideas and inspiration!  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Blogging Challenge: 13-16

Catching up and trying to get a bit ahead!
Day 13
Name the top edtech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom, and rank them in terms of their perceived (by you) effectiveness.
Our school is not edtech heavy, but I've been able to integrate the following in somehow over the past year as options for assignments: Twitter, Instagram, Google Drive applications, PowerPoint, and Prezi. I also love Remind for housekeeping.
Day 14
What is feedback for learning, and how well do you give it to students?
Feeback is tough, especially when I have 125 students. I try to give as much out loud feedback and whole group feedback when I can. I'm also trying a +/- t-chart with written assignments this year, trying to be as specific as time allows.
Day 15
Name three strengths you have as an educator.
I'm a hard worker. I have high standards and expectations for my students. I think teens are awesome people.
Day 16
If you could have one superpower to use in the classroom, what would it be and how would it help?
Ah.  Good question. I wish I had the ability to explain something ONCE, not 25 separate times per day. I'm getting better at getting simpler and more concrete, but it's still frustrating to repeat directions over and over again.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Blogging challenge: Day 12

Day 12

How do you envision your teaching changing over the next five years?

My goal is to get better in my new environment. I'm at a big urban high school now, and I learn something new every day about the culture and the students.  I've made many adjustments to my materials and how I do my work, and I'm slowly getting better at understanding this new environment.  I look forward to spending the next five years doing what I can to present the standards in the most successful way for my kids.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Blogging Challenge: Day 10 and 11

Today and tomorrow at the same time!

Day 10
Share five random facts about yourself.
Share four things from your bucket list.
Share three things that you hope for this year, as a “person” or an educator.
Share two things that have made you laugh or cry as an educator.
Share one thing you wish more people knew about you.

Day 11

What is your favorite part of the school day and why?

Day 10
Random Facts:
1. I hate to exercise (but I'm working on that).
2. I very rarely listen to music and prefer NPR or podcasts.
3. When I get The New Yorker each week, I drop everything and read it cover to cover. 
4. I'm a vegetarian.
5. I have a growth mindset, so I don't mind making mistakes.

Bucket List:
1. Write a book.
2. Travel more.
3. Get healthy so I can live as long as possible.
4. Learn how to not hate cooking.

Three things I hope for this year:
1. More personal/relaxing time for myself.
2. Plan on the weekend and grade during the week.
3. Say NO more (it's working, and I already feel less stress!)

Two things that make me laugh/cry:
1. Untapped potential/kids very behind (cry)
2. Using technology with kids (laugh and cry)

One thing I wish more people knew about me:
1. I work this hard because I actually enjoy it!

Day 11
My favorite part of the school day is the end of it! I like to hang around for hours at the end of the day to catch up, plan the next day, and meet with students.  I like meeting with kids one on one because we can both focus. Room food and laptops also help. I find that whomever shows up gets a lot done, and I get to know the students better in small groups or individually.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blogging challenge: Day 9

Day 9
Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).
One thing I've noticed lately is that as I get older and get more years under my belt, I've become more empathetic and patient.  I now address issues and situations that would have gotten a sarcastic comment or been ignored in the past.  I think less about myself and more about the students' feelings.  Maybe this is not a wild accomplishment, but I am interested to see how I can continue working on listening and responding more supportively.   

Monday, September 8, 2014

Blogging Challenge: Day 8

Day 8

What's in your desk drawer, and what can you infer from those contents?

Oh, my classroom is filled to the brim with stuff--books (for independent reading), snacks (in case someone is hungry), office supplies (in case I think of some activity on the spot and need index cards RIGHT NOW), snacks (for me), stuff to grade (because I'm behind), and snacks (in case a colleague is hungry).

Basically, my classroom is like my second home (I also have a lot of clothes and shoes there).  Although it looks a bit messy, it has everything I need.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Blogging challenge: day 7

Day 7

Who is or was your most inspirational colleague and why?

I had a department chair for a few years who really inspired me a lot. She stood up for decisions she thought were right, and she definitely influenced my practice with her activities and mindset. She lent me books and encouraged me in everything I did.  We both moved on but remained friends for many years.  I hope to be half the teacher she is someday!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Blogging Challenge Day 5 and 6

I fell a little behind . . . two entries!

Day 5
Post a picture of your classroom, and describe what you see–and what you don’t see that you’d like to.
I love my classroom--high ceilings, big windows, giant whiteboards, and lots of air conditioning.
What I wish I'd see is a better organizing model--I still feel like some students are too far away.

Day 6
Explain: What does a good mentor “do”?
I like this question because I've had so many good mentors, and I hope I've been a good mentor to others! 
I think a good mentor checks in. No pressure, just "how's it going?" A good mentor also shares something that works--a system, a handout, a text.  A good mentor also listens without immediately problem solving. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Blogging Challenge: Day 4

Day 4
Respond: What do you love the most about teaching?

Ah, where to start! I once left and had to come back because it's where I felt valued. Teaching is the hardest job in the world, so you must love it to stick with it. I really feel at home in my current teaching setting.

One thing I love most about it is the intellectual work--figuring how what you need to teach and how you're going to communicate it most effectively.  It's constantly challenging, both cognitively and personally. I am occasionally frustrated but never bored!

This week was super fun--new students to meet and former students to catch up with, all crowding the door. I also simply love being a part of kids' lives. I really remember my teachers. Who else can say they know thousands of people they've impacted over the years? Feels like a healthy way to spend one's life and contribute to the world.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Blogging Challenge: Day 3

Day 3
Discuss one “observation” area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.

My two SMARTGoals last year included work on ORs (short Open Response questions) and improving my teaching of speaking and listening, and I think I want to stick to those goals.  Teaching ORs is an important aspect of the CCSS because it involves close reading and textual evidence.  I'd like to meet with people from other departments to work on this goal.  SL standards are something I really need to tackle, and I can already tell I am getting better because I'm trying new activities and routines.  I need to be more student-centered!

I also want to improve my communication with parents.  It's a struggle in my community, but I'm getting great ideas from my colleagues.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

Blogging Challenge: Day 2

Here's the question for today:

Day 2
Write about one piece of technology that you would like to try this year, and why. You might also write about what you’re hoping to see out of this edtech integration.

I am trying harder to use Google Docs with my students.  While I hate the idea of being completely paperless (I would much rather read on paper), using this tool as a way of communicating and having students submit work is one of my goals for the year.

I am starting by having all students create a Gmail account if they don't have one and emailing me at my Gmail account.  We'll see how it goes!

I'd also like to try polling with phones in class.  Maybe that would be fun.  I'm using a strict anti-phone policy this year, but perhaps I could try this--the students would love it.  

Blogging Challenge Day 1

Hey, all.  It's day 1 of the blogging challenge.  Here's the question and answer:

Write your goals for the school year. Be as specific or abstract as you’d like to be!

I have a bunch of goals for the school year. Some are hard, while others should be easier.  

I'd like to talk in a normal tone of voice.  Usually, I'm hoarse by the end of the day and have a sore throat for much of the school year.  I'm going to have to improve my classroom management and ability to explain directions clearly. I explained my "hand up" for silence procedure on day 1. I need to make sure everyone is silent before I start talking.  

I am leaving school at the end of the day on Fridays--no exceptions!  Even if I come back on Saturday and catch up, I need to get out of there and have a fun afternoon!

I'm taking time in September to lay out my Ed Eval stuff--no more stressing in April and May and wishing I'd done better documentation of my work!

I'm also trying to plan more on the weekend and grade more during the week.  I've always done the reverse--scrambling for plans and activities all week and then grading all weekend (which wastes time as a formative assessment AND the kids get their work back so much later that they've forgotten what it is).

I take it back--all of these goals will be hard, but I'll work on them.  GROWTH MINDSET!