Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tech it to the Max Tuesday: Scribble

Smarter Online Research 

With the new Common Core State Standards, there is a higher emphasis on nonfiction reading and writing. We are tasked with teaching students to do meaningful research. But let's face it, research isn't the same as it used to be when we were in high school or even college. I am not sure about the rest of you out there, but in my classroom, we mostly use online articles to obtain research. Sadly, gone are the days of going to library and having students check out books on their topic and note-taking in a notebook. One of the greatest things about printing out online texts is that the students can mark them up: Take notes in margins, underline, circle, highlight, you name it. This is how I teach my students to tackle nonfiction. The problem here is it wastes a ton of time, not to mention paper.

Scrible eliminates those issues. Scrible allows you to turn any online text into an interactive passage that you can save, mark up, highlight, sticky note, etc...

During a mini-lesson on interpreting primary sources (Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address),  I could put the speech, obtained online, on my Smartboard, to analyze with students. Next year, when all of my students have a laptop, they all can do this! What a way to take non-fiction to new and innovative heights.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tech It to the Max Tuesdays: E-Learning Overload

Yes, I realize it isn't Tuesday, but I will be away at a three-day conference this week and probably won't be able to blog again until Thursday.

Next year, my school will be rolling out a 1:1 technology initiative. All of our fourth and fifth graders will have a laptop device to use in school. We are all very excited about this, but it is also very overwhelming. There are so many ways to use technology in the classroom. Too many to be perfectly honest, especially for teachers like me that want to try out every new program, app., or idea. Professional development will be key here to effectively integrate these new devices into our existing routines and curriculum.

This gave me an idea for a weekly feature to my new blog: Tech it to the Max Tuesdays. Every Tuesday, I want to present educators with a new way to integrate technology in the classroom. Not only that, but I am excited about the new and exciting ideas other teachers, from around the country, will share. I feel like there is so much I want to learn about to be more prepared for digital conversion in my school next year (which by the way begins in July!).

So here's my first challenge for all of you. I need ideas! What are you currently using in your classroom in terms of technology? What are your thoughts about E-learning overload? I am looking for all kinds of feedback. I am especially interested in hearing from teachers that teach in a 1:1 school or flipped classroom.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Prepare to Win

I am nearing my fifth year of teaching and finally getting around to starting a blog. I have spent these past few years keeping a journal of my thoughts, experiences, and ideas, in hopes of turning them into a book one day. What I realized was, I cannot wait to share these adventures with the world. So many new teachers enter their first classrooms, filled with so much hope and energy. Quickly, however, they realize teaching is way more than what their college courses prepared them for. I know there are many teacher blogs out there, but I want this one to be different. I want this to be the kind of place where teachers come to read that the craziness that defines their classrooms is perfectly normal. I want this to be a place where teachers come for inspiration, words of wisdom, and a bit of humor. 

I recently began reading Tom Coughlin’s Earn the Right to Win. Coughlin has spent the past nine years as the head coach of the New York Football Giants. This, his second book, is not a biography or even much of a sports book, but a guide for leaders in any career field. It’s a collection of stories and anecdotes that preach that the key to success is superior preparation. I realized that so many of Coughlin’s points reflect my own successes in the classroom. Being an avid sports fan, I have followed the careers of many of the great coaches. I have become inspired by the words of greats, such as John Wooden, Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, Tom Landry, Pat Reilly, Pat Summitt, etc… So much of how coaches plan for games and build winning teams, is how I run my classroom communities. Success in the classroom, like success on a football field or basketball court, begins with a winning game plan. As John Wooden used to say, “The preparation is where success is truly found… It was the journey I prized above all else.” 

So, my first message to all teachers out there, new and seasoned: Step one on the ladder of classroom success is PREPARE TO WIN! Cliques aside, you cannot expect instant success. You cannot expect to be an effective educator without outstanding effort, commitment, and superior preparation. You have to draw up a winning GAME PLAN.