Who is Your Ed. Hero?

Most teachers don’t get awards or trophies.  Most teachers don’t get paid a lot.  Most teachers don’t…care (about those things).  One thing teachers do, is become heroes.  My mom has been teaching for decades. DECADES.  She is retiring this year and I need her to know that no, maybe she hasn’t ever gotten an award, but she is my hero and I imagine a hero to others as well.  Here is why…

1.  She kept learning. She never got stale.  Old yes…(kidding mom) 🙂  Never stale.  She will be the first to admit that technology is not her strength, so when she told me that she was having her students use iPads I caught myself open mouthed and crazy eyed.  Really?  iPads in your classroom mom?  How is that going?  She explained what tools they were using and how and again I caught myself open mouthed and crazy eyed, but wow, she was doing it.

Lesson: Good teachers can do good things even when they don’t know it all or feel like an expert.  Don’t be afraid to be a learner along side your students. Thank you mom, for teaching me this repeatedly.

2. She kept loving. Her heart never got hard.  Even in her last days of this year, she was still helping students be the best they could be.  She gave students chances to rework projects, rethink behavior, and try it again.  She never gave up and gave students multiple opportunities to be successful.

Lesson:  School isn’t for mastery, but for learning.  We owe it to our students to dig a little, develop a relationship, and demand excellence even if it takes several attempts.  Thank you mom, for teaching me this repeatedly.

3. She kept honing her craft and sharing it with others.  I remember going into her pre-K classroom and feeling the love as a child.  Songs were sung, developmentally appropriate tasks were given, she allowed her students to be self-directed, and students were experiencing real life scenarios…decades ago!  Now as a high school teacher who helps students get their CDA in early childhood, she sings songs, gives them appropriate tasks, allows them to be self directed, and gives them real life experiences they will use in their future classrooms.  It just makes sense.

Lesson: Good teaching practices are good for…decades!  Engagement, self direction, and authentic experiences are not new to education, but they are critical for student success.  Thank you mom, for teaching me this repeatedly.

Retired? Yes.  Old? Maybe. 😉  Stale? Angry? Bored? No.  My mom is my Ed. Hero because regardless of the minutiae of education, she kept the most important things illuminated for…decades.  She continued to learn, love, and grow.  No awards or trophies can even come close to summing up the impact she has had on the hundreds of students throughout her teaching career, including me.

What I Learned with #hourofcode

1. Girls are missing out in the world of computer science http://www.ncwit.org/infographic/3435, but if you build it, they will come!

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2. Being a learner of something completely new is refreshing!

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3. Anyone is willing to support an idea with passion and purpose behind it.

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4. When students are engaged, collaboration and problem solving come easy…easier 🙂

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5.  When you make something “exclusive” like a “girls only” club, the boys REALLY want to do it too.

Girls Coding Club

6.  There is so much in the world I don’t know how to do, but that doesn’t mean I can’t provide an opportunity for others to explore and learn.

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A High-Five Kind of Day

In teaching there are high-five kinds of days and then there are other days that drive sleepless nights, but my goal is to create as many high-five kinds of days as I possibly can for myself, teachers, and students.  Today, was a high-five kind of day.  When students are proud, parents are excited, and learning has happened, it has to be a high-five kind of day.

Our school district has offered spring and fall intercessions for students to attend for free do to the balanced calendar that we currently follow.  When I first heard about this I didn’t think I would be interested in teaching during my vacation, but I am so glad I changed my mind!  This week I taught for 4 days from 8:30-11:00 AM and I had a mixed group of 25 first and second graders from different elementary schools.  When they all lined up on the first day I realized how possibly crazy I was, but it turns out, I’m only kind of crazy.  🙂

We started off by reading Same, Same, but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw.  We did a lot of turn and talks, thinking aloud, and were totally paperless this week.  I modeled the Notability app via Apple TV and told them that they would record their notes on the app for reference when they started to create their iMovies.  The students got into groups of their choice and started to find out how they were all similar and different.  They were able to navigate and use Notability easily as I walked around and helped those that needed it.  Once students were done taking notes, I modeled the iMovie app on the iPad and showed them how to create a trailer.  The students quickly got started on their iMovies.  We also had the opportunity to Skype @ginamertens who was on a mission trip in Guatemala to share our differences and similarities with their group.

There were moments throughout these two days where I was nervous, excited, thrilled, and stressed.  Why?  If you have ever facilitated 25 first and second graders video taping themselves and trying to keep your eye on all of them, you totally understand. It was INSANE, but AWESOME! The biggest struggle I had was when certain groups were finished and other groups were not, and a bit of control was lost.  During that time I told the group about our next goal and got students researching poetry and writing notes on the whiteboard. Whew!

The next two days of the intersession where filled with researching different types of poetry, choosing their favorite type of poetry, showing the students how they could use Haiku Deck and Notability to create their poems and a spring photo scavenger hunt to capture images to use in their Haiku Decks.  On the second day I also got the idea to invite parents to our last class to see the student work.  I also offered to email the work if parents couldn’t attend.

So, today was a high-five kind of day because on our last day, the library was filled with parents, grandparents, and others along with my students.  We displayed the student work via apple tv and everyone had their time to shine.  When a real audience can see the hard work everyone has done it makes more meaningful to everyone.

Spring poem on Notability

Spring poem on Haiku Deck (At first I didn’t “get” this poem, but once I did I thought it was very clever.)

I hope you have a high-five kind of day today too!

“All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable ride.” -Movie About Time

Kindergarten: Yes, they can!

One of my goals as I became an elementary school media specialist was to gain more knowledge and experience in the primary grades.  In the past two years I have learned that kindergarten students are willing and able to do a lot more than I would have originally guessed.

This is the second year that our kindergarten has been a full day program and I give kudos to those students and teachers for their stamina and patience.  I have had the honor to work with our kindergarten teachers in planning their first PBL unit with the driving question of “How can we help Indiana animals survive in the winter?”

I kicked off the PBL with a video and Voki, co-taught lessons, observed deep thinking, and the students have helped support the environment around our school.  The teachers wanted a way to document student work, so I suggested they use Google Drive to start a blog.  I thought this would be an easy way to get them set up because our staff is familiar with Drive, know how to share it, and uploading pictures and items is easy.

I have also had the opportunity to help the kindergarten team plan with the use of the Understanding by Design framework recently (Stage 3: Learning Plan).  Our literacy specialist first worked with the kindergarten team to whittle down their social studies standards, I met again with them to filter the social studies standards even more.  As we went through that, we realized naturally that literacy and math lessons could connect to provide more meaning for the students.  The teachers focused on nonfiction text reading and writing lessons to enhance and deepen student understanding.

One of my roles was to help integrate technology and connect with experts in the community.  I asked if I could meet with the future artists to show them how to take video with an iPad and to share how they would be in charge of documenting their learning.  These students took video of guest speakers and Skype sessions, for reference and for sharing with parents on the student Community Helper Day.  We used the Aurasma app, video taped on iPads, Skyped with a fire fighter, and we used FaceTime with a pilot.

I was amazed at the student engagement and excitement.  It was also fun to see the teachers get excited about doing something new.  It seems that when learning shifts from “This is what we have always done.” to “What else could we do?” everyone smiles more, works harder, and has a lot more fun.

Restating Questions in Our Answers on iPads

This year I am co-teaching with a second grade teacher during her TIPS time.  We frequently see a trend where students need more practice in reader’s response/writing about reading.  The teacher came up with questions and we taught lessons about restating our questions in the answer and why it is important with modeling, anchor charts, and conversation.  I kept racking my brain on how I could apply this to the real world and then thought of interviews.

The classroom teacher and I did a mock interview to model the process and the students used the rubric to evaluate our performance.  We talked about how the rubric was a learning tool and that it wouldn’t hurt our feelings if we got a frown, because it just meant that we needed more practice.  The students LOVED evaluating us.

The next day we had the students record each other on iPads while asking the interview questions.  Many students referenced the rubric to check their answers.  When each group was done, I collected the iPads and evaluated the students with the rubric.  We then had the students watch their interviews and evaluate their performance as well.  When the students were done evaluating themselves, we passed out my pre scored rubric of their interview and the students compared my results to theirs.  We gave the students the option to redo their answers based on their rubric results and many students wanted to do that.  We also talked about how some of the rubrics matched up perfectly which meant we could tell the students were really paying attention to their interview and that if they didn’t match up that it would be a great way to have a conversation about the differences we saw and why.

Students Summarize on Twitter

Today I read The First Strawberries: A Cherokee Story retold by Joseph Bruchac and pictures by Anna Vojtech to a class of 4th graders.  Our purpose for reading today was to summarize the story.  I did a whole group lesson on summarizing where students helped create an anchor chart and then I gave them a mission.  Their mission was to create a tweet that summarized the story in 123 characters or less while using the hashtag #picturebookmonth (Which took 17 of their 140 characters, so we even added some math into the lesson!).

I wasn’t sure how the students would process through this task, but the classroom teacher and I were blown away by the skills the students had to use to  collaborate with their partners to create a tweet.  Most students started with a lengthy paragraph that summarized the story, but were constantly keeping count of the characters, crossing out words, and thinking of how to restate their sentences to cut characters.

Often as we circled the room we heard, “Wow, this is hard!” “Wait, that puts us over the limit.” “How else can we say it?” “What can we take out?” “Oh, we forgot that part!”

One student was able to create a tweet and post it today in the time we had allotted.  “There was a man and woman. man got angry.woman left man went after her sun help man sun grow straw berries.everybody happy#picturebookmonth”  The students will finish this task later this week.  Be looking for other tweets from @LFKerz!

Teaching with Notability via the Apple TV

Notability via the Apple TV with 2nd Grade

Last week I had my first opportunity to use Notability via the Apple TV with a class of students.  Overall I thought the lesson was successful and exciting.  I am looking forward to feedback from the teacher.

Lesson Set-up:

I met with our second grade teachers during a PLC meeting and showed them Notability and my thoughts on how we could use it during whole group, small group, and even independent work.

I decided I wanted the entire lesson to be “real time”, so I didn’t do much prep work other than working through Notability and the tools before I showed it to the students.

In Action:

First we talked about our purpose for learning which was to make connections from their prior knowledge to something in the text to build their schema.  I then introduced the tools we would be using to share our thoughts.  I connected everything in front of the students so that they could see the process. We launched the Notability app and I took a picture of the text we would be working with.  I showed them the tools on Notability and then we talked about how this was going to be an interactive lesson where I would pass the iPad around to them and they could show their evidence of thinking and learning during the lesson. We read the passage aloud together that was displayed via the Apple TV and then I modeled our thinking process and highlighted the evidence that supported my connection.  I asked the students to turn and talk about their connections and as they did I took notes on the iPad and I listed to their conversations.  I then showed them how I could use this tool to take notes and organize them by using the scissors on the app and could move my writing around.  After that I passed the iPad around to students to let them highlight their evidence and explain their thinking to the class.  We then talked about how you can record your voice on Notability, so we did that too.

Overall the students were engaged, excited, and wanted to use the tool again. My plan is to help the teacher and students use our student iPads during daily 5 time and then email their work to the teacher.  I have offered to come back to help with this if the teacher would like.  My next step is reflect with the teacher on how things went and to get her feedback on ideas, concerns, or questions.  I plan to model this similar lesson for first grade and the rest of second grade and eventually to every classroom.

Things I discovered:

  • You can only cut and sort things you have drawn, not typed.  This is a real bummer, because my handwriting is less than stellar.  I’ve heard a stylus helps.
  • When you export, the file doesn’t come as one piece.  I have exported a few different ways, but I can’t get the entire work in one download. This could be user error!
  • The highlighting doesn’t stick to the image, so if you take a picture of a book for students to highlight and then resize the image, the highlighting will not stay on the text.  I need to see if there are settings to make this work the way I want it to.

Learn. Try. Teach. Reflect.

As our school’s library media specialist aka librarian and lead technology teacher, I have come to embrace risk taking.  It has taken me a couple of years to fully understand how to help teachers best and I feel like I am always working at it, but one thing I have found is that our teachers are all willing and wanting to try new things.  This is my dream come true!

Learn. Try. Teach. Reflect. Has been ringing loud and clear in my mind lately.  I learn about a lot of tools that theoretically make teaching and learning easier or more effective, but in practice some of those tools have poor functionality, are redundant, or are too cumbersome for a teacher to have time to navigate and are not appropriate for all grade levels.

My approach has been to share with teachers in a small group setting about a tool and connect it directly to curriculum/learning.  In that same meeting I schedule a time to model the tool with each classroom to show teachers how the tool can be used in practice (risky).  I then plan to touch base and help with individual needs or assistance and to reflect on if the tool truly improves teaching and learning.  The reason I say that scheduling a time to model the tool in the classroom is risky is because I am typically trying something out for the first time.  I never know how it is going to go, if it will work right, or if it will make teaching and learning better until I do it with students in a classroom just like the teacher would!  I’m not sure if the teachers realize this, but sometimes I have NO idea if what I am about to do is really going to work!  Maybe I should keep this a secret.

Recently I have been #onamission to help teachers integrate their Apple TVs into instruction in meaningful ways.  I attended our first and second grade PLC meetings this week to share Notability with teachers.  I have to admit that I was nervous about throwing something new out there because I feel like we are all overwhelmed, but no one seemed overwhelmed with this new tool, and they were all excited to get started using it.  Whew.  One teacher even offered for me to come in the next day to model this tool in her classroom. Everyday I am thankful for where I work and that teachers are excited to take risks and try new things!  If you are interested on how the Notability lesson went, check out the post Notability via the Apple TV.