Monday, August 22, 2016
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Sites where teachers can sell resources to one another are becoming more popular. Teachers Pay Teachershas been around for a number of years, and some teachers make over a million dollars from the sale of these products. Now, other sites are springing up, like TES. Another website, Edmodo, a social networking site for education, has recently opened up Spotlight where teachers can recommend or sell resources. The CEO of Edmodo recently traveled to the White House to promote Spotlight at the Open Education Symposium.
Other teachers are creating content like books and video lessons that fellow teachers can benefit from using. Teach Like a Champion by Don Lemov already has a second version available for sale. Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess is popular. The newest books circulating the education circles are about Genius Hour, and the Growth Mindset, like the Innovator's Mindset by George Couros. Meanwhile, Learn Zillion has had a Dream Team of teachers working on content for their video lessons.
With all of this great creativity and content development happening, it's important that teachers take a closer look at copyright. The district you work for may own the copyright of anything you create while under their employment. This may be the case even if it is not specifically written in your contract. It might be included in a Board Policy, or simply interpreted as a "general rule" in our legal system.
Professors at Universities have been subjected to these copyright laws for decades, if not centuries. Now, the American Association of University Professors is encouraging professors to negotiate Intellectual Property Rights to make it a win-win for the colleges and the professors. In these agreements, the professors retain the Intellectual Property Rights for anything created, but grant the college free use of the material created.
With the move toward Open Education Resources and districts posting materials on the internet for all to access, I believe that districts should be able to freely use and distribute material created by their employees. However, I believe the employees, especially teachers, should retain Intellectual Property Rights and be able to distribute and sell the material to others.
Copyright laws were originally created to "promote the progress of science and useful arts," according to the Constitution. When a district owns fhe copyright of anything their teachers produce, it stifles the creativity of the teachers. I encourage my colleagues at all levels of the education field to find out who owns the copyright of material they create. Whatevervhappens, continue being creative, transformative teachers.
Sunday, October 18, 2015
The MicroK12 TechFest Conference on October 15th was a great conference to check out the new technology offerings that are applicable to the classroom. After listening to the Keynote speaker, I was reminded to read the Horizon Report.
The coolest new tech I saw at this conference was Virtual Reality that can be used in the classroom called ZSpace. This works with Cyber Science 3D. I had the opportunity to try a couple Electricity Modules, which asks students questions and leads them through some problem solving situations. I was surprised how much collaboration this encouraged, since there was one person "driving," or using the software, while others of of wore 3D glasses and were encouraging him in how to solve the problem. Zspace also has a heart unit where you can feel the heartbeat through their stylus. They have done a great job on the software, so you can learn vocabulary. Every part of the heart you select with the stylus highlight the name of that part in a vocabulary box on the screen. This is definitely worth a closer look for high school and colleges.
Mimio has a Device called MimioPad, a wireless pen/stylus tablet that will integrate with existing projectors, including the Epson Interactive Whiteboard. They also have an app called MimioMobile, which you can use with every student device to interact with the lesson displayed on the Interactive Whiteboard. Both of these aim to get the teacher away from the front of the classroom, as we head away from a "sage on stage" view on teachers, so we can help teachers become mentors of individuals as they wander through the classroom.
If you need a cart to store wireless devices like Chromebooks and iPads, Anywhere Cart is a family-owned company that is definitely worth looking into. The workmanship is very nice. I especially like their smaller unit that stores about 12 devices. It is stackable, so it's perfect for classrooms that do not quite have 1-to-1 devices, but hope to move in that direction eventually.FIRST Lego League Robotics
This week, our FIRST Lego League Robotics table arrived. Randy Hunt and Ernie from the Whidbey Island Wildcats Robotics Booster club assembled the table and delivered it. High school mentors helped me re-arrange furniture in my classroom so that it will fit and still leave ample room for teaching. It's sitting on top of a few two-drawer file cabinets, so I don't need legs. We rolled out the field mat. Next week, we'll begin putting the Lego "Mission Models" in their correct locations. Simultaneously, we'll finish building lego "Mission Models," "Basic Robots," and begin learning the Lego Mindstorm programming software.
A gentleman from our Information Services Department came to help load the Lego Mindstorm software on them. That was a little tricky because the location of "My Products" is not intuitive to locate when logging into the Lego Education website. It worked out, and once the software was loaded, he put the computers into deep freeze so the students can't load other software onto them.
I am coaching two teams simultaneously. In addition to the Robot Game, students are required to complete a community project related to a theme. This year's theme is "Trash Trek." Both of the teams will be helping to perform a "Waste Audit" of our school as part of the process to become a Washington Green School. In the cafeteria, we'll have students put their food waste into 5 gallon buckets and only non-food trash in the trash can in order to weigh this different amount of trash. At the end of one school day, we'll take the trash and paper recycling from eight classrooms, and sort and weigh that. Since we already have a recycling program at our school, the sorting should not be too difficult.
We had two wonderful guest speakers talk with the teams about their prospective projects. Gene Clark, Island County's Recycle & Hazardous Waste Coordinator, spoke to our Blue Team about batteries and the importance of recycling them. In the future, we will also have someone from Pacific Power Batteries talk to this group. I am not sure what Innovative Solution this team will design. It may be as simple as making posters to educate people about the importance of recycling batteries with information of where to recycle these.
Janet Hall, Washington State University's Waste Wise Coordinator, spoke to our Green Team about composting. She has already worked with two other schools in our district to install compost systems, including Hillcrest Elementary which won a "Green Ribbon Award" from the US Department of Education.
At an earlier meeting, we went around a circle, stating things we had thrown away that day, students realized most of them had thrown away food scraps at lunch, except one student who said he saved his banana peel to take home to put in his compost system. After that, a few of these students, completely independently spoke with the principal about starting a compost system at our school. The principal said she thought that is a great idea. To support the students' efforts, I've proposed a grant to the Oak Harbor Education Foundation for helping with the cost of installing a compost system in our school.
I've spoken with the founders of Bug-a-bay about their compost system, as this is the system that they use at Hillcrest. Bug-abay will be sending an educational video they've created called "Garbage to Gold." Bug-a-bay is a local company, and their worm-bin compost systems are different than others, because they are dug into the ground. This allows all food scraps, including meat products and even bones to go into the compost system. This compost does need to be covered daily to avoid attracting rodents. Since we are working with young children, we will be covering the compost with Peat Moss. The other option is aged manure, but peat moss is a cleaner option when working with children. Since this system is dug into the ground, it drains and breathes, so it does not have to be aerated and turned like other systems.
Once I get notification on the acceptance of the grant, we will move forward with installing this type of worm bin. It's turned into a busy and exciting year! Stay tuned for more updates.
Monday, October 5, 2015
PBIS has already made a difference in my classroom. I made a few purposeful "positive phone calls home" for students that displayed behavior issues with other teachers. I simply observed small things these students did correctly and showed appreciation for this. PBIS encourages 4 positive feedback encounters, or more, for every negative, or corrective feedback encounter. These positive encounters with parents encourages them to be supportive of me as a teacher. Positive encounters with students encourages them to want to come to school to learn.
When I first came across Whole Brain Teaching, I was reluctant to implement it, because it seemed too prescriptive and was more like creating cookie-cutter children, which contradicts the idea of differentiation and individualization that I aim to acheive in my classroom. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try since I needed to improve my classroom management techniques. I have the five WholeBrain Teachingaa rules posted in my classroom and taught them to my students. I use "Class"-"Yes" to get students' attention. I also use "Teach"-"OK" to encourage student to student talk and for solidifying concepts through repetition. One of my students said Rule #5 "Keep Your Dear Teacher Happy" was the easiest rule to follow since, "My teacher is always happy." That definitely goes with my philosophy that teachers should smile before Christmas. I believe happy teachers lead to happy students, which leads back to happy teachers.
I have been thinking about having a flipped classroom for a couple of years. However, I never felt I had the time to make high quality videos. Plus, I was not sure how to hold students accountable for watching the videos. After hearing parents frustrations about trying to help their children with math homework related to the Common Core State Standards and seeing some students not completing their homework worksheets, I decided this is the year to flip. This summer, I came across the youtube channel, Talesof4thGrade, by Mrs. Proffitt. She has an excellent video called "The Flipped Classroom for Parents." In that video, she mentions that she has her students complete Guided Notes that accompany her videos. Instead of making my own videos, I am curating videos that already exist for the math concepts I want students to know. To keep students accountable for watching the videos, I create Guided Notes that students must complete. I told parents that this allows me to draw from other great teachers around the country. I draw from Khan Academy, Learn Zillion, and other great resources. Next summer, I plan to make videos to fill any concepts I can't find adequate videos for during this school year. Eventually, I plan to assign videos Monday- Thursday. On Monday, we complete some type of activity in our Interactive Math Journals, since students did not watch a video the night before.
I have a wonderful parent volunteer, who helps administer individualized spelling tests and helps me prepare for science lessons. I've decided to do Science every Monday, since I do not have Specialists/ planning time that day. This also allows me to prepare on Friday night for the Science lesson on Monday.
The thing that has taken up most of my time has been coaching Robotics after school. We have an amazing robotics team at our local high school, who was recently featured in the news for making a prosthetic arm form a local girl. They compete annually in the FIRST Robotics Challenge. I learned that FIRST has a program for students age 9-13 called FIRST Lego League. So, I decided it would be fun to coach a team of up to 10 students for this competition. To participate, the parents pay the local Booster Club $100, since the costs of running a team is about $900. I thought that I would be lucky to get enough interest to form a team of 10. Instead, the response was overwhelming. So, now I am coaching two teams of nine, and helping a colleague start a Jr. FLL team for younger students. Fortunately, I've received support from our local Robotics booster club, as well as parents and high school mentors for the robotics teams. So, I've been able to take on more of a role of coordinator.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Friday, May 30, 2014
Just recently, I gave students a survey to see how comfortable they were with technology at the beginning of the year, and how they felt now. The following link gives the students' results.
Student Survey of Comfort with Technology
The fact that so many students rated themselves as very comfortable with technology at the beginning of the year is due in part to the previous T3 program, as most of my students came from classes of Tier 3 teachers who integrated iPods last year. Plus, most students (70%) had access to a personal device at home, usually their own device. One parent told me that having iPods in the classroom was the tipping point in her decision to purchase an iPad for her child for a birthday present this year. I feel encouraged that I had some impact on students comfort level as a few more students are comfortable with technology now than the beginning of the year.
At the beginning of the year, the students were very excited to get the iPods and it was interesting to watch how quickly they taught each other how to do things on the devices. At the beginning of the year, I gave them iPod time, which transitioned into iPod ELA (English Language Arts) time. Students liked playing with the Opposites app and videotaping themselves read. I encouraged them to use the Spelling City app. As the year progressed, I felt pressured from the looming state test and I moved away from this ELA iPod time and started doing more direct instruction teaching strategies.
To save paper, I had students take tests for their Storytown lessons on www.thinkcentral.com. At the beginning of the year, I walked the students to the computer lab to take these test. Then, I decided to have them try to take the test using the iPods, and it worked! The only difficulty with this is I have to log into ThinkCentral to score the students' written responses to the essay questions. However, the rest of the test is scored for me.
There has been a lot of training in Writing this year, and I know students love to type their writing. I did not want to teach students how to save (and retrieve) their documents, because I know that is difficult. So. I opted to teach them how to use Google Drive. This became the most useful aspect of technology in my classroom. I used gClassFolders to stay organized and Doctopus to create files for specific assignments for my students to complete. They also shared files with me that they created themselves.
Using the Google Drive app with the iPods was nice as I have a 1to1 device situation. So, students could log into Google Drive just once and then open it up without having to log in. By far, the biggest complication was having students log in. I posted an example of the username on a bulletin board "firstname.lastname@example.org"which helped.
What was amazing to watch was the moments that students taught themselves and each other different aspects of technology. For instance, students taught themselves how to create Google presentations without any help from me. Watching this gave me the confidence to help the music teacher create Google Presentations for our 4th grade musical that students performed at the high school. Also, I will be using a Google Presentation for show my colleagues what my students learned. If you are part of my school district, you can access this presentation here.
Students used the commenting feature of Google Drive to "chat" with each other and to offer feedback on writing. At the beginning of the year, a few students went on Drive after school to chat much like adults would use facebook or twitter. Please feel free to read some of my previous blog postings about integrating Google Drive. I am really looking forward to using Google classroom next fall. I wish Google would approve me for a Summer preview.
The opportunity to integrate iPods has allowed me to think bigger as I move forward. This summer, I hope to utilize the time away from the daily pressures of teaching to examine the Common Core State Standards we will start using next year in more depth. I want to align Kahn Academy videos with these standards and assemble a way to start to flip my classroom next year. So, the students learn the math concepts at home by watching these videos and come to school to practice them. I have already signed my students up for www.adaptedmind.com, but they only use it if I tell them to do so, or if I set aside specific time during the school day for this purpose. I may assign specific questions on that site for homework next year (if they still offer it for free to teachers).
As I had a low-completion rate for homework assignments this year, I wonder if students would have higher rates of completion if the homework was to watch a video and complete a set number of questions on a website. If students have not watched the video assigned, then the rewards of flipping a classroom may not be achieved. I would have to teach the same concepts in class, as I would hope they would have learned at home by watching video. Also, I wonder if there is a way to track whether students actually watched a certain video to have accountability. Plus, some of my students do not have internet access at home. So, I would have to consider how to provide equity to these students without seeming punitive. I could offer them time to watch these videos during recess.
There are so many considerations to take into account as a teacher. Already, students feel comfortable using technology. Eventually, technology will be just one more tool in my teaching repertoire I can draw upon. I will continue to delve into technology deeper in order to positively impact student learning.