Thursday, March 15, 2012

Final night for class!!!!!

I've learned alot in this class.  Things to use both at work and in my personal life.
 Lively discussions and great support from dedicated educators. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

web pages and presentations

Web Pages and Presentations, oh my

Hard to believe that next week is the last week for class.  I did get the surveys sent out for my project and I'm trying to resist the urge to keep going in and looking at the results.  It's like a child who hears the ice cream truck.  I just can't wait!!! 

Aside from that thought, I have added a few things to my "ideal" classroom/school blog from last week as I continually find things that I want to add.  

I think I'll continue the blog after we are done. If nothing else, I think it keeps me mindful of what we are doing in education and how technology can be used to enhance student learning.  


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Textbooks vs. iPads

As I'm driving to class tonight, I'm thinking of my search of various websites last week in preparation for class and I'm thinking about the video I watched on the teaching channel website.  Regardless of my opinion on what I watched, what I realized is this:  the first click someone makes on your website is key.  It can keep people coming back or it can scare them away.  

Tonight's speaker filled my head with thoughts. So many thoughts I don't know where to start.  Let's start here......

Textbooks vs. iPads? 

 I'm intrigued by the discussion this evening about what textbooks can do for learners and what iPads can do for learners.  I agree with our speaker that books won't go away, but what we know about teaching and how students learn is changing right in front of our eyes.  Who would have thought that you could blow into your iPad's microphone and cause the windmill on the screen to actually move?  I would never have imagined that when I was younger, but I can see why my 7 year old's eyes light up.  He's learning.  He's engaged. It fits his learning style.  And that's the key.......

A student might learn better with an iPad. Another student might learn better with a traditional textbook.  Who says we can't have both in the room and meet the needs of every child? 

That brings my thoughts to a speaker I heard today at the conference I went to.......she was telling the audience the story of how her daughter needed to have snack at 10 and 2 during her school day for a specific legitimate reason.  She explained to the audience that the leader of the school said her daughter would need to go to the office at these times to have that happen. Of course, the office was on the opposite side of the school. It was the teacher of the classroom who mentioned having snack in class. The leader was afraid all students would want snack then.  The teacher sent home a note and told all students they could bring snack.  The first week, everyone brought snack. It was new. It was fun.  It was novel. Three weeks later, only her daughter was having snack.  Why? because her daughter needed it and the novelty for the other kids had worn off.

I wonder then, if you had a choice for your students, if they first all chose the iPad, if three weeks later, as the newness wore off, if all students would still choose the iPad?  Would some return to traditional textbooks?

Which brings me to the beginning of my brain dump on what an "ideal" classroom/school would look like to me....just a concept I've been playing with:

Individual classrooms:
The room is engaging
The colors are warm and inviting
The teacher greets each student at the door and welcomes them into the room
A table by the door has traditional textbooks, iPads,  and who knows what technology by that time
The class lessons are videotaped and posted to a webpage the teacher maintains for students to watch. Perhaps the lessons are "flipped" and the teacher gives the lessons as "homework" at night and uses class time to do the assignments
Perhaps the desks are in a circle one day, in a square the next and so on
The teacher presents the lesson and while she is talking about what the class is going to be doing, she has powerful pictures popping up on the screen for students to see.  (ex: perhaps we are talking about an art teacher who will be doing painting that day and behind them is a screen showing google art gallery.  The teacher can go to the specific artist she is teaching about and show the students their work).  You get the idea.......
Each kid has a special space (aka desk), the chairs they use might be a therapy ball, a couch, a cushion, a blanket. 
Shoes off/shoes on/shoes optional-whatever helps you learn-I don't care, as long as they are engaged and learning.  That's the key.

The School:
The school doors open early and remain open into the early evening
A computer lab is open from the time schools ends into the early evening-run by parents, volunteers, teachers, the school leader (rotational basis)
There is artwork in the halls
Children who are late aren't "tardy" but they carry a "we're so glad you're here" slip from the office

The staff:
Are engaged
Do personal invitations to events to engage families
Get paid what they are worth.  Aside from parents, teachers have the 2nd most important job in the world.  No offense to any coaches out there, but if a university coach can get millions for taking a team to the NFL, perhaps a teacher can make a great salary and get "bonuses" for helping get student A to school consistently or for teaching student B new concepts which they then took and applied elsewhere.
Post their class assignments and lessons on their individual webpages contained within the school's webpage.  They are easy to read, they show parents what the assignments are, and students can easily print them out or complete them online if they miss school. 

What would learning look like in a school like this? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Something cool.....


A little disappointing this evening....being the parent of a young child, now is the time we find ourselves looking into the open houses for preschools in the area.  So we pull up this evening, right after work, and we are greeted outside by the admissions director.  Our daughter, who is 3, is so excited she can barely contain herself.  She's even wearing her "red sparkly shoes" because she wants to show them off to a potential new teacher to see if she/he oo's and aw's over them like our daughter does. 

The admission director quickly tells us that the open house is for adults because children might make a mess and asks us which parent wants to come inside and which wants to go over to play at the playground with the kids.  This has to be one of my biggest pet peeves. I instantly feel the hairs on the back of my head and all over my arms stand straight up and truly something I just don't understand.....perhaps someone can enlighten me, but what is the purpose of having an open house for families who might be considering placing their child in your school if you don't let the children come and check it out?  I truly don't understand this approach and it's not the first time this has happened to us.  Our sons local school did this last year (before we moved him to a new school) an "adult only" open house.  WHAT IS THE POINT???? 

Are they scared of what kids would say? Is it just easier? Is it convenience?  I really don't understand it, nor do I really want to.  I think it's wrong.  I think kids should be leading the tours. They should be proud of their school and the work they do within it.  They should want to show it off. There should be artwork in the halls. Every teacher, secretary, and custodian should be there. Every door should be open.  This is how we engage families........

Perhaps it goes back to my previous post.  Perhaps it's just time for me to open my own school.......

Thursday, February 16, 2012

..........It's time for change.........

Enlightening conversation and presentation this evening from a certified google teacher.  At first, the fast presentation could be seen as a headache (maybe because I've been sick all week) because it is moving so fast. About two minutes in, and I get it.  Give as much information as quickly as you can for absorption. As many tools in the toolbelt as possible to see what will happen.  

What a fabulous concept for our kids today. I'll have to play around with the tools mentioned tonight to see where I could go with some of them.

Has anyone been watching the Governor of Oregon's talks about how he wants to reform education?  I've only caught a couple of minutes here and there, but one of the most enlightening was listening to him talk about how we have moved away from the very things that need to be in schools (art, music, the "specials" so to speak).  His plan, which is quite forward thinking, is causing controversy.  Is it because people are hesitant to change? or is it because people are afraid of what kids might do if given the opportunity to unleash their full potential? Lord forbid we give them the tools to be creative. To let their minds expand. Who knows what would happen then.  

In 2005, when I first got assigned to the building I was in, the office assistant outside my door, who I didn't know at the time, came up to me and said "You know Kristi, I have the feeling that someday you are going to open your own school, like a charter perhaps, but for sure one that fully includes all children and engages children and families from birth through graduation. It will be the first of its kind and I think you're going to do it."  I laughed at the time at the sheer thought of having my own school, but over the years that conversation keeps coming back to me........

 It's time for change folks.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Accessing Technology

I made an iMovie tonight!!!  Super easy, super fun.  You should try it.  Provided you have a Mac and some time.  Goes back to the access discussion we were having earlier this evening in class.  What if you can't afford it? 

Technology can be a great tool, but everyone should have the opportunity to access it.  Perhaps that's it.  Perhaps it's not about making sure there is a classroom set of iPads.  Perhaps the school needs to stay open later and have a computer lab for students to be able to complete their homework/work on projects in a quite supported space? Perhaps it's about making sure that once you knew what was going to be covered in class, you could decide what tool would work best for your learning style?  Would a textbook be better for you than an iPad? Who says we can't accommodate/adapt/modify to meet the needs of all students?  We do it in special education all the time, why can't it be done in general education too.  


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hey, check out my UGLY background on that previous post.........for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to change the background back.  The good news is, even with a few people still sitting here next to me we couldn't get it.  Ah well........just know that I would have it a normal brick red color if I could figure it out. Perhaps Nathan can fix it for me next week! :)