I quit teaching

I quit teaching from the front of the room and have made a transition from teacher centered to student centered. Wait, you didn’t think that I actually quit teaching did you? No way, I love what I do.

This is a method I started using a lot more this year, the hook. The introduction is an example from TLAP by David Burgess, the “board message hook”. I have now brought you into my blog and you are still reading because of the way the material is presented. You keep listening to music and watching shows because they hook you in and keep you entertained. It is a simple approach, and yet very effective. I start my classes off with a hook. Most of them need need no background to answer, but it can fully engage learning without feeling as if it is hard work. Now that you are here, I challenge you to try the hook to engage students, then put them into the driver seat of their learning and empower them to keep learning from their new interest. Within one minute, I hooked you in, delivered material, and empowered you to continue learning. “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” – Confucius

A simple choice

A simple choice I made

This week I was asked a question by one of my Ss, “Can we switch seats?” Last year I would have said sure, let me make a new seating chart and we’ll switch tomorrow. T’s and Ss are accustomed to making charts and following norms of yesterday’s classroom. We switch seats and shuffle around when it’s a new marking period, a return from a break, or response to an incident. But today, I reflected on my winter break professional learning, twitter chats, on demand PL, and inspiration from my new PLN. I said, “go ahead.” I’ve never seen such a confused look. Did I say “go ahead”?!?!, they couldn’t understand. I allowed them to get up and move and form new groups by their choice. It took them a few seconds to figure out what was going on, but they got up and moved. I gave them free choice of seating. They got up, called their peers to sit over by them and formed groups (4 groups of 7 connected tables in my classroom). Not once did I see or hear anything negative, it was all positive. Smiles, hellos, and some high fives. Everyone had a seat at the table. (No one said you can’t sit here or have that look of that’s my seat.). They immediately got to their turn & talk task and class began. All this was accomplished in 5 minutes. I made a choice, they made a choice, class moved on. I took a risk I would have never taken in years past, and it was great. Small changes in my classroom are taking place and making big changes overall.

My new PLN

Expanding my PLN.

Whoah. That’s the best way to explain my week. When I finally decided to get on line and start connecting, I noticed posts that had A1 before them followed by a thought or idea. After a while I finally clicked the thread to see Q1 followed by a question. I did a quick google to find out that this was a twitter chat. Then I noticed a common aspect in the thread, the hashtags. Follow them and you can see a full conversation. I was a lurker (sounds eerie but it just refers to someone who is just there to “listen”). I asked a coworker who I saw was involved how to get into them. Did I have to pay?, was it a small organization?, am I going to do something wrong? So many questions and concerns at first, like going to my first real PD session. I started with an introduction that night and immediately jumped on Q1:. (Retweet with quote and use A1 then hashtag, and that’s all you need to know to get started.). I was hooked. This is a great flash PD, and it’s at home. It’s going to a 1 hour edcamp that has 5 breakout sessions. I commented, liked, (and lurked), but most important, I learned and was motivated by every response to better myself professionally and personally. The big takeaway however is the new Professional Learning Network I gained in one night. I have developed amazing connections in one hour. I decided to see if this was jut a fluke or it it was as good as I perceived. To test I decided to join one every night. (Just search education twitter chats and calendars show up all over the Internet. I added a few to my iCal to keep track of time because of time one listings). It turned out, every one was better than the other. Simply because I was now better every night. It took me a while to break out of my shell to share and connect online. I will continue with connecting and keep on twitter chatting (don’t know if that’s the right saying, but it sounds good). Threads I was in last week are still growing and comments and learning haven’t stopped. Even though it was only an hour, it’s lasting way beyond. I am glad to have found like minded people who continue to improve everything around them and have helped me grow in so many ways.

#LearnLAP #LeadLAP #engagechat #bookcampPD #MasteryChat #KidsDeserveIt #PersonalizedPD

Breaking down my silo walls and connecting

Breaking down my silo walls.

Getting active on social media.

I recently jumped on twitter after going to #EdCampNJ. The first breakout discussion I joined was about getting connected. He asked a question to start the conversation, “Who is on social media professionally?”. I kind of raised my hand because I posted once or twice. I looked around the room, and I was the only one not really excited about the question. He then asked the simple question, “Why not?”. It was rhetorical, but I immediately had to think of a reason. I didn’t have an answer, I had nothing. I didn’t see it as bad, but I didn’t see it as good. Then the discussion went to why they do it. My coworker, @sdtitmas, said it gives the parents a window into the classroom. Other teachers and school leaders talked about getting connected, developing partnerships, and sharing.

As soon as I walked out I checked the hashtag he put up and got my a-ha moment. It was all positive. Everything. Even teachers talking about struggles used it as reflection to turn it into a learning experience. My next stop was Future Ready NJ. This was the icing on the cake. Not only was everyone talking about what they do, they gave shoutouts to other districts about what they see on social media and how it’s helped them develop a path for change and growth. My day ended with a breakout session on failing (the good taking risks failing I last wrote about). And that’s exactly what I needed to get that final push in the right direction. I decided I’m going to get on and try it. I went home and tweeted, mostly retweets and likes, but I got on. This was a great decision. I started following people and realized there are a lot of great ideas and connections on here that inspire me and drive me. I have to keep on my growth mindset hat and make this routine, even if just a few minutes a day. Now that I am a bit more comfortable online, I am starting to share more, such as this blog. I want to be your spark of creativity, your a-ha moment. This week I started to dig I deeper. As I got even more involved, I started seeing Q1 and A1, but I’ll save that for my next blog about my new PLN and what I learned from one immersive week of twitter chats.

R2D2 – These are not the droids you are looking for, but they are part of a great ID method.

R2D2 – These are not the droids you are looking for, but they are part of a great ID method.

While it’s also my favorite droid, R2D2 is the instructional design method of Read Reflect Display Do. Over the years of going digital, I started to apply this method in my classroom. When moving to digital resources, it is import that to remember there is no one size fits all delivery methods.

Differentiation and personalization can be applied though choice, allowing students to read at their level and have it personalized to their interest. Reflection (and evaluation) is important for both T’s and Ss. We can both blog, make wikis, and collaborate through reflective practices. Many teaching and learning theories apply to display. Students need real world connections of how they can show their learning. Display leads to do, students should be active learners and doers. They need to take ownership of their learning.

Always having the R2D2 method in mind, I want my students to access and utilize material that is meaningful so they will retain the information and attain knowledge and skills.

Failing like a Rockstar!

Failing like a Rockstar!

Using the ADDIE method to successfully take risks.

After inventing the lightbulb, Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” He also made a remark on failure and risk alone, saying “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up”. He took risks in order to be successful. Imagine if he gave up at first sign of failure.

Taking risks in the classroom does not mean going out on a limb, it requires planning that can be accomplished through ADDIE. Analysis, design, develop, implantation, and evaluation (always evaluate. It should really be AeDeDeIeEe). Here’s an example. You want to present material to students, and want to use web resources. You make a web-quest over the weekend. It’s designed and developed at home and works great. You implement it first period only to find the school blocked some of the sites you had access to at home. You tried something new and it failed, but that’s ok. (This is also the important lesson of having an alternative/backup plan) Just go back to the development phase, evaluate what was wrong, and improve it. It’s not a time to panic or give up, it’s how you learn and make it, and yourself, better. Even when it goes great, evaluate and ask yourself, can it be improved?. And maybe just ask students for honest feedback (yes I just said that). ADDIE puts you into the growth mindset to innovate through taking risk. Try something new, and know that it’s ok if it doesn’t work (at first), reflect and evaluate to make it better.

Instructional design basics through SAMR

Instructional design basics through SAMR

When I first started integrating technology, I would try to find the latest technology and resources and bring it to my classroom. This sometimes left me frustrated and scrambling to figure out where to fit it in. Over time, I learned that I have to figure out what my needs are, then match the technology to make it feel like it is a part of the lesson, not an extra. (Don’t get me wrong, I still love to try out a lot of different and new tech. I pilot them with a few students who come to me for extra help during lunch, then I figure how it could fit in my day).

Integrating technology should be seamless. It should not be a burden to keep up with the latest and greatest. In my MAEdT program, I learned about instructional design and the method of SAMR (Substitution, augmentation, modification, redefinition). This is a method of how to integrate technology through ease-of-use, starting with simple substitution. I’ll use documents as my example. Substituting is using technology to replace material through technology, to just print something out and make a copy. Augmentation is moving to digital tools, such as a word document or PowerPoint. Modification is when you use tools that collaborate online, share documents, add audio and vide files. Finally, redefinition involves tasks that would not be possible without technology, like Skyping with a class in another country and collaborating in real time on a shared document.

Getting comfortable with substitution gave me confidence to get to redefinition. Start small, buildup your digital toolkit, then innovate your classroom.