Saturday, August 17, 2013

New School Year's Resolutions

New School Year's Resolutions!

It has been nearly a year since I started this blog and I am embarrassed to admit it, but until a friend mentioned it today I had forgotten all about it! I started this blog in an effort to join the ranks of all the blogger teachers who have inspired me with their ideas as a way of "paying it forward." Then the school year started and I got so busy teaching and being a mother that I completely forgot all about it! Here it is August again, I am getting excited for a new school year to begin and am once again attempting to enter the blogging world! Thanks Erin Eppler for inspiring me to pick this up again!

I see each new school year as the equivalent to New Year's. I don't know if there are any other teachers who feel this way but for me the new year begins in August when school starts up again. I think of life in terms of the school year from August to June and "summer break" dividing up the school years. For this reason I set my New Year's resolutions in August instead of January like the rest of the world. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break and Memorial Day act as goal posts for planning throughout the year.

Here are my resolutions for my lucky 13th year of teaching!

Resolution 1. Use iPads to CREATE new and broader learning experiences for my K-1 students

I currently have one iPad in my classroom. I got it by applying for a grant from my local TV news station. My principal matched the grant so I could get the first iPad in my school. Later my school purchased a cart of 10 iPads to be shared throughout the building. For the last couple of years I have used the iPads to have kids practicing skills on their own while I worked with small groups or individuals. Students read interactive books, played word and math games and watched videos using head phones or with partners. All that is about to change. While I will still use the iPads for independent reading and skill practice I have much bigger plans for the iPads this year.

I had a rare opportunity to spend the summer working with a brilliant technology teacher named Lindy Hockenbary. She is the technology specialist for an organization in my state called Southwest Montana School Services.  This organization is dedicated to bringing professional development to the teachers in our region at a fair price in a variety of subject areas. I have been presenting workshops for this agency in the area of Gifted and Talented Education for the past three years. Lindy asked me to collaborate with her to develop and teach iPad integration workshops to implement the Common Core standards and reach Gifted learners for teachers during the summer. Working with Lindy opened my eyes to the power of the iPad for authentic, higher level learning for ALL students. I am so excited to use the following apps with my K-1 students for story writing, problem solving, speaking and listening and critical thinking.

This is a screen casting tool students can use to record their voices, draw and write ideas and import pictures and videos to support their thinking. I plan to use this app with students so they can respond to literature, make up their own math word problems and create book talks for their classmates. Check out these lessons I have created by following these links. These are some of my first attempts at using Educreations so they are not the highest quality but you will get an idea of the potential of this app.

Parts of a book
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Compare and Contrast Assignment
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Book Review
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Sock Puppets
This app allows students to create digital puppet shows. They create characters, pick a back drop and record the dialogue for the puppets.I will introduce this tool by having students think of a joke they want to tell. They will create a puppet show to tell their joke.

Croak It
This is a voice recording app that allows students to simple push a button and record their thinking, reading, or share a problem solving strategy

This app gives students several options for exploring probability. They can choose a coin toss, drawing straws, playing rock paper scissors, rolling dice or a spinner. I plan to use this during math games while students learn to use it. Later when we discuss graphing this app will help them generate data to graph.

This is a concept map application that is so easy to use. Students can create custom graphic organizers by tapping the screen twice. They can type, draw or import a picture into each bubble of the concept map.

This is an annotation tool I already began using with my class next year. We annotated over pictures and maps during small group and large group discussions.

This is the easiest video production app I have ever used. Import pictures or videos into the app to create a video complete with subtitles, graphics and music in just seconds!

Haiku Deck
I love this presentation app. It uses a limited amount of text and beautiful images to organize a speech or presentation. Gone are the days of dull power point presentations with too much text on a slide. Now we can use the slides to keep us organized as we engage in a thoughtful presentation comprised of our content knowledge not what we can read from a slide. This is a great tool for teaching students to summarize during a presentation.

i-Nigma and QR codes
I am most excited to use QR codes this year! I plan to have them taped to several of the books in my classroom library so students can scan the code and instantly access an audio recording of the book to listen to as they follow along with the text. I have many more ideas for QR codes so check back for more information here!

All of these apps are free and require students create a product for an authentic audience. My plan is to teach the entire group to use each of the tools during our weekly technology time. Once they have learned to use the tools then I will begin to give assignments which will allow them to use the iPads to express themselves and show mastery of the content we are covering. I am lucky enough to have a technology teacher on hand to help me teach technology class each week. He and I will spend a couple weeks on a tool as needed teaching the students to use it in small groups.

Resolution 2 Create Digital Student Portfolios

Lindy inspired this idea when she sent me an article about the power of digital student portfolios in primary classrooms. I plan to use an app called Three Ring to help my students create their own digital portfolios, which are really blogs. Students can import photos and videos of their work, record themselves speaking or reading and type blog posts throughout the year. Each post will be time stamped and will help us track their growth throughout the year. Right now my plan is to begin the portfolios the first week of school by having students post a sample of their writing and a self portrait. My goal is to have two posts by each student each month. Three Ring is set up so the blogs are completely private and can only be viewed by the people who I share them with. This means I can share a new student post with their parents and no one else. We will use the blogs during conferences throughout the year to talk about growth and set goals for future learning. If I can get permission from parents, I will share these portfolios here.

Resolution 3 Explore and Implement Lucy Calkins Writing Program

I am so lucky to work in such a resource rich school! My principal recently ordered the new Lucy Calkins writing program "Pathways to the Common Core" which is aligned to the Common Core Standards. This program is brand new and I am so excited to start using it. I saw the box in the office when I was at school last week and I am hoping I can bust into it soon.

Resolution 4 Use new Indian Education for All and Common Core Units to teach reading

I attended a two part workshop this summer taught by Tammy Elser who is a curriculum writer for the Montana Office of Public Instruction. To say it was a great workshop would be an understatement! Tammy was so inspiriting and the units she has created implement Montana Common Core Standards as well as Indian Education for All Essential Understandings. There are nine units intended for students in grades Kindergarten through fifth grade. Each unit uses an anchor text written by and about Native Americas that is approved and endorsed by Native American organizations throughout the country. All the lessons are grounded in educational research and employ best practices in reading instruction. The materials were given to each school in Montana last spring. I got my own copies when I attended the workshop. The anchor texts are hard to find but I have located 4 of the 9 at my local library. I plan to start the year with "The Good Luck Cat." This unit focuses on the idea of diverse families, words with short vowel "a" and introduces the genre of realistic fiction while sharing a story about a contemporary Native American Family.

Resolution 5 Continue improving professional development in the Gallatin Valley of Montana by teaching workshops throughout the school year

Montana is a wonderful place to live and I am  here to enjoy all that is has to offer by way of outdoor activities as well as the proximity to my family. However, we are somewhat isolated from the rest of the country simply because it costs so much to travel in and out of the state. For this reason teachers in my area rarely get to attend national education events or hear from national presenters about the latest research in our field. I am proud to be a presenter for Souhtwest Montana School Services in an effort to make professional development accessible and affordable for teachers in my area. Click here for the latest news and offerings from Southwest Montana School Services

I am excited to be a presenter at the state teacher's conference MEA/MFFT to be held in Belgrade this October. I will present sessions about using The Daily Five management system based on the book The Daily Five written by Gail Boucshey and Jane Moser. More information can be found here

 I will also be co-presenting a session on implementing the Common Core standards using iPads with Lindy Hockenbary.

 I  get to work with the great Estee Aiken, professor at University of Montana Western in Dillon to present a Gifted and Talented workshop on differentiation at MEA/MFFT as well as on Saturday September 21 in Bozeman.

 Lindy and I have more plans for iPad workshops throughout the school year. We will hold them on Saturdays and after school.

I will also continue to be a facilitator for SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted). I started co-leading parent book discussion groups with Wendy Morical, the Gifted and Talented coordinator for the Bozeman School District last year. We are planning to hold a new discussion group this October. Click here to learn more about SENG

There you have it! My resolutions/goals/vision for the new school year! As I read back through all of my ideas for the new school year I am excited and ready to get started! It is a lot to take on but so much can happen in 180 days of a school year! Check back to see how it is all going. Feel free to comment with any words of wisdom or resources you might want to share!