February 22nd is National Digital Learning Day. While the event focuses on the integration of technology into learning, the piece from the site that resonates with me the most is “It emphasizes high-quality instruction…“. As I say often, learning needs to be the focus. After discussing this with our Media Specialist, we both agreed that we wanted to turn the Media Center into a collaborative learning environment for groups of classes to work on innovative projects. The Media Center should not be just for research, but a place where any class, or groups of classes, can come to work on an activity. Since in Middletown we “live digital learning every day” (thank you to my edtech colleague for that quote) we were looking for a little more. Luckily, we have plenty of teachers itching to try something new this year and be a little more innovative.
In this issue, we highlight the work of 3 Biology teachers who developed a collaborative jigsaw activity based around various evolutionary scientists. It involved going paperless, Google Docs, Google Classroom, Google Expeditions, and Flipgrid. Students from different classes and different levels came to the Media Center to participate and it was a great change of pace for everyone. As one teacher said, she has been in the school 13 years and it was the first time she ever brought a class to the library. Now she is looking to see how she can do this type of activity every marking period!
I hope you enjoy MiddSouth Innovates Issue #8!
Assessments are being heavily debated in my district right now. When PARCC first arrived, we switched from Midterms/Finals to Marking Period Quarterlies. Now Quarterlies are up for discussion again. So, with assessment being so heavily discussed, I figured that should probably be the focus of this issue of MiddSouth Innovates.
First, you will find a glimpse into Mrs. Bach’s Biology class as we look at Thinglink and how she used it to provide more meaningful feedback on student-created study guides. Second, you find some key points from the book How To Grade For Learning, K-12. This book focuses on the research and writings of a variety of influential educational scholars and what they have learned about assessments in schools.
Happy New Year!!! And remember to click the image below to see the full MiddSouth Innovates Issue #5.
My students love it when I take pictures of their work and post it on Instagram. They call it ‘making it on the ‘Gram.’ I have found they get upset if I don’t tag them, even if it is just their hand that made it in the picture. Many teachers are very cautious when it comes to social media, more afraid of what could go wrong than the positive effects it can have. So, I wanted to offer up a couple of suggestions on how to get started Instagram in the classroom.
- Pick an Instagram name and class hashtag. I am @DaretoChem and we use #chemisawesome for any of the activities we are doing in class. This allows all your content to be easily searchable for anyone in the community. Give the information out at Back To School Night or in your Welcome Letter home on the first day. Also, on your class website, insert a widget for Instagram that shows your feed. Now, even if a parent/guardian doesn’t have Instagram, they can see the pictures you are posting as they are happening.
- At the beginning of the year, I collect Media Release Forms for every student. While we have these on file in the main office, some parents never send in forms or have changed their mind about what they want the school to post. Keep a Post-It in your desk of the students who absolutely don’t want their pictures taken for easy reference. But, no matter what, I do my best not to get faces in the pictures. This is easily accomplished with the over the shoulder shot or focus on what they students are doing and just get their mid-section in the shot.
3. Find the super eager kids in your class and take pictures of their work first.
These students will talk openly about seeing themselves on your Instagram feed and others will work harder to get their work on the feed.
4. Some students will want to pose for the pictures. Don’t be afraid to take their pictures with their work, but double check that it’s ok to post it on the Internet. Even though I collect the release forms, I still ask if they want to post the picture and if they want to be tagged in it.
5. If you are still unsure about having students in the photo, just take pictures of their work with no one in the picture. Your students will still get excited about seeing their work in your feed.
The world needs to see what you are doing so please share. And share often!!!
For one of the supervisor’s classes as part of my Master’s program, I had a great professor. She was a former Superintendent of Schools who had moved up the ranks within her district from Teacher to Assistant Principal to Principal to Assistant Superintendent to Superintendent. She was always a wealth of information and anecdotes about what being an administrator really entails. One piece of advice she gave all of us was this:
No matter how your day is going, if anyone asks you how you are doing, you say ‘I’m fantastic. How are you?’ And you mean it!
She went on to explain that everyone in a school is busy. Everyone has things that happen to us during the day that causes us stress. When you are a supervisor, and you tell people that you are stressed or the job is hard that day, you are sending two messages: you can’t handle the tasks that are assigned to you and/or your problems are more important than theirs.
I have realized several things over the years when I think back to this class. First, in reality, no one really wants to hear about your problems. They have problems of their own and their problems need to be the most important ones. We have a tendency to try and one-up another person in the misery department and there should never be a contest in misery. This one-up-manship is usually why you won’t find me in the teacher’s cafeteria because that is the one room you can guarantee that the misery machine is running full tilt. Second, every time I say ‘I’m Fantastic’, subconsciously, I start to feel it. My posture improves to look the person in the eye. I even smile. My whole outlook on my day improves every time I say it. And third, when I am feeling fantastic and enthusiastic, those feelings start to spread to those around me. No matter who bad your day is, you always feel better when you are around others who are enjoying themselves.
Being an educator in today’s world is really hard. We need to do whatever little things we can to improve it for ourselves.