Today, we present the third group's final project. This group chose the book The Seventh Wish for their dark ride. They created these intricate scene, "coded" the track for the Ozobot to follow, and took their video.
We recently finished reading a newer book titled The Seventh Wish. This book, by Kate Messner, combines some unusual content with fantasy and stark reality. It includes Irish dance, ice fishing, a fish that grants wishes, and heroin.
We were thrilled to get this project finished before school was dismissed for the summer. This teacher was especially happy to see how well this particular group worked together and got things done.
Are you one of my new recruits or the parent of a new recruit? Stay in touch by commenting below or by emailing me over the summer! Most are already connected to our class on ClassDojo, but if you aren't, please let me know, and I'll get you set up. That way you can receive direct messages from me and send me messages, as well.
Today is Fly Up Day in our school.
Today is the day I harvest next year's class from a ripened field of third graders and gather them into my classroom.
Today, I officially introduce myself and give those students just a spoonful taste of what to expect next year.
Right now, the names and numbers look like this:
I recently submitted proposals to present the following sessions for this year's Summer Institute for Joplin teachers. These courses, if approved will be available for teachers to attend during the first week of August.
Positive Discipline and Instruction
Sometimes it comes down to the way a teacher reacts to needy students and students who make poor choices. Here are some strategies to help you manage those struggles you're having with unwanted behavior. Using techniques from Fred Jones (Tools for Teaching), we'll explore the steps to a positive approach to discipline and instruction - down to the most basic tools of breathing, turning, and pausing.
Seesaw is an app and website that easily fits into your curricula. Whether you want your students to post regular entries to a safe blog of their own or keep an organized electronic portfolio. Seesaw allows your students to report their own learning through drawing, writing, recording their voices, and making their own videos. Make your own assignments on Seesaw and watch your students dig in. Teachers control every aspect of this program. Teachers can also communicate and engage parents directly from the account. In this presentation by a Seesaw ambassador, you will be introduced to a simple and impressive program.
In the last six or seven years, this teacher has become more and more open with his teaching and processes. When I began in this profession, 28 years ago, I would get nervous when a principal or other adult entered the room. Any observations that had to be made were scheduled well ahead of time. Everything had to be perfect, in its place, exciting and original. There were times when I would take an observer outside with the class, daring to get out of the four walls of the classroom. Principals hardly had anything to offer as suggestions for improvement. I used to jest: "It's not how good you are; it's how good they think you are."
I may have misinterpreted the purpose of an observation during those formative years. I wanted to impress and dazzle my supervisors. I never wanted them to think I needed help. I wanted them to think I was their star. You see, that's where my "youthful" pride got the best of me: I didn't look for opportunities to learn and improve. Instead, I desired to go straight to the head of the class.
There was a natural ability in me, however, that allowed some of that desire to come true. I was quickly accepted into training-of-the-trainer programs and conducted professional development for the school district. Oklahoma City Schools even recruited me to accompany two other teachers to a training in Baltimore, Maryland, for a couple of days. In his book, The Innovator's Mindset, George Couros says the following:
If you compare your first few years in this profession to now, you may not initially notice how radically your teaching and learning styles have changed...[b]ut if you stop to really consider what you've learned, you might shake your head at some of your past practices - and be thankful for, maybe even impressed by, your progress and growth...My encouragement to you is to share your learning every step of the way, so others can benefit from your experience.
Indeed, my teaching has changed, adapted, and developed into a confident delivery system. Now I consider relationships with students more important than being the star of the show. I see the importance of high expectations and respectful manners. These days, I have become more than I ever was. I have to consider, though, that the most meaningful developments for me have only occurred in the last seven years.
Part of that may be because of a burnout and rebirth in my personal experiences in this field. It may be because of my experiences with the Oklahoma City bombing and the EF5 tornado that swept through Joplin, both events that touched me and my schools deeply. Perhaps my revelations are due to the changes in education that have allowed teachers to be empowered with professional processes. I've worked hard to bring these changes into my own classroom and for others in my school. Current practices in our district are catching up to my preferred methods.
Even professional development has changed. We now realize that teachers can be trusted to know their strengths and develop specialized knowledge and strategies. At the same time, we realize, with the advent of smart technologies, that we have more at our fingertips than ever before. That information, in the right hands, can be powerful. In the hands of a creative teacher that information can come to life in a classroom.
Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown explain in their book, Multipliers, "It isn't how much you know that matters. What matters is how much access you have to what other people know. It isn't just how intelligent your team members are; it is how much of that intelligence you can draw out and put to use."
Be careful though. That internet thing is a dangerous thing. As Spider-Man was told early on, "With great power comes great responsibility."
...[A]lthough much of the writing posted on the Internet each day through social media and email (the equivalent of 36 million books a day...) is not Shakespeare quality, the mere fact that we are writing more has changed the way we think and is "accelerating the creation of new ideas and the advancement of global knowledge." What really pushes out thinking is not consuming information, but reflecting, creating, and sharing our ideas with the understanding that others will read it. The more we connect, the more opportunities will come out way.
Couros makes it clear in his book that sharing reflections - in blogs and the like - is perhaps the best way to develop into a stronger educator (In fact, I started developing a website/blog about seven years ago. Coincidence?). Couros envisions a world where teachers enter a bloggy orchard and pick the best fruit for their baskets.
I think I started out too competitive. I drew upon my personal talents and visions and didn't look for the fruit dangling from the trees of other educators. How much faster could I have developed as a teacher if I had lifted my eyes from my basket to see what was there? And how much could I have affected other teachers by sharing my own creations?
Creating an open culture promotes both collaboration and competition. Alone, these concepts may be detrimental - too much collaboration does not necessarily bring out the best in us, and too much competition can isolate us - but competitive collaboration in an open environment can accelerate information.
The results of my own sharing are here on The Hoggatteer Experience. This is my collection of thoughts, reflections, resources, ideas, and lessons. I draw heavily from the pages of this site in the teaching of my students, informing my parents, and sharing with educators globally.
Recently, seniors from Joplin High School had a rich opportunity - to revisit the elementary school they attended. They debussed in front of the school and paraded through the hallways at Cecil Floyd in their caps and gowns, taking time to appreciate their early education. Teachers and seniors had all kinds of meaningful emotions, and current elementary students caught a glimpse of where they are headed.
When they are ready, we will set our Ozobots onto the track and see if they follow the correct instructions coded into their ride. The tiny bots will follow a black line and wiggle, spin, or stop when they encounter a color code. We hope to capture the route on video along with narration before the school's year end catches up to us.
I've recently read these other books (some for children, some for adults) concerning George Washington. I hope that these will also give me some background knowledge to prepare me for a rich visit to Mount Vernon.
Of course, George Washington didn't live in a bubble. He came into contact with many other revolutionaries. In addition to video documentaries, I have also read these other books (mostly for child readers) to help familiarize myself with the era.
It's time for a teacher to understand students better - to see what motivates them, rather than force compliance. It's easy to fall into a pattern of rigid consequences and rewards without regard to intrinsic motivators. Every student is different. Unlike many businesses, the product we are developing is human.
Unfortunately, we dangle students' interests in front of them like a carrot. We say, "You can only do what you love when you finish that which you hate." As a beginning teacher, rather than encourage a student's enjoyment of physical education, I would threaten to keep them out of P.E. class if they did not finish their "work" in another subject area. It wasn't a helpful approach, but it was what I experienced as a student and, in turn, thought it was what I was supposed to do to my students. As a result, my students often begrudgingly finished their assignments (compliance model), but the incident always diminished the relationship between the student and myself. How could it not?
In most of modern books about education (including my own), the authors recognize the most powerful indicator of motivation: a relationship between teacher and student. I've found that this often means fostering a child's own desire to constantly feel improvement. We, as teachers, must find ways to speak and act so that each student picks her eyes off the floor and seeks out ways to overcome mistakes and struggles.
When teachers then harness the power of the child's newly developed growth mindset, they can help them improve in even those more challenging students.
What follows is a quote from The Innovator's Mindset that educators everywhere need to internalize.
We cannot forgo a focus on our strengths for the sake of only emphasizing the areas where we struggle. But that's what happens time and again. The deficit model compels administrators and educators to overcompensate in the areas that need to be "fixed." When that occurs, all the great things that are already happening are quickly forgotten. The bottom line is: an environment where the message is always "we are not good enough" can be demoralizing and counterproductive for all stakeholders.
How often have we heard that we should focus on those deficits? Individual students suffer when we laser in on their failings, the class suffers when we magnify the shortcomings and continuously harp on them, and the teacher suffers when administrators point them constantly away from the strengths of the class.
Couros quotes Tom Rath (Strengths Finder 2.0):
[P]eople who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general.
In fact, Couros includes a chart in this chapter of his book that displays the following conclusions:
If your manager primarily ignores you,
the chances of you being actively disengaged are 40 percent.
If your manager primarily focuses on your weaknesses,
the chances of you being actively disengaged are 22 percent.
If your manager primarily focuses on your strengths,
the chances of you being actively disengaged are one percent.
That's quite telling, isn't it? It's interesting to note that a manager ignoring the worker is even more harmful than focusing on the worker's weakness. Not only is this important to understand as a classroom teacher, but the connotations are also important to the motivation of the teacher himself.
What really resonated with me from this point was how ignoring an employee had a more negative effect than focusing on his or her weaknesses. I often hear educators talk about how their leadership stays out of their way. Although I understand (and teach) that trust and autonomy are essential to motivation, there is a larger purpose to what we, as a group of individuals, do in schools. As teachers and leaders, we are stronger and more effective when we work together and push one another to grow. If we are to believe Rath's research (and I do), simply "leaving people alone" is not the best approach.
I have heard those words. I've said those words. We often plead with administration to leave us alone and "let us teach". While I enjoy autonomy - the ability and freedom to develop myself and my teaching methods without micromanagement by administrators and learning coaches - I now recognize that I need for administrators to show interest in what I do. In the same way students are motivated by the relationships we have with them, we are also motivated by relationships with our administrators.
The bottom line is that when I have autonomy, along with the interest of my supervisors, I can better experiment and develop my strengths. Sometimes, I'll even feel some of my weaknesses come along for the ride. Couros:
Learning is messy, and we have to be comfortable with risk, failure, growth, and revision. Once people see leaders take risks, they are more likely to try their own ideas and stretch themselves - and their students. Giving people license to take risks by tapping into their abilities helps create a space where innovative ideas and learning flourish.
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