Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tears and Snow Days

I am going to be honest.  I woke up Tuesday morning, learned we were going to have a snow day, and cried.  Yes I cried.  Why did I cry?  Because it was the straw that broke the camels back.  My students have missed out on so much instruction that its not even funny, five and a half days in the last three weeks to be exact. Today we added one more day to the count so that makes it six and a half days.

So what does an educator do when she finds out that more snow days are possible.  She tries to prepare herself and her students and set them up for success.  I made a snow day packet.  I will include the cover-letter for the packet.  You are free to use, steal, copy, edit or whatever you need to do. I will also provide the links where I got the resources but not the resources themselves. That would not be ethical.   I know the snow day packet will not make up for missed instruction, but for those who work on it, it will ensure they are practicing skills learned.



 Days like today are when I wish I taught a flipped class.  I could send my students video lessons that they could participate in and respond to at home and then when we got back to school catch-up wouldn't be so daunting.  I know because of the makeup of my classroom, there is no way that a flipped class could be equitable.  My students do not always have access to technology in their homes.  I find myself jealous of teachers who tweet all of the awesome stuff that they are doing with their flipped classroom.  I have to realize that I teach the students that I teach for a reason.  I believe that they were not put in my classroom randomly.  I must take what I have learned about technology and teach it to my students inside the classroom.  I must instill in them a desire to learn more and seek out "new learning and new life experiences".

All that to say this.  So we missed a lot of instruction.  The job now falls into my hands to ensure that my students, when they are with me, are receiving the best education I can give them.  If they leave my classroom with a thirst for more, I have done my job well.


Resources used to make Snow Day Packet

Reading passage- Readworks.org  (free site)
Fluency passage- Reading A-Z  (paid site)
Fraction sheets- Math-aids.com (free site)
Word Problems- Dad's Worksheets (free site)
CUBES strategy- image found here (free)




Saturday, February 14, 2015

American Revolution project


In December of this year my students and I embarked on a very big project.
We were fully immersed in our study of the American Revolution. We were reading "Rush Revere and the First Patriots". We were watching clips about the American Revolution in the animated series "Liberty's Kids". We were researching the American Revolution on our Chrome books using Discovery Education.
I presented the students with a challenge. Create a project that shows what you learned about the American Revolution. The project had three parts.
  1. Graphic Organizer-The students had a choice from different kinds of Graphic Organizers depending upon their abilities and strengths.
  2. Paper-This was the strictest requirement. The students had to write a informative paper about the American Revolution. I provided a rubric for the students to self evaluate before I assessed their work.
  3. Project-This requirement was very broad. The students were given a choice of how to present what they had learned. They could make a poster, shadow box, digital presentation, etc. This way they could really use their strengths to "show off" what they learned.
The American Revolution project was a big deal.  I allowed the students a lot of choice and I believe that helped the student engagement.  All students attempted to use PowToon to make their presentations (see below for some PowToon examples).  The comfort level varied widely.  Many students I thought would like to do their project on PowToon ended up doing their projects on posters.  I think it would have helped, if I gave the students a little more time to “play” with PowToon before using it in an actual project.  
Some of my students made the choice to use posters rather than technology tools for the same reasons adults chose not to use technology tools.  Lack of experience with using technology and a fear of “messing it up” make it difficult for some students to embrace PowToon.  It is my job to continue exposing the students to this tool and others so that they become more comfortable.
The American Revolution project had a variety of parts that challenged the students to combine and apply skills that had been previously been taught and practised in isolation.  The technology component allowed me as a teacher to move my students up Blooms Taxonomy while engaging them in a challenging assignment.
                                                        
Another Powtoon Example:


To view the lesson plan click here.  Feel free to barrow or steal.  That is one phrase from my teaching education that I will never forget.  "Successful teachers beg, barrow, and steal."

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