Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I used to think PBL was...

I tried PBL at the end of the year and I failed.  Here is why.

  • I did not give the students enough time to process the information
  • I did not coach the groups along the way, I trained each job and released them too soon
  • I did not give the students a real world anchor to go back to.
  • It was an extension not the main lesson so the students were not thoroughly engaged.

My goals for PBL next year...
  • Start smaller and let the students experience failure and give them guidance for correcting mistakes but don't correct the mistakes for them.
  • Give the students more time to explore and process information before assigning the project
  • Let my students soar.  Set high expectations and give them time to reach them.

Friday, May 6, 2016

This is why I "tweet".

I have been using Twitter for three years (I think).  It is the most powerful tool I have EVER used for PD.
So let me quickly show you why.

May 4th my Twitter buddy @ tweeted

So I responded

Instant PD right so then today I showed my kids this...

And they did this...

In three days I learned a strategy that I immediately taught and the students immediately utilized.

This is why I "tweet".

Thank you @ for tweeting out your "Fav new test prep strategy".  Because if you hadn't my studnets would not have been able to do what they did today.

Please tweet the awesome things that you are doing in your classroom so that other classrooms can do awesome things too!

Monday, March 14, 2016

What I did with Reflector 2 on my first day using it with students.

One of the things I love best about Pinnacle is being able to try out new toys... I mean tech tools.  On Thursday of last week, I got a new computer with Reflector 2 installed.  I played with it a little on Friday but I did my research over the weekend and did a lot with it today.

For those of you who are not familiar, Reflector 2 is a program that allows you to project your Apple, Chromebook, and Android devices onto a computer screen and therefore onto a Smart-Board or Promethean board for the whole class to see.

Here are a few of the things that I did with Reflector 2 today...

1)  Morning Meeting- This morning for morning meeting it was all about teaching the students how to project their ipads.  I let two people project their screens at a time and let them play for about 30 seconds each.  We had a student whose birthday was today, one of the other students quickly made a "chatterpix" birthday cake sing "Happy Birthday" to him.

2) Reading Response- I did my normal read aloud and then assigned the written response on Google Classroom.  I gave the students about 5 minutes to finish the response and then used the spinner on Wheel Decide to choose two students to put up their work using Reflector 2.  We read and discussed their responses.

3) Math- Today we reviewed geometry vocabulary using a Blendspace lesson that my teammate created.  The students explored the site, taking notes in their notebook.  At the end of the lesson, I used Wheel Decide again to choose a few students to answer questions using Reflector 2.  I prompted them by saying "Show me a line segment", I wanted them to project the answer to the question onto the Smart-Board.  Some of them showed directly from the presentation on Blendspace, some of them googled the term and showed me the examples they found on their own.  It was a different kind of formative assessment.  It was very informative and all of the students knew I was going to ask questions so all of them were ready with responses to present.

I can't wait to find more things I can do with Reflector 2.  The students were engaged all day because they knew at any moment they would be able to show off their hard work.  I would love to hear how you use Reflector 2.

Reflection:  Looking back as I was blogging about my day it is amazing to me how integral technology has become in my classroom.  I have been discouraged in the past, that my students were not very tech. savvy, but they have learned so much.  They have not only learned important tech skills but they have learned to create, share, produce, investigate, etc.  They have also learned the Mrs. Cissel uses technology to solve problems and troubleshoot.  They are also starting to do the same thing.  I am proud of what my class has accomplished!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men- Planning and Snow Days

Ok so we had a weird week.  We had no school on Monday because of MLK day.  We went to school on Tuesday and Wednesday.  We had a teacher work day on Thursday.  It snowed Thursday night so we had our Friday teacher workday at home.  We had a long snowy weekend and then we get the call "Due to road conditions...".  No school for students tomorrow and optional teacher work day for teachers.

Update: No school on Tuesday as well.  When I got the text I yelled and startled my children.  Then I said "I'm going to pull my hair out."  My 7 year old said "Don't do that 'cause then you'll be bald"

I should be jumping for joy, but I feel sad and frustrated.  Why?  Because I PLANNED for Monday to go a certain way and now my whole week is going to be messed up.

  Now, that probably isn't true.  It will be fine I guess.  I just hate for plans to be messed up.

Planning takes a lot of work.  It is the most time consuming and most important part of a teachers life.  We spend hours and hours analyzing data, creating groups, writing questions, pre-reading text, finding the right video or making the right video, looking for ideas to make the lesson more engaging...  The list goes on and on.

Planning is critically important, don't get me wrong but we need to remember that our children are not computers to be programmed.  Acts of God, and things not in our control, will inevitably mess up our plans.  How we react to messed up planning is really important.  We need to realize that the students need us.  They don't need our plans.  The students need us to model flexibility, resourcefulness and problem-solving.

They also need us to be well rested, calm and re-energized.

So, chill out Cissel.  It's a snow day.  Relax and enjoy it.

Just in case you would like them, here are a few ideas I had on this snowy weekend.  Maybe it will save you some valuable planning time.  It's nothing fabulous.  Just decent ideas.

Retake Tickets- We use a program called Compass Learning.  It's basically a virtual tutor for students.  It is differentiated to meet students needs.  Sometimes the students don't do too well and need to retake a certain activity.  I will copy and laminate this ticket and use a wipe off marker to give them their retake code.  You could use this for retakes of any kind.  I like that it encourages students to keep trying until you master the skill.

AR Chapter Book Challenge-  No matter how many times I tell my students that a chapter book will give them more points (and more reading stamina) they never believe me.  I made this simple form to challenge students to read more chapter books.  It is based on the idea of "badges".  The more chapter books they read the higher they "level up".  It is a simple idea and a simple document but you are more than welcome to steal if it seems like it would work for you.

Complete Work Ticket and "Friday Coding Bonanza"-   This year my class is having a VERY hard time completing work in a given period of time.  I do all of the right things, model first, set a timer, have the kids write "to do" lists.  Stuff still isn't completed.  So here is my plan.  When the timer goes off, all kids put their hands on their heads, and I start giving out tickets.  I like this idea because I make everyone stop at the same time so time runs smoothly.  Students I know are not going to complete, I give them their own personal "stopping point" (answer the first three questions).  Easy to differentiate and easy to reward.  Once the students get their tickets (they get two, they are raffle tickets) they put their name on one and save the other.  If they can collect 20 tickets by the end of the week then they can participate in the "Friday Coding Bonanza".  My students love code.org but we don't always have time for it because they don't finish daily tasks in time.  The tickets they put their names on go in the pot and I pull one or two names daily and give them prizes from the prize box.  Hey don't judge me, its the middle of the year and the kids need some extra motivation.

Thanks for reading.  Enjoy your next snow day.

 “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry

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