Tuesday, June 21, 2016

An Introvert Travels to #ISTE2016!

I am an introvert.
Those who know me, wouldn't believe it.
But it's true, I  have always been an introvert.
Since I was a kid, others have always mistaken my introversion for arrogance, or exhibiting anti-social behavior.
I am just extremely shy.

And yet, here I am, a teacher.
Not only am I a teacher, but I am also a workshop presenter.
How could I be introverted? Is that possible?

Um, yeah. Put me in a room full of strangers.

Unlike my hubby, who will talk to just about anyone, I freeze.
I have tried, as I have aged, to become better at striking up a conversation, but it is very difficult for me. I usually wait for someone to speak to me. I sit by myself,  busy on my phone, eating, or people watching. All the while, watching, envious of  those around me, engrossed in conversation,

I am not traveling with a team, so I will be forced to seek out others.
So, what do I do?
I've decided that I am going to take advantage of all the connections I have made via social media.
My Twitter, Twitterchat, Voxer, and FB "friends.", those connections that can ease into "real life" connections.
I will go to Meetups, visit the booths, attend sessions, and yes, talk to people.(My stomach does flips as I say these words.)

This is scary for me, but I will face my fears, and I will be okay. An introvert at #ISTE2016! :)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

You Should Want to Know What They Think: End of Year Surveys!

I always want to know what my students think of me.
Not in a "shower me with praises because I am so great" kind of way, but just knowing how they felt about being in our classroom.
I usually do a survey each quarter, but for some reason, probably new grade, curriculum, etc... I didn't get to it.
Therefore, I wanted to make sure the students completed an end of year survey.

I used Google Forms to create the survey, and then I posted the link on Schoology.
This year I used a survey I found on TeachersPayTeachers for FREE, and I tweaked it a little.
I liked this one because I teach 4th grade and it was pretty basic.
After giving it to them, I realized I should have tweaked my options a little more, but there's always next year.:)
I made it anonymous because I wanted the kids to be honest.

Here's are some of the ones that stood out:

  • 100% of my students think that I am good at my job. LOVE it!
  • Only 52% of my students think I am available to answer their questions,32% said most of the time, and 16% said no. Hmmm, I will have to ask my class what I can do to fix this next year.
  • I was happy to see that many kids did not choose, "No", when they didn't choose "Yes", instead they chose "Most of the time."
In the comment section, it was great to see that I am the best teacher ever.:) I have to admit it does make me feel good about the community we built all year.
However, this one had me cracking up, "I think you need to work on your attitude." LOL Another one I will discuss with my class. Maybe this student sees something I don't.

Good or bad feedback, end of year surveys are a learning experience to prepare me for the next year!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

If You Give a Child a Packet...

If You Give a Child a Packet...Or Sometimes a Worksheet.

Packets come in all shapes, sizes, and subjects.
I have used packets on occasion, less and less with more and more years of teaching..

Packets can be cute, fun, and/or adorable, but it doesn't disguise its intent. Time spent on, usually, meaningless work, busy work.

Packets of math create students who are either bored out of their mind , work through, numb, or those who struggle to the point of tears.Some have dashes on the bottom, where you solve the puzzle if you solve the problem. Pssst...between you and me, the puzzle can be solved without doing the math. Some have row upon row of the same types of problems written horizontally, and then to change it up, (gasp) vertically!

Packets for reading, or Book Study, as they are sometime referred to, can kill the joy of reading. I've used them, I know. Assigned Vocabulary words (What if they already know these words, or what if they have no clue?) Mundane questions that ask for explicit answers, and maybe one that might require critical thinking. Read a few chapters, Define the vocabulary words. Answer the questions. Read a few chapters, Define the Vocabulary words. Answer the questions. Arrrgh! Kill the story.

What if they just want to read? But you need to know they are actually reading, I get it.

Homework packets. Uggh! Homework given out on Monday, collected on Friday. I can't even begin to wrap my brain around this one. The "bright" kids are finished on Monday evening, the struggling students miss Recess so they can finish something they couldn't do in an entire week. So many things wrong here.

Summer/Spring/Winter Break packets. How much paper is wasted sending these home. Cmon, let's be honest, which kids end up completing the summer packets? Try something different.

Ditch the packets. Spice up the worksheets or don't use it at all. Require thinking. Make the worksheets interactive. Integrate technology.

If you give a child a packet...

Friday, May 20, 2016

Personalized Learning Via TedxTalks...The Joy of Being a Facilitator!

My 4th graders are working on TEDxTalks.
Yep, they are creating TEDxTalks.
I posted this assignment in the "ALL DONE" folder on our Schoology page, and they all gravitated towards it like moths to a light.

I posted a few TEDx Talks by kids, asked them to watch at least one, choose a topic, and then create their own.

It has been amazing watching them work.
I have watched them create speeches.
Edit speeches.
Add images.
Add video.
Add speeches to the teleprompter.
Did I say collaborate?
Take this thing seriously, "working on it at home", seriously.
Come to me for a little help and apply what they take away from me.
Go back and work some more on topics like: "Why We Should Have Music Programs in School.", and "Youth Tackle Football is Dangerous."

"Mrs.Mims, can we work on our TEDxTalk during... ?" I willingly give whatever time they can squeeze in after testing.

At one point, I suggested to one group that they create a survey, using Google forms, so they could see how others feel about their topic
I showed them how to set it up and moved out the way.

They created the questions.
Used the "Go to this section"(with a little facilitating from me.)
Everyone has a survey now.:)
(Shout out to my colleagues and Twitter PLN!)

Can anyone say Common Core Standards? Oh yeah, they are being met!!

They will practice using the Swivl I won during Teacher Appreciation Week2016,(Shout out to Recap!)

I have to let them present on stage before school ends. Can't wait to see the finished product. The journey in itself has been great.

I am excited! They are excited! They are learning! And I? I am just the facilitator.:)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Just Because Our Students Are Living in Poverty...

Ban Ki-Moon

Many times we allow stereotypes to rule our perceptions of others, whether it's race, gender, or socioeconomic status. We allow these perceptions to cloud our judgment, and we make decisions based on these misconceptions. We believe if it is true of one, it is true of all. How unfair to the students who walk into our classrooms every day.

A child "living in poverty" seems to be a hot button issue right now, and rightly so. But how much do we let the fact that any of our students are living in poverty affect how we relate to them? How does the fact that our students are living in poverty, change the way we teach ALL of our students?

I'm just thinking out loud. We need to make sure that we put the "brush" away, and see our students as individuals, and not a statistic.

Just because they are living in poverty, it does not mean that:
  • we should not have high expectations of them, and only expect minimum effort.
  • their mother is an addict, Dad is absent, and no one has a job.
  • they can't read, write, or do math.
  • they can't make it to school most of the time.
  • they are not gifted.
  • there is not anyone at home who wants them to be successful.
  • they will behave poorly in class.
  • they should be provided with limited or non-equitable resources,
  • they can't compete with other students.
  • they are unable to participate in any extracurricular activities. (STEM, Mystery Skype,etc...)
  • they are only capable of test prep, higher-order thinking escapes them.
  • can not graduate from high school or college.
  • we are better than them, that we know better than them.
  • they don't want more, from their teachers, their community, their world.
  • they don't dream BIG.
Living in poverty comes with many struggles, but we should still provide our students with an education they could use to escape it.

Please take a moment to listen to this TED talk by Mia Birdsong," The Story We Tell About Poverty Isn't True."