Thursday, June 30, 2016

My Goals After ISTE 2016

Well ISTE 2016 has completed and this is how I currently feel...

It was definitely an amazing experience... maybe even better than Disney World!

Since the conference was insanely large I did get many many many ideas and resources so what I am currently going to do is select 2 goals to focus on for the beginning of the year. Once I feel I have gained experience and can do them easily I will move on to new goals. 

Goal #1: Video Integration
I plan on first starting by researching and learning from YOUTUBE educational channels. I can see the types of things incorporated and also learn time management for a video.
Here are a few of the MATH related channels that were shared with me (there are definitely a TON more and for other subjects; if you want that list just let me know):

This can help me start creating my own youtube videos which can be included in google forms,  itslearning, stations in/out of my classroom, or even creating a hangout in which my students can communicate with others outside our classroom. 
Youtube is not the only place where you can create videos but it is where I fist plan on doing this because there are already so many products out there that I could also use. 
Here is a small list of other online sources you can use to create videos that are interactive for a flipped/blended classroom which is where I am headed:

Goal #2: Student Creation
"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn" -Benjamin Franklin
"Knowledge is not something a learner absorbs, but something a learner creates" - Innovators Mindset

These are definitely quotes that have impacted the way I think about teaching! Honestly I have to agree!!! I will begin my school year and make sure that all through out students are the ones digging in the math and creating with it. One of the easiest ways I can immediately see students doing is creating their own videos whether it be to explain, show the process of an experiment, or visualize the math. 
Here is a small list of online sources that can help with student creation (as well as teacher creation):
ExplainEverything is an app to download but is free
Desmos has activities created but can be used to create graphs

I will be posting pictures through out the school year to show my goals as they occur! If you have any ideas or sources please share!!! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

My Reflections on "The Innovator's Mindset" by George Couros

After joining SB Vanguard we were able to select a book for some summer reading and summer learning. It was a great opportunity to continue learning as an educator; the inspiration to have the innovative mindset increased page by page! I definitely recommend reading The Innovator's Mindset because the book allows you to reflect. Here a few but definitely not all of the questions (you'll have to read to find the rest out!!!) and my personal responses to them: 

1) What is an example of a practice that you consider to be innovative? How is it new or better than what you had before?
From reading the book and having had conversations a practice that I consider to be innovative would be communicating with classrooms outside the building. Students in my math classroom could talk to a math classroom at a different school in our district, city, state, or even country. It could allow for students to think outside the box, open their eyes to what else is out in the "real world", and creates another path of learning. (If you are interested in trying this with me LET ME KNOW!!!)

2) How might you create an environment that fosters risk-taking?
A wonderful idea brought up by Vanguard is our #VanTasy so I will begin my risk taking classroom with alternative seating (stay posted for pictures late August/early September). By beginning the school year with this type of seating students will immediately know this is not the typical mathematics classroom; it is a place where they can come and try something new without the fear of failing!

3)How do you build relationships with individuals in your district, school, and classroom?
Relationships are described by Couros as a foundation in teaching. I completely agree, which is why answering this question was the easiest! I begin building relationships at the door; not a single student walks in without shaking my hand. It's a small gesture that goes a long way. As a middle school teacher I have multiple classes with many many students this allows for at least a couple of seconds to interact with each and every student that step into my classroom. 

4) Which characteristic of the innovative leader do you consider personal strengths? In which areas do you need to grow?
Always being focused on relationships would be my number one strength. I am a firm believer that if you do not create relationships with your students their willingness to work will be a struggle. If this becomes the case they will not learn to their maximum potential. Relationships are also a huge part of your network; the more welcoming you are as a person the more people want to collaborate. Through collaboration you expand as a teacher which then helps the students in your classroom. Being an open risk taker would be the area I want to continue growing in which is one of the reasons why I am extremely excited to have been accepted into Vanguard where I am able to do just that. 

5)How do we create learning opportunities and experiences for students and staff that focus on empowerment, as opposed to engagement? 
I first answer this by starting with a question: Do you as an educator or learner know what different careers expect from their employees? I went to school for education so I know many expectations needed for my career but I can't say I know the specifics for nurses, mechanical engineers, information security analyst, or the future jobs that we don't even know about yet. The first step to creating learning opportunities is learning students interests, specifically learning what career they could be in with these interests, and create experiences from those many careers. This would also require learning what those careers expect. 

6) How do you model and explore new opportunities for learning in your own practice?
You must first create goals for yourself as a teacher at the beginning of the summer. I try to keep between 2-3 goals which at the moment are: creating an innovative classroom through alternative seating, creating an innovative classroom through technology, and incorporating ELL strategies into my math classroom. By setting these goals at the beginning of the summer you are able to find professional development specifically helping these goals. You can then start creating what it is that you need to start the year of right. You also need to be sure  to stick with your goals and continue to implement and model all through out the school year. 

7)What are the key areas that you and your community can focus on to bring your vision closer to reality?
The technology piece in which we are sharing our ides would be one of the most important area to focus on. Being a part of Vanguard we are already beginning to focus on this area because we were chosen from varying grade levels and varying schools across the district.
This enhances our thinking and innovation because we can think outside just our school/classroom.

8) What are some of the questions you would ask students to learn more about their learning and experience in schools?
I have actually given my students a survey to rank where they feel they are in my class with questions like: "Do you feel comfortable/welcomed when you come to this class?" or "Which concept did you feel you learned the most and why?" 
The recommendation I give is to be specific with questions so that you get back the best feedback. I have usually given this mid year but I am going to try and do it at the end of each grading period so that it is something I can reflect and consider through out the school year. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Playing with My #Vantasy Classroom with Reading Camp

I have fallen in love with this classroom from the article "Classroom Eye Candy: A Flexible-Seating Paradise." I am now in the pursuit of making a paradise for my students. I am experimenting with my Reading Camp experience in the next few weeks. Mindset loading...loading...changing!
Tables instead of desks

Wood and crate benches for chairs

Actually used the desk for displaying books

A sprinkle of CCP

Sentences stems for ELPS
Fun pillows for reading space

Our reading camp schedule

Getting the cart involved with furniture
instead of being hidden

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Musings on my #Vantasy classroom

I've been researching and asking my twitter PLN for their favorite "must-haves" in a library learning commons and I've found some pretty awesome ideas!! While I am limited to a degree by furniture (library shelving is WAY expensive), there's some really fun ideas like whiteboard paint for my cement columns and walls, chalk markers to use on the windows, 3D printer, big screen to use with my Chromecast (or Apple TV) for interactive presentations, pillows, small reading nooks, Augmented Reality posters, interactive displays, self-stick Lego base squares that can be used on the wall or a table to build 3D designs, poster sized communal coloring mandalas to allow for creativity to flow in artistic ways, etc. that I can use to make my learning commons more personalized, interactive, and exciting for the kids to use and hopefully inspire curiosity, creativity, and help them build their intellectual capacity.

I've also been reading the Kids Deserve It book by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome. This is an AMAZING book that along with the Innovator's Mindset book has been inspiring some great ideas for ways to build relationships and connect kids to the outside world. The idea of setting up a social media intern program with a #somskidstweet hashtag so kids can take pictures and tweet out what's going on at SOMS each day. I may add that to my library aides duties next year. This can build up excitement about what's happening at school and hopefully build a digital portfolio for the school year at the same time.

I love everything I'm learning and I have so many ideas, I'm going to have to prioritize and try things one at a time or in manageable chunks. I can't wait for ISTE 2016...I know I'll have so much more to add after that, but until then, I'll keep working on my #Vantasy classroom and do as much DIY stuff as I can to make it the best it can be for the kids!