Saturday, August 30, 2008

high school and beyond

Okay, as much as I think this is a good idea, I don't seem to take the time to post daily blogs so I don't know how successful I'll be at this. I have spent the past week visiting with teachers and helping them with ideas for developing their social studies lessons in ways that engage students and include opportunities for students to interact with the information using reading, speaking, writing, and drawing activities that will also help build overall literacy. It is a focus in our district to establish withing students the desire to peruse post secondary education venues, whether it be a traditional 4 year college, a community college, or some some of training program that will give them an advantage in the workplace. To that end, most of the middle schools I have been to have begun to display banners from various colleges and having teachers talk about their college experiences during the "getting to know you" period of back to school activities. I'm wondering what other schools do to help build the expectations in students that they will not only graduate from high school, but continue on to some institution of higher learning .

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Beyond 23 things

I have changed jobs over the summer. I am now a support team specialist for social studies. I had a big plan to continue to use this blog site to have a place to to communicate and share with my teacher friends and with those that I am now mentoring and supporting in their social studies classrooms. I'll write in here a while, mostly as a place to put down my thoughts and experiences. I want to include my blog address to the bottom of my signature on my district mail. I doubt I will ever have as sophisticated a place as Cool Cat Teacher blog or any of the other great sites I see, but I will try to create a place that is informative and useful for those who care to look.
So what does that fancy new job title mean? I am assigned to work with three middle schools and three high schools. I'll work with the principal, the campus Support Team Specialist, and the teachers in the social studies department to help with lesson planning, finding resources, and trying out new ways of presenting the same material. I will focus on the TAKS years (8th, 10th, and Exit level) but also support all secondary grades in ways that will benefit teachers and students in the test taking years. Several TEKS are taught across all grade levels. Students can get a good grasp on those overlapping objectives through repeated exposure to the skills.
Our superintendent Duncan Klussmann has made it clear that our mission is to instill in students the desire to attend some type of schooling beyond high school, so increasing the students' overall literacy is essential. We as social studies teachers need to be sure we are incorporating good reading and writing strategies into our everyday expectations. In this space I intend to write about sites, materials, strategies, and observations that may be of interest to other social studies teachers. I hope others will read, comment, and add to the conversation.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thing #23

WOW! What a rewarding experience!
What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey? I liked so many things. I liked finding blogs written by people that have similar interests. Creating my own vidcast and seeing what other teachers had created on TeacherTube was fun. Using to tag sites is very useful.
How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals? This program has expanded my view of tech applications in the classroom and I have surprised myself by taking to the blogging. I don't usually get into writing on and on about myself and my own blog needs a lot of work to come up to standards with others, but I have really enjoyed the format and putting myself out there.
Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you? I am changing jobs this year and going into a support position out of the classroom after 27 years. I hope to go into to classrooms and help teachers develop plans around some of the skills I have learned. I think the idea of adding my blog address to my email signature is a great idea and a place I can write about what I've been doing so that all who care to read it can begin to network with me and other teachers across the district. Without this class I would never have thought to do anything like that.
What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept? I think taking this class over the summer is ideal. It would have been more difficult to take during the school year. For the most part, the directions for each lesson were clear and easy to follow. Most of the time I had trouble it was my own impatience that had caused the trouble. I think one possibility would be to meet as a cadre to share/troubleshoot in person or somehow encourage more communication among those participating in the class at the same time.
If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate? YES
How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things learning activities? This was truly a worthwhile professional development class. How often can you say that?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thing #22

Nings are very interesting and shows another way that people have found to get together to share information around a common interest. I liked the Ning for Teachers and found lots of interesting blogs, lesson plans, and ways to connect with other teachers. I tried signing up for the Living History Worldwide ning because you can't see anything on the site without signing in. I have submitted my personal information and now have to wait to receive approval before they will let me sign in to see anything. That was kind of creepy, and the web page had lots of strict rules posted, which makes me think they have have trouble with inappropriate content. I just thought it would be interesting to see re-enactment videos of the American Revolution or Civil War. I'll have to wait for my approval to see if it is really something I want to be a part of. Nings seem to be an area that take lots of hit or miss discovery to locate worthwhile groups.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thing #21

After having read and watched several examples of podcasts and vidcasts that others have done, I have been wary of trying this one. Reading everyone's struggles and successes has helped me to put together a simple podcast. I think students would really get into this kind of activity and would enjoy viewing others' projects. They can make biographies of presidents or a timeline of events, like Steps to the Revolution with narration that gives details and facts.
I made a simple video of birthday pictures (taken on my phone's camera!) from my great niece's 2nd birthday party with photostory 3. It was very easy to use and students would be able to create simple videos with little instruction. Now I'll see if I can successfully embed it here! I can't believe it worked! I got an error message and closed to read other people's tips. One issue was the size. So I saved it again in the format made to attach to an email because it is compressed and takes up less space. When I came back to my blog, here it was waiting for me! I hope it is still there for you all to see! I don't have a microphone so I just used a music choice they provided.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thing #20 This one is about the power of videos in teaching history and showing that a visual presentation can help people put themselves in the event and have an empathetic connection rather than passively reading about them. (Even though viewing is just as passive as reading-maybe more so-we have become a very visual society!)

The other site I found was a good montage of US history from Constitution to modern day.

Every time I try to use Teacher Tube it seems very slow to load. I really like Blinkx for its highly accessible up to the minute videos and the large store of archived videos that are easy to find and view. I liked the Zamzar site, and think that will be very helpful in capturing ans using some videos that are not easily accessible from school.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thing #19

I love Im Cooked. I don't cook a whole lot but I love to watch cooking shows on PBS. This site is full of ordinary people cooking recipes on video. It is so much better than reading recipes and trying to envision what it should look like. These are just people in front of a camera putting together basic dishes. there are some elaborate, ethnic, and exotic dishes and some are more professional than others, but all of it easy to access and addictive to watch!
Another site I liked is Yahoo! Answers. Kids would love this site, because they are always full of questions. The difference with this site is that anyone can answer and the answers are sometimes just opinion comments and not really going for correctness of information. You just type in your question and get answers from whomever wants to join in the conversation. It's not like, which tries to lead you to an informative answer. I saw lots of questions that no one had posted an answer for, so that could be frustrating, I guess.
Minti is a great site for parents and I forwarded it to a friend who recently had a baby. It is questions from parents of young children, and answered by other parents. This is a good communal site that provides insight and support during the mommy years.
The Web 2.0 awards list is a great place to go check out the best of what's going on in technoland.