Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Approaching each other, him from the gym, me from the library---this was when I walked down the aisle and he was waiting, this was when we made love, it was every anniversary, every reunion in an airport or train station, every reconciliation after a quarrel.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
Last year I started an after school tech club for students centered around blogging. The kids were amazing, and the tech club was the highlight of my week. I would throw out a tool or idea and watch them run with it.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Google for Educators is also holding a mock election in which your students can cast their votes. Check out their excellent ideas and resources for teaching about the election.
Friday, September 12, 2008
I got the video from the scratch website support page. The whole website is a treasure trove of info and projects.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Skipping over the cute example of why spell check doesn't work for every situation- you've probably already seen it- how is spelling taught in your corner of the world?
You know the little vignette, so often dragged out to illustrate how schools are bastions of a time gone by, where the person wakes up after 100-year nap and doesn't recognize anything until he steps into a school? I'm sure the napper in the story walked in on a "spelling lesson."
When I first started teaching, I taught spelling the way I had been taught spelling in school. I devised lists of words I thought my students should know how to spell, gave assignments based on the words and then a Friday spelling test. My students generally did pretty well on the tests, but their spelling in their written work never reflected the fact that they had supposedly learned how to spell the words. It didn't take me too long to come to the conclusion that memorizing a list of words did not equal learning.
So, two questions.
1. What is the best way to teach spelling?
2. How come I learned how to spell? Remember, this is how I was taught spelling...I'm a pretty good speller. Did this approach work for me? If so, why?
I'll answer #2 first. I think that I became a good speller because I was (and still am) an avid reader. I was the kid who always had a book in front of my face. My favorite outing was the library (my idea of heaven on earth) or the bookstore (my parents would drop me off at the bookstore and go shopping, coming back an hour or so later to pick me up). I think that looking at so many words spelled correctly built my visual memory for correct spelling. I am the type who writes the word to look at it to see if it is spelled correctly. Of course, this was only one gift that being a reader gave me.
As for #1: There is a program I like called "Words Their Way" that approaches spelling from a developmental standpoint. It uses the term "word study" rather than spelling or phonics. This appeals to me because I think it is appropriate for students to spend some time deconstructing words to find patterns. It uses various centers and activities and is differentiated, based on stages of spelling development. Of course, it takes a lot of work, on the part of the teacher, to implement a program like this in the classroom. It is much easier to follow a spelling book or use a workbook, have students memorize and give weekly tests.
When I first did away with spelling tests, I found that parents were understanding once I explained my reasoning and approach. It was colleagues that were stunned. "You don't give spelling tests?" It was said with disbelief, even anger, as if I was depriving my students.
Ok? So what...I guess I should get to "the point." Now that I'm a parent, I find myself battling against the tide as my child comes home with homework to memorize a list of words and use them in sentences or occasionally in a story. My daughter is only 7 and yet she already claims to "hate school" and "doesn't like reading." This is extremely painful for me to hear, as you can imagine. My daughter spends 7.5 hours a day in school and often comes home with 30 minutes or more of homework consisting of math worksheets and the aforementioned spelling. I am a strong believer that children need down-time, time for playing and relaxing, time to play sports, time to eat dinner as a family, time to go to sleep early, TIME TO READ FOR PLEASURE. I really believe that the best homework, especially for the early elementary grades, is to read for 30 minutes a night. That's it. I could cite a bunch of research, too, to back me up, but this is just my opinion piece...so take it for that.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
When thinking of a name for my blog, I almost chose As Real as Gravity from a favorite quote about positive energy being as real as gravity. Positive energy spreads and builds and creates more positive energy. Nowhere is this truer than in schools (ok, well, maybe it is truer elsewhere, but how would I know?).
Just reading that, I know that I would like to be one of Mr. Ruark's 5th grade students.
Here was my own daughter's first day of 2nd grade homework: the students were each given a paper bag filled with a few, little items and the following instructions:
Opening, reading and sharing this bag of goodies with your parents is part of your first homework assignment.
1. The toothpick is to remind you to "pick out" the good qualities in your classmates and in yourself.
2. The gold thread is to remind you that friendship ties our hearts together.
3. The chocolate kiss reminds you that you can always come to me if you need someone to talk to.
4. The star is to remind you to shine and always do your best.
5. The penny is to remind you that you are valuable and special.
6. The band-aid is to remind you to heal hurt feelings in your friends and in yourself.
7. The rubber band is to remind you to hug someone.
8. The eraser is to remind you that everyone makes mistakes and that is ok.
9. The tissue is to remind you to help dry someone's tears.
10. The sticker is to remind you that we all stick together and help each other.
Now I would like for you to think of something that you could add to this bag. Write 3-4 sentences explaining why the item you chose would be useful and why it is important for us to remember to use all of the other items that are in the bag.
My daughter's other teacher kept telling us, at back to school "Meet and Greet" that she does this or that because "the kid's love it, it makes them happy, it makes them feel good, that she just wants them to love learning, to love the subject she teaches." I can't tell you how happy that made me as a parent. If my child loves learning and feels positive about herself as a person, a friend and a learner...I know it will take her the distance and allow her to learn what she needs and wants to learn, to attack challenging problems with confidence, to make a contribution to the world.
For our pre-planning in-service this year, we participated in a workshop from Operation Respect. At the start of the workshop, the facilitator asked us this question, "If you had one last class to teach, and that day you were given magic powers that would guarantee that the students would truly, deeply learn one lesson from you, what would you teach?"
Are you surprised to know that not one person answered with a concept from math or science, grammar or spelling? All of the answers had to do with self-awareness and awareness of others, being a good person. Those are the lessons that truly matter.
Graphic from "The North Star" gallery, from the book "The North Star" by Peter H. Reynolds.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
My 3 Professional Development Goals for Summer 08 (which starts in just a few short days --hooray!!):
1) I am developing and facilitating an online course for Professional Learning Board(PLB) using moodle. PLB is a great site for teachers who need professional development credits. This will be part-time work for me, but I also consider it professional development as I am learning new skills and dredging up some old ones that are starting to gather dust.
2) I will finish a webquest I started earlier this year to teach the skill of evaluating websites. I plan to also incorporate resources like snopes to teach students to evaluate emails that spread questionable information.
3)My "to-do" list is soooooooooooooooooooooo looooooooooooooooooong....I really want to be lazy and develop my professional self by lying on the beach. Can my plans to re-decorate the computer lab count as PD? Writing a few more blog posts? Reading twitter?
Ok....for number 3 I will read at least one of two books I have been meaning to read: The World is Flat and/or An Ethic of Excellence.
Eight tags???!!!!! That is a LOT of people to tag! I guess you really want to make sure we all develop professionally, Clif! Ok....I tag these lucky 8(and you all have my permission to include lying on the beach as part of your PD) --
3. Ken Allan (I know it is not summer for you in Middle Earth, but you can share summer vicariously by doing summer things with us..like work!).
5. Chad Lehman
6. Kate Olson (don't think because you are resigning you are off the hook for PD!)
8. Ann Oro
Happy Summer, Teaching Friends!
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
If you cringe at mushy, philosophical mumbo jumbo, you might want to skip this post.
- Create a Google Map and add a bookmark with the title and author of a book you have read with a setting in another country of the world.
- Look through Book Around the World recommendations or on other Google Maps created by participants in this meme/challenge.
- Pick at least three books for your summer reading list that have a setting in a country you have not read another book about.
- Enjoy expanding your horizon!
Step 1: Create a google map. I decided to put a few recent reads on my google map. I noticed that my book settings seemed to favor North America and Asia lately. I tried to take a minute and think of books I have read from each continent. I can not think of a book I have read from Antarctica. The closest I could think of was Mr. Popper's Penguins. Other than that, I have "visited" the other six continents through reading. Countries, however, are a different story. Luckily, I already had a few books on my "plan to read" shelf that also fit the challenge.
View Larger Map
Here are my three books:
1. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, Bosnia and Herzogovnia
2. Shadow of the Wind by Carols Ruiz Zafon, Spain
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Germany
Now I know I am favoring Europe here...what can I say? These are three books I have really wanted to read anyway (have Shadow of the Wind sitting on my night table) and all happen to be listed on the Book Around the World site.
Thanks, Silvia, for always keeping me on my toes! I am tagging: Kim Glasgal, Ken Allan (Ken, something tells me you are a reader-hope you are up for a new challenge since the comment challenge is almost over) and.....who else out there would like to participate?
Monday, May 19, 2008
Learn Globally, Teach Locally - for now, this is what I do.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Day 15 of comment08. Today's task is to give an award. I love it! Fantastic blogger, Scott McLeod made this nice badge, too.
I have to say, I love all my commenters. I am simply delighted that anyone reads my blog at all. As I said recently, comments are the icing on the cake.
So, if you've taken the time to comment on my blog, please know that I appreciate it. I hope that I've responded back to you either here or there or somewhere.
And now....the 2008 EdTechWorkshop Fantastic Commenter award goes to....Blogger in Middle Earth, Ken Allan! Ken, please grab the badge and display it proudly on your blog!
Since beginning the comment challenge Ken has stopped by my blog to comment on a regular basis. He has also said some nice things about me, like calling me positive and sensible. And he sprinkles his comments with Maori phrases. But none of these really explain why I've awarded Ken the commenter award, although they are all a part of it.
How do I explain?
I feel like through his comments, I've actually started an exchange of ideas with someone who lives in New Zealand- the other side of the world. Never before have I met anyone from New Zealand. I know that we are roughly 12 hours apart, and a few times now, I have felt a sort of time-rhythm as I write something at night, and in the morning when I wake up there is a comment from Ken. In fact, I am writing this at 9:30 pm. I bet that when I wake up in the morning, Ken will have visited, and I hope that this post brings a smile to his morning.
It is almost like sharing a cup of tea. Only through writing. Asynchronously. It is amazing to me. And, blogging has brought this forth.
An interesting note is that Ken started his comment08 journey as a commenter without a blog, and it was the comment challenge that inspired his blog.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Day 9: Should we be commenting on blogs?
I'm not just being lazy with this answer, but really, what comes to mind is "Whatever."
Maybe it's just my mood today, but sometimes I read the blogs that go back and forth over this and that, and I feel like I'm watching a ping pong match. It's ok; I like watching it. I enjoy following the different trains of thought. But I just can't muster all that much emotion for whether or not someone wants to enable comments on their blog. Isn't that the joy of blogging? It's YOUR blog. You get to decide where it's hosted, what it looks like, what you'll write about, how often you'll write, etc. etc. You get to decide if you want comments and once you get comments, if you want to respond within the comments, on the other person's blog, in another post, an email, or not at all. For me, this is one of the things I enjoy about this form of communication. It's very fluid and really, there are no rules.
Day 10: Do a Comment Audit on your own Blog
1. You sound like a press release.
I doubt this. I write in the first person. I reflect on my teaching practice, share lessons, occasionally share a cool site or resource that I've discovered. No press release here.
2. You sound like an infomercial.
What would I be selling?
3. You sound like a know-it-all.
I sure hope not. I don't feel like a know-it-all.
4. You haven't showed them how.
I don't feel that it is that difficult to leave a comment. ??
5. You haven't created the right atmosphere.
I don't know. The atmosphere....???
I started out just to write and share things I was doing/learning. The comments and interaction has been like icing on the cake. I have made some good work connections and at least one real life friend through my blogging experience. I'd love to have lots of readers like some blogs do and lots of comments, because, so far, it's all been pretty positive. But it is what it is. I don't have tons of time to devote to blogging, so I have to do the best I can. I do make a pretty conscious effort to respond to comments either here or by visiting the commenter's blog. Do I need to decorate nicer? Have a little party? Light some candles and play some mood music?
6. You just don't seem that into it.
I am into it! I am!!! I really hope my passion for what I do shows in my writing.
So, why aren't more people commenting on my blog?
All I can think of is that the things I post about are just not the kinds of posts that inspire much discussion. I've had the most comments on my posts about comment08. Usually I post about a lesson I want to share or some thoughts about something that's happening at work. I get the occasional "thanks for sharing this" type of comment. The blogs I read that get a lot of comments are usually deeper or more controversial or witty. I don't really post in order to inspire comments. I just post. But I do really appreciate the comments. I think the feedback can get kind of addicting, and at times, I've read great blogs and thought, "Why do I even try?" But, I have to remind myself not to compare my blog to others. There is space for all of us here on the web. We all have something to say.
Going to stop here. I know I still have a few more days of catch up...please feel free to comment!