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Posts Tagged ‘Common Core’

Post 16 in the TeachThought 30-Day Blogging Challenge: If you could have one superpower to use in the classroom, what would it be and how would it help?


 

I don’t have a classroom of my own, so I’ll focus on one superpower that would help me with my work, and well, life.

I would want the ability to see into the future.

A recent post for the blogging challenge asked me to think about how I might be a different teacher in 5 years. It’s impossible to predict, with technology changing as quickly as it does, what things will look like in just 5 years. But it would be nice!

curve

 

I often have questions about the not-too-distant future:

  • What will our schools look like? Feel like?
  • What role will technology play in schools?
  • How will the role of teachers change?
  • Will students really be in charge of their own learning? (I hope so!)
  • Will we truly be globally connected?
  • How long will the Common Core and SBAC last before the next thing comes around the curve?
  • What will I be doing? (That’s a big one!)

Wouldn’t it be nice to get a glimpse around that bend ahead of time so you could make adjustments and ensure that things turn out positively? Or is it better to control our own destinies by doing what we’re doing NOW, making the choices we’re going to make?

 

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Wow- It’s been a month since my last post and I don’t know where the time went!

Here are a few things that have been happening:

Theme Week- Each year our building with 3rd-8th graders has a Theme Week hosted by the related arts teachers (Music, Art, P.E.) and the World Language teachers. Instead of students going to those classes, they go to a few workshops based on a central theme – this year it was the Olympics. Other adults in the building pitch in to make the groups smaller and the offerings larger. The tech integration team did a workshop using Augmented Reality this year. We only had our groups for one session, about 70 minutes. In that time, students created short videos about an Olympic sport, athlete, or country. Then they selected a trigger image and set it up in the Aurasma app on the iPads.

Some of the Olympic trigger images used to access the videos students made.

Some of the Olympic trigger images used to access the videos students made.

Voila! Now there are trigger images all over the school that anyone can scan and then view the videos that pop up.

We culminated Theme Week with the annual Faculty-Student basketball game. We streamed it live via UStream and recorded it for future reference. The students came from behind to win it- and the gym erupted at the final buzzer!

We have many more teachers using Voicethread or getting ready to use Voicethread. This ranges from first and second graders for an exploration of constellations, to middle school students describing their families in French for pen pals in France.

First and second graders have become news anchors and have put together a news video to share. The topics of their features have to do with various aspects of the community around our school.

Teachers had another in-service day focused on the Common Core. We also took a closer look at some SBAC sample items. In addition, the teachers shared and celebrated their work this year on implementing Common Core writing standards. We captured some of that sharing on video. I was happily surprised by the amount of technology being integrated into the Writing Workshop model. There were many teachers reporting out the positive aspects of Google Drive and blogging as critical elements of the writing process. (third-fifth grades)

I’m noticing that I am devoting less time to staying connected with my PLN via Twitter or Google+ and am reflecting on what’s taking priority over that. I feel disconnected and am not benefitting from this great resource of mine. Time to re-examine that!

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Accepting Others

Today we had the first of two consecutive in-service days devoted to work on the Common Core. The morning, however, turned out better than I anticipated.

We saw a documentary titled, “Wretches and Jabberers“. It was one of the most powerful films I’ve seen in a while. It focused on Larry and Tracy, two men with autism, both from Vermont coincidentally. They are advocates for global education about autism. These men lived a challenging life until technology that allowed them to get heard and express themselves was introduced to them. They use various devices to ‘type’, which for them means ‘talk’. And boy do they talk! They are so articulate, have an amazing perspective, and a poetic use of vocabulary. One takeaway was that we can’t judge intelligence from the outside and that we should be more accepting and give everyone a chance.

In the film, Larry and Tracy had traveled the world connecting with other people with autism and without, presenting at conferences, and finding their purpose. They proved how important it is to be open to those with differences.

When it ended and we all sat down from our standing ovation, we were treated to a question/answer session with the stars of the movie. Larry and Tracy were there in person using iPads to “type” and “talk”. I was struck by their perseverance, their knowledge and use of language, and their amazing senses of humor. When asked a question from someone in the audience, they began to compose their response. They typed it out, taking as much time as they needed to articulate and communicate clearly and effectively.

Here are a few quotes:
“Unless people look for intelligence, it is not seen.”
“Autism is not an illness but a different way of being.”
“Learning about me is seeing through my autistic behaviors and steering my attention towards higher level activity.”
“I am a person with autism second and an artist most of all.”

In the afternoon, we reflected on the morning’s presentation. We thought about how it challenged our thinking around assumptions we make about children. One thing that came to mind for me was the power of connecting. Larry and Tracy were helping others with autism get connected and not feel alone. The power of being connected, and giving each of them an audience for their thoughts, art, words, and intelligence was life-changing for many. Isn’t that true of children in our schools? I also reflected on how important it is for children to express themselves in a variety of ways, given the right tools, support, and confidence. That’s where schools and families play such an important role.

Let’s all work together to support ALL children, hear their voices, and be more accepting.
Photo credit: Nancy Colbourn

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