Posts Tagged ‘Learning…’

Yesterday we got the official news: We are going to be a 1:1 iPad school! Every student in our school next year will be receiving an iPad and we will be moving forward as a staff to fully integrate technology in our classes and for our students with the ultimate aim of increasing student achievement.

I know there is SO much to think about in the 1:1 environment, and I am excited to learn, learn, learn! Do you have any resources I should check out and be inspired? I’d love to hear it!

Ultimately, I would love to have a fully integrated classroom, and will be looking forward to making strides with calendars/planners and even digital binders for the students in my AVID classes!


In my entry-level class, I have a student. Let’s call him Gonzo (no actual resemblance). Gonzo is that kid. He is the one who must be off in another world, well, all of the time. I explain something to a (finally) quiet classroom. Heads are nodding, kids are smiling. Directions stop and, like a shotgun start, heads snap down, pencils pop up and the “work” of education continues. Gonzo’s hand comes up. “Okay, so what are we supposed to do?”

Those around Gonzo (and even those on the other side of the room from Gonzo) groan. An audible heave of the “Oh, Gonzo” emotion. Some days it takes all they have to not spout off some snide remark.

Gonzo is not stupid. He’s not even a blue kid. He just sometimes needs to be spoken to directly (one-on-one) when giving directions, and sometimes, even then, even after a one-on-one session with head nodding and eye tracking, I turn to walk away and leave him to his now-guided work, and the hand shoots up again. “Okay, so wait. Now what am I supposed to do?”

A sigh breathes past my lips and I hold back a snide remark, but I turn around and go back because it’s my job to teach… not to give him a hard time.

And this is where I caught myself last week. This is where I had to change.

Another student asks a question, also not listening. I smile, jaunt over and cover what they missed with a sparkle in my eye and enthusiasm in my voice.

Did I probably treat Gonzo exactly the same way the first, second, third, twenty-third time that he asked the question? Yes. I might even put money on that. But when that enthusiasm stopped started to wane, I didn’t even notice. I didn’t notice until last week when I found myself refraining from my snide remark. That’s also when I noticed my squinty, tired eyes, my Bueller voice, and my slumped posture as I spoke with him. It was the tired me that sometimes slips by the attitude-bouncer, but it’s also the me I don’t like seeing.

They say kids know the real truth about people and what we are feeling, the truth that can be hidden from many adults. Our children are watchers. They watch us to see if they can trust us. They watch us to see how much we care. They watch us to see who we really are. They watch us in the times when we are most tired and dealing with people who may not be the easiest to deal with. Perhaps they watch us most at that time because it shows some of our true character. It shows them how we might react to them someday.

I often have conversations with students about how ethics aren’t really meaningful until they’re tried and tested in the tough situations, and last week I caught myself not living up to my own standards.

There is a story in the book of Matthew (25) about the end-of-times as Jesus says to those on his right, “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

The people respond that they didn’t remember ever having fed or clothed him, to which he responds, “40I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

I think our students see the same. They see how we treat the kids who are the most outrageous, the kids who are the most persistent, the kids who are the least respectful, the kids who just don’t listen, and somewhere inside, they take it to heart: all the more reason to not start slipping down that slippery slope.

This week I made a renewing effort to wipe clean, to be excited, and to share that excitement with everyone, but especially Gonzo. I’m doing it for Gonzo, I’m doing it for the Gonzo watchers, but mostly I need to be doing it because I think it’s right and it’s who I believe I really am… and I need to be that no matter the circumstance.

As part of an answer to a struggling class, I put together a plan that incorporates learning styles into our chapter (clothing). I feel like this could be a tool for them to use… and one that might help them find success. I put together the weekly plan, including worksheets. This plan is pretty open… meaning that it should fit with many/any different unit.

If you take a look at it and have some fantastic ideas for improvement, please let me know! If you take a look at it and can use it/modify it for your use, go for it!

Unit- Learning through Learning Styles

Much of this came out of the idea to give students support, empowerment, and a commitment to learning: all developmental assets that kids need to succeed. More inspiring information about this at The Search Institute.

Up next week? Learning through Multiple Intelligences

Making Moodle Work

Posted: May 9, 2009 in Moodle
Tags: , ,

This is a step-by-step document I created for a brief inservice.

It is definitely for absolute beginners… and is built off our Moodle layout/setup. (Your Moodle might be a smidge different… who knows?)

Take anything and change it so it works for you (if it works for you): Making Moodle Work

Animal School

Today at an inservice about special education, we watched the video called “Animal School”.  Honestly, I think it is true for all students… not just special education kids. It is a powerful video from Raising Small Souls about our kids (both at home and in school). Click the link above and take the time to watch it. It is powerful.

This is why we teach.

Last year we really “dug in” in the upper-level German classes and watched the podcasts of the German news (“Tagesschau” from ARD) on a regular basis. We used various exercises to interact with the news: find key vocabulary, bell-ringer activities with the key vocabulary ahead of time, just watching the show (no audio), only audio, creating our own news interpretation as anchors in front of the video, and more. Watching the news was a multi-purpose activity. It is authentic and holistic learning as students can pick up all kinds of vocabulary and news information (differentiated in its very essence) all while they are learning about German (and world) culture and taking those important steps closer to becoming world citizens. It was a fantastic adventure, and we tried a few different news sources, but ended up sticking most with the Tagesschau.

It was a bright, sunny Thursday (read: hot and sweaty in a classroom with no air conditioning) and I was back from lunch, setting up the final things before the upper-level class and one of my students came up to me, PSP in hand.

“Frau? Were you able to get today’s news? I tried a couple times this morning  and couldn’t get it. I’ve got all of them from the past two weeks and I’ve been watching them <thrusting PSP closer to my face>, but I couldn’t get today’s. Could you?”

(Astounded and caught a little off guard) “Uh, no, actually… I couldn’t either. <smile> Wow. I’m so proud of you! Are you loving it?”

And the conversation went on…

Here’s what you need to  know. This student isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, the A+ student in the class (who you might assume would be the one to do this sort of thing), so this was really eye-opening (and exciting) for me.

It made me realize that the more opportunity you give kids to experience and work with (and find) web tools for learning, the more learning they will do on their own. My job, as a facilitator of learning, is to help equip them with the tools for lifelong learning… and for these students (digital natives or not), the tools that they often (not just want, but) need are embedded in technology (21st century workplace, here we come).

So what tools have you helped your students find and learn (perhaps unwittingly, like me) so they can be life-long learners?

From Think Progress in “Colbert, Stewart viewers more well-informed than those watching O’Reilly,  Dobbs“:

 A new Pew Survey on News Consumption released yesterday reveals that viewers of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are more knowledgeable about current events than those who watch Bill O’Reilly, Lou Dobbs, Larry King, and the “average consumers of NBC, ABC, Fox News, CNN, C-SPAN and daily newspapers.” Thirty percent of Daily Show and 34 percent of Colbert viewers correctly identified Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the majority party in the U.S. House of Representatives, compared to the national average of just 18 percent.

What I’m seeing here is that the people who enjoy (heavy emphasis on the enjoy)  watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert actually retain more information than those who watch Bill O’Reilly, or just any random news show. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are (mostly) humorous and definitely engaging entertainment. We already know that stimulating emotion helps people remember, and that positive emotions are most closely tied with retention. So is the fact that The Daily Show and The Colbert Report viewers retain more information surprising to anyone? 

So let’s look at the application: How do you take advantage of this in your classroom?