Archive | October, 2015

My Favourite eLearning Tools

30 Oct

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1. Socrative
Socrative can be used for quick quizzes and also on the fly, as I’ve already shared. Here’s another feature. Before class, I create quizzes that we can play as a game called Space Race. The website automatically divides the class into teams. Kids know what color team they’re on and can look at the rockets racing one another on the board. I don’t always record the grade, particularly when I know I have more teaching to do.
The advantage of Socrative is that it gives me percentages that I can use as a grade if we’re ready for that. You can even use it for traditional quizzes if desired.
2. Kahoot
Kahoot lets us build fun quizzes. Students use computers, cell phones, or other devices to join in the game. You can create flashcards for review. You can also embed videos and use Kahoot as part of the teaching process, or students can create review games to share. One disadvantage is that students can use aliases. While I can see overall how the class is doing, unlike Socrative, I can’t see the patterns of which unfamiliar nickname is struggling.

What are some of your favorites?

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Time to Reflect

28 Oct
I firmly believe in self-reflection as a means toward growth and development. As such, we all would benefit from an intense session of self-reflection. Through self-reflection we will better understand who we are as educators, as well as how our actions are aligning with our beliefs. Here are some thoughts I am considering as I train this week.
1) – How and what are you doing to build strong and enduring relationships with your students and staff?

2) – What are you doing very well? Where are you seeing a lot of success? Do you know why…?

3) – What are you not doing very well? Where are you not seeing a lot of success? Do you know why…?

4) – What are you doing to improve your craft? How are you ensuring that you will be better able to address your students’ and staffs’ needs?

5) – In your absence, can your students and staff continue learning and growing? Do they absolutely need you to continue?

Curriculum Reflections

11 Oct

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What comes to mind when you hear the term curriculum leader?  Do you have a vision of your HOF standing at the back of your classroom observing teaching and learning?  Do you see the instructional leader as the building principal conducting three-minute walk-through observations?  Is the curriculum leader the department chair? How many curriculum leaders can one school hold?

Curriculum leadership should not be determined by a person’s title or years of experience.  Curriculum development is the essential function of school leadership.  Whether this role is carried out by a principal, an assistant principal for curriculum, a team leader, a department head, or by leading classroom teachers, the curriculum defines all other roles in a school. Strong, intentional leadership in curriculum development is a necessity for strong instructional leadership.

Curriculum leadership is complicated because leading curriculum development meetings involves working with fallible, imperfect human beings.  A second reason curriculum leadership is difficult is due to the school schedule and a lack of extended time for teachers to discuss and revise existing curriculum documents.  I know in my environment the complexity of documents can seem confusing. While it is difficult to ask for each teacher’s input, documents that are top-down rarely receive as much teacher buy-in as documents that were created by the teachers who are required to implement the curriculum.  Curriculum leaders must work together to create a culture of trust where teachers and administrators can agree to disagree.  Furthermore, leaders must develop quality time and create schedules which provide time for creative thinking and reflection, rather than scheduling early release days when teachers complete fill-in-the blank curriculum worksheets.

Five Reasons Why Schools Need Curriculum Leaders:

  1.  Curriculum Leadership provides clarity.

What should every student know and be able to do?

  1.  Curriculum Leadership provides opportunities to develop and empower future leaders.

Curriculum leadership is not a solo act.

  1.  Curriculum Leadership provides the opportunity for continuous improvement.

Schools should be learning organizations.

  1.  Curriculum Leadership provides the opportunity to establish goals.

Goals provide teachers and students with something to aim for.

  1.  Curriculum Leadership provides the opportunity for improved alignment.

Curriculum Leaders are Key

11 Oct

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Curriculum development is the essential function of school leadership.  Whether this role is carried out by a principal, an assistant principal for curriculum, a team leader, a department head, or by leading classroom teachers, the curriculum defines all other roles in a school.  Curriculum leaders have played an important role as our school set their strategic plan. They have the ability to create curriculum individually and with a team of teachers.  I have witnessed teachers from our school share strategies with teachers across the country.  Curriculum mapping, alignment, and revision require strong curriculum leaders.  When teacher leaders are involved in designing and revising curriculum, you will have a strong product. High performing schools have multiple curriculum leaders. They are the SLTs of the future. I advocate they should be developed and grown. What do you think? What are you doing to support these people?

As a staff here are some key questions to reflection on:

  1.  What do you think of when you hear the term curriculum leader?
  2.  Are you a curriculum leader?  What makes you a curriculum leader?
  3.  Are there additional reasons why schools need curriculum leaders?

Connector

6 Oct

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One of the major points I got out of my recent secondment was being a connector. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2002) described the importance of ‘Connectors.’ Gladwell says that Connectors have the gift of bringing the world together.  Connectors are important on year level teams, in faculty meetings, during crucial conversations, during times of change, and on a daily basis.  Teacher leaders who are connectors bring out the best in their co-workers.  They help connect the school with families and community leaders.  They can be very important in securing grant money for a school.  Who are the ‘Connectors’ in your school? What roles do they play?

Getting Out on Social Media

3 Oct

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Putting ourselves out there on social media puts us in the vulnerable position. Sometimes the act of pushing send or tweet can be a big one.  We can be judged by people who don’t even know us, and may never meet us. People may come up with their own narrative of who we are, and scold us publicly for the world to see. People we know can also become unhappy with us. They may view us as showboats, or big in our own minds. We can’t control these feelings nor should we.

Showing up can mean participating in a Twitter chat, following and retweeting others, or sharing a personal thought through tweeting. It can also be through online writing, or blogging. Blogging is a dual way to reflect on personal learning journeys, and receive feedback from peers on their personal experiences in education. In essence, you’re not going through the experience alone, as others can validate, support, or provide guidance from their own experiences by reading yours. Writing can also inspire others to share their vulnerabilities, questions, or have them pause to reflect on their “why”.

Oftentimes, people feel they have nothing to write about of importance. They listen to their inner monologue that tells them that their experiences aren’t unique to them, that others experience the same thing. I argue that sharing similar experiences brings people together. Each one of us is unique. Our experiences, though similar in nature to others, are unique to us in that we’re the ones experiencing them. It’s easier to reflect and process experiences when we have a support system, like a professional/personal learning network to help us get through them.

I hope you feel empowered to share your educational thoughts. It is important to share. It is all part of that journey of being Ako.

More Leadership Reflections

1 Oct

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I have worked under some amazing principals. In my years as a teacher, they have been very different, mentors of varying degrees, in different environments. Looking back now, I am SO thankful for how different. Above all else they encouraged me.

I’m a big note taker just ask my wife…so I have kept a list of the traits I felt made them so successful and hope to emulate this year. Here are some:

  • servant leader- the boss who puts everyone else’s’ needs before their own, who is willing to do what it takes to make others feel successful
  • big pictureR- one who sees the vision, who knows what they want the educational experience to be for their students
  • willing- willing to dance, willing to be Batman, willing to let teachers try
  • teacher friendly- someone who cares how decisions and changes affect teachers, not in the sense that they don’t make changes or tough decisions, but in that they care
  • tradition minded- recognizes what it looks like to build a legacy and maintains traditions that matter to students, parents, & staff
  • fun- from funny announcements, to jokes and stories in staff meetings, to running jokes with teachers from years ago
  • confident- able to step in and handle all different situations, with purpose, with heart, with decisiveness
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