I ran across sketchplanations via twitter. You can sign up for daily sketchplanations in your inbox. Here are three that have stuck with me. Each one always spurs me on to reflection. They could be used as a writing prompt, class debate, or a character lesson. How would you use these in your classroom or school district?
Our district has a phenomenal Arts in Education program. You can follow them on twitter @TCSarts. Last week, I met with the Arts in Education director and an art teacher to brainstorm how we can spread info about the program within the community, get more community members involved, and increase communication and collaboration between teachers. As a former French teacher, I hold fast to arts enriching the lives of many. Thus, the idea for Artsy Thursdays was born! I want to dedicate blog posts on Thursdays to sharing ways to incorporate the arts, whether music, fine art, drama, or dance, into your classroom. As with any resource, please check your network connection for accessibility before using them in the classroom and preview any media before using it in class depending on the age of your students.
If you have five minutes, I recommend listening to @daveguymon's podcast from today - Take 5 - with three music tools I will blog about on a future Artsy Thursday. Here are the three Artsy Thursday tools for this week!
1. Incredibox - Beware, these melodies will definitely get stuck in your head! I found Incredibox via twitter. Incredibox was created by I have had success with Incredibox with colleagues and students alike. Students can create their own four measure song and record it once they create a free account. There's also a special surprise if you figure out the code to unlock up to three levels. Incredibox has two versions of beats, melodies, voices, choruses and effects available - Incredibox v.1 launched in September 2009 and Incredibox v.2 lauched in 2011.
2. Retronaut - Eudora Welty, an award-winning author from Jackson, Mississippi, said "A photograph keeps a good moment from running away." This site offers a variety of photographs of famous celebrities and historical photos to critique or discuss. Not only could you use these photographs for verbal critiques, but the photographs could also be used as a writing prompt for journal entries, debates or stories in foreign language, English or Social Studies classes.
3. The Louvre Online - How could a former French teacher not end on a French note? The Louvre has put together the Closer Look series for more perspective on the Mona Lisa, the Code of Hammurabi, the Consecration of Napoleon and ten other famous pieces. Use this site in class to provide a virtual tour of the current exhibition or myriad of masterpieces housed in this former palace. Have students peruse the art themselves or have a whole group virtual field trip and ask students to critique the art in English or any language. Use the Canson Artwork of the Day as a daily writing prompt to spur creative writing. The possibilities are endless!
This infographic is brought to you via Edudemic by Mia MacMeeken. Does it spark any new ideas for next year?
My mind has been buzzing the past few weeks with a lot of ideas. There are lots of exciting things happening in my system, in my state, in my country, in my time as an educator. Lots!
Lots of change. (Have I said lots enough?)
Sometimes I focus on the change. And when I do that, I feel like Sydney Bristow.
Again, I tend to identify many things in my life with television and film. Sydney Bristow is the protagonist of Alias, a series by JJ Abrams. Sydney thinks she's working for the CIA when in fact she is working for the very people she thought she was fighting against (gasp)! Once Syd finds out she's working for the bad guys, she becomes a double agent working with the CIA to take down SD-6.
Sydney doesn't think taking down SD-6 will take that long. In one scene, she dialogues with her handler, Agent Vaughn, that she will basically render SD-6 useless in two months tops by strategically focusing on the people she believes should be targeted. She gives Agent Vaughn a list of people even.
Vaughn is so sweet. He asks Syd to draw a map. This is what she draws.
See how nice and neat it is? No wonder it would only take two months! Well, the unfortunate truth is this is what SD-6 really looks like.
And Vaughn tells Sydney he has only seen this map grow since he's worked with the CIA. See how much bigger it is than she thinks? That's where I am.
I see the change that needs to be made but change cannot be mandated or check-listed. Change must be adopted, modeled, practiced, patiently nurtured and continually evaluated. As a friend told me last week, rarely does quick change yield long-term results (hello New Year's resolutions and French Revolutions). Vaughn tells Sydney "This isn't about cutting off an arm of the monster, it's about killing the monster."
My problem with change is I want to quickly cut off the arm rather than attack the roots. Long-lasting change seeps into our roots. It challenges our mindset, our way of thinking, our ideas that we so desperately cling to even if it's not what is best for our students. If we are not reflecting on our mindset, our reason for why we're doing what we're doing, we lose sight of the big picture of the change. (If you'd like to learn more about mindset, the book by Carol Dweck is for you!) Change cannot happen overnight. It's in tiny baby steps, in modeling one lesson, in a discussion with one colleague, in an encouraging comment from one person.
And we are not in this alone! I'd like to think I can tackle the monster all by my lonesome. However, that is unrealistic and will cause more long-term damage than positive change. I need to verbally process with other educators to ensure the change is moving in the right direction and if the change is happening for the right reasons. I need to work in a team. I need to listen. I need to learn. I need to remember that other people are in this fight too.
During today's opening session at Alabama's Mega Conference, our state superintendent @tbice shared this quote.
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
― Robert F. Kennedy
Tonight's #aledchat focused on resiliency. I have not been resilient the past couple days. I want the change now. I don't want to wait. I don't like the fact that change takes time. Enter #aledchat. So many great quotes! Here are just a few to marinate in.
"Highly resilient people don't make excuses. They take responsibility and work to improve their situation. " @casas_jimmy
"Highly resilient [people] are soultion seekers! No focus on the why but the why not! If they hit a wall they have no problem climbing it!" @yanaizagallant
"Resilient people steer clear of catastrophic thinking because they want to find solutions to knock down barriers." @Ince22
"Resilient people look forward, learn from mistakes and are optimistic. Optimism is contagious, so is pessimism." @kfulmer
"In simple terms, highly resilient people are those who greet students with a smile every morning. Learn from but shed the day before." @tusharrae
"I see resilient folks as having more perseverance and better problem solvers, having a more internal locus of control." @carlicounsels
"Locus of control is a good point. Resilient people focus on things that can be changed rather than things that can't." @JosephDevineKV
Thank you #aledchat and PLN for encouraging me in the change and discussing resiliency. Change is hard, painful, time-consuming and transformative. How are you helping the change? These questions from @kylepace's ISTE13 reflection "We have work to do" keep resonating in my mind as I think about the big, long-term change.
"Are we creating a culture in our schools and districts that encourages trying innovative things? Are our leaders modeling innovative practices? If we continue to let fear of failure rule our school systems then that’s where we’ll stay. In systems that are dated and resistant to change. It starts with us. How are you going to share with your school and district the great things you learned? What conversations do you plan to have with school and district leadership? Think about where we are now and where we could be by the next ISTE. Think of all the exciting new things that will be shared; but only if we make something happen."
I love feedback. It's an album by Derek Webb that you can listen to above via noisetrade. But I really love hearing from others on how I'm doing, how we're doing, and what we can do differently.
This week, I have tweeted like crazy to get feedback on 1:1 and the Best PD Ever. Perhaps you've retweeted or put in your two cents. I really appreciate that! Click on the links below to offer your feedback if you haven't. I'd really like your opinions, suggestions and ramblings while I'm trying to plan for the impending school year. Seriously! I'd love 'em, so please click below.
Click here to answer some questions on 1:1 Roll Out.
Click here to post on the padlet for the Best PD Ever!
How much feedback is necessary for teachers? Younger teachers definitely need more feedback. I know I read that in an article somewhere my first year of teaching. Here's a snazzy TED talk with Bill Gates saying teachers need more feedback than they are getting. It's something that's been instilled in us since kindergarten. With my teacher prep program in undergrad, we would reflect on our teaching and we were evaluated by observation, but how palpable is the teacher observation? How often should one be observed? I don't have those answers. I do know that I reflect a lot on the profession, and
I did get a couple tweets saying "Wow, what a great use of your PLN!" and "Will you present what was shared?" I don't see an answer to either of these questions as being exclusive. As stated in the ISTE 2013 keynote by Adam Bellow, not sharing what you are doing or learning is selfish. We can't just listen to the same people all the time. I may not like Macs, but my friend @chadtheteacher does. And we can agree to disagree about devices, but he may be doing something amazing with them that I could implement where I am. My friend @jedipadmaster (again, remember I'm a droid gal) has some great ideas on doing fixed asset inventory with QR codes. Amazing!
If we don't share, how will we learn? I am a verbal processor at heart. I need to blog or talk something out. But I'm not blogging just to add another post here. I want you to comment. I want you to tell me if I'm wrong or right. I want validation. I want disconfirmation. I want to collaborate with you! So please post your answers on the two links below. I will thank you, but most importantly, our students will benefit from a simple shared two cents. Thank you!
Click here to answer some questions on 1:1 Roll Out.
Click here to post on the padlet for the Best PD Ever!
Here is the updated version of our PD offerings for the rest of the summer. Hope to see you there!
#TCStech will be rolling out chromebooks to 8th-12th grade students. Below are is a padlet for input on how to offer good PD. Click this link to access the full padlet. Feel free to tweet me any questions @theprofspage or e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
I love my superintendent. He is able to think on his feet, explain things magnificently and truly wants what is best for our students. Tonight, he moderated a meeting to discuss Alabama's Accountability Act and how parents and students have the choice to go to a different school if their school qualifies as failing. My super said he doesn't say "failing schools" but uses the term "low-performing schools".
There are two plans in place, as there usually are in the United States - one for the state level and one for the national level. The Alabama legislature has put in place an Accountability Act to allow students to transfer schools but our state also has Plan 2020 which sets specific targets for specific students. Three of the schools in our system are on the "failing schools" list, however one school has made tremendous progress in the past three years. Might I also add that our state super, Dr. Tom Bice, is pretty awesome as well.
One thing that struck me tonight was my super saying (in my interpretation) "You can look at a required percentage as a minimum or a ceiling." A parent then commented that we should expect more from our students than the minimum, to which my super agreed. Later, the meeting ended on an incredibly positive note. A teacher closed the meeting with her philosophy of education. Here (again in my interpretation) is what she said.
"I will not expect just 79% from my students. They are my students. They walk through my door. I'm going to push them to more than just 79%, and they're going to push back because they're kids. But we will work hard, because they're in my class and they're better than 79%...We've also got to remember it does take a village. It is everyone's responsibility to teach. Find a kid and teach them something, teach them anything."
One man's ceiling is another man's floor. Am I treating others like they are more than 79%? Am I giving more than 79% at work? We have got to expect much from our students, teachers, and community. Because we have more than 79% to give, people. And we are more than 79%.
While everyone was shuffling out, one parent said "It's not about where your kid goes to school. It's about what they do when they get there." May we give more than 79% to care about what every kid does in our schools.
French teacher at West Feliciana High School in St. Francesville, Louisiana