Archive for May, 2012

How to Teach 101.

Posted: May 19, 2012 in Thought Fulls.

My very first education courses consisted of educational pedagody and well…how to make a cute lesson plans – WITHOUT the help of the Interbutts – but I still I managed to get a job teaching and I haven’t ruined too many children’s futures, well at least I don’t think I have. First time standing up in front of the class was no big deal for me, heck, I loved the fact I had an audience that I could threaten with an F if they didn’t laugh at my jokes – Wait nevermind that last part.

Coming from a theatre background while I presented lessons, I could tell these wild tales of history or sing improvised songs about phonetics. My voice would change as I read stories and I would dance my way along the number line, the elementary kids ate it up and the older ones would beg me to retell them some scary, spooooky story, I knew. Yes, I could perform, entertain, put on the dog and pony show every day. Should we have to do that as teachers? Well…I sure as heck wouldn’t want to sit in a room 6 hours a day with people who spoke in monotones and put me to sleep…if I ever paid to attend a conference and that is what I got I would demand a refund.

My thought – perhaps in the education curriculum, a requirement should be a public speaking course so we do not begin to sound like “Bueller, Bueller…..Anyone…anyone?”

Just some thoughts.

C = You Hate My Kid

Posted: May 18, 2012 in Thought Fulls.

This is prolly less on the techno discussion side than most of my posts but it has had me reflecting,no no, it most certainly is. One day good ole Mr. Phillips and I were talking about grades and the typical frustrations we all face as the final report cards come out. Frankly, we understand, no one likes C’s. I get. I have gotten 2 Cs in my education..ok maybe 3 but the last one didn’t count. First C – high school geometry… grrr. Second C – StageCraft in college… GRRRRR! Yes I still fester a bunch of anger about them, but why? Why do they still haunt me? A “C” means average, you have adequatedly understood the material. Yet we hate “C”s. It as if “A” has become the Average instead of the above Average. But I am wandering away from my original thinking.

I’ll start again, one day Mr. Phillips and I are chatting and we begin to notice that within our current school community, some parents are beginning to have the mentality that if a students gets a C, we teachers hate thier kid or think that their kid is a bad egg. When I reflected about the parent discussions I have had since I have been at Tarkington, it is alarmingly true. Some parents are no longer seeing the correlation between learning and grades, rather they view grades are measures of behavior. Even if we tell them differently.

Odd. I don’t know the solution, really. Removing grades entirely? This could result in mayhem. Something to ponder is all.

(Dang Sound of Music Soundtrack playing in my head now!)

As I was trying to list the favorite apps at Tarkington, I steered away from ones which are more popular faves, like Popplet, Education &  Toontastic. Dandy apps but we know about them already! And awaaaay we go!

Let’s Do This

Pic Collage (free): Powerful free creation app which has endless possibilities.
Interactive Drawing Pad (free): Best drawing app for Primary folks. Hands Down!
Tools4Students ($.99): Templates for tons of mind mapping sheet you would normally copy for the students.. all right there and then easy peasy lemon squeezy ability to email.
Keynote ($9.99): While costly, I do think it is a wonderful for students to be creative at the same time it aides them in picking out important facts. (Golly I do have slideshows with entire paragraphs on them!!!!!… yes that is multiple exclamation marks, it is how much I hate it) And it also allows them to practice public speaking.

Math-A-Roo Stuff

Geometry Pad (free): – Never need graphing paper again.
Oh No Fractions (free):  –
Math Scribe (free): – This calculator will carry you through every math course you will ever encou
Geom-e-Tree ($.99): – Fancy, wonderful way to see shapes and angles change in relation to each other. At tree completion there is tree-rific overview (I couldn’t resist).
Map Measure ($2.99) or Measure Map ($1.99 ): Both do a pretty cool job of illustrating perimeter and area on a map.
MoneyTrail (free) – Meant to be an app for parents and kids to keep track of money and teach teens a thing or two but I can totally see our math teachers using it!

Games Worth Class Time

Strategic Games are a benefit for kids, it has them thinking and gets their brains working! Here are some that make mine work.

Geared – (Free) – Strategic thinkers required.
Reversi Free (Free… I just duhhed myself as I typed free after it is mentioned in the name…) For those of us who remember playing Othello, this will look really familiar.

Something for the Teacher Peeps – Just some I love…for lil ole me

PhotoSync –  ($1.99): I like it. Install app. Download software on your machine and blam-o. Couple clicks and you are syncing your photos wirelessly. You can also drop them into Evernote or Dropbox or another idevice. No cords. Perfect app for the ever popular – just get it done right now folks – like me!
Band of the Day –  (Free): Awesomest way to hear some new stuff.
Zite – (Free) – One of my most favorite way to stay ontop of techie techie news.

I don’t know Where to Stick this One

ScoreKeeper (Free) – Digital way to replace the tallies on the board and I love the user interface.

And now I officially have to post this and get it out of my draft posts or I will be a mad hatter.

Strategy of Angry Birds.

Posted: May 17, 2012 in Thought Fulls.

Ok…so with my 3 kids, my husband and I sit through a lot of sports and performances, I mean.. a lot and while  yes I do love it. I do… I love it more days than others tho… But most of the time I am glued – watching every single dribble, save, basket, song, poke check, dance interlude & free shot they have to offer. However,  there are some down times. It is during these times I usually have Angry Bird tournaments with the children who are -not- actively involved (while they are claiming that they have never been more bored in their whole entire life. I swear how do those dang Duggers do it!).

Back to Angry Birds. My daughter is incredible when it comes to beating the any and all levels and without cheats!  She does it with a cool, calm exterior which is a fierce contrast to my shaking the iPad tactic to see if it will make my last moving boulder will fall on the darn tiniest pig face. I grumble, I groan and I had the iPad over to Lily. Bam-o she beats the level. Next time, I watch and I ask her how she did it! This is where my learning took place. She described in great detail how she decided to shot the Exploder (yes, she has names for all of them)  at the big pig because it had the helmet on. It didn’t stop there, she continued to twist and swirl a wonderful tale of strategy, skill and risk all the while as we sat in the stands at the ice rink. All the while in the ice rink, she became a teacher and strategiest.

This made me think about the pure joy of giving students the opportunity to be educated within their environment. Not power gaming them into little learning boxes that at one time seemed so right. I go back to why I teach, I teach so that others will learn. Now if I was to attempt to teach Lily how to strategize by having her research the war tactics of General Patton, that would have gone over like …did I mention my daughter does one heck of an pre teen eye roll? But by allowing her to explore high level order thought process within her own environment, she succeeds.

It is out of our comfort zone to meet the kids in the middle but in that middle place, we might just find learning.

TechCoach Brag Book

Posted: May 16, 2012 in Over The Moon

Alright, I gotta. I gotta tell you about what amazing, trusting teachers I work with. Most of the time when I have a technology integration project ideas for my teachers, they nod and smile, even if I sound nuts and then they give it the ole college try. Some days I can offer more support then others based on my schedule. But Tarkington is seeing a techno-lution and I couldn’t be more proud.

As I stalk the web and my feeds for grant opportunities I pass them along to the classroom teachers. When the requirements allow, I collaborate with them on the grant writing, or I also write a version of the grant, because I learned early on to never ask someone to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself but all this stuff below is totally all them! So I am just going to brag a bit:

Ms. Tsakeris emailed me a week ago with an opening line of:

“Hey Darche,
Remember that tech grant you encouraged me to fill out?”

She had me right about there and yup she won the C-Jam award which will give her a full-blown set of recording equipment, camcorders, tripods, microphones, among other goodies. Ms. Tsakeris teaches social studies and next year we are going to roooock it by bringing history to life and current events to the halls of Tarkington.

Ok.. Next. Adobe does this amazing Youth Voices Program where you are given copies of the Adobe Suite to use and then they support you and your students in creating, designing and producing projects. Yup… you guessed it…Ms. Bailey, one of the 8th grade teachers and I applied and we were told a few days ago that we were accepted to participate!

Finally, months ago, I came across a small little Tweet talking about something called Classroom Champions. An organization which pairs up students with Olympic athletes or Para-Olympic athletes. Now, I applied and I encouraged the whole staff to apply, I figured the more of us who did, they greater the chance we had in winning. Myself and 3 other teachers, Ms. Montell, Ms. Stefan and Ms. Berman took a shot.. and last night Classroom Champions emailed us! They have requested a conference call between all of us and now we don’t know what exactly but… after jokingly emailing back and telling them that waiting to Thursday for the conference call was one heck of a way to build suspense, this is the emailed I received:

“Haha, thanks Kim!  And it would just be mean if we wanted to convene you all to tell you bad things :)”

(I am secretly so excited, I had to write this blog post before I even went into school, I can’t wait to talk to all of them this morning!)