My son is 14 months old. Against the wishes of his risk-averse parents, he is a climber. He’s been a climber since he learned to stand. And his favorite thing to do right now is to take a bite of food and stand straight up in his high chair.Continue Reading
For five summers, I watched an outside dining set melt in the Vegas sun. We don’t have many gray skies through the year but the summers are particularly punishing, topping out at 117 degrees for at least two weeks in July. I knew the chairs were toast when a couple of friends sat down and they fell into the frame as the seat disintegrated beneath them.Continue Reading
I’ve written a lot about how I structured my 70-minute math block by getting rid of whole group instruction in favor of four 15-minute rotations. Once I got comfortable with this type of instruction, I decided to do the same thing for reading.
In Las Vegas, teachers are required to teach reading for 110 minutes. So I bumped up the rotations to 20-minute stations and added some whole group components to the block that all students could participate in, regardless of their reading level. This included things like vocabulary instruction (where students came up with actions for the words), foundational skills (multisyllabic blending, affixes, etc.), and discourse around complex texts.
EdSurge is collecting stories from across the nation on how personalized learning is being implemented in various ways. I’m grateful for the opportunity to return to my education reporter roots to write a piece about my journey in the classroom. You can read the article here.
There’s been a seismic shift in the culture of my classroom. Each morning, I greet students at the door — as I’ve always done — but this year, I get to actually sit down next to them and have real conversations during breakfast. They tell me the exciting things going on in their lives. We start the day off on a positive note. Contrast this to every other year when the first interaction with many students each morning included this dreaded phrase: “Where is your homework?”
One day at recess, I watched two of my third-grade girls playing a video game called Animal Jam on a tiny cell phone screen. They worked together to make all kinds of decisions. Should we adopt this animal? How should we decorate our den? What are we supposed to do on this part? Their conversation blew me away and I thought, how can I get students to talk to each other like that in the classroom?
The answer was right in their hands: video games.
When I first started the station rotation model, I had a hodgepodge of eight devices, including my old black MacBook that I didn’t use anymore. This computer was painfully slow and, in fact, wouldn’t work unless the power cable was plugged in at all times. One false move and the cord ripped out from its magnetic jack and shut down, sending whatever you were working on into the cyber abyss. If you closed the laptop (as you should when not in use), it would also completely shut down. You even had to enter the wifi code every time you reopened it.
It was really important to me this year to try out activities and strategies that would leverage the power of my 1:1 Chromebooks. My first order of business was to implement two computer centers in my station rotation model instead of one. The second was to better engage students in whole group instruction with interactive tools.
Here’s a look at what blended learning looks like in my classroom in one week:
World, meet our Lexia board. I knew when I dove into blended learning that I wanted my students to track their progress on our adaptive reading program. Originally, I planned to make individual data booklets but I soon realized I wanted to go bigger. If I truly believe in the power of this “other teacher” in my room, I thought, then I must make it have a huge presence. So the Lexia board was born.
Last year, I was super fortunate to receive $5,000 from the CenturyLink Teachers and Technology Program. I now have a Chromebook for every student in my class that they use 40 minutes per day for an adaptive reading program and Google Classroom. Having one-to-one devices has completely revolutionized what I am able to do in my blended learning classroom.
Education grant writing is too often misunderstood. I think it’s because we hear about full-time job openings dedicated exclusively to grant writing and assume it is too hard or takes too long. But those jobs are for huge sums of money that come with all kinds of strings attached that have to be monitored. There are grants that are super accessible to teachers and are worth a couple days of work. If you have ever considered writing a grant, here are four tips to help get you started and take away some of the anxiety.