Archive for March 2012
Yesterday I completed (and passed) the oral exam needed to obtain my M.A. in English from UNI (now all I have left is the research paper!). My focus was on the confluence of our school implementing a 1:1 Laptop Program and my studies in graduate school which caused me to redesign current curriculum. During the conversation I verbalized important components of an English classroom in a digital age. This list helps to frame my curriculum:
1. Focus on the solid foundations and theory not the tool or application.
2. Students need to be critical thinkers, understanding content/messages in all literacies .
3. Reader is at the center of the text – only when meaning from text can be applied to self does it become important and relevant.
4. Students work within the cannon of the English language not outside of it.
5. Literacy is the heart of education.
6. Reading and writing are dichotic not separate entities.
7. Writing as a form of learning and reflection.
8. Communicate effectively in written, verbal, or multimedia forms for pleasure, education, and professional reasons.
9. Not all writing is complete or publishable, most is not
10. The art of response, how to respond effectively.
11. Understanding communication in multiple literacies and how to use different mediums to share their voice is essential part of being a productive citizen.
12. How to use technology to access information, connect, collaborate, create, and publish.
When focus is shifted to curriculum design with the aid of technology instead of a focus on tools and applications, student learning is framed within the essential skills of a curricular area not a set of tools that becomes outdated quickly.
References – Rosenblatt, Elbow, Atwell, NWP, Cope and Kalantzis
Mid February, staff and students received a surprise in the form of an assembly during the last period of the day. When everyone had taken their seats, it was announced that BCLUW High School was named an Apple Distinguished School. BCLUW is one out of 56 schools across the nation to receive this award.
Tony Gunter, an Apple Executive, presented the award citing all of the evidence that makes BCLUW a worthy choice.
The following is a brief description of the award and qualifications needed to be named:Schools nominated by Apple for designation as an Apple Distinguished School must demonstrate Apple’s highest vision of a successful 21st century learning environment, a strong relationship with Apple, and a willingness to do outreach activities. The specific manifestations of these qualities include:
- School demonstrates “best practice” qualities of 21st century learning environment;
- Visionary leadership;
- An infrastructure (IT) that supports a blended learning environment;
- Engaging teaching and learning methods that capitalize on the qualities of today’s students who are mobile, collaborative and creative;
- One-to-one access to portable computers and/or mobile access devices (iPod or iPad) for all teachers and students;
- Evidence of ongoing professional development;
- A systematic approach and ongoing process for evaluation and assessment of results for education improvement and sustainability.
On March 1st, BCLUW High School students hosted a buddy day with their elementary friends focused on Dr. Seuss’s birthday and Read Across America Day. Each high school room chose a different Seuss book to have as the focus for their room. I chose “Oh The Places You’ll Go” – one of my all-time favorites.
While eating our lunch, I shared the book through my Apple tv and ipad app which allowed students to listen and view an animated version of the story. Many of Dr. Seuss’s books are apps! After lunch, each buddy pair chose a section of the text to illustrate. With the help of their high school buddies, the second graders chose parts of the sections to read aloud for the imovie we were going to create. Applying a number of different activities to the piece with a variety of learning styles targeted increased learning, connection, and engagement. Students were listening, reading, drawing, and speaking all in one activity. We worked on fluency and pronunciation of the words to prepare for the taping of their part.
The following imovie was created from the students’ work and voices.
On a side note, and an idea from Mary Ascher, the second grade class is actually that of my son’s, and so I am going to save all of their drawings, writings, and videos and give to them for senior gifts.
As a bell ringer during the poetry unit, I share with students one of my favorite poems. This helps to showcase different poets, forms, poetic devices, etc. Tuesday began with Taylor Mali’s “What Teachers Make” and a few other poems of his. The students fell in love with his boldness and play on words. He was a poet that they immediately connected with; speaking about school, relationships, typos…
Throughout the day I noticed tweets to Mr. Mali from my students and much to my surprise he responded back to them. One of my students (I have labeled the “Queen of Social Media”) suggested he skype in with our class. We were all shocked and pleased when Mr. Mali agreed, stating to the student, “You never know unless you ask.”
Mr. Mali skyped with the students the following week. He spent time answering questions, inspiring students, and connecting with the kids. At the end, as a surprise, he sent them all a copy of his poem, “How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog” and recited it for them. A memory that we all reflect upon fondly.
Top Things Students Learned:
1. Poetry is COOL!
2. Twitter and other Social Media connects you with experts/world.
3. You don’t know unless you ask…
The next day the students were abuzz talking about skyping with Mr. Mali weekly, other people they wanted to skype with, understanding the power of technology to connect them to the world! This experience is one they will never forget, and they joke about telling their own children one day how they met Taylor Mali.
One of the highlights of my career!