Engnology

Reflections of Blending English and Technology in the Classroom

Archive for the ‘staff’ Category

4 Conditions to Improve Success of 1:1 Initiatives

with one comment

I have been asked many times what one should consider to aid in a successful 1:1 Initiative. The following is a list of the top 4 conditions, I believe, helps to ensure this success:

1. Sustained and High -Quality Professional Development – Provide PD that is research-proven, as well as data-driven by student needs. Allow time for sharing and collaboration throughout the year. While PD may contain apps and tools, focus should remain on pedagogy and curriculum. Apps and tools should never be pushed upon staff or mandated that ALL teachers use them in their teaching.  Allow teachers to grow at their own rate, some may be more skilled/comfortable than others at tech integration in their curriculum.
2. Climate of the Building – The climate and culture of the building should support risk-taking without punishment and places trust in students and teachers. Administration should be fully aware that some things will not always work exactly as planned, but teachers who think outside of the norm or want to try something new in the classroom should not live in fear of being punished for a lesson that fails.  Finally, beware of over-blocking and denying access to teachers and students. Trust in students and staff to utilize what works best for their curricular areas.
3. Infrastructure – If the technology doesn’t work in all areas of learning (in a building) it loses it’s potential and causes frustration. Also, when the comfort level with technology use grows, you will see multiple devices being used in learning. Students and staff will bring and want to use phones, ipods, and other personal devices along with their laptops. Is your building ready to support all of these devices?
4. Focus – Finally, technology will continue to advance, apps will become obsolete as others take their place; remember to make curriculum and pedagogy the main focuses. Utilizing technology in the classroom should not be a separate event, technology should be infused naturally because it is the best option available. Make sure the tech is relevant to learning and their lives, easily replicable for student use and applicable to other areas of curriculum and life.

Advertisements

Written by sfarnsworth

May 4, 2012 at 6:04 pm

15 Teacher Tips to Help Students Finish the Year Strong

with one comment

Last week I was contacted by Laura McMullen, a reporter for the U.S. News and  World Report , who wanted to interview me the following day about tips I had for teachers to finish the year strong. She explained that she had searched for “high school teachers” on Twitter and my account popped up. She checked out my tweets and blog (a teachable moments for my students) and decided I would be perfect for the article she was writing.

On Monday, the article came out – “Three Tips for Teachers to Help Students Finish the Year Strong” – which combines a few of the tips and examples that I gave to her.  During the time I initially received the first email I was collaborating with my friend Tim Hadley, a Social Studies teacher at Pekin High School. He agreed to act as my sounding board as I created a list of tips. Tim also graciously added a few of his own tips to the document. I thought I would share the complete list with all readers…

1.  Make a list of goals/objectives you wish to have students meet before the end of the year, prioritize them, and post in the classroom.
2. Chunk larger assignments into smaller sections; each section having due dates. This helps with procrastination and students waiting until the last minute to finish work.
3. End of the year is a great time to invite in speakers relevant to content studying into your classroom, either physically or virtually.
4. Give students choice. How do they want to demonstrate their learning?
5. Take advantage of the nice weather – reading, writing, geocaching, science experiments. Can your classroom be mobile and outdoors?
6. Provide an audience for your students projects, writing, etc. other than yourself.
7. Remain consistent with the routines and rules established at the beginning of the year.
8. Collaborate – get your class connected with students who are studying the same thing.
9. Reflect on the year and invite students to do the same; collecting responses to what they have learned, skills they have gained, least favorite and most favorite activities.
10.  Spiral review- Connect prior learning from throughout the year with what you are doing currently and have students predict what they will learn about to the end of the year.
11. Don’t fight distractions, feed them. Tie lesson plans into summer plans. Have a student taking a trip? Talk about the places they will go or have them plan the ultimate summer vacation.
12. Get students active. Plan a service project for your community in which students can give back to their community.
13. Talk about the future. Have students give input about the year and the course of study they have been engaged in. Ask them for advice about what and how should be taught to incoming students.
14. Create a classroom survival guide. When students are reflecting on the course, have them create a short survival guide for next year’s students on what they can expect from the course.
15. With the ending of a school year comes new beginnings. Have students create goals and aspirations for what is next in their lives

Please add your list of tips below!

Written by sfarnsworth

April 26, 2012 at 2:17 am

BCLUW High School Named Apple Distinguished School

leave a comment »

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.

Written by sfarnsworth

March 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm

“You Never Know Unless You Ask” – Skype with Poet Taylor Mali

with one comment

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’sWhat 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!

Written by sfarnsworth

March 2, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Amazing QR Race Staff Kick Off

with 2 comments

BCLUW kicked off the 2011-2012 school year with a staff QR code race organized by new principal, Cari Teske. The staff was grouped together and “raced” around town in search of QR codes that were placed at local businesses. At each business location we had to do 2 things: 1. take a picture of technology in the workplace, 2.  interview bosses on the qualities they looked for when hiring.

Why this worked:

1.Movement – we, as a staff, interacted and physically moved. We didn’t sit and listen in lecture-style manner.

2. Purpose – connected with businesses to see the technology they used and qualities they look for when they hire.

3. Applicable in classroom – this exercise could easily be adapted into the classroom. In fact, when I have students participate in a writing marathon this fall we will mimic this activity.

4. Fun – Learning can and should be fun, even for adult learners.

Top qualities businesses look for when hiring:

1. Communication Skills

2. Appearance/hygeine

3. Punctualality

4. Integrity

5.Personality, ability to get along with others

How many of these are measurable on the state tests? But….. how important are these skills?

Cari used QR Treasure Hunt Generator  to organize and create the codes.

Written by sfarnsworth

August 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm