Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Too Good to Start a Revolution!

Today my team dressed up as a royal court of queens (cousins to King George III) and thanked our colonists for paying their taxes.  We thanked them for being loyal and paying without resisting. All three of us wore many "jewels" and expressed our desire to have more. We encouraged the colonists to keep paying their taxes. Our message went right over their heads! I have no one that's even upset in the slightest way to pay taxes without any representation.

This year I'm feeling that my class is just "too good to start a revolution"! They are cheering for the King throughout the day by saying, "Long Live King George III!". No amount of taxes have caused them to stop and think about why they are paying. The taxes keep getting higher. Some students are running out of money. But they still pay without the slightest complaint. The only sign of frustration that I've seen is when I accused some kids of having a secret meeting and of talking badly about King George III. Tomorrow I will have to frustrate them even more!

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Great Lesson Using Nearpod!

I've played with Nearpod before but I haven't use it consistently. I don't know why other than not taking the time to troubleshoot.  Today I taught one of their FREE pre-made lessons about Glaciers. Everything worked seamlessly! I was so excited! There were a few times where I held my breath inside, but nothing went wrong. It was amazing! Kids were engaged! They loved drawing the glaciers and having me share their masterpieces. We laughed and enjoyed the lesson. It always helps to have some SUCCESS without using a plan B or C. Can't wait until tomorrow!

*It also helped to know that I'd have iPads for the whole morning! Wow! Awesome day!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Blended Learning Blunders

Even before I'd heard the term "flipping" back in 2011, I tried to create a blended learning environment in my own way. I occasionally had access to about 15 very old laptops through a check out system. Although they were available for other teachers, it soon became apparent that other teachers didn't want to bother with maintaining old laptops and so I had them in my classroom quite often.

Sometimes it's good to experience some success early on when you're trying something new. I experienced a lot of success! Kids were motivated, loved doing assignments online, and enjoyed the ability to extend the classroom walls beyond the traditional clock. As a class (actually 5 sixth grade classes), we had many engaging discussions after school hours about the subjects we were learning about and about life in general. But the utopia didn't last for long.

Every year brings a new group of students and going back to teaching 5th grade was a challenge. They enjoyed playing the games and chatting. But to engage in conversation, to complete assignments, to watch even a 2 min. video of instruction was difficult. I also had about 10 students who didn't have regular access to the Internet and more that didn't have tech or homework support at home. I tried to do an in-class flipped model. That's really hard without access to devices. I grabbed the iPads and scheduled lab time as often as I could! It required me to be very flexible with my schedule and to adapt all of the time. The inconsistency of having devices made my schedule inconsistent. And...having the classroom schedule being changed all of the time had benefits but certainly had a lot of disadvantages.

This year I feel more prepared to teach in an online environment than I ever have before. But, I still lack the consistent access of tech. I try very hard to keep a consistent schedule. It's virtually impossible when I'm trying to grab 30minutes of lab time here and 30 min. there.

Although I love sharing what I have learned these past few years, the more I teach others how they can integrate tech, the less time with the lab or devices that I have for my class. It's a true dilemma for me.  My wanting to share almost always trumps my greedy desire for lab time or iPads.

I'm in a strange situation. I KNOW what I could be implementing, I have SOME knowledge of how to use the tool or program, but I need the TIME to PRACTICE with the kids. I need time to troubleshoot. I need time to feel confident. I need time to make the tool work seamlessly with a lesson.  I know that by the very nature of wanting to use tech that I should always have a plan B,C, and D. I do that now. I want to get to a point where I can prepare a lesson without it taking me hours of my time for one lesson. It's not about the tech! It's about the teaching and learning. However, it is somewhat about the tech if you're learning how to use the web tool or program.

At some point, I will find a way to get a set of iPads or even better-laptops for my class. I am determined! I need access to tech every day all day! That's when I could really develop a blended learning classroom.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Overwhelmed and Out of Breath!

     The start of this school year was crazy! I had to move my whole classroom to a portable classroom and only a day before Back to School Night. The only thing that I had time to do was basically shove things in a closet or in a box. The portable has NO storage! I was glad to have the room clean for Back to School night let alone decorated. The parents were kind and very understanding.

     I caught a flu bug. It hung on to me for nearly two months. For a while it was in my head and I had terrible headaches. At other times, it was in my chest. It was not fun to be coughing for two months! The worst part of it all, is that it made me weak. I physically didn't have the energy to do that things that I'd normally do at the beginning of the year.

****This was the start of a post that I never finished. I decided to publish it anyway.

Excuses! Excuses!

I have a long list of excuses for not blogging! Every weekend, I've read tweets and blogs and told myself that I needed to take the time to write a post. But, the weekends slipped by and the weeks started to add up quickly. At first it was only a couple of weeks behind--I could catch up, I thought. But, I never did. What a hypocrite! I talked to my kids about the value of blogging. I encouraged other teachers to blog. And the whole time, I didn't make time to keep up my own blog.  Maybe it's because I struggle with thinking that I have anything important to say. Maybe it's because I've been so busy that I haven't even had time to breathe. Being in school and teaching full time is hard! I'm exhausted at night! Other people have done it so I shouldn't whine. Maybe it's my inner struggle of "being out there and vulnerable". I'm such a private person by nature. Maybe there's some fear in me if I'm to be honest. I KNOW I need to blog and document my professional journey. I KNOW that through reflection that I'll grow. I KNOW this because I kept a journal for most of my life and know how going back and reading my thoughts and feelings helped me to grow as a person. And...because I know this....I will try again to keep a consistent blog.