Starting the School Year with Fun!

I blogged about back to school last July here: Starting off the School Year. Since it is the end of July–it’s time for another back to school post! My blog last year was about my mistakes in reading the syllabus on the first day and not making it fun! So on that note, here are some ways you can make the first few days of school more engaging! Check out this Indiana Jones group activity to make going over your syllabus, policies and procedures more engaging (from Ryan Stephans of Summit Trail Middle School who adapted it from John Meehan…

Summer Learning

Happy summer! Learning is a passion and a purpose, right? What are you reading and learning about this summer? As educators, we have a drive and passion for learning. That passion is crucial for our success as change makers! We all know that brain research on learning, our students, challenges, culture, and life are all constantly evolving. To keep up with those changes, we keep learning ourselves (practicing what we preach, right?). Schools should be a place of curiosity, where educators nurture that curiosity and encourage the hunger for learning. And that starts with us! The more we learn about…

The importance of talking

The Texas Council for Social Studies annual conference was a few weeks ago in the Houston area. It’s one I’ve attended off and on over my years as an educator in Texas. This was the first time I went with a group of other teachers as well. The conference (although in a poor location with tiny rooms) was full of a variety of sessions tied to technology, specific topics, writing, reading, and talking. Unfortunately, I only saw a few sessions on the importance of talking as educators and as students. Talking to learn new content, talking to review old content,…

It’s been awhile…

So my blogging goals for last school year definitely slipped away from me! So back at it now, as better late than never, right? Today was the first day of the Cy-Fair Digital Learning Conference. DLC is a great conference that CFISD organizes each year at the end of July. I think today they said about 1700 educators were in attendance–fantastic for summertime professional learning!  I went to a great session on PLCs. It is fascinating to hear about how other districts (and campuses for that matter) view PLCs. Some view it as something to be done and for others,…

Listening to Understand

It is almost November and this is my first blog for the school year, oops! But better late than never, right?? In my conversations, meetings, books I’m reading, and professional learning opportunities lately a common thread has emerged: Listening to Understand.  What does that mean to you? Is that something you think about? I have am amazing opportunity to work with the Teaching and Learning Alliance on a Lab School Cohort on my campus. Our coach is Cynthia, and she is someone that you can learn so many things from! What I’ve noticed most is her ability to listen. And…

Starting off the school year

Summer is rapidly coming to an end which means let’s start the back to school work. Time to take all that summer learning from books, blogs, twitter, planning with co-workers, professional learning, vacation, and etc, and put it into practice. How do you start off your school year? Prep your classroom, make some lesson plans, get those bulletin boards and seating charts ready, etc?  What about the syllabus, class rules, and class expectations? That was something that was at the top of my priority list my first few years of teaching. I felt it paramount to cover every bit of…

#LFTX17, High-Impact Instruction with Jim Knight

Whew, only the end of day 1 and I am still processing the learning. I was with Jim Knight for High-Impact Instruction today. To help solidify my learning, I’m coming here to jot my notes and thoughts from the day and action plan moving forward. First off–how awesome is this?? As part of the session, we were given the High-Impact Instruction book, a guide for Teachers and a spiral-bound notebook to guide our reading and learning from the session and the book. Today, we focused on: The Impact Cycle for Coaching –what it is and how can it be used…

In the summer swing!

My last post was over a month ago, oops! Time to readjust my goals so that doesn’t happen again. How has your summer been so far? I’ve spent some time on campus for interviews (we still have a few openings in the department to fill), and I’ve spent a lot of time on my laptop grading AP Human Geography virtual school assignments. The past few days have been wonderful. I’ve had some lovely family downtime visiting Gma at the lake house, spending time with the kids, time with cousins, and just going with the flow. No real schedule of events….

Wrapping up a school year

We are getting closer to the end of the school year. This week we have our EOCs and next week will finish up AP testing. So what do you do at the end of the year? What lessons are your favorites? What do you try to leave students with to carry into the summer? Are you hurrying to finish your curriculum, or finding times to explore new things and to play? Now is the time to play, explore, and let the students inquire, right?  If you missed out on that all year because you felt the pressure to finish the…

#IMMOOC–The Innovative Educator

Innovation is more than just inventing something new. Innovation is creative and messy. It is about creating a space for experimentation, failures, change for the better. Critical questions to ask when looking for innovation: Is it new? Is it better? How can you use innovation in teaching? How can students use it to learn?  We have to create an environment of uncertainty and unpredictability.  If you know every day when you show up to class EXACTLY what is going to happen (think about it from the lens of a student–I’m going to come in, sit down, do my warm up, listen…

A message of kindness

I posted about Mrs. Eva Mozes Kor last October: One of the amazing things that Eva does is spreading her message at conferences, in schools, and around the world.  A program that she hosts through the museum allows you to spend $500 and you will receive 30 copies of her book plus an hour long virtual session with her.  Of course, I jumped at this opportunity for the students at my campus.  I put in the PO, ordered the books, and got started! We started our meetings in January and these students read the book on their own time and…

Professional Learning

I recently attended two Region 4 conferences. One was the Digital Learning conference (where I presented a session with a SS IC and a Math IC one easy tech tips to organize and streamline your life) and the other was the Social Studies conference (where I presented a session with a SS IC on total participation activities for students).  Both conferences had some great presentations that sparked new ideas. I enjoyed sessions on using maps to teach broach concepts in social studies, visiting exhibit halls to see the latest in smart board technology, and video hosting platforms for coaching like…