Posted in Learning, Teaching

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 curriculum, prepare for the state test, prepare for the AP test, etc, NOW is the time! Maybe closing out the year with some amazing lessons will carry you into the next year so you can begin your year inspired and creative!

Where does Innovation come from?? Why not learn from the best? From Google’s nine principles of innovation.

What to do with that random last 10-15 minutes of class on a testing day? Why not let the students explore Google Earth? Read about it from a teacher here: Turns out Google Earth is Perfect for Students

Enable students to explore politics by taking an in-depth look at the different platforms and participating in the I Side With quiz.

Talk about Controversial Issues.  Or maybe don’t talk, but do a silent chalk talk so everyone has the time to express their opinions. The Atlantic had an interesting article about this last week: The Case for Contentious Classrooms.

Have your students (or your department) go through the Line of Separation. How well do you really know who you work with anyhow?

Organize a fun class around History through the movies! Assign students to research movies that have historical connections, then use IMDB and movie trailers to discuss the connections, misconceptions and how movies change perspectives (Gangs of New York, Titanic, Flyboys, War Horse, Great Gatsby, Amelia, Grapes of Wrath, Cinderella Man, It’s a Wonderful Life, Windtalkers, Schlinder’s List, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Saving Private Ryan, Pleasantville, Goodnight and Good Luck,  Across the Universe, 13 Days, JFK, Mississippi Burning, 42, Cesar Chavez History is Made One Step at a Time, The Help, Selma, Hidden Figures, The Butler, Good Morning Vietnam, Rescue Dawn, Platoon, All the President’s Men, Argo, Frost/Nixon, The China Syndrome, United 93, Social Network, World Trade Center, Seal Team Six, and etc).

Spend some time on a Genius Hour Project: AJ Juliani

Start a Book Club with some summer reading ideas for students. Involve parents and teachers.

Send students to Coursera or Lynda.com (if you have that), to learn something new, find a passion, explore new ideas, then share with their classmates!

Finally, participate in a Mystery Skype!

Play some Survivor with your class!

Inspire students to culminate their learning for the year with a video project.

Explore Google Arts and Culture, inspire students to see new things in their community, or take students on a virtual field trip!

Pick a topic you learned about (or let the students vote on a topic using an online polling software, like Mentimeter). Then put students in groups of 5-6. Instruct students to write the first sentence or two or three of a story about that topic. Have students pass to the right and continue writing the story. Keep going until you have a completed story from each group. Have the groups read their stories aloud to discuss their learning/viewpoint/opinions on the topic.

Let students explore some interactive math puzzles through current events and pop culture with expii solve.

Explore Dollar Street with your students.

Ask students to bring topics, articles, books, things that interest them to class.  Then practice some discussion techniques. Examples here: Cult of Pedagogy Classroom Discussion Strategies

Test your map and trivia knowledge with Smarty Pins!

Give students a chance to experience a real life budget issues with PlaySpent.

 

How are you ending your school year?

 

Posted in #Immooc, Conferences

More Life Lessons from Eva Kor

I posted last about attending TCSS in Corpus and having the opportunity to meet Eva Kor, a survivor of Auschwitz.  Since then, I have submitted the paperwork and have 30 students signed up to participate in a book study over her book and a SKYPE session with her! I’m am very excited about this.  We had over 30 students sign up, but the museum only allows 30 so we had to go based on time stamp of registering online. I’ve talked to a few students already and they are very excited to get started.

So on to her next life lessons that she shared with us in Corpus.

Life lesson 2 was about Prejudice. She said that it always hurts the victim and talked about how societies that permit it to happen are destroyed by it.

“It is the cancer of the human soul.” 

She went on to discuss how it is her obligation to not have prejudice. That everyone has an obligation to not have it.  For example, she talked about how students should wear uniforms as they go to school only to improve their minds! Not to impress others.

“You must judge people on their merits.”

Life Lesson 3 was the one I found the most humbling. Her life lesson #3 is:

“Forgive the Nazis.”

Wow. How amazing is her forgiveness and grace?? She talked awhile about forgiveness and I was mesmerized by her every word. I wanted to remember it exactly. I typed it as fast as I could in the notes on my iPhone (yeah, I know, I should have just recorded her, but I wasn’t thinking about that at the time).

“You have the power to forgive. No one can give it to you and no one can take it away. As long as you have someone you are angry with, you are still a victim. Forgiveness is a feeling of wholeness. It is freeing. It works. It has no side effects.”

Are you amazed yet? You can find a lot more information about her with a simple google search, or by reading her book!

I started this blog as part of the #IMMOOC.  I didn’t really follow the assigned blog prompts each week, but I was grateful for the ideas shared by others and the opportunity to challenge myself to reflect and write.  As I reflect on Mrs. Kor, her life, her message, and all the amazing ideas from the #IMMOOC, I think about innovation and society.  How far have we come as a society in education?  In helping others? In ridding the world of prejudice?  In creating, growing, learning, reflecting, and becoming innovative??
In the current political climate, it is really HARD to see positives. A lot of negativity has come out in our society/culture/world.  Can we all take a minute to pause and think about Eva’s message?  I hope I can follow her life lessons in all things that I do in life.  Do you?

One last thing to leave you with from Mrs. Kor:

“What if we created a project where a million tweets are sent to stop the killing and create a safe zone in Syria? Imagine that. The power of the internet is amazing.  This is why I tweet. It is easy. You can be clever. You can be bold. You can make a difference.”

Posted in #Immooc

Research, Better Conversations, and Relationships!

Recently, I had a discussion with some educational leaders on my campus about what is effective in education. Some of those leaders had attended a day long presentation on Visible Learning. I was interested in the book and the research, but also very questioning of it all.  I think it is hard to find research for education that is irrefutable. I’m curious as to what others think on this as well. I guess I’m sort of a skeptic on buying into educational research without doing some research of my own first. Ha!

I believe that teaching is an art. It has so many characteristics, variables, options, etc (whatever word you want to use). My role as an instructional coach, I think, is to expose students and teachers to new and better ideas so they can use which ones best fit themselves as teachers and their students as learners.  There is a lot of research saying this strategy is the most effective, or this strategy is only sort of effective.  But is that research valid? Aren’t there TOO many variables to determine what is effective? All schools, teachers, students are different. So how do we determine what is the most effective?

Instead of just reading books on what’s most effective in education, I want to rely on more ways of encouraging students and teachers to question ideas and to try new things. Teachers and students should be finding out what works and experimenting. If something doesn’t work, then that’s okay. We can keep going. I do believe in research in that it can lead us down a path of growing, learning, changing, innovating.  But I don’t buy into the idea of one size fits all or one person’s research (or one person compiling research) is what’s best for all kids in all classrooms.

What I really like is this from Edventures of a Teacher Mom.  Have you read this blog? I LOVE this part of one of the posts (it’s an Acrostic):

Invest in their people (investment vs. expenditure)
Network. Get outside of the walls of their office, classroom, school.
Nurture relationships. Care for their people.
Open their heart. Share their hopes, dreams and fears. Let their people see their human side and who they really are.
Voice, choice and autonomy.
Act as a role-model, and risk-taker.
Trust their people more than they feel comfortable with.
Empathize with their people. Understand who they are, what they hope, what they fear, etc.

I think the blogs and ideas from educators around the world has so much power! I read her acrostic (and the rest of her blog postings for that matter) and found myself nodding along in agreement and being delightfully surprised in her working and how it all just makes SO MUCH SENSE in connecting innovation to learning.

Speaking of research, Jim Knight (who focuses on Instructional Coaching) talks about how CONVERSATIONS (really, better conversations) are the LIFEBLOOD of a school. That the biggest way to change a school, to make an impact is to improve the conversations that are happening.  Sheila in her post says “It’s all about the heart work.” That is so powerful. I think her thoughts, Jim Knight’s thoughts tie in perfectly with the importance of Relationships from The Innovator’s Mindset…from what George Couros and Katie Martin have been talking about. And really, what almost all of the #IMMOOC participants have blogged about.

If you think about all of the pieces of a school, of learning, of people, of innovation…isn’t it all really about conversations and relationships? Aren’t those what make us human? What make us connect, learn, and grow?  I think we all know this, it’s just nice to think about it, talk about it out loud, and blog about it.

Thanks for listening! I hope we can have a conversation, a better conversation that is about innovation, learning, growing, changing and being!

–Celaina

Posted in #Immooc

TCSS in Corpus–Edutaining!

So I’m a bit behind in the #IMMOOC. It has been a busy time at work and at home. I’ve been keeping up as best I can with twitter and the facebook groups. My plan is to read some updated blogs and comment this evening.

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Today, I’m heading to Corpus Christi to attend and present at the Texas Council for Social Studies conference. I’m excited to attend and to present. I’m presenting with a fellow coworker on ways to “Edutain” learners in a social studies classroom. Are we presenting anything innovative?  I think so, using the whole “Is it New, Is it Better?” mentality.  It’s not necessarily new to us, but it will be new to some of the attendees.  And is it better? I think so! We are presenting 5-6 ideas, that you can easily use in class to make the learning more engaging and student centered. Hopefully teachers see these as easy ideas to implement to break up the standard routine most in social studies follow of lecturing or having students read articles and answer questions. Here is a copy of the handout we are giving participants: Edutaining Learners in Social Studies Classes.  We are presenting on Saturday. Wish us luck!

–Celaina

Posted in #Immooc

EduBlogs…..who uses them?

I’m a little behind on posting for the #IMMOOC.  My plan is to watch the google hangout from Saturday either today or tomorrow and then post some reflections after that. Plus a meme (like the one of my daughter, below). I’ve been keeping up with the Voxer group and it is so great. There are some wonderful ideas being shared. If you haven’t joined, it’s not too late. But between the hangouts, facebook, twitter, and blog postings–there are so many new ideas out there! That has been the beauty of the MOOC, right??

So Edublogs…does anyone use them and not have a pro account? I was a winner for the #IMMOOC selfie contest and my prize is an edublogs pro account. I use wordpress (obviously), so I don’t need an edublogs account. Who needs one? I’m sure I can transfer my winnings over to you.  Comment and let me know your info!

Happy Monday! Have you had your Coffee yet?

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