Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Save a tree- Digital Running Records!!

Are you tired of making [tons!!] of running record copies?! You can now use the Explain Everything app on your iPad to complete digital running records!! This will not only save you time, it will also save a few trees! 

NISD has adopted the Fountas and Pinnell IRI Kits. Most kits have a CD at the back of the teacher book. If yours does, you can save the blank running record forms from the CD into a folder in your Google Drive. If not, you can take pictures of the running record forms and import them into Explain Everything. The following video will show you how to import the blank forms, complete the running record with annotations right on the iPad, and then save them. You can even record the student reading while simultaneously completing the form!

Exporting your complete running records is of utmost importance! To do this, create a Google Drive folder for each of your students on your computer. As the video shows, you can then export the running record to Google Drive as a PDF or as a video if you have recorded your students reading. Contact myself of your campus Academic Technology Coach if you need support!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Introducing... SPARK Recognition Certificates!!

We know that teachers and administrators like you are making big differences everyday for our NISD students when it comes to 21st century teaching and learning. NISD Academic Technology will be recognizing those difference-makers with new SPARK Recognition Certificates. These certificates are aligned with the ISTE Standard for Educators

The ISTE Standards for Educators are an educator's road map to helping students become empowered learners! These standards deepen professional practice, promote collaboration with peers, challenge you to rethink traditional approaches and prepare students to drive their own learning. 

Fill out the following form to nominate one of your colleagues for a SPARK Recognition Certificate (YES- you can nominate yourself!!). 

We will also continue our Digital Badge program! Check out the Digital Badges we currently have available and fill out the following form to request your badges. You can add your Digital Badges to your gmail signature line or display in your classroom. Which badge will you earn next!?

Digital Badge Request Form

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Creating a Culture of Thinking

Ryan's teacher sent me this pic!
My three year old son is currently attending an amazing Mother's Day Out program. I love that he comes home from school asking so many questions. The whys, the what ifs, the I wonders... his little school is helping him become a better questioner, a thinker. 

This week his school held their annual Rodeo Day. Ryan was SO excited. As we chatted about rodeo day that evening, he proudly showed off his stick horse and went on and on about the animals he learned about during school. He asked to read rodeo books before bed and since our home library was a bit limited in rodeo books (here I come Amazon!), I pulled up some pictures and videos of the animals he was curious about online. He had what felt like a million questions about horses. Everything from what they eat to how someone might learn to ride a horse. The exciting, playful activities from his day at school prompted him to be inquisitive and eager to learn. Why is it that our youngest students seem so full of wonder, so creative, while our older students sometimes seem to lose this?

I've been reading the book Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, & Karin Morrison. The focus of the book is on creating environments where learning is viewed not in test scores or grades but in the development of individuals who can question, think, plan, create, and engage as learners. The book outlines several research-based thinking routines teachers can put in place in their classrooms to create a culture of thinking as opposed to a classroom focused on grades, memorization and recall of information. 

When I was a student going through school, I was really good at playing the "game of school"... I wasn't necessarily focused on the learning and thinking. I didn't have the wonder and curiosity my son demonstrates. I wanted that "A" and I was going to do whatever it took to get it. I'm not sure if it was a message from my teachers, my need to please (compliance), or my competitive nature but when I think back on it, it's a shame my focus was on grades and not on my own thinking/learning. There's no step-by-step program for creating a culture of thinking, but I do know a focus on grades/standardized tests can definitely kill the love the learning and in turn limit deep thinking.

What can we do to create a culture of thinking... an environment in which our student's collective as well as individual thinking is valued, visible and actively promoted? I think it starts with looking closely at what we are doing as professionals. How do we as teachers value thinking? Do we value the thinking & learning process over grades/recall of information? How are we communicating that belief to students? Change has to start with us. In order for our students to become deep thinkers, we must first view ourselves as life-long learners with a growth mindset. When this is modeled, students will follow suit. One of the main ways my thinking is pushed forward is by collaborating with others (even if it's via Twitter with someone I've never met in person!). Having the opportunity to work closely with so many amazing educators whom I admire has truly helped me to become a more reflective and creative thinker. This quote from educator Robert John Meehan really resonates with me, "The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives." I believe this collaboration is key- if we harness the power of the collective group and create a culture of thinking as professionals we can better see how to develop this culture of thinking within the classroom. 

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