I thought that all I could learn from kindergarten teachers I'd learned back in 1970 in Mrs. Ducote's class, but Kory Graham has proven me wrong.
Being in daily contact with Kory for the past year as part of our connected educator teaching PLC has taught me a number of things. Her insightful questions have improved my teaching, her modeling has expanded my tech horizons, and her friendship has enriched my personal life.
Mrs. Graham taught me that smart boards work best in the hands of students and mounted at student height (yes, even kindergarteners can use them -I've seen them used in her classroom, along with educational iPad activities she designed.)
She showed me I can use Google Hangout for long-distance reading enrichment and she offered to help me when I admitted I found it daunting.
Her calm nature makes her a great tech tutor. She is approachable and positive and meets those who do not have her same expertise right where we are. She knows how to reassure those with tech anxiety. Nothing seems too hard with Kory on your team. She is a master of making a way.
She's one of the most ethical, conscientious, and truly helpful people I know. I've seen her work hand-in-hand with parents both in her classroom and across the country to make learning better for students.
She enjoys discovering new tools and information and asks amazing questions that probe thinking and open up possibilities. She single-handedly instituted and organized a reading night for her students and community families that continues each year solely because of the force of her commitment to doing what is best for students. She moderates educational chats of teachers as deftly as she navigates an obstacle course on field day. If something needs to be done, hand it to Kory and you can be sure it will get done and done well.
Before I met Kory I had the mistaken notion that early elementary teachers could not benefit from tech that those of us who teach older grades can. She's opened my eyes to many new ways to use social media, tech tools, apps and websites across all grades. I've also learned from her to speak distinctly, ask clarifying questions, and remain relentlessly curious. Rather than being shy about something, wonder aloud and see what you can learn.
She's taught me these things, but she is the master. Listening to her get to the bottom of an issue and find a solution is like watching a master artist: she makes it look easy. Kory is not just a tech-infused teacher; Kory lives a tech-infused life. She blends the best of old-school and new-school; of skills-based and experiential inquiry and brings it as a gift to all of those who have the pleasure to work and think with her each day.
Why try something new? it's the end of the year and it would be easy to cruise. If that's what's up with you and all is fine, then cruise away. However, if you are up for trying a few changes to end the year on a positive and more efficient note, read on.
The time between Spring Break and June can can be perfect for testing out changes you might want to put into place for next year. Your current students will enjoy the change of pace and can help you catch the snags and assess what works since they already have a good relationship with you. ( And if they don't, then all the more reason to shake it up rather than spend each day praying for June to get here soon. )
Here is a post from gamification guru and all round eduvisionary Chris Aviles on ways for any teacher to change up your grading and feedback to make it more effective. Love his ideas (record yourself explaining the feedback a la the whole flipping idea) and writing style ("the stinkeye")
If you're feeling radical , pair it with Pernille Ripp's "No Homework No Grades No Punishment" Resources (I swear it's really not as radical as it sounds. If you want some ideas for easing into changes like no-coercion teaching, I'd be happy to talk it through with you.
Also check out the other posts this week for more ideas like new Chromebook apps to try, storytelling tools, and Educational Video Games to use with students or just share with them.
My third grade daughter and I watched Big Hero 6 a lot over the snow days and in today's interview for our district IT videocast, I compared the headset our students use in our media center MakerSpace (photo above) to a similar controller on Hiro in the movie.
It got me thinking about how Big Hero Six is a perfect maker movie to capture our students' imaginations and inspire them to create their own projects in school maker spaces. The boy Hiro and his brother Tadashi are both makers. Sure, the "nerdlab" is pretty futuristic, but watching Hiro invent, have false starts, use a 3D printer and scanner, use a controller, hack existing designs, code, and, above all, decide to love school instead of reject what it has to offer, sends the perfect message to budding makers in schools everywhere.
The movie illustrates maker concepts such as design thinking, critical thinking, growth mindset, positive hacking to create a better world, and above all a maker attitude and ethos.
If you haven't done so yet, consider how to infuse maker ed into your class or school today. Here are 5 easy steps to start a makerspace from scratch in any school
Here is how to introduce a maker-friendly project in your classroom. You can always start with a clip from Big Hero Six to set the stage.
Gizmodo article showing the real life scientific inspiration for the movie
IO9 article about the show's science and artistic inspiration to connnect to your STEM plus arts or STEAM curricula
RELATED POST- Genius Hour lends itself well to schools that have maker spaces: Here is ours called Love of Learning
Would you like training on Schoolnet? If so, let me know this week and CMS can come during your planning. Schoolnet training includes how to give autograded tests via schoolnet- scores instantly go into Powerschool. (to see how to do this with Google Drive check here)
Google Classroom Updates
Tech Integrated tools and lesson ideas
Here are 2 articles that were tweeted recently with interesting thoughts on rubrics:
Ms. Newburger and I presented about the media center's makerspace and Piedmont's maker culture at the CMS tech meeting. If you don't know what I mean by our maker culture, think the 6th grade's egg drop designs, the 8th grade civil rights museum installments and this week's 7th grade industrial revolution inventions extravaganza.
Hello overworked tired teachers! (and also those few of you who are happy energetic and completely caught up):
Kindergarten teacher Kory Graham (@tritonkory) taught me that October is when the groove begins and the craziness of the begining of the year finally slows down to a dull roar. If you are overwhelmed it will get better soon! Some of these links might even help that along:
Last week I threw a lot of links out there at you so this week I have just rounded up a few highlights. Feel free to catch up on last week's links by scrolling through these 3 blog pages below:
This week's Piedmont PD posts include a community PD offering this coming Tuesday to add to the last week's link to the new Discovery Place resource center for teachers! I also just heard Discovery Place is free on Saturdays for teachers so look into this!
This week's lesson ideas page include a video playlist to help students develop growth mindset. One video of Austin's butterfly is a good way to make learning visible and in doing so reinforce growth mindset grit and effort in your students. (I can't believe I just said grit!)
This week's Celebrating Piedmont blog includes Ms. Barone's trip to jail, inspiration to use your best teaching gifts from the encore team's example, and more. I am a big fan of using one's strengths as the way to minimize weaknesses and I believe it is the reason for Piedmont's success- we use people where they work best.
If you aren't sure what your best teaching strengths are, here is a great link via Keely Shannon @keelybshannon on Twitter) that includes a quiz so you can find out. http://www.weareteachers.com/hot-topics/special-reports/teach-to-your-strengths
Have a great weekend and remember you are amazing just as you are right now! You are changing the world every day with the smallest act of kindness you can show to anyone you meet. For example, you can smile at a child who's having a bad day and turn their entire day around, their entire attitude about school, and that will ripple out to everyone else that child encounters. Our jobs are amazingly important like that. (Thanks to Josh Gauthier @mrgfactoftheday for that reminder)
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Lisa Gurthie is the PD facilitator at Piedmont IB Middle School. She specializes in tech and arts integration, interdisciplinary holistic education, and unschooling school to reconnect academia to real life. One day she will modernize her "about" page. She curates this blog for the professional development convenience of the teachers at Piedmont, but the editorial comments are her own.