Sunday, February 23, 2014

Technology Plan Post SMU

Throughout the course of this program, we've had many opportunities to incorporate technology into our classrooms.  I'd like to say I would have done so anyway, but maybe not to the extent in which we were guided to do through SMU.  After we graduate and are done with the program, I know I will keep integrating technology into my classroom.  Our district is one that thrives on technology and the advancement in which is needed to be up to date with the rest of the state.  We are blessed to have a technology integrationist who is willing to work with us one on one as well as whole staff to make sure we are always keeping current on what we are teaching and how we are using the technology available to us.  I plan on utilizing our technology teacher on a weekly basis-not only bringing him into my classroom for a lesson per week, but also meeting with him to keep learning about new apps and things to try with my students.

Monday, February 17, 2014

New Tech Tool Reflection

I didn't use Haiku deck with my class-I just couldn't connect with it so I tried something else.  It's a site called Edpuzzle.  It helps educators use video more freely in their classrooms.  You can find and crop video to use only what you need, add audio notes within the video or do some voice over work for a video, and you can embed questions throughout the video to track student understanding. EDpuzzle collects data as students watch and interact with the video. You can see if and when a student watched the video, and see the progress of all students through the answers to embedded questions. I'm assuming this site would help classrooms that are already flipped-since mine isn't a flipped classroom, I have just been using it right in the classroom.
I tried it for the first time in my guided reading groups.  YouTube has a lot of really nice read-along videos.  I wanted to focus on comprehension with my lower groups, so I embedded questions into the video to check for comprehension throughout the story.  The students really enjoyed it and since the questions are being asked in MY voice, I think they were able to connect more with the story and the comprehension piece.  Another way I could use it is in math centers.  I've only used this site a few times but I'd like to start utilizing it more-what a great way to keep kids actively engaged even when I'm not able to meet with them directly.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


The past few weeks have really been a struggle for me personally, which in turn, effects me professionally.  I've been really focusing on the above image and it has helped tremendously.  It didn't at first; at first it seemed overwhelming and "just another thing" to think about.  However, as I kept going back to it, I realized it had been helping the whole time whether I really knew it or not.  I'd say I'm still a work in progress, but it has forced me to think, stay positive, and never give up.  It's OK to feel weak and accept advice when needed.  It's OK to make mistakes and then learn from them.  I think this is something I will always need to remind myself of when times get tough.  It has helped and I think it will continue to if I remain open to it.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Technology in the Classroom

It's been really fun trying out different technology in the classroom these last few weeks.  The students (and myself) have leanred a lot.  We have a class set of ipads once per week, but I was able to schedule those out more throughout the week and we worked on a story retell project using Puppet Pals.  They took one of the stories we had read and then worked with the app to pick their story elements: characters, setting, etc.  They had so much fun with this and they didn't even realize they were becoming experts not only with the ipad but in knowing what needs to be involved to tell a story.  We then shared them with our book buddies (Kindergarten) and both my class and the K class enjoyed it.  My class was so proud to share their work and the K students loved hearing their book buddy's voice tell a story through the ipad. 
The other app my students really enjoy is Spelling City.  Every week, our spelling list is loaded onto the app and the students can access it from both school and home.  There are many different games they can play to practice their words.  They can also take the test throughout the week using the app.  Once day per week, I project it and we play some of the games as a class.  They look forward to this because they get to work in teams.  I love this app because they view it as a game rather than boring "spelling practice." 

Classroom Management Summary

After reading Marzano's chapter on Classroom Management, I feel that I really have a much better grasp on carrying out and following through with that management piece that comes with the territory of teaching.  In the beginning of the year, I had already implemented a management/behavior plan using Whole Brain Teaching.  This went, and is currently going, very well but I took two of Marzano's suggestions and incorporated them into my daily management.  I noticed that when my WBT rules and expectations were paired with 1) establishing and enforcing rules and procedures and 2) carrying out disciplinary actions, the days and behaviors were much better for all involved. 
Like I said, I had rules and procedures in place, however, it's easy to let them slide simply because the students had come so accustomed to them that I felt I didn't need to repeat them so often like I had been doing.  I was noticing a few more behaviors pop up and sometimes from students I hadn't had any issues with prior.  So, I went back to really focusig on those rules and procedures everyday-sometimes more than once or twice a day even.  After doing this for just a few days, those behaviors went away and we were once again back on track.  I'm so glad I focused on this area because I reminded me just how important it is to be consistant as far as the rules go. 
As for carrying out disciplinary actions, I knew this was an area I needed to step up my game.  So many times I would give a warning and another and another.  This didn't help me or any student involved.  We reviewed the "zone" chart as a class and I reminded them that they get one warning to change whatever it is they are doing and after that their color will be changed.  I've been very consistant with that and I've noticed it is working once again.  A few students chose to "test" it out and once their color was changed for that first time, they changed very quickly and didn't have to change their color any more. 
Both areas are challenging in their own ways but if I can stay consistant, I know it is what is best for my class and for me.  With both of those areas I chose to focus on, it's pretty easy to tell when I'm "slacking."  I notice the behaviors, the talking, etc all rise and I know it's time for me to review whichever area is needed. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013


By definition, PRESENCE is creating the capacity for development, it's openness, love, creativity, imaginitive risk-taking, having spirit, being empathetic, allowing room for critical self-reflection.  It's providing a safe and inviting environment for those around you.  PRESENCE is something that educators must have in order to be effective and to create those teacher-student relationships.  Presence is something that defintiely can be seen on a daily basis in my classroom.  You can ask my students if we've worked hard on creating an open and caring classroom environment-they'd say YES!  You can ask them if we've built a strong community within our classroom-they'd say YES!  No matter how my mornings go at home with my own kids, I always try to put that behind me and be present with my students.  Everyone has hard mornings, but it's so important for teachers to put that aside because we have no idea just how hard a student's morning could have been.  We can set our problems aside in order to help our students and be a positive role model for them.  I'm very open with them and I know they feel comfortable sharing with me the good, the bad, and maybe even the ugly in their lives.  Being that trusted and compassionate adult for them is a big job, but with the lasallian concept of PRESENSE, it makes that job much easier and more rewarding.

Teacher-Level Factors

We are working our way through Marzano's "What Works in School" and focusing now on Teacher-Level Factors.  Prior to reading the chapter, I made some predictions as to what he would focus on as being those top factors for teachers.  The first one I thought he would talk about was effective classroom management.  Without a strong management system in place, no classroom can run orderly and no teacher can feel good about what they are doing and accomplishing (in my opinion).  The second factor that I thought would be brought about was relationships.  It's so important to make connections between the teacher and the student.  When strong bonds are made and a community is built between the teacher and those students, more learning can take place and goals can be set and reached with greater ease.  I've dealt with this first-hand, as all teachers have.  There are students I have connected with and things have just "clicked."  Other students are harder to connect with, making the teaching and learning that much more difficult.  It CAN be done, but it's an important factor that I believe takes a lot of work and a lot of time.  I also thought Marzano would probably discuss the importance of instructional delivery/strategies.  Every teacher needs an effective way of getting the material across to their students.  Without a strong delivery, the material can only go so far.  When we, as educators, take the delivery to the next level and beyond, the material is amplified and the engagement from the students can be uncanny. 

After reading the text and comparing my predictions, I was able to predict two of his three.  The one I missed was classroom curriculum design.  The other two were in fact instructional strategies/delievery and classroom management.  Those two must be quite obvious to any teacher who has ever set foot in a classroom.  Marzano didn't talk specifically about the relationships between the teacher and the students, but it was implied several times.  He states that the impact of a teacher's decisions is far greater than that of any decisions made at a school level.  I firmly believe that is true.  How a teacher carries his or herself in their classroom and the routine they decide upon is far more important than what is going on at the school level.  Sure, the rules set at the school level need to be followed and addressed, but it's all about how that specific teacher carries themself inside of their classroom walls.  I should have known he'd talk about curriculum design-that sort of comes with the territory as well.  That could probably get roped in with instructional delivery, however he is more specific with the WHAT is being taught where I was more focused on the HOW.