Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Let the trumpets sound!

I am a new blogger - and let me tell you, the opportunities and information are so endless it is a little overwhelming. But it's really exciting to join a community of educators who are blogging about serious issues, innovative strategies and well, SHARING IT!

I have worked in 4 high schools and 1 middle school, and often teachers are reluctant to share materials. I feel the opposite. Let the sharing begin! The more we can share with one another, the better. If something works, share it. If something fails, share it. There is so much debate about education in this country I think it's not just going to be fixed because someone created a website (although I think the former chancellor has some great ideas). It is going to be fixed because people are willing to learn from one another and share what works.

As the LITT (Lead Instructional Technology Teacher) at my school...(by the way, I am feeling my way through this new found position) I have something EXCITING to share because I can barely keep it in. My school district UNBLOCKED SKYPE!

Sound the trumpets. Many of the teachers in my school are unaware of what Skype is, but I really feel they are willing to learn and open their classrooms to what can happen. Our school is full of great teachers who may not have knowledge of all the technology available to them, but if someone is willing to teach them I think they'll take the plunge.

Optimism. One step at a time. Let the trumpets sound.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Transcendentalism Facebook

I was thinking about the best way to assess what my students have learned about Transcendentalism - and found a teacher who did a Facebook page about Hamlet as a final assessment. Great idea!

So, as my final assessment for Transcendentalism, I am going to allow the students to use the essays by Thoreau and Emerson, the notes we've taken and the basic ideas of Transcendentalism to create a Facebook page for someone who would adhere to Transcendentalist qualities. I borrowed the Facebook templates from a teacher's blog, which I will include on the American Literature resource page. We are jumping into this tomorrow, so we'll see how it goes and what kind of response I get.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kick the BUCKET!

As the semester comes to a close, I begin thinking about research upon our return. Last year, I was sitting on my mother's plaid couch on break and I found an intriguing video online. MTV was getting ready to launch their new show, "The Buried Life." And it hit me - since research is always like pulling students' teeth, I wondered if perhaps they would be more inspired by researching the things they want to do before they die.

I was right. They loved it. I created a multi-genre research project that gives students the opportunity to research eight goals they would like to complete in their lifetimes. Students researched anything from a tour of Europe to driving a lambourghini. For each particular bucket list item, students had to create a multigenre writing item - whether it be a postcard, a letter, an itinerary, etc.

Students still had to create a Works Cited page, cite their sources and learn the research process, but they were pretty motivated to do it because these were goals they actually wanted to complete. I am working on revising the project for second semester, but for now it is available on TeachersPayTeachers at this link:


I am definitely anxious to add the addition of a Smartboard presentation and some other interactive technology and then I'll update it on TeachersPayTeachers.

Until then, here are some items on my bucket list:

1. Finish and publish a novel
2. Start a small business benefiting teachers - giving them more time for creativity and technology
3. Mush a dog sled
4. See Aerosmith in concert (CHECK THAT BABY OFF!!! Did this in Dallas last summer)
5. Go on an African Safari
6. Learn to shoot a gun
7. Visit New Orleans
8. Get a Fund for Teachers project accepted and complete
9. National Board Certification
10. Get my doctorate
11. Get a tattoo
12. Keep working on my bucket list, continuing to add more goals!