Friday, June 17, 2011

Lifelong Learning

I just spent two days attending the Martin Institute for Excellence in Teaching's Summer Conference in Memphis. The theme was Teaching for Tomorrow. In his opening remarks, Lee Burns, Headmaster of PDS, quoted hockey great, Wayne Gretztky, saying "I don't skate to where the puck is, I skate to where it is going to be." As educators, we must look forward to what education will look like in the 21st century. One of our guiding questions for the conference was, "What does it mean to be well educated in the 21st century?" There were many great thinkers and presenters on subjects ranging from Twitter to Leadership, Differentiated instruction to glogs. My brain is full! This conference renewed my passion for teaching and reminded me why I love my profession. I am still reflecting and absorbing all I heard but here are some of the ideas and strategies I want to improve upon and/or implement this year.

*Giving students a larger audience for their thoughts, ideas and work. This can be done through class blogs, voice threads, wall wisher, wikis, videos (like this one I did with my JK students) and many other Web 2.0 tools. When children (and adults, for that matter) feel they are being heard, it is very empowering for them. I have also found that when students know that their work will be presented to parents, friends, on the web, etc., the quality of their work improves dramatically.

*I want to be more of a contributor and collaborator with my online Professional Learning Network. I have primarily been a "taker" on Twitter and PLN sites. I plan this year to contribute, give help, collaborate and comment more.

*I am so inspired by the leadership at my school, and particularly, our headmaster. He has set in motion a "big picture" model that I hope more private schools will embrace and implement. He says we are a private school with a public purpose. You can read more about it here. So what does that mean for me? I hope to broaden my students' idea of community. Just as we have obligations to our families and friends, I hope they will recognize their need for involvement in and commitment to the Memphis community and beyond.

*I did a presentation on Google Earth, which again reminded me of my need to continue learning, sharing, and collaborating. See previous post for information.

*I am going to explore the following sites and find ways to use them in my classroom and share with others. Search for lesson plans and resources by keyword or State standards make interactive posters improving education strategies and research and Learning management systems

There is so much to learn! How could anyone ever be bored?

PS- great article about the conference

Friday, June 3, 2011

JK boys talk about God

Another school year has come to a close. As I reflect on the year, I am reminded that I am extraordinarily blessed to work in a place like PDS. Although no school is perfect, it is pretty close. I am amazed, challenged and encouraged daily by everyone. I truly believe there is no more talented, loving, smart, creative, supportive group of people anywhere. And the boys.... They are the reason I love to go to work each day. I could (and should) write a book about the cute, funny, insightful things they say every day. One of my favorite end of the year projects is the movie here. I give them a choice of about five different questions. They draw a picture while they think of ways to answer the question. I film each one with a flip camera, drop it into imovie to edit, add some music from itunes and upload it to vimeo for parents and friends.
Happy summer everyone!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Using Google Earth in the Classroom

I have been using Google Earth in my EC/LS Bible classroom to locate countries we are praying for and to mark locations mentioned in the Bible. It is a fascinating and powerful tool and can be used it every subject area. I am giving presentations on GE at two excellent Professional Development opportunities for teachers in the Memphis/Midsouth area - InnovatED and Martin Institute Summer Conference. I have made a LiveBinder to help get you started with lots of lesson plans, ideas, etc. I will continue to add to it, so check back for updates!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I got this poem in an email this morning and I wanted to share it here. I am reminded that the best thing we can give to our kids is our time. I have never regretted a day/weekend/trip with one of my children. Our window of opportunity as parents to influence, teach and mentor is small and goes too quickly. If you don't have children, there are many, many children who have no significant relationships with caring adults. What would happen if we took a day off of work, put down cell phones, got off of the computer and spent a whole day with a child, either our own or one who needs an adult in their life? My challenge for myself (and you) for the next month is to find a child and spend a day with them.

What shall you give to one small boy?

A glamorous game, a tinseled toy,

A fancy knife, a puzzle pack,

A train that runs on a curving track,

A picture book, a real live pet?

No! There’s plenty of time for such things yet.

Give him a day for his very own.

Just one small boy and his dad alone.

A walk in the woods, a romp in the park,

A fishing trip from dawn to dark.

Give him the finest gift you can-

The companionship of a grownup man.

Games are outgrown, and toys decay,

But he’ll never forget the gift of a day!