Friday, October 21, 2011

Digital Natives - A New Kind of Learner

A digital native is a person who was born during or after the general introduction of digital technology, and through interacting with digital technology from an early age, has a greater understanding of its concepts.

 Nicole Welding, creator of this video asks, "Does this look familiar?"

I hope not...
Digital Media - New Learners of the 21st Century

If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow. ~John Dewey

Sunday, October 16, 2011

After the Honeymoon

A few weeks ago, I read an article by ASCD called, "Maintaining a Positive Attitude as the Back-to-School Honeymoon Fades." It reminded me of the volunteer work that I used to do with families of National Guard members. During long deployments, it's easy to slowly whittle away at our energy reserves. Covey refers to it as the emotional bank account, but I often think of it as compassion fatigue or caregiver burnout.

The emotional and physical "dip" that teachers experience at this time of year is directly addressed with new educators in their mentoring program. But, what about everyone else? Are you taking time for yourself? You all work so hard, caring for each child as well as each other. I am fortunate to be a part of such a devoted team of professionals, who are the hardest working people that I know.


Author Unknown

making the difference
long, long hours
creating a sense of family
being the keeper of dreams
pleasing a lot
using good judgment
teaching for learning
making reading fun
being the wind beneath my wings
that sensitive touch
teaching class
never giving up on anybody
believing in miracles
respecting each other
taking responsibility for all students
keeping a tight rein on discipline
striving for excellence, not perfection
being brave
smiling a lot
never depriving our children of hope
being tough minded but tender hearted
showing enthusiasm even when you don't feel like it
keeping your promises
giving your best
your wisdom and courage
being punctual and insisting on it in others
providing creative solutions
avoiding the negative and seeking out the good
being there when students need you
doing more than is expected
never giving up on what you really want
remaining open, flexible, and curious
being a friend
keeping several irons in the fire
being a child's hero
going the distance
having a good sense of humor
being a dream maker
giving your heart

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Front Loading and Bug Gut Remover

I have been accused, a time or two, of thinking in analogies. Today, it was bug gut remover.

I could barely see through the windshield. The inside was dirty. The outside was dirty, and littered with those oblong splats. I decided that I would "pre-scrub" some of the spots while the car filled, hoping that I could blast off the rest at the car wash. Before I went to the car wash, I stopped at the store.

Hmmm... bug gut remover. I wonder if it really works.

I made my purchase, walked to the car, and read the directions again (I read them in the store too.) I decided to spray the front of the car before driving to the car wash. (Seasoned bug gut removers: Don't worry, I didn't spray the windshield until I arrived at the car wash.) Falling into the commonly false logic that if doing something once would be good, then twice would be great, I realized that the front of the car was still moist and the spray was still working. No need for an additional spray.

The remover said to apply 3-5 minutes before cleaning. I had to wait for a bay to open, so it was closer to 20 minutes. When it was my turn, I grabbed the scrubbing brush and started. I must have expected that this miracle bug gut remover was a hoax, because I was genuinely surprised at the ease with which the little carcasses were erased. I missed a few, but the power washer was no match for the remaining splats.

Wow! That saved a lot of time and effort. There was no way that I spent the same amount of time applying the spray as I normally would have applied in scrubbing. Also, the actual car wash was faster than normal.

And then it hit me... bug gut remover is the same as front loading.

Front loading concepts for students:
  • can be done in short, low-effort bursts
  • can be done just before teaching a concept, or a while before teaching a concept
  • supports students so that the actual learning episode is more targeted and efficient
Front loading, and bug gut remover, is a win-win!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Standards-Based Report Card Basics

In the next four weeks, parents and community members can expect information and tutorials regarding the new standards-based report (SBR) cards. I met with the Parent-Teacher groups for Libertyville and Washington elementary schools this week to get input about how to share this information with families prior to Parent-Teacher Conferences in early November. I decided that my blog post this week would highlight some SBR basics.

To help you understand the SBRs, you will receive 3 key documents: A parent's guide to performance levels, a SBR menu, and the actual report card. Let's look at how each of these documents assist in communicating what a child knows and can do.

The Performance Level Guide: This document will be mailed to each household next week. Key components will include a list of all of the content area "subjects" that will be on each report card. For example, the subject of mathematics will have subcategories for number and operations, geometry and measurement, algebra, and data analysis and probability. For each of these four categories, students will receive a 1-5 performance level. A performance level of 3 means that the student is performing at grade-level mastery. The biggest caution for parents is that the performance levels do not translate into the traditional letter grades. A "5" does not equal an "A," for example.

The SBR Grade-Level Menu: This is a large menu of each content standard and it's supporting grade-level benchmarks. So, going back to the math example, under each of the four categories, are several benchmarks which will be assessed at various points during the school year. Teachers have "sequenced" the benchmarks to designate which ones will be assessed and reported on each quarter. One thing that the parent groups emphasized was the importance of understanding how the performance level may change from quarter to quarter, because different benchmarks are reflected within the different subject categories. A child may receive a performance level of a "4" in geometry on the first quarter report card, but may get a "3" on the second quarter report card when different benchmarks are being assessed.

The Standards-Based Report Card: This will be a summary of all of the subject categories (listed on the Performance Level Guide) with a 1-5 performance level. The benchmarks are not listed on the actual report card.

It is my hope to make the menus and report cards available to families prior to conferences. This will allow parents to review the report cards prior to conversations with teachers.