Why Are You In That Box, Creativity?

I have been spending a lot of time on my computer looking up blogs and videos of speeches that might help myself and my team be better teachers and learners. I feel that a teacher must also keep learning to be a good teacher. Once we stop learning, we should stop teaching. That is the opinion of Glen.

I found a conference speech of Ken Robinson speaking about creativity. He says that schools kill creativity. Schools were set up to teach the head and not the body. So what do we do? I am thinking there has got to be a way to integrate more movement in our classrooms and still get the work done. this could be done with more collaboration on subjects, we could dance more, we could express ourselves without voices and just movement. I am seeing that we are creating a whole lot of minds and they are not creative. We need to feed the creativity.

This is going to be a hard one to do, and yet we need to incorporate more into our curriculum and lessons. We ask the students to be creative with writing and art and to think out of the box, and yet we put them in a box and wonder what they are doing there? We must break out of the old habits and create new ones. So another thing goes into my bag of "what I want to do next year" ideas.

I am wondering if there is a way to have students show what they learn through video and show what they know by movement. I will do more thinking and research about this.


It's the End Already?

It has come time to evaluate what I have done this year with my class and what I will change for next year. I was reading on Silvia Tolisano's Langwitches Blog and she has a great post quoting Heidi Hayes Jacobs about assessment and curriculum. So I am taking the advice and I will take something traditional and replace it with a new kind of assessment. I am pretty excited about doing this. I want to do this with more of my curriculum also. I want to incorporate some of the programs and ideas we tried out with the students to get some better results.

The other thing I want to try this year is having our team use blogs and conferences during out PLC to learn more about best practices an try to find the best of what is out there and using those ideas to help us be better teachers.

My next idea I want to work on is having the students do more online research for subjects they want to learn about. This will be the fun part. My district frowns on free browsing on the internet for Elementary school students. I need to convince them that they can do it with the proper training and guidance. I need to train the students on how to use the internet and filter through the unnecessary to get to the good information. I will be working on that this next year.

I also want to put more information on our wiki/website for students to access and use. If there is a way for us to use ebooks, that is what I want to do, but I am trying to get what I can online for student s to access at school and at home. We will get there.

Technology is wonderful, but I need to make sure it is better and not just different. It is kinda like changing out all the light bulbs in my house with fluorescent bulbs. Is it worth the price or should I keep with what I am doing because the end result does not save me money? Will it make a difference for the students and the outcome I am looking for? That is the question.


Eek A Mouse!

I wrote a grant for 40 mice in August 2010. We have just been funded and the mice have arrived! I want to thank DonorsChoose.org for helping my grade level get mice for our computers.

The greatest thing about this is Donors Choose helps educators like me write grants to get what we need to help our students. If you do not know about Donors Choose, they are a company that provides a place for educators to tell what they need to help their class. Donors Choose then puts in on the web and anyone (individual, business) can donate however much they want or can to the cause. This is the second grant for my class that has been funded by people and businesses going to Donors Choose. We received a video camera last year and have used it on our class movies this year.

Thank you again Donors Choose! You are a wonderful resource for education!

Don't Get So Testy!

We have been testing this week. This year we decided to test in our own rooms using the netbooks in our classrooms. We have a one-to-one netbook in our classrooms, so we decided to not worry about scheduling a spot int he computer lab. Each computer was set up with the computer-based testing module and each student practiced using it during a practice session in our classrooms. We used Google chat to get the testing codes from our testing guru. The students loved being in our classroom where is wasn't as stuffy, cosed in, and they were more comfortable in here.

One of the strategies we used this year to help our students achieve a better score was to require the students to write down their reasoning behind choosing each answer. each students had two pieces of white paper folded into nine boxes. That gave the students 36 boxes to write one sentence about why their answer was correct. We collected their papers afterwards, checked to see if they explained each answer, then shredded them. They looked pretty good. We are pretty excited about how well all the students will do. We are really excited to see how the below grade level students will do, but we are also excited to see how this affects the on and above grade level students. Will it increase their scores because they made sure they read the problems more closely? We think it will.

Using the computers has been great. The best thing is that we get the raw scores back within a few days so we can see what we as teachers need to change and add for next year. The paper/pencil tests took until August to get the results and we had a few days to plan the year. This way we can use what we have now to start thinking what we can change for the next year. This gives us the summer to think, learn, and plan better lessons, not just a couple days.


What You Talkin' bout, Teacher?

It has been a few weeks since we started our last new program on the computers at school. It is about time we start using another program.

We have had some success with the our Wikipage. It has become the big hit with the students and with us, the teachers. Assignments have become easier to grade, easier to give, and to explain if a student does not understand, and they are at home. We have used Open Office for word processing, and Scholastic's Readabout program for reading help. We use the Utah Writes website to help with students writing. It is not a perfect writing tool, but it helps students get an idea where their grade might be on the site's rubric.

We have started trying out Free Mind for mind mapping and brain storming. We have started looking at what we can use it for and we are getting ideas for Social Studies, Science, and writing. There are more, but that is the starting point. We just bought a license for Voicethread. This is a commenting site for students to type, voice, draw, and video their comments. I think we will leave out the video right now, but we will put up a pictures or comment for the students to express their opinion and knowledge about, and get more options on completing assignments. This one is a site I have been looking at for a year and I am excited about it. Another site is Prezi.com. When I first looked at it, I couldn't see a way for my students to use it without paying for it, and I am willing to pay for something that e will use, but it is a glorified Powerpoint. A little more exciting in some ways, but glorified. I was at a training that my team and I were presenting our wiki information and a teacher told me that they had an education place on Prezi. I get back to school and set it up. We will be playing on it in the next little while to see what the students think of it.

So there are a few new programs for my students to try out before the end of the year. I am excited to see what they thin and what they will be good for. This is a grate bunch of students to try things out on. They love what we are doing, and they catch on pretty quick.