Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Take-Aways from EdCamp Tulsa

I love EdCamps!  I attended my first one last summer at EdCamp Kansas, and I have been to two more since - EdCamp OKC and EdCamp Tulsa.  It is so much fun getting together with other educators who love to learn and want to do so on our own terms.  Amazing things can happen!

This last weekend, I was in Tulsa for EdCamp Tulsa, and as usual I came away with lots of new ideas and a renewed energy. I thought I'd share my three top take-aways.

First, a set of apps made by PlayFacto.  There are several, but these are my favorites:

This one is for younger kids working to make tens.  They place the tiles in the squares so that they make 10 along the lines marked.  The player who makes the most sets wins.

In this one, the kids practice their spatial awareness with building blocks.  They have to build the picture on the card within the time limit.

I enjoy both of these, but I will say that you would want to practice before setting your kids loose on them. They can be a bit confusing until you figure out the way the app works.

Secondly, a practice routine.  For kids who are having trouble grasping a concept, have them do the same practice problems until they can get them 100% correct.  Then give them a very similar worksheet and allow them to use the first one as a guide.  Let them become comfortable with being correct.
Third, and the one I immediately shared with my co-workers and put into practice in my classroom - "My Favorite No."

The video is about 6 minutes, but it's worth it.  I've only done it twice (it is only Tuesday after all!), and the engagement is amazing.  The kids love finding what is correct in the problems and are surprised at how few things are actually wrong with an incorrect answer.  I'm looking forward to seeing how it improves their math skills and am working to figure out a way to incorporate it in reading and writing.

Finally, a bonus take-away.  :)  I want a planetarium at my school!  Jenks Public Schools does so many amazing things with theirs!  Look at this:

Can you imagine being able to study the Sistine Chapel in detail, pulling out individual pieces of art to enlarge and discuss?  (Thanks Dan Krutka for the picture.) What about showing maps that actually curve like the earth does?  Or having students write, perform and publish their own planetarium shows?  These are all things done at Jenks.  I am so jealous!

I learned so much more, but these are the things I am working on implementing right now.  What are some things you are doing?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A New Challenge

Tomorrow we are back in school after Spring Break.  We're on the downhill run through testing and the end of the year, but that's not what we'll be talking about tomorrow.  Sometime over the break (I believe it was Thursday), I clearly lost my mind.  Really.  Let me give you some background.

You know I've been involved with Classroom Champions since August.  Well, this month's focus is Taking Care of Yourself.  We've been talking fitness, nutrition, and education.  Previous topics included Goal Setting and Steps to Success.  My kids have done a terrific job setting goals for themselves and working on their steps to reach them.  I, however, have not done such a good job modeling this month.  The reason for this is mainly because I am horribly out of shape, and it's not an easy task to think about what it's going to take to get into any kind of reasonable shape.

March 8, 2014
Here is my starting place.  I'm not going to post numbers or measurements, just pictures.  But that's enough.  You can see there is some work to do.

So, where does the craziness come in?  Somehow or another, the filter that says "this is not going to work!" turned itself off when my sister said "Hey, we're going to do the 5K Dirty Girl Mud Run in Dallas on October 4th.  You in?" I say the filter turned off because what came out of my mouth was not "Are you nuts?" but "Of course!  I've always wanted to do this!"

In case you haven't heard of this particular run, it's a 5K obstacle course done in the mud.  Yes, that's right.  Not only a 5K, but an obstacle course.  See... Lost. My.  Mind.  Just sayin'.  Just so you can see what it's like, here is the link.  Check it out.  

Now, I'm not setting myself up for failure.  I promise.  It is designed for people of all athletic abilities, so there are detours for each obstacle if you need them.  It's not timed, and I'm running/walking with a team who has promised to stay together no matter what.  But still.

So, what does this have to do with my classroom, you ask?  My kiddos are going to help me.  They are going to help me figure out what steps I need to take, they are going to help me plan how to meet them, and they are going to be my accountability partners.  We are going to talk training for the distance, training for the obstacles and the nutrition needed to reach this goal.

I'm not going to make it easy on myself to back out.  I've already registered.  Now I'm posting this blog to the Twitterverse and FB.  It's not a secret.  No matter what happens, I'm doing this.  What happens when I do....well, we'll see!  You'll be along for the ride.

BTW, Classroom Champions applications are open now!