Martin's Musings

September 25, 2015

Data Helps

Now that most of our BOY testing is completed, the challenge is how to use that data to help guide instruction, including remediation and enrichment. Linked to the IGNiTE Year One Canvas page is another Canvas page with important information about Aleks, Lexia, Reading Plus, and Dreambox. To find this page on Canvas go to "IGNiTE: Year One" then "Resources". Here you will find best practices, tutorials, report helps, and other useful information about our online curriculum.


Another nice addition to the "IGNiTE: Year One" page is the IGNiTE logo. You can copy and paste this logo to your teacher device. After you have it on your device, you can then download it to your Google drive. By doing this you will have access to the logo from any computer/device/machine/laptop/desktop/tablet you use. (Oh for the good old days when the term "computer" covered it all. :-)


If anyone knows save from the "Resource" page directly to your Google drive, let us know.

Internal Classroom Visits

Found out VERY recently that before the device deployment on October 9, all classroom teachers need to visit one of our model classrooms. These model classrooms are Diane's, Margo's, and Jessica R.'s. The purpose of these visits are three-fold: observe the logistics of having devices in the classroom (storage, procedures, etc.), observe student interaction with the device, and also observe how the teacher is utilizing the devices to deliver instruction. While I do think we have a pretty good building-wide awareness of how to utilize student devices, there is always new learning we can gain from our colleagues.


Please make arrangements with one of the model classroom teachers before October 9 to spend 20-30 minutes in their room when the student devices are being used. If you need class coverage, make arrangements with Mandy, Martin, or me to help provide that coverage. Take some notes and be prepared to share out some of your "I noticeds" at a future faculty meeting. (No Google form, app, or Survey Monkey required. Old school pencil/paper notes will suffice.)

Two Reminders + Two Misc Items

Reminders

1. Lesley is not to supervise students in the library. If you send students to the library on non-Tanya days, you need to accompany them or have prearranged for another certificated faculty member to provide coverage.

2. Classroom doors are to be closed and locked when you are not in your room.


Miscellaneous

1. If you need to show or view a DVD, we have five (5) external DVD drives that you can use with your new teacher device (or Chromebook) . We also have five (5) external USB numeric keypads (10 key). These are especially helpful if you are entering large amounts of numeric data.

2. For any K-2 student who progresses out of DREAMBOX, they can get access to ALEKS. Please contact Martin if you have a K-2 student who needs access to ALEKS.

Halloween Scrooge

I, for one, really enjoy the Halloween season. Cool nights, the smell of fireplace smoke, and that addictive mixture of dry roasted peanuts and candy corn are all on the top of my October favorites list. However, we need to be cautious of how much Halloween we bring into our classroom/school. Bulletin boards may celebrate the fall season, but not Halloween. Scarecrows, not witches. Caramel apples, not Frankenstein.


While I don't get a sense the Sunshine community is ready to pounce on a bat decorated worksheet or spider-web maze, we do have some parents who are especially sensitive to the darker side of Halloween. Please use your best judgement in this area.

No App for That

I enjoyed last week's data meetings. While the focus of the meetings was BOY data, there were side conversations that proved just as valuable. I have learned over the years these impromptu conversations can provide more significant insight than the agenda items.


The conversation in question revolved around how/if the increased use of technology will diminish the role of the classroom teacher. I respond to that with an emphatic, "NO!" In fact, I believe that as technology increases its presence in the classroom, the importance of the teacher will increase. Under the current model, once every seven years, we adopt a new (fill in the blank with a subject area) curriculum, develop lesson plans that support that curriculum, and make tweaks to that curriculum until the next adoption.


While this was no easy feat, with the infusion of technology into the classroom, this curriculum adoption model is going to be turned on its head. New apps, programs, and web sites are constantly being created. Some will be beneficial and worth our time to investigate. Others will have limited or no classroom application. But even the best of the best require a teacher to examine its classroom usefulness and application.


Under this new model, we will have to make on-going curricular decisions without the benefit of a committee of dozens and the presentation of a salesperson. What worked for a friend at Pleasant View may not be appropriate for your classroom. A successful on-line activity with last year's class, may be irrelevant for this year's group.


We all have heard someone make the statement about how a 5-year old nephew/granddaughter/son knows more about their iPhone/computer/tablet than they do. While this may be so when it come to apps, swipes, and changing the screen saver, the child has no idea how to direct their learning or how to utilize their digital environment to enhance their education. That is where you, the teacher must step in. Students are not discerning technology consumers. Five Nights at Freddy's will crush Google Apps on any 5th graders top 10 list.


How we connect with kids, direct their learning, and reflect on their growth will prepare students for their next step. Technology can help us, but not replace us.