EAGLE MOUNTAIN NEWS & NOTES #28
MARCH 23, 2015
It’s hard to believe that March is almost over. It’s also hard to believe that our first round of Clubs will be over Friday. I enjoyed my club very very much & hope you enjoyed yours as well.
Our students performed well at the UIL competition in White Settlement on Saturday. I hope to have the results to announce tomorrow, but I can tell you we were well represented! Special thanks to Emily Bennett for her work in coordinating our UIL events!
IMPORTANT INFO FOR THIS WEEK!
· Our Eagle Mountain 25 Skill of the week is Rule #22 – Always be honest no matter what the circumstances.
· Our Technology committee will meet this afternoon at 3PM in the Library.
· Please turn in Teacher of the Year nominations by tomorrow if possible.
· Kelli will be meeting with all grade levels today during your planning period for STAAR Training.
· I will be giving STAAR Pep talks to 4th grade classes on Tuesday & Thursday & 5th grade classes on Friday.
· Pam has done a great job of getting things ready for Science Night this Thursday night – please make an appearance if at all possible!
· If you have items that need to be included on our April calendar, please get those to me by the end of the week.
· This Friday is our last day for Clubs for a few weeks. I know our kids have enjoyed them immensely, & the feedback I have received regarding our Clubs has been extremely positive.
· Please turn in two names for your Eagles of Character for the third nine weeks by Friday. Consider choosing students who have never had this honor before, or at least picking new ones – we had some students who were selected for the last one who had also been chosen for the one before that, so please try to pick new ones if you can. This honor always means a lot to the students who are chosen.
· You’ll be pleased to know that most of STAAR testing for NEXT YEAR has been moved in grades 3-8 to May 2016.
· Our articles this week come from Dr. Priddy. One on technology that makes some great points & one on 5 Ways to help your students become better questioners:
The 4 biggest Mistakes that Teachers make when Integrating Technology
In my opinion, and from my experience in classrooms around the world, these are the biggest mistakes that educators make when integrating technology into the classroom:
Technology before pedagogy
Sadly, educators see the latest gadgets and feel the need to use them without giving a thought to ‘why’. Education is all about purpose. Integrating technologies into our learning environments needs to be relevant and purposeful; it needs to make learning easier and more engaging for our students. Ask yourself ….. Why am I using this technology and how will it improve learning in my classroom? Think Pedagogy (and curriculum) before Technology.
Technology as a toy
Too often in classrooms around the world I see technology used as a toy. Technology needs to be used as a tool to support learning, not as a gadget or a toy (as much as we all love them). The students that we educate in today’s 21st century learning environments are digital natives and are the leaders of tomorrow. They use technology as a toy in their own time. In schools, we need to use technology to teach them lifelong learning skills for the future.
Technology to fill in time
Technology should be used as a learning tool, not as a tool to fill in time or to keep students ‘busy’. Every spare moment in our classrooms should be packed full of engaging, learning opportunities. It is powerful to see educators that are passionate about their jobs, and are utilising technology in new and innovative ways.
Not utilizing the technology available
I am sure you have seen this before … A teacher gets supplied with the best possible tools to integrate technology into his or her classroom and the technology sits in the corner of the room, in the trolley or in a cupboard gathering dust while students drool over their existence. No matter how hard you try, you can’t pry the key out of their hands to unlock the learning potential. While this is not a mistake, it is close enough. You can’t make mistakes if you don’t take risks and this is the hardest thing to see. No opportunity given to unlock learning potential in students through the use of integrated tools.
Being a passionate educator, leader, and coach, I hope for a classroom where everyone (including the educators) are willing to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them; where technology is used as a tool to enhance learning and pedagogy..
Pedagogy before technology! Get integrating, be willing to take risks and immerse your students in the wonderful learning opportunities that technology provides.
5 Ways to Help Your Students Become Better Questioners
The humble question is an indispensable tool: the spade that helps us dig for truth, or the flashlight that illuminates surrounding darkness. Questioning helps us learn, explore the unknown, and adapt to change.
That makes it a most precious “app” today, in a world where everything is changing and so much is unknown. And yet, we don’t seem to value questioning as much as we should. For the most part, in our workplaces as well as our classrooms, it is the answers we reward -- while the questions are barely tolerated.
To change that is easier said than done. Working within an answers-based education system, and in a culture where questioning may be seen as a sign of weakness, teachers must go out of their way to create conditions conducive to inquiry. Here are some suggestions (based on input from question-friendly teachers, schools, programs, and organizations) on how to encourage more questioning in the classroom and hopefully, beyond it.
How to Encourage Questioning
1. Make It Safe
Asking a question can be a scary step into the void. It’s also an admission to the world (and more terrifyingly, to classmates) that one doesn’t know the answer. So teachers must somehow “flip the script” by creating an environment where questioning becomes a strength; where it is welcomed and desired. The Right Question Institute, a nonprofit group that teaches inquiry skills in low-income schools, encourages teachers to run group exercises dedicated entirely to formulating questions (no answers allowed!) -- with clear rules and guidelines to ensure that students’ questions aren’t judged or edited, and that all questions are written down and respected. There are many variations on this type of exercise. The second-grade teacher Julie Grimm uses a “10 by 10” exercise, in which kids are encouraged to come up with 10 great questions about a topic during a 10-minute span. But the bottom line is, designate some kind of safe haven in the classroom where all students can freely exercise the “questioning muscle.”
2. Make It “Cool”
This is a tough one. Among many kids, it’s cool to already know -- or to not care. But what if we could help students understand that the people who ask questions happen to be some of the coolest people on the planet? As I discovered in the research for my book on inquiry, questioners thought of many of those whiz-bang gadgets we now love. They’re the ones breaking new ground in music, movies, the arts. They’re the explorers, the mavericks, the rebels, making the world a more interesting place -- and having a heck of a time themselves. How cool is that?
3. Make It Fun
Part of the appeal of “questions-only” exercises is that there’s an element of play involved, as in: Can you turn that answer/statement into a question? Can you open your closed questions, and close your open ones? There are countless ways to inject a “game” element into questioning, but here’s an example borrowed from the business world: Some companies use a practice called “the 5 whys,” which involves formulating a series of “why” questions to try to get to the root of a problem. Kids were practically born asking “why” questions, so why not allow them to use that innate talent within a structured challenge? Or, show them how to use the “Why/What if/How” sequence of questioning as a fun way to tackle just about any problem. Whatever the approach, let kids tap into their imaginations and innate question-asking skills in ways that make inquiry an engaging part of a larger challenge.
4. Make It Rewarding
Obviously, we must praise and celebrate the questions that are asked -- and not only the on-target, penetrating ones, but also the more expansive, sometimes-offbeat ones (I found that seemingly “crazy questions” sometimes result in the biggest breakthroughs). Help create a path for students to get from a question to a meaningful result. A great question can be the basis of an ongoing project, a report, an original creation of some kind. The point is to show that if one is willing to spend time on a question -- to not just Google it but grapple with it, share it with others, and build on it -- that question can ultimately lead to something rewarding and worthwhile.
5. Make It Stick
If the long-term goal is to create lifelong questioners, then the challenge is to make questioning a habit -- a part of the way one thinks. RQI’s Dan Rothstein says it’s important to include a metacognitive stage in question-training exercises wherein kids can reflect on how they’ve used questioning and articulate what they’ve learned about it, so they can “pave a new neural pathway” for lifelong inquiry. As for the behavioral habits associated with good questioning, here are a few: Questioners train themselves to observe everyday surroundings with “vuja de” eyes that see the familiar in fresh ways; they’re always on the lookout for assumptions (including their own) that should be questioned; and they’re willing to ask questions that might be considered “naïve” by others.
So ask yourself this beautiful question: How might I encourage more questioning in my classroom? And how might I instill the habit of questioning in my students? After all, knowing the answers may help them in school, but knowing how to question will help them for life.
REMINDER OF TECH DO'S THIS NINE WEEKS
YOU ARE EXPECTED TO DO THESE:
1st WEEK – KEEP TWEETING AND BLOGGING
2nd WEEK – RESEARCH APPS AND SUBMIT APPS FOR APPROVAL
3rd WEEK – USE QR CODES IN A LESSON
4th WEEK - FLIP ONE LESSON THIS WEEK
5th WEEK – REPORT ON HOW iPADS ARE BEING USED IN YOUR CLASS
6th WEEK – TWEET AN AUTHOR ABOUT A BOOK THE CLASS HAS READ
7th WEEK – VIDEO A STUDENT LED LESSON AND POST TO YOUTUBE
8th WEEK – POST A STUDENT LED TWEET
9th WEEK – MAKE-UP ONE WEEK YOU MISSED
SEND ME A LINK TO YOUR STUDENT LED LESSON.
THIS WEEK AT A GLANCE:
Monday – EME 25/Skill 21: Learn from your mistakes & move on, Kelli providing STAAR training to all teachers during planning periods, Technology Committee – 3PM
Tuesday – Bryan giving STAAR pep talks to 4th grade classes, Kelli to AP meeting, Teacher of the Year nominations due
Wednesday – Bryan to Emergency Drill training from 9-11:30, LIINK training K- 8:00 – 11:30, 1st grade 11:30 – 3:30, Baby Shower for Leslie Hooe – Library 3:00
Thursday – Bryan finishes 4th grade STAAR pep talks, Patriot Paws, 2:00 – 2:30, Science Night – 5:30 – 8:00 PM
Friday –Eagle Mountain University, Clubs 1:45 – 2:30, Planting memories with Mom’s (replaces Mom’s & Muffins) - 2:40, Bryan gives STAAR pep talks to 5th grade, End of the 3rd nine weeks, Eagles of Character names due to Sandra
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.
· KUDOS to the teachers who helped judge the UIL competition last Tuesday & this past Saturday: Madeline Tittle, Ellen Schmear, Amber Cook, Janet Dickerson, Karyn Cooper, Christina Witta, Cindy Griggs, Suzanne Morgan, Sheryl Copeland, Sophia Navarro, Regina Wrzesinski, Sheryl Copeland, Lisa Dunn, Mary Gaskamp, Emily Bennett, Drew Hohman, & Bryan McLain. Thanks a lot for giving of your time & for supporting & encouraging our kiddos: It really does make a difference!
· A special thanks to Emily Bennett for coordinating UIL for us. You had it organized so so well, & we truly appreciate your investment in our students! Your hard work definitely paid off in a big way – THANK YOU!
· Thanks to Sheryl Copeland for another successful Book Fair! Our kids are certainly benefitting from the Book Fairs you offer us!
· A big shout-out to Emily Bennett for sharing her students with me for my novel unit. I sure did enjoy my time with them! THANKS Emily!