Monday, March 30, 2009

Time to Talk with Kids

The last week or so I have been really getting into some great converstations around technology in the classroom, student accountability, the future of education and assessement.  These converstations have been with many different people, mostly my PLN.  However, I have had a number of these converstations with my students.

I did not expect these converstations to be as one sided as they were.  One sided in the way that the students talked much more than I.  You see, most technology conversations are:
  • Mr. Germann saying something along the lines of, "This site is great."
  • Mr. Germann saying "What do you think of ..."
  • Student saying, "one word answer."
  • Mr. Germann saying, "How about you, what do you think of..."
  • Student saying, "one word answer"
  • and so on.
So when these conversations began to grow, and I saw my students intersted, involved and respectfully arguing with each other, I thought to myself ... others should here this.  Now I realize many others get this n there classroom everyday, I don't.  So my enthusiasm may be misled or selfishly driven, but I do think others would like to hear this.

Therefore, I am beginning a new task.  I plan on moving into a Darren Kuropatwa-like podcast.  I plan to podcast with a number of my students, the ones offereing interesting perspectives, my wife, @germannjaime on twitter, staff, administration and anyone else willing to have interesting confersations with me.

Even if no one listens, even if no one is interested, I will have these conversations to keep and go back to.

Here is the intro. music I created this weeked.  I had my toddler son help me with the voice.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It Summitt

Today I will get my initiation to "the summit".  In my two years of intense learning, using, refining, growing and geeking, I have needed a conference like this.  Some of the presenters of the best our world has to offer in the EdTech business.

In this initiation, I am also presenting.  I am presenting about a tool I use in my classroom called Edmodo.  This is a teacher/student backchatter.

I have created an introduction video to share.  This is the ... "why we need to use a tool like this."

Please give feedback.

Monday, March 9, 2009

PLC's in Macklin

It is fairly well known about the PLC journey Macklin is undertaking.  We gave this a serious try starting last year when  our staff pre-approved the new schedule that allows us one hour of meeting time a week.  This schedule was approved by the community and the board and so we began.

This year began with us trying to figure out what PLC's really are.  A small number of our staff and our administrators had a it of a grasp and tried to explain it to us.  Many of us struggled with our roles ... what indicates we are plc'ing properly ... how much effort should we put into this if it is a just a new initiative ... etc.  These questions and concerns were discussed regularly but rarely had sufficient answers.  

As the weeks went on, we tried different groupings, different strategies to find the bid ideas, and even stopped ... backed up ... to set group norms. We finally settled into groupings.  I am a part of the 6-12 ELA group. 

In our new groups, with a bit better understanding and focus, we began to set standards.  This was the beginning of my understanding of our PLC.  I saw the relevance of it, how it related to my classroom and more importantly, how it will improve student learning.  Things like collaboration, even if it begins primarily as verification that "we are doing most things right", gave me reasons to try harder.  That alone, began the improvement of student learning.

Now I am not saying that we are anywhere close to showing significant increase in student achievement, but I know were I am going now, who I am going with, and how to get there.  I believe that there will be a lot of conversations in the near future on step 2, but for now, I am enjoying having purpose.

Purpose is the reason that I bought into PLC's.  I see where I need to go and why.  That alone gives me the drive to do more, think outside the box, relax and try new things, etc.  

I can't wait until we finish our "Big Ideas", "Common Assessment" and start to look at data.  As strange as it sounds to hear a ELA teacher get excited about data, that is where it is at.

Today's presentation by Anthony Muhammad validated that idea in me.  When I pre-test, formative, I look at data, free up time I would regularly waste boring students and focus on what is needed.  When our data begins on the larger scale, I will get to really learn how to refine, change, toss out and keep with the things I do.

Until then, I continue to focus on my new personal goal, "Learn to be a better learner, use best teaching practices to be a better teacher, use data to make my school a better school."