ADE 2015

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Reading the bios of the featured ADE’s on the website inspired and intimidated me to no end. I didn’t apply for many years because I compared myself to them- I compared what they did to what I was doing. And after applying for different jobs and different accolades, I’ve realized that comparing myself to others professionally is futile. I don’t compare myself to others in my personal life, so why do I do it in my professional life? Why does it matter who has more twitter posts or followers? Why does it matter if one has a certification from Google or Apple? It doesn’t.What matters is how I feel about the work that I do and the hope that I can have an effect on students’ learning experiences. I will admit, sometimes it’s really nice to be recognized and appreciated for the work that I do and get an opportunity to learn from others. I am so looking forward to meeting other Class of 2015 Apple Distinguished Educators and learning from the alums until my head explodes.

Below is my video application for ADE 2015- the Americas.

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Jigsawing

For those of you educators out there, describing how to do a jigsaw activity for the first time with students can be a bit confusing. I, at times, have even confused myself and had to write out the groups on the board a few times when I hadn’t had enough sleep. I wanted to include a jigsaw infographic in a science unit I am revising and couldn’t find a decent image anywhere.

So, I made one. Enjoy.

Jigsaw Infographic

I made it with Google Drawing, so if you’d like to make a copy for yourself and alter it in any way, please feel free to do so.

Without Context

Sometimes I have conversations in my head and then speak out loud. When I do this, the response from others is usually, What are you talking about? I’ve left out the context for the other person, and in turn, they can’t really engage in the conversation. They can’t provide their thoughts, opinions or research, they can’t agree, disagree or ask relevant questions- they can’t reason. In short, I have to provide context for the conversation to move forward.

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So why, then, do we ask students to do things out of context? They practice spelling words from huge lists and they do tens to hundreds of math problems in class and for homework…but can they truly reason, can they then apply what they know to other problems or words? They’ve been given no context, and in turn, can’t provide their thoughts, opinion or research, they can’t agree… you get the point.

This thought was triggered by a blog post by David Wees, who frankly talks over my head about math most of the time, but this one stuck. In his post What does effective mathematics teaching look like?, he discusses what students are doing and what teachers are doing…and wrote this:

5. An effective teacher uses technology to focus students on mathematical reasoning.

Classroom technology, in an effective mathematics classroom, is used to support student’s mathematical reasoning. Rote practice exercises, even if administered via technology, do little to help students develop their reasoning skills, and because they lack context, have limited ability to help students develop connections between different areas of mathematics.

Imagine a classroom where students are looking for connections between different forms of a quadratic function. They could plot these functions using pencil and paper, and then look for connections, but during the time students would take to draw the functions, they would lose track of the goal of the graphing. Every time we ask students to do another task in preparation for mathematical study, they lose active cognitive resources to keep track of the overall purpose of the task. Instead, in an effective classroom, the teacher would give students access to a graphing calculator or graphing software, and students would be able to focus on seeing connections between graphs, instead of creating the graphs.

Obviously he caught my attention when he spoke of classroom technology. With or without technology, shouldn’t we be supporting reasoning in all content areas? Scientific reasoning? Spelling reasoning? How can we ask students to learn, to critically think, to reason through a problem when they are given no context? Why do teachers continue to have students repeat problems without context? And why do they use the iPad, of all amazing clown car gadgets, to have kids practice math facts on apps that provide no context? They could be using it for students to create their own problems that have context and meaning, and have kids solve their own problems. Or they could be creating apps or games that demonstrate and apply those skills. Or take a real world problem and try to solve it.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers Who Use Technology

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I’ve finally created a blog regarding a large portion of my job- to help teachers and students integrate technology with a purpose. Most of my work is compiled on our STREAM website, but I thought it may be smart to have a blog with small tidbits of info. I shall start with this lovely infographic about the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers Who Use Technology created originally by alwaysprepped.com, and the infographic made by Mark Bates.

Each of these 7 habits are key to being a highly effective teacher, but in my opinion, the first one is THE MOST IMPORTANT. As a teacher, everything you do should have a purpose. Cause you know the second you do something that does not really have a purpose, the one/two/five snarky kids in the corner will ask WHY and you will have no response…and mutiny will occur. What’s worse than a mutiny? Unengaged kids.