Monthly Archives: January 2013

It’s Not the Technology, It’s the Teacher!

How do I become a better teacher? I believe it is all about knowing the content, having positive, caring relationships with your students, and involving students in the learning process.

1. Study the standards/ Common Core standards that you are teaching.
2. Plan your lessons with the end in mind and assess along the way to guide instruction.
3. Let your students create either by drawing, painting, sculpting, building, writing, singing, dancing, speaking, using the computer or iPad: Project-Based Learning. This gives students the chance to practice rigorous thinking required for Common Core.
5. Provide technology for On-Demand access to information: videos, tutorials
6. Differentiate Instructions for all students: ESOL, SPED, Gifted & Talented

Some simple ways to begin the process of creating and differentiating instruction is to use the laptops from your laptop cart, the computers in the labs and in the media center. If you have a few computers in your classroom, put them on tables around the room so more than one person can sit at a computer at a time. It is much more fun and helpful if you work with a partner and students learn so much from each other. Collaboration is one of the 21st century learning skills.

We need to prepare our students for higher level thinking required for college and careers. The first website that I recommend  for you to use with your students is www.instagrok.com .  You have to download Chrome or Firefox in order for it to work on your computers.  You can click on the links above to download them.  Someone will need to do this on all of your laptops and desktop computers.  Use Chrome or Firefox when you want to launch www.instagrok.com. Any subject, standard, concept that you teach has many articles, videos, games, assessments right at your fingertips on this site.

I’ve been attending the Paving the Way to Common Core Workshops with Paula Burgess as we learn about the Language Arts Common Core Standards. One word that stands out in my mind that students need to be able to do across the curriculum is to analyze. First we need to read a passage, talk about it with a partner, then analyze it. This will work beautifully with www.instagrok.com.  You can save your information in the online journal and refer back to it as you create a project from all the information you read and analyze.

Some projects your students could create are simple WordClouds using websites such as www.abcya.com, www.tagxedo.com or www.wordle.net

Students can use the iPad or computers to record their voices as they discuss their findings in MovieMaker, PhotoStory, PowerPOint, Prezi.

A practice that works well that many teachers do across the district is posting links to games, videos of students teaching a lesson, or interactive websites to their blogs or teacher websites. This allows students the opportunity to review if needed any material they didn’t quite understand. For example: Cathy Turner, the webmaster and Computer Lab teacher at Welcome Elementary, posts her lessons on her website. Students know how to navigate to her website and can go through the assignments on her web page. They can do this independently now.  Here is a link to her website:  www.technology-treehouse.com
Parker Rowland, a 4th grade teacher,  from Monaview Elementary School uses his blog to publish mini-lessons of him teaching and his students’ projects:  Mr. Rowland’s Blog  4th Grade teachers at Welcome Elementary like to posts students work and links to activities that correlate to PASS.  Sara Awtrey’s blog is divided by subjects:  Awtrey All-Stars