Wednesday, October 21, 2015

10 Questions Student Teachers Must Ask Their Mentors

I was scrolling through Zite last week (as I often do) reading blog posts about education, educational technology, Social Studies, and other nerdy school stuff, when I ran across this article: 10 Questions Student Teachers Must Ask Their Mentors.

Now, I've had a few student teachers in my time. 8 full time student teachers, and countless pre-service teachers who observed my classroom for a few weeks at a time. Because of this I've had lots of time to formally and verbally reflect on what I feel is best practice in my classroom. I've had student teachers who needed me to actually walk them through each aspect of being a teacher, explaining the "what's" and "why's" about everything from how to get kids to stay in their seats and stop touching each other, to how the work that a student submits can be used to actually assess their understanding of material (beyond reporting a simple accumulating points.)

At a recent conference I attended, I heard a man explain the "one-cubed" theory. I'm not sure if this is something he made up, or if its one of those catchy educational terms that people toss around, but it resonated with me. Essentially, the idea is that in order to learn something well, a person must first have it explained to them (1), then actually do it (2), and then teach someone else (3).

Learn. Do. Teach.

Short and sweet, but very powerful. I think this holds true for most people in almost any situation, whether its a child learning to dribble a basketball, or a grad student learning scientific principles of microbiology, the same holds true. The more you help others understand something, the better you understand it yourself. I learned the most about our US Government from actually teaching about it to students. I'd read the books and heard the lectures, and participated in many different ways, but not until I had to explain things like "exigent circumstances" to a 16 year old, did I really start to fully understand all the implications that came with the concept.

So I guess having to explain my daily details to multiple different pre-service teachers has really helped me understand what I truly believe to be good teaching practices. Had I just taken the undergrad classes, or even just taught my students over the years, I don't think I would have the grasp on my craft like I do after explaining it to people with varying backgrounds and different philosophies.

So as I read the questions posted in the article linked above, I started thinking of how I have / would answer these questions posed from a rookie teacher. Over the next few weeks, I plan on crafting a response to these questions (and I'm assuming more that will randomly pop into my head).

Until next time, be good!

Monday, October 5, 2015

PD everywhere!

Just as things start to settle down, I feel like I can finally start to do the job I was hired for. Today I spent my morning working with a teacher at Cherrington Elementary running through all of the bells and whistles of Read & Write for Google. This is available to all Westerville City School teachers and students. (Check it out below)

After spending the afternoon perusing through teachers classroom websites, I saw just how diverse our staff is when it comes to technology. Some teachers have websites that are updated daily, and have a multitude of course information, helpful tools for students and parents, calendars for classroom activities and assignments, and easy to use communication tools to reach the teacher. Other teachers have some cool looking websites that offer the basic contact information for the teacher as well as some information about the class. There are still a number of teachers who either don't have a website presence at all, or a very limited one at that (offers an email contact and a school address).

This is why I'm excited to be able to offer a classroom website work session for some of my teachers next week. Teachers often forget how out of the loop some parents feel after dropping their kids off at school and driving away. Many want to feel connected to the class, know what their student is working on, but don't want to be a helicopter parent. Classroom websites offer a wonderful solution for parents to connect to the class without being a burden on the teacher asking questions that they feel they should already know. As students get older, and can navigate the web, classroom websites become a valuable tool for them to be able to get any resources that the teacher has provided to be able to complete their assignments.

Classroom websites are a vital tool that make communication easier for the teacher, and more meaningful for the parents and students. If you haven't set up yours, make sure you contact your Technology Integration Coach for some help!

I'll be working with my teachers on School Point, Weebly, and Google Sites, but there are lots of other website creators out there. Its worth the time to put one together today!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Making progress...

The past few weeks at this new job have been hectic. I'm trying to figure out how to serve the teachers in 10 different buildings in addition to creating products that will serve the district and the community. Up until this point, I've been serving as a "Mr. Fix-it" for my teachers. I've spent time making projectors work, getting students' log in information working, and struggling to get around to meeting the teachers in my buildings. I've slowly been creating tools for myself that help me organize my time and creating lines of communication between the teachers I serve and my colleague I work with. As we progress to getting our new district web site up and running (which has taken a lot of my time), I realize that that will never be completely done to my liking. But I'm hoping to incorporate all of the information that teachers are making to help other teachers, parents, and students, use and enjoy the technology that is becoming exponentially available. I lose sleep at night thinking about how to do all of the things that are floating around in my head. But I'm excited to add them all to my "to do" list, and slowly chip away at stuff. While I miss my kids in the classroom and the teachers I used to see every day, my job is allowing me to meet new people and see kids that I would have never had the chance to see in action at all levels in Westerville.

If my kids thought "Dad knows everyone in Westerville" before, they have no idea what the next few years hold for them.

Until next time, be good!

- Mr. H

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Weebly v Google Sites

Today I worked on creating a district webpage for our technology department. Since we are a Google school district, we felt it was important to use Google Sites to create the website. This would serve a few purposes.

First, it would give me a chance to work with Google Sites and learn all of the ins and outs of the tool. I used Weebly in my classroom as a teacher, and absolutely loved it. It was intuitive, utilized drag and drop technology for ease of use, and was completely free. I actually had all of my students also use Weebly to create their own websites for my class. So I felt I needed a hands on experience with Sites.

Secondly, it would serve as a modeling tool for the teachers that I work with. My new job as a tech coach allows me to work with literally hundreds of staff members, and I wanted to have our district page as an example of what could be created using the tools that the district supports.

This has proved to be much more difficult than I expected. Largely due to the complexity of the web page that I envision for our department, but also because I am finding that Sites is not as intuitive as the rest of the Google products that I have used.

This is still a work in progress, and while there was plenty of "venting" today about this product, I believe that the more I work with it, the more I can wrap my head around what a final product will end up looking like. Even though it will be limited compared to the sites I have seen created in Weebly.

We'll see how this goes...