Friday, December 21, 2007


It is the final day before Christmas break and then end of the first calendar year of being a Global Learner. It has been three months since I began to integrate technology into my classroom. It has been six months since I began my training.The idea and way I instruct and see instruction has changed so much its hard to see where I started.

its overwhelming to try to calculate all of the changes and new experiences my students and I have.

I'm exhausted and can't quite wrap my brain around the changes in my management and use of technology. Hopefully in the next two weeks I can begin to put into words how much has changed and come up with a plan for the future!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Words as Collaboration tools

I'm reading a book called Choice Words by Peter H. Johnston for my MAE mentoring group. The book is about using what we say to student to get them to see themselves as learners. The whole book has brought me full circle to back to collaboration and the Web 2.0 tools that I use in my classroom.

The chapter I just finished, "An Evolutionary, Democratic Learning Community," really brought this concept home and can lend itself well to my research on blogging. The main topic of this chapter is: "children grow into the intellectual life around them," which is primarily social (65).

Teaching students how to react and use other students in the class is one of the greatest gift we can give them. They can use this knowledge outside of our class to create their own learning communities. Students need to understand that learning happens when we are working together toward a common goal and seeing commonalities and differences in opinion.


If we can teach our students to use Web 2.0 tools to collaborate and build learning communities, we are teaching them to learn forever.

This collaboration and learning community should not stop at our students, this is how we foster our own growth as learners. The Global Learner project (knowing or unknowingly?) has fostered this collaboration and is harnessing the power of Web 2.0 to create a teacher's learning community.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


interesting conversation with a student today. I'm teaching them how to take notes out of a text book. So we did the backwards book walk. While taking my notes I abbreviate words. For example people becomes ppl. My teachers always stopped to make sure we understood abbreviations when I was in school and so I did the same.

Cecilia answered: "duh Miss"
So I responded: "Oh good, you understand abbreviations."
(Thinking: some fabulous teacher has already taught this)
Cecilia: "we do that when we text"


at least I know they have the ability to take short hand in college!

teaching like I learn

The concept has occurred to me before: I should teach students to read by reading and sharing my thoughts with them. This concept is not new and is often the greatest teaching tool we can use.

For example, if my teacher asks me to read the chapter and then answer the questions at the back of the chapter, what will I do?
I will read the questions and then go on a search and destroy mission for the rest of the information! How can I expect my students to do any differently? Especially my ELLs. They can barely read the text, and so they intuitively find key words and copy sentences from the text to answer the question. Did they learn anything? NO!

I teach my NHS students how to code and take notes from their text to prepare them for college, hoping they won't have an experience like me.

Today, it dawned on me that my language students need the same kind of support. They need it more. In order for them to process and understand the text, they must find a way to access it. Copying sentences won't do that!

Today I'm going to try a sort of book walk that I learned from my ELA Coach Barbara Remund. The students and I will go through the section we will be reading and, using three columns copy the headings, the subheading in the second column, and finally the bold vocabulary and graphics in the third column. We will leave room for notes and such.

Then, we will read the text together and note our thoughts or summaries under the appropriate heading. I think that some of the students will get this right away, but it will take some a few attempts.

This is a skill they can take to other classes to create meaning from their text. I hope that they will find it engaging and challenging, but will be successful in the end!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

student resistance to change.

It looks like I'm averaging one post a week. That may be more manageable than once a day. I guess I'm losing the excitement that the beginning of the year and am becoming bogged down with all that comes in the middle of the year--progress grades, student behavior intervention, student academic intervention, final papers for grad school, NHS projects, meetings, and scoring the Eagle Basketball team.

This post I want to think about students' resistance to using technology. They come into class early to get onto YouTube to watch some anime, but ask them to sign up for a mindmeister account or post on the blog and they suddenly become very digitally illiterate..."which button do I push?"..."what do I do now?".....You would think that they left their brains in their lockers. They have signed up for myspace and youtube and countless other programs....but they can't remember their password for their school email or get through the process of setting up a blog.

How much am I expected to scaffold this?

Its still early in the semester and they are very used to teacher centered classrooms. I've had them request lectures (not that they actually sit through them). They are more afraid of technology than my hall-neighbor who is retiring next year. I think part of it is that they don't want to look dumb and they don't want to work or think to hard.....and using technology requires some brain activity...unlike copying passages out of a text book (which they excel at).

I'll provide more opportunities for practice and to just "play" with the technology so its not so scary.....

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wiki work

i'm cross-posting between my blog and Global Learner blog. I wanted my colleagues to see what my classes are up to, but also wanted to document that on our own site!

I'm attempting to use my wiki in a "blackboard" sort of way. My students are posting their work to the wiki....this is as far as I've gotten so far! I feel good to have gotten this concept across to my language learners but please check it out! Today they will be posting paragraphs on pages they create themselves! I have small classes so I'm not too worried about stealing or manipulating other students' work....I don't think they have it completely figured out to be able to sabotage their classmates....hopefully it won't get to that!

check out our wiki and see what we're up to!

There is a link to American History Three and we are currently at causes of WWI! I would appreciate input and ideas! Feedback is awesome!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Commerce City's new skate park (which is down the street from my house) was on the news this week....finally positive press!

See if you can tell who the local celebrity is being intervied

CC Video

Research Proposal

Yesterday I presented my research proposal...hopefully I won't have to change anything!
my question is: "what happens when English Language Learners are taught to blog?"
my sub questions ask:
  • Will writing achievement be affected?
  • will students see them selves as part of the classroom community?
  • Will students be more reflective about the content?
All of my students are ELL who are facing "double the work." According to Short and Fitzimmons (2007), the country is attempting to find solutions to trying to teach content, literacy and language to students at the same time. High-Stakes testing has created an environment where language learners must perform on tests in their second language. They must learn to read and write as adolescents in their second language at a time when they should be using reading and writing as a learning tool. On top of that, they must learn the content provided by the state and district standards.

My plan is to teach them to blog. I will slowly implement blogging as a reflective tool in my social studies classroom. My hope is that by the end of my research they will not only respond to teacher questions but, summarize, reflect, and internalize the course content. I also hope that they visit the blogs of other students to comment and connect.

Blogs and technology are an important tool and resource for our students to learn. Due to technological advances jobs and expectations of employees are rapidly changing. According to former Secretary of Education Richard Riley, I am preparing my students for jobs that do not exist yet.

Okay, small "trailer" of my research. I'm hoping to being to quantify what we all know: technology makes a difference in the engagement and achievement of our students. After watching Darren and other educators successfuly integrate blogs I am excited to capture this process in my research. I believe that blogging creates an atmosphere of collaboration where, as Darren puts it, students become the experts!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

LOCATION, location, location....

finding the time to blog is like finding the time to run...I've noticed myself slipping into a mild blogging routine. From watching my reader, it seems that a lot of people are finding it hard to get their ideas out....

I've wanted to, but I've put it off knowing that I would have to actually reflect and think and set goals....then the procrastination set in knowing I would have a lot to write could take a while to get it all out!

Last week I had my students write mission statements...I told them that I was working on mine and that its important to know what you believe, who you want to become and how you will get there. I told them I was still working on mine but I know its something like this:

I believe that ACHS students are as capable as any high school student in Colorado. To live out this belief I will give them opportunities to share what they know, give them access to a rigorous curriculum and will give them access to technology.

They all began to write and wrote something about passing a class or graduating....I stopped them and told them that I believed that they all could go to college. (Of course there are legal and political debates about MY students going to college...but whatever.)

They looked at me like they had never heard that before....its sad...they haven't been "groomed" for college like students who attend more prominent or affluent high schools. Maybe its a little late! They're Juniors and Seniors. Its devastating to me that location can make such a big difference is someone's future. had these students been born or raised in another area they would be expected to go to college, not expected to enter a trade. I understand that not everyone is made to go to college some people are very well equipped to enter a trade....but why is this mostly determined by your zip code? My students are smart, hell they process their entire day in two languages...I barely get by in one!

The point is that no one expected them to go to college....some of them were never really expected to graduate from high school. I think that is what made the most difference for me (coming from this zip code): my parents made it very clear from elementary school that 1. I could do anything I wanted and 2. I was going to college.....

Its painful to look at them and see their potential, their hope, and yet understand where they'll end up....I am tired of ordering food from former students...

Maybe Hillary Clinton is takes a Village....
if for every year of a child's life someone told them they were special and that they could go to college....what kind of difference would that make, despite zip code?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Final Exams Global Learner Style!!

I decided today to practice what I preach! Instead of a final exam my students will present a social/political movement through a multi-media platform. I banned powerpoint for this experience and am having them use a web 2.0 tool!
they have the choice of:
I had about 100% engagement (even students who are poor attenders and then don't do much any way couldn't help but get involved.)

I was impressed by the way they began exploring and manipulating their media. At the beginning of the year I couldn't get them to be creative, they just wanted to copy and get it over with. I feel that now, they are expressing themselves and competing to "the best."
I gave them their assignment on Thursday, Friday I showed them the media. They began working and exploring (and no laptops were stolen!)

It was a great teaching day! they were learning, having fun and expressing themselves.
It was really fun to watch them work. I can't wait until they present their presentation. I think I'll skype it with my webcam. Hopefully, Joe and/or Dave can be available to watch and comment.

Fun times @ E105!

Monday, October 22, 2007

balance and blogging

I'm sitting in my research class completely overwhelmed. I thought I was almost finished with my research proposal and now I'm not!
One conversation with my professor and my ego is blown....I don't really know how to pick up the pieces of my proposal and have it ready to go next Monday.
I thought that my proposal was focused, but now its unfocused and my focus has changed...

So, since I'm stepping back to rewrite by proposal I'm thinking about my questions and my treatment:
  • does blogging impact student voice
  • does blogging make my student more reflective about content
  • does blogging increase writing proficiency
  • does blogging help students feel part of a classroom community
This is good, I'm just used to being the top of my class, with everything done before everyone else...better than everyone else....for the first time I am not as secure and I don't like it!

Okay, I'm going to step away and try to get it together tomorrow....
ahh tomorrow, I have NHS inductions and Wednesday I have a Read-180 meeting....thursday and Friday I teach at KMS. ....Maybe I can't do it all this week....

Saturday, October 20, 2007

New Teacher Training Web 2.0

Welcome New teachers to my blog...

A blog is a a place where you can reflect on experiences and knowledge. The unique part of blogging is it is available for the whole world.

To begin your experience, take a look at some of the blogs that I'm reading in my shared blackboard.

I use an aggregator from google to gather all of my favorite blogs in one place. If there is a post that I really like I share it and it shows up on my shared blackboard.

Take a look at one or two and comment on them...
if you feel comfortable comment on the blog directly, if you'd rather go ahead and post a comment to this post about what you read about!!

Happy Blogging!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

ideas for change

In a comment to my blog a few weeks ago, Terry Freedman encouraged me to use technology as a way to differentiate my instruction. The over-all product and duration could act as tools of differentiation. I've been thinking about that and struggling with it.

This week I signed up for a free on-line course on teaching with primary resources that runs on blackboard...

Last week I read a pbwiki blog post by a college instructor who moved away from blackboard to a more collaborative setting and utilized their blog post....

Today I began setting up an ESL history course that is completely moderated through my pbwiki. From here, students could collaborate, read, and create products to meet our goals and objectives...
I'm thinking that at the beginning of the week I give them a video, an article and other resources on the wiki....then they create something to prove to me they understand the content.

Another thought...talking to Joe Miller yesterday at the homecoming parade (go Eagles). I realized I'm not utilizing the iPods AT ALL....big bummer. I quickly made an excuse that my classes were too bid and that I don't trust my students....

My language learners could really bennefit from having the visual and audio reinforcement....

so today...I went to the iTunes "store" and looked for some history podcasts....I couldn't find anything that would accommodate my students...

So, I think I will make my own video podcast for each week that will reinforce the vocabulary and concepts that we are studying...

I'll put the podcast on the wiki and students can access it when they need...

I have 5 weeks until term II when I can test this I really need to get moving and get some input...
if anyone has anything... I'd appreciate the collaboration!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007


My evening Adult ESL classes are where I tryout the things I'd like to use in my classroom with my students. The classes are very small and I can test out my tools. For the past few weeks we have been working on using FLICKR and photostory to creat videos relating to the part of speech or skill the students are working on.

here is an example of a video:

Email to Friend

Today I found some really cool tools on one of the links from the K12 Online that gives 50 tools for presentations conference that I want to try out in the next few weeks. The problem I face however, is that the videos and such don't show up through the district filters and firewalls., but the video it creates won't show up in-district. I hope to try out the tools on this site to create some rockin' stuff with them in the next few weeks. Hopefully, I'll pilot them with my adults and have my students use them next semester. (My History classes are still baneed from laptops since two have come up missing!


Okay, I've been tagged by Regina Stewart. I can't wait for K12Online for the following reasons:
  • I'm excited about having the videos load as podcasts and watching them while I walk the dog!
  • I'm excited by the pre-keynote that I watched yesterday and the idea of preparing our students for jobs that don't exist yet
  • Connecting with new people who share my passion.
I will tag non-Global Learners:
Jenn Skrobella
Nadja Tizer
Suzie Philson
L-D Jennings

Technorati Tags:

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sunday/Monday to do list

I decided to use bullets because I'm not quite awake enough to assign importance to any task.
  • wash the dog
  • dishes
  • grade papers for AM HIS 3
  • Begin drafting unit plan for Vietnam
  • finish work for grad school research class:
    • Final purpose
    • Data collection narrative and chart
    • Tools - draft
    • benefit and risk section
    • confidentiality section
    • Parent and child consent forms.
  • Hopefully I can do some laundry
  • shop for/plant bulbs
  • Maybe some dusting?
  • work on New Teacher training presentation: Web 2.0
  • Read my new book: Suite Francaise
  • NHS officer meeting agenda
  • clean my desk
Black text = done

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Originally uploaded by aatoniajohnson
This is a test. Evidently I can post a picture to my blog via by
sending an email. That sorda' rocks

Thursday, October 4, 2007

MISSION: Create a society that can...

I've been thinking about the discipline post that I ran across yesterday. Especially after I had a run-in with a notorious student. I had a bit of a wake-up call....or a remembrance.

I decided to teach at this school because I was tired of people feeling sorry for these students. Compassion, Empathy, and Understanding are essential characteristics of educators however, as with everything in education, they need to be handled with balance.

Students are given many chances because we feel sorry for them, because we are aware of their background. I appreciate this sensitivity. However, at some point these students learn to be dependent on their extra chances. They stop being grateful because they are always given a "free lunch." It works well for us here, but then they leave here and go to a world that, frankly, doesn't give a s@#$. What life are we teaching them to live if we don't expect them to step up to the plate, and they'll be given a third and fourth chance if they don't?

What if we expected them to use their diversity to become strong people who knew how to help themselves?

What if we expected that they could handle the little extra pressure, because they already are used to carrying an extra load?

Then, would we create students that were leaders?
Then, would we create students who could think and handle tough situations with ease?
Then, would we really be doing our jobs?

If we don't take student behavior serious enough...and laugh it off too many times...I believe that we are setting the student up for failure.

Yeah, we can be nice. We can be friendly...but we need to do it in such a way the the student understands the seriousness of his/her actions.

On the other side of the same coin, we can be tough...but we need to do it in such a way that discipline is a learning experience and that we do it because we care about the student.

In the long-run, my job is to make adults and productive members of society out of my teens. I can do this by making sure they understand that, as a society, we have norms and values that everyone follows.

"The law, for all its failings, has a noble goal - to make the little bit of life that people can actually control more just. We can't end disease or natural disasters, but we can devise rules for our dealings with one another that fairly weigh the rights and needs of everyone, and which, therefore, reflect our best vision of ourselves."
--Scott Turow, Author of Presumed Innocent and Limitations (from my Starbucks coffee cup)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

do you suffer from leadership deficiency disorder?

I found this on the Throughlines blog
Discipline seems to be a consistent "hot topic" for educators. Even with the best intentions and amazing lesson plans, student behavior can get the best of us. I enjoyed reading this clip and wanted to share it!

"This passage appeared as a column by John Rosemond in today's Honolulu Advertiser. Tough to find anything to argue with here." -- Bruce Schauble, author of Throughlines

I've said it before, but it cannot be said often enough: The discipline of a child is not accomplished by manipulating reward and punishment. Yes, a child needs to understand that behavior results in consequences, but that understanding alone is not sufficient to grow a well-behaved, well-mannered child.

Besides, whereas proper consequences will virtually guarantee proper behavior in a dog, proper consequences do not guarantee proper behavior in a child (or human of any other age). If they did, no criminal would spend more than one, maybe two, stints in jail.

Discipline is the process by which parents transform a child into a disciple, a little person who will look up to them, follow their lead, and subscribe to their values. This is accomplished through proper leadership, not through the manipulation of consequences. The principles that define proper leadership do not change from one leadership context to another. Therefore, if one understands leadership in, say, a business environment, then one understands how to lead children.

The most important of all leadership qualities is decisiveness. All effective leaders act like they know what they are doing. They act like they believe sincerely in the rightness of their decisions. In parenting, this translates to standing behind one's instructions to a child, enforcing rules dispassionately, and proving that "no" means nothing other than "no."

I have taken to challenging parents in my most recent audiences to assess their leadership using this simple standard. "Raise your hand," I ask, "if your children know, without a shadow of doubt, that when you give an instruction, you are going to make sure it is carried out, that when you state a rule, you are going to enforce it, and that when you say 'no,' you mean nothing less than 'no.' " In a recent audience of some 200 parents, only five responded affirmatively.

I then ask, "Now raise your hand if as a child you knew, beyond a shadow of doubt!, that your parents were going to enforce their instructions and rules and that when they said 'no,' they meant 'no,' period." In that same audience, I estimated that 150 hands were in the air. The relative proportion has been approximately the same in 50 other audiences, bigger and smaller, across America.

This exercise tells why today's children come to school considerably less disciplined than children of even 20 years ago (I've never heard an experienced teacher testify to the contrary). This tells why today's parents are having so many more problems in the area of discipline than did their parents, and certainly their grandparents. It is not because they are not manipulating consequences as skillfully; rather, it is because they are not demonstrating to their children that when they speak, they mean exactly what they say.

Yesteryear's parents were apt to simply tell their children to pick up their toys. Today's parents are apt to ask their children if they will please pick up their toys, "OK?" Today's parents, in the face of their children's emotional dramatics, are likely to demonstrate to their children that sufficient displays of emotional dramatics on their parts will result in "no" changing to "oh, all right!"

The du-jour explanation for a child who will not take no for an answer, who tests every instruction and every rule with the full might of his or her free will, is that an inherited chemical imbalance causes knee-jerk resistance to authority. Concrete verification of this proposition is lacking, but as recent audiences of mine have demonstrated, proof abounds that many if not most of today's parents are suffering from leadership deficiency disorder.

As educators, we should take these comments seriously. The way we "discipline" students molds their identity and their future decisions. Discipline is best accomplished by leadership.

wiki mishaps

my goal in my literacy class today was to have students use my new wiki to describe the reading strategy planning and monitoring and begin adding vocabulary for our story. However, if one student was editing the rest of the students had to wait. And somehow student could "steal" editing privileges, so students would get kicked out of editing. When these students regained control and clicked "save" they accidently erased what everyone else had done!

So, I need to think of a procedure for using wikis. I think that next week I'll try google docs....I think we can all edit and collaborate at the same time.

I'm glad I tried this with my 15 student literacy class and not my 36 student American History class...ouch...I may not have recovered from that...I see my literacy classes as my technology sand box. I figure out the procedures and needs there...and then transfer them to my other classes.

What would a day teaching be without learning...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

the big 5

"The five, key 21st century skills, says Brenda Musilli, president of the Intel Foundation, are: problem solving, collaboration, communications, digital literacy and creative thinking. "

This quote came in an article written today about Intel's Teacher training program and the One Lap Top program.

This is an amazing statement. If this is what our children will need in the future, why are we not teaching to this? Why are we still teaching a set of skills that will be irrelevant in ten years?

By teaching our (mostly poor students) the basics and avoiding these skills we are continuing the cycle of poverty and ignorance. If however, we push for these skills, our students will be ready for the jobs they will need to fill in the future.

I'm not saying that the core subjects will not facilitate these skills or are not necessary. I'm simply saying that those skills will get covered by making these skills a priority.

We should be more concerned with how well our children will fare in the careers of tomorrow over how they will fare on the next round of government mandated tests...

but all teachers know this....I wish those with the power really understood what they were creating. By pushing so hard for the core subjects that are tested, schools are forced to put aside what is seen as the peripherals. Thereby repeating the cycle; students are not competing with other students around the world and are not prepared for jobs...the cycle is perpetuated by what is seen as the cure: mandated tests.

A blog comment by a fellow global learner said something to the effect of "if these kids are digital natives, why is it so hard to get them to participate."

Every second I'm not monitoring them they are using proxies to access myspace or looking at Youtube. But, having them set up a google doc document or comment on our bog is excruciating.

Part of my theory, when beginning this program, was that by using technology we would meet kids where they are to create a learning environment that is accessible and meaningful to them.

But they don't seem to get it. (Are we for once ahead of them?)

How long does it take for students to warm-up to blogs or other Web 2.0 things that we are offering them?
How long will it take for them to see it as useful...not a gimmick?
What is the ideal class size for teaching blogging and web 2.0 literacy?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

new literacy

I just read a really great post on REMOTE ACCESS on blogging and how that could change how we teach....maybe we should teach students how to read and use blogs as a resource.

I'm thinking that by doing this and teaching them to do this through an aggregator...we can teach them to think.

They would have to look at a subject from multiple blogs or perspectives and create their own ideas and thoughts...

Teach them to navigate blogs and we teach them to synthesize and make connections to what they read....

In essence we teach them to read and write for a variety of purposes....

This should be the new literacy...and I think by teaching literacy this way, we could enhance the "old" literacy of textbooks and novels

(please don't misunderstand me. I love textbooks and novels....but imagine how they could be enhanced by reading and navigating blogs about the same topics....)

Classroom Management = Student Engagement

I believe that student engagement begins with a well planned lesson. Lessons and activities should be meaningful to students and keep them engaged.

I've heard teachers talk about teachers at other schools who get to have professional conversations about content and instruction rather than behavior.

But what if we began having that content and instruction conversation first....would that cure most of the behavior issues?

I'm proud to say that my colleagues, spurred by an amazing AP, have begun to have such conversations. I am even prouder to say that when we listed the things we want discuss and change this year...we never mentioned behavior...not until our facilitator brought it up.

I think that if the focused switched from behavior issues to meaningful exposures to content, then, students would be fully engaged and have less behavior problem.

It won't cure all student issues...but it will go a long way to helping!

Dr. Lange told me last year that his wife was assigned a "tough" 6th grade class for the upcoming year. Luckily, he said, she had taken her dog to training the summer before. She learned a valuable lesson: control their environment.

The first step in successful classroom management (besides an engaging lesson) is controlling the environment. Don't give them opportunities to get themselves in trouble! My students are opportunists....but hopefully with the right control and nurturing, they will use this skill in a positive way....and not an annoying one!

This week I experienced a few 100% days: 100% engagement from 100% of my students 100% of the time....It wasn't because I threatened or had them all facing front...they were up, discussing, moving around: they couldn't help but be engaged. I controlled their environment. Hopefully, as I hone my teaching skills and polish my teaching art, I will experience more and more of these days....

These are days when its great to be a teacher.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

getting dressed

I haven't had a real post in a while...I'm getting a little sick of my whining about how hard it is to teach my classes, so I'm going to stop! Usually when I hear teachers whining I think to myself: "duh." So I'm giving myself a silent "duh" and moving away from behavior issues (we all have them.) And while I'd like to spend some time discussing content and how to present it and how students accesses and prove they understand the content...I'm going to move into a rant.

I work in a high school...and unfortunately that means that teachers think that they can come to work in flip-flops and hoodies. No wonder people don't take us seriously as professionals. I think that how I present myself is a very important part of my day. I don't want my students to see me as a peer or friend (we both have all the friends we need.) I want my students to see me as a role-model, mentor, content guidance-counselor. If I allow them to see me as a peer, my credibility is shot, especially when I'm in front off the room and want them to end their conversations.

Granted, some teachers have earned their right to Hawaiian shirts and khakis....they are a symbol at the high school...they have been here more than 5 members have taken their courses....their prestige comes from their experience... (still none of them wear flip-flops).

my favorite are the science teachers who wear science t-shirts, or the english teacher who dressed up like a ship-wrecked youth when her classes read lord of the flies.

These teachers use themselves as teaching tools. I respect them and I thank them for making our profession professional.

I look like I'm 17. I am young....I don't want my students to think we can be friends.

However, there are a few teachers who think that a hoodie and flip-flops will do. 'Cmon we may not get payed much, but we get back from our students the attitudes that we put out there...and I think that starts somewhere around 6 am when we are getting dressed.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

reflecting on having students reflect

Having my students blog could be an awesome way for me progress-monitor all 34 of them!

  • How can I do this so I'm not overwhelmed and my students feel confident in their endeavors?
  • How can I make this type of reflection meaningful to my students?
  • How can I scaffold this instructional practice so my students feel successful
  • Does research support the use of reflections as an insructional tool?
    • What practices does research support?
  • Do different types of learners need to reflect in different forms?
      • What is supported by research?

I'm grading and checking on student progress and despite an entire day devoted to having students post a blog, I have very few posts. My classes are huge with a wide range of needs. I'm struggling with how to make it meaningful to them so that its not like pulling teeth.

I think its so important to have them blogging, because I don't have the time to get to a deep check-in with each student during the day. I have maybe 3 or 4 quick "how ya' doin" stops...

Having my student reflect like this would help me with summative assessment and could guide instruction...but how to make 34 students blog in a day? Maybe thats just too ambitious. I was going for the "week in review thing" but perhaps, I need to focus on getting one table of 8 students to blog at a time....I do have 8 desk top computers.....hmmm....this could be good.

In an ideal world, each of my students would complete their work on a laptop everyday and blog at the end of class...instead of handing in a exit-slip. But, I only have 11 laptops shared with my team and 3 laptop carts that I have to share with the school. 84 teachers....3 lap top do the math. I don't want to be greedy either....but until someone says something I think I'll reserve every-other-day with the laptop carts. .

So, I'll have each table create a blog post once a week....for a minimum grade. Students will have to comment later in the week for an "A".

I think this sounds do-able.

Also, I started making them do reflections at the end of class last week. But, as the week went on I forgot. I think this is so important, but I forget to watch the time...I need to set a timer.

Last night I had my Adult ESL students set up email addresses and email me what they had learned in their was very positive....maybe I'll set up a blog for them....I mentioned that and i got blank-confused steps!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Presentation for Grad school research class

Night and Day

Today I ability grouped my students into different tables and gave them assignment that depended on that group. It was great. I Had them all read and as the class was reading I circulated giving instructions to each group.

Of course in the middle of my restructuring day I was observed....oh well...I feel great and can see some behavior and academic progress with my students!

Now to tackle do I ability group this? Some of my students are very dependent on me I'm not sure how to differentiate this (ironically one of my core beliefs is that technology is the great differentiator!)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I'm 24 and have grey hair...ummm?

I am so frustrated....I thought about not blogging and just going to sleep! the behavior in one of my classes is making it impossible for me to do anything BUT worksheets.
This class of 32 had 75% ELL 25% native speakers. most of the Native speakers have taken and failed this class. I have one student who has passed a total of 4 classes in his entire two years (six semesters). He can't not talk. Which is fine...but I need to give comprehensible instructions to my students who barely understand English.....

I tried having my students to Excel maps with the hidden comments feature....3 students were so out of control that me leading my class through this was unbearable...
Every 20 seconds I'd have to say "excuse me, I need everyone's attention so that you don't have to ask me what's going going on.." my poor ELL need my attention, but the students who have given up have commanded it
I don't know what to of my students who has transfered from a Boulder S.D school, commented to me on the behavior as he was leaving class....
I feel like I have to have no groups...silent work...if anyone is to learn anything
I feel like I've lost my momentum that I had just yesterday....I feel like I have to put incorporating technology on the back burner because theses students are so immature they can't handle it...
If you can't tell...this is a class of juniors and seniors!!
what am i supposed to do? I feel like the worst teacher at my school...
How do I make sure the other 30 students get the education they deserve?
My theory was that technology would be so engaging they couldn't help but pay attention...only they weren't paying attention in the first behind and just started making my life miserable! My theories and beliefs are crumbling

Okay its out....a little cathartic...I'm going for a run and then hopefully can come up with some solutions for tomorrow...will repost later tonight

And I was runnin....and I have perspective and its just one student....and I can make a difference for all of my students....have new ideas and plan for tomorrow

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hello Students

I've invited you to my blog so that you can get a feel for what blogging is all about! On the Right I have a list of blogs that are currently on my reader. I'd like you to read through them.

As a learner, I find it easier to "learn" when I've reflected on what I've learned. This means I've attempted to sort everything out....what I know, what I don't know, things that remind me of things I've already learned, etc. When I've made these connections and have gotten everything out, its a lot easier for me "understand."

I'm not looking for you to be able to recall dates or facts, just to be able to think for yourself. This means we don't copy worksheets in here! In this class I want you to have a basic understanding of how we've gotten to this point in time. I want to you see yourselves a part of a greater picture.

You assignment:
1. Look at the posts on the "black board" on the right
2. Pick one that you want to comment about (come back to this page)
3. Find your class' blog on the right (log-in)
4. Post a response to that blog on your class blog
  • Your title should be your name and the title of the blog you're responding to
  • You need to link to the blog from your post
  • Check your spelling and professional.
    • The blogs you link to can come back and find you!
Good Luck! --- Learning is a process, a journey that is never truly finished!

Ms. Johnson

Saturday, September 8, 2007


The thing with teaching that can be both good and bad is the number of do-overs we all are allowed. Students get do-overs with new classes, teachers, semesters, years and even days....teachers get do-overs with about the same frequency.

The hard part is balancing these do-overs with consistency. As long as standards and expectations are high, they can be flexible with how they are measured and achieved. I can change my mind with how things are run to fit the situation, this happens as each second passes. --Sometimes I feel sorry with for my para-professional; I give her an outline of class but, everyday things have to change depending on the mood of my students, my mood, the content, and random events throughout the day!

The great thing with education is that I can change things until they work for me and my students....I don't know very many other "jobs" that this can be said for!

This week I start a new unit-- and have a few "do-overs"
My Social Studies class just finished their first unit and assessment. I am always amazed that students work on projects for about a week and then have nothing to turn in when the project is due? AMAZING!

They created a Newspaper using an edclass template describing the causes of the Civil War

My thoughts and reflection on what will change in the future and what worked:

Students changed their assigned groups
    • Students who stayed in their assigned groups had something (good) to turn in
    • Absences made the groupings hard
    • For the next few projects, students will work independently
Students changed and stole other students' work that we saved on the network
    • work for the next few assignments will be in google docs
    • use classroom money or mini-grant to purchase each student thumb-drive
Students copied and pasted from internet

    • Explicitly discuss what is appropriate to take and how to site it
    • discuss
For this unit I'm going to give them all of the objective rubrics in advance in a folder and have all of their work be done in google docs. The folders will stay in class and will be used in our weekly conferences.

I have been rethinking blogging as well, so maybe I can get it off the ground now!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Reflecting on Reflecting

M finally returned to class today! I found myself unusually kind to him. Considering the fact that he didn't have a notebook, nothing to turn in and was 45 minutes late.

I think my blogging about him really made a differnce!

Reflecting on how I was feeling about the situation, instead of having a bitch session with a colleague, was more rewarding.
can pretend to be "at peace" with a student, but unless I truly feel like I have some sort of plan, I'm really not!

Having the opportunity to blog about him and the situation made a real difference and I think he felt the that I was truly happy to see him, instead of just concentrating on his socks. By reflecting and "concentrating on his socks" I was able to make good of a situation that has been irritating me for over a year!

what release

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Reflection Day 5 --- Kill 'em with kindness

Old technology was my foe today! It took half of the period for my students to access their work on the network. For a split second I imagined how quiet my class would be if I just had them copying out of their textbooks! But, things finally were resolved and for fifteen minutes high schoolers worked in peace with a partner creating a newspaper that cited the causes of the American Civil War.

Poor kids I separated them....they had segregated themselves....language learners and native speakers. So, those language learners who could manage were paired with native speakers. I hope everyone learned a lot more than history!

I had a language learner breakthrough...I was catching myself saying small phrases or words in Spanish to give my students directions. I don't know if I was practicing my own Spanish, or if I wanted them to know I knew (somewhat) how to speak their language. However, I realized that these short conversations would help them in the long-run if I spoke to them in English. They are in mainstream classes the rest of the day, so they need to pick these small things up.

My literacy classes created captions for Civil Rights pictures based on what they were reading. I put the slide show together on and then had them work on the captions. I typed them in during class....very quickly, I just found mistakes....this allowed them to read, write, speak and listen... It was a short activity, but I think it was very meaningful. Then, I had them comment on it in their blog. their comments were short, but had a lot more heart than they have previously had.

I am totally frustrated with a student that I have in literacy. This is my second year with him-sort of. He has major attendance issues, so much so that if I am late with attendance an attendance liason is calling 20 minutes into class. The worst part is, he has missed so much school he really doesn't know how to do school. So, he comes in and just sits there. I ask him to go ahead and open a book and he doesn't really realize he's supposed to read it. He just sits there until another student lets him copy. when the para asks if he needs help he says: "no 'cause she'll think I'm copying." It makes me want to scream I'm like "'c'mon M prove to me you're not lazy and you can do it." Praise doesn't work, sarcasm doesn't work. AGHHH I want him to get it and be successful but I don't know how between the attendance liason calling me twice a day to check attendance and this kids swaggering in late I've had it....for a teacher I have a short-fuse and this kid's shenanigans have got me going! What to do??? On a positive note, this year he brings paper to pencil....but he has paper.

I read something somewhere that said, "you can't like every kid, so sometimes you just have to focus on the color of their socks! 'hey those are great socks!'" I guess that I'm gonna have to pull a Dottie on him and like him so much ..... he'll want to work....

**Dottie is my mom. She used to manage the DQ in Commerce City and now she decorates cakes at the King Soopers. People lover her caring disposition so much, they show up at King Soopers just to visit with her! When I meet people they say: "your mom is the dairy queen lady, she's amazing!" Its probably from putting up with alcoholic parents, and my work-aholic dad her whole life.....maybe one day I'll truly learn how to "kill 'em with kindness" as she puts it. But, for now I'm gonna have to pay really close attention to their socks.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

blogging to learn/ Reflection Day 4

I love it when I stumble across an answer to a question as I'm reading the blog-post of another educator. Today Dave Cormier posted about a blogging conference/seminar he presented and one of my favorite blog authors posted a response to his blog.

This week I have been struggling with the idea of "how" to blog with my students in a meaningful way. I am interested in how blogs can improve student achievement especially for language learners. Originally, I had expected all students to blog 4 times a week. However, I'm beginning to think that this is too much for them to do. I find that the blog posts become repetitive and thoughtless. I have some really great posts from my freshmen, some that will no doubt be useful to show growth. However, I don't think they have the concept of a blog down. Quite frankly, neither did I before I dove in head first and began reading, studying and writing my own.

Through grad school at Regis, I have found my experience to be rewarding and have seen growth in my thought and process because I can reflect and react on teachings and learnings with professors and colleagues. I believe that the foundation to truly understanding and learning is through the metacognative-reflective process. (I think that this topic was one of my first blog posts.) I want my students to experience this type of learning experience because it is s0 meaningful to me.

I don't know how to help them see it as a learning tool. I think that for now, blogging once a day is not working, at all. In the future, I will have them reflect (the old fashioned way) daily, and then have one person post a "week in review" at the end of the week. Then, I will have the other students comment on the "week in review" on Monday. My students are not great self-starters and are not that great at starting something new. So, I think for this first half of the semester I will help them out by scaffolding the process a little better: show them blogs, have them reflect or comment on blogs. My hope is that they create a sense of creativity and ownership of their own thoughts and see themselves as an "expert," as Darren K. put it. I will continue to post class notes daily or every other day, as is necessary, and help my students get into the habit of looking at their class blog and using it as a resource.

Possible rubric (4pt scale)

4 in addition to 3 shows in-depth details, suggestions or resources

3 Completely summarizes the weeks learning experiences AND reflects on personal growth, knowledge, confusion, learning and connections

2 Completely summarizes the learning experiences may show some reflection

1 attempts to summarize or summarizes inaccurately does not show complete thought

I'm thinking of also adding a rubric on audience(professionalism) and grammar...perhaps I'll borrow from the district short response rubric

on a side note
I had a little technical fiasco today that turned my face red....I know, my mom's Irish, its not hard to turn my face red!

First, while I was gone on Friday I had 2 laptops from our dept. set stolen Huge bummer, not because of the equipment but because I think my teacher-student relationship with these students is shot! Also, I have this panging feeling in my gut that I should be taking better care of my stuff and this incident prompted me to get organized fast!

Second, I checked out a lap-top cart from the library for my blocks 3-4. Another teacher (who checked it out for 5-6) came in with 25 minutes to go in block 4 (this is my split block and these kids just came back from lunch) and demanded the cart. I was planning on cleaning up in a few minutes and having my student assistant get the cart to her before class was over, but I think the system is flawed...with out much hope for a solution. In an effort to let everyone possible use the technology, you can sign up for them for blocks and not simply the entire day. The technology, if you're not used to it can be intimidating and hard to set up, but who has priority: The students currently using the computers or the teacher waiting to set it up for her students? Maybe the library can get a student assistant in charge of rounding-up equipment and setting it up for teacher.....what ever happened to the AV CLUB? (ie:Freaks and Geeks)

Sorry, this post was so long, thanks for hanging in there!! Long Day

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Constructing learning experiences that push students into new levels of learning

I have a couple of things that I have been thinking about off and on for the past week that I wanted to get out, reflect on and maybe get some feedback

I am a constructivist...duh...I don't think it would be possible to expect students to use technology on all levels and stagesof learning and not be a constructivist! I believe learning is a process. I love my students to do projects as a learning tool and I like those to be meaningful to them. The problem I am running into is that student have forgotten how to be creative by the time I get them. So, I ask them to do a project and leave it pretty open and they just sit there....and complain that they want to know what it will look like. So I kept a few student examples of projects that my students did last year to show these students but, I threw them away!

In my experience working as a "camp counselor" at the Rec. Center I have found that when we did crafts the teens would look at my example and copy it! I don't see anything fun in that. Yeah they had fun doing it, but they lacked the spark and excitement of coming up with something that was truly theirs. So, I began only giving them general instructions and materials. The end results were way better than any example I could have given them. I've transfered this idea into my class projects and they don't like it! They want to know what the time line or poster or powepoint should look like. I always tell them "what ever works for you, what will help you learn this better?"

They hate it! But I believe that real learning comes from creating something that is important and meaningful to the matter what shape the teacher likes a time line to be.
However in the future I plan to do the following to make the transition into creativity easier for my students:

1. Be very clear about the learning result I expect at the end
2. Be very clear about the time they have available to them
3. Spend a day at the beginning of the semester making sure all students are aware of their learning and personality style so they can fit these projects closer to them

This article
from The Journal discuss the inherent need for education to move to constructivism with the advent and prevalent use of technology EVERYWHERE. It discusses the use of technology in language learning classroom. I find it easier to learn a language when I converse in it, not just working in a workbook and writing phrases that are outdated an no one will see? What about having our students write for real purposes, in real language---then would we increase their proficiency? I guess I'll see at the end of this year after my students have spent the semester blogging about their learning experiences. They are pretty rough now, but they are taking them seriously.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I learned so much today. It was my first day teaching ESL at the ILC for "adults." Its interesting that I don't have to worry so much about engagement as I do meaningful!

They are intrinsically motivated and are hanging on my every-word. I didn't have to do anything to capture their attention, learning is already doing that!

However, I was careful to make what I taught them meaningful. They want to learn NOW and need things that will be useful for them.

I'm exhausted and can't possible comment on everything that happened, I was there for 4 hours.

However, I was surprised in the middle of my second class with 2 brand-new students. The second class is designed for intermediate students and I was working with "G" on comparatives. I quickly had to engage them into a quick phonics lesson. I did not have any resources or books, so I had to make it up as I went along. It was fantastic!

They were two 17 year old young men who work construction and, from what I gather, didn't have much high school because they were always in trouble. But they were so anxious to learn. I'm not kidding when I say that they were literally on the edge of their seats, hanging on every word. I felt like a real teacher.

I'm glad I had to walk home (Josh had a class tonight) I needed to expend the energy I felt after teaching the past four hours. Can you imagine teaching for four hours strait, and needed to "walk it off" and not go strait to bed?

I'm sure in a few weeks that trek will be long, but man its a great feeling when you've known that what you've done while "teaching" is to actually teach!

ho-hum day

I need to spend the afternoon planning for a sub. I have everything but the instructions typed for them. My computer turns off every time I put in a thumbdrive -- which is not helping!

In literacy today the students began our recipe project. They are to interview a family member about a special recipe and then write out the recipe and ingrediants with a little antecdote about why the recipe is so important to them. When they get finished next week, we'll bind them and have a parent pot-luck.

In history my students continued to do their webquest. They finished today. After talking to them and looking at what they've done, I really think they're at least getting the basic concept. Tomorrow I have them reading from a textbook and taking assisted notes. I also have a concept activity for my low ELL where they group the basic differences between the North and the South in a pictoral way. I will have all of them do a cloze activity with the main vocabulary.

Behavior was pretty okay today my third block had a lot of tardies and then they sat and talked. I had to raise my voice and get "angry" but they were really good for the rest of class. My 4th block has a ton of tardies and I held a few of them for most of thier lunch for it!

I'm exhaused and teaching at the ILC tonight!! Yipee ..... ESL I can't wait but at this point I'm so tired and sick I don't know how it will go!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Reflection Day 2

Today we worked again on the sound "sh" and brainstormed all of the words that have that sound. Then, we put them into categories based on their spellings. We had sh, tion, ssion, and random ways to spell. I read again to them from The Jumping Tree and then they worked on their glossaries on powerpoint.

The students worked again on their webquest. They seemed fairly engaged and worked hard for most of the block. I've begun to do exit slips or daily quizzes to keep the accountable for their work. One of my tough guys refused to do it however and returned to the second half of class late. I had to talk with him and encourage him about being smart and not lazy and that my main goal was for him to think. He got to work and worked for about the last 10 minutes of class. They seemed really engaged with the webquest.
I heard them making comments when they learned something new. Their exit slip was to write something new they had learned. I'm thinking about presenting what they wrote to the whole class.


I didn't have major discipline or behavior issues today and enjoyed all of my classes...yes there are days when I don't enjoy my classes. By the time I got my second round of freshmen at the end of the day I wasn't really ready for their energy...but they were awesome.

My students are beginning to engage more on the blog, I hope that they get used to the process and it become a more meaningful means of engagement.

I've been sick for two days and am exhausted. Its hard to be on your feet all day when you don't feel well. But, the students are usually really good to me and play nice on those days. Usually during the year when I'm sick I can back off a little more because the kids know the routines and are really more self directed.

I planned a little this morning during my plan and I think I should be OK for tomorrow. I finally got textbooks so, I may use half of the history block tomorrow to brainstorm creative, functional, and useful ways to read a textbook. I have a few textbooks in Spanish, the head of the Social Studies department gave them to me, but I don't think that many of my Spanish speakers can read in Spanish either?! I'm going to do some more graphic and cloze activities with them tomorrow to make sure that they got what they were supposed to the past few days.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

well deserved lunch

While I'm digesting my delicious hummus and turkey sandwich I wanted to digest what happened so far today. I have had 1 literacy class and 1.5 American History classes.
I had 3 new students today in my History classes.

In literacy, first block I have few behavior problems. This week we worked on the sound "sh" and how that sound is said and spelled. I also read to them to work on fluency. They created vocabulary glossaries on powerpoint for the words in our current reading on Revolutions

My history classes are still daunting. I am trying to balance the fact that I have half ESL students with native speakers. I tried sheltering readings for them and that worked, but I fear I'm working my para overtime.

I assigned a webquest today on the civil war but, with all the pictures and recordings, I fear it is still language heavy.

I did an exit slip today and it looks like, at least, most students are getting the basic causes of the civil war.

I began using a 4 point rubric for my objectives. I conferenced a little with students today, they seemed eager to try to get a 4. I told them that a 3 was all I expected and if they wanted a 4 they'd have to go a little farther. They stayed in the room when the bell rang working for a 4 on their exit slip. It was pretty amazing.

I know I'm expecting a lot out of my ELA students and I hope they're just frustrated enough to get moving...I hope I don't over power them! And I hope I don't lose my native speakers.

I observed one of my tough boys working with a para today and proudly giving me his completed If he had access, he really wants to learn. So we set up a folder in class for him because he didn't want to lose his work.

I spoke with another one of my tough guys about college and careers. He seemed a little more willing work harder.

I wonder though...did I start too early on group work? Should I have started the year with textbook and individual work? Did I give them too much group freedom all at once? I don't even have textbooks! My class has a structure, but they're already working on projects. And while the majority of them are on-task there seems to be a few that cannot handle it.

On a side note....I'm contemplating opening a cell phone store! I have acquired a lot of really nice ones the past few days!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Action Research

To complete my MAE I have to undergo a year-long research project. I love research. I'm a bit of a nerd I guess, but I love looking at what works, with which kids, and why. I'm particularly interested in the why! There is no magic formula in education to make all kids love learning and learn every day...but if we look at why we uncover a whole bunch of truths. Why brings us as close to that magic formula as we will ever get...for our own kids any way!
I need to pick a topic for my action research project. I've thought of a few topics:

  • the use of blogs to increase achievement for low-language students
  • phonemic awareness for adolescents
  • improving literacy for adolescent language learners
  • balancing a secondary classroom with both language learners and low language students
  • countering "mochismo" to create a learning environmet
My assignment requires me to journal for the next week and look for patterns in what I am noticing and annoyed by in my classroom. My subject can be either me or my classes. So, for the next two weeks I will blog ...of come up with the focus of my research.

So, please if you are reading this and you notice patterns or have ideas please leave me comments. I really want to do something that will be worthwhile for me, my students and my school. Hopefully, this can be something I use later on down the line when I go on for my doctorate degree.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

exhaustion sets in

Today felt felt like it all came together: the past two years, the ELA classes, my technology students were amazing!

I freaked a little this morning when I realized that I had 38 students on my roster. This posed a problem because number one, I had only 24 seats. However, that became trivial when I took into account who these students were. Many were ELA students who were all over the language continuum. Some were receiving special needs services and the rest just didn't get American History III the first time around.

But man were they awesome --- and eager ---. Aside from the normal 2 in every class that don't really ever give in...they were Rock Stars!!

We had an introduction on the Civil War today...we talked a little about what we already knew, covered the unit vocabulary and then created a list of questions we thought we needed to ask in order to better understand why the Civil War began. They all took part...Then we watched a few video clips trying to answer those questions.

I am very lucky!! They are ready to learn...I need to keep my fire burning now so I can keep them engaged...

They are so on top of things...every student met our class goals to day in some way or another!

they're making their mommas proud! -- don't worry I'm already in the process of sending home "good news" cards so they know.

I just hope that I don't let them down...they're excited about our blog and accessing the content...I hope I don't let things fall by the wayside!

Now for some rest...I've been working at break-neck speed all day -- in heels no less!
And now, to plan on how I will get the 2 that got away today!

This is the work that my block 4 did today

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

for the mommas

On my way to school this morning I saw several mothers walking their big high schoolers to the bus stop. It took my breath away. No matter how they act, they are still just kids.
they have mommas who woke them up this morning and dressed them with the best clothes they could. Their mommas gave them the best school supplies they could and walked them to the bus hoping their child would get the best education they can.

What pressure

These students, who try to push every button I have and try to appear like they don't care, have mommas at home hoping for the very best for their child...because these mommas have only ever given these children their very best. ... And thats all they can offer: hopes for the very best.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Don't Hold Your Breath

Its amazing how sweet and innocent Freshmen can be on the first day of school! They almost make you want to like them! I set up the smartboard and wowed them...and watched a "cheesy" video (please, don't tell Wes). We then talked about the idiom "Cheesy" and set some goals. Pretty laid back...we only had 20 minutes, it wasn't really meant as a full on class...

I overwhelmed was awesome. I already have them wondering how they will make arrangements to blog as homework. I can't believe freshman even said the word "homework." I guess I need to thank the teachers at KMS for instilling that expectation. It was the first time in three years that any of my students have asked that?!

This was also my first day with the title "ELA." All of my students were supposed to be LAU B...but the difference in the levels was amazing...I had students leading the class and a few that had no idea what was going on. I definitely found that I was talking way too fast. Poor mijos! I can't wait to see them grow.

According to Meyer's-Briggs, I'm an INTJ and like to put theory into practical means...but I lack follow through. I feel like I understand the theory and the concepts, but don't have the experience in trying out my theories!

I can't wait. I'm very apprehensive though. I imagine though that the moment I'm not apprehensive, I should probably find a new profession

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Welcome back to school Video

I think I'm going to use this video on the first day of school! I love the cheese!

Friday, August 17, 2007

What If?

I've spent the last two days back at school. I'm so overwhelmed by everything. Not only did I get a new classroom, but I have new toys. The past two days I've been spending time setting up my projection cart and my SmartBoard. If you enter my classroom you will enter a room full of students have access to the world!!!

Watch out world...Ms. Johnson's class is online....and we have the world at a touch of a button.

I'm still overwhelmed with procedural routines. Like how I expect my students to reflect in a blog daily about what we are this too much time do I need to set aside...

I think this, like all things in education, will depend on my students...trial and error.

But I'm excited and ready and wondering ..."WHAT IF?"

Our speaker at the district Welcome Back rally said that we should be fueled by our "What ifs" greatness and great change is only attainable by those who question: "What if"....

Here we are on the brink...

What if I offer my low-level students technology that is usually reserved for upper-level courses?

What if I expect my students to learn in a global environment?

What if I offer my students experiences so rich they can't help but learn?

What if I believe they cannot fail?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Durff's Blog: Pesky Pre-conceived notions

Durff's Blog: Pesky Pre-conceived notions

This post serves 2 purposes:
  1. 1 I am still trying to figure out all of the really cool stuff that I can do in this amazing world of blogging. I have just linked to Durff's Blog. (which is pretty cool)
  2. this is an amazing thought on pre-conceived notions that I wanted to make sure gets shared!
As a literacy teacher, I use these preconceived notions as schema or background knowledge, I use them to help students connect to the text and make connections with what they are reading.

Marzano describes Piaget's work on schema theory as either assimilation where a learner "gradually integrate[s] new knowledge into a learner's existing knowledge base," or as accomodation, where "interaction with content must challenge existing perceptions. (2007, 59)

As a Social Studies teacher I find myself trying to challenge students' preconceived notions to trade one perspective or way of thinking for another!

The idea that "Preconceived notions are necessary. It is our capacity to relinquish and learn something new that is vital" is important for us to acknowledge as we push to reach a new understanding.

SmartBoard lessons

I am hoping that I can load class discussions and presentations on my class blogs throughout the year as a resource for students! So I'm testing it out here with a lesson that previews and provides background knowledge for The Lost Boys

Monday, August 13, 2007

getting started...again

I have new classes this year and new expectations surrounding how information is received and used (through technology). This is the first time I working with a team that needs to enforce the same rules and procedures. I'm bucking that a little :) I guess I'm used to (as all teacher do) doing things MY way!! Its not really that big of a deal though!
I need to begin thinking Social Studies again! I have been thinking content all summer, but I think the procedures part of a Social Studies class is different than those in literacy?! The classes will definitely be set up differently!
Maybe they are not as different as they seem?? I don't really know where to begin to make sure that my procedures are down -- especially if I want my students blogging, those things have to be set right a way...Atleast that's what I'm expecting!!
How will I set up the walls in my room for two different subjects? And my board?
Now I'm overwhelmed!

Friday, August 10, 2007

I make a difference!!

I need to watch this every morning!

slowing down to gear up

This was my final day in sessions with Darren. I am so inspired by watching amazing teachers do their thing. He finally brought everything full circle for me: connecting our content, pedagogy, and the technology. Seeing how he used technology to spark interest, to see the content in real life experiences and finally as a tool for students to present their learning!

It would be easy to get stuck in using technology for its surface level qualities. But, Darren has used to engage and motivate student learning.

This was an amazing experience for me and I am going to spend the weekend doing nothing with it! Hey-- we all have to have boundaries!! -- I need for this information to finish seeping in, and then on Monday or Tuesday I'm going to add to my Technology Personal Action Plan and find some way to make sure I'm not stuck at the surface level of all this!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Metacognative Experiences

I've just finished a work shop with Darren Kurpatowa. After reading the first two chapters of Marzano's new book: The Art and Science of Teaching, I've seen the merit and need for educational experiences or "chunks." Using technology to create those experiences has opened up new doors for me!

I would also like to explore making blogging with my students as a "metacognative" tool. I have reflections, but I would like to set up a process where each day there is an opportunity for them to summarize, reflect and add information to what we have covered in class. I am so scared about their immaturity though. However, based on my (little) experience if I give them opportunities to be mature and handle their education with maturity they usually amaze me!