Ms Eppele's Blog

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Letting Them Go

I have been doing a lot of  thinking around what Adora Svitak says in the TED talk;

I believe I let the students in my class make their own decisions and I have always tried to let them go and see what happens in their learning. After watching and listening to Adora and how we need to learn from kids. Kids do have amazing dreams and aspirations, and why do we as adults try to bring down their expectations? I started reflecting and questioning my lessons for the week. I wanted to see if there were areas where I need to let go and allow the students to go and learn.

I wanted to see if I could trust all of them to go and explore what they wanted to do for a project they were assigned. I had created this project a few years ago, but I wanted it to be different, I did not want them working on it at home. In other words I really wanted them to take charge of their learning and project themselves, without adult intervention.

I decided to book large amounts of time in the library so they had space and resources to explore and create how they wanted to. I sat back and watched them in action, and I was blown away. All the students were on task, creating and collaborating, helping one another, proving Adora correct. “We need to create opportunities for children to grow up and blow us away. We need to expect more from them.”  I know have in my head when planning assignments and lessons that I need to expect more from the students. As Adora states, “when expectations are low, trust me we will sink to them.”  As I have seen this week this includes all learners in the classroom, ALL!

I did show Adora’s talk to the class, and I was amazed at how they all took it in. They had some great discussions around it, and many felt that they were given choice in our classroom. I then asked them, why do you ask to go to the washroom or to get a drink, or is this enough writing, or is this okay… They all had a little light bulb go off! I loved it. So now when they ask me those silly questions I ask them what do they think?

One last note on Adora’s talk and its affects on me and the students; we have had a lot of snow fall over the last week. The principal keeps changing rules about sledding and the students are getting frustrated. I was in our classroom getting ready to go to a Pro-D event when a student came into to the room, he did not see me, and was explaining to the other students that our principal needs to listen to Adora, when she said “adults need to listen and put in kids ideas and thoughts when it comes to making rules,” the student added that we do know to be careful but changing the rules constantly creates confusion and it is just not fair.

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Two Weeks into my Field Study…And the Questions Arise!

As school started backup again, I find that I keep asking myself why blogging is not working for my grade five students, like it had with the younger grades I taught last year.

A few questions or theories I have are;

*they are bored

*they do not want to write, too much activity in the computer lab

*they just want to get to their free time slot

*do they understand the value in their blog? Do they care?

*why are some liking it and why are some not into it?

*why do they write so little when their journals are full?

I started this year thinking I am going to start a writer’s workshop. Sounds simple, right? No, as I started reading and talking with other teachers I came to realize quite quickly that I was going to have to tackle it like I did when I created my reader’s workshop. Make it my own, find out what works for the kids, see what drives them, find out what challenges them, what bores them, and find out where I can fit it in the dayplan! The biggest challenge for me I have come to realize is letting go of teaching the processes of writing first, and having the students guide the workshop.

I have started reading Ian Wells andJanine Ried’s book, Anchor Lessons in Writing. I love how it uses books I normally use for reading activities and applies them to writing lessons. I found as out that my students love to be read to but they also loved to analyze what the author was doing or trying to do.  My first read aloud using it as an author analysis was, “Love That Dog” by Sharon Creech.

For starters, I adore this book and I know it makes me cry every time I read that one part, you know the part if you have read it. What makes this book so amazing is that the students get to know Jack, the main character, and how he grows as a writer. They get to see how he hates to write and how he is embarrassed of his writing abilities. They get to see that just like them, Jack is afraid that what he writes is wrong or sounds silly.

They students were asked to take notes while I read, and I have to say their pages were full of observations and opinions. A few thought that it was a reading assignment and starting listing there inferences, questions, connections, etc…but I reminded them how reading writing is all connected. It was a great teachable moment, where the kids made that connection.

At the end of the book the kids only wanted to talk about how they saw Jack turn into a writer. They wanted to know why he thought he wasn’t a good writer.  At times, they felt Jack’s teacher was too harsh on him. I asked why, when there was nothing in the book about what the teacher said only Jack’s responses. That got them wondering!

What I got out of this lesson was that the students got to see through another writer’s eyes, Jack’s.  They all connected with him. Afterwards, I did a brainstorming activity knee to knee.  Their writing assignment was to write about their New Year’s Resolutions. Looking back at the writing they did that week has shown me that finding the time and taking it means so much to their writing. I have now added more time to their journal writes, I remind them that their journal writes are not marked only read so why not explore and try something new in their writing.

I have seen more thought put into their writing since being back at school.  I have talked to them about my field study and how much they are going to be involved in it, and they love the fact that they are helping me become a better teacher. I am feeling very excited about exploring writing with the class this term, and wondering how I can put their enthusiasm of writing on paper into their blogs.

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TPACK and Making the Connection

Whew, I just finished reading the article on TPACK, http://www.citejournal.org/articles/v9i1general1.pdf   and I at first I was a little confused but then I related to a lot of it. Teaching, while integrating technology into your practice is a tough task to do. Making it more difficult is not having ownership and faith in how and why you teach; integrating technology can be even a greater task to take on.

Even before entering the program I was struggling with the concepts of why, when, how, and where was I going to implement technology into my practice. I am not a computer whiz my any means, but I have seen the engagement that comes along when implementing technology into lessons. I have seen the students engaged in their learning and more importantly their confidence in their learning.  I have seen how students collaborate with one another over one screen or a few ideas to create one project they are all proud of.  I have seen how integrating technology into my practice can bring enjoyment into the students’ learning and my teaching.

I like how in the article it states that yes, teaching with technology is no easy task but it reminds us that we need to look in how we can do this my looking into what we need to teach and what our beliefs and philosophy is around our practice.  It states that we need to understand the relationship between a) the teachers’ thought process and knowledge and b) teachers’ actions and their observable effects.pg 67 And with the idea of TPACK we use this study of the relationship however we need to add one thing to the knowledge teachers need to acquire, the knowledge of technology.

As educators we need gain a better understanding of how we can integrate technology into our practice. However, we also need to understand how it can be integrated into our pedagogy as well.

http://tpack.org/

 

At first the diagram had me baffled. Once I started reading through the article and the website, I began to see that it really is not that baffling. It really is the core if why I decided to take the TLTC course. I want to know how technology can be used in my practice. How is connects to my pedagogy, to what I already know about technology and to the ever changing content that I am required to teach.

I had a little aha moment when reading the section my group will be focusing on, Technological Content Knowledge (TCK).  I gave an example on how one can integrate technology into a geometry lesson. Something clicked in my brain, and I realized that TPACK is bringing all that I have been struggling with over the year and a half into perspective.  We do no only need to understand how to use the technology, we need to understand it, understand how it relates to content areas, how it connects with our own teaching philosophy, but we also need to ensure that we fully understand how the new literacy skills are changing how we teach and what we teach.  When I saw the word play in the geometry lesson example, what do you think I thought of? Of course the one article I seem to be guided to more often, Henry Jenkins, “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century.” Better known as Jenkins White Paper.

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