LAST ONE – Último – 끝 – 最後の – 最后 – Course #5

WHAT a whirlwind!  I can’t believe this is my last blog entry!  FIVE courses completed in over FIVE years while living in ….. (that would be so cool if I could say FIVE countries, but….) THREE COUNTRIES!

If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you know I kinda like to stick with THEMES or ALLITERATION, or MOVIE LINES, or FUNNY YouTube videos and …well, pretty much anything that will bring a smile to the reader.  The theme for my last blog post and the final project is….. (drum roll please)…..BEING A RISK TAKER!


Now even though this comes pretty easy for me (I literally JUMP for JOY when I hear about a new ADVENTURE), I too have my limits and can say that there are things that are out of my comfort zone.  Many things in my COETAIL courses created a little tension in my high soaring spirits.  I would THINK I was pretty tech savvy and then spend hours on one new little technique that we were learning.  My sails were deflated and my risk-taking meter would empty a few notches every week.  Now the great thing about these courses is they would never cause you to feel crushed for too long.  COETAIL has the power to raise you up each and every week as you would find those limits that you never knew possible.   I LOVE adventure and being a risk taker, so it just seems fitting that my final project encompasses English Language Learners doing the same thing.

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My video has a more creative take on the final project, but the nitty-gritty details can be found here:

  1. What were your goals for your lesson/project (Standards)?  See my detailed unit plan HERE . Along with my learning objectives.  I wanted to see how ELL’s learn best – what was/is their preferred method of learning a new language?  Does that include technology or not?  We are an IB school so my standards are the MYP English Language Acquisition Standards.  
  2. What tools did you use? Why did you choose this/these tools for this/these task(s)?  EAL toolkit HERE.  I am so grateful to Dr. Regina Rojas for all of her valuable resources.  At the conference, I attended she gave hundreds of ideas, tools, differentiation strategies and scaffolding techniques for teachers to use.  I chose these tools because they were relevant to the task and the assignment and you can’t go wrong with using resources from someone how has been researching ELL’s for over FOUR DECADES!  My EAL team even created a website to share with our colleagues that have some of our favorite EAL tools.  Also, in regards to my pictures/media or anything that appeared in my iMovie that did not give credit to the owner, they were all personal photos or material created by myself, or I took screenshots of my personal resources or I used the Google ADVANCED search tools with FREE TO USE photos. (Jeff Utecht showed me this time saver back in 2013).
  3. How did you go about introducing your lesson/project? (see iMovie)
  4. How did the students react? Include actual samples of student reflection (video, images, etc).  Students were able to record their reflections on FLIP GRID or by using a bilingual process journal.  They were always eager to debrief after the activities which is great, but I think they were also too NICE in their reflections, maybe telling me what I wanted to hear rather than how they actually felt all the time!  
  5. What was the outcome? Did you meet your goals? Did this implementation meet the definition of Redefinition?  YES and NO.  The outcome was for the students to be able to determine their preferred method of learning for the various criterion.  Louis (one of my students in the video) provided feedback and said that he enjoyed the TRASH and TREASURE game over the website Grammar Ninja since he felt that the game was fun and provided a larger variety of learning.  For the most part, the students were able to identify HOW they learn best and maybe gravitate towards that.  The goals weren’t entirely met because saying that they liked the NON-TECH strategy better than the TECHNOLOGY version doesn’t mean that technology still can’t enhance learning.  There, I think, lies the flaw in my overall project.  I wanted to provide variety and build an awareness for how ELL’s process tasks, but I am still not sure the GOAL of redefinition on the SAMR model was met.  Actually, I am totally sure it was not met! 🙁
  6. Evidence of learning? Remember to include student evidence like video, images, reflections. (see iMovie)
  7. What would you do differently next time? What did you learn? (Reflection)

The hardest part for me with the video was the small sample size I had.  My English Language Acquisition classes are small with only 2 or 4 students in them.  The idea is that intensive English instruction bodes well with smaller class sizes.  Even though I am still happy with the outcome, I would have liked to have a larger student size to work with to introduce more strategies and see a more lasting effect. 

Making the iMovie was a difficult task for me – I do not feel confident with the program and it took much longer than I thought it would.  I have made iMovies before, but they were not as detailed, and not for a professional/educational target.  Overall, it was a great learning experience as I now can identify with the students when I require the same product from them.  

8.  How do/did you plan to share this with your colleagues?  Being an EAL Coordinator does have its perks.  I am always asked to share information at our whole school professional development sessions, so this video is very relevant to the needs at GSIS.  Our ELL population is becoming larger and larger so teachers need to be more equipped with ways to enhance their learning

9.  What was your greatest learning in this course?  I hate to be cliche, but there were MANY takeaway nuggets for me.  #1.  I was really impressed with my students and their eagerness to take on this challenge with reckless abandonment.  They were not SHY, they were not NERVOUS, they really behaved exactly like the iMovie shows – sometimes they were engaged in the process and other times they acted like silly, teenage boys!  #2.  I learned that it is important for students to identify and own their learning styles.  My middle school students tend to be much more hands-on – might have to do with their attention span, might not, but my high school students would rather have the information fed to them – they like a lecture or flipped classroom quite a bit more than the younger students.  #3.  You are NEVER too old to learn something new.  Whether that is learning how to use iMovie or using Google docs for the first time.  That is why I loved these COETAIL courses – the technology literally met us where we were.  #4.  Being a RISK taker will take you on GREAT ADVENTURES!  In my video, I only show one adult ELL that I interviewed.  I chose her because at first, she said NO to my initial question of an interview.  She didn’t want to make mistakes and be embarrassed.  In Korea, there is a part of the culture that is all about “saving face.”  Generally, it is not customary to take risks knowing that you might make mistakes – or at least, not to do it in front of others. So, when three adults said YES to my interview and let me ask questions about how they grew up as English Language Learners, it caused me to get emotional.  They are being RISK TAKERS and stepping out of their comfort zones which is a very difficult thing to do.  They are practicing what we preach to students day in and day out.  Witnessing their steps of faith was a huge honor for me and the whole process was just downright poetic.  My final project would have been too long with their stories, but if you are interested, take a look!  

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Reflecting on my community: Course 5 Final Project

One of my favorite places to be in Korea is this gorgeous reservoir in Suwon called Gwanggyo hosu gongwon, or better know as MY SOLITUDE.  It is a great space for me to unwind from the school day, take in nature and bask in the reflections that are always ON POINT!

Webster defines REFLECTION with nine different meanings.  The two that I feel are most poignant for this course and this post are #3 “The act of bending or folding back” and #7 “Consideration of some subject matter, idea or purpose.”  For a more creative take on things, I have combined the two into my own version:

“Only when we are willing to be flexible and bend or fold our way of thinking are we able to consider other subjects, ideas, points of views and purposes.”

I thought that creating a collaborative PLN would be the most difficult task with the final project. In my previous COETAIL courses, I had an amazing cohort at Seoul Foreign School and we collaborated during our Saturday sessions with Jeff Utecht, we tweeted each other throughout the week and even would discourse about our latest projects over a cup of coffee or Korean BBQ.

When I finally landed on my project involving ELL’s, I was worried that collaboration would be very difficult.  My job is different at GSIS and I do not have a common planning time with teachers.  I am in charge of the EAL program for grades K – 12 and we only have 4 staff for over 130 students in our program.  We are all worn very thin and wear multiple hats with other responsibilities.  My hopes were not high with the COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT piece of project #5, but to my surprise, my personal learning network (PLN) started to unfold right before me.

In October I attended an amazing conference with Dr. Regina Rojas for two days that focused on differentiation and scaffolding strategies that we could use in the classroom immediately.  My entire EAL team was able to go to the conference since it was local, so it was inevitable that we continued to discuss and reflect when passing in the hallway or at our weekly meetings.  The ball kept rolling after that and our school hosted a big conference called KORCOS (Korea Council of Overseas Schools) in November.  Wanting to be “flexible and bend in my way of thinking,” I decided to be a risk taker and present instead of only attending.  My original idea for my talk was about coaching, but after the Rojas conference, the discussion with another EAL staff member led us to consider co-presenting an EAL job-alike.

My detailed community engagement HERE.

I feel very fortunate to have the community engagement for my final project, but more importantly for the support in my job.  This PLN that has evolved is something that will continue for the rest of the year.  Let’s not forget that we should NOT go at this alone.  As teachers, we need one another!  We need to ask for help, we need to lend an ear or be open for a conversation.  We need to bounce ideas off one another and even create tension when asking difficult questions.  Education is most effective when done with a community!

At the reservoir, I am mesmerized by the reflections in the lake.  I usually stop and revel in the beauty that exists with the SAME picture presented in different ways.  I wonder if that is all that is needed as educators.  Pausing and stepping back and looking at our SCHOOL, our STUDENTS, our CO-WORKERS in different ways and letting them shine and shimmer before us!


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Heroes, Idols and ELL’s

Who were your HEROS or IDOLS when you were younger?

I remember being five or six years old and telling my mom that I wanted to become a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader.  I would see them on TV every Sunday and balk at their grace and poise and cool, sparkly outfits.  Thanks to chubby thighs and a lack of rhythm, that dream never panned out.  Then around ten years old, I would run around the house with a microphone and leg warmers belting out the tunes to “Let’s get physical, physical…I wanna get physical….let me hear your body talk.”  Olivia Newton-John had the perfect voice and not a hair out of place on her beautiful blonde head.  But alas, my dreams were shattered when I watched her music videos and learned there are multiple meanings to the phrase “let’s get physical” and my mom said I was too young for that type of “exercise.” YouTube Preview Image

Now that I am an educator, I have a much more sophisticated list of HEROES and IDOLS:

Phoeba Trybus at Amelia Middle School was the first mentor I had during my early years of teaching.  She had 20 + years of experience under her belt and she was a no-nonsense, sassy, creative, hilarious woman that LOVED her content and her kids well.  I remember observing in her classroom and watching her genuine love and care with every one of her students.  She was scaffolding, modifying, adapting, assimilating, immersing and translanguaging…. all before those words were popular in the world of education.  She was ahead of her time and I knew I wanted to be just like her someday.

Tim Relyea taught me so much at Seoul Foreign School.  He was a great Humanities partner, but an even better teacher and person.  We were collaborating, tech-savvy, cooperative learning gurus.  I remember his patience and intentionality with his students.  He was always helping the students to know the WHY behind the WHAT in our units.

The list could go on and on from my 14 years of teaching, but another mention tops my list recently since I was privileged to learn from her for 2 days here in Korea.  Dr. Regina Rojas (who prefers to be called Gini) has now joined my hero group.  Dr. Rojas has been researching English Language Learners (ELL’s)  for over 4 decades.  Being a second language learner herself, she can identify with the issues that many of these students face today.

“It doesn’t matter if you are bi-lingual, do you have a bi-cultural heart?  THAT is what makes an EAL teacher a good teacher.” – Dr. Regina Rojas

Her workshop got me thinking even more about my final project and wondering how I can best support my ELL’s. I teach English Language Support to several middle school students who are considered Phase 1 or 2 according to WIDA.  These students have little background knowledge of the English language so the first couple of weeks of school is a sort of “boot camp” with English survival skills.  These students learn quickly since they are immersed in English instruction for 8 hours a day, but each student learns differently. My main goal is to find out HOW these students learn most effectively.  The reason I chose my 7th-grade students is that they are FEARLESS with their desire to learn, speak and study the English language. Their drive to improve reminds me of a Tedx Talk I watched by Marianna Pascal.  YouTube Preview Image

Final project guidelines HERE.

It is an honor to witness how these students RISE up and conquer the English language mountain on a daily basis.   Honestly, I will forever be inspired by amazing teachers and co-workers that nurture and guide young world-changers, but I am learning that ELL’s that step out of their comfort zone and embrace learning are truly the brave, heroic ones.

“You don’t change your ELL students, you change from being with them.” – Dr. Regina Rojas – adapted from the concept of cultural inclusivity

This weekend my school hosted the KORCOS (Korea Council of Overseas Schools) conference.  Taking a lesson from my ELL’s I decided instead of only attending the conference, I would take a risk and sign up to be a presenter at a workshop.  Armed with knowledge, courage and a whole lot of support, myself and two other EAL teachers led an EAL job-alike with 25 other professionals.  We collaborated, discussed and shared stories of the victories and challenges that come from teaching ELL’s.  Leaving the conference that evening, I ran into one young teacher that said she really enjoyed our workshop.  Being new to the profession, she said it was so valuable to hear from others that she is not alone.  We exchanged numbers and are planning to have another job-alike but this time in a coffee shop with no time limit. It was encouraging to hear that I provided some value to her job and gave her some tools for reaching her students.  Who knows, maybe we all are a bit HEROIC – we just have to find that sweet ANGEL (Charlie’s Angels) that brings our light to the surface!



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Teachers, Training and Typhoons – Course 5 Tipoff

A couple weeks ago I went to a Category 2 MYP training in Yokohama, Japan.  With my first Japanese stamp in my passport, I had a mental bucket list that contained the following: #1.  Stuff my belly with fresh sushi every meal.  #2.  Find a sumo wrestler and take a selfie.  #3.  Ride the subway and try to fit in like the locals.

Well, my blonde hair didn’t help me look like a local and TYPHOON Kong-Rey doused my selfie-with-a-sumo dream, but I went to sushi heaven that weekend – and gained some ideas about my final project for Course #5!

This will be my 5th year in Korea, but my 2nd round in Korea.  I started my COETAIL cohort in 2013 at Seoul Foreign School with some uber-talented, somewhat crazy, wide-eyed dreamers who were led and encouraged by Jeff Utecht.  Does anyone else see the irony in this TECH guru having the perfect last name – TECH is literally part of his identity or his digital footprint! 🙂

I loved everything about COETAIL – the learning, the immediate application in the classroom, my cohort, but I was also on my way out of Seoul.  I had been living overseas for 6 years when I promised my family I would only be away for two.  My adventure was taking me back to the States, so I continued classes in Nashville, TN at a small private school.  While dealing with reverse culture shock, I boot scoot boogied my way through courses 3 – 4, but couldn’t get my act together to take the 5th and final course.

I was so excited when I heard I could join the online 9 Cohort and finish my COETAIL certification.  I am currently back in Korea teaching at GSIS in Suwon (just south of Seoul) and like most teachers, I wear multiple hats.  I am in the EAL coordinator for grades K – 12 and I also teach MYP English Acquisition and MYP Spanish 1/2 and 3A.  Oh yeah, and I coach Varsity and middle school volleyball and am the NJHS Advisor…..and, I have a problem saying the word “NO!”

I have been thinking about the final project and wondering how I will implement my learning from all these rich courses.  My current class load is a bit different than what I was doing for courses 1 – 4  so how do I choose the project?  What will this look like?  How and what do I want my students to learn through this process.  I was pretty stuck until  I went to Japan!

The thing I love the most about face to face training is the real-time collaboration and international-mindedness that exists.  Our language acquisition workshop consisted of teachers from Japan, Korea, India, China, and the land down under.  After introductions, we got into groups to create a unit plan together.  There was one teacher there that I thought I knew, but couldn’t figure out why she was so familiar.  At the break, I went over to introduce myself and hopefully jog my memory when she immediately said, “Misty, good to see you – remember when you stayed with me and Adria in our apartment in Kuala Lumpur?”  We reminisced about that vacation and caught up on the last 7 years of our lives.  The international teaching world really is such a SMALL WORLD – 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon all over the place!

The weekend was a whirlwind (literally since a typhoon warning sent us home early) and we gathered ideas from different schools all with varying degrees of experience with the IB curriculum.  In just 3 days, Kendra, Yousuf and I poured over a collaborative unit plan that included a global mindset, modifications for Phases 1, 2 and 3 and a variety of formative and summative tasks that all center around culture and our identity in the world.  Our MYP unit planner was created and from that seed grew inspiration for course #5.

Idea –  I might be biting off more than I can chew here, but I want my final project to contain two parts.  The first will involve my MYP Spanish course (6th-grade students) and our unit about CULTURE.  I am hoping this will spark discussion about international-mindedness and where our personal identity comes from.  Through that, I hope to link technology and the PROS and CONS that exist with our virtual identity.  The 2nd idea is to create a documentary featuring ELL’s in our school.  Our demographics here at GSIS say that we are an international school, but over 90% of our students are English Language Learners.  Being the EAL coordinator, I want to raise awareness among our staff and parents alike about the struggles, the victories and the stories of some English Language Learners.

Plan – My MYP Spanish 1 students will teach our 1st-grade students here at GSIS about the culture of some Spanish speaking countries.  My students will conduct research about the countries that they have studied and then present the information in easy to understand ways.  Currently, the students are scheduled to give their presentation on October 25th.  The week of October 29th – November 2nd, our unit will touch on Dia de Muertos and we have a fun activity planned that includes making skull candy masks and comparing this Spanish festival or tradition with ones that exist in their home country.  After that, we will move into our Culture unit and I will implement the unit we created about MY VILLAGE IN THE WORLD.

HOW in the world am I gonna do this? – I already have permission from Kendra Engl and Yousef Ansari to document and blog about the unit we created together at our MYP workshop.  I have been working with two amazing first-grade teachers, Allison Perry and Helen Rader here at GSIS and we will be collaborating about their 1st-grade culture unit and how my class will help.  In regards to my documentary, I am going to beg, plead and maybe offer Starbucks coffee to Michael Coleman (YouTube sensation Mikole) and ask for tips, editing advice, and ideas about my ELL documentary.

It will be a big undertaking to do both projects, but like the Facebook-giant said,

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk….in a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is NOT taking risks.”  – Mark Zuckerberg

Let the TECH TYPHOON begin!

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Light at the end of the tunnel

I can’t believe we have ONE more course left in the CoETaIL cohort!  This blog post, that concludes course #4, is designed to begin work on course #5 – the finale.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Photo Credit: Werner Kunz via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Werner Kunz via Compfight cc

The assignment is to sketch out two or three options you have in mind for your Course 5 project. For each of the options, think about the following questions:

  • Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?, What are some concerns about redesigning this unit?, What shifts in pedagogy will this unit require of you?, What skills or attitudes will this new unit require of your students?

  • UNIT possibilities:
  • I am still searching for WHAT exactly I am going to do for the final project – some ideas that I have:
  • Socratic Seminar – the students can partipate in a Socratic Seminar enhanced with TECH TOOLS where they are able to engage in discussion and even CHOOSE the piece that they all agree to read.  
  • Literature Circles  – We can conduct a problem based learning or even inquiry based learning where the students assess the books they want to read.  We can then have virtual circles like the article suggests.
  • Skype penpals – Not completely sure what to do on this one, but I love the idea of learning more about other cultures from FIRST HAND experiences.  Taking a story that we read in the classroom and then having the students seek out answers to questions through connections they make on Skype!  Just brainstorming on this one!
  • Concerns about redesigning this unit?

  • My concerns are implementing the SAMR model and reaching the highest level – redefinition!  My current school is a bit technology deficient and I have had issues with gaining computer lab time let alone finding a way to “create new tasks inconceivable without the computer.”
  • I want to go BEYOND the typical using blogs in the reading/writing classroom – see video below.
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  • Shifts in pedagogy that this unit will require?

  • This is going to a take a paradigm shift in THINKING for me and also relinquishing control.  I thrive on being the prepared teacher and I get even more excited when I plan something and it goes well….With this project, NOT knowing how this implementation will happen (lack of technology in the school and with the students) and even worst, what the outcomes will be, makes me anxious.  I need to LET go!!!
  • Skills and/or attitudes this unit will require from students?

  • My students are going to have to become more tech proficient.  I have about 20% of my students in EACH class that have limited technology knowledge – meaning have never even prepared a Powerpoint presentation!

Lots to marinate on – check back in January 2014 for an update on how the project is unfolding!

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PBL – one more problem in education?

Problem based learning is actually NOT a problem – it is the solution we as educators have been looking for.

While I was researching PBL’s I came across PROBLEM based learning and PROJECT based learning.  I was quite confused with the two acronyms until I read the article in Education World.  The author states that the main difference is that problem-based focuses on the problem and the process.  Project-based focuses on the product. Both of the PBL’s have GREAT attributes as well that can be applied in the classroom immediately.

Project-based learning and problem-based learning have a great deal in common. Both

  • involve realistic problems and situations.
  • are based on authentic educational goals.
  • include formative and summative evaluation,
  • are learner centered and teacher facilitated.
  • are intrinsically engaging and motivating.
  • are frequently multidisciplinary.
  • Improve students’ research and problem-solving skills, as well as their ability to work cooperatively with their peers.

I am all about efficiency – let’s combine the two PBL’s into one  – and I do love instant gratification so the wheels started turning as I was thinking of ways to implement PBL’s in my classroom.

As I have stated before, this year has been a transition for me, not only in changing continents, but also teaching middle school and high school AND having 6 classes in which to prep.  Just when I thought I was finally getting the hang of things, I heard from my colleagues that we are switching classes and students in January.   OY VEY!

Before I began to crumbe into a pile of despair and desperation, I decided to look on the bright side.  One good thing that can come from this influx of change is that I have a clean slate.  I will have new students with fresh faces and fervent attitudes about American Literature and World Literature!  Yeah right!  Well, if that won’t exist, then maybe I can have a clean slate in the classroom and look at ways to implement PROBLEM BASED LEARNING.

Mrs. Geisers class website gave me some wonderful ideas of starting with PBL’s in the reading classroom.

Education does not have to be an “unfair game.”  When students feel successful in the classroom – there are no PROBLEMS!  I want/need to THINK DIFFERENTLY!

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Connectivism – the 8 ball of education

Reading about ‘connectivism’ and trying to assess where education will be in the future caused me to scratch my head.

Photo Credit: nathancolquhoun via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: nathancolquhoun via Compfight cc

Isn’t this what we are doing with the CoETaIL course?  Isn’t this where our society has already landed in the education realm?

Yes, there are still classrooms worldwide that have limited technology, but are there really still educators out there that do not acknowledge the need for technology and being connected?

I have taught at a wide variety of schools pulic, private and international and tech resources have been just as multifarious.  My current school is about as low tech as I have seen in the last 10 years, but they still promote the importance of learning with 21st century tools.  I have an Apple TV in my classroom and have been provided with an iPad.  Although I cannot gain ANY access to computers during the day and have been told that I cannot rely on all students to have internet access at home, I have never been discouraged from using my CoETaIL findings in my Literature classroom.  So, my question remains are there really educators out there with their head stuck in the 21st century sand?

The article titled, “Connectivism:  A Learning Theory for the Digital Age,” helped me to nail down the definition of connectivism.

Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired. The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. The ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical.

With this in mind, we have to know that online learning and MOCC’s are a way of the future.

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I think the only apprehensions I have about technology in the future classrooms is when I am tempted to use technology to substitute or augment my curriculum.  I am learning how to modify and redefine what the reading and literature classroom looks like with NOOKS and KINDLES aplenty.  I am striving to find creative and innovative ways to teach British Literature and the rich history to students that would prefer to be gaming in a virtual world.  I am determined to gain more knowledge about online reading comprehension strategies for middle and high school students!

Photo Credit: StreetFly JZ via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: StreetFly JZ via Compfight cc

Do I know what the future classroom looks like?  Maybe we could ask one of those magic 8 balls – Will education as we know it change because of technology?


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Flippady do da Flippady day

How do I flip the classroom with reading?  Flippady do da, Flippady day – that is my response!

Photo Credit: Justin Ornellas via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Justin Ornellas via Compfight cc

I have heard about flipping and even tried it a couple of times last year with my Humanities class.  The success was not overwhelming plus the time was daunting so I slowly began to transition back to my normal routine.  After all, learning was still taking place, essential questions were posted and the outcomes were acheived.  However, the one thing that has always haunted me, stressed me and gave me gray hair is EFFICIENT use of my time in the classroom.

Julie Schell wrote a convincing article about flipping the reading classroom titled, Common Core.

Since I have flipped my class, I have actually gained time to ensure that my students are progressing toward the common core. I have time to walk around the classroom and by watching them perform key learning tasks,  I really get to know exactly where each student is in their progress toward each standard. Whether it is having writer’s workshops one on one, or walking around during a Socratic Seminar discussion of literature, I can easily assess each students’ level of proficiency and guide them toward further progress.   I am only able to do this because of flipping my classroom. I decided a long time ago that the best use of my class time is not lecture or giving rote memorization exercises. Although I can’t get rid of those things completely, I refused to let content coverage take my class time away from my students. Students don’t need me to be there when they are taking notes on Chaucer; they need me when they are reading it, thinking about it, and puzzling through the text.

Teaching at my current school where we can’t assume that all students have access to the internet, the flipped classroom has proven to be an obstacle.  However, my goal has always been to teach more effective and engaging ways of reading comprehension.  Looking at the Socratic Seminar approach gives me hope in allowing students to read the text at home (maybe even providing an audio version to differentiate for some students) and then coming prepared the next day for discussion and questioning.

I love it!  That is a start for me!

Flippady I will do!


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Gaming in education

“With games you are allowed multiple opportunities to fail.”

“Trying is what helps us learn”

“We shouldn’t assess students based on a single shot that they have because in the real world there is feedback and extended opportunities.”

Watching the Ted Ed video about Gamification in Education really got me thinking about games and their place in the classroom.

Games have never been a part of MY reality.  I make an effort with my 10 year old nephew as he explains the rules of Minecraft or COD.  I look like a large ape as I clumsily will my plausible thumbs to work and bang on the controls 2 seconds too late only to grunt as I fall to my death.  Games are not as much a part of my generation as they are my current students.

My first initial response to gaming is a negative one – I am really not sure where it comes from, but that is the gut reaction.  After hearing from Jane McConigal in the video above, it really challenged me to step back and make a list of pros and cons.

Gaming in Education

Pros                                                                                                         Cons

allows multiple chances                                     lack of human engagement = social problems

encourages problem solving                     encourages leaving reality; entering virtual world

engages the audience                                                                     can cause addictive behavior

students are familiar with the medium

I have always been a fan of lists and the PROS/CONS has been something I have done in multiple situations.  I am still unsure of where I stand with gaming in my Literature classroom, but I cannot ignore the PRO column as an educator.

The wheels are turning!


Posted in Course 4 week 2 | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Integrating the Generation X with Generation Z

Photo Credit: Dunechaser via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Dunechaser via Compfight cc

As I read the articles about technology integration and the importance of it in education, I am reminded of all the struggles that come with gaps in generation.  I do not feel that I am an ancient teacher by any means, but I am Generation X – born from the Baby Boomers.  I am teaching students from Generation Z.  I come prepared to class with my suit and glasses, but as I lumber around with all the new technology, the kids see me similar to the lego above.

When asked to assess my level of technology integration my mind immediately went to the SAMR model that we read about.  I believe that substitution and augmentation were a large part of my teaching process for the first 6 years of my role as an educator.  It was not until the most recent 3 years of my career have I been able to move further up the ladder to modification.  My goal is still redefinition, but I have a long way to go.  The three phases of my teaching career are as follows:  Cincinnati, Ohio; Santa Cruz, Bolivia and Seoul, South Korea.

My first 3 years of teaching I was at a public school in Cincinnati, Ohio where my tech integration consisted of movies that I would show on a VCR after reading the novel in class or using an overhead projector and placing transparencies up on the board to review Daily Oral Language.  There were computers in the library that we could use on a weekly basis, but all work had to be saved on the school hard drive and during year 2 of teaching, all my research papers from one class were deleted from the school’s server.  No lie.

Years 4 – 6 took place overseas at a private “American” school in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  The reason for the quotes on the word American is because 98% of the students were Bolivian but would recieve a US diploma upon graduation.  With this school, there was a computer lab of 10 computers where my class size was usually 18 – 22.  We had ONE Smart board in the school where we could sign out and go to the room to teach our class.  I took some great professional development classes in Bolivia that dealt with technology, but really couldn’t apply them to my current place of employment.

Seoul, South Korea was the home of my teaching career for years 7, 8 and 9.  During my first year every room was equipped with a Smart Board and some rooms had Apple TV connections.  Year 2 was the year they rolled out the laptop 1-1 program in the middle school where I taught and also the year I started my CoETaIL program.  In a mere 3 years I had used more applications and technology integration than I had used in all 9 years of teaching (see blog post Course 1 week 5 for a more detailed list of technology used)!

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs via Compfight cc

The integration has begun.  It is a slow process, but a sure one!

Posted in Course 4 week 1 | Tagged , , | 3 Comments