Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Who Owns the Learning? #CyberPD - Part 3

Thank you Cathy at Reflect and Refine, Jill at My Primary Passion and this week's host Laura at Ruminate and Invigorate for organizing this summer's #cyberPD and a wonderful summer of learning.

After finishing November's book, I have been spending time reflecting on how I can realistically implement some of my learning into my second grade classroom.  Below are two ways I hope to apply the learning from this book and the take aways from the #cyberPD group.  I'm sure there will be other ideas I implement, but these are the two I will start the year off with.

At the beginning of each year I interview my students about their reading and writing.  I gain information about my student's reading and writing interests, abilities and what they think their strengths and weaknesses are.  I plan on adding questions to try and gain information about what students see themselves as experts in.  I then hope to pair students up to create tutorials about their expertise.  This will help them gain experience in creating tutorials with a topic they feel comfortable with before creating future classroom tutorials.

I'm in the process of creating literacy take-home bags.  Each bag will have a theme (ex. spiders).  Inside the bag will be Wonders from Wonderopolis and fiction and nonfiction books.  Originally I planned on having each child have a wonder journal to record their thinking, learning and wonders in throughout the week they have the bag at home.  After reading Novembers book, I am going to create a blog or page on our class blog where students can blog about their learning.  I'm going to encourage students, parents and families to leave comments on other's postings too.  Students who don't have internet access at home can use a wonder journal and then blog at school.  In addition, I'm going to have a parent/student night at school to go over expectations and explain everything.  I will be sharing more about this in later posts.

I'm excited for the final #cyberPD chat, this Monday, July 22nd at 8:00 PM EST on Twitter.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

What Can You Build With a Cardboard Box?

What do you get when you take cardboard boxes, many kids and adults, and kids who think outside of the box?  A cardboard boat regatta and fun family memories!  Betsy spent Friday and Saturday creating a boat out of an old moving box and duct tape.  She named her boat "S.S. Lucky Charms."  While Betsy's boat didn't even make it out of the gate, she did win "best decorated" boat.  
Even if you don't have a boat race to participate in, kids love building with boxes.  Give your children an old cardboard box and some duct tape and see what they can create!  Be sure to check out this week's Camp What-A-Wonder at Wonderopolis for more ways to "unlock your inner inventor!" 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thinking About "He Was Me" by Peter H. Reynolds

The other day I was reading my Twitter feed and someone tweeted the video below by Peter H. Reynolds.

I began thinking about how this applies to teachers and parents.  How often do we let our own inner child out?  How often do we bury our own questions, wonders and excitement?  Do we spend enough time modeling and sharing these experiences with our children?

I also began thinking about what opens or awakens my own inner child, excitement and wonder.  Things like riding a fast roller coaster, riding my bike down a big hill, seeing a shooting star, or seeing a sea turtle while snorkeling are all things that have awakened my inner child. 

What awakens your inner child?  What gets you excited and wondering?  How can you share this with your students or children?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Who Owns the Learning? #CyberPD - Part Two

Thank you Jill at My Primary Passion for hosting #cyberPD this week and Cathy at Reflect and Refine and Laura at Ruminate and Invigorate for organizing.

Chapter Three - The Students as Scribe
When I began reading this chapter, my initial thought was that second grade students can't possibly be a scribe.  For some reason I was thinking of the jr. high and high school classroom where students take notes.  As I read the chapter my thinking quickly changed about how I can use a scribe in my classroom.  I envision having a student recored or jot down learning gained from a mini-lesson in reading, writing or math, or about a science experiment or a concept we are studying in social studies and then create a blog post for our class website.  The student can also be in charge of taking pictures or creating content to go along with the post.  This will be a great way to engage second graders, evaluate understanding and share with parents what is going on in the classroom from their children's perspective.

According to November (2012), "we all know that learning opportunities are never limited to a single time and space, so we have to be prepared to apply our "learner's mind" throughout our lives" (p. 43).  I  read and reread this quote, because this is really what we are trying to instill in our students.  While reading and rereading this quote, I was reminded of something I heard Paul Hankins say about wonder.  He said that kids in elementary school are natural wonderers, kids in middle school need their wonder nurtured and by high school they need to be nudged to wonder.

Chapter Four - The Student as Researcher
While reading this chapter, I immediately began thinking about how I can incorporate a daily researcher into my classroom routine.  Second graders will love being a researcher for the day and finding answers to questions that always seem to arise during the day.

Another important take away from this chapter was the importance of teaching students how to accurately search online.  Second grade is a perfect age to lay the foundation for teaching how to search and assessing the information and source.  According to November (2012) "because children at very young ages are learning to search for and access online information, teaching them how to assess the validity of that material is an essential task for educators today" (p. 57).  I look forward to the conversations we will be having in second grade as we discuss the validity of websites while we research.

As I continue reading the book and the blog posts of those participating in this year's #cyberPD, I look forward to the changes that I will be making in my classroom to help my students own their learning.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Phillips Family Goes Zip Lining - A Fun Way to Travel

Today's "Take 3 Minutes to Wonder" today at Camp What-A-Wonder asks, "What is the most fun way you have traveled?  Why was it fun?  How fast or slow were you traveling?"

The most fun way we have traveled as family was through the air, zip lining in Belize.  During a trip over spring break we decided to go on a zip line adventure in Belize.  I've always wanted to zip line.  I must admit there is nothing like climbing through the rainforest and then zip lining in the canopy and understory to end back on the forest floor.  It was breath taking and we would love to do it again some day.

Be sure to check out Wonder  #817 How Fast Can You Zip Through the Air? and learn more about zip lining!

Spend some time as a family today thinking and discussing fun ways your family has traveled?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

#CyberPD Who Owns the Learning? (Chapters 1 and 2)

As I read the introduction and chapters one and two of Who Owns the Learning? by Alan November, I began thinking about what I've already done in my 2nd grade classroom to help my students own their learning and what I can do to try and make the shift without overwhelming myself next year.  I also found myself thinking about my own two children and their lack of ownership in their learning, especially involving technology (Digital Learning Farm model).

Beyond the digital learning aspect of this book, I found myself thinking and reflecting about how I can help to empower my students to intrinsically motivate themselves to direct their own learning.  How can we create this environment in our classrooms for students to want to read, write, problem solve and collaborate without me as the teacher being at the forefront of the learning.  How can I help my students learn how to learn and want to do this on their own?

At the end of chapter two November asks us to name specific lessons or topics that would be suited for student tutorials.  I've been pondering this and came up with a few ideas:

  • student tutorials on different math strategies (i.e. solving double digit addition and subtraction problems)
  • student tutorials on different reading strategies (i.e. what to do when you don't know what a word means while reading or how to figure out the main idea of a text)
  • student tutorials on different writing strategies (i.e. what to do when you can't think of anything to write about or how to find and choose interesting words for writing)
I look forward to reading chapters three and four and reflecting more about incorporating digital learning in my classroom over the next week.

Thank you Cathy at Reflect and Refine, Jill at My Primary Passion and Laura at Ruminate and Invigorate for organizing and hosting this summer's #CyberPD.