Power in Play

Two things really struck me as I was observing their play.  First, many children have trouble choosing what to play when offered choices and peers in the vicinity.  I can’t tell you how many students spent quite a bit of their time looking around to make sure they weren’t missing something a friend or neighbor was doing… with the net effect that they DID miss doing things.

[Day 7 of the #30goals Challenge with Shelly Terrell @shellterrell.]

Interopérabilité @ J&Bisc family
Creative Commons License photo credit: Môsieur J. [version 4.0b]]

We recently finished a round of computerized predictive testing for our upcoming state standardized tests. ((Oh, and I’m not going to touch anything in that statement with a 10-foot pole.)) After spending three weeks with an alternate specials schedule and using their tech time to click radio buttons and next arrows, I knew they needed some time to play.  Today was ‘FREE DAY’.  Whoo-hooo!

Two things really struck me as I was observing their play.  First, many children have trouble choosing what to play when offered choices and peers in the vicinity.  I can’t tell you how many students spent quite a bit of their time looking around to make sure they weren’t missing something a friend or neighbor was doing… with the net effect that they DID miss doing things.  I’m not sure if this is unique to the 1-to-1 computer situation, but it was sobering. The other thing I noticed was how many of them gravitated back to the ‘learning’ programs or websites.  Some of those students would balk if I were to tell them “Today, we are doing X.” However, since they were able to CHOOSE that activity, it was exciting and they were fully open to the learning experience.  There is power in student choice.

There is power in play.

Washing the Windows

I’ll be spending some time ‘spring cleaning’ the blog for visitation by all those aforementioned demographic groups. Rather like a window washer, it takes courage and trust to create the transparency needed to showcase beautiful things.

[Day 6 of the #30goals challenge with Shelley Terrell @shellterrell and Lisa Dabbs @teachingwthsoul.]

Acrophobes Need Not Apply
Creative Commons License photo credit: ret0dd

Since unplugging Edmodo, I’m returning to my classroom blog to share resources, links, and lessons with students.  Today’s #30goals challenge was a good reminder that I can build upon that platform to increase transparency across the board- students, teachers, parents, administrators…. anyone can easily reference what is happening in the Computer Lab.  Currently, it is a glorified bookmarking site, with weekly posts of new sites to review.  I’d like to change that by posting ideas, videos, and weekly lesson plans. This challenge was very timely! I’ll be spending some time ‘spring cleaning’ the blog for visitation by all those aforementioned demographic groups because I sincerely do want to invite them into a welcoming space that has something special in store just for them. Rather like a window washer, it takes courage and trust to create the transparency needed to showcase beautiful things.

Posting weekly plans offers a number of benefits:

  1. I can plan ahead.  Using WordPress’s schedule post feature, I can keep drafts of upcoming lesson plans and post them at a future date.
  2. I can use these posts to create a lesson plan book to turn it at the end of the year.  There is an amazing WordPress plug-in called “Anthologize” which allows you to take posts and pages and create a book from them.
  3. I will have substitue plans pre-written and posted.  There will be some procedural things I do not include, but those are already covered in my sub-binder.
  4. I can still interact with students via the comments feature on each post…. but I see them first and approve them.
  5. I will be more effectively on the same page with all classes.  Sometimes, due to assemblies or field trips or holidays, one class gets further ahead than another.  This will help us stay more ‘together’. I know my music teacher plans two lessons a week, and the classes that miss just move on with the rest.  It’s a little different with the computer classes.
  6. I can easily share with others what I’m doing. I plan to cross-post to this blog so I can share ideas and also keep a record for myself and future employers.

You’ll find my weekly post template draft below.  What would you add or remove? Anything you’d change? I primarily want it to be a resource for the students, so I’ve tried to place things in a logical order that also entices them to come check out new things later. I strategically placed the parent info at the bottom, so that they can skim through the lessons and ideas before reaching the bottom. I may create a table to put the website and video of the week side-by-side, leaving the lessons the ‘main thing’.  I know my kinder kids get confused quickly if there’s too much to sift through. Also, I’m in the market for a cross-posting plugin that will auto-post this one from my classroom blog to this one, so I can share what I’m doing without copy/pasting.  Beyond that, I’m looking for an ’email me’ button where students can email me quickly from the blog page, and also would let them send me files straight from the blog…. hmmmm….. something to ponder.

Any ideas for me as I’m ‘cleaning-up’ the classroom blog for transparent sharing?

Website of the Week

(linked image here)

Video of the Week

(fun video or tutorial here)

Lessons of the Week

Notes from Mrs. C

(video of me here)

(links here)

(student showcase piece- link to blog post or their work here)

Kindergarten

(audio or video here)

(linked image here)

1st

(audio here)

(image here)

(text here)

2nd

(audio here)

(image here)

(text here)

3rd

(audio here)

(image here)

(text here)

4th

(audio here)

(image here)

(text here)

5th

(audio here)

(image here)

(text here)

Parent Tip of the Week

(text here)

(link here)

(tip here)

Teacher Tip of the Week

(text here)

(link here)

(tip here)

Tension Toolbox

Although this challenge pertains to ‘leaving it behind’ so that you don’t take it into the classroom, I tend to struggle more with ‘leaving it behind’ so I don’t take it home with me to my children and husband.

tool box
Creative Commons License photo credit: red11group

[Day 4 of the #30goals Challenge by Shelly Terrell @shellterrell .]

Stress is omnipresent. Eustress. Distress.  Good.  Bad. Our physical bodies respond chemically to it, and it’s important to have a toolbox of stress-reducing ideas so that we can function effectively in our everyday lives.  Although this challenge pertains to ‘leaving it behind’ so that you don’t take it into the classroom, I tend to struggle more with ‘leaving it behind’ so I don’t take it home with me to my children and husband. Because I believe education is 24/7, I don’t have a line of demarcation showing where my professional life ends and my personal life begins- I’m doing what I love, and that means I chose to spend free time learning and growing in that area. It’s not those that cause the stress- its usually how I respond to the daily things that challenge my capacity to do the things I love.

Here are some ideas for leaving the stress behind, or managing it when you feel it piling up!

Tension Toolbox: At School

  • Use some kind of aromatherapy in your classroom- diffusers, WallFlowers, or even hand lotion can help.
  • Have a haven- find someplace to retreat to within your workplace.  This can be a compassionate colleague’s room, a special corner of your digs, or a quiet area that’s rarely used.
  • Use a meditation mobile app or podcast.
  • Bring funny slippers to calm tired feet and bring a smile to your face and others.
  • Tune into the inspiration stream that is Twitter.  Usually, a 3-5 min. time reading will help put the situation in perspective.
  • Write an encouraging card/note to a friend.  Sometimes, all we need is to start thinking about other people.
  • Play that funky music- no need to buy!  Use Pandora, YouTube Music, or Jamendo. ((I was having an unfabulous day earlier this week, but George Couros @gcouros shared the Wham “Freedom” YouTube video that morning…. and I was able to play it during the day and find a way to laugh off the stress.  You can’t not dance through life with that kind of song! Retro flashbacks.))
  • Include your students in some things that really make you smile.  For some reason, we all love the game in line where everyone gives “moose ears” ((And yes, we know that those are really antlers, and not ears!)) It cracks me up, and they love it too.  Usually, that is a sure-fire way for me to start genuinely smiling again if things have gone awry during the day.

Tension Toolbox II: At Home

  • Turn off the noise and just be.  Let all those thoughts of the day, worries, etc. have some space to roll around your head. No radio, MP3, cell phone calls…. just silence.
  • Slow down.  Purposely walk slower getting to the car. Make it a leisurely drive home, rather than a race.
  • Change out of your ‘work clothes’.  Even if they’re still clean, there’s something freeing about putting on ‘play clothes’.
  • Exercise.  Always a good choice.
  • Have a humor list in your Feed Reader.  There are a couple that I turn to when I have to lighten up, and I end up with tears streaming down my face because I’m laughing so hard.
  • Make a list of ‘fun’ things that work for everyone in your family to do in the evening.  For me, the list feels super short given the age ranges of our children. ((I finally had to announce I would no longer be playing Candyland. I was trying to suffer through it graciously to spend time with my kids, but I hate that game.  There are plenty of other things that we can do that are a “win-win” situation.))

    How do you leave the stress behind?  Do you practice this coming into the classroom as going out?