NECC Cool Tip #7: Connect with Teachers and Find a Colleague

“Electronic Constructivism: Enhancing Learning with 10 Promising Technologies” by Maureen Yoder of Lesley University in Massachusetts, presented a wealth of resources (Wikis, Podcasting, etc.), and one resource that caught my attention was TeacherLingo, an online community for teachers of all subjects and expertise from all over the world. Comprised of Lessons, Messages Boards, and the like, one section in particular I liked was the Blogs tab. This allows you to search for blogs that are in the area of your profession (i.e. elementary, college, ESL, substitute teachers, and MANY more). Feel alone? Link with a colleage to share ideas!

What If School Was Fun–Would Scores Increase?

“What are you doing, son?” the mother said as she looked in her child’s room one school morning. He had a high temperature and obviously was sick by just looking at him, but still he was getting ready to go to school.

“I’ve GOT to go to school mom! I might miss something!”

My student’s mother told me this one morning while I stood at my classroom door greeting students. “What are you doing in this classroom that makes my son want to come, even when he feels so miserable? He’s ALWAYS hated school and I never thought I’d see the day when I would have to FORCE him to stay home!”

NPR’s broadcast of All Things Considered Starting College While Still in School [podcast] on Jan. 6, 2009, asked high school students their impressions of school:

Unidentified Student #1: High school was just boring.

Unidentified Student #2: And I was bored out of my mind.

Unidentified Student #3: Public school was really boring.

Tonight while the family was washing dishes (commonly our time for family conversations–the dishwasher has been hopelessly broken for months), my younger college daughter said, “I was so used to be talked to in high school; our literature teacher actually wants us to share thoughts!” My elder daughter (college in Lexington, KY) said on the phone, with glee, “I love this one professor–he doesn’t lecture from a PowerPoint! It’s GREAT!”

Imagine a world, that as students get off the bus, they wondered with excitement wondering what fun and new surprises awaited them? What about the unexpected? Not only that, but with the economy in a tailspin as it is and home may be experiencing hardship, what if school was a retreat from the stressors of life? For example:

–> Have a big fish tank in the room and add new fish

–> Change seats around unannounced

–> Make your classroom windows a learning tool by painting on them. For example, make geometrical shapes (Math), famous Virginians (Va. History), etc.

–>Use a document camera, turn it upside down, and have an instant “news cast” in your room (of course, you’ll need a data projector)?

–>How about making a book report video? Students scripting and shooting their own movies? Wait! No time?!? Have you asked your TRT for help and assistance in training you?

–>Scour the Internet for free materials:
a) Education World
b) Scienceinquirer
c) Teaching and Learning Resources from the Federal Gov’t.
d) Sites For Teachers [Warning: it’s a HUGE list of links!]

–>All for one and one for all: Not only would this help morale amongst staff, but students would have FUN! For example, during planning, focus on a unit that one teacher is teaching? Let’s say that the Science teacher is teaching the unit on weather, so:
a) the Math teacher could tie in her lesson with story problems about clouds and storms, or use thermometers to review metrics, or make graphs (and use Excel!)
b) the Reading teacher could pull a story from the basal about weather and have students journal about a particularly scary storm that they remember;
c) the Social Studies teacher could tie in how people in the past protected themselves against weather by building shelter (i.e. Jamestown, Indian groups, etc.).

So, imagine, as students change classes and go from room to room, not knowing what to expect, and not only that, but you could keep on target with the pacing guide, make remediation fun, and bring a sense of community to your hallway.

An interesting question to ask yourself is, “Would I want to sit in on my own classroom day by day?” What interesting ideas do you have to spark up the day?