Tuesday, March 25, 2014

MACUL Reflection (Day 2)

While I had some nerves on Thursday because of the student showcase, they didn't even register in comparison to my nerves on Friday when I had to present myself.  Normally it doesn't bother me to present to people.  My apprehension came from the topic of my presentation, not the presentation itself.  I didn't present about my flipped classroom, like normal.  Instead I presented on a grant I received...a grant that totally flopped!

During Adam Bellow's keynote, he talked about "owning your failure", and I decided to take that idea and roll with it :-)  So here's the skinny from my presentation...I received 6 ipod touches from MACUL to be used in my school to make virtual book reviews.  Those book reviews would be loaded to Youtube, turned into a QR Code & put in the reviewed library book.  Then they would be viewable to anyone who was interested in checking the book out.  Sounds great, right?  Whelp, it didn't turn out so fabulous because very few teachers participated.

I shared all this information in my presentation, as well as what I think went wrong and how I would change things if I were to do it again.  Then I went on to the bulk of my presentation, which is what I'm using the ipods for now, because leaving them in the library not being used was blasphemy (at least in my mind)!  I brought the ipods back into my room & started using them for some Augmented Reality, to assist in my students genius hour projects, and to make some virtual flash cards.

I was very transparent about my lack of experience with Augmented Reality, but I shared what I was doing, and I shared resources I used.  From there the audience shared ideas, which was awesome!

I ended my session sharing a project we did as a class to boost building morale.  My class has been inspired by Pharell's song "Happy" and wanted to create one for our school.  They set up a schedule, and used the ipods to record each class AND staff member dancing.  Then I spliced it all together using Camtasia.

You know how sometimes in your head something sounds awesome, but the end result doesn't work out (sort of like my grant), well this was NOT one of those times.  I am beyond proud of this video and the work my kids put into it!

After my presentation was over (deep breath), I sat back and enjoyed the Lightning Talks.  For those of you unfamiliar with lightning talks, the speaker talks for 5 minutes.  They get 20 slides for 15 seconds each and they just GO.  I had thought about applying for a lightning talk, but I don't know that I have anything as inspirational or motivational as what was presented on Friday.  Topics ranged from being connected, to building relationships, to developing empathy, to expanding the walls of your classroom.  I know MACUL 2016 is a LONG way away, but I'm toying with turning my post, A Teacher Coping With a Disability into a lightning talk...I'm still not sure I will, it would be exceptionally hard to do, emotionally, but I definitely have it in the back of my mind.

All-in-all I think MACUL 2014 was a huge success.  I learned quite a few things, and was inspired by many!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

MACUL 2014 reflection (day 1)

Once again, I had the pleasure of attending the MACUL conference in Grand Rapids last week, and it didn't disappoint.  There was a record number of attendees from all over Michigan (and even some from out of state).  The conference was two days long, each jam packed with interesting sessions, and I am now going to attempt to make sense of them all!

On Thursday I started at Adam Bellows keynote, and it was AMAZING!  So inspiring with humor thrown in.  One of the points that really hit home to me was about owning your failure.  He admitted when he'd made a huge mistake & realized that it was accepted when he was honest and transparent.  That message resonated with me because I was going to be presenting on Friday about a grant I'd received that was an epic fail :(  His message gave me the confidence to own my failure to my group.

Then I tried to get into Todd Nesloney's session on flipped classroom PBL, unfortunately it was CRAZY full & I couldn't get  I was really looking forward to meeting Todd and hearing about his classroom straight from him.  Instead of that session, I jumped into the middle of a session on finding joy in teaching.  It was reaffirming that sometimes it's ok to just take a break from all the curriculum and just do something fun with your students.  I certainly need that reminder from time to time.  

I had to bail on that session a little early because I was meeting 4 of my students who were a part of the student showcase.  They were showing off their Weebly Websites & did an amazing job.  For the most part, the students were a little shy at the beginning, but it didn't take long for them to relax and start talking to teachers.  They even got to talk to Adam Bellow (not that they had a clue who he is). 

After the student showcase I was able to make it to one more session.  I chose a session on #20time with Nick Provezano.  Again, inspiring, funny and motivational!  I have genius hour with my students, so it was really interesting to see how it works at the secondary level as well.  After that I was going to stay for a session on Google Apps, but it was crazy full and I had to leave to go to a district PD.

As this post is getting pretty long, I'll talk about my Friday learnings in another post.  Stay tuned :)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Math Centers

Around this time of year, I always start to evaluate what I'm doing in my class, and how I could improve upon it.  If I'm being honest, I do that all year long, but it seems like it all comes to a head sometime around Spring Break.

I've been toying with the idea of trying to do my flipped classroom via centers, but I haven't been able to wrap my head around how to make it actually work in my room.  Luckily, I attended an awesome technology conference last week called MACUL.  One of the sessions I went to was on running a math workshop.  For the life of me I can't remember who the presenters were, but I do know they were from Spring Lake, MI.  There was a lot of good information shared, but my lightbulb moment came when they shared their acronym for their math workshop...

Math fact fluency
At your seat work
Hands on manipulatives

I really liked the acronym, but I wanted to change it a little to fit my style more.  I kept the math acronym, but changed some of the descriptions.

Meet with the teacher
At your seat work
Technology based math
Hands on manipulatives

I'm planning each rotation to be about 20 minutes long, and I'm really excited about the potential for me to connect with students even more than normal :)  I'll update after I've done this with my kiddos and let everyone know how it went!