Friday, December 14, 2007
Neelie, Todd, and Jeff traveled to San Antonio for the AATSP annual convention. As usual at these conventions, we had more workshops to choose from than we had time for. We tended toward the workshops that dealt with technology. We learned about the use of wikis, ipods, and blogs in the classroom. Some of this we were already doing, but it's great to see and hear from other teachers. Other workshops we attended were the old standbys, those sessions led by veteran teachers where everybody shared ideas and techniques that they found useful. As a result of this conference, we'll be introducing speaking activities using voice thread, ipods and you may hear our students singing and chanting.
San Antonio is a great city. It's rich history and great cuisine made it an ideal place for a conference. Jeff was able to take some photos of places that appear in his text and we have a picture of the three of us in front of the Alamo.
Monday, December 03, 2007
On December 1, 2007 about 4 inches of wet, heavy snow/sleet/freezing rain hit the Milwaukee area. Karen's garden, which produced over 200 pounds of tomatoes for the USM community last fall, has now entered into winter phase. The tomato plants have been composted and the ground awaits the coming of spring. It is cold and silent out at the garden, but under the snow the soil continues to thrive.
View the collaborative voicethread project online that we created as a summary and reflection of our conference experience at this year's National Social Studies Conference in San Diego. This is a work in progress. Feel free to leave any comments that you'd like on our voicethread (you'll need a voicethread account to leave comments however).
Matt's more detailed reflection may be read by visiting his blog post on this topic.
View a little Animoto multimedia presentation with pictures from our conference:
Monday, November 26, 2007
Lori Vandervelde, Laurie Barth and I went to NYC the week before Thanksgiving to attend the annual convention of the National Council of Teachers of English. While there, we visited two independent schools in Manhattan, heard Jonathan Kozol talk about his new book, Letters to a Young Teacher, and attended various NCTE sessions. On top of all that we ate some delicious food, saw a very funny off-Broadway production and walked, on average, well over six miles a day! It was an extremely fulfilling experience.
Besides all the useful information we gleaned from the sessions and the books we bought that will aid our teaching, I think the best thing that came from all of it was the five-day-long conversation we had that covered everything from curriculum, to goals, to strategies and technology. I think we'll be remembering this trip, and referring to things we discussed while on it, for years to come.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Last week Thursday and Friday I had the opportunity to attend this year's state art teacher conference, Creating Connections (WAEA) in River Falls, WI. Priscilla Wicks and I made the trip together, my first time attending an art conference with another art colleague! It was a great opportunity to enrich my teaching with new curriculum ideas, new materials/resources and engaging conversations with other art educators. Let me share a little bit more about some of the sessions I attended and how it impacted me.
First of all, our keynote speaker, Dr. Roger Tomhave spoke to us on the topic of "A Whole New Art Education," taking prominent and pertinent information from Daniel Pink's book, "A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future," and applying it to the world of art education. If you are not familiar with this book, it is definitely worth checking out. Here is a brief description of Pink's book:
- The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers - creative and holistic "right-brain" thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn't. Drawing on research from around the world, Pink outlines the six fundamentally human abilities that are absolute essentials for professional success and personal fulfillment - and reveals how to master them.
This bestseller takes readers to a daring new place, and a provocative and necessary new way of thinking about a future that's already here.
Not only was the keynote inspiring, but I also attended various sessions in which I gathered good information to bring back to my classroom as well as some reinforcement that I am on the right track with my own teaching style. The first session I attended was on student centered assessment. This was perfect since our main C.A.R.P. goal is focusing on assessment in the art room. Loaded with handouts, articles and ideas, I left the session ready to evaluate my current forms of assessment and inspired to bring new methods to my students. One teacher in particular stated something I am always working on. She mentioned that her students never ask her the question "Am I done yet?" This is something I think all art teachers strive for, and her answer revolved around assessment that is designed by the students.
Another session on went to focused on web comics. I wanted to get some new ideas for the lesson I do with 6th graders on superheroes. Unfortunately the hands-on session was not hands-on, but it did get my creative juices flowing. I need to look into this concept a bit more, especially if I want to do this with Middle School age students, but here is a link to a world of comics on the web: http://www.thewebcomiclist.com/
The final session I'll write about was one that Priscilla and I went to together hoping to learn about the new curriculum being developed in Hong Kong. The speaker who supposed to present was not available, but we did hear from a gentleman involved in the curriculum review process. To our amazement, Hong Kong was significantly behind in the development of their art education process. They are currently initiating a trend to teach more than just art production, but now having art teachers focus on aesthetics, art criticism, and art history, something we call (DBAE) Discipline Based Art Education and have been teaching since the early 1980's. They do however, have us beat in the area of pushing for art education as one of the core curriculum areas. It is seen as just as valuable as math, science, language etc.. but will now also require standardized testing just as the other core areas do. This is being met with resistance from many art educators.
Well, that about sums up my experience in River Falls. With the exception of an awesome Carribean jerk dinner in Hudson, a great gallery walk with an opportunity to watch a glass sculptor at work, as well as a fun time socializing with art teachers at the Nova, a spectacular wine bar adorned with beautiful and unique Tiffany lamps.
Thanks for the professional growth experience!
Monday, October 29, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
There are many other excellent ideas to mention, but I want to keep this post reasonably short. If you are interested in the K12 Online learning conference, visit: http://www.k12onlineconference.org/ . You can visit the website and watch the presentations any time you want, even after the conference is over. Click the schedule link at the top of the page to see the full schedule of events and to view the presentations.
If you feel inspired by a presentation at the conference, leave a post here at the Middle School Professional Growth Blog (or on your own blog!)
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Below is the voicethread (go easy on me--this is my first voice thread!)
Monday, October 15, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Pictures, videos, notes and reflections may be viewed at the following website:
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Geralyn and Conor Cannon
Harriette and Kathy Hauske
Anne and Matthew Schumaker
Jim Walzac (Landscape Architect) and his helper Brian
Chuck Kendall (Friend of USM)
Monday, April 23, 2007
Spring Meeting Summary Link
As a side note, LFCDS recently completed a major addition and remodel project. As we prepare for phase II of our remodel, I would recommend that they be used as a resource. They did incorporate many green concepts and techniques (eg-bamboo flooring) during their process, even though it wasn't a LEED certified building.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Alfie Kohn - Homework
- No study has found any meaningful benefit in homework before HS. Does homework help with the love of learning?
Why is homework given if it does not have value?
- We don’t ask meaningful questions about homework or anything. That’s the way it is!
- We don’t trust children on how to use free time.
- Attitude about use to research
- Better get used to it – it will happen soon in US
- Tougher standards – parents should not complain if no homework
- Homework persists because we do not understand how learning happens
Do not give homework unless you can make a good case for it. Homework is OK if:
- The assignment is likely to get kids to think more deeply and understand the material
- If kids get more excited about the topic. Will kids like math more because of this?
- If you did not design the homework, don’t assign it!
- Ask kids their view – what did you think about the homework?
- Try a week or unit with no homework. How did it affect kids?
Learning and Rigor
What one is doing vs. how well one is doing. - is the key question!
“An over emphasis on assessment can actually undermine the pursuit of excellence.” ( Carol Midgley, Martin Maen)
Effects of getting kids too focused on how well they are doing:
1. Less interested in learning itself
2. Preoccupied with their ability ( There are four reasons kids do well: effort, ability, luck, task difficulty)
3. Prefer easy tasks and quick completion
4. Devastated by failure
5. Quality of learning suffers
Research says giving grades will cause 1, 3 and 5
Other interesting notes from Alfie:
Good way to communicate to parents: Narrative reports
Great way to provide info: Conference with parents
Kids should collect information and share info with parents at conferences
Not the amount of motivation that’s important, it’s the type:
Intrinsic ( I like doing it) Extrinsic ( I am doing it for a reward e.g. grade)
-Extrinsic motivation erodes intrinsic motivation
-The more you reward students the more intrinsic motivation goes down
-Rewards lead to less generosity among peers
The premise is that the current group of students are digital natives... always having lived with the Internet and digital media as part of their lives. We, the adults, are digital immigrants (learning to use new technology as it is developed). Prensky touches on the idea of "twitch speed" processing for students to acquire information. Whether you're a big advocate of educational technology or more of a skeptic, there are some interesting discussion points in this article regarding how cognitive processing figures into all this.
Monday, January 29, 2007
The weekend program was outstanding with participants using the actually equipment used to train astronauts. The equipment included the 1/6 gravity chair, manned maneuvering unit, g-force accelerator and space shuttle simulator.
The weekend at Space Camp was excellent. The staff, facilities and program was better than I hoped and the weekend was one of the best professional experiences I have had. I plan to return in the next couple of years to attend another program.