Monday, March 19, 2012

Personal Reflections

I can't believe that spring is two days away, and the semester is half way over. Thus far, I have tackled Photoshop, learned more than I had ever thought possible about copyright law (and am so glad I did), started my own (currently bare) website, entered into the wonderful world of blogging, and am in the process of putting together my first digital story. For this project in particular, I created a story based on the Virginia standards of learning, and my own personal photographs. I have to admit-this is the most intimidating, yet empowering project yet. I find solace in the fact that in the event I am unable to find exciting, engaging, or quality material for my students I now have the means to create it! Digital storytelling is also a wonderfully creative way for (older) students to demonstrate mastery of subject material. I don't have any suggestions for Dr. Langran-expectations are clear, and information is always readily available!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Updates on Cathy Nelson's Professional Thoughts

Cathy Nelson, school librarian updates her blog regularly with a plethora of interesting, and useful information. She definitely has my attention!

Most recently, Cathy touched on what to do if parents push back about certain books being available in school libraries. She used the example of the book "Hold Still," which features an openly gay main character. This wasn't an issue in Cathy's school, but her advice was sought regarding the book in another school district. Cathy admits, without reading the entire book, one can only be about 85% positive at the amount of profanity, touchy subjects, ect. a book contains. She suggests utilizing CommonSenseReader, GoodReads, and a few other sites reviewed by readers (as opposed to publishers).  If one has an inkling that a formal complaint will be filed, she suggests prepping the administration, and ensuring everyone is familiar and in compliance with policy.

In another post, Cathy discusses how she motivates students to use internet resources legally. As a reward for ethical use of resources, she gives students I-Tunes gift cards-I think this is a GREAT idea-talk about a tangible reward that's directly related to the desired behavior.

I posted a comment regarding Cathy's upcoming seminar on the Educational Uses of PinInterest (which I thought was a site for 20/30 somethings planning their weddings). She's holding the seminar this upcoming week, and it definitely has my attention. I can't wait to see what she says!

Side note: Cathy actually responded (I was excited to see that), and she let me know that because of her schedule, she wouldn't be able to upload her Pinterest seminar right away, but would try ASAP.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Inquiry Based Learning

I have heard of inquiry based learning, and have used it before in my classroom with a Model UN simulation. Instead of lecturing students about the role of the United Nations, we split 300 students up into the countries representing the P5, as well as other minor but participating nations. The students had to research their respective countries, current laws in debate, and defend their county's position in a simulation. We had the great privilege of visiting UN Headquarters in New York, and holding the simulation in the General Counsel Room! The students learned how to prep for debate, speech write, and research the national interests of other countries, and left the USA with a much greater understanding about the "world in which they live, learn, communicate, and work." (Inquiry Based Learning. Retrieved from:

Discussing the "how" with students is so important! As an ESL teacher, I am extremely interested in learning how to integrate this into my curriculum, since learning a language is so much about rote memorization of syntax, pragmatics, ect (but hopefully with this, it doesn't have to be!)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Photoshopped Image demonstrating hyperbole


My standard, 6.3 (English) relates to using figurative language. Hyperbole, or exaggeration is illustrated well in the well loved tale of Paul Bunyan. In this statue, Paul is so big he can hold "regular folk" in the palm of his hand! I added myself into the image, which students may enjoy doing as a fun, auxiliary activity. Students may be interested in seeing the main character in not only another medium, but in another capacity all together, piquing their interest further (if they perceive that this is something that has meaning outside the classroom).

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning

The UDL method provides teachers with a framework to enable him/her to reach and engage all learners, regardless of disability/ability/preference. At first, I thought the UDL method would be time consuming, but after completing the reading, I've come to realize that if utilized properly, the UDL method is incredibly effective!

                                                                      Graphic Organizer

Monday, January 30, 2012

Teddy Bears Go Blogging

Teddy Bears go Blogging Response:

I thought this project was a great way to allow children to connect with one another, as well as practice new language skills. A teddy bear exchange was a great idea. These toys are recognizable, and well liked by children of many cultures, and are large enough so they won't be easily or readily misplaced. Internet safety is so very important, and I'm happy Ms. Sheri is able to moderate posts, and discussions. Younger students often have a hard time keeping track of materials-a paper project of this size could be enormous, leading to frustration, and a loss of interest. The blog allows students the opportunity to create and sustain ownership. 

Blog Response from List of Recommended Blogs:

Blog Name: Cathy Nelson's Professional Thoughts

I found it interesting, and surprising with how involved Nelson is with the literary world at large. She seems to have a genuine interest, as well as an arsenal of knowledge regarding publishing rights, current trends between publishers and libraries, ect.

What a valuable resource she is-I would have never guessed how well versed an elementary school librarian is in the world of technology (I'm sure that comment would garner a chorus of eye rollings from school librarians all over America). Honestly, I haven't ever had the opportunity to consider the roll, responsibilities, and demands of school librarians. I'm not a tech savvy person. Begrudgingly, I purchased my first smart phone three months ago, and when I dropped it today, and the screen cracked, I felt an overwhelming sense of panic..followed by relief.  In this blog, Cathy details the implications of technological advances, such as the kindle and other types of digital books. She warns that unless librarians stay relevant, they may be part of a RIF to save and redistribute school funds. Yikes. This blog was a pleasant surprise, and one I intend to follow, as the experience was serendipitous on several levels.

Learning Standard of Focus:
Source: Virginia Department of Education, Grade 6, English

There are three types of learners: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.  Students will have options to complete activities that capitalize on their individual styles of learning. For example, when differentiating the words "made," and "maid," students could demonstrate their knowledge of the words in written sentences, perform a two minute skit to show the difference, or tell a story to the class using the words. Rubrics will be created for each option in order to ensure fairness.


6.3       The student will read and learn the meanings of unfamiliar words and phrases.
a)      Identify word origins, derivations, and inflections.
b)      Identify analogies and figurative language.
c)      Use context and sentence structure to determine meanings and differentiate among multiple meanings of words.
d)      Use word-reference material