A Personal Invitation

I knew at 18 years of age, the profession of teaching was what I was made to do. The passion for education burned through my veins and I was inspired by those who taught me and who had gone before me. As I marched towards my goal of the classroom I used journals, magazines, even one on one testimonies to help give me perspective and prepare me for my classroom. The brave teachers who opened the doors of their classrooms and let me sit front row viewing their strategies, witnessing personal reflections. I gravitated to their vulnerability and strive to learn from their experiences in order for the betterment of my students.

Six years later, I have become one of those people who enjoy waking up and going to work. I am inspired by my students to be the best version of myself. To be transparent on my quest to ensure ALL students are reached right where they are. I cling to the refreshing springs of my fellow educators pouring themselves and their experiences out whether through blogs, twitter chats, podcasts, or other outlets. I sit and ‘drink-in’ the conversations and reflections noting how I can personally take the journey my fellow colleagues have taken and use it to help empower and educate my students. Recently, I find that the spring seems to be decreasing. The same voices contributing, while majority lurking in the shadows, waiting to be called upon and reassured you have something to offer.

This invitation is for you. Today I am asking for you to join me. To join the ranks of teachers who want to improve our craft. The teachers who are opening their classroom doors. Who are prepared to be vulnerable. Who embrace the ideas of transparency in the school setting. All with the mindset that we cannot change the way students are taught if we do not start the dialogue. The education system will remain the same even while our students are ever changing. If we let this occur then we are doing a disservice to the very children who inspire us to stand in the front of the room each day.

Today! This moment! I am inviting you to be a part of a group whose sole goal is to reach, connect, empower, and educate ALL students. Your voice is important. Your perspective is vital. Your lens and experience have the power to shape the methods in which we utilize strategies. Please do not wait till you have reached that “level”. We want to hear from you while you are walking the path. We want to hear from you as you reflect. We want to hear what worked and what didn’t. We want to know what you would do differently. To discuss with you about the results of your choices. If you ask why? The reason is because we are not meant to be isolated. We are better together. We are better as a team of teachers, band together to meet the goals of our students.

Your voice matters. You matter to your students, your community and our profession. I am inviting you to step out of your comfort level and contribute to the NGSSBlogs Project. Our goal is to provide teachers a place to connect, collaborate, and empower to educate. We are walking the journey of applying and understanding the NGSS curriculum so that we can apply it in a meaningful and realistic manner in the classroom. In order to meet this goal we need to hear from you. We need to know what you are doing in your classroom.

I understand, what I am asking of you is risky business. You could be rejected, go unnoticed or be challenged. I am asking you to pour out pieces of your teaching experiences and stand front and center, and that can be scary. Before you make your decision though, think of your classroom and the people you reach. You have an amazing opportunity to mold and shape our future. Each one of us as educators have an enormous role in a child’s future. So wouldn’t it only make sense that we are equipped to ensure that each student, no matter whose classroom they are sitting in; are able to access the curriculum in a meaningful manner.

We have supports for you in place, which mean you will not walk this journey alone. We have a community which we encourage you to be plugged in and dive into the resources. We are here working and all that is missing is you.

If you are interested in joining our blogs project please visit us at  NGSS PLN

If you are interested in taking part in an inspiring book study we are reading and discussing the book “NGSS for All Students” Edited by Okhee Lee, Emily Miller, and Rita Januszyk please visit here: http://goo.gl/forms/7Iz2CZ7MFT

Diving into the Twitterverse through Twitter Chats

I decided to take the next step in my Twitterverse experience and joined in on chats. Honestly, this was nerve wrecking; so for baby steps I started with New Teachers to Twitter (#NT2T). The people involved are amazing and extremely supportive; they help guide me through the newness of twitter. This weekend I wanted to step my game up so I participated in a Saturday Chat (#satchat). First thing first I didn’t understand why everyone was putting #Satchatwc until a friend told me I was in Saturday Chat West Coast. So that was fun!!! Here are the things you’ll notice when you join a chat. Things move fast. I mean really fast. To combat that I use a program called tweetdeck. This allows me to make columns organizing the chat and I can watch the activity as well as interact. Which helps me to not feel overwhelmed. If you start to feel overwhelmed take a deep breath and step back for a minute. Most chats start off with you introducing yourself which is simple enough. Some will have the questions up ahead of time and others will not. (this is where tweetdeck has its advantages) Remember that you can be as active as you would like to be. There is no pressure. #Satchat is an amazing educational chat that happens on Saturday 7:30 am on the east coast and then #Satchatwc happens at 10:30 am EC. I was logged into Tweetdeck had my columns ready and decided to dive right into the twitter experience. It was amazing! I felt so empowered while in the chat. Being surrounded by so many brilliant teachers who are sharing and contributing. When the chat was over my head was spinning. This was like a recharge for me. There are moments, during the day to day and lesson planning then implementing I start to feel drained. Even start to wonder if I chose the right profession. But this place, this chat, it made me feel not alone. I am not fighting for my kids success all by myself. I don’t have to come up with all the answers. I found a place that I could plug myself into. Where I could recharge as well as get resources that I could use. Even talk to the people who were actually following the practices. After the chat, my wheels were still turning. I went back through the chat and saw that there was not one thing said that would not have been helpful. The strategies suggested and resources provided were enormous. The connections were priceless. Yet, I had never heard of this chat or just any chat two months ago. Now I am engulfed in a passion to connect more teachers. To inspire and connect teachers to a hub of ideas that can empower and encourage you. If you are on twitter I encourage you to join some of the chats. I have included a list of educational chats that occurring. If you are not on twitter don’t be afraid to dip your toes into the water and come and join an amazing tool to move your thinking and teaching to another level. Twitter chats is a lot like swimming. Some are fast paced in the deep end for the more experienced users and some are calming and slow paced. You just need to go at your own pace. I hope to see you at the chat. If so feel free to say hi. Remember: what you have to offer is valued and needed. As well as if you have questions there are people who are ready to offer support and assistance if needed. See you soon

TodaysMeet – Capturing Communication in a NGSS Classroom

TodaysMeet 

Used by:

Students/Teachers

NGSS Practices Addressed

Paired with another assignment/article this tool can address these NGSS practices:

1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)

Students can document thinking as the generate questions collaboratively in a Todaysmeet classroom while addressing a scientific phenomenon.

4. Analyzing and interpreting data

After conducting an experiment students can discuss their data and reflect on their experiment as well as share with their peers what conclusions were learned from the experiment.

6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)

Assigning students articles to read and then answer questions related to the text as well as draw real world   relationships. Students would post their answers in the chat box and have the opportunity to justify their responses while their peers ask  questions.

7. Engaging in argument from evidence

Have students choose a position on a topic. They can work in groups or individually. students will add to the forum what their position is and why. They can include links to documents/images/videos that can support their claim. Other students can explore what is presented and pose questions to the student/group that is arguing their point. 

8. Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information

The teacher can give/post a chart or text that the students will evaluate. The teacher can pose questions or perform a  think aloud with the students demonstrating how they should conduct their thinking while working with the artifacts. Students can then explain and demonstrate their understanding by contributing to the chat/discussion

Description

TodaysMeet is an online space that is similar to twitter but not as intense. The teacher creates a “room” that the student will type into their browser. Once students are in the right “room” they will be able to put their names in the nickname box and get started. Any device that is able to access the internet is able to use this site. Here is a tutorial video if you would like to see how to get started.

Highlight

 Easy to use format. Great way to introduce students to online forums as well as discuss appropriate discussion forum behavior. This site allows students to use their devices that they are comfortable with in the classroom and contribute to the discussion. If you have students who do not like to answer orally this gives a different method to answer. Using this site students can answer questions, participate in discussions as well as feel comfortable using a medium they are familiar with. The site also allows the teacher to print the script that was produced to document students thinking and contribution

Drawbacks

Students will have to be redirected to behave appropriately and to make school appropriate comments. Students have the ability to choose the name that they would like to use, so the teacher will have to be sure to address that with students prior to lesson.

Product in Action

In our collaborative class, we used this tech tool to open a discussion about a reading. We had all of the students log in and greet the class. Then, we gave the reading materials and gave students time to read the article. We had the Todaysmeet classroom also projected on the board so that all students could see it on their own devices as well as in the front of the room. We asked students questions verbally as well as in the chat then provided an opportunity for students to respond in the chat. We gave verbal praise as well as praised students within the chat. Students became comfortable with answering questions online and receiving immediate feedback from their peers as well as the teachers. We had students discover if they were using their phones they could attach emojis. Other students realized that they could change their names throughout the discussion. When this happened, we reminded students the expectations in the class for how students were to behave in a forum. Overall the lesson went well and we had students who are comfortable with never speaking in class engaged and answering questions in this format.

Takeaways

If you are looking for a great site that allows you to host discussions in a safe way. Then Todaysmeet is the site for you. Teachers are able to create and use a space in an easy manner to enhance discussions in class as well as encourage students to participate in a new format.


To go straight to todaysmeet click here