As an English teacher, reading as always been a love of mine personally, as well as a focus of mine professionally. As a high school teacher, though, I have not been taught HOW to teach the reading skills. My expertise is in the analysis and comprehension of texts, so when the district begins to talk about having the English teachers facilitate reading intervention, I throw up my hand to point out that I have no literacy training. I'm probably not the only teacher this has happened to, and if we're being honest, it is up to everyone in a district to ensure all students can read and have the tools necessary to help them be successful readers.
My hat is off to all educators out there who just survived one of the hardest years, if not THE hardest, in education to date. If we never hear the words “flexibility” and “pivot” again, life would be grand. However, as we look ahead to the 2021-22 school year, there is still a cloud of uncertainty hanging over it.
Reaching the deeper levels of rigor and getting students to think critically while learning a world language can seem difficult. A lot of what students have to learn initially is that surface-level knowledge, but using pictures without words is one way you can get students swimming in the deep end of the thinking pool. At this point, those of you who aren't language teachers are now thinking of jumping off my post and dusting your hands of it since it clearly doesn't apply to what you teach. But wait! There's more! This gem can actually be used with any content and at any level. It is presented as an world language activity, but it is easily adapted to whatever you teach.
I have written two previous posts where I talk about how to use Google Classroom as the hub for student blogging and authentic feedback in a safe place. My original post, Blogging with Google Sites? Google Classroom to the Rescue! Let the Commenting Begin! focused on using Google Sites with Classroom to connect students and give them a platform for authentic feedback. More recently, I updated this idea in Google Classroom STILL to the Rescue: Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting! where I broadened the scope of how students can express themselves through the various tools now available. Continuing to broaden my own horizons, I explored Microsoft Teams as a hub for students to receive authentic feedback from peers and am very excited about the amazing potential that it has.
I haven't written in a while, and I totally blame COVID-19 for my lapse. The additional workload that comes with pandemic teaching can be overwhelming, and then when you realize you have the virus, productivity takes another dive. However, right before I became sick, I had the opportunity to create videos for the new app, Zigazoo, and I discovered that not only did I love making short instructional videos for students, but this app has a really wide range of appeal for students of all ages.
Back in the days where conferences were in full bloom, I attended one of my favorites, Innovation Institute in Springdale, Arkansas, where I was also presenting. The keynote that year was Alice Keeler, and I also attended one of her sessions on Google Sheets. Yes, she is the Queen of Sheets, and for all of you English teachers out there, my content brothers and sisters, I know it seems weird to use spreadsheets in the English classroom, but you should. Here are a few ways I use spreadsheets that can be done whether you are teaching virtual or face to face in this year of craziness and uncertainty.
Recently, my fourteen year-old son had to pitch for his high school varsity baseball team against the best team on the schedule. He's just a freshman, and pitching isn't his passion or any of the positions that he practices regularly outside of actual baseball practice. However, with the pitch count and rest rules, every team needs as many pitchers as they can scrounge.
One of the greatest advantages of today’s technology is the power of connection. If we weren’t aware of it before the Covid19 pandemic, we are now. As a teacher in a rural Missouri high school, I always look for ways to expand the world for my students. Our community is small and is very supportive of our students, and while I bring in guest speakers from the community each year and value what they can offer my students, technology allows me to broaden our definition of community.
From the time I became very aware of what my parents did for a living, I firmly decided that I did not want to follow in their educational footsteps. They worked too hard for too little compensation for all the time and effort they spent on their work, students, and school. They were outstanding educators (my dad retired as an elementary principal, and my mom retired as a psychological examiner for an educational cooperative). In college, as I considered my major area of study and degree options, Dad pointed out that careers define where we live.
Students develop a sense of belonging when they feel accepted, respected, included, supported and see themselves as important members of a community. I knew esports has the power to reach those students who normally slip through the extracurricular cracks, so when my good friends, Jeff and Elizabeth Wofford, approached me about starting an esports club and team at school this year, I didn’t hesitate, because I believe that helping students connect and belong at school improves overall school culture.