Thursday, July 31, 2014

Listening with Legos

image of Lego pieces in cups
The first days of school are filled with introductions, rules and procedures - a great opportunity to teach offline with Legos!

There are only two rules in my computer lab. Rule 1: Do What's Right. We talked about how the Bible tells us the difference between right and wrong. We came up with examples how stealing, defacing property, or abusing equipment is wrong. It's good to remember that we are stewards of the school's equipment and need to treat it with respect.

Rule 2: Listen to Others. Many times in computer class I am giving students detailed instructions that must be followed in the correct sequence. That's just the nature of machines. But it's also important to listen to each other. Sometimes students have the same question but failed to hear their friends ask. and so we practiced listening with Legos.

Every student has a cup with five Lego pieces. I then give them explicit instructions to build a little bird. We then repeat the process with various distractions or obstacles to their listening such as only visual instructions. Upper elementary and middle school students even had to instruct another student how to build something with their eyes closed. Of course with an entire class shouting out instructions, that too becomes an obstacle to effective listening!

If we had extra time, I turned it into a game (stress of competition really rattles communication)! One partner would have about 15 seconds to see a pre-built model then go back and instruct their partner on how to make it. First team with the correct copy wins.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

July 26, 2014 at 07:32AM

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26 via Instagram

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What Makes A Tech-Savvy Teacher?

This is a rather thought provoking graphic. I'd consider myself a tech savvy teacher, but with this list there seems to be little room for integrating technology into the classroom. It's more a list of the tech savvy person. Teachers need to bring their students and parents along for the tech journey.
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Reflections On Teaching With Technology

As part of an online course Teaching with Technology, I am supposed to journal my reflections from several writing prompts. Here are the questions and my thoughts. Feel free to add your comments.

1. How do you choose the technology that you use in your instruction to maximize its impact on learning?

The technology I choose needs to compliment the learning outcomes I want for my students. Usually I will consider what the kids should be learning and select software/hardware that best matches. For example, when students need to demonstrate they understand the components of a presentation, the may create a video that contains all the elements. Some students are very comfortable with the video editing software on their phones, others are not. Students could choose the medium they knew best (i.e. PowerPoint, Prezi, Animoto, etc). Neither am I afraid to ditch technology that is not making an impact on students.

2. Think about your experience working with students. Do you have specific strategies that you use to build a good relationship with them and create an environment that supports learning? What are those strategies? 
I always try to keep the lines of communication open. I'll email parents at least weekly with lots of detailed information. I try to keep grades current and allow students to discuss with me ways they can improve a grade. The classroom environment should be open and engaging too. I try to keep the room free of techno-clutter; it should resemble more of the setup they have at home than a sterile office. Clear expectations build the best relationships.

3. How comfortable and competent do you feel in using the technologies that are currently available to you in your school?

I feel very confident in using the technology at my school. I look forward to introducing the staff to even more ways they can engage students with different kinds of technology.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Drastic Pruning for Improved Results

Teaching is a lot like gardening. I often find truisms for the classroom while working in the yard. The rose bush covering the arbor needed a hard pruning to bring it back into line reminding me of the following thoughts:

1) This rose flowers on previous growth, so I had to wait for it to finish blooming before pruning. Don't be too eager to rush into the next unit. Make sure kids understand before moving on.

2) Branches of the rose bush had grown thick but in the wrong direction, requiring that they be completely cut back. I need to do a better job of directing the younger shoots while they are still pliable. Proverbs 22:6 reminds us "train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."