Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Dobyns, Orchestra

Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Dobyns
Orchestra Party! Student Mentoring

What are the students doing?

Students have the opportunity to come in to the orchestra room every morning for "Orchestra Party." This is where they can come in and practice alone or in small groups. They can also use this time to receive extra help from me or from fellow orchestra students.  

What do you hope students accomplish by completing this activity?

A daily extra practice session, and to start their day off of on a "good note!"  

How did this activity tie to your standards?

Orchestra Party ties in perfectly with the first SC Academic Standard for the Visual and Performing Arts:
1. The student will sing and perform on instruments a variety of music, alone and with others.   

How did this activity promote student learning?

Younger students benefit immensely from coming to orchestra party. A few 6th graders have been coming in and older 7th and 8th grade students are helping them reinforce skills (correct hand position, note reading, etc.). Students learn a lot too just by watching each other perform! 

Questions to ponder:

How have you created mentoring opportunities for students in your classes? 

What difficulties have you experienced establishing mentoring for students?

What successes do you have with mentoring?  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Teacher Spotlight: ELA Teacher Ms. Anderson, Music Mondays

Teacher Spotlight:  Ms. Anderson, 6th Grade ELA

Music Mondays


What are the students doing?
At the beginning of the school year during our Interest Survey, I asked students to list their favorite artists, songs, or genres of music. Each week, I look through their responses and choose a song that best fits the purpose of the lesson. I print the lyrics and upload them to our Google Classroom. Before playing the song in class, I ask students to read the lyrics while listening and make notes with a specific purpose in mind. I play the song twice and give students the length of the two songs to complete the warm-up.
What do you hope students accomplish by completing this activity?

I wanted to create a weekly assessment that would engage students with real world examples.  They hear a song on the radio, sing along to it, and move on to the next one when it ends. In my class on Music Mondays I tell them, "Hold on, let's analyze what the author is saying and how they are saying it". We  worked on symbols, themes, subject, and supporting details with Katy Perry's "Roar." We analyzed conflict in the Black Eyed Peas, "Where is the Love." This week, we went on a verb scavenger hunt with the song, "Cheerleader." This led to an unplanned discussion on contractions and artists that do not use verbs correctly in their lyrics. With Music Mondays I hope my students will go home, listen to the lyrics of their favorite songs, and be able to discuss authorial purpose and the parts of speech.  


How did this activity tie to your standards?  

Music Monday ties into reading, writing, communicating, inquiry, and LCS standards. Students analyze lyrics looking for authorial purpose and structural components. They examine the grammatical and linguistic choices that the lyricist made and determine how the speaker (the author in this case) used style and media to articulate a message. I use Music Mondays as an inquiry based assessment before I teach a lesson or as a formative assessment to gage student understanding after I teach a concept.

How did this activity promote student learning?

Students are actively involved in choosing the songs that we use in class each week, which puts them in charge of their learning. They look forward to Music Mondays because they are able to listen to the songs they love with a new analytical mind.  I play the songs twice so that the first time they can listen and sing, and the second time they can read along and complete the warm up. The learning is relevant rather than disconnected from their lives. They are able to work on their own during the inquiry process and then collaborate on their answers before sharing them with me. Finally, this activity is one that changes on a regular basis. One week we may work on the author’s message, the next we study pronouns and antecedents. It is one that I can modify for my students’ needs while simultaneously keep as a routine.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Make Common Sense Common

Big Goal for the Year

   In my role working constantly with technology I have developed a growing burden for helping students and teachers understand the importance of Creative Commons and Digital Citizenship.  We are doing tons of work digitally and knowing how to properly credit others' work or protect one's own work is a vitally important skill.  Complacency or not knowing are inexcusable for our schools and I want to do all I can to help people at my school pratice proper netiquette.  My district participated in a digital survey on lots of topics and Digital Citizenship proved to be an area that teachers and students showed weaknesses in.  They recognized the importance but didn't always put the process into practice.  This data is driving my work this year on Digital Citizenship.
   A first step in teaching Digital Citizenship and Creative Commons is the slogan above I created and actually created a Creative Commons license. This year I want to make common sense practice of digital etiquette in my school a reality.  This is a huge undertaking but I'm excited for the work ahead as I will be working with fellow teachers and students to develop videos, posters, and other means to inform and educate our school on Digital Citizenship.  A huge thanks for the motivation and actually caring about Creative Commons goes to our Media Specialist, Lorena Swetnam.  I am grateful for her part in teaching our school.

It's Your Turn

   What are you doing to educate your campus about Digital Citizenship?  

   How have you found success?  What areas need improvement?  

I would love to learn from your experiences.  Please share through comments or tweet me, @TylerAbernathy1 your experiences with Dig. Cit. and Creative Commons.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What do you want students to learn?

What do you want students to learn?
Think about the learning desired and then the tools 

Courtesy: CollegeDegrees 360 "Learning"  Courtesy: CollegeDegrees 360 "Student"

"What do you want students to learn?"

    This question is what I like to begin with any discussion I have with a teacher when we start a planning session for an activity or lesson.  Why start with this question?  I think it should be obvious, but if you do not start with what the intended learning outcome is, all other planning on activities and  resources is futile.  Having the intended learning identified helps teacher(s) develop a plan that effectively supports and encourages the learner to work with resources that lead to the targeted result.  
    As a Technology Learning Coach I hope that all strategies or tools I share with teachers will be used and implemented after identifying the learning desired.  I do not want teachers to try and make learning "fit" to a tool they want to use.  Fitting learning to an activity or tool will accomplish completion and sometimes engaging experiences but in the end does not maximize student learning as much as it can be when the goal is identified first.  My posts this year along with Teacher spotlights and student spotlights will hopefully make clear that learning and student success is of the utmost importance.

How I Start

1)  Get to know my colleague - This is paramount to building a collaborative relationship with a teacher.  My first questions when I meet with a teacher are "How are you as a person?"  Their answer to this tells me a lot about them and shows them I am interested in them as a person, not just a person to practice Peer Coaching with."

2) Set Expectations - I make it clear to the collaborator that this relationship is driven by them.  I am their support and want to help them meet whatever goals they lay out.  To do that I make sure protections are set up for both them and myself so meeting times are respectful and the needs of each are clear so that work is efficiently completed. 

3) Identify the Goals - This can be a short term goal or the teacher may be thinking across the entire year.  From this identification, we then begin the process of determing what is the "student learning" desired and work backwards to make an action plan to meet this learning.  It is not until we have identified learning goals that we even discuss tech tools or even teaching strategies.  Taking these steps do take time but going in this order makes the work we need to do together much clearer.  

4) Designate Future Work and Next Meeting Time - At the end of any peer coaching meeting I always ask "What is work or help you need from me before we meet again?"  Along with my work we establish "What is work the Collaborating Teacher needs to have done?"  With these items identified both have homework and clear goal of what is needed to be successful in the next meeting.

It's Your Turn

How do you begin planning for activities or lessons in your classroom or with colleagues?  

What protocols do you use?  (I find resources like Les Foltos' work on Peer Coaching is a great start.)

How has Peer Coaching or Collaborative Planning enhanced student learning in your classroom?  

Please share or tweet me @TylerAbernathy1 

Creative Commons License
Make Common Sense Common (MCSC) by Tyler Abernathy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.