Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Classroom Project- Classroom Supplies for Teachers Contest

I know what it's like to spend so many $ out of pocket for classroom supplies, so when I see an opportunity to avoid dipping into my hard earned cash, I like to share!

Check out this project. Why not even let the students help you write the essay/post? The deadline is Dec. 16th, so you've got time! After all, who couldn't use a Staples gift card?

The Classroom Project- Classroom Supplies for Teachers Contest

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My 2014 Wish List for EdTech

It's the holiday season, so here's my teacher wish list of what I'd like to see happen in the edtech arena!

  • More focus on student driven learning! Yes, I mean interesting, relevant topics and approaches that engage students in not only learning, but also in helping them realize that they have a great big world of opportunity that awaits them, both in and out of school. Products that scaffold students along the way, encourage them to take bigger risks, and try out challenges just a bit above their "safe zone" score big in my book! Bonus points for platforms or games that do this and also add a place for reflection, so kids can connect their experiences of success to thoughts and ideas that will promote further success.  Kinda like something that might happen if Vgotsky, Csikszentmihalyi and Dweck got together! 

  • Tools that engage students in self regulation, reflection, and goal setting.  Whether it's a goal for their behavior at school and developing their own strategies to improve, or an academic goal, students are capable of reflecting, evaluating, and taking action. We often get in the way! If you're a developer and interested in talking more about this, let me know. I want to see more student reflection and less teacher judging... enough said!

  • Platforms that connect students to real-world mentors. In the assets based approach from the Search Institute, research shows that the higher the number of caring adults and interactions a student has, the better chance for success.  In my fantasy world, I would love to develop a tool that creates a mentor net: a group of people who virtually or in combo with f2f, help a middle to high school student create a path toward the future.  These folks could check in periodically to help a student stay on track toward his/her goals, and could recommend others that the student could include in their group of mentors. Students could also share and comment on each others' nets and encourage each other to keep working toward their goals. This platform could lead to internships, connections to college opportunities, or simply an inspiring conversation with a college student or industry professional. 

  • Tech and maker combos that allow kids to see the results of their coding exploits come to life in front of them. 3d printers are very cool and any kinds of hands on activity that allows trial and error exploration without costing a fortune are great! 

  • Tools that support overall health. Zamzee is a cool activity monitor that gets kids moving and competing against themselves and others in active play. I'd love to see tools like this incorporate self-reflection; perhaps a journal app to reflect how you felt after conquering those 12 flights of stairs? It would be incredibly powerful for kids to see the link between their self-talk, feelings of empowerment and their physical activity. Ok, I could be dreaming.. but.. 

  • More opportunities for partnerships between teachers, funders, and developers. I've had an idea that I've wanted to pursue for over a year and don't necessarily want to quit teaching. What if there was a partner match platform, where teachers could propose their ideas, get voted up or down by students and educators, and solicit partnerships with those who have what we don't  have: money, design skills, and coding skills!! 
What types of tools would you like to see in 2014? 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Praise or Reflective Questioning?

I read a tweet this morning and can't recall who posted it, but it was something about the most important thing you can say to a child is that you are proud of them. Yes, I do believe in giving positive feedback, especially since some kids hear far too many negative comments in the course of a day.

On the other hand, I believe that it's critical that kids actually believe in themselves and take pride in their own growth. I want them to be able to stop in their tracks and bask in the afterglow of conquering a difficult challenge.

Maybe instead of saying, "I'm so proud of you," we can ask, "How do you feel after working so hard?" "Do you realize what a big accomplishment this is?"

When students come to me, glowing with pride, ready to share a story of success,  I ask them to stop for a moment and savor the feeling. I watch, as they stand a bit taller and smile so grandly. I listen intently to their story and then as they answer my question: How do you feel right now? I try to anchor them in that proud moment so that they can remember it when the going gets tough.

My goal in all of this is to reinforce a growth mindset. If you haven't read Carol Dweck's work, I highly recommend it.

 I want kids to know that the hard work and the satisfaction that comes with it is what matters.

And yes, I am proud of them, even  especially when they make mistakes, when they fall, get up, and try again.

I'd love to hear what you think!