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Friday, February 22, 2013

Weekly Update, February 22

Reflections on this week…

You may have noticed that I like to take pictures. It has been a hobby of mine since I was about 14, when I had dreams of becoming a famous photographer and getting rich off of my inspiring images. Now that I exist in reality (usually), taking pictures has become my convenient way to document life. I rarely delete any images, which is wreaking havoc on my storage space; I just don’t have the heart to hit that little trashcan icon when I see a picture that sparks a memory.

Anyway, I was feeling a little gloomy yesterday evening and I was frustrated with some technology, when I got sidetracked by the photo album on my phone. I flipped through all 300 + images and was reenergized by colorful classrooms, thoughtful student work, and dozens of smiling faces at MWE. I don’t remember being so happy when I was in school, and it just made me remember how lucky the kids are and how lucky I am to be with you all every day.

New BOOKS!!!!
Karyn Lewis has been bustin’ her librarian buns to gather more resources for our Literacy Library.
Watch this short video to see our newest additions.

Upcoming professional development opportunities and district meetings…

Science Curriculum Roll Out Meetings
Tuesday, February 26, 3:45-5:45
Spring Woods High School
Register in Eduphoria

Language Arts Curriculum Roll Out Meetings
Thursday, February 28, 3:30-5:00
Wilchester Elementary
Register in Eduphoria

Math Curriculum Roll Out Meetings
Tuesday, March 5, 3:30-5:00
Stratford High School
Register on Eduphoria

New Jersey Writing Project
Summer 2013
(Click HERE to download fliers)

Abydos 3-Week Summer Literacy Institute
WTC Library, June 10-27 (except Fridays)

Abydos Reading Week (Grades 3-12)
WTC Library, July 8-12

Abydos Grammar Week
WTC Library, July 22-25

Some stuff I’ve been reading…

Reclaiming Your Teacher Mojo

Projecting Possibilities for Writers: The How, What, & Why of Designing Units of Study
by Matt Glover & Mary Alice Berry

Some sites/apps worth exploring…

Environmental Interdependency Videos
These videos were produced by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium specifically for 4th and 5th grade SBISD students when learning about ecosystems.

An extensive and detailed App List

Some FREE (for a limited time) apps that look fun:
ABC Sounds Lite
Even  Monsters Get Sick
From Cheese
Pinocchio: Interactive Kids Storybook (free TODAY only)

Don’t forget, you can find more at…
Teacher Learners on Edmodo
Group code: 9fq5dz

Friday, February 15, 2013

Weekly Update, February 15

Reflections on this week…

I spent my Friday morning (after fighting the oppressive traffic on all freeways) at the University of Houston in a discussion on teaching and learning. I haven’t spent much time on campus since I graduated in December of 2004, and I found it a peaceful switch from the hour-plus I had spent in traffic. The key theme of the discussion this morning centered on the idea of disruption, but not in the sense you might think. It was about disruption in a positive sense…disruption to make change and improvement.

Once I redefined disruption in my head, I started to reflect on what it meant to my own life. I was probably feeling a little nostalgic sitting at UH, I’ll admit it, but I started thinking about what my dreams had been when I walked across that campus over eight years ago. I am definitely nowhere that I pictured myself. That doesn’t disappoint me, though, which is what really helped me to see how disruptions can become great things in our lives. I think it is more what we make of these disruptions, how we respond to them, that shapes our paths.

Anyway, I’m taking that idea into my weekend. When my son causes a disruption to my sleep at 6:00 tomorrow morning, I’m going to see what I can make of that. It will probably just be coffee, but we’ll see.

Upcoming professional development opportunities and district meetings…

Science Curriculum Meeting
February 26, 2013
Spring Woods High School
See email from D. Burken with links to register in Eduphoria

Earth Science Conference
February 23, 2013
Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land
Visit the TESTA site for more information:

Using iPads to Enhance Teaching and Learning
Watch the recorded webinar at this link:

Some stuff I’ve been reading…

“Exploring the Use of the iPad for Literacy Learning”
from The Reading Teacher, vol 66
Click HERE to read.
This was not an especially riveting read, but it did give some interesting ideas for apps that might be used when addressing certain literacy skills. The bulk of the article talks about a study that looked at the use of iPads to teach certain skills within a fourth grade classroom.

Put Thinking to the Test
by: Conrad, Matthews, Zimmerman, Allen, & Keene
Many of you probably know about this book. Thank you to Mary-Catherine for the awesome recommendation, because I am loving the thinking behind this book. It is all about approaching testing as an additional genre to be studied. While we give kids so much time to consume various types of text, they really don’t get a lot of time to consume tests outside the actually testing time. The authors of this book look at approaching the testing genre. Good stuff!

Some sites worth exploring…

Social studies—folklife/culture:

Active learning strategies:

Digital Learning Day 2013

Don’t forget, you can find more at…
·       Teacher Learners on Edmodo
Group code: 9fq5dz

Friday, February 8, 2013

Weekly Update

Reflections on this week…
I had forgotten about the little science nerd that was resting dormant in my head, but she was certainly awakened during the last two weeks by crickets and owl pellets. Who knew that things that are stereotypically “gross” could be so much fun?! Planning for a day in the lab opened my eyes to all of the opportunities that science can bring to our students, both in the realm of experiences and cross-curricular connections. I can’t wait to see what great things we make happen with the awesome resources we have available in the science lab.
Thanks to everyone who sent students to the lab on Cricket Day. If you couldn't fit it into your schedule, have no fear! The crickets have a more permanent home (thanks to Ericka), and students can observe them any time. The owl pellet lab was so much fun today! You can see a picture of the lady from the Audubon Society below (go Meg for getting that in order!).

Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities
·         West Houston Area Council of Teachers of English: An Evening with Authors
Thursday, March 7, 6:00 p.m.
See REGISTRATION FORM for more details
·         Science 3D-2D
Teachers will learn how to go from hands-on to checking for understanding to ensure student success on the STAAR test.
February 12, 3:30-5:30
West Transition Campus, Room 1C

Some stuff I’ve been reading…
                The February issue of Educational Leadership has some really cool articles centered on creativity. HERE is an article I found really informative, but I thought I would also share some quotes from another one of the articles that really stood out to me. These come from “Fundamentals of Creativity” by Ronald A. Beghetto and James C. Kaufman.

·         “Teachers who understand that creativity combines both originality and task appropriateness are in a better position to integrate student creativity into the everyday curriculum in ways that complement, rather than compete with, academic learning.”

·         “Research shows that creativity can suffer when people are promised rewards for creative work, when learning conditions stress competition and social comparisons, or when individuals are highly aware of being monitored and evaluated y others.”

·         “Students need to develop creative metacognition—a combination of creative self-knowledge (knowing one’s own creative strengths and limitations, both within a domain and as a general trait) and contextual knowledge (knowing when, where, how, and why to be creative).”

Some sites worth exploring…
·         PBS Kids Play!
An online, cross-curricular program for Pre-K to 1st grade. It contains hundreds of interactive activities. Check it out!
·         Kid Wings
This site teaches kids about the world of birds. It was recommended to me by the lady visiting from the Audubon Society this morning. It even has virtual owl pellet dissection.
·         Math League: Whole Numbers
This site is divided into two sections, “Using Whole Numbers” and “Operations and Their Properties.” The main Math League site also has some great sample problem solving contests. It is worth exploring
·         WatchKnowLearn
A decent resource for finding educational videos.