About DarlaMoore

In short - Teacher, Author, Speaker, and sometimes PopCulture Pirate. http://www.now2wowpublishing.com In long- Darla's 1st career was in Psychology. For the past 11 years she has taught everything from 3rd grade to college Freshmen in both urban and rural settings. She is a Lead Content Expert and Content Alignment Committee Member in the area of ELA for the Ohio Department of Education and has presented at numerous conferences and workshops. As an author she has contributed to The Gates Foundation, US Department of Education, ETS, AIR, and many other educational communities. Her anticipated series of books, Moore’s Common Core Teacher Guides will be available from Amazon starting July 2012. Follow her on Twitter at darlasays. You can also find her as part of Now2WOW Publishing

A Day of Tech (sort of)

This month’s topic was to write about a typical day in my classroom so, here is my tale.

 

            I get to my classroom about 7am.  One student is already there.  She gets dropped off at 6:45 because of her parent’s work schedule.  School doesn’t start until 7:45.  After opening up my room I go to the Media Center to get the Mobile Computer lab.  It is 2 carts of 15 Netbook style mini laptops.  My early student helps me move them from the media center to my classroom.  Each cart drives like an overloaded 3 wheeled grocery cart. 

            Once I get the carts to my room I am met by 3 other early students.  They are all teachers’ kids and like to come help me prepare for the day.  At this point I start the process of plugging in all of the cords, routers, printers and accessories that are needed for the computers to work in my classroom.  Needless to say, I can not wear a skirt on these mornings due to the acrobatics I must perform to get hooked-up.  I then check that everything is getting power.  At that point the bell rings for students.

            As class begins, I take roll and say the pledge of Allegiance.  Each student then gets a laptop.  There are 25 students in first period.  We are writing research about a self-selected poet using the internet to conduct the research and a number of books that I have provided.

            Then Hell breaks loose!

            Five computers do not recognize that it has Word installed.  Three continually reboot themselves.  Four cannot access the internet wireless wifi unless the student literally sits by the router (and not at their desks).  The printer start spitting out print jobs from who-knows-when and runs out of paper.  Two computers refuse to do anything at all.  Two students have had their files wiped off the face of the digital earth.  A few students have flashdrive issues. Some students have been working at home on Word 07 and the school has Word 03.  At this point I do a mini lesson on how to turn off OVR and how to save as .rtf.  By this point the period is over.

            Repeat the above paragraph for periods 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7. 

            My day was over and all I got done was put out technology fires.  Not literally, but figuratively.  I am hired to teach 7th and 8th grade language arts and I spent the day teaching how to cope with technology stress.

            Some may ask, “Where is your tech department?”  Currently we have one guy who covers the district K-12.  By the time I put in a work order for every problem, the day is over and he might be able to get to it next week.

            So here is the main point of this ramble.  I consider myself tech saavy.  I love my iPad and will be touring next year presenting PD regarding apps.  I enjoy using computers( I am duel screening right now as I write this) but I am frustrated with using poorly maintained and poorly functioning, out-of-date equipment.  But what about other teachers?  Teachers who are less computer friendly and simply throw their hands in the air and murmur, “I give up.”

 

            How do plans to use technology and the reality of using technology become the same thing?

 

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Top 5 Reasons Teachers Should Tweet

Top 5 Reasons Teachers should Tweet

 

 

To connect and build a PLN.

Do you have a Professional Learning Network?  Are you connected with a group of educational professionals within your subject area and interests?  Do you get daily/hourly tips on how to have great lessons?  How about resources from all over the world on educational news?

By creating a Twitter account you can follow experts, other teachers and people of interest.  They will share news and links for items that they think are of interest to their followers.  Don’t know who to follow?  Start with someone you know; an educational author, an organization, a blogger, or even me (darlasays).  Use the search tool and find them on Twitter.  Click to follow them.  Then get noisy.  See who they follow.  Mine, personally is a mix bag. I have personal friends, culture stuff, local news, and lots of educational tweeters.  Sometimes my educational news comes from strange sources.  Example:  One of my personal friends from a rock band worked to create anti-bullying presentations in Puerto Rico.  You can stay informed from all of the sources you pick to follow.

 

To connect with parents

When I was in kindergarten, my teacher would literally pin notes to my coat so that I would not lose the message going home with me.  It was her way of trying to make sure her message got home to my parents.  She went through many safety pins with me.

In my own classroom, I have set up a Twitter just for my specific class.  I can quickly share short announcements with my many parent and student followers, such as “Test Monday over Figurative Language”, “Fundraiser $$ due Friday”, “Joey won the District Spelling Bee!!”  I can post from my phone and they can receive the messages on their phone.  This is a quick and easy way to always be connected to your students and their parents.  You can also direct message students and parents.

 

To connect with students

As with parents, you can connect with students but more than that – it is a mobile class room.

Let’s say it is a Saturday and you watch this awesome youtube video about the meteors falling in Russia.  You can suddenly share it with your class.  Even have a quick micro discussion.  Real learn, real life, real fast.

Or maybe it is late on a Sunday night and a student is wondering if “zip” is an onomatopoeia.  They can message you, without needing you personal phone number or email, then you can post it on Twitter as a discussion.  No prep teaching and student generated.

 

To learn and teach – More does not always = better

As teachers of writing we often encourage writers to write more, but yet as real world readers we seek information that isn’t overly wordy and gets to the point quickly.  By teaching students to use Twitter and using it yourself you learn about the importance of making care choices.  You only have 140 characters to use to communicate a message.  I think of it like writing a haiku poem.  Here is your limits, make the most of them.  As you teach this, then also teach the power of creative titles which link to bigger blogs where students can then write more, go more in-depth, give more details.

 

To become involved in conversation

As I travel around the US and Canada, I often hear the same thing – “Educational Policy makers don’t know what they are talking about.” And “They don’t listen to/ask me.”  This is truly a giant frustration as we are in this time of overhauling reform, but then I ask them, “Do you blog or Tweet?”  Most of the time the answer is, “No.”  If you want your opinion to be heard, you have to put it out there!  Tweet your opinion in one of the #edchat topics.  Back up your opinion with classroom examples and observations in a blog.  Use hashtags (#) to target the discussion.

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The Lunch Tray of School Reform

Recently I found myself sitting in room full of Ohio principals and superintendents.  I was chosen by my home district to become involved with the OTES (Ohio Teacher Evaluation System) process for the state of Ohio due to my work with previous teacher evaluation processes including Measures of Effective Teaching (MET), National Board, and PRAXIS.  Due to this experience, I feel I know an effective teacher when I see one.

 

In theory, it is wonderful.  It is a standards based evaluation utilizing evidence collected from different sources including conferences, lesson plans, walk-throughs, and other observations done by an evaluator.  The whole process would happen twice a year for every teacher, giving each teacher to show improvement and professional growth. This method of evaluation is based on criteria set by NIET (National Institute for Excellence in Teaching) including works of Charlotte Danielson.  Good Stuff!

 

Here’s the problem:  Most principals are currently stretch to the breaking point as is.  To do this evaluation properly, evaluators need to devote approximately 10 hours per teacher per year, at least.  To keep the math simple, let’s say there are 100 teachers in one building with two administrators.  Each administrator evaluates 50 teachers.  That is 500 hours to do the evaluations.  That is 62.5 eight hour days.  12.5 weeks.  Just for evaluations.  Forget about parent calls, discipline problems, implementing Common Core and all of the rest of the duties of administration.

 

Here is the analogy – You are at a wonderful brunch buffet.  You are given a large tray on which to collect your food but you can only see 2 items at a time.  Do you just take a little bit of each item or do you load up on what you see?  How do you make room as you continue down the line?  Did that Cinnamon roll just fall off?  Was that yours or the person in front of you?  Did you forget your silverware?  How are you going to hold a drink too?

 

You get the idea.  Whether you are a teacher or a member of administration, our plates are full.  Something is going to get pushed to the side or fall off the plate completely.

 

Choose wisely.

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Ohio Teacher Retirement

Retirement.  In the past represented a time when a person left the work force and was rewarded for their years at a particular place of employment.  A person could retire and “enjoy their Golden Years”.

 

I find this somewhat depressing.

 

I enjoy what I do.  I plan to keep doing/teaching/writing for many years to come.  However, here in Ohio, there have been many changes in the Teacher Retirement System.

 

So I went to a local meeting to get the scoop.

 

I got even more depressed!

 

First we talked age.  In the not so distant past, teachers in Ohio could retire with full benefits with 25 years of service.  If a person started teaching fresh out of college, they could retire at age 50.  Then it was increased to 30.  Now the latest change is 30 years of service and age 65.

 

Next we talked money.  Somewhere in this conversation the representative told us to ask ourselves if we could live the rest of our lives on $2500 per month.  While in this discussion the rep started talking about her own retirement which is not the same as the one she was representing.

 

At the end of the meeting she reminded us that we should monitor the Retirement Board’s website and emails.  Under new regulations, the Board may revise ages and percentages as they see fit.

 

Never has this been more true.

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Thinking of the Future Robin Hood

Every year my seventh grade class reads and studies Robin Hood.  Here in rural Ohio, there are many bow hunters, so it connects with many of the students.  As supplemental material I also show the BBC series from 2006 which appeals to both the guys (for action) and the girls (for the romance and Jonas Armstrong).  There are lots of good Social Studies issues addressed such as crusades, British monarchies, and dark ages injustices.  It is one of my students’ favorite units.  This year as we read, I am also writing my next Teacher’s Guide for Robin Hood and the Common Core.

Robin Hood brings up many issues of critical thinking.  I ask students to make judgments on Robin’s actions.  Is stealing ever ok?  Can a main character be a protagonist even if he breaks the law?  What are the proper channels to take if there is a social injustice?

We then discuss, “Could or should Robin Hood exist today?”

This is deep thinking and reasoning for 12 year olds.   

During one of our discussion, a couple students began comparing Robin Hood to Katniss from Hunger Games.  How BRILLIANT!  I had never even made the connection.  She breaks laws.  She shots a bow.  There is a struggle between poor people and rich/powerful elite.

Independent thinking at its finest!  I threw out a discussion question and students came up with new answers. 

New answers.

That’s what this creative thinking, project-based learning, out-side-the-box, new wave of education is looking for.  Can we get students to develop new answers?  Are students going to be able to meet challenges of a tomorrow that we can’t even imagine?

I like to think Robin Hood (and Katniss) would be proud.

 

Student Vision

Do you ever think about how your students see you?  With younger students it is fun to have them draw a picture of you to see what they think they see.  With older student, sometimes there are writing assignments to describe their teacher.

 

But how do they really see you?

As a high school student, way back when, I remember running into my high school principal at a Mexican restaurant and being somewhat shocked.  It was JARRING!  What was Mr. Davidson doing out of school?

 

I know I sometimes get the same reaction from my middle school students.  “What is SHE doing here?”  “Doesn’t she live at school?”

 

But here is what I am thinking about today.

 

I recently read an article by David Kantor titled “How to do a better job of reading the room”.

 

http://www.thoughtleadersllc.com/2012/10/how-to-do-a-better-job-of-reading-the-room/

 

In the article he talks about presenting and leading groups of people by showing your authentic self.  (Sounds like teaching.)

 

“I’ve found throughout my career that leaders and coaches overlook the underlying thread connecting that manual on “aligning people” and the article on “modeling behaviors you want to see”:”

 

And I thought about, “Do we as teachers let our students see our authentic selves?”  Do we really try to relate to them?  Do we model what we want to see in them?  Always?

 

I’m going to try a little harder.

 

No, I do not live at school.

Handling Hashtags for Tweeting Teachers

So, you have ventured into the world of Twitter.  You have a few people to follow and have even posted some. 

 

What is with all of the number signs? #?

 

In the Twitter world, those are referred to as hashtags.  They are used to draw attention to a subject or categorize a tweet.  For example during the reason storm, #Sandy was trending (popular) for people who wanted news about folks affected by the storm.  Today, election day, hashtags are used for the words election and the candidates names so followers can get the latest news.

Here is some additional help as you Tweet more effectively with hashtags:

  1.  Follow Fridays #ff – Tweet like a pro.  Found someone interesting to follow and want a friend to know?  Use the follow Friday hashtag #ff.  Example: “@Tarantismk – #ff @neilhimself.”  I just told my daughter (Tarantismk) that she might like to follow author Neil Gaiman.  She will see it, he will see, and all of their followers will see it.
  2. Let’s say you are using Twitter in your classroom.  Create a unique hashtag for your class.  That way you and your students can follow the conversation quickly and easily.  For example, for my upcoming presentations on using tech with ELL students I might use #MoorELL.  This way students/participant can ask questions without bothering the class or make comments for you to review later.
  3. Hashtags searches.  Let’s say you want the latest news on the Common Core State Standards.  Go to the search and use #CCSS.  You will have your results within seconds of all of the news posted as of that very minute.
  4. Still having trouble and don’t know your #tbt from your #tcot?  Try http://tagdef.com/.  This is a very simple online dictionary of commonly used hashtags.  It’s sort of like the text-speak dictionary.  But like text-speak, don’t over so it.

You can follow me on Twitter at DarlaSays.  We can hash it out.  (Sorry for the pun;)