Sunday, March 17, 2013

Liebster #2

I have to is fun to find others who are in the beginning of blogging along with you.  However, I sure took my time!  But I am finalizing my commitment for the Liebster award.  These are the 11 blogs that I recommend for others to check out.  They are all current at the time of composing this
post.  I believe non of them have been nominated for this award as well.  At least, I did not see the award graphic.  ENJOY!!
   Great ideas and I love that she finds time to laugh in her room.
    It looks as if this is a new blog with very cute owls.
   Wow, this is a superb resource!  She has many terrific ideas to keep students engaged in Social Studies.
   This sight is "fantastic."
   I liked the active learning portrayed here.
   Super tech information
     Very bright and colorful blog that has great primary ideas.
    This teacher thinks outside the box. (QR codes and iPad toons to engage the students.)
    Really like the graphics offered for sale and ideas this 5th grade teacher uses.  The graphics are different than most which is what makes me attractive to me.  Good for older students. 
    Like the Monday Morning cartoon! Caught my eye as a person, I want to follow.
   The mosaics offered by this teacher would be a welcome addition to my extra activities file.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Their subject, their project...

    We have completed another quarter.  It seemed like the longest one of the year.  To help spur some excitement and energy into my students, I gave them an open ended project.  The only requirements were a well researched subject, presentation of knowledge gained, and project.  Oh, I nixed posters as an option for the project.  That seems to be the go to and I wanted them to think outside that box. 
   Students had computer time to research, morning work time, and a few other opportunities scattered here and there to accomplish this goal in a three week period.  The excitement and enthusiasm flourished.  Step one: brainstorm your own ideas through webbing.  Some took the bull by the horns and tackled this feat.  Others kept asking me to give them ideas or the topic.  Those in the middle had an idea or two but honestly had a hard time going beyond.  This part of the "assignment" was eye opening.  Most students by 5th grade cannot decide for themselves what they wanted to learn.  I also noticed it was those who have more experiences in life who did well on this step.  They had things that interested them beyond the couch and television. 
   When everyone had at least one idea, I asked them to ask themselves questions. What do I want to know?  Why is this person, place, or thing interesting to me?  What part do I want to look into?  They jotted down some questions.  Then the next day was time at the computer lab.  The class was buzzing!  They could not wait to learn something of self-interest.  Some again, had issues with the freedom of the project.  Wanted me to walk them through it.  I kept encouraging them to find some information about their subject and see where it took them. 
   The most interesting conversation was with a girl who wanted to know how to make gum.  She called me over and expressed that she found how to make it but would that be enough.  I simply told her it was her project.  She then told me about some of the other parts of the article.  It was clear that knowing how it was made was not enough for her.  She wanted to know about the different types, history, and how it was made.  Her project which was an interview she wrote between a reporter and "Mrs. Gum."  The gum have us her history, make up and different types.  It was excellent! Another student also chose how gum is made, but took on the creation of gum for the classroom.  She polled the students on which flavor (mint or fruit) they liked. Talked about how to find the ingredients and trials and tribulations along the path. Most students researched an entertainer of some sort.  All the projects turned out well done.  If I had thought I would be blogging this, I would have taken pictures.  NOTE TO SELF...take pictures of everything!
   This last quarter, we are going to embark on another self-directed project.  This time I want them to focus on a topic and writing down questions that lead them to narrowing the scope down.  The emphasis on the process of questioning and narrowing the subject will be the objective.  Still unsure how to monitor it.  Stay tuned...maybe this time, I will remember to take pictures!


What do you emphasize?

    WOW!! I needed that.
    Imagine...the peace and solitude of my own thoughts, my music, my timing to stop, and simple quiet.  It was pure heaven for me.  This introvert needed the car time.  I needed the time to reflect, refresh and just be still.  That is what the 2 1/2 hours to Omaha and back again afforded me.  If you are an extrovert like my husband and most of my closest friends, this may not be your heaven.  But for those of us who gain energy from our thoughts and time of reflection, this is!
   I was on my way to the Nebraska Association of Gifted Conference (NAGC).  Luckily, I have a supportive principal and administration that allowed me to head down the road to deeper understanding.  The draw for me this year was the over arching theme of going beyond the academics and into the social emotional aspects of the gifted learner.   I have a passion for the gifted.  I especially find myself desiring to assist parents understand why and what of their gifted students.
   There is too much to cover in one post.  A sprinkling of ideas, information and great resources will be passed along through the next several posts.  Today, I want to share a simple thought or rather question, "What do you emphasize?"
    The gifted student whether they are in your classroom or your house are more than the product they produce.  They are more than their academic achievements.  However, we get caught up in those achievements as parents and teachers.  Our society rewards the grade, the outcomes.  I pose this question to start a conversation about rewarding the process.  Gifted students tend towards perfectionistic behaviors.  Perfectionism is anxiety driven.  I had the great pleasure to listen on several occasions during the conference to Lori Comallie‐Caplan from SENG.  SENG stands for Social Emotional Needs of Gifted.  It is a national organization, which offers support to children and their parents.  Look them up!  I have only spent a few minutes on their website and facebook but the amount of information available is fantastic.
    During one session  Lori Comallie‐Caplan asked the question, which I pose to you (the whole two that read this), what do you emphasize academic achievement or the process? Really, what down deep do we emphasize. I watch society and I see us emphasizing either academics or athletics, but not the process.  If I am honest, it is the product.  I love rubrics because it spreads the grade out over the content.  However, why am I not putting more of the process, the how and why of the product, into the rubrics.  Not only will this give me insight but it will increase the likelihood that I am asking the deeper questions as probing for what they are doing.
    Great concept, but how do I write observable statements to use as evaluation? Any suggestions, comments, or further discussion on this topic?