Archive for March, 2008


March 31, 2008

Now I’m asking questions about standards — what do state standards have to do with standardized tests? What do standardized tests have to do with classroom instruction? Is there any way for teachers to make sense of this thing that is here to stay? I’ve been asking around, and have received a few interesting replies. What do you do with standards?

March 25, 2008

RSS feeds

March 25, 2008

Now I’m attempting to learn what I can about RSS feeds. I’ve been able to set up Google Reader and subscribe to a few blogs, which I can read using the reader. The next step will be to figure out how to set up RSS feeds within blogs, so teachers will know when students make posts or comments. Perhaps this is unnecessary, if teachers moderate all comments, but I still think I would need it for student posts. Do teachers really need to know this much technology? I didn’t set out to learn any kind of code, I just wanted to use blogs, and found myself getting in deeper than I imagined into Web 2.0 “stuff.”

Blogs with students

March 21, 2008

Today I’m testing and retesting the different ways in which students can be linked to a teacher’s classroom blog. I’m not sure I’ll ever know everything there is to know about blogs and blogging, and I’m not sure I want to learn all there is to know. I wonder how many people really use all the features available on programs such as WordPress. What is your experience with using some of the advanced features on WordPress?

March 19, 2008

I read a blog post today about Personal Learning Networks. Much of it almost sounds Greek to me. My husband suscribes to some blogs and he reads them in the evenings, but I wonder, when do people have time to mess with this? I think it’s like so many other things, to add something “new” to your life, you have to give up something else. I’m not yet ready to give up walking, reading, occasional crafts, and time with friends/family to follow 20 people online, especially when, as David Warlick notes, rarely does he receive a feed with something of personal interest to him.

What have you learned about PLNs that has been helpful to you?

Blogs in the classroom

March 19, 2008

I sent a question to some friends in education about why teachers should use blogs in the classroom. I’m looking not only for teacher’s input, but for students’ as well. Already a couple of students have responded with some great insight.

Why do you think teachers should (or should not) use blogs in the classroom setting?

5 paragraph essay

March 17, 2008

Today we dove into five paragraph essays… why someone might choose to use this format, and how to outline and write such an essay. I wanted the students to consider various purposes for using this particular format besides “the teacher told us we have to write an essay.” One student thought this type of writing should be used in police work and medical work, due to the detail included. Have you heard of any other original uses for a five paragraph essay?

 We also began discussing introductions and conclusions–the aspects students seem to find the most difficult to write. How have you engaged your students in this process? We’ll talk about this more next week, in preparation for numerous essays and other nonfiction pieces this semester.

Positive Reinforcement 2

March 16, 2008

When I read through and edited part two of the research paper today, I remembered research I read about random positive reinforcement. That is, to encourage students to consistently exhibit the desired behavior, teachers may choose to give rewards randomly so that students do not know when to expect the reward. I must admit, I never remembered to try this in my classroom, as I’m a very routine-oriented person, and I believe students thrive on routine. I always gave “excellence” rewards on Fridays, but students did not know if or when they would receive a reward, or for which work. Since I did not  give a reward specifically for a “perfect” paper, but for effort, students did not know if they would receive a reward, but they wanted to try to get one.

 I’d like to think of a similar system for discipline/classroom management! That’s really my weakness, and a few strategies in my “tool box” would be very helpful! How have you used random positive reinforcement for discipline/classroom management?

Teacher talk

March 11, 2008

I talked with a teacher/writer friend of mine today and we wondered if other teachers “talk shop” outside of the classroom. I said perhaps, before or after school, regarding ideas for working with particular student situations, or to share current teaching ideas. But it seems more teachers now are making a separation between home and school (overall a good thing) I think maybe we “talk shop” a little more because the two of us have worked together on curriculum ideas–she is my sounding board and also gives me new curriculum ideas I use in my writing.

Who do you “talk shop” and bounce ideas off of? Would you rather separate teaching from the rest of your life; if so, why?

Positive reinforcement

March 10, 2008

A pre-service teacher education student recently asked me about positive reinforcement. That reminded me how much I enjoyed acknowledging and rewarding students for excellence, putting forth honest effort and displaying excellent (critical) thinking skills. Positive reinforcement also seems closely tied to motivation. One way I like to give my students positive reinforcement, or motivate them to do their best, is to offer authentic outcomes and connections to real life. For example, I like to involve my students in any of my current writing projects. This spring I’m asking my writing students to help me write a book on the writing process, using inquiry as the basis for investigation and learning. They’re having more fun with that than assigned essays or stories, because it’s more than just another “assignment” for a grade.

 What positive reinforcement tools have you used with great success?