Sunday, November 19, 2017

It's a time for Thankgiving

So Thanksgiving is this week. I am so grateful for a bunch of stuff, not least of all that it's a two-day week here with no night classes the entire week. I am so grateful my students are excited about learning this semester. We did so much over the course of the past few months. The genius hour project was a success. Funny thought came to me yesterday when the Times best inventions were featured on the news. Several of those were actually ideas that we had discussed in my class last year. The idea of an airless tire, the sideways elevator and more were all things we dreamt up. The GEC conference went great as well. I was so relaxed and able to speak naturally, which was the best part of it I believe. This was my 4th time participating and I was well familiar with their BlackBoard platform. I really should have taken the time to volunteer. So that is on the agenda for next year. Speaking of a project for next semester, I am really interested in the UN SDGs in Action and want to excite my classes about participating. So far there is very limited interest in my Spanish I class for it, but this is not a problem. I will present it to the new Spanish II classes and perhaps I can get each of my classes to work on a different goal. Alexis Radney from the Dominican Republic already expressed interest in collaborating as well. So I am definitely grateful for him. Another thing to be grateful for is the teacher PD series. They have been steadily well attended. None had to be cancelled for lack of interest, which is great. I am grateful to get to go to Hong Kong in January for the 21st Century Learning Conference again. So happy my daughter and son-in-law will be joining me there. So it has been a good semester. Many new strategies were put in place, and yes, I'm super grateful for a good evaluation last week.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Observation done

So today I was finally observed in second period Spanish II class. All went well as far as I could tell. I did a lesson on Christmas and Hanukkah vocabulary, followed by some basic research of Hispanic Christmas traditions in various countries. I got my technology in with a Classcraft game, the Classflow whiteboard and the PowerTeach lesson plus the use of the Chromebooks. I am very relieved that it is over. Now let's hope the observer will be kind and not come up with some harsh criticism out of nowhere. Well, Thank the Lord the wait is over.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Anticipating my unannounced observation

So I've been waiting for my unannounced observation for a month now. I have literally been ready each day and each class that I teach. I wonder if the people at the state department have any idea what that's like. On the bright side I was told by a colleague that this evaluator told her he wants to be done by November 15. That leaves 8 more days for me to stress over this. A student asked me last week why I write all that stuff on the board every day and I told him that you get points for all those steps. You can be the best teacher in the world I told him, and yet unless you do that stuff you will get no points for it. We had the Navy recruiter in my class the other day and he told them about the raises in rank they get for good evaluations. I told them that as a teacher you get to keep your job if you get a good one. Sad but true. Tomorrow I have a test scheduled but I have Tuesday's assignment on the board and we will do it instead if the evaluator shows up. On the bright side, we will get an extra hour of sleep. Now that's something to look forward to, right?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Gamifying my Language Classroom with Classcraft

I was happy to see that the EdTechReview published my article on Classcraft. It really do love teaching with Classcraft. What really makes me happy is when I see students go on there and play with their characters over Fall Break and train their pets. This has got to be a challenge since the game language is set to Spanish. Here is the article: Gamifying my Language Classroom with Classcraft. What I really loved is when @utkarshlokesh, the publisher, said he wished he had such a classroom. He said I should present that at their conference in India. Not really in the budget since I'm headed to Hong Kong in January to talk about Genius Hour.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

It's Fall Break

So we made it to Fall Break. What a fantastic school year so far. My classes are so wonderful that I actually dream about them and it's not nightmares... Last night I dreamt someone presented their fantastic genius hour project. It was some sort of airplane that had incredible lighting fixtures. Our projects are coming to an end on October 20, 2017, a culmination of hard work and some struggles with some of the groups. I must say, that only two groups from all of my classes presented a certain struggle and I never quite knew if they were really working or just chatting with each other. Last Friday we did the update presentations and one of those two did present their music app to us. The other group that presented the struggle apparently dissolved. Turns out, one of the students was suspended for several days and he was the one who supposedly had the project at his house. The second group member was not in school on Friday. So the third student decided to take it upon himself to just code a game on Scratch, a plan that seemed to be working out actually, as he was making good progress. I suppose they can just call their original project an epic failure.... I was fine with that though, since at least this students made a concerted effort to create something. Several of the presentations surprised me and I had to congratulate the students on their efforts. Meanwhile I have been keeping up with the projects' progress on my Google Slide presentation for the 10th 21CLHK Conference in January. Well, what is a teacher to do over Fall Break? I am still trying to figure it out. Nate kind of threw a wrench into outdoor plans for the next few days, but Friday seems to be a good day for a Smokey Mountain National Park visit. My unannounced observation is coming up and I'm trying to figure out how to be sure to include higher level thinking in each of my lessons for the near future. Fall Break, I'm ready for you.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Genius Hour is off to a good start

So we have been back to school for about five weeks. Classcraft is fully functioning and so much fun, a wonderful way to manage my classroom. This game actually minimizes any classroom disruptions as all of my students try to build their characters and attempt to progress to higher levels in the game. I love the daily random events and boss battles. On one of our in-service days I took the time to create 25 random events that have to do with Spanish and the Hispanic culture. Also, creating daily boss battles is a snap, and students really love them. I was determined to create a meaningful Genius Hour this semester so I took a lot of time to lay the groundwork for it before allowing the students to begin on their projects. It was a lot of fun to play with circuits, to take virtual reality tours and to create green screen pictures. Last Friday, my students finally had the opportunity to begin their project and I must say I was impressed. One of students actually coded a game on Scratch. I would have never believed it had I not seen him do it. He was so excited, had me play the game and told me what else he will try to add next time we have Genius Hour.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The 2017/2018 School Year Has Arrived

So teachers went back to school last Wednesday. The first day back was easy, no major meetings and such, just working in our rooms for the most part. Then Thursday was the dreaded county-wide day that actually only amounted to two hours of meetings at our school. It was so sad since I met up with my former colleagues. I really miss them so much. But what do you do? I really have gotten used to my current school and last year all went well. Since I live only 7 minutes away from there I was able to set up my classroom on little daily trips there for the past two weeks. So last week I basically only had to do little things, like put books under the desks, adjust the seating chart due to a few schedule changes, add all of my students to Classcraft, and attend a few meetings with the Spanish department. I also spent a considerable amount of time getting the Silhouette Portrait cutter to work along with the fabmakerstudio program for our Makerspace stuff next year. This proved to be pretty frustrating until I finally wrote down the steps one has to take to get it to work in order. So perhaps when I get back to school on Monday, this process will just work. I am still learning how to do circuits and the automotive teacher helped me to create one that lights a LED light. This was really cool. I believe I am getting the hang of that so I can actually explain this to the students. I am really hoping some will do a makerspace project for their genius hour project. On Monday we will have the last in-service day, then Tuesday we will pass out schedules. Regular schedule begins on Wednesday. May the learning adventure begin in my class. I'm ready.