Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A month into the school year and.....

 ...the school year is busy! Busy with students learning their schedules, busy with teachers learning their schedules, busy with parents getting back into the routines of early mornings, sports, homework and supporting the learning that exudes every moment of the day and week!  We are nearly at the point in the school year where our school is like a beehive, humming with the precision of nature, feeding the hive, tending the hive and working to support a community. It takes a commitment to and from our students, families and community for this success.

Our school celebrated Open House tonight. There were tired teachers, tired parents and tired students but that did not stop the Open House from humming! By the end of the evening the excitement and enthusiasm brought everyone together in a celebration of a new school year, new students and families and new dreams setting the stage for our school year.

Stay tuned.......
coakes photo

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Co-teaching and co-planning for optimal student learning!

Co-teaching and co-planning

Summer time is a laid back time where co-teachers can think about, design and plan for the upcoming school year without the rush of the school day, school week and after school activities.  In my district staff members are given time to collaborate and work on classroom lessons, projects and assessments for co-taught classes. This co-planning time is valued and valuable. It is a good opportunity for co-teachers to share and teach each other the content and how best to differentiate materials for students.

Roadmap to planning

Choose materials and share with co-planners.
Review the course syllabus and match to the school calendar, be sure to include holidays, school activities, school vacations and plan to give major assessments at optimal times.
Design a course calendar with variations in instructional delivery, variations in projects, provide student choice and provide differentiated levels to meet the needs of all learners.
Design a course calendar and include  homework assignments, projects, video materials, with links available where possible to foster student independence and to simulate online learning.
Look at materials used from previous lessons and tweak and add accommodations.
Cull the Internet for best practices and awesome materials that others have built and shared. Be sure to acknowledge all their work! Share your awesome materials with others, leave a trail so that others can acknowledge your work, too.
Check individual education plans and 504 plans for more specific details on how you may accommodate the learning objectives and learning materials for your students.

Reflect and review

Plan time to reflect and review your plans and how the students are managing the materials and your instruction. Time is the biggest excuse we use and it is the one thing we have control over. Make time to make explicit changes based on  your shared discussions and shared decision making.

Ask your students

 Lastly, remember to ask your students what changes will help them, what projects they liked, what helped them learn the material best!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What is in your summer PLN?

Educators love summer! Some days it means I can sleep in a bit later, well maybe not later since Seraphina has her own clock.
 Somedays it means I can have that extra cup of coffee while reading through emails! Other days it means I can check in my Diigo account and look at the links that interest me. But the most fun I have is when I am on the workshop presentation  circuit. This summer I kick off with a google day at the NH Summit at Pinkerton Academy,July 22, 2015. Then I move on to Tilton Academy, Aug. 5 and 6th, 2015. Next is GAFE Peak in nearby York, ME on August 26, 2015.                                            

You can also engage through many virtual offerings. My good friend Vicki Davis, the energizer bunny, is presenting at the following. " I'll be presenting how to Differentiate Instruction with Technology at the Teachers Leading Teachers Online Conference this upcoming Friday. You can register and have the video delivered to you if you can't attend. Dozens of top teachers will be presenting their practical advice at this conference. Hat tip to AJ Juliani and John Spencer for putting this together! JOIN US.

There are many blogs you can check out and spend a whole day jumping link to link as you go deeper into the material. Some of my readings include:
From Maine
From my virtual listings

Share your favorite summer time PLN. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A bonus after shoveling for two days! Blizzard Juno 2015

Beth Goodwin and I are all shoveled out and ready to head to ATIA 2015 Orlando. Each year we present at this fabulous conference and share some of the digital tools we are using with our students from Maine.

Why do we do this? By presenting at this conference we share with other special educators, parents and service providers. We share tried and true ideas and digital tools that have worked for us.  

As a bonus, we learn so  much from participants in this conference! And what better place to be than in the sunshine when we get a day off from shoveling!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Catching my breath!

coakes photo 2013

The beginning of the school year is always a blur for the first few weeks. I am not complaining, I am not whining, it is just a fact! Finally, we have a long weekend in October where it seems like it's the first time to stop and notice that the weather patterns have shifted, the leaves have changed colors and happitly, I notice that I am back in a routine, my students are into a routine and it seems like juggling everything I juggle has settled into a manageable pace.
If anyone is looking to have some exciting online professional development, you should consider checking out the Annual offering of the K12online Conference 2014 Igniting Innovation! There are many opportunities for meaningful 20 min presentations to take advantage of. There are several strands available: 
  5. STEAM
My presentation was accepted in the Stories for Learning strand. If you are interested in learning about digital tools that help level the playing field for all learners then check out my presentation the week of October 20, 2014. In this teaser, Victoria takes the controls and demonstrates some of the tools that she uses in her learning. 

Victoria demonstrates the digital tools she uses to access the content for her general education classes. This demonstrates what happens when students have CHOICE in their assignments as well as CHOICE in the reading level. This is the backbone of differentiation and Universal Design for Learning with the student driving the direction of the instruction.
leveling the playing field
Victoria shares  her favorite tools.
Make a plan to schedule in some YOU time. The YOU time should be for your learning, your exercise, your entertainment, your enjoyment. Chris O'Neal presented at ACTEM 2014 and challenged all educators to schedule time for your own learning. Put it in your calendar, make a plan and stick to it. It doesn't have to be long, just a 15 min learning break will be a welcome addition to your daily schedule!

Plan to schedule some learning time during the two weeks of the K12online Conference 2014, you will be glad you did.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Common Core~ my take aways

The parts I like about common core include:

  • the use of technology throughout all standards
  • the mention of universal design for learning
  • the mention of differentiation for all students
  • that educators will work across content boundaries to reach common outcomes especially in writing and speaking
  • many online FREE services are making it so easy for teachers to incorporate their services already aligned to the common core

What's not to like?

Keep on learning!

Newsela- uses links to Common Core at different Lexiles
Dogo News - see the CCSS, Grade level and BONUS a word search, below the Title
Primary Source Documents Teacher    Search lessons by CCSS, Content

Monday, July 14, 2014

Wisdom of the Crowd~it's Everywhere!

What an awesome group of dedicated 21st Century Educators I met in E. Bridgewater, MA on July 10, 2014! The day was hot and  humid, the school was incredible, brand new, state of the art and even had air conditioning! No mistake it was a summah day!
Four things I love about being involved with Summer Professional Development:
  1. Educators choose to be there
  2. Educators are relaxed
  3. I learn something new each time because educators SHARE!
  4. Everyone is so appreciative
Find a summer professional development that you can join. There are many online and archived, you can participate on your own terms. Share what you learn on Twitter or Facebook, learning continues!
Here is one of my favorite online spaces K12OnlineConference !