Working With the Community

This spring the pre-service teachers in my integrated methods: Language Arts and Social Studies were given an opportunity to work with children in the community. This was an unexpected opportunity, thanks to Dr. Lindsay Hollingsworth who invited my class into the collaborative effort. Family Connections is an organization in Platteville that provides opportunities for parents in Southwest Wisconsin. My students were invited to provide educational activities for a themed event the day before Valentine’s day, Chocolate Night.

Methods courses are great, but students need more hands on learning. In class students brainstormed appropriate experiences given the environment. Being that I didn’t entirely know the variables, students had to prepare more thoroughly. For example, students did not know how many students would  attending, nor did they know the ages of the children. This information caused us to consider how we might plan for groups of two or seven ages ranging from three to nine. Because I required students to create stations that tied to ELA/Social Studies in some way, students really had to focus on having projects with differentiation. This process was a challenge because they didn’t know numbers, age groups, or the environment. What a great experience in thinking on one’s feet, right?

The groups did well. More than one group had to adjust on the fly. One group was had to merge with another. A second group had to adjust expectations. I was really proud of their willingness to think everything through.

Additionally, I was impressed with the time commitment. The students gave up their Friday night from 5pm-8:30pm. What a long night! Their dedication spoke volumes to me about their willingness to improve their craft and gain experience teaching.

You can read more about this event by clicking here.

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Participate in the #MWGS Conference From Afar!

Midwest Google Summit

The Midwest Google Summit is the premier event for Google workshops. This year the conference sold out in five hours! Many people that wanted to attend, could not. Despite that bad news, teachers all over the globe will still be able to participate thanks to Twitter and Google+.

On Monday and/or Tuesday, visit twitter and search for the #mwgs hashtag. There you will find the top Google teachers in the Midwest talking everything Google. I promise you’ll 1.) find new people to follow, 2.) connect with amazing educators (Yeah, you should talk to them!), and 3.) pick up great ideas for Google integration that you will need!

#MWGS on Twitter

Midwest Google Summit on Google+

Here’s what you have to do for me:

  1. Jump on twitter during Monday or Tuesday during the day and search for the #mwgs hashtag. You’ll be flooded with chatter! Talk to people. Ask questions. Retweet awesome finds. Follow new people. Bookmark cool finds! Tweet discoveries to your followers using the hashtag #SOE2010, #SOEPDS, or #SOE4090.
  2. Make a stash of awesome stuff you find because of your participation. You could just send all of your great finds to Diigo, Pearltrees, or Pinterest.

When I return on Thursday, I’m going to have you share your findings. Your findings have to come from new people tweeting with the #mwgs hashtag. Trust me, you’ll find an amazing amount of information!


Your mind will be flooded with great ideas. 🙂

Expectations of Effective Homework


This is a reflection after having read “What is Effective Homework?” by Cathy Vatterott.

Vatterott presents some ideas that contradict years of homework practice. “Homework that cannot be done without help is not good homework and is demotivating to students (Vatterott, 2007). In fact, when students feel unsuccessful approaching homework tasks, they often avoid the tasks completely as a way to protect their self-esteem (Past, 2006).” How many teachers over the years have assigned homework to students that were struggling? 

As second statement I found interesting was ” If we claim we want students to take responsibility for homework, we must give them more control over what they learn, how they learn it, and how they show that they’ve learned it.” How many teachers have assigned worksheets or problems in the textbook as the evening homework? MANY. Myself included. 

I really like the phrase “decriminalize homework” in reference to zeroes and Fs for late or missing work. That term carries a certain tone, doesn’t it? Many moons ago, I student taught in a school building where there was a mandatory school-wide rule that no latework was accepted, and in my time there, I never accepted any. I wish I could go back and look at data of those students that didn’t get their work done on time. If I remember right, the teachers ended up severely tracking students into two groups with the lower track completing all their work in class, thus solving the late work issue. Even then, there still had to be students in both tracks that were unfairly penalized over many years.

Vatterott cited the Dodgeland school districts use of “Aspire.” I did a little research, and they don’t publish much about it online. The principal is Jessica Johnson, who is well known on Twitter. I was able to find a sample letter sent out by a teacher. You can view that here:

What do you think?

Why Bother Being “Google Certified”?

Because I want to be really good at something.

I want to study my interests so that I know them inside and out. That seems like a nearly impossible feat with the vast ever-changing machine called Google.

There are so many useful applications for personal life, education, and work that I seem to learn something new. I would think students would find this these tools nearly revolutionary to their education. Actually, students probably just see them as part of life now; it’s teachers that are freaking out, myself included.

Honestly, the six tests were a pain in the rear. I use almost all of the tools I was tested on and I had to prepare more than I thought. I forgot how much I hated timed multiple choice testing.

Still, now that’s done and I sent in my application to be a certified teacher. I like the idea of committing to instruction. I can fulfill that through Southwest Tech and CESA, thus helping many teachers. I’m most looking forward to that. I love the looks on teachers’ faces when they realize what digital collaboration looks like.

So, that’s about it. I just want to continue to learn and work hard. 🙂