One of the key terms I’ve heard a lot lately is “growth mindset.” We want our students to have a growth mindset in our classrooms, for them to be successful and to persevere when the going gets tough. Having a growth mindset means that we understand that our knowledge and understanding can increase with hard work and perseverance. As teachers, we also need to strive for that growth mindset for the success of our students.
A teacher should be a lifelong learner. Robert E. Lee stated, “The education of a man is never completed until he dies.” And there is so much for us to learn to be better teachers, to grow our students, to make the classroom fun, to engage our students, to help them read better or do math better or write better, but where is the time? We all struggle with time to learn more to grow as teachers.
That is why I want to share the PD Byte. A PD Byte is professional development at your fingertips. Literally just a click or two away. The Arkansas Public School Resource Center, with assistance from the Teacher Practice Network, has established a library of professional development opportunities that meet the needs of busy teachers who want to be on the forefront. These PD Bytes give teachers professional development when they need it, with topics they choose. By utilizing the PD Bytes, teachers are getting pertinent information, relevant to their needs in an efficient and effective avenue.
PD Bytes are not just for individual teachers to utilize for their personal growth, but they can also be used in PLC’s for training, mentoring other teachers, and as presentations to other groups of teachers. Teachers are encouraged to utilize and create presentations with these PD Bytes.
The library of PD Bytes is just beginning, but there are some excellent resources already available on incorporating various Social Media avenues in your classroom, assessments, content area topics and more. Take a look at the video below to learn how you can access a PD Byte.
Greenbrier School District
APSRC TPN Leader
The month of October brings a wide variety of emotions throughout schools everywhere. The end of the first nine weeks means that teachers have survived the first quarter of the year. The weather changes, causing vast fluctuations in attire and making keeping up with dress codes a chore. Then there is the sugar-infused finish line that kids focus on all month long. Halloween conjures up talk of costumes, candy, and monsters everywhere. So how can teachers take that excitement and harness it in the classroom? Why not find ways to utilize the monster stories that are celebrated this time of year? Here I will discuss how to use three popular Halloween monsters in the classroom.
First, let us discuss perhaps the most popular monster of all, Dracula. Most kids are familiar with the character of Dracula, but probably not the original story by Bram Stoker. This would be an excellent time to introduce it to them. The story itself is written entirely in the first person point of view (which is nice if you happen to be teaching POV), but by using diary and journal entries, Stoker is able to change characters. I enjoyed reading the varied experiences as they contended with the central character. A possible writing assignment would be to have students choose a scene in the story, and rewrite it by creating a journal entry from their perspective, and how they would have handled it. Personally, I found the story to be less scary than what Hollywood has come up with. Hopefully, students will too.
Probably the next most notable monster is the one created by Mary Shelley, in her novel Frankenstein. Students might be surprised to discover that the title character is actually the scientist Victor Frankenstein, and not the monster. This is a great text to use for when you want to talk about ethics and morals, and whether it is right to do something just because you can. As I mentioned before, though, most students are not aware that Victor Frankenstein is the scientist that created the monster, and not the actual monster. Which means that they are also unaware that the story becomes a story of revenge when Frankenstein refuses to create a bride for the monster. This would be a pretty awesome story to introduce reflective narratives with or argumentative essays. Perhaps even a class debate on whether Frankenstein should have taken responsibility for his creation or not. There are several possibilities when it comes to teaching this classic monster tale.
The third classic monster story is one of the few that takes place in the United States. Just about everyone has at least heard of the Headless Horseman and can picture the menacing figure racing along on his horse in the black of night with a lit jack-o-lantern where his head should be. The figure from Washington Irving’s “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is an amazing character that has been resurrected many times over the years (pun intended). The story itself is an excellent tale of brains versus brawn, be careful what you wish for, as well as letting the reader decide for themselves whether or not the Horseman was real. This could lead into a good classroom discussion, and could require the students to use evidence to support their claim. Two years ago, I had my students update the colonial tale to modern days and even give the Horseman a more updated appearance. I got some very creative responses back, and the students enjoyed being able to set the story in their hometown and use places they were familiar with. This story, as with any of these stories, could also be used in connection with Social Studies projects to understand the geographical location of the settings and the customs of the period.
I like to use the classic stories, mostly because they have been rewritten several times, and it is easy to find a version at different levels for differentiation. The introduction of these three classic monsters during the month of October, will not only keep the kids engaged during the monster-filled month, but also let them in on the origins of some of the most notable members of the popular Halloween favorites. It may even encourage some students to read other famous monster tales or create one of their own. However you choose to incorporate these stories into your classroom, I hope that you share it with others.
By: Shawn English
Teacher Practice Network
Pamela Fong is a research associate at WestEd, who supports part of the Teacher Practice Network (TPN) work that APSRC is doing to support teacher leaders. She recently asked TPN Leader Suzanne Rogers some questions about her use of social media. Suzanne’s answers will be spotlighted in a future edition of WestEd’s bi-monthly TPN Update, a digest of current events and information related to teacher leaders. Congratulations, Suzanne!
1. How have you gained such a large social media following of 3,259 on Twitter and elsewhere?
I've been on Twitter since 2009. In the early years, it was very easy to find a small group of people and ask questions. I love the explosion of social media. As George Couros eloquently said, "Isolation is a choice." Teachers who wish to be validated, who wish to express their voice, who wish to find resources simply must choose to use social media. I have tried various tools including lists and services to help me grow my followers. There is a magical number. Often, teachers follow more than they have followers. This is kind of like being upside down in a car loan. We do need to unfollow people who do not follow back. Try to keep your follow number less than the followers number so that you can continue to grow. Some people advocate following 5 new teachers each day. For teachers, 5-10 per week is doable
I use Facebook primarily for family and teacher friends from other states. As a military wife and teacher my friends have scattered to the four corners. I follow groups on Facebook like our @tpnlead group. When I find ideas on Facebook that I want to share, I open it in a new browser and share directly from the browser.
2. What kind of responses do you receive from teachers who appreciate learning about ideas from you via social media?
Teachers on Twitter tend to like, follow, and send private messages if they are interested in what I am posting. I find that many of my Tweets end up on Paperli or other newsletters that are shared.
3. Do you have strategies for how to leverage Twitter or your blog as helpful channels for sharing quality, CCSS-aligned instructional resources?
Twitter is a fast and easy way to share professional development with a #LISAPD hashtag. I also use the @tpnlead account to share. Since our state has recently changed our standards, I still share CCSSish resources. For example, I have shared our Quizlets for all of our ELA vocabulary in grades 6-12. This will help any teacher who is using Pearson Literature Common Core 2015. It is easy to Tweet these types of resources. I also like to share resources that come directly to me such as free webinars for professional development. I'll tweet using our #LISAPD and explain that it is free. I used to use the #CCSS hashtag, but find not many are using it as much anymore. My blog tends to be for things that require a longer response than 140 characters. I have linked most of my accounts using IFTTT My most recent recipe set up a Pinterest board for my education Instagram Posts. So, teachers can find my posts across a variety of platforms. I use Linkedin to crosspost my blog and to reach a different audience.
Voxer is another way to communicate with educators by voice and text. The downside of Voxer is that the groups are private and you need to be approved to join. I've joined #ARED, #engagechat, and #BFC.
4. Other teacher leaders tell us they struggle with finding an audience or maintaining an active Twitter account focused on sharing practices. What advice do you have for them?
Breathe! It takes time to develop an audience. Follow top educators in your state. Then branch out and follow other educators. Here is one list
5. Anything else you'd like for us to know about you and your amazing online success?
It takes time, but it is worth your time to develop contacts outside of your school. This is especially true for learning more about diversity #educolor. Most teachers use Twitter, but not in an educational sense. I will be facilitating a session on Twitter for pre-service millennials in November. We do have PD bytes that I am happy to share and a couple of presentations on Twitter. I've found that we need to differentiate how we facilitate these sessions. Some teachers don't know what social media is and some use it, but not at all in an appropriate way for a teacher. Teachers are never too old to begin to use social media to learn and to grow.
Contact: Suzanne Rogers firstname.lastname@example.org
I watched the clock as the last 15 seconds disappeared before the first bell rang. I took a deep breath and opened my classroom door. Kids - all shapes, sizes, colors, and demeanors - began walking, jumping, dancing through my door and into my classroom. What have I done? I loathe public speaking, and now I’m not sure if I particularly like kids. Is it too late to back out? “Good morning, my name is Mrs. Blackwood and this is Pre-AP Biology. Is everyone in the correct place?” One pair of steely lethargic blue eyes glared back at me from the corner of the room. I told myself don’t worry; you’ve got the perfect get-to-know-you activity that will crack into that tough exterior. I took roll, passed out materials, and soon my students were quietly working on their interest inventories. Hey, maybe this won’t be so bad. I could feel blue eyes glaring at me from across the room. I took a deep breath, steadied my nerves and approached.
Author -- Teacher Practice Network
We are a cadre of teachers from Arkansas and Oklahoma brought together through APSRC and a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to empower teachers to find their own voice both in and out of the classroom.