Teacher Spotlight – Ms Tofflemeyer

Here’s a great upcoming activity from Reading/Science Teacher, Ms Tofflemeyer. AWESOME culiminating activity for novel study!

Making a Difference

This picture struck me as I passed through our media center:

This is Mr. Piehl, on of our Communities in School volunteer mentors. He is a faithful supporter of the program and his mentee.

This is very profound! On the surface, its two people mulling over some basic moves [trying to remember how the knight moves] but we all know this a huge difference maker for students!

Communities in School is a great program that provides structure to our volunteer mentors. We are fortunate that our CIS Rep, Mr DeChamps has been recognized for his efforts. We have to remember that with or without programs like this, mentoring/supporting kids is crucial. Its not all about new innovations in teaching and learning, we have to take care of the total child.

Instructional Facilitator-Data Talks

April Daywalt, new Instructional Facilitator at West Middle School, leads grade level discussion with recent predictive assessment/benchmark data.

Great talks! Her talks centered around one of her great comments, ‘If we’re not going to use the data, why give the assessments’.

First Year Teacher Initiative

This is Mr. Greene, a first year Reading teacher at West Middle School.  We’ve been having talks all year about setting up groups in rooms for special purpose, acceleration, remediation, etc. After our last talk with predictive assessment data, this is the room set up he came up with address the different student needs.

We’ve been planning on some of our teachers visiting some classes to see good models but this best practice initiative he came up with independently! This is awesome -100% inspired by student need!

The Success of the PLN

Below is an awesome PLN success story! I writing this as a means of encouragement for the teachers in my building [and yours] who haven’t yet bought into structuring up their PLN!

   Our district is planning on implementing the research based instructional strategies from Classroom Instruction that Works. Building a common language around proven strategies is going to make a serious impact. As I began searching for training/delivery materials, I reached out to my PLN through Twitter with the simple question of who has experience with initial CITW training?
In a matter minutes I got this  response from Elizabeth Hubbell [@erhubbell]:
After a quick call, we talked and collaborated on our needs and what Ms Hubbell can offer West Middle School.
Ms Hubbell is one of the co-authors of Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works. After our initial training, we’ve arranged for her to give a follow-up webinar on incorporating technology with these strategies. I couldn’t wait to share this with my central office staff – now we are building on this! Talk about a valuable resource!
The awesome piece to this is how the students at West Middle School win! Our teachers are about to receive some great training that will make a direct bearing on student learning.
This is a great success story for developing and using your PLN! Earlier this year, I’ve lead a couple of training sessions on building a PLN using Twitter and Diigo. I shared this with staff members at our next faculty meeting. We all have need for a PLN: trainers can always use help in with better resources, administrators need to collaborate on building vision, teachers always need to improve upon lessons- the PLN is the way to make that happen.
Below, I’m asking everyone who reads this and actively supports their PLN to share a success story as well. I’ve stressed that these experiences couldn’t happen with a typical email/web search experience.

My PLN experience is unique and yields incredible results, please share one of your experiences.


The Need for Project Based Learning

We talk a great deal about designing learning activities that really engage kids and teach real world skills they will as 21st citizens. This video gives a great visualization of project based learning!

The Buck Institute gave great real life examples of needs and implementations of PBL. Some things we need to keep in mind as educators:

  1. See this as an opporutnity to collaborate – Utilize the strength of your PLN. You can develop good strategies by yourself but effectiveness is increases tenfold when we reach out
  2. Make the learning relevant, when possible, to topics in your classroom
  3. Our task here is to design and redesign – Creation, when possible, is a great first step in innovation but after a system is in place, we have to be willing to modify when needed. In other words, if we create a project and package it for years with no change, we aren’t doing a great job serving kids. Here is another great opportunity to collaborate.

Our kids are up to the challenge – let’s make it a meaningful experience.

Give Your Students the World

Skype just created a forum for teachers to connect to each other and share resources!

I’ve had a chance to join and look around Skype in the Classroom and this is a great resource/tool for us to provide great opportunities for students AND to share resources with other teachers.

If you don’t have a Skype account already, you can create one at the link above. It’s a simple registration process and should only take minutes.

The great thing here is going through the directory and finding teachers/classrooms you’d like to connect to. When I last looked there were close to 900 educators from all corners of the US and stretching to Thailand – there is something there for every class and purpose.

Putting in a minimum amount of planning for this experience can realize tremendous gains:

  • Set up your Skype account – Load up your picture and give a good description of your class and what you’re looking for;
  • Check your equipment – Built in/external webcams, wireless/wired connections, mics, lighting, etc;
  • Determine what your learning outcomes are before you make contact – Its ok if you don’t have it fully mapped, your collaborative partner may even appreciate the opportunity to help you develop some learning objectives. The main point here is to go into this with a plan other than just calling another class to wave;
  • Make this experience student centered – As cool as it is going to be for you to do the talking, please remember that kids learn by doing;
  • SHARE OUT YOUR SUCCESSFUL COLLABORTATIVE EXPERIENCE – Twitter it, Blog it, email it – whatever! Let others see how easy it can be and how much learning and enjoyment kids can get from it.

I’m determined to help the teachers in my building create some collaborative partnerships and to Skype out to several educators as well.

See you out there!