Saturday, March 4, 2017

TCEA Trip!

A couple of weeks ago, the instructional coaches presented at TCEA for the very first time! TCEA is a fantastic conference that is held each February in Austin, Texas.  We were all very excited to share how our coaching team has come together this year and supported our teachers through technology integration and curriculum support. During the presentation we showcased several easy to use technology tools that we have fallen in love with this year. We used Buncee to create the presentation, and highlighted others like Smore, Flocabulary, and our global connections we have made this year. 

We had a great turn out for our first time presenting. While at the conference we were able to connect with several companies that were set up in the vendor hall. Below are a few pictures of our time at TCEA. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Read Alouds and Sketchnotes

When I was a little girl, my mother read to me and my twin sister every single night.  She made these instances more than pictures and words.  She turned every read aloud into an experience for us.  She added funny voices and expressions, and she always stopped, every now and then, to ask us questions. She, intentionally, made us a part of the book. I know, without a doubt, that my love of reading was because of these experiences.

Recently, a teacher (Mrs. Pilgrim) on my campus reached out to me to work alongside her to expose her students to sketchnoting.  Her kids were reading Number the Stars, and she wanted them to sketch their thoughts after each chapter.  What a cool idea, right!  Sketchnotes, sometimes referred to as visual notetaking, are purposeful doodles while listening to something interesting. (Sketchnote ArmyTanny McGregor states that drawing and doodling can keep us from daydreaming and help us to focus on the task at hand.  When the need to understand is high, SKETCH! Check out Kathy Shrock's Guide to Sketchnoting to learn more about it!

Created by Tanny McGregor

Practice Day for Sketchnotes

When I was in Mrs. Pilgrim's room, she asked if I wanted to stay and listen to a chapter from the book.  You know me...I didn't hesitate!  Even at 36, I crave read alouds!  Mrs. Pilgrim was so engaging, and the kids and myself could not get enough! I visited her class more after that just to hear another chapter, and every time a chapter ended the kids begged for one more!  That is when you know that you have created and fostered an environment in your classroom that supports and honors a love of reading.  I was reminded, once again, how important it is to read to kids. Read to your kids, no matter the age, no matter the grade level. 

Just Read.

Thank you, Mrs. Pilgrim!  Thank you for the fond memories of my mother and for making memories with me! I loved every minute spent listening to you read! As Adam Welcome says, keep being awesome for your kids!!

P.S. I will add the finished skethnotes soon!

This blog post is also featured on Amy Storer's blog page.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Flocabulary in the Classroom

Recently in Montgomery ISD grades K-5 instructional coaches were given the task of training all teachers on how to use Flocabulary.  The coaching team met to decide what approach to take with our teachers since Flocabulary had been purchased and used by teachers the previous year.  It soon became clear that although some of the coaches had used Flocabulary before no one in the group had received any formal training on the program.  Therefore, it was decided that we would first need a webinar training from Flocabulary in order to do justice to the program.  We were spot on with that decision because it was through the webinar that we were able to see that Flocabulary was much more than showing an engaging video to students.  

After Flocabulary webinar, we were even more excited and eager to get this powerful tool out to the teachers and students.  We decided to start the trainings with a hand-out (copy available upon request) that gave some background info on the goal of using Flocabulary and provided an agenda for the session.  During the first training, it became evident that showing teachers at the end of the presentation how to set up a class and how students join that class was a mistake on our part.  The reason this was a mistake is because of the one thing we NEVER have enough of in education—time.  Therefore, we moved class set-up and students joining the class to the beginning of the presentation at all preceding trainings.   

After showing teachers how to use those two pieces in the program, we immediately moved into showing them how to find content within the program.  Searching by standard and Flocabulary Month by Month were the two most popular options with our teachers.  Once the teachers knew how to find content the coaching team showed the various parts of the lesson cycle.  Our teachers were pleasantly surprised to learn of the new features such as pause and play, read and respond, and quizzes.  Nonetheless, they were very receptive of these new features of the program and eager to get back to class to implement them.   

The final piece—the coaches’ favorite part—was ending the training session with each grade level composing and performing their very own rap using Lyric Lab. Lyric Lab allows students an opportunity to create academic rhymes using learned content.  Teachers were shown how to use key terms, rhyme boxes, highlight words that were not familiar and find different beats in Lyric Lab.  Groups of teachers were allowed to practice and then performed their raps which were posted on social media.  We even had an assistant principal compose his very own rap to dismiss his students before the Thanksgiving break.  His video was an instant hit.  Check out his and some of our teachers' creations below!