Professional Learning Network - PLN

Today's blogging challenge is to share my contact information so you can find me on social networks. How much time do you have? I am going to try and dig as far back as I can for the numerous sites to which I have accounts. Should be interesting….Here I go!

  1. Plurk lfeld52
  2. Twitter lfeld52
  3. Edmodo feldman
  4. Foursquare lfeld52
  5. Google+ lfeld52
  6. Vine lfeld52
  7. Vimeo lfeld52
  8. Linkedin lfeld52
  9. lfeld52
  10. Skype lfeldman52
  11. YouTube lsf52
  12. Flickr lfeld52
  13. LiveBinders lfeld52
  14. reddit lfeld52
  15. Slideshare lfeld52
  16. Audioboo lfeld52
  17. diigo lfeld52
  18. YouStream.TV lfeld52
  19. Qik lfeld52
  20. TeacherTube lfeld52
I'm sure there are others, but my brain is bent trying to think of them all! 

As you can see I have put myself out there to network. I would say that I network about 90% of the time with educators and technology professionals. In the beginning I was probably more active in posting my technology finds and ideas. But now, I probably am more of a stalker. I like to check out what others post and bookmark them. 

I have been lucky enough to be able to meet many of the people I follow on social networks. I have traveled to technology conventions for the past couple of years. It seems each time I go, I find more networks to sign up!

My advice is…If you have a "screen name" which you use frequently, sign up and save the name just in case you will be using it in the future.

Cooperative Learning Saves The Day!

It seems like I have been struggling to connect students to their math lessons lately.
We are working on percents/decimals/fractions. Specifically the past three days we have been working on percent of change. To say it has been frustrating is an understatement.
There are days which one would think that you were speaking in another language.
But not today! Today (day 3 of the same topic) English became the common language in math. 

Today I used a cooperative learning strategy in which shoulder partners worked together to solve math problems. One partner "coached" the other partner to do the work. For example: If I were the coach I would say something like "the formula is original # - new #, divided by original # so write down 4.50 - 1 and put over 4.50. What is neat about this is that the student coaching is verbalizing how to solve the problem and the other partner has the ability to make corrections as needed. The kids were so engaged. Using this strategy increases engagement because of the interactivity between partners.

I think it also helped that I used ads for Velveeta and Diced tomatoes and connected it to preparing for a Super Bowl party!

After a couple problems the students seemed to get the concept. When we were done with this reteach it was time for the homework assignment. Since we were running a bit late and it was the beginning of a 3-day weekend the assignment was shortened. Yeah right? But what knocked my socks off was when one of the students without prompt figured out the percent of decrease in the math assignment! Hallelujah!

You never know when you are going to find a lesson or trick to make a connection with student. I hope to use cooperative learning in many forms throughout the semester. This day has proven that the effect can be worthwhile!

Classroom Wish List

If there was one thing that I have thought a lot about wanting for school lately would be a large spinner which could be put on the whiteboard with a magnet. This is what I was looking at:

We will be starting a unit on probability in the next week or so and I think this would help a great deal.
Last year I was lucky enough to work with a teacher who used the whiteboard spinner frequently. She would draw a circle with 3 parts labeled evens, odds, all. When the students were writing down their assignment they would one by one spin the spinner and make tally marks. The outcome would be the deciding point of what their homework would be. How fun!
Of course, any variables could be included in the circle. 

My challenge would be to think beyond the basic probability lesson and think of different ways to use it!

Classroom Grants

Today's topic is grants for the classroom. To day, I have received 2. The first grant I received was to support a class trip to a living history farm for the 4th grade at a school in which I was working. The district severely cut funding for field trips; in the past, this was a regular outing. I did not like the thought of the student missing out.

In my district we have grant opportunities via our foundation. It is called Fund-A-Need. Teachers are able to put in grant proposals of any value in hopes a donor will choose to fund the project. Fund requests may range from technology to special programming. 

I was lucky enough to have my grant funded by a group/office which decided to fund my request in lieu of Christmas gifts for each other. This was such a blessing.

My second grant which was funded was for the implementation of an alternative P.E. class. There are some students due to disabilities or injuries who cannot participate in the activities of the P.E. class. My thought was to have a Wii system for which the students could become physically active without risk of injury. To my surprise, one afternoon, I was called up to the office to pick up a package. I had no idea what it could be. When I opened it in the main office I immediately began to cry. There was a brand new Wii system, games, and controllers for my program. The card was signed "from an admirer" Wow. I sure wished that I could thank them directly. Once set up you could come in and watch a student in a wheel chair playing tennis with a student who had a broken arm. No boundaries!

One suggestion I have for receiving these types of grants would be to network through social media as much as possible. Don't hesitate to "toot your own horn", search for sympathy, and generally beg!

Homework. UGH!

I know homework is a part of traditional school. But I guess I am not a traditional teacher.
I think that students should show their learning during the school day.
Schoolwork is for the school day and homework is for home. Duh you say? NO. Let me explain.

During the 52 minute class periods we strive to introduce, reinforce, reteach, etc.
In my opinion we should be able to use our time wisely and work should be completed before the end of class. This is not always possible, but what is wrong with going a day or two without it?

When did we move to automatically having homework in every class? When did we buy into the concept that for core classes there is generally 30 minutes homework for each class? When did we move to having in class assignments and then adding on an additional assignment for home. Isn't that double indemnity?

To add to my rant, we now grade on summative scores only. This means only test/quiz scores count toward the student grade. So how can we require students to do homework ("practice") when it does not count toward their permanent grade? Would you buy into the concept that you work for hours and not have anything to show for it other than a satisfactory or commendable comment?

I know that "practice makes perfect". I know that repetition is necessary to own a concept. But I also know that not all students take tests the same way. Some students freak out during tests. They may freeze/forget/guess resulting in lower scores. In the past, when homework was at least counted toward the overall grade, grades were higher for struggling students.

What are your feelings toward homework. Love? Hate? Horror Stories?


Website Du Jour

My current favorite website you ask?

Hands down:


Songza is an online music site similar to Pandora. What I really enjoy about Songza is the Music Concierge. For example. If I connect to the link in the morning I normally choose a playlist that is "safe for work". Other choices include current music with no lyrics, oldies, etc. As the day goes on, the front page changes. Here is the current front page as of the time of this post:

There are many listening options which are appropriate for different situations.

This site is a keeper!

Brain Breaks

Ironically when I read this topic for the blogging challenge I laughed! I laughed because our team at school decided to implement frequent brain breaks throughout the year to increase student engagement.
We went as far as to using the theme of time for our team focus this year. Excuse the "Outsiders" attire for a theme day…You can see the banner stating our team motto for the year.

With the theme of time we try to use brain teasers, thought shots, and movement to give students a short minute or two to refocus.
We also have Cranium Brain Breaks and a binder full of Minute To Win It activities. Unfortunately, it seems that we are lacking a bit in the area of these two. Hoping to increase this and get feedback whether we are using our time wisely.

If there is one thing I know…I get antsy easily. Imagine students listening to the "Waaa, waaa, waaa" (Charlie Brown teacher) all day long.  No wonder we need a break!