Sticky Lesson Planning

For the past few months I have become increasingly interested in Kathie Nunley's Layered Curriculum. Although I had attended a conference workshop several years ago presented by a teacher using the Layered Curriculum in her science classroom, it wasn't until my fall Master's class when I had to present on brain-based research and curriculum design, that I came across Nunley's work again.

I continually question, as I think every educator does, whether what I am doing in the classroom is really changing with the times, or just using technology tools to engage kids in doing the same old things! As I make efforts to pilot a 1:1 laptop initiative, I have become more and more aware that, although I dream up great ways of using the web 2.0 tools, I need to make a fundamental 180 degree shift in my presence in the classroom. And I am feeling more and more like the Layered Curriculum is the guide I've been looking for to effect this change. Given its student centeredness, how could it not move the teacher from the sage to the guide?

This leads me to really question the circumstances of a portion of today's staff meeting. Our school leaders require weekly lesson plans be submitted to them prior to 8:00 every Monday morning, and due to the fact that many teachers have been submitting MANY versions of lesson plans, they have decided to "standardize" (I cringe as I write) the lesson plan format we all use. So they have offered two "choices" for us to use. One is a very detailed, reflective-type lesson plan, the other the typical 7-point style taught in undergrad coursework. They have nicely formatted them into Word templates which we can save and work on from home or school, and submit either in printed form or digitally through email. Now, I agree, research shows that well-prepared educators who create a plan for what and how they will GUIDE students more successfully meet the goal of preparing student learners (or in the words of our administrators, "relate our teaching to the Standard Course of Study"). However, in a classroom designed to empower and engage students individually, like mine where I plan to incorporate the Layered Curriculum methodology, what happens to the 7 point lesson plan? How do I teach the way I passionately feel is the most empowering way, yet meet the requirements of my administration? I would love to hear what you think!

Photo Credit:  Story of my life... 

It's in the Mail!

Well, my first big grant proposal ($10,000, big to me!) was sent off this afternoon at the click of the Enter button.  After lots of planning, thinking, writing, and re-writing, it's time to wait with fingers crossed!  I guess at this point I should continue to pursue other avenues of funding and now that I have the bulk of the project in various written forms, the really hard work is finished.  I did send the grant packet on to my Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, and Technology Directory with a cover letter stating that if the county happened to "find" some funding for the project I would be happy to pilot Project WISE in the hopes that the data will help the county expand the 1:1 initiative further.... we'll see!  : )

Thanks to Cindy P. at Teaching 'N Technology I was reminded today of a fantastic site that I should be using a lot more, and will add to my CRITICAL SITES list as Project WISE becomes a reality!  It is ReadWriteThink from the International Reading Association.  It is jam-packed with many interactive, creative tools for students to create original content.  It is applicable to every subject area, and so kid-friendly, guidance from the teacher would be minimal!  If you haven't checked it out lately, give it another glance!  I tried out the "flip book" application, and thought what a neat activity that would have been as my kids were learning the layers of the Earth!

So many cool tools, so little time to explore them all!  Isn't it wonderful?  Stay Tuned....

Photo Credit: Gadgets on Flickr


Today was one of those days that just kept getting better. First it was a teacher workday, which, to those of us who are addicted to learning and teaching, is always good! Our HIFIVES gaming cohort met, and although there are still some gliches, it was good to talk gaming again. Sometimes you need to feel part of a group to get motivated. Another reason for striving to make the DREAM a reality for my kids!

Then, an email announcing that we were being awarded the NCaect grant to fund 12 digital cameras and 2 digital video cameras! Hooray! Now the kids will be able to capture images and video from their labs and other inquiry activities, and share that learning with the world! Piece one of the DREAM puzzle in place! Thank you NCaect!!

Ended the day catching up on my tweets! Okay, Danita, it's your fault I'm an addict. Now you need to use your powers to get it unblocked at school! :)  Also read the blogs in my aggregator, and came upon this post by Chris O'Neal on Edutopia. Although I had heard of Gliffy before, it made me realize that I need to begin collecting and integrating these great tools into, yes my classroom today with its two desktop computers, but even more importantly, into what I'm planning for Project WISE!

Beginning to awaken into reality. Stay tuned...

Photo Credit: Yawn

Happening for a Reason!

My husband, Alex, and I firmly believe that things happen for a reason. Since we are Christians we know that it is often the Holy Spirit leading us. Surely with the millions of events that occur at every blink, it is not just coincidence. And so goes the recent events related to "The DREAM". It started with this video, Having Our Say, created by the folks at the Friday Institute. Found it when I finally got around to catching up on my blog reading! Be sure you check it out!

As "The Dream" continues, I was thrilled when my bud, Danita, and our Technology Director, Cindy, allowed me to try out a cool little laptop called the One2One Student Mate a few weeks ago. We had seen it at the technology conference, and Danita had made arrangements to try it out! Well, it had several gliches, and was extremely slow on the Net. Since Project WISE (wiki coming soon) and many other initiatives I feel are crucial to my 21st Century classroom rely on Internet capabilities, I was sadly disappointed. However, Glenn, the salesman ensures that a new build will fix the gliches. We have agreed to send it back, have him update it, and try it again. The fact remains however that it is not built for speed. It does have some other really awesome traits however, like the touch screen and the built in response system type program for on the fly assessment! We'll give it another try.

However in the meantime, Danita and I stumbled upon (almost at the exact same moment!) the Asus Eee Galaxy. Now this looks promising! Much faster, and built to address the multi-media needs of our kids (and Project WISE, by the way!).

So, where am I in planning for "The DREAM"? Well, I've submitted a grant proposal to NCaect for the digital cameras and video cameras my kids will need to create some of the visual content for their wikis. Keeping my fingers crossed! Also am finishing up the required portions of the Toyota Tapestry grant I hope will help us gain a set of the Asus Eee Galaxies! Wish I had more fingers, am running out of any more to cross!

Stay Tuned...

Photo Credit: Fingers Crossed...

Edging Toward Reality?

Okay, so my comeback to blogging was short-lived. However, I am now reconsidering as the DREAM of 1:1 computing begins its journey toward reality. Thanks to my great friend, colleague and future teammate (still part of the DREAM), Danita, the fire has been lit once again! It was six years ago when I approached my former principal about seeking funding to support a 1:1 pilot project. Thankfully she was extremely supportive and helped in many ways, however the DREAM didn't come to fruition. Now, still believing with all my heart that 1:1 computing can help my students grow to extremes not possible without it, I continue to venture down the path toward the DREAM's reality.

I will make every effort to blog on a routine basis as I believe this will document the steps that have been taken toward a 21st Century success story. Great ideas are flowing, emails and phone calls are coming, doors are opening, and I have a great feeling that this might actually work out! Here's to jumping off the edge! Stay tuned.....

Dreams of Summer

Dreams of Summer - Flickr