Sunday, April 17, 2011

Advice to new graduates that will be entering the teaching profession - Guest Post

Welcome to the hardest job you'll ever love!

By David Andrade,

As I think about the fact that most colleges will be holding graduation next month, I thought about all those new graduates that will be joining the education profession next year and thought I'd share some advice and resources for them. I'll be speaking to some from a few different area programs and I hope you will share these with new graduates that you know. I also figured this would be a good time because many seniors are still doing student teaching now. 

  • Your best resource as a new teacher is yourself. Use what you learned in school. Seek out more information from colleagues and the Internet. Use your creativity. Remember what it was like to be a student yourself.
  • Ask for help. Don't be afraid to ask other teachers for help. Do not isolate yourself in your classroom. Make connections with other teachers, whether it is in person, by email, Facebook, Ning, Twitter, web sites, or blogs. Create a Personal Learning Network of people and resources that can help you.
  • Don't reinvent the wheel. Use the resources that are available to you. Most textbooks now come with instructor resource CD-ROMs and companion web sites. Use the resources that they have and then modify them as needed. Search the Internet for lesson plan ideas, activities, classroom management tips, and other tips and tricks. Check out Discovery Education's free resources
  • Stay organized. You need to stay organized. Make sure you have a lesson plan guide and calendar of some sort. You can use a paper based planner and lesson planner or use an electronic or web-based system. Smartphones are great for staying organized. You can also use online resources like GoogleEvernote and others to keep your files, calendar, tasks, and lesson plans organized.
  • Write things down and make sure you have your classroom materials organized and labeled.
  • Take advantage of professional development opportunities. Your district and school will run professional development sessions, but don't limit yourself to those. Look for free online sessions, webcasts, conferences, and sessions run by your local educational resource agency. Create your own, on-demand professional development using Twitter. 
  • Join a professional society in your area. As a physics teacher, I have joined the National Science Teacher's Association (NSTA) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). Find out what organizations are in your area and join them. You will find resources and contacts through these organizations.
  • Read journals. Subscribe to and read educational journals. Most are free, so you don't have to worry about the money. There are journals on general education, educational technology, pedagogy, assessment, and just about every other area of education. Here is a great, free journal: Tech and Learning Magazine - great magazine with educational and technology information and resources. Free subscription for teachers.
  • Be creative with your lessons. Think outside the box. Come up with new, fun ways to teach the students. Use projects and project-based-learning as a way to engage and teach your students. You can find a huge number of resources and ideas for projects on the web.
  • Make connections with the secretaries and custodians in your building. They will be some of your best resources for supplies, ideas, and help.
  • Make connections with local businesses, especially those that are related to your subject area. They can be a huge resource for guests, supplies and equipment, and funding. Many local businesses, such as Staples, have Teacher Appreciation Days with discounts and free gifts. Find out about these. Remind businesses that instead of throwing out things, they can donate usable items to your school as a tax write-off.
  • Get to know the publisher's representative for your class's textbook. They can get you a lot of resources.
  • Be flexible. Remember Murphy's law. Have plans for when your lessons run short or long, to deal with interruptions and fire drills, assemblies, and days when much of your class is absent because of a field trip. 
  • Have back up plans for everything and especially have backup plans in case of technology issues.
  • Know your local and State curriculum. Know what is expected of you. Know what is expected of the students.
  • Track your personal expenses and save receipts. There is a tax deduction for educators.
  • Keep up on your certification requirements.
  • Spend this summer relaxing and getting ready for your new career. Once you get hired by a school, get a copy of the curriculum and review it over the summer. Think about the kind of teacher you want to be. Get yourself organized. 
  • If you are still looking for a job, don't worry. Teachers retire, move to different school systems. There will be openings. If you can't find a job by August, keep trying. Sign up to be a substitute teacher in the towns nearby. That is a foot-in-the-door for a permanent job when one opens. Don't despair, you will find a job. 
  • Ask for help, and look for help. Again, don't be afraid to ask for help.

Good luck and welcome to the profession!

Some more resources for new teachers:

New Teacher Advice - some good advice for new teachers (and old ones too!)

Discovery Education New Teacher Survival Central - a great resource for all teachers (and free).

List of Discovery Education Resources for Educators - very good, inclusive list of Discovery Educations resources.

Cross posted at Educational Technology Guy and via Twitter

David Andrade is a Physics Teacher and Educational Technology Specialist in Connecticut. He is the author of the Educational Technology Guy blog, where he reviews free educational technology resources for teachers, discusses ways to use technology to improve teaching and learning, and discusses other issues in education. 
He is also a professional development trainer and presenter at conferences, helping educators learn new and innovative ways to educate students. He is also a Discovery Education STAR Educator and member of the CT DEN Leadership Council. 

(Guest Post) A Google Apps Adventure at Bali International School

In my working life I use technology for two primary purposes:

  1. As curriculum coordinator and middle years programme coordinator. This includes managing and facilitating the whole school curriculum for the  writing and implementation process.

  1. The other area for using technology is in my English classes.  I teach Grade 10 English in the IB Middle Years Programme and Grade 11 and 12 English A1 Higher Level in the IB Diploma Programme. In today’s post, I will be focusing primarily on this aspect of applying technology, although I will highlight some of the tools and processes we use for administration, to whet your appetites.
We use Google Sites to organise literally everything: each student has her/his own portfolio of work as a separate site, each site is then linked into the teacher’s site for easy access and quick monitoring.

In my IB Diploma English literature classes, I am constantly reflecting on ways in which we can facilitate a meaningful engagement with the texts in such a way that students are empowered to communicate their understanding of the works. I am acutely aware that students often have a deeper understanding of concepts than that which we permit them to communicate through written and oral work. In addition I find that by thinking aloud with my students when thinking of ways for them to engage with work establishes a learning partnership that infuses a satisfying level of energy into the lessons.

As those of you who are familiar with Google Docs will know, many features are relatively recent. This means that by having a classroom atmosphere that is open to experimentation we automatically build into the process the principle of reflecting and reviewing our learning.

My overview here covers the teaching of the following texts for the IB Diploma English A1 course. Each example has a hyperlink to show you the work that my students are happy to share.

An important focus in my lessons is online safety and online presence. We discuss what kind of work students are comfortable making public and how they would like to see it shared. We also discuss what to do when they receive unsolicited comments or invitations. This cannot be understated.

Teaching IB literature:

Google Presentations: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
I used the idea of tableaux vivants and asked students to create selected, key scenes from the novel. Each scene had to be annotated and the selections had to be justified. Google Presentations allowed students to work collaboratively from wherever they were.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
There are two projects shared here: the Facebook project required the small class to assume identities from the novel. We then recreated the events of the entire novel, live, on Facebook. The most exciting part of this project was watching the interactions happen on the screen projection. We wrote to Facebook to tell them about our project. Unfortunately we received no reply.

The YouTube project is currently underway. Students have re enacted scenes from the novel. Their Google Site is the home page for the project which contains each of the videos and reflection texts in which they explain their choices on Google Docs.

Max Havelaar by Multatuli: two examples
The WordPress project required students to create a period journal reporting on the various aspects of the historical period.

The YouTube project for this text had students creating a short film version of novel focusing on the varied narrative perspectives of the text.

Blindness by Jose Saramago
Students are asked to record Internal Oral Presentation tasks to serve as both a record of their presentations but also as a tool for immediately reflecting on their own work. This example was posted on YouTube. Students used QuickTime, iMovie or Jing to record their presentations.

In the Middle Years Programme we use the following tools:

Google Apps (Drawings, Presentations, Documents and Collections) for the writing process.

Google Docs templates for our unit planning:
Here is an interdisciplinary project we are launching on Monday.

As personal project coordinator, I am responsible for aligning supervisors with students and the overall management of the entire process, which lasts for a year. Each student creates a set of Google Documents that he/she includes in her/his site, which is then embedded into my site for that year-group e.g.  Class of 2014. In this way I can quickly access each student’s work and gain an understanding of where the student is in the process. In addition, I can add support comments to the work that is being done by the supervisor. Should a supervisor experience difficulties, I can easily review the work directly to offer guidance.

External Moderation in the Middle Years Programme
We used to send very expensive DHL packages containing moderation samples of prescribed tasks for each subject for up to eight students per subject. These samples are typically sent all over the world. For the May 2010 moderation session, we created Google Sites for each subject, added the student work to those sites and simply shared the sites with the external moderators. At a stroke, we dramatically reduced our carbon footprint and our expenses!

Whole school curriculum planning:

All of our curriculum is contained within one google site. Within that site, in addition to the written curriculum, there is a page for each subject under which there is a page for each grade level where teachers insert a Google Doc with their course overviews and individual unit plans (the taught curriculum). Once this project is completed, users of our curriculum site will have quick access to both the written curriculum and the taught curriculum. The written curriculum component remains relatively static- including information about standards and benchmarks (aims objectives and assessment criteria) each subject’s philosophy and approach to methodology, this is written on the site. The taught curriculum remains sufficiently dynamic being inserted Google Docs, to allow for teacher creativity and the flexibility required when adapting units to a specific group of students’ interests and needs.

At Bali International School we adopted Google Apps for Education as we are a relatively small school (300 students +-preschool- grade12). All of our teachers are given a MacBook Pro but our students may bring in whichever device they prefer. The campus has very good wireless coverage.

About the author: Werner Paetzold teaches at Bali International School where he is also the Curriculum Coordinator.

Create Your Own Avatar with My Avatar Editor - Guest Post

Working in the primary grades, I am always on the look-out for creative, no-account-required, Web 2.0 websites that are also kid-friendly. One that I have found to be very successful for all grades is My Avatar Editor. This website allows you to create a customized avatar based on the Mii characters of the Wii game system, and that in itself brings excitement for the students! It is very easy to use and after a quick demonstration, the students are ready to go. After customizing your avatar, it can be exported as a .jpeg file, or a .png which allows you to remove the background – very helpful when layering objects, and is then saved as a picture in your files for future use.

What have we used My Avatar Editor for? Younger students have created themselves and posted it in their blogs (since we don’t allow their picture and name to appear together on the internet). Older students have created a cast of characters to use in stories, projects and animations. My 1-8 students have used this independently and I am sure kindergarteners could also with some assistance saving it. In this day and age when it is so easy to copy a picture off the internet, I like to encourage students to create their own components to a project and this website makes it really easy to do so!

Lisa Morowski is a K-8 Technology Teacher and Integrationist currently working with students and teachers in grades K-3 in the Merton WI School District. You can follow Lisa on Twitter and on her blog Teaching in the 21st Century.