What We’re Learning from You

Here are three things I know about the Tch community:

  1. Video helps you understand the Common Core State Standards
  2. A majority of you say you are prepared to implement the Core
  3. You like to share what you’re learning with others!

CCSS video stat

I learned these key tidbits of information from our past three Tchers’ Voice surveys. We’ve learned so much from you throughout the school year. And, as we come to the close of June, I want to share these findings with you because this information is helping us plan for your return to the classroom in the fall.

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Why I Use Video and Tch Teams

I believe video is an essential and powerful teaching tool. But, it will only work if teachers feel safe when sharing video of themselves. My first safe place to discuss my practice using video was in a National Board Certification cohort with five other teachers in Chicago. As part of the National Board process, candidates submit video of their practice teaching in large and small group contexts.

It was in that cohort that I met my first Rock Stars. One taught sophomore literature in a classroom with ten different languages. Another led brilliant political discussions with freshmen in one of the city’s more challenging high schools. When our cohort met every Tuesday night to share video of our practice, I saw teaching that inspired me. My examples were essentially blooper reels.

It could have been devastatingly painful, and sometimes it was.  But my time in this collaboration completely changed my practice because it was safe. We were explicit with each other early on that our practice stayed within the productive structure of the cohort.

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Introducing Tch Teams to the World!

More than 260,000 teachers are already using Teaching Channel’s award-winning 700+ video library, but many of you have made it clear you want more—a  safe place to collaborate with colleagues, be mentored and receive job-embedded, relevant advice.

In April, I shared with all of you in the Tch community our new approach to video-enabled professional development called Teaching Channel Teams and today at the annual ISTE 2013 conference, we’re announcing it to the world!

Teaching Channel Teams allows schools and districts to provide quality interactive professional development with fewer dollars than traditional professional development. With Teaching Channel Teams, collaboration within a school, across a district, or with a larger network of educators is made easier using socially-enabled tools. Teams makes it easy for educators to use and share video as well as other types of professional development resources within their private professional learning community.

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Getting Started with Twitter in the Classroom

Center for Teaching Quality

One of the greatest things about this school year was seeing what teachers at our school have been doing with Twitter in the classroom. As an instructional coach, I have observed and also participated in new opportunities for our students to know each other and communicate their learning.

Autumn Laidler, a third and fourth grade science teacher at the National Teachers Academy, played a critical role in introducing Twitter to our colleagues. In February, Autumn and other Chicago Public School educators hosted PLAYDATE at our school. PLAYDATE was just that—a space for teachers to play with technology, share ideas, and network. Participants had a wide range of experience: from Twitter newbies to teachers who were already thinking about how to use Twitter to communicate with families.

Inspired by PLAYDATE, a team of our teachers created Twitter Tuesday. On Tuesdays, teachers and their classes discussed a predetermined topic of interest to the entire school community, then teachers tweeted on students’ behalf with the hash tag #NTAlearns. On a cold day in February, our first topic was “What do you like about being an NTA student?”

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A Tale of Two High School Advisory Programs

Center for Teaching Quality

Most high schools have some sort of advisory program built into their ecology—a time when a group of students gather to check in with a teacher. At some schools, “advisory” is referred to as “homeroom” or “study hall.” But how advisory is used in schools to support students varies greatly. Consider these two snapshots of advisories in action:

Scenario #1

It’s a little after 8 a.m. and students file randomly into an advisory period, where they are greeted with a sign-in sheet. Most are on cell phones. They rarely take the time to interact with the teacher or other students in the classroom. Meanwhile, the teacher is trying to find a way to make copies for his first period class, remove the coffee stain from his tie and monitor who has or hasn’t signed the attendance sheet. In 12 minutes, when advisory ends, the work of the school day will begin and students will head off into their first period classes.

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A Different Approach to Formative Assessment Makes Practice Time Count

Center for Teaching Quality

Want to spend class time wisely? Formative assessments can help. The trick: taking the time to analyze the data and put it to use. You can do this in any subject area, but we’ll start with an example from teaching math.

Let’s say my class is working on quadratic equations and we’re just beginning to learn how to find x-intercepts (remember it’s where a line crosses the x-axis).

In the past, I might have taught the lesson, worked sample problems on the board in class, and then assigned 3-5 problems for students to work on that evening.

Formative assessments change that model.

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Closing the Book on the 2012-13 School Year: What Was Your Shining Moment?

As June arrives, my Facebook feed has been full of end-of-year reflections from my teacher friends.

My friend Jill, a high school English teacher, recently posted, “One of my students commented this morning, ‘You know, I did actually get better at writing in your class.’ Another said, ‘Yeah, I actually did like your class.’ All of this is to say, they didn’t think they would, but they did. Ha ha! I feel like a magician.”

Days later my friend Leticia, a 3rd grade teacher, shared, “Proud teacher moment: All of my students that started writing three sentence stories are now writing three paragraph NF reports and writing persuasive letters- so persuasive we received a handwritten letter from David Shannon. It feels good to be a teacher!”

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