Have you ever been waiting and waiting for news? In May, I was (im)patiently waiting to hear if I had been accepted into the Newseum‘s Summer Teacher Institute. Getting the email that I had been accepted made the end of the school year fly by, and then slow down to a snail’s pace (if that makes any sense at all).
Today was day 1 and what a day it was! Just a few days ago, I wrote about being in a Summer Slump, but that plunge into perpetual procrastination is long gone. There is something special about being in a room with 20+ other educators who seem to be my kindred spirits.
We all seem to love technology and aim to properly educating our 21st-century classrooms through blended learning. We all seem to embrace analysis and critical thinking, and kick that test-prep stuff to the curb. (I mean, really, if the kids learn how to think, they will do well on “that” test. More importantly, they may end up enjoying learning and school!) We all seem to want our classrooms to create a buzz, have energy, be engaging, and show a love for life-long learning. Just being immersed in that atmosphere is inspiration enough. If you add in all the amazing resources that the Newseum and Annenberg Learner has to offer, well… I think you get the picture.
Towards the end of the day, we broke up into groups to refresh some current lesson plans. I collaborated with a group of other middle/high school English/Language Arts teachers. We all had lesson ideas centering around literature in some form of another. After some discussion, we came up with a more generalized plan that could be used at any level with any novel, but it would ultimately end up putting a novel into historical context for students. Better than that, through using digital resources, the students ultimately would reveal a driving question to discuss as we read the novel together. Discovered: A fresh approach to introducing The Book Thief. Not that I would ever get tired of reading this novel, but imagine having a new focus each year based on what students discover in their research? The focus can even vary from class to class each year. I am pumped!
After some discussion and practice concentrating on evaluating media, we had the special treat of viewing some front pages and other artifacts revolving around civil rights are various points in history. From there, we collaborated in small groups to analyze potential issues with what was featured. Question: Without access to artifacts like these, how can this work in my classroom?
Visit to the Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall exhibit is incredible. (If you haven’t been, you must GO.) Tweeting from the perspective of a person living in East Berlin at the time made it even more real. While I’m sure I would have been engaged in the exhibit without this assignment, it did make me consider a perspective and analyze the circumstances a bit deeper.
Inspiration: During this year’s Boston field trip, engage students in Tweeting and/or posting their experiences on Instagram. Give them a challenge to analyze from different perspectives. Let them use the technology and social media they love to connect with their friends and family following the trip from home. Why not take advantage of what they already do? Why not show them how Tweeting and Instagram(ing) can be used for other purposes?
Bottom line, today was filled with exactly what professional development should be: real-life,do-able applications, meaningful discussion, live Tweeting, full engagement, and collaboration.
Tonight’s homework focused on a few other things I really enjoyed. (Yep, homework…and I didn’t mind doing it.) I used Tackk (something new I learned) to present a snapshot of the day. Check it out here –> Inspiration Overload (Tackk)