We Need More Examples from the Classrooms! By Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

We Need More Examples from the Classrooms! By Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano

Cross posted on the Langwitches Blog.

As the Technology Integration Facilitator, I was “stationed’ in the computer lab. Although classroom teachers did not “drop” their students off at the lab for me to teach a separate lesson, I still felt disconnected. This was mainly due to a lack of (or no) collaborative planning time between the classroom teacher and myself, but it was also limited due to the once a week nature of scheduled lab time for the classes.

My current position as the 21st century Learning Specialist has allowed me to have the freedom of not having scheduled classes in a lab and be invited to plan and co-teach in the classroom by the teachers.

This gives me the opportunity to be with many different grade levels (Kindergarten -8th grade) on a project based basis. I am able to support the teachers in their classrooms as much (or as little) as they desire.

I use my blog to document my work with the teachers and students, but also to share with others these projects, ideas, thoughts, lesson plans, etc.

While I twittered a link to one of my latest blog post describing a SmartBoard lesson “Graphing on the Smartboard for Little Ones,” Paula White, who blogs at TZSTeacher, called for more posts describing lessons.

Her tweet got me thinking…

  • Is there enough encouragement for teachers to share what they are doing in the classroom with a wider audience?
  • Are the “in theory…”, “teachers should be doing these kind of activities…”, and “research says…” kind of blogs intimidating teachers in the trenches to share REAL examples from their classrooms?
  • Do classroom teachers know that THEIR VOICES are important and others want and need to hear from them?

I was told, on several occasions, by teachers that they:

  1. Wouldn’t know what to share
  2. Are wondering why would anyone care to know what they are doing
  3. Don’t have the time it takes to blog and share what they are doing
  4. Wouldn’t know how to share what they are doing in the classroom

Here are my answers to these comments:

Teachers don’t know what to share.

If your students learned from a unit, a lesson, even from a fleeting teachable moment … it is worth sharing. If you are new to teaching and feel you could not possibly contribute anything, you are forgetting the Power of a Newbie. Although Vicki Davis writes about the tech newbie, the same concept can be applied to a teacher-newbie.

When you are a newbie, you have something that tech-experts do not have: the perspective of a new user.

If you are a veteran teacher, your experience and knowledge are invaluable. Don’t lock them up within the four walls of your classrooms. Share and allow other students to benefit and learn from them through their teachers as they learn from YOU!

Teachers are wondering, why would anyone care to know what they are doing in the classroom?

Teachers who are daily in the classroom with students have an incredible advantage over the theorists that are populating the edublogersphere. They know what works and what doesn’t with their particular group. They are not theorizing or relying on others to give them data, they are working in the trenches and are doing “it”…the real thing…the teaching… on a daily basis.

Teachers don’t have the time it takes to blog and share what they are doing.

You don’t have to write an essay or a novel. Notes, even a bullet list can be great. If you create your lesson plans electronically, it could be just a matter of copy and pasting. Documenting what you are doing with a digital video or photo camera doesn’t have to be time consuming either. Reflections on your lesson plan, teaching and on student learning are great for a teaching portfolio and our own continues learning, but not necessary if you just want to share what you are doing.
Check out Kevin Jarrett’s incredible site, where he shares his K-4 tech lesson plans.

Teachers wouldn’t know how to share what they are doing in the classroom.

  • I usually start documenting a planning session with teachers in my blog’s drafts.
  • As the lesson or unit progresses, I edit and add more information to the draft.
  • Take as much media as possible: images, video, audio, screenshots.
    When I take pictures and video, I am careful not to take students’ faces or anything identifying (names written on papers or their desks). Standing behind them and taking the shot “from their perspective”(back of their head) usually works great.
  • I add resource links used in the preparation or execution of the lesson.
  • I embed video clips or other media as much as possible (if embed code available and not copyrighted).
  • After the lesson or unit is completed, I go over the draft, add and edit some more, put thoughts in order, images in sequence and … publish…
  • I tweet about the blog post to spread the word

Why not try it out? Why not document, upload and share what you are doing in the classroom. You could use a wiki or a blog to create a presence for your teaching lessons and ideas. If you are already sharing your lessons, why not encourage and mentor another classroom teacher to do the same?

We need YOU!

Here are some of my favorite teacher blogs who share great examples of what is happening in their classroom trenches:

Please contribute some of your favorite links to teacher who are sharing lessons.