Sunday, January 23, 2011

Things I have learned to make me a better teacher ...

I was very fortunate to have to the opportunity to attend some of the presentations and discussions at the 2011 Reform Symposium (#rscon11 on twitter). What is even better is that the sessions were recorded, so I will be able to listen to the sessions I did not get to attend as well as listen again to the ones I attended. As a participant in the 2010 Reform Symposium (search for Reform Symposium on my blog to find posts about it), I knew there would be lots of great things shared, but it was information overload ... in a good way.

One of the sessions I attended was "One thing I've Learned To Make Me A Better Teacher" which was an open discussion facilitated by Melissa Tran. (I knew it would be great especially since her name is Melissa) :)

Here are a few of the comments that stood out to me:
  • it is important to surround yourself with positive influences
  • developing a PLN on twitter will prove so beneficial
  • feel passion in what you do
  • help develop the passions of others
  • make connects and build relationships with all those around those (students, teachers, coworkers ...)
  • what we do is all about sharing
  • teach from the heart ... students will know if you really care
  • you have to reach students before you can teach them
  • failure is OK as long as you learn from it
I shared a few of the things that stood out to me, and I would encourage you to go listen to the archive of this session (will be posted Jan.15th) to see what stands out for you.

Since things from this session stuck in my mind, I decided to ask a question on twitter (I am @mwedwards): "What is something you have learned that you think new teachers should know?"

I will share a few of the responses I got:
  • "That parents are partners... that you're stronger together and to use rubrics and save evidence of work 4 interviews"
  • "New Teachers should know how to handle parent/teacher conferences. Listen to parents voice concerns,then solve problems together"
  • "Wish teachers taught relaxation training on a regular basis!"
  • "I have learned too many things to mention in a tweet!"
What are some things you have learned to make you a better teacher?
What are some things you have learned that you think new teachers should know?

If we all work together to put the pieces of the puzzle together, it will be easier ...

image by D Sharon Pruitt and found at

Resources are Blooming (even in the cold weather)

Having discovered Kelly Tenkely's blog iLearnTechnology was like finding a gold-filled treasure chest. Getting to know Kelly through her blog and on twitter (@ktenkely) has been even better. Steven Anderson and I both attended a webinar she did last week about thinking and teaching creatively at the Knowledge Learning Place. Resources and sites she shared were posted to a LiveBinder called Thinking Creatively with Kelly Tenkely. The recording of that session will also be added to that LiveBinder when it is ready.

One thing that really stood out to me from that webinar was Kelly's Digital Bloom's Taxonomy LiveBinder. I am a big fan of Kelly's creations that go along with Bloom's Taxonomy (peacock, umbrella, tree ...). In the webinar, she said that she created one and then students suggested the ideas for the other Bloom's images. I think the one that I like the most right now is the Bloomin' Digital Peacock!

In Kelly's Digital Bloom's Taxonomy LiveBinder, she shares digital tools that can be used with students to help them Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, and Create. Both that LiveBinder and her Blog provide lots of great resources for you to check out!

Monday, January 3, 2011

ActivPrimary in the Classroom

If you are using ActivInspire in your PreK - 1 classroom you have another alternative. You can change the look and feel of ActivInspire to benefit your younger students by setting the system to open using ActivPrimary.

To do this you will Select the Configure button from the Dashboard and then put a check in the box on the Right side of the screen that says "Launch next time using the Primary look and feel."

Don't worry I have included this video:

When you open up ActivPrimary you will immediately notice the new look. One thing to keep in mind is that some things are not in the same place as they were in ActivInspire but all the same features are still intact. When you look at your Browser window you will notice that the two icons are missing for your Page and Resource Browser. Don't worry they are now located along the bottom of the floating Toolbar. Now since the features are the same and just the look is different there is no new learning curve with the software. Everything that you could do in ActivInspire you can do in Primary. However, if you need some additional assistance you can check out resources on Promethean Planet and videos from YouTube.

images from ActivInspire and ActivPrimary
video by: eherreid

The More You Know... ActivInspire

Did you know that there are a number of combination keys in ActivInspire that offer you easy access to features that you may not be aware of. The one thing that makes ActivInspire more user friendly than before is its ease of use. The software has a lot of multi-use buttons and quick access options built in to make the tools easier to find.

Take for instance if you want to see the ActivInspire Dashboard and it is no longer showing on the screen because you closed it out. Well you could go to the View Menu because that is what you want to do, "View" the Dashboard or you could press the F11 Key. It is what I would call built in redundancy, the software offers you many different paths to get to the same end result. How about this example, for some reason in the middle of a Lesson the board seems to not want to respond to your stylus touch and you need to go to the next flipchart page. Since your board is not responding to you what do you do? Well you would go to your computer keyboard and press the Page Down Button that will advance the flipchart one page. Or maybe in the same situation you want to Copy and Paste an item from one flipchart page to another. You would be at your keyboard to press the CTRL + C (to copy) Page Down (to advance a page) then CTRL + V (to paste).

So in order to help out with some of the keyboard commands in ActivInspire, I have created a cheat sheet list of all the Control, Special and Function Key commands that you can print off to have close at hand when you are working, whether you are connected to a board or not, on your Flipcharts. If you click the image it will take you to our Wiki page where you can download the ActivInspire Special Keys pdf as well as take a look at the other information we have to offer.