Tuesday, April 28, 2015

NETA 2015! iTry iCan iLearn iSucceed

iCAN say that NETA 2015 is where iLEARNED with the most "M"-azing People!

This was my very first NETA conference ever and my first time presenting!  I can sum up my whole experience in one word..."M"-AZING!!!!!  I have to admit when I left that Friday afternoon I felt like my brain couldn't possibly retain one more piece of knowledge if I tried!  I spent the weekend looking back at my notes and reflecting upon my whole experience.  This blog is my personal reflection about the BEST professional development that I ever had the privilege to attend! 

The Keynote Speakers!

Selfie with Adam Bellow!
The first day began with Keynote speaker Adam Bellow.  From the moment he popped out of the box onto the stage, I new I was in for a treat!  The word inspiration doesn't seem to do justice to presentation he shared with us that morning.  I was mesmerized by his ability to connect with each of us in the room, much like we do with our own students.  He stressed the importance of trying new things, accepting the idea that failing gives you an opportunity to try again, and to be okay with failing for our failures teach us just as much as our success if not more.  His passion about educational technology and making personal connections permeated his presentation.  As I looked around the room at the faces of other attendees I couldn't help but think how lucky I was to share in this experience with so many passionate educators!

The second day Keynote speaker was George Couros.  Once his keynote started, I was completely engrossed in everything he had to say!  I leaned on every word.  He is a true storyteller.  One minute he has you laughing and the next you have tears rolling down your cheeks.  He reached the heart and minds of who we are as educators and the profound effect that we have with our students.  He reitterated over and over the idea of "connecting."  He shared that surrounding himself with people who were passionate about what they did was a game changer for him in education.  Twitter was his way to connect with people who shared in his passion and with whom he build a professional learning network.  I loved his quote "TEACHERS ARE ONLY ISOLATED IF THEY CHOOSE TO BE!" 

George's videos that he included in his presentation pulled on your emotions!  Either you were laughing or you were crying, and sometimes you were doing both at the same time (or at least that was my experience).  I have to include my favorite video of the conference called "BE MORE DOG!"
 His message that we as educators need to build strong connections with our students and include times to be more playful in your teaching and learning was profound.  He stressed the importance of creating an environment that promotes innovation!  Allow students to create, share, and connect with the world!  AMEN!!

The standing ovation at the end of his presentation came as no surprise!   He connected with hundreds of educators and took us on a journey of laughter and tears.  It's a journey that I won't forget!

What an "M"-azing Journey!!  Traveling With Michelle Boyce

My First NETA Presentation

Stick-Around App Creator Tony Vincent
Okay, I would be lying if I said I wasn't completely petrified when I walked into the room I would be presenting in.  My stomach felt like it had been on a Tilt-A-Whirl for days.  When it was time to present I had a great pep talk inside my head...."You can do this!"  Once the doors shut and our presentation was up, all things became surprisingly easy!  I knew once I started sharing that my passion would take over, and it did!!  As I looked at the crowd I came to the realization that those in attendance genuinely were interested in what I was saying.  The creator of the Stick-Around App, Tony Vincent was in the audience, how cool was that!!  (I was excited because we use his app all the time and within our presentation we shared with educators what a great resource it is to use in the classroom!) The laughter, oohs or ahhs, and body language of the participants fueled my brain and energized me!  I transitioned from nervous to confidence within the first five minutes!  The Keynote that I had worked on was ingrained in my brain and I knew that what I wanted to share was important and relevant to those attending.  As the Keynote came to an end I was shocked to feel that I wish I had more time to share!  WOW!! Talk about a transition! 

"M ANN M" Presenting at  NETA2015
The best part about the whole presentation for me was the preparing for it with two very dynamic colleagues, Ann Feldmann and Michelle Boyce.  
We are the three "M ANN M's" that worked diligently to share our
iTry iCan iLearn iSucceed iPad classrooms with others.
It is "M"-azing what you can do with passionate people!  

Thanks to the experiences I shared with all the inspiring people I met at NETA, I am ready to challenge myself to "BE MORE DOG!"  I can't wait for next year!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Class Dojo Is The Way To Go!!

This year I implemented the Class Dojo behavior management system in my classroom and it has been a HUGE success!   I have been able to record and track my students' behaviors daily, while providing instant feedback.

When school began I gave each student an avatar to begin with.  Upon earning 50 points students could then choose and customize their own avatar if they chose this as their reward.  Each day all students begin with zero points.  At the end of the day they are able to see the score they earned and write it into their daily planner.  These points are kept all well and then are cashed in on Friday to shop in our class store.
Students love earning their points and shopping is VERY important to them. 

You can start out by using ClassDojo to track your class progress towards behavioral goals.  It would be like a high-tech marble jar: Points can be added or taken away depending on how the class is responding to instruction.   I highly encourage to let your class set goals and work toward rewards based on how many points they've earned.

If you would rather keep track of each student you can individualize it as well!
You can also use the system to monitor students' individual progress and look for behavioral patterns.  In this sense, you could use ClassDojo as more of a high-tech behavior chart, with frequent assessments for each student.

As a third grade team of teachers, we set up "shared behaviors" to help offer consistent expectations throughout our grade level.
 These expectations were first discussed in our classrooms with students.  They helped to select both the positive and negative criteria.  Having the student perspective and input was critical to our success!

 Class Dojo created
 the mobile app (iOS and Android), which allowed us to award positive or negative points to any third grader in our building.  These points could be given at any point from anywhere in the classroom, in the hallways, in the lunchroom, on the playground, and so forth.  It has been great for modeling consistency across our grade level. The expectations are known and understood by all the third graders in our building.

The pictures you see are examples of our customized behavior list. 
These behaviors are categorized as "positive" or "needs work."  Each behavior is paired with an icon that students can easily identify; as points are awarded or taken away.  Students are able to hear sounds associated with the positive and negative points that are
being added or subtracted.  So if a group is working well they will hear a positive sound.   If someone is off task they can hear a negative sound.  I prefer to unveil the point totals at the end of the day rather than displaying publicly throughout the day.  It is my own personal preference. Depending upon your students you can decide what works best in your room.   I have found that Class Dojo helps to make behavior expectations more clear and concrete for students. They are always excited to find out who earned the most points each day! 

ClassDojo excels the most as a communication tool between the teacher, student, and parents.  The parents are able to see  a wider picture of their child's daily experiences in class.  It is more transparent for teachers, parents, and kids. Not to mention that the program also provides more specific feedback to look at student behaviors and the social skills they're learning. The reports are also very infomative for parents!

We also felt it was essential to include this daily communication with families. We as a third grade team, shared
the ClassDojo Messenger app with our families so they can monitor their child's progress and communicate with us. This has been a WONDERFUL means of communication!  We all have 100% of our parents signed up and using it!  I can easily send out a "Whole Class Broadcast" to share something quickly with all of m families at the same time, or I can individually message families as well! 

As with anything, Class Dojo's effectiveness is dependent largely upon  how you use it -- it definitely works best with continued and consistent use.  Please know that it will only be as good as the attitude you bring to its implementation and the consistency in which you as an educator are prepared to handle!!  Here are some of my students thoughts about Class Dojo...

"Class Dojo is awesome because you earn positive points and then you can use your points to buy a special privilege or something in our store." Matthew age 9

"I like Class Dojo because it helps me to make good choices!"  Malachi age 8

"Class Dojo is fun because you can make your own avatar and buy things that you earn on your own."  Sophie age 9

CLASS DOJO IS THE WAY TO GO!!! (Mrs. Klamm's Third Grade Kids!)