A while ago I wrote about leaving edublogs…and then I came back.  Well, I’m off again.  I know I don’t have any real followers yet, so this isn’t a big deal.  I know it seems that I go through blogs like their disposable, but this is the last time that I switch.

For those of you actually following me, please update your bookmarks.

I’m over at The Kneighborhood Annex.

Lately, I’ve had some writer’s block.  That is…creating activities that will both be fun and helpful.  Emphasis on fun…with a hint of technology.  My block must have something to do with the dog days of winter up here in New Jersey.  I thought the cold was almost over, but for the past 2 weeks it has been extremely windy.

So…with the help of my colleagues (real and virtual) I’ve planned out my next few projects.  Without going into the specifics, I’ll just give you the main ideas.

1.  Use Google’s Sketch-Up to create buildings of the Middle Ages and/or Renaissance. (still working on the specifics)

2.  Create a stop-animation video for a scene out of any period or age that we have discussed in class.  This will be sort of like a final project for the school year.  (I need to thank my virtual “colleague” for the inspiration for this little gem. Mr. Mayo has his kids create stop animation videos for literary terms.  They are quite clever!  This just proves it to me that my 7th graders can do stuff like this.  Thanks Mr. Mayo.)

I took a page out of my old friend‘s playbook and decided to spread the 21st Century Educator’s love.  After half a school year, my computer geek (I think she knows I call her this) friend decided to start a blog for her computer classes.  This probably would have happened without my help, but she is really busy in school helping other teachers just turn on their computers and network their printers.  She finally decided to do something for her classes and create a blog.  I just wanted to give her a shout-out and welcome her to the wonderful world of the Edublogosphere.

Stop by and say hello to Ms. B

Just gave an impromptu “professional development” session on using a personal student response system in the classroom.  All things considered, it went well.

These little things are awesome.  They give you immediate feedback as to whether a student “gets it” or not.  They keep the kids focused on whatever question is up on the board.  They keep kids interested because they have a “toy” to play with in their hands.

I’ve used them for informal and formal assessments.

They can be used in any subject.  It doesn’t matter!  As long as a student can answer a question (T/F, Y/N, M/C, Numerical Response), they can use this system.

I hope these catch on in the school.

Here’s a sweet little Newspaper clipping generator.  You can do awesome things with this in the classroom, but I chose to write my own awesome news clipping.

I recently had a conversation with my friend about all this data I’m collecting.  I’m tracking a few aspects of my life from coffee consumption to miles run and books read to number of tweets.  Apart from asking me, “why in the world are you doing this?,” he was quite amazed at my dedication to collecting this data.  I’m still questioning my dedication in the summer months, but I guess only time will tell.

He had another intriguing questions…”Do you think your results will be skewed because you are aware of what you are collecting?”  Do I consciously make an effort to “pad” my stats because it will make me look good?  I don’t think so.  If I wasn’t collecting data, would I run as many miles?  Who’s to say?  I think seeing a “0″ in the column of miles run makes me feel guilty which, in turn, makes me run more miles.

This thought brings up the idea of the Hawthorne Effect.  This idea says that if someone thinks they’re being watched, their production goes up.  Tests were run in a warehouse where they increased the amount of wattage used in the lighting. Productivity went up.  Then then decreased the amount of wattage used in the lighting.  Productivity went up.  Then they pretended to change the amount of wattage used in the lighting. Productivity went up.  Just the fact that the workers thought they were being watched was enough motivation for them to increase productivity.

Now, lets talk about teacher observations.  Isn’t the Hawthorne effect present in every single teacher observation?  The scenario goes like this…Administrator informs teacher of his visit.  Teacher makes his “best” lesson.  Administrator gives good review.  Rinse and Repeat.  Teacher eventually receives tenure.  What happens the other 177 school days?  That teacher might really be good, but sometimes that is not the case.

Possible solutions:

1.  “Pop in” Observations: I am not a fan of this solution, but it might work.  “Catching” a teacher off guard will definitely prove for a bad lesson.  That is of course if the teacher has no clue what he is doing.  If that is the case, then get out of teaching.  But still, even good teachers have bad days.

2.  Two-Way Mirrors: This is an idea I can get behind.  Think of the possibilities!!  Teachers would always think they were being watched, forcing them to be on their “A game” every single day.  Plus, the kids would think they were being watched, so some of the classroom management issues would go away.  And then there would be the constant paranoia of the staff.  This would just make me laugh, because all those teachers that have no business in the classroom would have the worst paranoia.  Think of the conversations that would take place in the faculty room.  It would almost feel like 1984.

If you have any other solutions to this problem, feel free to share.

This is a saying that I’ve seen or heard in a couple places in the past two weeks.  What gets rewarded gets done.  Unfortunately, this might ring true.  But, I’ll have to say…what gets rewarded gets done poorly.

Look at it as a teacher rewarding students for doing something…anything.  Completing their homework, staying quiet in the hallways, being respectful in any situation, the list goes on.  These are actions that are expected of them…why would you reward them for something they are supposed to do.  It reminds me of a Chris Rock joke…”I ain’t never been to jail!” What do you want, a cookie?! You’re not supposed to go to jail.”  Of course I’ve taken out any potty-mouth words.

Now look at it as an administrator rewarding their faculty for doing something.  This is adults we’re talking about that might expect a reward for doing something they are supposed to be doing.  I find it to be a bad situation if your administrator is bribing you to do your work.  Just do it like you’re supposed to do.

I feel it all comes down to motivation.  Everyone likes to feel motivated…right? If you have the right person motivating you, you’ll do anything for that person.  Take Hitler…he motivated thousands of people to follow him and he was asking them to complete horrible tasks.  Yet, he was a great speaker and motivator.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Hitler should be a keynote speaker for anything, but he did possess that quality of motivating people.

When people are motivated, the activity they are completing will be more rewarding and fulfilling for them.  When I’m motivated, I feel a sense of accomplishment.  It feels good.  Eventhough most kids wouldn’t admit to it, they must feel a sense of accomplishment when they study really hard for a test and ace it.

Instead of rewarding someone for doing what they are supposed to be doing, lets motivate that person and make them understand that the reward is how you feel when you are finished.

What Gets Rewarded Gets Done….NO…What IS REWARDING Gets Done.

My wife just joined twitter.  I’m trying to explain it to her, but I can’t put it into words.  Often times when I explain the concept to people, they say…”why would I ever want to do that?”  I believe that twitter can be used for good or for evil.

For good: Sharing helpful information with people.  I follow a lot of educators and ask my network for help most of the time.  I offer websites and different strategies to whoever is listening.

For evil: Sharing every minute of your day.  No one cares that you just ate breakfast or you sneezed 5 times today.  If you do share that, you can at least share a recipe for your breakfast or the webmd link for your sneeze attacks.

So…I’m back to edublogs…I’m sure no one missed me.

I think I’ll use this as more of a professional blog.  We’ll see.

I’ve recently started keeping track of some “data.”  I’m pretty intrigued by the Feltron Report and by what Dan Meyer does on a daily basis. So, as per Mr. Meyer’s recommendation, I’ve started collecting data that pertains to various aspects of my life….coffee intake, miles run, photos taken, and a whole slew of teaching related activities.  I’m actually excited to see the results, but most people I explain this to say….”Why are you doing this again?”  My only quick response goes something like this…”Just to analyze my daily activities.” To which they say…”Why would you want to do something like that?” I have no further response than to just smile.

I hope my excitement for collecting this data doesn’t wear off somewhere around June.

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