Saturday, November 12, 2011

I'm back to blog...we'll see for how long.

I went back to teaching this fall, and of course I have been swamped since the first day. I do love it though.
Right now we're reading The Outsiders, Of Mice and Men, and a variety for literature circles.
When I went back to teaching I wanted to try things I had never attempted. My classroom structure has changed completely, and I think it's working. I love how it looks - and feels. It was snowing when I stopped by tonight to pick up some papers. The big windows face north, and the snow and lights made the view seem like something out of a movie.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

a grape by mlodenbach :: bookr ::pimpampum

a grape by mlodenbach :: bookr ::pimpampum

I was just searching around for language arts ideas and found this site. It's easy to use - I just rewrote this poem I had written for a creative writing class I took last year and added photos that were available through the flickr search at the bottom of the page.
I thought I could embed it, but I guess not. Rats. Either that or I'm just not doing something right. It was fun to make, and I think once students had poems written, this would be a nice finishing touch.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Great Site

I love going to . I have found tons of great resources for all subjects areas. Today I found myself there and am now trying a tool called Reframe It This allows people to look at any website, such as online article, for example, and comment on it. You can highlight a specific section so that others can easily follow your thoughts. Classes could use this tool to discuss and analyze online content. I also think it would also be an interesting tool for teachers to have an on-going discussion. Anyway, I'm hoping that someone I know will sign up and be willing to try this with me.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I've been working on wikis lately, and I really like them. I am facilitating a district course, all organized on the getreal wiki. This is the beginning of the second week of class, so it's too early to tell how effective it will be, but here are the aspects that make it worthwhile for me:

  • all participants in the class can add and co-create content

  • the collaborative work we've done can be shared both within and outside our district

  • teachers can access this information at any point in the future

Many other teachers in our district are using wikis this year, including science departments at middle and high school level. I'm including links to one of their sites.

buffalokayceeschools - this is one I'm working on for the district as a whole

ccmsscience7 - this is Marcia Gaines's 7th grade science wiki - this is the wiki for the course I'm facilitating

Saturday, October 24, 2009


I spent last week at a PAWS range-finding event at the Pearson testing company's site in San Antonio. I worked with two other Wyoming teachers and two Pearson scorers to select the range of scores in 8th grade expressive and expository writing.
Here is the process we used:
1. We read and discussed the idea development portion of the expressive rubric.
2. We read somewhere around 15 papers aloud, scored them individually only on idea development, and then discussed the scores and came to consensus.
3. We read 13-15 more individually, then shared scores and came to consensus on each.
4. We followed this pattern for the traits of organization, voice, and conventions.
5. In the last step of this process, we scored roughly 30 more papers for all of the traits, using some specific papers from the initial scoring sets to help us maintain consistent levels of proficiency that we had set thoughout the first phases of the process.
6. We shifted to expository writing and followed each of the same steps through that process.

Yes, it was grueling, but I did gain a much clearer understanding of the bigger picture of this assessment, and I understand what happens once the papers are shipped off to Pearson. The two scoring room leaders who worked with my group were incredibly astute and conscientious in helping us work through this process. Without their knowledge, we probably wouldn't have maintained any sort of consistency.
I left feeling that the testing company does its job well; it scores accurately according to the criteria that is set before it. The problems come with all of the other variables - from the state department to the students. I hope we don't forget that this is only one small indicator of a student's ability to write.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Wow - I can't believe how quickly the first few weeks of school have gone. The media specialists and the IFs are getting ready to offer a class on the Big 6. I hope there will be a lot of interest in our district. It's one of those initiatives that could have a huge impact on the quality of student work if the implementation were widespread. I think two of the biggest benefits would be that we would have a systematic way of teaching information problem-solving, and that we would have a common language in grades K-12. Here are the stages of this process:
1. Task Definition
2. Information Seeking Strategies
3. Location and Access
4. Use of Information
5. Synthesis
6. Evaluation
Within each of the stages are two additional stages that more clearly define what happens at each level. The classes will begin in October - hope to see a room full of teachers that first night!