What a crazy fall it has been in our little part of the education world @saraharpminter. I truly believe it is imperative that we share the amazing things that happen in our schools, as the media sure can do a pretty good job showing the other side of it all. I don’t want to tell you about test scores… the media will tell you that. I don’t want to tell you about new initiatives, as what is the fun in that? I want to tell you about the great instructional gains that have happened in our school, as that is a great story to tell!
Let’s start with Common Sense Media, and our 6 week journey to becoming a Common Sense Media Certified School and my work in becoming a Common Sense Media Certified Educator. It took plenty of time, planning, instruction, and collaboration, but it was so very worth it. We started with grades 3-5 and used the great resources in Digital Passport to get the data we needed to have some great wrap around lessons in the weeks to follow. The honest conversations we had, the real situations we discussed, and the feedback we received was truly what made the whole experience come together. If you are considering taking this path and working toward this certification, I highly recommend it! I am also always willing to share how I did it. Find me on Voxer @jaimevanderg and I will share our Common Sense journey with you!
This little journey was a trial run of virtual reality as a writing center in first grade. As those of us without Google Expeditions in our reach know, we have to get creative with how we use Google Cardboard and VR viewers in our instructional practices. For this group the students all had one opportunity before the writing center to take a walk in Virtual Reality Jurassic Land. They could see a T-Rex, and a couple of other dinosaurs running around, and were captivated that the Dinos ran right by them. We talked about looking for what habitat the Dinos lived in, and what they ate. It was the starting spot for the writing to come. One of my amazing first grade teachers made a virtual story writing page, and students when in that center could re-view the Dinos, and then draw a picture and tell a story about their virtual journey. Each day for a week a new group had the opportunity to go virtual and tell all about it. This for me was a trial run. Here is what I learned. Cardboard won’t hold up in the hands of our little ones. I bought a real viewer recently to give it a try in our other first grade classes. I also think that the viewer in our primary grades will be best served with an adult guiding the virtual journey and overseeing the use of the viewer. I see so much potential for this, and hope that in December we can get this into our other first grade classes too. What a great learning experience, and all it takes in some passion, drive, and some easily attainable resources. The devices inside are ones I had lying around the house. If you have some of those, why not turn those into virtual journeys for our kids?
Lastly, I have been quite busy professionally as well. I am better to those I work with and for if I am always growing and learning, and that is just what I have done! First, I passed my Instructional Technology Certification Test in October, and I am elated! What a journey to have behind me. I have been asked if the EdS courses helped in preparing for the test, and I can easily say in fact they did! Then on a spur of the moment decision, I jumped on an email in my inbox about working toward becoming a Newsela Certified Educator. My school district has Newsela Pro, and I haven’t truly felt I could be supportive in helping my teachers learn how to use this Non-Fiction Gold Mine as an instructional tool. So off I went in meeting the requirements to become a Newsela Certified Educator. It was a great learning experience as well, and I am so glad I did it! I am so excited to share Newsela with my teachers, as well as anyone else who has an interest! Sharing is what it is all about!