Friday, November 1, 2013

@ClassroomChamps, @ArneDuncan, and FRACTIONS!

Man this week has been a WHIRLWIND for sure!

So Monday we did our monthly Classroom Champions lesson (www.classroomchampions.org).  As I've shared before, we're learning from our athlete Joshua Sweeney as he prepares for the Winter Olympic Games.  This month we learned about "Fair Play".  I started out by playing two games with kids that had the odds clearly stacked against one of the students.  They flipped out talking about how unfair it was, and it was a great lead in to the day's lesson.  Then we watched our video from Josh, and we used www.fairplayinternational.org website to talk about all the aspects of "Fair Play".  The students then colored the Olympic Rings and wrote five of the words they felt were the most important to them dealing with Fair Play.  Then the wrote a story of a time when either they played unfairly or someone else did.  It was a fun day full of great conversations.






This week has also been hardcore with the Flipped videos.  We started Fractions this week and there is a LOT of information to cover, so for the first (and pretty much only time this year) the students have had a 4-6 minute video every night over different fraction concepts.  I love though how my students haven't complained one bit!  And they're doing the videos too!  I've really been reminded lately, that building that LOVE of learning in my students is really helping what I'm doing in class.

Tuesday though was one of my big moments of the week.  I co-host a weekly podcast series called EduAllStars.  We interview people who inspire us that we see as "difference makers" in education.  We've interviewed people such as Angela Maiers, Adam Bellow, Erin Klein, Brad Waid, Drew Minock, Eric Sheninger, Dave Burgess, Steve Mesler, Jack Andraka, Matt Gomez, Shelly Terrel, Todd Whitaker and many more!  But this week was a game-changer for us.  Through a random tweet about 3 months ago, I was able to convince United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to come on the show!  To say I got a lot of "flack" for booking him, is an understatement.  But you know what, I was stoked to be a teacher in a little town in Texas, who was going to talk to the SECRETARY OF EDUCATION!  It was such a blast and Arne was honest and open on the show.  We may have only gotten 15 minutes with the Secretary, but it was definitely an incredible moment in my career, and one I will not soon forget.  I wish I could really express to him how much it meant to all 3 of us co-hosts to have him schedule time in his busy schedule to talk with teachers.  You can see the interview (and all the others) at www.eduallstars.com or on iTunes (search "EduAllStars").




Wednesday was also another huge day in my career, because I was asked to do my first ever Keynote!  I was the Keynote Speaker at the TechFest in Houston, TX on Wednesday.  I was nervous beyond belief, and was sure I was going to throw up right before I took the stage.  But it was a GREAT experience.  And I think it went really well!  The response was good, but more importantly to me, I talked about how being a connected educator changed my career, and several veteran teachers came up to me afterwards and said I inspired them to give social media a shot and really jump into it.  But I must give credit to the MANY tweets of encouragement I received.  They really helped me, and I spoke about all the incredible people who have made me that much better at what I do, because I'm only good because I surround myself with brilliant people.  I really love my PLN.  And I can't wait to Keynote the ETLC Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia on MONDAY :)





The rest of the week I worked with my students learning about fractions.  We played lots of games and did some really neat activities.  We're just learning through investigation, trail and error, and hands on fun!  What better way is there to learn?

My favorite activity we did this week was an activity I blogged about last year as well.  I threw a bunch of items on the floor (51 to be exact).  And all I told the kids is, "I want to you classify and organize the items however you wish, think differently, and be creative with how you organize them.  Then write a fraction for the amount of items you included in each category.  You can only send one person from your group at a time to the pile on the floor, and you can't touch anything in the pile either."



The kids really had to work on their communication skills, and had to be creative with how they were going to organize the items and actually include ALL of them.  Out of 24 groups (each group had about 45 minutes to solve it), I only had 6 group solve it correctly.  Many of them were getting the denominator incorrect (meaning they didn't actually count all the items).  But it was a great activity, the kids had fun, and there was a lot of conversations about organizing the items, writing the fractions, adding the fractions, and more!

Next week we jump even more into fractions!