Sleepless again!

I'm sleepless again.  Mr. Sandman forgot to give me a dose tonight.  Here's a glimpse of my summer fun.  Not to mention all the amazing rare species only seen at 120 feet below our North Carolina's waters. Nighty night blog friends.  Sweet dreams while I fix you a good dose of Interactive Reader's Notebook.... boooo ya!

~ Tara

Three Branches of Government

Happy October to YOU!!!!

Here's a brochure to help you organize your information about our three branches of government.  I'm in total love with my team this year and we have decided to each take a day to teach the other classes one branch.  One of our lovely teachers has a smart board and will do an interactive lesson with each class.  So essentially all the kids will get to have a lesson with each 5th grade teacher and gain knowledge from their personality and learning/teaching style.  They will use this brochure to collect information along the way, display and in turn use as a study guide. 

I'm so excited to have 26 followers... Yay!

~ Tara

Project Based Learning

Hi fellow teachers!

I hope your school year is up and running great!  Your grammatically incorrect friend is back with some ideas about Project Based Learning!!!!!

As part of being a reflective practitioner, I am constantly thinking about what went well and what can I improve?  Also, I have big dreams for my classroom, grade level, school, county, state, and yes even our Nation's classrooms.  I would like to see a revolution in our schools.  But, not as you probably think for a certain style of teaching!  I'm so tired of each new data driven strategy being crammed down our throats without consideration to our personalities or our CHILDREN!  I will talk about certain strategies that I find to be my ultimate favorites, but I also think about the variety of teaching styles that we receive at a college level.  Do we not sit through lectures, demonstrations, field trips, online learning, videos, group/partner, and other varieties of work?  Why then are veteran teachers demanded to change on impact every strategy they find useful each time someone writes a new book?  I think ultimately, teachers should decide how to teach thier class.  Crazy thought I know.

I think about my personality and teaching strategies... and sometimes wonder if I am doing more harm than good using Project Based Learning.  But then I recall some of my favorite science teachers in high school.  I recall my now mother in law using movies to compare and contrast novels, my marine biology teacher having us create, and maintain salt water tanks. We dug up small clams from the coast and caught mud minnows, to which later the minnows devoured the clams. We recorded statistics daily and noted observations.  Of course our teacher simply could have told us that the minnows would eat the clams.  We also collected shells and classified them, recording differences in their shells and makeup. Now, that's 11 years ago, I'm sure there were more examples, but I won't bore you with those.

Ponder if you will the upper levels of college? 

Are they not project based learning?

Are internships, thesis, and labs not project based learning PBL?

Then I think to myself.... I'm pretty cool and YES, I am preparing my kiddos to be college ready!

PBL is not for everyone... many teachers I guess are.... scared???

Don't be scared, it does take some additional planning, but the end results of real learning are unmistakable.  I promise.

I think one of the biggest fears is our high stakes end of grade tests and new measures of learning for additional subjects.  The new common core is also scarring the crap out of a lot of teachers.  However, once you get the hang of planning, preparing and getting your kids in the mindset of student centered, real-world learning, and let go of a little control you gain organized ciaos.  The learning your children will do is mind boggling.  NOW, just because this is how I feel doesn't mean everyone in the world needs to change to my way.  There are many teachers that get the same end result (for some a test score) using worksheets and PowerPoints all day.  I'm cool with that.

My favorites about PBL:
* Real world:  Connects all the subjects for elementary school, helping the kids see why we need to have a common knowledge before we specialize in our careers.
* Cooperation:  Every kid has a skill and something to bring to the table (so to speak).  As adults, college kids, even in high school... we work together!  What makes this nation great?  WE the people!!
*  Creating projects as individuals and working as a team.  I'm in love with the use of Edmodo to see individual thoughts at home and then how they come together as a team in class.
* Reducing meaningless worksheets that ultimately get trashed (but don't get me wrong, I love my reader's notebook)

Well more on the topic this weekend after an awesome workshop in Raleigh!  Have a great one!

~ Tara