I can’t believe that 2013 is coming to an end! Where did the time go? I just noticed today that the last time that I wrote on this blog was in October, and I really don’t know how time got so far away from me. What I have been doing with my time, while neglecting this blog, has been really enjoying my work and the people that I work with. I feel blessed to say that this year has been as busy and stressful as always, but also extremely rewarding and fun. Let me fill you in on my highlights of the past semester that I didn’t write about at the time, but that I really enjoyed in the moment.
1) Global Read Aloud 2013
This was my first time participating in the Global Read Aloud (#GRA13), the brainchild of Pernille Ripp. Pernille is an inspiring educator that I only know of through twitter (@pernilleripp) and EdModo. I would easily give her the award for the Most Influential Person in my classroom in 2013. I’ll let her explain to you what the Global Read Aloud is all about.
My class and I read Out Of My Mind by Sharon Draper, as part of #GRA13 and we connected with other classes reading the same book through different social platforms. We blogged with classes around the world, and we connected with Mrs. Avington’s class in Nashville, TN through Skype and TodaysMeet on a several occassions. Even more exciting than discussing the book with our peers around the country, was meeting people in our own community. We welcomed guest readers from the City of Grapevine and from within GCISD. My students loved talking to all of our guests about Melody and her struggle with Cerebral Palsy. They also enjoyed learning a little about them, their careers and their lives as readers. The book took us 7 weeks to read, and they were disappointed when it was over. The Global Read Aloud sounds interesting and fun, but it was so much more than that. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career as an educator. Although I have always felt like I inspired my students to read through sharing my own personal love of books, this experience made an even greater impact because they connected with a variety of readers from different backgrounds. I am grateful to Pernille Ripp for opening my classroom to others and connecting me to so many of my hardworking peers around the world.
2) TCEA Region 10 & 11 Conference
It was a painfully early hour for a Saturday morning in early November. My alarm clock’s deafening beeping managed to creep into my consciousness and wake me up, half an hour AFTER it was intended to. I looked at the clock and jumped out of bed in a panic to get dressed and make it to the TCEA Region 10 & 11 Conference in Lewisville, TX. At that moment I seriously questioned my sanity. Why did I sign up for this Saturday morning conference when I had already been feeling sleep deprived and low on energy for weeks? Was this even going to be worth it?
Ok, that’s not exactly what happened, but I was questioning my sanity for getting up early on a Saturday! Morning person, I am not. The truth is, I had high hopes for a fun day of learning about technology and education- two of my passions in life. My close friend and colleague, Daniela, picked me up and we headed to Lewisville eager to see what cool ideas we would find to enhance our instruction. We attended sessions on Evernote, vocabulary development and Google in the classroom. It was a busy day with one great session after another.
In the Evernote session, I met a teacher that I follow on Twitter from Anna, Texas, Mindi Vandagriff (@mindivandagriff). We talked through ideas for using Evernote to streamline documentation and record-keeping in class. In the vocabulary development session I found a lot of great resources for teaching vocabulary and I met teachers from Cross Timbers Elementary School, who work with students that were previously at my school. It was a fun time to collaborate with colleagues from the district. In the Google class I met Tech Ninja Todd (@techninjatodd) and found a treasure chest of great resources on his website: http://www.the3techninjas.org.
After spending the day at the conference we left energized and excited to get back to school on Monday! We were so inspired, in fact, that we decided that we wanted more! We started talking about attending the state TCEA Conference in Austin next February. It was a long shot, but we decided we would try to make that happen. We both submitted professional development grant applications to the GCISD Education Foundation, and last week we found out that we were awarded our grants! We are so excited to be heading to Austin! I can only imagine how much we will learn in the three days that we will be in attendance. One early Saturday turned into two great opportunities for professional growth. TCEA in Austin will be a great way to kick off 2014!
3. The Celebrate Texas Public Schools (CTPS) Video Contest
A few weeks ago, we received an email informing us of a 1-minute video contest for students. Students were challenged to make videos celebrating public schools for Celebrate Texas Public Schools week in the spring. It wasn’t going to be easy, due to the quick turn around of the videos. After selecting 16 students from a pool of over 40 applicants, we had only 3 weeks to get the videos planned, filmed and produced, and during an already busy time of year.
A team of 4th grade filmmakers and a team of 5th grade filmmakers gave up their recess for the three weeks and in turn were able to work on video submissions for the Elementary Education and Spanish Education videos. It was a quick 3 weeks, especially due to the 3 ice days that we missed, but we finished the videos today and the students are so proud of their work! It was one of the most fun times that I have had working with kids. We talked about storyboarding and filming techniques. They learned about new apps and I was inspired by their creativity and enthusiasm.
Our final submissions are below:
Spanish Education submission- Produced by 5th Grade Shutterbug Crew members.
Elementary Education submission- Produced by 4th grade Shutterbug Crew members.
4) Celebrating my amazing team!
This year has been made even more special by my amazing team. I am blessed to work with a team of teachers who love kids and are driven to make them successful through quality designed work and through genuine encouragement and enthusiasm. They are not afraid to take risks and that makes us all stronger.
I hope that you are also reflecting on a great first semester and planning for an even better 2014! Enjoy your much deserved rest!