Sunday, November 22, 2009


Sunday evening before Thanksgiving 2009. The forecast for the week ahead calls for beautiful Autumn temperatures with sunny days and cool nights... just like last week, how wonderful! October was terribly rainy here and I prayed for fall...even small prayers are often answered aren't they? I am settling down to do some school work before a short week (we're out Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving break) and thought I would take a few minutes to jot down some people I am VERY thankful for!

BJ - my best friend... he has to be the most giving husband in the world
(and he puts up with me which is difficult at best)
Jeremy - our son is kind, hard-working and funny.
Jordan - our daughter is compasionate, generous and witty.

Daddy and Momma - my parents love me unconditionally - and in my opinion, did a near-perfect job of raising my brother, sister and I.

My Family - brother, sister-in-law, sister, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles - I love them all with all my heart.

My Friends - I have been Blessed with the best friends anyone could ever ask for. Though I recently lost Jill, the many wonderful years I had with her are cherished. I hope I can tell you about her someday... but I'm not there yet.

My Students - past and present. THEY are what make going to work happy for me.
(even on Mondays!)

My Dogs {maybe not human, but family regardless} - Raven and Sadie have been (and still are) keeping me company for the four years since my back injury. I can't imagine how lonely it would have been without them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

{Grad School Post} Synectics II

I hadn't planned to post again about the Synectics model, but after using it in class thought I would post a short note. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the students did with this! I EVEN thought it was successful enough to use again ;-) I think a different topic might have been better... something not as concrete as "problem-solving", and I had a tiny class to work with so they didn't have as many folks to help them come up with descriptors - but it worked in spite of all that. I filmed for Janette as she worked with a group (they did a GREAT job with it), so had the opportunity to see it work even BETTER than with mine... I think I'm going to take her lesson plans to my other classes (including the one I filmed using this model) and see how the rest of them like it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

{Grad School Post} Synectics

As I've worked and worked and worked on my lesson plans for teaching the Synectics model I've learned at least one thing - I am NOT good at analogies :-) Oh, I remember all the ones I've grown up with: dumber than a box of rocks, slower than a snail, smarter than a whip - you get the picture. I don't do a great job with thinking of them myself though. Maybe had some wise instructor used this model to teach me more in my youth I would be better at it?

For those educators out there that don't remember this model, first you have your students brainstorm descriptive words about your chosen topic. Oh, never mind - if you're interested - look it up. My head spins too much to repeat it all... but here's hoping that by using it with MY students - I'll help them be better at using their thinking caps to conjure up analagies better than me!

Monday, October 19, 2009

{Grad School Post} Problem-Centered Inquiry

Problem-centered inquiry is what happens in an EAST classroom everyday. Well, it’s what we WANT to happen everyday J. Students use community-service projects that include technology and integrate other curricular areas to learn problem-solving skills, technology, collaboration and critical thinking skills. As a facilitator, I do my best to guide them to resources that will enable their success. I am going to try to film several different groups this week while they work on various problems. I believe I’ll see all the ‘steps’ listed in the text as we work.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

{Grad School Post} Concept Development Model

This model takes me away from the normal atmosphere of my classroom (as did the concept attainment model). I'm sure I've said before - EAST is a student-directed learning environment so I seldom put the whole class together for a "traditional" lesson. However, I felt like using these models to teach some of the standards/material I usually teach in a small group or
one-on-one manner would be beneficial and possibly even become something I would use on a more regular basis.

I will use the concept development model to facilitate learning about software. Students in EAST work with audio and video editing, GPS/GIS, CAD, webdesign and publishing software to name a few. I plan to use this model to help reinforce their knowledge of the software packages they have available in the lab and also connecting what types of projects can be accomplished using these various technologies (Environmental And Spatial Technologies is what EAST stands for - for those of you unfamiliar with this course. I belive the grouping and re-grouping of the software available will aid them in their pursuit to solve problems that are a large component of the EAST pedagogy.

Monday, October 5, 2009

{Grad School Post} Concept Attainment Model

Here is what happened with my concept attainment lesson...

Students were first introduced to the process of the concept attainment model and told I would be using it to teach a lesson on positive presentation skills to them. I then presented examples of positive presentation skills – and listed the attributes of these skills. The students seemed a bit reluctant to participate in the beginning, but once they caught on were fine. Next, the students (with my help) developed a definition of the concept (strong presentation skills). I then presented additional examples which I seemed to clarify the earlier part of the lesson. Finally we went over a rubric that would be used as an evaluation of their understanding of the concept they were taught.

My students seemed somewhat puzzled throughout the process of the concept attainment model instruction. Once we covered the examples and attributes, they seemed to have a better understanding of what they should have learned from the instruction. I believe the model itself worked well for the instruction, but believe I will do a better job the next time I use it and with my confidence in the method the instruction should be even better for the students.

I can definitely see the value of using this model to teach students some concepts. I believe I could have been more successful had I used this format while teaching presentation skills in a unit perhaps instead of pulling students from their projects and using it to reinforce these skills “out of the blue” like I did. I’ll try it differently next time and I’m sure will have even better success.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

{Grad School Post} Concept Attainment Model

As I've studied the Concept Attainment Model this week, I've really struggled with my opinion of the value. I was convinced today. I have the joy of being able to work with Janette Bales (also an ASTL student taking this course) who is an EAST facilitator I've always "clicked" with. Janette filmed her lesson today and I watched it 'work'. I believe the students gained the information in the lesson, but also gained a little better understanding - of learning.

I plan to film my lesson tomorrow. I will be using this lesson to teach presentation skills. In the EAST environment we use presentations for many reasons. Our students present project ideas and budget requests to school administrators as well as community members outside of the school. They present their projects and learning obtained in the EAST environment to each other and to students outside of the EAST classroom. They also present this information to their facilitator - for grading purposes. Of course, they learn a lot of technology when they create these presentations. They use PowerPoint, MovieMaker and sometimes even free software they find on the Internet. They use language skills. Their writing and communication skills are constantly honed. I believe these skills are one set of the many things outside of the 'core' curriculum that is important to teach our students. I believe being a strong communicator can give them a 'leg up' in the world beyond high school. I hope using the Concept Attainment Model will help me teach them not only the skills they need, but the importance of those skills. I'll post more after I've gone through this (six times :-) tomorrow. I expect each group of students will be unique, as they always are.. but especially after observing Janette's film today, I expect they will learn - and that's what our journey in education is all about.

Completing a Master's Program

This fall I am completing my Master's degree in a program titled Advanced Studies in Teaching and Learning at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Arkansas. I began this program with the hope I would learn to be a better classroom teacher and a stronger teacher leader. As I near the end (the course I am taking this fall and the capstone of the program is called Models of Teaching) I believe I have become a stronger teacher and have gained many tools to help me in educational leadership roles. I moved to a new school last fall and have not taken on as many leadership roles as I had at my last school, but I think they will come - I certainly hope they do.

One thing I would like to say before I attempt to intelligently discuss different models of teaching, is that what I have gained from this program is much more than I expected largely in thanks to my fellow students. The teachers in this program are amazing! They are kind, hardworking, incredible educators.. AND, they are always willing to share their strengths. Of course, it wouldn't be possible for us to share our joys (and sorrows) without the understanding of OUR teachers that while teaching the curriculum is important it is also vital in continuing the education of educators to allow them to share. to discuss. sometimes even to disagree :-) Thanks to all of you for allowing me to share this journey.