Episode 23: Teaching Kindergarten with Jean Mixon

May 29, 2014

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Jean Mixon has been teaching for 32 years all as a kindergarten teacher. She teaches at Pulaski County Elementary School in Hawkinsville, GA. This year she is retiring. She says that kindergarten has changed over the years. I hope that you will take time to listen and learn from her many nuggets of awesome teaching practices!

I had the pleasure of watching her work with her kids. As you listen, you will hear us talk about classroom management techniques like becoming consistent in what you do, developing procedures and routines, and practicing what you want the kids to do in class. Mrs. Mixon reflects, “We have to practice… The first two weeks in Kindergarten are so important…they are learning procedures and routines.” She also talks about the importance of using their names to connect... “You have to build that personal relationship.”

By the way, she has this very cool rug that helps her establish that consistency…I think that you will find that discussion very illuminating and also just cool.

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We also talk about instructional strategies and her use of formative assessment, modelling and getting the kids to doing.

She always is with kids… “Just part of good teaching, be right there with them…”

Her favorite resource is the SMART board!

She was fun to watch and is an amazing teacher!

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I am sure that you will learn much from her!

Enjoy!

Length: 33:01

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Episode 22: Technology and Classroom Routines with High School Science Teacher…Dana Niblett

May 21, 2014

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Dana is a high school science teacher at Dodge County High School in Eastman, Georgia.

She has been teaching for 7 years and even though she is a science teacher she started out teaching middle school math. Mrs. Niblett comes from a tradition of teachers as both of her parents were teachers.

I had the wonderful experience of observing Dana teach her environmental science classes. From the outset it was apparent that she was very organized. She had tardy boxes, places for work to be turned in, places to look when the student is absent and so much more.

Her students understood the routines and procedures of the class. This was very noticeable when she shifted from the bell ringer (Science Question of the Day) to the general instructions to the lab groups and back to their seats to work with the technology. There was no down time. The students knew what was expected of them. She did not have to threaten or shush them. They went right to work.

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Dana and I talk about how all of this is possible. She reflects on the days when she first started teaching and struggled with classroom management. Then she found Harry Wong and studied his comments about managing the classroom. She then “stole ideas” from colleagues who were very good at creating the routines and procedures that helped the students get right to work and focus on the content.

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Her biggest secret is “PRACTICE with the kids.”

Mrs. Niblett is a tech guru…or at least not afraid to try to use many different technology applications and tools to help her engage the kids. She uses tablets, laptops, QR codes, Weebly.com, Padlet.com, Prezi, SMART board applications and tools, Google searches, youtube clips, voicethread.com and follows Tony Vincent on Pinterest (He is a teacher who is constantly providing information about cool tech apps for the classroom). Her kids are creating digital portfolios on weebly.com and recording their labs and daily activities in this website. They use padlet.com to respond to questions.

My head was swimming with the amazing about of free technology being used by the kids to help them learn their content! Dana says that she once was made to go to the Georgia Technology Conference and now she knows that it is awesome!!!! She reflects, “It’s the best conference I have ever gone to! There are classroom teachers showing what they use and what works for them!”

I hope that you will take a look at some of her ideas for classroom management and technology uses. Her kids were focused on learning and having fun. Try these out! I dare you!

As Dana says, “We have to get out of our comfort zone and get with the times!”

Enjoy!

www.weebly.com

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Episode 21: Allen Fort -Talking about Rural School Systems and other Education Topics in Georgia

May 15, 2014

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Allen is currently the superintendent of schools in Quitman County, Georgia. He has 39 years of total education experience. He was a teacher, a coach, an assistant principal, a principal, and worked for five years as a GA Department of Education School Improvement and Redesign Specialist.

He feels that he is very fortunate for his opportunities to travel across the state and get to know educators in many different regions of Georgia.

Allen is familiar with the needs of the rural school systems. He has created a rural school system learning group that is comprised of educators from rural systems. He sees this group as providing an opportunity for the different systems to learn from each other on how best to use their limited resources.

As a principal he instituted one of the first ninth grade academies in the state. We talk about his thoughts and lessons learned.

We also talk a little about the challenge of teachers working with kids who have access to incredible amounts of information through Google and other web based solutions. We talk about how when we were kids the teachers had the information or it was in books that they could direct us to, whereas today, the kids can study beforehand and actually know more than the teacher about some topics. This becomes a challenge in that the teacher is often trying to keep up with the kids, but another challenge is that all kids don’t have access. It is quite possible that in the same class there will be those who can and those who can’t access web based information.

I enjoyed talking with Allen and I think that you will enjoy your time listening!

You can find out more information about Allen at www.allenfortga.com

Length 33:27

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Episode 20: Classworks with Kristie Brooks

May 9, 2014

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Kristie is a former special education teacher who eventually became a Special Education Director for a school system. She now is a Georgia Account Executive for Classworks.

Classworks is a web-based tool for assisting students in achieving more during their education. It has tools for assessment and instruction that are used to personalize learning and to support teachers as they help students achieve academic goals.

Kristie and I explore the following questions and many more…

·         How can software programs go beyond the “computer lab” to impact classroom teaching and student engagement?

·         How does Classworks use student data to form individualized plans? How can a teacher use this tool to help with differentiation?

·         What do you think is the greatest challenge for teachers working with kids? How can Classworks assist with these challenges?

Hope that you enjoy the conversation. 

Spend some time at their website or contact Kristie if you have any questions.

For more information go to…

www.classworks.com

or contact Kristie at

KBrooks@classworks.com

Length 26:32

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