Posts In Category Trainings & Inservices
There was much muttering in the halls of the school. Teachers gathered in small groups to discuss the latest mandate from the Powers-that-Be. Teachers were not happy.
Excerpt from the E-mail Received in April 2013
It is highly and strongly recommended that all language art teachers in the district attend the National Writing Project two-week workshop in July. The workshop is from 8AM to 4PM Monday-Friday. Failure to attend any portion of the workshop will result in loss of credit.
Our building’s teachers’ union representative was overwhelmed by questions.
- Can the district force us to give up two weeks of our summer vacation without compensation? (compensation = $$$)
- If we can’t attend, could we be fired? (Texas is a Right-to-Work state; firing is always an option.)
- What about doctors’ appointments? (Teachers traditionally save routine physicals for the summer.)
- What about summer school and other part-time jobs teachers take on in order to avert economic disasters? (Summer school would end the week before the workshop began.)
One of my peers is due the second week of training. Surely, childbirth would be an adequate excuse not to attend.
Another comrade has scheduled her honeymoon for those two weeks (a cruise through the Mediterranean). The non-refundable tickets had been purchased over Christmas break.
After the furor died down, I was left with one question: What in the heck is the National Writing Project?
The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth turns 40 years old this year. In honor of that event, the Kimbell curators are bringing out some of their long-hidden, rarely-displayed works of art. To honor the 40 years of patronage, the Kimbell is offering free admission from October 7th – December 30th.
Join your colleagues in viewing these treasures and learn how to find images on Discovery Education and use these images in your classroom.
Date: November 20th (Yes, that’s a Tuesday!)
Time: 1-3PM (You can arrive earlier and leave later if you’d like.)
What did I get myself into? I wondered as I drove to the Dallas Arboretum.
You see, I teach journaling and blogging. I’m always looking for inspiration I can carry down to the tween and teen level.
I’d actually paid for this particular training myself and I had been looking forward to it as soon as my payment cleared. Now I was having second thoughts. I’m not the artistic type. I don’t consider myself particularly creative. Markers and crayons were about my limit. Now here I was, on my way to an art journaling class which would put all my artistic lack-of-talent on display. What had I gotten myself into?
What is art journaling? Would I be expected to draw? Would I spend more time writing? Dear Lord, please don’t let it be a poetry class!
I arrived at the class juggling my training bag (the bag which holds the supplies necessary for conferences, trainings, and workshops), my breakfast (#1 from the McDonald’s down the block), and my purse. A roomful of female faces greeted me.
Why aren’t men interested in journaling? It’s been one of those questions which has bugged me for a couple of years.
I found a seat near the front and prepared to be immersed.
Three hours later, I realized I was having fun! It’s been years since I’ve had this much fun – possibly not since 5th grade. Now that I think about it, when I was in elementary school, I used to win all sorts of awards for drawing and such. Where had that enthusiasm for making art gone? When had I decided I wasn’t artistic or creative?
The instructor had brought out all her best toys: papers of all colors and thicknesses, watercolor pencils and crayons, chalks, markers galore, beads, stamps and stamp pads, colored pencils, and more supplies than I could explore in just four hours. She encouraged us to look at Chihuly’s art to inspire writing and art.
I’d created a page inspired by the conversations of passersby. I’d created another page using mixed media to recreate a scene from the gardens. I was splattered with paints and chalks; it would take a two days to get all the paint out from under my nails. Glitter littered my t-shirt. And I was having fun!
Now…how do I reignite the fun in my students?
It did not begin well. Traffic was horrific. I arrived almost late, without breakfast, lacking in caffeine, and flustered.
I’d received several e-mails from Region 10 reminding me to bring my own computer for the Day of Discovery. I had carefully packed up my Mac and even brought along a spare extension cord. I spent a bit of time choosing my seating carefully. I have vision problems so I always sit near the front, preferably offset a bit so I don’t have issues with direct lighting. I’d found a plug for my computer. Then I learned that we were all going to be moved….
Problems I faced in the first session:
- We were asked to create a Powerpoint. Microsoft Office is not installed on Macs so we don’t have Powerpoint.
- We were given flash drives with the Powerpoints on them. Macs could see the slides but could not access the sound effects, etc.
- We were asked to move to a different part of the building for each session which meant unplugging our computers, packing up all cords and everything we’d brought along (coffee, cokes, snacks, etc.), and moving. I simply did not have enough hands/arms/patience.
- Many teachers attended (possibly 300?). All of us had computers. Seating near plugs was at a premium.
It took three sessions before I felt myself relaxing into the flow. By that point, I’d figured out my routine. Until I’d reached that point, though, I was discombobulated and flustered, and so were a great many of my peers.
It truly wasn’t until the fourth session of the day that I found myself in the groove. By this point, I’d calmed enough to begin thinking, “How can I use this in my classroom?” To be honest, a lot of the stuff I le
arned about, I can’t use. But the stuff I could use? Now that was a different situation!
It’s all a matter of integration. I have ideas. I need to find the time to integrate the ideas into the current lessons, then to figure out how to disseminate the information to my students.
Stuff I Learned that I Think I’ll Be Using Soon:
Hashtags: #EdCamp, #EdCampDallas
To be honest, I signed up for EdCampDallas in support of a fellow DEN member, Andrea Keller. She had posted her participation on Facebook and I followed her link to sign up. I had no clue what I was getting into.
I researched EdCamp online. Apparently, it is a new PD (Professional Development) opportunity. It sprang from the minds of a bunch of educators participating in a conference somewhere up northeast. They found themselves at loose ends. Rather than hitting the town for funsies, they gathered together to share ideas. They taught each other.
What a concept! Teachers teaching teachers! Whodathunk it?
EdCamp is quite loosie-goosie. Educators who wish to present do.
- Got an expertise? Share it.
- Got an idea? Share it.
- Having problems? Share them.
Again, in honesty, I admit that I did not stay for the entire EdCamp. When we were freed for lunch, I’d already reached saturation. I went home to absorb all the ideas about tech, moviemaking, and blogging. My brain was full.