Time and time again this is the question that I am asked. And every time, I struggle to find a good answer. You see, I am one of those overachieving people who is constantly on the look out for innovative ideas. A couple of weeks ago, I started this podcast with the goal of sharing some of the ways I stay abreast of new ideas, best practices, current research, trends, and everything else that goes into making me the educator that I am. So here it goes, episode 2 of How Does She Do It?
Today I have 3 things planned to share with you. First, I want to share with you a little about the music that is incorporated into my podcast and how you can do something similar. Then I want to share an idea for student accountability if you use small group rotations in your class and finally I will tell you about one of my favorite ways to use Twitter with my elementary age students. Yes - you heard that right - I use Twitter with students at the elementary level and I’m excited to tell you all about it.
You may remember from my 1st podcast that my program of choice for creating my podcast is Audacity. First I record my narration and then I layer in a separate track for the audio transition music. My shownotes will have a link to a blogpost in the next week or so that will have some screenshots of the process. Basically, I add a new track and drop the audio file that I downloaded into place. Getting the audio just right can be a bit of a trick. You will want to learn how to clip the audio and move it in the timeline to the exact spot. I also use the fade in and fade out features to make the transition more subtle. All of this involves clicking or highlighting the placement of the audio file that you want to adjust and either using the trim tool to use only a portion of the audio or using the fade in and fade out features found under the effect menu. Another trick I use is to layer the same audio file on multiple tracks. This is especially useful if I want to use the same clipped portion in more than one place throughout my narration. There may be some better ways to do this but for now, this is my method.
On to my next topic… but before I talk about my accountability strategy, I just couldn’t help but think about how my listeners were probably paying closer attention to the transition audio they just heard. Alright moving on… In my first podcast, I mentioned that a colleague had inspired me to begin this adventure when she asked me how to make a podcast for the parents of her students. Hopefully I’ve given her plenty of info to follow through on. When we were talking about my first podcast and the Title I had chosen, it spurred a whole other story from her. She recounted a time earlier this year when she was struggling with the management of small groups. Now when I say struggling what I mean is - she was grappling with the concept as she planned for her year. She was weighing the pros and cons of having time to work with students in small groups vs. whole group instruction. She was wrestling with the frustration of students having limited accountability when working in stations while waiting for their turn with the teacher. She was searching for a way to limit her workload (papers to grade) while keeping students engaged and accountable. During our conversation, I made a suggestion which she recently reminded me of. Is the suspense killing you yet? Well my suggestion is something that has been going on in lots of classrooms and you can find it documented over and over again but I’m not sure how many teachers are really sharing it as being an accountability strategy. It’s really simple. I said to my colleague, why not just have the students work on dry erase boards or use the manipulatives you provide and then have them take a picture with your iPads to document their work? Then you can pick and choose which ones to look at. They will never know what you are going to choose and so they will need to do everything just in case. Such a simple idea but it has been powerful and made a big difference for her this year. Now that’s not to say we didn’t just have a conversation about the fact that she has piles of papers to grade at home during the winter break, but at least it has helped students stay on task during her small group lessons. Of course there are lots of ways the images can be shared and I’m not entirely sure what she has chosen to do with them. Maybe she will chime in and leave a SpeakPipe voice message that I can play as a follow up in my next Podcast.
And now for one of my favorite topics! Twitter!!
For those of you who do not know me, I am pretty passionate about Twitter. That may even be an understatement. In May 2017 I actually defended my dissertation (successfully I might add) and it was all about teachers growing professionally by using Twitter - but that is a topic for another time. Actually - I think I will digress for a moment and make a shameless plug for anyone planning to attend the NCTIES conference at the end of February in Raleigh - I will be there and have paired up with my colleague Angela Westmoreland to share a session about teacher professional learning and Twitter. It will be an engaging hands on session and I would love to meet some of my podcast listeners there if you are attending. (End of shameless plug). Moving on - several years ago I came across a project called the Global Math Task Twitter Challenge. The show notes will have a link. This challenge is the brainchild of Heidi Samuelson (@swampfrogfirst) and Beverly Ladd (@BevLadd). Basically, teachers and students follow a specific hashtag GMTTC that contains their grade level at the end - for example 3rd grade would be #GMTTC3. All you have to do is type the hashtag in the search bar of Twitter and you will see exactly what I am talking about. Classes take turns hosting the weekly and in many cases daily challenges. You can sign up to host a week using the shared spreadsheet. If you are the host, it is your responsibility to tweet a math problem each day using the hashtag. Other classrooms will view your tweet and try to solve the problem. Some students and teachers get really creative in sharing their responses! Do you have students that are ready for a bigger challenge? Try searching a grade level above. Need to remediate? Try a grade level below. Want to match questions to the skill you are working on? No problem - just spend a little more time reviewing the various tweets and you are sure to find what you need. Even if a particular question is from a few months ago, what does it hurt to post it on your whiteboard or take a screenshot and load it into your Google classroom if you prefer. I’ve shared this use of Twitter with loads of teachers in the past few years. It truly is one of my favorite uses of Twitter with students because it is content driven, student driven, and globally collaborative!
Alright, that just about does it for this episode of “How Does She Do It?” Podcast. I hope it left you not only with some new ideas but also a better understanding of How I do it and How you could do it too! Check out the podcast notes for helpful links and the schedule of upcoming podcasts along with topics. You can also interact with me via comments and questions. Using Speakpipe, you can even leave a voice message. Who knows I might include your message in an upcoming Podcast. Oh and one last thing - you might want to consider subscribing to the feed so you will be notified when a new podcast comes out. Thanks for tuning in.