On Monday at Lewis Elementary School, we celebrated the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a school holiday and our annual day of service. We invited families and students to come out to the school and help clean up our school garden. We had a great turn out and got quite a bit of work accomplished. We would like to thank the many volunteers for their work today and also thank Kathleen Witter for her work leading and organizing the day.
As principal of Lewis Elementary School, I try to visit each of my classrooms every morning to check in and say hello. In addition throughout the day, I spend more extended time visiting classrooms, talking with teachers and students, and gaining a better understanding of the work taking place, and looking for ways that I can provide helpful feedback and support.
I try to document these visits and I have used various methods to do this, including tracking them on spreadsheets and web forms. Recently, I have become interested in a technology called Beacons, more specifically, iBeacons and how they can be used to help me keep track of my movements around my school, and provide me with ambient logging of my classroom visits.
iBeacons are small, battery powered Bluetooth devices that emit a low power radio signal. Smartphones, equipped with various apps, can connect with these beacons, and as a result things can happen based on proximity to the beacon. For example beacons, and apps on your smartphone, can be used together to initiate alerts or notices based on proximity. There is much discussion currently about how these beacons can be used in retail settings to alert customers to products and services based on proximity. I have been thinking about a school setting and how the technology can be used in interesting ways in our classrooms. Several examples of this were recently written up over at Educate 1:1 (The Potential of iBeacons for Schools)
Recently, I placed an Estimote iBeacon in my office. Using an iOS app called Proximity Log, I started having Proximity Log track my time spent in my office based on proximity to the beacon. Whenever I enter my office, Proximity Log connects with the beacon, and begins to keep track of the time I am near that beacon, and thus in my office. Proximity Log keeps track of the number of visits and the duration of each of those visits. The data is exportable and can be used in programs such as Excel or Google Sheets.
I am working to place additional iBeacons in my classrooms and set up the Proximity Log app to interact with these specific classroom beacons. Once set up, Proximity Log will note when I enter a classroom, and how long I stay in the room, and keep track of those visits. I can then analyze this ambient logging and make sure that I am visiting all my classrooms on a regular basis. One of my professional goals is to spend extended periods of time in classrooms, providing feedback and support. With the use of iBeacons, and Proximity Log, I hope to do a better job keeping track of these classroom visits.
Pamela Kennedy ( @pamelakennedy17 ) is a 3rd grade teacher at Lewis Elementary School. Through donations and repurposing, she has created an engaging and flexible learning space for herself and her students. The video below offers a quick tour of the various spaces and seating options for students. Since this video was first produced, she has added 3 nooks to her classroom, providing additional spaces for students to work. They are pictured below.
Nooks in Room 17
Mr. Hansen’s students have been working on print making. From his classroom blog...
“The other day the Google home page paid homage to the artist Corita Kent which was incredibly timely because we are about to start a new art exploration based on print-making. Students are going to decide what important messages they have to tell the world and then turn them into poster prints.”
Over the weekend we held our annual Holiday Bazaar. Part of the set up for this involves covering our gym floor with heavy paper in order to protect the floor as we turn the gym into a space for setting up tables and booths for our vendors. Each year the paper gets put down and then at the end of the bazaar, volunteers take up the paper for recycling. This year our PE teacher, Millie Layman asked that we not pull up the paper at the end of the bazaar, but rather leave it so she could use the paper on the floor the first day back after the bazaar.
On Monday she had all of her students work on creating charts and signs that she plans to use in the gym. These include skip counting banners to help students learn to count by 3s, 4s, and so on, rather than just counting off by 1s when doing their PE warm-ups. In addition she worked with our special education team to create some opportunities for some special needs students and their classmates that involved painting with pendulums, and using a special swing as a pendulum to create spiral art.
All in all a nice way to change up the regular PE class. Nice work Ms. Layman.
Recently our 5th grade classrooms have been visiting the Reed College Cooley Art Gallery. On Friday, Mr. Colvin’s students took a walk over to the gallery. Upon their return, they spent some time writing their reflections of the experience. Below I have quoted from one student...
Lilyana and I were looking at one of the paintings and Lilyana got scared of one of the paintings because on one of them it looked like there was blood on it! She is no longer scared of it anymore (I don’t think). I saw some of the Reed College students there and all of them look very busy and smart. When we made our own art out of tape and paper, I made a car (out of one piece of paper). This was a really fun experience for me and I hope to do it again!
You can read their reflections on the experience on Mr. Colvin’s classroom web site.
On Saturday I was able to attend the latest edition of #edcamppdx. An edcamp "is a form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs."* I have attended several, and my school, Lewis Elementary, has hosted two. They are very much unlike most educational conferences, and most unlike most of my professional learning, which have set speakers and presentations. Edcamps are more organic, with topics and discussions growing up from the interests of the participants.
I was able to attend two sessions. Ben Jones of PDXDIY lead a great discussion on Coding as as Language Art. During the session, participants shared challenges and triumphs as their schools work to provide students with coding opportunities.
The second session, lead by Corin Richards, concerned Bring Your Own Device policies. The discussion covered many of the challenges that schools and school districts face as they wrestle with providing equitable access to technology to all of their students.
When I attend an edcamp event, I can't help but wonder why other professional development events I attend can't be more like an this? An opportunity to discuss and share and learn from one another. It would be refreshing if those that are responsible for providing professional learning for teachers and school leaders, took more of an interest in helping us find our learning path, rather than subject their participants to mind numbing Powerpoint slides and forced share outs.
I was happy to see several attendees from my school district there, including my own Mr. Richner, one of my 5th grade teachers. A big thank you to the folks from Hillsboro School District for hosting the event and also a big thank you to the #edcamppdx sponsors and organizers for putting on a great day of learning and discussion.
Portland is experiencing a bit of a weather event today. We are expected to get a few inches of snow this morning, along with some freezing rain. My school district started off with an announcement of a 2 hour delay, but now the official word has come down that school is cancelled for today.
Since I have a bit of time on my hands, I thought I would share a bit about the work of my staff and their use of Twitter. I have been very happy to see several of my staff embrace Twitter as a tool to document and share the work taking place in their classrooms. I have created a Twitter list so I can easily keep up with their work and posts. You can follow along at http://twitter.com/timlauer/lists/lewis.
Below I have listed our Lewis Elementary teachers on Twitter, along with a bit about what you will find on their Twitter feeds.
Mr. Richner @lewisroom20
Mr. Richner teaches 5th grade at Lewis. He utilizes Twitter to document events throughout the school day. He designates a student to be the class photographer and then curates those photos into blog posts and Twitter posts. A nice way to get a student perspective on the school day.
Ms. Murphy @murphyroom8
Ms. Murphy teaches first grade and this year has begun to use Twitter to document the learning of her students. Using her smartphone, she captures several images a day and shares them on her Twitter page. A great way for families to get a peek into her first grade classroom.
Ms. Kennedy @pamelakennedy17
Ms. Kennedy teaches 3rd grade and has been using Twitter for a few years. Her tweets highlight student work and classroom activities. She also shares about her proficient use of DonorsChoose to equip and outfit her classroom.
Mr. Hansen @lewisroom5
Mr. Hansen teaches our blended 2/3 classroom. He utilizes Twitter to document the work of his students and also to share news with parents. In addition he shares interesting teaching practices, especially related to writing.
Ms. Layman @gymjumprun
Ms. Layman is our physical education teacher and she has embraced Twitter both as a tool for sharing what is going on in gym class, and also as tool for continuous growth and professional learning. She has become an active participant in PE twitter chats, eager to share and learn from other physical education teachers.
Mr. Colvin @mrcolvinteacher
Mr. Colvin teaches 5th grade and is one of our veteran Twitter users. His feed provides a great view of what his students are learning and images that convey student work and engagement.