Never Work Harder Than Your Students

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Posted by Mr. Kruse | Posted in Reflection, Student Learning | Posted on March 22, 2011

I recently had a conversation with our literacy strategist. She teachers one class a day and was going to start having her students use some of the Google Apps. We were talking about what tutorials she could give her students and how she should teach them to use Google presentation, they were going to do a vocabulary project with it. I shared all the resources that I had gathered and told her that she could probably find some video tutorials that she could share as well. After I went home, I realized that we were working way too hard on teaching the students the technology when we should be concentrated on teaching them the vocabulary. The next day I stopped her in the quad and told her this, we talked about how she should just teach the students how to find their own resources by using web searches and some of the modifiers such as quotation marks and plus signs. Then we talked about how this could be useful in their next project where they are going to be doing some research and she didn’t want to have to find all their resources for them. Then it hit me, this is what people talk about when they say, “Never work harder than your students.” (I also know that there is a book with the same title by Robyn R. Jackson that I want to read but haven’t yet) We talked some more about how this technique will empower the students to learn on their own and to take responsibility for their own learning. Our hope is that since her students are ones that struggle with literacy, this will give them some confidence that they can be successful in class and will carry over to their regular English classes.

I know that for a lot of people, this isn’t new but for some reason I always thought that I needed to be the most informed and needed to be able to answer all my students’ questions. I guess that now I have been reading some great blogs and connecting with other educators on twitter, I have turned the corner on this topic. I hope that these students do really well with this type of instruction and that other teachers will adopt this teaching style.

What other ways can students work harder than teachers and actually improve their learning?

My First Attempt to Have an Active Learning PD Session

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Posted by Mr. Kruse | Posted in PD, Reflection | Posted on February 28, 2011

Today I led a professional development session on Google Docs. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I was going to present this material because I only had 50 minutes and all the teachers would be logging into their school Google account for the first time so we had to deal with that and I knew from past experience that this would take awhile. While I was mulling over whether I should just create short videos on how to do things or whether I should lead the entire group along at the same pace, I read a blog post by Jeff Utecht that was entitled Becoming and Active Learner. This post inspired me to try something new with my PD and not just do a sit and get session where I have everyone follow along with me which is what I usually did. I really wanted the teachers to take responsibility for their own learning.

I started out my session by doing a quick overview of what Google Docs is and some examples of how I have used it in my teaching in the past. Then I explained that I wanted them that I was not going to give them any tutorials on using Google Docs, instead I shared a Google Doc that had some links to resources that others have already created. I also had to explain that not all the links would work here at school since some of the videos were on YouTube and our district blocks it for everyone. Once people got logged in they would ask: “Now what do we do?” I had anticipated that question and simply responded, “Whatever you want to do.” Some people just sat there and stared at the screen for awhile, others immediately began creating documents and shared them with others to see how it all worked and yet others just looked at the resources that I had provided them. I just kept walking around and answering questions and talking with teachers about their ideas on how they could use it in their classrooms. The next thing you know, the teachers are up out of their seats showing others where to find things like the share button or how to rename the document and no one was asking for a step-by-step guide. It was amazing! These are the same teachers that I had to create 2 step tutorials on how to run windows updates on their computers.

Now I don’t want to give the impression that every teacher was on task and really learning something about Google Docs. There were a few that were on different websites or were just talking to their neighbor and not really actively participating. There was even one teacher that didn’t even log into the computer because she doesn’t know how to keyboard without looking at the keys and the student computers we were using only have the ‘F’ and ‘J’ keys in the correct position, every other key is the wrong letter to help them learn to keyboard and look at the screen not their hands. But for the most part, everyone seemed to actively participate and learn something useful. They were sharing ideas with each other and asking me for suggestions which I took to be a very good sign.

As always, there are things that I would have changed about the session. I would have given them their exact usernames instead of just telling them the protocol that I used. I would have asked for more time. I would have had them share out what they learned during the closing. And I’m sure I’ll think of other ways to improve but for my first time in using this type of format I think it went really well. I was afraid that most of the teachers would just sit there and want me to show them how to do everything but they didn’t, they really impressed me with their ability to learn on their own and I will definitely try this format again in future PD sessions. Hopefully, at least one teacher will think about using this format in their own classroom in the next few weeks!

What I’ve learned as an ECS

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Posted by Mr. Kruse | Posted in Reflection | Posted on February 9, 2011

I have been an educational computer strategist or ECS for about a semester now after being a classroom teacher for a little over 4 years.  I still have a lot to learn, which is indicated by my almost daily calls to our user support, but there are a few things that I have learned that I wanted to reflect on.

The first thing that I have learned is that I really don’t know that much about computers. Don’t get me wrong, I can build a computer from scratch and can come up with solutions to most of the problems that I run into but there is just so much more to know than I ever thought. I really have a lot of respect for the people that I have to call for help and can usually fix my problem over the phone. Truthfully, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say that I know everything when it comes to computers but at least I’m learning more and more each day.

The second thing that I have learned is that there is a huge learning curve for some of the staff at my school when it comes to technology. I have had to go out to teachers’ rooms many times just to check the ethernet cord. I even once went out to a room to find that their doc camera was unplugged from the wall and they never bothered to check. I guess I just underestimated the fear that technology can bring out with people. Some teachers don’t even want me to show them how to do things, they would rather call me and wait for me to have the time to come and fix their small problems. That’s definitely something I didn’t think I would encounter.

The last major thing that I have learned is that changing people’s minds on using technology is hard. I have worked very hard to get the existing computer labs reimaged and working correctly. I also was able to get two laptop carts working with 32 laptops in each and I got the two new iPod carts ready. I even was able to create a third checkout computer lab for the teacher’s to use. Yet I have only had 4 different teachers use all this technology that I have made available to them. I have also had 5-6 professional development classes but have only had the same 6-8 people that go to every professional development class that we offer. This is probably the most frustrating thing about my job so far. I hope that with the new year and the start of the 2nd semester that teachers will start to utilize more technology and start to change their thinking about how they teach.

computer

What Country Do I Want to Visit?

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Posted by Mr. Kruse | Posted in Student Blogging Challenge | Posted on September 28, 2010


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Archimedes (1st Period)

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Posted by Mr. Kruse | Posted in 1st Period Explorations, Student Projects | Posted on September 23, 2010

Pythagoras (1st Period)

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Posted by Mr. Kruse | Posted in 1st Period Explorations, Student Projects | Posted on September 23, 2010

Albert Einstein (1st Period)

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Posted by Mr. Kruse | Posted in 1st Period Explorations, Student Projects | Posted on September 23, 2010

Pascal (1st Period)

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Sir Isaac Newton (1st Period)

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Pythagoras (0 Period)

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Posted by Mr. Kruse | Posted in 0 Period Explorations, Student Projects | Posted on September 23, 2010

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