Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rosemary and Mary's Excellent Adventure in Washington, DC

Co-Starring and Directed by Dayna Richardson

What a whirlwind week we have had in Washington, DC at the National Staff Development Conference!  In fact, it was an "L" of a week as we listened, laughed, and learned, all while attending workshops and sharing ideas with colleagues from around the country. 

We also enjoyed a night bus tour of the major sites, a comedy performance of the Capitol Steps political satire troupe, a performance of A Christmas Carol, trips on the water taxi ferry and the Metro, lots of taxi rides, and many stunningly beautiful Christmas decorations.  Our visits to the historical monuments, the U.S. Capitol, and the White House were especially meaningful. Actually, in the photo above Mary and I are standing at the front gate of the White House, near the place where the Presidential inauguration will occur in just a few weeks. We truly felt that we were at a special place at a special time in history, as we viewed monuments to the past alongside the preparations for the inauguration which gave us a glimpse into the future.

In a sense, our district is at an equally significant moment in its history, a pivotal point that will bridge the past and the future as we endeavor to embed 21st-century skills and tools into our students' learning experiences. As we are inspired by national monuments and inaugurations, we should be equally inspired by the symbols of our own past and future struggles and accomplishments.  

Monday, December 1, 2008

Marilyn Bolton's Digital Classroom

Marilyn Bolton's Spanish III classes truly have moved into the 21st century.

Recently named the 2008 Kansas World Language Association Teacher of the Year, Marilyn proves daily that the teacher is the most crucial element in a meaningful learning environment.  

With her typical self-deprecating humor, Marilyn admits to being "low tech" herself, but she knows that her students are digital learners who thrive when provided with digital learning opportunities.  She also knows that students can be self-directed with technology, so she does not have to "know everything" in order to create content- and technology-rich lessons for her 21st-century learners. Finally, she knows that Mary Frazier and I are available to brainstorm ideas, plan projects, and help in the classroom to ensure that projects go well.

Let's take a quick tour of Marilyn Bolton's Spanish classroom:

Exhibit A:  On her blog entitled Conversacíon Española, Marilyn posts a new topic each week, with students writing their responses in Spanish.

Exhibit B:  BHS Spanish students are creating podcasts on different topics using their cell phones.  For example, these poetry readings are amazing!

Exhibit C:  Marilyn's Spanish students are communicating and collaborating with a class in Argentina.  They "met" this group of students through ePals, which is now available on the KanEd desktop.  In fact, since all of our Buhler students already have KanEd ePals accounts set up by the media specialists, it is easy to find a classroom for communication and collaboration. 

Exhibit D:  After deciding that most of the YouTube videos on Spanish grammar were "boring," BHS Spanish III students created their own videos and posted them to YouTube. Their "Hammer on the Grammar" videos on the present subjunctive tense are included below and also are available here as the first two on the list. (Note:  If you are reading this in one of our school buildings, you will need to authenticate to view these YouTube videos.)

This ends today's inspirational tour of Marilyn Bolton's classroom. In future posts I will be featuring other Buhler teachers who are making a difference. And of course, I would love to help you move forward in creating a digital classroom for our 21st-century learners!