03 August 2015

Syllabus Extravaganza: Steal some great ideas!

Weird teachers have one thing on their mind right now: the perfect syllabus.

I had hoped I wasn't the only one who made a hobby of syllabizing, and recent posts among my PLN amigos indicate I'm not!

I'm pretty tickled that the infograph syllabus is catching on:
Also check out Courtney Cochran's sketch-note syllabus! I had every intention of learning to sketch note this summer, but, alas, the road to the first week of workdays is paved with good intentions.

Allison Wienhold's Spanish I, II, and III syllabi are pretty visual, too, even if they're not Piktocharts. I think that's the key: presenting the information in such a way that it can and will be read.

I've also gotten some cool syllabus ideas from Pinterest (the source for all things teachery). I'm especially intrigued by the interactive notebook syllabus and may do something with that next year.

Carrie Toth, however, takes a less visual but more thorough approach when creating the perfect syllabus, breaking down each quarter's grammar, culture, and literacy focus with concise communicative goals.

And then Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell breaks down the absolute essentials of syllabusiness still further--infograph or no: content overview, assessment policies, tools, classroom culture, and clarity.

For those of you in AP land, Courtney Johnson has some tips for creating an amazing AP Syllabus (with a little help from Sra. Cottrell and Sr. Peto).

As for delivery, I like that first-day stations are catching on--get students to interact with the syllabus individually without wasting valuable class time droning through it. Here are a few ideas for other stations that can be going on at the same time: 
  • Sra. Stilson is thinking about a name station, a student info form station, Twitter account setup, and a station for exploring weekly homework choices.
  • Sra. Wienhold also has a proficiency station and expands on the Twitter set up with "shelfies," bios in the TL, and music suggestions.
  • Mme. Farabaugh is considering a class Instagram account in addition to the Twitter account, and a helpful app downloading station.
  • Some stations I've tried for Spanish I include shelfies, Google Translate comparisons, and Pinterest playlists.
  • I've tried different stations for Spanish II too: action shots for essential verbs, karaoke with past songs, pre-TPRS story forms, Skitch goal setting, and portfolio flashbacks to review what they could do the year before.
As for my syllabus for this year, I'm still working on the links in ThingLink, but I've got my syllabus channel on ThingLink...and a preview sans links:


23 July 2015

Top 10: the pinnacle of Pinnacle

Ohhhh, I wanna dance with somebody
...somebody who's in my district!
Sandbox PD is the only way to go. Surround yourself with a few good brains, zero in on a few good goals, and play.

And that's just what we got to do in Pinnacle this week.

So here are my Top 10 experiences that made Pinnacle the peak of PD for me this week.



10. Infopics--who knew?
I mean, I've dabbled in infopicking here on my blog, but I had never realized how much thought would have to go into summing up a concept in one. Plus TOTALLY novice appropriate writing task! 

I don't see a whole lot of target language
happening between the cussing to figure
out the controls...but it was inquiry-based.
9. Theircraft
My son thought we were going to be building houses together and raising little blocky farm animals when he heard I learned about Minecraft and Pinnacle this year, but I never actually played it. Now I have at least navigated a little, made myself a little house with a basement, so I can share that experience with him--and assorted students now, even if I still haven't figured out a way to make it worth spending Spanish class time on.


8. SAT time
This wasn't an explicit part of Pinnacle, but it was much needed. I think my principal would forgive me knowing I'm not as enthused about my new English challenge as I was about Film & Lit and Creative Writing. SAT Prep is still exciting in that it's a challenge and I get to be with kids I've gotten to love on for three years already, but I really needed some time to sit down and talk to some math teachers and talk shop--and I got it!
"Where are the goats??" Shelly and I
were disappointed.

7. Goat island
It was cool having challenges that had us get out in parts of the district I didn't know so well, and even cooler to go with my colleagues, so we could have a little bonding time after lunch.

6. The Student Side
Whether it was trying to submit assignments on Google Classroom or teach myself about an unfamiliar concept using Blendspace, I really got some perspective on what might go through students' minds while they're going about their studently business.

It's for Communicative Pursuit.
5. Spraypainted fingernails
Rarely can I break out the paint and crafty things without fear of a preschool-sized (or Art-Club-sized) mess. Having the time and excuse to just cut up some cardboard and sponges was good for my soul.

4. Haaaaaaaave ya met Laura?
I've been preaching audience first in PBL for years (or at least year). Having middle school amigas suddenly struck with inspiration firing off an email to their Spanish colleague so we could maybe work on some projects together was a definite perk of my time this week!

3. Nearpod miss
My whole first grading period was going to be a shambles without something to replace InfuseLearning for introducing personalized vocabulary without resorting to English. I'd heard of Nearpod, but never tried it out, so seeing it from the student side was a godsend!

2. Somebody whoooooooo!
I admit I'm here 1) for the iPads and 2) for the networking. Taking selfies and making music videos with my amigas made me really feel like a part of this district!

1. Smarty pants put in my place
I'm not bragging when I say it's hard to teach me something new on the ed scene. On the one hand, I'm a little obsessive in my social media surfing, and on the other, I'm a little...hard to please when it comes to finding new tools that will actually fit with my curriculum. But they did it Day 1--WHILE putting me in my students' shoes with a fancy strategy I've been tinkering with!


I just want to wrap up with a thank you to my colleagues and our ITF guides. This has been an experience--a BUNCH of experiences--that I can use! You guys deserve a badge!