Deeper Learning 2019

I let this blog languish during my first year back in the classroom, but I started thinking about it again when I made my professional goals for the 2018-2019 academic year. One of my major goals was to present at an education conference.

In March of last year, I attended the Deeper Learning conference and loved it. I found it online as a "can't miss" conference and I was especially interested in the focus on student-driven learning and equity in the classroom. I was approved to go and brought three colleagues. It was such a positive experience. As a field, education can be negative in many ways (a topic for a later post), but people at this conference were pumped. Inspired. It was just what I needed at that point in the year. I attended two main keynotes, a series of 90 minute workshops, and a "Deep Dive" session (a workshop lasting all day, resulting in a finished product and presentation). As I made my way through the workshops, I thought of how my student-l…

Poetry and Padlet

Hello, hello!

We were able to score some very impressive flights ($69 USD roundtrip) to Chicago last weekend and we had a blast. We visited the National Poetry Foundation, the Art Institute, and more! It was bitterly cold but totally worth it.

I mentioned in a previous post that I would discuss padlet, which is an online collaboration tool for work, school, hobbies, and more. I stumbled across this free program in the excellent book, The Google Infused Classroom by Holly Clark and Tonya Avrith. I love this book because of its simple layout and "real talk" about practical application of their strategies in various grade levels.

Since I am a visual person, I turned to YouTube for help. I found a great, clear tutorial on Teacher'sTech (it's about 13 minutes), and I was ready to start. I would recommend watching a padlet/YouTube video to get a handle on the Modify tab and the variety of formatting styles available.

It's easy and free to create an account. I wanted to…

Why Mentors Matter (and not just at work!)

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Optimum Living Daily, on my way home from work today. The episodes from January 6th and 7th focused on mentorship. The host of the podcast narrated from the blogs of Steve Pavlina and Chris Reining. The two men approach mentorship from slightly different angles, but they both agree:

Get a mentor. Maybe more than one. 

Pavlina and Reining argue that mentorship is essential to moving forward in your career. Mentors can help you become more efficient, can provide you with new ideas, can forge connections with other people in your field, and more.

I agree.

Let me share with you my career journey (so far).

I began teaching at age 23, in an independent co-educational school in the mid-Atlantic. I had never taught before. I had never been a student teacher. I had some experience with teaching a study skills program, but other than that, I had never been in front of a class. Enter my first mentor, S., who had been working at the school for over th…

Class Agenda (Google Docs)

Today was my first day of the second semester, and I'm happy to report that things went well.

I use class agendas for all five of my classes. The students really like it and the agenda makes my life so much easier, in so many ways.

It looks like this:

I create the agenda on Google Docs; I just create a table with three columns and as many rows as possible. In the left-hand columns, I include the date our class meets and our classwork for the day. I hyperlink to documents we use in class (notes, classwork, and so on). In the right-hand column, I include our homework/reminders for upcoming classes. I share this document with my students via our learning software and ask them to save it to their Google Drives.
This simple document has been helpful in the following ways:
1. If a student is absent, she can look up what we did in class and complete the work. This reduces (some of) those "What did I miss?" questions. 
2. All students have an updated document with both homework an…

Student Surveys (Google Forms)

Before we left for our wonderful 2.5 week winter break, I asked my students to fill out an anonymous  survey that I made using Google Forms. It looked something like this:

I used questions from an Edutopia-produced student feedback survey. I also wrote some of my own questions--I wanted to ensure that my students feel valued and comfortable in class. We had a faculty discussion on equity in our school, so this first question (see above) was especially timely for me. 
I asked them what they would like to focus less on in class, and the reply was short stories. This was pretty much across the board for all of my ninth and tenth grade students. What this tells me is that I need to switch up the stories for next year (perhaps bringing in more modern, fresh perspectives) and also change the way that I teach and assess. This was very helpful for me to learn, as it was my first couple of months back in the classroom and I was juggling many things at once--teaching, learning the school cultur…

An Introduction


I am so glad you've stopped by my new site! This first post is an introduction--a little about me and what I plan to discuss on this blog.

About Me
My name is Alison, and I live in the southeastern United States. I currently teach ninth and tenth grade English in an all-girls, independent school. After university in New England, I taught study skills and reading comprehension as part of a traveling teaching program for one year. I then taught English at an independent co-educational high school in the mid-Atlantic. I enjoyed teaching and loved the students, but decided to return to school for my master's degree in occupational therapy.  I thought this shift would provide me with a more predictable salary in a competitive field, as my husband was completing a national job search. I worked with older adults and children for five years until I started to grow weary of the quota-based schedule. I was also tired of having little to no time off and being treated like a cog in …