Friday, January 24, 2014

Anything But a Bucket of Suck



A friend posted this picture on Facebook the other day, and I was in hysterics.  Not really because the drawing was anything profoundly funny.  Rather, because I fell in love with a new phrase.... "bucket of suck".  I'm slightly twisted. And I'm good with it.  Twisted makes life interesting and fun.

So as much as this Iowa winter is like a bad family reunion (sorry---hate those things),  terrific things are happening inside Rock Valley Community Schools.  Forget dodging the snow by flitting off to Florida....come spend a day with our kiddos and you'll find warmth like nowhere on earth.

This week, we got approval from the school board to begin the process of overhauling and adding to our technology in the elementary.  This is a long-fought dream come true.  Months of planning and discussions with grade levels of teachers went into this. Our educators are so passionate about providing worthwhile, meaningful lessons to our kids.  They've bent over backwards learning technology that, for many, was completely new to them. Out of their comfort zone?  Yep!  Dreaming up new ways to excite their kids about their learning? You bet!  Both feet in, and I couldn't be happier.

Our first graders, for example, have been working so hard on learning writing skills and developing sequence using transition words.  What used to be something that was corrected and then sent home is now being taken to the next level through our technology. Using the Scribblepress app, many classrooms, like this one, have been creating digital books that can be shared with family, friends, and even the world.  Take that, red pen!  We're going global!

Our Guided Reading groups are digging into MackinVIA in full force.  One teacher, for example, has crafted lessons that have our kids deeply examining aspects of history through the myriad educational texts and videos that are a part of this terrific resource.  Before eventually finishing with a historical fiction piece involving slavery and the Civil War, the kids are delving into non-fiction texts to truly understand the elements of that time period through a variety of lenses.  Before MackinVIA, our library (as outstanding as it is) would never have had enough print copies of these titles to make that kind of lesson a reality. Suddenly, doors have been opened to concepts never before possible.  Incredible. Simply, incredible. Not only that, but our kids can do this all via iPad.  Handheld awesomeness. Seamless melding of device and learning makes me a happy technology integrationist.

Why does this all make me so giddy?  Well, my friends, there is learning going on.  Serious learning and excitement about that learning.  I heard from a teacher I work with frequently that her kids met benchmark. Not just a fleeting statement, this teacher and I were doing the ridiculously embarrassing (but totally worth it) fist-pumping happy dance.  *insert Kool and the Gang song here*  Her kids are creating, thinking, dreaming big. This week, as one example of many, her kids created a virtual zoo using iPads and the Write About app.  Five year olds taking their own photos of their stuffed "zoo animals" and writing well-structured sentences about them using early keyboarding skills.  I can challenge some 40-somethings to a tech face-off, and I'm pretty sure these kiddos would reign victorious.

There's so much going on, my cup runneth over.  My cup of joy...., not a bucket of suck. So I end with this.  A drawing an excited first grade sweetie placed in my hand this week.  My job rocks, people.  'Til next time....

On the back, "Thank you for bringing fun to my class."



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