Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bloom's Taxonomy Bulletin Board

This year, it was a school requirement that lesson plans include Bloom's Verbs.  We also were asked to pay careful attention to the levels of questions we used.   We were given a copy of this Bloomin' Butterfly. I liked it a lot - posted it on my lesson plans shelf in fact.  But my classroom theme was red-white-and-blue/Patriotic stuff.  A butterfly just didn't jive.  So I set about finding my own...

A quick Google search led me here: I Learn Technology.  I loved their ideas (and there are a BUNCH) - a Bloomin' Peacock, Pinwheel, Umbrella, and a Tree (all available as posters for sale).  But they still didn't do quite what I needed. After talking with a colleague, we decided that hats would work... you know, like the one Uncle Sam wears?  Here is what we came up with(as it was in May 2011 before taking it down for EOGs):

This worked well enough.  In reflection though, there were some issues.
  1. I never seemed to have time to add to the hats as we went. Instead I found myself looking back through a month's worth of lesson plans (and later chatting with the kids) and doing it that way. Made the hats not as valuable.
  2. I never felt like my kids had a good sense of the flow from most basic to more complex.
  3. Toward the end of the year, I really resented loosing an entire bulletin board to the 6 hats.
This is when I knew that I had to find a better way for next year!  Here is what I've come up with so far...

A Bloom's Flag!  My classroom theme will be staying the same (for at least this next year, if not another 2).  I love the red-white-and-blue - and it is also our school colors.  I feel this will also show the hierarchy from simple to complex far better (since they go from bottom to top.)  My dilemma comes in how to organize information: Bloom's Verbs, project/assignments created, and digital icons used.  It is easy to see how I organized that info on the hats - My debate is how to organize it on the flag.  I don't want the flag to loose its "flaginess" if you know what I mean.  I worry that by putting info on the stripes that might happen.

Also, in regards to the 3rd picture.  This summer I saw someone had created a 7th level - Publish - that comes above Create.  I'm not sure if it warrants it's own level (therefore using the red stripes) or if it could simply go with create (and therefore using the white stripes.) (If a publish level was your idea, let me know and I'll give you credit.)

One idea I had was to leave the blue field empty.  Then as the year progressed, add stars with the icons or projects.  Each could be labeled with the level (or maybe coded some other way.)  But I really liked the hats because it made it very easy to see where we had been spending our assignment energy... I'm very visual and often used it to redirect my lesson planning to hit other areas that were a little sparse.

So this whole post was just a plea - Ideas please?!?!

*Flag image from a PDF sent out by Evan-Moor - Seasonal Activities - EMC 2002 pages 146 & 147
I copied and pasted them together in Paint. Low tech for the win!

Monday, June 27, 2011

About Me

My name is Beth Bowden. 2010-2011 was my tenth year teaching.  I honestly can't believe it.  Here is a short history of my career...

2001 - 2007: I was at at K-2 school.  I taught 2nd grade all 6 years.  I really feel like that gave me the chance to really develop my skills in a critical area: teaching reading.  I was able to become familiar with the curriculum and expectations. I tried out different strategies and methods before settling into a good routine.  I was able to easily transfer that knowledge to my future situations.

2007 - 2009: I taught 3rd grade at a K-6 school.  The first year we grouped across the grade level for reading.  This was new for me and was the first challenge I'd faced in several years.  I wasn't able to use my knowledge about teaching reading in the same way... instead of having 4 or 5 groups, I had one huge group of low level kids.  There wasn't time to do small groups (and it wasn't part of the school culture either.)  The second year things changed and I kept my kids all day long.  I did more traditional reading groups and saw great results with EOG scores.

2009 - Present: I am teaching 4th grade at a different K-6 school.  I just finished my 2nd year in a grade level - and it feels great to know I'll be teaching the same grade again in the fall.  There is such a change that happens when you approach your 3rd year in a  teaching situation.  You know (or should know) the curriculum, the kids abilities, the expectations.  You have better ideas about what works and what doesn't. I've already got Science and Social Studies plans for the entire year - because this year I got smart.  I'll share more about that later.

I'm currently teaching AIG students.  Any given year, I'll have 6 to 12 kids that are identified as Academically-Intellectually Gifted in Reading, Math, or both.  The rest of my class (up to 25 kids or so) is your typical, general ed kid.  Throw in a few ELL students and possibly an EC (Spec. Ed) student and you're living in my classroom.

The 2010-2011 school year was a really interesting one for me.  I have NEVER had a group quite like this one.  There were 13 AIG kids (out of 23.)  My boy/girl ratio was 9 to14.  What was interesting about this group, as a whole, was their pick-up and retention of information.  I could throw a concept out, give a brief explanation or demo, and let them run with it.  Much of my job this year felt like facilitating and uncovering what they already knew... and I LOVED it.  It was so fun to see what they could do!

I'm excited to find new ways to incorporate technology into my classroom.  I thrilled to be developing a personal learning network of like minded teachers - there are some super teachers in my school, but it gets a little old to see eye rolling and hear, "Oh, Bowden's at it again!" when I share some website or tech tool.  At least if you feel that way, I won't see your eyes roll or hear your grumbles!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

New Ideas

So obviously this isn't a classroom blog anymore.  That has a long answer and a short answer.  The short answer is that my school district now provides a wiki and a blog for each classroom.  So now I'm left with a site that needs a purpose!

I've decided to use this site to develop my own PLN - personal learning network.  I've created a new Twitter account (separate from my personal one) and I'm even thinking about creating a Facebook page for my new class of 4th graders (and their parents.)

I'm not sure how much overlap I want from my professional life at school to my professional life online.  After all, this isn't going to be a space for parents to communicate with me about their student.  It is going to be a place for me to record ideas and reflections...

Oh well, like many other things, I'll figure it out as I go along!  I'm good at that.  After all, isn't a teacher's middle name, "Flexible?"

Come back soon - I'm working on an "about me" post, a post with my summer goals, and a post with my beginning plans for next school year!