Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Together Teacher Book Study

The Together Teacher Book Study - Chapter 5
I'm excited to participate with Kelly from An Apple for the Teacher in the book study on The Together Teacher by Maia Heyck-Merlin.  Today I'm focusing on chapter 5, Beware the Notebook Vortex.  I couldn't have planned the topic of my chapter better, even if I tried!  You see, I went back to school this week.  In my school district that means meeting after meeting.  What do you do in meetings to stay awake on task and aware of new information?  You take notes... lots and lots of notes.  How do you keep all those notes organized?  Well, what I used to do was what I see most people do... take notes on the agenda or  provided handout, stuff the notes into a folder or notebook, and maybe, if I was lucky, transfer one cool strategy from the week to a to-do list.  If I was lucky, that action item would have a 70% chance of being implemented in my classroom.  I don't know about you, but I hear Dr. Phil in my ear saying, "How's that working for you?"  For most of us... it isn't!!

There are two things that Heyck-Merlin recommends you implement to avoid the notebook vortex.  First, you need to take effective notes.  Secondly, you have to find a way to file and store these notes so that you can access them during your planning sessions, small group meetings, or when needed.

Heyck-Merlin's strategy on taking PD notes is very easy.  Either on notebook paper, a template you've created, or on an electronic device create a two column template.  The first column is labeled "Thinking Notes".  You have that whole section totally reserved for your note taking and processing of the PD information.  The next column is broken into two sections.  The top section is labeled "Immediate Next Steps" and the bottom section is labeled "Longer Term Ideas".  These labels help to keep you focused and organized.

You can also use a template when you have small groups meetings or team meetings.  These notes would also be in a two column format.  One column would be labeled "Thoughts" and the second column would be labeled "Next Steps".  Each of these formats are super easy to create with pen and paper or you can create one in a document and use that as a template you can print off as needed, or if allowed, used with your computer to take computer notes.

Once you have all these notes you will need to store them.  There are two ways you can stay organized with your meeting and PD notes.  The first way would be to store them in a folder or binder.  You must make sure that you use the note taking template page as a cover page and that you roll the notes into your Comprehensive Calendar and To-Do List during your Weekly Round-Up.   With your notes categorized and organized you will be better equipped to implement the content in your meeting.

Now that you have your cover page and your meeting handouts you will need to store this information in an easily accessible place.  For some that might be in a folder that you keep by your planning area or typing out your notes and storing them electronically with a cloud service, like Google Drive, or a program like Evernote.  

I have utilized these suggestions this week and I  already see a difference in my organization.  During my Weekly Round-Up I'm able to set my goals, create my To-Do lists, and add items into my Comprehensive Calendar.  If you implement this easy organizational strategy I know you too will end the notebook full of good intentions.

What are your next steps?

  • Select the best fitting template for your needs
  • Determine if that template will be paper or electronic
  • Carry the template with you and use it
  • Make sure to record your notes into your short/long term action plan and store them.
  • Review your notes in your Weekly Round-Up

Again, thank you Kelly.  I've learned so much and like I said I already see a difference in my time and quality of orgazation.   Don't forget to head back over to An Apple for the Teacher next week so we can continue on our journey through The Together Techer book study.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Summer + Learning = Green & Growing
I've been working on the Summer Learning Series (#SummerLS) that Todd Nesloney created.  The Internet just grabbed hold of this professional development idea and it took off like gangbusters.  People from all over the world are participating.  How cool is that!  Don't worry about the #SummerLS being almost over.  Jump in!  I'm a little behind too.   Don't even worry about it.

I wanted to tell you about part 2 of the Week 3 challenge.  This video challenge was given by "Teach like a PIRATE" author Dave Burgess.   Dave's challenge was to create a 5 word directional GPS for our class.  Not from our opinion on how we "think" we present our subject in class, but from the student's point of view.  I'm used to reflecting on my teaching, but to think about my class from a student's perspective was a unique twist.  It stumped me.  I let the challenge get in my head and it derailed me for a bit.  I mean, I know how I want the kids to perceive my class, but is that how they actually feel?

In the end, here is what I came up with:

Dave then challenged us further, by suggesting we use those five GPS words to drive our lessons.  That we have those words as our focus when we are lesson planning.  Really working towards making our class follow those words as you would follow directions on a GPS.

What five GPS words would you want to guide your planning?  How would students describe your class?

Summer Learning Inspiration clipart from

Positive Thinking

As you know, I love my Motivational Monday quotes. I had to link up with Mrs. Laffin's Laughings showcasing one of my favorites that I created here.

Positive Thinking Thursday

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