NCAIS 2014 Presentation

Today I’m presenting at the North Carolina Association of Independent Schools (NCAIS) Annual Educators Conference. The session is from 3-4pm in Carolina C room.  Here’s the session description and slide deck.

Primary sources allow students the opportunity to “do” history and can be rich wells of inspiration for writing in Language Arts. Primary source analysis allows students construct meaning and more carefully examine the world around them. This session will offer participants the opportunity to participate in a primary source analysis activity and discuss several examples of activities from History and Language Arts classes, including activities using digital analysis tools. Finally, we’ll explore a host of resources for locating useful primary sources for the classroom, so teachers can easily and successfully locate primary sources for their classes.

What Do We Do Now That We’re Here?

I’m spending a few days at Online Education Symposium for Independent Schools (OESIS) in Cambridge, MA. I’m presenting on the question of how to best use face to face time in blended classes. It’s a topic that I think gets less attention than it deserves. I won’t be surprised if in a time not so far away, teachers and schools will be asked (by parents, legislatures, society) to justify face to face time. That’s why I think it’s important to start these conversations now.

Here’s the description for the session….

f-3 (9:20-10:15)
What Do We Do Now That We’re Here? Maximizing Classroom Time in a Blended Learning Class
Meredith Stewart, Teacher and Department Chair, Cary Academy (NC)

Much energy has been focused on how to maximize student learning and engagement in the online component of a blended course. This session will explore the less discussed, but equally important question of how to most effectively use the reduced classroom time in a blended course. We’ll consider how to best use face-to-face time in blended courses to complement online instruction, rather than simply replicating traditional classroom instruction. Led by a teacher with four years of blended classroom experience in an independent school, participants will experience a mini-simulation of classroom activity and then
discuss how such activities can work in tandem with online instruction to enhance student learning

Here’s a link to the video we watched during the presentation

What value do you see, if any, in face to face classroom interactions?

Honoring the Writing Journey- NCTE 2011

Looking forward to our presentation tomorrow at NCTE. Below is the info for the session and my slides. Click on the title of other panelists presentations for more info.

Handout with presenter contact info and links

Session: I.22 – 1:15 pm to 2:30 pm 11/19/2011 Format: Panel
Room: Chicago Hilton/Waldorf Room, Third Floor Topic: Writing

It’s easy to affirm that students should receive feedback during the writing process in addition to a final grade. But how do busy teachers make this a reality? We’ll explore ways to offer feedback and engaging opportunities for student revision and reflection throughout the writing process while still keeping your sanity.

Presenter: Jennifer Ansbach, Manchester Township High School, Manchester, New Jersey , ‘We’re Going to Do What?!: Novel-Writing in the Secondary Classroom

Russ Goerend, Waukee Middle School, Iowa , ‘Write Strong: Strengthening Composition through Practice

MaryBeth Short, Cary Academy, North Carolina , ‘Are We Going to Be Graded on This?: Assessing the Process

Meredith Stewart, Cary Academy, North Carolina , ‘A Home on the Web: Creating E-Portfolios’
See below for slides and click link for article about portfolios

Role Reversal

On Monday, I’m doing one of the Ignite-style (20 slides in 5 minutes) presentations for the NCAIS 21st Century Teacher Academy. I thought about doing the presentation on Socratic Seminars I’ve used before, but I decided to put together a new presentation based on some of the things I talked about at the New Literacies Institute earlier this week.

I had fun playing with the inking feature in Powerpoint using my Lenovo tablet. (That’s not a paid advertisement, but if they sent me one of their new tablets, I wouldn’t send it back ;)) I use the inking feature often when students are taking notes or when I’m explaining something in class, but I hadn’t ever really used it for a presentation.

What Picture Should Go Here?

I presented this afternoon at the Lenovo ThinkTank 2011 conference about ways in which administrators can support teacher innovation.

For one of the slides illustrating how administrators could spark innovation, I wanted to represent the idea of healthy discomfort. The kind of discomfort that destabilizes a bit, the kind that makes you move because you’re a touch uncomfortable. I struggled to find a picture to represent the feeling I was looking for. I wasn’t even sure that I had clearly formed in my mind the concept I was imagining, but it felt important to include. I got some good ideas from folks on Twitter, but I couldn’t ever find a picture with which I was happy.

Time was getting close, so I decided to take a risk and ask the session participants what the picture should be. I inserted this slide into the preso…

When we got to the slide, I explained what I was thinking and my difficulty in finding a picture to represent the feeling. I then asked those who were there what picture they would have chosen. It generated some great discussion, from a request for clarification of what I was thinking about in terms of the word healthy to creative suggestions for pictures from a kindergartner teaching a superintendent to someone running in the summer heat.

I hope using a “blank slide” gave the impression that I try to give my students- I care about this time and have prepared for it, but I’m also a learner in this enterprise. I don’t have all the answers.

You can view the rest of the presentation slides below. I had to split it into two, so it would place nice with the Google Docs maximum file size.

Hope Realized

As a teacher, you have aspirations, values, and ideas. You try to infuse your teaching with these things, but I sometimes wonder, Do they see it? Are they getting it? Not just the content. Truth is I care about other things much more than that. I want them to love learning. I want them to be curious and to care. I want them to trust their voices and to be good listeners.

Occasionally, a teacher has the opportunity to see her hopes realized. Today was that kind of day.

This afternoon, four students from my US History blended learning class loaded into a school van and headed to Raleigh to present at the NCAIS Innovate conference. I offered the students no guidance other than to suggest that they should explain the basics of the classes and discuss some of the work we’d done in the class. I also offered to put together some slides once they’d chosen what they would talk about. As we were walking into the conference this afternoon, I realized that I had little more than a general sense of what they would say.

So when they started speaking, I was blown away. Throughout the hour of presentation and question and answer the students thoughtfully articulated the goal and experience of the class. I kept thinking to myself, I had hoped, but I had no idea. One of the things that was most gratifying was that the students spoke honestly, willing to name both the good and the challenges of the class. I also heard them speaking truth to power (albeit the benevolent, well-meaning power) by saying things like “Just because we’re students doesn’t mean we can’t develop an educated opinion of what we’re studying…” and “That’s not usually the way history teachers run their classes,” with the hastily added, “Sorry if there are any history teachers in the room.” 🙂

One of the students began her section of the presentation by saying, “So I’m not going to lie, history’s not my thing…” She went on to tell how the class had changed her view of history, one assignment leaving her so excited that she read her paper aloud to both her parents. Another said, “I don’t think I hate history, just the way we’ve always learned it…”

Matt Scully (one of my teaching heroes) asked the students if a different way of viewing class changed the way students viewed the world. I thought it was a great question, but I expected that the answer would be no. I mean it’s a class, right? I was just hoping it helped them feel more engaged in history and learning. Instead, each of the students offered some way that the class had affected the way she viewed or read the world.

While I’ve loved teaching this class, there have also been so many moments where I’ve felt doubtful about what we were accomplishing (or not) because so much of it is so new, with so many variables. Yet more reason that today I felt overwhelmed with pride and gratitude.