Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Teachers Teaching Teachers to be Better Teachers

Kristen says...

Yrp, 2 days in a row...amazing. Some might say I could be spending this time practicing my Rosetta Stone, but I really can't because I'm moderating my students' individual worktime, and it would sound very silly indeed if I'm saying random Spanish phrases while they are working so nice and quietly! :) Plus I worked on it again last night, AND spent a good 5+ minutes speaking Spanish with my brother on the phone, so, I think I'm ok...

But I want to hear about teachers teaching teachers to be better teachers. Last weekend we had our 9th annual Discovery School Teacher's Conference at the Marriott Hotel. We started off with a Discovery-only presentation about Brain-Based learning on Thursday night, and then on Friday and Saturday all conference attendees had the opportunity to go to 7 hour-long presentations. In addition, each Discovery teacher had a least one presentation that we had to give, rather than attend. Because I was working with another teacher, I gave my presentation twice.

So, I went to 5 presentations. The first was about Brain Gym, where we learned activities that we can do with our students to help them focus on their work (and get rid a bit of excess energy in the process!). Then my co-teacher and I gave my first of 2 presentations on "Social Studies without the Textbook". It went...ok. We had solid activities, but a small room and a good amount of people, so we pretty much just ended up giving out our resources and then chatting about how to use them in the classroom. If I were a person attending the conference I'm not sure I would have loved our presentation...unless I liked hands-off teaching, and then I guess I would have really liked it...?

I attended 2 other presentations on Friday; one given by our Discovery School art teacher (we made plaster of paris projects and looked at slides of all the cool things our kids get to do in art class, I'm so jealous!) and the other given by our Discovery School music teacher. This one was very relevant to me, as it was about using music in social studies. We had a lot of fun making up a rap about Martin Luther King Jr. and "illustrating" a historical story with sound effects. Hopefully I will be able to link to a video soon of at least the rap...embarrassing but funny! :)

I also gave my second presentation Friday afternoon, and with many fewer people it went much better. We were able to actually do some of the activities, and spend a lot more time chatting with everyone in the room.

On Saturday I attended two other presentations, one where a teacher showed how he used Authentic Learning in his classroom, and the other on Tactual Resources, both of which I have in my plans to apply to my class after the break.

So, all-in-all, an excellent, educational way to spend the weekend!

Along with all that learning, there were also moments of humor over the weekend. For example, at the opening "ceremony" of the conference I was sitting between an Peruvian and a United States-ian colleague, with a Canadian colleague just beyond that, and it was announced that both the Honduran and US National Anthems would be performed. Of course, the Peruvian and Canadian wondered why only those two were played, but I was kind of excited...I hadn't heard the US National Anthem since July 4, two days before I left the States for the Honduran Adventure.

They played the Honduran Anthem first, and I couldn't help but notice 2 things... 1) say what you want about how long the US Anthem is, the Honduran Anthem is even longer!! 2) the tune kind of reminds me of the "Genovian" Anthem on "The Princess Diaries" movies. I like the tune, but it always makes me think of Julie Andrews and want to say, "Thank you for being here" and wave gracefully at the crowds...

Then they played the US Anthem, which was really nice--usually we hear it with a full band, drums rolling, cymbals crashing, etc, but last weekend it was played on an acoustic guitar (one of my FAVORITE THINGS!) and a single soprano singer (who, by the way, did a fabulous job even though she was sight-reading the song!) It was very well done....however, the comic part came in when a CD of not the National Anthem came on VERY LOUDLY in the middle of the performance...and the fact that we weren't able to look at the US flag while we sang, because it was being "fixed" (some of us US-types noticed when we came in the room that the flag was flying upside-down, and none of us were in it needed to be righted.) The flag flew proudly and correctly a bit later, but after the song was already over. Oh well, it was still nice and I felt very patriotic. :)

Another funny moment--at the end of the conference we had a "lottery" where everyone who put their names on their conference surveys were entered into a contest to win fabulous (a free night at a hotel, a 1,000 Lempira savings account) and not so fabulous (tajaditas, an XL t-shirt, a frozen, whole chicken--EW!) prizes. I didn't win anything, but had a good time listening to the comments of the people around me...and seeing people's faces when they won that chicken! :)

And that's that...hopefully this isn't too disjointed or rambling...I had to stop and start a lot so I could attend to my students. Ah, the joys of being a teacher!! (Another joy, of course, is that we have the next 4 days off for Thanksgiving!!)

Anyway, I don't ->think<- you will hear from me again until after Thanksgiving...but you never know. Either way, I hope you have a great end to the week!


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