One Sunflower


I’d like to recommend the reading of this article questioning the value of praise.  Click the word “praise” to check it out.


focus on fun

It was an absolutely gorgeous sunny day, but the wind was blowing fiercely and the chill was bone numbing.  So we sat inside and discussed ideas for our “one little word” books beginning with a show-and-tell of our January pages.  We admonished each other for resorting to computer printed work in favorite fonts instead of using our own handwriting!

Then we got out our cameras and began to prowl around the house, snapping photos of anything and everything.  The assignment for the February page was to choose nine 2 ½” by 3 ½” photo pieces to put into little pockets to make a page.

Sunday wasn’t as cold so we visited a local garden shop and took even more pictures.  It is so interesting to look at things through the lens of a camera.   I’ve been using Picasa for a while but my friend is new to photo editing. We spent as much time on our computers manipulating photos as we did in taking them!  We broke for meals while we waited for pictures to be processed by the local drug store and then spent a lovely afternoon in the sun comparing, cropping, and arranging our compositions on the page.

My friend turned to me at one point and said, “This is pure fun!”  I’m looking forward to playing around with the March page when the assignment comes in a few weeks.  I might even break down and do some handwriting!


quality of feedback

What is it?  “Feedback works best when it is focused on the process of learning, rather than simply focusing on getting the right answer. High quality feedback provides students with specific information about their work and helps them reach a deeper understanding of concepts than they could get on their own.”

I’ve been video taping myself off and on for a month now.  I used the school camera for the first two and, while I look nice and skinny on the tape, the quality isn’t that great.  Then I switched to a “flip” camera which the school received as part of a grant.  There has been a learning curve in using it but by taping at least twice a week  I’m getting better at capturing what I want.

Today was “feedback” day.  I chose two qualities of teaching that I wanted to explore, concept development and quality feedback, and two 10 minute videos to use as a tool in the process and made an appointment with my principal to view them with me.  We reviewed the reasons for my request and some materials I printed out that summarized these qualities and then huddled in front of his computer and watched.

My first video was of a teacher-model writing exercise and we watched through the lens of “concept development.”  We examined “quality of feedback” while watching me confer with one of my students in her journal.

What have I learned through this process?

  1. Any time I had the camera on I was more conscious about my teaching.  I need to teach as though the camera was on all the time!
  2. I didn’t need video to discern whether I was doing a good job.  I knew when I wasn’t performing well and decided to delete those videos.  I don’t think watching bad teaching is going to make me better.
  3. Watching what I think was a good lesson, naming what was good and looking for how to make it better was helpful.
  4. Reviewing the videos with someone else added an extra layer of feedback that I think is necessary – added perspective, questions I hadn’t thought of, complements which made me feel great.

Bottom line – I have some ideas to try tomorrow that are new.  And that’s what I wanted: “helps student obtain a deeper understanding of concepts and provides motivation for students to stay engaged in the learning process.”

notes are from information about the CLASS observation tool

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