KMS Coaches' Corner


This blog entry is dedicated to sharing ideas on how to incorporate this year's election in your classrooms.  Post your comments here with ideas for the different subject areas.  For example, LA can focus on persuasive techniques in campaign ads, SS can discuss candidates' platforms and how different programs could affect the state/country/world.  Science can identify the candidates' take on the environment. P.E. can analyze each candidate's approach to solving national health issues.  You get the idea. Post your ideas/resources for your subject area and any others here!


Okay, so I'm going to be selfish and dedicate a whole blog entry to Literacy Coaching.  By now, you are probably diving right into the first unit of your content.  As I said at the staff meeting, my main role is to help you find the most effective ways for your students to become literate in your subject area.  This goes beyond reading and writing to include listening, speaking, viewing, and even thinking!

I am here to help you plan, deliver, and evaluate your instruction.  I am here to help you reflect on your teaching, identify best practices, learn from and share with others, and ultimately improve student literacy. I will be in classrooms most of the time visiting, co-teaching, and modeling lessons.  As we get past this first week, I ask you to invite me in your classrooms (or say "Yes" when I invite myself!) and think about how I can support you. You bring your expertise, and I can help fit in some new strategies and resources.

So, can some of you that worked with me last year leave a comment here to help clarify what I do and how I can help?  Or if you're confused, ask a question.  Oh, and check out the updated "Literacy" page to see the section on Instructional Strategies.


You have almost certainly picked up some new logins, websites, organizational tools, and forms of communication over the past few months.  You have wikis to update, wikis to read, Google readers to read, RSS feeds, weebly to update, Diigo, facebook, blogs to read and blogs to post...  You have to remember which email you used to sign up for each of those, and how to get back to the site that sounded so cool in July. Feeling scattered?

You need to develop a system to deal with all of this, and create a routine that will keep it manageable.  I call that effort, that management of many tech pieces, your digital hygiene.  Like personal hygiene, it is something you will develop in a way that works for you.  Every task does not have to be done with identical frequency.  Some require daily attention.  Some can be allowed to slip to an "occasional" status.  Some tasks deserve a weekly look.  Some are more fun than others!  (C'mon, who really enjoys flossing?)

There are organizational strategies and tools to help us maintain our digital hygiene.

My favorite so far is Diigo.  Yes, it's part of the load of new things that we've learned, but it is a place to corral all the websites that keep coming our way.  I have gotten in the habit of adding sites by clicking on the "Bookmark" button on the Diigo toolbar.  Now I have to get better about routinely organizing and tagging the sites.

Do you have a trick or a tool to help manage your digital hygiene?  Or a frustration?  Please share it with us!


Thanks to an excellent question by Leslie Fitzpatrick, we have found some cool (and free) software you might like.  If you want to create an online quiz or practice sheet and have your students' results e-mailed to you, try one of these:
Question Writer:

We have only looked at the sites and haven't tried them yet, so if you check one of these out, put your comments here!!!  Your students won't need their own e-mail address...they just click on your link, respond, and click "submit" - sounds useful!

By the way, I just learned that every teacher has access to all student network folders! Did you know that, too?


Did you create a website with Weebly, the program that many of us learned about this summer?   It offers a basic and seemingly user-friendly format, but many of us are experiencing frustrations with it.  We're hearing about some tips and hard-won lessons, which we offer here.  Please add your own tips, or questions for your colleagues.

Weebly Tip #1:  Use a mouse.  It seems to go much more smoothly if you do your editing via mouse rather than the touchpad.

Weebly Tip #2:  Be patient.  The program does not respond to your input immediately, and it looks like nothing has happened.  Give it a few seconds.

Weebly Tip #3:  If you want to extend the page beyond the initial dimensions, do it by adding content to the middle rather than the bottom of your page.  (Thanks to Michele Pitts for this tip).


(Don't forget to scroll down...this is the second post, and you should read the first one as well.  Your colleagues have a conversation started!)

I've been carrying around this idea that Doug Byrnes told me last year and I finally have a place to share it with you!  He suggested making the screen savers on your classroom computers content related.  For example, you could put vocabulary words on there and they would float across the screen all period.  In Math classrooms, you could have relevant formulas scrolling across the screens during the day.  Language Arts teachers might want grammar rules flashing right before there very eyes.  You get the idea.  Now, obviously, you might not have your student computers on all day, every day, but every little bit helps.  Thanks, Doug for a great idea!
Oh, and as you start decorating, don't forget you have a "fifth wall" as Nancy Bell so beautifully reminds us - the ceiling!
Speaking of decorating, make sure you leave room for future student work. Seeing information on the walls that THEY created is more meaningful than any store-bought poster.
Any other room setup ideas you want to share? Post a comment!


5. You've been walking cautiously through the hallways repeating the phrase, "Mimios and weeblies and dongles...oh, my!"

4. You find yourself editing a wiki at 11:30 at night and actually enjoying yourself.

3. You've talked to other members of your department more in the last month than you did the entire last school year.

2. If you learn one more new thing, you think your brain will actually explode. 

1. You're EXCITED about the possibilities for student learning this year!

Odds are, you are feeling a little overwhelmed with the new technology, information, skills, ideas, etc. that IMPACT grant/training brought into our world.  We just want to remind you that we coaches are here to support you in whatever ways you need.  Don't feel like you have to be an expert on everything we learned during IMPACT week.  In fact, we suggest that you just take one or two things that you really liked and focus on those.

Not only do you have us coaches for support, but your fellow colleagues are becoming experts on their favorite things, too!  We have enjoyed watching teacher leaders pop up all over the building.  Let's all continue to share our strengths with each other and reach out for help when we need it.  Coaches included!