Following Trends in Education

Education is changing every day.  With the onset on the Common Core State Standards and gaps in teaching these standards among curriculum, teachers often look for outside sources for supplementary materials.  I, like many teachers head to Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers for fresh ideas.  (I will admit, however, that I refuse to pay for materials on TPT and only download free items – I believe that we educators should freely share with one another.)  In most cases, I find that there are already materials created for the skill I’m looking to teach that require little to no editing.  I also rely on my teaching team and a group of friends who also teach Kindergarten to pass along anything new and innovative that they may have. For innovation in teaching, I follow educational programs such as Edutopia, TED-Ed, The Office of Ed Tech, and We Are Teachers on Twitter.  Although I don’t often post to Twitter, I find that it is a great way to aggregate education-based information. Additionally, I belong to a few grants and groups within the State of Oregon that allow me to stay up to date on changing standards and innovations in teaching across our state.

Thankfully, my district does a great job keeping up on educational best practices.  In math, we participate in Studio practice, where we delve deeply into a lesson and, using Habits of Mind and Habits of Interaction, make sure that our math instruction is of high cognitive demand.  This year, we are working on bleeding those ideas over into ELA instruction.  We have School Improvement Wednesday every week which is an early release for kids and 2 hours of professional development for teachers.  We also have many opportunities to serve on leadership committees and state/district grants.  I’m currently serving on a state grant to refine our ELL instructional practices – our focus is on increasing quality student argumentation.

As I am continuously working towards bettering my practice, I do come across some challenges as I try to implement new ideas and strategies into my classroom.  As of late, my biggest challenge is navigating my school’s internet safety filter.  At home I find great video clips, songs, and games to use in my classroom, only to find the sites blocked under my school’s safety filter.  Even more frustrating is when I test a site in the morning and it works, only to have it then trip the sensor and be blocked when I try to access it in the middle of the lesson.  Another problem that I am coming across the finding the balance (and approval) between teaching all CCSS and teaching my district’s curriculum with fidelity.  On one hand I hear that I am to teach curriculum with fidelity, but on the other hand I hear that I’m supposed to teach all the CCSS (even those that are not taught in my curriculum.)  So which is it?  Teach with fidelity or teach all the standards so that kids are ready for 1st grade when they leave my room in June? Interestingly, I’ve had some conversations lately with educational leaders as well as my district union leaders about who owns the intellectual property (supplementary materials) created by teachers and shared amongst colleagues or on Teachers Pay Teachers.  If materials are not directly created from a curriculum but instead fill a gap in the grade-level CCSS, do they belong to the curriculum companies, the school district, or the teachers?

I’d love to hear others’ ideas on this subject or if your district has a policy on the ownership of these supplementary materials. Where do you go to find new ideas and materials for your classroom?

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9 thoughts on “Following Trends in Education

  1. Kathryn,

    It is great to have you in another class! The different computers in my house have different levels of internet safety and it seems so random when the safety gets triggered. Hopefully the technology will improve.

    Unless the district makes the teachers sign something saying that all material they create belongs to the district, I would think the intellectual property would be the teachers? While I think it is great that teachers offer their materials for free, I certainly am not against anyone supplementing their income by creating materials. When to offer your services for free and when to expect to be paid I think is a personal choice. (Although, I suppose that would be a bit dicey if the materials were created during school hours.)

    The issue I come across is copy write violations with people copying books, etc. that are not meant to be copied. This seems to be pretty common.

    Look forward to hearing more of your thoughts!- Melissa Fisher

    • I do agree that it is a personal choice to sell or open source your documents – my choice is to open source. My personal philosophy is that we already spend enough of our own money on our classrooms. We should be open with our ideas for the betterment of the profession (and our wallets.) However, as you mentioned, it’s up to individuals to decide.

      As far as the intellectual property, the lines are very blurry. If it directly supports a curriculum lesson, does it belong to the curriculum company? If it is a creation from the teacher with no connection to curriculum, does it belong to the teacher? If it’s made on a district computer, does it belong to the district? We’ll see how it plays out here.

  2. You are touching on some interesting ideas here. My district has just switched from focusing on fidelity to purchased programs to focusing on meeting everything in our district curriculum maps. We are in the process of having the maps updated to match CCSS for PA, but we are looking at focusing on the ones that are the most important to our district. What I love about it is that it is clear that we should meet the standards not stay in lock step with the programs. This initiative has teaching going back and redoing lessons plans so that they are more rigorous. Which brings me to something else that you have that I wish we did, regular early release of the students so that teachers can develop these ideas and lessons. I do wonder how your parents and families feel about these early dismissals. Do they complain, or take advantage of this extra family time?

    Our district has not had a conversation specifically about the line of copyright on Teachers Pay Teachers. I wonder what the end result of your districts conversation will be. We have a more it is on the teachers to make a good decision. Anything that we send to the copy shop we need to mark if we have the proper copyright to that material.

    Good to meet you!

    • Parents do not complain about our Early Release Wednesdays. I’m sure that it does inconvenience some working families, however we have Kids Inc (a paid after school program offered by our city’s parks and rec), a few other 8 week classes through Parks and Rec, Girl Scout Meetings, Girls On the Run, and other programs available on-site from 2:00 (when school gets out) to 4:00 (regular dismissal time.) These programs don’t support every student, but many participate in one way or another. I make a point to tell kids that it is my time to work with other teachers so that I can always be working towards becoming a better teacher. We focus on teaching and modeling a growth mindset for kids, and any opportunity I have to tell them that I keep learning, I do!

      I’ll let you know how our intellectual property discussion turns out. Although we haven’t had any real problems with it in our district, we’re hoping to get a handle on it before any problems arise. There was recently an interesting article on intellectual property on EA Sports for using Colin Kaepernick’s tattoos on the newest version. The artist who made the tattoos said they were his property. You can find the article at http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2087626-colin-kaepernick-is-first-player-to-have-tattoos-featured-in-madden-15 Technology is changing the way we look at everyday things!

  3. Kate,
    First, I loved how you blended you links in your blog seamlessly. I say Thank you, Colin Kaepernick for getting permission from artists to use their art work. He liked their work enough to have it etched in his skin for life so he must think highly of them. (I am going with that.) As an art teacher, I think every effort should be given to give artists their due. We are starving after all. I create materials for my classroom all the time for free and on my own time. As for TPT, I pay for most of the things I use from there because if you create something it should be your choice to put value on it or share it freely. I am not given any time to collaborate with peers or work on what we call “Unpack our Standards of Learning.” (My state is VA.) This is to increase the level so the standards are taught at the Blooms level they are tested and expected to learn them. All 8 kindergarten teachers who have classroom assistants were given substitute teachers, time during school so it wouldn’t interfere with their Common planning, and catered lunches to complete theirs. They were the first ones done in district and got a huge pat on the back. I am on a committee of one on my own time. The Habits of the Mind and Habits of Interaction was informative for me. I loved the art work. I confess Pinterest- 24-7. http://www.pinterest.com/yorkv/ Great post, Kate!
    Valerie York

  4. HI Kate,
    My sister lived in St. Helens for a long time. I loved to go visit her up there. It is a beautiful place and I especially loved to come when the fruit was ripening! What a delight to walk into the markets and smell all of the wonderful berries. She has since moved to Texas where all of our family is from because she got very tired of all the rain! 🙂 I am in Albuquerque and love it when it rains but it would be tiresome after a while of rain all the time. Bend is a beautiful place!

    Oh that teaching with fidelity thing!!! I really came to dislike that phrase. It is very hard to be innovative when they ask you to teach a certain program without any deviation. Our district has gotten away from that somewhat, although they introduced a new math program this year that I hear teachers telling me is just as bad about the teaching with fidelity. Since I teach gifted I haven’t had to deal with that in a while.

    It is frustrating when you find really good materials and then they can’t be shown in the classroom. I am having more internet connection problems than the blocking you are talking about. Our district changed our internet in anticipation of the online PARCC assessments this coming year and it has played havoc on everything. Programs that I had loaded into my computers have disappeared, printers aren’t connected anymore, laptops keep losing the internet connection, and our Apple TVs no longer work without an ethernet cord. Very frustrating. It remains to be seen how well we can connect our HUGE district for the upcoming assessments. We also have lost a large amount of people from the district tech department who actually can come out to the schools to help with problems. I just try to keep my stuff up and running as best as I can and also help the other teachers on staff. I understand what you are saying when you find a great resource and then that very day you can’t pull it up.

    Jeanne

  5. Hi Kate!
    I found your blog post full of relevant and resourceful educational resources. I too, am a huge fan of Pinterest, however, as many of us have mentioned, time can be a factor and I find for myself that there truly is not enough time to spend pinning ideas off of Pinterest as much as I’d like. Instead of reading books prior to going to bed, I have shifted from that direction and use that time, from a half hour to an hour nightly to peruse social media sites for my teaching resources. I also have an account with TPT, and have to agree with you that finding free items are more attractive than having to purchase. I believe I’ve paid only twice for materials. There are so many good and reputable educational sites to follow on social media and that’s where I too, often find resources that I immediately learn from or save for later. I look forward to learning how to better organize all my “saved” resources that I always say to myself, “I’ll read that later”! All the best in the course and I’ll look forward to learning more from you!

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