Teacher Reports on Professional Development
The baseball coaching staff went to Waco for the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association Convention. We heard various speakers make presentations on hitting, fielding, pitching, conditioning, and the mental aspect of the game.
Former major league player and manager Jim Lefebvre spoke on hitting mechanics and drills that he has used in his major league career as a player and manager. The drill we liked is having your hitters throw Frisbees to get extension through the baseball. A few major league players do this drill, and the mechanics of throwing a Frisbee are similar to your lead arm when swinging a bat. We also listened to Ray Birmingham, head baseball coach at New Mexico. We are going to take his angle hitting and incorporate it into the Kinkaid program.
At the Baylor Coaches Clinic, the Baylor coaching staff spoke on a variety of topics. We plan to build on our pitching routing by incorporating 2 drills that they use to help pitchers balance. We also plan to use balance balls to help our hitters use proper swing mechanics and better balance.
Motivational speaker Brian Cain spoke on the mental aspect of baseball. Baseball is a game in which, if you succeed 30-40% of the time, you are considered a good hitter. In essence, you fail as a hitter 60-70% of the time. The mental aspect of the game and learning to stay positive is key to a player’s success.
Head Varsity Baseball Coach
I attended The Annual Region 4 Social Studies Conference and came away with a few good ideas to share with my students and eighth grade colleagues. Two of the sessions I attended are described below.
"Born to Reject the Crown" was done by a wonderful presenter who dressed and acted as George Washington. He shared many interesting and inspiring details about Washington and his life and role in the American Revolution that are not found in the textbooks. "Living History to understand It” was another terrific session offering lessons plans and handouts for simulations of historical events to be used in the classroom. These are very appropriate for our kids.
Middle School History
I attended the Texas Music Educators Association annual convention in San Antonio. The TMEA convention is dwarfed only by the national convention. I audited workshops, observed rehearsals of the various all-state bands by some of the top conductors in education, watched superb student musicianship by honor bands, and combed the exhibition floor to see the newest music and instruments on the market. One of the best workshops was “So You Start Your Beginner Band in 7th Grade?” While Kinkaid begins our young musicians in a sixth grade survey course, the workshop was directly applicable because the first year of in-depth work begins at Kinkaid in seventh grade. Several of the workshops were standing room only (or no room at all), so I plan to check for any recordings or online materials from these events. The honor bands were incredible; their concerts were some of the best performances I’ve heard in my 15 years of attending TMEA. The convention ended with the concert of the ATSSB All-State Bands, in which two of Kinkaid’s Upper School students earned membership. The concert and the work our students did were highly enriching and rewarding, resulting in a superb performance. Finally, it was edifying to connect with colleagues from across several states and levels of education to share ideas and tools to bring back to our students at Kinkaid.
Middle School Band
The best new books published in 2011 were presented at the exciting one-day workshop, “What’s New in Children’s Literature 2012.” Book guru Peggy Sharp presented details about the best literature recently published, as well as ideas on how to use them in classrooms and libraries. Many of the titles were available for browsing and taking a closer look. I left the day with an excitement to share these books with the students and faculty in the Lower School.
Lowe School Assistant Librarian
In mid-February, I attended the Texas Music Educators Association Convention with 8,000 colleagues from around the state. The convention is unsurpassed in both quality and quality of sessions offered. Of particular note were talks on current research regarding the adolescent brain and how kids learn and a session on sight-reading by the author of the textbook I am using in the classroom. I also had the privilege of watching master teachers work with young choirs. Patrick Freer (Georgia State University) gave a particularly informative and entertaining demonstration on the boy’s changing voice and its challenges. What an inspiring and educational four days it was!
Middle School Choir
I attended the Texas Music Educator Association's annual clinic/convention in San Antonio. It was a great convention. I visited many vendors who carry orchestral sheet music and was able to peruse music that I might choose to perform with the Kinkaid orchestra in the future. These vendors carry sheet music that is appropriate for all levels of musicians, from beginners through advanced. I also visited many vendors who had a wide array of instruments to look at and try out for possible purchase in the future. Anything and everything that might be used by a music educator was available for perusal at this convention.
I also had the opportunity to attend clinics given by music professionals from around the country. A few examples are "How to Motivate the Junior High Orchestra Student,” "Effective Recruiting Techniques for Beginning Ensembles,” and "Improving Intonation in your High School Orchestra." I was also able to attend some workshops held by Technology In Music Education and learn some things related to my current professional development goals.
Finally, I was able to attend many performances given by honor groups from around the state. I saw the middle school honor string and full orchestra groups, the high school honor string and full orchestra groups, and the Texas 5-A all-state symphony orchestra, of which one of our students was a part. These were wonderful performances, and it was educational for me to visit some of the rehearsals for the various groups and watch the clinicians work with the ensembles.
I attended the wonderful Texas Computer Educators Association conference in Austin. While I attended ten sessions, I could have attended four times that number, it was so rich and exciting.
Kevin Honeycutt talked about “Teaching the Digital Learner,” and I came away with a lot of practical information. He is highly entertaining and informative and has a "schtick"; he ad libs for about 30 minutes—lots of energy and humor. He talks about what our young people are doing with their mobile devices and how the adults in their lives need to "be there" and be connected to what these young people are doing, both publicly and privately. Referring to the adults in the lives of young people, he said, "If they're doing it you're doing it.” He is/was a parent of a teen and shared his experiences. He was fabulous!
In several of the sessions I got a lot of information about pertinent websites, YouTube videos, and blogs to use with students. I plan to use my interactive white board as well as class sets of the iPad to implement some of these teaching strategies.
“Google Tools for Teaching and Learning” was chock full of ways to use all that Google has to offer. An example called Vokaru is on Blogger. I could use this with my students to create podcasts and for me or a student to record what was done in class that day for absentees.
“The Best Interactive Resources for the Classroom” is a list of ten resources, some of which will be valuable in my instruction. Another session, “Who Do You Follow?,” has to do with Livebinders and allows a teacher to follow educators/bloggers/individuals on Facebook/Twitter etc., to obtain information, ideas, and opinions.
This technological age is changing and expanding the way we teach, and students learn at lightning speed. It will be imperative for educators to stay on top of this fast-moving phenomenon in order to be tech savy and offer students the myriad opportunities for learning that exist now and that are yet to be developed. I wish every teacher at Kinkaid could attend this invaluable conference. It is the new norm!
Middle School English
I attended the Texas Computer Education Association’s annual conference and participated in multiple open sessions as well as several workshops. Many of the presentations confirmed that I am on the right track technology-wise, but several others opened my eyes to new trends and ways of applying technology. For example, effectively incorporating cell phones and other personally owned devices in the classroom (and school) is a hot topic right now. How does one manage these devices and teach students to use them in a responsible way?
Several of the sessions included surveys of websites I could use in the classroom. I took away some good ideas and added links to the student resources section on my Kinkaid web page. Many of the sites were fun, bright, and colorful, and I could see that students would like and connect with them. However, there were sessions where the ideas given were not always as educationally relevant as I would have liked (keeping in mind that I focus through the English 5 lens). I want to have fun with my students, but my primary goal is to have students explore, produce, and consume relevant content.
My favorite sessions included iPad 101, Tips and Tricks with Tammy Worcester, Higher Level Thinking with Learner Response Systems, Cell Phones in the Classroom, Unleash the Power of Google Forms, and Are You Following Us? I loved the ActivExpressions devices that were demonstrated at the Higher Level Thinking session and would love to have some in my classroom. I also took a great deal away from Are You Following Us? It was terrific to learn how Twitter, LiveBinders, blogs, and web pages by others in the learning community can help form a personal learning network. Seeing LiveBinders and how the presenters used the site to organize massive amounts of information and follow others was impressive. I would love to start working on something similar. I struggle to keep some of my web resources organized and easily accessible, so this would be a possible solution.
Overall, the conference was excellent. I especially appreciated Brenda Meyer’s guidance in choosing sessions that were useful to me and the course I teach. She helped me immensely in getting the most out of TCEA. Hey, I even got a picture with BrainPop’s Moby!!!
Middle School English
I am glad I had the opportunity to attend the TMEA convention, which is known all over the nation for its large size and for the high standards it sets for the performers and clinicians it features each year. I saw many wonderful musical performances led by well-known educators, and I visited the vast exhibitor area, which was filled with books, instruments, and supplies from music stores around the world.
I was most happy to take advantage of the many and varied clinics offered at the TMEA convention. There are dozens of clinics and performances occurring at each hour of the day, and sessions speak to every facet of the music education world. There were so many quality clinicians and sessions offered that often it was difficult to choose which session to attend. However, I chose well, and each clinic I attended was tailored specifically for lower elementary music teachers. Most notably, each provided teachers the opportunity to actively participate in sessions. I sang, danced, and played instruments during each session, which made my experience with the clinicians even more meaningful!
Again, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to attend the TMEA convention this year! It was time well spent and I brought back many new ideas that I can’t wait to put to use in my classroom!
Lower School Music
I had the opportunity to attend “Creating a Live Math Classroom,” a workshop given by Marcy Cook, someone whom I have heard about and admired since college. Her skills, ideas, and style are renowned in the world of education, and she did not fail to meet my expectations.
The majority of the workshop revolved around methods for keeping students actively engaged by activities for beginning the math period. Cook demonstrated “starters,” five-minute activities to engage students in daily mathematical thinking. I currently use some kinds of starters with the accelerated math group I teach in second grade, and the students really enjoy them. These activities emphasize concepts such as estimation, place value, and number sense in a quick exercise. Along with the starters I use, she showed us other types that I plan to implement in my math group. These include activities using hundred charts and also the use of skilboards.
The materials I received from this workshop are particularly great because the majority of items can be used for multiple activities she showed us. Her materials are basic and simple, things I can make or recreate easily. I particularly enjoyed how she demonstrated each game or activity, then gave us a chance to try it as well. The entire workshop was a “live” workshop. I walked away with samples of skillboards that she allowed us to use, so I was able to come back to Kinkaid, make the boards, and immediately use them!
I am very happy I got the chance to attend of one her workshops, and hope to go to more. Her ideas and the mathematical skills she taught me will help not only my second grade math group, but my new Third Grade Math Fun Club!
Second Grade Assistant
This is my fourth fantastic year of attending Peggy Sharp’s one day session of “What’s New in Children’s Literature and How to Use it In Your Program.” Each year Ms. Sharp highlights hundreds of books for schools and libraries and gives wonderful suggestions for how they can be used with students and children. This year was again a great resource for the Kinkaid Lower School librarians. We left with a list of titles to explore and the knowledge that we are on track as far as integrating e-books and “apps” into our collections.
Lower School Librarian