I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Half-Year Mark

We've tried Genius Hour with a gusto this year, and this is the longest our classes have gone with this consistency! The first one we had was in February, but I didn't dedicate a time each week to it. So... I've asked students to blog about what they've done this year so far, and tell about their future plans.

However, there are still a few students who don't yet know which route to take with their personalized learning. Therefore, this coming week, I'll be showing students this video from "Kid President" (that I think everyone should see!):
(Thanks to Krissy Venosdale for sharing this on her post!)

We will also be filling in our our bulletin board that has the following leads...
    "I wonder..."
    "I would like to learn about..."
    "I am a genius when it comes to..."

Addition to original blog post (2/19/13):
Students put their ideas on the wall!
"If I could create a new class, it would be called..."
     - Volleyball for Dummies
     - Potions Class
     - PATD (Photography, Art, Theater, Design)
     - Genetics or Geneology
     - Save the Animals
     - Inventions
"I'm a genius when it comes to..."
     - Basketball
     - Video Games
     - Art, music, and volleyball
     - Making Friends
     - Trains
     - Musical Theater
     - Horses
     - Hockey
     - Being Creative
     - Picking the Perfect Outfit
     - Beatboxing
     - Creating Stop Motions & Architecture
"I wonder..."
     - how the world came to be
     - how many pasta types there are in the world
     - if sloths communicate
     - how many apps there are in the world
     - why the Earth is a circle
     - what cave men ate in cave men time
     - why cows have spots
     - how many books there are in the world
     - when the world will end
     - why sloths move so slowly
     - how stop motions were invented
     - about the history of teddy bears
     - if everybody in the world made their dreams come true, how different the world would be

Saturday, January 19, 2013

More Determined Than Ever

The first one through the wall - he always gets bloody. Always.
           ~ Moneyball (movie)

I've broken through. I'll need to bandage my knuckles, but I'm on my way.

My teaching methods have been questioned recently, and I am now more positive that what I'm doing is right. My administration has been behind me since I began "changing things up" last school year (even going so far as to send me to workshops and conferences that helped me change my thinking!), and I'm keeping current with my research and my professional reading.

Now that I'm through, what's next?
Take one step at a time.
     1. Work diligently on communication pieces to parents.
     2. Continue to reflect on my own teaching - answering the WHYs.
     3. Continue to make this learning transparent to coworkers and administration.

Soon I won't be the only one paving the way for other teachers.
Is this a fad? No.
Is this a trend? Maybe.
Is it a shift in education? Yes.
And I believe in it.
Please pass me the peroxide, so I can get back to work.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Authors on Twitter

Here's the Google document: Authors on Twitter

Here's the story:
I've been collecting names of authors who are on Twitter for a couple of weeks now. I realized that so many of the people I follow including John Schuh (@MrSchuReads) & Jillian Heise (@heisereads) tweet to authors all the time... Why not me? Why not connect them with my students??

So I began to collect names over winter break in Evernote. I've only had two weeks, and I came up with 57 names. I then looked at my students' book review blog posts, and was able to tweet to SEVEN of these authors. It was this same day (today) that Scott Boylen (@Iowasboy) tweeted out help: Anyone have info on authors who are willing to communicate/Skype/other with YA students (7th 8th gr)?

I had to share my Evernote list! I quickly responded that I'd make it into a Google Doc sometime this week. You guessed it. I didn't procrastinate! And, by the power of Twitter, I saw this screen, just sixteen minutes after I tweeted it out...

Upper right corner... 48 other viewers!!

Sadly, shortly after that, it said there were "No other viewers." However, then I received this tweet from Denise Krebs (@MrsDKrebs), who has since put the link on her blog post as well...


The best part, however, is that FOUR authors already replied to my students' blogs... Michael Grant (@thefayz), said of Martina's book review of his fourth book in his Gone series, Plague... "Blood and love. I love blood and love." See Martina's post here. Lisa McMann commented on Ethan's book review of The Unwanteds... She let him know it would be a series with SEVEN books! See Ethan's post and her reply here. Tom Angleberger (@OrigamiYoda) replied to Alyssa here, and Ridley Pearson (@RidleyPearson) replied to Maddy here! THIS is why I use Twitter.

Please, check out this document - Authors on Twitter - and add to it or use it to your advantage!