English Companion Ning

Hello Connected Learning Friends!

This week I was looking into new teaching networks to profile on my blog, when I stumbled across the English Companion Ning. Let me first explain what a Ning is, because it was new to me, and it’s pretty awesome from a connected learning standpoint. Ning is a social media site in which YOU can design and create your own social network. That alone is such a cool idea. There are Ning blogs for just about anything you can imagine.

So as I mentioned, I stumbled upon Ning’s English Companion community, which has all types of resources and forums for teachers to connect, share, and seek advice. The English Companion describes itself in part like a “cafe without walls or coffee: just friends.”

The site hosts a number of different groups to join for any type of English courses and subjects you may teach: American Literature, Shakespeare, AP Language, Creative Writing, teaching with wikis, etc. There are a ton of forums to ask advice from other teachers, or give advice of your own. Today I read a teacher asking advice about her large class sizes, while another was looking for useful tips on organizing her classroom library. There are also numerous links to personal blogs of English Companion members, which have resources, tips, and thoughtful reflections about teaching. The site has news, job postings, event calendars, everything in pertinent to the teaching field. It also has its own YouTube and slideshare channel.

The best part is that it’s free to join, you just need to make a log in and profile, then wait for approval from the site manager. After you’re approved, it looks as if the groups, forums, resources and materials are all fair game.

This site is definitely an easy and useful tool for connecting with other English teachers, and I hope to start contributing to it. I’m lucky enough this year to have a wonderful group of colleagues to seek advice or help from, but in previous years that has not been the case. I wish I found this sooner!


Learning from Mentors

Hello All,

I recorded a video highlighting my mentor from my student teaching practicum. Unfortunately, my blog doesn’t support videos, but I was able to upload it to Google+. Here is the link. Please friend me if we’re not yet following one another!  Looking forward to seeing and hearing about everyone else’s mentors, as well.


Welcome, ED676 Friends!

Hello ED676 Friends,

Welcome to my connected learning blog! My name is Kelly; and I’m currently working on my M.Ed. at Arcadia. I teach English grades 7-9 at a private school in the suburbs of Philadelphia. This is my third year in the classroom, but the first year I’ve had a permanent placement from the start of the year to the end. It’s been an exciting, fulfilling, and exhausting year all at the same time!

This is my second connected learning class. I’m also taking my Master’s Project course this summer, so I will graduate in August with a Master’s, as well as a cert in connected learning. This blog is actually an extension of the first class blog I made last semester in ED677- Seeking Equity in Connected Learning. Going into that class, I really had no inkling as to what connected learning was or what the course would consist of. It turns out it was one of the most meaningful classes I’ve had so far at Arcadia, which prompted me to take ED676. Please feel free to dig back into my posts from last semester—we did a lot a great work, and connected learning is all about collaborating with ideas and resources!

Please find me on Arcadia’s connected learning community on Google+. I look forward to connecting with all of you throughout the next month :)


What pops out to me about connected learning?


Here are some ideas that have “popped out” at me since I started looking at education through a connected learning lens.

  1. I’ve learned that kids love a challenge or competition. (Especially teenage boys) Not so much a 5 page paper challenge, but the type of challenge in which they are teamed up and must be first to complete a task, earn points in a review game, or create the funniest poster or story.
  1. Being spontaneous and straying from the ordinary agenda keeps students on their toes and gets them excited. Who would have thought the mad lib pop up would have gone over so well? Who knew that asking kids to do something as simple as fill silly words in the blanks of a story would make their day? I think what really made it successful was that they expected to read that period, and that they didn’t know they were going to perform mad libs until just a few moments before they were sent on their way.
  1. Participation, as we’ve talked about all semester, is important. I introduced poetry writing to my students about two months ago, and we’ve tried to write a poem about once a week. My younger students have thrived at it, and really impressed me. What’s particularly humbling is that they are supportive of each other’s pieces and enjoy sharing out loud to the class. This week, my school’s library announced it’s having a poetry contest, and my students cannot wait to submit a piece. That’s right, I didn’t have to coerce them by saying it will be counted as a grade or extra credit, they WANT to do it.
  1. Connected learning has taught me how important it is to celebrate and support student interests. I think I have a seriously talented future DJ on my hands. This student, only 13 years old, spends hours after school tinkering with music editing programs and turntables. About once a week when I see him first period, he comes in with a huge grin on his face and asks me to listen to his latest mix. I plug it into my classroom speakers and we all listen together. Sometimes I haven’t heard the songs before, sometimes I have, but either way it does sound pretty cool and well put together. One time he used a song from my Zumba class, so we had an impromptu dance party :)
  1. Another idea that has popped up is the idea of teamwork and common goals. I’m working on finding a local earth day clean up project for my students. When they are working toward a common goal, I not only see them work harder, I see them treat each other better.
  1. The idea of self-reflection has popped up, not only for me (as I explained with my badge) but also with my students. After any large undertaking, like a project, or long-term assignment, or the end of a semester, I ask them to reflect. I sometimes give them guiding questions to think about, or sometimes I just let them write anything that comes to mind. But having kids take time to reflect on the information, process, and outcome of assignment makes it more meaningful.       -Kelly

Mad Lib Pop Up!

I love the idea of pop ups. It’s common to see articles online of spontaneous pop ups in places like Philly and New York, but before this week, I had never thought of the concept in terms of teaching.
On Fridays I typically try to stray from 7th grade’s current agenda to do some type of fun activity. It’s nice to two the two hour block with them because it gives me more freedom than my 45 minute periods throughout the rest of the day. For instance, the Friday before spring break, we did Springtime Haiku and created a colorful collage in our hallway.
Earlier this week, I did a review on parts of speech with 7th grade. So today, they were surprised to hear they were performing pop up mad libs throughout the school! It was a surprise for both my students, and the students in the visited rooms. I split my guys into teams and sent them to various 11th and 12th grade English classes in the building. The teams, armed with mad libs and clip boards, let themselves into the classes mid lesson. (Of course, the other English teachers knew what was going on.) Without telling the juniors and seniors what the mad lib was about, my 7th graders prompted them to shout out various parts of speech. Each team had a designated “performer” to then present a goofy, dramatic reading of the mab lib. The best part was that the mad lib template was actually a very cheesy Valentine’s Day love letter. So the letter’s “Dear ___________,” and “Love ______________,” were replaced with two actual student names in the participating classrooms. I sort of just peeked through the windows here and there, as I didn’t want my presence to take away from the spontaneity of the pop up. But it was obvious everyone found it pretty amusing.
All in all, the 7th graders thought the whole activity was a hoot, as it gave them the chance to be their goofy selves. Plus, I think they felt kind of cool that they got to interrupt junior and senior classes with something funny. I know the older kids certainly didn’t mind a quick break from their literature. Happy Friday #ed677!

Curating with Connected Learning & Shakespeare

Once students realize Shakespeare was a master of insults, they start to pay attention to his language, not just the plot of the play.
Once students realize Shakespeare was a master of insults, they start to pay attention to his language, not just the plot of the play.

Hello Ed677 friends! Happy Easter to those of you celebrating today. Here is a curated list of Resources I’d like use for teaching Shakespeare in high school. There are thousands of resources out there, so I narrowed down this list to go with some specific goals I have for my 9th grade Shakespeare unit. First off, I am using it for Romeo and Juliet with 9th grade, so you won’t see too much about Shakespeare’s other famous plays. Also, I have taught this play a handful of times already, so I didn’t feel the need to add resources that include comprehension questions, quizzes, handouts, etc. I already have all that stuff from previous years. Here are the type of resources I tried to curate:

1. Interactive ways for me and students to teach/learn/perform Shakespeare.

2. Activities focusing on points of interest that have the ability to draw in reluctant learners.

Ny times
Teaching lessons by the NYTimes are always awesome.

3. Types of activities that require students to prove their

This text message cracks me up. I've been toying with the idea of having students translate dialogue into text-speak. Not only is it fun and creative, but it requires them to understand the main idea of a scene, and challenges them to summarize it with within certain space constraints.
This text message cracks me up. I’ve been toying with the idea of having students translate dialogue into text-speak. Not only is it fun and creative, but it requires them to understand the main idea of a scene, and challenges them to summarize it with within certain space constraints.

understanding of the literature while synthesizing it into something creative and unique.  I’m trying to stray from the boring comprehension questions for each act of the play (although some days those are a necessary evil)  and instead allow students to show their understanding by exploring a talent or hobby they have. (Hmmm, sound familiar? Yep– Connected Learning with Shakespeare!)

I used Pinterest as my curation tool. It’s the most easy to use in my opinion, and I’m able to search very specific key terms. It also uses my previous pins to tailor my start page to links I’m interested in. Hope it helps some fellow ELA teachers out there!


Self-Reflection and CL

Here is a link to my badge for the week! As I said in last night’s hangout, I feel that as an educator, student, and life long learner, we need to constantly reflect on our practices in order to improve. This is also true in our Connected Learning class. This course has really made me think about the way in which I deliver new information to my students, and how I accomplish the objectives of my lessons. I know as a newer teacher, I will undoubtedly continue to improve each year. But the concept of CL has helped me to really reflect and analyze with each week’s discussion and hangout.

I’m excited to try the concept of badges with my 7th graders. As I mentioned before, teaching students who live at a boarding school presents a unique set of challenges. Often, when my students are away from home for a long stretch of time the homesickness begins to affect their behavior and cooperation with one another. Today is the last day before our weeklongMC Escher spring break, and I feel like I need it more than the kids! They have been exhausting the last two weeks! They really do form a tight bond while they’re here, and so I think these badges could be used to have students highlight positive traits about their peers.

To the right is the picture I used for the self-reflection badge. It’s pretty small on the site, so I reposted. I love this pic! Happy Friday.




Tomorrow is Read Across America day. I’ve never done anything related in my classes before because I’ve always taught high school. I’m planning on reading The Lorax with my 7th graders. Wish me luck!

Checking out the maps of our journeys was great. Nice to see how everyone has interpreted #677 so far.

The Caine’s Arcade video was awesome. I remember hearing about it before, maybe on Huffington Post or a daytime TV show, like Ellen. But I never saw the video or understood the full idea behind it until I watched it this week. It’s great seeing a child have so much imagination and ingenuity. I think I’ll show it to my students as a treat sometime soon.

Amy- Nice job with the crochet Prezi. My mom picked up crochet a couple years ago and seems like she’s addicted. I tried to learn a couple times but I’m kind of impatient. But it’s worked out for my sisters and I because we all got handmade hats and scarves for Christmas. I like your template—I need to play around with Prezi more to see what it offers.

Hitch- #thedress was EVERYWHERE this week. I’m sure you’re ready to forget about it even more than the rest of us! But your lesson on perception was really neat. A perfect example of how to take advantage of a teachable moment.

Our department is creating a list of supplies to request next year’s budget. Does anyone have experience with the device called the “lady bug”? It’s a tool that allows you to project paper documents onto your Smartboard. It’s great for editing essays as a class or showing student work. If anyone has one, let me know how you like it?

Hope everyone had an awesome weekend. I’m going now; I have to put a spoon under my pillow, put my PJ’s on inside out, and do a dance in the front yard. #snowdayplease


Dreaming of Spring

planting 2The saying ‘March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb’ is certainly proving true today. This yucky weather has me thinking of spring, so for my make this week, I decided to start my veggie garden a little early.

My mom and I plant each together every year. (She’s the brains behind the operation, I’m just the extra set of hands.) We start usually mid-March by planting inside in little containers, then we transplant outside around mid-May. By summertime we have tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, spinach—and just about everything else you can think of. Last year I tried cilantro, but managed to kill it before it made it outside :(

Below are some pictures of us getting things started. We’re recycling some old plastic drawers to create a makeshift greenhouse effect. We also found some growing lamps at a yard sale this fall. Hopefully my cilantro will be happier this time around…

Hope everyone had an awesome weekend. Stay warm!


planting 4

planting 3

planting 5

planting 6


I hope everyone had a great weekend!

-I liked the map assignment this week. I forced me to think back and reflect on the last 6 weeks, and think about how excited I am to see what the future brings.

-Lizzy, Your blog post about the student who is a tactile learner is interesting. I too try to think of ways to play in my classroom. It’s tough when you have certain material you must get through and you’re pressed for time. I have squishy balls in my room that I bought from target for a couple bucks each. Sometimes I give them to students when I can tell they’re antsy or frustrated and need to calm down.

-Erin, I’ve never heard of MindMeister before, thanks for the heads up!

-This week I worked with Prezi for the first time. I’ve known about Prezi for years and have actually used presentations in my classroom before, but I’ve never created one myself. I used the “mind mapping” template to document the six week journey of our class so far. Truth be told, it took me quite a bit longer to figure out the template than I expected. But then again, I can remember (years ago) struggling to do the same with my first PowerPoint presentation. And of course PP is as simple as it gets. I love the look of Prezis and truly think students prefer them over other types of multimedia notes. I’m hoping to continue to play around with it and hopefully create another presentation soon.

-Which reminds me, I just bought my first tablet and I’m excited to see how I can use it in my classroom. If anyone has suggestions for teaching apps, I’m all ears!

-Kathleen, I just saw your Valentine’s Day remix that you reposted today. Very cute! I want to check out Google Slides. I love how I learn about so many new technologies, teaching sites, and apps from this #ed677!

-Tahira, The article you posted about college students straying from science and math majors was interesting. I wonder if part of it has to do with students not knowing the vast array of jobs they could have with a math or science degree. Perhaps they think a science degree means they would be sitting in a lab, rather than being out in the field or working with others. To think that there will be 1 million unfilled science/math positions in the next decade is concerning. Maybe programs like STEM will encourage students to view math and science more positively.