Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Dark Side of the PLN

This post surprised me. It surprised me because it involves feelings and I am not the most sensitive person in the world. (just ask Pernille Ripp or Rafranz Davis) Let’s talk about the dark side of the PLN. We hear all the time how great they are. Well I am here to talk to you about the flip side. The side that people don’t discuss. The part of the PLN that makes you feel alone and inadequate.

Your PLN should be made up of the greatest people you can find. I know mine definitely is.  My PLN consists of people that create apps, create websites, create global projects, create backpacks with activities for students to do at home, know more about technology than so called “experts”, teachers of the year, authors, and the list goes on. I want the best and brightest at my fingertips to lead me to become the greatest teacher I can be. I found those people and continue to find more and learn every day.

There is a downside to this though. The part of you that lambasts yourself because you haven’t wrote that book yet, participated in that global project, achieved that award, or created that groundbreaking activity. Let me make this clear I am not hating on what other people have done. It is a feeling of jealousy and inadequacy of what I haven’t done yet. I do not want what those people have. I want to do what those people are doing.

One example of this is my physical education Voxer group. I have the best minds in the physical education world sharing what they are doing. Their ideas have helped pushed me to be a much better teacher than I ever would have alone. They also made me realize how much more I could and should be doing in my class. Another example of this are the multiple authors I have in my PLN. I want to write a book and it makes me feel like I am not doing enough because I am doing nothing to accomplish this goal. A third example is how some of my PLN uses solo taxonomy to take their teaching to the next level.   This seems to be an awesome way to let students control their learning. I want to be doing this.

After much reflection I have come to this conclusion.  I cannot look at what other people are doing (or have done) and compare myself to them. I need to use them as the springboard to get ahead. My time is precious. I have to prioritize and figure out what do I want and how can I accomplish it. My PLN is there to propel me forward. When I am ready to write my book I will have multiple people who can shine a light on the best way to accomplish this. When I am ready to tackle solo taxonomy there is a Voxer group that will help me figure it out.

If my PLN was not so wonderful than what would I aspire to? Do I want to be the top dog who knows everything and has done everything? No way who would assist me, push me, or inspire me? So if anyone else ever feels that they aren’t doing enough, don’t know enough, don’t have enough time or just plain feels inadequate remember that your PLN is there to show you what is out there not to make you feel like you haven’t done enough.

Q1 How do you keep from comparing yourself to others in your PLN? #slowchatpe

Q2 What has someone in your PLN done that you want to do? #slowchatpe

Q3 What specifically does your PLN do to make you better? #slowchatpe

Q4 Who is the greatest person in your PLN and why? #slowchatpe

Q5 What do you contribute to a PLN? #slowchatpe



collecting student data blog

This week #slowchatpe is being moderated by @NicholasEndlich. This is a man who not only knows technology he implements it!!!

3 years ago my district made some building changes that moved me from teaching K-4th grade to teaching K-6th grade.  This wasn’t a huge deal except for the fact that for the first time in 7 years I would have to formally assess/grade students.

The first year was really rough!  Although 2 other physical education teachers in my district had taught these grade levels previously we didn’t have any time to meet, collaborate or discuss units, resources or assessments.  And like an infant trying to walk, I failed and failed often, sometimes falling right on my face.

At the time I was relatively involved with #pechat and connecting with other #physed teachers through Twitter.  It was through these interactions and learning that I was able to start to transform the way I collected student data.

In my first year I had students using HR monitors during class and recording their heart rates via paper and pencil.  I would then have to go in on a daily/weekly basis and enter the student data into a spreadsheet in order to calculate their average heart rate over the course of a semester.  Their average heart rate was used as one form of assessment for their overall grade.  The problem came when I couldn’t keep up with the data entry and became VERY overwhelmed. 

The other issue was that I was only using this data for grading purposes, which was ok because I needed to provide evidence of student achievement.  However, I wanted to see how active my students were during specific lessons.  This would provide me with some data about the lessons I was planning and how active they made the students.

As I re-evaluated my practices I realized that I needed to do more with the data I collect.  I also needed to collect more data.  This is were my love affair with Google Forms and QR codes began!  I am fortunate enough to have access to a classroom set of iPods.  Last year I began collecting student data in a variety of forms for multiple uses.

First I collect student data as a means of assessment.  On a daily basis students are using HR monitors and/or pedometers to measure student activity level during class.  Each class has its own Google Form with the add-on Doc Appender running on it.  Doc Appender is linked to a Google Doc that the students wrote their personal fitness goals on at the beginning of the year.  The way Doc Appender works is that every time a students submits a response through the designated Google Form it automatically updates their Fitness Goal Doc as represented by the table below.  I have it set to Append the Time stamp and number of steps taken in a horizontal table.

Doc Appender. FitnessGoals

By combining Google Forms and Google Classroom I can seamlessly push out the assignment to my students at the beginning of the year and use that same document to track not only their pedometer steps and heart rates, but any other assessment.

So what data am I collecting and what do I do with it?  As mentioned, I daily collect pedometer steps and/or heart rates.  I love to use Google Forms as Exit Tickets during units to check students understanding of key concepts and skills.  I use this information to plan future lessons.  For example, this year I introduced Tchouckball to my 6th grade students, but when I had them complete an exit ticket the data showed me that the students weren’t understanding the skills necessary to “get open in space.”  My next lesson then focused on moving without the ball, faking, cutting, and give-and-go activities.  The summary of responses from a Google Form will break down the percentage of students who answered a particular question a certain way.  This is a very quick way to check the understanding of your students and make adjustments to your lessons.

The other way I utilize Google Forms is to take student surveys.  Each year I ask my students to complete a survey in which they get to rank various units that we “may” participate in during the school year.  As I plan the units I use this data to determine what activities to teach.  I will also use this information to provide various activities that the students can choose from.

As I move forward and continue to try to improve my instruction and assessment I try to ask myself several questions.

1.  What types of student data do you collect?

2.  How do you determine what types of assessments/data to collect?  Teacher Assessment? Peer Assessment? Self Assessment? Exit Tickets? Student Surveys?

3.  How do you collect data and/or administer the assessment? Individual? Partner? Whole Class? Written? Digital?

4.  How do you use Student Data?  Assessment/Grades?  Provide data driven instruction? Student Understanding? Lesson Planning?

5.  What are your favorite tools/apps/websites for collecting Student Data?

“The Elephant Speaks”

IMG_1338Slowchatpe is being guest moderated by the great Lynn Burrows this week!! Here is her blog copied from:

Recently I was part of a conversation in which physical education teachers were discussing how much time students spend in physical education as required by their districts. Predictably the conversation went on to discuss the importance and benefits of quality physical education, which each of the professionals believe, as I do, is a daily necessity in the lives of all students. However, there was a giant elephant in the room (it was an online chat, so I’m hoping that metaphor might still apply.) The identity of the elephant? Could one very real factor leading to students not receiving daily physical education be the lack of consistency in the quality of product delivered?

When I think of a consistently great product I generally think of Starbucks’ Americano coffee. No matter where I go, local or across the world, when I order an Americano, it is great. Similar to the thousands of Starbucks chains across the world, there are innumerable outstanding P.E. teachers across the world. These industrious, caring educators make me proud to part of this profession. Like Starbucks, these teachers are delivering a quality product to each student, every day of the year. This high standard we all strive to achieve, but what about when a physical education program is lacking quality? “Ouch”, the elephant speaks.

“Ouch” is the feeling I get when introduced as a P.E. teacher and I get “Oh I love gym, I was the best at dodgeball”, or “I hated gym, all we did was run laps.”

I’d like my comeback to be, “Believe me, I don’t care much for Jim or the atrocities he induced either!”

My actual reply is always about how I absolutely love my job as a physical educator. I then go on to tell whomever will listen about how much physical education has changed (e.g. cooperative learning, differentiated learning, life time skills, fun, child centered learning, content infused games.) But recently I have been having this conversation with older teens, young adults. Wait a minute, shouldn’t they have experienced the “New P.E.?”

Q1: What role does lack of quality play when it comes to districts or states requiring daily physical education? #slowchatpe

Q2: What are we doing to make a difference in the quality disparity? #slowchatpe

Q3: How can we be part of the change necessary so students do receive a great product, no matter where they attend school? #slowchatpe

Q4: How do we approach and inspire others in our profession who might be using questionable practices? #slowchatpe

Q5: What are you doing to help change the ts that you work with who have taught the “old” way? #slowchatpe

Help me, Help me

Definition of Resolution: something people make on January 1 and don’t follow through on. Let me go back a step. I am a professional hater. When I see people tweeting out their new year’s resolutions and one word motto that they are going to live by this year I automatically think that failure is waiting to jump out of the shadows to feast on a tasty snack. It will slowly stalk its prey and gently lull it to sleep. Before you know it it is has captured your resolutions without you even realizing until it is too late. You want to cut out chocolate? You will eat a candy bar without even remembering your resolution until you get half way through. Failure wins again! You resolve to stop cursing? That car cut you off and without thinking you let out an utterance that would make your momma slap you in the face and send you to your room without dinner. Failure took your resolution and sold it to letdown for a Zimbabwe Kwacha. Decided to quit smoking cigarettes? Your boss yells at you for something your stupid coworker did and you just need to get out of the office for a break to “relax”. Failure smirks as it easily snatches your resolution and mails it to the devil for a cheap laugh.

That is why this year I have a plan to trick failure! My first step was to make my resolution on September 1 instead of January 1. Yes I agree with you that is brilliant. The New Year’s Resolution Killer didn’t even see it coming! Step two was to make the resolution attainable. Matter of fact it was so attainable that I already completed it before the New Year! Step 3 is to extend the resolution and go public with it. Why go public? So failure would meet its arch nemeses support and awareness! Step 4 triumph over failure by yelling out to the world that I won! I have defeated failure!

Ok that was the longest intro ever. Sometimes I like to hear myself type! Let me explain. On September 30 my mother in law asked our family if we would like to start a 60 day challenge. It was simple. Exercise EVERY day for at least 20 minutes a day.  Some days I would play basketball for two hours while other days I would walk on the treadmill at midnight drinking liquids. (to make sure I was hydrated) It didn’t matter what we did all that mattered was that we exercised for 20 minutes that day. We would text each other as soon as we got done so we could support each other.  My mother in law and I made it all the way to the New Year without skipping a day! It was a brilliant accomplishment that made me want to go further.

Now this is where I need your help. I want to continue this until the greatest day of the year March 8.  I am begging, imploring, asking, appealing, calling, demanding, desiring, entreating, inviting, soliciting and every other synonym you can think of for you to join me. This will help hold me accountable if even one other person joins me on this journey. Whenever you read this blog tweet me @schleiderjustin and post to the hashtag #20minpe every day when you complete your exercise. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It could be walking the dog, walking on the treadmill while listening to a podcast, shoveling snow or any activity that made you active for at least 20 min that day.

I am ready to snatch success from the jaws of failure. So please people if you read this help me become a winner. Make me accountable on a grand public scale. I want to be so scared to let people down that I wake up every day saying I have to get my 20 in today. Who is ready to take on the stealthy assassin known as the New Year’s Resolution Killer with me?

Q1: How do you show stakeholders that we personally value exercise? #slowchatpe

Q2: What do you do to encourage other stakeholders to exercise? #slowchatpe

Q3: Should physical education teachers be physically fit barring medical reasons? Why? #slowchatpe

Q4: Do you ever exercise in front of stakeholders? What does this look like? #slowchatpe

Q5: How can technology assist stakeholders in exercise? #slowchatpe