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#RSCON11 – Creating Safe Learning Environments

January 19, 2011

On Saturday, January 8th I presented on “Creating Safe Learning Environments” for the New Teachers Reform Symposium. I want to thank everyone who attended my presentation. I’d also like to thank my PLN for your constant support and encouragement. I’m amazed by how much I keep learning and growing thanks to you! Presenting for #rscon11 has been an incredible experience for me.

I have put together all the links and resources shared during the presentation here.

You can watch the recorded session here

These are the slides that I have used in my session.

Please contact me if you need any help or have any further questions. I’d be glad to help!


My #RSCON11 Take-Aways!

January 12, 2011

January 8th’s New Teachers Reform Symposium was a wonderful learning opportunity for me. Not only was I part of the incredible organizing team, but I also had the chance to attend many fabulous sessions. I’m amazed by how many wonderful and passionate educators out there were willing to spend an entire Saturday learning alongside other educators. It’s been powerfully inspiring to see so many fantastic educators sharing their knowledge and experience. My mind is buzzing with fantastic ideas and things I’ve learned. There was so much information, learning and inspiration to process!

After the 1st Reform Symposium on July 2010, I read this great post by Paula Naugle, where she mentioned she had heard Vicki Davies say: “try to limit your take-aways from a large conference to the top three.” I really enjoyed putting this into practice last time. I must admit it has been incredibly difficult to reduce the choice but, after doing some thinking, I managed to find my three take-aways:

  • It’s the end of education and the beginning of learning” – Alec Couros
  • Let’s get rid of what is not needed and focus more on what is needed. Discipline issues will begin to vanish” – Monika Hardy
  • Student-centered means putting students first!” – Pernille Ripp

I’m also really excited about the New Teacher Mentoring Project. I love the “Pay it Forward” concept behind it. Sharing our experiences, our successes, our failures, is a great way to help other teachers and to contribute with the educational reform. What’s more, mentoring a new teacher is emotionally and professionally enriching. Would you like to mentor a teacher or would you like to have a mentor? Please check out this wonderful project!

Passionate, enthusiastic educators were everywhere! It was so inspiring to see them all together in action! That’s what struck me most about the Reform Symposium – it was a powerful learning adventure in which I had been given the gift to interact with so many exceptional educators. Teachers should build connections with other educators. By collaborating and sharing our experiences we can transform education.

I’ve always thought that passionate and enthusiastic teaching was contagious and #RSCON11 has confirmed this for me! Let’s continue sharing our learning journey… I’d love to hear what you have to say about #RSCON11. Did you have any A-ha moments? What are your take-aways?

My 2010 Most Memorable Teaching Moments

December 31, 2010

I’ve just read Larry Ferlazzo’s post on his 2010 most memorable classroom moments. So much can be learned by reading other educators’ successful stories. It’s so important to share them. It’s by spreading the word that we can help and inspire other people. So, here are my 2010 most memorable classroom moments. I decided to share them, because I truly believe that passionate teaching is contagious!

Blogging with my students has been amazing. It’s been an A-ha “experience”. Blogging with them has proven to me how much they are willing to work and learn when they find something meaningful. I’m still amazed that many of them have kept blogging even after school finished! Our blog has helped us create a wonderful learning environment in our classroom. It has made such a difference – for my students AND for me. I was even invited to present for the 3rd Virtual Round Table Conference, which has been recently nominated for the ELTons awards.

You can read about our blogging adventure here:

Our Singing Fridays event was magical! This has been one of the most incredible moments in my classroom. Students singing, having fun and of course, learning! Having my students prepare their songs so enthusiastically was great. They spent a lot of time at home looking for songs, practicing and listening to them. What’s more, some of them have even written their own songs! This meant a lot of language exposure outside the classroom, which was great. Oh yes, we learned and had fun!

You can read more about it here:

Connecting my classroom with the world has been so wonderful. We Skyped with Joan Young’s class in the US on our last day of school. We shared our “Singing Fridays” with them. It was one of the most incredible moments in my teaching career. Let me tell you, once more my students have proven to me they are willing to give their best when they find projects, tasks and activities relevant.

You can read about out adventure here:

Another memorable experience was being able to help a struggling student who has attention deficit disorder. He had serious confidence issues and was left out quite a lot. Not only has he changed greatly, but he is also a really good student now. What’s more, he has even developed leadership skills!

You can read his story here:

On September 15th, Mrs A., a really passionate teacher, died at school. This was an extremely sad moment for us all. It was such an intense experience. Although I didn’t know Mrs. A much, I did know she was absolutely inspiring. Everyone at school loved her so much. My students were really devastated and so was I. To be honest, I was totally unprepared for this.

You can read more about this moment and how I handled it here:

This has been a memorable year all round. Bringing the world into my classroom has made a big difference for me and my students. Not only have my students learned and grown, but so have I.  I’m really thankful for my students. Stepping away from our comfort zones and learning together was truly inspiring.

You can read my goodbye letter to them here:

You can also check our end of the year video. I asked my students to write a few words on their thoughts about our year together:

I’d like to especially thank all my readers and members of my PLN. You have all made such a difference for me. You have inspired me to take huge steps and challenged me to jump into wonderful adventures! Thanks to you I have grown and my teaching has changed greatly. I’d like to wish you all a wonderful New Year. A 2011 packed with memorable moments and learning opportunities. Looking forward to continuing learning and collaborating together!

Creating Safe Learning Environments

December 28, 2010

Last July I attended the 1st Reform Symposium Free Online Conference. I was really lucky to attend most of the sessions. They were powerfully motivating! What’s more, I attended them in the comfort of my home! It has been such an amazing learning opportunity!
My twitter adventure makes me feel as if I were on a roller coaster journey all the time. My awesome PLN keeps inspiring me to take huge steps almost every day. I have dived into incredibly enriching experiences thanks to my PLN. I just couldn’t believe my ears when I was invited to be part of the organizing team for the New Teachers Reform Symposium (#rscon11). I’m so honored to be working together with Shelly Terrell, Lisa Dabbs, Kelly Tenkely, Melissa Tran and Chris Rogers! Not only I’m part of this incredible team, but I was also invited to present on creating safe learning environments.
I strongly believe safe learning environments are essential in today’s world. A safe learning environment helps students feel confident enough to give their best. It’s through a safe learning environment that we’ll motivate our students to collaborate and be willing to take part in class activities.
My presentation will be on January 8th at 8pm EST / 1am GMT. During the session we’ll explore different ways and ideas on how to create a safe learning environment in our classroom.  You can find out more about my presentation here.
#rscon11 will focus on new teachers, however every educator should take part. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been teaching for a short while or if you’re a senior teacher you’ll definitely benefit from this wonderful professional development opportunity. Are you looking for some inspiration? If your answer is yes, then you can’t miss #rscon11.
Can’t wait to continue learning together! I’m really looking forward to seeing you all there!

White Christmas Goes Global!

December 21, 2010

Once more, children have proven to me how motivated and willing to work they are when they’re involved in a meaningful project. Some days ago I was invited to Skype with Scott Akerson’s 7th Graders in St. Louis, USA. His students had many questions about Christmas in Southern America. I was asked some really great questions and they shared some wonderful stories. I found a comment one boy made particularly interesting. He thought Christmas in the summer and without snow was a bit odd. This comment was the perfect example of how wonderful connecting our classrooms with the world can be. We live in a global world, but every place has its uniqueness. Expanding our classroom walls can lead to meaningful learning opportunities and it can also help our students understand our 21st century world.

Connecting our classrooms through Skype can also help us build connections. I wrote about my Skyping adventure with my students and the amazing experience we shared with Joan Young’s class. Not only can these connections have great impact on our students, but also on us. I shared with Scott’s students how much I’ve always wanted to experience a “White Christmas”. I was really touched yesterday when I got the most beautiful Christmas gift. Turns out, after our call finished, Scott’s students started planning to give me the “White Christmas” I’ve always wished for. They have made this fantastic wallwisher for me. I can’t find the words to describe how thankful I am to them. What a touching gift!

Diving into a Skyping Adventure

December 12, 2010

Not long ago, I wrote about our “Singing Fridays”, a really special event we had every Friday in my classroom. I was really excited when Joan Young asked if it would be possible to share our “Singing Fridays” with her class. I had never connected my classroom with another classroom before. So I thought it would be the perfect ending to an incredible school year.
I must admit, I was freaked out, at first. What if my students behaved badly? What if it was a mess? Joan and I agreed to connect our classes on our last day of school. To be honest, this made me feel even more scared. On the last day of school, kids are usually so excited that they tend to be a bit noisier than usual. I had so many questions and doubts…
While Joan and I were planning our Skype connection, I realized she felt just as nervous as I did. We shared our questions, doubts and fears. We realized that it’d OK, if kids were a bit wild. After all, isn’t Skyping with another classroom an exciting experience? We’re in Argentina and they are in California, wouldn’t you be thrilled about it? So, we decided to make it happen. We would let our kids enjoy the adventure and we were determined to savor it too.
Getting my kids ready to Skype was incredible. I was amazed by how well they behaved. There were absolute no fights about who would sing first or what song they would sing. It was such a pleasant surprise to see how easily they agreed and planned everything.
Seeing their faces beam as we established the connection was priceless. Let me tell you, Skyping with Joan’s class was way more amazing than I had expected. Watching my students sing was powerfully inspiring. I had tears in my eyes as each group performed. Watching them blissfully listen to the Christmas carols Joan’s class sang was deeply touching. While our Californian friends were singing for us something magical happened… We were really touched by a sign they showed us. They had especially made a sign that said “Feliz Navidad”, which means Merry Christmas in Spanish, our native language. What a touching and delicate gesture! Not only were we connected through Skype, but we also felt a real connection with them. Finally, my kids sang a Christmas carol in Spanish. So enthusiastically they sang! So beautiful sounded their voices! It was magical how through music we could share the Argentinean Christmas spirit and feel the American Christmas spirit at the same time.
Needless to say, both classes did an awesome job. What’s more they behaved amazingly well. I can’t find the words to describe how marvelous it was. So powerful was this experience that even one of my students wrote a post about it on his first day of vacation… (see at the end of the post)

Seeing my students in action has made me aware that they shine when they are motivated. Once again, It was my students that proved to me how important it is to bring the real world into our classroom. Amazing things can happen when we are able to make real world connections with students’ learning. It’s time we stepped away from our fears and started knocking down our classrooms walls. Let’s stop wasting our children’s precious time and challenge ourselves to make our classrooms go global. Let’s recreate the world in our classrooms and prepare our students for the real world.

One of my students' thoughts on the Skype connection.

Dear Class…

December 8, 2010

Dear Class,

This Thursday will be our last class together. I must admit I have tears in my eyes as I am writing this post. Time has gone by so fast… They say time flies when you are having fun. I guess it’s true. This has been an incredible year for us. We have grown and learned so much …

Oh boy, have we changed! We have shared all kinds of moments: happy, sad, fun, magical…
Such incredible memories, such meaningful adventures! We have stepped away from our comfort zones and dived into so many unforgettable experiences. Bringing the world into our classroom has been really powerful and absolutely inspiring, not just for you, but also for me.
Watching each of you put your heart into our blog, projects and everyday work has been priceless. Seeing your eyes glowing with every post you wrote and comment you received on our blog has helped me realize how meaningful learning can be when connected with reality. It’s amazing how hard you are willing to work when tasks are relevant to you. By watching you savor each of our projects I became aware of the kind of learning you want and need. I am definitely not the same educator that stepped into our classroom on March 1st. I have changed and grown too. What I liked the most was that we walked through this together.

All the adventures, great moments and difficult times have helped us create, not just a class, but our class. A friendly and safe environment we all felt happy to be part of. Each of you has given their best, each of you has worked really hard throughout this year. I can’t find the words to describe how proud I am of you.

I’m so thankful for all your smiles and hugs. I’m grateful for all we have shared. Thanks for opening your hearts and letting me be part of your lives, but I’d especially like to thank you for helping me become a better educator. Thank you for making me feel that my job is not a job, but a passion. Thanks to you, I love being a teacher more and more every day. Each of you has made a difference for me. I will never forget you.

Love,  Ms. Greta