Thursday, July 28, 2016

CI Goals for 2016-2017

Alas, my summer vacation has come to an end. I had a great but very full summer. After a little over 1 1/2 years of grad school, I finally completed my Ed.S degree in Instructional Technology this summer, while also attending and presenting at the ACL Summer Institute and IFLT. One of the best things about attending IFLT (click here for my blog post on it) was that it kickstarted me to thinking about the school year. As I have done before on this blog at the beginning of each school year, here is my list of CI goals for the year. This year's list is short - only three goals:
  1. Personalize the class for students. I have always made stories about students in my classes and elicited their suggestions when asking a story. I have tried my hand at implementing Circling with Balls, facilitating PQAs (Personalized Questions and Answers), and incorporating Social Emotional Learning with success. At the same time, I really have not used the language to learn more about students as my goal - in the past, personalization was just a way to keep things novel and to engage students' interests in class. When students feel like they belong in the class, realize that they are valued, and feel part of the classroom community, they are more likely to be engaged and to want to be there in the classroom. This year, I really want to implement Bryce Hedstrom's Special Person Interview.
  2. Utilize more processing time when asking questions. When observing Anabelle Allen during a lab at IFLT, one of the great strategies which I noticed (and believe me, she did SO MANY wonderful things during that lab which I want to implement) was giving her students time to process their answers whenever she asked questions. After asking a question, Annabelle simply said, "uno, dos, tres," and then students responded. I thought that this was great, because it was a way to level the playing field for all. Normally, when asking a question in class, I do receive a choral response from students, but is it just from the fast-processors? How about the slower-processors who wish to respond but need that extra second or two? Anabelle's strategy is such a simple way to ensure that possibility for all  
  3. Incorporate brain breaks daily. Although I have facilitated brain breaks in my classes, I never have done them on a daily basis. I will usually implement at least 2-3 different activities in a class period, since "the brain CRAVES novelty" - in my mind, switching to a different activity every 15 minutes or so is the same thing as a brain break, right? According to Diana Noonan, one of the IFLT facilitators, it is not the same thing. A brain break is exactly what it sounds like: a break for the brain, but even more, Diana stated that brain breaks allow for the break to "reset" and to store what has been acquired. She also advocated that a brain break be given every minute for the age of the students, e.g., 8-year olds should have a brain break every eight minutes or so. Again, this is something which I saw Anabelle demonstrate with her elementary school aged students, as every ten minutes or so, she gave them a brain break, and she did SO many different kinds: various versions of rock, paper, scissors; and doing a dance to a video. As the class progressed later in the day, Anabelle did a brain break every 5 minutes or so, since the students were getting tired. 
Some resources for brain breaks:
  • Martina Bex - a great writeup about brain breaks
  • Cynthia Hitz - how one can use balloons to give students a choice in brain breaks
  • Michele Whaley - another great writeup with some quotes from Karen Rowan and Carol Gaab
Below is a short video clip of Anabelle Allen teaching elementary school students at IFLT. Thanks to Martina Bex for uploading this to YouTube. In fact, please read her writeup on Anabelle at IFLT.


  1. you are amazing... I went to look at my statistics of my website for today and I have had 70 visitors.... 100% of them referred to my website and blog by YOUR blog.... wow.... thank you! I have posted a link to your post on my IFLT blog and I will be checking back and reading more of yours too. YOU ROCK! BESOS - Lamaestraloca

    1. You do not understand how absolutely pumped I am right now that you left a comment here - after observing you at IFLT and applying for these past three weeks of school so much of what I saw you do there, you are my heroine! Although I may have been the one who directed folks to your blog, due to your absolutely amazing talent and willingness to share your experiences, you are the one who got folks to stay and to read it - I can take no credit for that - that is all deservedly you!

      BTW, on your IFLT blog post, you can refer to me as "Keith Toda," and not "Mr. Toda" - I'm not THAT old :o)