Little Schoolhouse on the Prairie

The Pedagogy of a Rural Educator

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30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 22 – PLN

What does your PLN look like, and what does it to for your teaching?

“If you aren’t on Twitter, you need to be!”.

I bet I said this 20 times last Thursday and Friday. I was asked to attend the Midwest Regional Noyce Conference in Omaha, NE. This is a conference where pre-service teachers, teachers in the field, Master Teaching Fellows, and faculty and staff from many different colleges and universities come together and share ideas and experiences. The common thread through all is that they were in some way involved in the Noyce Scholarship Program. This program is specific to science & math teaching and works to get highly qualified teachers into high-need areas, like urban and rural schools. I received one of these scholarships while I was in college. During the conference, I was part of the “Voices from the Field” panel, as well as a co-leader in a presentation about building a PLN!

I was very excited to share the amazing world of Twitter with everyone there. I started tweeting right away, hoping to connect with someone at the conference who was also a Twitter veteran. Unfortunately, the only people tweeting seemed to be sitting next to me – two other attendees from my university. At that moment, I knew my mission for the two-day conference. Get people on Twitter!!

I can’t express how much Twitter and PLN I’ve built on there have done for me. Here are a few examples:

  • Discovered the 30 Day Blog Challenge from @TeachThought
  • Collaborated with Jessica Anderson (@TriSciCurious) on a Virtual Learning Project where our students connected with each other to do a project. (Her students are about 1000 miles from mine!)
  • Connected with Dave Burgess (@burgessdave), author of Teach Like a Pirate, and I was able to see him speak live as well as on a Google Hang-Out.
  • Found out about South Dakota EdCamp, and connected with other SD educators before and after the EdCamp.
  • Have been involved in many chats, learned a ton, got support, gave support, and have really grown as an educator!

“If you aren’t on Twitter, you need to be!”

Check it out sometime, you will be amazed at the resource it is for educators!


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30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 21 – Hobbies

Do you have other hobbies/interests that you bring into your classroom teaching? Explain.

Sometimes I feel like teaching is my hobby. I spend my weekends looking for fun lessons, exploring Pinterest and Twitter, and grading papers. However, as much as I truly enjoy doing all that, when I don’t have to be doing that, I have a few other things I enjoy. Some of these I haven’t figured out how to use in the classroom, but I hope to someday!

Cooking: I love to bake and cook (and eat!). Some ways I’ve brought this into my classroom include:

  • Making Sauerkraut and bread during my biology unit on cellular respiration.
  • Doing a popcorn lab in chemistry where students determine the water content of popcorn.
  • Bringing in examples of proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates during biochemistry units.

Science: As I said before, I’m a science nerd! I love all things science. I follow many scientists on twitter and facebook, as well as other organizations that share fun science facts and stories. I use this is my classroom to:

  • Connect what we are learning with current scientific discoveries.
  • Find interesting introductions to units.
  • Discover videos that can be used to review information or inspire discussion.

Crochet: I haven’t figured out a way to connect this with my classroom – but I did see some cool patterns for scienc-y things!

Football: Again, not something I’ve really connected to classroom content, but I have used it as a way to connect with students and create more classroom rapport.

Trivia: I am a trivia junkie. My husband and I record Jeopardy! on our DVR so that we can watch it for hours at a time. We also go to trivia night almost every Tuesday! I do trivia with my students every Friday. They get extra credit on their daily assignment for any questions they get correct. I enjoy doing this because it expands my knowledge beyond science, and the kids get pretty excited to have trivia on Fridays.

If anyone has ideas on how to connect crochet and football with classroom content, let me know! I’d love to include some more of my hobbies in order to make my classroom more personal and interesting!

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30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 20 – Student Work

How do you curate student work–or help them do it themselves?

Again, not my strong suit! I would really like to improve in this area.

I typically do not curate student work. I have a hard enough time keeping myself organized! However, a few ideas I’ve had since doing the reflective teaching challenge include:

Students creating digital portfolios – including photos of work not done digitally – that could be shared via email or other digital means with their families.

Create folders for each student – they could place any work they have done in there, but I could file tests and quizzes.

Students blog – they could include anything they have done on there, including reflections about their experiences, not just “hard” evidence of their learning.

I think any of these could be used as ways for students or myself to help curate student work. I’m not sure which one I like the best, but I might have to try one next semester!

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30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 19 – Student Reflection

Name three powerful ways students can reflect on their learning, then discuss closely the one you use most often.

I have to admit, this is a struggle area for me and my students. Most of the reflection that happens occurs when they receive their graded test. I know I need to be better about pushing students to reflect, and teaching them how that reflection is helpful.

Because I feel like I’m not well-versed in this (and I’m really behind on this 30 day challenge), I decided to look at some other blogs from teachers and compile some of their best resources!


Form of the Good (@RESP3CTtheGAME) – Student Self-Evaulation Rubrics

A Collection of Thoughts – Interactive Notebooks, Online Blogs, Online Portfolios.

Reflective Teaching – Socrative, Kaizena, Blogging

Classroom Collective (@classcollect) – Goal Making, I Can Statements, Conferences


Each of these amazing bloggers shared great ways to get students to reflect on their learning. I plan on trying to use some of these ASAP! I love that some are able to be used instantly and that others take a little more work and planning. Overall, I feel like there are so many ways to get students to reflect, I just need to get going on it an not be afraid! Thanks to the other bloggers for doing great work. (By the way, if you haven’t already, check out #reflectiveteacher to see posts from all the wonderful educators that took part in the 30-Day blogging challenge.)