Close and Active Reading Strategies

Here is one presentation that I will be giving at the Education Minnesota conference this week. I will go over several options for close and active reading strategies using technology.


Using OER to build online curriculum

Here is one of presentations for the Education Minnesota conference this week. In it, I cover what OER is, good sources for OER, and some steps to create OER for yourself and your classroom.

When talking gets your down….

I’ve talked too much. Plain and simple–that’s the truth! These first few days of school my throat has hurt at the end of every day. And for me, that’s a sign of failure as far as the teaching I want to have occur in my classroom.

You see, my philosophy is that I don’t talk to the whole class. Or, at least I talk to the whole class as little as I possibly can. Instead, I prefer to talk to students individually. I can usually do this since I run my class in a semi-blended learning sort of way.  However, this first week of school, we have had no computers. Blended learning without technology is almost near impossible. Also, there are so many things that I need to go over like how the grammar website works, where the books are, etc.

I do try to teach procedures and class norms in a fun, student-centered way. Day one there is no syllabus talk and I use a TLAP lesson. Day 2 is a BreakoutEDU with a short rules discussion. Day 3 was story time with students writing their own personal life themes. Day 4 was speed dating with our class movie trailer and then our infographic syllabus. Today was a lesson using Ted-Ed and student mini-interviews to talk about reflection.

However, this adds up. Even I’m only talking to the whole class for 10 minutes a class period (which means that the students are talking at least that much PLUS work time for them), I’m still talking to the whole class for 50 minutes total every day. And that’s a TON.

I am going to keep reflecting on how I can change this for next year, since every year it will be the same situation: no chromebooks until  the second week of school. Most every solution I come up with for this uses technology. So, for now, I’m stuck with a scratchy throat and 50 minutes of talking total each day until they get their computers.

But tomorrow they do! And tomorrow we will learn about taking care of our chromebooks and make some awesome memes on Google Draw to teach each other about it.

First day of school 2016!

Well everyone, the first day is in the books. I had a great and busy day. I really try to make my first day pretty interactive and fun since I know that students will maybe be sitting and listening to syllabi the rest of the day. (Side note: can we all stop doing that?!)

My first day centers around being awesome. I really want to set the tone for the year as positive and exciting, and I borrow from TLAP to make it happen.

First, we watch a Kid President video (the pep talk one). Then students make a symbol out of playdoh of what makes them awesome. They then do some sharing and write about it. Overall, it’s a great first day. Who doesn’t love Kid President and playing with playdoh?

Here’s a link to a quick video of my favorite student creation. They made a book (as a whole table!) to show how they like to read.


Open House Ready with tech

I learned from the bottleneck at the front of my room last year that something needed to change in my open house set up for this school year. So, I worked this week to hopefully make open house as informative and free from bottlenecks of parents waiting to talk with me by my classroom door.

I have set up several informational stations in my classroom for people to walk around and visit. In order to save paper (who wants to print out stuff for every parent?) I made signs for each station and put them up in a very visible place. Each sign has a title of what is viewable at that station, as well as a short link. The vast majority of parents will have smart phones, and so they can just type in the link and can then see the information.

Here are my stations:

  • Welcome back/parent letter (this was also emailed out to all parents)
  • Our class Twitter account @HogensHeroes
  • The class “trailer” (like a movie trailer) I made
  • The syllabus which is in infographic form
  • A “get to know the teacher” presentation

Hopefully it will go well and we will avoid all the lines and waiting parents that happened last year!

Trip over-now to bring my new knowledge to my classroom!


The above picture was taken in a schoolhouse from the 1800s. What I think is sad is that many American classrooms still mirror this one that is over 200 years old: desks facing front with the teacher the center of attention as well as knowledge. In Sweden, the vast majority of the schools that I visited had completely thrown this model out the window. In fact, those that don’t follow this model threw it out the window long, long ago.

I’ve learned during my trip that there are many similarities between our systems of education, but also many differences. I’ve also learned that, just as in the US, schools vary so much between school districts and even between schools in the same district. Overall, I would say that each country has its strengths and challenges.

I look forward to returning to my classroom (I plan on getting in there on Monday!) to start implementing the furniture and design ideas that I gained while on my trip. I also look forward (as always) to digging in with my students and starting our new cooperative research and projects.

I am so thankful to the White Bear Lake Education Foundation for the grant to travel here. Even though I speak the language and have been in the country so many times that I feel like a could live here agin with a drop of a hat (and even gone to a whole year of high school here!), it was such an eye-opening experience to spend time here looking at everything through the lens of innovative educational practices. Who knows, I was offered jobs pretty much every school I went to…I wonder if WBLEF has a grant for moving expenses? ; )

Manilla and Fredrikshov with Victoria

I had my last meeting of my study trip today with Victoria Oldstedt. She is a teacher at two schools, Manilla and and Fredrikshovs Slotts Skola. Both schools are charter schools in Stockholm;  Manilla is on a beautiful island in a building from the 1800s while Fredriskhov is in an old castle from the 1600s.

Here is a photo album you can look at to see more pictures than just these below. IMG_1962IMG_1952

I was so happy to meet Victoria! We had our classes write letters back and forth to each other this past year a few times, and it was so nice to put a face to the name.

I got a wonderful tour of both schools and got to meet many of the teachers and staff. A few highlights were:

-the teachers lounge at Manilla decorated in a style matching the age of the building including a lovely chandelier and period wallpaper

-seeing the classrooms with high ceilings in Fredrikshov, made out of rooms from a castle from over 400 years ago

-meeting another English teacher that I will get to work with this next year (our students will also write back and forth)

-meeting one of the classes that my students and I had pen pal letters with last year

Overall it was a lovely visit on a very rainy morning. Much of my time was spent planning and talking over our plans for our letter exchange for this next year, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to come and solidify our relationship.