Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Why I Blog…

“No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” By Voltaire

I often get asked, “Why do you blog?” and my answer is because I like to help other educators while also reflecting on my own learning.  I started blogging in 2011 and over the last few months I have been starting to wonder, ‘should I keep blogging?’

Blogging takes a lot of time, dedication and I have been doing it for over five years. I started wondered if I should be putting that time into something else. I decided to go back to my roots, look at my vision and think about what have I gained through my blogging experience.

Original Vision: To collaborate with educators to make a difference in education through improving methods and reflecting. I want to seek new perspectives, take risks and continue to pursue my passions of curriculum and instruction, technology and 21st century learning.

Upon reflection I decided I have met my vision and I have also gained:

  1. Meeting amazing people that I have collaborated with on projects such as with Dr. Will, along with other guest bloggers like Kenny McKee.
  2. Gained new ideas from readers through the comments
  3. It has made me a more creative thinker
  4. It has also held me accountable to practice what I preach: Share your knowledge, don’t keep it to yourself, help better others!
  5. It has been a “professional learning” experience for myself. When I don’t have a topic in mind, I find myself reading other blogs, tweets etc that spark my thinking or force me to learn something new that I might have put off with ‘I don’t have time for that’.
  6. I have over 6,750 followers and my thought process was, even if one of my readers changes their teaching craft, that is making a difference in education, right? Then last week I received an email from a friend that said: “You continue to have such an influence. This is from an elementary school principal who used your blog post to generate conversation. Thought you would like to read their comments.”

The Principal wrote:

I shared another blog post (Getting Started with Personalized Learning by Jill Thompson) with my staff to spark an electronic reflective conversation.
Here are some of their thoughts and my insights on where we are in our journey.
My take: nervous but realizing they are doing it and generating more excitement/momentum!

I read each and every one of the teachers responses, which were all very thought provoking. I believe everything happens for a reason and this email solidified that I need to keep blogging, not only for myself, but to help inspire others!

 

Be That Teacher

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” By Barack Obama

This week I would like to reblog a post by Derek McCoy titled: Be That Teacher. Derek is an amazing educator that I admire because he is a lead learner, change agent and risk taker. I have had the pleasure of learning with him at #edcamps and conferences such as NCTIES. His blog pose inspired me and so I wanted to forward it to my blog readers in hopes they are also inspired as well.

mccoyderek

0050ec171fb4eff4365f729391c9ab38Teaching is hard.

Change is hard.

We regularly ask teachers to make difficult adjustments to their practices. Change talks come from all levels, central office, building administrators and from the teachers themselves. If we are going to commit to relevant and rigorous learning, we have to commit to real, regular and honest conversations with ourselves, and our groups, about what we are doing in our schools, what things need to look and be like, and then work we need to engage in to get there. Without these talks and commitment, we won’t realize changes in:

  • implementing teaching practices to get students to communicate, collaborate, think critically and creatively;
  • making sure students are future ready, whether it be college or a career;
  • changing not only how we teach, but how we think and FEEL about what teaching is and should be;
  • using different mediums or approaches, sometimes that challenge us personally…

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Reblog: 101 e-Learning Tips From Experts

Recently I was asked to provide some tips on the topic e-Learning along with some other educators for an article by Scott Hawksworth and Sarah Bass. I really enjoyed reading the tips and so I wanted to pass it along to my fellow blog readers.

Educational technology, and more specifically e-Learning, offers tremendous value to both students and teachers. Both are constantly evolving, and as such, challenges are inevitable. To that end, we surveyed hundreds of e-Learning experts in search of useful tips for teaching and learning online. Our search generated 101 amazing tips, which are presented below. For the first timer to the seasoned e-Learner, you’re likely to find many valuable tips to help you succeed online. Check out the article here: http://bestonlineuniversities.com/101-elearning-tips-from-the-experts

All of the expert contributors are also listed here with links to social media profiles so readers can connect and learn more about their work: http://bestonlineuniversities.com/expert-contributors

Helping Students Prepare For Online Testing

“The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.” By Elbert Hubbard

test

Computer based (online) testing is coming no matter if we agree with it or not; it is inevitable. The best way to prepare our students is to be integrating technology into all subjects, daily and in a variety of ways. Here are some tips below of things you can start doing in your classroom this week to help your students.

Model and teach….

  • … how to use a toolbar.
  • … students to use a calculator that is online (not just the ones you have in your classroom).
  • … students to read online text; including how to use strategies such as using an online highlighter and notes.

This past week I modeled how to do a stop and jot (annotate) using an online text from Tweentribune and Bounce. Here are some other web-tools and sites you can use in the classroom to help prepare your students:

  1. Diigo
  2. Dreambox
  3. Compass Learning
  4. Khan Academy
  5. Zeal
  6. LearnZillion
  7. Illustrative Mathematics
  8. Schoolnet or Mastery Connect
  9. Discovery Education Techbook
  10. Chrome Extension:
    1. Read & Write works with all sites, including Google Drive.
    2. Yellow Highlighter  with any site/article like NewsELA

If you have another way to help your students prepare for online/computer based testing please share in the comments.

Motivational Video Toolkit

“What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” By Ralph Marston

Below I have compiled some of my favorite motivational videos I like to use in no particular order:

  1. You Can Learn Anything
  2. Growth Mindset: World Best Motivational Videos for Students
  3. New Bell’s South Africa TV Ad — The Reader
  4. Rita Pierson: Every Kid Needs a Champion
  5. Rubik’s Cube: A Question, Waiting to be Answered
  6. 212 Degrees
  7. Broken Escalator
  8. Piano Stairs
  9. What Adults Can Learn From Kids
  10. Kid President Video Playlist
  11. Disrupting Education 
  12. This I Believe

I am always looking for more motivational videos so please share in the comments your favorites to help build the toolkit.

Creating Quick Assessments with Zeal

“Data itself is useless. Data is only useful if you apply it.” Todd Parker

Zeal

Zeal is a new FREE site that makes grading exit tickets easy. Within 10 minutes I was able to create my free account, view Zeal as a student and as a teacher with their easy tutorial and create my class. The items are Common Core-aligned with 15,000 a question bank and sends the data instantly to the teacher and student in order for them to track their data.  Zeal also ‘gamifies’ for the students by offering them to earn coins, move up the leaderboard and use the coins to upgrade their own avatar.

They even make it easy for you to offer quick PD to staff. Check out our there Professional Development Resources to learn how to best use Zeal in your classroom/school. Like most sites you do need to be aware of the COPPA Law because you do need to have parent permissions to use; unless your district is like mine and has a different form that covers all sites.

The Need for Play

“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” By Diane Ackerman

Play is a critical component of developing minds. Research shows play is as important as sleep and food; so why don’t we promote more play?  

Kevin Carroll is one of the guru’s of why we need play in our lives both as adults and children. He is the reason I started learning more about play a few years ago when I heard him as a keynote at ISTE14. He got me thinking about how we could incorporate play more into the classroom. Kevin is an author of three highly successful books published by ESPN, Disney Press and McGraw-Hill., a speaker and change agent i.e. Katalyst, you can read more about him here. I highly recommend watching some of his Ted Talks and videos on his site.

Three ways to integrate play into education:

  1. Create Makerspaces in your classroom or school to allow creative play
  2. Utilize missions or design thinking projects
  3. Purposeful play at recess 

Resources about Play:

National Institute of Play

Institute of Play

How Finland Keeps Kids Focused Through Free Play

Play in Education: the role and importance of creative learning

The Power of Play

Play is…Video

34 Reasons Why Play Matters - AAAStateofPlay.com - Infographic

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