I have to admit, I STRUGGLED with a title for this one. It’s not very good, and I’m sure in your head you’re thinking of something different for a title as you read through it, but….the content, I promise, is worth it. For the past few weeks, I have been knee-deep in STEAM and Maker-Ed. My pal and colleague, the wonderfully amazing Tori Cameron and I teamed up to bring our district a STEAM Cart. Tori came up with this great idea and it has been amazing working together to bring more STEAM into classrooms! The cart has created a buzz; particularly with the mobile green screen as well as the robots. It’s been great generating new ideas with Tori as well as other staff members of new ways we can bring technology and STEAM into the classroom.
Without the Green (FREE)
The STEAM cart has a mobile green screen, iPads, and the DoInk App. However, we have three buildings and only ONE me! Carrying one screen between buildings can be a challenge. So, we bought another to store at the Junior-Senior High School along with iPads and the DoInk App. As I worked on the Nonfiction Science and ELA Book project with 8th grade this week, I came across the newest feature in Apple IOS – iMovie which is on the iPads/iPhones has an option for GREEN (or Blue) Screen! In fact, you don’t even NEED a green screen – just a blank space! This video shows it perfectly, and this is a great option for student video if you have students with iPhones (and no green screen) or you use iPads.
Using the Screen ($$)
If you do happen to have a green screen or low-cost alternative, there is quite a bit you can do in terms of editing and creativity. To learn myself, I made a SUPER basic video (below). I used a green screen, iPad, and DoInk. The advantage of using DoInk is having the ability to move the person (me) anywhere you want and also being able to resize myself among many other features. The sky is really the limit with this (paid) app!
Green Screen Resources
Want to try this, but needs ideas?
Green Screen Gal aka Erika Sandstrom is the local GURU on Green Screening and all that you can do. She posts regularly to her YouTube Channel as well as Twitter with many different ideas and lessons!
Tori Cameron posts AMAZING student projects on Instagram from her STEAM lab using the green screen! She also has a GREAT episode on her podcast with Green Screen Gal that highlights so many amazing ideas!
DoInk posts great tutorials on how to use their app and interesting ideas of how to use it!
Build your own – if you WANT to have a “green” area for filming so you can go further (and just have more space) check out this resource for many low-cost options.
Green screens are an exciting way to make learning visible, but also allow teachers to share student work with the public. Once your students are comfortable creating green screen works, consider having a movie showcase at your next family night or open house, where you project the videos onto a screen, or have them queued up on tablets around the classroom. Additionally, you can share entire portfolios of student works with parents by uploading the videos with an app like Seesaw. (Bonus — Seesaw also opens up another line of communication with parents!)
However you use them, green screens are a fun and easy way to engage students in creative learning. Now, let’s get filming.
Happy New Year Everyone! Welcome back!!! We are now into January and it is a BRAND NEW DECADE – 2020 my friends. Some of us are looking to be more efficient, more innovative, and just more BETTER in the New Year. A fresh start – so what do you plan for 2020? More of the same, or something different? Want to try something pretty easy in the New Year – how about a QR code? They’re pretty nifty and you can do quite a bit. Want to know more? Check out more about CODes below….(get it COD, like fish? I know…that was a stretch, even for me)
What is a QR Code? 🤔
According to Kemble Flynn from Rockingham School, QR codes are much like bar codes in that they contain information and can be scanned. Bar codes only contain information from left to right but a QR code can contain information from left to right or up and down. A QR code works like a bar code in that it can be scanned and linked to a set of data. Unlike bar codes, a QR code can pack much more information into a smaller space – up to 4, 000 characters. QR stands for Quick Response which refers to the instant information access hidden in the Code. They are customizable, both in function and design, and are the best channel for connecting traditional print media with any interactive online content.
You can find QR codes everywhere if you take a look around! They are even on my Amazon packages when they arrive!
How do I scan QR Codes? 📷
According to Android, the best way to figure out if your mobile device can read QR Codes is to open your Camera app and point it steadily for 2-3 seconds towards the QR Code you want to scan. Whenever scanning is enabled, a notification will appear. If nothing happens, you may have to go to your Settings app and enable QR Code scanning. If QR Codes aren’t an option in your settings, your device, unfortunately, can’t scan QR Codes natively. Don’t worry, this only means you’ll have to download a third-party QR Code reader app. If you are using a Chromebook, you may need to go to the Chrome Web Store and install a QR Code Reader Extension.
The Chrome Web Browser App for any mobile device can scan a QR code. Simply long hold, or right-click, the Chrome App and you will have the option to scan a QR code. The benefit to this over the camera app is that the information will now open up in Chrome rather than in Safari. If you’re a regular Google for EDU user this has many benefits in terms of login time and bookmarking the items.
How do I GET a QR code? 💡
If you Google “QR Code Generator” you will find many available websites that will generate a QR code for you. However, my favorite site to generate codes is Bit.do. Take a look at the video below to see why!
Why would I use QR Codes? 🤷
A resource for Parents 🤳
Want parents to take a look at something when they’re waiting for parent-teacher conferences? How about posting a QR code in the room! They could take a look at your website, or even sign up for something!
Quick HW Check ✅
A teacher reached out and asked for a quick way to enter student homework so she can easily track it! She wants to walk around the room and easily do this. Well, a QR code would be great EXCEPT we don’t want the students to be able to access the Google Form. SO, we embedded it on a Google Site!
Scavenger Hunt 😲
How about sending students, or teachers, on a scavenger hunt? Link forms to QR codes and send them on their way!
Connect an audio clip to a QR code and send it home 🏠
A great way to say “Welcome” to both parents and students when staring the school year is in the form of a letter or postcard arriving before school. What if YOU could be heard reading it to them?! Record your voice with Vocaroo and turn the recording into a QR code for your letter. Suggest parents scan it to hear you reading the letter! What a nice personal touch! You could also have students do this! Imagine hearing your child giving you a special message every time you scan his or her picture? Put the QR code on the back of a project! Take a look below to see how!
Google Form to QR Codes for behavior tracking 📋
How about a quick way for students to tell you how they’re feeling? Check it out below! Even if it’s not in a QR code, this Google Form is a great option to have posted in your classroom. The Google Sheet can be set to alert you when a student fills it out.
If you’re using QR Codes, let minnow! I love new ideas!
Hello friends!! Can you believe this is my last entry of 2019?!! Thanks for sticking with me and reading all of my fishy posts – 33 entries in the year of 2019! It has been a great year in education and there have been so many AWESOME experiences, tools, and lessons that have come up throughout the year. As I reflect on 2019, a professional highlight for me has been the work our district has done with UDL, Universal Design for Learning. I’ve seen educators really transform from good to great when implementing these principles. Technology can play a very important role in UDL – offering many opportunities to engage learners, represent content in different ways, and allow learners different opportunities to express their knowledge. Sharing tech tools and practices that capitalize on UDL has been a passion of mine throughout 2019. Anyone reading knows I LOVE to share; and although I share many great ideas, a few are certainly on the top of my list. Care to sea 👀 my top ten of 2019 (in no particular order)? Let’s take a look below!
My Favorite Organization ❤️️
In 2019, I became a board member of the MassCUE organization. MassCUE stands for Massachusetts Computer Using Educators and is a chapter of the larger, national organization, CUE. To say that I simply love MassCUE and all that it stands for would be an understatement. For years, I was a fangirl of MassCUE, it’s board members, and it’s events. I remember attending the fall conference and running up to Rayna Freedman (now president), like Buddy the Elf, exclaiming “Hey I know you!” Now, I am a much larger part of the organization and help it to run. MassCUE has so much to offer educators in the commonwealth. From free PD both online and in person, to Podcasts, Twitter chats, local meetups called CUE-ups, and the largest state-wide conference – MassCUE has something for everyone. Consider joining today – I promise you will NOT regret it. Click here to learn more about MassCUE.
My Favorite Conference 🧡
This past spring Medfield Public Schools held its annual DLD conference. However, this year, they changed the theme from “Digital Learning Day” to “Design Your Learning Day.” Offering many choices centering around good teaching practices. This conference has always been a highlight of the year for me since I started attending in 2017. Neal Sonnenberg, an integration specialist in Medfield, has become a dear friend of mine and does so much work behind the scenes with an amazing team to organize a great day. The keynote for DLD 2019 was a group of teachers or integrators who each gave a passion pitch. This “passion pitch” was an innovative idea that got away from bloated keynotes and really focused on the WHY of teaching. This idea caught on and other districts are now implementing it. Medfield DLD gives a lot of choices in its offerings throughout the day as well. You can really personalize and maximize your day of learning. I can’t say enough about this conference! Maybe you’d like to present? Click here to check out Medfield DLD.
My Favorite Google App 💛
I. LOVE. GOOGLE. Really, this one is a tough choice because all of the core Google Apps have so many hidden bells and whistles. Although, there is one Google App that went through a lot of change for 2019. This particular app is amazing for accessibility, offering choices for students, and encouraging collaboration between teachers. My favorite app of 2019 is Google Classroom! The student selector on the IOS version of Classroom was a pretty nifty little add – but my favorite changes to this app this year has been the BETAs Google is testing out. Originality reports and rubrics are a great improvement to Classroom. I simply cannot say enough about this tool! If you’re not using Classroom to it’s fullest potential, or even if you think you are, check out my tutorial below. I bet you’ll learn something new! You can also check my previous blog post on Classroom here which contains many video tips!
My Favorite Ed-Tech Tool 💚
I have so many Ed-Tech tools that I like and that I try to encourage teachers to use such as KaHoot, Quizizz, Quizlet, Flippity, Flipgrid, Brush Ninja, Tall Tweets, SeeSaw, Epic, and EdPuzzle just to name a few. The tool I always come back to, however, and that I find to be a true game-changer, is Pear Deck. The Pear Deck platform offers every learner a voice. There is so much choice built-in to this tool when designing a lesson. You can have the deck run whole group or student-paced; you can ask open-ended questions, have students draw an answer, or create a match type question; You can embed videos or websites into the deck. You can even ask unplanned questions on the fly and hear from EVERY student, not just the singular hand raised. The sky is the limit with this tool. This year, as in all years, they continue to improve and change. Pear Deck paired (haha) up with NEWSELA this year to bring you premade decks that go along with articles. They also offered more lessons in the Orchard for you to try and an improved menu in the add-on for Slides! Pear Deck even joined forces with Microsoft and now works with PowerPoint as well as Google Slides. I believe in the power of this tool so much that I even have a whole category on my blog devoted to it. You can check that out here. Please reach out if you’d like to try this tool – I would LOVE to SHARE THE PEAR 🍐 help you get started!
My Favorite Ed-Tech Blogger 💙
There’s probably no surprise here. Anyone who knows me, knows I talk about one particular blogger and his great ideas quite frequently. I follow and/or subscribe to many excellent ed-tech/education blogs: Practical Ed Tech by Richard Byrne, I Heart EDU by Meagan Kelly, Tech Tips 411 by Jennifer Hall, Ditch That Textbook by Matt Miller, The #EDUGif Guy Jake Miller, and many more. Keeping up with all of the great ideas out there is a job within itself, but one particular Ed-Tech blogger makes it pretty easy. It’s none other than Eric Curts author of Control Alt Achieve. Not only does he have a great blog, but he also hosts a monthly live meeting that anyone can join. My schedule has only allowed me to join once, but I’ve watched the videos back of these meetings quite often. Eric is the ultimate sharer; he creates really great activities using Google Apps and puts them out there (for free). He also finds many great activities using Google Apps and puts them out there as well, highlighting other AWESOME teachers. If you’re looking for a great Ed-Tech blog to follow – Eric’s is my top choice!
My Favorite Video Tool 💜
Video is a great option when looking at representation or action and expression – two principles of UDL. Video is another way to reach all learners and can be very engaging. Take a look at our students today – how often in their free time are they watching YouTube? So, why not use video in the classroom! Let them view videos of content on platforms such as YouTube, Discovery, Edpuzzle, Khan, or let them create videos with platforms such as Flipgrid, Adobe Spark, or SeeSaw. Video is powerful and I, myself, use it often as a teaching tool. I even respond to emails with instructions using video. I feel that it can reach more learners having the video to see and even pairing in the text with closed captioning to read. My favorite video tool to use is Screencastify! I like this tool so very much because it’s an extension for Google Chrome, which means I do not have to login or go to a separate website to use. The videos go right into my Google Drive and it’s so very quick to get them out to viewers. This tool works seamlessly with YouTube, Wakelet, EdPuzzle, Flipgrid and many other video hosting platforms. Again, there is so much choice within Screencastify in terms of showing the webcam or not, using drawing tools to show a skill, recording internal audio, pausing the video in the middle, and so much more. To learn more about this FABULOUS tool that is my favorite video tool of 2019, click here!
My Favorite Extension ❤️️
I have so many Google Chrome extensions, it’s really hard to pick a favorite. You can find an extension for anything! A few extensions I use daily such as Grammarly, Bitmoji, and Emoji Keyboard for Chrome. I love extensions so much that I used to run into the problem where I had so many running that my browser slowed down. Well, that’s where my FAVORITE extension comes in. Extensity is a great extension that allows you to turn on and off extensions with a simple click of the mouse. This keeps your Chrome Web Browser running at top speed, while also allowing you to use your favorite extensions when you need them. Check out how to use it below!
My Favorite Font 🧡
My favorite Google Font(s) of 2019 is the newly added Lexend font(s). This year Google teamed up with Thomas Jockin typeface designer and founder of TypeThursday. Together they instituted the Lexend fonts in Google Docs which have been researched and are meant to improve reading speed. You can read more about these cool fonts here!
My Favorite Google Add-On 💛
Google add-ons, much like Chrome Extensions, extend the productivity of Google Applications. You can do so much with add-ons. Autocrat is one of my favorite add-ons for Sheets. I love how it creates a mail merge and allows you to automate emails with a click of a button. Although I do love Autocrat and the cool things it can do, by far my favorite Google Add-on is MAGIC RAINBOW UNICORN. Simply because it’s fun! This add-on works for both Docs and Slides!
My Favorite Google Docs Trick 💚
This year Google Docs released a live word count tool that counts as you type! You have to manually turn this on, but what a great visual for students to have especially for those college essays! See the video below of how to use this great tool!
Wow! I could go on and on with more of my favorites, but a top ten seems just right for now! What are your favorites?
Stay tuned as I post in 2020 about GIFs, QR CODES and MORE!
Brrrr….baby it’s cold outside! It’s that time of year again, December!! When the snow starts falling and the kids get restless and excited for the holidays ahead! Are you “fishing” for some holiday fun? There is SO much anticipation this month that it can be a tough 15 days of learning in December. However, fear not! Below are some holiday activities I’ve collected through the years that can help! I have printable activities as well as digital. There are word puzzles, math games, art activities, writing activities, read alouds, and more! I’ll be updating this doc(click to open or view below) regularly this month with new finds. If you find something good, let me know and I’ll add it!
I hope you are all doing well at this time of year.
Have you ever heard of clickbait? You know, those ads that say “Click here for your $200 Walmart gift card!” Admit it, even if just to yourself, you’ve clicked on some sort of clickbait once in your life. For me, it’s the shopping ads that appear in my social media feeds. I can’t tell you how many of those I fall for.
How about some GIF bait? What is GIF bait you ask? Well, aside from a cute fish pun, it’s using GIFs to engage your learners. GIFs are fun, and are everywhere! Even when we text, we have a GIF menu. Our learners love using apps such as Snapchat or TikTok to make short videos, similar to GIFs. GIFs can engage!! If you’re unsure how to use or create GIFs, give a read below for some great ideas!
Brush Ninja is SUCH a fun tool! Not only it is engaging, it is also very user-friendly and doesn’t even require a sign-up or login. Anytime I’ve seen students use it, they love it! Personally, I like to use it to show cycles – but you could create a GIF on anything really. Recently, Kelly DeMolles, a High School Science Teacher here in East Bridgewater, explored this tool to show Chemical bonds. She really enjoyed using it and plans to do so with her students as a way to demonstrate knowledge. See her example below!
For an overview on Brush ninja, watch the tutorial video included below:
Another amazing Gif Creator, that doesn’t require drawing, is Tall Tweets. Basically, design what you would like to animate in Google Slides. Then, go to Tall Tweets and add your slides. From there, you can alter the settings of how fast you want your Gif to move. I took a GIF and made it my Google Classroom Background! Tall Tweets comes in handy with screenshot Gifs too for instructions. The Gif below was created from these slides (click here) if you’d like to see how it works!
Take a look at the quick tutorial below on how to use this tool!
Text Gif Generators
Glitter Text Online
Perhaps a favorite of many around here is Glitter Text Online. It is EXACTLY what it sounds like – you write the text, and you pick the glitter! You can customize this in so many ways and then copy and paste it wherever you’d like! Here’s an example below:
Sometimes I like the look of typing text. This is a great site where you can generate a Gif that looks like you’re typing!
Where to find already-made GIFs
When I need a good GIF or Sticker, I go to GIPHY. Personally, I like the sticker option on the site more so than the GIF option. You can check out the site here and feel good about what you use because it is all copyright free! You can even create them here if you’d like!
My Challenge to you:
Create some BAIT! Want to engage kids? Put a GIF on the assignment or step it up a notch and CREATE one! Let me know how it works out!
Happy November! I can’t believe we finished out October already! We are in the middle of possibly the longest stretch of school that we have all year. September to December has minimal break time and we can get so much accomplished! However, with the changing of the clocks, the increased darkness, and the colder weather it can start to feel a bit mundane, even a bit overwhelming. We may need to think of a different way to excite ourselves, and our students, at this time of year. How can we turn the regular routine into excitement? How can we “breakout” of that boring, comfortable fish tank? Well, I have the answer for you!
Have you heard of Digital Breakouts?! Certainly, this is not a new concept as it has been around for a few years, but Breakouts with Google Tools appear to be on the rise! What is a Breakout you ask? It’s similar to an Escape Room, but rather than escaping students try to solve puzzles and riddles in order to escape the “digital” room or unlock the final lock. You can set the stage with all different scenarios. Each area may have a puzzle to solve, like this one (click here). With each challenge solved, a clue is given for the greater escape!
Take a look below to see an amazing example of a Digital Escape and various resources on where to find them, or how to make them yourself!
A SPOOKTACULAR Example
Still not sure what a Digital Escape is? Well, check this one out! Taylor Almeida created a very sophisticated Breakout using Google Sites, Google Draw, Google Forms, and Google Sheets! I had the fortunate opportunity to watch second graders solving the puzzles. They did an AMAZING job and EVERYONE was excited and on task! This Escape is so much fun AND allows students to practice skills in a different way!
Erin Foley is a Technology Specialist and Teacher at Hanover Public Schools. Recently, she gave a session at the MassCUE Fall Conference which you can see below. This presentation gives step-by-step directions on how to create your own escape using all FREE Google Tools! One of our own EB teachers (Taylor) attended this great session and immediately implemented it in the example above!
Marisa Foley and Leanne DiPesa of Medfield also presented on Digital Breakouts. They included testimony from students as well in their presentation. This is another take on how to create a Digital Breakout! For more, find Marissa and Leanne on Twitter @Marissafoley325 and @MsDiPesa.
Want to try a Breakout or Digital Escape, but feeling a bit overwhelmed? Reach out and I’d be happy to assist you in making one or even make one for you! Don’t be afraid to “breakout” of the Fishtank!
(*Note: for some reason, my blog post did not email out last week even though I wrote it. It includes Halloween activities as well as vocabulary. Check it out here. )
I am writing after two, or more like two and a half, of the most inspirational days of my working career. The MassCUE/M.A.S.S. Annual Fall conference was just held at Gillette Stadium, and amazing would be an understatement. I have attended and presented at this conference for the last five years and, like a fine cheese, it continues to get better with age. Now as a Board Member, I get the added benefit of assisting in the behind-the-scenes work that makes this HUGE event such a success. The MassCUE staff and conference committee that organizes and runs the conference is an incredible group of people. Fall conference can be overwhelming, but the team does such a good job providing resources and people to help wherever they can. With over 400 vendors, hundreds of workshops, many different learning areas, and just under 3,000 attendants – it is the largest event Gillette hosts aside from games and concerts.
As I’ve progressed in my career, I’ve learned different ways to manage and maneuver this conference. I am sure to book multiple sessions in my schedule, in close proximity, to really maximize my learning; I know to go see some truly INSPIRING educators, including our own in EB, who present year after year; and I’ve learned not to be shy and to TALK to people ( I know, me shy? yeah right…but sometimes I am). I’ve made some very close friends through MassCUE who continue to lift me up and encourage me, and I try my best to do the same for them.
One of the principles that I stand behind is that we are truly better together. When we form relationships with those who inspire us, we can work together and share ideas for a common goal: successful kids! MassCUE stands behind this belief as well. This year MassCUE provided an Awesome Table for ANYONE to access many of the amazing sessions. I’ve included it here (click here), so take a look, it is “insPIERational”! The table can be a bit overwhelming! A few of the presenters (among many) I try to see and find ALWAYS inspire me. If you want to search them by name, they are: Jenn Judkins, Joli Boucher, Brandon Hall, Neal Sonnenberg, Ann Coates, Jonathan Schmidt, Jed Stefanowicz, Julie Spang and of course our EB presenters: Tori Cameron, Beth Barra, Meg McGovern, Stacy Linnehan, Amy Ronayne, and Sheri Craven. You can also search in the title for specific topics like SeeSaw, EdPuzzle, Flipgrid, Math, Literacy and many more!
I think Amy Ronayne said it best when she said something along the lines of: “This conference gives me confidence, allows me to see how cool it is with what I’m doing and how it helps others. It makes me a better teacher.”
This year, more than ever, I felt like a proud mom watching our own EB staff thrive as they present to packed sessions and even get approached by administrators from other districts asking them to come and show their staff. I always try to exude that I work in an amazing place, with amazing staff and kids, who have no idea just how incredible a place our school is. When we attend MassCUE Fall Conference, we truly get the sense of how fortunate we are. If you haven’t attended in the past, I really encourage you to give this conference a try. You will NOT regret it!
If I didn’t get to see you at the conference, and you read this blog, please reach out! I’d love to meet you in person next time – I’m sure you will be an insPIERation to me!
One day I was sitting at the kitchen table, and my son Chace, spouted out this word that was so beyond his years. The word was incredulous, and it’s a word that I do not even use in my daily vocabulary, nevermind my son who was in first grade at the time. I asked him, “where did you learn that?!” He proceeded to tell me all about his teacher and how she just put words up around the room. He would see the word every day, and at some point, it must have been discussed. Words have such power! Students just seeing new words can have an impact on daily usage. I can’t say enough about this teacher my son had, and all of her words around the room. She certainly left an impact on my son. We all learn differently, and for my son, seeing the word daily worked for him. For others, however, interacting with words may work and technology can enhance this interaction. What are some tech tools that can assist with WORDS? Well, let’s take a look below! 👀
Educandy was just featured on both Richard Byrne and Eric Curts’ blogs earlier this month. It appears to be the hot, new, FREE platform to engage students in vocabulary activities! Check out the video below, from Richard Byrne, on how to use this new tool! Looks like FUN!
Flippity.com is an amazing resource for FREE, customizable templates that work with Google Sheets. The flashcard template is a favorite of mine because it is so versatile. You can embed images and YouTube videos on to the flashcards if you wish. It also has various ways students can interact with the flashcards.
Quizlet on its own is an AWESOME vocabulary site with many premade lists teachers have created. No need to add your own lists, if you search Quizlet by a story name, chapter, or title of a topic you will probably find a list of words. You can then modify them as you wish. This tool is wonderful because it has speech-to-text built-in, as well as a picture dictionary and translator.
Once you have a list, kids can play Quizlet LIVE! This is unlike Kahoot and Quizizz, it puts the kids into teams and they have to work together. They LOVE it! Check out both Quizlet and Quizlet Live!
Pear Deck – Flashcard Factory 🍐
Pear Deck has a great partnership with Quizlet when you use Flashcard Factory! It’s quite easy to copy and list from Quizlet into Flash Card Factory (100% free) and practice vocabulary in an ACTIVE format. Once completed you can then push student examples back OUT to Quizlet. I have NEVER seen so much enjoyment from practicing vocabulary than when students play Flashcard factory. I’ve seen it in grade 12 all the way down to grade 2! I use it with adults in my trainings as well and it is always a favorite! Talk about ENGAGEMENT! To read more about this integration, click here, and also be sure to watch my video below!
This week I had the amazing opportunity to teach 3 blocks of Intro To Computers. It was my first time having High School students solely to myself in longer, 77-minute, blocks. The VERY first thing I did was attempt to connect with students. I spent time with the students…saying hello, asking about their schedules and lives, simply talking to them. Each and EVERY one. If you know me, you know I can be loud, boisterous, and sunshiney (to the point where I can annoy some people). I engaged with the students and invested that time early, to get them working – which they did! We are a community and these are all of our kids. I went into teaching because I LOVE kids – all of them. I have a soft spot in my heart for the students who are the most work. The most difficult kids are those who need the sense of community the most. It’s not screen time, it’s not parenting, its community and we need to provide that for many of our students who only find it here, at school. Taking the time to connect with the students first, and show that I do care, pays me dividends in the end in terms of students working towards my objective.
Recently I attended a workshop by Jimmy Casas author of Culturize. He challenged me to think differently, stop blaming external factors, and ask myself what can I be doing? What are my fears that cause me to blame?
What we model is what we get.
The investment of time means a lot to people. Are you accessible to people? Do you have an open-door policy – and DO they walk through your door? If someone walks by and you don’t say anything it’s a missed opportunity, a missed opportunity to connect or model the behavior we want others to have. Model the behaviors that you want to see repeated. If appropriate and positive interaction is what you desire, model this yourself with others in the room and the greater classroom community. We have a responsibility to build our culture. Lead Learning and build culture – this is our job. See yourself as a community builder – first thing, think: What am I doing to build a community? Everything we do is based on the connection we make with students, and as much as I love technology – this does not replace the connection we can make face-to-face. The investment of time isn’t happening in many classrooms across the country….are we modeling the poor behavior we see in our students? Subtle things we do impact our culture in negative ways. When we complain about a student – that negative behavior is the same behavior we see in him/her. Invest the time, face to face, first thing – the time you take now will reduce the time you could spend later trying to get your objectives accomplished.
Remember what you said when you were in that interview chair – what is your WHY? Come back to that. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Teaching is hard, but when you’re tired – go find the child. Don’t wait for someone to come around and change your attitude…go engage with people. Go sit with a student and engage. Fill your own cup up, don’t wait for others to come and fill it.
When you know your why your what has more impact because you are walking in or towards your purpose. – Michael Jr, Comedian
The Blame Game
Clarity proceeds confidence. When students do not follow instructions we need to resist blaming the students and say to ourselves “clarity proceeds confidence” and try to be more clear. Show students what excellence looks like, then coach them through it. Stay in there with feedback until they get to the level you want them to be at. We’re delegating too quickly when students are not yet at the level we want them to be at. If we delegate the task too early, we exhaust ourselves with trying to get there. We look for external things to blame for behavior – and we spend more time on that than trying to understand the behavior itself. Ask yourself – I wonder what happened to the student that they act that way? I had a student this week who simply sat and let me know they were going to just sit, and not do anything. The child wasn’t disruptive. A friend told me, “That student is working harder than anyone in the class. For that student, it is harder to simply come to school and just be present than it probably is for the student next to him/her doing the work.” I had to really ask myself, why? I didn’t ask the student to engage and I didn’t kick the student out, I just went and sat with the student. I stated that I cared, that I was worried and that I hope the student is okay. I didn’t ask the student anything – I did not pry. By the end of class, I received a smile from the student and he/she stated, “It’s not you.” If I continued in the class, I would’ve continued this routine with the student and am confident, eventually, I would get this student to engage in the work of the class. However, I would need to invest the time. Every student is worth that time.
Tech Tools to Assist:
Use video as an alternative for written instruction, to show examples, and more provide clarity
Don’t be the lid on the Tuna can…Don’t give ALL the reasons you can’t do something. Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back. Ask yourself – DO YOU WANT TO BE GREAT? The world WANTS to be average and tries to pull us back…Just accept that you can never be average. Everybody wants to be a part of something great!
Let’s talk writing! I absolutely love to write (hence the blog), however, sometimes it can seem like a chore when I have to do it. Personally, I prefer to type in Docs and I find the act of typing engaging in itself. I feel the only way to really improve as a writer, is simply to write. However, with students, it can be challenging at times to motivate students to write. So, what can we do as educators to assist students with writing? And how can we make it easier for ourselves to look at writing? Well, let’s “dive in” and look below and see what we can find!
Docs as a Blog
I really like using the Titles and Headings options in Docs. It allows you to create a pretty neat product if you set it up just right. You can even make your Doc look just like a blog with monthly, themed, posts. I put an example video below! If you wish to use my template and modify it for your needs, please click here.
Google Blogger is a pretty cool app! You can find Google blogger by clicking here. Sometimes, we just need a cool tool to get students writing! Why not a blog? Google has a great help center, found here, that will walk you through how to create a blog!
Writing in LIVE time
As educators, it helps to have tools so see a student’s writing over time. There are some great tools that allow both teacher and student to see the progression!
See the progression of a student’s writing, or the collaborative efforts of a group write, by using the revision history found in the File Menu of Google Docs. This can be a powerful tool, and also a lifesaver especially if you accidentally have your own writing wiped out!
Draftback is a valuable Chrome Extension that allows you to see writing play out as a video from start to finish! You can install this extension by clicking here. To see how it works, check out the video below.
A live word count can help a student see the visual of his or her own writing. Analyze character count and length by turning on this great feature of Docs. You can find Word Count under the Tools menu.
Tip of the week
I love this post from Catlin Tucker which includes a “writing playlist!” It’s not a new post, but it’s new to me and a great resource! Click here to check it out!
What helps you as a writer? I left out many of my favorite tools I use since I could go ON and ON…Can you guess what they are?!