Saturday, December 16, 2017

Communication You Can Do

We've all heard it before.  Communication is important.  It's crucial.  Good communication can go a L O N G way in preventing problems ... especially in a classroom.  If you are a parent of school-age children, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Having my oldest start school truly changed my perspective on quite a few educational topics ... communication being one of them.

I have 3 school-aged daughters.  I send them off to school for 7 hours each day --- Monday through Friday --- August to May.  That's a L O N G time!  Can you imagine if as a parent I had NO idea what was going on?  Whew!

In my own classroom, it dawned on me ... my 7th & 8th graders "probably" weren't going home and filling in whomever was home with every little detail about school.  How could they?  We expect them to cram 7 hours worth of content in their heads, go on to whatever extracurriculars they participate in, eat, do homework, AND communicate it all to mom & dad?  Yea, right. For a decent number of years, I had parents email or call or say to me at conferences, "I didn't know (fill in assignment/test/project name) was coming up." 

I decided to do what I could to change this. 


Yes! You can! I started off small. We will call this "Concise Communication" - I posted the homework every week - in my classroom (where I encouraged students to write it down) AND in our grade book program. I had to turn in lesson plans anyhow which included my planned homework, so I knew it ahead of time.  If I needed to adjust, I did. I encouraged students and parents to look there for homework & grades.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Top Google Doc Tools You Can Use

If I had to venture a guess, I'd say probably everyone's first experience with Google Apps is with Google Docs.  It is Google's word processing tool.  In it's infancy, Docs was pretty thin on tools and capabilities.

Not anymore!

Voice Typing

One of my favorite tools in Google Docs is voice typing.  I realized this year how powerful this is for students. In my classroom, I always had students who could verbally tell me such wonderful information, but struggled to get it down.  There were so many times that I wanted to hand them a tape recorder.  Now it is in their hands! And if you give it a chance, you just might empower your students to finally have a way to share their "voice".  (And I bet you'll find out what a sweet voice it is! 💖)

Naming Versions

Monday, December 4, 2017

5 Google Slides Activities You Can Do

The other day, I wrote a post about change and how it can be amazing.  Here are 5 activities you can use in your class.  Take your pick and do one ... or do them all!

Google Slides Scavenger Hunt (Catlin Tucker @Catlin_Tucker) -- an amazing activity you can use to help your students become more proficient with Slides. And it's FUN! and YES! You can make your own copy of it and share with your students.  It's beautiful - go ahead ... share with your students, tomorrow.

Build Your Own Snowman (Eric Curts @ericcurts) -- this amazing activity allows your students to be creative without the hassle of needing to find the "accessories" to build their own snowman.  Eric reinforces writing skills by giving space to write a story about the snowman they create.  Eric includes a template you can copy and share, AND he also provides a short tutorial in case you need it!

If-Then Adventure Stories (Google's Applied Digital Skills Curriculum) -- this take on "Choose Your Own Adventure Stories" many, including myself, enjoyed as a child, is set up to walk your students through the process from start to finish.  

**Note - it says it is geared for middle/high school students, so if you want to use with younger students, you may need to provide additional support.  (I used it with 4th graders and they 💛'd it!)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Change You Can Do

Change is an opportunity to do something amazing. #InnovatorsMindset
- George Couros -
Change can be a BIG, SCARY word.  But it does NOT have to be.  As the quote states, it's "an opportunity to do something amazing"! Change is a risk for sure.  But taking risks can pay off.

Personal example ... a couple of years ago, I was NOT a fan of social media.  I resisted creating accounts.  Then change happened.  I went to a workshop led by Marsha Kish (@dsdPD).  She dangled a free Chromebook for the best Tweet in the workshop. 

I 💖 tech.  Our district was going 1:1 with Chromebooks. 

I. Wanted. The. Chromebook.

So I created a Twitter account - with my husband's help - and I Tweeted ... something ...  what? I have no idea.  Apparently, it was not Chromebook worthy, BUT I had a Twitter account.  I could have deleted it. Instead, I ventured out there, and slowly - remember I said a couple of years ago? - 2014, 3 years later, I can't remember NOT having it.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Collaboration You Can Do

I was recently in a classroom doing a digital breakout.  What a fun activity and highly challenging task! No one was able to unlock all the locks, yet most students agreed they'd be willing to do it again.  

We had them working in small groups & we noticed something.  They were working next to each other ... not really with each other.  Many groups appeared to be working on the same task ... at the same time ... in the exact same way.  When one member got stuck, they all were stuck.

As the teacher & I were debriefing, we talked about how to encourage students to work collaboratively.  We agreed - the students have to have the opportunity to practice and improve on their collaboration skills.  One of my favorite collaboration tools popped to my mind.  But it's not a project with rubrics.  It's not a task with work divided up. It's actually a game.  A game that can be ready to be played in a matter of a minute.


Maybe Quizlet isn't new for you.  But if it is ... wow!  You are in for a life-changing study tool. 

For today, I'm focusing in on ONE piece of Quizlet.  Their game called "Quizlet Live".  Several years ago, I was honored to receive an email one day asking if I'd be willing to try out a game they had created.  We happened to be a point in our unit that a game would work nicely ... but I didn't know anything about this game.  My students were AMAZING - they agreed quickly and were eager to learn the game at the same time I did [what a cool experience on its own!].

Saturday, November 18, 2017

My First Blog

This has been a L O N G time coming.  I've started and stopped so many different times over the last year.  Each time ... I chicken out.  So, here goes.

I 💖 what I do.  I know I am very lucky to say this.  After 14 years in the classroom, I became a half-time Technology Integration Specialist, while still teaching Social Studies the other half of the day.  The following year, I was allowed to go full-time in the Tech Integration role.  I still can't believe it.

I have to give credit to a few people:

  • Eric Curts (@ericcurts) - what an AMAZING guy! He is truly the inspiration for what I'd like to be when I "grow up" 😉 .  Check out his blog ControlAltAchieve if you've not before. He provides inspiration and motivation on making the classroom an interactive and fun place to learn.
  • George Couros (@gcouros) - absolutely & highly inspirational! His book, Innovator's Mindset, gives such a refreshing (& smart) view on what education can and should be. I highly suggest you read his blog, "The Principal of Change". Mr. Couros has confirmed and reaffirmed many of the thoughts I've had regarding education.
  • Alice Keeler (@alicekeeler) -Alice is an amazing powerhouse of Google knowledge. I was honored to attend one of her workshops and I was blown away by her knowledge and creative thinking.
  • Here's where I also give a shout out to my awesome husband who listens, encourages, tempers, and ultimately pushes me to follow through on all my "thoughts".  And my 3 girls ... all of them inspire me and force me to rethink my ideas on education.  Without a doubt, being a mom has transformed my teaching.
  • And everyone I am honored to work with.  I loved being in the classroom and working with students.  Now that I am working with and supporting all of the teachers, I have an even higher level of satisfaction than I thought possible.
  • And shhhh ... don't tell anyone, but I work with some pretty cool administrators, too!
There you have it.  I did it. It's not perfect and I'm sure I'll look back and say to myself, "Oh, geeze! Why didn't you ...", but I'm not perfect and if I wait for perfection, it'll never happen ...