Wednesday, May 17, 2017

So I accidentally blew up on Twitter last week.

National Teacher Day was May 9th, and I wanted to recognize that in a small way. I had a graphic that I created for a previous Twitter Chat, so I opened it back up, changed the top, and posted it with two small sentences and hash tagged it with #NationalTeachersDay. I tagged my usual tribe in the graphic so they would re-tweet it for me; they’re awesome like that. After that, I went about my day.

What I didn’t expect was the amount of alerts of how many people liked or re-tweeted it. Throughout the day, the numbers climbed. Some were from accounts just looking for exposure, but most of them were teachers from around the country. The tweet took on a life of its own. By the end of the day, the tweet had over 350 likes and over 200 re-tweets. It felt good to know that I warmed a bunch of hearts that day, but it was also proved the power of a single voice and the influence it can have quickly and globally. I know people are worried about what they see from our commander-in-chief on Twitter these days, but you can’t deny the power of one person’s voice. Just make sure you use yours for good.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What I've learned from tiny little dictators


These North Korean officers are standing there proudly and why shouldn't they? They're wearing enough bling on their uniforms to set off metal detectors.
If you notice along the side of my blog, I've got some micro-credentials: Google, Microsoft, CommonSense, etc. I'm proud of the work I've done to earn them and to display the badges on my blog. I realize that my students should get the same opportunities. Technology class grades are usually not a big deal on report cards, so I have to make them a big deal in my room.
I have some graphic design experience, so I created some badges for my students. When they finished certain modules online, or mastered a unit of work, I've created a badge for it. Google Classroom makes it easy to email just those students I select, and I send them a congratulations email with the badge linked to it. I tell them to post their badge to their blog, and it gets the rest of the class racing to see how fast they can get one too.

Learning something new should be it's own reward, but sometimes it's nice to show off a little.
We're all still looking for little gold stars.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Learning in the Airport

I knew I was going to be stuck in an airport for a few hours, and I was actually looking forward to it. I brought books, my iPod, and a bunch of work to do. I tend to bring this stuff with me everywhere I go, hoping I will get something done but I rarely do.
With only my carry-on beside me, I was able to plow through a pile of things on my to-do list. I let my mind wander, and I had complete thoughts without distractions. It was magical. Why doesn't this happen more often, I wonder?
The difference at the airport is the environment. There were really no distractions. After I took in the bored faces around me, I was able to settle in and get work done. I didn't stop to get some laundry done, or turn on the TV. I was off the grid and it was wonderful.
I know with so much technology at my fingertips I can work anywhere. The problem is, with so much technology at my fingertips to distract me, I don't. My relationship with my phone is unhealthy, and that's something I will deal with in the future. But for now, I'm wondering the next time I need to get something done, I should drop off the grid and go hide somewhere. If that doesn't work, I'll go buy a plane ticket.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Parent Teacher Conference is a learning experience for me

While staying late sitting in my classroom until its dark is not the way I want to spend a day, I do find Parent Teacher Conference Night a way for me to be a better teacher.
I love seeing the family dynamic. Kids can be so funny; they behave one way in the classroom and act completely different around their parents. Seeing how much the parent loves their child is also a reminder that the kid in my class is actually someone's child. They're young and out in the world without their parent next to them, and that is sometimes a scary thing. After I met with one father, I watched him tousle his son's head, say "Let's go, handsome" and my heart just melted. They're not just my students, they're someone's pride and joy. I need to keep that in mind more often.
Some of my students are the family translator. Many of my students have parents that don't speak English, and they translate for them. These kids are taking on an adult job in some ways, being the go-between for their parents and the outside world. There's even students who have an active role in the child care for their little brothers and sisters. They seem so grown up sometimes, when they’re not. I need to keep that in mind too.
I learn a lot about my students, but I also learn about me. I find out ways I could support my students better; what I'm doing or not doing in my classroom to help the learning. It's helpful to listen to the students from their point of view and the discussions they have at home about my class. I can always use some suggestions for improvement.
What is really great is when the parents thank me for the job I'm doing, and tell me how much my students love my class. I know it’s not about me; I teach technology and kids love it anyway, so I can’t take all the credit. It is nice to hear though that my students look forward to my class. Those are the times that make the late nights worth it.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Second First Year

I've mentioned the gym before on this blog, and how I go often. It's one of the things that I do that I'm most proud. I'm proud that I went that first year and lost all that weight (40 pounds) but actually, since I recently hit the two year anniversary, I'm more proud of myself now.
Sticking with something when you see results is one thing, but sticking with something that doesn’t show big results is another. I go to the gym now because I feel better than when I don’t. I'm not losing the weight I once did, but I'm keeping if off. The gym is now a part of my regular schedule. I never had to remind myself to eat or sleep, and now I don't have to remind myself to go workout. I just go without thinking about it.
I'm trying to remind my students that when they first learn something, it can be life changing, like learning how to write. It came with its own reward. But learning how to write well, and the mechanics of writing, isn't as glamorous but still very important. It's what you do the second year that really shows your character.
There are only two qualities that can guarantee success in anything you do: commitment and perseverance. That's what I know and desperately want my students to understand.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

How Blogger gives every student a voice.

I use Google Classroom in my technology lab almost all day, everyday. It's a great tool. I've personalized each class with a portrait of the kids. Here's some of my little knuckleheads.
I also use many other Google tools. After the students get their school gmail account, we go over how to create documents in drive and how to share them. The students then set up their blog in Blogger. That takes at least one class period since we have to set up each URL address individually so it works correctly.

Once they have a Blog address, I paste into a google sheet I've set up in the "About" tab in classroom site. Every student can access this spreadsheet, not just me. (I did lock the sheet, so they don't accidentally delete anyone).
This part is where real communication occurs. They're not just writing for me; their whole class is the audience now. Now their posts get a comment from me and from their peers. To make sure everyone gets comments, I ask each student to comment on the person listed above and below them on the roster. The next blog post might get commented on by the names two spots above and below. Eventually, everyone has read and commented on each blog. 
This method has worked really well for me. It's my way of helping my students develop their voice.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What am I going to work on this year.

I've got a lot of these skills covered, but certainly not all of them. I'm assuming we all could improve our skills. This post resonated with me, so I made it pretty to post it near my desk. When I glance at it, it reminds me of what I am working towards. For all the resources, go back to the original post in The Educational Technology and Mobile Learning website.