The Transparent Tech Teacher
I thought this would be a great entry to post now because I experienced an item on my bucket list this summer! I don't know about you, but my bucket list has a lot of items that will definitely take longer to accomplish than others either because they are geographically (and therefore financially) out of reach in the short term or because they will take a greater dedication of time as well as skill than I am currently capable of or willing to give. Then there are those items that are doable now. It's just a matter of taking initiative to educate myself and then organize the experience. I crossed one such item off my list this summer. On my list of 100 Life Goals wedged between "Experience Havasupai" and "Spend a night in the Crusoe Villas at Lankanfushi, Maldives" is the item, "Bike the Hiawatha Trail." Well, I did just that last month. I got a group of family and friends together and we traveled up north to bike the Route of the Hiawatha, which has been deemed "The Crown Jewel" of rail to trail adventures. Biking the 15 mile gently down hill sloping trail was a highlight of my summer. Whether we were using our headlamp to navigate the 1.7 mile tunnel or catching vistas on the sky high trestles, we LOVED our adventure. See the video below to decide if this experience belongs on YOUR bucket list.
This week's blog entry is a guest post. I'm fortunate to teach at a school that works hard to create a safe environment for students while challenging them academically. The work of students, teachers, administrators and parents, result in our students scoring high on standardized tests consistently. I knew I had to tap into some of the knowledge and experience that are ensuring we are doing things right at Compass. One of our building administrators agreed to blog about some of the things that help us succeed at Compass. Please read below for Scott Strickler's tips for supporting student success.
Schools with superlative academic achievement are not implementing strategies requiring superhuman capabilities. Rather, they have strong leaders blessed with a team of educators committed to carrying out sensible fundamentals with fidelity. This random list of factors which support student success are feasible in any traditional public, charter, or private school. The key is getting everyone from the superintendent to the aides on board with supporting the framework.
Our school district consists of two schools at two separate campuses, K-6 and 8-12. Because we are our own district, we get to set the calendar. Each year, the administration sends out two or three different versions of a calendar and the staff gets to vote. The winning calendar is presented to the board for review and after some revisions and compromise, the calendar for the following year is set.
We are on a modified calendar where we have a shorter summer and longer breaks during the year. This year, our last day of school was June 3rd and our first day will be August 14th. For breaks during the year we get three weeks at Christmas, two weeks at Thanksgiving, a two-week Spring Break and a one-week Fall Break. Although I'm in a love affair with summer, I've traditionally been a fan of our calendar even though it cuts my summer short. I just LOVE the long breaks during the year and they seem to come when the students and I need them most. What are your thoughts? Would you rather have a longer summer vacation or longer breaks during the school year?
I don't know how many of you live near the path of the solar eclipse and are planning to view it on the 21st, but there are a lot of us who are excited about it here in Idaho. This video was great because an average guy describes it in language anyone can understand, and yet he uses some really great words and phrases that relate specifically to the solar eclipse phenomenon that make me feel smart! His excitement definitely rubbed off on me. I now know there are many locations across our state where we can be in the center of the totality plain (you see what I did there"?!) and that getting to one of these locations can greatly enhance my experience. Happy eclipse viewing.
Hope this back to school diddy leaves you smiling. Name the movie for extra credit!
My audio clip this week is humorous, not to be confused with taking this assignment as a joke. I'm having a hard time with the idea that school is starting NEXT WEEK! I thought a little humor could be beneficial to us all. Laughter IS the best medicine!
This is a follow up to my previous post, Back to School. Another way to combat the back to school blues is to focus on the coming year and how to make it successful. I've compiled a list of five back to school tips for teachers.
1. Establish Classroom Rules and Be Consistent
This sends a message to students that they can learn self control. Students will never be better behaved than they are on that first day. Take advantage of the time to communicate your expectations for a disciplined, respectful and collaborative classroom. You can always ease off on the discipline as the year progresses, once students see that you mean what you say. It's a lot easier to go from being strict to having more fun with the students, but it's difficult the other way around.
2. Be Prepared
It seems simple, but oh so effective. Arrive early and have the room in order. All supplies needed for the day should be prepared beforehand. Hang a welcome sign on the door, post the schedule on the board, organize desks in a way that will be conducive to learning and have student name tags on desks. This sends a powerful message to students that the teacher knows what she is doing.
3. Establish Routines and Schedules
This sends a message to kids that school is safe and predictable. I teach in a school where teachers and students are always on the go. In my computer lab, we move even faster since we only have 30 minutes together. Having a routine for what students do when they enter my classroom not only saves time but eliminates classroom management issues.
4. Preview the Curriculum
Give students an overview of what they'll be learning in the coming year. This can both build excitement and give students a foundation upon which to orient themselves. It can also ease some of the first day tension students feel.
5. Freezer Meals
This one is just for the teacher! One of the things that can become cumbersome during the school year is the need to take a lunch every day. If you'd like the meal to be satisfying and healthy, you've got even more of a job on your hands. What if you have a freezer full of homemade casseroles to take for lunches? This would definitely ease the burden, leaving more time for other life or teaching tasks.
The Best Back to School Tips From Real Teachers
Top Ten Back to School Tips
Argggggh, do I REALLY have to go back next week?! How is it already time? If there's one thing that depresses me in life it's going back to school after a break, especially a really long one. I usually get the blues after each break. Christmas, Thanksgiving, or a two-week spring break...these are all very difficult to let go of. But summer break is nearly impossible! I cling to her like a lady in a shopping mall on Black Friday who's just managed to scoop up the last PS4. The beautiful temps, the time I've been able to spend in my garden, days at the pool, family reunions, sleeping in, staying up late; it's all very beautiful to me, and to most of us. So how can we muster up the courage to step back into the classroom? With a smile, no less. I've discovered that focusing on others usually minimizes my worries. So, what about students and parents? How are they feeling about all of this back to school business?! As is demonstrated in the info graphic below, they have concerns of their own.
You also probably noticed that some teachers are excited for school to start (of course, these are usually the new teachers!) I have found over the years that going back to school isn't as bad as I make it out to be in my mind. Sure it's difficult to get back in the teaching mindset and daily work routine, but I find that just getting there is a majority of the battle. Once I'm back, I realize I'm surrounded by great educators and students. If a girl has to work to make a living, this ain't half bad! Happy 2017-2018 school year everyone!
Our professor posed these questions for his students this week, "As educational technologists, what did you take away from these generational differences readings? How would you handle a colleague who bought into the notion of digital natives?"
I can hardly wait to get my fingers around this week's topic! I found the literature so fascinating. While immersed in the readings, I went through an interesting series of thoughts. During the reading of Prensky's work, I immediately embraced his phraseology of digital natives. I completely agree with him regarding the differences between us and our students who have grown up in a digital world. (Some of his points, like this one, are no brainers to me.) Unlike Mckenzie, I wasn't so hard on Prensky's work, and didn't completely disagree with the premise of his paper. In fact, I was agreeing with a lot of what he had to say until he presented his solution. That's the piece that didn't sit right with me. I do not think we, as "digital immigrants," need to drop everything we're doing, including and especially our methodology, to suit the needs of our digital natives. I think we need to meet in the middle. Gamification isn't evil and unethical, as Mckenzie makes it sound, but it's not the solution for every problem we have in education, as Prensky claims.
I was also especially fascinated with the idea that digital natives' brains may have even developed differently because of the exposure that digital natives have had to technology. It made me think of the period of my life where I learned to speak Portuguese. There were some words, a combination of the letters "lhe" in particular, that non-native speakers had major difficulty pronouncing. It was explained to us that because we had not grown up speaking Portuguese it was possible that our tongue muscle and perhaps even our hard and soft pallets had formed differently. This made it nearly impossible for us as non-native Portuguese speakers to pronounce that combination of letters correctly. Is it possible that children who have been exposed to massive amounts of technology, in any form, have differently developed brains than those of us who did not? If studies prove this to be true, it adds fuel to the fire for the need for change. But even if their brains aren't physiologically different than ours, are we generally in agreement that they learn differently in this digital age? Can we see a gap in how we are teaching and how they are learning? Is there room for growth? Is it just us, the digital immigrants who have to give? I do not believe so.
I think rather than hurling ourselves headlong into gamifiying every single subject and concept we teach, we could expend some energy problem solving the best way to address the needs of our digital students, and the solution may actually be to help them change some of their digital ways. I disagree with Prensky, I don't think the digital immigrants have to do all the changing. Is it possible that they, especially the students who have been heavily immersed in technology, need to be undigitized? Would it be worth our while to teach them that everything isn't immediate? That sometimes they have to read before they can watch? That sometimes they don't get to watch at all because not all information comes in movie format?! I'm simply suggesting that we take the good the immigrants have to offer, because there is good present, while adjusting our methods to accommodate some of their needs.
This week I have invited a friend and colleague of mine, Hailey, to write a post. Hailey teaches 3rd grade at Compass Public Charter School, runs the chess club, tutors students online and owns a successful TPT store. She is a busy woman who's time to write this post is very valued and appreciated!
Hi all! My name is Hailey and I blog (occasionally) over at The Third Grade Nest. I’m excited to be joining Becky for a guest post. Becky asked me to write a post about TeachersPayTeachers. I have had a TPT store for the last three years: just search for me at TheThirdGradeNest! I have learned from many other Teacherpreneurs and am excited to share my tips and tricks about setting up a TPT page for your side business. Now, I’m not an expert, and I definitely have room to grow in my business and blogging skills; but after three years I have definitely learned a thing or two!
Many of us create our own resources for classroom use. We know that these creations help students in our classrooms and we think about how they could help other classrooms, too. We have probably wondered about setting up our own TeachersPayTeachers store and starting our side business - maybe with the dream of saving some extra money, paying off student loans, or just because we want to share our good ideas. Whatever the reason, I highly recommend starting your own store - we all have great ideas to share with each other!
There are many tips and tricks out there, which can seem confusing and stressful for someone just starting out, but I’m here to break it down into 5 of the most important things for starting your own TeachersPayTeachers page.
Here are my top 5 tips for getting your Teachers Pay Teachers Store up and running:
Over the past ten years or so, my personal journey has taken me to the discovery of different methods of energetic and emotional clearing. As Chinese practitioners believe, our bodies are full of energy that flows through chakras and meridians. If this energy becomes stuck or blocked, it causes dis-ease in our bodies. This can look like sickness or pain, or can have an emotional manifestation. Acupuncture, acupressure, massage therapy, yoga, and other forms of healing release these energetic blockages. Over the years I have incorporated some of these healing techniques into my lifetime routine.
Several months ago, my teacher friend posted a link to an article about the benefits of using yoga in the classroom. Underneath her facebook post was a caption along the lines of, "I'd love to try this at our school!" Since my own personal discovery of alternative forms of health and healing I've implemented bits and pieces with my students. For example, I have them say positive affirmations before taking standardized tests, or we take a break during learning for some quick energy exercises, breathing and stretches. So when I saw this post about yoga in the classroom, I was very intrigued. I haven't implemented this idea with my class, but I LOVE the thought of it. A google search for "yoga in the classroom" revealed several websites (Yoga Journeys, Yokid, and Yoga 4 Classrooms) containing resources for using yoga with students. Within a few clicks from the home page of these websites I found free videos demonstrating yoga routines, lists of the health benefits of yoga and ideas for incorporating yoga in your classroom. I'm so happy to see educators opening their teaching practice to include alternative methods of health in the lives of their students.
"School yoga has been shown to reduce problem behavior, test anxiety, and anger. It has also been shown to increase self-regulation and focus. At all grade levels, from preschool through high school, students have shown improved academic and behavioral performance when yoga has been introduced in the school." ~ NCPAD. Yoga in the Classroom: A New Kind of Education.
Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Antigua-_Animal_Yoga_at_T.N._Kirnon_(7216056196).jpg
Studies conducted by the Pew Research Center from the year 2014 revealed that 84% of households own a computer and 73% of those households have a broadband internet connection. Another study by the same center shows that 92% of teens (defined as youth ages 13-17 for the purpose of this report) are online daily. To look at the breakdown of this internet usage among teens, the study shows that 24% of teens are online almost constantly, 56% go online several times a day, 12% go on once a day and 2% go online less often. This increase in internet use is driven, in large part, by an increase in access to mobile phones and handheld devices. The same study states that 75% of teens have or have access to their own phone and 30% have their own phones.
That's just one segment of our population. Those of the older generation have much different usage habits and statistics. I take a quick look around my house, I'd say an average American household in terms of income and ability, and here's the tech that is readily visible: two laptop computers, a smart TV, a wireless printer, a cell phone, iPad, portable charger, and blue tooth headphones. Other fairly common tech items not owned by me, but seen frequently in public, include: fit-bit or health monitor, smart watch, and car navigation. We are SURROUNDED by technology. We live in a digital world. So, has it made us better people?
Think about yourself on an average day, then go through your daily routine. Take a look around your house; what tech is clearly visible and readily available? How often and in what ways do you use your technology? How do you see other people using it? Has it helped or hindered your quality of life?