A Few of My Favorite Things

YAKit and Quizlet Book Creator and Raz-Kids
Canva, Schoology, and Google and Quizizz
All the excitement that Chatterpix brings
These are a few of my favorite things!

In SC, our teachers have to have a reading certification by 2020. Teachers who have elementary and special education certification have to take four reading courses and everyone else has one course that will need to taken. Today I shared with a group of middle school and especial education teachers my favorite reading, writing, and creating tools. I thought I’d also share them with you.

 

Until the next time,

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Ode to Bea Dupree – #ThankATeacher

MacBeth

Today’s #EdTechBoC challenge: Write about a teacher, past or present, who inspires you!

Everyone who knows me well enough knows that my favorite teacher of ALL time is Beatrice Dupree.  Seriously….ALL time favorite.   She was my English IV and AP English teacher.  That woman…..whoa.  She was everything to me.  She was brilliant, beautiful, stately, classy – all of it.  It was so obvious that she 100% loved what she did.  To get excited about Macbeth…I mean….seriously….who gets excited about McBeth?

I really could go on and on about her…but in fact, I already did!

Click here for my blog post about the qualities of a great teacher.

Until the next time,

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Making The Move….Literally or How to Use the Domain Mapping Tool to Connect your Edublog to Your Custom Domain

When I first started this blog, I was teaching sixth grade.  When I made the transition to my new job, I didn’t want to lose the memories that this blog had, but I was no longer “surviving sixth grade”….I guess I’d “survived”…lol.

Two years ago when I first become introduced to Google Apps and we were trying to find away to get our 6th graders email accounts so they could share things that they’d created with us, I bought a domain from GoDaddy to apply for a school level GAFE.

I’ve been working off and on (waaay more off than on) to mask the “Surviving Sixth Grade” url with my “mrsjeff2u.com” domain.  I’m not much of a informational text reader, so I was just like….eh….I’ll figure it out.  I did…but I didn’t…ya feel me?

But after the initiation of @EdTechBoC I figured….I better figure this out! And I did. 🙂  So if you have a custom domain that you would like to use – but you don’t want start your blog all over again….here are the steps.

  1.  Log into your Edublogs account.
  2. In the Dashboard, click on Tools > Domain Mapping
  3. Enter your custom Domain and then click “add”.  Domain Add
  4. Log into your DNS control panel. (For me that meant that I went to www.godaddy.com, clicking on Domains > My Domain > DNS Zone File).  DNS Zone File
  5. Configure your DNS records using the DNS configuration information on your domain mapping page.  Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 9.55.38 PM
  6. Click the Edit icon in the @ row under A (Host)
  7. Change Points to the A record IP address shown on your domain mapping page (copy and pasting is fine) and then click FinishScreen Shot 2016-04-29 at 9.57.12 PM
  8. Scroll down to www. under CName (Alias) and click on the Edit icon.
  9. Change Points to  the CName record shown on your domain mapping page and then click Finish. Please note that GoDaddy doesn’t allow you to use the dot of the end of the CName, so don’t add it.  Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 9.57.37 PM
  10. Click “Save Changes”.
  11. Go to back to Tools > Domain Mapping inside your dashboard and click Activate.  It normally takes at LEAST an hour for it activate.

I Love Smore! And No, Not The Treat….

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Today’s blogging challenge: What tech tool are you loving these days? Why?

Whenever I get asked the question, “What’s your favorite tool?”, I always sigh.  Is it because I’m a tech geek that I have difficulty answering that question?  Probably so.  But it is always such a hard question for me!  So I mostly have to drop the multiple names in a random name selector and have it make that choice.

So today’s choice is Smore!  Smore allow you to quickly create great-looking webpages. It boasts of creating online flyers, but it’s way more than that. To me “flyer” implies that you’re creating a single-use PDF and posting it online. Smore’s flyers are not single-use PDFs….they are alive!   The Smore flyers can include so many different media types:  images, embedded links, even video! Creating and making changes  is super easy because it’s pretty much just drag and drop.

They’ve recently created the “Educator Hive” that provides educator examples that can be viewed, adapted and/or remixed!  It just launched last week and they already have or 500 submissions!

Smore could be a great way for extracurricular clubs, teams, or school organization to build simple announcement pages and/or share updates and featured news.

I use Smore for many things, including the weekly DCSD Tech Tidbits newsletter that I share with our entire district once a week.  Since my format stays the same and I just add different information, I just duplicate the one from the previous week to prepare for the one that will be shared out next week.  I also embed them on my blog.  You can find old copies here.

Earlier this year, I used it to highlight activities completed during Digital Learning Day.

So although I will never refuse a piece of graham crackered, chocolate marshmallowy goodness – you can definitely see why this Smore is my favorite!

Until the next time,

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A Rainbow In the Clouds

Rainbow

Today’s Blogging Challenge: Share a single snapshot of your day. It can be an image, video or any form of multimedia!

Over 20 years ago, I had the amazing experience to visit the Alex Haley farm in Tennessee AND hear Maya Angelou speak.  AH-MAH-ZING!

During our time with her she would break up her spoken word with a certain line….She’d sing “When it looked like the sun wasn’t gonna shine anymore…God put a rainbow in the clouds.” I LOVE that line!  It frequently pops up when I’m struggling with something…and that popped up for me today.

There’s no secret about my growing frustration with the state of standardized tests in my state.  Our children have taken 3 different tests in the past three years.  Today I read 15 minutes of directions…..FIFTEEN MINUTES!  And by the time I was done – I almost didn’t have a clue of the expectations, myself.  As I walked around the room providing encouragement to my kids (I taught them last year), I grew increasingly frustrated for them.  Why do we punish our children like this?  Why do we punish our teachers like this?  Why is it ok to wait until October to even determine what standardized test they will take….and not even fully develop it until months after that?  Why do we spend months saying, “You’ll need this for the test….you better focus or you won’t pass the test….the test, the test, the TEST! And then we get frustrated when they look at us in wonder when we tell them that there’s work after the test.  And for what?  Because when they grow up they’re going to be perpetual test takers?  Oh wait!  No, they will all become test writers!

After that morning….I was definitely feeling the clouds…and out of nowhere….a rainbow appeared!

Business Card

I’ve been talking to our Math/Science Coordinator about starting coding clubs for teachers and students.  Dr. De Ridder-Vignone is interested in starting some all girls coding clubs.  Rainbow!

Of course we still have to work out the details…but it makes me hopeful.  And we all could use a little “rainbow” right now.

Until the next time,

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Getting The Message Right

Are You Listening-

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of weeks ago, I received a message from a friend. In the message was a picture of the Promethean ActivPanel with the statement, “If we want to transform our district, we should put one of these in every classroom.”

Here’s a summary of our conversation:

Me:  We’ve looked at it and may get a sample to play around with it, but going 1:1 kinda eliminates that need….

Them:  The whole “Digital Transformation” doesn’t work for me. It can be another way to isolate “our” students. By “our” I mean students who make up our demographic, i.e., students of poverty. They learn best when they make “REAL” connections. I’m not talking FB, Instagram, Kik, SnapChat or Twitter, but human connections. They need human connections to be successful.

Me:  The technology doesn’t eliminate the need for face to face connections. Anyone who is doing it that way is doing it wrong.  The technology makes it easier for teachers to immediately assess to determine individual needs. It frees up time that can then be made for individual and small group instruction.

Them:  In your room, sadly you are an exception to that rule! I go into classrooms everyday and watch as technology is used to keep students “busy” NOT “engaged” as teachers sit behind their 💻 and answer the staggering emails we get or shop online, I don’t know. I conference with students and monitor where they are online. Students have to be taught to use technology effectively, efficiently and most of all correctly. An “Acceptable Use” form at registration or when the device is issue won’t cut it, when Little Jaheem goes to White House.org and not WhiteHouse.gov and is looking at pornography. Where’s the teacher not monitoring, engaging or teaching small groups/individuals.

Me:  I agree that we have much work to do! And maybe that’s educating our administrators….because that’s who I blame if those things are happening in classrooms and are not being addressed. Students AND adults need to be taught how to use technology effectively. Our responsibility is to ensure that students receive the best education possible. And the obstacles to that happen on so many levels….district, community, school. I just feel it’s important to stay focused on those that need my support the most, the kids. I understand and empathize with your frustration. I’m just making the choice to use the tools that I have access to to make that possible.  I frequently think about this.

  1. Before the tech, teachers used “worksheets” to keep students busy.
  2. Before the tech, teachers sat on their butts.
  3. Before the tech, students cheated, brought nudie magazines to school, etc. The tech isn’t the problem.

The conversation disconcerted me.  I went back to my director and asked, “Is it me? Am I sending the wrong message?  What am I NOT saying that would cause people to misunderstand what I’m trying to say?”

A week or so later, I had a conversation with someone who had visited the “Flipped Classroom To See” as she was told.  She was sorely disappointed.  She said, “I don’t get it…”  What she saw was students watching videos.  No small group….no partner work…..no individual conversations with the teacher…no student creation.  In trying to get our teachers to be comfortable with this change, I am sorely afraid that I have not been clear in MY MESSAGE!

So let me say this for the record…..”IT’S NOT ABOUT THE TECH!  IT’S NOT ABOUT THE APP!  IT’S NOT ABOUT THE VIDEO!  It’s about the way these tools allow you to have more time in your classroom for human interactions between the teacher and his/her students.  It’s about how we can immediately see where students are struggling so that we can immediately provide assistance and redirection.  It’s about how we can differentiate our instruction so that we can accommodate the needs of all students.  It’s about the way we can encourage our students to be creators of content and not consumers.  It’s about creating critical thinkers who are productive citizens in their society.  It’s about preparing them to be….better, stronger, smarter, more innovative.  It’s about preparing them to be…..more.”

Until the next time,

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Looking Within to Move Forward

17071-an-african-american-woman-looking-out-a-window-pv

The other day I was a part of a extremely uncomfortable yet extremely rewarding conversation.  I’ll admit that I can occasionally become defensive – doubly so with people that I am protective of.  People who have put their trust in me – who have supported me in my hopes…my vision.

In our conversation, we were analyzing the effectiveness of a particular group, and people got REALLY defensive. Throughout our conversation I began thinking to myself, “How many times do we not address problems because of our refusal to be reflective? And because of our refusal to reflect, we stay stuck in the same rut….unable to move forward?”

Unfortunately, I think the answer is “too many times…”, which is really sad.  In this world, you can not afford to be stagnate.  Things are changing at a rapid pace, so we must do the same.  And in these ever changing times, things are going to get uncomfortable, how can they not?  ‘Growing pains’ as my grandma used to say.

But if we’re in it for the right reasons: to improve the lives of our children and develop students that are life long learners and productive adults in their society – then we have no other choice.

We have to look beyond our feelings of defensiveness, fear of inadequacies, and sometimes just plain stubbornness and/or laziness so that we can move forward to providing better learning environments for our kids!  I see no other option.

 

Until the next time,
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The Importance of Providing Unique Experience for Students

Expeditions

Google Expeditions stopped by here! *drops mic*

When I found out about the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program, I was extremely skeptical that out students would get the opportunity in little old Darlington, SC.  So I was beyond ECSTATIC when the emails started rolling in.  After looking at our options, we were able to provide this experience to students in six schools.

And what an experience it was!  Can I just say, “My tail is TIRED!” 🙂 But despite that, I would do it all over again.

Before we got started with a session, I’d say to the kids, “You know…..we may go to Egypt today…..we may visit the moon…..we might even swim with the sharks…all without leaving your seat.  The looks on their faces….the excitement….the wonder….

The “Oooohhhhh” that I heard a million times each day, brought pure joy to my heart.  The students were engaged, they were excited, they whined when their time was up.  And each and every time, I heard it, I thought to myself, “This is what I live for.  This is why it’s important to provide unique experiences for our students.”  But the teachers were rejuvenated as well.  I could see the wheels turning in their heads….how amazing would this experience be if we could use this with our lessons? We study biomes in Science, but then to actually experience it…..the VR experience is so much MORE than just looking at pictures in a book.

We sometimes take for granted what our students have access to – or what they’ll even eventually experience.  So many of the students in my school district have never even been to the beach – and it’s only 90 miles away.

Something that resonated with me from our district Design Team’s visit to Albermarle County. “All Means All”  It is important to provide these experiences for ALL of our children.  Not just the affluent ones….not just the gifted ones…ALL OF THEM.

I definitely commend the principals whose schools were involved.  We are in the middle of MAP season (standardized computer test) and it would have been easy for them to say, “We just can’t fit it into our schedule.”  But each of them worked with me to make sure that we could provide this opportunity with very little turn around time. Each time we needed to make an adjustment, they said, “We’ll make it work.” And they did.

It is imperative that we redesign school for 21st Century learning.  No more of this “sit and git”….and yes I mean “git”….I’m a Southern girl after all.  Sometimes we WILL have to inconvenience ourselves for the greater good.  And in every situation, every opportunity, every day….ALL MEANS ALL.

Until the next time,

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Digital Learning Day 2016

I distinctly remember being disappointed last year for Digital Learning Day because I was in a professional development session and wouldn’t be able to actively participate.

This year, I knew I not only wanted to participate, but I wanted it our district to participate en masse.  Thanks to my dear colleague and friend Sarah (@sarahdateechur), the DCSD Digital Learning Challenge was born!

Sarah’s school district created a site with a list of options for teachers and I “borrowed” that idea as well!

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I was excited see that we had extremely active participation!  Hopefully, we will get even more next time.  To celebrate the work that our teachers and students did, I created this Smore.  Enjoy!

Until the next time,
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Finding My Tribe – Building Community {#FlipClass Flashblog}

teamwork-153252_640

I’ve never met a stranger.  In my younger years, I was the student that got moved multiple times, because I’d talk to WHOMEVER was beside me.  As I’ve grown older – that has never changed.  As many times as I’ve arrived at a new place and said, “I’m just going to sit here and listen….” it never works.  If I feel strongly about something – you’re going to hear about it.

Maybe that’s why in my 17 years of teaching, I’ve always been able to “find my tribe” – educators who have the same mindset as I do.  Educators who are passionate about teaching and learning and kids and having fun.  Because that’s the best part about teaching, IMO, the fun we have on an HOURLY basis.

I mean, who else is going to believe the crazy things that happen?  Who else is going to be the shoulder you cry on?  Who else is going to give you that amazing idea that you’ll use in your classroom tomorrow?

Closing ourselves off in our classrooms closes us off to learning new and creative strategies.  It hinders us from learning and growing; it starves relationships.

Now, because of the internet and being a connected educator means that your tribe can be next door or across the country!  How amazing is it that I’ve found so many another people who love teaching and children and learning as much as I do?  It still blows my mind when I send out a tweet – AND GET AN IMMEDIATE RESPONSE!  And I can’t help but think – if there is someone is every part of the world that loves teaching and children and learning as much as we do where I am; there’s NO WAY we can’t change the world!

Don’t you agree?

Until the next time,

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