Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Teacher Truths...

I'm committed to posting more on this blog. It may be a techie treasure or it may just be a teacher treasure. Tonight are some teacher truths. I started my 10th year today. It's hard to believe, because I remember my first day ever like it was yesterday. I was at New Teacher Orientation yesterday and the excitement in their faces told it all. They were still energetic, focused, and ready to make a difference. That should be all of us every day we are with our students or even with our colleagues. There will always be days that make us want to cry, days that make us want to scream, and days that make us question why did I go into this. There will also be days that make us smile, days that make us cry happy tears, and days that make us go this is why I love what I do. Those are the moments that should drive our day. Those are the moments when we lay our head on our pillow at night and think back over the day that we should remember.

Over the last couple of years I have learned that it is easy to get discouraged in the field of education. We are constantly dealing with multiple things that pull at our attention, our focus, and our heart. These things can weigh us down if we are trying to do carry them on our own. As teachers we are life long learners(or at least we should be). PD sessions fill some of our days throughout the year. The type of PD can add to our day and encouragement bank or subtract from it. Meaningful PD is something that can help you grow as a teacher and a learner. I have learned if you are feeling like your encouragement bank may be empty, find a professional book to read, join a Twitter chat, connect with other educators...reach out of your box. A PLN is an assets to have and crucial to keeping the teacher fire lit. A PLN keeps you from feeling like an island and part of something bigger. Ideas, suggestions, and advice from outside of your teaching circle is always helpful. Teacher truth: We were never meant to go at it alone....collaboration is essential. Sometimes you just need someone to say you can do it or have you thought of this. A connected educator is one that has a power source to connect into when they start to feel like their battery is low. A connected educator has a source to tap into for information, ideas, and resources. Connect within your school, but also take the time this year to reach out and connect outside of your school or maybe even your school system.. Connecting with each other as we learn together allows us all to become better teachers and in turn make an impact with our students.

Have a great year!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Conference recap

I truly enjoyed the state tech conference last month. I have enjoyed it in the past, but something was different last week. I know attending ISTE last year helped to open my eyes to a new world, but I also think I'm finally gaining a confidence in myself as an educator. Confidence not in a prideful way, but in a believing in myself finally kind of way. It has taken me awhile to be able to see what others could see(even though I hear/read the feedback). If you are not involved in some sort of PLN (Personal Learning Network) via Twitter, Facebook, blogs, or some other social media....start today! Look for a post next week more about this....There is something though about being connected with educators across the state and even across the country. Even though some you may never meet in person, the wisdom, experience, and growth that is available through a PLN is priceless. Be a connected educator...learn from others and share what you know. Learning is a cycle, share to keep it going. Connecting with your PLN adds a new depth to conferences and a growth opportunity that is unique. On to the recap....in Top 10 style ;-) Here are ten things/take-aways that I gleaned from the conferences last month. It's a mixture of big ideas, ah-ha moments, and tools to use. Some may be from the local tech conference...I never finished the blog before that, so here's to combining the two;-)

  1. TestMoz I had never heard about this site until last month(Thank you Dr. Mayburn from Tech in Motion). It allows you to create quick assessments for students. It also shows you how they did. Remember your password and code to get back in though, because other wise you can't log back in. You can take the link it gives you for the assessment and create a QR code or share digitally via another way. The possibilities are endless....and the best part is...it's FREE ;-) and no email is required for students to log in. 
  2. My eyes were opened to the educational uses of Wikipedia and Flipboard...I will be working on some smore handouts to share with teachers at my school later on this year to include these resources. Flipboard is a great tool not just for catching up on "news", but for updating events, academic topics, and textbooks. Wikipedia is also not what it used to be. There is an intense process of rubrics and looking at information before something is published. It's also one of the biggest ways students can contribute to the information being published. 
  3. Major takeaway from the keynote speaker, Jeff Utecht: Students are going to use Technology, let's teach them how to use it. Their social life includes social media, their school life includes social media and technology. We need to teach kids how to balance social and school life and use time wisely. 
  4. Kids in 4th grade should know how to navigate and use the Google search page. The information is out there, are we making sure we teach students the skills needed in order to find it? 
  5. Brand your school: Make sure parents know how to interact with the school's Facebook page and develop a school hashtag....
  6. Evernote: Leslie Fischer has an in-depth handout on tools that even I didn't know about when using Evernote. Check out her website...well worth the time to look at it. 
  7. IF app (used to be called IFTT).....I have heard about this app for two years from Dr. Buck, but I am FINALLY starting to be able to integrate it for some organizational things. I'm one of those once I find the way to best integrate it in, I will use it on a regular basis and share with others. My new favorite is the recipe that lets me send favorite tweets to a notebook in Evernote so I can check out the links later. 
  8. Power My Learning  Excited to share this site with teachers and to start using it with my students. 
  9. Tellagami and Vocaroo are two apps I wish I had more iPads so that use these tools with my students. There is so much out there for exceptional learning students. 
  10. Google Katie L. Greer, she spoke at our local tech conference on apps and cyber security....follow her on Twitter, FB, and her blog. Solid information that needs to be shared with parents and students. 
I was unable to attend ISTE in person this year, but I was so thankful for Twitter. Here is a link to all of the resources that were compiled and shared on Twitter. Not at ISTE LiveBinder

Stay tuned to the blog....I know I always say more is coming, but I promise it is. Year 10 starts for me next week and I have already made this blog a priority. I held off on my Summer PD books until work starts back....I find the first few months are when I need recharging the most. I need to be reminded I'm not an island and to connect with other educators. So look for thoughts from those books as well....Also don't forget to check out my own LiveBinder for updates on handouts, resources etc. Feel free to share with other teachers..

Have a great week!