Saturday, August 13, 2016

Finally...Teachers are back to school - doing our thing!

It's Like a Virus...


I did some bold moves this summer.  I decided to revamp my teaching and made hyperdocs with colleagues, reordered my room to be more comfortable for kids, and worked on my Google Certification.  I do special things with lessons and for my classroom, but not of this magnitude.  It's like a virus.  I thought that when the principal of our school said my name three times at the opening of our PD that I was dreaming.  He encouraged people to come see my room.  I was nervous.  

Twitter allowed me to think all of these things.  I saw other teachers fired up and then I became fired up.  I wanted to know more.  I wanted to create more.  I had teachers come and visit my room and I was amazed at how many went back to their own rooms and began creating their learning environment.  It was like a virus had erupted.  

Not only this, but I helped a Foods teacher create her first hyperdoc.  When I was making my hyperdocs this summer I immediately thought that this would be something for her to do.  She was so excited when I showed her mine and I gave her ideas.  She knows how to make links, forms from docs, etc. because we had time to collaborate.  She's on fire and the virus will hopefully spread.  

Our principal, James Aleshire, talked about making our school a TEAM this year.  I think a team grows and helps one another and that is what I am seeing now. It only takes a spark and I think I am part of the spark, but Twitter and my PLN kept fanning my flame and moving me forward.  

I made a movie of my school transformation and hope to make a movie of my school's transformation this year.  The movie is below.  Enjoy.  


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Summer Poem Reveal

An Ode to My Summer?


     
      Okay, I know that I have done a lot this summer.  I've read five books (almost - 3/4 of a book to go!), created almost five hyperdocs, made a lot of connections online, and reflected.  I used to love writing poetry in college.  I would write it and tuck it away.  When I was needing inspiration, I would get it out and read it.  Since I started reading all of these great books, I started a poem.  I will share it below and know this is huge for me.  I am about to share it on the final #DitchBook chat and I'm nervous.  It's in ten minutes, so I thought it would be best that I post it here and virtually practice.  Now that I see the title, it makes me see the connection to the name of my blog post.  I never tied the two together until now.  Awesome! 

Summer Metamorphosis

The sage on the stage cocoons into a sea of books:
enveloping herself in engaging ideas that
transform her thinking and ideas about teaching
and learning forever.  

The nutrients that feed her teaching soul
derive from Miller, Burgess, Keeler, Sheninger, Highfill,
and many Twitter posts and muses.  
The words give energy and sustenance for a
promising new school year.  

Her first Twitter chat
#Awe-inspiring!
#DitchBook was a great platform:
feeling validated and appreciated
knowing that this was just the beginning
of deep PLC from my new PLN.

I’m a lynchpin, virtual learning travel guide, pirate,
purple cow and hook innovator.  
I’m a summer learner who will continue to learn
throughout the school year from her PLN,
colleagues, and most of all – students.  

The sage emerges from her cocoon as an
intellectually beautiful butterfly with colorful ideas
illuminating her wings so that she can
soar in Google Classroom alongside her
students who are will be learning to
learn, unlearn, and relearn alongside their teacher.   
The real metamorphosis begins…

Thursday, July 21, 2016

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again...


How I Dealt With Failure


           I have been preparing for the Google Certified Educator 2 since school has let out.  I have been taking the units, and learning about extensions, add-ons, and an array of new possibilities.  I love all of the places I have gone with technology and feel I am really venturing out.  I have this blog because I knew I needed to make a blog on the test since there was an entire section on the test.  For the first test, I took the test and failed it and then I learned what I missed and came back strong and passed it.  I guess I may be developing a pattern because I took the test this week and failed it.  It was a difficult test -- not because I couldn't do the material -- it was due to me making little mistakes and trying to do things the way I've done it for school and realizing that I'm overcomplicating things.  
           What did I do when I knew I failed? Cried.  It wasn't long, a few minutes.  What did I do next?  I e-mailed the three administrators and one colleague I told about taking the test and told them I failed and I felt better.  I then called my kids and mother-in-law and told them I failed.  I felt even better.  I went to the kitchen and made stuffed pepper soup (great comfort food, by the way) and then I did something I think we all need to do - I tweeted my failure.  I found a quote that spoke to me and I tweeted my failure.  I felt better.  I didn't have to get a bunch of likes and retweets, I just needed to broadcast that I failed and that I am not perfect.  I have 14 days until the next time I can take the test.  I will study on and off, but I will focus on school starting soon.  
           The next day I did something rather therapeutic as well.  I tweeted a great success that my colleague and friend and I created - a "Crucible" Hyperdoc.  I'm very proud of it and felt that it also showed that one thing does not define me.  I will have failures and successes in life, but I will do well overall.  I think our students need to see this and understand that we are indeed not perfect.  We stumble and fail and get back up and try again.  That's life.  
 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

"Teach Like a Pirate" Hooks



Finding the Hooks that Work for You!



Yesterday I was on Twitter and Matt Miller tweeted a blog post with a challenge to look at "Teach Like a Pirate" towards the back of the book and for thirty days try to incorporate these hooks daily into your lessons. I like a challenge. This is my brainstorming for the beginning of the year:
Multiple Intelligence Hook: I really think by using the multiple intelligence test the first week I can start to see my students as individuals with very different needs.  I hope to foster their strengths throughout the year and tried to make a chart for the first module that allowed students to choose different ideas from their strengths.  I think by having students be aware of their learning and how they best learn, they will be “hooked” into learning more.  

Real-World Application Hook: With planning with Kim we have tried to incorporate our first module into real-world thinking and application.  I think Genius Hour will help with this too.  I already try to connect everything together.  I tell them I’m like a spider spinning her web.  

Life-Changing Lesson: After we read “The Great Gatsby” the students are all about making easy money.  They don’t see the tragedy that unfolded right before their eyes.  I do a three-day lesson where I have them in groups and I give them materials (adapted from New York Times Lesson about the Gatsby Curve) and they do not all have the same amount of materials.  Some have less, some have too much, etc.  Then I have them build the same thing.  Some will go and steal from other groups, beg, barter, or hoard.  I sit and watch.  When we have some people complete while others don’t I start asking questions.  I start showing them that society works this way: some share and help others and some have a lot and don’t.  We talk about community service and missions and students start to see how Gatsby was rather selfish and love-driven.  Afterwards, I show them a Ted Talk about the Inequality in America and we go over the Gatsby Curve.  It turns into some powerful discussions.  

Student-Driven Hook: I plan to do this with the multiple intelligences choices for their blogs/projects and by using Genius Hour.  I also plan to have an area in the room for suggestions for improvement for the week’s lessons.  Hopefully I get some good “tips”!

The Opportunistic Hook: I love the idea of the QR codes around the room on Posters.  I just put that in my Google Keep to do before the start of the school year.  This would be so easy and fun!  I can change it every so often to mix it up for kids and me!

Interior Design Hook: I’ve done this with “The Great Gatsby” by having the desks in groups and had tablecloths, place cards, stars and glitter hanging from the ceiling and made a mini-speakeasy.  I dress up a little like the time period and play jazz music.  I then had them explore the colors and their meaning so that they could create a visual of each color to remember while reading the book since it’s filled with color symbolism.  Love the Salem Idea.  I might do this for the Crucible!

Board Message Hook: I do some of this, but I’ll have to do more.  I always have something projected at the beginning to “spark” interest, but I like some of the ideas listed.  

The Costume Hook: I do some or I dress thematically and explain to the students why and they become intrigued, but I can certainly do more of this.  

Props Hook: Oh my goodness!  24 years ago during Student Teaching I did a lesson using props!  I have never thought of doing this as an actual lesson as a teacher.  I can make all the excuses in the world, but sometimes my creativity needs to be documented and then read for later.  Maybe the department I came into also stagnated my creativity for awhile…  I’m bringing it back this year!  Time to go props shopping!

The Mystery Bag Hook: I love this idea.  It makes me think of “Master Chef” and the mystery boxes.  I think this would be great for narrative writing and thinking outside the box.  Sort of like this: If I could transport back to Salem and take these three items, how could they change the course of history and why?  

The Mime Hook: I’m going to try this year by saying less and letting the students speak more.  This hook may help with this objective!

Teaser Hook and Backwards Hook: Love both of these.  I think it would work well either way.  Maybe I could do the Gatsby Curve Lesson before and after the novel and then I may get students reading the book a little differently from the beginning.  

Reality TV Hook: I was a huge Fear Factor fan.  I think I could have students do one of their weaknesses on the multiple intelligences chart and have the judges be those who are good at that type of learning.  It may let them appreciate skills they don’t have, but might be able to hone throughout their lifetime.  I also think back to the “Phineas and Ferb” blog post that Matt Miller did and am reminded of how to make things interesting and relatable.  

Techno Wiz Hook: My class has been increasingly about this for the past two years.  This year I am going to explode with this since we will be 1:1 and the kids will be taking ipads home.  

The Chef Hook: I always like doing this.  I normally have the students try to make the food thematic from something we’ve read.  I show them my son’s Boy Scout cakes from the Blue and Gold Banquets for inspiration.  Right before Winter Break we have finished reading “1984”.  I give them an invitation to a Dystopian Christmas and explain that it’s going to be different.  The first day they make cards for one character from another character that are hilarious and a bit odd.  As they make the cards, I play the most annoying Christmas music possible - “Dominick the Donkey”, “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth”, etc.  They think it’s great.  Then the final day they bring in food that is symbolic of what we’ve read.  I give them Truth Serum “Hot Chocolate” and we play a “1984” Kahoot and eat.  Lots of fun.  

Mnemonic Hook: In English we have a lot of strategies and mnemonic hooks already.  I write them on my windows with the window markers and when we are working I will say, look at the windows for help.  Cuts down on my repeating the hook and they learn it more this way.  

Again, all of these hooks were read and written thanks to Matt Miller and his challenge on Twitter.  Now I’m almost done with the book! :)




Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Making a Video with Google Story Builder

Making My First Video!

      Okay, if teachers would have Bucket Lists just for their profession, I think I would be going down the line this summer.  Google Educator 2 is pushing me to learn new things and do apps and programs I would never have known about nor thought possible.  
        Granted, my first video doesn't have my face or voice, but I think it's a good start by doing something that is definitely out of my comfort zone.  I love Youtube videos for my instruction and get bummed when I can't find a video to fit what I want to do in a lesson.  Now, I will be more apt to venture out on my own and make one on my own.  I wanted to use Youtube Creator Studio because it may be on the Google Educator 2 Exam.  I've been trying to practice before taking it.  I could not just add a video from Youtube to practice.  It seems I needed my own video.  I contacted Matt Miller from #DitchBook and he said it can be done, but alas I could not figure it out, so I made my own video. However, it's so cool to have a PLN and an actual author message you back and forth on Twitter!  Something I never would have believed possible last year.  Below is how the equation played out:

       Google Story Builder + Quicktime + Youtube Creator Studio = Google Slides Hyperdoc

        On Saturday I took a Webinar and the presenter, Jerry Swiatek, showed Google Story Builder.  I immediately saw how I followed the words more intensely as they typed across the screen.  I want my students to be able to have that intensity when reading and to be able to see how a small conversation builds up to bigger things in the story.  I took a small conversation between Abigail and Parris in "The Crucible" and set it to music. After I made my video on Google Story Builder I had to find a way to get it uploaded to Youtube.  I uploaded it using what was on Macbook Air - Quicktime.  I chose the boxed area I wanted to record and hit "record"  I think next time I will have a narrator part at the beginning and end saying what the video entails and what the purpose of the video will be afterward.
         I  uploaded it to Youtube and then used Youtube Creator Studio to add captions.  This is what I normally do with students.  We read and then I stop and explain key ideas and "watch-fors" as they read.  By doing this video this way, students do not have to hear me talk on and on, they can continue to watch the dialogue that I want them to hone in on.  Many times this type of dialogue is lost with the other more racy dialogue in this text.  However, Arthur Miller is making a social commentary and so much of it is important in terms of reputation and respect.
        This time, I went a step further and I made a mini-hyperdoc giving students step-by-step instructions and embedded the video into the Slide.  This turned the video into a segment of something purposeful.  At the end of the hyperdoc it asks students to turn a piece of dialogue in Act One into a video of some sort for one of the options.  If I have five periods of students, I should get a few more videos each year so that I can have a lot of videos for analysis.
        I came up with an original activity in one afternoon by going out of my comfort zone and failing, but fighting back.  I took a break in between and went grocery shopping with my daughter, but I think that I made what I had stronger because I distanced myself for awhile.  I would encourage anyone weary of trying something like this, to just try.  Also, my next adventure might be an actual video with my face or voice or both! Who knows?  With Google at my fingertips, I feel like everything is possible for me as a teacher and learner.

My video is below:

Here is the mini-hyperdoc:


        

Saturday, July 9, 2016

First Webinar!


Learning On My Own Terms 


         I just completed my first Webinar with Simple K12.  It was an amazing experience.  I really liked the presenter Jerry Swiatek.  He was very informative and spoke very simplistically and well.  I'm glad this was my first webinar.  He spoke about 15 free web tools.  There were 584 attendees, but I felt like I was the only one in the room!
          On Twitter, I've seen some of these web tools, but I'm a visual learner.  The webinar helps me see someone do it and I took notes on the notepad.  I can then go back and check my notes when I need to see how to do something.  This is what he went over and I will tell you one or two take-a-ways from each tool.

                     1. Advanced Search Features - Good to show students how to narrow results.  You can                                     click the gear and change file-type, language, and much more.  

                       2. Custom Search - cse.google.com - You can share the URL or put it on a Blog for 
                                     students.  You can also restrict the search to certain websites that would help
                                     students narrow their search.  

                      3. Google Images - He showed how you could change the search by size, color, type,                                   usage rights, aspect ratio.  The most impressive thing he showed was
                             dragging an image of a puppy from his desktop into the google search bar and                                       google finding similar puppies! 

                       4. Google Keep - I've been using this and love it.  I found out some new things to do                                          with this - set a reminder and send it to your phone!  Also, he showed that you                                      can send the note on Keep as a Google Doc.  Brilliant! 

                       5. Google Arts and Culture - www.google.com/culturalinstitute - You can search by                                         art movements, historical events, and museums.  You can favorite the images                                        so that you can find them the next time you enter.  

                        6. Google.com/sky also Google.com/moon or Google.com/mars - all of them have 
                                        images and implications for the classroom.

                        7. Buildwithchrome.com - My son loves legos and I don't have to clean these up!  He                                          tried it out and said it was very much like Minecraft.  I was thinking my 
                                         students could build Crucible-like villages.  

                        8. https://docsstorybuilder.appspot.com/ This was neat.  You could have different                                               names and then have them have a dialogue and set it to music and play it                                              and save it.  I'm going to try to make some videos for students with this and                                           then let them use it as well for a project.

                         9. https://fonts.google.com - You can use any of these fonts on the web only, but
                                         they would be great for sites and blogs.  

                        10. Google Forms - the new thing about forms is the self-grading quizzes.  You go to 
                                        the form and then the gear and then the quizzes tab.  You can make a quiz                                             and release grade.  It's only for multiple choice.  I used the add-on
                                        Flubaro that can do a bit more, but forms would be good for a straight good
                                        ol' quiz.

                         11. Google Sites - he said that in a couple of months sites is going to be a
                                      Weebly-like site and will look a bit different.  Our school has every English                                            student on their own site so I am hoping things will convert.  

                         12. Google Voice - can be used by the teacher on their Macbook or computer.  You 
                                       can get a voice number and it will forward to a personal phone number.  This
                                      will allow me to call parents without walking up to the main office and 
                                      finding a phone.

                        13. Google News - news.google.com - Good for students to personalize their news
                                        and they get recommendations.   

                         * Note: Google moon and Mars counted as two more above on #6.  

                          I decided to take a second webinar a few hours later and was not as impressed, so if you take a Webinar and don't like your first one; don't be discouraged.  Try another one and you may be amazed.  Also, if you have children, know that the webinars are only one half hour, but have something planned for the kids to do.  My kids made a fort in the living room.  They had fun, but some clean-up afterward! :)  

  


Thursday, July 7, 2016


Never Stop Learning!



            Just finished this book.  It was a great read with a lot of things that have been spiraling around Twitter for some time.  I love the idea of Maker Spaces and really think I could incorporate this into my classroom in a smaller way.  I also think that our library would benefit from having something like this and allowing students to tinker and explore.  This is a book that an entire school should take on as a book study.  It really gets you supercharged for change and I love the idea that our students are "digital natives".  They need to learn how to utilize the technology because they surely only know how to use it.  If you are looking for something to make your school jump into technology and learning, this is the book.  I love the ideas and it was great to read after reading "Ditch That Textbook" by Matt Miller.  The Ditch book gives teachers momentum and this book gives collective teachers and schools and districts direction and drive.  I am glad I read the two books in this order.  Off to read some more books and expand my summer learning to benefit myself and my learners this upcoming year and beyond.  Never stop learning as a teacher!