It has been a crazy start to the year. We have a new on-line testing system that has had serious issues compounded by a lack of training of anyone (including me) so no one knew how to fix or deal with the issues.
But now it's October. The first round of testing is over and I'm getting back into the swing of things. Technology is set up and running in both schools and I've been busy teaching kids and teachers. Right now the focus has been on Internet safety and keyboard basics. Not the most exciting topics, but they are foundational skills.
I have spent some time working on my teacher website and reorganizing it. It's still not where I want it to be, but it's looking better. I've also built a Lego League website for my team. So, life has been busy on the webosphere.
I have enjoyed being a teacher trainer in the ETEP program our district has. It is a new challenge for me. At first I felt like I was in over my head, but I'm beginning to become more comfortable with it. I'm learning new things from the students and co-teachers of this cohort. Today I got to go visit one of the students as they taught. I can't tell you how much I enjoy watching other teachers teach. We teachers are just awesome. If I could have one wish for the teachers I work with, it would be that they could have the time to visit other teachers and see what they do. It's better than any professional development I've ever had.
First Lego League....oh, where to begin. If I felt in over my head with ETEP, I'm at the bottom of the pond with Lego League. I finally got a team picked out and we had our first meeting on Monday. I think it's going to be so fun! But I have no idea what I'm doing as a coach. I'm definitely going to be faking it 'til I make it. :) The nice thing is that Lego League is very much a constructivist type of approach to teaching. I'm more a facilitator or guide than a teacher. I will learn it all alongside the kids.
One of my schools is getting a new computer lab. I'm excited to get the new technology, but it's stressful redistributing everything and making sure everything will be up and running with minimal disruption to teachers and students.
So that's all the news from around here. Now for a few technology tidbits:
Have you seen Plickers? They are awesome! There's a class set of paper cards you can print out from their website. Each card is different and has what looks like a large QR code on it. The cards have sides labeled A, B, C and D. Ask students questions and they hold up their card with the corresponding answer facing up. You scan the cards with a phone or tablet and it tabulates the student scores. It's a great way to engage your students and have an informal assessment at the same time.
I created a document about how to create a bookmark bar and save items to it in the three major browsers. It has surprised me how many teachers I know that weren't utilizing this wonderful feature of web browsers. Here is a link to that document.
That's enough for now.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Where did I go?
That's a good question. I got very tied up in the new job last year. Between the newness of everything and spending so much time with technology, I really didn't feel like taking the time to update my blog. I learned so much about technology and how to teach it last year! I love working with both the teachers and the kids. While the fixing stuff part of the job isn't my favorite, there's a certain satisfaction in coming to a teacher's rescue and getting things up and running for them.
Goals for the next year:
Coach a First Lego League Team
This is definitely a first for me and involves working closely with a group of ten students in 4th-6th grade. I need to come up with an application process and a way to choose which ten get on the team. This is not going to be easy--I hate that it's so limited in numbers, but I understand the reason for it. I'm pretty excited and very nervous about the whole thing. I chose to do this because the one thing I missed most last year about not having my own class of kids was the relationships. This will give me a core group of kids to focus on.
If you're not familiar with First Lego League, students work as a team to solve a challenge each year. This year's problem is "World Class". They will research and create solutions to meeting the educational needs of students of this generation. They'll build a a robot and other parts out of legos and program the robot to solve problems. There's also a part about teamwork/sportsmanship and those social skills.
My knowledge of this is still very limited, but I'll be learning a lot and will hopefully update here as we go along.
I was asked to be a teacher trainer this year. I felt honored to be chosen. I will be teaching tech to teachers in the evenings twice a month. One thing I learned last year was how much I enjoy teaching teachers how to use technology. These teachers are selected because of their interest, so it will be even more enjoyable to teach eager teachers.
Besides the training job, I'll also be teaching the teachers at my schools. This is an interesting challenge because just like kids, there is a large variety of skill (and anxiety) levels in teachers. I hope to meet the needs of all skill levels both in training teachers before or after school, and when they bring their classes in for me to teach. I want to get better at Smart and Mimio so that I can help the teachers master these wonderful teaching tools I always wish I'd had when I was in the classroom.
Of course, I'm all about the kids, too! This year I want to have students track their progress with technology. The lower grades will track their progress on their abilities including: naming parts of the computer, logging on, logging off, mousing, minimize/maximize, power off/on, internet safety, digital presentation, and writing. Upper grades will track their progress in: internet safety, digital citizenship, password safety, keyboarding, digital presentation and writing. These will use a variety of apps, web tools, and programs.
I am going to shoot for a realistic goal of blogging at least once a month. We'll see how that goes. I also need to continue working on my teaching website. I can't decide how I want to organize it, so it's all over the place right now.
I seriously need to lose weight. I started a diet in the spring and it went out the window this summer when I went on a 2 week road trip across the country. I need to get back to it this school year, and not only diet, but also exercise.
I didn't get all the junk around my house sorted through this summer. I totally admit I was lazy during the time I was actually home. I really need to finish sorting through all my stuff.
I know this was long and without pictures. I plan on doing better next time. I just wanted to get started on blogging again before the inclination went away and don't have the patience to go hunting for pictures.
Thanks for reading.