Tuesday, October 7, 2014


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.