Productivity

 

We all know that there is often more to do than time to do it. AND we all know those people who seem to get it all done so flawlessly. So easily. How is it possible? Here are a few of my favorite tools for productivity to get you on your way faster and easier and with more time for the fun!

Last pass: this is a way to encrypt your passwords. All of them. Think: I never have to remember a password again. I can create a unique, crazy, well-made password for every site and app and NOT remember it. OR I can have lastpass do it for me! That’s right folks! Use the app, website, Chrome extension to get into any of your sites that require passwords. It’s free or for the premium site, $12 a year. One of the few apps I’ll pay money for. If one site is hacked, I know that all my passwords are unique so I don’t have to worry about changing them all.

Calendly: if you rely on others booking appointments with you (administrators or coaches), this is for you. I keep mine in my signature line of my email and when people need to meet with me (on a daily basis), they have access to my calendar. It syncs with your Google or 365 calendar so as long as you keep that current, you’re all set. No more going back and forth in email to create appointments!

Forms: Either Google or Microsoft will do! Anything that I need information about, goes into a form. Data from staff, summer addresses, who is bringing what for an event. It doesn’t matter. It goes into a neatly organized form that I can access from anywhere.

Symbaloo: this is a visually appealing bookmarking site that you can share with others. You create webmixes by subject. For example, I have them about online assessments, PBL, technology, and coding. These can be embedded onto a website or shared with students.

These are just a few. More to come later. What are your favorite ways to be productive and efficient and get things done?

 

 

 

 

Student Ownership. For Real.

Student ownership. I’ve watched my student tech team develop into this amazing group over the past year. Last year, I had a vision that I wanted to come to fruition; but even with that I couldn’t have imagined what it would become, what we would become in one short year.

Let’s go back to the beginning. I put out applications for students who were interested. I work in a middle schools, so there are sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. I simply wanted students who had some interest in technology, being a team, advocating for their school, and promoting through social media. Students joined for one or all of these reasons.

Soon after joining last year, ten of my eighth graders joined four other middle schools to be inspired by iSchool Initiative and create a three-year plan for our school. They set their sights high. They came together as a team and became leaders. Some of the initiatives they wanted our team to do included the following:

  1.  teach teachers and students more about technology; we are a 1:1 iPad school and they felt this was a need
  2. open media center in the mornings for students

Empowerment has become our middle name. Maybe our first. Students led app speed dating where they taught apps to teachers. Our student “my iPad has an issue” Google doc went to their iPads, so that they could be first on the scene before it went to our local IT. They did team building through activities like building virtual computers. Currently a few of them are trying to get a budget to build the computer for real!

The project that has generated the most excitement is their modern-day technology lab created in a room from a broken down computer lab. They created the floor plan. They  worked with me to determine what we needed to purchase for it. As a result, they own this lab.

These are middle schoolers who feel pride in what they do every day. They have a purpose in coming to school and are quick to tell me what they need and advocate for it.

Now that is real life. That is what school should be.

 

Breaking Out #IMMOOC

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Today I spent time doing breakouts with sixth grade classes. For those who aren’t familiar, think breakout rooms but on a smaller scale.

Students work in small groups with clues tied to given content. In today’s breakout, the content was tied to Gary Paulsen novels and adventures. Once the groups solved the clues, they could attempt at the locks which are either directional, numerical, or word.

Students must use clues, collaboration, problem solving, and content knowledge to solve the clues that will unlock the box.

This is an exciting and new way for students to learn and demonstrate learning. It is the 4Cs (collaboration, communication, critical thinking, creativity) pulled into content in different ways.

I was taken aback when one student asked for the point of as we were debriefing after the break out. So I threw it back at the class; I took a deep breath, wondering if anyone had gotten it. I knew we hadn’t wasted our time. I had watched them work together; have great discourse; use their brains in new ways. BUT had they?

Deep breath. One student responded: we have to collaborate.

Ahhhh. Yes.

Another: we have to work together.

Yes, you do.

We have to look up information on our iPads. Figure it out.

That is true.

They had gotten it. Learning. Wrapped up in a new package.

They got it!

The Connected Educator #IMMOOC

Continuing on my journey this week with George Couros and 1800 of my closest friends in #IMMOOC, I continue to reflect on this concept of innovation: what does it mean for me and our schools? How can I innovate to help the students in my school learn better?

A few things came across my Twitter feed this week, which makes me think of one huge thing: CONNECTEDNESS! For me, being connected has been an enormous asset in my path to innovation. The more teachers I can get connected, the more innovation will be happening in our schools.

Across my Twitter feed in a given day, so many ideas come across. Here are a few highlights from this past week that show innovation in different ways:

This school is looking at discipline which can be a hot topic. If what we do doesn’t change behavior (suspension, detention, time out, rewards), we haven’t done anything. Maybe meditation is truly the answer or one answer.

Here we see a principal building rapport with his students through the simple yet powerful act of read-aloud.

Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey use UDL to move our thinking from looking at students (and students to looking at themselves) through a fixed mindset to one of growth. Using UDL in our classrooms is so powerful!

In each of these cases, I can’t imagine not having had Twitter to connect me to these people and this information. Innovation through my PLN has been so powerful. It has changed my practice time after time.

Can’t wait to see what this week brings!

Purpose of School #IMMOOC

The purpose of education is simple and complex. It is simple because we must prepare our students for the world they will graduate into. This is complex because this world is ever-changing. It isn’t the factory line driven world of the 1900’s that our Prussian-style education system is still preparing our students for.

Because of this, we must make some drastic changes to our classrooms and schools to meet our students where they are and prepare them for the unknowns that the world brings.

We know that many careers that our students will choose post-graduation have not even been thought of yet. The best thing that we can do for them is to make students good at learning; good at thinking; good at problem solving; and most of all, good at relating to others. These are the skills that are important in this century.

In this century we can Google any fact or any calculation faster than we can retrieve it from our head. With critical thinking skills students can figure out how to access information and the accuracy of the information that they’re accessing.

The innovation that we most need is open-mindedness to imagine the unimaginable. To recreate schools and get away from low-level trivial knowledge into deeper levels of thinking.

To embrace this change, I try to model it. As an instructional coach, I meet people at their level of comfort and show them how a tool or strategy can enhance learning in their classroom. It is my responsibility to take them from where they are to a place they might not realize even exists: slowly and within their comfort zone.

 

Implementing Change: ISTE 2016

I was fortunate to attend ISTE and bring some ideas and technologies back to my school. Below are some of my favorites!

Bloxels

Bloxel

This is a way for students to create their own video game. First you use cubes and a board to build the structure. Then you take a picture of the board and it becomes the actual video game board….so cool! Create a character and you’re off!

CUE STEAMpunk Playground

Hopscotch: this is an iOS app that is a FREE way for students to learn to code. It’s available now  and so. much. fun.

Swift 3: iOS also. This is a free app for students to learn to program. Powerful application for schools!

Drones/Sphero: why not use drones and Sphero to teach content? Think STEAM rather than giving it lip service. By integrating these into our subjects, we can better engage our students in their world and make content come to life! My students will be coming up with a way to create a Sphero/Ollie obstacle course for our tech lab…..

Virtual Reality

Whether it’s Google Cardboard or another, this is the perfect way to take a 36o degree field trip under the ocean or abroad. Students will love it as it opens your classroom to the world in ways never seen before. We can create our own with students through older technology like Pano360 or newer technology like Ricoh Theta and a selfie stick. Easy and educational.

Risk-Taking

iFLy

Finally, conquering fears. I went to iFly for some indoor skydiving with some others from my district. I have no problem taking risks when it comes to my professional life, but my personal life, well, I think I speak for most of us there when I say we were a bit scared. I conquered a fear and modeled what I preach.

Creation: Let’s Get it Made!

Creation

Creation Presentation

 

Smore Flyers

Smore online flyers are a way to communicate with staff or community members. Check out this screencast video about how to use it.

NewsELA

The next few blog posts are a few of my newest favorite resources for teaching. These are screencasts of me demonstrating how to use them.

My Journey To Connectivity

Telephone

It sometimes can be overwhelming trying to utilize all the technology tools out there. About a year ago I began using Twitter on a regular basis to connect with professional educators all over the world. That has led me to this world of connected educators that I would never have known was out there.

Because of Twitter, I have increased my blog reading and writing. I have learned to become more transparent in my practice and write about it in my blog. I set goals and try to write more (although I often don’t meet those blogging goals as you can see by the sparseness of my blog postings). I do have so much to say, but finding the time to write, revise, edit, and perfect (this perfectionist cannot stand to post without the last step) is difficult.

I’ve learned so much by participating in Twitter chats. It still amazes me that a year ago I didn’t know that such a things existed! I’ve modeled these for the teachers in my building hoping that they will see the personalized professional learning they can gain from the chats. For me a weekend doesn’t start off on the right foot without my SATCHAT….I mean, I was in Puerto Rico, waiting for a ferry to Culebra with limited cell service and managed my SATCHAT…it’s that important! Other weekly highlights for me as an administrator are edtechchat, teach like a pirate (TLAP), teacher/parent chat, 1 to 1 i pad chat, BYOT Chat, Georgia Educator, Iowa Educator (yes, I live in Georgia, but Iowa has some good topics!), and whatisschool. There are countless others; these just happen to work for my schedule and be some of my favorites! In many cases I have developed friendships and professional relationships online first that then became face-to-face friendships at conferences like ISTE and FETC. It’s amazing what technology has become!

Through my growth and learning on Twitter which has lead me to individual educators’ blogs, I then began to curate through Flipboard and organize blogs through Feedly. This has led me to even more educators and blogs thus more connectivity.

My latest is Voxer. I participate in a number of Voxer groups. What’s nice about this is the more personalized nature of it because I can hear people’s voices. With Twitter and Blogs we only read words; with Voxer I can hear which gives an additional layer of personalization to the app. I just think there is something convenient about talking rather than typing.

What is your story? How have you or will you get connected? Does it make us better educators?

 

 

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