This year is my 14th year in education. While I've been out of the classroom for several years now, all the back to school posts always seem to get me thinking. I was an elementary teacher and honestly, I always hated creating bulletin boards and making my classroom look 'cute'. Now with so many educators on Pinterest, I think many teachers put pressure on themselves to have their classrooms look like so many they see on Pinterest aka 'Pinterest Perfect'. When I see many of those classrooms, I find myself rolling my eyes because I feel like our time could be better spent.
My goal as a teacher was always to make the classroom as comfortable and inviting as possible for the kids. On the first day of school, I usually had table groups set up but I didn't assign seats. They chose where they would sit. The kids would sit in those seats until we decided it was time for a change. When the time came to change things up, I'd let the kids decide between a couple different set ups. They loved having a voice in the look of the classroom.
When I taught third grade, I had a huge bulletin board in the hallway. And honestly, trying to figure out what the heck to put on it really stressed me out because I knew all the students, teachers, and parents in that wing would walk by it. I couldn't tell you what I put up there for the first couple years but I do know it was all my doing. The students weren't involved. Then I came up with an idea. I wanted it to be a place where the kids would showcase their work and I wouldn't maintain it-the kids would! So I covered my bulletin board with black butcher paper. Then I stapled colored construction paper that I'd cut to be a square shape that would serve as a border or frame. The best part of this was that I put a binder clip at the top the colored construction paper so each student could put their chosen work on the bulletin board. This idea turned out to be a winner! The kids loved choosing what they were going to put up and there was always a variety of content. Since I didn't take a picture, here's one I found on Insta that's similar, although much cuter! Give Amy a follow while you're at it. She has some other great content!
If I were to go back to the classroom tomorrow, I'd would do my classroom in an "Under Construction" theme. Which basically amounts to yellow construction tape over all the walls. My whole goal would be to let the kids decide what how we would use certain spaces. They would be the designers of the classroom because when it comes down to it, it's their learning environment.
Application Status: Submitted!
On Wednesday morning, I submitted my application to the Google Innovator Academy that will take place in July in Venice, California. This isn't my first time applying to Innovator (I've applied twice previously) but I feel like I was the best prepared for this application period.
This time around, instead of trying to come up with a solution to a problem, applicants were asked to explain a problem we see in education and why you're the best person to solve this problem. My focus is on English Learners (ELs) and Long Term English Learners (LTELs). An LTEL is an EL student who's been in the U.S. for 6 years or longer but still is not proficient in the English Language. This is a group I've become quite passionate about because I've seen how the power of language can completely change a student's life path. And sadly, I've seen how the lack of language acquisition can lead students down a very negative path. I am extremely passionate about this topic and would love the opportunity to explore solutions at #googleei
With the problem on the forefront of my mind as well as many educators, I'm excited to have submitted for #LAX18 #googleei
If you'd like to check out my submission video, click here or see below! I'd love your comments and feedback!
Flipgrid is one of the hottest new apps around! It's easily one of my favorites as it is such an intuitive tool to use for both teachers and students. It's one of the easiest and fastest ways to empower student voice in the classroom. I am so proud that I got to share #flipgridfever with hundreds (this may not be an exact number) of educators at #CUE18 in Palm Springs. It was so much fun to share the limelight with Ann Kozma (@annkozma723) and Lucretia Anton (@lantonha). Also I was honored to meet Adam Parker Goldberg (@adamshortshorts) and Joey Taralson (@taralson) at #CUE18 this year too. And to then to become a Flipgrid Ambassador, I think that made March the best month yet!
And with all that, I've definitely got the fever. #FlipgridFever #morecowbell
I can't WAIT to attend #flipgridlive in late July to hang with all the other amazing ambassadors.
I first heard about Seesaw a few years ago when I was at CUE 2016. My husband (an elementary PE teacher) was there with me and while he'd heard of other teachers using Seesaw, he was really impressed after talking to the rep. I unfortunately was slow to listen! I explored it a little over a year later when I was helping at the #K2CanToo2 at Cal State Fullerton. Seeing it from a student perspective and how easy it was to use, I knew I had to roll this out to my teachers this school year. Below are some resources that I curated to help support my teachers begin using it. I've worked closely with two 2nd grade classes and four middle school classes to push Seesaw out this year. My plan is to encourage more teachers to begin using Seesaw this school year and next school year as it's such a powerful tool to showcase student learning and increase parental involvement.
Hyperdocs are a great way to increase engagement using technology and completely changing lesson design. Check out the resources below to learn more!
As you may or may not know, next week is Hour of Code. The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify "code", to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community effort.
Starting Monday, the student homepage (tech.ltusd.org) will include a page for Hour of Code. While you may not be interested in officially completing an hour of coding during the week, I'd highly recommend allowing your students to explore the coding activities. Coding helps to nurture problem-solving skills, logic, and creativity. The activities are organized by grade level (from pre-readers to 8th) to make it easy for them to select their level.
If you're planning on hosting an Hour of Code in your classroom, please let me know as I'd love to pop in and take pictures of the students coding.
If you'd like to see some of the coding activities or try them out yourself, check out this link:
Check out the interactive slide deck for some Innovative Tools to try out with your students this year. Your students are sure to be engaged in the 4 C's with all of these tools!
In order to support my teachers getting started with technology, I created this interactive slidedeck with all the online programs the district purchases and supports. I also wanted to showcase an advanced way to use Google Slides.
Awhile back on #TOSAChat I had to pair up all the people who wanted to have a blogging buddy to assist with their blog challenge. I wanted a tool that would partner people up randomly so my search began. I found an amazing tool when I found flippity! To partner people, I used Flippity's random name generator for this project but there is so much more you can do with it and it's so simple to use!
To use the random name generator, I clicked template, then it forced me to make a copy in my Google Drive. This is what opened:
You can see that you need to enter in the names of students in Column A, being sure to NOT change the blue cells. To view the link, you click the tab at the bottom of the page, titled "Get the Link Here."
Before you can view the link, you need to publish the sheet! Click file, then publish to the web. Once you publish the sheet, click the link and check out all the options!
You can see you have 12 options just from the original link! And what's even cooler is that if you need to adjust teams or partners, you can! Simply click one you want to switch, then click the other name you want to change it with.
This is a great way to mix up groups and create partners that may or not pick each other. What other uses could you find for this?
Lastly, after seeing all the new Flippity options, I think I'm going to try out the badge tracker next. Or wait, maybe the certificate quiz, or maybe the progress indicator. Shoot! I want to try them all!
Several weeks ago eight of us created a twitter handle to help teachers using GAFE (Google Apps for Education) products. It all began because we'd noticed that educators would ask GAFE questions, use hashtags, tag people, only to have their questions left unanswered. While all of us are GAFE users, some of us are Google Educators, Google Trainers and even Google Innovators. What's so amazing is that between the 8 of us, we have a wide variety of experience and knowledge to answer most questions. But what's even better is that we don't answer all the questions because other #gafehelp followers chime in if they know. What a great community we're seeing build before our eyes.
This handle (@GAFEhelp) and hashtag (#gafehelp) has exploded which tells me that we're filling a need. All eight of us are advocates of servant leadership. And I think this project (someone called it a passion project after we were asked if it was a Google EI project) is one of the most fun projects I've ever been a part of. For the last few weeks, we've received awesome feedback. And getting feedback from other users like below, is another reason to keep it up.
So if you have any GAFE questions, please don't hesitate to tweet us! We're here to help.