A few weeks back during a #connectEDtl chat on Twitter (which is an awesome chat by the way) I brought up the idea that I'd like to send out quick tips weekly. Tips that teachers could not only read quickly but implement quickly. A few people jumped on board with the discussion including Cate Tolnai (@catetolnai) and Liz Hoppe (@hoppeteacher). We all agreed that if we came up with tip ideas ahead of time, sending something out weekly wouldn't be overwhelming.
The morning after the chat, I set up a Google spreadsheet and I coined the term Tech Bytes then shared it out. Cate was the first to put Tech Bytes on the sheet a few weeks later. I then followed up and and put one on myself.
What I think is truly exciting is that we shared out an idea during a chat, followed through on the collaboration, and it will help the teachers that we serve. How's that for digital collaboration and service?
AppSmashing! When I saw the Sketchnote done by Sylvia Duckworth below honestly I was just amazed at her talent. I follow her on Twitter and I know I'm just too linear to create some of the things that she creates. When I went back and looked at GAFE Train again, it hit me. APP SMASH! I'd been wanting to do an appsmash for awhile but hadn't been hit with an inspiration. This was it! I knew I HAD to turn this in to an interactive Thinglink.
I asked Sylvia for permission via Twitter (because that's the right thing to do) and once I got her blessing I went to work finding resources online and linking them up. It was my first Thinglink and my first AppSmash and I'm quite proud of how it turned out. But even better, Sylvia is happy with the results as well.
This project was great fun. I highly recommend trying Thinglink it was easy to use and I was able to make an amazing image interactive. I'd also recommend asking people in your PLN for permission to use their creative products if you want to expand on them because you both may be pleasantly surprised with the results.
I didn't know when I asked for permission to turn it into a Thinglink if she'd think I was a crazy wackadoo or if she'd think it was a great idea. I also sent her the link to the completed Thinglink so she could give me her thoughts before I tweeted it out. That way, if she hated it, she could say so and I could make it disappear. Luckily, she liked it! For me it was a good reminder to just ask for something that you want because you may be surprised by what you get!
Follow Sylvia on Twitter @sylviaduckworth
It’s taken me quite some time to come up with my one word for 2015 because I really have high aspirations for what I’m looking to accomplish this year. My word for this year is BETTER. I wrote a blog post a few weeks back about Growth Mindset and my goal every day is to simply do better than I did the day before.
I found the quote below and it really spoke to me and helped me pick my word.
So while my aspirations are high, my word for the year is BETTER. I want to be a better mom, wife, leader, presenter, and friend. I just want to be BETTER. I don't want to be perfect. Perfect is boring. I just want to be better.
Several years ago, the principal at the school I was teaching at gave all of the teachers Carol Dweck's Mindset:The New Psychology of Success. I promptly purchased it on my Kindle as that's my preferred way to read and began reading. I couldn't believe how quickly I was engrossed in this book and honestly, I usually read fiction as an escape. I would read chapters and tell my husband about what I read amazed in the research and how changing your mindset could truly change your life.
While I've always been a fairly positive person, this book struck a chord with me because of the students I was working with at the time. My students were low income, many were English Language Learners and they were very transient, often changing schools several times in their elementary careers. Very few of these students came in with a positive mindset. My upbringing was so different from these students I struggled with how to get them to believe that they actually could do the things I believe they could. This is how Mindset changed me as a teacher.
Mindset helped me realize with just a few modifications in my language, I could push my students to new level. Instead of hearing, "I can't", I started to hear "I can't yet." This was the same year in which I had a student (let's call him Kevin) that was retained. Kevin struggled the year before to fit in as he was very small for his age, immature and academically wasn't where he needed to be but I think the deciding factor for the team was that he just seemed sad about not being part of the group. The students in my class realized, however, he was an incredible math teacher. Whenever they needed help with math and I wasn't available, they'd go to him. My shining moment with Kevin was when I overheard him telling another student who was struggling with a math problem that 'mistakes are proof that you're learning.' I felt like I'd won that day. I stopped what I was doing and made Kevin repeat it for the class. And of course when put on the spot, he couldn't remember what he'd said but I sure did. When I asked the student who he was working with how it made him feel, this student said it made him feel like it was okay to make mistakes. This evolved in to a whole discussion about making mistakes and how you don't learn without making mistakes.
I think it's rare for parents to actually have those discussions with their kids and it wasn't until I read Mindset that I actually thought about it. When I initially read Mindset, my oldest son was only 1. Now I have two boys (ages 5 and 2) and I refer back to the book occasionally because I want to ensure that my sons both have a growth mindset as well. I've referred back it to personally because this school year has been a major transition for me and it hasn't been easy. And while I don't like to admit it, at times I've become quite negative and drifted away from my positive self. So re-reading Mindset is my way to get back to me.
For more resources on Mindset check out my Pinterest Board here.