Writing my way through the school year!

Archive for the ‘Education Blog’ Category

The Value of Veteran Educators… There is No Expiration Date.

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Category: Things that expire.

One of the concerns brought up at the NEA RA, ( National Education Association Representative Assembly), this year, was the reprehensible treatment of veteran educators. All over the United States, it seems veteran educators are under attack.

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I Am a Teacher And You Want to Arm Me?

I wiI will not be armedll NEVER carry a weapon, concealed or otherwise, in my classroom.

I will NEVER keep it locked in a safe.
I say this with the utmost certainty.

There is a huge debate going on about whether teachers should be armed in order to protect their students.
As usual, teachers’ voices are muted by the roar of non-educators who believe they know better. READ MORE…

5 Reasons I Am an EdTech Ambassador.

Top reasons, I am an edtech ambassador.

1. I LOVE the resource.

I use it. Often. That’s why I was chosen. Whatever the edtech tool or resource, it is a part of my classroom toolbox. It works for me and my students. It’s a tool that helps me, help my students. If it did not accomplish that task, I would not use it, and I definitely would not be an Ambassador.

2. I get to provide feedback that someone actually listens to. 

Think about it. Who wants feedback from a classroom teacher? Hardly anyone. The teachers in the classroom are rarely asked what they think, how they feel, how could we make this better? We are given the latest books written by authors who are not in the classroom, scripted curriculum, and orders about what next “new”thing we are to do with absolutely no consideration of our experience.

As an ambassador, teachers provide feedback, and get this…the edtech companies listen to us. We get to tell them what is working, what isn’t working, and what we would like to see happen with their product. We get to Beta test new features and give them our opinion about how it would work in our classroom. They are asking the advice of the people who are in the classroom, taking our advice, and making the product we use better!

3. I get a little swag.

FREE. The word teachers all over the world love. Why? Because much is expected of us, little is given. I have NEVER, and I mean never, in the years I have been an ambassador for any company, felt compromised. See #1. I write blog posts about it, share on Twitter, talk about it in Voxer, but these are things I would do anyway. We get some swag, a tshirt or keychain, items to give out at presentations, and maybe upgrades on the resource we are using. I have never been given a trip to the Caribbean.

4. I share with others.

When  I came across an edtech resource that enhanced the way I taught the curriculum, I did not want to keep it to myself. I came out of my comfort zone and became an edtech presenter. At that point in time, there were no teacher ambassadors. I was a teacher who had the ability to make another person more comfortable with integrating edtech. The edtech companies realized how we could benefit from each other and took the steps to create Ambassadors.

By the same token, who do I want to hear ideas from? The edtech creator or the ambassador in the trenches? Kudos to the edtech companies for providing a platform for teachers to share their knowledge with others!

In a week, I will be presenting on an edtech resource I started using last year. This company doesn’t have an ambassador program. If they get one, I will definitely take advantage of the opportunity to join. I am excited to share this resource with others because I am sure it is something they would love in  their classroom, as much as I love it in mine. And that’s the point.

5. Networking/Building your PLN(Professional Learning Network)

Integrating tech in the classroom is not everyone’s “thing.” Sometimes it is difficult to find like-minded people in your physical space. Being an ambassador provides that link to like-minded people all over the country and the world. The connections are limitless. I know the feedback they have contributed has helped many of the resources I use evolve into what they are now.

I don’t understand how teachers became villians for working with edtech companies as Ambassadors.

Here’s the problem.

From the viewpoint of our naysayers, we are “endorsing” a brand. Actually, we are sharing something that works in our classroom, a resource that we use and like anyway.


Good teachers don’t give up all other resources, and focus on the one(s) they are an Ambassador for.

It’s funny that athletes recieve millions of dollars to endorse a brand, people in Hollywood get designer clothing and jewelery worth thousands, sometimes millions, to wear to celebrity events.

And teachers are horrible because they get a tshirt and a premium subscription to an edtech resource?

#WhatSummerBreak vs. #SummerBreak- A Teacher’s Hashtag!

 

Why do I often feel the need to convince “others” (Meaning people who are not teachers, do not work with teachers, or are not married or partners of teachers.),that my summer vacation is well-deserved and/or not really a break at all?

Which, by the way, is exactly what I am doing in this blog post! LOL

This post stemmed from my participation as a delegate at the NEA RA (National Education Association Representative Assembly). The delegate who proposed this hashtag felt that the #whatsummerbreak was needed because so many “others” felt that teachers just get the summer off to do absolutely nothing. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) The delegate wanted teachers to post using the #whatsummerbreak to prove to “others” that teachers really don’t enjoy their summer break the way other people think they do.

I guess this is a good time to mention that the RA lasted a week, I attended Friday through Wednesday. I worked 10 hour days, including Sunday and the 4th of July. (Ahem!)

Anytyway. The point is there are many, many, many, many, teachers working their way through their “summer break.” Some of them are really working, as in, they have jobs. Jobs they MUST have in order to survive until school begins again, or this is their all-the-time 2nd job in order to survive.

Then we have the teachers who are doing, we’ll call it “school stuff.” Conferences, classes, summer school,(Wait, that’s a job), and .or book studies.  Some of them are home, or in their classrooms, preparing for the new school year. Whether it’s redesigning rooms, adjusting or creating new lesson plans, etc… I changed grades last year, so most of  my summer last year was spent getting ready for the new curriculum.

So yeah, for thousands of teachers around the country, the #whatsummerbreak does apply.(Watch this video)

But for those educators, or anyone else who deals with Other People’s Children, do not, as I find myself doing much too often, feel the need to justify why you are off! EVER!

For 10 months you do what most people could not. You deal with parents, their children, other teachers, coaches, administrators. You write lesson plans, grade papers, attend PD, arrive early, leave late, give up countless hours of your time, coach, run after-school programs, and you never,ever, stop thinking about those kids, “your kids.”.

And, before the “others” say it, yes, you willingly signed up for this job. But this job, this job can suck the life out of you.

SO, if for 2 months you want to sit on a beach, travel around the world, play with your kids, binge on a  Netflix, (substitute any streaming device here), show, talk to your significant other about something other than school, then do it! You deserve it, and don’t you ever feel the need to justify it. #summerbreak

Please feel free to post to either hashtag #summerbreak or #whatsummerbreak and enjoy the rest of your summer!

 

 

“The Marble Run Challenge!”- STEMazing!

Sometimes you get tired of the “new” thing in education.

Well, I was tired of  hearing, reading, and/or discussing “STEM”or “STEAM”, whichever you prefer.
I really didn’t understand what the big deal was until we participated in Jen Wagner’s “Marble Run Challenge.”

Now don’t get me wrong, my kids code, we integrate tech, etc, but I had never done a STEM project.

The concept was simple. The kids had to design a structure for a marble to run through. We started out with time limits, but realized, due to our limited time, we would just concentrate on seeing how long it took the marble to make it through the structure.

Notice the use of the word “we”. This was a project that was guided by the students.

I wish I could teach like this all year. Talk about engagement! Every day, and I literally mean every day, they  BEGGED to work on their structures.

They worked on it during Quiet Time, so essentially it wasn’t Quiet Time anymore, but who cares? They worked on it during… whenever I could sneak some time in.

You know what? More learning went on in those moments…

The conversations.

The research.

The dedication.

The team names. Hilarious!:)

The collaboration.

Designing.

Troubleshooting.

Getting their own supplies(I was supposed to get the supplies, but they got tired of waiting for me.)

Calling, texting, using Google chat to talk to each other at home.

Resolving problems among themselves.(And calling out the slackers.)

Parents sending in supplies for their kids.

The willingness to try over and over and over.

We had a competition at the end, what they had all worked so hard for. Parents were invited. Some of the marbles went all the way through, some didn’t. But that was okay. They talked about the whys of their design. Ran the marble through their structure.(Or not). They had 3 chances and they could make adjustments. Loved hearing the conversations as they discussed what they could do differently to make it work.

Team Valor won! We all won. An amazing project that made a STEM believer out of me!

Ability Does NOT = Zip Code!

FLL Robotics Competition

I have worked in schools that have been defined by a number of labels. High poverty, large percentage of free and reduced lunch, low income, those types of labels.

When those labels are used, although they shouldn’t, they tend to define a school, their students, and the parents.

Generalizations are made.

Well, you know, because the school is  high poverty, the free and reduced lunch percentage is high, and there are many low income families

 

Those generalizations lead to beliefs.

Beliefs that lead to an excessive amount of reading and math instruction.

More intervention.

More worksheets.

More computers, just so we make sure these kids don’t miss out on all the adaptive programs that are available to them.

But many of them do miss out.

They miss out on STEAM programs, global collaboration, plays,  passion projects, student ownership, being allowed to think!

This year, thanks to a friend of mine and her connections, (Shout out to Michelle!),I was able to obtain a grant for a LEGO Robotics kit. With the Robotics kit came the responsibility of getting a group of  kids ready to compete in a FIRST LEGO League Robotics competition. I never doubted they could do it.

These kids.

I looked at the LEGO kit when it arrived, and wanted to cry.

They looked at the LEGO kit and began to build.

They built Mission models, a robot, and programmed it.(Shout out to Home Depot for building and donating their practice table)

They studied their Core Values and completed their Animal Allies research project. (Shout out to Jillian from +Sharks4Kids!).

Our, the other coach and I, faith never wavered. We believed in them.

These kids from this “high poverty, large percentage of free and reduced lunch, low income” school went to the competition and did their thing.

They went, worked as a team, behaved respectfully, and showed what they are capable of.

They got points on the board for getting their robot to complete 3 missions! (Shout out to to Mr.Bill from Caravel Academy!)

They won the award for the Research category. YES!

I’m  still grinning.:)

Let’s give our kids, no matter where they attend school, a chance to be exposed. A chance to experience all that life has to offer. Give them a chance to shine!

Zip code. Does not.  = ability.

My Students Have Taken Over The Easel!

An easel sits in the right hand corner of our room.
It’s always been there.
Sometimes I use it, most of the time I don’t.
I started to notice something a few days ago.
My students have taken over the easel.

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