GoGuardian recently hosted me as a guest blogger, where I wrote about how Western School of Science & Technology uses GoGuardian to implement a blended learning model!
ISTE EdTech Twitter Chat!
A few weeks back, I was able to lead an ISTE Twitter chat about systemizing EdTech and personalized learning support for teachers!
Making the Leap From Classroom to Admin (And How to Find a New Balance)
A few years ago, I moved from being a classroom teacher to working on the admin side. I wrote a post for Flocabulary to highlight the highlights, struggles, and how I stay connected to students in my admin work. Check it out here: https://blog.flocabulary.com/classroom-to-admin/
A New Year Approaches! What to Do Before Class Starts
I wrote this article for Newsela’s blog. You can read the article on their site, linked here!
Few roles have the cyclical nature that teaching does. While we may look forward to the summer (especially those last two weeks of schoolâ€¦. woof), thereâ€™s something so exciting about getting a fresh start in the fall.
To ease the transition, Iâ€™ve compiled some tips for new and veteran teachers alike to make sure all tâ€™s are crossed and iâ€™s are dotted. Even if youâ€™ve already started back (looking at you, charter school teachers!), these tips are great for the first few weeks of school.
#1) Get them digits!
You will inevitably need to call home for your kiddos. Hopefully you can make as many positive deposits before making a negative â€œwithdrawal.â€ When I taught, I kept a Google Sheet tracker so I could tally each positive and negative contact. I tried to do 5-1 to ensure I was winning parentsâ€™ trust!
To make getting a hold of parents as easy as possible, here are a few tips:
- If your school uses a management system likeÂ DeansList, you can use their iPhone app to automatically have all parentsâ€™ numbers are your fingertips!
- If youâ€™re on your own to get numbers, create a Google Form that students/families can fill out so youâ€™ll have a neat spreadsheet. With this spreadsheet, you can import the numbers into your phone quickly! There are a few ways to do this, but thisÂ web tutorial is how I did it!
#2) Have a DonorsChoose (or three) in the Works!
Humblebrag: I have raised more than $25,000 in grants for my kiddos! This wasnâ€™t magic. I just post a lot ofÂ DonorsChoose.Â The beginning of the school year is a really smart time to do this. Donors know teachers are in need, and companies like Google will often â€œflash fundâ€ all projects in a given area (e.g. all of Boston).
Post a few projects. The worst-case scenario is that it doesnâ€™t get funded, but you also might magically wake up to all of your projects being funded!
#3) Bake Personalized Learning into Your Lesson/Unit Plans!
Every teacher wants to reach every student and make a difference in their lives. But when itâ€™s â€œDarktoberâ€ and youâ€™re trying to just get through the day, it can be hard to do this. So, pre-plan personalization now, when you are more energized and the days are longer.
That could look like:
- Setting goals for your blended learning programs (like, ahem, having each student complete 3 Newsela quizzes a week),
- Building in 1:1 check-ins with each student where you set and assess goal progress, or
- Adding personalized work time into your class where students can complete work that is customized to their current performance level.
Have any other tips you follow religiously as a new year starts? Drop your knowledge below, in the comments!
How to Use Flocabulary for Personalized Learning
I wrote this post for Flocabulary. You can see the post on their blog, here.Â
As a technology teacher, students know that I love computers and all things techy. ForÂ Teacher Appreciation Week, a first grader gave me a thumb drive. Tech can be so fun and can be great for personalized learning.
That being said, I am actually not a proponent of tech for the sake of tech. Iâ€™ve even put up posters like the image below around my school to make the point that technology is not best used as a babysitter. Bottom line: Kiddos at computers are not rotisserie chickens. You canâ€™t â€œset them and forget them.â€
To gauge how well a teacher/school is doing this, we have theÂ SAMRÂ model, a framework that helps teachers, school leaders and districts think about how to use technology.
What does SAMR stand for?
Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition.
Itâ€™s possible to use technology as a substitute in a way that actually isnâ€™t very innovative, like I mentioned above. An example would be transitioning from a paper exit ticket to a digital one. This doesnâ€™t dramatically shift how students learn or how teachers teach. While it does make the teacherâ€™s life easier, it doesnâ€™t augment, modify or redefine how students learn in their classroom.
Connecting SAMR to Personalized Learning
Teachers often use theÂ SAMR model to guide personalized learning and also gauge how well those initiatives are going.
For example, if you are setting a goal for students to read more content at their specific current skill level while still giving them a choice about what theyâ€™re reading,Â you might look for an innovative technology solution to help with this. An online library of books is a substitution in place of a physical library, and while it has some potential pluses, it might simply be â€œtechnology for the sake of technology.â€
Using Flocabulary for Personalized Learning
So, what kind of technology fits into a few different stages of the SAMR model and is actually innovative? Flocabulary. For example, Flocabulary represents the â€œAugmentâ€ phase if you were to useÂ The Week in RapÂ to teach about current events. It replaces a potentially offline task (learning about the news) and enhances it with video, aÂ DiscussionÂ modeÂ and other features.
The SAMRÂ approach works well with other assignable or adaptive programs, likeÂ Khan AcademyÂ orÂ iReady. But, the bonus of a program like Flocabulary is that the content is particularly engaging and sticky. My students beg me to watch the videos again so they can sing along. You wonâ€™t find that with just a printed math worksheet.
Have you used Flocabulary to personalize instruction in your classroom? Let us know in the comments below!
Masters Capstone Published
See here to read my masters capstone, entitled “The Potential for Using Adaptive and Assignable Instructional Technology to Increase Student Agency and Achievement”. This was an amazing opportunity for me to write about my passion: using technology to better meet the needs of all students!
5 Ways To Introduce Technology To Your Classroom Without Enough Technology
This post was originally published on TeacherPop.
As the technology specialist at a school, Iâ€™m constantly running into issues (our computers havenâ€™t arrived yet, the tech staff doesnâ€™t have time to install them, my lab is being used for NWEA testing, etc.).
But, never fear. There are a lot of ways to get nerdy with kids without needing a laptop for everyone. Here are my tips â€“ Iâ€™d love to hear some more, if you have them, in the comments!
1.)Â Â Code.org. Live it. Love it. Code it.
This site is getting really well-known, but thereâ€™s a nice little niche that not everyone might know about. There are loads of â€œpaperâ€ activities that can teach little kiddos how to make a â€œprogramâ€ and much more. Itâ€™s especially great as a primer before letting students use computers.
(Pro-tip: If you have even intermittent access to 3-10 computers, do stations. Have students who have mastered the paper activities move onto computers!)
Computers At the Core: CPSâ€™ Response to â€œ21st Century Learningâ€
This post was originally published on Pass the Chalk.
When I started my first teaching role, I was ecstatic to know that two of my classes would be â€œtechnologyâ€ courses. This excitement became frustration as my students and I struggled to have access to a quarter of what I freely enjoyed in high school. I had no curriculum, and the â€œtechnologyâ€ was Windows XP on some virus-ladden, ominously humming machines. These students were cheated out of experiences I (and many) expect from a K-12 education.
Technology fluency is an assumed trait most colleges have for their incoming students. That, of course, includes basic keyboarding and Internet skills, but there are also many assumptions about understanding more complex Internet database searches, MLA formatting and ability to navigate a variety of other systems of varying complexities.