Saturday, December 31, 2016

Highlights of 2016

2016 is coming to a quick end. This year seemed to have passed quickly, and I'd like to take a moment to reflect on 5 highlights of the year. Thanks to Daisy Designs to hosting this blog link-up.

Getting serious about my TpT store and it paying off. I've had an account for a very long time and I've posted things as a seller from time to time but I've never been too serious about it. I will say that my ELA teaching partner, Andi, inspired me to do better. With the encouragement of others and my inner, "You got this voice" my work has paid off tremendously. With my military husband and my struggle to find a job that I liked during our first relocation. I feel that my TpT store will come in handing when it's time for us to pick up and move again.
 My TpT Store

Collaborating with one of my closest friends and creating a blog together. I feel that 2017 has many great things in store of the both of us. Check it out.
 Two Friends Teaching Blog

Having friends visit for my husbands birthday and again for Thanksgiving meant a lot to me this year. You've been her for 2 going on 3 years and this was a first. Being so far from home makes it hard for friends or family to come and visit us. I really cherished that time with them.


Finally being able to go home, to Arkansas. I've haven't been home since we moved to Colorado from Louisiana in 2014. I hit the road with my 4 year old and 7 year old for a road trip to Arkansas this summer. I was able to see my brothers that I haven't seen in ages, spend time with cousins, and spend lots of time with my aging granny. 

We bought a house! My husband is a US Airman and we've only ever rented homes. We planned to buy when he was on is way to retirement in our home state of Arkansas. We finally took the plunge and decided to look for a home to buy here in Colorado. It was one of the biggest, scariest, and best decisions we've made this year. I am proud to be a homeowner.

Thanks tofor hosting this link up. Don't forget to check out here post. 


Until next time,

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

I Survived Week One

This past week was the first week of school and I survived. I was excited for school to start but I just need an extra week to actually get some rest before hitting the ground running. Teacher official started back last Wednesday but I received my students this past Tuesday. To start with, my first couple of weeks aren't typical since I teach a 1 to 1 iPad math class. When I taught a traditional class I would focus on classroom policies, procedures, and expectations the first week while slowly adding content into the mix starting day 3. This year the beginning of the year looks a little different.

This year the first week is all about class policies, procedures, and expectations. It's a lot of repetition and practicing what I expect from them. Since middle school 7th graders are learning to be more independent but still pretty much rely on teachers and parents at the beginning of the year, I hold off on giving out my Course Guide until the 3rd day of school. I know that the students are receiving tons of papers to be reviewed and signed by parents starting on the 1st day of school and I don't want my very important information to get lost in the shuffle.

Day 1: Students begin the day with a bell ringer/warm up. It was something simple but I wanted to set a precedent for the school year. I'd like them to know that each and every day will begin with some type of warm up.

After the warm up the students were given instructions to introduce themselves to their partner and vice versa. I picked a couple of students to introduce their partner.

Next, I introduced myself to my new students. I gave them some fun facts about me and we talked about why I was in Colorado now.

Then came the boring typical first day spill... What they need for class, policies, expectations, etc. I also gave a tour of the room. I felt like Vanna White walking around the room pointing to everything.

The time flew by and it was time for the students to go to their next class as quickly as they had come to my class. The last thing students completed before leaving was a tweet about their first day in math class. I gave them 3 options for responses and the hashtag, #1stdayinmath.


In most classes students had an opportunity to share their tweet.

Day 2: The second day seemed to go even faster than the first day. The warm up was a mini quiz about the first day of school. The quiz only consisted of 3 questions and we discussed the answers after the time was up. I told my students that this was their first participation grade. I like to give a couple of easy grade at the beginning of each quarter to set students up for success.

Next my students completed a "Find Someone Who" activity to help them to get to know their peers a little better. I revamped this review activity by eliminating the math problems and adding statements and questions. Students were instructed to introduce themselves to one another (I demonstrated this to them) then ask if they could complete one of their squares and vice versa. The squares included statements such as "Not from Colorado" followed by questions such "From where?" This was to spark conversations and maybe help them to remember one another's names. Last year I'd ask students to pass a paper to another student and they would respond with, "Who is that?" which irked me. I feel that the students should at least know one another's names if nothing else in addition to the math content that I will teach them.

To close the day students wrote me letter. Telling me about themselves. Students were given some writing points but were not limited to them. They were to tell me:
  • How did you feel about math last year?
  • How do you feel that math will be this year?
  • What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are some of your hobbies, likes, or dislikes?
  • What would you like me to know about you to better help you?
  • What would you like to know about me?
I have started reading them and these letters are extremely important to me as a teacher and I usually respond to them all with a personal note. I plan to respond to them all this year as well.

Day 3: We reviewed the course guide. I told students that I'm selfish and wanted to wait until after their other teachers had given out class syllabi before giving them mine. Some students found that funny. I began using a 1 page course guide as opposed to a traditional syllabus because going over a syllabus is BORING and it looks BORING and pretty things make me happy inside. Last year I ditched a traditional syllabus and begin using a one page course guide. I had two motives behind making the switch. A) How many parents and students actually read it beyond my reading it to the students in class? B) I wanted something that students could tape in the interactive notebooks that we'd use all year and refer to it when they had any questions about the class.

With those two things in mind I made the plunge and ditched that old, long, boring, traditional syllabus. This nifty little one pager (a little term I stole from the great @EdTechLove) packs a ton of useful information in a fun little delivery format. I feel that this one page Course Guide can take the place of a syllabus because it give important information about the class without all the boring, yet important, stuff that many don't even bother reading. Check out my post on my Course Guide on twofriendsteaching.blogspot.com.

After going over the Course Guide students completed a Scavenger Hunt as a team. I wanted the students to do something semi-fun after listening to my voice for almost the entire hour. My students enjoyed the scavenger hunt activity as much as I thought they would.

Day 4: This day was a little drab. I was scheduled to test my students using the Scholastic Math Inventory (SMI) in the library. This is not the way I wanted to end the week with my students but hey what can I say, we enjoyed the other 3 days. The test is important in placement and catching those who may need to be moved to/from a supported class or advanced class.

That concludes my 1st week back in the classroom and not only did I survive but I really enjoyed meeting my new students for this year. You can find my Course Guide and Find someone who activity on Teachers Pay Teachers in my store. Check back soon for my opinion of the SMI and how I use it to support my students throughout the year.

 Thank you for stopping by,

Saturday, July 23, 2016

GAFE Summit Colorado Springs, CO Summer 2016

I was astatic to get the opportunity to attend my second EdTechTeam's Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Summit. I faced the same challenge as the first summit when trying to decide which session to attend. Having an amazing team helped make the process easier since we were able to divide and conquer when there was too many good sessions to choose from during any given time slot.

As with my Fall experience, I left with an overwhelming amount of information to go back and implement this upcoming school year. I found myself geeky out a little more this time around. There were ideas that I attempted to implement last year but things didn't go over as smoothly as I would have liked. There were session that I attended that rectified my issues that caused so many aha and #mindblown moments. I am once again grateful to have been able to experience this epic time to grow, learn, and collaborate with fellow educators.

The Rundown
Opening Keynote
The opening keynote was eloquently delivered by Holly Clark (@HollyClarkEdu) about Digital Disruption in education. Learning should be amplified by technology and textbooks should by used as reference points. She used the definition of disruption as interrupting the normal progress or activity of something with something better. Using that definition means that disrupting education is to interrupt or change the existing system and improve it.



She talked about how Netflix disrupted Blockbuster which now no longer exist and how Uber is doing the same thing to taxis. She share an amazing video that you can find here or below. When you see a need you should make adjustments otherwise someone else will and you/your methods may become obsolete. 


She also talked about binge watching Netflix but we need to practice binge learning. When we as professional binge learn, we can't get enough of what we are learning (Similar to my GAFE experience; I couldn't get enough). We must create situation where our students binge learn, can't get enough of what we're doing in the classroom. We as educators must be restless learners. 

What is more important the answers or the questions? Traditionally education value answers, not questions but we must create an environment that is the opposite. Now is the time to to put the importance on questions and create Chief Questioning Officers.

Her last point was about adjacent possibles. Adjacent possibles captures both the limits and the creative potential of change and innovation. With adjacent possibles in schools we must allow for student agencies which give students ownership of their learning and requires deeper thinking. We must begin by telling students the problem and asking them to solve it. She lit a spark in me like no other.

Session 1
Sara Stuhr (@mrsstuhr5th) did a great job at demonstrating how to use Twitter in the Classroom with her presentation, To the Twittersphere and Beyond. I've been wanting to use twitter in the classroom for a while now. Especially now that I am a 1:1 iPad teacher with unlimited possibilities but I've been really nervous about how the parents and administration would respond. I'm going to begin by taking baby steps. I plan to have different groups or individuals tweet daily with the hashtag #frommathrm202.




First she addressed Student Engagement. She showed that this should be put in the students' hands and they should have ownership.
  • Students should answer the questions: What do you want your parents to know? and What are you proud of?
  • Twitter in the classroom should be used to document student learning by the the student.
  • Students should be the force behind getting parents onboard.
  • Tweeting should be a student job!  A differnt student can post the tweet for the day everyday.
  • One con was parent backlash because twitter is social media. She stressed getting media releases for each students and never posting pictures of students when the parent does not give permission.
I was not really sold on all the pieces of parent engagement. I do feel that this peice is beneficial when parents are active on social media or twitter. Ways to get the parents involved.
  • Set parents up and explain how to use it.
  • Make it apart of the school culture.
  • Make sure their are media releases for students' photos and always respect student privacy.
  • Took the place of newsletters
  • Twitter benefit: Parents can direct message you
Twitter can be used to building your PLN.
  • Follow popular education hashtags to find other educators you may be interested in following.
  • Tweetdeck.twitter.com is an amazing tool to multitask on Twitter. You can follow particular hashtags, messages, mentions, and twitter activity all in one place on one page without having to click through different pages or links.
  • Find other educators to follow by following hashtags
Twitter Chats can be used with your students or within a professional community.
  • There is a question posted with a hashtag. 
  • Individuals answer the question using the same hashtag.
Session 2 
One of my favorite session by far was with Daniel Sharpe (@get_sharpe) in Digital Badging: Level Up Your Classroom Google. I tried this last year but only ended up using the leaderboard but his explanation and method simplified the entire process. The way he has it set up also put it back on to the student which I love. Not only did he sure the sheets with the attendees but he also walked us through a very quick and easy process of creating badges with Google Drawings. 



How this works:
First, copy the Teacher and Students' sheets templates. You can find both using the link above.


Next, Connect your student template to the teacher template. Then share with your students. One of the most beneficial things I learned during this step works for every google drive item. To force google files to copy when downloaded, change the end of the url to /copy (everything beginning with the word edit after the forward slash)


Then you type the badge information in the teacher template. The beautiful thing about this step is that you can edit it all year and any changes made would automatically update on the student template. I love that I don't have to have all my badges on the 1st day because the students will be able to see all updates changes.

Now may favorite part about this, CREATING THE BADGES! He has a video tutorial for the process but it was so simple that I got "geek"bumps in my excitement.



After you create your badges and create unique codes for each one, you are done! Sit back and watch the magic transform your class. There is one thing that I am trying to work out. With the power in the students hands you give them the unique codes for the badges they earn. Students can share the code with peers who have not yet earned badges. I am working a formula that with change the digits to starts after entered. Fingers crossed that this will be possible.

Session 3
I enjoyed ePortfolios for Learning Using Google Sites with Nancy White.
The main points do student ePortfolios:
  • Letting students take ownership of portfolios.
  • Allow the students to reflect about why certain artifacts were chosen.
  • At the beginning of the year, students should reflect of learning goals for future self assesement.
She provided a planning template: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByzloTthg-EVOVNXZnl1ZmdsSDQ/view The most valuable nugget I walked away from this session with is now knowing that you can create templates for sites that are as easy as fill in the blank to allow students to have uniform portfolios while still allowing for creativity and personalizations.

Session 4
Screencast Your Way to a Flipped Classroom with Brianna Mazzella (@BriMazzella) was very help as I am continuing my effort to flip my math class. She also opened my mind to untraditional possibilities that do not normally come to mind when you think about a flipped class.

Screencastify is a wonder chrome extentsion that with make flipping you class a breeze if you plan to make your own videos. You are able to record a video of yourself, your voice over a document, site, or image, or your live desktop with yourself in a frame. I have not used my laptop for video yet but I look forward to testing it out within the next couple of days.

She also gave a list of quick tips:
  • Allow the students to create their own screencast.
    • Flipped learning looks different in different situations.
    • Students can view the video in class as you rotate small groups
    • Students can view the video at home.
  • Must use TAB mode to use additional tools during screencast
  • Alt-F - Spotlight tool
  • Can not use drawing tools in Desktop mode or CAM mode
  • Drawings will not disappear from page to page in Present mode of Slides
  • Alt-Z - Erase Drawings off the screen
Day 2
Opening Keynote
The opening Keynote for day 2 was amazing. Jay Atwood (@jayatwood) spark my interest with his keynote on Instructional Identity Crisis.

He began with these Four Pillars when it comes to educators teaching in the digital age.
  1. Know what's trending
  2. Have fun with it 
  3. Learn from someone else
  4. Give it ago
  • He introduced me to The Selfie Game. Sounds interesting.
    • Take a selfie to match a topic or title.
  • We must setting SMART goals.
    • Growth is better than you were yesterday no matter how little the change.
  • Identity
    • As an educator you must "Unapologetically" be you
    • Think about who you are as a person, educator, professional
      • Knoe that you are shaped by your experiences
    • Generativity vs. stagnation
      • You can’t be positive and contributing if you are stagnant or confused, a lesson we can all live by.
    • Identity vs. role confusion 
  • Professional learner takes:
    • Motivation
    • Strategies
    • We must Learn. Unlearn. Relearn. I lesson we can all learn from .Yoda
  • #ttwwhadi (A hashtage that had us all confused.)
    • Means “That’s the way we always did it!”
    • “But they love it!”
    • To get better you must be willing to to change #disrupteducation
    • Sunk Cost Fallacy: You spend the most time on things that are important to you.
    • You must that old stuff go even if you’ve always done it that way
  • Share
    • Used to be "Show your work" now it’s "Share your work."
    • Value is not in what you own, it’s in what you share! I'm considering puting this on my wall for motivation.
  • “Everything is hard until it’s easy” #nailedit




Session 5
The Google Infused Classroom with @HollyClarkEdu was eye opening. I was able to add several more little goodies to my teacher tool box.

How do you hear from every single student?
  • http://vocaroo.com/ is a cool voice recording site for laptops and chrome books but it doesn’t work on ipads/iphones :( 
  • Let’s Recap is a wonderful tool for all device to student to video record responses to questions, passages, or videos. I most excited to try this little gem out. Can't wait to share the outcome after I use this with my students.


Session 6
I most excited about Showcase your Style with Sites and Blogger with @cmoor4 since I have been trying to figure out smooth way to incorporate blogging into my classroom. Last year KidBlog switched from free to paid after I set my students up and I did not want to introduce my students to a new platform so I put it off for a another school year.

One of the most valuable things I learned for this session was that giving your students a global audience was as easy as tweeting a hashtag. Share your students work with #commentsforkids!

Chris described sites are more uniform for portfolios while suggesting that blogger be used as blogs to document day to day in the classroom.



Session 7
Create. Annotate. Publish was a high energy session presented by @benjaminfriesen.

Create.
  • Put the responsibility in the hands of the students.
  • GreenScreen (Google App) can be used to put any background behind your students in a photo or video.
  • Remember: You are not the sage on the stage. Let your students do the work (dance on the stage). 
Annotate.
  • Is about the journey/process, not the product;
  • Making connections;
  • Commenting and collaborating; 
  • Students can add Voice, Video, and Links; 
  • Aides in the learning process.
Publish.
  • Is about sharing work, 
  • Giving an audience,
  • You can take this a step farther by giving your students a global audience 

Tools:
  • Google Drawings to create and annotate
    • Create badges 
    • Vocabulary (Frayer model/Unpacking Vocab) 
    • Bubble Map 
    • Timelines 
    • Announcements 
    • Posters 
    • Animate Images 
    • Comment on images to make annotations 
    • Can link images 
  • Seesaw to create, annotate, and publish



Session 8 
Data’s not so Scary with @jayatwood made me rethink the possibilities about using Sheets in the classroom. I am a data person and I have many ways for using sheets with add-ons and forms to collect data from my students that I use for planning for myself. Jay introduced me to new concept of having my students use sheets in class. I even had a conversation with my ELA half, @aadamsELA, about how she could use sheets in her class with writing and students are about to see all the statements in the sheet added via forms and collaborate or vote on their peers' responses.
bit.ly/jraDATA is a very useful spreadsheet shared with the participants to demonstrate the many uses.



Closing Keynote 
The closing keynote given by @smbeaverson https://twitter.com/smbeaverson was phenomenal. He started with the 4C's.
  • 4C’s 21st Century Learning 
    • Creativity 
    • Communication 
    • Collaboration 
    • Critical Thinking 
  • We as educators much think, "How can we use the 4C's everyday?" 
    • I love the idea of offering quiet moments of creativity during the day in every single class. Is that something you think you can do? I am working on it.
    • We must relinquish more control to the student 
      • LOVE THE IDEA OF A STUDENT TECH TEAM! The Student Tech Team realy gave me geekbumps! I plan to work with @historicalipad to get this idea off the ground at our school.
Here's a fun fact:
  • Currently every 2 days we create as much information as had been created up until the dawn of the year 2003. 
  • I most excited to learn about RAT: A way to think about tech integration like SAMR
    • Replacement: Do the same thing but using a different tool. 
    • Amplification: Practice, above the teacher. Amplify the learning. Example: Flipped Learning 
    • Transformation: Focuses on the students, student centered. Take risk and lead forward into the new ways and allow the students to work with it that will surprise you. 
Using RAT we put the learning into the hands of the students by being innovative and allowing the students to choose. I am looking forward to implementing RAT in my class this year.

This post was a mouthful and I hope you were able take, if not many, at least one gem away from my experience at the my second GAFE Summit. Leave comments below. I'd love to here from you.

Until next time,

LaDonna @MrsWelchKnows