Tuesday, December 29, 2015

How I #MakeSchoolDifferent - #RaesBlogChallenge Post #3

In my role as an administrator and professional developer, I work everyday to #MakeSchoolDifferent by creating learning opportunities for teachers that model how we want students to learn. With a focus on personalized learning and being connected, I try to create learning environments that inspire educators to be global learners.

Whether it is a Blog Challenge, creating gamified learning like Edubadger, or developing online courses like Teaching in the Digital Age, I work to keep growing and sharing as a lead learner in my county.

How do you Make School Different?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Creating Science Memes for #RaesBlogChallenge

The topic for the 2nd post of my December Blog Challenge is to create a meme and post it on your blog. I chose to focus on creating science themed memes.

As a former science teacher I love memes that address science issues. There is nothing like getting a good #nerdgiggle from a particularly geeky science meme.  I love this play density and the fact that ice floats. See more of these on the 42 Best Science Memes on the Internet from Buzzfeed.

I had an idea that students could create memes based on science inaccuracies or mistakes in popular media.  For this post I did a Google search for science mistakes in movies and watched a short video from Business Insider on the biggest science mistakes in the movie The Martian.  The meme I created below is from one of the facts shared in the video.

To create this meme I used Google Drawing and simply added two photos and two text boxes. The nice thing about Google Drawing is that I was able to crop the images, re size them and also brighten and adjust the color. The image editing tools in Google Drawing are simple but effective! 

There are meme generators you can use like Meme Generator or the Meme feature in a photo app like Enlight.

I love the idea of students identifying science mistakes in movies, tv, and advertisements and then creating memes that correct the mistake. This is a fun way for students to explore science concepts and think critically about how science is portrayed int he media.

What ideas do you have for students to create memes?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My Advice To Future Teachers

The best advice I can give future teachers is to never stop learning. The energy and passion that exudes from an active learner is contagious to students. When you are learning, you model this for your students.

Someone once asked me if I had a hobby. The only thing I could come up with was that learning is my hobby. I love to learn and I think this is important for all teachers to love learning and love BEING a learner. When I have met teachers who are not learners...it shows.

Rae learning about IBM computers at the Computer History Museum
in Mountain View, California.

When I was getting my masters I would come to my students each week excited about what I was learning. They were always ready to let me try new strategies and ideas. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn't. But, we had fun trying.

Once I took an online self paced course to learn Javascript. This was challenging and reminded me of the frustration my students sometime feel when learning new concepts. Never forget what it feels like to be a student!

I am out of the classroom now, but when I attend an EdCamp or other professional development I always come back and try something with kids.  Whether it is creating green screen videos, 3D printing or blogging on a new topic, I love sharing my learning with students.

Rae's new R2D2 Google Cardboard!

Recently, I have been learning more about Virtual Reality. I was able to try it while visiting Stanford University last month and I was hooked. A couple of weeks ago I got Google Cardboard Star Wars Edition. I tried it out at  home with my family and it was so awesome that I came in the next day and shared it with the students in my building. We spent over almost an hour that day trying out virtual reality apps and learning together. One student summed it up when he said, "You can't use Google Cardboard without a smile on your face'

That is my goal, more smiles on student faces.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Multiple Representations in Math - iPads in Kindergarten

Recentlly, we were able to provide each Kindergarten classroom in the district with a minimum of 8 iPads. To support teachers in integrating this technology effectively, I am providing a series of hands on trainings. Teachers will be creating projects and examples that they can use in class with students. This is the first training which is focused on some basic iPad management and Multiple Representations in Math using several apps including the native camera app, Skitch and Pic Collage.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Rae's December Blog Challenge

Welcome to my blog challenge for December 2015!

Challenges like this one always inspire me and keep me reflecting and creating. I know December is super busy so this blog challenge is short, sweet and fun.

Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is 4 posts in 4 weeks

You can do one a week or all at once, all of them or some of them, that is up to you.  Here are the topics for each post.

1.  Advice for students studying to becoming teachers. What advice would you give students studying to become teachers?  My daughter is in her second year of college studying to become a teacher. These posts will help me share your collective wisdom with her and the thousands of young teachers in training!

2.  Create a meme and post it on your blog. Do you have something to say about education, learning or school? Make a statement with a meme!  What is a meme?
meme (/ˈmiːm/ meem) is "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture"
Here is one of the memes I created.

There are many meme generators to help you. I use this Meme Generator or the Meme feature in my favorite photo app, Enlight.  Shout out to +Knela Newton for getting me hooked on creating memes! For ideas on memes check out the CUE Rockstar Fan Art page or Edumemes.com.

3.  Help make school different. This goes back to my #MakeSchoolDifferent post from earlier this year. I strongly believe that we have to change school from within, because we can't keep school functioning the same way it has for 100 years. We have to #bethechange because #kidsdeserveit. What is something you are doing to change school for students or what is something you would like to do?

4.  New year, new learning. It will be 2016 soon, What is something you want to learn? Take a photo, draw a picture or take a screenshot of something you want to learn in this new year. Post it on your blog and explain why you want to learn about it. The best way to inspire students to be learners is to be an active learner yourself. Share what are you interested in learning.

Bonus! If you complete all four posts submit the link to your blog here and I will randomly choose a winner on January 1, 2016 to receive some swag from my swag drawer!

Every time we share our learning we get stronger and inspire others. Be a part of the global blogging community of teachers. We are all #bettertogether.  Share your posts on Twitter, Google+ or facebook and include the hash tags:

Monday, November 23, 2015

The 3 Tech Tools I Am Most Thankful For

Every day I use technology in my work. Whether creating resources for teachers, supporting teachers with technology integration or helping students be creators, technology is an essential part. This post focuses on three of my most favorite tech tools that have had the biggest impact. While the tool is important, what is more important is how the tool supports my work in education.

5th grade student using Apple TV to share
a game he just created with the Hopscotch App

 1. Sharing student work with Apple TV 

In our district we have dozens and dozens of Apple TVs in classrooms. We plan to use Chromecast too, but are still working on getting our network able to allow them. Using Apple TV, or a similar tool, in the classroom is one of the most impactful ways to use tech to change classroom culture. Every time I have introduced Apple TV to a classroom I have seen a significant shift in how learners work together. Learning becomes more student centered, feedback is more encouraged and accepted as students are bale to easily and immediately share their work with others at all stages in the creation process. If you are considering using Apple TV in you classroom, here is a blog post I made a while back with information for teachers getting started.

 2. Collaborating with Google Docs 

Del Norte USD Google Activity
I can't even remember what life was like BG (before Google). Everyone was soooo isolated! Google has been integral in creating a culture of sharing and collaboration in our district. In any given week I probably collaborate with 10 or more people on a variety of projects. Google Docs allows me to get more done, faster and better. Here are some of my collaborations from last week alone. Knela Newton and I created a hyper doc of Hour of Code resources for teachers in our district. I reviewed a slides presentation created by Angie Marshall and Tracy Campbell about testing for the 3rd grade teachers. I used a Google form with teachers from a local charter school to get feedback on what they wanted to learn during an hour training. Working with our NGSS Implementation Team, we finalized our Engineering Challenges for K-8 which start in February. If you haven't looked at Google Apps for Education for your school or district, what are you waiting for??

 3. Connecting with Google Hangouts

There are a number of ways to facilitate virtual meetings, but I use Google Hangouts (GHO). Why? Well, it is FREE and simple to use.  In fact, I use it ALL THE TIME. I am on GHO at least weekly. The benefits of a GHO is that you can easily call and invite people to join, have a side chat during the call, and easily share your screen or files with participants.  In fact, just a few days ago one of my colleagues from another county office of education called me on the phone - and it felt weird. I am just so used to seeing people and talking with them face to face, even if it is virtual. Here are a few of the ways I use GHOs in my district:

  • Tech support - a teacher can call and show me the problem they are having either by screen sharing or holding a device or object in front of the camera. This eliminates so many questions and saves time.
  • Record meetings - recently we recorded our technology committee meeting using the Google Hangout on Air feature (GHOA). This allows people who are unable to attend the meeting to still get the information and stay involved.

Those are the 3 technology tools that I am most thankful for this year. What are your top 3? You can comment below or create your own blog post. I would love to know what you think.
Thank you to +Charlene Knowlton for this Thanksgiving break blog post challenge.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Kindergarten iPads - Our Equal Access Plan

We are outfitting kindergarten classes in our district with a minimum of 8 iPads each. The goal is to provide equal access in all classroom and facilitate collaboration and professional learning among teachers about how to effectively integrate this technology. Previously, there were some classrooms that were 1:1, many with small sets of 5-7 and others with no iPads.

Supporting teachers in developing ways to use iPads to create more student centered, collaborative and creative classrooms is difficult when some classes have one teacher iPad and others are 1:1. To achieve equity with devices we gathered up previously deployed iPads and re-distributed them to the Kindergarten teachers. This is difficult to do, because someone is losing iPads, but it is important to allow us to move towards a baseline of tech in all rooms. It also lets us provide focused professional learning that all Kindergarten teachers can implement and we can measure the effect on skills and practices. We have an iPad Bootcamp planned for January 2016 and will plan more events just for our Kindergarten teachers.

A list of iPad apps was created that is being pushed out to all Kindergarten iPads. We are removing the frequent "games" folder and trying to provide more creativity based and critical thinking apps. We also kept some of the old favorites for teaching handwriting, and math.

The total cost of all these apps purchased through Apple's Volume Purchase Program is $9.50 which is about $237.50 for a class set of 25 iPads.  We are also providing each classroom with Black Box storage and security lockers.

The apps we are starting with include: (App store price/VPP store price)

ELA Apps
Magnetic ABC (1.99/.99)
Handwriting Without Tears:Wet-Dry for Capitals, Numbers & Lowercase (4.99/2.50)

Math Apps
Subitize Tree (.99/.49)
Front Row (free)

Creativity Apps
Explain Everything (3.99/1.50)
Pic Collage (free)
Doodle Buddy (free)
Skitch (free)

Coding Apps
The Foos (free)
Scratch Jr (free)
Kodable (free)

Thinking/Physics Based App
Thinkrolls (2.99/1.49)

QR Reader
Scan (1.99/.99)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Math and Google Drawing

My presentation from the California Math Conference of the Far North on October 10, 2015

Math and Google Drawing Resources

Feel free to use and adapt as needed!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Using Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments

Did you know there are Interim Assessments available for you to take as an educator so you can see what they are like?

Do you know what is on the different Interim Block Assessments?

Here is some helpful information to assist you in implementing these assessments this year.

click image to open in a new window

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

1st DN Schools Photo Walk for Teachers

Start the year off learning and being creative.
Join me for the 1st Ever DN Schools Photo Walk!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Should Teachers Get Flight Reviews?

In over a decade in the classroom, I never received an evaluation that helped me improve as a teacher. Some years an administrator would observe my class for a few minutes and then fill out a form saying I am doing a good job and have me sign it. One year I opted for peer review which required I make a personal learning plan. I wrote a plan and worked on my goals, but there was no support for the learning or achieving my goals for the year. Another time an administrator wrote in my evaluation that I made an error in the calculations in a biology lab which later turned out to be an error in the textbook. He followed this all the way to the publisher and had the error fixed. While I appreciated the attention to detail by the administrator, this was not particularly helpful to my practice.

This is the case in many school districts today. Teacher evaluation, many times, is not meaningful and does not help teachers grow and progress in their own learning.

By Dmitrij.shpilchevskij  [CC BY-SA 3.0]
via Wikimedia Commons
My husband is a private pilot and Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), one night we were talking about pilot education and the bi-annual flight review process. A flight review involves a flight instructor observing a pilot's skill set while flying a plane as well their knowledge of flight procedures and aeronautical knowledge.

Airline pilots have additional flight reviews 6, 9 or 12 months depending on the company's requirements, this is called re-current training and is designed to keep them up on safety and other procedures.

The great part about flight reviews is that a pilot does not just fail and stop being a pilot. If there are any shortcomings or missing knowledge, the flight instructor works with the pilot to help them learn the needed information or skills. If a pilot does not pass their flight review, they cannot fly solo until they do. A flight instructor is assigned to help them until they improve and pass.

Maybe as educators we can learn something from the flight review process.

What if teachers had 'flight reviews'? 

We could call them Instructional Practice Reviews (IPRs). Or, we could broaden this to include technology, pedagogy and content knowledge and call them TPACK reviews. IPRs could include an oral assessment as well as classroom observation.

By Tcodl 16 [CC-BY SA 3.0]
via  wikimedia commons
Schools, districts and counties could identify specific teacher standards, technology, pedagogy and content knowledge that is a focus and target IPRs on those competencies and skills.

If a teacher was struggling or not performing at a certain level they could be assigned a coach or mentor to monitor their recurrent training. This training might consist of co-teaching, modeling, coursework, conferences, peer observation or other learning. A follow up IPR 3 or 6 months later could determine if they were making significant progress and able to 'fly solo' again.

If the goal is to provide a guaranteed curriculum and best first teaching for all students, then we need a system in place that helps teachers continually grow and improve. We know that ongoing, job embedded, personalized professional learning is key. With the achievement gap that now exists and the technology gap that is beginning to become evident among our students, we need to develop a teacher evaluation system that truly supports educators and helps them improve.

This is my first post on this topic. I will continue to think and research about ways we can improve teacher professional learning and evaluation. What do you think? I would love other input and ideas.

Monday, June 29, 2015

3 Great Things About The SHIFT Symposium 2015

Recently, I spent two days learning at the SHIFT Symposium in Humboldt County. This was a high energy and fun symposium focused on helping all of us keep up with the shifting sands of education. In this third year of the symposium, started by +Colby Smart, his team continues to put on a 'CUE' level event that provides our northern California educators with high quality professional learning within driving distance.

In the beautiful, new Sequoia conference center, Humboldt County Office of Education hosted 200 educators for two packed days of connecting and learning that featured over 40 sessions and awesome Keynotes. Here 3 great things about the SHIFT Symposium 2015.

1.  Wifi
I presented four different sessions over the two days and the wifi worked perfectly in all of them. Each of my sessions required participants to go online and create, contribute and connect, so wifi was critical. It worked great, the whole time, something that larger conferences often struggle with even today. With our basic needs being met, we were able to get the most out of the conference.

2.  App Gallery
The #Eduawesome Stacy Young put together and App Gallery for the Symposium that provided quick links and QR codes to all apps being used during the two days. Participants could pre-download apps for sessions they wanted to attend or access them later for sessions they couldn't get to during the event. Check it out: SHIFT 2015 APPS Gallery

3.  Connecting
Starting with keynote presenter +Sabba Quidwai, being a connected educator was a focus. She reminded us that the role of the teacher has SHIFTed from 'answerer' to 'facilitator of inquiry'. The old ways of teaching are no longer relevant or helpful to our students.

Twitter was the social media platform of choice and we connected before, during and after the symposium using the hashtag #humshift. As I was presenting most of the time, the hashtag allowed me to learn and connect with the other sessions and presenters. I discovered a new member of my PLN @MrKindergarten who is doing awesome things with a 3D printer and kindergartners.

Thank you to all of the amazing educators I learned with at SHIFT 2015, see you next year!

Friday, June 5, 2015

4 Reasons To Use Google Classroom Next Year

Learn how to use Google Classroom as a tool to improve student learning. Join me, +Joshua Harris and +Dawn Kasperson for a 30 min discussion about why you should use Google Classroom next year.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Teaching in the Digital Age - Online class starts August 3rd

Teaching in the Digital Age

Ready for an infusion of skills to help you teach today's digital learners?

Teaching in the Digital Age is an eight week, online professional development course starting August 3rd, 2015.

Topics of study in this course include pedagogy, digital literacy, data literacy, content creation and curation, communication, collaboration and learning environments.

Teaching in the Digital Age is a 50-60 hour course of study. Participants are expected to spend an average of 7 hours per week on the following activities:

  • Reading course materials and exploring examples
  • Completing projects and assignments
  • Sharing and reflecting with other class participants in discussion forums
digital age quote.jpg

Be a part of the 2nd cohort of this engaging and informative class, register today.

This course if offered by the Del Norte County Office of Education

August 3 - September 26, 2015
$100 course registration fee

3 extended education units offered through Humboldt State University at $50 per unit

Rae Fearing, M. S.

Click here to learn more and register for this course

Thursday, May 7, 2015

How to add more fonts to Google Docs

Here is a quick Google tip on how to add more fonts to Google Docs. Google has many cool fonts that can add some pizzazz to your docs, watch this short tutorial and get your docs font-ilicious.

Monday, April 27, 2015

5 Things We Have To Stop Pretending

I accepted this challenge from +Lisa Nowakowski as part of the #MakeSchoolDifferent Challenge started by +Scott McLeod.

Here is my list of 5 things we need to stop pretending so we can improve education.

  1. Students learn best in classrooms of 30+ students with one teacher. Seriously, it is time to get creative and create learning environments that support student needs. A single teacher can't possibly support all learners, even with technology.  I know we can't renovate every school, but we can take down walls and make better use of our classroom spaces and let teachers collaboratively teach.
  2. Teachers will just 'figure out' how to teach effectively with technology. Teachers are learners too and need time learn how technology can be used to improve student achievement. Too many teachers are given devices, a couple hours of professional development and expected to make magic happen. It takes a lot of time, research and practice to transform teaching into the digital age.
  3. Students working in table groups = collaboration. Preparing students for the global world we live in means we have to provide opportunities for them to reach out and talk with people everywhere. A student in a classroom who doesn't communicate with anyone outside of the classroom is at a serious disadvantage. Every group project should require one team member from the global community. Imagine that!
  4. Completing assignments that ask for a right answer promote learning. A worksheet is a worksheet whether it is on paper or on a computer. A right answer limits creativity and critical thinking. If a student can Google the answer then why are you asking the question? Where is the learning?
  5. My students can't do that. I have had teachers tell me that their students can't to do things like create digital books, come up with genius hour ideas or create videos to teach others. Students can do amazing things, quit limiting them with your fear. Stop it already.
I challenge the following five people to create their own post about what we have to stop pretending in order to #MakeSchoolDifferent +Charlene Knowlton+Tracy Campbell+Rick Phelan+Angie Marshall+Matthew Weld 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Check out these teacher's new blogs!

This week I finished teaching an online course called Teaching in the Digital Age. I built this course as a personalized learning opportunity for teachers in my county. The course was an adaption of the Leading Edge Digital Educator course blended with some of my own content. After eight weeks of learning together, the teachers have impressed me with their growth and insights. 

The class was closely aligned to the ISTE Standards for Teachers and particpants tracked their learning throughout the course. One requirement was for them to create professional blogs to respond to weekly reflections and post their work. They produced a variety of creative works during the course, but their blogs are my favorite. Several teachers mentioned that they plan to keep blogging now that the course if over and I hope that they do.  Please take a look at their blogs listed below and follow and comment on them. Teachers need comments too! #Comments4Teachers

Thank you to the final nine educators that completed the course. Keep sharing your learning.

Below are some other highlights from the course.
+Victoria Schoonover's Sketchnote on Modern Learning Environments made with FlipInk
        +Angie Marshall's reflection on her progress with the ISTE Standards for Teachers. Infographic built with Easel.ly

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Multi-class Digital Citizenship Lesson with Google Hangouts on Air

Integrating digital citizenship curriculum into classrooms can be tricky for a variety of reasons. Two of the main issues for our teachers are time and comfort level with the material. Teachers have never been asked to formally teach digital citizenship and many need to learn the information themselves. Earlier this year I put out the expectation for lessons to be taught and grade levels decided upon specific lessons and put them on a shared calendar.  Still, these lessons went largely untaught this year. I reflected on this in my Share The Mess post in January.

I took this issue to our Educational Technology Committee and they came up with an idea to use technology to teach and model lessons. A few 3rd and 4th grade teachers committed to being a part of the first collaborative lesson and we decided to use Google Hangouts on Air so we could archive it. We chose to do the lesson, "You've Won a Prize!" from Common Sense Media

A week before the lesson, we did a practice Google Hangout so the students could meet each other and learn video call etiquette. We discussed how to mute when others were talking and how to take turns asking questions and sharing ideas.  The practice hangout was pure magic as the students discussed things like what they were learning in math and how many students were in each class. They were beyond excited to see and talk with each other in real time. One of our more rural, small schools was surprised to see how big the other classes were.

For the Hangout on Air we had the awesome +Tracy Campbell deliver the lesson and she asked the other classes to respond to discussion questions, always letting them know that they would be on deck to respond after having time to brainstorm in their table groups. Here is a copy of the lesson outline in case you are interested. You can also watch the full lesson below.

The lesson went amazingly well. Student collaboration and communication were elevated in this real world situation. Students from +Stephanie Disrude's class said they enjoyed 'sharing the workload', but that it was hard to sit still and be quiet during the lesson. They definitely wanted to do it again because 'It was fun!' and 'We learned something!'  Teaching this way directly addresses the ISTE Standards for Students: Communication and Collaboration, 'Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.' (ISTE, 2007)

In the future we would like to conduct more lessons this way so that other classes can view them and we can also use them to show teachers how lessons work with students in the classroom. We are also thinking about doing math or science lesson via Google Hangout on Air. What an amazing tool to bring our classrooms closer together and show us the we are all #bettertogether.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

ThingLink: Always Improving for EDU

This week I was notified by Susan Oxnevad that I was chosen to be a ThingLink Expert Educator. Exciting news as I have been a fan of ThingLink for over a year. Creating media rich and interactive images is a powerful tool for both students and teachers. To the right is an image I created about Bacteria for an introduction to a unit You can see my more of my creations here.
ThingLink is a free webtool for educators. You can use the web or mobile version to create interactive images packed with resources. Students can do this on mobile devices with or without wifi, which makes it great for field trips! ThingLink images can be used by teachers and students to enhance learning. From introducing new content to providing feedback on student work it is a powerful tool. To learn about these ideas and more  you can view my presentation about iPad authoring tools.

New Features Announced Today

I am super excited about some of the changes happening with ThingLink that will help schools use this awesome tool in the classrooms. Until now, I have mostly been using it to share information and create images for teachers in my work as an Educational Technology Coordinator, but now I am hoping to see more teachers use it with students. Today, ThingLink announced verified accounts for school districts along with the release of an updated iOS app that is well suited for educational use, making ThingLink EDU better than ever for teaching and learning!

Here is a summary of the new features (from Cool Tools for 21st Century Learners Blog)

Benefits of Verified District Accounts

A verified organization on ThingLink EDU serves three goals. First, verification is used to establish authenticity of an organization. Once this is done, the organization gets an invitation code that can be used to easily invite staff and students to ThingLink EDU. A verified organization account will be equipped with a dashboard to easily manage teachers, students, and groups. Third, a verified organization account gives schools and districts easy access to all of the ThingLink resources created by teachers and students across the district. These features make it easier than ever for teachers and students to create, share and curate multimedia rich content with ThingLink.

ThingLink iOS app Updated for Educational Use

More great news! The ThingLink iOS app has been updated with education in mind. When browsing for existing ThingLink content, students can only see images created by other teachers and students. Safe-search has been enabled to provide students with age appropriate content when searching for media to annotate images. The updated version of the app now includes student and teacher signup options with invitation codes, making it easy to manage students and engage them on mobile devices like never before.

Explore this slideshow channel of interactive image to learn how ThingLink can be used on a field trip on a mobile device without wireless. Be sure to click the arrow to advance to the next image to see how students can extend the learning at school and at home, using whatever device is handy at the moment.

How To Request a Verified Status for Your Organization

ThingLink has the ability to transform teaching and learning, so grab your verified district account, add the updated iOS app and embrace this amazing EDU tool!
Send an email to support@thinglink.com

Saturday, January 31, 2015

#SharetheMess Whats not working this year

Inspired by LS_Karl's #SharetheMess post about what didn't work in his classroom, I am writing today about something that has not worked for me this year.

Last Spring I wrote our district technology plan and one of the focus areas was to implement digital citizenship curriculum for all K-12 students district wide. We adopted Common Sense Media's Digital Citizenship Curriculum and I modeled lessons in several classrooms with an overwhelming positive response. Grade level teams were tasked with deciding which lessons would be taught when for their grade level using this Digital Citizenship Curriculum Planning Doc. This would allow teachers to have choice when implementing the curriculum. The goal was to create equity and insure that all students in the same grade level receive a guaranteed curriculum.

Using BrightBytes at the beginning of the year, we collected data on digital citizenship teaching and learning. We will be collecting more data late this spring.
Our data from the beginning of the 14-15 school year about teaching students to legally use web content
BrightBytes data gives us valuable information about critical areas to address.

We are now just over half way through the year and while some teachers have taught digital citizenship lessons, most have not. All students are not receiving the same instruction in digital citizenship. Feedback from teachers varies. Some state it is a lack of time to implement the lessons, others think they don't have access to adequate technology for the lessons, and some are just uneasy teaching a subject they know very little about. So, my plan was not working and I needed to do something before the year was over. To begin to address these misconceptions and get to the heart of the problem, I took the issue to a recent technology committee meeting.  We discussed the issue and the members came up with some great ideas.

Here is our plan. On March 10th we will broadcast a digital citizenship lesson via Google Hangout in five different 3rd grade classrooms. One teacher will lead the lesson and the other four will facilitate it in their classrooms. We plan to make it a Google Hangout on Air so it can be archived for all third grade teachers to use with their students. We also plan to have a second person in each of the rooms to serve as tech support and deal with any issues while broadcasting. If it works we will do it again with 1st grade teachers.

Will it work? Will we see increased implementation of digital citizenship curriculum? Will teachers feel more at ease after seeing a lesson taught? We are hopeful and excited about our plan.  Look for another post in March after the lesson.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Power of a Teacher Challenge

What professional learning activities truly change my practice?

I would have to say Teacher Challenges.  They are better than most workshops, seminars, or trainings at creating a lasting impact on my growth and learning.

What is a Teacher Challenge?

They are free professional learning events that feature daily or weekly tasks around a specific focus. The purpose of these challenges are to increase teacher skills with the support of mentors and colleagues.  In one of my Voxer chat groups, someone referred to challenges as a way for us to 'lovingly support and hold each other accountable' as we learn and try new things.

Here are a few of examples of teacher challenges:
Edublogs Teacher Challenges
Thinglink App Smash Challenge
TeachThought #Reflectiveteacher Blog Challenge
Global Cardboard Challenge - get students involved!
Your #EduStory Challenge 2015

Why are they so effective? 

I think it is because of four things:

  1. Community  - Teacher challenges are social and learning is social. When I participate in one I want to 'keep up' with others as well as contribute to the learning and discussions of others.
  2. Accountability - In a challenge, I am motivated to stay the course and complete it to the end. Knowing others are waiting to see what you post is an effective motivator!
  3. Collaboration - In every challenge I meet new people and learn new ways of doing things.  Many of the folks I am closest to in my personal learning network participated in challenges with me. We are always #bettertogether.
  4. Creativity - We are all creators at heart. The feeling of taking an idea through to a product that can be shared is rewarding.  We get so busy in our jobs and the day to day grind that we forget to nurture our creativity. Taking time to edit a photo, construct a video, build a model or write a story is invigorating and empowering. Let the creativity flow!

My past Teacher Challenges:

Thinglink, Teacher Challenge 2014
The Seven Day Daily Create Mashup Challenge
#ReflectiveTeacher 30 Day Blogging Challenge by TeachThought

Current challenges in which I am participating:

GEGNorCal Blogging Challenge
Thinglink STEAM Challenge

Challenges I created or helped with:

No Worksheet Week Teacher Challenge - with creator Matthew Weld
Admins Edtech Challenge for school site leaders and administrators (Coming Feb. 2015)

Here is my challenge to you:

Participate in at least one challenge before the end of the school year.  I try to do three per year, one in the spring, summer and fall.  Whether you complete the entire challenge or just one or two activities, it will be a rewarding experience. So take the plunge, accept a challenge and get started.

If you have a Teacher Challenge you would like to share please post in the comments.