Thursday, January 30, 2014

.@Remind101 For The Win #edtech #edchat

I just wanted to share a quick post on the awesomeness of Remind101.

My district had another Snow Day on Tuesday. This was the 4th one this year and the most the district has ever had. I have been planning a big mock trial for a number of weeks and the snow days have caused some serious problems with the schedule. This latest snow day caused the trial to be pushed back another day. If it were not for Remind101, I never would have been able to communicate to all of my students what the plan for the next day was going to be. Remind101 is truly allowing me to communicate with my students in a way that simply not possible just a couple of years ago.

Now, Remind101 has added another feature that allows teachers to send messages to smaller groups of students instead of the entire class. Here is a great video on how this works.

This amazing free service is something that educators really need to take the time to get to know and implement in their classroom. My students have been very pleased with how it has been used and it has saved the day multiple times this year already. What are you waiting for? Get started! 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Engaging Students with Stories #EngChat #EdChat

For those who have spent any time with me, they know I have a story to tell. No matter the situation, I've got a weird, funny, interesting (to me), and crazy story to share. As I sit back and reflect on my lessons and units, I always try to find the piece that made the students engaged. Often, it's a silly story from my life or the lives of students that rope students in.

I'm going to be starting our Gothic Unit in a couple of weeks and I love to tell a good ghost story. Students love a good ghost story and they are perfect to get kids hooked on this type of unit. I share some scary stories from my personal experience and others I've heard over the years and the class discusses how these stories share similar elements with the ones we have read from Poe. I could have just written the Gothic Story elements on the board, directed students to examples in the stories we have read or are about to read and test them on these items later in the unit. That is just awful.

The more I look at this lesson, it's not just my stories that have hooked the students, it's the fact that I have given them a chance to tell their story and make their own personal connections to the elements we are discussing in class. My stories are the starting point, never the end point. I want to create an environment where students feel comfortable sharing a story or two in class and personally connecting to the topic. I feel like this is the big step teachers need to take in connecting with students and increasing student engagement. If the students feel like they can share, they will feel part of the class and will learn by sharing.

I love hearing the stories my students share and I love the connections they make even better. It might be hard in other subject areas to tell stories and make connections, but if you truly love your content area, share the stories of why you love it and the students will make the connections for you.

Homework: Share a good story with your students and listen to a few good ones from them. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

#20Time Reflections #EdChat

I've reached the midway point of #20Time this year and I thought it would be a good idea to take a moment and reflect on the project.

I had no idea where this project was really going to go when I decided to do it. I really just wanted to give my students one day a week to explore something they really cared about. I felt that if that was able to happen, anything else would just be a bonus.

Overall, my students have really embraced their projects and have down some amazing work. Here are a few I want to highlight, but there are many more students doing amazing things and you can check their blogs out here. Feel free to leave a comment and encourage their work.

Brenna B started off wanting to create a fashion app. She had a great idea and started to look into making it happen. She was ready to hang it up when she realized that it was very expensive to pay someone to do coding work. I told her that she should learn to code and pointed her in the direction of some great sites that can help her learn. She is currently applying to some coding classes at Yale for the summer. She is also working on a proposal to the school board about making coding classes part of the district's curriculum. See more of what she is doing on her blog.

Griffin M has been building items with his hands for his project. He has built some amazing things from designs he finds on a website. He has built a headphone stand, a slingshot, longbow, and a computer. The last three were built over his Winter Break. I'm actually going to ask Griffin if he can build a nice wooden case for my Google Glass. I'll be traveling a bunch in the new year and I want to keep them safe while bouncing from city to city. His work is beautiful and I trust his craftsmanship to keep my Glass safe. You can see more of what he has done on his blog.

Alexis M is working on a documentary that will follow the lives of five different people. She interested in this style of film and has dedicated her time to learning everything she can about the process in filming, editing and everything else that goes with documentary work. It is a big project that I'm very excited to see when she is done. This type of project is really what 20 Time is all about when I stand back and look at it. Follow Alexis and her project on her blog.

Lucy S came to use from Australia, but is Canadian by birth. She chose to document Detroit with her camera. She spends time traveling the city with her dad and taking photos of some of the sites in Detroit. She just seems to have an eye for seeing the beauty beyond the decay. Take a look at some of her beautiful photos she has taken and share on her blog.

Connor M was one of the first students in 20 Time to really grasp the idea of failure. He came to stressed out that he was not going to complete the project he wanted. He wanted to scale it back and try something more attainable. After a conversation, the lightbulb went off and he really embraced failure as an important part of the 20 Time process. Check out Connor's blog and support his failures and cheer his success.

Ben M has dedicated his project time to salvaging furniture as he calls it. He has done some amazing work in finding older pieces of furniture that many would toss aside and reclaiming it for his house. The work is wonderful and the hard work is evident. Again, when would a student have time to explore a passion like this outside of school? Check out his work on his blog.

Hannah C has been working on programs for Suicide Awareness. She had done some amazing work in contacting organizations and writing letters to government officials and setting up a walk in the Spring to raise awareness. She has had ups and downs with the project, but she is dedicated to making a difference and that it what the entire 20 Time idea is all about. Follow her work on her blog.

These are just a few of the amazing projects that are going on in my classroom. It's not all rainbows and unicorns thought.

There are some students that thought they were passionate about a topic and have realized that it is not for them. They have changed their projects and are finding it hard to stay motivated. Others are not really taking the time as seriously and I would hope, but that could change in the second semester as they move closer to their final speech about learning. Not every project is going to ring try to every students. That is something I have to come to terms with and learn from as I implement this in years to come.

I'm excited to see what the second semester holds for my students. Being able to host a TEDx event to showcase the students and their ideas is a great way to end the school year and this experiment. I look forward to sharing more information on 20 Time as the year rolls on.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Homework is NOT Bad! #edchat #NerdyCast

I felt like ruffling some feathers and speak out in favor of Homework. Here are my thoughts. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Announcing #TEDxGrossePointeSouthHS!

Over the past semester, my students have been working on their 20 Time projects and have been doing some amazing work (Check out their blogs here). As part of their project, they would be giving a TEDx-esque style talk. What they didn't know was that I was working on my own 20 Time project.

Last week, I received word that my application to hold a TEDx Youth Event had been approved! Instead of giving TEDx-esque talks, my students will have a chance to give a real TEDx talk. I am beyond excited and my students are pumped! 

TEDxGrossePointeSouth will be held Saturday June 7 from Noon - 6:00PM (Tentatively) at Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI. It will feature students from the high school who want to share their ideas with the world. 

I never thought I would be doing something like this, but my students really inspired me to try something I've never done, even if I failed. I've learned plenty during one semester of 20 Time and I can't wait to see what the second half of the year has in store for me. 

Stay tuned for updates!

Thanks to everyone for their support with 20 Time.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Exciting Updates from #OETC14

Happy New Year! We hope you enjoyed the Holidays and that you’re staying warm in this freezing Midwest weather! Lots is happening in the world of #OETC14 and we’re excited to share this programming updates and a few sample tweets and posts for your review.

This is the final week of voting for the Best Ed Tech Awards - over 20,000 votes have been cast! Winners will be announced next week.

As always, please let us know if you have any suggestions for features and presentations to highlight during the conference or if you have any questions about #OETC14.

  • The have announced two (2) After Hours Tweetups during OETC14! Last year’s popular event at Bernard’s Tavern inspired us to hold two tweetups this year, Monday night again at Bernard’s and a second event Tuesday at North High Brewing. They are encouraging attendees to register through EventBrite (information in link above).

  • The STEM Robotics Challenge will host THREE competitive events during #OETC14! Monday features a middle school LEGO Robotics Systems competition, Tuesday features the middle school US Airforce Qualifier, and Wednesday will feature the high school US Air Force Qualifier for VEX Teams.

  • The Columbus Zoo sponsors The Zoo to You: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium School Programs which will include information on tech-inclusive opportunities at the zoo and also feature some unique animals for attendees to interact with at the conference.

The School Video News Broadcast Center will feature a working studio that could be implemented in any K-12 environment. Staffed by technology professionals and students of Ohio schools, the Broadcast Center will produce stories featuring topical conference events and interviews with attendees, exhibitors, keynote speakers and others.

This looks like another exciting conference and I hope educators take the opportunity to attend and share what they learn.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Season 2 Ep. 1 #NerdyCast - PBL #EdChat #PBLChat

Hello everyone and welcome back to a new season of #NerdyCast! Tim and I are excited to be back and share our brand of silliness with all of you. You can find the podcast here on PodOmatic and it should be available shortly on iTunes. +Timothy Gwynn  and I will be back once a month to discuss all things education and pop culture. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comment box or send us tweet. To fill in the time between podcasts, you can check out my YouTube Channel for #NerdyCast which will have shorter ramblings on various education topics. Thanks again for all of your support!

YouTube #NerdyCast on Blogging

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Days and Social Media

For the first time in many decades, my district had called off school in back to back days. We are a walking district, so it makes sense. The one part of me is excited to spend more time with my family, but the lesson planner side is freaking out because I've just lost two days out of the remaining 10 in the semester. We have a huge mock trial planned and the students have lost two work days. Ahhhhhhh!

Social Media to the rescue!

I received the school closing email Sunday evening and quickly tweeted it out and used Remind 101 to contact my students. My tweets and texts reached my students and my high school community faster than the district's robo-dialer. By using these tools, I was able to communicate with the vast majority of my students and explain the game plan moving forward. My students were relieved and I felt better. Twitter and Remind 101 made communicating with my students simple. 

Another great part of Social Media is watching the great things come across the feed from my friends all over the world. Great bits of information, funny pictures and overall goodness to keep me occupied between trips outside to shovel. Despite being away from my school, my learning does not have to stop on a snow day.

I'm still bewildered by those in education that still say Social Media is not important in education. I've been able to do so much while buried in the snow at home. It blows my mind that so many are still ignoring these great tools. 

Stay warm friends!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014

Cloud Tools Survey #edchat

Hello everyone! I wanted to ask for your help with a project I'm working on at the moment. I'm co-writing a book with +Jared Covili  for Corwin Publishing on Cloud Based Applications in the classroom. We want to focus on actual examples of use in the classroom by educators and students. If you have moment, please share with us how you have used any of these tools in the classroom.

Thank you for your time!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

4 Year Anniversary #EdChat #Blogging

Here is my first post from 4 years ago,

"I've decided to create a blog. I'm a 30 year old English teacher that is currently working on my Masters Degree in educational technology. I spend tons of time helping other teachers in my building incorporating technology into their teaching and thought it would be nice to share these new concepts with the world out there. Also, I'm sure this blog can help me with my Masters Program.

If you have any thoughts or ideas you would like to share, please feel free to email me or post a comment. Let's see where this thing takes us."

It's been an amazing ride. 

People always ask me how to get people to read their blog or follow their Twitter account. My best advice is the same advice I give my students. Be yourself and everything will fall into place. 

Happy New Year folks!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

#NerdyCast on Blogging for Students and Teachers #YouTubeEDU

Here is a new #NerdyCast on YouTube. I will be doing these every few weeks to fill in the gap between the once a month podcast with +Timothy Gwynn. Feel free to leave your comments below or in the comments section of the YouTube video. Enjoy!