Sunday, June 29, 2014

#ISTE2014 Impressions - Take 1

I feel like ISTE has barely gotten started but I wanted to get down some first impressions.

I arrived at the GWCC yesterday a little before noon to register and figure out the lay of the land. I wandered around inside a bit then headed outside - Centennial Park is just down the block. My walk lasted longer than planned when I got caught in a freak rainstorm (seriously, Atlanta?!) and had to take cover for a while. I made it back in time to plant myself by an outlet to charge various devices and then get in line for the first session.

It was an Ignite session in which 13 people talked for 5 minutes (each had 20 slides). It was good for someone with late-onset ADD; by the time I was getting bored it was time for the speaker to change. I enjoyed most of the talks and found several new people to follow on twitter. The place was packed - I'm guessing because it was the first session and nothing else was going on but I got a nice seat up in the balcony.

After that I resumed my search for a comfy chair next to an outlet but had to settle for a patch of carpet. It was close to the beginning of the line for Saturday's keynote speaker, Ashley Judd. Yep, that Ashley Judd. She was billed as an actress and humanitarian, and I am still wondering why exactly she was speaking at an EdTech Conference. (I was reminded last night that she was a fill-in for America Ferrera.) I saw tweets that people had gotten in line 3 hours early, and I swear the line for the keynote was a mile long (in this building, that isn't stretching things that much!). During that wait I had a tweet from Megan Hayes-Golding asking if I wanted to meet up for dinner before our scheduled tweet-up, so I headed out to meet Megan, who so graciously picked me up.

After a quick dinner we headed to Stats to meet with some other math/science peeps. What a fun evening! It was so cool to talk with people that I'd only seen on Twitter, including Eli Luberoff, Rafranz Davis, and Riley Larke. I also made some new friends that I'll be happy to continue to get to know on the interwebs!

After a short night (<6 hours of sleep!) I headed back into the city early. Unfortunately, my phone charger decided that it was tired of working so hard and decided to take a vacation, so I got to go on a nice little tour this morning of stores actually open at 8 am on a Sunday morning that might carry phone chargers. Thank you, Target!

I've tried to get into one session but was closed out, chatted with Robin Matthews (whom I met last night) and ran into Ann Gregson, whom I haven't seen in years. I don't know about the tech aspect of this conference, but the social part sure has been fun!

I'm hoping to actually make it into a session today, but if these crowds hold up I'm definitely not going to be able to even come close to sticking to my schedule!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

#ISTE2014 - Coming Soon!

Isn't it amazing how quickly summers go?!

My days have been a mixture of softball, baseball, trips to the pool, and boating on the Ohio River for the past several weeks.  School hasn't been much in my mind, honestly.  But that all will change in a few days!

On Friday I'm heading down to Atlanta, Georgia, for the #ISTE2014 conference. I'm pretty excited - I've heard that it's a great place to be (and I'm also getting the chance to not be "Mom!" for 6 days). I downloaded the conference app on my phone and iPad and a couple of weeks ago started going through the sessions to get an idea of what I wanted to see. Tonight I thought I should start to get my "Must Pack" list together along with a more concrete idea of how my days could go.

My problem?  There's TOO MUCH I want to do!  I started making a list in a spiral notebook but it was getting out of hand so I turned it into a gdoc. Hopefully this will be a nice way to keep my notes (and links and whatever) all in the same place.

If you'd like to follow along, here's my "schedule". I know it's not going to happen but I'd rather be over-prepared than under!

And you know it's not going to be all business! I'm meeting up with some friends on Saturday night (can't wait to see @mgolding again!) and heading to the Braves game on Monday night... wearing my favorite Reds shirt, of course!

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Year Later.

Last year at this time I was really excited (and nervous) about starting a new job at a new school. So how did it go? (Because I didn't do well at blogging during the year.)

It was ok. Not great, not horrible.


  • I met a lot of nice people. I made some new friends, especially the ladies I worked with closely every day.
  • I had a lot of time and freedom to do what I wanted - I explored, I researched, I looked for ideas for people.
  • I had a lot of time to just help out. Need someone to attend a meeting? I'm there. Need someone to check out a tool and write directions?  Got it.
  • The lack of grading/planning at nights and on the weekends was amazing.
  • At the end of the year I was surprised at how many kids I recognized and knew, even from just checking in/out books and computers.
  • I realized that I can do more than teach math - that was definitely something I was worried about. Over-confidence is not one of my problems.


  • I missed my old colleagues and friends. There's such a feel of community at that school that I didn't get at the new one... and it's totally possible that it's because I'm new. I often attended happy hours with my old peeps, which was a mixed bag. It was great to see everyone and catch up but it mad me sad to hear all of the fun stuff they were doing.
  • It was harder than I imagined to get people interested in making change and using technology. I realize that people "don't have time"  but that excuse can't last forever.
  • I missed "my" kids. Even though they change every year. 
  • I missed teaching! I offered to take a class if there was a "leftover" but it didn't work out. That made me sad.
So what's up for the future? I don't know. I'm definitely staying put for the next year - I refuse to flit from one job to another after one year because things aren't perfect. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Testing Wolfram Demonstrations...

I'm working through some of the "Technology in the Secondary Math Classroom" resources that I put together for a workshop session I did a few years ago. The plan is to present it again this summer, and we all know that there's no need to re-invent the wheel. So I'm tinkering.

I haven't messed with Wolfram Demonstrations (if you haven't played with them, please do! They were a lifesaver for me when trying to show kids what a vector projection really did)  for a while and was happy to see that they now offer the ability to embed an interactive demonstration. Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to work in Schoology, so I'm going to give it a shot here; I don't know if it's user error, Schoology error, or Wolfram error.

It worked! But I only realized that after it posted. Happy to see it, but I wish I could figure out how to get it to go in Schoology.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Embedded Formative Assessment

We had some wifi issues at school this morning (no fault of our own, actually!) and I decided it was a good time to break open Embedded Formative Assessment, by Dylan William. I've heard a lot of good things about the book on twitter and got a copy of it a few weeks ago.

I'm a big reader, but I don't pay a whole lot of attention. With a book like this I wanted to make sure the time spent reading it was valuable. So what I decided to do was take notes as I read. Then maybe other people will get something out of it too!

Let me know what you think! I'm excited to get to the applications/ideas part of the book.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

We're back!

After an extra-long winter break (16 days scheduled plus 2 "cold" days when the temps were below zero), today is my first day back at school. I arrived to find everything in my office upside down and big paper flowers with my face as the center taped to my window. You gotta love co-workers (who have to be here on snow days)!

I plan to be much more intentional about taking time to find resources for my students. I feel like I started out doing that this fall and then fell off the wagon. So today I opened up my tweetdeck and am checking out the #sschat column to see what interests me.

1.  What You Get When 30 People Draw a World Map from Memory  (Mine would be horrible... how about yours?)

2. Student Projects on WWII - Choose Your Own Adventure

3. American Memory Timeline from the Library of Congress (A collection of primary sources)

4. An interactive map that illustrates the Jamaican slave revolt in the 1760s

5. 21 Top Websites for Social Studies Teachers

6. Wealth Inequality in America (YouTube video)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Good stuff.

I'm happy to report that I'm much more comfortable speaking in front of the staff now; it's something that I've had to do at pretty much every faculty meeting and I've moved beyond the "scared out of my mind" phase into the "I might look like an idiot but I don't care" phase.

I think it's twofold:
1. I'm much more comfortable with what I'm talking about. I've moved beyond the "math teacher" role and am now thinking tech.
2. I'm much more comfortable with the people that I'm speaking to. They're my friends now.

Yesterday I showed the staff a program that the district bought that creates a virtual desktop for students (or staff) to log into. It's nice for those kids who have iPads or other tablets that can't access all of the programs that teachers want them to.  It went fine; I didn't know that anyone would be interested but wanted to make sure they'd seen it.

The cool thing is that today I heard back from two teachers about it; one was super pumped because it was desperately needed in her English classes and she's been showing the kids all day, and another was just asking for more information about it.  I'm just happy that people were listening and I gave them useful information!

I also talked yesterday with a teacher whose classes I taught last week for a couple of days. She told me that they all enjoyed having me there (heck, we had candy... they better've liked it!) and she was just happy not to have lost a couple of class days because she had to be out.

I've been working the past few days getting ready for some classes tomorrow that I'm going to work with on the reliability of websites; I'm going to give them each a website with questionable (!) information, have them answer a question (so they actually have to read the website), then talk about what they can do to check reliability. I found a nice table from ReadWriteThink that we'll use to discuss what makes a website dependable.   Then I am going to talk about some of the databases that we have available at school for the kids to do research on - they're through INFOhio.

Anyway, should be a fun day.  I like getting out into classes but it's also nice to have the time during the day to get stuff together for those classes (and my kids and hubby like that aspect of my job, too!).