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!).

Monday, November 18, 2013

My new project

What I really enjoy about my new job is the ability to take time to help people out and do all kinds of stuff. A lot of time it's getting kids on the network with their devices (bleh) or helping teachers out with little technical stuff, but yesterday a colleague approached me with my first big project planning idea.

She's a biology teacher and would like to have the kids research a scientist (she wants them to realize that these people were "real" people) and create a class timeline for them to put all of their scientists on.

My goal: Find a way for them to collaborate on an online timeline.

Here are the choices I've found so far:
1. - It's a really basic, boring option. Not a fan.
2. - This one looks pretty good and is pretty easy to set up. This may be my winner. Collaboration is iffy.
3. - I posted a query to google+ and someone suggested this. It's a really easy to use website but doesn't put dates or descriptions; it's pretty media based. Still in the running.
4. - I've played with this a little but need to come back to it
5. - Again, a suggestion from Google+. I don't think this fits the project, but it's a super cool website. It's a huge timeline that covers from the beginning of the universe until today; it's prepopulated with descriptions and videos and you get to zoom around until you find the time you want. Very neat. I forwarded this to some of the science and social studies teachers here in the building.

This last one is my winner for now, especially considering that the teacher would like to have students collaborate on the timeline.  It was sent to me by someone on Google+, and it uses information from a google spreadsheet to create the timeline... talk about a great way to have students collaborate!  I want to play with it some more, but it's one that I'll definitely forward on as an option. It's called Timeline JS.

If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to send them on!

Adult-onset ADD

I don't remember having problems as a kid paying attention in class. Of course, my memory stinks for a lot of things (but the weird random stuff stays with me) and I always had a book with me to read when I was bored so I doubt I ever just did sit and listen, but...

I think I've developed ADD over the past few years. I can no longer sit and listen, as evidenced by the last two school days that I spent at workshops or any time I sit in the car while not driving. I feel like I always have to be reading something or googling something or just checking the weather (or twitter).

It definitely shows up this year with my new job. I have a lot of time during the day to work on a variety of projects; right now I have 5 things on my to-do list. Here they are (in no particular order):
1. Create a Schoology course for flipped learning
2. Find timelines for a teacher to use with her students in class
3. Explore INFOhio 
4. Find a 3x3 systems activity for next week for a math teacher
5. Start contacting teachers about their results from a survey they took after our PD day

You'd think that I would tackle one, get it done, and move on. And yet I think I've hit all of those today (with the exception of #3 because it intimidates me a bit) plus some. 

I've started the Schoology course, played with timelines (here are the ones I've tagged), emailed the math teacher about the systems stuff, and emailed two sets of teachers about their survey results. But I've also helped a girl access our VDI on her tablet, found some resources for a teacher who is trying to decide what type of device to buy for her kids for Christmas, and done some extra digging to help myself prepare to work with some of the afore-mentioned teachers on their survey queries (using google docs comments on student writing). I also found some materials for a possible Schoology course on Digital Citizenship and added a blog to my feedly reader which I've been neglecting for several weeks now. 

And yet when my husband asks me what I did each day I can't think of anything to tell him. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

It's here!

Tomorrow's the big day!

I think I'm ready. But I don't suppose that I have a choice right now anyway.

Because I can't just talk off the top of my head (in front of non-teenagers, anyway), I put together a couple of google presentations as a guide.

It's times like this when I tell myself it'll all be over in less than 24 hours.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Last week's plan is pretty much shot.  But isn't that how things usually work?

My new task for (gulp) Tuesday:
1. Lead a 45-minute presentation on flipping a classroom. I think I have this one under control. It's only for math/science/business teachers and I'm pretty comfortable with those subjects. I do want to make sure that I have some blogs of people who are flipping those classes (need to find science and business). There's a science teacher at my school who flips, so I definitely want to make sure I at least talk with him beforehand, if not convince him to come and help me. :)

2.  Lead a 45-minute presentation on Digital Notetaking. This one I'm not so sure about. It's not that I'm not interested in this, but I don't get why people wouldn't use Google Drive.  My plan is to check out some alternatives (especially Evernote) and see how they might be good, too. This will be for all subjects other than the afore-mentioned.

I've been playing a lot lately with how to edit word documents on a Chromebook. We have a VDI (Virtual Desktop) that would be nice to be able to use but isn't always the quickest-reacting software. And then there's the question of (if you're using the VDI), how to save the document to your computer so that you can then upload it as an assignment on our LMS (Schoology). I really really like the idea of using Skydrive, but it would involve students setting up yet another account. So we'll see about that.

I just discovered a presentation from Shelly Terrell that seems to have a lot of good links in... I'm going to share a few, but please go look at Shelly's slides! It's titled "Survival Tips for Teaching with Technology".

Here are the links I pulled out:
1.  ILearnTechnology - an Edublog about Integrating Technology into the Classroom  
2.  EdShelf - reviews and recommendations of tools for education
3.  LearnItIn5 - how-to videos for the technology classroom
4.  Ideas to Inspire - Inspiring ideas for your lessons, contributed by teachers around the world
5. The EdTech Hub - free lesson resources and tools for teaching with technology.
This site had a checklist for teaching with technology that I wanted to make sure to keep.

A couple of asides:
1.  I created a new page on this blog where my diigo links will show up (if you're interested). I liked how they automatically posted once a week, but I've been tagging so much lately that I thought the blog just looked ugly. And appearance matters. :)  So check out that tab up top!
2.  I've heard from two people in the last 18 hours that my not teaching math at my old school has really left a hole in that department. Not that I'm saying this is true (because there are some great teachers there!) but it makes me sad.  I still miss the every day interaction with "my" kids, but I really don't miss the grading or the drudgery that came along with it. I still wonder if this gig will be a long-term thing or if I'll end up back in a classroom one day. Guess that remains to be seen!