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!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Planning a PD Day

Our half-day of PD on November 5th has turned into 2 hours. But hey, teaching is all about being flexible, right?

We're going with a more structured approach. Instead of having a lot of time to share resources, ideas, "Favorite Things", we're going to have 30 minutes as share time for all teachers to attend. It'll be interesting to see what sharing is actually going on! People always say that they want time to talk to each other but I don't know what all they'll do with it.

I've got people lined up to share if conversations aren't happening. Or I'm sure I could get up and talk for at least 30 minutes. :)

After that, people will have a choice of either a 90 minute session or 2 45-minuters.

For the math/science crowd, I'll be leading a 90 minute session on flipping... which means I need to get my act together!  It was an interest of mine that I never actually followed through with, but I have a lot of resources tagged that I can go back to. I'd also like to skype someone in who actually flips their class... if you flip and are available around 12:30 on the 5th, let me know! We have a science teacher in the building who flips his chemistry class, so I'll definitely be calling on him to talk about what he does.

Some of the shorter sessions deal with diigo, organization of google drive, PLNs (I'll be leading a few of those, too! Again, if you're interested in Skyping, give me a shout!), and I forget what else. 

I'm not stressed out about it. Yet.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Diigo Tags (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Are you connected?

(I just found this in my drafts... not sure why I never posted it!)

Next month (October) is Connected Educators month. If you haven't checked out the website, head on over there! Our plan (the other 2 ladies in my position at the other secondary schools in the district and our fearless leader) is threefold:
1. Find and suggest webinars a for people to participate in. 
2. Find and suggest a book study for people to participate in. (Run by CE)
3. Run a 30-day Twitter challenge

The district really wants to get teachers onboard and connecting, so we're putting together a list of 30 tasks that we'll send out via twitter to get people using Twitter. We're going to start by requiring them to have signed up for twitter and downloaded Tweetdeck. Then we're starting basic... Tweet out something using our predetermined hashtag. Add that column to your Tweetdeck. Find people to follow. Etc. We're going to tweet them questions to respond to, links to follow, videos to watch. Hopefully this will work out well and more people will feel comfortable using twitter! Because I'm sure you all know I'm a big fan. 

Aside #1:
Our Homecoming is this weekend, which makes this Spirit Week. I missed my all-time favorite (Pajama Day) because I had to take a little girl to get tubes in her ears, but because of the opportunity to dress down for the week, I'm all in. Today is class color day, and it is apparently a huuuuuge thing for the kids. I have yet to see someone not dressed in the appropriate color. Apparently there have been issues in the past because some kids got over-zealous with preserving their color, so warnings were issued yesterday. 

Aside #2:
A math teacher at my school sent out a school-wide email a few days ago asking if anyone had Barbies they could lend her. She's doing Barbie Bungee with a stats class (to look at scatter plots, I think). Brought back good memories of last year! :) (And the year before...) I  told her I was going to come down and watch but I ended up having to cover for a teacher whose sub didn't make it on time to school. Tomorrow is the big drop (over a 2-story ledge) so I'll definitely try and make it. I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that I brought her 15 Barbies... I promise most of them were hand-me-downs and not bought by me! (For my daughter, of course.)

Planning for PD

We have an inservice day on November 5th in which I'll have about half the day to work with the math teachers (it's so weird not to include myself in that list... and to be the planner!).

My general thoughts are to give people exposure to websites and tools that could help them. I don't want to get too content-specific because we'll have everyone from 7th grade to AP Calc and I'd hate to leave anyone out.

My initial plan
Wolfram Alpha

Flipping a classroom
(These are two topics that produced a lot of interest from a survey we did.)  I'd love to be able to Skype someone in to talk about how they flip.  We'll see about that.

I put together a quick survey and sent it out to the teachers to see what tools, resources, tweeters, and blogs they like so that we can get a collection of ideas attached to people who use them. That will be good, right?

One of the activities that we did at Twitter Math Camp was a session called "My Favorites". It ranged from questioning to marshmallow guns to classroom management. As a last question on my survey to the teachers, I asked if they would be willing to do a "My Favorite".  It would be a short little 2 - 3 minute, informal talk about something that works for them in class.  Over half of the people who have responded so far have said no.


I guess I'm so used to the twitter community, who shares everything, that I forget that it doesn't always work that way.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My Diigo Tags (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

My Diigo Tags (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Diigo Tags (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The #MTBoS

Several years ago I joined twitter and didn't like it. I didn't get it. I left it.

For whatever reason, I came back and gave it another try. I found someone who suggested that I follow at least 100 people just to get a taste of what twitter is all about. 

I now follow 936 people (which is too many... I need to cut down) and have around 1500 followers. Twitter has become my own personalized professional development, and I know I wouldn't be in my current position without it. 

But lately there's been a new movement among some of the math teachers on twitter, and I think it's starting to get a bad rep. Starting with #TMC12, there's been some organization in the ranks. There have been a couple of efforts to get more people involved (which is awesome), a second TMC, a weekly Global Math meeting, and a multitude of different weekly mathchats. The acronym MTBoS (math twitter blogosphere) was adopted to represent this community. 

I'm sure it can be overwhelming for the math teacher new to twitter... But I'd guess much less overwhelming than encountering all of twitter without any guidance. 

These people have become my friends, and while I have distanced myself a touch because I'm not teaching math right now, I still follow and read their blogs. 

What got me thinking tonight was a post that @mgolding wrote about the website Teachers Pay Teachers (like Megan, I'm not going to link to it). I'm not a fan of the concept, but a couple of things stood out for me:

1. I love Megan. She's awesome. I don't like how she wrote a post about the #MTBoS disapproving of TpT. Honestly, it bothered me that she felt she could speak on behalf of all math teachers who consider themselves part of the MTBoS. I know there are teachers that tweet, blog, and for whatever reason sell materials on TpT. Will I buy it? No way. But that's their prerogative (cue Bobby Brown). 

2. One of the commenters on Megan's post didn't feel like she was part of the crowd. If you're a math teacher and you blog and/or tweet, you're in. There are no membership rules, no dues. You have to consider that a lot of these people have been working together (in real life or virtually) for years. But if you step up and join the conversation, find a math chat to participate in, make a comment on someone's blog, it's going to be that much easier to start forming relationships with people. So don't complain that you're not "part of the group".  This isn't high school.

9/24: Megan got a lot of feedback on her post. She's since added in some of the comments people made (both pro and con) and changed the focus from the #MTBoS to her. I applaud her public transparency. If you don't read her blog, please do so. She rocks.

Also, I first typed this on my iPad using the blogger app. Not a big fan. I'm editing now on my laptop.

My Diigo Tags (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

My Diigo Tags (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.