STAAR FlipGrid For Parents

As a parent, I’m nervous for my children to take the STAAR test and pass (or other equivalent state test for those of “y’all” outside of Texas)! I cannot imagine how my children must feel! As parents, we want to be by their side and help them relax and focus. As teachers, the last thing we want is for a mob of parents to come into our class and attempt to accomplish this task. There has to be a way for parents to be able to do this without being too intrusive.

Flipgrid! That’s how! Teachers, email a topic to your parents asking them to wish their child luck on the test and give the students a couple of minutes in the morning to watch and listen to their parents give them words of wisdom. Parents, open this topic using the Flipgrid app for Android or iOS and tell your child the words they need to hear. How easy and convenient is that?

Teachers, here is the link to a pre-made topic in the Flipgrid Discovery section if you don’t want to start from scratch. Enjoy and good luck on the STAAR Test!

Make Yourself Uncomfortable

Untitled designIt’s no secret that as humans, we tend to stay in our comfort zone. We shop at the same stores, go to the same restaurants, have go-to outfits for certain occasions, and teach using the same tools year after year. We tend to fall into these “comfort traps” and find it very difficult to accept something out of our norm as “acceptable” if not better than what we’re used to. One thing to always keep in mind is the second we stop learning, we stop growing. If we want to continually grow and truly live a growth mindset, we need to make ourselves at home and make ourselves uncomfortable.

Untitled design (1)I’ve always preached Twitter as a means of learning for all educators from any and every grade level and content area. It really didn’t dawn on me as to how small of a percentage of teachers actually use Twitter as a PLN until I gave a quick professional development session at one of the schools I service. I asked for a quick show of hands of those teachers who were active Twitter users and out of about 45 teachers in the room, only about 3 rose their hand, two of which were the building administrators. It was then that I began this mission to help teachers realize that Twitter is not just “another thing to learn” however, a means to learn from those outside of their building as well as share the great things that are happening in their own four walls. In order to do this, I got with my colleague and friend Laura Moore to develop an online Twitter class for teachers in our district. We planned and mapped out a course that taught and modeled the use of Twitter for developing a PLN. We gathered resources, created video tutorials, and asked our colleagues to help publicize the class prior to us making it available. We delivered the class through Google Classroom and baby stepped the participants towards the end goal of the class which was to participate in a Twitter chat. We even developed and branded our own hashtag, #NEISDTweechers. In my personal and professional opinion, the class was a success! We had an overwhelming amount of participants (with many more on the wait list) and received nothing but great feedback on the course structure but more importantly, the Twitter chat. They loved the fact that they could use the platform as a way to engage in a conversation regarding a topic and add to it and consume the information within it as well.

Untitled design (2)What’s the moral to this story/blog post? We got people out of their comfort zone and introduced them to what I feel is the most powerful digital tool available to us educators. Many of them made mistakes during the Twitter chat as well as expressed how difficult it was at time to keep up with the tweets. Some of them even tweeted how new and different the platform was during the chat. But by the end of the chat, they all had such positive things to say about the experience. Many of which continue to add the the chat a week after it officially ended. Why? Because they made themselves uncomfortable and vulnerable just enough for their trusted colleagues to baby step them to using an unfamiliar tool. And now, they are comfortable with this new tool. So to wrap this up, if you want to grow and continue to learn, be prepared to be uncomfortable. Just know that this feeling will slowly go away as you familiarize yourself and make mistakes with it. This is how we learn. This is how we grow. Remember that first time you tasted a new food? You might have been uncomfortable at first but now, probably have it in your regular rotation. Thank you, #NEISDTweechers for being uncomfortable and now, making Twitter a part of your regular rotation!

#NEISDPLN Twitter Chat

On February 5th, 2018 from 7:30pm-8:30pm CT, I will be moderating the #NEISDPLN Twitter Chat. Take this opportunity to grow your PLN and contribute to the conversation. The topic for the evening is “Implementing Technology In The Classroom.” Stop in, say “hello”, and contribute. We’d love to hear what you have to say. Also, spread the word to fellow educators to make #NEISDPLN part of their PLN. See you Monday!

“Integrating” Technology

What’s up folks?! It’s officially 2018 and educational technology is booming at an alarming rate. In other words, there are options available to teachers, students, and parents that didn’t exist just 10 years ago. Apps, web tools, and devices that are now becoming faster, smaller, and less expensive. Students no longer need to view a screen from 30 feet away to see the content being presented to them (Thank you Nearpod and Google Cast for EDU). Students can reflect on a topic or question from the privacy of their own home with their own personal device (Thank you Recap and Flipgrid). Peer collaboration and feedback can be done from any internet-enabled device from anywhere in the world (Thank you GSuite and PeerGrade). Anyone can create a professional video to be seen by a global audience with a Smartphone and free web tools (Thank you WeVideo, YouTube, and SoundTrap). Professional development is now at our fingertips on demand with podcasts (Thank you House of EdTech, The EdTech Take Out, Cult Of Pedagogy, and all other educational podcasters). With all of these tools at our disposal, if someone was to walk into a random classroom in any school district in any state, student devices would probably be used to consume and not focus on the 4 C’s.

Why is this? Is the term “Integrating” too broad? Do schools and districts not teach what these look like in the classroom? Do school district network block many of these tools because of what they can “possibly” bring? What are the “possibilities” that these tools can bring to a classroom?¬†Authentic experiences. That’s what they can bring.

Sure, someone who wants to use these tools for the Dark Side will do so. That’s where classroom management comes into play but that’s another topic for another day.

Integrating technology means students are creating content for others to view, evaluate, and possibly augment. Integrating looks like students using classroom and personal devices to create videos to be used in student-created lessons for virtual presentations. Students are not in rows but in pods around the room. The teacher is not teaching whole group rather, facilitating and working with small groups to check progress. The class is a bit louder than a “stand and deliver” environment because students are engaging with each other, collaborating with others, and engaging in feedback. Students, for the most part, want to come to class because of the authentic experiences that occur and the ability to tap into their creative side they normally cannot do in the typical classroom setting. If this is what true integration looks like in a classroom, ask yourself this, what does YOUR classroom technology integration look like? If you’re not a teacher, what does your child’s classroom look like when you walk in? What do you want it to look like?

Teachers, if you’d like to truly integrate technology do something you haven’t done or are possibly scared of doing. Step out of the comfort zone and understand that you will be uncomfortable. That’s OK. There are many others feeling what you are feeling and more importantly, there are many people who can hold your hand along the way. Twitter is a PLN. Connect with teachers who can assist you with this virtually and in your building. Your district probably has coaches who are more than willing to help you and model integration for you. Start off by taking one day a week without handing out worksheets. #worksheetlesswednesday. This is an achievable task that can be done with minimal effort. After doing this for a couple of weeks, beef it up by aligning what you’re doing with one of the 4 C’s. Continue checking in on Twitter and collaborating with others in your building and possibly outside your building. Listen to podcasts (such as EdTech Bites) and build your knowledge during your commutes, walks, workouts, or while cooking (Thank you Amazon Echo and Google Home). These baby steps towards true technology integration will bring you closer to the classroom teacher you’ve always wanted to be. More importantly, will create authentic experiences for your students. After all #kidsdeserveit right?

 

New Year, New You!

Too many times, we tell ourselves, “Things are going to be different this year”. And that’s where it ends. Things can be different whenever you choose for them to be different. It doesn’t have to be on January 1st or your birthday. Better only comes when you make things better. Simple as that. Marinate in that for a bit and Happy 2018! It will be whatever you make it to be!

Flipgrid + Nearpod

Have you ever considered app smashing with Flipgrid. There are many different ways to do this but my go-to tool to do this with is Nearpod. To do this, make sure you have both a Nearpod and Flipgrid account. Once that is done, you’re one step closer. To see step-by-step instructions, check out my how-to video that walks you through the rest of the process. Enjoy!

 

Kahoot Name Generator

Let’s face it, it’s human nature to push the boundaries, students in particular. We’ve all had to kick someone out of a Kahoot because of a name that is questionable to use in class. Sometimes we are so worried about starting a Kahoot in time that we overlook the game settings. Well in these settings is a Name Generator. Click that bad boy on and now, students no longer have the ability to create their own display name because Kahoot will do it for them. That’s extra time on task and less time for those students to take forever getting into the game because they’re more worried about their display name more than anything else. Try it out for yourself. Buen Provecho!