Tuesday, June 28, 2011

First ISTE- Part 1

My first ISTE experience has been amazing. It is unbelievable to be surrounded by so many educators who are excited and dedicated to teaching students and using technology. I definitely felt overwhelmed when I first arrived. Special thanks to some ISTE veterans and colleagues @kathymaske, @judymilleville, and @mkratzer for helping me get acquainted. I was also very excited to get the chance to meet some of the people that I follow on twitter like @kylepace, @bethstill, and @shellterrell.

ISTE has inspired me to:

Unlock the potential in myself:

Following the #iste11 stream was overwhelming. It is wonderful to be connected to so many people who are sharing the information that they are receiving. I quickly got into the habit of favorite-ing the tweets with links that I wanted to go back and check. I know I still missed a lot of great resources but the great thing is that #ISTE11 is filled with so many resources that even though I missed a lot, I still game back with so much valuable information. I gained so many great resources and ideas that I can't wait to start putting them to go use.

Unlocking the potential in my staff:

Twitter is by far the most valuable professional development tool that I have used. Every time I go to a conference that involves back channeling, I am reminded how much I am learning from the other people around me. I wish more Lutheran educators and educators in my school would understand the vast number of resources available through Twitter and other social networking such as Diigo. I want to continue to show other teachers how they can learn and save time collecting resources, like using the wonderful lesson plans and ideas from Tammy Worcester @tammyworcester available on her website www.tammyworcester.com or the 60 web tools from Brandon Lutz @blutz01 available on his website at 60in60.wikispaces.com/ISTE2011.

Unlocking the potential in my students:

I have also been inspired to help my students reach their potential. Dr. Covey's keynote about the 7 habits of highly effective people helped me to see the kinds of things we should be teaching our students. I also can't wait to see my new preschoolers next year use some of the new apps that I learned about from Shell Terrell (website). Watching them develop their language skills and collaboration through apps such as Puppet Pals where they can create and record their own puppet play.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Digital Divide

I have always know that a digital divide exists among our school staff. We have teachers who are ready to use whatever technology is put in front of them and teachers who need lots of help or are unwilling to implement technology. It was not until this past week when we were at a national conference as a staff that the digital divide really stood out.

Those of us on one side of the digital divide went into the event with a presentation on Online Student Collaboration and plans to organize a Tweetup. We were really devastated by the lack of wifi available, however; we did not let the lack of wifi affect back channeling. We still used our cell phones to follow Twitter as closely as possible. We were excited about the opportunity to meet other people that we follow on Twitter. We were even more excited when we got someone new to try Twitter.

This is probably where the divide really became noticeable to me. We were excited to share with other people but we weren't sharing with our other colleagues. We were connected to other people while they were connected to each other. They shared their breakout sectional experiences with each other between sessions, at dinner, and in the evenings. Whereas, we shared our experiences as they were going on. We were continuously connected with each other even though we weren't in the same sessions.

Now leaving the conference we are back to our normal routines but have we increased our digital divide by isolating the others on the other side or have we spurred their interest to cross the bridge.

How has your use of technology changed what you get out of a conference or other professional development?

*Picture: Dunloe Gap Valley Mountain Valley. amanderson2. 7 Feb 2009. CreativeCommons License

Sunday, March 27, 2011

LEA reflections

This week I got the chance to go with my colleagues to the LEA: Lutheran Education Association Convocation. It was a gathering of around 2,600 educators from all over the US and the world.

I was very excited about the conference because I going to present along with my colleagues (@kevcreutz, @gilmorekendra, and @karacornejo) on Online Student Collaboration. Feel free to check out our wiki of resources leastudentcollaboration.wikispaces.org

The conference in a whole was a very uplifting experience. Getting the chance to be with so many other educators that are in the same situations as myself was reassuring.

Conferences are a chance to grow as an educator. They give you the chance to learn new things and get new resources. I went to lots of great sectionals some helped me gain new resources for my classroom and some helped me personally.

Break out sessions
One that really stuck with me was called The Phoenix Effect presented by Dr. John Oberdeck of Concordia University Wisconsin. The Phoenix like in Harry Potter is a bird that bursts into flame and then rise again and is reborn from the ashes. Many teachers especially Lutheran teachers have a desire to please and do well. This means that these teachers have an inability to say, "no" and are perfectionists. When this happens teachers can experience a burn out or a point which they can't take any more.

We have to be able to recognize the signs that this is happening in ourselves and in others. Burn our can make both our bodies and mind sick. Unrelieved stress is not good on our bodies. When you feel stress you have to ask yourself, "How am I feeling?" "What am I telling myself?" "What is happening in my body?" We have to watch out for others and let them know when we think they are taking on too much.

Face to Face Interactions
My favorite part of the convocation was the face to face interactions that I was able to have with a few of the people that follow on twitter. Getting the chance to meet @dawblack and @coachburk at our tweetup/meetup was a great opportunity to make new connections. Those face to face interactions extended into the sectionals that I attended as I met teachers who wanted to learn more about what I do in my classroom. Through the conference we were also able to get some other teachers to use twitter. Using the #LEA2011 hashtag I was able to find new Lutheran teachers to follow to build my PLN.


The most difficult part of the conference was that wifi was not available in most areas of the convention center due to the cost to the organization. I was able to use the 3G on my ipad to use Twitter but without wife my Tweetdeck columns did not refresh as well as normal. I wasn't able to check on others tweets as easily as I have been able to do at other conferences. It also limited many of my colleagues who did not have access to devices other than their cell phones to get online. When leading our sectional, Online Student Collaboration we weren't able to get our participants online to experience the tools themselves.

Thank you to @gilmorekendra, @karacornejo, @kevcreutz, @bmarolf15, and @NateDomsch for the fun and fellowship on the bus and Thursday and Friday night.

*LEA logo from the LEA website www.lea.org

Creative Learners

This week at school we got some new playhouses for the kids to play in. The playhouses were very popular but the kids quickly found an other way to use the materials.

The students enjoyed the scraps of Tyvek. They started carrying them around the playground and finding different ways to lay them on the blacktop.

Two of the boys started stacking the planks on top of each other. As they stacked I could her lots of problem solving in their conversations such as, "No that one needs to go on the bottom it is bigger." They were working together: "Get that one and put it on top."

The next day the some new students found the scraps of wood just as intriguing as the built a pirate ship.

They found new ways to use the boards, discovering that they could lay them on their sides to make walls. They also used the turned over basketball hoops as place to ride their pirate ship.

As they play we did realized that a few ground rules needed to be developed like:
1. The long plank is a 2 person piece, for safety it needs to be carried by 2 people
2. because none of our pieces are the same length, we can't stand them on end and build a bridge

The only problem is we only have 5 scraps of wood. It looks like I need to expand their learning by giving them some more resources.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

METC 2011 Reflections

METC was once again a great experience. Spending Tuesday and Wednesday surround by people who are excited about using technology as a tool to inspire, challenge, and motivate students to do their best, was a very rewarding experience. I was so energized to go back to my classroom, but going back was a big change too. Other teachers kept asking me, “so how was the conference.” I had a hard time answering, how was I supposed to explain to them all the learning that took place in the keynotes, sectionals, lunch, dinner, in between sectionals, and at the tweetup.

METC is about so much more than just going and listening to the presenters. It is a chance to connect with people who share the same passion as you do about teaching. The best answer I could give was, “It was great.” What more could I say, “It was great.” Now that I have had a few days to process, I find myself missing the connection and the time I was able to spend on Twitter soaking in so much information.

The first keynote, Rushton Hurley (@rushtonh), set things off on the right note. He said something that really stuck with me, “you may not have time to get through the curriculum because of the way you are teaching it. Even after only teaching for 5 years I have found that it is easy to keep doing what I have done in the past. Hurley reminded me that I need to make sure that what I do in the classroom is the best for the students. Is there another way I can teach my students this concept that will be more concrete for them or that will motivate them and make them excited about learning.

Kevin Honeycutt (@kevinhoneycutt) also inspired me. His excitement and passion for helping kids launch makes me want to find a ways to see the students in my classroom launch. We have a responsibility to develop a relationship with our students. We need to stay connected to the world out students are growing up in so that we know the lessons that they need to learn.

METC is about more than just inspiration it is also a chance to get new resources and new ideas for the classroom. I learned about great ways to give students their own voice with student blogs. Thank you @jhox1. I learned some fun ways to teach elementary students how to use processing tools. Thank you @tammyworcester. I still haven’t had the chance to search through all the resources provided by Hurley at https://sites.google.com/site/rushtonsmetc2011sessions/or by Honeycutt at http://kevinhoneycutt.org/

I also have to congratulate my colleague @kevcreutz for doing a two great presentations. Click on the links to check out his presentations (Twitter for Teachers and HOTTS: Higher Order Thinking Skills)

“We can do so many things without technology, and so many more with it.”—Rushton Hurley

Saturday, January 29, 2011

They teach themselves

I love Fridays! And not because it is the last day for the week but because my Friday class is smaller and they seem to play together better. All of these kids are in class together on other days, but for some reason the mix on Friday is just right. Several times the students have had the idea to move the chairs over into this section by the cubby room door, but on Friday most of them joined together.
When I asked what they were doing, several informed me that they were at the movies, so I helped them out by hanging our curtains that we use at nap time to block the light from the outside doors, over the shelves and cots to give them their screen.
I asked what movie they were watching and got several responses. Some named off their favorite Disney movie, but one of them also said Alice in Wonderland. Then 3 students decided they would act out the story for everyone. If you couldn't tell the girl in the yellow is hopping around like the white rabbit. The Mad Hatter is helping talking to Alice.
Then I said, "You know when I go to the movies I like to have a snack and soda." Quickly one of the girls jumped up and decided that she would take care of that. She went over to dramatic play and found a costume that would fit a typical movie theater soda jerk. She filled her basket with the supplies she would need to feed the hungry theater.

I was so proud and excited. I had lots of plans for the day. We are getting ready to have a class election next week so we were working on painting American flags to decorate our classroom, we also did some painting explorations that we used to make Valentine artwork, and we read the book Grace for President about a class election. My plans for the day were not as valuable as the learning experience that my students developed on their own. They worked together, they figured out how to make their ideas known to those around them, and they had fun.

This is why I love preschool!

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Monday, January 24, 2011

From PC to Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

It has been a while since I have posted. I guess I haven't had anything worthwhile to write about. This post has been influenced by my wonderful sister.
I have been using a Mac computer now for 5 years. I first started using an eMac when I started teaching. Now I am lost without my (my school's) MacBook.

My little sister has made fun of me for a few years about my computer and obsession with Mac computers. After a lot of frustration with a new Dell laptop, she got her money back and purchased a MacBook Air. She asked me for some tips and things she needs to know in switching from PC to Mac.

Picture: "Macbook Air (wood background)" Renato Mitra. 4 Feb 2009. Creative Commons License

Keyboard Shortcuts

command+tab (switch between all open applications)
control+click (right click)
command+Q (quit open program)
command+C (copy)
command+X (cut)
command+V (paste)
command+P (print)
command+control+shift+4 (screen capture)
command+control+shift+4, spacebar (window capture)

I also have "Spaces" set up so that I can use command+arrows to move through the spaces

If you have any suggestions for my sister as she adjusts to Mac please make a comment

More to come