Day 8: A Love/Hate Relationship with Books

Today’s challenge is to write about a book I love, and I book I did not like.  I have been on a journey I call the EdD Chronices for the past two years.  That means that my time to leisurely read is greatly diminished.  Even what I read scholarly is typically limited to a 250-word synopsis.  The limitation on my social reading is one of the reasons why I love my favorite book.  Rather I’m reading chapters, or just simply a verse or two, I can summarize it into three simple words: God loves me.  My favorite book is the Bible, and each time I read it, I learn something new.  It has great mysteries, more scandal than any ABC drama, and is full of inspiration.  And, it’s a book you don’t have to start from the beginning.  What other book can you start in the middle, or at the end, and still get the theme and plot?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sula by Toni Morrison is probably one of the worst books I’ve ever read.  It had too much figurative language, and too much imagery that it made the text difficult to navigate.  Reading it was more of a burden than a blessing.  Perhaps I’ll try reading it again someday, but for now, it remains of my “do not touch” list.

Whatever books you love or hate, keep reading.  The doors it will open for you in life are endless.

Final Day of ICE 2015

When I tell you that this year’s conference has been tremendous…WHEW!  I’ve gotten so many nuggets of wisdom that I can’t wait to try in my classroom and beyond.

My battery drained before I could post about the workshop I attended yesterday afternoon.  While the presenter taught high school, there were a lot of things in her presentation that could be adapted to younger grades.  The best find from that session was a site called Video  This site allows you to watch videos and take notes at the same time.  I’m not sure of its value to high school students, but graduate and doctoral students will find it to be a lifesaver!  I used it last night to do MY homework!

My first session today is: Five Fantastic Features of Formative Assessment and Supporting Tech Tools.  This session started with a pre-assessment that then took my responses and created a note-taking sheet using Google documents.  That document was automatically e-mailed to me using autoCrat, a Google add-on.  Goobric is another add-on that can be used with Doctopus to create rubrics and provide feedback. Doctopus is a virtual copy machine that copies and sends a document that you can send out, have students complete, and then you can store the document to your Google Drive.

Teaching as Art: Sparking Curiosity and Facilitating the Hero’s Journey

This is the 3rd session I’ve sat in today at the 2015 Illinois Computing Educators Conference.  Ramsey Musallam is the presenter.

Educator vs. Entertainer…which one are we, or is there a choice?  As educators, we often put information before application. We need to flip those two, and draw a two-way arrow between them.  It’s a constant exchange of application and information. In movies with great teachers (Good Will Hunting, The Karate Kid), the teacher does not appear until 25 minutes into the movie or greater.  We do not need to come first for learning to take place.  Think of ways to get students to develop questions before lecture/teaching takes place.  Issuing challenges is one method of doing this.  And…you do not have to provide the answer!  It’s ok to leave things open-ended.  That adds curiosity.

Cognitive load theory of multimedia learning focuses on motivation and cognitive focus.  It helps teachers to find ways to organize task to maximize learning.  It explores ways to balance curiosity and information.  Withholding just the right amount of information can peak curiosity and increase learning.

Use Google Docs to allow students to anonymously evaluate your class.

Global Collaboration: 2nd Workshop of Day 2

Before I begin, I want to share that ICE has created Google Docs that are being updated all day with notes from the presenters as well as attendees from the many sessions each day.  Be sure to check them out!

Global Collaboration deals with our favorite C-word: collaboration.  We’re always trying to find ways to work together, be it teacher-to-teacher, student-to-student, or a combination of ways.  The purposes for collaboration are varied, as our its outcomes.  Begin the process by reflecting on what your desired outcome is.  Discuss what it means to collaborate, and foster opportunities for students to collaborate within the classroom before going global.  This includes establishing student-created classroom norms.  Use of circling, an aspect of restorative justice, can be useful in collaborative reflecting as it relates to student behavior after a collaborative moment.

We don’t necessarily need more technology in our classrooms.  Let’s explore ways to use what me do have more efficiently and effectively.  Don’t always feel like you as the teacher have to be the expert.  It is perfectly o.k. to let the students use technology they are most comfortable with and knowledgeable of.

Tackk allows students to collaborate in the creation of a single-page website.

Animoto for educators is another collaborative animation tool.

Kidblog is great for student collaboration on a classroom blog.

Looking for ways to get started?  Check out Projects by Jen, The Global Read Aloud, The Traveling Rhinos, The Digital Human Library, Skype in the Classroom, a hashtag collaboration on Twitter.

What can collaboration be used for?

  • An open-ended question
  • Discussion around a common topic
  • A challenge
  • A presentation
  • A contest
  • A community
  • Create your own way

Build your own network of administrators and teachers.  There’s tons of existing groups on social media.  Share ideas/opportunities for collaboration.  Be vulnerable yourself.  Try the activities you want your students to try, and share your successes and failures.

Copy & Paste is Dead: My Notes from Day 2 of the 2015 ICE Conference

Today, I am in a workshop about student creation for assessment.  These assessments are flexible and can be used as formative or summative assessments.

Common Craft Videos: 2-3 minute videos that explain a topic or tell a story.  The images are designed and created by students.  Here’s some parameters for setting these up in your classroom.

Other options for video project creation are described in the presentation.

Tired of PowerPoint and having presentations “read” to you instead of presented?  Try Ignite!

Some things to consider in advance:

  • Setting up your classroom for effective video recording/presentation.
  • Having access to supplies – magazines, paper, crayons, markers, etc.
  • This does not have to be expensive.  Use what you have on hand to create these videos.
  • Use technology for the feedback, too.  Google Docs can be a powerful and useful tool for this.

Flexibility is key, but with parameters.  Be sure to plan for and allow student choice.

Teachers Are People, Too.


When this story came across my news feed, I read it, and skimmed through the thousands of comments. In the end, I arrived at a question: when did the profession of teaching fall from grace?

Teaching, once a revered and respected profession,  has seemingly become one of increased scrutiny, speculation,  and disrespect.  Every move teachers make seems to place them under the proverbial microscope.  Why?

Today’s post does not attempt to answer that question. I instead invite commentary to be used for later analysis and discussion.  Instead, I write today to simply offer this late breaking news: teachers are humans, too.

Teachers may seem like super heros. Afterall, they balance books, manage to squeeze 30-plus desks, students,  and supplies into a closet-like space, all while memorizing hundreds of names and faces. They have 360-degree vision, supersonic hearing, and heightened senses even Spiderman is jealous of. They have photographic memory,  are geniuses,  and though their profession lists “teacher,” they are also doctors, counselors, producers, actors, coaches, therapists, hair stylists, seamstresses,  chefs, chauffeurs,  and a miriad of other positions.

Yes…teachers seem perfect,  and we often don’t realize they’re not until their mortality shows, then all hell breaks loose. It’s similar to Superman, Batman, or Spiderman who all experienced a momentary fall from grace where the ones who once hailed them, failed them. The one moment the teacher’s memory fails, or her strength lessens and she drops the ball, or his patience wanes and he loses his temper. It’s then that the stakes and daggers come out.

I realize that just like there are super heros,  there are also villians in the profession of teaching.  This post is not about them. I challenge you to support your heros. Though they don a cape, and take on the roles of many, they’re really just people in disguise.  Cut them, and they’ll bleed. Hit them physically or verbally,  and they’ll hurt. They may seem like geniuses,  but they really don’t know it all. Their professional trainings were in the methods of teaching,  not medicine or magic, so chances are they will not be able to diagnose and fix all that ails or hinders your child.  Just like you have good and bad days, so will they. Think of what helps and supports you through those moments and share them. Afterall,  teachers are people, too.

Day 4 – Motivating Students with Engaging Tasks

Today is the last day of the conference.  My workshop today is Engaging Students with Engaging Tasks. Mike Muir is the presenter.

The great thing about today’s workshop is that technology is not a requirement.

Here’s the link to the resources we’re using today.  Scroll down to Motivating Students with Engaging Tasks.

P.S.  If you teach middle school, Mike is a member of  the Association for Middle Level Education.  Membership is FREE.  Consider joining.