How to Organize Your Own District Unconference or EDcamp

Every summer I work to organize and put together an unconference/ edcamp for my district. I know some districts build these into their professional learning days. This is great, and definitely a way to revamp old PD models. But there is something to be said about having one home grown, organic to your district’s needs, and … well… in the summer. Workshops can be tailored to YOUR liking, you can designate a theme that mimics a district or building goal or none at all, and it is a great way to highlight all of the great teaching that is going on in your district. The summer just makes it fun and informal (keys to some of the best professional learning). Yes- attending one isn’t out of the question either. But what if you could organize your own and make it exactly what you want it to be? Continue reading “How to Organize Your Own District Unconference or EDcamp”

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Fostering a DIY Mentality in the Classroom

I come from a family of DIYers. It’s a culture. It’s a mentality. An ingrained skill that has been passed down from my grandfather to my mother, and finally to me. And it’s fun, authentic, and a true learning opportunity. Rather than pay a “specialist’ to come in and do a job for you, DIYers do the research themselves. They seek what is of interest to them, watch videos on their own, and teach themselves to learn a new skill or trade. I’ve taught myself to do oil changes, to change the brake pads on my car, to lay flooring, to upkeep a pool, to use a new #edtech tool, to adopt a new teaching practice. The list goes on.

Continue reading “Fostering a DIY Mentality in the Classroom”

So You Want to Create Online Learning Modules For Your Teachers

So you’ve been working to redesign professional development (learning) for your teachers. The idea of choice and self-paced mastery has led you to the concept of self-directed modules and you think it would be a great addition to your professional development and/or technology integration plan. So you sit down at your computer, ready to put something together but don’t know where to start. Here are some ways to help you get started and design engaging, effective, and relevant online learning modules for your teachers.

Continue reading “So You Want to Create Online Learning Modules For Your Teachers”

From MY Time to OUR Time

During my foray into student engagement, I stumbled upon an app called Pear Deck. A few years later and Pear Deck has redefined itself, and what it offers is pure differentiation, that both blends the learning, and offers student’s voice. As much as we try to build and design around the “student-centered” classroom, there are those pesky moments in which direct instruction makes sense. As a review. To build background. To emphasize importance or tell a neat story that adds clarification to the topic being discussed. But what makes direct instruction difficult, is finding ways to UP the engagement factor. To make it interactive. Too often, these moments leave the classroom in a daze, with no interaction between student and teacher, and minimal feedback for the teacher to use to help modify the lesson or unit.  Continue reading “From MY Time to OUR Time”

Searching for the Next “Golden Ticket”

“Charlie picked it up and tore off the wrapper . . . and suddenly . . . from underneath the wrapper . . . there came a brilliant flash of gold. Charlie’s heart stood still. ‘It’s a Golden Ticket!’ screamed the shopkeeper, leaping about a foot in the air. ‘You’ve got a Golden Ticket! You’ve found the last Golden Ticket! . . .

In a few seconds, there was a crowd of about twenty people clustering around Charlie, and many more were pushing their way in from the street. Everybody wanted to get a look at the Golden Ticket and at the lucky finder.” – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Education is always looking for the next BIG push and there is this burning desire to find the one thing that will bring success. This isn’t anything new. We are drawn to success. Drawn to stories of underdogs. Drawn to those who are down and less fortunate, only to see them rise up and succeed. Continue reading “Searching for the Next “Golden Ticket””

Add Video Conferencing to Your Schoology Classroom

Obviously, Google Hangouts seems to get most of the attention when it comes to video conferencing and for good reason. “Hangouts” is a great platform to host an online meeting or webinar, especially when you want to record the session and have it available to a wider audience after the meeting has ended. But if you’ve read some of my previous blog posts, you know that I like it when I can manage my class by housing students within one program with everything they will need. So in comes The BigBlueButton, hidden within Schoology’s app center. Continue reading “Add Video Conferencing to Your Schoology Classroom”

Inquiring Minds Want to Know…

“Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next.” – Alice in Wonderland

For a long time in education, much of the focus has been on answers. But as Alice’s journey through Wonderland has shown- the focus, should be on the questions. There is a great moment in Lewis Carroll’s novel when Alice meets the Caterpillar. The Caterpillar asks, “Who are you?” Alice, stumbling to find an answer, replies that she doesn’t know. The Caterpillar follows with the all important response that many teachers ask their students: “Explain yourself!” Thus this sets Alice on the most important part of her journey- seeking her own identity, something so many students are looking to find during their high school careers. Continue reading “Inquiring Minds Want to Know…”

The Engagement Evolution

Education is constantly changing. Ever evolving in the midst of varying pedagogies, changing models, and new technological trends. And we, as teachers, continue to look at our curriculum to determine if so much of what we do, is making any difference at all. And the one constant- that seems to be negated – and we try ever so hard to fix, is student engagement. The status quo, in regards to student engagement, isn’t working. So we continue to look at ways to change this trend. To engage our students and to reinvigorate life into the classroom to a captured audience. It’s hard to get someone’s attention… But even harder to keep it. And with everything going on in a student’s life, sometimes school just seems to take a backseat. So how do we continue to evolve and succeed in engaging our students in the classroom? Continue reading “The Engagement Evolution”

The Power of the Schoology Embed Code

If you are a Schoology LMS user, hopefully, you have witnessed some of the magical things you can do within the program itself such as backchanneling, creating digital assignments, creating auto-grading tests and quizzes, tracking student work submissions, and so forth. But the true power of Schoology… is held in the ability to embed other content into it.  Continue reading “The Power of the Schoology Embed Code”