In my two years as a flipped classroom educator, I’ve always been curious about flipping the whole-class novel. Typically in my resource room, we spent the class reading the text aloud and discussing it so the students understood the elements of the story and could analyze the text. However, this ate up a lot of time and left little room to do anything else other than read and discuss during class time. It wasn’t differentiated-- half the class was bored because we were moving too slowly and others were struggling to keep up. This year, in order to prepare my sixth graders for the demands of seventh grade, I decided to flip our final whole-class novel.
Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo is a simple enough book. It’s a little over one hundred pages and the events are easy for the students to understand, which made it the perfect novel to use with some of my reluctant readers. Despite its short length, Tiger Rising is jam-packed with symbolism, elements of characterization, and theme-- an excellent choice for diving into analysis. So, I got two class sets for my resource rooms and off I went to plan my adventure in flipping novels. It was then that I started to panic about the model:
What if the students don’t read? What if they struggle for support while reading? What are we going to do now during class? Where am I supposed to start?
I’ve mentioned before that flipping the resource room hasn’t been easy. There’s not a lot of other flipped special educators out there and the only research conducted seems to favor the in-class support model. Like my preparation for the regular flipped model, I had to connect ideas from a lot of different places to make it work for my students. I had recently heard about hyperdocs, which move beyond traditional worksheets and creating interactive Google Docs for students. I knew that was where I needed to go to make this flipped novel work.
My hyperdoc is an 18 page document that breaks down the entire novel for the students. I split the novel into five sections with approximately twenty-five pages in each section and at least five chapters. On the first page of the document, I liked the audiobook for each chapter from YouTube to support my auditory learners who like to follow along as they listen. I also linked all the subsequent assignments that would appear on the remaining pages. Each of the five sections required three tasks: one Must Do and two May Do assignments. Must Do tasks are questions or activities that they are required by me to complete. They focus on a particular skill in language arts that I believe they need to master or understand in order to truly get a grasp on the book.
The May Do section lists four tasks connected to the events from that section. The students were responsible for choosing two tasks to complete. These were still skills that I thought the students need to learn but the variety of options differentiated the task so students could choose either what interested them or skills where they needed assistance. Some topics included: word choice, character motivation, character traits, symbolism, allusion, etc. Assignments varied in direction, some were based around inferences, predictions, or text-to-self connections. Others were more creative and allowed for students to express themselves. In one activity, students are asked to take a virtual reality tour of the Sistine Chapel and explain how what they observed connects to the character, Sistine.
Since the hyperdoc was so big, I made everything in the document hyperlinked. On the initial page, students could click on the “Must Do” for a section and immediately be transported to that section of the Google Doc. At the end of each section’s tasks, student clicked an orange arrow to return to the top of the page. A large document can seem overwhelming and I wanted students to have no question about where they were supposed to go after reading (plus, it made grading each section easier on me). I created a video to help students as they moved through the hyperdoc at home. They were given a week to complete each section. Some came to me during academic assistance (our version of study hall) to work on the assignment each week, with most finishing in about two days. After each of the five sections, I gave them a grade and feedback on their work.
During the week, we worked on activities and discussions that connected to what the students had been reading at home. We wrote open-ended questions for each other and answered them around the room on the desks with Expo markers. We completed characterization dodecahedrons where the students determined the character traits and what type of character each person in the story represented. We created ABC books and went through the entire alphabet, using alphabetical words and phrases to represent important parts of the novel. We created symbolism presentations where the class chose a symbol and taught the class to understand the meaning of that symbol, like the tiger, suitcase, Sistine’s dresses and name, and Rob’s rash. Some days, we just engaged in deep discussions about character motivations and the events of the plot, making text-to-world connections and bringing in aspects of our own lives to understand the situations of the characters.
For the most part, the students completed the work each week for the novel. In traditional flipped classroom fashion, I did a quick post-assessment to see if the students understood what they had read and used that information to place groups, create discussion questions, or adjust the focus of the lesson of the day. While there were several students initially who did not complete the reading, once they saw they were missing out on valuable experiences and activities with their classmates because they had not read, they jumped on the bandwagon to complete the assignments.
Some important things I learned about flipping the whole class novel:
Overall, the flipped classroom novel in the resource room was successful. I don’t think I’ve ever had a group of students understand a novel to such a high caliber and have as insightful and analytical discussions about the text. My resource room said they did not feel overwhelmed with what was provided and definitely felt like connected with this novel and the work more than they have in previous units.
Verdict? Success! Can't wait to use it again next year!
Over these first two years of my teaching career, I’ve devoted a lot of my time to Google Classroom. Looking back at the time I spent unit and lesson planning as an undergrad, it’s a wonder I ever planned anything that didn’t involve the platform. I’ve vouched for the awesomeness of Classroom at conferences and workshops and just in casual technology chit chat, but it wasn’t until a few days ago I realized the reason behind my commitment. Google Classroom is my physical classroom.
As a special education teacher, I’m aware of the classroom issues that this area of education faces. More specifically, the lack of your own physical space. As special educators, we’re likely to share rooms (sometimes with 3 other people: shout out to my awesome roommates). For me, I’m fortunate that my resource room periods are taught within my home space, the room where my desk is located. For others, who organize their classroom on a cart, it’s not so easy.
The act of shifting teachers in an out of a room can be difficult. It means setting up desks in a neutral position for the different teaching personas of the people in your room. It means you can’t write down your day’s agenda, Do Nows, or homework assignments on the board. Even things like greeting students at the door as they enter can be taken for granted because you’re racing around the school. I’m thankful for the days I arrive a second before the final bell rings.
But Google Classroom changed that. It provided me with a digital space to act as my physical classroom.
No Physical Classroom Problem: Can’t Leave Work on the Board
For awhile I was obsessed with those creative and interesting Do-Now or Start Up activities. The ones where the teacher draws a design and pictures on the board and prompts the students to get thinking as soon as they walk into the room---but in a nontraditional way. I love the ones like “Way back Wednesday: What’s your favorite thing we’ve done so far this year.” They’re adorable but hard to do when you don’t have a board to draw on in the morning.
Google Classroom Solution: Digital Warm-Ups
Either I have something ready to go as soon as the students enter the room, or the rest of the period is total chaos. The problem is I’m not there to get them started. I needed a solution or a way for me to be there without really being there. So, I started using daily warm-ups, or daily challenges, to give the students something to do...on the computer. My class was expected to come in, get on a laptop, and complete the question or activity on Google Classroom, even if I wasn’t in the room yet. Last year it really took off and became a part of our daily procedure.
No Physical Classroom Problem: Minimal Classroom Resources
When you’re on a cart, or share a room, you’re limited in terms of space. You can’t have a section of the room where students look for absent work or a place to write down the homework. And sure, you can make some accommodations, like how I hung a whiteboard near the clock on our classroom wall to put my daily objective and homework assignments, but it doesn’t take away the fact that there are things in the room you will not have. And for the teachers in more than one classroom, this issue is even more apparent.
Google Classroom Solution: About Section
The About section of each Google Classroom is a fantastic--yet often underutilized--feature. I remember the first time I asked my students to refer to it at the beginning of this year. I was met with a lot of “I didn’t even know this existed!” But it’s actually proven to be very useful for classroom procedures as a replacement for physical classroom space. For my gamified classes, it’s their place to check out the leaderboard, look at their gaming profiles and badges, and track their badge opportunities. It’s where they sign out books from the classroom library. It’s also where they find links, attachments, and templates for things we always use. Anything I’d put around the room for frequent easy access is automatically uploaded into this section. And the students know exactly where to go. Furthermore, as far as the “absentee area” goes, Google Classroom’s stream itself is where my students go to find all the work they’ve missed.
No Physical Classroom Problem: Cleaning Up After Class
Running off when the students do (or a few minutes after) means there’s not much time to disassemble things, tidy up papers, and put things back in order before leaving for your next class. When you’re using someone else’s room, you’re rushing to put things back the way you found them and if you’re one of those teachers that’s into flexible seating and collaboration (like me), you have to stop class earlier than usual to bring the desk back to functional order. In that panic of moving and running, things get lost. Papers get jammed into my bag and things likely get lost in the shuffle.
Google Classroom Solution: Log Off the Computer
It could also be a valid argument for going digital-- nothing to clean up. Essentially with Google Classroom, you close that laptop and you’re all set. There’s no papers to collect. No worrying if I misplaced any student work as I leave the room. Everything is saved neatly in my Google Classroom for that class period and there’s absolutely no chance of misplacing it. I hear there’s a great art to organizing a cart: developing specific places for different resources and materials. But with Google Classroom, the organization is already done for you.
No Physical Classroom Problem: Losing Positive Environment and Atmosphere
Let’s face it. One of the most important aspects of the classroom is the atmosphere. Without a teacher’s touch, a classroom is just bare walls and empty desks. It takes a teacher to put decorations on the walls and create an accepting environment. But the problem persists: if it’s not your room, how do you make it your own? How can you get the class to mimic your teaching style? How can you get the students to feel comfortable and relaxed?
Google Classroom Solution: Create a Welcoming Space
The immediate assumption about your Google Classroom is that it has to be cold and unfeeling. “It’s just a place to distribute assignments and share resources, right?” No. It can be colorful and exciting and embracing. A movement has been going around where people make their class header a picture of their students or even one “Student of the Week” each week of the year. That within itself creates a welcoming image. I like to mix up the academic work with personal accomplishments and praise. A Do Now question doesn’t have to be academic. It can simply be a chance for students to share what they did over the long weekend and then comment on each other’s posts. I post exceptional student work and give them praise for their accomplishment. Other students will chime in and add a comment praising the student, too. You’d be surprised how much students like to give each other positive feedback. In ELA it can be so “negative” with revisions that it gives the students the chance to genuinely be proud of each other. This allows your Google Classroom to have a positive feel, where students feel comfortable making mistakes and learning from them or where they embrace taking risks. If a particular student earns a special badge, I’ll post the badge as an announcement and celebrate the student. In addition, now that Google Classroom has the differentiation component, I can push out individual praise to each and every student. I can pop on their stream on a random day with a little motivator if they’re having a rough time with something. It’s personal, it’s private but it promotes the idea of a positive learning space...all without decorations on the walls.
Although it goes without saying, it takes a teacher to build a classroom, not technology. But it definitely doesn’t hurt to have Google Classroom on my side to act as my physical space when I need it.
Google Education On Air on a bright and sunny Saturday.
I've been logged on all day. Watched all the keynote speeches. Tried to go to as many breakout sessions as I possibly could. Met some awesome educators from all over the world. There are currently 10+ pages in my EdTech PD notebook dedicated solely to info from this event. I haven't left my living room all day. My eyes have been non-stop on the screen. Back and forth between Twitter and the sessions. And it was totally worth it.
While I'm coming down from tech information overload, I figured I'd debrief and share some of my favorite things I learned and things I'll be trying out ASAP in my classroom (because my students don't think I'm crazy enough)
Google Sheets Add-On: Essay Metrics
As soon as @EdTechnocation presented this add-on, my mind immediately began turning and thinking about how I could use this in the classroom.
Once the add-on is installed, it can import information from Drive files or Google Classroom assignments. It goes through the files, exporting specific information about each individual one. In this case, I tested it with one of my 6th grade RC personal narrative assignments. It gives you a lot of information about each student including, word count, number of sentences without capital letters, sentence count, number of paragraph, sentences per paragraph count, ARI reading age (in years), number of revisions, and number of simple and complex connective words.
Honestly, that's beautiful. I can totally see this making data analysis on student written expression a little easier. I can see, without even opening the Docs, some of the issues my students were having. Too few sentences. Too many sentences per paragraph. Run-on sentences. Fragments. Capitalization. I could have used this information to plan individualized mini-lessons and correspondin centers. I also think it might be an interesting thingto show the students so they can see their progress.
Docs Add-On: Highlighting Tool
In the same session, the Highlighting Tool add-on for Docs was discussed. Highlight within a Google Doc and the highlighted text is exported into a separate Doc and organized based on color. Perfect for text evidence in an article or research! I'm about to review the components of a literary analysis body paragraph this week using the rainbow color strategy. I might have the students add this so they can highlight each component of the mentor paragraphs with its designated color with the highlighter. Then they'd have a whole separate file of sentence starters, bank phrases, and other examples to help with their body paragraph composition.
New Google Sites > Old Google Sites
The only Google feature I've heard the most complaints about is Google Sites. It definitely wasn't built for teachers. The new Sites changes that. Set up in a drag-and-drop format, it is a lot easier to maneuver through and use. I played around with it after it's release and I definitely love it more.
If you haven't experimented with it yet, do it now. I guarantee you will be happier.
Side Note: Google Sites will not be releasing the migration tool for the old Classic Sites until 2018.
Voice Typing & Leaving Comments
I'm a huge fan of Docs Voice Typing (and it's update). Most of my students use it to take notes and type their papers and projects. However, until viewing @ericcurts' tutorial on Docs Feedback, I didn't know you could use it to leave comments.
When reading a student's paper, enable your voice typing. Highlight the portion of the text where you want to focus. Say clearly "Insert Comment" and then the comment bubble will appear, ready to type the words you dicate as speech-to-text.
Going to make longer essay comments so much easier.
Screencastify and Comments
In the same session, Eric talked about using Screencastify to record comments and sugestions and then sharing that link with the students. As a frequent user of the extension as a component of my flipped classroom and an occassional Kaizena voice comment user, I never thought of that idea. For students requiring extensive changes and suggestions for their writing, I can see the benefits of recording a video through Screencastify and then sharing the Drive link in a comment.
Since my students are going to self-pace their way through their literary analysis comparative essay during this unit, this might be a great way to combat the differences in conference schedules. Students can view the video, make the corrections, and continue on their self-paced essay journey.
Simple premise: hit record and starta talking, but I can totally see this being awesome in class.
I'm thinking about using it for discussions. Sometimes talking becomes one-sided with certain students dominating the conversation. I'd love to have each one reflect on their reading with this tool and then save the URL and share it under a question on Google Classroom. The students who need the extra processing time will receive what they need and the students hesitant to participate will come to the discussion table with at least one thing to say. I also loved the idea of using it to record something they've written during Writing Workshop and then being able to share it with their parents or family members.
At the beginning of the weekend, while I was working on some of my PD presentations on Slides, I noticed the new little “Explore” icon that kept popping up in the right corner of my screen. As if demanding my attention and begging for me to click on it, I took a break from my work to explore what the newest Google feature.
"Explore" is available on Google Slides, Docs, and Sheets. The purpose of the program is to provide recommendations in order to make the programs easier to use.
Design Slides Presentations with Ease.
It's a lot easier to create your own Slides templates, now! I think this will make people more inclined to design their own customized templates as opposed to simply using the background colors and themes that come with Slides.
I'm also excited because now my students will have more control over their presentations!
Adios, Formulas. Using Explore in Sheets
I'm not the biggest fan of math (which is why I spend most of my day in ELA), so Sheets has always intimidated me a little. Sure, it's great for lists, but the functions and math formulas freaked me out a little. I was always afraid of the error messages.
Explore makes this process a little easier. Now, you can sort data by words not just formulas. You can ask explore questions about your data. For example, when looking at a student log of how many books they've read, instead of embedding a formula for total page number, I can type "How many pages were read?" and the answer will automatically appear. Explore creates general questions that you might have, but you can also type in a question yourself.
For my Sheets with data, like my Gamification Leaderboard, it generates graphs automatically so I can visually see the information being presented. I can see a bar graph or histogram of the amount of experience points my students have.
Makes Sheets a whole lot less intimidating
Side Note: You can also change the colors and formatting of the Sheet.
Explore in Docs. Hello, Templates!
The Explore feature expands on what was formerly the Google Research Tool in Google Docs. Based on the content in your document, it will generate instant suggestions for websites and links that could be of potential help. It also goes through your Drive to find other Docs, Slides, or resources that have similar ideas to the ones in your Doc. You can also simply search your Drive or the web without leaving your document. Clicking on an outside resource will open a new window that will show the entire text, but the key quotes and phrases will automatically appear in the box.
I'm already thinking about how this will make research for expository and argument texts easier, especially when students are saving articles and links to their Drive!
If you get the chance, check out Google's Explore feature. Let me know what you think of it or how you're thinking of using it for yourself or your classes!
I can't believe three weeks have already gone by.
And I'm super excited with my classes this year. This year I'm in the sixth grade resource ELA classroom and, as of right now, I'm loving the vibes coming from all of my students. We kicked off the year with an introduction to gamification. Our class theme is social media so all of our game elements revolve around that concept. I figured it was appropriate in the Snapchat/Instagram obsessed culture of middle school. My students have been extremely involved in the process and it seems to be going well...so far.
Our profiles where we show off our achievements and badges look like mock-Instagram pages. I let the students choose the amount of followers they have (which resulted in some saying one billion, but whatever). The students spent the first day creating their username and look-a-like Bitmoji to use as their profile picture. As per popular culture, there was a lot of dabbing.
The profiles are now locked and uploaded onto our "About" section on Google Classroom. When students have a free moment they like to go through their class "Instafeed" and look at all of the new badges.
In keeping with the social media theme, I changed experience points to "Likes". When students earn certain badges, follow class procedures, etc., they are awarded a designated amount of points. These points are accumulated throughout the year and are tracked on a "Trending Now" leader board on my class website. Students are listed by their username and not their real name (although some did choose their real name because they wanted the world to know they were trending the most).
Likes can be traded in at different points in the year. They "cash in" for things like listening to music during independent work or changing seats. They can also opt to pool their "Likes" together and earn a whole class prize, like using our outdoor classroom.
Using the points system has helped with students remembering to bring all of their necessary materials and getting to class on time. I've had less students "forgetting" to bring notebooks and independent reading books. Students have even mentioned that they were headed to class and realized they were missing some of their required things, which is awesome. Even students who do occasionally forget will immediately realize their mistake.
In order to reward students for going over and above or completing a hard challenge, I developed badges that correspond to different things throughout each unit. Some things are procedural, like getting a positive comment from an outside teacher or staff member. Some things are academic, like receiving a perfect score on an assessment. I try not to reward students for things they are expected to do, like completing assignments, but rather show them that I notice and appreciate the exceptional things that they do. I handed one out the other day because a student dropped everything to rush over and help a classmate who had come in late and missed a lot of our assignment set-up. Sometimes the achievements are silly, like being the 1st place champion in a Kahoot review game. I try to create badges so that someone receives one at least once per day and that everyone has an equal shot.
My achievement badges are created on Google Drawings and distributed through Google Classroom with a congratulatory post. I typically add the badge to the student's profile and they can check it out in the About section of our Classroom page. I do hold students accountable for some badges. For example, in our book challenge scavenger hunt, students are given a badge if they read a book that fit into one of the hunt items. Students are not rewarded by the amount of books read, but rather by crossing a hunt item off their list. For example, a graphic novel, a book published the year they were born, a book a friend recommended, etc. Students are required to submit the book title to me and tell me what hunt item it fits in order to receive the badge. Informing me is their responsibility.
Oh, and my GIF obsession is strong with these badges. The majority of them include some sort of moving component, since I just think it's cooler that way.
Badges L to R: "Be our Guest"- exceptional behavior when a guest is in the classroom, "Center Stage": volunteering to read your writing in front of the class, "Compliment Creator": get a compliment from a Sparta Middle School staff member (Discounting me or our paraprofessionals)
What I didn't Realize Would Happen...
I'm excited to see how it progresses throughout the year!
About halfway through last year (my first year of teaching), I began to see the connection between motivation and my special education students. For most, they seemed defeated by learning. Because of their struggles, many were unmotivated in class, not wanting to try and fail at something again. I was trying to find a way to change the mindset of grading and my classroom to go beyond just numbers and points off. A colleague and I started discussing the idea of gamifying our classes to help our students. Since it was halfway through the year, it was too late to get started. Over the summer I prepped and outlined how my gamification would look, unsure of whether it would really end up benefiting my students.
Every week I am going to document the process in my classroom: to evaluate student engagement and achievement, as well as the failures and complications that arise. I told my students they're my guinea pigs. If things don't work, they're going to be the first to know. We'll see how it goes!
I just wanted to wish everyone good luck on their upcoming year. I'm both excited (and panicked) to be entering my second year as a teacher. This year I'll be taking on some more professional opportunities and testing out some more things in my classroom. I will be:
I'll continue to share my reflections, thoughts, and ideas as I move through the school year, but as the panic of the first day of school sets in, I just wanted to say to everyone:
Yesterday Google released their latest updates just in time for the start of the 2016-17 school year
And I was probably more excited than a person should be. They've made some pretty awesome updates to Classroom and Forms and I couldn't wait to dive right in and try them out.
Organizing your Classroom Stream
One of my biggest issues with Classroom was that the stream could not be organized. Working in the resource room, I like to make everything easy to access and locate. Having students scroll through the Stream or constantly moving everything to the top for easy access was difficult. So, this might be my favorite new feature Google has released. Now you can create topics associated with each assignment, announcement or question you post. These topic categories appear on the sidebar and allow students to click on the topic names to move to a new stream of only posts associated with that topic. So, now you can filter assignments by:
Parent and Guardian Access
This is either your dream come true or your worst nightmare. Classroom, formerly private to anyone outside of a school domain, now has the capacity to contact parents. But don't panic just yet. Parents will have access to summaries of their student's work, not direct access to Classroom itself. If you provide parents access, they will receive weekly reports that indicate:
The students tab will also have an option to add parent/guardian emails. Now, parents can be emailed individually or as a whole class directly from Google Classroom.
Students can draw/annotate on their work
Note: This is only available on the Classroom app.
When you create an assignment for your students and they open it through the Classroom app, they will now be met with a screen that looks like this:
Students can use their smartphones or tablets to draw and annotate images from within the Classroom platform, which makes it simpler than using an outside app to create the image and then upload it. This feature would be great for:
Google Forms Multiple Choice Images
I have been waiting for this opportunity! Google has made it easier to add images to questions in Forms. And better yet, now you can add individual images to each multiple choice selection on Forms!
Some possible uses:
Expanding on Expeditions
There are a few more expedition possibilities to use now in the Classroom, like
Take the time to try out all of these new updates while you're prepping for back-to-school!
What I learned when I had minimal access to technology.
In 2014, I began my summer adventures in Hoboken, working at a summer program. In my first year, I was a Teacher's Assistant. Then, I went onto become a full instructor, teaching a variety of different STEAM classes. This year was no exception. But after concluding my first year as a teacher in an entirely tech-integrated classroom, I struggled with how to incorporate tech into an environment where it wasn't as readily available.
I didn't expect to have a lot of technology. It was just a hard transition because most of my ideas and projects involve the use of technology. I did have a SmartBoard, though, so that was a plus! And there was access to a small computer lab, but with multiple classes sharing, that sometimes became difficult. As always, it was a great overall experience but I wanted to share some of the things I learned transitioning from tech-heavy to basically tech-less.
The walls are more colorful. Although I do tend to hang some work during the regular school year, most of my projects are digital. During this program, I hung a lot more. Student work lined every available space of the wall. The back of the door was covered with student-created comic books. There were drawings, writing pieces, inventions of the future, app designs, and a chain of pi digits hanging all over my walls. It was a mess...and I loved it. More importantly, the students loved it too. They beamed with pride when they heard students in other periods had come in and complimented their work. They smiled quietly from their seats as others walked around and nodded respectfully at their designs. When I didn't hang something on the wall, they were quick to wonder why. Every student, from kindergartners to those beginning adolescence wanted the recognition of their work.
You have to find something equally as engaging as technology. My go-to was hands-on projects. Students love lessons where they get to interact with different things. For the entire program my students were obsessed with the SmartBoard. They wanted to write and draw on it and even just play with the eraser. And since not everyone can work on the board at the same time, I needed to create other plans to pique their interest. I tried to keep my hands-on projects interesting and engaging for the students. We did algebra in shaving cream, made a chain of the digits of pi that wrapped around the room and built our own future cities. The students did scavenger hunts around the school in math and spied on their classmates to use as models for their drawings. So, there were non-tech ways to get the students interested in what they were learning.
Bring in your own tech. As a train commuter, my back is still screaming from all of the devices I was carrying on me at one time. Tablets, phone, laptops, and of course all the regular and portable chargers. But bringing in my own devices helped. We had a classroom computer, but we also had my computer. So for the first week when the SmartBoard wasn't working, I had students come up to my laptop to spin the wheel to select the student who would choose the article of the day in writing. Smaller screen? Yes. But the kids still had fun with it. The students read the article off of my computer screen to the class, which caused them to read at a good pace since they realized if they read too fast or slow the students wouldn't understand their article. We could still research and look up information, but not having instant access to the answers prompted a lot of good discussions in class.
Flash drives are back. As an avid Google user, I've enjoyed the freedom of not carrying around a flash drive. I used one all through college, only to send myself into a panic if my files didn't open correctly. Since we had no student and teacher given emails and were not allowed to use our personal ones (for obvious reasons), I went back to the flash drive plan. Carrying around my little blue 8GB device that I had long forgotten about, I felt kind of nostalgic. I didn't have to sign in and out of my email to send my student's projects to myself, which was very helpful, and I was able to upload their projects directly to our class website.
Tech things can still be done. Two of my classes made full websites for their coursework. They published their favorite writing pieces and uploaded their final projects. They added pictures, changed text, and personalized their pages. We were able to send out these links to parents so they could not only view their child's work but also send it out to family, friends, or other interested parties. We still were able to reach more people with our projects, even without the consistent access to technology. Working one by one on the computers and taking turns in the lab still got the websites done.
Be grateful for what you have. Often, in districts with technology, we take what we have for granted. We complain when something isn't the latest model or is a few years old, but what we should really do is take a step back and appreciate that we at least have something. There are plenty of students without access to technology in their education, so we should be thankful for what we do have. If anything, that's the most important lesson I'll take with me into the next school year. I'll be thankful I have a class set of computers and my goal is to not complain about them so much.
As always, it was a tiring but great experience teaching summer school. I'll be sure to add some more pictures of my student's work as we finish up the final days of the program. Hope everyone is enjoying their summer and the warm weather!
It's officially summer!
I'm so excited that it's officially summer! I hope everyone has a great next few weeks with plenty of sun, relaxation and fun!
I'll be in Hoboken teaching Gifted & Talented summer school for all of July. I'm teaching three different classes: algebra, writing (& future prediction), and cartoons, comics and caricatures. I'll be using my 4.5 hour commute to continue to post different edtech ideas that I've been thinking about or that I'll be implementing in the upcoming school year. I have minimal tech access in my summer school classroom, so I may also be writing some posts about that!
PS: If you're attending EdCamp Global on July 29-30, check out my session on creating a culture of 21st century learners using GAFE!
Enjoy your time off, educators!