Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How Do You Organize?

I am not sure when it happened but I know it had to do with trial and error.  After years of trying new things and working on ways to improve, I found that one thing worked:  Google!    The integration of the tools created makes for an easy way to manage what I need.  From calendar to collaboration, Google has helped me organize my tasks, information, and daily challenges to make my life easier.

A few years back I thought buying a fancy smartphone would do the trick in organization.  NOPE!  I had to work on using the Google items to ensure that my family and myself would be at the right place at the right time.

If Google would have me and I lived in California, I would love to work for them.  Google is full of innovative, intellectual, and creative people that uses the facilities as a think tank that generates such interesting tools.  The bigger they get the more then innovate and help to shape the work place for many places.

I am thankful for my failures or I would not have learned about the tools I use daily in Google!
What are your opinions??

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Where are your Resources?

I ask this question because I am finding many are stating some type of technology as the answer.  To some point I agree, but I believe resources can be found somewhere right in the next room.

Resources are the people, co-workers, colleagues, or cohorts that surround you are where you go for anything.  From personal to professional, those that we are with everyday are the most valuable resources we can find.  Think of all of the tasks completed on a daily basis and how many of them require the conversation that starts with, "Could you help me with something?"

Today, I had a former colleague call me just to start to network in his hunt for a new job.  He was just asking for another set of eyes to help with his search and to send anything his way.  Why would he ask when I have not talked to him for a year?  The same reason I reached out to friends for new books:  resources!

Resources are the network that we create around us; it is knowing people and understanding their skill set that can be put to positive work.  Resources are more then the hardware we use everyday, but it is the places we hear about that we start our research.  Before you start to think about changing, moving, reorganizing, begin with the resources around you.  I feel that my strengthens have been built from the network of educators around me and I am grateful for everything I have learned from them.

Before moving on to the next task on your list, thank your resources because you just don't know when they may change!  So tell me; who is your best resource??

Join the conversation!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Engaging Thinkers

Moving into a new educational environment makes me think that it is the same challenges, just a different setting.  Engaging students is important part of education but making sure that we pull from how they learn and how the information is relevant is even more important.

As educators we always look at pedagogy, design, and implementation of courses.  With an organized hierarchy of learning, students will benefit from the time spent on using a backward design with healthy outcomes.   We need goals, objectives, theories, tools, activities, etc in order to make sure a student has a way to access information.  It is overwhelming to think of what is needed to help a student succeed which always brings on the questions about class size, individualized education, and how can we ensure all students are maintaining the same information.

Bottom line:  Educators need to keep students in mind and create ways for them to be a part of the planning,  developing, and learning of any information shared with them.  Hmmm....sounds like gaming to me.

Next; I am going to start to reach how gaming can be a success in any classroom!  Stay tuned and join the conversation!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Finding a Purpsose

       I was recently talking to an old friend about teaching and how it has changed in the short amount of time we have been in the field.  It may only be 15 years, but learning AND teaching are moving very fast these days.   We were laughing at the courses that we had to load a film projector, make an overhead slide, or mount pictures on poster board.  This then had me think about the purpose of the tools and what is their use.  
     The tools of today are no different then the tools from many years ago.  The teachers had to have a purpose of showing a film or making a slide.  They could not just use the overhead without there being a reason.  A leader in my school has said, "Teaching is good teaching no matter what!"  Therefore, we want to engage our students, build their problem solving skills, develop strong citizens, and be able enhance their communication skills.   These are the skills and the tools that we use to make that happen can very from subject to subject.  I can rattle off a bunch of cool tools, website, and software; however, if there is no purpose to their use then why use them.

      When designing courses or lessons it would be important to follow a few simple steps.  First know your audience in things like learning styles or intelligence.  Second make a design with the goals and outcome set prior to building anything.  Then work on the activities that you would need to support your goals and outcomes.  Implement your plan, but also have a way to evaluate your lessons that will give you data to support or disprove the design.  In the end, it is all about finding a purpose for using tools and make sure they engage for a true learning environment!

Monday, November 4, 2013

iNACOL: Making the Connections

For the past two years I have been a volunteer for iNACOL which is an organization built on the idea of creating stronger environments for online learning.  I am on the program committee in which I read through proposals and rate them according to a rubric.  I also then volunteer at the conference at registration in which I get to meet educators from around the world.   I had the opportunity to attend the conference last week in which I meant many educators focused on the research to better education.   Attending the conference was a bit different then in past years.  I am walking away from this conference with a few new connections that will help with research I am completing with a partner teacher.

Parent engagement is always a topic of discussion in which I believe should be a huge piece of any school's puzzle.  The connections at home and school should be strong and through the sessions, I continuously heard how to involve our parents.  I even presented on this topic at the conference and found a few educators that were struggling with the same issues.  How do we bridge any gaps in communication?  What steps should we take?  Why is it so important?  Research states that the more involvement with parents, the better a student will do in school.

Currently research is being done on this topic and I will continue to follow it to find ways on how I can better the communication with parents. As there are many puzzle pieces in learning, the students will only benefit if they all fit together nicely.

What are you thoughts about parent engagement?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Fresh New Start

      I have not written in a while as I needed some time to reflect, relax, and breathe before moving forward in all that we do daily.  Recently I helped organize a 5K to raise funds for a scholarship program for my school  Just like the race it was quick and before you knew it, we were cleaning up.  All the planning, prepare, and anticipation over in less then an hour.  So then I was thinking, isn't it true for everything.

      All the planning we do for students in hopes that we will cover everything, as teachers we still have the "Next time I do this list" which helps improve the instruction for the next students.  As we begin to flip, differentiate, and co-teach teachers need to look at the learners first.  We need to know the parameter  of learning for each child to ensure they are receiving the best instruction.  Does that take time?  YES!  Is it extra work?  ABSOLUTELY!

      In the end we need to think of ways to make sure each child reaches their potential and as teachers we are the ones  to make sure it happens.  If we think of all the tools, strategies, collaborations, tips, and tricks right now it is overwhelming.  However, just like the 5K.  It is about endurance.  It is about finishing the race.  It is not about how quickly or if you barely made it; it is about giving it your all to make things happen.  I can see that now!

This time away from blogging has given me the chance to see how I can be more open and transparent to all.  As we continue to share and collaborate, we need to know that all the daily craziness that we feel is worth it in the end;  just like crossing the finish line!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Changing the Norm

It has been a while since I posted anything into this blog as I was away from my desk for a couple days in April but PSSA testing is a way we need to find if our students have reached the standards they need to build skills.

I watched a TED episode last night that discussed education and how it needs to be changed.  I found it very interesting as I read lots of information about this topic in all of the organizations that I am a part of, but still only a few try new things.  One fact that stood out to me was that the US ranked 15th in overall reading which was a tie with Poland and Iceland.  Among those 15 countries, 11 countries had a standard teacher evaluation, expectations, and guidelines for everyone.  The US was not one of those countries, but the fact of the manner was that we need to develop teacher skills to help with instruction.  US also ranked 23rd in Math and 31st in Science.  As a country we need to start working on a more common evaluative system that can develop stronger teachers.  Strong teachers should be the norm and not the exception.  Supporting staff in such ways will cost so much money that I feel it will not happen.  Bill Gates stated that teachers should video tape themselves every day and review their instruction.  He said that teachers should view each other lessons for peer review too as critical eyes can be helpful to everyone.   Along with the encouraging stories that were shown about successful models of instruction, how can we make that the norm and not the exception?