The “Idea Wall” – Installing A Whiteboard Wall – On The Cheap.

As a part of the EdTechTeam Teacher Leader course we had to look at redesigning our learning space to make it more conducive to meeting our students’ needs. We looked at seating, arrangement and choice of furniture, and how we used our wall space.

I decided to use one of my walls to put up a 5.5ft wide, 8ft tall whiteboard. When I ran the idea by my principal he immediately dubbed it an “Idea Wall”. I installed it for about $45

On a lark I decided to also extend my whiteboard at the front of my room to the ceiling so that I could use it as a giant screen. This added a third sheet of panel board to my project and increased the cost to about $60 total.

Materials

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Final Project – Unit 2: Project Based Learning

Reflecting on this past year I know that my students had very little agency in their education. Our days and content were very structured. There were often open ended questions but not questions that pushed my students beyond a brief answer. I don’t find it suprising that engagement was often a struggle, particularly in the low parts of the year. Even before I joined EdTechTeam’s Teacher Leader Certificate program I knew that I needed something different to take into next year. Something that would push me and my students further, require all of the 21st Century Skills to accomplish, and engage my students more.

In April I went to the Google Apps for Educatin Sonoma Summit put on by EdTechTeam. While there I was really introduced to Project Based Learning (PBL) for the first time through Kevin Brookhouser’s keynote and sessions. There I started to learn about 20% Time and the impact it can have on student learning.

Next year I will be a TOSA and I will not have my own group of students so I focused my research on Genius Hour and how to encourage the rest of my staff to implement PBL in their classrooms. For my PBL research, I researched Genius Hour because it can be implemented on a smaller scale than 20time which should make it more attractive to teachers with impacted schedules. I believe with encouragement and support the teachers at my site will be able to move away from “unit projects” towards Project Based Learning and have a positive impact on the learning outcomes of our students.

With a little luck and a lot of hard work our students will go from having very little agency to having Genius Hour where they can reach for the stars!

Here is my Final Project for Unit 2: Project Based Learning.

Genius Hour – Higher Order Thinking Through Student Agency

Photo Credit: ScottNorrisPhoto via Compfight cc

As a part of EdTechTeam Teacher Leader program I had to research one type of Project/Problem Based Learning (PBL). I chose Genius Hour because I had heard some good things about it. Having researched it I think that every teacher should implement Genius Hour or some other form of PBL in their class. Even or especially teachers of primary grades. Genius Hour has the capability to catch the wonder of younger students and intensify their curiosity when it is still strong to help grow lifelong learners. While PBL does take a lot of time that can be difficult to carve out of a heavily scheduled school day the rewards far outweigh the difficulties.

I recently read Twitter that “school has the habit of crushing the curiosity out of students”. I wish I could remember/find who said it so that I can properly attribute it. The person who said it as part of their support of PBL. PBL is one of the ways that we can reverse the troubling trend of disengaged students. We need active curious learners who will shoot for the stars and help us solve the wicked problems that are so overwealming we ignore them rather than try to fix them, problems like global climate change.

Genuis Hour Research Presentation

Final Project – Unit 1: Global Collaboration and Community

Professional (or Personal) Learning Network (PLN) is a term that I had never heard of until very recently. A PLN is a network of educators that you connect with either in real life or via the internet. Given how little time educators actually have to work together during the school day it is very difficult for a newer teacher to build a strong PLN during the school day, especially when you are new to your school like I was this year. This is why finding a strong, vibrant PLN on Twitter has been a breath of fresh air to me.

I discovered Twitter as a resource for educators in April after attending my first Google Apps for Education Summit. I wrote extensively about that in my first blog post which I crossposted here. Since learning about using Twitter as a resource I created a new handle (@mcarlingoldberg) for use in the educational sphere, followed more than 160 educators who have shared something that I believe that I can either use in my classroom or that have made me think about how to be a better educator, and shared out more than 500 bits of (hopefully) useful information, either my own or ReTweeting others, in 140 characters or less. I even participated in my first TwitterChat this week (#TOSAchat).

Going to the Google Summit and re-discovering Twitter revitalized my teaching in the lowest part of the school year and having that vibrant community on Twitter that is there at my beck and call any time of the day is an astounding resource for a newer teacher like me. It gives me the power to do professional development on my own schedule and in the times not filled by work or family. I am already using that PLN to ask questions, answer questions, share and receive advice, and develop connections with educators around the world. One such connection is the one that I have made with Christine Pinto (@PintoBeanz11) who is a TK teacher who is very successfully using GAFE with her students. She has even started her own hashtag #GAFE4littles. Over the past month she and I have traded tips, given encouragement, and in my case been motivated by our conversations. I am building a large arsenal of her work to share with the TK/Kinder team at my school to hopefully encourage them to fully embrace GAFE for their littles. Without my PLN I wouldn’t be able to share this with my fellow educators that comprise the face to face part of my network.

In my school most of the teachers’ online PLN consists of using Pinterest to research ideas to use in their classrooms. I have been and will continue to share the resources and ideas that I am gleaning from my PLN with the staff at my school and encourage them to build their own PLN through my example.

As a part of the EdTechTeamOnline I have also collaborated with my PLN to develop new lesson materials.

Digital Citizenship – Strong, Memorable Passwords

It is 2016, as educators it is no longer enough to teach our kids how to keep themselves safe on the streets because so much of all of our lives takes place on the internet. Internet safety is one aspect of Digital Citizenship in which we must make sure that our students and children are fully fluent. One aspect of internet safety that I think is incredibly important for everyone, child or adult, to get behind and understand is the need for strong, memorable passwords.

Strong, memorable passwords that are unique to every situation are an absolute necessity in today’s world. Having weak passwords, especially if you reuse them in different places, is like asking someone to steal your identity, your money, even your safety as they get access to all of your personal data and accounts online.

Generally, most people do passwords very badly. Even those who actually try to have good passwords. One aspect of this is illustrated by the XKCD comic.

password_strength Source: https://xkcd.com/936/ (CC BY-NC 2.5)

I feel very strongly about the need to educate everyone around us about what makes up a strong, memorable password, how to make them, and why we need them. To this end several members of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) and I worked together to create this hyperdoc about Strong Passwords. We made it for educators to use to educate themselves and to use with their students to encourage good Digital Citizenship (and strong, memorable passwords). Collaborating digitally with educators that I have never met in person in order to create a completely new lesson was an awesome new experience. I really, really like the idea and practice of having a strong online PLN.

You can find the active Digital Citizenship hyperdoc HERE. If you want to make yourself a copy you can copy it HERE and please feel free to share.

Hyperdoc created by
Micah Carlin-Goldberg, @mcarlingoldberg;
Christi Bangsund, @cbangsund;
Brenda Petersen, @teachitb;
Tuesday Ramunni, @RamunniT;

Header image: (CC BY 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/memebinge/14042852309

 

First Post – Mirrors: Self-reflection and communication. (Crossposted)

(Crossposted from mirrorintoteaching.wordpress.com)

As of today this blog has existed more than six weeks, with no posts, and no title. This morning I found both snuggled up together. Please read to the end to find out where I found them.


Two months ago I had an experience that opened my eyes and changed my teaching forever. What was this experience? I attended my first (but not my last!) Google Apps For Education Summit (GAFE). It was hosted by EdTechTeam at Windsor High School on April 9-10, 2016. I am super excited about attending the next Sonoma Summit in October.

Why did the GAFE summit have such an effect on me?

There were two reasons. The first was all of the incredibly awesome information, resources, and connections that I made at the summit. It revitalized my teaching mid year and reenergized me enough that Monday, though I was tired, several people mentioned that I seemed much more upbeat. That high energy boost lasted all the way through the end of the school year.

The second and probably more far reaching reason can be summed up in one word. Twitter.

I have been on Twitter since the beginning of 2008. I followed the same people that many Twitter users follow. My personal friends, actors, celebrities, athletes, a couple of politicians, the President of the United States (@POTUS), etc. My feed was closed and it even updated my Facebook profile so I didn’t have to go to FB if I didn’t want to.

How did Twitter change me at the summit? I noticed that every single presenter had their name and their Twitter handle on their presentation. Not their email address. The GAFE Summit organizers encouraged us to tweet about what we saw and what we learned at the summit using the #GAFEsummit hashtag and to share it with the @edtechteam Twitter account. This is when I discovered Twitter as a Professional Development (PD) model.

Twitter for Professional Development

What is Twitter for educators? First off,  Aside from existing Twitter didn’t do anything special to make it an excellent source of PD for educators. Educators made it special. They saw the opportunity to make connections and collaborate with colleagues in education who they never met face to face who live across the country and around the world. They shared what they were doing in their classrooms that worked, and what failed. They held discussions about topics in education, they shared resources, ideas, tips, tricks, and they did it in 140 characters or fewer. Every day there are many directed, moderated conversations happening around topics in education. (Schedule of EdChats) Educators are connecting with educators and it is glorious.

One of the biggest difficulties that I have encountered in my teaching (and I am a new teacher) is the tendency for educators to get isolated in their rooms. I definitely have been. During the school day it is difficult to find the time to go talk to your grade level team next door, let alone another grade. A grade alike at the neighboring school? Forget it. This isolation has been an issue in each of my teaching assignments. This year was better because I had an AWESOME BTSA support teacher who was located at my site and we would talk daily about our teaching and from that I improved so much more than I though I would be able to. Had I not had her, I don’t know if I would have made as much of a difference with my students and I definitely wouldn’t have improved as much as I have.

Twitter gives educators an opportunity to make connections asynchronously, on your own schedule, with other very experienced, supportive educators. Being on Twitter as an educator over the past month and a half has opened my eyes to new ideas in teaching, new philosophies, new techniques, and most importantly to new colleagues. Taking little, tiny sips from the torrenting waterfall that is Twitter in an educational setting has given me more to think about and use to improve my teaching than pretty much anything else I have encountered. And I get to do it in five minutes here, ten minutes there, snuck in around the time filled by teaching and family.

Want to get started on Twitter? Here are some resources:

Back to the new title of my blog and this post and how it finally came together.

First off, this is the most I have written in a very, very long time that wasn’t tied either to an assignment for a class or BTSA or to be used with my students. I tend to have huge writers block. I reflect daily on my teaching. I talk with others regularly about my teaching. I NEVER write about my teaching. This causes me problems in two ways. The first is that it is hard to see the effects of your reflections and changes in teaching if you don’t record them. The second is that I have a hard time remembering all of my reflections due to the wonderful distraction that comes with having three young children.

I have intended to start a blog to save my reflections for a long time with this blog started, active and empty for more than six weeks while I went through 8-10 attempts at a first blog post and 5-6 titles, none of which really stuck with me. Except for the one that was the same as a fairly major publication on a similar topic (education tech) and had the same name with a single letter’s difference, so that was a non starter.

What changed? This morning I was thinking about reflecting on my teaching. I am taking the EdTechTeam Online Teacher Leader Certificate course and one assignment is to reflect on our Personal Learning Network (PLN). I got stuck on the word reflect. In order for teachers to grow in our profession we have to reflect constantly on our teaching so that we can improve and reach our students better. I realized that while we mostly think of mirrors as a way to look at ourselves and what is behind us, mirrors can also be used for communication. As a Boy Scout one of the things that I learned was how to use a signal mirror. Signal mirrors have been used for centuries to send short messages over very long distances, not unlike Twitter. That quick realization crystallized all of the bits and pieces that I have been thinking about. They formed into this post and a new title.

A Mirror Into My Teaching will be a place where I can reflect on my teaching, and the tools, skills, ideas, and pedagogy that influence it. It will also be a place where I share out information to other, like-minded educators so that I am doing my own small part to help improve our profession.