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Join @ajbianco, @mrnesi, and @iruntech as we learn through the wonderful world of podcasts!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

In t-issue 5 of Learning in the Loo I share a quick way to close your open tabs (CTRL + W), where I will be next Thursday (IgniteStem) and Dayci shares an app for Spanish teachers or those looking to learn Spanish (VideoEle). 

For back t-issues of Learning in the Loo, check out these links:

Sunday, April 2, 2017

#PodcastPD: Lessons Learned From the House of #EdTech

The March Madness Final is tomorrow night. I can't pretend to be interested in the tournament, but Chris Nesi always captures my attention this time of year with his yearly #EdTech Final Four. In episode 82 of The House of #EdTech, Chris shares his picks for 2017. I've used three of the final four. Oddly enough, the one that's new to me, sketchboard.io, is the one I will likely find most helpful. Enjoy Chris' other recommendations and be sure to check out the other 82 episodes (I have appeared on three episodes; let me know if you give them a listen).

For more on #PodcastPD check out these posts:

Friday, March 31, 2017

Thirty Days Later: My Journey In Creating a Writerly Life

Finally...day 30! Wohoo! I made it!

I am a BIG fan of challenges. There is something uniquely appealing in the idea of makingdoing, creating, following, practicing, and/or being for a set number of hours, days, weeks, months, etc. I enjoy the routine, the predictability, the accomplishment, the feeling of pride, and the achievement. Especially once I have accomplished the task for the day. I may not always enjoy the run, but I ALWAYS enjoy having run. I certainly don't always like writing, but I enjoy that I haven't broken the streak.

When I started this challenge on March 2nd (a day later than I had hoped), I knew I could do it. I knew it would be a challenge; that writing and posting my writing would make me feel vulnerable. I knew there would be days when I just didn't want to write (many more than I thought). I knew I would suffer from writer's block (also more times than I thought I would). But I knew I could do it! I mean, I am no stranger to challenges like this. I have completed two Whole30s, #the100dayproject (I started mine last April 1st), and trained for several half marathons, some 10Ks, and countless 5Ks. On Monday I started a new challenge, the #sketch50 (TwitterInstagram) challenge introduced to me by Amber McCormick. This is in addition to the meditation streak I have going and the 30-day writing/blog posting challenge I have assigned myself. Remember, I like a challenge.

What I've Learned

During the course of the past 30 days I have become aware of a lot of things about myself. I really do like writing. It's an amazing creative outlet that I haven't truly explored as an adult (or even as a kid). There is something magical about sitting down with a pen and a blank sheet in my notebook or sitting like a pretzel on my couch with my laptop keeping my legs warm and watching as ideas flow from my brain to my fingers to the keyboard to make letters appear on the screen.

When I get blocked, writing is a chore! The good thing about having the pressure to write daily is, you work through the pain. I posted some garbage this month, but I wrote. And that was my goal.

What Surprised Me

  • I am surprised by the number of people who interacted with my blog and with me. Your comments and tweets kept me going. Some, like the tweet about "Send It In An Email" got me thinking. 
  • I am surprised by what content you liked. Last night's Beauty and the Beast post, which was the byproduct of writer's block and an idea that has been swimming in my head for over a week, got a lot of feedback. As did "Bedtime Stories" and "I Am One Lucky Teacher".
  • I'm surprised that the more I write, the more people seem to read. I know someone is thinking, "Enough, already." Thankfully, no one has been so unkind as to say it to my face or digitally.

What's Next

So what's next? As I write my final daily blog post and think about plans to nurture my fledgling writerly life, and as I start my next daily project with the #sketch50, I am thinking about what's really next. What will I do to continue to grow and challenge myself? I know there is more. There is so much more. I am committing to posting 3 times per week here on the blog and posting daily on my Instagram account. I plan to continue weekly posts like "#PodcastPD" and "Learning In the Loo". The final post will be something a little meatier, like my "One Word for 2017". Please keep me accountable.  If you stay the course with me, there will be more to come. I am working on a new project, one that has been in my head for nearly a year and is slowly becoming something. I think you'll like it!

Thank You!!!

I thank you for coming on this journey with me. I hope I made you laugh a little, think a lot, and want to stretch your muscles and try something new. What are your next 30 days going to bring?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Lesson As Old As Time

Same story, new spin.

Two weeks ago my grad school friends and I met for the opening weekend release of Beauty and the Beast. There was a lot of excitement surrounding the meet up, as these teacher friends and I usually only get together during school holidays and breaks (#teacherlife). There was also, simply, a lot of excitement surrounding the release of the movie. After all, it's been 26 years since Disney released the animated version of Beauty and the Beast.

I'm not 100% sure why....perhaps it was because I saw the movie with fellow teachers (and our sons), or the fact that it's been such a long time since the original, or a combination of the two, but I started thinking about how Beauty and the Beast is a tale of how we as educators need to re-invent our teaching and re-release it for a new audience.

Some would say there is nothing wrong with the original 1991 version of Beauty and the Beast. The animation was perfect. The scenery was perfect. The music was perfect. The supporting characters were perfect. Belle was perfect. The movie was perfect! How could it be improved? How do you improve perfection? I know teachers who feel this way about their teaching. They ask, "Why do I need this new... (fill in the blank), my kids have always learned with my methods. They do well on the state test."

I will never forget when a young teacher in her third year announced to me, "I am so happy to finally be teaching the same grade...now I can just look back at my lesson plans and copy/paste!" WHAT??? Hold on!!! Pump the breaks!!! You are a third year teacher and already you have lost the excitement of lesson creating? (I call it lesson creating, because, let's be honest, there is nothing exciting about lesson planning.) This teacher was too young and too new in her chosen career to be so excited about reaching into the digital filing cabinet and using old and dated lesson plans. We cannot simply take lessons out of the vault and change the date on them!

Don't get me wrong, all lessons do not need to be re-created from scratch. From year to year our standards and curriculum do not change much. Sometimes we can take an already strong framework and breathe new life into the lesson. Change the delivery method. See if there is a good place for the use of technology. Add student choice. Change the mentor text. Create new story-problem sets that include your students' names and interests. Flip a lesson. There are so many ways to rejuvenate a our teaching practices.

We need to keep in mind that each year our students change. Their interest change. Technologies change. And every now and again, our curriculum and standards will change (Next Gen Science Standards, anyone?). Change can be good. Change keeps us fresh. Change keeps us on our toes. Change keeps the moths out of the wardrobe. Create something new from the old. We need change, not for the sake of change, but because our kids deserve it!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My Favorite Edu Quote

My favorite quote...

Share your favorite educational quote in the comments below; I'd love to sketchnote it!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tissue 4 of Learning in the Loo

In t-issue 4 of Learning in the Loo I share one of my most often used extension-One Tab and a keyboard shortcut that could save a writer gobs of time-Ctrl + F.

For back tissues of Learning in the Loo, check out these links:

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Teacher's Never-Ending Thanksgiving Plate

Today's question for the daily twitter chat #BFC530 was ....
It got me thinking about the overloaded Thanksgiving plate teachers are forced to pile onto each year. Rarely does a school year start where a school or district isn't adopting a new initiative or two, or three, or four...you get the picture. We are constantly adding the new school year's mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce while the offerings from the previous year get moldy, as we haven't had time to properly ingest them.

I remember one year, not too long ago, when my district started the year with 5 new initiatives without giving teachers extra time to get it done and/or without taking something away. As K-5 teachers we moved from quarterly marking periods to trimesters, from grades based report cards to standards based report cards, from one lesson plan platform to another, we started using a new student information system (think student attendance and grades and teacher evaluations), teachers started incorporating math workshop into their math instruction.

If you are an administrator I implore you to consider what you are taking off your teachers' plates before you add anything new. It's time to cut back on the educational calories we consume throughout the school year. I know I would have a lot more room for biscuits if there was a little less stuffing.