#summer

*cough* Ahem. *coughcough*

Man, it’s a bit dusty over here.

My poor neglected blog appears to have collected a couple of cobwebs and dustmites, and I have a list in my phone’s notepad of a half dozen blog topics sitting as lonely ideas waiting to join Internet permanency.

So far this summer, I’ve completed two more masters classes in which I crafted a full presentation on why Schoology is awesome and learned about and administered the Ekwall-Shanker Reading Inventory to two students, attended the ISTE 2017 conference in San Antonio, spent a couple days enjoying the Guadalupe River in Gruene, Texas with my husband, and played roughly 1.3 million hours of the Sims 4.

Ok, not 1.3 million, but the game did give me a notification this week that I’ve played 100 total hours. The game called this an accomplishment, but it felt a little like it was shaming me. “You have work to do! You have a blog to write! Lessons to plan for next year! Books to read! Another class to get ready for! And here you are playing the Sims. Shame!” it seemed to say.

But, no! No, Sims 4. You are wrong! I am not ashamed of my 100 hours of Sims playing time since I installed it on this computer in May. I’m not ashamed that my Sims family is now working on the fourth generation. I deserve that playing time. All teachers deserve to spend time in the summer doing what they want to do, what they enjoy, what makes them happy. We sacrifice so much of our personal lives during the school year, some more or less than others, for the sake of our students. After school hours grading, lunches spent shoveling in a salad while reworking the flopped parts of the day’s lesson for the afternoon classes, even late nights trying to sleep but worrying about that one students having so many problems at home. Like the meme I keep seeing on Facebook says, teachers don’t get summers off, we just collect our overtime. And let’s be honest here, most of us still do quite a lot of actual work during the summer to get ready for the next year.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on Facebook “I have a carefully crafted reward system that involves to-do lists and The Sims. #gradstudentproblems.” I found this system to be incredibly effective. Both of my classes thankfully provided a calendar of due dates and assignments for the duration of the month, making it easy for me to create lists of what I needed to get done for both classes each day. If I completed my list for the day, I could play the Sims. If I didn’t, no Sims. I mean, hey, we all use positive reinforcement on our students, why not use it on ourselves?

So, in a way, those 100 hours of Sims playing time just shows how many things I actually did get done in June.

Even if writing a blog post wasn’t one of them.

(Posts about ISTE, my classes, and other topics of actual substance coming soon!)

Tweet Tweet!

twitter

If you’d told me five years ago that I would be saying that Twitter is my professional development best friend, I would have laughed in your face. But here I am saying that Twitter is amazing and I have learned so much from the past couple weeks of use.

I’m a current masters student at the University of Houston, taking a class on Integrating Technology into the Curriculum. Part of this class required participation in a Twitter Slow Chat put on by ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education). I’ve heard of Twitter chats before. Plenty of my undergrad professors at Kent State encouraged us to participate in chats put on by NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) or other similar professional organizations. I was reluctant because I was just never super comfortable with Twitter. I know Facebook. I like Facebook. Honestly, I’ve only in the past year gotten into using Instagram. (Yeah, I know, I’m a bad millenial.)

I do have a smattering of experience with Twitter before this class. I created an account during the election with the hopes of following news organizations (and my husband’s live debate tweets), but that fizzled out quickly. I tried in my first year of teaching to create a class Twitter to send reminders to my Twitter-obsessed students, but after seeing some of their Twitter pages, I decided that was a bad idea. A very bad idea. *shudder* Then I discovered Remind anyway. Much less frightening.

But, hey, now it’s a class requirement. No more putting off Twitter. It’s time to give it a real go. I didn’t know what I was missing. I think my problem with Twitter in the past was simply that I never really knew how to utilize it. Continue reading

Let’s Get These Kids Moving!

quote quizlet.png

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a clear theme to my methodology lately: student engagement. You can be the best teacher in the world, but if the students aren’t listening, you’re wasting your effort. And I hate wasted effort.

I’ve found that technology is a great way to increase engagement. It, like all things, has its drawbacks, and I, like all teachers, have struggled to use it effectively. But these past few weeks have really been eye-opening to the possibilities of using technology beyond simply having students submit their work through Schoology (though Schoology’s discussion posts can be great for getting those quiet kids to participate freely in discussion, and they’re perfect exit tickets).

The second way I’ve realized that I can really get students engaged is just getting them up out of their seats. Now, you can’t just tell them all to stand up and move around without a purpose, but giving them a task that requires them to move around, even if it’s just relocating to a new part of the room, gets them engaged and leaves them no ability to hide at their desk. I’ll be honest, I am only one teacher and they are many students. When we’re doing deskwork, there have been times that a kid managed to get away with not actually doing any of the work, and I didn’t realize it until after school. Getting them up and moving around makes it more obvious if kids try to not participate. Honestly, from what I’ve seen (especially in my Persuasion Matchup activity) when the students are moving around, they don’t want to not participate (sorry about the double negative). They want to work!

Taking these two major ideas, technology and movement, I decided to try a new tool in my classroom today: Quizlet Live.

It is AWESOME.  Continue reading