Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Fruits of Labor and Professional Development

Region Six's annual ETC Conference at Gregori High School was in full swing Saturday, February 22! ETC had over 800 (yes, you read that right) educators gather to learn more about technology, its use, and integration into classrooms.

The energy was palpable as more and more teachers entered the gym. The excitement of learning new tech was everywhere. Venders were showing products, breakfast was served, and  Luke Hubbard  was handing out laptop bags and making sure presenters and attendees were all set. It was the beginnings of a great day of learning!

I began the day with the amazing Andrew Schwab on how to Google more efficiently. It was great! From Google Scholar to searching a file type. You and your students can even better learn Google Search through courses online. Andrew rocked the room! AND the best part, he shared all his resources! Yes!

Then Karen Taylor and I were up. Web Tools and Apps for the Common Core. We had a packed room of teachers ready to learn. 

We polled the room to see what kind of technology users we had (very high users this session!) and then were off!
Me getting my share on!

We walk attendees through web tools and apps that fit the Blooms's New Taxonomy and the Common Core. Because this was the first hour presentation Karen and I have done (we typically do an hour and a half minimum or up to three hours) we glossed the lower levels because we teachers, we want to see our students reaching the higher levels! Not that the lower levels aren't important. They are! They are essential to get our students achieving at the higher one and all are incorporated in the higher levels as well. 

With Bloom's in mind, we discussed, demonstrated and gave classroom use/examples of PadletPopplet, Today's Meet, Vod and Podcasting, blogging, Comic Life, movie posters through Big Labs, Vokis, raps, Fakebook, Animoto, Aurasma, Educreations, Genius Hour, and so much more! It was incredible! All our resources, including our presentation can be located here.

The best part of it all is the sharing and connecting with educators. Not only did I have the support of the staff I work with (shout out to Lori, Amanda, Fergi, and Anne!), but I got to meet some Twitter heroes face to face as well as new teachers who became inspired by what they saw and heard. I was Tweeted and talked to after the entire conference saying that our session was worth the entire day! I was even stopped by a brand new teacher at Starbucks about our "inspiring class" and how she went directly to her classroom to set up for the week with her "new technology tools"! #EduWIN!
My new moto.

Through all the professional development I have been a part of has taught and reinforced to me that sharing and connecting goes a LONG way. We as educators need to open our doors and rooms, our ideas, thoughts, and questions to other educators. The only way to get better is to work together! Even the smallest idea can turn to be HUGE for someone else! Long gone are the days of "on my own island" teaching. We must empower, inspire, and help each other! Connect with at personal learning community or network. Go big or go home!

Educators are not teachers because it's a job....we are educators because it is our PASSION! 

So get passionate and be a lifelong learner and a sharer! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

"This is my 5th attempt, so now I'm re-evaluating."- Reflection of tech in the classromm

Being apart of the CTA Teacher Leadership Cohort has been an amazing experience. It has opened doors and allowed me, and fellow friend and colleague, Karen, the opportunity to share our knowledge all around the state about teaching and technology. 

It has been amazing!

Early February, we headed for Pasadena for the CTA Common Core and Beyond. It was a wonderful whirlwind of tech sharing! I truly love talking with other educators who have the same passion I do; to continually better themselves for their students! 

Like with teaching, Karen and I always want to know where our participants are with technology in their classrooms. Using Poll Everywhere, participants text their level of technology and created this amazing sentence cloud. It is great to hear, read, where teachers are in their use of technology. Some are advanced, some just starting out. But the fact is ALL the teachers that attended our session have the passion to learn and attempt more. EXACTLY the kind of teachers we need in our schools! Next time, we will do an exit poll to see what take aways our participants truly loved and discovered.
Our first session ran smoothly and was recorded for live broadcast on CTA's website. It is also archived here for future use or consultation. What was truly amazing about the recording was that Karen and I had the opportunity to talk and answer questions from the participants at home! Not only were we inspiring those sitting live in front of us, but participants who were probably in their jammies at home! #Eduawesome!

Our second session was larger....and had quite the hiccup. A heckler! Well, not really a heckler, but an educator who was overwhelmed about the technology we were discussing. Within the first two minutes she stood up and shouted "Time-out!" and even did the hand signs! It was great for a couple of reasons: 1. We haven't dealt with this kind of response from adults before and 2. We had an amazing opportunity to truly help her on her technology journey. It was eye opening, scary, but truly great! At the end of our session, she came up to us to thank us for our understanding and help. YAY! This is why I do what I do. I love teaching! I love the "Ah-ha" moments from students of ALL ages! We are all learning and growing, why not do it together?!

Up next for the "Techie Twosome" was to ease the pressures of  the Common Core. Although the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has been around for a few years now, it has only recently been adopted by schools, districts, and states. The pressure is on for teachers to not only know and understand the Common Core State Standards, but also create and plan their curriculum around CCSS without textbooks. And many still creating curricula for themselves or site or even districts. 

Through CTA, the teachers of Antioch and Pittsburg created a Common Core workshop and asked for Karen and me! It was great to talk about CCSS with teachers, their frustrations as well as their excitement for the creation of standards that allow creativity and freedom when administrators trust their teachers. It was a great empowering and inspiring evening!

Not only did we talk Common Core, but how to plan with the Common Core in mind, how to take current lessons and enhance them to match CCSS, and even how to bridge technology into lessons, scaffolding for English language learners and other populations to help them reach educational goals. I think these teachers were truly excited and felt better about CCSS and how it looks in the classroom. 

The lesson I have taken from the past couple of workshops is that teachers MUST connect beyond their classrooms. I know that teaching has typically been we close our doors and work/teach on our own island. This cannot be the case any longer. We, as educators, must continually grow, question, and learn. We must be life long learners and students to energize ourselves, our teaching, and our classrooms. We must open our doors to each other. Whether simply at the site we teach or beyond to other educators in our district, county, state, or world. We need to remind ourselves that we are not alone, we are in the same boat, pushing and working toward the same goals....inspire our students (and each other) to greatness! 

Let's move where the magic happens and grow our professional learning communities and networks. Our students need us as do our fellow colleagues everywhere!