Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New ClassDojo Features! Just in time for Back-To-School!

It's the time of year...

The Back-to-School commercials and sales are here. Parents are taking their children to the mall for new clothes and supplies, while teachers prepare their room, syllabi, and lessons. 

What better time to rethink your classroom methods and tools? This goes for teachers and edusoftware companies, like ClassDojo

I love ClassDojo! ClassDojo is a way to encourage students, engage parents, and save time! Students of all ages love it! Trust me, my seventh grade students love it! The love the "ping", the rewards, and the instant feedback they receive. Okay, and they can customize their monster avatars too! Parents love it for the same reasons!

But ClassDojo has something new on the horizon. New and AWESOME. The have THREE new features coming out! First up.....


Yes, you heard correctly, CLASSDOJO GROUPS! 

Teachers have always built their classrooms around collaboration, so why not encourage and around our students in ClassDojo in the same way? 

Now you can! 

Today you can organize students into groups into tables or into project groups. You'll still be able to reward points, but not you can encourage the whole group for any skill and keep a running total for all points given. Plus, parents can see the group points too!

The ideas are FLOODING in! I have students arranged in groups in class. Now they can create their own group flag and identity that I can give points to throughout each quarter. Then I can give group points for #GeniusHour as they work toward their project goals. 

How about using groups when working on global collaboration? Writing projects? Digital Storytelling? Endless possibilities!

Look for the new and improved ClassDojo TODAY!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Flipclass Flash blog-Finding Community

Tonight's Flipclass Twitter chat is on the importance of an educational community. 

Community can be found in many places. Before I found Twitter, my educational community were those I have worked with or friends that became teachers. 

This is fine and dandy, but once I discovered Twitter....the educational community excited me. It light a fire within me that I hadn't felt in some time. There were new ideas, books, thought, and pedagogy out there!

Educators need community. We need to have our ideas valued and heard. But more than that, we need to grow as educators. If you are standing still as a teacher or administrator, I honestly feel like there is something wrong there. We, as educators, need to continue the learning. We need to model life long learning to our students. The best way I have found is through community, or Personal Learning Networks and/or Communities (PLN/PLC) . 

For me, community comes in many forms: real life on campus, Twitter, Voxer, and Google +. Each have their own merits and I use each of them differently. 

My real life PLCs on campus know me in and out of the classroom and my current situations. They are with me day to day with the struggles of the curriculum, students, crazy schedule days, etc. They are the ones I can be open about the ins and outs of the day.

Twitter is my professional development I can get anywhere at anytime. I love my Twitter peeps! I can ask questions, share stories, get ideas, and discover the new and up in coming in education. Twitter has pushed me to be a better educator in ways I didn't know existed! Twitter opened my mind to the world! There are so many that I admire, and I hope I inspire a couple like I have been! Without Twitter, I wouldn't have applied to be a Google Certified Teacher (and got in!!) in 2009. I wouldn't have discovered the WEALTH of knowledge through Edcamps and conferences, which I was encouraged to apply to present. I wouldn't have discovered Teach Like a Pirate, flipping the classroom, EduMatch, EduPuppets, and so so much more!! I have made a wealth of edu-friends that are as near and dear to me as my day to day friends. 

Voxer is the way to actually talk and chat with mini communities. Granted some of those communities are large, but it feels small. Here is were conversations with educators spark new ideas, create projects, and even chats on the spot! It has reinvigorated me to take those Twitter conversations and make them deeper and even more meaningful-which I didn't think is was possible! 

So long story short....get out there and connect! ANY community is better than zero community! A connected educator is a better educator! We are better together! Teachers do NOT need to be an island any longer! We are a community of passionate educators who care about our students and staff and what we bring to our profession! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

SemiColon EDU

I had heard about the Semicolon Project about a year ago. It moved me then and still does. 

This year, educators have joined in the discussion and awareness. Many educators joined the conversation on social media through #SemicolonEDU. Many shared their own stories. Many even got tattoos. 

I have always been passionate about awareness of depression and suicide prevention. 

Because, I too, have been there.

I have had some ups and downs in my life: my birth mom died when I was eight months with no father to account for and I lost my mom (my adoptive grandma) at twenty-three. Both completely devastating and earth shattering. But neither prepared me for the devastation that would envelop me.

My husband, my partner of almost eight years had an affair. 

His mistress was pregnant.

We were, at the time, trying to have a baby. Or so I thought...

Being a cutter in the past had seemingly helped me through previous bouts of depression, but it wasn't enough this time. Here I thought loosing my mom so early in my life was tough, but this was worse. Much worse. His affair made me question everything. Who I was. The way I saw the world, myself, and others. I thought we were happy. I thought all was right in the world. 

And yet I felt this was my fault. I had done something. Said something. Not done something. 

And because it was my fault, perhaps I was broken. Something within me that couldn't be fixed or loved. I felt worthless. Loveless. Useless. I didn't have a family; he took that away with his infidelity. I was alone. My world was inside out and upside-down. So why stick around?

I begged. I cried. I wrote. I prayed to be taken from this world. To make the hurt and pain stop. No one would miss me. I didn't have anyone that would notice I was gone. I was in a hole and I only saw one way out.

But my story was not over.

What got me out of that hole wasn't some big moment or realization. It was a few little things. The one thing I remember was my friend, Lori, who had left a twelve pack of Cherry Pepsi on my doorstep. She was the only one in my world who knew a minuscule inkling of what was going on. The only one who knew when to call or when to leave Cherry Pepsi. 

This little gesture of kindness gave me hope. 

Climbing out of the hole wasn't instant or immediate. It took months before I gained the courage to call a therapist. A year later to build the confidence and love within myself to actually leave the relationship. Even longer to tell my friends and my dad. But I am here. And I am happy. And healthy. 

Like others, I have moments of doubt and darkness creep in, but they are moments. Fewer and farther in-between. Now I have an amazing family full of incredible friends, a loving husband, and this tiny bundle of joy I can't get enough of! Each day is a gift. It may not always be perfect, and sure, there is sadness, but there is always blessings if I look for it. Blessings that remind me of who I am and where I have been. Lessons that made me who I am today. Stronger, smarter, and my story continues.