Posted in Edublogs, General

The Places I Work

prompt-2This post is part of the #EdublogsClub – a group of educators and edtech enthusiasts that blog around a common theme each week. Simply write a post and share it to join in, or sign up to receive email reminders of each new prompt. 

Hello Reader!

Thanks for stopping by. Today’s post is about my work space. The task was laid out as follows:

This week, we want to take a closer look at where we spend the majority of our work days. Our classrooms, our offices, cubes, home offices, coffee shops, or anywhere else where we “get work done”.

Write a post that discusses your classroom or place of work. Some topics you may wish to address include:

  • The physical space – how you approach layout of furniture, technology, etc.
  • The aesthetics – share a photo and/or discuss decorating your space
  • Staying organized – how you do (or don’t) keep organized
  • Tips, tricks, or advice related to the above
  • Anything else you wish to share!

We want just a little window into your daily work life.

I could probably fill this post with various photos of the work spaces I have had. I am not sure any exist of my first classroom. I was teaching 2nd grade at the time at a school that had been built in the 1950s. I was in a room that was primarily brick walls, except for its interior walls that were those accordion wall thingies from back when they did some kind of communal teaching. (Which I actually remember from my own 3rd grade experience at another school in the 80s.) In the center of the building were communal learning spaces that were accessible from the back of the classroom (there was no door and the accordon wall did not close all the way). These spaces were clearly no longer used for any useful purpose other than exposed and cluttered storage. It was a sad sight. In my classroom there were a few high narrow windows on the exterior wall and that was it. I did my best with that space, but it was a challenge.  When I think back on that room I wonder if the teachers there now have made better use of those center spaces…they would be perfect to make over for more innovative learning spaces. I would love to go back and see. After that classroom I became a “roving” teacher. I had a 4/5 combo class, 4 rolling cabinets, and no classroom of my  own. It was my district’s solution to a multi-track year round school calendar. I moved another teacher’s room every 6 or 8 weeks when they went “off track.” It was quite the experience.

My second classroom was a portable at another school in the same district. I was teaching 5th grade now. I got to experience the joy of a portable (no sarcasm intended!) and my own space. I really did enjoy it. Every wall in a portable is a bulletin board! My only complaint about portables is the floor and heavy footed students. 😉

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Outside one of my classrooms at my last school.
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A lovely day on the playground.
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One of the school computer labs.

Then I transferred to my last school where I had a few rooms based on grade level assignment.  The school was only a year old when I arrived and I was thrilled. All my previous schools had been old…and I don’t mean just schools I taught at. ALL my schools had been old…from K to college. It seems they suddenly got fancy new makeovers once I had long been through. So it was a real treat to work at a new facility. I had several rooms with nice built in cabinets and shelves and SOLID floors! Oh the little things in life. In my last year at this school I ended up in a portable again, which I didn’t mind. I enjoyed the lack of the built ins because it allowed me freedom to place furniture where I liked. It was a brand new portable to the school (one pulled from another site where it wasn’t needed and brought over so it wasn’t a NEW portable, just new to the school.) I got all new furniture which was nice, but the district was slow in getting it to the school and it didn’t arrive until just a few days before the school year. It was a mad race to beat the clock in getting it ready. I worked a few VERY late nights, but in the end it was good enough to go the first day of school. I loved it.

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Inside my new portable the night before the first day of school.

I was encouraged to apply for my current position as an Instructional Coach by my principal and ultimately by the director of the department I work in. I really didn’t want to leave mid-year but that is the way it happened. I had to pack up right before winter break 2015. I came over to the district office only to find they had no place for me and the 2 others they had hired for the department. So I was roving again, but in a much smaller way. I had my own devices and hotspot so I could do work anywhere (I have long been that way). Myself and my two colleagues spent several weeks huddled around our new director’s table in his office before they finally got us a small room of our own off site at the adult school. I was there for a fair amount of time before real estate (cubicles) opened up at the district office and we were summoned back, where I claimed a spot for myself, and I have been there ever since. It has been an experience scaling down from an entire classroom to myself (and 30+ students) to sharing a cubicle with one other person. All my classroom stuff lives in a storage unit now. I can’t let it go just yet because…you never know! I do wish I had at least an office with a door than a part of a cubicle…oh and a window would be nice.

Moving into a temporary space at the adult school.
Another angle of the adult school space.
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My new space at the district office.
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My desk at the district office.

At home I have an office which I am always changing. Because I am prone to WAY TOO MUCH screen time, I removed any actual desk and put in my treadmill (which I turned into a treadmill desk with a wood shelf and some clamps) along with a bike desk. So if I am going to be on the computer for hours at a time doing coursework for my doctorate or gaming or otherwise entertaining myself, then I am going to be moving!

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My office right after I moved my desk out and my equipment in.
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My desks: treadmill desk & bike desk!
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The view from my bike desk.

I also make pretty much anywhere a work space if I need it to be. I never go on a trip without my laptop or my Windows tablet. Even now, I made a work space at the dealership while waiting for my husband’s car to have it’s battery replaced!

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Me using the “customer business” table as my work space.
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It even has a window!

So this post turned more into “The History and Eccentricity of Mrs. Ruiz’s Work Spaces” than addressing much about the prompt blogging points, but I suppose that is alright. I am sure some of you can identify with me.

Posted in Edublogs

My Blog Story

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Every year I want to blog a bit more as an educator. This year I am really going to try to make that happen as I have joined Edublogs weekly #edublogsclub. I am pretty sure I have joined other blogging challenges and failed to participate fully, but I am not going to allow that to happen again!

In order to satisfy the first blogging prompt this post can contain any of the following:

  • Your experience blogging – is this your first post? Are you an experienced veteran? Somewhere in between?
  • Do you read other blogs? What are some of your favorites? How do you keep up with them?
  • What are your goals for the #EdublogsClub?
  • If you are new to blogging, do you have any questions you want answered or fears you wish to share?
  • If you are more experienced at blogging, do you have any advice for newbies?
  • Anything else you wish to share!

This is not my first post, but I don’t really consider myself a veteran. I have had my own website/domain for a while, but I have not really been an avid blogger. I have had my own domain so long I had to go look up exactly when I acquired it – June 2008. I had been teaching only 8 years and at my third elementary school, Dorothy Grant Elementary. It was at this school where I finally found a group of tech-minded educators that I could confidently move forward with and develop my passion for educational technology. I remained at this school up until December 2015, when I went on to be a Teacher on Assignment in my district.

My blog really wasn’t a blog at first, it was a class website…a tool I used to communicate with tech savvy families and guide my students to the links I wanted them to use when they had lab time or had time in class to use one of our few computers. I used to publish it with Tech4Learning‘s Web Blender program.  It wasn’t until 4 years ago that my class website became a blog when I transitioned it to WordPress, and even then I continued to use it as a tool to communicate with parents, publicize events going on at my school or in my classroom, and a place to house links for my students and families.

Now that I am out of the classroom and at the district office I have struggled with what to with my website. I always knew who my audience was, but who would it be now? I have no students and no families to communicate with. I have my work as a Teacher on Assignment and a teacher website among a sea of teacher websites. The transition from a classroom teacher to a teacher on assignment has not been an easy one, and the transition in the purpose and audience of my website has been almost as challenging. I find blogging to be a very useful outlet, but I wrestle with what I have to offer the broader teaching community with my blog given that there are so many excellent teacher blogs already in existence. Addressing this issue is actually my main goal in participating in the weekly prompts  of the Edublogs Club. I am hoping through participating I will be able to clarify the new purpose and audience of my site.

As for other blogs, I read so many its hard to recommend just one. I have recently started using Bloglovin’ to keep track of blogs I am interested in, but for the most part many blogs are delivered right to my inbox via various subscriptions I have. Many of the blogs I read are quite “newsy” and I feel like it might be nice to connect to other blogging educators. I guess that would be another goal of mine in participating with these weekly blogging prompts.

In the end I want my blog to evolve, be robust and have a distinct purpose, while helping me to connect to other blogging educators and building a whole new sort of professional learning community (PLC).

Posted in Minecraft

The Club is Back!

Minecraft with Mrs RuizI have missed having my Minecraft Club and learning as much as I can about Minecraft in order to make it a meaningful experience with students. I have officially launched my Minecraft Club again and I am looking for Miners who would enjoy working on projects on my private server.

I have a new flyer that can be given to parents of students who might like to join.

I learned so much from the first round of the club, and have made some great contacts since then. I am hoping some of my former club miners will join me again and pick up some new miners ones. This round should be better than before for sure!

Posted in General

Claiming My Blog

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As I work toward using my class website in new ways related to my work as an educator and parent of a 6th grader, I am using a tool I have used in the past with my Second Life blog, Bloglovin. It’s a great tool to follow blogs with as well as to easily read all the blogs I follow. I am currently building it up with my favorite blogs and “claiming” my blog. The “claiming” process required I make this post to show that I am the owner of this blog. If you are an avid blog reader or want to be one, Bloglovin’s is a great tool.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Posted in Minecraft

It’s Been a While

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Hello Everyone!

I am honestly not sure who reads this blog anymore now that I am out of the classroom. My class website was created to be a communication tool between myself and my students and their families. I left my classroom to be a teacher on assignment last December…I can’t believe it has already almost been a year. It still feels like only recently that I left my classroom.

The transition was not an easy one. Being a teacher on assignment was a completely new experience for me, and one I am learning from every day. I have been wrestling with what purpose my website would serve now and I am still sorting it out. It bothered me that I hadn’t posted since April, and I had been meaning to post again for a while. What finally brought me back to posting was one of my long time passions…employing Minecraft for educational purposes and showing other teachers how to do that as well.

Minecraft has been around for 6 years now. I have been aware of it since it was 3 years old and a few boys in one of my 3rd grade classes had Minecraft fever. Lots of educators around the world are using Minecraft in their classrooms now, but while many educators are quite skilled in using Minecraft for education, there are still a lot of us who want to use Minecraft with our students but don’t know where to start.

Minecraft with Mrs Ruiz

From late 2014 til recently this year (2016) I ran my own Minecraft server as a part of my Master’s practicum. Talk about a learning experience! I offered a Minecraft Club for 3rd through 5th grade at my school. Since Minecraft is not district approved, I ran it as a distance learning experience with students using their own Minecraft accounts and logging in from home to my hosted server. At most I had about 15 students and in the end as things got harder to manage, I ended up with about 5. I closed my server just over a month ago. It really was a great experience for all of us and I was sad to shut it down, but in the end no one was using the server anymore.

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Recently I attended Minecon in Anaheim, and that really made me miss Minecraft. I am in a position as a teacher on assignment to propose teaching tools and Minecraft is one I recently brought up to find my directors receptive to hearing more. Both of those factors made my desire to have my own server again strong. I am approaching it differently now. I am not running a club, but running the server for me to learn and experiment, and for Xavier (my 11 year old son & 6th grader) and I (as well as any interested previous club members) to come and create. No agenda, no lessons, just learning, experimenting and playing.

Me on my new server
Me on my new server
Xavier and I on the new server
Xavier and I on the new server
The Ruiz Fort
The Ruiz Fort
Me and Miss Piggy taking stock of the new fort
Me and Miss Piggy taking stock of the new fort

I hope to post at least my Minecraft experiences, as well as other experiences related to education that may be of interest to others.

Thanks for reading!

Mrs. Ruiz

Posted in Educational Technology

Coding for All!

Computer science, robotics, and coding are very much the hot topic in education these days, so why not make coding accessible for all?? I just know my dogs Fiona, Dot, and Ryker would LOVE to learn to code. Ryker just completed his very first obedience class, so I am sure he is ready for coding! Thank you Wonder Workshop! #dogscancode

Happy April Fools Day!

Posted in Educational Technology

The First Several Weeks

It has been some time since I posted on my site. I have wanted to post, but have been uncertain as to what I wanted to post and what direction I wanted my site to go in now that I am out of the classroom.

Adjusting to leaving 16 years in the elementary classroom was an experience I could really not prepare for. I have gone from a highly structured day to one that is much more free form and full of meetings and collaboration. I also left a classroom environment. My classroom was my home way from home, my rather large office, and something that was mine. I had a great deal of control over my classroom. Presently I am in a space that is nothing like a classroom, and while nice, it doesn’t feel the same. I think in making this transition that was something I worried about the most. The space I live and work in is very important and has a good deal to do with my mental well being.

One view of my new work space
One view of my new work space
Another view of my new workspace
Another view of my new work space

I will have to share more images of what my work space looks like now. It is certainly less sterile and more organized looking. It is a communal space shared with two other Linked Learning TOAs. It is a temporary location and I am looking forward to seeing where we really end up and what it will be like when two more TOAs are brought on to complete our team.

Logistics aside, I have done a fair amount of learning. I hope to get some additional posts up soon focused on the trainings I have attended and how the information learned might work into the elementary classroom. My plan for my site as this point is to post my reflections and learnings and hope it might entertain and/or educate those who care to read.