Posted in Edublogs

Guest Blogger

mouse-2575068_1920EduBlogsClub Prompt #27:

Prompt: Write a guest post on another blog, or find a guest blogger for yours!

Ask someone else to post for you this week on a topic of their choice. Or see if you can find another blog or website that will let you post there. If nothing else, consider writing on something like Medium.com this week, it can help you grow an audience 🙂

I knew the guest blogger prompt was coming (because I am behind and I have all the prompts queued up) and I still couldn’t bring myself to do it. So I got to reflecting on why that is and I came to the conclusion that I view my blog as a journal that only I write in, but lots of people can read if they so choose. I welcome comments and enjoy them, but that is where guests get to write on my blog if they want. I didn’t look for another blog to blog on because of the same thinking. The blogs of others, belong to them. Unless it is a group sort of blog, I think blogging on another teacher’s blog is not something I feel comfortable with.

So if I am not going to have a guest or be a guest, then that leaves me with the other suggestion in the post (thank you for those!), which is looking into Medium.

I have been aware of Medium, but I never really looked into it, mainly because I really don’t want to have to manage another log in for another website or create another account for a service I may not use. I know that sounds rather pessimistic of me, but that is not my intent. It is just a time thing. I only have so much time and signing up for a bunch of things is not the best use of it, when I know I am going to have a hard time staying on top of or even using all the things I sign up for. I have to be selective.

But for the sake of this prompt I did look into Medium. I spent some time looking at the work of other Medium users, specifically the “Noteworthy” writers. I really enjoy the way Medium is set up. I think what stands out to me is that it doesn’t look like a blog, it looks like a and feels like a writing community.

So without further ado, here is my first post on Medium.

If you are on Medium too and would like me to follow you, share your link with me in the comments below. 🙂

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Posted in Edublogs

World Teachers’ Day

38_World Teachers Day

#EduBlogsClub Prompt #38:

Prompt: Reflect on a teacher or the status of teachers

What thoughts come to mind when you think of World Teachers’ Day? Here are some ideas:

  • Share a story of a teacher who made an impact on you.
  • Tell us about your experience with higher education and the teaching staff you encountered.
  • Why did you become a teacher?
  • If you had total freedom and unlimited resources, how would you celebrate World Teachers’ Day at your workplace?

So much for blogging a few times a week to catch up! Life is funny like that. Regular blogging is important to me. The reflective practice of blogging is very therapeutic.

Today’s topic is so time sensitive it forced me to do my catch up posts out of order. It might even have caused me to do the remaining past posts in any order they appeal to me rather than their numerical order. What’s fun to remember is that I make the rules here on my blog, so catching up in numerical order or completely random order is up to me.

Today is World Teachers’ Day. I have to be honest and say that in my 17 years as an educator I don’t recall celebrating or acknowledging World Teachers’ Day. That’s not to say it doesn’t matter, it most certainly does, but now that I am out of the classroom I have a lot more time to reflect on my classroom days.

Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers

I felt very empowered when I was in the classroom. While I had the framework of my district to work within, I always felt I had some room to make decisions about how my students were taught and how I wanted to approach teaching them. I felt free to read and learn about new approaches and strategies. I felt free to collaborate with my colleagues to make my students’ academic experiences as powerful as possible. It had been my hope as a teacher on assignment that I would be able to work with teachers in accomplishing the same goal…enriching the learning experiences of their students.

On this year’s World Teachers’ Day I ask all those who have been teachers and are now in a position outside of the classroom, whatever that may be, do you feel free and empowered in your new role? Do you feel disconnected from the teacher you once were or do you feel you are even more empowered in your new role? Share with me in the comments below. 🙂

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Posted in Edublogs

Reflections

img_4855EduBlogsClub Prompt #26:

Prompt: Write a post reflecting on the last half year of blogging.

Here are some possible topics to help get you started:

  • Share your favorite posts that you’ve written and tell us what they mean to you.
  • Share your three favorite posts that others in the #edublogsclub have written and tell why you loved them.
  • What has been your biggest challenge during the last six months of blogging? Why?
  • What would you like to do differently over the next six months of blogging? Why?
  • What has been your proudest moment in blogging over the last six months? Why?
  • How do you feel that blogging about education has made you a better educator?

The prompt was originally posted in July of this year so I am still a bit behind, but I enjoy the opportunity to reflect.

Favorite posts? I enjoy writing all of them, so I can’t say I have a favorite really. Favorite posts from other EduBloggers? I am going to amend that one to be my favorite EduBloggers. I have followed the blogs of several of the other bloggers in the challenge. And while I enjoy reading all the posts, here are the EduBloggers that have not only stood out, but have continued to blog regularly:

Mandy Ellis, A Principal’s Decree
As an aspiring administrator, I really enjoy being able to read the blog of a blogging principal! While I know some principals do blog, they don’t with the frequency that teachers do. I enjoy reading Mandy’s perspective and seeing how she uses her blog as an administrator.

Alicia Abdul, Readers Be Advised
I really enjoy Alicia’s thoughtful and regular posts from her perspective and experiences as a librarian.

and my newest favorite read…

Kathleen Morris, Primary Tech
Kathleen may be the newest contributor to the EduBlogger account, but she is a wealth of information and a very nurturing support to EduBloggers. Her responses to my posts have really helped remind me how important engagement is. I tend to be a lurker when reading the posts of others (like on Mandy & Alicia’s blogs) and I really need to engage by leaving comments. Thanks for reminding me of the importance of that Kathleen! I even volunteered to be a mentor for the student EduBlogs challenge, I would love to have some student blogs to visit on the regular to leave comments on.

I am pretty sure I had signed up for the EduBlogsClub challenge before and not participated. I am so glad I did participate this year. I may have gotten VERY behind at some point, but I am enjoying the process of catching up. The prompts have me reflecting on my experiences and practices each time I write and that is so valuable.

While there aren’t many months left of this year’s challenge, I expect to finish it on time with the few other EduBloggers that have managed to go the distance. I plan on signing up for the EduBlogsClub challenge each time they offer it. I enjoy having the prompts and they way they get me to think about things. It has been very therapeutic!

Have you reflected on your own blogging? What did you realize? Share with me in the comments below. 🙂

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Posted in Edublogs

Professional Learning and Conferences

conference-2705706_1920EduBlogsClub Prompt #25:

Prompt: Write a post about conferences and professional learning.

Here are some possible topics to help get you started:

  • Write a list of the top conferences you want to attend before you retire.
  • Have you presented at an academic conference? If so, write about your presentation and share with everyone!
  • Write about the most inspiring speaker you’ve seen at a conference, and tell about how it impacted your approach to education.
  • Write a post discussing tips for getting the most out of conferences.
  • Write a post about what conferences need to do to continue to be a positive force in education.

I love professional learning and conferences! I love them so much I decided to make one of them an annual thing and turn it into a family trip. 🙂

I am sure I am not alone in saying that my district doesn’t pay for a whole lot of conferences. I can see how something like that gets expensive real quick, but conferences are really a valuable learning experience. I have a passion for edtech and so that usually drives my conference interest, as well as academic innovation.

CUE logo

The first conference I used to go to on the regular was CUE (Computer Using Educators). It is a great edtech conference held in Palm Springs, CA in March of every year and is only about a 45 minute drive away. Many educators consider it a warm up to ISTE in June, and I would have to say that is a fair assessment. On the whole it is a great conference and I recommend it.

ISTE logo

ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) is my new regular conference now. It is a massive edtech experience. I have been aware of the annual ISTE conference for years but I first attended in Philadelphia 3 years ago, and attended again this past June in San Antonio. Next year it will be in Chicago. I have been telling my husband that I want he and our 12 year old son to accompany me to make it a family trip and I am excited that this time we will finally be doing that. So ISTE will officially be a family summer trip so I can get my edtech fix, and my son can see the United States. Win-win right?

sxswedu logo

SXSWEDU is one I only just became aware of about a year or two ago and I have yet to attend. It is held in early March each year in Austin, TX. I am interested in it because it showcases academic innovation and not just edtech. We need so much innovation in education right now! I am hoping to attend next March.

What are some of your favorite conferences? Share with me in the comments below. 🙂

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Posted in Edublogs

Parents

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While this looks like a stock photo, it is actually my mother, myself and my son in a photo shoot from several years ago. It is one of my favorites. 🙂

EduBlogsClub Prompt #24:

Prompt: Write a post about parents.

Whether it’s working with parents, being an educator-parent, or something about your own parents.

Here are some possible topics to help get you started:

  • Write a post about successful parent-teacher conference moments.
  • What is the most challenging part of being a parent-educator or do you feel you are an educator-parent?
  • Write a post about how your parents have helped you develop yourself as an educator.
  • Write a post suggesting ways that parents and teachers can work together to ensure student success.

I am an educator-parent. As an educator-parent I am privy to a lot of insider information. I feel I am much better versed on the education system than a parent who isn’t an educator. I don’t mean this comment in a disparaging way, it’s simply my own experience.

My parents weren’t educators and they made the best decisions they could when it came to my schooling, but that largely consisted of sending me to the public school we lived near. I made the best of that experience. I had exciting teachers and boring teachers. I was an avid reader and where school could not deliver, I branched out, seeking my own answers via books.

I remember asking my parents if I could go to a private high school…mainly to be with my best friend, but also because the notion fascinated me. How would a private school compare to a public one? But the answer was no. We ended up moving just before high school as it was, and I did as I did before, attended the school assigned to my home. I remember being underwhelmed about high school. It was just something I had to do. I had a few cool teachers, but for the most part it was just something I was getting through. My grades were good as I was the sort of kid that always wanted good grades. My love of reading didn’t diminish and I kept entertaining my curiosity with reading. I remember a lot of time at the public library and how it was more to research my own interests than study for school.

I was thrilled when the time for college came. I got to choose what was next for me! I was exhilarated. I diligently studied colleges I might like to attend. I applied to the obligatory schools, like the UC near my house and my Dad’s alma mater, but there were 3 schools that were completely of my own choosing. I remember my Dad telling me to go to the UC or join the military to have my school paid for, but I rejected both. This was going to be my choice.

I ended up going to a small private college in Washington state. I always look back on those 4 years fondly. College was everything I wanted it to be. I had made the right choice.

My son’s experience has been different than my own. He has a mother for a teacher. I had been a teacher for 4 years when he was born. I had transferred to an amazing school site that year and knew I would remain there to see my son attend a great school. Granted, this school was not near our home, but because I worked there my son could attend. I personally knew all his teachers, and built relationships with each of them as both a colleague and a parent of one of their students.

That changed when my son entered middle school. The school I had worked at was K-5, so it came time for my son and I to part ways. I had chosen the middle school I wanted him to attend, but his voice is important to me. I listened to his preference and reasoning and in the end allowed him to attend the middle school he wanted to.

His 6th grade year was the hardest year for us both. I entered a district office position and he was at a school where I wasn’t. I didn’t know the teachers and I didn’t call them friends. I had never felt so in the dark. I realized that this must be what it feels like to be on the outside, and be “just” a parent. I didn’t care for it at all. I was as involved as I could be and made an effort to get to know the administrators and his teachers. I attended every event I could. My son loved his middle school for a while, then he didn’t. While the beginning of the year seemed to start off alright, come the halfway point he was showing signs of suffering. He was being teased daily. He was enduring verbal and physical bullying, he was afraid to go to school. He would tell me stories of his teachers venting to the class about how much they hated their job or how bad the kids were, and I was appalled. I reported all of this to the administrators, and while they were friendly and generally supportive and responsive, I got the impression that they felt helpless to truly remedy any of it…the climate was toxic and not at all good for my son.

I asked around in my own district about another school to transfer him to, specifically the school that had been my preference before and was told that it was largely the same at any middle school. This answer was unacceptable. I tried to look at the other middle schools around us and was frustrated that there was no true way to get information about the school without being on the inside. It was then that I realized there are options, online options.

I am a doctoral student whose dissertation will be about K-12 online learning, so naturally why not explore online schooling for my son? I am also an online student myself, having completed my second Masters in EdTech online and working toward my doctorate in Educational Leadership online. I felt confident that as an online learner and an educator, I could see my son through online school.

It came down to two online programs available in my state. I did my research, I asked around, attended online info sessions, discussed my findings with my family, and we chose one. My son started 7th grade in an online charter school last month, and while it has been an adjustment, I love it for him. I am not a teacher at his school, but I am his co-teacher. I see everything he is expected to do and the transparency of it all is what impresses me the most. His teachers are responsive and tech savvy, which is very important. My son has complained about the level of work he has to do, but I like that the bar has been raised. No more coasting and going unnoticed by teachers who don’t enjoy their jobs. I have never been so keenly aware of what he is working on than right now, even when he was attending class at the school where I had worked. This level of awareness is powerful.

Are you a parent? Perhaps a parent-educator like me? How do you feel about engaging with your child’s school and education? Share with me in the comments below. 🙂

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Posted in Edublogs

Video Killed The Radio Star

youtube-1684601_1280EduBlogsClub Prompt #23:

Prompt: Write a post about videos and/or that includes a video.

Here are some possible topics to help get you started:

  • Write a post about any topic, but embed a video. Even better if you created the video!
  • Discuss how videos have helped you engage students?
  • How have videos helped you be a better educator?
  • Share a story about a lesson that involves videos and how the students responded in ways you didn’t expect.
  • Create a list of video clips that either provide educator professional development or help create lessons in the classroom.
  • If you find incorporating videos difficult, discuss why you find them challenging.

I love making videos. I love teaching students how to make videos. I make some “vlogs” with my son on my YouTube channel, but it’s pretty much a hobby and something he and I do for fun.  My YouTube channel is mainly just a catch all for the videos I make, personal and professional. If I was serious about focused video creation, I would make a new channel just for that specific purpose. So for any who look at my YouTube channel, you have been warned, it’s a mixed bag.

When I have taught students how to make videos, I am limited by district devices and allowed programs. I remember years ago when I taught 5th grade, I had attended an American Film Institute (AFI) training via the Discovery Educator Network on making movies. It was after that institute that I hosted an after-school film club and taught 5th graders what I had learned about making films. We had a few small video cameras and district computers that came standard with Windows Movie Maker. Those early years of film making were great for the kids, they really learned a lot about making and editing videos, at least on a very basic level. Sadly, over time equipment stopped working and was not replaced, so film making went by the wayside.

More recently in my classroom I had taken to creating paper slide videos with my students using a smartphone or a tablet. (The linked video is not my own, but I did have one once upon the time, though it doesn’t seem to be up on my YouTube channel.) Once again, it was the Discovery Educator Network that exposed me to this idea. It is a very affordable and fun way for kids to make videos.

When it comes to making the most basic of machinima, I have used Screencast-o-matic to capture myself gaming. Take for example some machinima I made of my Minecraft Club: (keep in mind I was VERY new to Minecraft and that I hadn’t worked out how to capture my students talking to me so you only hear me talking to them…I did say it was basic 🙂 )

Once out of the classroom and in my role as a teacher on assignment, I spent a little more time with PowTooons. It was a tool I had come across and had known about for some time, but hadn’t had the time to really dig into and learn how to use. Now that I have taken the time to create with it, it is certainly a tool I would use with students if I were still in the classroom. Here is a sample of one of my Powtoons:

I really enjoyed the concept of a “Mrs. Ruiz Explains” series, but I have not had much time to make that really come to life. Video making takes a lot of time, and producing something that could serve students (or a YouTube audience) is something most people make a full time job out of. So at the moment for me, video creation remains a hobby and something I know I can do if the need arises.

I have found that the use of videos increases student engagement, and even more so when you have students creating the videos.  As an educator, I have found that creating my own videos really focuses my thoughts on a topic and allows me to create a video for my specific instructional needs. On a personal level, I find video creation to be a very rewarding outlet for creativity.

How do you use videos in your teaching? Share with me in the comments below. 🙂

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Posted in Edublogs

Making The Most

home-office-336373_1920EduBlogsClub Prompt #22:

Prompt: Write a post about tips and tricks that help you get the most out of your days.

Here are some possible topics to help get you started:

  • What apps help you boost your productivity? Why?
  • Describe your daily routine, What could you do to improve your productivity?
  • Share the story of a time when you were more productive than you thought you would be and how you managed to achieve that.
  • Share your favorite organizational tools that help make you more productive.
  • Create a list of tips that help you stay focused on tasks.
  • What is one aspect of being productive with which you struggle?

My job presently is rather different than when I was in the classroom, so I am going to address this topic from the standpoint of productivity on the whole. There are three big things I am working to stay on top of right now:

  1. My son’s online schooling
  2. My dissertation coursework
  3. Studying for the California Preliminary Administrative Credential Examination (CPACE)

I manage all of them with OneNote. Never heard of OneNote? Click here for a little video.

My school district is a Microsoft district and we have access to most of the Microsoft tools available in our district arrangement. However, there has not been an in-house tech training/PD on how to best use them. Most educators I know in my district who want to maximize the Microsoft tools we have at our disposal, sign up to attend a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) training. That is what I did a couple of years ago and my mind was blown. There is so much you can do with Microsoft tools. If going to a training is not possible, the MIE community is huge and has quite an impressive library of courses you can take to get yourself up to speed with the latest and greatest Microsoft has to offer. And you earn badges too! Don’t we all love digital badges? I know I do! 🙂

So back to OneNote. I was first encouraged to put its massive power to use at work by a fellow teacher on assignment in my department. My mind was blown immediately as to how easy it was to use. I could easily add pretty much anything I wanted to it and collaborate with others if need be. I have never stopped using OneNote since then and use it daily.  I have OneNote notebooks on pretty much everything. It is a super convenient way for me to capture all my thoughts and capitalize on them. I am a journaler at heart and have been known to keep various notebooks. OneNote makes it so I can have all the notebooks I like and be able to access them no matter where I am. So handy!

OneNote goes beyond just being a cool digital notebook, it has an impressive classroom aspect called Class Notebook. I was already out of the classroom when I learned about it, but I wish I could have used it with my students!

Do you use OneNote? If so, how? If not, do you think you would try it? Share with me in the comments below. 🙂

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