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.
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.
It has been a whirlwind of activity since I learned that I had been recommended for the position of Teacher on Assignment/Instructional Coach in the new Linked Learning department of Fontana Unified.
I had been encouraged to apply for this position by a few who knew my passion for educational technology. I had hesitated in applying at first because of the timing of the position (I had just spent a good deal of time setting up a new classroom and had just begun the year with my new class) and I was apprehensive. I had applied for positions like this one before and not been selected. That was several years ago, and I had not completed my Masters in Educational Technology, nor my National Board Certification, nor had I been a Doctoral student then either. So yes, a few things had changed, but my desire to teach teachers how to use technology effectively in their classrooms or help my district move forward with innovative ways to use technology had not. So I applied and made the second round of interviews for one of 3 remaining positions on this new team.
I was surprised how quickly the news of my recommendation came, I was shocked really. Then there was the waiting. I had no idea when I would be expected to leave my classroom. That was all contingent upon my replacement being found. Interviews were held for my position at Grant and my principal made her selection. That teacher accepted the offer and I was told the last day I would have with my students would be the Friday before we went on Winter Break. I got that news three days before Winter Break. I was preparing report cards and now had to prepare to move out of my classroom…again. Thankfully, I had my college freshman nephew visiting again, who seems to enjoy volunteering at Grant quite a bit. His help in moving saved my sanity once again (he has helped me move before). I told my students and their families that I was leaving them, and it was very bittersweet. I have been in the classroom for 15 and a half years, I have taught 2nd – 5th grades, and I have always had a passion for innovation and educational technology. I have been at that point in my career where I knew leaving the classroom would be eminent, I just had no idea how soon that moment would arrive.
Therefore, while I am thrilled to be offered this opportunity, to explore the next chapter in my educational career, it does not come without a price. I will miss my students and doing everything I can for them to bring them the latest tech tools to enhance their education. I take solace in knowing that this shift in my position means I will be affecting more than just my own students, I will be helping students in several classrooms at several schools in my district, and I am very excited about that. Dorothy Grant Elementary has been amazing for me. The staff, students, and their families are a wonderful community I am very proud to be a part of and the decade I spent there will be one I always cherish.
This week is Computer Science Week and to celebrate, Dorothy Grant Elementary is participating in the Hour of Code. Yesterday my class had a special lab time to explore programming and they had a blast!
I shared the Code.org website with them and there they got to choose from three tutorials: Star Wars, Minecraft, or Frozen. I had them share their selection with the class via an Edmodo poll and after the hour in the lab, they were to return to my post in Edmodo to share their experiences.
The Hour of Code website has been added to the class website on the “After School Links” page. I also wanted to take a moment to share Tynker, one of the more widely known coding apps for tablets. I know it is available in the App Store (for Apple devices) for free and it may be in the Google Play store as well. I will be installing it on the classroom tablets this weekend for the class to continue exploring coding. I recommend it for any personal tablets for students who particularly enjoyed the coding experience.
This year Dorothy Grant Elementary will be taking part in the Cardboard Challenge. Ms. Matheson and Ms. Belt will be heading up a group of 4th & 5th grade DGE students (selected by a random draw) to create our very own cardboard arcade to be shared at our annual Harvest Festival on October 29th.
This year a group of our students will participate in the “Global Cardboard Challenge.” This is an annual event presented by the Imagination Foundation that celebrates child creativity and the role communities can play in fostering it. Students will dream up [creations] using cardboard, recycled materials and their imaginations ot create a cardboard arcade, inspired by the short film “Cain’s Arcade.”
Students MUSTbe available to stay after school on Mondays and Thursdays in October from 2:30 – 3:30pm ANDwork the Harvest Festival on Thursday, October 29th.
If you are interested and your child did not bring home a permission slip, you can download it here: Cardboard Challenge. Permissions slips are due to Ms. Matheson or Ms. Belt by Friday, October 2nd for the random draw.
Any questions about this event can be directed to Ms. Matheson or Ms. Belt.
Our second time meeting on the server went much smoother today. I attempted to deal with any lingering tech issues before we met so I could have the whole time on the server with the kids. I even extended club time from one hour to two hours because one hour just didn’t seem like enough. After two hours today, I felt that was a much more appropriate amount of time and will likely extend the club hour from 4-5pm on Thursdays, to 3:30 – 5:30 pm on Thursdays.
We are still trying to establish our community on the server. I was trying to direct them to build our school, but the kids kept breaking off and building their own homes. I am currently brainstorming ideas on how to bring 20 “lil miners” (as educators in the Minecraft Educator Google+ group I am in call them) into focus. After viewing all of their newest creations, I broke off at the end of the session to try some building on my own. I didn’t want to build our school myself, but perhaps once I give it a footprint, the kids will then be more focused about making it happen.
We are using Edmodo in conjunction with Minecraft and Skype, so I will have to put up some more assignments there, mainly on planning our community, which should hopefully bring them into better focus. I think perhaps assigning them to regions of the school build is a start. I would also enjoy seeing what they have in mind for our Minecraft school, like drawings or blueprints.
Since I am presently unable to use Minecraft EDU, the suggestion of a Bukkit server was made as it allows for more options than a standard server. I am new to not only Minecraft but running a server and mods so it is quite easy to be overwhelmed. This week I plan on focusing my research on what a Bukkit server is like and what additional commands it can allow me and my students that our current vanilla server cannot. I have several experienced “lil miners” who are used to playing with several mods in place and are feeling a bit restricted by our vanilla server. Those experienced miners ask me almost daily (our Skype group is always up and running and chat there is frequent) about when I am going to allow mods and give them more command ability.
Here is a video I put together of some of the kids in the club telling me what they think Minecraft is along with some footage from day 2 in game. Enjoy!
Thank you to all the parents who signed and returned the photo release form! It allowed me to take this great class photo with my selfie stick. I look forward to posting more photos of the students and their work as the school year progresses.
Looking forward to a great year,
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
I thought I would take a moment to address various questions in one mighty blog post!
We have a fundraiser going on currently. It began on August 14th and goes until August 28th. Our class can win an iPad if we have the highest participation in the school! I won an iPad a couple of years ago from this fundraiser company and would love to win another to allow even more use of tablets in the room. I told the class if we win, I will give all participating students an additional prize coupon as well as have a movie and popcorn party for the whole class. This fundraiser also has online ordering! Click the image below to be taken to the site, then enter PFDORGRANT.
Scholastic Reading Club – I will send home book order forms for Scholastic once a month. I have sent the first two already and orders for this month will be closed on August 24th. Once books are ordered they take 2 weeks to arrive. Ordering books from Scholastic is another way we can earn a free iPad for the classroom so the more book orders the better! There is online ordering available as well and you can shop the entire Scholastic collection of books and not just the items from the flyers I send home. Click the image below to be taken to online ordering.
MobyMax Homework was originally due August 21st. I have recieved many messages regarding this assignment and various issues that have interfered with completeing it. I do want everyone to complete this assignment and for those who haven’t I will allow extra time for them to do so. I made a video to answer some of the questions and I hope it helps. If you have further questions or I did not address your question, please send me a message on Class Dojo.
I believe that covers all the information I have at this time. If there is something you wish to know and I did not address, please remind me by sending me another message. 🙂
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
We had a wonderful turn out for Back To School Night! It was so nice to meet so many of the families of my students. Several of you told me you would not be able to attend and there are some linked videos I was unable to show due to time, so I wanted to be sure to get my presentation online for you to review. If you have any questions about any part of the presentation, please message me on ClassDojo.
Today marked the beginning of a new school year. I was very excited for the grade change from 3rd to 4th, but with that change came a room change. I have moved from F1 to P4, which is a newly installed portable. The move was not without its stresses, but in the end the room was ready to go come the 1st day of school to welcome in its first DGE 4th graders.
We had an amazing day today. We got to know one another a bit better, and make our avatars for the year using the AvatarCreator app available on iOS. I also took quick stock of how technology equipped my students are. Of 31 students 6 had a smartphone of some kind, 20 had a tablet, and 8 did not have a smartphone or a tablet.
I introduced the class to Edmodo, which will be the online version of our classroom we will use daily. The students have set up their accounts and parents can join in as well to see what we are up to. Parents can get the parent join code from their child when the student is logged in to their Edmodo account.
Parents are welcome to contact me via email (email@example.com), ClassDojo, or Skype (dgeruiz).
I look forward to day two of school and all the days ahead of us. I just know we will have an amazing year!
As the school year winds to a close there were just a few things I wanted to share with you.
Mrs. Luna shared with the staff of DGE a local tech camp opportunity for grades 3-9 at Cal State San Bernardino called TechXploration. I plan on enrolling my son for it and it sounds like a great, inexpensive and local opportunity to enhance 21st Century Skills in our students.
Monday, May 25th is Memorial Day and there is no school
Tuesday, May 26th is Semester Awards & 3rd Grade Game Day. Letters with more information about the Semester Awards will be sent home next week.
Wednesday, May 27th is our class party and whole class reward lunch. Students are welcome to bring treats to share, but please keep our healthy foods policy in mind.
Thursday, May 28th is our last day of school and also Tech Day. Students are allowed to bring tech to school with parent permission, wear pajamas, bring blankets and stuffed animals.
I will be sending a more detailed letter home about our final week of school very soon. If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on ClassDojo. Thank you for a wonderful year!