Posted in Edublogs

Project Based Instruction

idea-1876658_1920EduBlogsClub Prompt #17:

Prompt: Write a post that discusses using problem-based or project-based learning in the classroom.

Have you had your students complete open-ended projects or answer open-ended questions? Share your experiences, lesson plans, student work, or reasons why you haven’t yet. We can’t wait to hear about it!

Project Based Learning (PBL) was just coming to my classroom when I left it to become a teacher on assignment. I had heard little bits about it and had purchased “PBL in the Elementary Grades: Step-by-Step Guidance, Tools and Tips for Standards-Focused K-5 Projects”. Since then I know some of my district leaders have attended PBL World and that our district plans on moving in the PBL direction. Aside from teachers doing it on their own, throughout the district, I have not seen an organized move in that direction. As a matter of fact, a small team of teachers and the principal of my previous school site went to PBL World this last round, and I must admit I was a bit jealous. I would have loved to have gone with them. I will have to check in with them to see how they have implemented PBL into the innovative work they do at their school.

I had never had the chance to dig much into the book I had purchased on PBL, due to my new position and my own studies, but it has been one of those things I really have wanted to dig into. I wish my position would allow me to learn it and coach teachers through it. I know if I was still in the classroom I would enjoy a instructional coach helping me implement it.

I listen to a lot of podcasts (as I have mentioned in other posts). PBL is a hot topic in education, so I am not at all surprised that I would have a PBL themed podcast in my listening lineup. It’s an 10 minute episode of the “10 Minute Teacher” by @coolcatteacher called “#146 Get Motivated to Do PBL Right #MotivationMonday”. Give it a listen. Are you looking for motivation to start PBL? Are you already doing PBL? Share your PBL experiences with me in the comments below. 🙂

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Posted in Edublogs

Tell A Story

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EduBlogsClub Prompt #16:

Prompt: Write a post that tells a story. 

Tell a story about a time in your career as an educator that you want to share. It can be a positive memory, a time you wish you could change the outcome, a student you remember, or just a class lesson you want to share.

(The following post was written as I was flying back from from Arizona. I had just completed my second and final residency week @ Grand Canyon University in mid June 2017.)

Hello, my name is…

“…Dr. Melanie Ruiz, and my area of expertise is online learning.”

That was how Dr. Mark Schmitz had us close our weeklong second residency. He warned my 16 classmates and I that he had a powerful 5 minute exercise that could bring us to tears. He walked us through 5 cleansing breaths, and then had us write our names on a blank sheet of paper. He instructed us to leave some space at the front of our names. I jokingly whispered to my neighbor “I want to put Dr. there!” Not to long after that Dr. Schmitz had us do exactly that. He then had us silently read our names with doctor in front 5 times. Then he had us introduce ourselves that way to our classmates and state our area of expertise. Then everyone in the room had their turn. He was right about the tears. I was not the only one tearing up a little at the idea of introducing myself this way. I have only ever referred to myself as Dr. Ruiz in jest. I have even repeatedly reminded my dad that I am not a doctor yet when he calls me Dr. Ruiz on Facebook.

“Hello, my name is Dr. Melanie Ruiz, and my area of expertise is online learning.”

I tried to hide the quiver in my voice when I said that out loud, but I know my classmates heard it. Even writing about it now brings tears to my eyes all over again. Dr. Schmitz encouraged each of us to keep the paper with our names on it and write more papers with our name written like that and post them all around us, to remind us that this is real and it is possible. This week of my second residency made me really understand the work ahead. My dissertation is not just an idea in my head, it is a very real and valid research project that will make me Dr. Melanie Ruiz and a scholarly writer.

I often think back to when I was a child and I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I remember only being able to think about being a lawyer or medical doctor, neither of which suited me. As an older child I loved reading and do to this day. I remember thinking about being a writer, a notion I dismissed when I figured there was no way I could make a living doing that. I had to be more practical. I went all the way to my bachelor’s degree not knowing what I really wanted to do. The topic of career guidance is a whole other issue I won’t go into here, but it amazes me how life works. I am sure my classmates at Grand Canyon University (a Christian university) would chalk it up to God (like Lynette – my Facebook feed is not complete without a “Love God! Love Fam!” post from her). Maybe it is God or the will of the universe.

After working in finance for 4 years and not seeing a future for myself, I knew I had to do something. So off to the bookstore I went, like I did anytime I had something that needed investigating. (The Internet was young in those days, so the library and bookstore were my favorite places.) I soon was taking a Meyers-Briggs assessment that told me I was an INFJ and of the careers that suited my personality writer and educator were among the top 5. Again I reminded myself that I could not earn a livable wage as a writer and dove headlong into teaching. I have never regretted that.

Over the years since then I have dabbled in writing, mainly in the form of blogging as well as through my virtual reality experiences. In 2014 I took my writing to the scholarly level by enrolling in my first online program with GCU, to earn my long desired second Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction: Educational Technology. It was over in a year and then I began to dabble with the idea of a doctorate. I had never wanted a doctorate before, I had never considered it. But there it was, a viable option. I looked at the higher ups in my district, many of them doctors and thought “I can do that too.”

So here I am in the middle of my online doctoral program and realizing that I am a writer and that me introducing myself as a doctor isn’t a joke.

The universe has a funny way of showing you the way, even if it takes decades. You just have to be open to seeing it.

What story do you want to tell? Share with me in the comments below. 🙂

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Posted in Edublogs

Assessments

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EduBlogsClub Prompt #15:

Prompt: Write a post that discusses “assessments.”

It can be your feelings on the accountability climate, informal assessments, assessing student projects, or anything else related to testing, feedback, and measuring learning.

Or maybe a good old-fashioned rant 🙂

I wonder how most teachers feel when they hear “assessment.” My first reaction was to think of the standardized state tests we all need to oversee our students taking as a way to be held accountable to state standards. I personally have mixed feelings on assessments. I do not believe one big standardized state test should be the end all be all snapshot of student achievement, and I feel like I am beginning to see a shift in that thinking, at least in California.

As I have previously mentioned, I am a part of the Career Technical Education (CTE) department of my school district. As many educators are aware, CTE is a big deal right now. It is getting a lot of attention as the focus nation wide is on college and career readiness. I forget where I first heard the following comment, but I agree with it completely: “college and career readiness” should really be “post secondary readiness” as the current naming still makes it sound like college for all. I understand the intent is that we are no longer tracking students into vocational programs or college prep programs, but we are working to prepare them for life after high school. That life after high school can go a number of ways, but it should be grounded in a student’s interests and passions coupled with economic realities.

Prior to being a teacher on assignment in the CTE Department, I was an elementary educator. It might seem strange to some to have an elementary educator in the CTE Department as CTE work tends to be associated with secondary students & secondary teachers, but the idea is that career readiness starts in the elementary grades with career awareness. While many elementary teachers wouldn’t call the career-related things they do CTE, they are.

WBL Continuum

(For a more detailed continuum click here: work_based_learning_continuum )

CTE has often been left out of the assessment equation, because as I said earlier, the success or failure of a school or a student was strictly tied only to the results of that one big state test at the end of the year. While I know that big state test is important, I never accepted it as the end all be all of my students’ success. You cannot accurately gauge a person on one big test. That is not a true snapshot of how that student is doing. Considering MANY factors is a much better way to assess student achievement.

The California Department of Eduction (CDE) has recently introduced a new way to assess students’ readiness for college and/or career:

College/Career Indicator Performance Levels

There are three levels that measure postsecondary preparedness in the College/Career Indicator (CCI):

  • Prepared
  • Approaching Prepared
  • Not Prepared

Prepared Level – Does the graduate meet at least 1 measure below?

High School Diploma and any one of the following:

  • Career Technical Education (CTE) Pathway Completion plus one of the following criteria:
    • Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments: At least a Level 3 “Standard Met” on ELA or Mathematics and at least a Level 2 “Standard Nearly Met” in the other subject area
    • One semester/two quarters of Dual Enrollment with passing grade (Academic/CTE subjects)
  • At least a Level 3 “Standard Met” on both ELA and Mathematics on Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments
  • Completion of two semesters/three quarters of Dual Enrollment with a passing grade (Academic and/or CTE subjects)
  • Passing Score on two Advanced Placement (AP) Exams or two International Baccalaureate (IB) Exams
  • Completion of courses that meet the University of California (UC) a-g criteria plus one of the following criteria:
    • CTE Pathway completion
    • Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments: At least a Level 3 “Standard Met” on ELA or Mathematics and at least a Level 2 “Standard Nearly Met” in the other subject area
    • One semester/two quarters of Dual Enrollment with passing grade (Academic/CTE subjects)
    • Passing score on one AP Exam OR on one IB Exam

Approaching Prepared Level – Does the graduate meet at least 1 measure below?

High School Diploma and any one of the following:

  • CTE Pathway completion
  • Scored at least Level 2 “Standard Nearly Met” on both ELA and Mathematics Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments
  • Completion of one semester/two quarters of Dual Enrollment with passing grade (Academic/CTE subjects)
  • Completion of courses that meet the UC a-g criteria

Not Prepared Level

Student did not meet any measure above or did not graduate, so considered NOT PREPARED

I am glad to see my state moving in a direction that considers multiple “indicators” related to student achievement. I recognize the value of assessment. It is necessary to making sure our instruction is meeting the needs of our students. What I object to is using one assessment as the final ruling on the level of success of my students.

What are your feelings on how we assess student achievement? How does your state assess student achievement? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below! 🙂

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Posted in Edublogs

The Pendulum

ball-1015283_1920EduBlogsClub Prompt #13:

Prompt: Write a post related to constant changes and the pendulum effect in education.

Some ideas to get you started:

  • Write a post about learning styles and your thoughts on the recent research suggesting they are an ineffective teaching/learning tool.
  • Discuss another topic where you have seen the pendulum shift in your time in education.
  • Share about a subject where you have changed your mind and describe why.
  • What is the next great pendulum shift you expect to happen over the next five years?

I just had a whole course in my doctoral program on educational paradigm shifts and the notorious pendulum. The class cited my most favorite educational thinker, Sir Ken Robinson. I had the pleasure of listening to him speak at an educational leadership conference a couple years ago and even had him “sign” the Kindle edition of one of his books for me! (I rarely buy “real” books anymore, preferring Kindle versions so I can add to the library I carry on my phone. The ability to whip out a book of mine on any interest at any moment is just too much power for me to pass up.)

Sir Ken

It was when I saw this video years ago that I felt validated in my thinking about our educational system. It put everything I had been feeling about education into a very precise and shareable format:

My class on the educational paradigm shifts also highlighted another of my favorite Sir Ken clips:

One of the most powerful articles I read when in this class was one I located by Yong Zhao called “A World at Risk: An Imperative for a Paradigm Shift to Cultivate 21st Century Learners.” In it he has the following very powerful quote:

If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the misguided policies that threaten democracy, turn American children into robotic test takers, narrow and homogenize our children’s education, encourage standardization instead of helping the needy children and stimulating innovation, value testing over teaching, and scapegoat teachers that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves. We have squandered the opportunities brought about by technology, ignored research evidence, and paid no attention to what the future needs. ‘We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament’ (National Commission on Excellence in Education 1983, p.1).

Sir Ken Robinson and Yong Zhao are speaking my language. I have been in education for 17 years, I have seen the pendulum swing many times. However, I am not of the mindset that I am a victim of that pendulum. I am a firm believer in being the change I want to see in the world, and specifically in education. It may not be easy to be that change, but I can take steps to put myself in a position to help others who want to make big changes in education. I started making changes in my classroom, as many teachers do. As I have mentioned before, I aspire to be an administrator and am taking active steps to make that happen. I know what it feels like to work for administrators who want to change the way our children are educated and I want to add to those ranks. The more of us there are, the more change we can bring into our outdated educational system. We can work together to harness that pendulum and make it more of a spiral, taking the educational change that comes and building on it, always making education the best it can be for our children.

How do you react to the educational pendulum? Do you feel helpless and suffer through its swinging or do you feel you can make educational change?

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Posted in Edublogs

Embed Something

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EduBlogsClub Prompt #12:

Prompt: Write a post about any topic where you embed something.

That’s it! The topic is completely up to you, but we’d love to see your use of a tool or service that lets you embed.

If you really need a hint as to service that allows you to embed, here are just a few:

  • Animoto
  • Storify
  • Livebinders
  • Twitter (embed tweets or timelines)
  • Padlet
  • Voki
  • Voicethreads
  • AudioBoo
  • Soundcloud
  • Bitstrips
  • ToonDoo
  • Google Forms, Docs, and Slides
  • Prezi
  • ThingLink

The list above is a great one for tools that can be embedded. I have had some limited experience with some of them, so my approach to this post was to find out how each one of the tools on the list could be used on a website (or platform that allows for embedding).

ANIMOTO
I have used Animoto a little in the past, possibly for both personal and professional use. Not sure what Animoto is? Let me EMBED a YouTube video for you! 😉

STORIFY
This is a tool I had not heard of before and it sounds really cool! Not sure what it is? Here is a video of course!

Storify seems like a VERY cool tool I am eager to try out. I will have to embed one of those in a future post.

LIVEBINDERS
This is another tool I had not used before, though I had heard of it. Of course I looked for a video on it that would explain it quickly to me:

It seems like a cool idea and one that I will have try out in the future post.

TWITTER
Part of me doesn’t think Twitter needs any introduction or explanation. I have had a Twitter account for many years and I know I can embed my tweets into the sidebar of my website (I have chosen not to). My Twitter account is both personal and professional, though for the longest time it was strictly professional. Then the 2016 elections happened and Twitter quickly became the place to get a lot of information quickly as well as a place to join the dialog. I have never used my Twitter account with students or directly in relation to my classroom unless it was to tweet out a post from my blog. So that made me curious…what are some ways educators are using twitter?
As a PLN:

Twitter Thoughts from Alec Curious:

PADLET
This is a tool I have used more as a participant than the creator. In my experience it has been used at staff developments and professional developments. I do enjoy the tool and had been looking for ways to incorporate it more into my classroom and even the workshops I deliver now.

VOKI
Talk about a throwback for me! Voki was a tool I was introduced to years ago when I first became a part of the Discovery Educator Network (where I learned the most about Web 2.0 tools and it rocked my world). I created a Voki, but beyond that I never really used it again.

VOICE THREAD
Another throwback! I also used Voice Thread ages ago and did use it with my class. The kids really enjoyed it. When I was searching out a good explanation of it I encountered an entire playlist by fellow #edublogsclub blogger Michelle Pacansky-Brock. She always does an amazing job in her videos so they are worth a watch for sure.

AUDIOBOO
Another cool tool I had not heard of! Here is a quick intro to it:

I really like how no account is required to use it. So students can simply use it without sharing any of their personal information.

SOUND CLOUD
I have actually used Sound Cloud before for my podcasting needs. Here is a video that shares some ways teachers use it:

BITSTRIPS
I am an avid user of my Bitmoji, and had made a Bitstrip or two in the past just to amuse myself and my family. When I went to look at Bitstrips again for this post it turns out it was taken offline over a year ago. 😦

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Don’t worry! Here is a video on how to use Bitmojis in your classroom!

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I am not shy about using my Bitmoji in various places and I would totally use it with students.

TOONDOO
This is another tool I had not heard of, but after some research it seems like the perfect tool to fill the void left by Bitstrips.

GOOGLE
Like Twitter, Google really needs no explanation in my opinion, at least not in this blog post. We don’t use Google products in my school district, but I know a great many do and entire training programs are dedicated to how to best use the Google family of tools to enhance education and student achievement. Google tools are the tool of choice for me personally and I have used it quite extensively to collaborate with people all around the globe.

PREZI
This is another tool that I have used in the past, but not so much anymore. It isn’t that its not a great tool, but more so about time and the immense variety of tools that exist to accomplish my various teacher tasks.

THINGLINK
The last tool on the list is one that I have heard more about lately, and have seen in action but never used myself. After watching the following video I was inspired to create a ThinkLink for a future post.

An interesting aside to all of this is that an article I was reading as a part of my dissertation research, actually listed some of these tools. The article is titled “Understanding the Roles of Families in Virtual Learning” by Rachel Currie-Rubin and Sean J. Smith. The article was relevant to me because my dissertation topic is K-12 online learning and also because I have recently enrolled my middle school son in an online school. The article lists Voice Thread, Animoto, and ToonDoo among its list of “technology-based solutions for social skill development.” Just struck me as an interesting happenstance…here I am catching up on blog posts and just so happened to read an article related to my dissertation that addresses some of the very same tools.

Anyway, I would love to hear how you use any of the tools above, or how you might be planning on using one now that you have read this post. Share your thoughts with me in the comments below! 🙂

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Posted in Edublogs

Giving Feedback

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EduBlogClub Prompt #10 was a catch up week and since I am already in catch up mode, here is Prompt #11:

Prompt: Write a post about giving feedback to students.

Some questions to jumpstart your thinking:

  • What is your favorite type of assignment upon which to comment? Why?
  • Do you have any tips to share on using rubrics, alternative assessments, or anything else related to feedback and grading work?
  • How do you balance constructive criticism and sensitive students?
  • How do students respond to your feedback? Do you have any thoughts about changes that could strengthen your feedback?
  • How do you give feedback “in the moment” during classroom activities? What are the most effective strategies you’ve used?

One of my favorite ways to give feedback when I was in the classroom was on a rubric. Given a specific task or project, I would develop a rubric and review it with my students. There were times I would even create the rubric with my students so we all had a clear understanding of what the assignment expectations were. I think making the rubric available beforehand (and even creating it with students) is a great way for students to prepare and be successful.

I would take the time to write notes on my students’ work and/or the rubric. My notes contained both praise for what they had done well (and I always found something they had done well) and feedback on what needed improvement. I would talk to the students individually as well, which of course took a good deal of time, so I had to be judicious on which assignments merited this sort of feedback.

If I had to do it over again, I would give audio feedback as well. I am currently in a doctoral program working toward my Ed.D in K-12 Educational Leadership. I recently was fortunate to have an expert in the field of online learning agree to be my content expert for my dissertation committee. I have been sending him parts of my work so far, and he has sent his feedback in the form of audio files, which are short little recordings no more than 5 or 6 minutes long. They are chock full of valuable feedback and in a way that makes immediate sense because I feel as if I am sitting down with him and he is telling me what he things of my work. It has been so powerful for me that I know if I were in the classroom again I would incorporate that into my feedback in some way. Especially with so much of the classroom being digital.

How do you give feedback to your students? What forms of feedback have you experienced that you have found powerful? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below! 🙂

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Posted in Edublogs

Student Privacy

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EduBlogsClub Prompt #8:

Prompt: Write a post about student privacy.

Should student work be public on the web? Why or why not?

How do you evaluate the tools that you use in your classroom when it comes to student privacy?

Do you have a favorite resource or video that discusses this topic?

Do you have tips or rules that you use with your students relating to identifable information?

Do you have any other ideas, rants, or questions about student privacy you wish to discuss?

Student privacy is incredibly important. I remember when Internet tools were coming into the classroom at lightning speed. I always wanted to know about the latest service that I could use with my students to enhance and personalize their education. I never thought about the fact that they needed accounts to log in and what those accounts would require in terms of information and data collection on my students. My school district is VERY concerned with student privacy and have been since the onset. A number of websites and services are blocked because their privacy agreements are not up to par with what is required in California. There have been many teachers in my district (including myself) that have grumbled over the sites or services we cannot use because of the district’s strict student privacy policy. In hindsight however, I recognize that the district was simply trying to protect our students and make the various vendors who wanted to do business with us be accountable to the federal and local regulations regarding student privacy.

I remember that each school year would start with a new list of sites/services that were allowable. If the site or service you wanted to use was not on that list you could not use it. For many years that list always seemed rather short to me (and likely still is) but the list has grown a little each year and sites/services teachers are clamoring for are gradually being added, but it is only once that organization has passed the district’s student privacy test.

I believe students should be on the Internet doing all the wonderful “21st Century” things we want them to be doing in order to prepare them for success in their future careers. However, we as educators are not only here to guide them and support them, we are here to protect them. So while I was one of those teachers years ago who didn’t think about student privacy and only about student enrichment, I know now that student privacy is critically important and companies who are offering the latest amazing tool to enhance and personalize education really do need to meet student privacy requirements.

And just to cap this post off here is a short video from Common Sense Media (I love them) all about some simple ways teachers can protect their student’s privacy online.

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Posted in Edublogs

The Listicle

 

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EduBlogsClub Prompt #7:

Prompt: Write a listicle.

Some helpful notes:

  • Write about any topic at all that interests you
  • A list can be as short as 3 entries
  • Be helpful, make the list a resource your readers may want to bookmark and come back to
  • If you aren’t up for a list, write about lists, list keeping tools, or tools to embed lists
  • Marketing tests prove that putting a number in your title will often increase shares and clicks

Deciding what to make a listicle about was a challenge for me, but in the end I decided on making a short list on podcasts. My husband has been into podcasts for a a number of years and I only just warmed up to them about 2 years ago. I listen to all kinds of podcasts, but I thought the best ones to list for you here on my educator blog would be those I listen to for educational reasons.

  1. The Getting Smart Podcast “Where we unpack what is new and innovative about education” This podcast covers a variety of topics related to K-12 education. It consists of interviews with educators who specialize in different types of innovations in education.
  2. 10 Minute Teacher Podcast I have been a fan of Vicki Davis since I came across her on Twitter years ago. Her newest podcast is the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast and it strives to share innovative educational ideas with teachers in convenient 10 minute or less interviews with various types of educators. Its the perfect format for getting pitched ideas in a very brief amount of time. Perfect for busy teachers looking for new ideas.
  3. TED Radio Hour We all know TED Talks, and if you are anything like me, you just don’t have the time to sit down and watch full videos of them. One of my favorite podcasts is the TED Radio Hour because I get to take in amazing TED talks on a variety of subjects while driving, or working at my desk. While TED Talks are not always aimed at education, a great deal of them are and are incredibly powerful. This podcast is more than just the audio of TED Talks, but have a host who walks you through a topic and highlights a few TED Talks that all address the same issue. What’s cool is if there is a TED Talk on the show you want to hear in its entirety, you can easily access it online.

I have become a real podcast junkie over the last couple of years. I am always looking for podcasts on a variety of subjects. What are your favorite podcasts? Educational or otherwise? Share them with me in the comment section below! 🙂

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Posted in Edublogs

Challenging Situations

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Hello Readers!

I have had this blog post cued up since FEBRUARY, yes February. Obviously I haven’t blogged since then. That is partially because this particular post gave me pause and partially because of life. I am committed to blogging. The fact that I am now over 20 posts behind won’t deter me though! I am stubborn like that.

Now I should say that when I say “cued up” I mean it had a title and image and a greeting. There was no substance to the post what so ever. The subject I want to write about has not changed in all the months that have passed, though I think I kind of wanted it to. Let me first outline the instructions on this topic as given by The Edublogger:

Challenges come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes, the biggest challenge of the day is getting out of bed with a positive attitude. Sometimes, the daily challenge is going to be having to work with a difficult student. Sometimes, the challenge lies in teaching a topic or skill or unit that you really don’t enjoy. Learning strategies to address these challenges is the way in which we overcome them.

Prompt: Write a post about challenging situations.

Here are some ideas or topics you may wish to include:

  • Share your biggest teaching challenge and explain how you overcame it
  • Write a motivational “how-to” for overcoming a common challenging situation.
  • Do a review on a book or website that has helped you overcome a challenging situation. What was the challenge? How did the book/website help you?
  • Discuss any thoughts or experiences you have about challenges in education.
  • Talk about a time when a student was facing a challenge and you provided strategies to help the student. What were they? How did they help?

One of my biggest challenges is working with challenging people. I am someone who avoids confrontation. Over my 17+ years as an educator I have worked with a variety of educators and administrators. I am happy to say that I have gotten along with the majority of the educators, administrators and parents I have worked with over the years. I am sure I am not alone in having a small population of educators, administrators and parents that proved to be rather challenging.

When it comes to challenging parents, my approach is different than when it comes to challenging educators and administrators. The reason being is that I tend to just ignore challenging educators and administrators to the best of my ability, and you can’t do that to a challenging parent. Now I am sure you are reading this and asking yourself “how does she ignore challenging educators and administrators?” Let me address challenging parents first.

When it comes to a challenging parent, I make sure to hear them out, no matter how abrasive (and I have had some bad ones). I always make sure my administrator is aware. I take time to not immediately reply to a challenging parent as I know my immediate response/reaction would likely escalate things. I take the time to read or listen to the message a few times, process it, think about what I am going to say, then choose my words carefully. In a live situation where the parent is in front of me, I take the time to listen to them and let them say their piece. I work very hard to respond in a thoughtful and deliberate way, choosing my words carefully. I try to resolve the issue myself as much as possible, but I am not hesitant to involve my administrator if the situation becomes too much for me to handle on my own or is of a sensitive nature.

On the subject of educators and administrators, my approach has been completely different. I avoid people. I may have a conflict with an educator or administrator, and once that climactic moment has passed I avoid them. I am not saying this is the best tactic, it is just something I do and something I want to change.

I am an aspiring administrator and I recently went to a series of workshops my district hosted for teachers who are thinking about becoming administrators. One of the highlights of this series was being introduced to the notion of emotional intelligence. I had never heard of this before and was immediately intrigued. According to Psychology Today, Emotional Intelligence is defined as:

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.

As a part of the workshop I was in, I was to read the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 book by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves. I was also to take the Emotional Intelligence Appraisal. The appraisal was very accurate and pinpointed my known weaknesses when it comes to my own emotional intelligence and how I react to things. I found the appraisal very useful for my own personal development.  I am a work in progress and I believe that so long as I am aware of my emotional intelligence and work toward strengthening it, that will make me a better administrator in the future. It will also make me better able to deal with challenging situations.

Have you assessed your own emotional intelligence? Tell me about it in the comments!

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Posted in Edublogs

Free Web Tools

Hello Readers!

I am a lil behind on my Edublogs challenge posts, but that’s ok. Life happens and skipping posts or posting late is fine. I am actually trying my best to not skip any posts at all. I enjoy a challenge and I want to address each prompt.

Prompt 5 was simply to write a post about free web tools. That seems like a pretty simple post, but there are so many free web tools! Being that I am late to this post, I had the benefit of reading all the posts from other bloggers on this topic before adding my own. I didn’t want to duplicate what any of them said, so if you are in the market for free web tools, be sure to visit the link above and check the comments, there are a lot of helpful posts on free web tools and how to use them.

Now for my suggestions! Many of the tools I am about to reference have both a free and paid version.

  • Skype – Skype is a communication tool I use regularly in many ways. It is a great instant messenger, but is also great for long distance calls (both voice and video). I tend to use Skype most with my gamer friends and when I was running a remote Minecraft Club. As a Microsoft Innovative Educator, I love the promise of Mystery Skypes to broaded the horizons of our students. I was never able to do one while I had a class of my own, but I have been part of a few group Mystery Skypes and they are great fun. Microsoft even has a whole page of classroom ideas.
  • Gyazo – I LOVE this tool for quick and easy screen capture! I learned about it from my gaming friends as a way to show one another things in our game without needing to screen share. Gyazo can make instant screenshots or GIFs and provide you with a shareable link in seconds. So easy!
  • Poll Everywhere – I was introduced to Poll Everywhere at a conference where the keynote speaker engaged the ENTIRE audience in a few questions, with the live results projecting on screen. It was powerful. I have used this tool a few times and really enjoy it, but it is best suited for a secondary classroom and up.
  • Today’s Meet – Another goodie I was introduced to at a conference. Today’s Meet is essentially a back channel, where students or those attending a meeting or conference can talk about pretty much whatever they like with the other students/attendees. I have used it a few times and found it to be not only fun, but very useful.
  • PicMonkey – I mentioned this one last week and I really can’t mention it enough. A free web editing tool that is super easy to use. You get great photo editing results with very little effort and time. LOVE IT!
  • Screencast-o-matic – I forget where exactly I learned about this one but I have a feeling it was from watching a teacher tutorial and I saw the watermark. Screencast-o-matic is great for making tutorials. It is easy to use and very intuiative. I have found I really enjoy making my own videos and I can see students being able to use this tool quite easily too, even upper elementary students.
  • PowToons – I have been aware of this tool for a while but never got around to actually using it. It is a bit time consuming, but I enjoy the creative process of creating an animated video. I am sure secondary students could handle it and likely some very motivated elementary students. (If you visit my YouTube channel you will find some examples of Screencast-o-matic and PowToons in use.)

Do you use any of these tools? Are you thinking you would like to try? I would love to hear from you in the comments! Thanks for stopping by!blog-signature