In many of my past posts, I tend to pull examples from childhood. Whether it be from parental love or nostalgia, this piece is no different in that vein, and if you have read the title to this piece, you probably have an idea of where this might be going. However, I think, like our child versions, we believe one thing to be true and find out differently in the end. It’s not a matter of right or wrong; it’s a matter of perception.
As a child, teacher, and parent, I LOVE Schoolhouse Rock. In fact, I probably know every word to most of the songs, even the “newer” science songs since my girls love to watch these DVDs in the car on long trips. One song in particular came to mind as I was researching this week. Here are the lyrics:
“For years this legend has been told
Of a creature seldom seen
He leaves a footprint so immense
It could make a grown man scream
Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Yeti
He goes by all those names
But now there’s something scarier
And our world’s not quite the same
There are beasts who are leaving footprints
That make Bigfoot’s track look small…
You gotta learn what to do and what to watch
Don’t be a carbon Sasquatch” (Dorough, 2009)
While this song focuses on our carbon footprints, I couldn’t help but see its relevance today as we navigate the digital world. Couldn’t we replace the word ‘carbon’ with ‘digital”? What does your personal digital footprint look like? Does it match the perception match the person? Have we left a Sasquatch-sized print? One that we wished was a myth? Or one that is completely non-existent?
Though we’d like to think we could stay invisible, this is just not possible in our current society, which is why it is so important to examine and manage your digital footprint before irreparable damage is done. We have to stay vigilant in what we “say” and do online as it becomes who we are, for better or worse, despite the entire truth of it or the spin others may put upon it.
That being said. I was curious about mine own, and in my personal search, I
was relieved and a bit dismayed that I had to search a bit more specifically to find myself. Don’t get me wrong. I’m in good company. “Angela Wagner” is a doctor, a life coach, an athlete, a yogi, an engineer, a lawyer, etc., and there’s me, a teacher and doctoral student. I found all of my profiles, my blog, website, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. only after adding my state to the search equation. This got me to thinking about how common my name is in the U.S. and decided to check out the website www.howmanyofme.com.
There are 439 people in the U.S. alone with my name, so I can attribute part of this to the commonness of my name, which makes me wonder about the ease with which some folks can leave a positive print effortlessly with a unique name. Or could it just as easily leave a footprint that is harder to erase? What are your thoughts?
Either way, “we gotta learn what to do and what to watch…don’t be a [digital] Sasquatch.”
Dorough, B. (2009). Don’t be a carbon sasquatch. On Schoolhouse Rock- Science Rocks!. Buena Vista: Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
Twitter for PD. It’s not a totally new concept for me. In fact, a doctoral studies cohort member of mine is researching this very area of educational technology, and I know from our many exchanges how valuable are its unique learning opportunities. It’s a place to share and connect, and it’s always available. This week in my Social Networking course I had to follow five new hashtags and share some of my discoveries. I decided to add at least one hashtag from each of my interest areas Secondary Education, English Language Arts, and Educational Technology.
The following hashtags were added to my Tweetdeck: #2ndaryela, #ALedchat, #edtechbridge, #engagechat, and # googleforedu.
Though I know I will learn far more over time, I’ll share a few here:
#2ndaryela : This is a hashtag dedicated to my teaching content area, and I was delighted to find SEVERAL new books to add to my reading list, both personally and professionally. I also noted some cool ideas and sources other teachers used for summer reading, which I will definitely check out.
#googleforedu: This hashtag is for everything related to the Google for Education suite. While I am a Google Level 2 Certified Educator, there are still new tips and tricks to learn, especially with the apps I do not use as much. Currently, I am in the process of using Google Sites to make some Digital Breakouts/Escape Rooms for my classes. This can be a time consuming concept, but now you can easily duplicate a Google Site with a few clicks. Voila! Editing and creating a new Escape/Breakout will be much easier to edit an existing page as a template.
#engagechat – This hashtag focuses on education and engagement in schools across contents and grade levels. As I was perusing recent tweets, the most striking concept was related to the teaching experience and my participation in this week’s exploration of Twitter. Essentially, it stressed the importance of collaboration (the foundation of social networking), but educators cannot possibly lead students where they haven’t been themselves, right?! It noted that if teachers don’t collaborate, then how can they expect it in students? It’s true. We need to actively practice the skills we wish to impart in others.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t think I could possibly capture the Twitter learning experience in one entry, but I will end it here with a few final thoughts on Twitter:
I know. I know. A course on social network learning seems a bit late to be taken as my last elective for edtech coursework, but let me explain.
Yes, I have already had accounts for many of the social networks we will be using in the course, and, yes, I have used them for professional and instructional purposes, but not consistently. (As you can see, I have not posted to this blog in months. Maybe this course will help change that.)
In many areas, consistency is key, so I hope to learn how to better manage my social and professional outlets. I’m here to learn more from others and expand my personal/professional learning network (PLN). I’m here to learn new ways to harness social networking for my students and colleagues. I want to know what has and hasn’t worked from others who have tried it out. I’m here to learn some new ideas, tools, strategies to better utilize the 1:1 technology in my classroom
Speaking of life in the 1:1 secondary classroom, I have noted the various options in social networks that students choose to use, but I am most curious to see how to integrate it consistently within a classroom and/or which option works best to gain buy-in.
So, here’s to a summer of social network learning and sharing.
Like so many other English Language Arts teachers, I am always on the hunt for audio options for books, poems, and short stories, BUT not just any audio will do. I, as well as many students, like to listen to a well-read narrator with inflection and/or voices. It’s highly entertaining, and it offers up a wonderful model of reading fluency.
We’ve all heard boring monotone audio tracks, but I thought I would share a personal favorite of mine: Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” read by Mr. Matthew Gray Gubler. Some of you may be more familiar with his character on the television show Criminal Minds (Dr. Spencer Reid).
Do yourself a favor, and listen to this suspenseful tale as Gubler incorporates all of the thrill and paranoia of the narrator through his tone. You might even consider having students discuss what makes it a good read in terms of voice, pacing, and background sounds. Take a listen, and let me know what you think.
Generational traits is a topic of interest given the new technological advancements over the past two decades. Generation X, Milennials, and now, even, Xennials are compared in the ways each learns, but IS there a difference REALLY?
From this week’s readings in 537, it’s clear that Prensky (2001) truly believes in a major “discontinuity” in learners, so much so that brain structures are changing. The processes through which information has been gained has altered the ways in which we learn, so how are educators to reach students of varying groups simultaneously? (insert eye roll) Now, I don’t know about you, but I seriously doubt ANY mode of instructional delivery can restructure the way my brain works. As an “Xennial” myself, I have been taught both in traditional ways as well as in a “21st-century” manner. Sure, I have a preferred delivery method, but this is not a preference I can expect all instructors to accommodate. In the end, I learned both ways. Sure the delivery was different, BUT the content was continuous, which ultimately would result in the dreaded NSD(No Significant Difference) if I were to comparatively study them. Like Clark (1994), I feel that “student achievement [isn’t influenced via technology] any more than the truck that delivers our groceries causes changes in our nutrition” (p. 22). It’s all about the pedagogy behind the content. Why is a particular method or tool more effective than another? Or is it? Truly the difference lies within the teacher’s choices AND with the students’ response to instruction.
While McKenzie’s blog piece seemingly confronted Prensky’s work, I found that it just seemed to relabel learners as “immigrants” and “natives” of digital tools. Much like other situations in life requiring abilities and knowledge, working/learning with technology is an acquired skill. Even Jem and Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird confront this similar tremendous “discontinuity” in thinking over racism, and Scout makes the profound comment that “Everybody’s gotta learn, nobody’s born knowing” (p. 304). Immigrant or “native,” we all start somewhere. Prior to technology, some students in classes were better at math than others or reading, etc. Does this mean they were math, reading or anything otherwise “natives”? I think not, and yet I think there is something to the speed at which we can obtain knowledge via technology.
Reeves’ work most noticeably aligns the digital nativism theory to learning styles, which has still yet to be supported by conclusive research. It all seems to boil down to preferences. Don’t we all have preferences in all areas of life? Sure. So why wouldn’t we also have them in education and learning delivery methods? Like I mentioned previously, I have learned in a variety of manner, but much of this learning depended on my engagement with the material. Engagement depends heavily on the users and not necessarily the product of delivery.
So, to any colleagues who feel the need to cater to digital nativism, I’d simply ask why? That’s the simplest question with which educators begin lesson plans (or at least they should). Technology for technology’s sake will do little to spark learning. In fact, I’d dare ask proponents of digital natives to consider what new fangled technology will counter the new forms they so devoutly believe in. Won’t there always be new generations and new technologies which have become everyday fixtures to said groups? Yes, emphatically yes, but teaching a diverse population of learners with “new” strategies, devices, applications, and tools is not a new struggle. Despite new technologies and generational change (native, immigrants, or otherwise), we still struggle with reaching ALL students. From my short 14 years in education, I feel that the same old concepts have just been “upcycled”. There’s no magic bullet; there’s just good teaching and receptive learners.
Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21–29. doi:10.1007/BF02299088
Lee, Harper. ( 2006). To kill a mockingbird. New York :Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 304.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants – Part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6).
McKenzie, J. (2007). Digital nativism: Digital delusions and digital deprivation. From Now On, 17(2).
Reeves, T.C. (2008, January 22-25). Do generational differences matter in instructional design? Online discussion presentation to Instructional Technology Forum.
It’s that time of year again: back to school season. It’s a time of mixed emotions. Parents are happy (and a little sad) for the kids to be back in the classroom. Teachers are sad to see summer go, but deep down, they’re ready to help your kiddos learn. But, before any of the learning begins, parents and students find themselves busy purchasing materials from THE SUPPLY LIST. You know, the list of all the required supplies needed for the respective grade of your student, the list that inspired Monica Brown to pen her blog post “Why I won’t buy one extra box of Kleenex for my kid’s school supplies; signed, a frustrated parent.”
Sure, the lists can seem long and sometimes overly specific, but trust that the items are there for a reason, even in the secondary grades. While Brown addresses the list from a parental perspective (one I applaud), I’d like to clarify a few misconceptions about supplies in high school. (YES, students and classrooms still need supplies!)
No, high schools classrooms do not have a set supply list available, and while I admit that I can see how this might be frustrating, it’s due to the variability of a student’s schedule by grade and course selections. As a parent myself, I, too, want to buy supplies as cheaply as possible and preferably during the tax-free weekend, but without THE LIST, many parents find themselves at a loss and refuse to guess. Result: a classroom full of students with little to no supplies. Most teachers would agree that paper and writing utensils are must haves for the year, so start there.
Yes, high school courses often ask for more expensive items like graphing calculators, bigger binders, and sticky notes, but rest assured, these are tools of the respective trade, and often, the more expensive items will last the rest of high school. And, let’s be honest, those sticky notes make annotating texts helpful when you can’t write in the books.
No, class fees do not go to the respective teacher. Often, they pay for student access to the online materials, books, food/fabric (family and consumer science classes), etc. necessary for the class, which leaves basic supplies like paper, pencils, folders, copy paper to be procured by students at the behest of individual teachers.
Yes, most teachers do receive a small amount of classroom money, but it pales in comparison to the amount teachers spend on extra (much needed) supplies. Plus, this small classroom fund is typically not available until OCTOBER, well beyond the start of school. So, what is a teacher do? Well, simply put, we have to put it in the syllabus and hope and pray students come prepared.
Brown’s blog speaks volumes of the magic happening in classrooms thanks to THE LIST, and it even addresses community supplies such as tissues and cleaning implements. We still need these in high school, but all too often, when students are requested to bring these, they request extra credit points, as if these are items of requested luxury. Sure, we could send students to the bathroom for tissue, but that’s lost instructional time. See, we truly do care about delivering the best instruction we can, and we have to get by with a little help from a LIST. But, what about the classroom monies teachers receive each year you ask? Yeah, those, classroom supply money cannot be used to purchase items like band-aids, sanitizer, wipes, tissues, or anything else that might remotely clean, not even the whiteboard. Oh, and copies? Sure, teachers may have access to the machines, but often, teachers must supply their own copy paper, and yes, while we might have access to electronic copies, students may not always have Internet access. Besides, there’s just something about physically working with colored paper and pens and markers that sparks learning.
I’ve already completed my two daughters’ lists, and I’ve already bought new supplies for my classroom as well. Honestly, I’ve even bought supplies not on the list for the teachers my kids will have because elementary papers are always happier with stickers. As a parent AND secondary teacher, I realize the cost of supplies adds up, but so does the cost of a daily frappuccino or fast food meal or even adding extra data or lines to your monthly mobile plan. All I ask is that before you question THE LIST (whether elementary or secondary), remind yourself that if it helps your child learn in a clean and comfortable environment, isn’t it worth the extra expense?
Sure, teachers are known for their willingness to go the extra mile to make sure students have what they need to learn, but let’s be honest, should they be responsible for ensuring THE LIST is fulfilled? Pay it forward, buy extra where you can, and see unadulterated (and uninterrupted) learning happen.
Summer reading. Two of the dirtiest words I feel I could say to some students as an English teacher, or at least it feels that way sometimes.
As an ELA teacher, reading is a passion. I have always voraciously devoured books as long as I can remember. But, sadly for many, this is not the case. Regardless, if it’s part of the course description you choose, then it is what it is. ELA teachers, myself included, take great care in selecting the summer reading options, yet there always seem to be objections to selected works of literature, works meticulously chosen to give our students an opportunity to safely explore complex thematic elements without having to experience them in real life.
Summer reading is required by a multitude of schools across the country, primarily for honors and college prep classes, so why is it still such a hot topic? Is it the content of the books? Is it the assignment paired with the selections? Do we really have such little faith in teachers’ abilities to plan curriculum and execute discussions thoughtfully? What are your thoughts and suggestions?
Writing is a skill as necessary as walking, and it’s acquired in much the same way. We see others do it, we try to emulate the process, and we often only master it through constant practice.
Student composition skills emerge through routine writing practice followed up by constructive feedback from the instructor and/or peers. This is all fine and good, and it seems like common sense. However, one major impediment to this practice lies within the time required for reading and providing this feedback to the multitude of students within each class. Thanks to technological advancements in educational tools, ELA teachers can work smarter and not harder in this area.
With all of this in mind, here is a list of five technology tools in Google to expedite the assessment of writing.
I have utilized this tool when grading written essays. I may open a Google Doc and voice my feedback through this tool. Afterwards, I can print this doc and attach to the student paper for more thorough instruction as to how the student performed and may revise without the impediments of limited time and space to do such
This tool was particularly effective with my upperclassmen, who seemed more receptive to conversing about their writing, but it also works well for those open to the writing process in all of the editing and revision glory.
This tool is great for ELA and writing courses as it evaluates a variety of writing genres.
Happy reading and assessing with these available Add-ons!
If you have tried these or have another favorite, feel free to share and comment below.
“These days, you’ve gotta milk a dollar out of every dime.”
– Gayle Forman, Where She Went
Though students will be heading back to school in a little over a month, teachers will head back sooner to prep and plan for an yet another awesome school year. This involves stocking classroom supplies, decorating said classroom, and designing lessons, all to engage our new legions of learners. More often than not, teachers will not receive classroom funds until later in the fall (if any), and it takes the mixture of teachers’ creativity, resourcefulness, and ingenuity to turn the new-school-year visions into reality.
Below you will find links to my favorite sites in locating variety of helpful resources for teacher supplies, resources, and tools to make the new academic year awesome despite a limited budget.
NAEIR – This is the site for the National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources. The organization offers school teachers a FREE membership through its Teacher’s Program. Here you will find a variety of useful and inexpensive school supplies from donors such as 3M, Expo, Post-It, Crayola, Scotch, Sharpie, Avery, Papermate, Bic, and more. Essentially, corporations donate overstock to NAEIR, and NAEIR offers it to members for a nominal handling fee.
Personally, I have ordered repeatedly, and, honestly, it has truly become a supply life-saver. Most recently (last night), I splurged on some must-have goodies. A few examples of savings from my past orders include:
6 Post-It BIG pads for $12 ( HUGE savings)
15 Sharpie pens for $3.50
600 College Sports-Themed Index cards for $4.50
1 12×12 Command Dry-Erase wall Tile for $3
2 Expo Dry Erase sets (cleaner and markers) for $8.25
1 Student Expo Student Whiteboard set (2-sided board, 4 markers, and eraser) for $5
48 Post-it Designer notepads for $3
6 Post-It Weekly To-Do Calendars for $1
1200 Scotch Thermal Laminating Pouches $12
Note, the above prices are the handling fees. The products themselves are FREE. Still not sure? Check out the Teaching Supplies Next-to-Nothing Facebook Group to see pictures of fabulous teacher orders. Seeing is believing, my friends. To join, be sure to register as soon as possible since membership takes a few days to process.
Participate Learning – The continuous learning section of Participate Learning’s site offers educators a place to find new teaching resources and tools (traditional and technology based), to curate them into easy-to-access collections, and to share them with other educators. Users may also use the Chats feature to track and participate in Twitter chats easily, whether live or reading transcripts of past chats. This is a MUST-SEE if you have ever wondered about Twitter chats for learning. Go ahead, search for something you will teach this year by subject, grade, standard, or tags.
Teachers Give Teachers – This is the homebase for the HyperDoc Girls, who created the HyperDoc Handbook. This site allows teachers to share HyperDocs (interactive Google Docs for learning) on a variety of subject as well as free templates to create your very own for the new school year. Remember, a hyperdoc is more than just links within a document, it allows for student engagement and collaboration for learning.
As you prepare for the upcoming school year, feel free to share your finds (from these sites or your personal favorites) with me in the comments below.