Sunday, September 15, 2013

Continuing My Journey Elsewhere

Over the last couple of years, I have done quite a bit with technology integration.  My original goal was to blog about my experiences while reflecting on my successes, failures, and discoveries.  To be quite honest, maintaining two websites has been quite a challenge.  If you would like to continue to see how I technology in my classroom, please follow the link: This is a more in-depth view of what I do with technology while providing science instruction to my students.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Back 2 School

School started on August 1st and it has been a wonderful start to a new year.  I met 100% of my homeroom during Open House, most of my paperwork has already been submitted to the administrative staff, and I am ready to get right into the learning tomorrow.  This by far is the largest class of gifted learners I have taught since I first started teaching gifted learners a few years ago.  I am even more excited about the potential wrapped up in each student as we get ready to start our PBLs.

Usually I spend the summer tweaking projects from the previous year; however, this summer was a bit different for me as it was the first time (in a really long time) that I was on vacation the entire summer.  So I will work on tweaking those projects in the coming weeks. I have time to get it done since I am busy teaching students how to do well in my class right now through various strategies.

This week is an ice breaker week for my students.  I want to decrease the anxieties they may have about physical science so I will be starting my year with a concept that most of them should be familiar with because they learned the basics of it in elementary school.

Well on to my first full week at school...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Missing in Action...but Back!

Wow! It's been quite awhile since I have been able to update this page.  This last year has been busy for me as I wrapped up on my doctoral journey.  While away, I have spent a significant amount of time developing my skills with many of the technological resources I have shared on my page.  My goal as this new school year begins is to continue where I've left off.  So much has gone on in the EdTech world in the last year and I have been keeping up with as much of it as I can.

I am looking quite forward to sharing with you my "Aha!"moments once again.  After reading so many articles this summer, I had to really reevaluate how I use technology.  There are some tools that I will use again in my classes this year, while there are others that I need to redefine their purpose in my science class.  As I look back over the last year, I can recall the various times that my parents and students saw the value in the different technological resources.  This made a profound difference in my instructional planning.  Where to go from there? Well that's easy! Now that I am more comfortable with the technologies that helped to enhance my classroom last year, I am going to step it up a notch and really demonstrate the power of the tools.

This year I am even more excited as some of my colleagues are interested in how I corporate technology in my classroom.  I can't wait to show them the potential it will have in their classrooms!

Continuing on my journey!

Monday, December 31, 2012

As I Approach the New Year...

I think of how this year started and how it comes to a close.  I constantly think about how my education has shaped me as a teacher this year.  While I have not been able to share day-by-day Aha! moments through my blog, I feel I should close this year out by reflecting on the following.

Technology Integration
It's not what you use to support education, but how you use it.  This year my understanding of technology to such a dramatic turn in my classroom.  I used to feel that the resources were not enough, but then I realized that I didn't need a million types of technology. I just needed to find the ones that work for my students and use them well.  Some technological resources that made a difference for my students this year were Titanpad, Video Software Tools, YouTube, Paper by FiftyThree, Explain Everything, and GoAnimate.  Each tool supported instruction both inside and outside of the classroom in a variety of ways.  Most importantly, my students began their own hunt for technology we could try in the classroom.  I remember one student who wanted to make sure I knew how to read my analytics for the classroom YouTube page.  I year ago I would have never imagined any of this.

Over the years, I have been back and forth about homework.  One thing I realized was that I had to do what worked for me.  One idea that has definitely crossed the thoughts and movements throughout education is the flipped classroom.  While I do not follow all of the practices, it did help solve my homework issue.  The idea of what normally is done at home is now done at school. What about what use to be done at school? Well, that's where I break away from the flip model.  EVERYTHING is done at school.  My students watch the videos, listen to podcasts, and complete all tasks right at school.  This approach is the best for my students based on the current levels of need and support.

Demonstration of Mastery
This probably has been the most challenging task yet this year.  All my tasks are performance related, but I still limit the degree of freedom my students get in choosing how they will demonstrate. I typically give them choices or I choose one approach (like making a video) and they have full range for creativity and originality.  I have tried to increase the emphasis of creativity and originality in efforts to discourage  poster board projects, which are no longer acceptable forms of learning to me.  If you've seen one poster board, you've seem them all.   I love to see a 3D model, a PSA (public service announcement), or online infographic that my students create to demonstrate understanding.  Learning has to be more than just a colorful large sheet of paper.

One of the greatest changes in my teaching and personal life is content curation.  I used to be one who would just look at what others did and use that to support my classroom.  Now, I create my own work.  The benefit is that my content is targeted toward my audience: my students!

What can I say about the importance of constant reflection of your teaching and student learning besides that IT IS IMPORTANT! You can't grow or change without reflecting on where you are and where you want to be in your teaching career.  At the same token, you have to think about where you want your students to be by the time their year with you is over. Take time to reflect at is is one of the most rewarding experiences you will have in your profession.

So I am ready for the New Year? Am I ready for new challenges? Am I ready to challenge myself even more? The answer to these questions is YES!

What about you?

Continuing on my journey...

Wishing you and your families a Happy New Year!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Integrating Technology in Science

Well, it has been quite a busy year thus far.  I am enjoying the learning that is taking place.  I am especially proud of how well my students are embracing technology.  I am not talking about making a slide show on PowerPoint or printing out pictures from the internet. Instead we have been using Titanpad, SchoolTube, YouTube, and PBworks for much of our science activities.  As we moved from one task to another one and I shared with the students that they would work in groups, one student asked me to create new Titanpads for them to collaborate and collect research online.  What? Who would have thought that kids would ask you to include technology for them to get their work done?  If students see your passion to incorporate technology, they will appreciate it more.  However, the appreciation goes much farther when you have modeled how to incorporate the technology in the classroom learning experience.

I do have one recommendation for Titanpad: Make sure that you create your own account.  Doing this will give you more control of the pads you create for your students.

This week we will add one more thing to our technology resume and it is blogging.  Last year I used Weebly, but I have decided to check out Kidblog this year. If you use Kidblog, I would love to hear how it works for you and your students.

Continuing my journey...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Discovery Learning So Far

What a school year so far? I am not sure I can remember the last time I sat down in my classroom. Everyday we are actively learning new ideas and concepts in class.  As I think about the last six weeks of school, I need to ask myself whether I am providing my students with enough opportunities to discover. Of course, we are doing plenty inquiry-based activities, but I still find that perhaps I might be doing more coaching than I need to.  Perhaps, that is okay as this is new content and a new way of learning for many students. However,   I will need to start thinking of ways to build confidence in asking questions, learning independently, and demonstrating what is learned.  Of course, I am also looking to see what other teachers are doing in their classrooms.  Perhaps you have an idea or strategy you can share about discovery learning in a science classroom.  I still have a few tricks up my sleeve, but I always welcome more strategies to add to my current list!

Continuing on my journey...

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Power of Animation

In my last post, I shared the vital role YouTube plays in my science classes.  Today, I couldn't help but share another powerful technological tool: Go Animate.  Back in January I created a Go Animate account, but didn't spend too much time with the online resource.  Then it hit me--I could create short videos about what we learned in class after instruction was provided as a way for students to review what we were learning!  Go Animate has such a friendly user interface that I won't spend time on how to create one as so many others have done this already.  Instead I want to share what I have done so far for my students.  I hope that my work is an inspiration for other teachers that are looking for viable ways to support instruction, especially science instruction!

You can find my video page by clicking here. I would love to hear your feedback!

Continuing on my journey...
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