Monday, December 31, 2018

Build Your PLN - Join These January Book Studies and Twitter Slow Chat

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. ― Henry Ford

I am excited to be part of two book studies and twitter slow chats starting this month. Slow chats are a great way for educators to grow as learners. They also support building a diverse PLN.  Will you join me in one or both?

The ISTE EdTech Coaches Network Book Study is starting on January 22nd. The book has some great insights and ideas to support the future of teaching and learning. 


The Edtech Coaches Network promotes the development and collaboration of educational technology coaches who support the professional growth of teachers as they use technology to enhance learning.

The book looks at emerging approaches and tools, and incorporates professional educators’ stories of how and why they have implemented each trend, including information on challenges faced and overcome, how to get started and other resources to explore. The book inspires educators to try new approaches with the understanding that they will devise new ways to synthesize, interpret and implement ideas to fit their context, learners and resources.

You can learn more and register for the book study here.



The ISTE Teacher's Education Network Book Study is starting on January 28th. I recently completed the book and it serves as a great read for all educators. 


The Teacher Education Network members include higher education faculty teaching in graduate and undergraduate programs, graduate students, K–12 teachers, administrators, information technology specialists, instructional coaches, curriculum specialists, and anyone teaching and conducting research in teacher preparation and instructional technology.

This book challenges the thought that “teaching” begins only after certification and college graduation. Instead, it describes how students in teacher preparation programs have value to offer their future colleagues, even as they are learning to be teachers! This book provides positive examples, helpful tools, and plenty of encouragement for preservice teachers to learn, to dream, and to do.

You can learn more and register for the book study here




12 Days of Techmas Day 7: Flipgrid

12 Days of Our Favorite Resources to Engage Learners

I always try to remember it’s not about the tech, it’s how you use it. This being said, sometimes learning about a new tool or resource will open the door to bigger discussions about, creativity, pedagogy, and learning. It is ok to sometimes start with the tool and then explore how or why you might use it to enhance teaching and learning.

Day 7 - Flipgrid

Yesterday, I shared The Padlet, a great resource for collaboration and communication. Up today is one of the best tools to engage students in reflective learning. 

Flipgrid is a video discussion platform for teachers and students. Flipgrid has become a favorite resource in my classroom and school to engage students. My students and I use Flipgrid in a variety of ways, including:
  • Student Introductions
  • Online Discussions
  • Formative Assessment
  • Reflective learning
  • Persuasive TED Talks
  • Exit tickets
  • and more . . . 

Learn more about the power of Flipgrid with our Flipgrid Tips and Resources Document

If you’ve used Flipgrid in your classroom, please share your story in the comments below. If you have questions or other ideas, the comments below are waiting for you to ask or share. 

(Links to Each Day's Resource as They Become Available)

I will be back tomorrow with a new resource. Lather, rinse, repeat. Does anyone actually do this?
 We wouldn't have the internet if it wasn't for cats, right? Image Source

I am a Science Teacher and Instructional Technology Coordinator at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, IL. I am a lifelong learner who is always looking for new ideas and challenges. 
Twitter: @WickedEdTech | Blog: Know Your Why | Website: WickEdEdTech

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The 12 Days of Techmas - Day 6: Padlet


12 Days of Our Favorite Resources to Engage Learners

I always try to remember it’s not about the tech, it’s how you use it. This being said, sometimes learning about a new tool or resource will open the door to bigger discussions about, creativity, pedagogy, and learning. It is ok to sometimes start with the tool and then explore how or why you might use it to enhance teaching and learning.

Day 6 - Padlet

Yesterday, I shared The Noun Project, a great resource for high-quality icons and graphics. Today I am sharing one of my favorite resources to support digital collaboration and communication. Whenever I want students to share ideas or creations with the class, Padlet is the place. 

Padlet is a digital bulletin board where students and teachers can post messages, collaborate, reflect, share links, share videos, and share pictures. Padlet is a great resource to support student voice and creative communication in any classroom.
Everything you need, nothing you don’t. If only life were like that.


Did you know that Padlet posts can include file uploads, links, Google searches, photos, webcam recordings, audio recordings, screencasts, drawings, map locations, or links to other Padlets? 

Learn more about the power of Padlet in our Padlet - Collaboration & Communication Resources and Tips Document

If you’ve used Padlet in your classroom, please share your story in the comments below. If you have questions or other ideas, the comments below are waiting for you to ask or share. 

(Links to Each Day's Resource as They Become Available)

Don't worry, I will be back tomorrow with another resource to share. 


I am a Science Teacher and Instructional Technology Coordinator at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, IL. I am a lifelong learner who is always looking for new ideas and challenges. 
Twitter: @WickedEdTech | Blog: Know Your Why | Website: WickEdEdTech

Saturday, December 29, 2018

12 Days of Techmas Day 5: The Noun Project

12 Days of Our Favorite Resources to Engage Learners

I always try to remember it’s not about the tech, it’s about how you use it. This being said, sometimes learning about a new tool or resource will open the door to bigger discussions about, creativity, pedagogy, and learning. Sometimes exploring a new EdTech resource can lead to some incredible learning experiences. 

Day 5 - The Noun Project

Yesterday, I shared Unsplash Photos, one of my favorite resources for finding incredible royalty free images. Today I will be sharing another great resource to support visual design.

The Noun Project is an incredible resource to add some visual flair to anything you create. My students and I regularly use the royalty-free icons in our presentations and digital sketchnotes. I also love to use specific icons in place of bullet points to organize the learning process in many of my HyperDocs
Creating, Sharing, and Celebrating the World's Visual Language Millions use Noun Project to simplify communication, across borders and around the world. 

The Noun Project also has an Add-on for both Google Slides and Google Docs.  Be sure to check out The Noun Project Blog, which is chocked full of great ideas and strategies to make the most of visual language. 

If you’ve used The Noun Project in your classroom, please share your story in the comments below. If you have questions or other ideas, the comments below are waiting for you to ask or share. 
(Links to Each Day's Resource as They Become Available)

I will share another resource tomorrow. We will not repeat any resources during this 12-day adventure. Not quite Groundhog Day, but you get the idea?
Image Source


I am a Science Teacher and Instructional Technology Coordinator at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, IL. I am a lifelong learner who is always looking for new ideas and challenges. 
Twitter: @WickedEdTech | Blog: Know Your Why | Website: WickEdEdTech

Friday, December 28, 2018

The 12 Days of Techmas - Day 4: Unsplash Photos

12 Days of Our Favorite Resources to Engage Learners

I always try to remember it’s not about the tech, it’s how you use it. This being said, sometimes learning about a new tool or resource will open the door to bigger discussions about, creativity, pedagogy, and learning. It is ok to sometimes start with a tool and then explore how or why you might use it to enhance teaching and learning.

Day 4 - Unsplash Photos

Yesterday, I shared one of my favorite resources for quick visual designs. Today I will be sharing another great resource to support visual design.

There are many great royalty free photo websites, but Unsplash Photos is definitely a favorite.
Make something awesome. Over 550,000 free (do-whatever-you-want) high-resolution photos brought to you by the world’s most generous community of photographers.
Created with Adobe Spark using Unsplash Photos

Images can be copied or downloaded from the site without signing up. Unsplash Photos is also an Add-on in Google Slides. No need to ever leave the My students and I use Unsplash Photos all the time to incorporate images into our presentations, memes, infographics, and more. 


If you’ve used Unsplash Photos in your classroom, please share your story in the comments below. If you have questions or other ideas, the comments below are waiting for you. 

I promise I won't be Scrooge. I will be back tomorrow with another resource. I wonder what it will be? So many awesome resources, so little time! Hopefully, I can figure it out before tomorrow.

Image Source

I am a Science Teacher and Instructional Technology Coordinator at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, IL. I am a lifelong learner who is always looking for new ideas and challenges. 
Twitter: @WickedEdTech | Blog: Know Your Why | Website: WickEdEdTech

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The 12 Days of Techmas - Day 3: Google Autodraw

12 Days of Our Favorite Resources to Engage Learners

I always try to remember it’s not about the tech, it’s how you use it. This being said, sometimes learning about a new tool or resource will open the door to bigger discussions about, creativity, pedagogy, and learning. It is ok to sometimes start with a tool and then explore how or why you might use it to enhance teaching and learning.

Day 3 - Google Autodraw

Yesterday, Melissa Wilson shared one of the great lessons from the Google Applied Digital Skills Curriculum. Today we are sharing another great resource for Google.

Google Autodraw is a digital whiteboard with a bit of an awesome surprise. 
"AutoDraw is a new kind of drawing tool that pairs the magic of machine learning with drawings from talented artists to help everyone create anything visual, fast."
Google Autodraw has all the power of a digital whiteboard, with one huge advantage. The Autodraw AI will attempt to match sketches with actual graphics created by graphic designers from around the world. This allows users to blend their own notes and artwork with Autodraw's vast library of graphics. 
I am a huge believer that sketching or drawing is a great way to make learning stick. Paper and pen is still one of my favorite ways to create sketchnotes, memes, and infographics. Google Autodraw has become the go-to resource for my students when we are creating quick digital reflections, sketchnotes, memes, infographics, or other visuals. It is also quite a bit of fun to watch students work hard to create a sketch that matches the graphic they have in mind. 

If you’ve used Google Autodraw with students, please share your story in the comments below. 

No melting here. I will be back tomorrow with another resource. I wonder what it will be? So many awesome resources, so little time! Hopefully, I can figure it out before tomorrow.


I am a Science Teacher and Instructional Technology Coordinator at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, IL. I am a lifelong learner who is always looking for new ideas and challenges. 
Twitter: @WickedEdTech | Blog: Know Your Why | Website: WickEdEdTech

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The 12 Days of Techmas - Day 2: Google's Applied Digital Skills

12 Days of Our Favorite Resources to Engage Learners

I always try to remember it’s not about the tech, it’s how you use it. This being said, sometimes learning about a new tool or resource will open the gate to bigger discussions about pedagogy and learning. Start with a tool and then explore how or why you might use it to enhance teaching and learning.

Day 2 - Google Applied Digital Skills (If/Then Lesson)

Yesterday, I shared Adobe Spark. Adobe Spark is a great resource that allows educators and students to create graphics, web pages, and video stories all in one place. Today guest blogger Melissa Wilson shares her experiences with Google Applied Digital Skills. 

Google Applied Digital Skills is a wonderful resource for all teachers. Google’s impressive, free curriculum uses video-based lessons that cover a wide range of digital skills for students to develop and utilize. The best part...you can incorporate these impressive lessons into your own instructions and content, while also teaching real-world applicable digital skills. In my sophomore English classes, I decided to dive into the If/Then Adventure Stories Curriculum and used it to teach and assess narrative writing. This awesome curriculum teaches digital collaboration, presentation formatting, and slide hyperlinks utilizing Google Docs and Slides; it can also be used in other classes besides English, as students should be creative and writing in every class.

Students worked in partners and created a Choose Your Own Adventure-style story in Google Slides. We followed the curriculum set in place by Google, but I tweaked it as needed for my classes. We watched videos together, discussed them as a class, and then students were given time to collaborate and create. All of this was done in class, as I am not a fan of giving homework. In my 11 years of teaching, this activity was probably one of the most engaging, popular assignments completed by students. For almost two weeks, students were engaged the entire class period and complained when it was over. They were creating, communicating, collaborating, and critically thinking while crafting these stories. Most groups wrote more than was expected of them due to their excitement over their story ideas and development. I was apprehensive to try this, but I am so happy I did! My students requested to do something similar second semester, and if they are this excited to write, then I will make it happen. While Google Applied Digital Skills provided a shell for the unit, I was able to modify as needed based on what my students needed to learn the skills and complete the assignment. This unit provided evidence that giving students opportunities to create, collaborate, and take ownership of their learning develops the most memorable and meaningful learning experiences for our students!
Isn’t it great to still be learning while you are enjoying the holiday season? Don’t you worry, we will be back tomorrow with more goodies to get you excited for the new year!


Melissa is an English Teacher and Instructional Technology Coordinator at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, IL. I love learning from my colleagues and challenging my students to take ownership of their learning.
Twitter: @mrswilsonnv
Website: #WhatsupEDU









Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The 12 Days of Techmas - Day 1: Adobe Spark

12 Days of Our Favorite Resources to Engage Learners

I always try to remember it’s not about the tech, it’s how you use it. This being said, sometimes learning about a new tool or resource will open the gate to bigger discussions about pedagogy and learning. Start with a tool and then explore how or why you might use it to enhance teaching and learning.

Day 1 - Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark is an incredible creative design resource for teachers and students. In fact, it is actually 3 tools all wrapped up on one site (holiday pun intended). I use Adobe Spark in a variety of ways as part of the learning process. If you want students to create as part of the learning process, Adobe Spark is a great place to start.
Create and share incredible graphics connected to learning experiences with Spark Posts.
Create and share awesome photo stories and video voice-overs with Spark Videos.
Create and share inspiring designs and visual web stories with Spark Pages.
If you’ve used Adobe Spark with students, please share your story in the comments below.

We will share another resource tomorrow. Same Bat Channel Same Bat Time? See you then!
Image Source

I am a Science Teacher and Instructional Technology Coordinator at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, IL. I am a lifelong learner who is always looking for new ideas and challenges. 
Twitter: @WickedEdTech | Blog: Know Your Why | Website: WickEdEdTech


Friday, December 21, 2018

Reflecting On Another Year of Blogging - It's Not About the Tools or IS IT?


I love Twitter and for a while, it was all I needed as an educator and a learner outside of my school. I eventually realized that it was hard to say and see everything I wanted to in a medium that moves so fast., for this reason, I started to blog a few years ago with two goals in mind.
  • The More You Share The More You Learn! #CanIGetAWitness
  • I Am A Reflective Learner And Blogging Is One Way To Reflect On My Teaching and Learning Experience. 
I've tried to come up with a consistent theme for my blog this year, but I still don't know that I have found a niche for my blog. Maybe it is because there is not one thing that I am great at? Jack of all trades, but master of none? 
I do have a couple of fundamental beliefs about teaching and learning that hope show up somewhere in most of what I share.
  • The word technology cannot be separated from teaching and learning anymore. The legacy of going to a computer lab to use tech needs to die. Like it or not, technology is deeply ingrained in almost every aspect of our lives. 
  • You must start exploring why you are doing something before looking at how you will get it done. If I don't know why I am doing something connected to teaching and learning, then why would I still do it?
  • When I get it right, this quote is the absolute truth.
    "Pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator" - Michael Fullan
  • Content has its place, but learning can't just be about content. I think of my content as a tool to support the development of essential skills for students. 
  • The best educators are facilitators of learning. They are not the source of all knowledge in a classroom. Student-centered engagement is not easy, but it is the best way. 
  • Everything is a remix. We can't stand alone, we must collaborate to help all learners grow. 
Looking back, I realized that One Thing has changed for me this year. I used to believe that everything I did needed to start with good pedagogy before the technology should even be mentioned. I realized this year that sometimes it is ok to start with an EdTech tool or resource. Sometimes starting with the tool leads to some incredible and innovative lessons and activities. Does it make sense to say that EdTech is my muse?
Sometimes it is ok to put the cart (Technology) before the horse (Pedagogy) as long as you know that eventually, the horse needs to take the lead if true change is ever going to get rolling. 
I'd love to know if any of my posts that focused on a particular tool or group of tools inspired something awesome in your school? Please share in the comments below or using the hashtag #ShareYourWhy.

Here are some of the top posts this year connected to some of my favorite tools that I use with students and educators. Do these posts inspire you to do something new with your students? 
What's next for the blog . . .

We will be doing a 12 Days of Techmas series of posts starting on December 25th. The idea is to share some tech tools that might inspire some innovative teaching and learning. Look for us to get started on December 25th. (I do have a few guest bloggers booked.) 

In 2017 I reflected on the posts that received the most hits, and I plan to do the same thing at the start of 2019. Stop by sometime after the 12 days of Techmas to learn more.


I hope you find and share your why in 2019. Happy Holidays!
The More Your Share The More Your Learn!

Friday, December 14, 2018

DitchSummit 2018 - Listening, Learning, and Collaborating


"The Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit is a FREE virtual event from December 14-31, 2018. It brings together some of the brightest minds in education to discuss technology, pedagogy and more."

This is one of my favorite online conferences and I highly recommend engaging in the videos and sharing your thoughts via the #DitchSummit hashtag.

I am going to do my best to engage each day and share my key takeaways in this document.







Building a PLN The More You Share the More You Learn

My Personal Learning Network Love Story
Yes I Love My PLN

I’ve only spent about half of my educational career as an active member of a Personal Learning Network. I still remember getting started as a science teacher in 1992. I was given some paper resources (The internet was still little more than a fad at this point.) and a syllabus for the class. I was the only one teaching the class, so I was mostly on my own. I created, experimented, and revised activities and assessments by myself. My students were my critics. If I was lucky enough to attend an educational conference, I sat in the back of the room and diligently recorded ideas and resources that I would take back to my classroom and my students. I kept to myself, I am an introvert by nature. I thought I was doing all I could to grow as an educator and help my students. I was wrong.

In April of 2009, I joined Twitter. I won’t lie to you and tell you that this made all the difference right away, there was no glorious light that suddenly appeared from the heavens. It was the open gate that started me on my path as a contributor to a Global PLN. I mainly lurked on Twitter until the ICE Conference in 2012, where I discovered the power of the educational hashtag. This is the moment where I was off and running. I made new connections and began collaborating outside of my school. I met, collaborated, and learned from educators both in a digital world and in the real world. It was and continues to be a glorious experience. Today I love to learn, collaborate, and share on a variety of social media platforms with educators from around the world. I no longer hide in the back of the room at conferences. I present, I tweet, and I collaborate every chance I get whenever and wherever I can.

Being part of a PLN has made all the difference for me. Few educational experiences have done more to help me learn and grow as a lifelong learner. Being part of a PLN has made all the difference for me. Few educational experiences in my life have done more to help me learn and grow as a lifelong learner. I love my PLN.

In and effort to support other educators who want to get started on their PLN journeys, we’ve created a Personal Learning Network Interactive. The document is designed to provide both new and experienced connected educators with new opportunities and experiences to grow as lifelong learners.

I Believe All Educators Owe It To Their Students to Make Connections & Share Ideas

 Here are a few additional resources to help everyone build a more collaborative PLNs.


If you are already engaged in Twitter, Facebook, Voxer, Google + or someplace else as a learner, set aside an hour or two each week to learn something new. If you have not taken a dive in social learning why not get started today?


Friday, December 7, 2018

Let's Talk About Everything That Is Awesome


I am excited this week to be co-authoring a post with my friend and partner in all things EdTech Melissa Wilson. Melissa is an English teacher and Instructional Technology Coordinator at Neuqua Valley High School. We will be cross-posting this story on her blog “#Whatsup Wildcats”. If you’ve never had a chance to explore Melissa’s blog, I highly recommend that you change that today. Melissa provides some incredible insights about teaching and learning that happens every day at Neuqua.

One of the perks of our profession is that we get to be lifelong learners and can use what we learn to enhance and transform instructional practices in our classroom. The best teachers are always looking for new ways to support all students. We believe that teachers need to find time to collaborate and share the awesome ways they are engaging students in the learning experience.

With our busy schedules, it can be difficult to find time to share what we are doing in our classrooms with other teachers in the building. With with this in mind, we decided to have our teachers take ownership of our Third CAFE Connect. The goal was to model a Professional Development experience centered on our belief that some of the best learning experiences are connected to Student Voice and Choice. We invited our staff to share something awesome connected to teaching and learning. So the question became...What would you do for a Klondike Bar?

We created 3 different experiences for our staff to share something awesome connected to teaching and learning:
  • Melissa and I chilled (pun intended) in the Faculty Cafe and encouraged staff to visit and share something awesome face-to-face
  • For staff who couldn’t make it to the Faculty Cafe, we created a Padlet where staff could share ideas and resources connected to being awesome. 
  • We also created a Flipgrid where staff could quickly share a recording connected to being awesome. 
As Melissa and I reflected on what we learned from our staff, we were excited to conclude that the 5C’s were at the heart of these awesome experiences. Teachers shared stories of collaboration, creativity, communication, critical thinking, and curiosity. The stories from their classrooms did not just focus on technology; instead, they were rich in student-centered learning experiences, which provided engaging, thought-provoking lessons.

Our teachers’ stories validate how dedicated they are to providing authentic learning experiences. Together, we must continue to explore methods of engagement, student ownership, and assessments of learning to support all students.

Interested in exploring what our teachers shared? Click here to learn more about the awesome things happening in our classrooms.

Our staff is awesome! #whatsup #shareyourwhy

Curious about our first 2 CAFE Connects?

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

What Are Your Favorite Game Based Formative Assessment Tools?

You Don't Know What You Don't Know

Formative Assesment is a huge part of the day to day learning process in my classroom. I use a variety of tools and strategies to support our exploration of what we know and what we don't know. Formative assessments help me adjust the learning process on the fly. They also help my students connect key concepts back to the lessons, readings, and activities. I don't know what I would do if I didn't have access to so many great formative tools. 

While all types of formative assessments can be used to engage students in the learning process, some of the game-based resources are great ways to get students excited about learning. Kahoot, Quizlet Live, and Gimkit are great game-based formative tools that I use all the time as part of the our weekly learning experience, but my overall favorite game based formative tool is Quizziz. Have you ever used it? What do you think? What are your favorite formative tools? I'd love to update some of my resource lists.

Favorite Game-Based Assessment Resources


FlipQuiz provides educators with a quick way to create your own digital gameshow-style boards for test reviews in the classroom.

Gimkit is a game show for the classroom that requires knowledge, collaboration, and strategy to win.

Kahoot allows you to create & play awesome multiplayer quiz games, both in class & at home.

JeorpardyLabs
Create a customized jeopardy template.

PurposeGames
Create and play a variety of game-based quizzes.

Quizalize
Quizalize lets you engage your class and deliver instant assessments for personalized learning on any computer, tablet or smartphone.

Quizziz
Quizizz allows you to create & play awesome multiplayer quiz games, both in class & at home.

Quizlet Live
Quizlet Live is an in-class, team-based learning game. Students work collaboratively to correctly match a Quizlet set of terms and definitions.

Socrative
Socrative has both traditional assessment tools and some game-based resources.


What am I missing? How do you use formative assessment to support all learners? Please share resources and thoughts in the comments below. 

Learning Should Be Fun, Right?


Friday, November 30, 2018

Essential Tips for Studying Smarter, Not Harder


What advice do you have students as they prepare for final exams?

Exams may be just around the corner, so here are a few resources we've put together to help students organize, prioritize, and prepare for just about any assessment at any time throughout the year.

Essential Tips for Studying Smarter, Not Harder

Supercharge your Study Guide
It is just as important to think about HOW you study as it is to WHAT you study.

Don't Memorize - ORGANIZE!
Organized learners are more successful on exams. Being organized is the difference between knowing and understanding. Graphic organizers are a great way to make connections.

The Auditory Learner
Written notes have always been a valuable tool to learn, but voice typing and recording your voice are powerful ways to learn and review.
  • Voice typing in Google Docs is a quick way to add thoughts and essential concepts to your notes as you review activities or text.
  • You can also record and share your learning by using quick recording resources like Flipgrid, Screencastify Soundtrap or another recording resource.
The Visual Learner
The part of the brain used to process words is quite small in comparison to the part that processes visual images. Sketchnotes and visual-notetaking are great ways to tap into how your brain processes visual information.

Digital Tools to Support Individual & Collaborative Review

Concept and Vocabulary Review - Quizlet
Start with flashcards, add diagrams, and engage in learning. Students can create their study sets, or choose from millions of flashcards sets created by others. You can use several study modes including multiple choice tests, flashcards, diagrams Quizlet learn, and more study games. Visit the Quizlet Blog, for more student study tips.

Collaboration - Google+ Communities and Padlet
You can create online study groups in Google+ Communities or by creating a collaborative Padlet.

Organization - Google Keep
Google Keep can be a powerful tool for organization and workflow. Create and share notes. Create checklists and reminders. You can organize study resources and create their own paths for learning. Google Keep is also integrated into Google Docs and Google Slides.

Video Connected to Content - Khan Academy and YouTube
Videos can be a powerful way to learn something new. Videos can also serve as great reviews to reinforce what you already know. YouTube has a wealth of channels connected to almost every subject.


Friday, November 23, 2018

Happy Friday Videos 2018 - 2019 Engage, Inspire, and Motivate

I sometimes struggled tremendously with the pace of the content in my Advanced Placement Environmental Science classes, so much so that I sometimes forget what is the most important thing in my classroom. My students and their growth as humans are so much more important than the content or the test we will all take. Don't get me wrong, I understand my responsibility to engage students in content, but I try to remember that it is not the only thing. This post is about remembering that content is not the most important part of my students' lives.


A few years ago I started a tradition of showing a funny, inspirational, or unique videos in class every Friday. While the videos were not always about being happy, we dubbed these our Happy Friday videos. I try to keep these short so we still have time for the Environment. I think the students looked forward to them almost as much as they did the weekend. I loved them because of the messages that were shared and discussed.

Last year without really thinking about it, I didn't show very many Happy Friday videos. I don't know why? I tried getting started a few times, but for reasons that I don't remember we never stuck with it. This is my list (Don't bother clicking on the link, not much is there.) from the 2017-18 School year.

When I reflected on the successes and failures of the 2017-18 school year, the lack of Happy Friday videos and discussions kept coming to the top of my failure list. I vowed that I would not let this happen again.

I am happy to say that I have remained committed and we have engaged in our Happy Friday Videos almost every Friday this school year. I am even planning a student takeover of the list to end the school year.

I wanted to share the list with everyone, maybe there is something here that you can use with your students? I will also continue to update this doc as we add videos this year.

Happy Friday Schedule 2018-19

If you have a video or list of videos that you love to share with students, would you consider sharing with us in the comments below?



Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Digital Shopping Resources for Educators

Every year I do more and more of my shopping online. The thrill of driving from store to store and fighting the crowds just isn't there for me anymore.

Each year I a share some Holiday shopping tips I’ve put together to help teachers, their families, and just about anyone save a little green this holiday season. I put this guide out once a year and we think there is something in this post that can help just about anyone regardless of your online shopping experience. Do you have additional online shopping tips or resources? Please share them in the comments below.

Online Cashback Websites

There are many sites that take advantage of online advertising to provide the consumer with coupons and cashback for major retailers when you shop online. They are free, secure, and incredibly easy to use. Combine these with rewards on a credit card and it the cashback can start to really add up. Mr. Rebates and Ebates are two great resources for online shopping.

Click here to explore Mr. Rebates - Cash Back Shopping

Click here to explore Ebates - Online Coupons and Cashback

Technology Purchases

Apple

iPad, iPod, Apple Watch, or Macbook? Apple typically runs their once a year sale on Black Friday online and in store. The MacRumors Site typically has the most updated details about Apple Store Sales.

Android and Chromebooks

Most major online retailers will run a variety of sales throughout the year. I would recommend starting your Chromebook search on Amazon Online when looking for the best prices on a new Chromebook.
Most mobile service providers will include deals on phones when you sign up for a contract, but smart shoppers can often find great deals online.

Amazon and eBay

Great places to shop for literally anything, especially Tech. You will frequently find the best prices for stuff here.  Remember that you are not always buying directly Amazon. Like eBay, Amazon has items for sale from other companies and independent sellers.  Both eBay and Amazon have incredible customer support. Mr. Rebates and Ebates also support Cashback for both sites.

Click here to explore Amazon’s Black Friday Deals

Learn more about Amazon Prime Membership to save on shipping.

Click here to explore eBay Deals

Learn more about the eBay Bucks to earn cashback on all of your eBay purchases.

Union Membership

Did you know that both the NEA and AFT posts some excellent deals for teachers? These deals include merchandise, restaurants, and travel. 

Click here to explore the NEA Member Benefits Site. 
Click here to explore the AFT Member Benefits Site.

Daily Deal Websites – Online and in Store

There are a variety of websites that compile information about sales and deals year round. My favorite is the Wise Bread site. I also love the deals on Offers.com.

Click here to explore the Wisebread Site - Living Large on a Small Budget. 
Click here to explore Offers.com - Your Place to Save Every Day.

Online Coupon Sites

There are several online sites that collect and share retailer coupons and deals. These coupons are often both digital or printable. RetailMeNot is a current favorite.

Click here to explore RetailMeNot - Coupons and Promo Codes.
Click here to explore the Honey Chrome Extension

Protecting Your Credit Card Online

Most online stores/credit card companies do a great job taking care of credit card purchases, but a great way to pay from a lot of online purchases is to use PayPal. It’s free and provides an extra layer of security between your credit card and online shopping. Paypal also supports free returns for many purchases.

The Rest of the Story - Additional Online Shopping Resources

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