Digital Literacy: Climbing the Ladder, One Rung at a Time


Blogging Begins to Take Root

Students at Bertie Early College High School are reluctantly taking the plunge into the blogosphere. We’re also asking a few to ditch the old spiral pads and create digital notebooks. Among them are a few kids who can see the benefits of it, excited about what it means for their writing. I feel a bit like a dentist in some cases, but there’s one young lady who is embracing the idea.

A few weeks back, I gave a couple of science classes a rather compelling spill about blogging and keeping digital notes (my Oscar is in the mail). Fortunately, the teacher is the person who jumped on board first! She’s still got to get the hang of it, but her students are well on their way!

Vanessa Hernandez

Vanessa Hernandez

Today I sat down with Vanessa Hernandez to talk about how WordPress.com and Evernote has changed the way she thinks about writing and taking notes in school. Here’s what she had to say:

Me: Vanessa, your Earth/Environmental Science class recently started blogging. How has it changed your classroom experience?

Vanessa: With blogging I feel like I can express myself more in my work and it will be a lot easier to turn in my work.

Me: What’s the name of your blog and the URL? Continue reading

Students Explode Onto the Blogging Scene!


We all know it…it’s very difficult sometimes to get high school students excited about writing (and almost anything else these days). We proved this week however, that once you give them a voice, add a dash of guidance, and a splash of technology… viola! We’ve got kids writing like crazy at one high school.

This week, three classes at Bertie Early College  were exposed to training on blogging. Mr. Michael Everett allowed me to come into his Creative Writing class and conduct a workshop for his students on Evernote Web, Evernote Web Clipper, Clearly, and of course, WordPress. The kids were enthusiastic and engaged!

Let me tell you just a bit about what started the blogging revolution. Earlier in the week, I visited with Ms. Rhonda Taylor’s Earth/Environmental Science Classes. Their task was to research an event relative to human’s impact on the environment, and summarize their findings (on paper). This assignment needs some pizzazz, I thought. TechChic to the rescue! Continue reading

5 Things to Say to Someone Who Hates Tech


Home and still reeling from an awesome ten-day conference tour which featured a presentation at NC New Schools, and my first experience at ISTE in Atlanta, it finally is easy being green, Kermit! I had a chance to have lunch with one of my favorite colleagues, an elementary curriculum guru, in my opinion. Our conversation was astonishing!Kermit

Thanks to Hurricane Author, our workday was abbreviated, so we were able to go on and on about education theory, best practices, and of course, TECHNOLOGY. She’s not a techie. She didn’t go to ISTE. She doesn’t (GASP) like technology. In fact, it makes her want to cry. I tried desperately to identify with her. What she said reminded me of my experience in Calculus IB At Elizabeth City State University.

It was the spring semester of 1996. Dr. Sachdev appeared in the doorway of his office and welcomed me in for tutoring, and to retake a test that I completely bombed earlier in the week. Aside from the fact that I could barely discern what he was saying with his middle eastern accent, I just didn’t get complex mathematics. After about thirty minutes of review, he gave me the test.

I took it, and handed it in. Dr. Sachdev went back into his office to grade it. I waited patiently, hoping that I had redeemed myself. Soon he reappeared and handed the test back to me, and another blank test. He said, “Take again.” After about two more times, he looked at me with weary eyes, put his hand upon my shoulder and said, “No more for today. Go on and get some rest. We try again another day.” I cried. Continue reading

10 Takeaways From ISTE 2014


20140701_102350The 2014 ISTE conference in Atlanta GA, was indeed an eye-opening experience. If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably seen the #ISTE2014 on your feed for the last seven days. I got off the plane ready to take in all of the information, and I boarded the flight home afraid that my brain was going to ooze out of my ears! Therefore, it’s taken me a few days to wrap my mind around the many things I learned while in attendance. So, here are 10 takeaways from this amazing national conference!

1. Technological Savvy requires a personal commitment.

Let’s face it. After attending ISTE 2014, it became very clear to me that there are far too many tools and strategies for one to ingest and regurgitate all at once. If I were to rely solely on the presenters and materials I encountered during the conference, and tried to remember every word spoken, I’d fail miserably at retaining valuable knowledge. Thus, it is my personal responsibility to go back into my notes, research the many links I’d written down and QR codes I’d scanned, and embed those concepts mentally, according to the needs of my school district. Continue reading

PBL Role Descriptions For Beginners


Assigning Roles In PBL Is Important

Now that Project Based Learning has taken shape in education, there is one major area of emphasis that must be stressed. Roles and descriptions are vital if Project Based Learning is going to work for you. Each team or group that you assemble to carry out a project, has to be assigned specific roles within the team in order to function properly. There is a vast difference between “group work” and “collaborative grouping.”

Some teachers are still trying to secure their footing when it comes to PBL. One common gripe among them is that groups have a tendency to perform in this manner: one member does everything, two comply and participate variably, and one does practically nothing. Yet, they all receive the same grade.

Give students the autonomy to choose in which capacity they will work within their group. Below is a standard list of roles and descriptions to get you moving in the right direction. Present this list to your students in the early stages of the project so that everyone is clear on what to do. Continue reading

Twitter For The More Advanced


Use a Dashboard and Expand Your Twitterverse!

Are you still trying to follow along with various Twitter chats, stay abreast of all the breaking news, and keep a watchful eye on your kids’ tweets all on the official Twitter website? It can be mind numbing trying to flip back and forth to all of those pages. This is when a dashboard comes in very handy! Today’s post features TweetDeck, prefered by many to use specifically with Twitter. Unlike Hootsuite, you can only manage your Twitter accounts and no other social media like Facebook or Instagram. However, if you are only looking to supercharge your Twitter experience, this may be the dashboard for you! Click here to see a Thinglink graphic with tags and explanations!

Just a little tidbit as we move into summer conference season. Be armed with a dashboard and Tweet Like A Boss!

Share this and subscribe! As always, thanks for stopping by!

Never Lose Your TechEd Resources Again!


We’ve Expanded!

TechTools

 

As I coach teachers each day, I think it is essential to gather the strategies and resources provided, and house them in one location. Sharing simple tools for keeping up with endless bookmarks (Diigo), annotating and saving texts for later (Evernote, Clearly), or creating the world’s best blogs (WordPress, of course!) can mount up, and it’s easy to lose track! So to stay organized, I decided to expand to a web hosting site that I’ve grown to love: Weebly. My space was previously active, since I launched a website for my students back in 2012, and I thought it would be a shame to let it go to waste! Now, it’s totally revamped and packed with resources for technology integration and Project-Based Learning.

Screenshot 2014-04-24 10.20.35The links are organized into a webmix created powered by Symbaloo. Personally, I like the functionality of the tile squares rather than incredibly long lists of links. However, with your feedback, I’d be glad to consider adding descriptions below the webmixes for those who need more information. Soon I’ll upload a screencast showing just how handy this tool can be! Plus, it’s visually attractive.

In fact, my undying committment to Symbaloo® is what prompted me to expand my “tool shed” to Weebly®, because WordPress.com does not permit embedding webmixes into this blog.

TechTools TabJust in case you navigate away from this post and explore some others here, you’ll be please to know that there’s a direct tab up above, to take you straight to the Tech Tools you need! Once there, you’ll find a tab to bring you right back to Social Juggernaut.

Ease of use is the name of the game when it comes to helping teachers with tech infusion.

In addition to the resource pages at Tech Tools for Teachers, there’s a Tutorials tab where I will post all of the screencasts I produce in the future. Check back often!

Now, I know what you’re thinking, This post was totally about self promotion! Kind of, but the more teachers this blog can help, the more students there are to gain from those teachers, and it’s a win-win situation. In all things education…remember, we do it for the kids!

Speaking of helping, please share this post with your friends and colleagues. Subscribe to get email alerts for each new post, and who knows? If you take a moment to leave a comment, then I can possibly become a better blogger, and most importantly, a better support for the teachers I serve.

Regards!

STEM In Rural Schools: What Kids Want Us To Know


Robotics Adds Value To Learning Outcomes

Bertie STEM High School Robotics Team Members (from LtoR): Trekell Scott, Jaikeim Mosely, Dashawn Hayes, Tyshawn Hayes

I walked into the media center at Bertie STEM High School in Windsor, North Carolina and saw the most beautiful thing: Children were making presentations to their peers about something great they learned, and the product they created! As Principal, Daphne Williams looked on, the presenters were all well versed in robotics, and were equally proficient in controlling its actions. I thought to myself, people need to know that there are some GREAT things going on in Bertie County! This district is among the lowest in the state socioeconomically, however students are reaping the benefits of a 1:1 environment on the high school level thanks to the Golden Leaf Foundation.

I caught up with a couple of the team members, Jaikeim Mosley and Kiani Strong, to ask a few questions about how Robotics has impacted their learning. Here’s what they had to say: Continue reading

Screencasting Tools for 2014: The Flipped Classroom


Lots of teachers across America have inverted their classrooms, and have found tremendous success doing so. I’m here to tell you what tools they’re using and where to find them. This post is also for those who still need convincing that 21st Century Learning encompasses much more than online research.

Flip Your Classroom and Stop Flipping Your Wig!

Flipping the Classroom. Is this yet another buzz phrase that will ultimately phase out before you can say, Smart Board? I’ve been into a few classrooms this week and I’ve seen some students nearly unravel at the seams trying to remember what their teachers said during lecture on the day before, and use that information during practice or an activity. Frustrations began to mount for both the children and their instructors.

I wondered if I could convince a few math teachers to consider flipping their lessons. I got a few raised eyebrows, but I’m convinced that with the know-how and the proper tools, they can turn things around, and make class much more pleasurable for all parties in the process. But first, there are a few questions I’ll need to answer. Continue reading

Go Wild With Social Media In The Classroom! Sort of…


Are you tired of constantly being on the prowl, looking to reprimand students whom you catch using social media during your class time? Unless your school has strict digital device policies, or the ability to block all connectivity to the outside world, it’s an everyday task. However, today I’ve got a couple of tools for you from Classtools.net that your little social media enthusiasts will love! So, let’s take a traditional research paper/PowerPoint (substitution) assignment, and move it into the Modification/Redefinition levels of technology integration.

MJ Cover

Continue reading