Monday, February 29, 2016

The True Heroes of Education

There are so many different roles in the world of Education. Principals, assistant principals, activities director, curriculum directors, instructional coaches, reading specialists, math specialists, data specialists, tech support, tech administrators, administrative interns, superintendents, assistant superintendents, human resources, and the list goes on. All those roles are very important. They are essential. They are vital to keeping the machine going. But the true Heroes of Education are the teachers in the classroom, everyday, working with the students. Lately, I have been doing a lot of observing in classrooms and it just struck me. The Classroom Teacher is like a super hero. They have to juggle so many things, make so many decisions, and it's constant. It's having your life be controlled by a bell schedule, yet they are okay with that because they know they are making a difference. Or at least I hope they know that. They have so many different types of kids and different learning styles. They are in the room, working every day to make sure their students are learning and progressing and growing. Each morning, they answer the bell. They hear the call and respond. Even on the days when sleeping in would be the best option, they pick themselves up, roll up their sleeves and get to work. It is the classroom teacher that is the true hero of education because they choose to go into the fray, everyday. Plan lessons everyday. Grade student work everyday. Deal with behavior everyday. Counsel everyday. Encourage everyday. Motivate everyday. Inspire everyday.  They are in it, everyday and that makes them a true American Hero. They don't need a cape, a shield or a sweet bat-mobile. They don't need to shoot webbing, green muscles or a suit made of iron. They don't need a mythical hammer, razor sharp claws or a green lantern. All they need is support and appreciation and with that, they will continue to do heroic things. So thank you teachers. I appreciate the work you do.  

Friday, February 26, 2016

Chrome Extension: "Printfriendly and PDF" Clear the clutter!

Chrome has a great extension called "Print Friendly and PDF" which helps clean up articles you find online. For example, the Huffington Post has lots of great articles about a wide variety of topics. It's like an online newspaper. However, when using Huffington Post, there are always tons of ads and other non-related content at the bottom that both clutters the article and exposes kids to things we might not want them exposed to. So, Chrome the rescue! With this extension, while viewing the article, you click the extension button and it bring up the article in a new window to manipulate it. You then go through the article and click unwanted material and it will delete it from the article, leaving you with a crisp, clean article that your students can read and use. You can then email it, print it, or get the PDF. Also, it is all Free!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Give kids power

I was reading a book recently about a little 5 year old girl in California who spent many years in foster care after her mom brutally murdered her dad and then killed herself. The story is fascinating about her time bouncing around foster care, her experiences, how she's treated, how the foster care system works, etc. At one of her stops, she was with a very kind lady who actually cared for her, rather than just doing the bare minimum to collect the payment. This girl, who is telling the story, talked about how she had been at this particular foster home for about 3 years so she had learned a lot about living with this family and living in this house. She knew what to do, what not to do, what was expected of her, what she could ask the foster mom for, etc. One day, a new foster kid arrived. A boy. He was much older and bigger than the girl. However, the girl pointed out that since she had been there longer and had learned how to adapt and survive in this particular home, she held the power. She had the knowledge of life in this home, so the new boy, though much bigger and older, was inferior to her. She even made the comment that she felt power over this boy because she had the knowledge. He didn't.  I thought it was an interesting perspective on knowledge and the power of it. If we give kids knowledge, we give them power. Not just knowledge about content, but knowledge about being a strong, confident, bold person. Knowledge about how the things work and what our place is in this world. Knowledge about potential and what it means/takes to reach that potential. Knowledge about other human beings, about their feelings, about what makes people different, about respecting those differences. I was working with a struggling kid the other day teaching him how to make bracelets out of paracord. He learned quickly and I could just tell that he felt powerful with his new found knowledge about how to make something. He wasn't thinking about being naughty or disrespectful. He was thinking about how he just accomplished something, how he just learned something.  Knowledge is power. Give kids power. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Going Back to College...

I have accepted a full time teaching position at Dakota State University for next school year. so I will be resigning from my position of Instructional Coach at the end of the school year. I will be teaching four courses in the College of Education at DSU: Social Studies methods, Geography, Native American culture, and Survey of Middle School. I am excited for the opportunity and challenge that awaits in the realm of Higher Education. I'm excited to work with college kids who want to be teachers and try to make as big of an impact as I can in helping them get prepared for what is to come. This was an opportunity that I could not pass up and feel this is the life path I was meant to take. 
I want to say that I enjoyed very much working with all the talented social studies teachers in the Sioux Falls school district. From day one, they were very nice to me and welcomed me into their classrooms. It was such a unique experience getting to come in and observe and get to know them, and work with them. I will greatly miss working for Sandy and working with my fellow instructional coaches. The middle school instructional coach team helped me out so much with getting accustomed to the job and providing answers to the thousands of questions I had. They welcomed me in with open arms and made me feel like an important member of the team right from the start, which I greatly appreciated.   

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Padlet Exit Check: Mesopotamia Artifacts

Task: Share what you learned by posting ONE sticky note to our virtual wall.

1. Your name
2. The object you found 
3. What that object represents
4. Why it is important

Extend the Learning at home!
Click here to join the Game
Enter code: 01994

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Google Keep

What do you notice about all three pictures below? Well, let me tell you. In each picture, you will see the Google Keep logo. If you haven't already been using Google Keep, I strongly encourage you to check it out. It is a dream for staying organized and being able to work across devices. In my life, I use 4 devices: An iMac, two laptops, and my iPhone. Each serves a purpose so I spend my time going between devices. Google Keep allows me to keep track of ideas, questions, tasks, to-do lists, etc all without having to write them down or email them to myself. I have installed Google Keep on all my devices, so for example, lets say I am driving in my truck and think of an idea. Instead of having to write it down or just try to remember for when I get home, I can quickly take out my iPhone (after pulling over of course) and open the Google Keep app and write down my idea. Then, when I get home and get to my iMac or laptop, the idea is already there waiting for me to explore further. Below you can see Google Keep on all devices. The top picture is my Windows laptop, which I have pinned Google Keep to the task bar. The second picture is my Mac, which also has the Google Keep app pinned to the desktop. Third, is my iPhone, which you can easily see the Google Keep app there as well. Use your Google account to log in and help keep track of all your wondrous thoughts a lot more efficiently!  Find Google Keep in the Chrome web store and the Apple iTunes app store. It's free! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

FormMule-Automatically send emails with Google Form Submission

This Google add-on could prove very useful for some of you. It is a tool called "FormMule" and it allows an email to be sent automatically when someone submits a Google Form. FormMule takes the data from the spreadsheet and automatically sends it out to where you want it to go. All set up via FormMule.
For example: perhaps you want to use Google Forms for people to sign up for something. Well, when the user submits the form, an email is automatically sent so that person has a reminder in their email inbox. You can also set it up to not send automatically, so in our same example, a user fills out a sign up sheet, then when the event gets closer, you can send out emails from the spreadsheet so it will remind the user of what they signed up for.
Using it with kids gets a little trickier as it relies on an email address, which sometimes isn't what is prefered. However, it would work great with parents, colleagues, friends, etc when you want emails to be sent out after a Google Form is submitted.