The beloved Spheros. My students and I just finished our first round of Technology Club last Thursday. We used four Spheros (Thanks Sphero!) and the Sphero SPRK Curriculum every Wednesday and Thursday after school and had a ball (yes, pun intended) learning. Over the next couple of weeks I can't wait to share what my students have learned from the SPRK Lessons over the last six weeks through their drawings, worksheets, pictures, and videos.
So you might be asking, what exactly did we do with the Spheros in my class. Well besides the obvious answer of amazing things, we learned about patterns, color, text-based programming, percentages, geometry, time, speed, distance, mean, median, mode, problem-solving, teamwork, and other concepts of math and science. The lessons that we used in my class align with the Common Core Curriculum for 3rd-5th grade. Each lesson had a step by step guide for teachers, students, and there was also a worksheet for most lessons where students would create their own programs or solve math problems. With these great resources, it was easy to implement the program into my classroom.
I know what you're thinking, you saw that the curriculum is aligned for 3rd-5th but you don't teach those grade think you can't use this in your classroom. Pssshhh wrong my friend! I challenge you to try and use this in your own class no matter what grade you teach. Don't forget that when you are doing those awesome lessons in your class, you will definitely have to share. (Send a tweet to @spheroedu #spheroedu #SPRK when you share those wicked lessons!)
Lastly, I can't wait to use Sphero in my own classroom instead of just Technology Club. All of my students should have access to this amazing technology, I can't wait to see what we do with it!
A special shout out to my friend Sam Patterson (@SamPatue) who showed me the way of the Spheros over the summer and now has my students and I addicted. I thank you every single time I take them out, the students are so excite. I am so thankful for you help and support.
All my love,
"I feel so stuck. Nobody seems to get my ideas or feel my passion for teaching."
If you are like me I am sure you have said this at least five times a day. What is a lone nut to do? I was surrounded by others who were great teachers, but didn't want to change. I was stuck. That was until I found the magic of a PLN (Professional Learning Network) and since then I haven't had to utter those words anymore. I finally feel accepted, understood, and supported by amazing educators.
How can you do it you ask? Easy. Here are the ways that I built my PLN, just take the first step and you will never want to go back!
1. Twitter: Sure, some merely think of Twitter as a website used for those who want to stalk their favorite celebrities' every selfie and food habits, but the site has take a new turn for educators. Using Twitter in an educational setting for the past year has been my best asset. Whenever I have a question, need help with a lesson plan, or need to find the coolest thing to do in my class, Twitter is where I turn.
Once you are on the site, go find some of the educators you look up to (and tweet to them), find companies you use in your school (tweet to them as well), and join an "edchat". There are "edchats" for just about everything in education ranging from state-specific discussions (Like #NVedchat for Nevada educators) to edtech (#edtechchat) and grade-specific. There is bound to be a chat that you can join and learn from.
The golden rule with Twitter is you don't have to follow everyone, only follow those who will help you become a better educator.
Sign up right this second (Seriously, stop reading and go sign up).Don't know where to start? Tweet to me @MsGeekyTeach and I will help you out.
2. Meetups: Meetups are a great way to connect in real life with friends from Twitter, emails, and more. Meetups can be anything from a small meetup like BrewCUE, CoffeeCUE, or EdCamp, to a large conference like ISTE, NCTM or the annual CUE Conference.
Some are free, while some you have to pay for, but I'll tell you this--it’s well worth your money and time if you get to connect with other educators, especially those you otherwise would have never come across.
3. Voxer: Voxer is, simply-put a walkie-talkie application. Why not just text or call, you ask? Well, Voxer allows you to ensure that your question or comment gets the love it deserves. With the Voxer app, you can send text messages, photos, and instant voice messages to individuals and groups.
My PLN, I use this with many other educators to throw an idea around or to get feedback on a failing lesson plan. Since my message is there for them to listen to when they get the chance, I don't have to worry about my message being forgotten about. This also ensures that I will get a thoughtful response once my PLN members get the time to respond.
4. Point: How about sustaining your PLN by sharing articles? Point is a newly discovered favorite Chrome extension of mine. You can share articles with friends, highlight parts of the article that you find interesting, and with the extension you can easily retrieve your favorite reads.
This has changed the way that I read articles, but it's even better for my PLN: I can now share the coolest new edtech findings with all of my edtech friends with one, simple extension. It's like sitting next to another person and chatting about the latest newspaper article!
These are just some of the ways that I stay connected to my PLN. I challenge you to check out new ways to connect, and if you find one, let me know in the comments section below!
NOTE: This article is part of EdSurge's Fifty States Initiative (representing the state of Nevada). Interested in representing edtech in your state? Apply here.
It's over. How is it over already? In a flash it is gone.
"You should really plan an Edcamp for Las Vegas" or something along those lines is what got me started. I was hesitant but promised I would have lots of support. Flash forward to yesterday, August 2nd, 2014 and who knew it would all come together?
I woke up at 5 am after not being able to sleep for the past three nights, butterflies and a slight feeling of nausea decided to join the party. I loaded up the car and was only having a slight freakout as I pulled into SWCTA.
I was surprised to see so many volunteers there at 7 in the morning. We unloaded and started setting up right away. Craig and David started on the session board while everyone else did things from opening up rooms, hanging signs, setting up food and even starting to register people who showed up at 7:30.
The event got rockin' and rollin' really quick, folks were talking, brainstorming ideas, checking out Twitter, and of course jumping on that free coffee and bagels. As the session board was made, I tried to get the 200+ attendees excited for this new experience. Once we went over the basics I let em' loose.
As session 1 and 2 were going on, I was interacting in the sessions, loving the ideas, hearing great discussions from tech in the class to Genius Hour. It was a lot of fun! During session 3, Craig and I decided to do a Things That Suck session and it was awesome! We talked about Las Vegas Buffet (Great idea Craig!), Frozen, School Uniforms, Unfiltered Wifi, and so much more.
Finally it all came to an end once everyone was back in the ballroom. We did a raffle with amazing prizes from our sponsors, announced that Nevada FINALLY has and EdChat (@NevadaEdChat), and my good friend Devin told everyone they needed to take a selfie with me. All in all it was a whirlwind of a day. I got the feeling that you get when your student has an "Ah-ha" moment and your heart swells, tears of joy come to your eyes, and you see your labor of love transform into a reality. This is by far the most stressful, exciting, invigorating, and amazing thing I thought I could never do. Thank you so much to those of you who helped out and those of you who attended. I hope that if you didn't go that next year you will be sure to join us!
Check out the pictures below!
I have never been one to stay super organized and that includes my multiple inboxes. That is...until I stumbled upon Unroll.me. This website is amazing and will change your inbox forever.
Every time you go to just about any retail store they always ask for your e-mail address. Don't you love getting those great coupons especially when you really need them? What about when you get them every single week? Maybe you are too busy to unsubscribe or maybe you are like me who suffers from fomo on those great deals when I really need them. Well, unroll.me has answered your inbox prayers.
When you sign up for unroll.me, you can not only save those fabulous deals but you can even unsubscribe from those annoying e-mails you get day after day. When you first sign up you simply put in your e-mail and it gives you the list of all websites you are subscribed to. From here, you can decide to do the following: Add to Rollup, Unsubscribe, or Keep in Inbox. Then once a day like magic, all of the items you decided to add to your rollup appear in one beautiful e-mail. I can now take a quick look at all of my steals and deals instead of archiving them like I normally do.
Ever had a crazy ex, junk mailing grandma, or just wanted to block someone? Unroll.me also allows you to block specific contacts that are driving you nuts. The insanity is gone!
Now what happens if you delete your rollup in your e-mail you ask? Unroll.me has your back and you can go into the archives to find the missing e-mail. You can also go and find a previously unsubscribed website and resubscribe to your desire. Also, you can decide do you want your rollup morning, afternoon, or evening as well as a grid form or list form.
I have used this will all of my e-mail accounts and will never go back to the old way of getting my inbox cleared out. I get to keep all of my favorite subscriptions and sanity as well, what more could I ask for?
Have questions about Unroll.me? Feel free to comment below and I will be happy to assist. You can also check them out on Twitter and Facebook as well.
Happy Rolling Up!
Ahh my PLN, my Professional Learning Network. How near and dear I hold you to my heart. My PLN is my support team and has grown immensely over the past few months.
I have always been interested and up to date with the latest technology (so I thought). I had a Myspace page, Blogger, G-mail, Hotmail, Twitter, Facebook, and so many other accounts I thought I was in the know of things. When I started teaching I was using Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers. I would go to Professional Developments and write down the coolest new thing and think about how to use it in my class. I would read about 40 app in 40 minutes and suck up everything I could. I would also reach out to other teachers and see what they use. I thought I was doing a great job and was awesome.
Then, thanks to my friend Jon (@ipadsammy), I soon learned that I was indeed not as nearly as advanced as I thought I was. I had a regular Twitter account and Jon urged me to get one for educational uses. I quickly obliged and am glad that I did. A few months past and I still felt great at learning more about technology. The big change came when he added me to an amazing group on Voxer. I had used Voxer but never in this way. Since then, life hasn't been the same (so corny but so true).
I have this support system to learn from including @ipadsammy, @tedrosececi, @MsVictoriaOlson, @LS_Karl, @classroom_tech, @MrMacnology, @WhoIsGoldberg, and so many more amazing people. Whenever I have a question, concern, a bad day, or even something I am really excited about they listen (most of the time). Everyday I look forward to hearing their great ideas and conversations about education to Oreos. I feel so lucky to be part of a great learning network. Without know it, they are pushing me to be a better teacher everyday. I am trying things I would have shrugged off last year, I am not afraid to ask questions (no matter how silly), and I feel accepted. Without my PLN I would be in the dark ages still. I know it is past Valentine's Day my dear friends but I hope you accept my late love letter. You guys seriously rock my socks and everyday I am so thankful to have you guys to lean on. Thank you for being my biggest support system. I love you guys.
Who is in your PLN? What is your favorite part of having a PLN online and offline?
Happy Sunday and Belated Valentine's Day.
All my love,
We all have that great intention to make resolutions that we will keep throughout the year but come on.... our great intentions last all of two months or longer if we are lucky. I decided to change the world resolution to goals this year and that being said, I have five big goals that I would love to accomplish. Three are educational and two are personal so here we go...
1. Ramp Up My Patience-
I love my students, I really do. Just ask them and they will tell you that I care so much but sometimes I may or may not lose my cool. No screaming, yelling, or going crazy but I just lose my patience with them. I want to in those times, step back and realize they are in second grade, seven to nine years old. Such sweet little kids that I love oh so much and the brief moment of my losing my cool will be gone if I just take a deep breath. =)
2. Use More Technology-
I feel that I use a lot of technology in my classroom but I would LOVE to use it more in my classroom and use it consistently. We already use our Chromebooks daily for typing lessons, printing our AR reports, and for listening to stories. We also use Educreations on the iPad to work out our math problems. In the next year, I would love to have my kiddos to blog, type up their stories, listen to stories with Storia, and use so many of the great apps and websites out there!
3. Be More Productive-
Being a crazy extrovert and a passionate teacher, I tend to spend a lot of time focusing on my classroom and how I can improve. I am not trying to toot my own horn but I spend so much time on my classroom and thinking about my kids that I never get me time. Or me and family time and this is something I need to change. I am going to stick to my strict 4:30 rule; Leave at 4:30 (exceptions include report card time and sub plans).
4. Connect With More Educators-
I love connecting with educators but once things get crazy with school, I tend to stop blogging, stop using Twitter, and also stop listening to my favorite podcasts. I want to dedicate some time each day to take a break from the norm and spend more time connecting with my fellow educators.
Lastly, I'm sure that a lot of people have this goal/resolution so I won't go into detail ;)
5. Budget My Money-
I know this is a popular one but I want to become better at balancing my money. I am in the process of getting a house, growing up, and all that jazz (Being old stinks sometimes). I love using Mint.com as I have tried many other ways of budgeting and this is the only way that seems to work.
These are a few goals/resolutions that I figured I would be able to keep.
What are your goals for this year? I'd love to hear about them in the comments section!
Lots of love and I hope you celebrated the coming of the new year in style!
Sara Boucher is a Robotics and Computer Programming Teacher in Los Lunas, NM who is developing her own set of super geeks.