Personalizing your PD part II; Podcasts

Personalizing professional development has become something I have become passionate about; I hear the stories of my colleagues who are sent to “sit and get” PD which has no merit to their particular grade level or subject. I am constantly trying to get better, so I can better serve my students. My late grandfather, a former General Manager of a local telephone cooperative, would always remind me: “Complacency is the silent killer.” Complacent is not where we want to be in education; we constantly need to evaluate our ways to keep up with the every changing world. Which leads me to our next stop in our series over professional development, podcasts.

Since the first family computer my parents bought in the 1990s I have been a huge proponent of technology. I would watch Leo Laporte and the screen savers when I would get home from school. TechTV was bought and changed its name to G4 and Leo left my television screen. I was upset.  For the next few years, I have used the internet for my questions about technology. In 2007 I discovered the world of podcasts and my dear old friend Leo Laporte was leading the way. He had created an online podcasting network.(now IP-based television network) Here I could geek out to my hearts content with the excellent programming created. Since then I have branched out to other shows such as: This American Life, Serial, Stuff You Should Know, Things you missed in History Class, Freakonomics, and Planet Money. All of whom have enriched my knowledge.

Podcasting can trace its roots back to the 1980s and was more commonly known as audio blogging. Radio shows would record episodes of their program and would send it to stations for replay. With internet popularity rising in the late 1990s information could be moved at a faster rate and a little company called Napster took the world by storm. People from all over the world could now share audio files with anyone. (The legal system eventually gets involved with Napster, but that is a different story.)  With the surge in digital audio, hardware companies begin to create devices to make the files more portable. Some companies entered the game of Mp3 players but when Apple debuted the iPod the company has not looked back since. The term podcast and the downloading of shows become more widely used with the introduction of Apple’s iPod in 2001.

In part I of the series I wrote on Twitter and all the excellent educators sharing content on that platform. Around the middle of my summer break 2015 while on Twitter one of the teachers I follow Greg Bagby @Gregbagby tweeted he Mari Venturino @MsVenturino and Justin Birckbichler @Mr_B_teacher were releasing a new podcast called Edu Roadtrip. I listened to the first episode and loved it. I witnessed the power of Twitter when I tweeted to them about how great their show was, and on episode two I was referenced as a listener on @Eduroadtrip. Receiving the shout out made my day, I then contacted Justin to see what recommendations he would have for other educational podcasts. He recommended Cult of Pedagogy by  Jenifer Gonzales, and House of #Edtech by Chris Nesi. I downloaded both podcasts and a few others. I was amazed by the content available by these educators who just wanted to share what they have to offer.

So, you now have a brief history of my discovery of podcasts a short history of the origins of podcasts, and my discovery of educational podcasts. Now you want to know how can I use podcasts for my professional development?

If you are an iPhone user, the native podcasting app works well, but I prefer the Overcast app. Overcast lets you sync your podcasts over the internet, if you want to listen on your desktop at school it will pick up right where you left off. If you are on Android, I have read good reviews about the podkicker app which is free. Just search for any of the shows I have listened or you can check out the Education Podcasting Network to see some of their shows. (www.edupodcastnetwork.com) The Education Podcasting Network is my favorite place for educational content. The majority of the hosts are in still in the classroom, or they have extensive classroom experience.

I had the privilege to interview some of the stars of the Educational Podcasting Network. Chris Nesi, Host of House of #Edtech, Justin Brickbichler and Mari Venturino of Eduroadtrip, have also taken time from their busy schedules to answer a few questions.  We will begin with the Host of the House of #Edtech podcast Chris Nesi.

Chris Nesi has been in education since the fall of 2007, before becoming an educator he was involved with children for years as a volunteer. Chris was first inspired to become a teacher by his father, and many of the teachers he had in throughout his life.  “One particular teacher, my high school English teacher and Drama advisor, Mrs. MaryAnn Cochran. She was a teacher, mentor, and friend and still fills these roles even today.”

Chris became a “connected educator” and mentioned; “I love interacting with people and having conversations about the things I am interested in. Fostering relationships with people who have similar professional interests outside my place of employment has been very powerful and has given me what I need for learning and to gain an outside perspective on the good and bad of my work.”

Discussing podcasting I questioned Chris about his interest in podcasting his response was; “I started the House of #EdTech Podcast because I became tired of being merely a retweeter of other people’s voices and content. I knew I had a unique perspective on technology integration and education technology tools that I wanted to share with the world. A little nudge from my wife, who suggested podcasting, was all I needed to go all in on creating something I am very proud of. Prior to getting into this artform I was aware of podcasts but was not a consumer and I am now addicted to creating my show and consuming a wide variety of podcasts for my own growth personally and professionally.”

I asked Chris, How can an educator benefit from podcasts? His answer; “A podcast should cause the listener to laugh, think, cry, or do in addition to educating and/or entertaining you. Everyone, not just educators, should consumer podcasts. They are more enriching than radio and they can be consumed anytime and anywhere. You don’t need to focus solely on what you’re listening to in order to enjoy it. You can do laundry, mow the grass, run, etc.”

Becoming a well rounded person via this platform can only enhance your teaching. If you consume podcasts related to your content that’s growth. If you consume content related to education in general that’s growth. If you consume content related to your passion — you guessed it, that’s growth!

So grow!”

 

Getting to interview Chris Nesi was great, and I have more from him later in the article. I will now turn my focus to two of the three hosts of the Edu Roadtrip Podcast Mari Venturino and Justin Birckbichler. Starting with Mari; Mari just finished her fourth year teaching 7th grade Science and is a Blended Learning Specialist in San Diego, CA. She is a Google For Education Certified Trainer, a Google Certified Educator Levels 1 & 2, and is Leading Edge Certified in Online and Blended Instruction. She is the co-founder of #FlyHighFri, a movement to share positivity in person and on social media, and the co-founder of Breakout EDU Digital with Justin Birckbichler.

Mari’s inspiration for teaching comes from; “Teaching has always been a passion, and I have had many incredible teachers along the way. However, I didn’t seriously start to see it as a career until college. I was at Camp Winters Music Camp as a counselor, leading a sectional rehearsal, when it hit me that teaching is something I’m good at and I enjoy, and therefore I should pursue it seriously.

How Mari became a “connected educator”:  It was a slow process. I signed up for a “professional” Twitter account in February 2014 (I created a personal one back in summer 2008), but it took me almost a year to actually dive in headfirst. Once I realized that there were many other teachers looking to connect and share, I was hooked. I’m thankful for #caedchat (California’s ed chat, 8pm PST Sunday nights) for pushing me to reach out, connect, and grow.

Mari, you are the host of Edu Roadtrip. What interested you in podcasts? “A lot of our podcast started as a series of inside jokes. We realized there are far too many twitter chats, so we branched out and decided to start podcasting. It took a few months to research and solidify our content, and it has been a wonderful growing experience for us all!”

 When asking Mari how a teacher could benefit from podcasts her answer was: “Podcasts are easy to access for anyone with an internet connection. I download them and listen on my commute to and from work (about 25 minutes), at the gym, or while cleaning the house. It’s easy to multitask and listen–usually. When I’m in the car, I often have idea sparks that I’d love to remember; I have tons of voice memos and reminders in my phone with new ideas and ways to approach teaching and learning.

One of Mari’s partners in crime Justin Birckbichler just finished his third year of teaching fourth grade in Virginia. Justin became inspired to become an educator from his 2nd-grade teacher Mrs. Ghessi. Justin said; “she made learning fun and was a pivotal person in his life.”

Justin stated he became a “connected educator” from a close friend named Jenn Guido.  Justin, you are the co-host of Edu Roadtrip with Mari, and Greg Bagby. How did you become interested in podcasting? “Mari, Greg, and I connected on twitter, and said let’s try podcasting.”

Justin says the biggest benefit of an educator listening to podcasts is; “You have a choice, and availability of podcasts is a help. Plus, it is on the go. Podcasts can be consumed anywhere, and with the ability to speed up podcasts help to finish an episode in half the time.”

It was truly an honor to speak with these amazing educators and picking their brain. I asked all my interviewees more questions about Podcasting. I asked all of them What is different about podcasting that makes it a great form for personalizing your PD? Justin informed me; “Choice, thousands of podcast are out there. You can also hear the passion in the voice of the person hosting the show.” Chris stated; “As a podcaster, I get to talk with people who I might not normally have access to and that’s my dirty secret. I’m the first person in line for learning from my podcast. The conversations are ones that I am having and then sharing. Guests are teaching me first and I let the listener in. The other personal aspect is that I get to choose what I listen to, when I listen to it, and if I will continue listening at any point in time. Nobody mandates anything about it to me.” Mari also said; “I love the opportunity to ask incredible teachers, administrators, and educators about their passions, their successes, and learning opportunities. It’s all recorded, so I can go back and listen at any time, and share what I learn with others. Twitter chats are great, however it’s hard to convey emotion and dive deep in only 140 characters. With podcasts we can hear the person’s voice and passion in their words.”

 

If anyone is interested in becoming a podcaster who would they go about doing so?

Chris: “Contact me. As someone who is 2+ years into creating podcasts I have experiences that I am willing to share along with recommendations I can make. I am also connected to people who are in the world of podcasting and aren’t necessarily teachers but they teach podcasting.”

Mari:The EduRoadTrip podcast is very low tech and is done almost entirely with free software. There are three of us on the team: Greg Bagby, Justin Birckbichler, and myself. We spent a long time together figuring out the format of our podcast and logistics. We had to ask ourselves: Will I have a theme? What segments will I have? If I have interviews, how will I set those up? How often will I release new episodes?

We keep track of everything using Google Forms (scheduling) and Docs (episode planning). Then, we record our episodes using Google Hangouts on Air, and Justin strips out the audio and edits it using a paid program. We publish our episodes through Blogger, which sends the episode to iTunes and Stitcher via Feedburner.

We released a Rest Stop episode last fall where we talk about our entire process: http://www.eduroadtrip.com/2015/10/rs002-method-to-our-madness-rest-stop.html

Justin:Just reach out to podcasters, Jeff Bradbury is who I contacted to help us with Edu Roadtrip. All of what we do is free, but pay options could be a better option. Just don’t hesitate to reach out.”

My last question I had for the three was. Is there any advice you would like to give our readers to help with their personal PD discovery?

Justin: “Pick something you are interested in, and pick something you might want to get better at.”

Mari: “We’re all growing and learning together. It can be scary to connect and reach out at first, but remember everyone else had their first tweet, first blog post, first podcast episode, etc. Ask for recommendations from people you trust and respect, and be prepared to share your favorites too. Remember “Sometimes teaching is smooth highway, and other times it’s a bumpy mountain road. As long as you’ve got your friends with you, it’s bound to be an adventure!”

Our lives have become busier every day, and podcasts have a great opportunity for educators to expand our knowledge, traveling to work, working out, or even gardening can create your own space for learning. Finding the right podcast for you may take some time and digging, but I hope I can steer you in the right direction.”

 Chris: ““Follow your passions and knowledge is truly power. There’s always a choice and whether it’s podcasts, Twitter or something else, you have the power to choose the what, where, when, and how you want to learn. Start with subscribing to House of #EdTech :-)”

Using podcasts are a great way to enrich your life. There are thousands upon thousands of podcasts at your fingertips. Discover your passion, find your favorite podcasting app, download and enjoy. Please make sure you visit and support the websites of the individuals I interviewed. 

http://www.chrisnesi.com

http://www.eduroadtrip.com

http://www.edupodcastnetwork.com

Next week Voxer! 

 

 

Personalizing your PD Part I

Summer break is upon us, and while you are planning vacations, sitting by the pool, or enjoying your favorite music festival there is still the ever looming professional development days most states and districts require. We have all been there looking over the list of days your district has for you dreading or wondering what you will have to go to or sit through.  You may even wonder will this even be tailored to fit the needs of my students or myself. So I made it a mission to help myself in the classroom, and this will be part one of my journey.

Most of you have heard of Twitter; it is the social media site which allows you 140 characters or less to get your message across. I had been on Twitter since the beginning; I was fortunate to get my name @jacobdunn as my “Twitter handle.” For the first few years of being on Twitter, I treated it like a Facebook that never took off. Many of my Facebook friends never made it to the social site, and I used it as a way to consume content that was interesting to me.

Five years ago I began blogging about teaching and discovered the world of Twitter. I thought could share my blog with thousands of teachers. I then discovered other teachers doing the same as I, creating content and exchanging what they knew. It wasn’t until 2015 I began participating in educational Twitter chats on a regular basis.I admittedly was disappointed I hadn’t done it any sooner. Within the past year, I have learned so much from my colleagues on Twitter. I have expanded my professional learning network (PLN) and made wonderful connections with teachers all around the world.

Using Twitter may seem very intimidating at first, and you are more than welcome to ask me any question you may have about using it. You are probably wondering how you may participate in a Twitter chat. Twitter uses the hashtag as a way for people of like mind to search for specific topics. One of the first Twitter chats I participated in is possibly the largest of all chats #edchat. I was very overwhelmed at first, so many people seeming to go hundreds of miles an hour on a topic about education. I did learn a lot from this chat but since then I have branched off to more relevant conversations which benefit my teaching. I still go back to #edchat often. The most Twitter chats I am active in are; #BFC530, #sschat, #TNTechChat, and #TNEdchat. Being a Social Studies teacher in Tennessee, you can see my where my focus is.

The first step for you to explore the world of Twitter should join an Ed Chat. If you are and English teacher I recommend #Engchat or a second-grade teacher #2ndchat. I will add a link below which has the list of all Twitter chats.

https://sites.google.com/site/twittereducationchats/education-chat-calendar

Wanting more information on Twitter? Check out this link, or you may contact me on here or on Twitter @jacobdunn

https://support.twitter.com/articles/215585

Happy connecting through Twitter! Part II will be over Podcasts and hopefully will come within the next week.

 

Where does the “Spark” go?

The other day I was observing my five-year-old daughter.(She is now six). When talking about school with her, she loves it and her teacher. She talks to her mother and me about what happens at school that day, and all the other goings on with her in her educational life.  I teach high school kids, and it rarely seems my students enjoy school.

Which brings me to the question and the title of this blog post. Where does that spark for education go? It seems as if every day in my classroom my students always seem to dread the day at hand whether it be in my class(which I have a strong belief my class is a fun learning environment) or another class. The students just seem haphazardly going through the motions of school. After noticing the way, my daughter acts I wanted to know how can we bring the fire back for all students to have the desire to learn.

So began my informal research. I polled my students and asked them what period did they seem to dislike school and not surprising to my thought process. The vast majority of my students told me that the middle school years were the hardest for them, and they didn’t place any blame towards any teacher about their disdain for school they just stated it was possibly puberty, and the changing of their bodies are the reasons why they didn’t like school. It was also a coincidence on the “This American Life” the week after I  began pondering the question. An entire episode of “This American Life”  loaded in my podcast queue became dedicated to Middle School. The reporter interviewed a few students over the subject. Truly it was an enjoyable listen.

Since I have a good generalized thought, the spark of education seems to die out in Middle School how can we combat this problem? Do I have the answer? No, but maybe you or someone you know has done more extensive research than myself might have the answer. From my thought and pondering, I have come to one conclusion. Whether the students are in high, middle, or elementary school, they are still kids. Some in adult bodies but they are still kids, and we need to strive to keep them engaged in our lessons so they can be inspired by educators to continue the spark for education.

Since this topic has come up so many times in the past month, I have seriously thought about writing a book or doing more research on what needs to be done on this topic so more teachers may fight off the blues of students to keep them more engaged.

If you are interested in the Podcast episode mentioned above. You can listen to the “This American Life” episode here.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/449/middle-school

Transparency? How can I be more Transparent?

One of my favorite educational buzz words these days is transparency. Merriam-Websters defines “Transparent: able to be seen through.” I often hear the questions How can we be more transparent as a district, school, or even in our classrooms.

The world we live in today offers more options than ever before Transparency all around us. At almost any given time we know what our favorite actor, musician, or athlete is doing with social media. I often I ask myself just how much information is too much. I have a background in business and marketing, and I understand for you to promote your business you have to sell your product. Just like a business you need to sell your product which is education. You need to let your parents and community members know what is going on in the world of teaching.

For years, many teachers have thought of their classroom as their domain and rarely let anyone in on the daily classroom grind. Traditionally parents would find out about their child’s success or failures through attending parent-teacher conferences, have classwork sent home, or by reading the student’s report card. Parent’s want to know what is going on in their children’s lives; this is not to say they are helicopter parents merely they have a vested interest in their children’s education.

As an educator, you do not have to share everything that happens in your class. I assure you if you share the right information you will build a better relationship with your parents and the local community. Below I will share with you some ways to become more transparent.
Facebook

If you teach young children or if you are a school or district I highly recommend having a Facebook page. I help curate our school’s Facebook page, and we have roughly 30,000 impressions on a given week. Facebook is possibly the best way to get the excellent news of your school out to the public.

Facebook is an easy choice for most teachers wanting to get in on the ground floor of transparency. The social media giant makes it easy for you to set up an individual page for your classroom. Early in my teaching career, I created a Facebook page called Mr.Dunn’s class. Through this form of media, I shared when tests would be, and other quality news. Quickly Facebook became not cool among high shool students, mainly because their parents and grandparents were on this form of social media.

Twitter

Twitter is my favorite form of social media. A colleague of mine referred to Twitter as a quick conversation you have as you pass someone in a store or walking down the hall. I love this analogy because he is correct. If you want just to give short updates or send a link to something you would like your audience to see then Twitter is a great way for you.

I have used Twitter in my class; you can find me @dunnhistory, with Twitter I would use it as a tool for a short message, historical pictures or links I wanted to share with my followers or my students.
Remind

Remind has quickly become one of the most used apps as educators today. With remind you may have parents or students to sign up for your Remind text messages. Texting has become like second nature in the digital age we live in; even my grandparents attempt to text. I like Remind mainly because, you have people who do not or choose not to have access to social media, but they have a cell phone. Text reminders have been the most efficient way I am transparent with my students, and their parents.

Email

On any given day over 250 billion email messages are sent out. Granted, most of them are spam messages. So why would you try to move away from this form? Since the inception of email, it still is the most common way we can communicate with people. How many times have you heard it is in your email? Or have your checked your email? If you are interested in haveing a weekly or monthly mailer, you can. You do not have to be a coder or a web designer for you to use email marketing programs. Companies like MailChimp, Benchmark email, and Vertical Response all have free versions so you can create a mailing list.

http://www.mailchimp.com
http://www.benchmarkemail.com
http://www.verticalresponse.com

School website

The majority of school districts have a website, and each teacher has an assigned web page. My district like most has designated a site to me. On your selected site you may choose to use it as a form of communication of class only things. I use mine as a one-stop shop for all things Mr. Dunn’s class. I have links to study guides notes and other items about my class. I do recommend if you have created content for your course use this platform so your students and parents will have convenient access.

Blog or personal website

If you are not in a district that allows you to have individual sites, I would strongly recommend a blog. Most teachers I am familiar with have some blog whether it be for your class or your personal accounts. Currently, you are reading my blog. Educators have used this process to share the weekly happenings of their class. They can share stories from students as well as pictures of the events from the class.

You can use different types of blogging platforms for your needs the two most popular are Blogger and WordPress. I have used both formats, but I tend to lean more towards WordPress. If you live in the world of Google, you might want to experiment with Blogger first. My first blog was on blogger, but the look and feel of my blog were not what I wanted my audience to experience. I moved to WordPress earlier this year, and I am pleased with the ease and beauty of WordPress.

http://www.blogger.com
http://www.wordpress.com

Class Dojo

Last but not least is Class Dojo. Class Dojo is my favorite application/website for being transparent for elementary aged students. Class Dojo is a very robust platform. On signing up, students may make their avatar it will appear in the class designated by you the teacher. You may communicate the behavior of the student to the parent from this app. Not only can you express student actions you also have access to sending direct messages to the parent, group messages to all the parents, and you may share photos in the class feed. If I were in the elementary setting, I would use this app on a daily basis.
If you are looking for becoming more transparent with your district, school or classroom explore! Play around with all these or other forms of communication. Do not be afraid to learn what might be out there. Remember just a small seed can grow into an enormous tree. Cultivate your students learning.

Edcamp can come to your school too!

I am an avid user of Twitter for my PLN, and I adore the connections I have made by using this form of social media. I have been on Twitter since its inception, but until three years ago I never used it as a tool to better formulate my teaching. I began hearing about Edcamps/unconferences in various twitter chats, and it sparked my interest. Unfortunately, there were not any that were close, or I could not get free on a Saturday to participate. This spring I told myself I was going to go to my first Edcamp. When Samantha Bates moderator of #tnedchat formed Edcamp MidTenn. I was ready to go to my first.

I was so excited; I was going to my first Edcamp, and I was not sure what to expect.  Fearful of going alone I took my brother in law who teaches with me to Tullahoma, Tennessee where the event was.  I left amazed at what I had learned. This information had to be brought back to my executive principal because my thoughts were we could do this at our school. He watched videos on what an Edcamp was he assured me this is something he had been wondering about he just did not know the format in which the PD could be in.

Currently, we are scheduled to have our Edcamp Style PD planned for June the 8th I have sent out a Google form so the fellow teachers may submit if they would like to facilitate or just show up. (a link will be at the bottom of the post) I sent this out because only two of us in our building have been to an Edcamp, so I wanted the fellow faculty members to understand the concept before the day of the event. There have been many well thought up responses for this, and I am excited to see how the day will turn out. I will keep everyone posted on our progress as it develops.

Here is the Google form I sent out.

https://docs.google.com/a/warrenschools.com/forms/d/1rScp251oOFGyY7b8gumrTUxA-qnPH4mHR0rk6OtCh7M/viewform

 

Wonderful One! Larry Bell

At the beginning of the summer, teachers look down at their professional development list. I like most wondered what benefit I would have from the training that I will receive. This summer I had the privilege to meet Larry Bell. Larry is a thirty year plus veteran teacher. Larry still educates children, but not in the classroom. Larry has taken his talents of teaching to the teachers and empowered teachers to strive for the success of every student. One of my favorite quotes Larry said during the training was “On your worst day on the job, you are still some child’s best hope.” Larry emphasized the importance of making connections with your students as well as his “12 Powerful Words” and UNRA(A)VEL. More about these later. I have always been a person who understands how connecting with your students makes a huge difference. I love how he uses his “7,3,1” method during class time, seven times during class praise your students, three times during class brag on your students and one time during class NEVER accept their excuses but do it lovingly. Larry made a lasting effect on me; his message was assuring I was still doing it right by my children.

Larry Bell and his “12 Powerful Words” are exactly what it says. These twelve words are words can be found on state test questions or ACT/SAT questions. Your students might have heard these before, but they may have not totally understood the meaning. Question? How many times have you given a test question to a student and they not answer it correctly, but if you tell them what the question is wanting they can answer you every time. By training a student with these words, they will have a better understanding of what the question is asking. This strategy will help the student perform on the test better. Some of these words are: evaluate, infer, analyze, compare, contrast, etc… These words may feel like they are simple to understand although teachers are college educated and have heard and used these words a few times in their years. Our students are not, with some of their backgrounds we are happy they are just making it to school. The “12 Powerful Words” help even the playing field for our students on testing questions.

Larry Also unraveled to us UNRA(A)VEL a reading and writing strategy for students. By using the acronym, students can look at the passage and understand the writers point he/she is trying to get across. With more of our testing “common core” centered it is important that the student understands how to pull the information out of the text and answer the questions given.

This year my school has bought into the “12 Powerful words” and UNRA(A)VEL. We hope these strategies will help our students perform better on their state mandated tests, and also help them as they continue their education. I am very thankful of my school district to bring Mr. Larry Bell to us this summer. He was such an inspiration to myself and other colleagues. Larry is scheduled also to spend some time with us this fall, which I can not wait for it again.

More information about Larry Bell and his passion towards students you can find them at
http://www.larry-bell.com Also, if you would like to know more from my perspective you can contact me via twitter @jacobdunn

Twitter, a PLC?

Most people in the education world have now heard of the acronym PLC. PLC stands for Professional Learning Community, and its design is to help teachers collaborate with other teachers who teach the same grade level or the same subject. This is a magnificent way for teachers to share ideas and teaching strategies with other teachers to better their teachings. We have started PLC’s in our school district this year and I do enjoy them. My fellow social studies teachers can talk about what goes well in our class and see what is going well in theirs. This is a great way to have ideas bounced off different people to see if they have tried a certain teaching style or not

You probably know about Twitter but they really don’t know what it is or how it is used. Twitter is considered a micro-blogging site where you are given 140 characters to let your “followers” know what you are doing. Some people still use it to inform about their day to day lives but others have chose to use Twitter as a content creation/consumption media. Twitter has turned into the ultimate news source for many people including myself. I use this as my primary news source, because people are breaking news as it happens instead of waiting for a newscast. It can also be used for information I love how people share blogs and other information about their trade or interests.

How can Twitter be used as a PLC? With Twitter you can get tons of information about education, and what is going on in education. So how do you get this info? You need to sign up, then at the top of the screen click on “who to follow”. Since this is an EDtech blog, I would suggest you follow someone in the education field. Just type in Education in the search and you will find quite a few to follow such as @usnewseducation or @ED_outreach. To have a PLC, you will need people for ideas, feedback and support. Some of the people I follow are @perrywiseman, @dianeravitch, or @teachpaperless. These people, I have found very valuable to my online PLC by the information they share, and there is a wealth of it. If you want to expand your knowledge about any subject, I would suggest you use Twitter and “follow” on.

Personalized Whiteboards revisited

Most of you have read my blog post about my purchasing the personalized white boards. I am please to let you know that after two years of using so my students have shown much improvement. Last year I was able to have student growth at the top of my department. I enjoy using these and it is a great questioning tool for your evaluations too.

        

Personalized Whiteboards

Most of you have thought about personalized white boards, and I have thought about them as well. So this past year I decided I was going to make the plunge. I was needing a new way to assess my students every day for retention, but I didn’t really know how or what I needed to do. In a traditional classroom it is difficult to know if every child is getting what you are teaching. There is always the one student who is always willing to answer the question, and you do have students that will answer if you call on them. I just needed a way to reach all my students. So one day my wife had looked on Pinterest and found some ideas, and the personalized white board really stuck out to me.  I purchased a classroom set of thirty from Amazon.com for around $30 that is around a dollar a board. I went with these due to the cost, and as a teacher we all know how much we spend in our own money every year.

 I took this year to see how my students would respond to the boards. I teach high school juniors and introducing something like this could be very tricky. They might feel that this is very elementary or just might not like doing it because it doesn’t look cool. These were some of the issues I had come in contact with when I introduced them. Once I assured them this will benefit them they were more willing to use them.  I used the white boards as a way to assess my student’s almost everyday. This gave me a great ability to see who was learning and what they did know. This also allows myself to change the way I teach while throughout the lesson. There were times I would go without using the boards to see if there is a difference in the learning. Students would not seem to be interested when we didn’t use them, I feel they felt they could be invisible again if they didn’t use them. I can assure you this does make students more accountable throughout the lesson and scores were higher when I used the boards than when I didn’t.
 I do highly recommend if you can afford whiteboards to use them. These are great tools you can use everyday no matter what subject you teach. I have talked to some of the math teachers in my school and they have considered using this in their classroom as well. I hope you all enjoy the insights I have come across and I hope these will help make decisions for your classroom.

Here is a link where I found my whiteboards.  http://www.amazon.com/NEOPlex-Student-Laptop-Erase-Marker/dp/B001EW9I4W/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1371149616&sr=8-4&keywords=personal+whiteboard 

Remind 101

As most of you all know I have not been writing about my goings on lately, or reviewing an app for the iPad. Part of it is my changing of subjects and part of it is laziness. I hope most of you most of you all will understand. Especially if you are a teacher trying to do all new lessons ready while want to write.
            Most of you all know I love technology and one of my newest favorite websites/ apps for all devices is the remind 101 app. This service is free, and which teacher doesn’t like free. What is wonderful about this service is the students or parents do not have direct access to your phone number. As a teacher of high school students this is a great advantage. This will allow you to keep your students or parents up to date with you feeling you are getting to close to your students.
            How does it work?
            When you sign up for remind 101 you are assigned a phone number and a log in code such as this

           

This will allow all of the students to subscribe to your text messages. The ease of use with this product is great. If you can type a message you can use this. You can also organize the subscriptions to classes. I teach two different subjects so this feature works out amazingly.
Remind 101 only works if the students will subscribe. Even though I have haven’t had 100% participation from this program, I do have around 98%. When I presented this to my students the majority of them were really open to this idea. We have 7 class periods at out school and it is hard for all of our students to remember all of their assignments or if they are going to have a test tomorrow. Remind 101 makes it easy for you and your students to keep up with your class’s entire goings on.
I have noticed the student’s who have received the text messages have performed a lot better on tests and other assignments than the ones who do not have it. This gives them the nudge they need in order for them to study.
            I have fallen in love with this service, the guys at remind 101 have hit a home run. I highly recommend Remind 101 for anyone who is a teacher. I think you will find it very helpful with your classroom.