Sunday, March 18, 2018

Battling the Cue Blues

So, I'm starting this blog post during the 2nd day of CUE.  Who knows when I'll finish it.

Honestly, I'm a little disappointed so far this year.  I'll still come back next year because maybe it was a fluke.  I left many sessions early so far, and the planning of the rooms did not go well.  If you follow me on twitter, you knew how I felt about the Leslie Fisher debacle.

Since they were smart enough to put her in Oasis 4 on Thursday, I was able to see her Tools You Can Use Tomorrow session, which I saw at ISTE.  There was a ton of stuff that was new that I was learning about for the first time and lots of new additions to things I already knew.  One thing that I need to look into that she mentioned was Insert Learning.  Their webpage says:

 "InsertLearning is a Chrome extension that lets you turn websites into interactive lessons. Our toolbar is preloaded on this page so you can try it out without installing anything or signing up. Click on the buttons to transform this text."

I need to figure out what I can try this out with.  I'm thinking maybe something informational to prepare either my 11th graders for The Great Gatsby or my 10th graders to A Midsummer Night's DreamAny suggestions on good websites for either of those?

I skipped the Thursday keynote in order to (barely) get in and see a session by Brent Coley about Google Forms.  He didn't revolutionize my thinking about forms, but he definitely had me thinking of some pretty neat uses for them.  I use a Google sheet to keep track of parent contact.  He uses a gForm.  I didn't think about using that, which would give me a time stamp that I don't currently have.  So, I need to create a form or add the time to the date when I fill it out.  I think I'll also be turning the PLC minutes into a gForm so I have all the information throughout the year in a spreadsheet.  Oh, the joys of being the "boss" (read: the bullet-ridden messenger).

I enjoyed the Google Innovator's Slam that featured people like Alice Chen and JR Ginnex-Orinion.  I found out that EdTechTeam's CheckMark extension can now be customized; so, I might use it now.  I also got some neat little hacks to gSlides with videos that I might give a try (you can autoplay and shrink a video for music in the background of a presentation)....

It's the last day of CUE.  Took a break and am coming back while I wait for my first session.  Apparently, the "theme" of putting big-name presenters in smaller rooms has continued.  They have Alice Keeler is a smaller room already filled (pretty sure I won't be able to get into her next session, which I planned on going to) while other rooms have a sprinkling of people in it.  For those that don't know, Alice is a Google Classroom Guru.  If you use Classroom, you need to check her out.

I've already learned something about a tool I use that I didn't know and Kate Baker's presentation hasn't even started.  I had no idea that Actively Learn had a gDoc add-on.

So to reflect on yesterday (Friday), my morning sessions pretty much sucked.  It was a mess with not being able to get in for Leslie Fisher, too many people, and I left all the sessions I actually got into early for one reason or another.  I had an over-priced lunch in the Rocks Lounge at the Renaissance and then checked out Ann Kozma's Diamond Time session.   It was a great session.  Totally hit me in the feels, especially the #LAM (Life Altering Moments) section.  One of our students was shot at the Vegas massacre, so that hit home.  The rest of Friday was kind of a dud for me.

Yeah!  Got into the 2nd Alice Keeler, so I'll continue with this once I get back home from the Springs of Palms....

I lazed about the majority of the rest of the weekend.  My calves were certainly sore.  Saturday's sessions were much better, despite the issues I've already stated.  I really enjoyed the Kate Baker presentation.  I really need to find a way to incorporate and try out Formative.   I may try it with my colleagues the next time I need to do some PD instead of trying to fit it into what I'm doing in class. I also learned that with PDFs, I can also add graphic novels to Actively Learn.

Alice Keeler's session on Classroom tips was really good and that was a session that could have been a double session.  The biggest thing that resonated with me was the fact that she doesn't make copies of any of her gDocs, Slides, etc.   She names the versions and restores back to the "original".  I think I may give that a try with some of the things I do, especially the stuff I use every year and make copies and rename with the date to keep track.  That would certainly help illiminate (eventually) my "archives".

I go in for a morning presentation on the premium aspects of NoRedInk tomorrow, taking the rest of the day off for my CT scan, and then back for ILT meeting and then physical therapy.  I may have to take the next day off too.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Let the Flogging Commence

Wow!  I just looked at the last time I blogged (August).  I feel horrible.  Then again, I don't.

It's been a really tough year this year.  We changed our school calendar up three weeks.  I may have mentioned that in my most "recent" post.  That has been really hard for both teachers and students.  We've been so ingrained in how things used to go.  We feel like we have more time for things because of where they used to be in the school year.

The English department in the district is, after like 15 years, adopting a new "textbook" (read: curriculum).  We chose StudySync.  If anyone out there has experience with that, shoot me your thoughts.  One of my team members and I worked together and tried both contenders out.  We personally liked StudySync better, but now I'm a little concerned because the district is throwing the baby out with the bathwater and shifting and moving novels and things around to other grade levels because of where they are in the StudySync curriculum.  Without teacher input of course.  This is not a good year to be the department chair.

My 11th graders are probably this least studious I've ever had in my 12-year career.  Everyone seems to be having trouble with them, especially the ELA and Social Studies teachers.

Since February, I've been battling with pneumonia.  I've taken 5 days off (6 including this coming Monday for a CT scan) because of this, not including the time off getting pulled out for meetings and for conferences (CATE and CUE).  This is more than the last 6 years combined.  I've been very lethargic because of this and am WAY WAY WAY behind on grading (instead of just WAY behind).

I'm currently at CUE now.  I'll try and write up about CATE and CUE.  Maybe I can do it Monday after or before my CT.

If you are in the OC area, there is a #MarchforOurLives event at Centennial Park in Santa Ana at 2 p.m on March 24th.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The First Week Hangover

Screenshot of my Saturday
morning Facebook status
Well, the school year has begun.  Yeah?

My district made the wonderful (🤔😒😕) decision to start school about three weeks earlier than it normally would.  It also made the decision to start with a completely full week of school.  I really like getting eased back in with a half week.  When does your school year start?  Full week? Half week?

The week before, when I was planning out the first week, I was really grateful for my blog (someone has to be right?).  It was great to go back to this post and see what I had done and how it had worked the year before.

We had shorter class periods all week this week for Week of Welcome (WOW).  We had our now elusive seminar at the beginning of each day this week.  I'm having a hard time connecting with this group of kids.  I don't know if it's the "chemical" makeup of this particular group, the fact that I barely know them (I could maybe remember 3 of their names outside of the students that are also in my English classes - though I don't really know their name and faces yet either), or that I just had such a great relationship with my previous seminar that my gauge is off.

Anyways, since we had shorter class periods and an entire week, I broke things down a little differently this year.

On Monday, I passed out all the important first-day documents, and I read through portions of the syllabus with the kids, pointed out the late work policy, and that they needed to bring Chromebooks, but if they didn't I had them covered.  I then showed them the class set I accumulated in 2014.  I told them it would cost them a class participation point though if they used one of mine (by the end of the week, 2 of the classes all had theirs and in the remaining 3 only a few needed to borrow one).  Then, we did a Kahoot that was about me and the room.  It was the same one we did last year.  It worked really well and helped me begin crafting relationships with a few students who found that I liked to watch Game of Thrones because of it.

The day was interesting in the way that the energy between me and the students really had a drastic change between Periods 2 and 3 where I switch from CP to Honors.  The 10th-grade honors students just really gave back nearly the same amount of energy that I was giving to them.  Just really drove home that this group of kids is my niche.

The next day, I had them take a first-week survey.  There were some memorable responses to some of the questions.

For instance, I had a question that asked if there was another nameother than their name on the rollthey would like to be called.  One of the students said I could call him a stick of butter as long as I was consistent.  I'm going to like this kid.

This was an intriguing answer to what they liked most about the previous year.

Here is an unedited sampling of some of their favorite jokes they shared with me (you are welcome):

  • What did the buffalo tell his son when he left to college? Bison
  • I told my girlfriend she drew her eyebrows too high. She seemed surprised.
  • Why did the quadrilateral get late to school? Because it was on the Rhombus
  • Q: What did the DNA say to the other DNA? A: Do these genes make my butt look fat
  • why did the duck go to rehab? because he was quack addict!
  • what's forrest gump's password? 1Forrest1
  • Teacher: "Kids, what does the chicken give you?" Student: "Meat!" Teacher: "Very good! Now what does the pig give you?" Student: "Bacon!" Teacher: "Great! And what does the fat cow give you?" Student: "Homework!"

Wasn't sure how to take that last one, but thought I would share it anyway.

This transitioned them into the updated BreakoutEdu from last year.  There were, of course, those that didn't like it because it was a challenge but when surveyed, the students mostly seemed to like that they were challenged and had to think critically.  Here are the some of the survey results from that activity:

Wednesday and Thursday, I got kids signed up for NoRedInk, Verso, and Actively Learn.  Thanks to the Breakout, they were already signed up for Google Classroom.  I had practice activities for Verso and Actively Learn and a planning diagnostic for NoRedInk.  The purchase order for Actively Learn hasn't come through yet, so I'm back to a free plan.  I'm anxious to get back to the Team Plan, especially since I have a cluster of ELs in my two 11th-grade classes and would like to set up some differentiation for them.  A lot of students, including many of those ELs, didn't complete the Actively Learn assignment (answer 2 questions and make one annotation shared with the class), so I sent out a comment on Google Classroom encouraging them to finish it this weekend and I'll look at them again on Monday.

Friday was spent getting student's blogs set up and showing them how to make a post.  I had planned on doing a reflection on Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome, but I think I'll have to find time to fit that in next week.  I might push back the narrative essay a day and have students do it Monday.

I've also realized, after a week of doing the exact same thing in all my classes, that I wouldn't want to teach the same prep all day.  I did it once about 6 years ago, but I need the change of pace more now I think.

How did your first week go?  I hope it was a good one.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I've Done Bad, but Google Classroom Has Done Good

Well, I haven't done much better in being a more consistent blogger, have I?

My excuses are kind of piss poor too, or maybe not really.  June was crazy, as the last weeks of school usually are.  Then I was off to ISTE in San Antonio (Had a nice trip, but wasn't that crazy about ISTE this year.  Maybe more on that later) before I came home and got a call for a surgery I didn't think was going to happen, and then I had said surgery and was recovering from it.  Surgery wasn't that serious (deviated septum), but it did take a big chunk of energy from me.  Now, I'm getting prepared to go back to school.
We have a really short summer in our district this year.  Preparing for and recovering from my surgery took the majority of my July and now school starts in less than two weeks.

I have a lot of Feedly posts to read through, so I should definitely have some Read Reports coming out.  Maybe I'll space them out some.

But I'm super duper, mega excited for the new Google Classroom updates released this week.

I'll admit, the animation in the Google for Ed blog post about the updates got me really good thinking that there was a way to toggle between a Teacher View and Student View, but since that doesn't seem to be a possibility, it was...

But let's talk about some of the updates that actually DID happen:

Single View of Student Work: If you go to your Student tab, you can now click on a student and see all the assignments for that student.  You can also filter that page for work that has been turned in, graded, or is missing.  For someone who deals with a lot of late work from apathetic 11th graders, this is my favorite update.  I think this is the one had me like...

Reorder Classes:  This is the one that most people have been waiting for.  You can now click and drag your classes around on the homepage to put them in any order you want.  This also changes the order in which they appear on the drop down menu.  This is great for those of us that want to put like classes together even if they aren't next to each other during our day.  For instance, last year, I could have had my 1st and 4th period 11th-grade classes right next to each other.

Decimal grading:  Pretty sure this one is self-explanatory (If it's not, there is a link above you can use).  This was only an issue for me on occasion, but sometimes you just don't want to give that full point for something, so now you don't have to.

There were 5 other Google Classroom-specific updates, but I'm kind of apathetic to them, so I don't have much to say on them (Hey look! I'm acting like an 11th-grader).

Overall, this update had me feeling verklempt.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Shakespearean Insult Wall Meets the Internets.

I know it's been awhile (and I was doing so well).  But, my excuse is that the month of April and most of May have been really crazy.  This is especially true because I'm also the department chair and we had official federal visits, the school-wide administration of the ACT to the juniors, and now we're into SBAC testing.

I wanted to do a quick post on an experiment of sorts I just did.  For the past couple of years, when doing any Shakespeare, I do a Shakespearean Insult Wall.  I used to do it the "old-fashioned" way, with poster paper and sticky notes.

A post shared by Miss Barron (@missbarronsfhs) on

A post shared by Miss Barron (@missbarronsfhs) on

I had been contemplating on switching it over to Padlet the last year or two.  This year I finally did it.  It worked out really well.  I had the students create accounts so I could tell who was saying what, and I made it so I had to moderate comments, so that only ones done following the directions and complete would appear.

I think I'll do it again next year.

Side note:  I'm really liking Padlet this year with the changes they've made/things they have added (COMMENTS!).

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Kid President Blog 3

It's actually #6 for my students, but I'm behind so I checked and the last one I did I labeled #2, so this is the 3rd one where I've decided to participate and model for them as they write their own blog posts.

I had them read #68, "Be Kind".  I think it's especially important to try and be kind to people right now, so that is why I chose it.
The helpful prompts to help the students out for this reflection were:

    1. What do you think about kindness?
    2. Do you find it hard or easy to be kind most of the time?
    3. When is it easiest for you to be kind?
    4. When is it hardest for you to be kind?
    5. Was there something KP said that really stood out to you?

I think kindness is an extremely important trait to have and to show to other people.  I think grace goes hand-in-hand with kindness because you don't know what other people are going through and often need to forgive and show grace to others who don't show kindness to you.  "Killing" people with kindness is often quite an effective weapon, and when others are shown grace when they feel they don't deserve it, it can have quite a transformative effect on them.

Most of the time (I think), I find it easy to be kind most of the time.  I actually think I find it more difficult to be mean to people, but that's not necessarily the same thing.  The absence of kindness is not cruelty, and sometimes I think it's worse to be apathetic than it is to be in the negative about something instead of the positive.   As the saying goes, "there is a thin line between love and hate", but apathy is often a blurred line and it's hard to figure out how to cross it.

I think it's easiest to be kind when others are kind to you, so - obviously - it's hard to be kind when someone is being mean to you.  I do think there are people out there that make it impossible to be kind to them.  But, you need to at least try.  And, if your kindness doesn't have an affect on them, then don't be mean to them, that's when apathy is acceptable. 

Kid President's advice to pause and remember that that when someone is making it difficult to be kind to them, or are being mean to you, to remember that they are a person too.  I watched something once where a man explained what his wife did when people were just not being their best selves.  She always assumed that they did it for a very important reason.  For example, if someone cut them off in the car, she would say something about how they must be trying to get to the hospital, etc. I think that's really good advice that I especially need to heed when I'm driving.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Reflections on CATE

So last month, I attended the California Association of Teachers of English (CATE) Conference with a few colleagues.

First, and ironically, it was last, Kwame Alexander - poet and Newberry Award winner for The Crossover - spoke at the last keynote.  He started with a reading of his poem, "In My Closet, On the Top Shelf, Is a Silver Box", which left me gutted emotionally.  I then went and bought all his non children's books and read that poem to my classes.  They felt it too.  I highly suggest looking into his poetry, especially with National Poetry Month occurring next month.  I will be reading a poem a day to my students.  Any suggestions?

Looking back through my notes, these are a few things that stood out to me.

A session about independent reading by Amy Matt.  That is something that my department holds sacred as 5% of a student's overall grade, but something we especially struggle with.  I'm definitely using some of her materials to incorporate them into my Book Review blogs.  I'm also going to try out the speed dating idea at some point (probably next year to be honest).  I think I'm also going to take time, once, maybe twice, a week to have students read in class.  I may start this with my 11th graders after next week.  I'm also going to set individual reading goals for my students instead of a one size fits all.  This is easy to do in the Accelerated Reader program we use.

I had a couple of dud sessions.  Particularly those that promised to help reduce the amount of work in grading.  I have a book I bought a few years ago that I've never read that I need to find.  Something about not working harder than your students are.

I found out about another Reading and Tracking tool, similar to Actively Learn and Owl Eyes, called  CommonLit.  If we don't end up expanding or renewing our Actively Learn account, I may check it out next year and give it a try.  I signed up just in case, and to maybe use some of their questions.  I'm always on the look out for good questions.

I found out about the app, Serial Reader, from Jennifer Naumann.  It breaks down classic lit into bite sized chunks.  The app will send them a 20 minute (or less) section of a book daily.

I went to a session by the Zen Teacher and every teacher should check out his site.  I bought the book, and he has inspired me to be better about taking care of myself.  I've mediated much more consistently (even if it's only for a few minutes) than I ever have.

The awesome Catlin Tucker was there for a keynote.  I really like her story time idea.  I need to go to the bookstore and look through the children's books for some good ones that could teach teenagers good lessons. I think I'll read one to them each month and then have them reflect on them in a blog.

I had a really good time in my last session about unlocking Shakespeare's rhetoric.  The presenters,
Kelly Boske and Melinda Malaspino, did a great job and I wish one of the colleges down here did a Globe Academy.  I might try a few of the techniques with my 10th grade honors class when we read A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Though, to tell the truth, after that session, I'm getting the hankering to teach Taming of the Shrew again.

Stay tuned for a Kid President blog, I'm having my students do one for the first time in a while today.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Read Report Enters 2017

I need to do a post on my experience at CATE, but I'm determined to get caught up on these articles.

It was interesting how so many articles I had saved just didn't seem to interest me anymore the way they did when I first read them.  I eliminated a lot as I browsed through them and ended up done with 2016, so all I  have left is 2017, so I'm only a month (or two) behind now.

source: wikimedia
Through a guest post on Cult of Pedagogy, Krista Taylor talked about Voluntary Piloting instead of PD.  It reads much more like graduate studies work than a blog post but was an interesting concept.  I don't think anyone likes mandatory PD, especially when it ends up being something you already know/do, or not really something that you could implement right away.  I don't think my principal would even have the authority to okay some of the stuff that she talked about in the post (giving continuing ed credit), but I liked the idea of a group of teachers piloting something and sort of creating a structured support group.  I feel that would have been beneficial for those of us piloting Actively Learn on our campus.

I've been working and figuring out ways to incorporate blogging in my classroom since last year, so a post by Jacqui over at Ask a Tech Teacher about Why and How Students Can Blog caught my attention.  She talked about how students can collaborate by commenting (something my students have to do) and co-writing (not something my students do).  Designing a profile was also discussed.  This one I'm not sure I'm on board with.  I don't even let me students use their full names on their blogs and ask them to make sure they are unlisted. Privacy and protection and all that.  That segues right into their digital footprint.  Having them reach out beyond their own classmates and trusted others scares me a little.  Maybe next year, and maybe with parent permission slips.  She talked about many other things, but the last one I want to touch on is reflection.  It's one of the reasons I blog, and it's one of the main reasons I have the student's blog.  Writing down your thoughts, regardless of if you have a prompt to answer or not, is really helpful in a multitude of ways.  I know that blogging about the things I do in class, help me analyze what does and does not work.  I have the students do the same with their Passion Project portion of their blogs.

Again, back to Cult of Pedagogy and a post by Jennifer Gonzalez on 6 Ed Tech Tools to try this year.  The 6 tools are Nearpod, Planboard, Slack, Peergrade, Newsela, and Sketchboard.  I've used Slack before (though not with my students) and am thinking of maybe using it next year to sort of create a community help board for my classes.  I signed up for Peergrade, but in the crazy that this past month has been completely forgot to try it out with my students and their Chinese Culture Research Projects.  I like to try most things out with my more dependable and easier to manage 10th grade honors students, so maybe I'll give it a try with the next essay.  I have a Newsela account but never use it.  I might use it to print up lower Lexile articles for my EL students the next time I need an Article of the Week.

source: wikimedia

I tried the Passion Project out for the first time last year with BOTH of my preps.  This year my version of the 20% Time/Genius Hour is only with my 10th-grade honors.  A post over at A Meaningful Mess about 5 Ways to Find a Student's Passion definitely caught my eye.  I agree with Andi McNair that having a conversation with students is an excellent way to help them figure out what they are passionate about.  How to turn that passion into a project with a learning something else entirely.  Observation was the next way, and that is something that I can do in class more than out of it because I don't see them too often outside of my classroom (there is no recess in high school). She then talked about something that I want to remember to try next year, which is Thrively. Apparently, there is a strength assessment that students can take to help them find what they want to learn about.  The penultimate way was  It will help students learn by doing.  The last one was outside experts.  This is one that so many 20Timers talk about, but not one that I think I could really pull off with equity.  Our district is a Title 1 district with lots of areas of crime and violence.  My school would have a leg up because it's in a better part of town, but it would still be difficult to connect these students with mentors.

Continuing with another post by Andi McNair, she posted: Don't Assume, Ask!  This is critical I think not only of teachers to students but students to teachers.  But, as the adult, the ownership lies with us.  I need to get better and have been working on it, about just assuming that my students (especially those 11th-graders) are just lazy and ask them why they didn't do their work.  She also talks about not assuming things about administrators and their decisions either.  That one is a little trickier for me, but I do tend to be the one that will step forward and address an issue (elephants don't belong in the room).

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Read Report Lives: the trilogy

Shall we make this journey to get caught up on all my saved Feedly posts a trilogy?  It will probably be more.

We reach the "summer" months with a post by Jacqui over at Ask A Tech Teacher.  Jacqui writes about the 7 Must-have Tools for Ed Conferences.  Now, I love Ed Conferences.  I'm at one right now (CATE).

  • Her first suggestion is a navigation app on your phone.  She suggests WAZE, and I agree, but I would also have a backup like Google Maps.  Depending on the conference, you may need to travel around the city to find your sessions, let alone if you are driving to the conference itself.
  • Her second is to download the conference app if they have one.  I've been to a few conferences that don't have a Sched, and it drives me crazy trying to decide and keep track of possible sessions to attend.  Here is a little personal tip when going to conferences and dealing with the schedule:  Choose multiple options for each session so that if one turns out to be a dud or full, you can go right to another choice instead of searching through the schedule to find something else.
  • Next?  Don't paper and pencil it.  Bring tech that is easily transportable.  My first year at CUE, I brought my laptop for use in the hotel room and my iPad for the sessions.  I no longer bring my iPad and instead bring my Chromebook and only my Chromebook.  If I charge it overnight, I don't (usually) need to charge it during the day.  It's light-weight, and taking notes on a keyboard is easier for me than trying to do it on my iPad.  I have my phone for anything that needs a QR code, but now I won't even need that thanks to different Chrome extensions.
  • Note taking.  Jacqui talks about Evernote and Notability, but I tend to create a shared notes document with my Technology Committee or anyone else that is attending the conference, so we can all add to our resources (and sometimes divide and conquer the sessions).  Nothing works better than Google Docs for that.  In the past, I would create a table of contents, but now I just use the heading functions and the outline tool.
  • Messaging App.  You're basically going to need Twitter.  Most conferences have hashtags that you can use to share and converse about what is happening.  I use Tweet Deck so I can have multiple columns of hashtags open.
  • QR Reader.  Numerous apps you can download for this.
  • Digital Scanner.  She talks about using it for business cards.  I've never used it for that, but I have used it for making copies of receipts for reimbursement.  I use the app Tiny Scanner, on my iPhone.

Heading backward into March, Alice Chen wrote about how sharing on social media helped her become a better educator.  I'm nowhere near as a prolific tweeter and she certainly has more blog cred than I do, but I do agree with her.  Blogging, however sporadic I may be with it, forces me to reflect on what is going on in my teaching.  While I know that some people do read these blog posts, they don't seem to spark conversations (yet?).  As I've gotten more active on Twitter, I find myself building a more robust PLN and creating conversations.  The trick with Twitter is finding the right hashtags so people see what you have to say.

Jumping back to May, and another post by Jacqui, we have a post about using the SAMR Model to direct your technology integration.  I definitely agree with much of what she wrote about.  Her suggestions remind me a little of Catlin Tucker's suggestion about (and I paraphrase) learning to use one tool really well before adding other tools to your box (and then use the ones that you like the best/most in your tool belt).  We have Federal Program Monitoring this year and in our mock assessment, one of the evaluators mentioned how there was a lot of substitution going on by teachers.  Well, of course, there is.  We've only had 1:1 for one grade level for a year.  It is going to take time for many of the more veteran teachers to integrate tech in the classroom beyond what they do on the whiteboard.

I'll stop there.  For today at least.  If you have any blogs that you follow, let me know.  I would love to add them to my Feedly.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Read Report Lives (Part 2)

Continuing on in trying to catch up and be a better blogger, here are a few more articles from my Feedly and my thoughts on them.
Screenshot from Google Classroom

Back in April 2016, Google's Education Blog talked about 4 Ways to Use Polling in Google Classroom.  If you use the Question function on Google Classroom (GC), and choose multiple choice instead of short answer, you can create a way to poll your students without creating a Google Form.  I had forgotten about this since I don't tend to use the question function and instead use Verso for online discussions.  But, I've already set one up for next week to help my 11th graders, who are doing a very big research paper, self-monitor their progress.  The blog also mentioned it's a good way to get student feedback, for exit tickets, and to guide student discussions.

At the end of the same mother, Sylvia Duckworth from EdTechTeam, talked about taking her knowledge of (what was then) GAFE for granted and what she did to make sure to pass the Google Level 2 exam.  She offered 3 Tips to Rock the Google Level 2 EDU Certification.  I'm sure I kept this because it was my plan over the summer to get my Level 2 Certification, but that didn't pan out.  Then my district offered Level 1 Certification courses, but I already had mine and so I asked if Level 2 would be offered.  They said it would be, and it was, but the class in December got cancelled.  It is now in May.  I've gone and checked out some of the training modules, but I haven't had the time to really look at them or the resources our Program Specialist put together.  Maybe I can get some of that done during Spring Break in April (Ha. Then I would have come full circle).  One thing I have done when looking at the modules is I go straight to the Review Quizzes and see what I don't actually know and then study that instead of reading over information that I've already figure out on my own in my usage of the G Suite products.

In May, Jennifer Gonzlez at the Cult of Pedagogy posted (and podcasted) about ways to make better use of Twitter.  She talks about finding your tribe, having conversations, sharing, participating in Twitter chats (mine is #caedchat - though I need to get more involved with it), do research, and communicate with students and parents.  Now, I have my personal twitter, which I use for the first 5 things Jennifer mentions, but I created a school twitter for my students/parents.  I don't get much traction out of the latter, but then again, most of the kids seemed to have moved to SnapChat.

In that same month, Valencia Clay over at Edutopia posted about Intrinsic Motivation vs. Standardized Tests. I think, at the time, I was interested because I had been working on my action research project with my two partners, and a large part of it involved extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.  She'd used a lot from the work of Daniel Pink and his book, Drive (which you should read), but one thing in her article really caught my attention.  One of the questions she says we should have students explore is "How will achieving well on this exam impact me a year from now, five years from now, ten years from now? Now, I'm admittedly biased against any high-stakes standardized testing and think there is too much of it.  I also think there is too much no-little-stakes standardized testing (my 10th graders take 5-6 a year). But, some of these standardized tests can impact a student.  Our 11th-grade students take the SBAC and have the EAP questions attached to it.  That can impact them because - depending on how well they do on the mixture of questions (SBAC and EAP) - it determines whether or not they need to take ERWC or any remedial English or Math courses in college (it essentially replaces placement tests).

I think that's a good plethora for now.  Next time, we'll cover the month of June and maybe more.