Microsoft Innovative Educator

Microsoft Innovative Educator

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thankful

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Hard to believe that the year is coming to an end. November is gratitude month. A time to reflect on all that you have to be thankful for and This Blog Is Why I am taking the time to count my blessings and all that I have to be thankful for in my life. Now, I won't really list them all here, but there a few highlights that I would like to post about.

1) Last weekend I had the chance to be the co-moderator for #satchat. This group of dedicated educators has been an inspiring part of my growing PLN (professional learning network). I have learned so much through our Saturday morning chats.  When I had the chance to lead the group, I was nervous, excited, and scared all at the same time. It was an honor to be selected and I am looking forward to other opportunities to share with my colleagues in the future.

2) One of my goals has been to connect with other educators and I have started to blossom in that area through my social media interactions. I started using Voxer after a month of trying to figure it out! This tool has linked me with some inspiring ladies right here in South Carolina. I look forward to connecting with them, hearing their perspectives, and learning about what is happening in their week. Sometimes you just need to know that others share your experiences.

3) This week I became a part of the ClassDojo Mentor community. This behavior and communication tool has become an essential part of my classroom management plan. As a member of this group, I am already seeing some new, exciting ways to use it. I was also able to share some ideas with one of my interns as a way to motivate students who may need positive reinforcement in the classroom.

4) Working with a group of first graders has truly been a blessing for me this year. There are days/nights when I want to pull my hair out because it is hard work. But the rewards you get are worth it. A huge celebration for my class and me last week was when my only "non-reader" read her first book! Everyone was excited for her. I felt like a proud parent. I prayed for her and was happy to see the hard work that she puts in at home and at school pay off. We have other moments to celebrate, but that one meant the most to me.

                                  


5) Finally, as I am typing up this blog, I am already thinking about a topic for my NEXT blog thanks to another community that I have connected with via social media. This group, #TribeofBloggers, will hopefully help me commit to making time for my blog. The goal is one every two weeks. Stay tuned...


P. S. I can't forget how thankful I am for having an amazing support system that is with me day in and day out. Listening to the good, the bad, and the ugly. And no matter what, standing with me through it all. Thank you!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

***For RDG-101 Students ONLY**

I am excited about the blogs that you will create this semester. I look forward to reading your thoughts and seeing your interactions with classmates. You may use this blog post as a springboard to connect with your classmates when you are ready to begin making your comments. Simply select one of the links below to navigate to individual pages. This Blog Is Why I enjoy having the opportunity to teach and expand minds. Happy Blogging!

http://basskodie.blogspot.com/

http://odrakeford.blogspot.com/

http://tonnishareneesuber-jac.blogspot.com/

http://nickjohnson2015.blogspot.com/

http://harleighlittlejohn.blogspot.com/

http://katherinemiller143.blogspot.com/

http://ctinamae.blogspot.com/

http://moodytimothy.blogspot.com/

http://elenibrooke.blogspot.com/

http://ariggan.blogspot.com/

http://craftymama4.blogspot.com/

http://mterry849.blogspot.com/





Sunday, September 6, 2015

Make Life a Little Easier

I'm sure we all want to know how to add a few extra hours to the day, make the weekend last a little longer, or get those tasks done in the blink of an eye. As the end of summer (season) quickly approaches and educators are back at it, This Blog is Why we can still find ways to make some things in life a little easier. This will be a short one, to go along with the theme (taking it EASY).

Summer Reading Blog #9
http://thefirstgradeparade.blogspot.com/2015/09/teacher-week-make-ahead-meals.html
Twitter: @CarraCarroll1st

Summer Reading Blog #10
http://tinyurl.com/QuickTeacherMeals
Twitter: @WeAreTeachers

I have enjoyed getting back into the habit of blogging with my "Summer Reading Series" which introduced me to some great blogs/bloggers. I hope to continue to read these blogs and others (when time permits). Maybe next summer I will start a new reading series with new bloggers!

Over the last few weeks, my days have been like this:


My other half and I have been on the search for ways to make dinner easier at the end of a hard day's work. And judging from social media conversations and blog posts, others are having those same thoughts.

My big take-aways from the reading(s):
1. Sharing is caring---and I am thankful for those who have shared their quick and easy recipes.
2. I love crock pot meals. I will be trying out some of these recipes. Maybe I will post some pictures on Twitter.
3. The "First Grade Parade" has become my "go-to" page. A little bit of everything!

You can also connect with me on Twitter @MsClassNSession or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/principalsdj.
Post comments or subscribe by email to www.thisblogiswhy.blogspot.com as I continue to share my reflections through this blog.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Teacher Relevance

The start of the school year has been busy. No surprise there! My only regret is that in the process of preparing for a new year and new opportunities, I have not had time to blog. But guess what? Now I'm back! I did make time for my favorite group of professional learners, #satchat, on Saturdays. Today's topic was "Teacher Relevance in an Era of #EdTech" (educational technology). This Blog is Why our focus must remain on the important role of teachers/educators even in a technologically advanced society.

Summer Reading Blog #8
http://www.middleweb.com/24360/the-5-best-times-to-use-technology-in-class/
Twitter: @pattigrayson

The discussion today made me think about the many students/learners that I encounter and how I can make a difference, even when they have a wealth of information at their fingertips. I am sure this argument is waging somewhere in schools or communities right now. How much technology is too much (or not enough)? I think that technology has enhanced the learning experience. Teachers/Educators have immediate access to information, strategies, or resources that can be used to support current standards and curriculum. There are so many great ideas that there is guaranteed to be something for every teaching style, population demographic, and classroom environment. And finding that information only requires the teacher to log on. No travel expenses, minimal wait time, and it can be tailor-made to your needs. How awesome is that? Of course access to information or even technology does not guarantee success or student achievement. The teacher's role is still important and relevant. The teacher is there to foster collaboration, teach critical thinking skills, presentation skills, and explain how essential it is to evaluate content for its validity. No matter what level you work with: elementary, middle, high, college, or even adult learners; these are valuable components to instruction.

In Patti Grayson's article (in the link above), she explores when technology should be used in the classroom as a tool to SUPPORT instruction and the teacher. During the discussion today, that was a key point: Technology is not the end-all-be-all, it is a tool. It should enhance instruction, not take the place of great teaching.

My big take-aways from the reading:
1. Great minds think alike: creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and celebration; many of these were mentioned in the chat!
2. The #edtech classroom is not about technology being the central focus, but rather when can it be used to enhance the student learning experience--which IS the central focus.
3. NoodleTools---I need that for my Reading classes when they do their research projects!

Resources:
Thank you to @Media_Barber for sharing take-away skills for students in the #edtech classroom:

Thank you to @DJFTLL and @cheinesch for sharing "11 Ways for Engaging Students' Brains":

What are your thoughts? Do you think teachers still have relevance in today's classrooms/schools?

You can also connect with me on Twitter @MsClassNSession or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/principalsdj.
Post comments or subscribe by email to www.thisblogiswhy.blogspot.com as I continue to share my summer reading list.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Social Media in the Classroom

Most Saturday mornings from 7:30-8:30AM you can find me sharing in educational conversations via Twitter and the group #satchat. Today was no different. The topic was "What Connected Educators Do Differently" (co-moderators @Jeff_Zoul and @casas_jimmy). Even though I didn't tweet much today, I learned a great deal. Looking back on my previous blog posts, the most popular was when I shared some icebreakers. One of the questions posed to the group asked about using social media tools to connect with students. So after the chat this morning, I went back and created a list of some ideas that I want to try, remember, and/or share. We all know that educators are famous for "borrowing" awesome ideas from colleagues and This Blog is Why sharing is caring!

Before I get to my list, I found a challenge to take within my challenge. Of course, I have committed myself to reading at least one blog per day. Now, the new challenge presented by @mwaiksnis (Mike Waiksnis) is the #3in3 challenge. The goal is to leave at least 3 comments on 3 different blogs for 3 days. I think this is a great idea. The power of reflection in blogging is rewarding, but who doesn't love feedback? It would also be interesting to know what your audience is thinking, how are they reacting to posts, and whether they agree/disagree with points you have presented. I am looking forward to this new challenge and I hope you will join me. Only 3 days? Easy!

 My big take-aways from #satchat:
1. Blog- #nphcblogit #ECGBlogging

2. 50 ways to use Twitter- http://www.teachhub.com/50-ways-use-twitter-classroom

3. Instagram/Fakebook- via @leadlaughlearn http://tinyurl.com/LLLinclass

4. Twitter Tuesday-Post one question for students to answer via @JayBilly2

5. 5 Ways to use YouTube- http://tinyurl.com/YT5ways

6. Skype- @SkypeClassroom @MysterySkype

7. Literacy Snapshots- https://community.theeducatorcollaborative.com/from-the-book-ambassador-literacy-snapshots/

8. #ShelfieWednesday #Read4Fun-Share what you are reading.

9. Voxer- via @cybraryman1 http://www.cybraryman.com/voxer.html

10. Etc.- @RemindHQ, @Movenote, @GoogleForEdu, @SmorePages, @Edmodo

You can also connect with me on Twitter @MsClassNSession or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/principalsdj.
Post comments or subscribe by email to www.thisblogiswhy.blogspot.com as I continue to share my summer reading list.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Back to What??

As the end of summer is fast approaching (sad but true), and educators begin to focus on the new year ahead, it is always a good idea to reflect on the true essentials of your calling. This Blog Is Why you will be reminded why it is you do what you do and all that truly matters. Another special thanks to a Facebook friend for sharing this article. Make this a part of your 'Back to School' first days with staff.


Summer Reading Blog #7
http://www.edutopia.org/discussion/heart-teaching-what-it-means-be-great-teacher

This article made me think about the many, many great teachers that I have had the pleasure of knowing. The ones that you never forget. The ones that had a major impact on your life. They may even be the reason that you decided to become an educator. My thoughts here went in two different directions: as a student and as a teacher.
As a teacher, sometimes you may forget the impact you have on others or maybe you never get to see or know the results of your actions. Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing some of my former students. While I may not have taught them in a class, I still claim them as mine! Their grandmother is very near and dear to my heart. She worked as a custodian in a school where I taught and quickly become my "mom" away from home and a dear friend. I was in town and stopped by for a visit. Her welcoming hug was just what I needed. It also warmed my heart that she called all of the grandkids to let them know I was there and my heart swelled even more when they rushed over to see me. In that moment, I learned that not only do you touch students' lives, but they also touch yours. They make you a better person. Everyone wins.
As a student, I remember being a senior in high school and not exactly sure what I wanted to do with my life. In my Teacher Cadet course---that we were all taking just for the college credit---the teacher asked us a question that really changed my life in that moment. She asked us, "Who do you want teaching your children?" and went on to tell us that we were the best and the brightest. She said if we weren't interested in teaching our children, then who would. It was definitely something to think about. I wanted to accept the challenge. If we truly were the best and the brightest, then that was what I wanted for future generations. To be taught by the best.

My big take-aways from the reading:
1. The tougher the situation, the more important it is to remain positive. This one is tough, but it is definitely a keeper. Sound advice.
2. Teachers inspire. Students are looking up to you. Be cautious about the message you are sending.
3. When you look into the heart of a teacher, you should find an all-around good person. Have you done your heart check today?


You can also connect with me on Twitter @MsClassNSession or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/principalsdj.
Post comments or subscribe by email to www.thisblogiswhy.blogspot.com as I continue to share my summer reading list.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

No Excuses

A few short days ago I started on a journey that my brain has needed all summer. I love learning. But more than that, I love sharing with others and feeling as though I can impact the world --or at least a few people in it. Some may view blogging as a platform for educational issues, trends, and politics. And it can be that. At the same time, it can be a source for reflection, quiet pondering, and continuous growth. Thank you for taking this journey with me and I look forward to all the destinations where this wonderful path will lead. And so, This Blog Is Why I am setting a new goal for myself: focus on these 3 take-aways in my career (see below).

Summer Reading Blog #6
https://evolvingeducators.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/theres-no-substitute-for-these-3-things-in-education/
Twitter: @ScottRRocco

One of the hard lessons that I had to learn as an administrator came from this golden nugget of advice: Don't make lists. Valuable lesson. Why? You may ask. It only causes you stress and headaches because your job is never done. You will never accomplish everything there is to accomplish. Why place that extra stress on yourself of trying to cross things off of a never-ending list. Now, I'm not saying that I always followed that advice. But those words rang in my ears every time I started one. At any one time, I might have two or three lists going at the same time until I realized I was wasting more time making the lists when I could just be getting the work done! Well, that's what the blog in the link above made me think about. The hard work. Education is hard work. Anybody that says otherwise must not be an educator. I know we make it look easy. But the struggle is real. Real and worth it. Those who put in the hard work, the long days, the extra hours are truly committed and dedicated. That's what education thrives on. That's what it takes to move schools forward and prepare students for the world. 
It's not just about those two characteristics, though. Risk-taking is also an essential component. Giving educators permission to fail or at least get it wrong sometimes. Where would we be without those 'mess-ups'? That is how we get some of the best, most innovative inventions. Someone willing to ask, "I wonder what would happen if I tried this?" and then doing it. It takes us to the next level. If we want classrooms full of students that think critically, then we must have educators that feel comfortable pushing the envelope. That comes by creating an environment where it's okay to make mistakes. That's where true learning occurs. In a place where you are allowed to grow and get better. Like a baby taking his first steps. He may stumble a few times, but soon his stride shows no signs of his struggles. 

My big take-aways from the reading:
1. Commitment-Get the job done.
2. Dedication-Enjoy yourself.
3. Responsibility (Risk-taking)-Learn from your mistakes.


You can also connect with me on Twitter @MsClassNSession or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/principalsdj.
Post comments or subscribe by email to www.thisblogiswhy.blogspot.com as I continue to share my summer reading list.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Breaking the Ice

Sharing ideas. That's one element I enjoy about reading blogs. Even though I didn't write my own post yesterday, I read some really good ones (keeping up with my blog-a-day challenge). But I couldn't decide on one to write about. My biggest fan/critic has been adamant that I need to use my blog to showcase my own ideas, thoughts, and experiences. While I understand that, I am also a life-long learner and I don't mind sharing from that point of view as well. I get the point, though, and This Blog Is Why I plan to discuss one of my favorite activities... ICEBREAKERS!!
(**Scroll to bottom for update**)

Educators in the summer are in plan mode and may be searching for the perfect team-building activity. I want to share a couple of my favorite icebreakers that you can use in a classroom, faculty meeting, or a conference session. The first one is really easy and only requires you to have pictures of four different shapes: a circle, a square, a triangle, and a squiggle. Before starting, you will set them up around the room. Next, ask your audience to answer the question: "What Shape Is Your Personality?" and instruct them to go stand beside or under that shape. They must choose only one. There may be some groans. Yes, you have to get up out of your seat and move! But once the discussion starts, those groans will turn to laughs and "aha" moments. Finally, you will read the descriptions for each shape and invite your audience to move if they decide they made a wrong choice. The last time I did this activity with my faculty/staff, I found myself in a room full of squiggles and I was one of only two squares. What a lively bunch! Poor me, or poor them. You decide. 
The links below can help you create descriptions to use with this icebreaker:

http://drbj.hubpages.com/hub/Simple-Symbol-Personality-Test

http://conniepodesta.com/shapes-thanks/

http://fiveinsix.com/2013/05/what-shape-are-you.html

The next icebreaker takes a little longer and requires the use of a computer. I love using it with my college level students because I think it helps them learn how they prefer to work. It has also made group projects easier as they begin to understand each other and what makes someone else tick. The conversations that arise from this activity are well worth the time and effort. Now, this is a cheap/free version of the popular Meyers-Briggs assessment, which I highly recommend educators invest in at some point in their career. I completed this in college and again in my Principal Induction Program. My results scream: "Hey, this is just who I am!" and they were exactly the same both times. In case you're wondering, I am an 'ISTJ'--quiet, serious, earn success by thoroughness and dependability. Yep, sounds like me. I even gave this quiz to my biggest fan/critic. Better than couples therapy. ;-)

The link below is for the "Jung Typology Test":

http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

When you find that this little quiz improves your school's culture, builds a positive classroom environment, or saves your relationship, you can thank me later. Just drop me a line!

**UPDATE**
This is one of my favorite icebreakers to share during my in-person sessions. As participants enter the room, they select a piece of candy that best describes their personality (or just pick your favorite). Next, I have them divide into groups and share why they decided to attend the session or something they hope to learn. Each person shares and then I read the descriptors. At this time, people can switch groups if the personality type doesn't truly fit them. Fun, easy, and you get the room talking.

                                            Photo Credit: Alyson Carpenter @alysoncarp1

You can also connect with me on Twitter @MsClassNSession or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/principalsdj.
Post comments or subscribe by email to www.thisblogiswhy.blogspot.com as I continue to share my summer reading list.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Superstars

Author Todd Whitaker describes three types of teachers. One of those, the most elite group, he names "Superstar" teachers. "Superstars" represent a small number of your overall staff, but these are the teachers that can have the most influence. That is, if administrators recognize and value the power they hold and make them an integral part of the school decision-making process. These are the teachers that must be protected, encouraged, and supported as they assist with leading a school in the right direction. This Blog Is Why we must appreciate and celebrate those educators who go above and beyond. The future of our students depends on it.

Summer Reading Blog #5
http://blog.justinbirckbichler.com/2015/07/connecting-beyond-curriculum.html
Twitter: @Mr_B_Teacher

A few days ago, I presented myself with a personal challenge: read one blog per day. Of course, I took to Twitter for some suggestions and was pleased with the suggested blogs that came my way. Here, I was introduced to Justin Birckbichler's blog (link above). I am excited to learn and grow with this inspirational 4th grade teacher. His story of Jack reminded me of a touching/inspiring story from my past that I like to keep in the back of my mind. I am sure that many educators have had some encounter with  this story from 1974 written by Elizabeth Silance Ballard. It was published in Home Life Magazine as "Three Letters from Teddy" and still has relevance today. I will attempt to summarize the story: It is the story of Teddy Stallard and his teacher Miss Thompson. Teddy started out as a good student who began to have problems in school after the death of his mother. One Christmas he gave his teacher (Miss Thompson) used gifts that had belonged to his mother. The teacher immediately thanked him and made a big deal about them in front of the classmates that teased him. Their relationship changed in that moment. Teddy would go on to attend college and become a doctor. Later in life when he got married, he invited Miss Thompson to sit in his mother's place at the wedding. Demonstrating the impact that her act of kindness had on his life.
Teddy's Story

As an administrator, when I have had a student in my office for behavior concerns, my ultimate goal is for them not to come back (unless it's to read me a story or share some good news). It's not about fixing the child, it's about building a better relationship. A relationship where he/she wants to do better because they know it will make you proud. Better yet, just because it will make them a better person. Nobody is perfect and we all have struggles. We can't forget that when dealing with children. Often a child that is acting out, is crying out for help at the same time. It's a test: "does this person care enough"?

I will take this opportunity to share a resource as well---the 2 x 10 strategy. I think it's a great management tool and worth a look if you are not familiar with it. For that one student that consistently acts out, set aside two minutes a day for ten consecutive days to build a relationship with her/him by talking about his/her interests. Try it. You may be amazed with the pay off. Aren't your students worth it?
http://tinyurl.com/2x10bm

I can just hear the responses now:
Superstar Teacher: Oh! I already do that. I call it (insert cute/catchy name here).
Backbone Teacher: Sure. It's worth a try. I'll try anything!
Mediocre Teacher: I have already tried everything. Nothing works for (insert student name).

My big take-aways from the reading:
1. You may not be able to make every sporting event, birthday party, or dance recital, but your presence in the community/life of a child speaks volumes. I love seeing students outside of the school setting. You get to enjoy them in a new and different way.
2. Don't forget to have fun. School can be stressful---for everyone. Enjoy those silly moments. Create a few too.
3. Mr. B is truly a superstar teacher!#EnoughSaid


You can also connect with me on Twitter @MsClassNSession or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/principalsdj.
Post comments or subscribe by email to www.thisblogiswhy.blogspot.com as I continue to share my summer reading list.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Do It For the Hashtag!

In my last blog post, I shared with you how I got started with Twitter. And the fact that I am always trying to spread the love. Once again, I will mention my awesome PLN, which is where I found the link below that has me excited to share. This Blog Is Why I love Jimmy Fallon (Hashtag #WatchTheVideo). I am super guilty, but not ashamed to admit: I love hashtags! I use them the wrong way all the time, but I do know how to use them correctly. Sometimes, it's just fun to break the rules!


Summer Reading Blog #4
http://linkis.com/www.smore.com/l0hBo
Twitter: @BethHouf
***Warning-The video in the link is rated "Mature Adults Only"***

Summer is typically a perfect time for planning. That is, when you are not vacationing! The information included in the above link could be your next professional development workshop. What I especially like is that there are a number of resources that you can pick and choose from. For example, if you think the video is totally inappropriate--no worries, don't use it. The layout reminds me of the workshop that I attended with the step-by-step instructions for getting started on Twitter, complete with suggested professionals to follow. As an added bonus for someone like me who is already established, there is a section/link "Social Media for Educators" that introduces other social media platforms. Twitter has been my social media 'comfort zone' and I am excited to explore some of the other options that are becoming increasingly popular.

On the subject of hashtags, I would be remiss if I did not mention my favorite one, #satchat. I am really not sure how or why I got started with this particular group, but I have grown to love it. Which is mind boggling to me because the group connects every Saturday morning for an hour starting at 7:30AM/EST. To know me is to understand that I am NOT a morning person (really, I'm not) and I LIVE for weekends (and summers and holidays) when I get the chance to sleep in. I think it goes without saying that I must be dedicated to the group and my professional growth to miss out on those precious minutes of sleep. I can truly say that it is well worth it. The best part is that my professional development comes to me and I can even learn in my pjs. The moderators for the group: @bradmcurrie, @ScottRRocco, @wkrakower will tweet out the topic and questions ahead of time which makes it super easy to follow along and jump back in if you get sidetracked. You will get sidetracked, because someone will say something interesting or inspiring and you simply must follow that train of thought and engage in sidebar conversation. Nothing wrong with that! It's about connecting, learning, growing, and sharing.


My big take-aways from the reading:
1. I have so much more to learn---about Voxer, Google Hangouts, Tumblr, etc. And I can't wait to get started!
2. Did I mention that I love hashtags (#)? One of the advantages of hashtags is that you can follow and connect with like-minded educators/professionals that share your interests. My favorite educational hashtag is #satchat. Check it out!
3. This is more of a share or workshop extra. Create a unique hashtag for your group to use and display using www.visibletweets.com. Your audience can see their tweets projected and it builds excitement. If you are at a conference and there is a general hashtag, you can even use that.



You can also connect with me on Twitter @MsClassNSession or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/principalsdj.
Post comments or subscribe by email to www.thisblogiswhy.blogspot.com as I continue to share my summer reading list.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Twitter Confessions

Catchy title, I know. But, there won't be any earthshattering confessions here. This summer I decided to challenge myself to read more blogs. Anyone who knows me can say with confidence that I am a true advocate of Twitter for professional learning and connections. With that being said, I am also guilty of seeing the blog links in my PLN but rarely taking the time to read them. This Blog Is Why it is my new mission to take the opportunity to learn and grow by subscribing to (and reading) more educational blogs. I invite you all to join me on this journey.

Summer Reading Blog #3:
http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/5382
Twitter: @gcouros

It was the title of this particular blog post that caught my attention ("Not Everyone Is You"). How many times do we as educators forget that? My other confession...sometimes I forget. Especially when it comes to Twitter. When I first started on Twitter, it was really to follow my favorite reality TV shows and stars. Not very educational, but very entertaining (another confession). Generally, when I try to introduce others to Twitter, I hear about how confusing it is and I agree because it took me some time to catch on as well. But once I figured it out, I was hooked! What made it even better was when I attended the Upstate Technology Conference in Greenville, SC during the summer of 2013. One of the sessions that I attended was focused on building your PLN (Professional Learning Network---Warning: I use this a lot and don't always spell it out). The moderator explained the lingo to us, suggested professionals to follow, and provided general tips for getting started. At that moment, I had my new wings and began to soar using Twitter in a completely different way than before. What I enjoy most about learning through Twitter, is that you can make the learning your own. I am able to locate resources related to any topic and I am not forced to travel or wait until the next big conference. I have access to authors, speakers, and experts without a fee! As an administrator, I have often shared resources with teachers that I gathered from Twitter. But, as a true leader, I want my teachers/staff to be as empowered as I am. So I always encourage others to join. Confession Ahead...I also get discouraged and frustrated when they don't take full advantage of this tool. For example, I see one of my friends/colleagues back on Twitter, but she is still an "egghead"! That's the first rule of Twitter professionals, no eggheads! Here is where I remind myself "Not Everyone Is You" and she will find her own way in her own time. I can appreciate that.

My big take-aways from the reading:
1. Technology has its place in education. Not everyone will agree what that is and there will be varying levels of comfort and use. Respect that.
2. Great leaders listen and seek to understand, instead of trying to get everyone to where you are. Powerful!
3. I found a new blog to follow: https://dougpete.wordpress.com. Check it out!


You can also connect with me on Twitter @MsClassNSession or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/principalsdj.
Post comments or subscribe by email to www.thisblogiswhy.blogspot.com as I continue to share my summer reading list.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Reader In Me

The reader in me wants every child to experience the joys of getting lost in a story. I want every reader to nurture an imagination that allows them to experience worlds unknown. What happens when that luxury does not come easily for a struggling reader? This Blog is Why I was happy to come across a teacher's response to how parents can help unlock this treasure for children that have struggles. A special thanks to my friend that shared this link on Facebook (gotta love Facebook)!

Summer Reading Blog #2:
http://www.ithinkwecouldbefriends.com/2014/03/03/help-for-struggling-reader/
Author/Contributor: 6th grade teacher, Beth

When I began to read this article/blog, I immediately took notice of the teacher's writing style. It is just my cup of tea (insert Kermit meme here)! Perfect for the intended audience, parents of a struggling reader. She provides some easy to implement tips with just the right touch of humor and sensibility. She also includes a listing of books that children might enjoy. A great resource if you're not up to speed on the latest playground banter. As an educator with a focused passion for reading, I am always on the lookout for new reading strategies, tips, techniques, and/or resources to share. This is one that I will definitely continue to share with parents and even teachers that are searching for ways to help motivate those students that just don't like to pick up a book. Can you imagine that? No? Me either!

In this article, there 7 tips that are designed to help you stay one step ahead of the game. Trust me, I know what that's like. Each semester I am faced with a classroom full of students that are not shy about telling me how much they hate reading. I try not to take offense. And the one person that is not ashamed to admit they LOVE reading, I always promise them an "A"! Even if that student doesn't earn the "A" that I promised, at least I know they will work hard. That is my number one requirement of students, that they work hard. And when I tell them by the end of the course they are going to love reading, of course they don't believe me. But, it always warms my heart when someone tells me at the end that I was right. There will be those that don't fall in love, okay most of them won't, and that's okay. My goal is to let them know that even in their struggles I am there to support them and we will all get through it together.

That brings me back to the article and those seven tips. Here are...
My big take-aways from the reading:
1. If you think it's going to be easy, it's not. Anything worth it's salt, requires work. Reading is no different. (Hmmm, sounds like my lecture in class.)
2. Be the example. You can't expect someone to do what you aren't willing to do yourself. Well, you could, but don't be surprised by the results. 
3. Make reading a social event. Because it is. That's why book clubs are popular. Celebrate reading, talk about characters that amaze you, and share a book with someone you love. 

You can also connect with me on Twitter @MsClassNSession or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/principalsdj.
Post comments or subscribe by email to www.thisblogiswhy.blogspot.com as I continue to share my summer reading list.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Introduction: Welcome (Back)

Welcome to my new blog site. You may remember me from my previous blog: "Reflections of a YPAdean" (or maybe you don't and that's okay too!). Summer is the perfect time for learning, growth, and change. My educational mission is to incorporate them all here and This Blog Is Why I will continue to be a change agent for teachers, students, administrators, and anyone else inspired by my words/work. Come along on my summer reading journey as I explore my awesome Professional Learning Network (PLN) and learn from some amazing educators. Let's begin!

Summer Reading Blog #1:
http://www.funintegratingtechnology.blogspot.com/2015/06/fun-integrating-flipped-classroom.html
Twitter: @FITinEDU

What is a flipped classroom/model? My loose definition: This is where you require your students/audience to do required reading, research, or work independently---usually at home, so that your lesson can focus more on developing their understanding in the areas of difficulty or interest. Again, this is my very loose interpretation.

The focus of the blog in the link above is the flipped classroom--an intriguing concept for me. In this blog post, the teacher/author Felecia Young, outlines how she has implemented this in the classroom while answering some questions that many teachers and even administrators may have about logistics. I loved the AEIOU strategy. I can definitely see myself using this in flipped faculty meetings or with my college students. At times it can be difficult to think of creative ways to get adult learners involved in the process, but I think this strategy is a WINNER (that is not an acronym)! Thinking about a flipped classroom model made me think of a few questions: How often is this strategy used? What are conversations like with parents? How is student learning/progress assessed? There is some mention of assessments, but it seemed general. I'm sure it would be a great benefit to see this in action. I think I'll plan to use this in my college course(s) scheduled for the fall. As a reading instructor, I strive to find ways to motivate my students to commit time outside of class to assigned readings. While I spend a few class sessions laying the foundation for our course, I inform students that once that is done, the major work of the course falls on them. Incorporating the flipped model into what I already do seems like a natural next step. Stay tuned to future blogs for updates!
From an administrator's perspective, I first learned about the flipped faculty meeting model from author/blogger @PeterMDeWitt, who spoke at a workshop that I attended this past year. If you are looking to make your meetings more interactive, flipped may be the way to go. Instead of having teachers "sit and get" identify topics of study and incorporate open dialogue into your next faculty meeting. What a way to grow together and share ideas that may not be shared otherwise.

My big take-aways from the reading:
1. You must have district/school support for this model to be effective. Resources will be an essential component to the success of the flipped classroom.
2. Students must be held accountable. The teacher will need to find and implement a system that works for his/her classroom and students. This post offers some suggestions/starting points.
3. Flipping the classroom is an interactive and reflective process for teacher and students. The flipped model demands flexibility and encourages a student-centered classroom that thrives on teachable moments.

Be sure to check out @FITinEDU and subscribe to her blog.
You can also connect with me on Twitter @MsClassNSession or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/principalsdj.
Post comments or subscribe to www.thisblogiswhy.blogspot.com as I continue to share my summer reading list.