School Spirit Banter

I am SO impressed by the creativity of two local area high schools and their students’ videos. As quoted in this Get Schooled post, these ARE examples of what the best “spirit cheers” look like today. You can check out the original video in this “battle” here and the response here.

For me, these videos show just how multiliterate our students are and all of the neat ways in which they are reading, writing, and engaging with the world around them. These videos use rhetorical strategies, rhymes, video angles, music — and this list only continues — all to help show their school spirit. And, I love the fact that they pull in lots of different members from their respective student bodies to be a part of the banter.

No matter which school wins the game, the main point is that these two videos have just under 400,000 hits (combined) in two weeks. Where these students’ voices heard? [I think so!]

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Positive Footprints

As you all know, I feel very strongly about helping kids understand how to create and why to create positive digital footprints. I’ve thought about this topic a lot, and yet it’s something that is still weighing heavily on my mind. [Maybe it’s because the means in which we work digitally is constantly changing???]

Anyway, I’m seeing more and more kids not understanding what their digital footprint is all about and how it can/will affect them now and down the road. I know that I stress it a lot when I work with my students and try to emphasize it’s not about culling their creativity, but a way to push them to think critically and post information that is appropriate (and in a way that still gets their point across). So, I’m curious…how are others helping their students develop positive digital footprints? How can we keep kids motivated to produce and stress to them they can still “own” that digital space (without them not being “googled well”)?

Grammar Girl!

Since National Grammar Day is just a few days away, I FINALLY unpacked a particular book on purpose…

I know many of you are familiar with Grammar Girl’s work, but I wanted to highlight The Grammar Devotional since it was one of my¬† purchases at the NCTE Convention in Orlando this past fall.

Introduced to Grammar Girl in one of my graduate classes, I instantly fell in love with her Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. Grammar isn’t necessarily everyone’s favorite thing, and I appreciated the lighthearted approach to solid grammar tips that I could use within the classroom (also used the GG podcast which led into kids creating their own grammar podcasts to share with others).

Anyway, I really like The Grammar Devotional and think it would be a great book to use with some of my classes (immediately AP Lang comes to my mind). I know there are tons of grammar resources already in our text, but as an optional text, I think GG’s book is totally worth it!

ISTE Young Educator Video

Here is the video I created for my entry to the ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award. I had so much fun creating it and it really got me thinking about how important it is to think critically about the technology we use in our classrooms. We have so many opportunities today to engage, challenge, and motivate our students through the use of technology — the possibilities are endless!

Remote School Days

Well, I’m sure most of you have followed along with the news reports to hear about the Atlanta area being on a stand still due to all of the ice and snow that hit our area this past week. It has been unbelievable! [And to think I moved south to get away from all of that “stuff!”] Many local streets are still covered in thick sheets of ice a week later, but we are all hoping for some relief this weekend as temperatures will hopefully raise enough to melt it all away.

Anyway, my school (along with most of the local schools) was closed the entire week. However, we implemented our remote school plan which allowed us to have school for the past three days. Three days that will count for school days and not require anything to be made up. Three days of instruction that could continue outside of the classroom. Three days of creative thinking to truly infuse the content through the technology integration to keep our kids learning.

Overall, I was really excited to see the kids jump right on board with everything. They were so enthusiastic about their work! And in fact, one of my students was quoted in one of the local news resources stating,

“At first I thought it was a crazy idea, trying to control students’ via computers and the Internet. But now, as I sit here and do my homework willingly, I realize that there is a characteristic that pushed me to do this. One that I, and plenty of other Lakeview students obtain, that is respect for our teachers and respect for our education.”

I think the last line really sums it up about the kids’ work ethic during this entire remote school experience. And, for us teachers, it allows us to not miss a beat and continue our instruction…just in different forms. So, what did my kids do? We blogged. We created visual analyses. We read articles. We wrote and recorded. We submitted assignments via Moodle. We took quizzes via Google Forms. We researched. We prepared for our units by watching videos (uploaded via Dropbox). The list continues…and needless to say this first experience of remote school has brought about many new ideas I am eager to try out in the future. (Or with integration into a blended classroom…which is something I am VERY interested in.)

So, here are a few things I’m interested to look into for down the road:

As you can see, just a few random ideas that have been bouncing around! Also, I would love to hear from anyone with experience with teaching in a blended classroom or with reverse instruction!

NCTE Day 3: Teachers are learners, too!

And isn’t this the truth!

The day started off with one of the NCTE author strands with some of the big names in our field (Sara Kajder, Deborah Appleman, and Bob Fecho to name a few). I really suggest checking out this series as I’ve already checked out Kajder and Appleman’s books and know the rest will be great, too, if these are any indication. Another point that hit me when I listened to these authors talk is that researching and teaching DO go hand in hand (read my previous struggle/thoughts here). And I absolutely believe that they SHOULD.

The next talk I attended was another great one that dealt with Google. (However, I’d have to say that many people were still talking about the “tools” and not the “whys” and “implementation.” See previous note here about my thoughts on moving this mindset.) The presenters all praised the Google Teacher Academy as they participated in the program (note: I only wish it weren’t half way across the globe this year or I would absolutely LOVE to submit an application! just have no idea how I would EVER find the funds for that trip).

One of the biggest things I liked with this presentation was the idea of using Google Docs to have kids collaborate, publish, and share as link to others (note: I’m thinking it would sort of look like this example shared by Jim Burke here — which will lead me to another blog post in a bit on the idea of multimedia essays). In addition, I liked the idea of sharing lesson plans within a department using docs (and ties into my thoughts here on collaboration).

NCTE Day 2: Everyone has a story to tell

And it’s true. I do. You do. Our students do, too.

The day started off with the opening session highlighting Erin Gruwell which was pretty neat for me considering I loved the movie. Her talk was very inspiring for all of the teachers in the room; she reminded us to never say never and be sure that each of our own stories (and our students’ stories) were heard.

Another talk I visited talked about strategies to get kids reading more and ultimately “reading their lives.” I liked the idea of generating questions from each student’s own life that he/she uses while reading text. I think that it would certainly Continue reading