Google+ Update

So, after poking around a bit today, I came across a link to this article that breaks down Google+. It’s pretty in-depth and I really appreciate the screen shots. However, the problem is the same as I mentioned before…how would I use it and why would I use it?

I promise I’m not being THAT resistant, I just can’t visualize how I would use it. However, I do see how creating something within this realm might be neat to use with the classroom. And it means only one login and one password to use if you and your students are using other Google apps (i.e. gmail, calendar).


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).

Flipping through my yellow notebook

As many of you all may remember, I keep a yellow notebook of random ideas that come to me at random times…times that do not necessarily allow me to thoroughly investigate my ideas until awhile later (such as now, on summer break…well what’s left of it anyway. Wait, actually, what break? I’m on break? Whoops, I digress… 🙂 ).

Anyway, I’m beginning to Continue reading

First year…check!

Well, I’ve had about a week to really sit and reflect after the last day of school. Wow. I still can’t believe I just finished my first year of teaching. It’s hard to believe that a year ago, almost to the day, I was accepting my first teaching position as a high school English teacher. Thus, without saying anything else, you all know me…and you know what’s about to come…my top ten thoughts on my first year of teaching!

10. ALWAYS have high expectations. (And never accept anything less!) I’ve found this to be true not only in regards to pushing myself with achieving my goals, but in regards to my students’ work as well. There were many times when my students would be frustrated with me for not just giving them the answers or for the “big” project I assigned. Yet, in the end, they pushed themselves to answer their own questions with my guidance and their projects were AMAZING. One student was extremely worried about the research essay/PSA that I had my sophomores complete. “5-8 pages?!? Come on!” I sat down, outlined a plan to get bits and pieces done to help ease some of the anxiety, and insisted it could be done. And, in the end, the student rocked the project and did very well. I then heard, “Thank you SO much! Oh my gosh! I can’t believe you gave me this grade!” (B+/A- range) My reply: “Don’t thank me. Continue reading


How could I forget? My seniors eportfolio projects are in the final stages of completion! I am so excited to see what they have put together. They have all worked SO incredibly hard on them, and I love having students come up to me to show me tidbits (but they insist no peaking yet!, ha!).

I will put up more details about this multi-genre assignment to assess my readers/writiers in my senior classes in the near future. I ended up going with LiveBinders as the platform to build the eportfolios which I thought worked well. However, if I do this again, I’d probably look towards a different platform (i.e. Google Sites) as there were a few technical glitches my students found bothersome with LiveBinders.

Friday is my last class with my seniors. (I’m trying not to think about it, but don’t tell them that…they think I show no emotion, ha!) And they think I’m joking, but I really am SO excited to grade all of their projects this weekend. I’m so proud of them and their awesome work!

How could I forget?

How could I? (HA!) And as some of my students are probably reading this, I’m sure they will laugh, too.

One thing that has really blown my mind is students’ desire to know EVERYTHING about me. Literally. Everything. It’s a bit overwhelming, as I’ve told them every time they bring it up. And I try to tell them that I’m really not that interesting. But they insist I am (I have no idea why) and say that my “secretiveness” makes them want to know even more. With that said, I usually just quickly switch gears and say we are “moving on” (which they also say is one of my key phrases. as well as “does that make sense?”).

It appears that Google is their best friend. That’s right, Google. They love to google their teachers (or at least their English teacher). And they know how to search well…realizing that just typing up my name brings searches of beach vacations to light. They found my English Education Portfolio (which I am quite proud of if I do say so myself) and professional articles and sports clips from my softball playing days. They realized that yes, their English teacher has a “digital footprint.”

What does all of this mean? It means that my students are constantly analyzing everything about me, ha! Seriously! Another example of why confidence is key in the classroom! No, on a more serious note I think it shows that whether we want to or not, as teachers, we lead by example. Having a digital footprint isn’t a bad thing. But our students do not always think that everything they do online becomes a part of their footprint. Thus, a lesson came about from all of this googling taking place. I asked Continue reading