Saturday, December 26, 2015

Google Expedition Charged My Learning!

Our school was selected to participate in Google Expeditions.  How awesome for a small East Texas school to be visited by a tech giant and chosen to participate.  Let's be honest, if you google "Google Expeditions" you will see that they have been all over letting schools test out their new app, but they are all schools in big cities.  We were so lucky to have such an amazing district STEM coordinator that is always looking out for exciting STEM opportunities for our students.  During the expeditions, my students used View Master Virtual Reality viewers with cell phone devices.


I was excited, my kids wanted to do everything even though we only had a 20 minute window per class.  I knew I needed to check into this more.

December:  I had visited the View Master website and of course checked out how I could get one of these off of Amazon.  And then I just let it drop back into the back of my brain as teachers tend to do when testing comes up, grades, and content area takes over... did I mention I have kids of my own and a life outside of school?  December 22nd I'm shopping in a Kohl's department store of all places, and what do I spy on the shelf... My very own view master!  Of course I bought it.  Of course I played with it.  Of course it was the hit of every Christmas party we went to, and I needed to learn more.  So when I'm not googling questions, I'm on Pinterest doing it... LOVE me some Pinterest.  So as I'm digging, I see the term augmented reality again and then everything went crazy.

Now:  I reached out to some amazing educators and leaders in the technology development community.  Check out their twitters ;)  (@karenogen @dacia92 and website )  I am in the process of learning everything I can to rush for some exciting classroom developments when we head back to school in January.

Goal:  I would like to use an app called Aurasma to turn my stationary word wall into an Augmented Reality education station for my students.  Could you imagine definitions coming to life and seeing the math problems worked so students can see these definitions as real life instead of just words and theories?  As smart as I think I am, I know my students will blow away anything I could think of doing, can you imagine what they could create with this?  That of course is only goal number 1.

I am a big believer in evolving the way we teach and reach our students.  YES the fundamentals are very important, but so is immersing them in a world that they will graduate from our school into.  So, if you are on the same journey, or even passed where I am now, please share your experiences. I would love to hear!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Let the "In-Service" Begin!

Every year when students are counting those days left of summer time fun, teachers are going back early.  We have to get our classrooms ready and of course training.  Tons and tons and tons of training.  In fact, I've started my training 3 weeks before students come back to school and MAN am I learning a lot!  We just got done with some fabulous STEM training done be Dacia Jones (@dacia92 if you twitter) from Durham, NC public schools.  I encourage you to check out her blog over at Discovery Education HERE 

Like many STEM conferences we learned about cool projects we could try out with our students, but she also helped to facilitate and grow our little STEM program that for 5th graders is in its infancy.  She organized and helped us get lab coats, helped us with grant writing, gave us great resources and information, and did it with an energetic happy smile everyday regardless of the tech difficulties we sometimes hit (WIFI issues blah!)  That was amazing week number 1!

On to week 2 and it begins, the all teacher "in-service" where you learn about logins and rules and protocols.  Today alone I learned how to log into 8 different systems, and was told there are several more to come!  Add that to trying to work up 2 weeks worth of lesson plans, and let's just say, the school year has definitely begun.

Since this is my first year in a public school I've got a learning curve.  I've been exposed to private school children and private school ways for 3 years now.  One thing I learned today: Buy as many extra supplies as you can afford on your teacher salary.  Many of these children won't have them, and the school won't have anything to give you either!  WHAT!  No supplies???  It is a very sad yet true problems many school children in our country face.  I would be interested in learning about what programs your community has in place to help teachers and their students with this cost.  Please feel free to shout it out!

Tomorrow, I have PDAS training.  Basically its the system Texas uses to do your professional evaluations.  Does this really take a full day though???  Apparently yes :(  My calendar says I will be doing this until 4PM.  Prayers would be greatly appreciated.  Until I can jump on here again, I wish all teachers, New and Returning a fabulous school year!

Friday, July 10, 2015

STEM Professional Development

Let me be honest.  I live for the summer.  I always knew teaching would be the perfect job for me because when I wasn't a teacher and spring hit... oh it was so hard to sit still in an office.  The last job I held before I taught was perfect for that!  I was able to turn off my fluorescent lights and open the blinds and let the natural light come in, and I would make excuses to visit clients so I could get out of my cubby and go!  Now, I just wait for that last school bell to ring and give my goodbyes for the year to my students and plan on a summer of organization, exercise, dieting, travel, crafting, sleeping in, and a new me.  Oh yeah, and I always intend to blog so much more.

Reality is, I do a little bit of all of those things, and sometimes I even feel I've accomplished something, but partway into the summer...I get bored. There I said it!  The nerd in me gets bored and I start researching cool technology and thinking about all the new things I'm going to use in my classroom the next school year.  So, that leads me to professional development.  We all have to have it, and its better when we aren't forced to do it, but when we are learning about something that interests us.

My new position next year is not just "Math Teacher", it is "STEM Teacher".  Yes, I will be teaching 5th grade math, but I will be teaching STEM, and I couldn't be more excited.  I first delved into STEM head first and a bit organically at my last position.  I say organically, because I really had no formal training.  I did a STEM seminar over the summer with NICERC and it was amazing, and from there I let my natural curiosity run wild and began coming up with my own projects.  My NICERC training focused on middle school but they also have High School Training.  If you want to see what they have to offer, just click their logo below.

After my NICERC training (which I got 34 hours of credit for!) they gave us free curriculum for use.  Well, I used them, but modified it to incorporate a 3d printing course and phase.  So many of the projects we worked on, we didn't build our projects with "craft supplies", we designed parts and pieces within 123design and printed them out on a Makerbot 3d printer.  This is where the organic part came in.  I had never used this app,  and never had used a 3d printer, so this was a serious discovery project.  I along with the students worked out the bugs and kinks of the program.  The students are really good at operating the app, and I am really good at programming the 3d printer and working  The beginning was scary, but sometimes you have to jump in when you are missing that professional development.

The Internet was essentially my teacher!  And of course through the trials and errors my students and I faced.  (Check out all makerbot has to offer by clicking the picture of the 3d printer!)

This year I come to my new school with experience in 3d printing, iPad usage, Smart Board usage, STEM project making, and even robotics.  I am so excited about this new voyage!  Halfway through the summer though, my thoughts return to professional development.  Oh how I would love to roll on into the school with the confidence of everything technology, STEM, and of course math (which let's be honest, I feel pretty confident in!)  Did I mention in addition to the new job, new grade level, new "title", that I also will be in a new state?  YEP, headed to Texas which means no more common core!  (Yes, I am excited about that..) but it also means that I have to do some research and catching up with my Texas counterparts because life is different as a teacher in Texas.  The expectations and rules are a bit different, and lets be honest, I've slept since I got my teaching degree in Texas and I have also immersed myself teaching in another state for 3 years!  Here are some professional development thoughts.

1.  Simple K12.  From time to time, they offer free seminars.  Sure you can't print out the CEU's for them once you've completed them unless you are a member (and it is rather pricey), but the knowledge is there!  So click on their logo if you want to check it out and sign up for a free account.
2.  PBS.  There are tons of free resources on STEM.  Let's face it, it is a pretty hot thing in education right now.  PBS has a nice collection of resources and you can narrow your focus down by age level.  Their educational offerings is pretty awesome and worth browsing.  Click on their logo to take you to a STEM search I did!
3.  District offerings.  I'm headed to some professional development offered by my district next week.  It will be a nice little 3 day conference, and I will post all the juiciest tidbits here at the conclusion of the conference!

4.  National Education Association.  They have a list of 10 great STEM resources.  (Okay, great according to them, but hey check it out!)  They even have a link for curriculum resources.  Clicking their logo will take you straight to the list.

I hope you got something useful out of my personal thoughts, ramblings, and resources.  I have to hop off now, time for some professional development of my own!  What are you doing this summer? Any great resources to share?  Drop me a comment!