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Monday, September 30, 2013

A message for every teacher

Don't measure your worth by how often you're thanked.

But just so you know - THANK YOU.

Your job is important. You are important. Your sacrifice is worth it. THANK YOU.

You are noble. Never let the lack of thanks cause you to forget your nobility. Live it. Be it. Be the kind of teacher this world desperately needs.

And for every one of you who are THAT kind of teacher - the world owes you gratitude for which it will never give. But let us teachers give it to one another, for truly, we are among the few who really know what it means to give up your life in pursuit of helping a child find theirs.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 09/27/2013

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 09/26/2013

  • Cool little light that can show various colors to indicate things that have happened. This was funded on kickstarter and I noticed it being added to ifttt.com as a channel. So, for example, if you have a big download and want to be notified when it is done - or if you want to be notified when a certain person (Grandma) logs into skype but you don't want to have to log in or look at the screen - this USB RGB light will light in the color you wish. There are so many cool applications for this as we move into the "internet of things."

    tags: education productivity news internet_of_things

  • A popular website for uploading your best photos and selling them is 500px. You can upload 20 pictures for free a week and have your personal store selling your photos. This is a money maker for those students who are photography buffs.

    tags: news entrepreneurship photography edu_trends

  • Screencasting (sharing your screen, often accompanied by narration) is an essential skill for all of us - especially if we teach. Here are 10 resources - one which may work on your mobile.

    tags: education news screencasting flipclass

  • Excited to see Discovery work with an incredible nonprofit, Girls Inc to bring STEM to girls. Now THIS Is something with a lot of potential. Girls INc is a great organization that I worked with here in Albany (yes, back in the 90 - has been a while) but I was always impressed with their programs. Excited to watch this develop.

    tags: stem education discovery news girls

  • This post from Doug Johnson NAILS the IP issues that K12 teachers have. I hope that all administrators and teachers who develop anything online work together and look at this discussion because we must take action NOW with clarity as to who owns what when a teacher develops a course. Now, K12 schools claim ALL rights - this is not good as it discourages sharing and dissemination of best practices. But colleges give professors all rights - which means if the prof leaves so does the curriculum. I agree with Doug Johnson that we need something in between.

    tags: education news ip ownership policy tumblr

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 09/25/2013

  • I'm going to test this website. It manages class trips, permission forms, and communicates activities with the class. The idea of it sounds great. Yes, it is free. Of course, we'll have to dig down and see how the emails are used and the privacy settings but this is definitely something very needed!

    tags: education news field trip tumblr app eduapp

  • This app converts study notes to speech. This might be an app that some of you are interested in trying out for your special needs students. "OutlinesOutloud takes the sting out of studying by converting your study outlines to spoken audio. Super-flexible playback controls let you vary speech rate; jump forward and backward with ease, skip rows or whole sections, loop—and more!"

    tags: spedchat education news apps eduapp tumblr

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Sound of Silence: How you can pursue greatness in the still morning

The view from my favorite chair in the den this morning as I listen for purpose in the silence.

Great strength can be found in the quiet moments before the day starts. The time where no cat mews and the night's dew rests quietly upon the ground. Before the tyranny of the noise and the barrage of notifications and matters of nonimportance glare at you with self important demands.

Hearing your purpose in the silence...

Yet, through the quiet, I can hear the whisper of the true priorities of this day speak to my heart and mind and settle my spirit. To demand that those among us who don't get the mornings and don't like them become morning people is silly. But I would be remiss if I didn't at least point out that much time and peace awaits you if you'll set that alarm earlier and get up before anyone else stirs. The younger your children are, the more you need this time alone. The more you work with kids, the more you need this time alone.

For, to me, truly, this time isn't time spent alone. It is time spent with my Maker and myself - two essential people with which I must get along for this life to amount to much besides the reorganization of dust.

Light your fire before the darkness comes...

I cannot depend upon the completion of an ever growing task list to determine if I'm a woman of worth. The compliments of fellow human beings are not enough kindling to start and keep the fire in my heart going.

No, my fire must be lit with a purpose that is struck deep within my soul as my calling combusts with the oxygen of a heart still enough to hold onto a vision that transcends the menial scratchings upon my planner pages.

That is a fancy way to say that we can lose our vision of the forest as we wander among the trees and yet, for a teacher and a Mom - the dark forest is indeed very dark and very engulfing.

Seeing the view high above the trees...

The bigger trail can only be seen as I jump in the balloon of perspective in the early morning and look down upon the meanderings of life from far above. There, I'm able to refocus and see the bigger purpose in the trek I must walk that day.

I'm able to have quiet conversations with Upper Management about the bats that flit around my mind to frighten me into a retreat from tasks worth doing.

I'm able to see that I am a person of worth with a purpose despite the fact that the world and the burdens I carry often make me feel like the unappreciated pack mule at the rear who keeps being tossed yet another trinket to carry on the journey as proud horses toss their manes at the front of the entourage and eat from feedbags full of golden grain and honey.

The questions common to all humankind are often best asked in the quiet...

You don't have to be a teacher or parent to identify with the ponderings of purpose. These are things common to the human race. Questions of self worth and the ability to bear up under the load are questions common to us all. Yet, many of us bear burdens we were not meant to carry and look for meaning to be reflected in broken mirrors.

When is the last time you've listened to silence? The still ringing of hearing nothing but the turn of the page, the click of the keyboard, or the quiet muffled sound of a car driving past your house?

Silence and the pursuit of quiet time alone has been one of the most defining practices of my life and this morning as I listened to the silence, I heard, in the quiet, the thought that perhaps there are others of you wishing to serve who are pouring from pitchers of water about to run dry lest you take a minute to dip more water from the well.

This time is something you must create for yourself but my own time spent praying, reading, and journaling is the most important time of my own day. When I started doing this around age 27, it made a profound difference in my life and still does.

Quiet time each morning doesn't make me perfect, it makes me purposeful and intentional about living a life that is too short to do everything. It helps me choose.

Make an appointment now...

I'm hoping that all of you make an appointment with yourself today, tomorrow, and the next to truly hear the sound of silence.

For in such sounds, you may just hear the tinkling of your calling and find your purpose and passion yet again amidst the tyranny of a noisy, distracting world that won't leave you alone to catch your breath.


Monday, September 23, 2013

The importance of the modern library

Friday we took a tour of the Georgia Tech campus as my daughter went for a college day. While my son is already a freshman there, this is my daughter's time and her decision. As we went through the library I was struck by the difference from twenty years a go.

This area of the library used to be tables where we had group study sessions. A study group of 4 of us met three days a week at 7pm here as we worked through freshman calculus together. Now it is all computers. Many of them - as you can see, have double monitors.

There's a place on the back wall that shows where open computers are, but there are likely a hundred or so in this brightly lit atrium area. Interestingly, every incoming student is required to have a computer, but this is a place to go to work for serious business.

We still need desktop computers

There is still a place in our academic world for desktop computers- even when we have laptops. A place to sit still with our work. While Iike to draft with my laptop sitting in my chair in the den (I feel more creative there) when I get down to work, it is in the office on my trusty Lenovo m90z touchscreen with the huge screen and ergonomically correct desk chair.

A space to work, a place to work

An ergonomically big "place to work" is still needed. I did like how the computers were not slammed right up against each other but included a place to spread out papers, books, etc.

Of course many of these students were dealing with CAD drawings and writing programs, but I have programmers in my classroom too. My student with the Raspberry Pi computer hooks it up to the big monitor in my room and uses the wireless dongle to use the big keyboard, etc. as he programs this tiny $35 motherboard. Just the workspace gives him room to think. A large screenspace is important when researching, working, and creating.

Just because everyone has laptops doesn't mean you don't need pumped up workstations - especially if we're doing the kind of STEAM work we need to be with students.

We still need a quiet cubicle

But where I got really jealous was when they mentioned the third through fifth floors -- full of quiet cubicles, this is where you go to be alone and get work done.

You can't see a reflection upon choppy water. It is often when things get very still and quiet, that we can start reflecting upon things around us and dive deep into thought.

The tyranny of noise surrounds us. If we're at school - the voices and distractions and general hubbub make it a challenge to focus. If we're at home - the phone ringing and countless things to handle.

I remembered the days - becoming more distant now - when I'd find a quiet cubicle on the fifth floor of the Georgia Tech library where I could be left alone for hours to "get work done." And man, could I get some work done. Time flowed like water through a fountain as I let it flow until the job was done. I started rethinking my own office envious of the serenity of those cubicles.

Libraries are vital

Libraries are important places. We have more diverse needs than ever upon these common spaces: computers, quiet places, teaching commons areas, workrooms for groups, cocoons for reading, places to check out digital creation equipment, maker spaces, places for conversations with a book club and more I'm probably forgetting now. We need more libraries with TV studios/ green screens and quiet rooms to record audio. We need more space, not less.

Our libaries are important. Every time I hear of another one being cut, I ponder the short sightedness of people that don't understand the increasing importance of good teaching librarians, digital resources, and learning commons. When a person closes a library, it is most often due to lack of vision not lack of need that it happens. Many just don't get what libraries should be besides a place to hold books.

Walter Cronkite said it best:

"Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation."


Friday, September 20, 2013

Bohemian Gravity: A physics thesis that will get read because of an awesome video

The strange world in which we live is that a masters student will likely get his thesis read because it is attached to a really incredibly geekily awesome video which is a physics parody of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody

It is worth a watch even if string theory is something you do when you try to estimate how far to stand away from the your friend when you try to shoot the string cheese at his mouth. I've got to know how he did this!
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 09/19/2013

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 09/18/2013

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 09/15/2013

  • Interesting study of children, preschool and later school success. "Children's later school success appears to have been enhanced by more active, child-initiated early learning experiences. Their progress may have been slowed by overly academic preschool experiences that introduced formalized learning experiences too early for most children's developmental status."

    tags: education research news

    • This trend is especially prevalent in programs that serve low-income children. Compensatory early childhood programs such as Head Start and state-sponsored pre-kindergarten for low-income families and preschoolers with special needs are designed to help children acquire skills needed for later school success.
    • Beginning in the 1980s, leading early childhood experts expressed concern about the wisdom of overly didactic, formal instructional practices for young children (e.g., Elkind, 1986; Zigler, 1987). They feared that short-term academic gains would be offset by long-term stifling of children's motivation and self-initiated learning. Later research suggests that these early concerns were warranted
    • They cautioned that early academic gains in reading skills associated with didactic instruction of preschoolers "come with some costs" that could have long-term negative effects on achievement.
    • imilarly, when the highly didactic Direct Instructional System for the Teaching of Arithmetic and Reading (DISTAR) was discontinued after third grade, children's previously high achievement in reading and mathematics declined
  • Free poster I created to help students understand how to be safe online. Yes, there are 5 steps, not 4. Every student should know how to screenshot on every electronic device.

    tags: digitalcitizenship edtech education news internet safety cybersafety onlinesafety

  • Jen Roberts gives tips on how to add voice comments to Google Docs. If you're writing in Google Docs, this is a great technique as voice always gives you a closer connection, particularly for struggling readers. They can also hear your voice and know the intent of your words.

    tags: education news google voice engchat writing google docs bestpractices literature edu_newapp techintegrator

  • Must read letter over at Edweek from a mom of one child who died at Sandy Hook and one who survived... if you want to be affirmed and remember why you teach, this is the post you should share with everyone. "Your courage will support students who are left out and overlooked, like the isolated young man who killed my daughter. At some point he was a young, impressionable student, often sitting all alone at school. You will have kids facing long odds for whom your smile, your encouraging word, and your willingness to go the extra mile will provide the comfort and security they need to try again tomorrow. When you Google “hero,” there should be a picture of a principal, a school lunch worker, a custodian, a reading specialist, a teacher, or a bus monitor. Real heroes don’t wear capes. They work in America’s schools. "When I asked my son’s teacher why she returned, she responded, 'Because they are my kids.' " Being courageous requires faith. It took faith to go back to work at Sandy Hook after the shooting. Nobody had the answers or knew what would come tomorrow, but they just kept going. Every opportunity you have to create welcoming environments in our schools where parents and students feel connected counts."

    tags: all_teachers administrator education news tumblr

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 09/14/2013

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, September 13, 2013

How research paywalls keep today's research from becoming best practice

Dominant logic often isolates higher learning research
from the teachers who need to apply it.
There are pay walls that keep average everyday teachers like me from nosing around in matters reserved for ivory towers.

It sort of ticks me off sometimes. Why can't ivory tower people "adopt" classroom practitioners (like me and many others) who really "get into" reading research and applying it in our classroom so we can actually access the material we need to read?

You would think that people would want "real" teachers to read the research on learning and teaching. Instead we often get insulted for not knowing it or using it when we don't have access in the first place.

No entry allowed

Today I was perusing around research around what makes learning meaningful to students and came across this article "Phases of Meaningful Learning" but have to be a "member" or pay a one time $25 to access the article. Well it may just be $25 but considering this happens at least 5 or 6 times a week... it isn't doable.

We need to support our research organizations and researchers, no doubt about it. But there should be some creative ways to give access to or even have some "qualified" teachers apply to be allowed to access research. (A "qualified" teacher should be any teacher who wants to read it, in my opinion.)

Should public research be publicly readable?

Of course there's the question that +Stephen Downes and others always ask... that if the research was paid for by public funds that perhaps the public should have access.

Try explaining that one. Here we are trying to do everything we can to improve education when the very research principals and teachers need to make that change is hiding behind paywalls that will likely not be in the budget for most K12 schools. More than that, the US taxpayer is paying for it and then it can't be viewed by the schools it is meant to help.

Come on. Wake up someone. It is a new day where we can all be scholars if we can just have access.

Paywalls prevent putting research into practice. Period.

We're blocking innovation. We're promoting isolation. We're continuing to promote the "dominant logic" of an education system that is in a stellar need of reform and reorganization.

How dominant logic creates a domineering, unhealthy educational culture

The term "dominant logic" is used in the book Reverse Innovation by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble.

Govindarajan and Trimble talk about that a dominant logic emerges in companies and organizations when "you achieved your success in a particular kind of market and culture."

The dominant logic of an organization prevents organization in new and emerging markets and they recommend the creation of "local growth teams" (LGTs) to start from scratch (but remain connected to the parent organization to use resources.)

Education as a whole is in dire need of innovation in how we think, how we share information, and how we research. New, creative partnerships and teamwork between higher ed, high schools and just about any type of school need to emerge in ways no longer constrained by geography.

Teachers can be scholars and scholars can be teachers. We can work together daily and interact in creative ways. Knock down the towers, flatten the walls, and connect. Or just start by waking up and realizing that the world has changed just a tad in the last 20 years and it is time for education to as well.

I think the dominant logic in education is flawed. What got us to where we are today will not get us to a better place tomorrow.

Photo Credits: iStock Photo
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

What every teacher ought to do... before it is too late

They've already decided. The decision is made. If someone is in danger, they'll be there. They'll put out the fire. Whether it is the kind of fire that crackles in flame or in the heated sparks of human emotion, it is their job. 9/11 or not, they're always where things run hot.A photo of a lone firefighter doing his job amidst the flame and heat

Once a week in the fall when my son steps out on the football field, I worry if he'll be OK as he plays the game.

An Every Day Worry

Every day of every year of every season, the loved ones of firefighters and first responders wonder if they'll come home that night.

Does anyone understand?

Do any of us really understand what it would be like to live life like that? Do we have a clue?

Even more, do we even say thank you?

Not the generic 'thank you for all you do" but the more powerful:

  • Thank you for your service.
  • Thank you for keeping us safe.
  • Thank you for responding even when it is scary or hard or upsetting.

There are public servants everywhere but few are paid as little and expected to do so much.

The Surprising truth about the offices of first responders

Yesterday as my students delivered and set up an appreciation for local law enforcement, they were met with gratitude. In two separate places they were told:

"People don't really want to come down here for good things, it is always the tough things we deal with."

What every teacher ought to do at least once this year...

Many of you have been sharing on Twitter how you've had students create cards and do things to say "thank you." Wherever you live, whoever you are, if you teach - make sure you've scheduled one day and one activity this year to thank these heroes of our community.

Too often we feel gratitude when their ears are cold and crisp uniforms are donned to lie in rest.

I have one fine police officer in mind who gave his life in pursuit of a thief and was fatally shot.

Did anyone ever come by before he died and say thank you? Did he feel the gratitude of a grateful community?

Even more, did I say "thank you for your service?" I saw him the week before it happened and I know I didn't. I'm guilty. I didn't tell him thank you, even when he came in his dress blues to pick up his son from school. I knew he had a hard job working a tough part of town and I didn't say thank you.

I can't go back -- but in his honor, I can say - never again. I will be grateful and lead students to be also. In his honor, I can ask all of you to do the same.

We best honor our fallen heroes by thanking their living brothers and sisters who carry on in the hard work at hand. You can do nothing about 9/11 and the heroes but use your sadness to inspire gratitude for the living.

Gratitude can be taught and encouraged

In such a high burnout, low paying, highly emotional profession (sounds like teaching doesn't it?) - we should show our gratitude and inspire it in our students.

In the US, September 21 is "National Thank a Police Officer Day" - while you shouldn't need an excuse - if 9/11 isn't enough then let that be your excuse.

Whatever your country, you have people keeping you safe. Thank them. They deserve it.

Thank You Hymn

There are heroes among us serving every day in a quiet way.

But if trouble is there, they are too, any time we ask - there's the blue

If the worst happens and there's a fire - the thin red line will attack the pire

Let's not wait to give their due, let's say thanks from me and you.

Make a date to appreciate

Will you get out your planner right now and plan something?

And remember - gratitude is something we all impart. Whether it is being thankful for those in the community who serve or the lunchroom staff or janitors, or front office or teachers or parents or grandparents - being grateful for what is done for us daily is something we should impart to this generation. (We should be grateful for these precious children, they are a gift to our lives and our future.)

Maybe some feel this generation are ungrateful because we're not teaching and fostering an environment of gratitude.

Thank you to all the heroes among us, but as I continue to ponder in the afterglow of 9/11, I'm thankful because I know that there are many men and women here in Mitchell County and beyond who step in and do a hard job any time duty calls.

Remember your noble calling, teacher. Whether or not this generation will be grateful is largely up to us.


This post is written in honor of Lieutenant Cliff Rouse, a local hero who raised a fine young man to carry his name and died too soon. May this world show your profession the gratitude it deserves.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 09/10/2013

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Key tips to get along with angry colleagues

I sit here at 7:11 watching Shadow and Krispy, the cats, eye each other in a circle wondering who will attack first. Oops. There they go. Krispy delivers a paw to the chest and Shadow lands a clean blow on the head. Now they are taking a moment to lick and they'll be back at it before the clock clicks another minute.

I wonder why they fight. Shadow was saved from the jaws of four of the dogs at the farm almost a year a go. I'm not sure why people put unloved, unwanted pets out at Aunt Nan's house because she has some pretty scary looking dogs out there.

Shadow just looks innocent laying here in my arms one night. He's always ready to start a fight. ;-)

We couldn't resist. Shadow was a baby kitten and had no where to go and we know that Boots and Krispy are getting on up there in age. We bought them home on Easter weekend when my son who is at college was 8 or 9. So, although they look great, I guess these cats are getting on up there. Maybe even as old as me. I turned 44 this year.

I always accuse Krispy of being "sorry." He does little but sleep. But he's been part of our family a long time and even though he's not so smart, we do care about him.

I'm not one of those women who is ashamed of her age. Maybe I should be. My students don't really know how old I am - maybe it is because I'm a bit out there. I feel 18 most of the time except when I kneel beside them on my left knee and feel it crack.

Shadow is lucky but Shadow is the new cat on the block competing for the same cushion and the favorite place on Kip's lap. Yet, here I am watching Shadow and Krispy and I wonder why they will always fight.

I'll tell you why they always fight. They fight because Shadow starts it. Every single time.

Now. You might be a catologist and know all about why cats really fight, but go with me here.

There are many colleagues like Shadow. Innocent when the boss man is around but causing trouble as soon as his back is turned. We need to have a peace environment for the sake of the children.

There are some animals who fight as a way of life. There are also some humans who do it too. A good rick rolling temper-flaring red-seeing fight is what they do. They are like Shadow, always circling someone ready to pounce. Some for entertainment and others because they saw it at home and a thousand other reasons that psychologists will lecture you about. Why people fight is not a simple thing.

Just don't let this be you. You can' do anything about the other guy but you can control yourself.

Don't let it be in front of students.I hate it when adults tie up in front of kids. Whether it is a parent jumping on a teacher (which is not ever a good thing) or two teachers disagreeing - it should go outside or away.

Kids are very black and white. I "like you" or I "don't like you." How many times do they come up to you and say "so and so isn't my friend any more."


They don't understand how adults can have a heated professional disagreement over a subject at work yet still enjoy eating lunch together. It isn't in what they do.

Avoid them if you can. I've just learned that some people are like Shadow and they are best avoided. I don't know why Slingshot Sally or Buckshot Bill are always armed and ready to go but you don't have to engage them. You don't have to ruin your day and take them on.

Learn to be wise when dealing with difficult people. It is frustrating that certain people can be so tough to deal with but there are reasons. Early in my career I listened to a tape series "Dealing with difficult people" and the cover of the book had two people shaking hands. One of the person's hands were green and barbed like the skin of a cactus.

The day shadow joined us (shown here on my leg) we had no idea we were adopting such a firecracker. He picks on the other cats relentlessly. There are some in schools who do this too.

This is a great picture for me because it reminds me that some people are just naturally difficult to shake hands with. If I want to be the person who enjoys this life, if I can learn to be firm but kind. If I can be wise about how I use my voice (Did you know if you lower your voice and make it quieter as you pause, that you can deescalate a conversation?)

Treat it like a game. I admit, I've done this before. I've seen how many days in a row I can go getting along with certain people. Realize that "getting along" and "giving in" are two different things. You have to stand up and be professional. I've just found that I have to realize my part in the whole matter. It doesn't escalate unless I let it escalate. I even cut a deal with my husband "If I don't tie up with so and so all week - I get a prize." Sounds silly but it works and lowers my blood pressure.

Because we love kids we want them to have a good learning environment, not a toxic one.

Stand up when it is necessary. If you're ALWAYS arguing with a difficult person, they won't ever know when it is little stuff or big stuff. There are times you will need to get angry. Some angry people are bullies. Sadly, I've found that many bullies only understand one thing: someone standing up to them in the way they are accustomed. There are times -- not as many as you might think -- when you need to stand up. When you need to stick up for yourself or something is going to be done in a way that isn't good for a child. I hate losing my temper and do it rarely but there are times to go in a private place and deal with it.


Make sure it isn't you. It is also important to evaluate the circumstance. I give it the spouse test. If there is someone at work I'm always going home and mentioning to Kip - and he knows I'm struggling - then I have a problem. I ask myself if that person is "tying up" with other people. If they are known to be argumentative, then I relax and start working on strategies to get along. If they don't argue with many people but do with me -- then it is time to look at my own actions and behaviors. What am I doing to cause this?

Power and personality differences are often two components in this. Some even have triggers because someone reminds them of someone else. Sad but true.

Why is keeping the peace so important?

We aren't a Fortune 500 business. We aren't Wall Street or the Capitol Building or a back street. We work in schools. We work with tomorrow's leaders.

Sometimes kids don't hear what we say because our actions are yelling too loud.

Think of their circumstances. Every year they are thrown together with 30 people they don't know. Hopefully there are a few they love but there are always kids they can't stand. They can't leave. They can't ask for a transfer (not usually.) They have no say over whether they'll be at that school or in that class. Absolutely none at all. They have to get along.

All these kids have is a budding psyche that is just learning to get along with others and the examples they see every day. They are watching us. How do we get along? How do we argue? Is our school a good place to be? Do people smile at each other? Do they ever laugh? Do some teachers enjoy being together? Do we have interests outside school?

Toxic environment, Toxic school

When the environment is toxic, people know it but more importantly the kids know it. Sadly, they know it.

When times get tough, many people struggle with staying positive. This spills over into work relationships and into family. We have among us some great people who might just be dealing with a raw deal.

But we have among us an opportunity. I'm going to tell you what many of you tell the kids: "Why can't we just all get along?"

The rule at our school is if kids get in a fight - they both go to the office. We can't have kids fighting in schools.

Yet in some schools (so I hear) disagreements between colleagues, administration, and even parents and teachers is pretty toxic. We have a double standard. Kids fight and go to the office but two colleagues disagree publicly and often the principal is the last to know. Some principals even make the mistake of passing judgement before they hear both sides in adult arguments when they would never do so with kids.

If your school or your building is toxic due to one or more people, I'm just asking you - for the love of kids - take steps to deal with the problem. Many relationships are not as simple as the advice I've given here. Toxic environments are bad for everyone. Toxic often starts at the top. If more school boards and administrators and teachers would realize that it is all about relationships then many schools would be better off.

When school boards argue and force people to take sides on nonessential issues, it is not good for the school system. Some issues are important to take sides on but we need to realize that we should all be on the same side when it comes to the school itself. There are times to make decisions and move forward. It is always time to stand together and get along for the good of the school and the kids.

If there is an adult who can't hold his or her temper and is always spouting off at people - perhaps that person is in a job ill suited to their temperament.

My Aunt Chandra answered phones at the local public high school for more than 30 years - she never gets angry at anyone. She was a gift to that school because she was a soft first hello for anyone who called. They missed her when she left. When I was a manager in the business world, I made sure that the first voice people heard was pleasant, helpful, and informed -- it prevented having people yell at me as they traveled up the line. Just a kind, warm person greeting callers makes a huge difference.

Let's love the kids. Let's think of them. Let's do what it takes to work together and get along - the future is counting on us. Not all schools have these problems but enough do that it is worth writing about. These are tough times for schools, teachers, and administrators but we have to cope how we can deal with tough issues without being tough hearted and argumentative. We have to be functional in how we disagree and to understand that when we're struggling to get along that it is often signs of deeper issues that need to be handled.

OK, the cats are asleep and it is time to clean the kitchen. I guess even fussy kitties get tired sometimes.


Thursday, September 05, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 09/05/2013

  • Building habits takes time. There are apps like "Don't break the chain" and "lift" but this new one mentioned by ProfHacker called "chains" is worth a look just because it is so visual - you could use this to build habits in your classroom as well.

    tags: news habits productivity

  • Common Core high school math resources from Edutopia.

    tags: common core math news education

  • Richard Byrne recommends using Azendoo to organize group projects. While I use Trello, I do recommend finding something to help you manage #geniushour if you're going to take that approach in your classroom - Azendoo may just work.

    tags: news geniushour pbl apps

  • Looks like some great resources for Common Core middle school math teachers on the Edutopia website.

    tags: news math edutopia common core

  • If Mystery Skypes are too hard to set up - TRY THIS! The new skype lets you leave Video MESSAGES. So you can Mystery Skype in a whole new way. This is GREAT news and takes much of the complexity out of setting up a mystery skype. While synchronous skyping is always great, if it isn't possible, this works.

    tags: news education skype mystery skype tumblr

  • Lots of free lesson plans by some reputable teachers using Google products. These are on the Google website and looks like many fellow Google Certified Teachers have prepared the plans. Awesome! Pass it along.

    tags: news lesson plans google tumblr education

  • If you use the MyOpenId service on your website or for anything, they've announced that they will stop the service on February 1, 2014. So many are starting to use Google sign in or Facebook that myOpenId may not be the problem it would have been several years back, but it is worth a mention.

    tags: news

  • Will you help Silvia Tolisano's students by letting them know what screencasts you want them to record? Thank you for taking a moment. This is a great project she's doing for these 6th graders. She does such a wonderful job of helping students develop an authentic audience.

    tags: education news authentic audience flatclass edtech pbl digital storytelling bestpractices all_teachers

  • If you want to take the NASA Challenge - they are scheduling a webcast that will explain more about the challenge and how to do the radiation activity on October 18th, 2013 starting at 3:00 pm CT. This is the channel where it can be seen, so mark your calendars now and plan to see it.

    tags: education news science nasa

  • Here's a sample presentation from eMaze. If you look at it, you'll see elements of Prezi and Haiku deck. These simple presentation makers add variety. I prefer to have multiple types of presentation programs to keep our work fresh and interesting.

    tags: education news

  • All students and educators participating in the challeng will have their name flown on the Exploration Flight Test-I mission as a member of the virtual crew. This mission will be unmanned and will launch in late 2014. So, kids can be a "virtual explorer." There are 4 challenges, age appropriate, to help design protective radiation protection for astronauts. We need to get students interest in space travel for a variety of reasons. This is a lovely real world project for students to join or could be a project for one of your #geniushour teams. "The goal of the Exploration Design Challenge is for students to research and design ways to protect astronauts from space radiation. NASA and Lockheed Martin are developing the Orion spacecraft that will carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit and on to an asteroid or Mars. Protecting astronauts from radiation on these distant travels is an important -- and very real -- problem that needs solving. NASA would like your help!"

    tags: education news tumblr science techintegrator projects

  • If you have older kids and want to Mystery Skype - I'd like to start setting some up - tweet me through this Skype profile or via Twitter. I have students at a variety of times -- 5 classes. ;-) Join in and find others!!!! This is for you. Set a goal of how many mystery skype's you'd like to do in your classes. I'd like to do once a month eventually but for now, if I can just get for each class, I'm going to take it from there.

    tags: education news Skype

  • You can now plan a Mystery Skype by registering on Skype. They've got information on how to do it and a system to help you pair with classes your age. I'm all in this!

    tags: education news flatclass skype mysteryskype

  • If you want to Mystery Skype, the hashtag on Twitter is #mysteryskype. There's also a new place on Skype for this as well.

    tags: education news flatclass

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Daily Education and Technology News for Schools 09/04/2013

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Are you an educator in Atlanta talking about Common Core? Join us this Friday.

There are going to be some exciting discussions about teaching and education that you won't want to miss in Atlanta this Friday.  Here's information on the taping of the 4 episodes this Friday at the NPR studios in Atlanta. If you're interested, please respond soon as space is limited. I'll be there! Join us!

Please join us as we raise awareness and respect for education with The Ignite Show – and
help us create the live audience we need for high energy when we are in studio!!

8:15-9:10 – One full show with Special guests:
- Heather McGovern / Kentucky Educator
- Sharon Whitworth and Cheri Dimar  /Project Team Leads for Jefferson County
The Kentucky PTA Story – The First State to Implement Common Core State Standards shares their story

9:15-10:10 – Four Tech Times with Cool Cat Teacher (Vicki Davis) (http://coolcatteacher.blogspot.com/)
Watch as nationally known educator shares technology tips and insights for the K-12 classroom!

10:15-11:15 -- One full show with Special guests:
Carlos Contreras - Intel, Corp. - Education Manager
Otha Thorton, General Dynamics - Senior Operations Analyst
Learn of the Corporate Support to the Common Core State Standards – nationally!

12:30-1:15 – One full show with Special guests:
-Delia Pompa Vice President for Education at NCLR (National Council of La Raza),the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States -PTA President Otha Thorton
Hear the Parent Story in terms of the Common Core State Standards

1:45-2:45 – One Full show with Special guests:
- Moderator: Carlos Contreras/ Education Manager at Intel Corporation.
- Mike Wiernicki/ Math Coach at Henry County Board of Education
- Elijah Newsome - HS student (11th gr) from Henry County
- Chauncey Newsome
- Lauren Baucom / NC - HS Algebra Teacher

Listen to variety of voices talk about the  impact of the math Common Core State Standards on Student Success!

Teachers Ignite was recently contracted by The National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) in partnership with The Hunt Institute to produce four Special Episodes of The Ignite Show  (www.theigniteshow.com ) focusing on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This is work is also in collaboration with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Education Association (NEA), and the Parent Teacher Association (PTA).  These web-based shows will launch in the Fall of 2013 and will be accompanied by teacher resources to assist in implementation of the standards as well as other information for parents and general public to become more familiar with the standards.  There will be distribution of these shows to all constituents of these organizations.

The Ignite Show works to raise awareness and respect for education and educatorsthrough the voices of teachers, parents and students. All that we do focuses on inspiring student centered classrooms.
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