Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shake What the District Gave You

On Friday I was charged with the task of "telling others about what you do in your classroom, and then telling them about the ways you've gotten extra money for your classroom." 

Hmph.  And I'm supposed to turn that into a presentation and give it to a group of my peers?  Awesome.

The presentation was Friday morning and my presentation turned into something named "Shake What the District Gave You."  The title was supposed to be funny.  Before the presentation, other teachers actually asked me what the title meant.  Crap.  Couple that with a question asked by one of our teachers, "So, how did you get picked to give this presentation?"

Then the keynote speaker was all motivating and awesome, so I wasn't quite sure how I would follow that.

I'd given presentations before but not to a group of teachers from my own district...

So, here's what I talked about.  Plain and simple.  Look at all the stuff the district gives us for free and here are my favorite of all the technology "tools" we have-

(And all the links are on my other blog page- Miss Kolis' Room 5 Blog- you can go there, find March 5th Tech Inservice Waiver Day in the right hand column, and get all the links...)

1.  Delicious is a social networking tool that the district suggests we use.  If we all used it, we could all be connected through websites and "share our toys."  Delicious takes all your "favorites" or your "bookmarks" and puts them in one place on the web.  Delicious also allows you to tag your websites so you can sort them for yourself.  You can also share them with other users.  I learned how to use this over the summer of '09, and I think it was a little behind the times then... When I asked if I had "sold" anyone on Delicious, I saw 3 heads nod.

2.  Twitter in education is still pretty new, especially in our district.  And sure, we all hear it, "who wants to share what they are doing in 140 characters or less anyways?"  And, "I don't need anyone to know that much about my life..."  But what if you can connect to organizations that you do care about, read 140 characters, and see if you want to read the article they are pushing.  That's the part I like about Twitter in the classroom.  I can read updates from Autism Speaks and from ModelMeKids and from the EDPressSec. And, I can tell the parents of my students what we did that day in 140 characters.  And some of them do care.  Cool.  I might've sold 1 person on this.

3.  Blogging.  As you can read, blogging is my favorite new hobby.  And the parents love it.  And other educators can use it.  And it gives me a written record of what I did in my classroom that week.  Before my blog, I was mediocre at Parent Communication.  Before that, I was horrible at Parent Communication. Blogging has single handedly changed my world of communication.  And to think that, when I started college in 1999, teacher websites were just coming on the scene.  And the majority of teachers in our district DO NOT have a blog or webpage.  Btw, we use Word Press for Blogging through the school... and I obviously use Blogger.  These seem the most simple to me.  And simple is good for teachers who need more hours in the day.

4.  Last, I talked about BoardMaker Plus and the whole family of BoardMaker software.  I think the company of Mayer-Johnson could hire me.  I dream about working for them because I already promote their products.  I showed the high tech (inserting BoardMaker software into SMART Notebook software and making interactive boards and books) uses of BoardMaker, but I also showed the low tech side (file folder games, visual schedules, mini-schedules).  Plus I found the best site to pair with BoardMaker called  I'm not sure how I survived without it.  (I heard about it by following Mayer-Johnson on twitter!)

5.  I, then, concluded my presentation with discussion about HOW to get the things you want IF the district doesn't provide them.  My first suggestion- Ask someone.  My second suggestion- Ask someone else.  My third suggestion- Write a grant.  It't not as hard as you think.  I shared easy grants to write and offered myself and my former work to all of the members of the audience.

All in all, I'm not sure that I sold anyone on anything.  But, I succeeded in the fact that I made it through the presentations without embarrassing myself terribly.

I also did that with the help of the keynote speaker.  He was 100% himself in his presentation to over 300 teachers.  And so I thought, I can be myself.  And be comfortable in myself.  And say what I say.  And do what I do.

So I did.

Now, go Shake What the District Gave You.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Most thought-provoking quote of my day...

"Pieces of what we do will always be invisible. Pieces of our students’ lives will always be invisible. Unless we want to suit up with full-on, both-end-of-candle-burning messiah complexes, we will never see all of the invisible pieces of each child’s life. I’m not so dense as to be ignorant of this fact." - Zac Chase (from his blog- Autodizactic-

Technology Inservice Day in the Ville....

Today was Technology Inservice Day and someone decided it only needed to be half day!  Can you believe it?  Regardless, we started the morning with a keynote speaker who is traditionally terrible.  Today, however, was different...

Today our keynote speaker was a guy named Zac Chase.  As far as I know, Zac doesn't have any letters after his name indicating a P.h.D. or an MD or an ABCDE... And yet, he was the most inspiring speaker that Brecksville has brought into our district for as long as I've been a teacher here (which has been 6 years).

From what I understand, Zac was asked to speak at our school because our tech director, John Schinker, spent some time with him in the organization Educators Without Borders, and felt inspired by him.  And, as John introduced him this morning, I couldn't help but think... "This guy is the most well rounded guy I've ever heard of."  And I was a little skeptical.

And then I realized that he was the guy at the door that greeted me AND laughed at the giant coffee that I brought with me.  I liked him already.  Plus he was wearing sneakers with dress clothes AND had his eyebrow pierced.  Even better.  Then my friend Karin leaned over and said "This guy IS you." To which I replied "Yeah, but he is waaaaay more hilarious than me." She agreed.

Zac was able to engage a crowd of Brecksville teachers for an hour.  This, I will tell you, is an amazing feat!  One that I wouldn't want to take on!

Here's Zac's blog so you can be inspired by his adventures, instruction, and ideas too-

I, unfortunately, was one of the break out session presenters that had to follow Zac's great keynote speech.... Here is the link to my other blog page that shares more...  If you scroll down the "Where Can I Find...?" section, you will find March 5th Tech. Inservice Day.  You can click there to access the video I showed ("A Vision of K-12 Students Today") and access all of the links that I shared during my presentation "Shake What the District Gave You."  Note:  This title was supposed to be funny.  I realized later that some people... did... not... get... it. 

To conclude, today (this morning) was a good day. :)