A few weeks ago I wrote about how much I loved attending the Illinois Education and Technology Conference and focused the blog on the first amazing keynote, Joe Sanfellipo. He spoke about leadership and culture in your school which is really important for the building as a whole. The second day of the conference was all about Alice Keeler for me. She was 100% about putting tools into the hands of teachers so we can serve students better.
Who is Alice Keeler?
You can find out a lot about Alice Keeler by going to her website (alicekeeler.com). What she shared with us at the conference was that she is a mom and was teaching math and needed Google apps to do more for her. She started coding within Google apps and sending them to her friend who works at Google. Some of what she codes becomes an extension Google offers. Others she lists on her website for easy access regardless of becoming an official extension or not. These extensions exist to help save time or be more efficient or effective in teaching or organizing information. Also, I think she may like sheets even more than me...I didn't know that was possible!
Alice at IETC
I attended two breakout sessions as well as her keynote lunch. Her first breakout, Google Apps Coding for Noobs, was a great introduction to coding. A lot of people get intimidated when they hear the word "coding" because they picture someone sitting in a dark basement surrounded by computer screens wheeling back and forth between them and speaking words no one ever really uses...or maybe that's just me! I went anyways and I was pleasantly surprised! Alice reiterated that most of coding is looking for patterns and then knowing which things to copy and paste. The link below takes you to the presentation she used for the session and walks you through how to:
- Create a Google sheet that has a separate tab for each student with one click of a button
- Send an email
- Copy a Google Doc
- Do something a lot of times with one click
-And more that we didn't actually get to within the breakout
Google Apps Coding for Noobs Presentation by Alice Keeler
No, I would not need to write a code in order to send an email or copy a Google doc BUT learning the code behind it was helpful in order to complete the other codes.
NO, THAT'S TOO OVERWHELMING! I CAN'T CODE!
THAT'S OK! THE SECOND PART WAS WAAAAAY EASIER!
The second breakout was about the add-ons that she has already created so that all you have to do is copy and paste! At alicekeeler.com/scripts there is a list of add-on codes that Alice has already created, posted for easy access, AND written a blog about how to use.
***Because they are created by her and not an official extension of Google, you will be prompted to give access to your GSuite apps each time you copy Alice's code. Just do it.***
I already thought she was pretty legit but this breakout and exploring her website more just put it over the top! There are so many to choose from. I highly suggest taking an hour or two one day and just playing with these.
This may seem overwhelming but please try one before you decide it's too much! You may decide you really like them!
My Favorite Alice Codes
Not sure which ones to check out first? Here are my favorites!
With winter break approaching its end, we have to start thinking about returning to school for the new semester. The question is what do we do on the first day back?
For some of us especially in the high school world, it could mean an entirely new bunch of students and it is the first day of school all over again. For others it is a continuation of the previous semester with a 2 week break in the middle.
I hope what we can all agree on is that jumping right into content would not be the best way to start a new semester. Even if we have the same students all year, the students are coming off of two weeks of no school. The students are going to need something to get them back into the swing of school. Here are some activities and ideas that we have found that could work for the first day/week back from winter break.
Team Building Activities
Whether you are starting over this semester or bringing students back together, team building would be valuable at this time. For the classes starting over, it is a good way to get to know your classes and have the students get to know each other. For the classes coming back together after break, it is a good way to reconnect and get students back to thinking about other people and catch up.
Here are some suggestions for activities:
Content Review Activities/Games
This is mainly for the classes that are staying together all year. Reviewing the content from last semester is a great way to get students thinking about the content again and getting back in the school mindset. Depending on what type of activity you do for this, it could also double as a team building activity.
Here are some suggestions for activities:
Classroom Procedures Review
This is something that we think is essential whether you are starting over or picking up where you left off. The start of the new semester is the perfect time to review the classroom procedures and remind students of how they need to operate in the classroom.
Some of the potential activities we suggest above could be changed to review classroom procedures.
As this semester draws to a close, it is natural to begin to evaluate it for its successes and challenges. I start thinking about the changes I want to make to next semester and what I wish I had done differently and reviewing new tools that I have found over the past months.
I feel like this is a natural process that all teachers go through as we approach the ending of semester or school year. Being reflective is something that is ingrained in us by our desire to do better for the students and any teaching program I have ever heard of. We recognize the importance of being reflective and intuitively practice it.
My semester has been one of challenges to be frank. I have had personal challenges and professional challenges that have really highlighted the need to be purposeful in the classroom, my reflections, and reactions to my reflections.
I feel like this year I fell into the trap of reflecting but not acting. I was thinking a lot about what was happening in my classroom, but not taking the time to process my reflections and create an action plan around them. Those last two steps are really important to being purposeful as a teacher and reflective professional. The failure of not processing and acting on my reflections is one of the reasons, I continued to struggle.
The impact this had on my classroom
Reading this, it probably seems like I am being really hard on myself and that it could just be one of the groups of students that struggle and no matter what I did in the classroom, those students were going to struggle. That could very well be true, but I also feel like this semester was a humbling, challenge that reminded me of two very important things about teaching.
My plan Moving Forward
I do not want to make the same mistakes I made this semester, so I have reflected, processed, and developed this action plan for next semester to make sure that I am being the best reflective and purposeful teacher I can be.
Teaching is hard, but it is also amazing, fulfilling, and incredibly important. I want to be the best I possibly can be for my students and I think that doing these things will help me do that. I hope that you take away from this post that it is O.K. to struggle, because when we struggle we learn things about ourselves. That when you find yourself struggling at school take time to reflect on what is happening, but don’t just stop there. Take the next steps. Process your reflections and develop an action to help or celebrate if needed. Lastly, don’t forget to keep learning. Learning is essential to great teaching!
I spent the past Thursday and Friday at an Educational Technology conference in Springfield, Illinois and it was amazing.
So many times when signing up for a conference, especially when it means missing instructional time, I hesitate. Will it be worth missing the time? Writing the sub plans? The cost of registration, travel, and stay?
The Illinois Education And Technology conference this year was worth it all several times over. You will probably see me reference something from this conference for weeks and months to come! And I LOVE when this happens! So often when we hear “professional development” it feels like a bad thing so I love love love when I can share about a great experience. IETC, you guys are doing it right! 👍🏼
There were several sessions I went to that I felt were worth the full amount of money and time spent, but one seems so fitting for this time of year.
I’m drained. My co-blogger has had a couple of really rough weeks in a row. I’m feeling a bit run down and discouraged myself. Neither one of us is one to start complaining hard about kids or school but it sure helps to have at least one of you in a good spot during one of those low points. Lately for us, that hasn’t been the case. My conference time started off that way. I drove about 30 minutes towards the conference before realizing I’d left my luggage at home and needed to go back for it. When I checked in, they let me know there’d been an error and my room was booked for the following two nights. They were able to get a room for me, but it was quite the process. I checked in and thought, “what a great start this is”.
But that didn’t matter because when you attend conferences like this, you are surrounded by teachers who love their jobs and want to be life long learners! That energy and attitude is contagious!
My favorite session(s) from day one were led by Joe Sanfelippo, a superintendent from Wisconsin. You may recognize him from some of his videos on his district's facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/FallCreekSchoolDistrict/)
This guy was so awesome that I attended his morning session, heard him as the lunch keynote, and then went back for his afternoon session. I felt so energized and ready to role after all of it that I knew ole Joe would get his own honorary blog post (I'm in the Joe Sanfelippo fan club now! Go Crickets!) Below are some of the takeaways from attending his sessions.
The first session I attended was titled "Hacking Leadership", titled the same as his book (which I bought and have already read because wow).
He focused on a cyclical model for healthy and productive schools revolving around being intentional, opening doors, and building staff.
So often I feel bogged down by trying to make a change by contributing to a positive culture but Joe mentioned that upon entering a school building that had had 4 principals in 5 years, he was determined to change the culture 30 seconds at a time. 30 seconds at a time...now that I can do. I think I need to do some huge thing that in the end is too overwhelming to actually happen. Instead, I can commit to smile at people in the hallway, converse with co-workers and students, and making positive calls home.
As a group, we came up with these other ways to be intentional
Tell your story
At lunch Joe spoke more about his specific experience at his K-12 school of 800. He spoke about the importance of sharing your positive school story. The negative talk seems to be a lot louder and said a lot more often. We need to drown that out with all of the truly terrific things happening in our schools. Even the people making most of our decisions (the school board) only ever get to hear about the three B's: beans, busses, and balls (food, transportation, and sports). If we want the real story to be told, we have to do it!
He started broadcasting all of the important things happening at his school on instagram, twitter, facebook, and through podcasts. While school newsletters are useful for some, we need to meet our community where they are at. After surveying the community, Joe found the majority of our student's parents are more likely to read from facebook because they already spend a few hours there daily.
If we want to communicate with our community, we need to find out where they are and GO TO THEM! They can't only hear from us when we need something. They should be hearing from us all the time! Find the best way to start and then do it! Tell the story of your school and why you show up to work and others will want to be a part of the story!
Be a social media superstar
Schools are scared to use social media. What if someone sues us for posting a picture of their kid? What if someone posts or comments something horrible?
Joe spoke about overcoming both of these issues but more importantly, he tied it back to telling a story and loving what we do. People don't know why we became teachers. They don't know what the day to day looks like inside a classroom. And a lot of those people are not reading that newsletter you send home once a month or quarter by mail. We ask ourselves, "How do we share with people what is going on and how incredible these kids and teachers are?". We already know the answer: social media. But there are so many!!! How will we ever have time to spend on all of the social media? We won't have time to do our own jobs! Well you don't need to learn ALL of the social media outlets, just find where your community lives. Most commonly the kids are on instagram, the parents are on facebook, and the alumni are on twitter. Lucky for us, instagram allows you to post to all three with one click which means it is no longer about managing a million apps. Just start documenting all of those amazing things that are already happening!
But what about kids who don't want their pictures taken?!?! Joe operates on an opt-out clause meaning students have to sign a sheet of paper in order to say that they don't want to be in pictures the school may post. For the few who do sign it, Joe contacts them personally to talk about why they want to be able to share the story and include the students. More often than not the parents didn't read the paper and just signed all of the papers sent home the first week of school...which doesn't speak so great for that process either but that's not what we're talking about this week. :) For the families who truly don't want the picture and aren't able to connect through e-mail or social media the school sends a paper newsletter. The goal to communicate with parents is prioritized.
What about when someone comments something nasty?!? Now that's on our facebook page!!!!
True. Joe suggests replying to it with something like, "I'm sorry you feel that way. If you would like to talk more my number is ___________. This is not the place to have that conversation but I would be more than happy to speak on the phone or in person."....then he runs around and takes 8-10 pictures of the amazing things happening in classrooms and posts them so that the ugly comment gets buried in all of the great things happening.
It's all about the story we're telling. It's too important of a story to not tell because we're scared of a couple of people who are going to complain no matter what. So often the negative comments are the ones heard the most. Change the culture by drowning them out with all of the incredible students and teachers and staff that make up your school building!
There is a reason why many schools hire someone specifically to run their communications and social media: it's important.
I love joe! go crickets!
I listened to Joe for about 3 hours. I could have listened and talked to this guy for days. Lucky for me (and you!) he has his own website with tons of resources. I know I will be checking it regularly!
Lastly, please please please feel free to ask me if I've written my notes for the day and how I'm telling my story. It is way too easy to go to these conferences and feel the mountain top experience for a couple of days and then....
But culture change doesn't happen that way. It happens consistently....30 seconds at a time.
Ok, we’re off the PD train for a little bit and onto one of our favorite topics, the self paced classroom! We’ve been talking about the steps to building great curriculum and finding resources that make your curriculum engaging but today we talk about the ultimate way to differentiate that great and engaging curriculum: making your curriculum self paced. Not sure what I mean by that? Click here for more of our self paced blog entries!
Back to today though! How can you take that fabulous curriculum you worked so hard on and use it in a self paced classroom? Honestly, if you have done all of the ground work on finding resources, the rest gets a lot easier.
We suggest trying a self paced unit before fully committing to a self paced classroom. Testing out a unit will give you a good idea of whether or not it works for your students and for you. So right now, take a minute and think about a unit you teach that you would consider making self paced.
Do you have it? Alright, time to figure out how to make it hypothetically self paced!
Go back to the meat of your curriculum to start! Ask yourself these questions.
Now that you have the end goal in mind, what will you do with your resources to make this unit self paced?
For Becca, she found it useful to give a short version of each lesson about twice a week to the whole class. If students were already ahead of the material she was teaching, they just kept working on their own or assisted her in the lesson. Everyone else was given a short version of the notes but mainly a lot of examples. When she was finished, it was pretty easy for her to tell if students were completely lost or ready to work. She could then work with small groups to help those who were lost understand but all of the other students were still working on their own. With online lecture videos, fill in the blank notes, examples with answer keys, and links to immediate feedback math problems, all students were working on what they needed to and she was still able to help students understand parts that they were confused on. Students would decide when they were ready to take a 5 question quiz corresponding with the lesson they felt they had completed and get immediate feedback. Whether they passed it or not, they would show Becca their score which gave Becca the perfect time to check in on progress and either congratulate them on their success or help them see their mistakes. Students could tell whether they were "on track" or not by looking at the checklist of mastery quizzes. While having a true deadline is not completely self-paced, we all have a last day of school and students need to understand what they are expected to complete. Having suggested due dates let them know what they needed to do and helped them monitor their progress and understand the expectations.
For Danielle, it really comes down to working with small groups. The students go through self-guided material, but in addition to the self-guided material Danielle does small group instruction twice a week on average. The self-guided material is a variety of activities that she used to do as a whole class that are modified for self-paced and some new ones she has found or created. The students have access to videos, website, books, etc for the activities and many of them are not online activities. She still does hands-on activities as much as possible. For the small group activities, she picks particular skills that correlate to where students are in the curriculum and has mini lessons that she does with the students. This allows Danielle to have carved out time with each student and make sure that they are understanding the material.
Danielle also makes it clear that, if any student would like, they can schedule class time to work with Danielle in a small group or 1:1 and work on specific content. Danielle also uses formative assessment to create remediation small groups. Students have to complete 2-3 formative assessment activities per unit and they have to be reviewed with Danielle before they can move forward. This allows Danielle to check for understanding frequently and forces students to pause and make sure they understand material before the summative assessment.
Danielle also makes a point on certain days of the week to do what she calls 'rounds'. She goes around the room and talks to each student about their progress and goals for the content and class. This is when many students make appointments for small groups or she assigns students to specific small groups. It is a really great way to check in and have one on one conversations with students.
We've filled out this section of the template below to give you a snapshot version of what it looks like! These are the questions that lead you to the logistics of your self paced unit.
Now for the setup and what your classroom will look like during this unit:
How can we not advocate for this process when we see how much it has meant to our students? This is why we do it. This is why we love it!
Here is the plan for the communication of a self paced classroom at a glance! We have a lot of the items we use available on our TPT store!
In the end, you have to do what is best for you and your students. Feedback is so important not only to let you know how the student feel about the process but to get ideas for how to continue to improve your class and the positive feedback has lead us to continue and advocate for self paced classrooms. If it doesn't work for you and your class, abandon ship after one unit and do what you need to do!
If you are really interested in attempting the self-paced learning concept, we recommend starting with one unit or a specific project or skill that you could have students work on at their own pace throughout the year or semester. Check out the self-paced classroom section of our blog to see all of the pieces we went through to get our classes started. This is something that we are really passionate about and it has helped students learn in our classes. We are still trying to improve as well and we welcome any suggestions and ideas from other who have or plan to take the plunge into self-paced learning!
Step 5 of creating a great curriculum is finding all of the amazing resources that you will use throughout the school year! It is the most time consuming part of the process and often happens on a continuous cycle which is why this step gets its own post! (See the other steps to creating a great curriculum here!)
Once you have figured out your standards, the hard part is making sure that your activities match up with your standards and that you are creating learning intentions (targets) that reflect the standards. To me this is an ongoing process. One thing that unites all good teachers, is the drive to make things better and improve on we have done in the past. My department likes to joke that I rewrite my curriculum every summer. This is somewhat true in that every summer around mid-July, I start reviewing my previous year’s activities, lessons and standards and see what could be better. Am I really teaching to the standard? Is there a way to make this more interactive? How can I create a better assessment? How can I give the students more choice?
So in this post, I want to share with you my process of reviewing my curriculum and how I look at my activities to see if they are what I want to do and match my class goals and standards.
Step 1: Review Standards and Learning Intentions
In Missouri we are going to through a process of approving new standards, so this was definitely something I needed to do this summer to see what had changed. The unfortunate thing for me is that there are no specific geography standards. They are embedded into the other social studies contents. This makes them very specific to the content. To combat this I am using those standards, but I am also using National Geography Standards that are more specific to teaching geography on its own.
Above is what we have designed for our building curriculum. It is housed in Google Drive and it is this same format for all of our units. The first thing I did was read through all of my standards to make sure I understood them and the language used in the standards. Then like in our previous post on designing curriculum, I went through and made sure the standards listed were my essential standards that I will be assessing.
Once I have my standards decided on, I evaluate my learning intentions and success criteria. If your district doesn't use these, they are basically the statements of what the students should be able to do by the assessment for that unit. The key is that the learning intentions and success criteria should lead the students to the standards which is what the students will be assessed on. For me this means breaking down the different pieces and wording of the standards, then creating success criteria that matches each standard in a student friendly way. This leads me to the learning intention which I always phrase as a question, because I want to students to think about broad questions that relate to the concept.
Step 2: Review Activities to Match Standards, Learning Intention, and Success Criteria
The next step for me is going through my activities and looking through my resources to make sure everything matches up and to see what needs to be improved. For me this means going back and making notes in my plan book from last year, writing notes on my copies of student checklists, and writing ideas and notes in a notebook. I process through writing and talking, so I always write things out to help me think through things and I look for a partner (usually Becca) to talk about my ideas and bounce things off a person.
This process is really about deciding to make changes and what areas need to be worked on. I look for lessons that are weak or really just didn't perform the way I wanted them to and mark them for change and what ideas I have for changing them. I go through a series of questions like the ones below to get me thinking about what kinds of changes to make.
Step 3: The Hunt for Resources and Ideas
Next is the hunt for new ideas and resources, to make those changes you want to your lessons. Honestly this is something that is personal to every teacher, but the best place to find these ideas is:
Step 4: Create!
To be honest, this tends to happen simulataniously with step 3, but basically as you gather your resources and ideas, you can start creating and doing the improvement you had in mind for your lessons. This is the best part, since you get to see finished products and see your work amount to something.
This process may seem endless and intensive and it can be which is why some teachers don't go through it every year or they spread it out throughout the school year. If your standards don't change, then you are really only working from step 2-4 or even just 3 and 4 depending on how solid you feel about the earlier pieces. The important thing is to have a mindset of growth and always looking for ways to improve your craft and make learning meaningful for our students.
What process works for you? Feel free to leave some comments about how you approach creating activities to match your standards. How do you review your lessons?
Curriculum can refer to so many things because its actual definition is so broad - referring to the subjects comprising a course of study in school. As teachers we could think of curriculum as the standards we teach, the activities and lesson plans we make, or the books and resources we use but the truth is that a great curriculum is all of those things. If you have struggled with putting together curriculum, we wanted to take a full post and talk about how to build a great curriculum. With a couple of weeks left before school starts, now is a great time to look at your current curriculum and make a couple of tweaks if necessary. If you are a first year teacher, I highly recommend reading through these steps and familiarizing yourself with the process! You’ll use it many times in your career!
Step 1: Identify your priority standards. There are a million standards you are supposed to teach but we all know some of them are more important than the others. Which ones are the most important in YOUR class? It is best if you can get together with the grade above and/or below you and have a good conversation about what is the main focus of each grade. If possible, use a top down approach and have your high school/upper level teachers identify their priority standards. Once you know the end goal, each grade level can choose the priority standards that they will be most responsible for. These are the things that you are committing to spending the most time on. Your students should be amazing at the standards you choose as priority standards! Here’s a really important part of this first and most important step - you can’t make everything a priority. We have these books that are “aligned to the standards” that have endless resources. We may even feel like a failure if we don’t make it through the book. But while your instincts will continue to push you to make everything a “priority” and push through the book, the book is a product made by a company trying to appeal to as many people as possible. It will be a great resource but it is not your curriculum and some standards will have to be less important than others. You cannot make all of the standards a priority in a great curriculum. That just can’t happen. The best thing you can do is communicate with your team teachers and the grade levels above and below you and choose carefully and strategically.
Step 2: Identify support standards. Most of the rest of the standards that you didn’t choose as a priority fit under the umbrella of one of your priority standards. For me, it works best to organize it visually just that way. I like to use a spreadsheet (preferably a Google Sheet so everyone working on it can see and contribute) or a giant whiteboard. Separating the support standards under each priority standard begins step 3.
Step 3: Arrange your standards in the order you would like to teach them. Technically you could switch step 2 and 3 if you want, I just like to get everything I plan on teaching up on the board/sheet. Keep in mind what prior knowledge students will need to have for each priority standard. This is another time that having the general outline of the course before and after yours is helpful. It would be great to be able to pick up where your students left off and set them up at the end of the year for their next class.
Step 4: Identify learning intentions and success criteria. This is the lingo we use in my school district but you may know it as “I can” statements. What specifically do you want students to be able to do? Standards are not put into students or parent friendly terms. Go through each standard you have chosen and decide what you really truly expect to see with your own eyes in your classroom that would mean the student has achieved mastery of the standard. Does this feel like too big of a job because there are too many standards? Go back to step 1 and try to be realistic about your school year and your expectations for your students.
Step 5: Decide how you will help the students master the learning intentions. This is the fun part! Now that you have laid out exactly what you want students to learn, you can be so much more intentional with how you teach it! Make GREAT lessons specific to the learning intentions and success criteria rather than thinking how a worksheet or activity in a textbook says it meets the standards. Your learning intentions meet the standards and make much more sense to everyone involved. Work with those! If you find resources in a textbook, great! There are amazing resources online. So many resources have been created by teachers who know exactly what its like to be in your spot! Look at teachers pay teachers or teacher’s notebook! Check back on our site for some ideas and resources! Try to find ideas for your content in your everyday life! TAKE A TRIP TO TARGET! We all know that’s the best place to get the creative juices flowing! :)
Step 6: Keep working on step 5 and the rest of your classroom organization/management. We are continuously finding resources and perfecting lessons which means we tend to live in step 5. Don’t forget the ever important part of revamping curriculum: communication.
A GUEST BLOG BY DR. STEPHEN GILBRETH
Dr. Gilbreth has worked for the Joplin school system for more than 20 years. He began at North as a teacher of technology, reading and communication arts for five years. He later became North's assistant principal for three years and then principal of Memorial Middle School, which is the current South, for the past 12 years.
He has a degree in English education from Missouri Southern State University, master's and specialist degrees in administration from Pittsburg (Kansas) State University, and a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Saint Louis University.
- Description taken from The Joplin Globe
Teachers have many jobs and duties they must perform every day. Understanding what is most important gets distorted and sometimes neglected. Having a solid curriculum is crucial to a teacher’s focus and success in the classroom. Robert Marzano has written about school districts having a guaranteed and viable curriculum. In education today, many things have gotten in the way of solid teaching practices. So many districts are trying to capture the magic offered in the form of numerous well-marketed educational programs.
Educational programs very rarely live up to the hype that got them into the classroom. Many factors play a part in that. The kind of professional development it takes to get any program implemented to its fullest very often does not make it to the table. Instead, it is typically one false start after another.
Districts that take the time to understand their state’s standards and get down in the weeds to develop curriculum, find success on many levels. First, teachers who participate in the development of curriculum have the opportunity to define the standards and vet out what students are asked to do. Second, teachers become experts of their content area.
Curriculum done right carries with it the reward of clarity for teachers about standards and what is to be taught. Great lesson plans and resources can be gathered once an understanding of what needs to be taught is in place. Developing a common vocabulary, clarifying objectives, and student outcomes are also components of a well-developed curriculum. The time teachers will spend collaborating about the mapping process of curriculum will help them effectively use tools like Bloom’s taxonomy to scaffold the intensity of lessons as students migrate through the grades. Using a pacing guide helps all teachers stay on the same page and especially helps students who move from building to building within a district of any size. A lack of common pacing guides can spell failure for students who tend to be transient. They can often miss whole concepts established through learning that scaffolds material, like math and science.
Teachers are asked to do so many things for their students today. Struggling to find the right materials to meet state standards should not be one of their battles. In an attempt to teach often nebulous standards, fundamental skills (number sense, phonics, phonemic awareness, etc.) are very often not adequately taught.
Teachers can master their content areas when they are involved in writing curriculum. Defining standards and collaborating with one another to map and pace the work, brings about a guaranteed and viable curriculum, which spells success in the classroom.
The Importance of Good Curriculum
Stephen Gilbreth, EdD
Assistant Superintendent, Learning Services
Of all of the things teachers are, first and foremost teachers are leaders. We lead school programs, other teachers, community organizations, and most importantly we are leaders in the classroom. Our students look to us to show them how to learn and how to operate in society. Our individual styles of leadership vary but there are 3 qualities that all leaders have:
Take this quiz to see what type of leader you are!
Before school starts back up again it is important to think about our actions and behaviors and how to be the best leader we can for our students. Our leadership skills are what can make or break a school year. A teacher’s leadership skills impact student learning, behavior, and connection to school.
If you feel like you need to brush up or improve your leadership skills here are a few ideas from across the internet:
There are tons of resources out there on how to build these skills if you are interested in working on your leadership skills for the classroom. It would be an investment well worth the time.
Whether you are one-to-one, have select computer lab time, or even limited access to technology, learning a few Google apps can be really helpful for amping up some lessons or even organizing your own teaching resources. Lucky for us, Google has its own training available for educators similar to the Apple training we blogged about last week! So what are the big differences and which one makes more sense for you to try to accomplish this summer?
The beauty of becoming a Google certified educator is that you can use Google resources no matter what type of device you are using. I just switched from a mac school to a chromebook school...I used Google apps before and I will continue to use them now! It is a great transferrable skill. Unlike the process for becoming an Apple certified teacher, becoming a Google certified educator does cost some money. Taking an Apple assessment simply required the click of a button. Taking a Google certification assessment requires you to register and pay a fee before an assessment is made available to you (within 24 hours).
Another big difference between the two distinguishments is the leveled certification Google offers. There is basically one track to becoming an Apple teacher...take the assessments and pass. The end. There is much less time commitment, especially since so much of Apple is built to be intuitive and the multiple choice assessments are easy to take and re-take. If your goal is to get that Google certified educator badge for your resume, you have to pass the level 1 or 2 certification assessment. While a lot of the Google apps are pretty intuitive, you are expected to know some specifics before attempting the $10 or $25 matching, multiple choice, and performance event based assessment. What I like about this is that there is a lot of work to becoming a Google certified educator, it really is an accomplishment to get through all of the work. I really like that they leveled their certifications to distinguish between the different skill levels needed to be a level 1 or level 2 Google certified educator.
Once you have become a level 2 educator, you do have the ability to become a trainer or innovator.
Here’s what you need to know before deciding if putting the time into Google training is something you want to do:
How often do you use or want to use Google apps?
If you never use Google apps and are just stepping into using them, there are a lot of training videos available on the Google educator site that have nothing to do with getting certification. It’s ok to dip your feet in and get a little bit of free training before diving into the full certification process! If you are ready to fully utilize Google and would like to integrate it into your curriculum next year, it might be a good time to dive right into the certification training!
How much time do you have to devote to pd this summer?
There is an ETA for each “chapter” of material so you have a good estimate of the time involved!
What prior knowledge do you have about Google apps?
If you have a lot of familiarity with Google apps, you may be able to take the certification quizzes without going through the whole training process. Google provides some sample exam questions so you know what to expect as well as an easy to read outline of what each chapter in the training entails. If you have no prior knowledge of Google apps, maybe you want to start at the free training/fundamental videos or level 1. Look through some of the material and it should be pretty easy to tell where you land!
I am in the process of level 2 training right now and I really like the layout of their training! I will give some updates as I learn and I’m excited to develop lessons where technology enriches the experience! Who else is up for some Google training this summer? Click here to get started!