I Voted

img_4723Unexpected tears slid down my face as I walked to the community polling location this morning. A woman was actually on the ballot as the presidential nominee from a major party. Men and women took her seriously enough to put their trust in her to be the president of the United States of America. Honestly, when I was my students’ age,  I didn’t think this would happen in my lifetime. But it happened today. And I voted.

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Time for a Sprint

Your protagonist gets a scar. This is a ten minute sprint. Go!

Writing sprints are the NaNoWriMo way to race through a scene, change things up in your novel, or just pound out some more words. To join the sprints, follow the hashtag @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter or check the NaNoWriMo YouTube channel. The YouTube vlogs use the term Write Ins in print but you’ll hear “word sprints” in their words. Be prepared to be energized!

Check out the first Write In for 2016 right here.

Does Your Class Kahoot?

cody kahoot

Do you Kahoot? Review has never been so fun as an envigorating round of Kahoot, an interactive quiz game. This proud student in the photo here just won a game where we reviewed Google icons. Want to see students fully engaged and on the edge of their seats over icons? This is your game. Reasons I highly recommend Kahoot!:

  • Kahoot! is highly engaging
  • Free
  • No ads
  • Create your own Kahoot! games
  • Students can create their own games (and they do, because its just that easy to learn and fun to play)
  • The Kahoot! team, based in England, are just the nicest crew

Getting started with  Kahoot! is as easy as a few clicks. Visual learners, this video will walk you through the sign in and quiz creation process. To try my Google Apps icons game, click here.

Three tips to help you get started, based on my experience:

  1. Let the students figure out how to play on their own. Figuring it out is a quick lesson in learning.
  2. Establish guidelines for students to use when entering their nicknames that will appear on screen. In my class, students must use their first name and any symbol or emoji they choose, but cannot add any other words. This allows for creativity and keeps down the smack talk.
  3. Celebrate the wins!

kahoot logo

New Year Goals

Screen shot 2015-08-02 at 8.22.47 AMNew year, new goals. Getting off to a solid start to the new school year involves self-evaluation and creating goals for the school year. In the past, I’ve tried a few approaches. The “address all weak areas” type of goals turned out to be depressing and showed little actual improvements. The “super-teacher in training” relied on assessment that compared me to national stars, and thus felt unauthentic. In both cases, I was trying to transform myself into someone who was simply not me. Jennifer Gonzalez in Cult of Pedagogy presents an 8 Paths for Self Improvement that exhibit balance between self-care, classroom management, and professional learning. Her approach nudged me to let go of the more traditional, stuffy, goal setting plans and focus on what really matters.  After all, these are my own goals, so focusing on my own abilities and areas of growth that I honestly want to develop is key.

Last year, at a staff meeting we were told to jot down some goals, which we put into an envelope. The first problem with this was clear: the goals would be hidden. The simple resolution was to take a picture. Pictures as notes is a technique that works like a gem for me. These goals were not traditional educational goals, and instead focused on gently pushing me to become a better me. I liked them; they were comfortable. For the first time in 25 years, my goals involved happiness. Imagine that!

goals 2014

This year, I’m continuing the philosophy of self-improvement. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe famously stated, “I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element.” This school year, I’m committing to making myself a better me, as a person, educator, and team member. Here we go.

- Exercise Hard -