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Showing posts from 2014

Thanks-giving

Sometimes, the thanksgiving posts that clog my social media soaked life sound an awful lot like a celebrity at an awards show: "First of all, I want to thank God and my manager..." 

I get it-it's good to take stock and give thanks, even if it's only once a year. It's just terribly ironic that many Americans give thanks on their Facebook page, eat a huge meal, and then spend hundreds of dollars online or after a rousing fist-fight at the local mega-mart.

As for me, I'm going to eat a reasonable lunch with my parents, review math skills for my upcoming GRE, and hopefully catch a movie later. We're not big on sharing, so here's my thankful list.


thankful for a good memory of good timesthankful for forgiveness a huge world good books and good people who love books teachers to look up tomy own good healthmy Dad's sense of humormy mom's strength baby calvesfriends and thought partnersconcertssinus medicationseat belts dependable shoes and vestswild a…

The Power of Honesty in Teaching

Listening to NPR book podcast this weekend, I heard a powerful quote from the author of this book: control your memory or it will control you. This quote shook me because a very good friend recently told me that they were HIV positive. I was immediately upset, not just for my friend, but that there is such stigma associated with it. I know that within my own community, there is zero conversation or awareness of HIV, even though we know that our kids are often engaging in very risky behavior. So little has changed in the years since the epidemic first took place in many rural and suburban southern communities that they have become the newepicenter of the HIV/AIDScrisis in America.

So, I was faced with a quandary to chew over as I drove to a planning meeting for Arkansas Delta Writing Project- how would I 'control' this event in my life into something productive and less ugly? During our meeting to plan the upcoming reunion ADWP session, it hit me- like most questions I have in …

September Blog Challenge: Best of Teacher Technology Information

Two of the biggest challenges facing teachers wanting to use more technology in the classroom is the availability of devices, whether that's iPads, laptops, or cameras, and getting cut-to-the-point professional development. While there are certainly ways to gain access to more devices independently, such as creating a Donor's Choose project, that issue is often more of an administrative and school-site issue. However, I think teachers can gain access to high quality technology-centered development if they are willing to both demand higher quality professional development within their own schools while taking ownership of their development. One of the easiest ways to grab on to new professional development opportunities is to explore the internet (of course!) Here's a few ideas to get you started...

Best General Sites to Squeeze Professional Development Out Of (Least Time Commitment) Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook- I consider these "passive" professional development…

September Blog Challenge: Google Drive Apps

My school is currently in the middle of seismic shifts in technology. Just this year...

New evaluation system using the website Bloomboard to manage files and meetingsAll teachers now have Macbook Airs (previously desktops running Windows) Lesson plans to be uploaded through Google driveMoving to a new online gradebook system-called TAC for teacher access system  I'm sure other schools are also finding themselves attempting changes in technology; unfortunately, it seems like there is just never enough time in the school day to do everything teachers have to do, never mind the new technology tips and trips! However, technology can save time and deeply engage students. So, I'm challenging myself to blog about some of the new technology tips and tricks I've found really helpful through the month of September in the hopes that it might help someone out in internet-land. 
My first topic: Making Google Drive work for you... with apps! 
In Google Drive, when you click the big red …

The Power of Choice

Today was one of the only days in my teaching career where I walked away feeling like I had truly done the right thing by every student. Being an educator means that you will never know for sure if you are doing the right thing; everyone has an opinion about what you should be doing in your classroom, after all. Test prep, close reading, word walls, exit tickets-I've been advised to do all of that (and more) at some point in every single class period-as if there really is some perfect recipe for a lesson. Hint: there really aren't magic bullets in education. Sorry.

But here at the beginning of my fourth year, after a very special summer with the Arkansas Delta Writing Institute, I plunged into my classroom with something resembling confidence. Okay, maybe that's not the right word-fear mixed with passion multiplied by commitment all poured over the top of years worth of reflection, sweat, and tears (all baked at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 months-to terribly mix my metaphors).

Life Organization: Arc vs. Erin Condren Planners

I have yet to find the perfect planner organization system. I want my planner systems to be paper-based, flexible, and very mobile. In the last year, I've tried an Arc system (from Staples.com) and an Erin Condren life planner.

I fell in love with the Arc system because it is highly customizable. The hole punch is an expensive one-time purchase, but the notebook cover was very reasonable. It uses a series of discs to bind the pages together, so I can move pages and sections around and replace covers. I decided on the full-sized poly-plastic cover. This was great because I simply printed the pages I needed weekly or monthly. Crazy week? Different planning guide. While using this notebook, I had a monthly plan, daily plan, and a reference section. 
One negative I found with the Arc system is that regular printer paper tended to curl, as above. Most of the pages, such as the weekly pages, could be tossed at the end of the week. However, I like to keep at least the monthly pages as a …