The last two weeks have been very busy, so I have not really had much time to get to a blog post for March. However, I did spend these two weeks getting to work with Adobe Spark for a presentation I did on defining, creating, and reflecting on a professional learning network, or PLN. The embedded presentation below will take you to the Adobe Spark I created on this topic. I hope you enjoy it and please leave comments if you feel I left something out, or you have some advice of your own to give.
I would like to add a quick note on Adobe Spark, too. If you have never used this tool for presentation, I would recommend giving it a try. I wanted to try something new and this was a nice change of pace from Slides and Powerpoint. As with most of these tools, there is enough on the free account to create a nice presentation. If you are looking for more features to add to your work, then you will need to consider an upgrade for a price.
Students today are surrounded by technology. It is a large part of their life outside of school, and is also becoming more and more prevalent in the classroom. Along with the myriad list of rules and procedures teachers need to cover in the classroom, digital citizenship is now being added to that list. It is essential to educate students to be positive and productive members in an online community.
Digital citizenship can be defined as “the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use” (Ribble, 2017). This definition does seem rather broad and subjective, however, websites like Common Sense Media break this topic down further into smaller categories. If you are a teacher in North Carolina, digital citizenship is one of the four focus areas in the North Carolina Digital Learning Competencies. It is important to note that when reading through this section of the standards, there is much more for teachers to do than just “teach” digital citizenship. Words such as engage, model, demonstrate, and integrate are used as guides for what teachers should be doing with this topic (North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, n.d.).
Technology, especially in the form of social media, plays a major role in the life of students. Research from Cyberbullying.org shows that 95% of teens are online and a majority of them access the internet on a mobile device (Hinduja & Patchin, 2018). Along with the potential for cyberbullying, there is also a strong potential for students to overshare or post something inappropriate that could have a lasting impact on their future. The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) lists college admission, scholarships, sports, and employment as potential areas a negative digital footprint can affect (Fani, 2015). These four areas are what middle school and high school students are working towards for their future.
The development of critical thinking skills is a concept teachers address in their subject areas and is also important in digital citizenship, as well. “It appears that even young people, oft thought to be the tech savviest among us, are just as susceptible to believing falsehoods and information from questionable sources” (Perkins, 2016). With such a large number of teens accessing the internet, research shows this is also the place where they get their news. A survey posted on Common Sense Media shows that forty-seven percent of teens get their news from Facebook and only forty-four percent feel that they can tell real news from fake news online (Robb, 2017). The need for media literacy and critical thinking is essential in order to ensure that the news young people are reading is factual.
Resources like FOSI, Common Sense Media, and the North Carolina Digital Learning Competencies provide teachers resources to inform students of the dangers online, as well as, lessons with a positive point of view. It can be easy for those in education to constantly point out negative online behavior and the countless number of things that students shouldn’t do. However, this will not create the type of digital citizens we need for the future. Teachers and administrators strive to provide students with a school that is physically safe and welcoming. This same atmosphere must be considered for them as they navigate the online world where so much of their time is spent.
Padlet and Digital Citizenship
The embedded Padlet above is an example of how you can use this platform to create lessons on any topic…in this case Digital Citizenship. All of the material posted in this Padlet came from the Common Sense Education site and their digital citizenship curriculum. Much of their curriculum on this subject has been upgraded recently and is much easier to use. For example, the lesson quizzes are now force copy Google Forms making it much easier to link to another site or platform. The curriculum on Common Sense is broken down into six categories.
This material in the Padlet above is from the 6th grade curriculum and it only features lessons for three of the six categories. In each of the categories above, I included an overview that is slightly reworded from the one find on the Common Sense site. I then included the video (if one is in the lesson), the slide lesson (already made by Common Sense), and the lesson quiz. I like to include videos with each of the lessons, so if there isn’t one in the specific lesson, you can always search the Common Sense website and find something on that topic.
I have created three Padlets for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade teachers to use in their classrooms over the next few weeks. I have never used Padlet like this before and I am hoping it will be successful. I will add to this post later to provide feedback from the students and teachers.
Since moving into the position of technology facilitator, I have been making more use of my school Youtube account. I find myself making more videos now to help train staff and students on a variety of apps or software that is used in the classroom and school. I have also returned to school for certification and now have assignments that require me to make videos.
When I first discovered this about a month ago, it was one of those moments where I thought, ‘”Why has it taken me so long to discover this and why does it surprise me that this is available?” What prompted me to write this post is that when I started mentioning these files to others at my school, they didn’t know they existed either. The best thing about these files is that they are royalty free.
To access these files you will need to go to your profile section in the top right and click on Creator Studio.
Once in the Creator studio, scroll down to Create and select Audio Library.
As you can see in the image below, there are music and sound effect tabs for you to select. Below that you can see how you can select what type of music or sound effects you are looking for based on a variety of categories (Genre, Mood, Instrument, etc.).
One way I have used this is with PowerPoint presentations. I am still trying to work on using these files with Google Slides. It is not that hard of a process, but with a busy schedule I have just found it easier to insert and audio file into PowerPoint. I also might save that topic for a future post. After showing these files to some students at my school, they also found it to be a nice addition to their presentations.
It’s December 30th and the new year is almost here. I thought I would make my December post about a resolution I would like to make for 2019. Last year, I decided to make a resolution that was more about adding something to my life, instead of trying to take something away or give something up. I wanted to do the same thing this year.
I did a post back in January of 2018 about how I wanted to start learning Welsh. While there were moments throughout the year where I struggled to squeeze in a few lessons during the week, I am still studying with Duolingo at least 3 -4 times a week. I can’t say that I am really fluent, but I have learned a few words and phrases, as well as, expanded my knowledge of Welsh history and culture.
Since the start of the winter break more than a week ago, I found myself searching opera on my Freegal app. I was amazed at how many famous works are available. I began listening to La Boheme, Tosca, Madame Butterfly – to name a few. I didn’t force myself to listen from Act 1 all the way to the end, but instead I just scrolled through the opera listening for a minute or two to see if the song appealed to me. Some did and some didn’t. I even came across one recording titled – 100 Essential Opera Arias, Songs, and Overtures. This is one I have been listening to quite a bit and getting some of the greatest hits of opera. It is also increasing my interest in listening to the entire opera instead of just one or two arias.
This evening I decided to make listening to opera and learning more about it my resolution for 2019. I am going to try and listen to an opera a month for the entire year. I might even look into getting tickets for an Opera Carolina performance.
I will end this post with my current favorite from Puccini’s La Boheme – Che gelida manina. I’ve included the original text, the translation, and a video. Enjoy and Happy New Year!
Italian Text of Che Gelida Manina
Che gelida manina, se la lasci riscaldar. Cercar che giova?
Al buio non si trova.
Ma per fortuna é una notte di luna, e qui la luna labbiamo vicina. Aspetti, signorina, le dirò con due parole chi son, e che faccio, come vivo. Vuole? Chi son? Sono un poeta. Che cosa faccio? Scrivo. E come vivo? Vivo. In povertà mia lieta scialo da gran signore rime ed inni damore. Per sogni e per chimere e per castelli in aria, lanima ho milionaria. Talor dal mio forziere ruban tutti i gioelli due ladri, gli occhi belli. Ventrar con voi pur ora, ed i miei sogni usati e i bei sogni miei, tosto si dileguar! Ma il furto non maccora, poiché, poiché vha preso stanza la speranza! Or che mi conoscete, parlate voi, deh! Parlate. Chi siete? Vi piaccia dir!
What a frozen little hand,
let me warm it for you. What’s the use of looking? We won’t find it in the dark. But luckily it’s a moonlit night, and the moon is near us here. Wait, mademoiselle, I will tell you in two words, who I am, what I do, and how I live. May I? Who am I? I am a poet. What do I do? I write. And how do I live? I live. In my carefree poverty I squander rhymes and love songs like a lord. When it comes to dreams and visions and castles in the air, I’ve the soul of a millionaire. From time to time two thieves steal all the jewels out of my safe, two pretty eyes. They came in with you just now, and my customary dreams my lovely dreams, melted at once into thin air! Bu the theft doesn’t anger me, for their place has been taken by hope! Now that you know all about me, you tell me who you are. Please do!
As the technology facilitator for a middle school and also a member of the school leadership team, I get to work closely with administration and help implement any plans they have regarding technology or tech resources. One plan the administrative team had was to make videos of one planning session on each grade level. This video would serve as an exemplar for the other staff to watch and use as a model for their sessions. I was responsible for recording the entire session, then editing it and looking for the most important parts to cut and make into a shorter video – about 5 or 6 minutes. This was quite a challenge, but I made an interesting observation about technology resources while reviewing one session.
A Baseline for Technology Resources
As I was editing one grade level’s video, I observed how consistent they were with their use of resources. They had a great rapport with each other and seemed to all be on the same page in terms of content, standards, schedule, and what tech resources they were using. They seemed to have come to an agreement in terms of what they would use as teachers and with the students. They were consistent with posting all the materials for students on Google Classroom and they had their shared resources on Google Drive that were quick and easy to find. They also used other resources like the Commons section in Canvas and Discovery Education to find lessons, videos, and assessments. They all used the exact same resources when it came to specific parts of their planning and established this as a baseline. It was something that I had not seen in the other planning sessions and something I had never experienced as a teacher. So often, everybody finds their own apps or sites they like to use and when they get together to plan everybody is pulling from different resources.
I think this is something to consider when trying to establish norms in a planning session. There is so much out there that it can be very overwhelming. It can also take up valuable planning time trying to sort through and decide who is doing what each time you meet. The idea of having a specific shared folder(s), a specific LMS for the students, and specific place(s) to pull resources from will make planning much more efficient and productive.
Digital Resources for Charlotte Mecklenburg Teachers
This post is going to be specifically for teachers in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School District. One Access is a resource that I thought I knew about until I attended a professional development session last spring. I thought it was just a way for students to access the Charlotte Mecklenburg library with their student ID. I was amazed to find out what resources are available for teachers and students, and also how these resources can be used on a personal level, as well.
The videos below explain how to log on to One Access. This is followed by an explanation of three resources that I use quite a bit, both personally and professionally.
Freegal music is a great resource for music teachers or if you are a teacher that likes to play music in the classroom while students are working or doing activities. It has a wide selection of artists in a variety of genres – classical, pop, R&B, jazz. As a music major in college with a concentration in jazz, I was amazed at the selection. Some of the albums listed on here I have never seen in stores (back when there were record and CD stores – remember Tower Records?). Some of the albums on here I discovered were recorded overseas and never even released in the States. The only negative to this resource is that the streaming is limited to only 5 hours a day. It’s free, so it’s hard to complain about the time limit.
The last resource I cover is Mango Languages. Like the name states, it is a site where you can work on languages. It does require you to set up an account with either your work or personal email. Students will also need to create an account, but after some research into their MOU it is acceptable for students. I would suggest that they continue to use their CMS student ID as their username to keep consistent with what is already on file with the Charlotte Mecklenburg library. One way I used this in class was to connect with a novel study we did. We were reading the novel, The Fighting Ground by Avi. There are Hessian soldiers in the story who speak German in parts of the book. The students also researched that France sent soldiers to help the colonist in the war. After reading the novel, the students could choose between working on German or French, or both. They had to do one complete lesson, though many of them continued throughout the rest of the year or found another language to study. On a personal note, my wife’s native language is Russian and we are trying to keep our daughter fluent with the language. I have been using Mango Languages to learn the language and encourage my daughter to do the same. Like Lynda.com, this site is also completely free when accessed through the One Access.
I hope you find the videos below useful. Please comment on this blog if you find another valuable resource on this site.
I am really trying to stick to writing a post a month and have been struggling for the past week with a topic. The idea finally occurred to me after staring at it every day since May 1st.
The image above is from a calendar we have at home on the refrigerator. One of my daughter’s chores is to change the dates at the start of each month. She makes note of any important dates we need to remember throughout the month – family birthdays, doctors appointments, or school functions. However, when I got home from school on May 1st and saw the updated calendar, I was surprised at something my daughter thought important enough to go on the calendar.
I covered the name to respect their privacy, but you can see that on May 2nd a birthday is marked. This is my daughter’s teacher, and along with making her an elaborately decorated pop up card, she also added her birthday to our refrigerator calendar.
After helping my daughter get her things ready for school the next day and make sure the card was packed safely in her book bag, I decided to take a picture of the calendar and email it to her teacher. I figured she would appreciate knowing that one of her students placed her on the family calendar. She quickly responded with, “Oh my gosh! I feel so important! Thank you :)”.
For the past week, I’ve been thinking about the positive impact we can have on students. An impact strong enough that they not only remember our birthday, but think it important enough to put it on a family calendar. For me, school and birthday never go together because mine is August 11. I do not expect any of my former, or future students, to think of this during the final days of their summer break. I have been wondering, though, about other ways they might remember me and how I might have an impact on them.
I don’t mean to sound like I am looking for acknowledgement from my students or parents. I think the only reason I emailed a picture of it was because I am a teacher and I know how much a little gesture like that from a student can mean. The image above and this blog is more about having a reminder of the importance we might have on our students and never know about it. And the importance of passing something like this on to a teacher, especially when it is Teacher Appreciation Week. To get an email like this can do wonders to inspire a teacher, or give them the motivation to get through a rough day, week, etc. I also have this image printed out on my desk now to remind me that maybe I am on someone’s calendar. Maybe I made an impact on a student like this. It’s enough to change my mood and get me back into a more positive frame of mind. Making the calendar – a small, but very significant achievement.