As an educator, you should always be trying to improve yourself. There are many avenues in which you can do this. The obvious one…and the one most everyone had to take in years past…is continuing education through the college system. You worked from your bachelor degree, on to your master’s, and maybe even a doctorate. Your other option was to work toward another degree/major. These choices never appealed to me. I never felt a need or passion to work toward another degree. I have nothing against advanced degrees and I applaud anyone who works to achieve them, I simply do not see the need for it in my situation. If I don’t have the drive to do it, I will not be successful with it. This may change in the years to come, but right now I do not want to sacrifice my time or money working toward something just because I am “supposed to”.
Don’t get me wrong, I love learning new things. That is why I love what I do…things are always changing and it is my job to stay on top of that. I do not choose to grow professionally through college courses. My learning choice is my PLN.
- I do my best to keep up with my Twitter stream. I have met quite a few amazing educators through Twitter and look forward to what many share on a daily basis.
- I also enjoy a few Twitter chats a week. #TXed is my favorite chat. I will drop in on others randomly to see what is being discussed that day.
- I am a blog follower, so Monday evening is usually my time to go through my RSS feed to see what I can discover.
- I enjoy a few webinars a week: Two Guys and some iPads and EduAllStars are my favorites.
- My fellow ITS are a great resource for me. We share all the time and learn from each other.
Does not having a master’s degree make me less successful at my job? I would argue NO. I am continuing to grow as an educator and what I am learning is directly related to my position. I can work at my pace and focus on what I feel is most important for the teachers and students I am supporting. Not only that, as the technology and needs change, so can my focus.
My PLN is what works best for me. That does not mean it is the right choice for everyone. Keep in mind as you work through your years of service, the important thing is that you grow as an educator. How you do it is up to you. Spend some time contemplating the different alternatives available to you. Find what works best for you and focus your efforts there.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear Greg Tang speak to a room of math educators. He had the room on the edge of their seats. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak don’t pass it up. His message was very clear to me that day: Math should be fun, easy, and it should involve common sense.
He shared some “tricks” with us that day. They really aren’t tricks…it is just looking at math with a common sense approach. I was engaged the entire time. I don’t know how many times I sat there thinking “duh…why didn’t I ever see that before?!?” He talks often about breaking down numbers into workable problems, such as breaking down 15 into a 10 and a 5. It is hard to work the problem “84 x 15= __” in your head. Instead break it down into “84 x 10” and “84 x 5”. We know instantly that 84 x 10=840. Since 5 is half of 10 84 x 5 will equal half of 84 x 10…420. Now add those together and you get 1260. That is much easier…and we used common sense to solve it.
He also preaches a lot about getting students to learn their facts. It is not OK for kids to be counting on fingers. They should know their facts instantly. He has a bunch of fun mental math games on his website GregTangMath.com. They are free to play and will build up speed and accuracy for multiple math concepts, not just adding and multiplying. They also give you the ability to set level of play so they work for students at all levels. The site is definitely worth a look.
My favorite game on his site is Kahooma. The game is addicting! It is a puzzle of math problems. You start with multiple problems, finding solutions to each part. Then your answers become your next problem that you need to solve! You can play them online: Addition, Negatives, Times, and Fractions. You can set the level for your students (or yourselves) to determine how tough it is going to be. He also has Addition, Negatives, and Times available as apps in iTunes. Kids are practicing math facts without even realizing they are doing it! I am warning you…if you don’t want to get hooked, don’t start playing.
Aimee Bartis, @aimeegbartis, and Carrie Ross, @CarrieRossTX, have both nominated me for a Sunshine Award. In the words of these remarkable women…
The Sunshine award gives others an opportunity to learn more about me as a blogger and then, in turn, I will send sunshine the way of 11 other amazing bloggers for you to get to know!
Both Aimee and Carrie are go-getters in education. They are great to bounce ideas off of or steal ideas from :o). They are also both passionate about what they do and realize that our jobs as educators directly affects the future of each student we come in contact with, both directly in the classrooms and indirectly through programs, lessons, and activities we develop as well as staff development we provide.
Here are the Sunshine Award Rules:
- Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
- Share 11 random facts about yourself.
- Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
- List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
- Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)
Here are My 11 Random Facts…
- I am a sports junkie. I love to play and watch baseball, football, and basketball. It is what I grew up around.
- My family will ALWAYS come first. I am nothing without them.
- I love the outdoors. We spend a lot of time hiking and camping.
- We love to try new places when we are camping. We don’t go to the same places very often. We love new areas to explore.
- I enjoy working with my hands. I like woodworking and tinkering with things in the garage.
- If asked, I will try to help all I can, but I do not do well when being told to do something. I would not have made it in the military.
- I like to sing and normally sing for 1 or 2 weddings each year. My daughter, who is 10, is now singing with me.
- I am originally from South Dakota and grew up on a farm. Some day I would not mind returning there. I loved the work and the life but could not handle borrowing money with no regular income or guarantee I could pay it back. If I won the lottery and didn’t have to worry about money I would farm.
- I share a birthday with Dr. Seuss. I know that explains a lot.
- They say my son is exactly like me. I am sorry…
- I hate snow…probably because I spent much of my life shoveling it!
Here are the Questions from Aimee
1. Do you prefer to shop in stores or online? I shop online if at all possible. Amazon is my friend.
2. How many pairs of shoes do you own? 7 or 8…totally a girl question by the way!
3. What is your favorite type of music? Favorite band or song? My playlist is very diverse. It depends on the day. My favorite bands/performers in no particular order are the Zach Brown Band, Metallica, KISS, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Daughtry, and Linkin Park
4. Cats or Dogs? Why… Dogs. Hate cats…bad childhood memory.
5. What is your typical bedtime? Sometime between midnight and 1:00 AM.
6. Favorite twitter chat? #txed
7. Democrat/Republican/Other? I am not strongly one way or the other.
8. Best place you ever vacationed? We did our National Park Tour last year. 7 National Parks in 2 weeks with a tent. I can’t wait to see if we can top it this year!
9. Best book you’ve read in 2013? Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess
10. Favorite television show when you were growing up? Saturday Night Live
11. What is one thing you never/rarely share that you are exceptionally proud of? It’s not a thing…it’s a person: my mother. She is an angel here on Earth. I have never met a more caring person in my life and know I never will. Her strength is amazing.
My 11 Bloggers to Follow
- Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd): nesloneyflipped.blogspot.com
- Rafranz Davis (@rafranzdavis): rafranzdavis.com
- Jennifer Wagner (@jwagner_wagner): jennifersteachingtools.blogspot.com
- Drew Minock (@techminock): twoguysandsomeipads.com
- Brad Waid (@techbradwaid): twoguysandsomeipads.com
- Tom Spall (@tommyspall): tommyspall.blogspot.com
- Jessica Johnston (@edtechchic): edtechchic.com
- Brad Wilson (@dreambition): 21innovate.com
- Matt Gomez (@mattbgomez): mattBgomez.com
- Hal Roberts (@hallroberts): pirateleader.blogspot.com
- Amber Teamann (@8Amber8): technicallyteamann.com
You can answer the same questions Aimee gave to me. Thank you for the passion you bring to our great profession!
Working with multiple campuses can present many challenges, one of which is “being there”…even when you aren’t. Many times an email with some captured images is enough to guide a colleague through a rough spot with a program or device. There are times when images are not enough. A video would solve all your problems. There are many screen capturing options out there, but @RobynHrivnatz pointed me toward a free, simple option that has worked very well for me: Community Clips. Community Clips is a Microsoft product that allows you to record all, or part, of your screen and save it as a .wmv file. It records your computer screen as well as audio so you can walk and talk through a process, then share with whomever you need.
You will first need to download and install the software. It is a small download file that you can get here: Community Clips Download
Once Community Clips is installed, open the program. It will be found in your all programs menu inside a Microsoft Office Labs folder.
An icon will appear in your system tray. It looks like a computer monitor with a question mark on it. Left click the icon to display your menu. You have options to record the entire screen, record an application, or record a region of the screen. Choose what best fits your needs.
A window will pop up letting you know that Community Clips is ready to record. Click OK and the icon in the system tray will start blinking red. This lets you know you are recording. When you have finished recording, click the icon once more and it will prompt you to keep recording or stop recording. Choose to stop recording. You will be prompted to save your work.
That’s it! The quality/resolution of the video is quite good. I think you will be happy with the results.