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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thirty-day blogging challenge

Hi, all.  Just read about this 30-day blogging challenge for September, and I'm going to do it! The craziness of September has already begun, but this will help me get focused. See the questions below:

Reflective Teaching Questions: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers
Day 1
Write your goals for the school year. Be as specific or abstract as you’d like to be!
Day 2
Write about one piece of technology that you would like to try this year, and why. You might also write about what you’re hoping to see out of this edtech integration.
Day 3
Discuss one “observation” area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.
Day 4
Respond: What do you love the most about teaching?
Day 5
Post a picture of your classroom, and describe what you see–and what you don’t see that you’d like to.
Day 6
Explain: What does a good mentor “do”?
Day 7
Who was or is your most inspirational colleague, and why?
Day 8
What’s in your desk drawer, and what can you infer from those contents?
Day 9
Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).
Day 10
Share five random facts about yourself.
Share four things from your bucket list.
Share three things that you hope for this year, as a “person” or an educator.
Share two things that have made you laugh or cry as an educator.
Share one thing you wish more people knew about you.
Day 11
What is your favorite part of the school day and why?
Day 12
How do you envision your teaching changing over the next five years?
Day 13
Name the top edtech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom, and rank them in terms of their perceived (by you) effectiveness.
Day 14
What is feedback for learning, and how well do you give it to students?
Day 15
Name three strengths you have as an educator.
Day 16
If you could have one superpower to use in the classroom, what would it be and how would it help?
Day 17
What do you think is the most challenging issue in education today?
Day 18
Create a metaphor/simile/analogy that describes your teaching philosophy. For example, a “teacher is a ________…”
Day 19
Name three powerful students can reflect on their learning, then discuss closely the one you use most often.
Day 20
How do you curate student work–or help them do it themselves?
Day 21
Do you have other hobbies/interests that you bring into your classroom teaching? Explain.
Day 22
What does your PLN look like, and what does it to for your teaching?
Day 23
Write about one way that you “meaningfully” involve the community in the learning in your classroom. If you don’t yet do so, discuss one way you could get started.
Day 24
Which learning trend captures your attention the most, and why? (Mobile learning, project-based learning, game-based learning, etc.)
Day 25
The ideal collaboration between students–what would it look like?
Day 26
What are your three favorite go-to sites for help/tips/resources in your teaching?
Day 27
What role do weekends and holidays play in your teaching?
Day 28
Respond: Should technology drive curriculum, or vice versa?
Day 29
How have you changed as an educator since you first started?
Day 30
What would you do (as a teacher) if you weren’t afraid?
Reflective Teaching Questions: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers
If anyone else wants to do this challenge, let me know at Have fun!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bye, bye summer: UDL Now!, EdCamp Malden, curriculum units, new tech, Twitter chats, fun!

Hi, all.  It's the end, my friends.  We go back on August 25, so this post will be the last blog for a while.  Although my professional reading did not get completed as scheduled, I did poke around a lot of books and get some ideas for this coming year.

What I'm loving right now is UDL Now! by Katie Novak, from right up the road in Chelmsford, MA.  I've studied UDL a bit in the past, so this book was an excellent refresher.  Universal Design for Learning is a philosophy of providing learners with multiple ways to access information and multiple ways to show what they know.  It's based on brain science but also on common sense!  Good teaching provides kids with a classroom that is high engagement, low stress.  I'd definitely recommend this book--it was written in a refreshing style that really appealed to me as a learner!

I also did a lot of planning for EdCamp Malden this summer.  The event is Saturday, October 18 at Malden High School (free parking and an easy walk from the Orange Line!).  All are welcome, and the theme for 2014 is ELL Success.  With the advent of RETELL and the increasing number of English Language Learners in our district and nearby districts, we decided that this theme would give the day some focus without limiting it too much.  Please get your FREE ticket today at  I'm really proud of my colleagues and administrators for giving this PD model a try and offering so much help to get it started.  It will be a great day.

I got to work on two curriculum units this summer: Technology Synthesis for 10th grade (with MT Anderson's Feed as an anchor text) and a high school unit on argument writing with editorials from The Boston Globe.  First drafts, but it's good to get something down on paper and really think through a long-term plan!  The 2011 Frameworks (CCSS) are truly awesome.

I learned how to use HootSuite, Tweet Deck, Canva, and Storify.

I also made a LOT of new friends this summer at an AP Summer Institute and on Twitter.  Here's a menu of Twitter chats I enjoy.  If you have no other time for PD or just want to find some thinking partners, check these out!  All times are EST.  If any of the info is wrong, please let me know.  Some chats were on summer vacation, but they're going now.  Click on the links for more info.

#edchatri is Sundays from 8 to 9 pm
#ellchat is Mondays from 9 to 10 pm
#elachat is first and last Tuesdays from 8 to 9 pm
#aplitchat is Sundays from 9 to 10 pm
#aplangchat is Wednesdays from 7 to 8 pm.  Check out our FIRST EVER chat:
#nctechat is the third Sunday of every month, from 8 to 9 pm
#edchatma starts August 19th and will be 1st and 3rd Tuesdays from 9-10 pm
#engchat is Mondays from 7 to 8 pm

I did a lot of non-teaching stuff too.  Saw friends and family and just chillaxed.  Traveled locally.  Read all of Rainbow Rowell's novels.  Remarkable!

Happy back to school, everyone!  Have an awesome fall!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

How to participate in a Twitter chat (for beginners!)

Hi, folks.  Can't believe it's August.  I'm freaking out.  I'm so excited for the new school year, but August came quickly!

#aplangchat starts Wednesday, August 13th from 7-8 pm EST.  Here are some notes for people who want to give Twitter chats a try.

How to participate in a Twitter chat
(either just read along or share)

To find a Twitter chat you might be interested in:

If these times don't seem right, search for the hashtag and see when people were using it the most.

Sometimes people use a hashtag in a chat.  Sometimes they just use it to share ideas that pertain to a specific group of people.  For examples, if I'm tweeting about the CCSS for ELA, I might add #engchat, #nctechat, #aplitchat, #aplangchat, or another hashtag.

Find out what time the chat is and the hashtag (#aplangchat is Wednesdays from 7-8 pm EST, starting August 13.)

Open your Twitter account. 

In the search box on top, type the hashtag you want to follow.

Then click "ALL" so you see all the posts made during the chat.

Just watch the conversation.  Depending on how many people are reading/writing, it will go quickly. Don't freak out.  You can always go back and read what you missed.

You may want to follow people as the chat goes on.  That way, you'll be friends for life!  Or you can unfollow them whenever you want to.

If you want to say something, open "compose new tweet" box.  

Type the hashtag (#aplangchat) into your comment before you send it.  That way, everyone following will see your idea.

You might have to toggle back and forth between the chat itself, notifications (if someone favorites or retweets your tweet), and messages (if someone sends you a direct message). 

Notifications will also tell you if someone has replied to one of your ideas, leading to a conversation.  Make sure you keep using the hashtag in your posts if you want everyone following the chat to see it.

There are sites to help you manage multiple Twitter actions at the same time, such as Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and TweetChat, but don’t worry about those sites for a while.  Get used to Twitter chats first. 

If the chat is an hour long, and you are late or only want to stay for a while, that's cool.  If you only want to read and not contribute, that's also okay.  High engagement, low stress!

It's totally okay to get involved in a conversation with one or a few people on the side and lose track of what's going on in the bigger chat.  You can always go back and read what you missed. 

That's it!