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#BookSnaps are digital, visual representations of learning that showcase student voice and choice. #BookSnaps can be used at any grade level and for any subject. With that in mind, I would like to introduce a collaborative way to share and curate #BookSnaps using Google Slides.

Technology in the classroom does not automatically solve all management problems. In fact, I believe that technology amplifies “good” classroom management and magnifies “poor” classroom management. Recently, I was introduced to a new resource that I feel will help to promote student independence and streamline classroom management for educators. It is called Classroom Screen, a web-based tool created by a teacher from the Netherlands.

Gratitude boosts the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin–just like the prescription drugs Wellbutrin and Prozac. It’s wild, but being grateful literally changes the chemicals in your mind.

Fall is here, and what better time than a month into the school year to try a new Google Challenge. I am a huge fan of Google Slides in the classroom. Google Slides is a perfect resource for teachers and students alike. From presentations, collaborations, and interactive digital spaces; Google Slides offers endless possibilities for educational use. Recently, there has been a release of additional “Add-ons” for Google Slides which allows users to create without leaving the web page they are on. Check out my three favorites below and challenge yourself to use one in October!

Google has created a wonderful certification process that allows you to scaffold your learning. For instance, you don’t have to be a first adopter or a guru of all tools and all things Google to become certified. And with so many programs, features, and ongoing updates I have not met one person that knows EVERYTHING about Google, because Google is always changing features to better enhance the user experience -- which is what makes Google such a great classroom tool.

As #TheRookieAdmin, it only took a few weeks to discover a few "for sures" about my new role as an administrator:

  • There are a lot of REALLY long meetings!
  • At each of these meetings, my To-Do list grows exponentially.
  • While I'm away from the office, my EMAIL is reproducing at a rapid pace!

No matter your role in education, raise your hand if you can relate to the email monster!

I had heard of this “Zero Inbox” plan to stay organized, but I immediately thought, "That's impossible!" However, after watching Merlin Mann’s Google Tech Talk, I decided to create a few of my own Zero Inbox Tips.

When we know what our kids know, instruction runs smoother.
We know when it’s OK to skip forward because students are solid on that content.
We know when to pump the brakes because we’re getting those confused looks.
We know what little parts of a lesson are causing problems even though the kids get the majority of it.

In a previous post, I wrote about drones making their way into classrooms. Here, I’ll expand on that idea and dig deeper into how drones can impact curriculum in primary classrooms. Yes, these tools are useful simply for engagement, but they can also bring real learning substance to the classroom.

It’s August, and students everywhere are returning to school. For educators, this means a brand new set of minds are available to inspire and help to mold. It also means a brand new set of learners that come with their own experiences and needs. Identifying student needs is best met through some type of formative assessment. Whether given initially to inform teachers on where to start and to identify differentiated needs, or given at the end of the period to see if learners met the intended objective or if instruction needs to change, formative assessment has never been easier than with the use of EdTech tools.

To today’s students, annotating via post-it notes and highlighting in a book is as outdated as listening to cassette tapes.  So, how might today’s students connect to text in the 21st Century?

Snapchat! Why not?

Family communication should play a vital role in every classroom. Our students’ families deserve to know what’s happening in the classroom, along with info about upcoming events and student progress. This can be a time-consuming task, especially for those of us with large numbers of students. Fortunately, there are some great tools out there to help streamline the communication process.

The extent to which drones (often referred to as quadcopters or UAS - Unmanned Aircraft Systems) have influenced our world over the past couple of years is truly amazing. While much of the press they’ve received is negative and has reduced them to toy status, I believe these devices can be valuable teaching tools with the ability to provide our students with many learning opportunities, as well as skill development for the jobs of tomorrow.

Digital Storytelling allows students to use tools and resources to create multidimensional and multimodal projects to demonstrate their understanding. No longer are students limited to sharing their thinking or telling their story just one way. In addition to text on paper, students can write a blog post, create an interactive ebook, record a video or podcast, and share their end product with an audience outside of the traditional classroom.

When new ideas are conveyed in words, our brains have to work double time to make sense of them.  Our thinking is done in pictures. It’s almost like having to translate an entire class into a different language like Spanish or Japanese just to learn.  We can set students up for success if we’re willing to do some of that translation work for them. One easy way is to bring more visible thinking into class.  Making thinking visual (through visual notetaking or a variety of means) has great brain and learning benefits, including:

In the early 1990s there was a surge of instructional coaches in the area of literacy. From that point forward, Federal and State Initiatives have supported and encouraged schools across the country to implement support to colleagues through the use of coaches. Throughout the years, roles, titles, and job descriptions have morphed into what we have currently but the focus has remained comparatively similar to its inception: How can coaches support colleagues in pursuit of refining their practice to directly impact student achievement.

Tech tools or Web 2.0 tools, is transforming our work as educators, and more specifically the way we support students in the classroom. As schools bring more technology into their classrooms, teachers will in turn work to put more technology in the hands of their students. That is, if they feel comfortable doing so.

As a new principal, one of the first encounters I had was an angry parent. The parent entered the school office, visibly upset, and demanded to speak to the principal. I invited her into my office to get to the heart of the matter, once calmed down, she informed me that one of my teachers had failed to communicate a concern regarding her child. Our student had gone home to tell their parent they were upset with their teacher and had continued to go unresolved. I knew immediately that this required immediate change. As the meeting wrapped up, the first line of action I took was to inform my teachers the importance of early communication with students and their parents. This is the key to building stronger and positive relationships. We made a commitment as a staff to communicate promptly and with integrity to our students and their parents to avoid any miscommunication that lies down the road.