Sunday, September 20, 2015

Be a Daring Defender, Part 2

Last time I blogged about Change, Innovation, and Tenacity and this time I want to finish this discussion by tackling Positivity and Collaboration.  Among my friends I've sometimes been accused of being a bit of a Polyanna who chooses to be happy. I think that's because I truly believe that
....Happiness is a Choice or that


Stay Positive by Staying Out 
of The Teacher's Lounge!
And some days, it's an EFFORT! LOL I'm going into MAP testing season tomorrow, so I'll be having my waitress smile on most of the day. Yes, I was a waitress in my 20's when I needed 2 jobs to live in Downtown Baltimore...one of the best experiences of my life!  Taught me how to fake it, till you make it, stay positive, let things roll off my back, and keep smiling. (Even when inside I sometimes wanna let the expletives fly!)  All great training to be a middle school teacher!


Don't Be a Funpire!
Anyway, in my 23+ years of teaching I have noticed that sometimes the environment in a school can lean toxic if you LET IT. Stay out of the teacher's lounge! It's where great ideas go to DIE. It's where bright innovative ideas, positivity & teacher collaboration is looked upon with either distrust, askance, or worse, mockery. This is where the Debbie Downers and Toxic Teds hang out. You know, the funpires. They suck the fun out of life! So stay outta there! Me? I usually eat my lunch alone in our TV studio reading TV recaps, BRAVO blogs, and celebrity gossip. That centers me. I NEED quiet for at least 30 min in the middle of the day to be centered. Don't judge me. ;-) Here's an idea:

Reclaim The Teacher's Lounge!
Watch my AWESOME CUE, friend Mike Lawrence talk about this and collaboration.



I love the Yes, and bit! I was also a community theatre kid, too! Brainstorm collaboration ideas with other teachers and give them a chance to say "Yes, and" how about this? This is also a great technique to brainstorm and crowdsource with our kiddos for the start of a project or product! Give it a try! Thanks Mike for a truly inspiring TEDx talk!


Collaborate Generously IRL or VRL!
OK, but what if you feel all alone and your school is a toxic place when it comes to collaborating innovative new ideas and the thought of reclaiming the teacher's lounge it is either exhausting or impossible? Why not seek out the virtual teachers lounge that is Twitter? And bonus!... it's a positive place! Just last night one our awesome Twitter PLN, Kim Thompson shared this AMAZING book review project idea that she did with her kiddos using QR Codes and Google Docs! Here's how it went down!

Which led me to, of course, comment on her excellent blog and then share it out!


I could TOTALLY see the above lesson involve a collaboration with your friendly neighborhood Teacher Librarian, ELA and your Art teacher!  All three subjects working together & empowering student creativity and artistic talents and giving the kiddos a display gallery space for those products! Brilliant!


Visiting the Virtual Teacher's lounge of Twitter where sharing IS caring and people are supportive and positive is a good thing! Use a combination of your favourite Education hashtags! #TLChat,  #EngChat, #SSChat, or whatever fits best! You can also collaborate virtually! Why not try:  Google Hangouts? Skype an Author or classroom? QR Codes? Vine? or Instagram?

Choose Share, share, share, and collaborate your awesome ideas for true education happiness!

Defend Our Kiddos
Part of the what I hated most about the negativity in my teacher's lounge were the teachers ragging on and talking crap about some of our kiddos. That really pissed me off. Sorry for the language, but man oh man, that's just right out! Because, like the graphic above, every kid (and person) is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Don't pollute other teacher's opinion of a kiddo - defend them. Stand up for them. Needless to say,
 Think before you comment. It shows more about you than it does about the topic of conversation and remember to be cool, don't be all uncool! (Thank you, Countess LuAnn!)





And remember, haters gonna hate, don't let petty professional jealousy stop you from being your awesome, sharing, innovative, collaborative, & defending self! Haters hate because the cool stuff you do makes them look bad and feel secretly guilty for being somewhat of a slacker.  Shrug it off, smile brightly (that KILLS them!) & keep moving forward!
Cheers dears!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Be a Daring Defender, Part 1


Hey gang! It's the beginning of a new school year, so let's put into perspective why we're here. Why we do what we do. And even when you may be testing 89 days out of 180 - there will always be time to do some really great things for our kiddos.

Even one or two lessons of AWESOME can change a life, mind, and outlook of a reluctant learner (or fellow teacher!) And gee, I think this post will have to be in 2 parts and please bear with my conversational tone which is high overdrive today. This is a blog not a novel. 
Change & Innovation
So embrace some change in your school or classroom. Try something NEW this year! Even if it
scares you. Especially if it scares you! I'm in my Danielson evaluation year this year & am
quietly freaking out over wanting to do a GREAT job in my observations. I really haven't been observed formally in YEARS!----

Try something new, and if you don't like it, you don't have to keep doing it! I know, I know... I prattle on a LOT about this - embracing change, embracing the fail - am I trying to convince you or myself? Both? I've previously blogged passionately that when it comes to new technology or new teaching trends You Don't Have to Marry It... just Date it! So why not give it a swing?! What exactly? That's YOUR call!

Is it BYOD? Makerspace? Google Hangouts? Skype an Author or classroom? QR Codes? Vine? Instagram? Twitter? Lesson Paths (formerly Mentor Mob)? Shoot....it could even just be something small like setting your alarm 15 min earlier and getting to school earlier. (I'm trying that this year, though I've only been successfully EXTRA early fifteen min twice, LOL) It doesn't matter what the Something is, just pick one and give it a whirl and then do it. That's how we grow!

Tenacity & Grit
Stick with it - even when it gets hard.  This may be slightly contrary to the above paragraph, but keep
reading! How can we preach to our kiddos to stick with their goals, studies, a new piece of technology or learning if we throw up our hands too easily?

Sometimes I wonder why our kids seem to give up too easily in school or want things spoon fed when I know that when it comes to gaming they are TENACIOUS!
But I admit, I've done it. Given up. I could write whole paragraphs at a few things I've attempted, tried, and failed. (National Certification- bought the box, never started)

Some things I've given up easily (Facebook) and some things still burn inside and haunt me. But I keep going. One success was Second Life. I tried being good at it many times, I quit and gave up 20 times over six months before I "got" it. The learning curve was WAY STEEP!  But I did, eventually get good at it. Building, creating and teaching in a beautiful virtual world. Forget that it's sorta OUT now (because it WAS so hard & expensive?), I learned it. I loved it.  Like Photoshop which I've used for over 10 years now, and it's also very hard but I'm still learning.

Stick with it! Show tenacity, grit, determination. But forgive yourself also if, after giving it a fair try, you just don't like it or it just is causing you too much anxiety. It's all about balance. You can do it! Heck, maybe someday I'll run a marathon!
And maybe someday  monkeys might fly outta my butt, too! LOL

It's OK, I ain't perfect. I'm actually letting go of a LOT this year since I know it will be hard one for me. Step one was painful, letting go  and passing over the management and running of the  #TLChat Virtual Cafe monthly webinar series to the amazing Librarian Tiff (OK, she makes it easier!) I did it for 5+ years after Joyce Valenza created it and I LOVED it...but I have to learn to let go of some things to give me some head space to do a good job at my job and cope this year...and that's...OK! Because, I'm Good enough, I'm smart enough....
Or to quote Stewart Smalley, You're Good Enough, You're Smart Enough--and Doggone it, People Like You. Well, if I'm really being honest, not everyone likes me (some do!) I'm a bit too impatient, OCD, unfiltered, immature, sophmoric, snarky, abrasive, self-aggrandizing, vain, silly, and of course ridiculously humble. [grins] Heck, sometimes I even exhaust myself! But you...I'm sure people like you! You ROCK!  Now get out there and try something new and stick with it! We'll talk later.


So yeah, this is part one. I know it's sort of feels like a pep talk or a lot positive affirmation  So be it. I think sometimes we ALL need to think positive. Which is what I will blog about later. It's too beautiful outside today - I need to eat a late lunch, get dressed, & get out and enjoy it. Maybe I'll even run...err... walk fast....to my car! L'shana tova, friends!

Now it's YOUR turn! 
What did I miss?  Am I kidding myself with this try something new but you don't have to marry it bit. Is it to contradictory?  What would you add? Your comments are always welcome!




(But you spammers, why do you waste your time?  I will NEVER publish your comments hawking your products & tawdry essay writing for money offers! Sheesh, it's like you don't even READ my blog to be asking!)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Flocabulary: Hip-Hop Learning That is Out of this World!

Longtime Flocabulary Fangirl
I've been a Flocabulary & Week in Rap fangirl since they came on the scene and have blogged about them back in 2009 and 2011...and they just keep getting better! 
Every week, sites, companies, and startups email me trying to get me to blog about their product - and while that's really flattering, this blog can't be bought!  My street cred is important to me! I only blog about sites and products I truly LOVE....and though I've was given a Flocabulary T-shirt once, they're not paying for this! 
Flocabulary is Hip Hop Learning that is Out of this World!


What's new?  Week in Rap, Jr! Now...just for the little K-5 Kiddos, there's a weekly news Rap-up (get it!?) for the small fries! Appropriate, timely, and educational - get the news in a super engaging way for the younger crowd. Week in Rap, OG - for the Middle to High School students is still rocking and is now year round!  Play the video embeeded below to experience the AWESOME!

From my friend Molly at Flocabulary:

"The Week in Rap Junior connects age-appropriate news stories to elementary science and social studies curricula and promotes development of core skills like reading, writing and critical thinking for students in grades K-5.

Each week, the series will offer students a new hip-hop video, standards-based exercises, a creative challenge - and the chance for a shout-out in an upcoming video!

Like all of our units - activities each week include quick review questions, interactive lyrics (that offer more info on each news story!) fill in the blanks, a quiz and our great printable activities like this one for the August 14th edition!  We’ve got the full update on the series in our press release and blog post, and first few editions are available free."

What's FREE?
Yes, Flocabulary isn't free. It costs money for both the single teacher & for a whole school plan and it's worth it!  But there's still a LOT free that you can experience and there's always a free trial. AND just for our blog YOU dear readers, they've generated an extended Super SCHOOL WIDE 45 Day FREE Trial!

Check out Walk Like an Egyptian! Ancient Egypt 5-12 Social Studies Lesson
with Video, Teacher's Guide, Printables, Quiz, & more! 
"It’s time to walk like an Egyptian. In this Ancient Egypt music video, we take you back to the days of giant pyramids and hieroglyphics. This song covers the ancient Egyptian civilization that flourished along the Nile River."

What's COOL?
Around 100 new videos (plus activities & quizzes ) since last school year.
"Over the last year, we’ve added new units across our library - some of our latest releases support brand new subjects like social & emotional learning and geography.  

Social & Emotional Learning: this subject is a recent addition to our Life Skills subject covering topics like bullying and managing frustration. (I blogged about oversharing online last year!)  We’re working on more units for SEL, too - teaching empathy, active listening, and more! Here’s a link to our Social & Emotional Learning units:  

We added new videos here over the summer like longitude and latitude, themes of geography and landforms, with additional titles coming this fall!"  Check out their Geography units
What really impresses me are the lesson quizzes. I love the quizzes! 
Wow...I NEVER would have thought I'd write THAT!  
They're really fun & they remind me a lot of Brainpop quizzes

Common Core for the Win!
Share with your teachers of all subject areas and see how cool  hip-hop rhymes engage kids and inspire them to learn all ALIGNED to the Common Core State Standards! If you care about that kinda thing ;-)

Check out Flocabulary and give the exclusive  

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