Review Games: Bingo

So, today we went old school with review games in my class…we played Bingo!  We kept to the classic game on paper, I paid for the lifetime subscription to Bingobaker.com several years ago and it is definitely worth the $20 I spent.  I believe the subscription is now $24.95, but it opens up many more perks than the free version.  I discussed this super-cool-edu-tool on an episode of the PAECT Pod which you will soon be able to access HERE.  You can either print paper cards or play virtually on any Internet-connected device, however, computers work better than phones for this.

I have my Google Doc of key terms, which gets copied and pasted into Bingobaker and the website does the rest, creating and shuffling the terms into useable Bingo cards.  This unto itself is worth the nominal fee.

I was not able to get my hands on any Bingo chips for the game, so we used highlighters and dry-erase markers to mark the cards.  We played a bare-bones style, pulling the words out of a hat, though I must say the hat was rather stylish.  After the first player hit a Bingo, the class had the opportunity to keep playing on the existing paper cards or switch to virtual cards.  The decision was unanimous, keep the paper cards going.

The students were into the games, we played for prizes that I have acquired at various educational conferences, stickers, sticky notes, mini-journals, pens, and other such tchotchkes.  We started with a traditional straight-line bingo, then continued to play on the paper cards for the rest of the period.  I did cut prizes off at a limit of two per student, I need to keep my stockpile of prizes for a while yet.  The students enjoyed the old-school review, I grasped what we needed to brush up on before the upcoming quiz, and we all enjoyed the day.

A Bit About Me

Students have completed this short project for my class over the last couple of years., This year they asked me to complete a copy.  Here it is:

I think it is important to build connections and let the students see “behind the curtain” if you will.  We as teachers are not perfect, we make mistakes, and we enjoy life outside of the classroom.  Students need to see those characteristics in us.

This Year’s Focus…2023-2024 School Year

So, another school year is upon us, and Summer disappeared in the blink of an eye, or so it seems.  Every school year I try and add something new to my class in an attempt to keep up with current trends in education and prevent myself from becoming stale.  This year is no different, there will be several new websites and apps utilized throughout my courses, however, my main addition is not a website or an app; it will be INTENTIONALITY.

Intentionality is completing actions with a specific and/or deliberate focus.  This addition is not just meant for myself, I hope to instill the concept into my students.  I made this the focus of my upcoming school year after numerous discussions with my PLN, Professional Learning Network, within PAECT and KTIs, Keystone Technology Innovators.  The focus of a podcast I am honored to co-host, the PAECT Pod has been interviewing various members about our week-long KTI Summit at Shippensburg University in July, and the term Intentionality kept entering into the conversations.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I need to not just introduce my students to new learning opportunities, new concepts, new ideas, and new tools to utilize, but I also have to help instill a purpose for all of this new information.  The previous sentence seems like it is an overly obnoxious run-on, but so be it.  I need to instill the thought in students that their actions, no matter how trivial they may seem, reflect back upon them and therefore are worth their best effort.  Hopefully, this concept can then be carried forward after they move on through school and life.  This post s not meant to be some sort of melodramatic declaration, it is more of a correction based n self-reflection.

My PAECT Pod co-host Eric Verno and I have mentioned the need to keep current and sharp since educational technology changes so quickly, think AI in Education.  Eric has mentioned his efforts to keep from getting complacent.  That is when I realized that in a way, I continually work to keep current with new ideas in education, but I do not always communicate the why f new tools and concepts to my students.  I push out the information, but sometimes I lose focus as to why we are doing things or using various tools and websites.  This year, I will do my best to not only communicate the why to my students, but to instill the concept of INTENTIONALITY into their everyday actions.

 

 

StickTogether

So, this spring I was introduced to StickTogether, a puzzle/digital puzzle tool.  The concept of digital puzzles and activities for my students intrigued me.  I wanted to try out the tool in my classroom, however, the year was just about over and the students were worn down.  The project trial did not get out of the gate.

This past week for two days I attended the PAECT, Keystone Technology Innovator Summit at Shippensburg University.  The Summit is five days in length, but I was there Thursday and Friday.  Once again I came across the StickTogether resource.

I decided by executive fiat that we will try one out over the Summer to see how it is received by the students.  I signed into my account that was created earlier in the Spring of 2023.  I perused the various premade digital puzzles and pushed one out as a virtual Stickerboard.

Since Schoology, our district’s LMS is not active over the Summer I am hosting my activity here on Edublogs.  You can access the activity HERE. 

I am hoping my students embrace the activity and I can build it into a component of the Choice Boards in my courses.  I will keep you updated on the project as time goes on.

 

Here are the Directions on the Website:

Welcome

Just click on a letter in the panel on the right to select a color. Then click on the corresponding letter in the grid to fill in that color.

To ZOOM click on the magnifier icon and then click again on a section of the image.

Let’s ALL StickTogether!

Rainy Saturday Post

So it is a dreary, rainy, Saturday afternoon.  The weather forecasters said the rain was to have cleared out by now, but they were wrong.  I have numerous activities and outdoor chores I wanted to work on today, but the weather is not cooperating.  Both stations on TV that carry westerns are playing The Big Valley, which is not one of my favorite western shows, no offense meant to anyone, I loved it as a kid, but my preferences have changed over time.

Since I could not get outside to complete what I needed to do, I posted my classroom podcast, read part of a library eBook, enjoyed some espresso with frothed Half and Half from United Dairy Farms, played with Charli, our puppy, did some prep work for my Honors US II Summer Reading Project, and decided I needed a break.

My daughter started working on her blog again and asked about mine.  I had to admit I do not write to this space much anymore with my podcast and the PAECT Pod taking up time, along with many life commitments.  Due to my regret, embarrassment, or shame of not using this site, I thought what better way to take a break than to ramble on here.

We all need down days such as today.  I have many activities and chores to complete outside, but sometimes we just need to take time to relax.  Writing is one of the ways I relax, however, I have not made enough time to do so for a number of years now.  I hope to get back into the practice soon.  This is the first step.  Now, time to turn off all electronics and spend some time with the family and hopefully see the end of the rain soon.

My ISTE Certification Intentions

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ISTE Certification: The Beginning of a Journey

Earlier this year an opportunity arose for me to take a course and attempt to become an ISTE Certified Educator. The decision to make the attempt and become certified was not an easy one. Considerations that I needed to address included impact on family, cost, time to complete the certification, timing of the course, school district approval to get out for the training, and other smaller considerations.

It took some time and a good bit of self reflection to clarify details, organize resources, discuss the available opportunity, and eventually make the final decision to take the leap and attempt to become certified. I will not go into the specifics of working through all of these considerations in this post, I will just say that they were resolved in a positive fashion.

The process consisted of two days of face to face training, with nine more weeks of online coursework, then we have approximately six months to create an ePortfolio of evidence to be evaluated to achieve our certification. This ePortfolio will be discussed later.

As of yesterday, November 8, 2019, I completed the two day face to face training. It was intense, but well paced, with plenty of opportunity to reflect on how all of the information fits into my classroom.

I am currently in a cohort with sixteen other educators, many of whom I already know through PAECT. This familiarity helped me settle into the course and remove some of the jitters that arise every time I take a new course in my professional development journey. The educators that I did not previously know are welcome additions to my PLN and I look forward to working with them.

There was one major consideration that I have not mentioned until now and it is the elephant lingering in my subconscious…what if I fail to achieve my goal?

Even after I worked through all of the other considerations and was in a position to take the course, this thought hovered just below the surface in my mind. I believe I am a good teacher and already implement many of the ISTE Standards in my classroom, but having a total stranger judge my efforts was an entirely different level of evaluation. The concept of one evaluation to assess my entire effort is a bit overwhelming. That being said, I have no choice but to work within those stated parameters.

Individuals are to submit an ePortfolio of artifacts to show how we meet the standards, our evaluators will not know us, nor will they be able to infer any other information about us. Our portfolios will exist in isolation with only our submitted artifacts as evidence. There is no opportunity to clarify, rebut, or add to the ePortfolio once it is submitted. Talk about an uncomfortable finality…

I had talked with other educators who had started the course earlier this year to gain some insight into the process and their thoughts on everything. Though the sample size is limited, just a handful of educators, all were in agreement of the rigor and intensity of the ePortfolio creation. My stress level remained a bit elevated.

After talking with many members of my cohort, it seems a number of us have the same anxiety/concern about the ePortfolio. This fact of not being the only one with anxiety over the ePortfolio helped ease some of my anxiety. Weird, I know, but that is how my mind often works…beating to its own irrational, illogically logical drummer.

Anxiety aside, I am in this marathon learning experience as a full participant. Hopefully my blogging stays somewhat constant as I journal about my experience through the ISTE Certification process.

PETE & C Reflection 2019

This year’s PETE & C was very rejuvenating and a great learning experience.  I picked up a solid mix of new tools and new pedagogy. Many of the tools I was exposed to I have heard of or seen before, but I picked up new ideas on their usefulness.  This is always enlightening, it also precludes the need to learn and/or pay for new tools and apps. I believe these experiences out and about, immersed in these conferences improves my overall concept of education.  

My previous thoughts on some “Old School” practices, such as handwriting, which I am biased against due to my messy handwriting, and a few other ideas were challenged.  I was forced to look at those notions and adjust accordingly. I see where some concepts, such as reading cursive is necessary for looking over primary documents and still a basic skill set that is necessary, albeit not often used.  

I continue to push for student creation of content and challenge the students to think outside of the box, but I need to break projects and lessons down into smaller, more manageable or basic parts.  This allows for students who may not be comfortable with these concepts to hopefully have a higher rate of success. (Author’s Note: since returning from the conference, I have experienced my theory in a real world learning situation.  That will be a separate blog post.)

I am very interested in Mindfulness and creating a more effective learning environment in my traditional classroom and online class setting.  The changes have been instituted on my part immediately, although in small pieces. I find that my students adapt better to incremental changes rather than one major paradigm shift.  This is especially true with my Honors US II class.

As stated earlier, I am working incorporating these strategies and tools into my classes by modelling tasks repeatedly, and creating more and more video tutorials.  My students have also stepped up and have been mentoring each other more, especially on the current project utilizing my class Padcaster.

As more specific ideas and tools are rolled out, I will add to the story at MrSal.edublogs org.

I am also breaking assignments into smaller assignments to try and monitor and reward students more often.  I will follow up on the results via my blog.

 

January 4: Another New Skill

I have owned a Livescribe Pen for a number of years.  I earned, or was rewarded with my first Livescribe Pen for attending the Keystone Technology Integrator’s Summit at Bucknell University.  I cannot remember if it was as an attendee or a staff member that I received the pen.

My students use the Livescribe Pen to take notes in class, the Livescribe is referred to as “The Magic Pen.”  The notes are pushed over to an iPad and then uploaded to Evernote.  Once in Evernote, the .pdfs are embedded in the class wiki so other students can access the notes if need be.  A written copy is printed for the students who take the notes for the class.

In my quest to take existing skills and tools and apply them to more situations, I decided it was time to learn how to create pencasts with the Livescribe pen.  Needless to say, there was a learning curve for me.  The first couple attempts…or so did not work our so well.  I ended up with an audio file, but no corresponding video to see what was being discussed.

Long story short, I was “pushing” the wrong virtual button with the Livescribe Pen.  I was “pushing” the record button in the notebook, I was supposed to just “push” the little square button on the iPad.

#12DaysofSketchnoting Day 3: Communication/Creative Communicator

So for today’s portion of #12DaysofSketchnoting we have to describe Communication/Creative Communicators. This boggled my mind at first, but that happens at times, especially in the AM now that I drink half-caf coffee.

As a history teacher the first thing that popped into my head was President Reagan, due to his nickname “The Great Communicator.” Bizarre…yes, but par for what goes on inside my mind. Should I try and draw him, or an unfinished movie poster title such as “Bedtime for Bon…” with a partially drawn monkey. My drawing ability is not good enough to draw President Reagan and I was not sure if anyone would get the movie reference. The ideas were non-starters.

I had to do a hard reset and rethink how I could approach today’s topic. I decided to incorporate a blog post to explain my Sketchnote; it would be better explained in that context, than as a standalone image.

On to my Sketchnote:

I believe I can communicate well, for as non-linear as I think. I do lecture more than I should, but I try to make my classroom more of a discussion setting. While doing this, I try and relate issues to local/personal experiences, I have been known to be melodramatic, use various accents, and even act out and model situations. If nothing else, students can recall my bizarre actions, some can even recall the points I was trying to make.

Since communication is a two-way street, listening is a major component of communication. Actually, not just listening, but giving students a legitimate voice in their own educational experience. Listen to them, but put what they say to use, give them a sense of…on second thought, not even a sense, but actual ownership of their experience in your classroom.

The Sketchnote below is the mishmash of visuals bouncing around in my head as I thought about and typed this today.