And…it’s gone…

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School starts tomorrow. Well actually, teachers report back tomorrow and students come on Thursday. This should be an interesting start to the school year because our school is in the MIDDLE of modernization. In fact, my entire quad is starting the school year in portables and if all goes well, we’ll be in our new-old classrooms come January.

Because we weren’t given access to our classrooms until today, I didn’t get to engage in my usual pattern of leisurely getting my room ready for the kiddoes whenever the mood struck. Instead, we were told that the first day we could have access to our classrooms was today. Well, that didn’t work with my schedule so tomorrow is the first day that I’ll be returning to school…to pick up my keys…and to see where the movers put my boxes. Hopefully, the ones marked “priority” are on top (a girl can only hope). The only good thing (well, actually there are two) is 1) I finally have air-conditioning so that I won’t be a sweaty mess after setting up my classroom and 2) at least I’m with my department in the portables. There’s comfort in numbers.

In spite of all that, I am looking forward to the new batch of 7th graders who are going to walk through my door. They are my inspiration. They are the reason why I teach. Their expectant faces, shiny binders, brand-new backpacks…it’s the same ritual every year and I love it. I don’t think there’s any other profession out there where you get a do-over every year and for that I’m thankful. I have some GREAT ideas that will hopefully make learning meaningful and fun for my students…and I’ve done a ton of reading (both pleasure and informative) this summer so I’m ready to tackle this new school year.  Bring.it.on.

 

It’s the Little Things

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This has been a great summer. I spent a good deal of it enjoying #lakelife in Michigan. Anyone who’s been in the classroom knows that teachers don’t turn their brains off when school is out. I mean, our brains might shut down from sheer exhaustion but once we’ve recovered, most of us are busy catching up on things that we couldn’t do during the school year. For me, it was reading and learning about new technology tools. I also spent quite a bit of time in my #happyplace, sketchnoting the book Innovator’s Mindset. I’m working on my last one which is perfect since school starts in two weeks.

What was reinforced to me from the book is that we need to get outside of our comfort zone if we want to grow…to be innovative. Comfort is nice. After all, who doesn’t love snuggling up by a fire with a good book on a cold day?

This summer, though, I was introduced to several really cool new technology tools…one of which is featured in the image above – Momentum. As a Mac user, I used to swear by Safari; but Chrome has continued to impress me with their features…and the Momentum extension takes the cake! Thank you Caitlin McLemore (@EdTechCaitlin)! Who doesn’t love opening up a new tab and being personally greeted? Momentum also allows users to type in one focus for the day – essentially a goal, a To Do. What I like is that it only allows users to type one thing at a time so there’s not the ability to create a monster list and then feel defeated at the end of the day when there are so many unchecked boxes. Am I the only one with this problem? With Momentum, I type in one focus, do it, check it off, and then I’m on to a new one. Being that it’s summer, sometimes my focus is a little less taxing (see the image at the top). However today, I’ve already completed one focus (Review RefWorks – I know, exciting, right? But I’m back in grad school…) and I’m now onto my second one (Finish blog post). I like that because I’m only allowed to set one focus at a time, it helps me to not multi-task.

The next awesome technology tool is Grammarly. I heard about this tool from Beth Holland (@brholland) when she presented to the #JHUEdD16 cohort of doctoral students at Johns Hopkins University. I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at spelling and grammar but who couldn’t use a little bit of extra help? Grammarly can be added as an extension for both Chrome and Safari. The benefit of adding Grammarly is that it will give options for grammar and spelling as one types online. For example, Grammarly has already given me three suggestions for revision as I type this blog – I accepted two of the three so far. But you can also download Grammarly as a desktop app which will come in handy as I write and write and write in the pursuit of my doctorate. I’ve already tinkered around with the desktop app using my Classroom Expectations for my students…and yes, there were corrections to be made. #sigh

It’s the little things that make the true difference and in the case of technology, these two tools have already made their impact…I mean, I’m already at #9 (see list below). When it came to these two tools: I skipped #1-8. I’m already there. I’m all in. I mean, seriously, how did I live without these two tools?

I know that several districts are already back in session. But I’ve checked off my focus in Momentum and now I’m off to have lunch with my girlfriends from work because we don’t have to be back until August 30th…Happy summer to all!