A Scoop of Technology, Vol. 4

Edtech News and Events as Compiled by @TxTechCoach

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Investing Time in Joy (UPDATED)

I have a really fancy door decoration for the holidays. It has sparked a lot of discussion. Kids love it, parents have commented on its cuteness, teachers have had mixed reviews, but one person flat out accused me of not having anything to do.

That's not true. While I am not the best at time management, I do spend my days working. It isn't the same type of work that a classroom teacher does, but I'm not a classroom teacher. I do get a bit offended when people say I don't work.

I took time out of my schedule to decorate my door to bring in some fun and excitement. I worked with my office mate and we had a blast, and I know that it has brought a lot of cheer to the hallway. I think joy is the important thing we are missing in education. Something has sucked most of the joy from education. Kids aren't joyful, teachers aren't joyful, parents aren't joyful--puppies still are, so maybe we need more puppies too. (And obviously some people are joyful, I'm using a bit of hyperbole here...)

I think it is time to bring the joy back. Do some things that make you and your class happy. Do a random science experiment because it is cool, or create an art project because your kids would love it. At the end of the day we want to have kids that WANT to come to school, and how many really do right now?

Let's start a joy revolution. Let's show people that a joy for learning will be worth so much more in the long run than drill and kill to pass a test. I think taking the time to have fun with our students will have more impact on them than anything else this year. I think we can find a balance of joy and learning that will have students achieve more than we ever though possible, what about you?

UPDATE: This is a running commentary of my opinion on the state of education. Too many tests, too much focus on scores, too much pressure to do well on a test which is a tiny part of education. Again, that's my opinion. I love education, and I love my campus. I work with dedicated teachers who are doing great things. In overgeneralizing I may have sounded like a zealot who hates everything and everyone. Not my intention. My intention was to give you all a permission slip to drop the curriculum for a day and seize a teachable moment if you want to. Truly it was meant to encourage and uplift, but as is typically my style, I instead stuck my foot in my mouth and alienated the people I work with. I still think education needs more joy, I'm not recanting, but thought that I should clarify that I am not condemning any one person or organization. Peace and joy to all!

And see below for an opportunity to make my door a learning experience!

I will be teaching a session at the InnovateEDU Summit in January about using Twitter for science reflection. I think that Twitter gives the students a chance to quickly share something they are thinking about, without getting too bogged down with a lot of heavy explanation. If they can use vocabulary and get an idea across in 140 characters, they have it. If not, then they might need some more work in that area.

I came across this infographic that shares some great ideas for how to use Twitter with your students. There are several ways to get students on Twitter, from having them all use a class account to having teacher owned "student" accounts.

If you would like to learn more about using Twitter in the classroom come to my session at the InnovateEdu Summit or just let me know. I'd love more guinea pigs to test my ideas on!

Computer Lab Reminders

As we wind down for the semester here are some general housekeeping things from the computer lab:

  1. Make sure your students are logged off before you leave.
  2. Make sure the projector is turned off before you leave.
  3. Write any service requests on the clipboard. I check this regularly, and I'll fix what I can or put in a ticket for the rest. If it isn't on the clipboard, it won't get fixed because no one will know about it.
  4. Have your students clean up after themselves and return things they have borrowed.
  5. There is no KidPix on number 14. When they were redone at the beginning of the year we weren't supposed to have KidPix but it somehow magically appeared. I don't think that will be happening again. As the computers need to be reimaged KidPix will disappear forever.
  6. If students are getting a lot of buzzing and feedback from their headphones, it might be because they are using headphones with a microphone. Check the headphone jack--if there are three stripes it has a microphone. The solution that seems to fix this, other than bring different headphones, is to plug the headphones into the CPU instead of into the monitor.

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