Stand Up To Standardized Testing

Global School Play Day is February 3, 2016 

It seems ridiculous that I was given a directive to NOT play sports with students at lunch recess. Before you think there is more to the story than I am letting on, kids could not run and play tag on the playground equipment. They could walk fast. These are the times we live in as teachers. What if in my professional judgement, I decided to take an extra recess? I'm sure the admin would have scheduled a meeting and written me up. Newsflash - I DID take extra recess and got away with it. 

Why should we have to sneak around when we know that play is good for kids? 

Because of standardized testing

Whatever happened to letting kids just play? When I was in school, we had AM recess, lunch recess for 45 minutes, and maybe even a PM recess.

That is where Global School Play Day comes in. You can sign up here: Global School Play Day

Inspired by the TED talk from Peter Gray, Global School Play Day is coming back for a second straight year. Over 65,000 students on 6 continents participated last year. The focus is on just having kids play. Play outside, inside, games, legos, just play and interact with each other. Play is a good thing and we need to start bringing the fun back to school. Global School Play day is a great place to start if you made a New Year's Resolution to stand up to standardized testing. Go to the site and sign up today. Even if you only play for some of the day, this gives you a chance to stand up to that administrator with no vision. Take some pictures, share the fun on social media at #GSPD2016. 

Techlandia Third Anniversary Show

Bringing back @curtrees and @tedrosececi for a throwback show!

December 31st will mark the third anniversary of Techlandia Radio. When Alison Anderson and I started the show, we really didn't think people would actually listen. The first shows were pretty bad. We weren't afraid to change things up and try new things. We eventually found an audience and here we sit three years later. I am not sure how legit these stats are...but here is what I have from Podomatic in 2015:

  • Techlandia was downloaded over 17,000 times
  • The site was visited over 50,000 times on Podomatic
  • There were more than 20,000 plays on the web and mobile players
  • We were listened to on six continents...come on Antarctica get your act together 

So thank you to everyone and we will keep going strong with Amy Fadeji, David Theriault, and Jake Duncan in 2016! 

4th Grade Students Talk #hourofcode

There are so many great things about my job. My day today started out terrible. It was raining, the school bus came late, huge traffic, no hot water, my coffee was cold, the normal day before a Winter Break. I was not hopeful...then I remembered my first stop...Mrs. Tanksley's class, one of my favorites. We had an introduction to Garage Band scheduled. The hope was that in 60 minutes we could get them pumped up to use Garage Band to create podcasts when they come back from break. 

I thought the best way to do this was to create a quick podcast and show them how easy it can be. We brainstormed potential ideas to discuss, grouchy bus drivers, Hour of Code, Winter Break plans, taxes...taxes? I said I would like teachers to actually listen to the podcast. We decided on Hour of Code

I want to take a moment to share the lesson flow for the hour:

  1. Introduced Garage Band - 2 minute broad overview
  2. Told them about our ideas for creating a podcast to accompany their "Life of a pioneer" journals - 3 minutes
  3. Showed a student podcast from Mr. Lewis' class and played them a couple sample snippets - 5 minutes
  4. Brainstormed ideas and got ready to create our podcast - 10 minutes
  5. Recorded our podcast - 10 minutes
  6. Demonstrated how to create the podcast in Garage Band - 10 minutes
  7. Gave them time to explore and create in Garage Band - 20 minutes

I just want to stress...as a teacher I try not to give direct step by step instructions on how to use tools. I like to give them a general understanding of what the learning target is, give them just enough directions to get started, then let them explore with a partner. Every student does not have a device in this class. They have shared devices that the teacher has gotten from the district and from writing grants on Donor's Choose

The following episode of Techlandia is the podcast we created during the lesson. Fourth grade students from Mrs. Tanksley's class giving honest feedback and reflection on Hour of Code. You can find out more about the class by clicking this link for their Twitter and this link for their classroom blog. 

This class has also created a newscast with greenscreen and the Touchcast app. They finished it up today and are very proud of their work. They would love if you took the time to watch a little bit. 

Elementary Film Award Winner

Signal To Noise is the yearly film festival in the Beaverton School District. We are just starting our push for submissions in 2016. Over the next few months we will be taking a look back at some of the films created by K-12 students in our district. Check back here regularly or "like" our Facebook page by clicking the link above. 

The film featured below is one of my favorite. It was created by a 5th grade student in the documentary category. In a "Twitter World" where teachers and students work to create videos that feature themselves simply to go viral, I find this video refreshing. It demonstrates the power of learning and reflection. 

Take a few minutes to watch the 2015 winner for elementary documentary.


A Quick Mental Vacation For The Last Week...

Are you tired? Ready for Winter Break? Sick of silly questions?

Here are three things you can use to give yourself a teacher brain break. Chrome extensions that offer up a little mental vacation. You need it, and I am here to help you out. So lets get to it!

Who needs more Ryan Gosling? Umm, that's right we ALL do!

Hey Girl Chrome Extension

Watch and learn...how I turn my Pinterest Boards from boring to AWESOME! 

Normal and boring Pinterest page......

Normal and boring Pinterest page......

Now lets give it a little magic with the Hey Girl extension. 

There is no way to put more Gosling on this page...so darn pretty! 

There is no way to put more Gosling on this page...so darn pretty! 

I am a glutton for punishment and need more Shia LaBeouf memes.

There is more awesomeness with the great Shia LaBeouf. Has anyone given more to the interwebs than Shia? The answer is no. 

DO IT! Chrome Extension 

DO IT! Shia LaBeouf Super Pack Chrome Extension

Here it is in action adding some much needed Shia to a normal Yahoo home page.

Nothing is more fun than motivational for your students than a visit from the former star of Even Stevens. (You will be the only one who remembers that show) 

So take a nice mental vacation with Google Chrome and some extensions designed to do nothing but bring a smile to your face!

Techlandia will be uploading a new episode of Grumpy Old Teachers with funny man, Scott Bedley, to help those of you in need of a laugh and still using Internet Explorer.