Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Google's Science Fair 2014




There has to be a winner among us, don’t you think? There must be a student who has a great Science Fair project from this year. If you are not a Science teacher, please be a talent scout. Students across the country have already finished their science fair projects in most cases, but now it’s time to go global. I had the privilege to work with many science projects this year as we digitize them into Board Builder, but I wanted to make sure I mentioned Google’s gift to education before the pressing deadline of May 12th. Since the work has already been completed, this is a most reasonable deadline. Let’s make sure we announce the contest on morning announcements, in team meetings, in Twitter chats/roll, on Facebook pages, Instagram or anywhere we might get students’ attention. It’s so worth it! This “tuesdays” is a reminder of the power of publishing on a grander scale.

A creative website

You’ve got to love Google. They are always up to something good for our students. Google has its own online Science Fair! Google’s Global Science Fair is a full service FREE site for your students to compete on a global level.  Just think, if you had some exemplary projects this year, your students can be given an even greater audience than the school and local competitions. Google is looking for the brightest, the best and creative young scientists from around the world who will submit projects that have relevance to the world today. The competition is open to 13-18 year-olds who can work individually, in pairs or up to three on one project.  They have even created a dedicated site for students to collaborate on their project and it must follow the standard scientific method.  They have all the rules and procedures laid out beautifully in an uncomplicated and concise manner through 7 buttons: Enter, Judging, Prizes, Blog, Socialize, Resources and Teachers.  The prizes are pretty sweet.  The Grand Prize winner(s) will be going to the Galapagos Islands!  Never underestimate your students.  Who knows? If they win, you may get to go too!

An image to share


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A proverb
"Science is organized knowledge.”
Herbert Spencer





An encouragement

Creating projects is something we have all done and truthfully they are them most memorable part of my learning experience as a student and teacher.  Anything that I had to make and put into my own words helped me to understand the content and gave me a great sense of accomplishment.  If you haven’t tried a digital project with your students in class yet, I would really like to encourage you to consider taking a week to explore this form of learning with the students in any subject. Science Fair projects are one of the greatest experiences because the students still have to go through all the procedures as a backboard project, but instead document their steps digitally through video, images and voice.  The best part is that they spend very little money in comparison to a backboard project and have lasting proof of their findings.  Teachers also have a great arsenal of learning objects to help other students understand scientific concepts through the voice of their peers.

How do you do that?

How do you enter the Google Global Science Fair?  It’s a total online experience that is thorough and well thought out.  Students will need to create a Google account and complete a sign up form.  Afterward, they will receive a confirmation link to a project submission site.  The students plan, conduct and write up the results of the experiment and submit everything by May 10, 2014.  The written submission must be accompanied by a 2-minute video or a 20-slide presentation that gives an overview of the project. A panel of teachers will judge all experiments and in May 60 global semi-finalists will then be narrowed down to 15 global finalists in June.  These 15 will fly to Google’s HQ in California to present their projects before a panel of Nobel Laureates, tech visionaries and acclaimed scientists.  One will be named the Grand Prize Winner and will receive a $50,000 scholarship! Please, please, please let your students know.



As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Financial Literacy




April is Financial Literacy Month. Ok, I know that doesn’t sound all that creative, nor even interesting, but no one has the ability to be creative or free unless they have their finances in order.  I struggled with debt most of my life for no good reason except I had no financial literacy. Once my eyes were open to how much I was wasting by giving it to the bank, I was fired up. Next month, my husband and I will celebrate our fourth anniversary of being totally debt free thanks to Dave Ramsey.  Check out his newsletter. I can’t understand why every student in the whole country isn’t required to take his course.  Not only is the course critical, it’s fun! Can you imagine what a clean start students would have in life if they were proactive instead of reactive to debt? It gets even better. Did you know that Fifth Third Bank will sponsor the teacher and student materials?  Why isn’t this course in every school?

A creative website

Finance in the Classroom is Utah’s Go-To website in which the Utah State Board of Education and the Legislature have taken bold steps to empower their students.  Beginning with the class of 2008, ALL Utah students are required to pass a ½ semester Financial Literacy Course. (Yeah!) Curriculum throughout the grade levels will be offered beginning in kindergarten!  Students can earn an Economic Passport by completing coursework online. Their entire curriculum is available in their Lessons/Activities K-12 section, enhanced with an extensive reading list and vocabulary terms.  Barnes and Noble even offer a 20% discount for teachers, too! Kudos to the state of Utah for this outstanding initiative. Another fine website is the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy which provides great resources and reasons for empowering our students. They have written national financial standards and benchmarks for students and teachers. It is my passion to see the next generation live within their means and become debt-free! 


An image to share

Dollar Sign, This file is licensed under
 the Creative Commons Attribution-Share
and 1.0 Generic license.




A proverb
“ A penny saved is a penny earned.”  Benjamin Franklin


An encouragement
I don’t know about you, but I really didn’t have anyone teaching me how to make sound financial decisions when I was in high school and college never mind kindergarten.  My parents were excellent examples of money managers and modeled the value of hard work, but we never talked about money. The first time I really heard about handling money was in church.  After decades of paying for things on credit, I finally learned about the miracle of compound interest, but that it was working against me. We stopped borrowing money and slowly worked on removing debt, but it wasn’t until we heard about Dave Ramsey that we became “gazelle intense.”   We paid more off in 8 months than we did in 8 years.  We now have NO mortgage, NO car payments, NO credit cards and NO payments.  Be encouraged.  If we can do it, anyone can.  And just imagine, if we set the next generation up from the beginning, they will never even struggle through the debt removal trials. Making financial literacy a requirement for all students will do more than any standardized test score and will turn our nation around. Can you imagine a generation of givers? If our students never go into debt, they will be savers who not only support themselves, but help those who are less fortunate. It doesn’t matter what tool is used, it only matters that we give them the wisdom to never go into debt.

How do you do that?

How do you make financial literacy a high priority in our high schools and even middle schools?  Get Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace School Curriculum for your school if you want turn-key, DVD driven, fast-paced, standards-based lessons, his curriculum is second to none.  If you have no budget or sponsors, Utah’s Finance in the Classroom site is loaded will free resources for teachers. To begin, go to their Professional Development section and click around.  I found webinar archives, PowerPoints to download, national conferences I had never heard about. The PowerPoints included lessons on bankruptcy, bulletin board ideas, budgeting, giving, entrepreneurialism and much more. I thought the music section was fun because they created financial songs to the tunes of old songs. They even had a Money Menagerie with the history of money, money as art, and fun facts like:
How long do bills last? The Federal Reserve System lists the following life spans:
                  $ 1 - 22 months

                  $ 5 - 2 years

                  $ 10 - 3 years

                  $ 20 - 4 years

                  $ 50 - 9 years

                  $100 - 9 years

                  Coins usually survive in circulation for about 30 years.
How we handle our finances will determine our lifestyle and quality of life. Doesn’t it make sense to train our children? I just wish I knew what I know now when I was in school.  Let’s make sure our students are financially literate.


tuesdays with Karen” is a weekly newsletter/blog designed to encourage, equip and empower teachers to be creative with educational technology.

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Teacherpreneur






Not every teacher sees himself or herself as an entrepreneur, but we really do meet the definition of being entrepreneurial. An entrepreneur is one who operates a business or entity taking on risk. Our classrooms are definitely entities and we certainly do take on more risk than most professions in the sheer dynamics of human relations. So why is that most teachers don’t recognize their entrepreneurial capacity? I think a shift in influence and impact for the good of our students can be implemented if teachers understood their entrepreneurial advantages. We work collaboratively, design and innovate and influence the next generation. What could possibly be more important? Teachers and friends of teachers, be the entrepreneur you really are! This “tuesdays” will take a look at two ways teachers can benefit from this mindset.

A creative website

The first area of entrepreneurialism is the business portion. TEACHERS pay TEACHERS is a solid, classy and noteworthy enterprise. It is the largest open marketplace for educators to buy, sell and share their original resources. Bringing educators together in a enterprise system forms a powerful community that raises the bar for all and compensates the best curriculum developers. It's a WIN-WIN for everyone.

The second area of entrepreneurialism is being a teacher leader. The phrase “Teacherpreneurs” was coined by authors Barnett Berry, Ann Byrd and Alan Wieder in their book with the same name. (I just purchased it tonight.) It is the story of eight teachers who have taken the lead on improving education through teacher leaders. Teacherpreneurs demonstrates why and how innovative expert teachers benefit more students. The Center for Teaching Quality is a national non-profit that seeks a high-quality education system for all students, driven by the bold ideas and expert practices of teachers. They have created a video that helps teachers understand how to become an innovative leader without leaving the classroom.


An image to share


Created on http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

A proverb

"“The idea of entrepreneurship applies as much in politics, religion, society and the arts as it does in business.”

Geoff Mulgan


An encouragement

I would like you to join communities of educators on all levels. It’s good for your professional growth, it’s good for you students and it’s good for your whole being. One of the communities is called the Collaboratory, a global community for transforming education. Sponsored by the Center for Teaching Quality, the Collaboratory is an incubator for teachers’ bold ideas and innovation solutions. I joined tonight. Their website is high-class and has a unique look and feel. It’s worth your investigation. The second community I would like to recommend is the TEACHERS pay TEACHERS community. I love their use of infographics and encouragement to sell creative lessons that are original. I was working with one of my Miami teachers and she paid $10 and downloaded one of the best lessons she ever taught without hours of extra planning on her part. I signed up the same day she showed me the site. The third community is for your spiritual side. Around the Word in 180 Days is a community of educators who are reading/listening to the Word of God each school day in community. Even if none of the communities mentioned interest you, please find a community where you can reflect, revise, refresh and invigorate your practice. The students need you!

How do you do that?

How can you have a Teacherpreneur mindset? Consider how much time you take to develop a lesson. Most likely you designed a “hook” or anticipatory set to engage the students. You took time to gather resources and give them to your students to explore in multiple ways. Explaining difficult concepts to students with varying needs is definitely a risk and employs a bag of tricks that is unique to the art and science of teaching. Teachers, we are entrepreneurs! Never say, I am just a teacher, but instead consider saying, “I’m a teacherprenuer.” Give it some thought, check out the resources and share them with your teacher friends. You may make a difference in the lives of students you’ll never meet.  

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Educator of the Year




Teaching is the profession that begins all professions. When you think back to your days as a student, there always seems to be a certain teacher that had that special impact that made a difference. I can remember Mrs. Jones in college as my ultimate role model. She used to walk into an inner city elementary school in her pink Jackie Onassis outfit and wow the students with a poetry lesson. I thought they were going to eat her alive, but she weaved them into her enticing web of curiosity and rhyme and left them wanting more. I was in awe. Now I realize that she had the easy part doing one presentation and leaving the day-to-day maintenance to the classroom teacher. I have had both roles and enjoy being in a Mrs. Jones presentation style in this late stage of my teaching career. This “tuesdays” is dedicated to the teachers in the trenches trying to make a difference for their students day after day.

A creative website

How can we give incentives to teachers? How can we help them to be entrepreneurial and design ways to increase their resources in the classroom? The all-time favorite gift to teachers is Donors Choose (more info below), but more and more business and organization are stepping it up for our teachers. The Orlando Magic Educator of the Year program recognized six Teachers of the Year from the surrounding district and are now letting us select one to received $10,000 for their classroom! One of the most entrepreneurial, student-centered, creative and tech-savvy teachers I have ever met is up for this incredible opportunity. She would definitely put the money to great use in her classroom with student-learning as the only focus. Let’s give her the edge by voting every day until the April 2nd deadline. Vote for Stephanie Middleton from Osceola County. I don’t ever endorse contests or things like this, however, this exceptional gift for teaching is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Kudos to the Orlando Magic for recognizing teachers for the important role we play.


An image to share


Teaching is and art and a science

A proverb

"If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job."

Donald D. Quinn


An encouragement

One of the easiest things to forget to do is to say “Thank you.” One of the easiest ways to make others happy is to say, “Thank you.” Even though Teacher Appreciation Day isn’t until May, I want to encourage all teachers with a big “Thanks.” Being a teacher is one of the hardest, yet most rewarding professions in the world and no one can imagine the highs and low of teaching until they’ve walked in those big shoes. There is even a whole website dedication to Teacher Appreciation. Did you know there is a World Teacher’s Day? October 5th has been designated by the United Nations’ Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as World Teacher’s Day. I appreciate all that you do particularly on a day-to-day basis. Make a difference!

How do you do that?

How can you create a classroom with limited funds? Write grants, go to the PTA, SAC committee or parent group or participate in DonorChoose.org. I am going to set a little challenge! This is the mission, if you choose to accept. Propose a project on DonorsChoose.org within the next month AND describe the project on my blog with a link to your project and I will set a challenge on the DonorsChoose website. The advantage of the “challenge” is that it gives your idea a wider audience and a better chance to get funded. You do the proposal, I’ll do the challenge. For those who participate in the next month, I will also do a random drawing and one winner will get $100 towards their proposal. I LOVE teachers!

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Upgrade



Upgrading is an interesting condition in our society today. Cell phone companies lock you into a contract for two years before they will give you the opportunity to “upgrade” your phone to a newer model. We can “upgrade” our computers with more memory and speed, “upgrade” our cable subscription with more channels and packages, “upgrade” our apps to the newest version to fix any bugs in the system or “upgrade” Adobe Acrobat every other month. There seems to be an endless amount of upgrades in our lives. I wonder how old the word upgrade is. I couldn’t find that little trivia at the time of this writing, but it must be a relatively new word, don’t you think? This week’s “tuesdays” is an investigation into what upgrading has to do with teaching and learning.

A creative website

In a recent professional development training that I experienced, we learn so much from Heidi Hayes Jacobs through her TED Talk from three years ago. “Dr. Jacobs is president of Curriculum Designers, Inc. and Executive Director of the Curriculum Mapping Institute. She has served as an education consultant to thousands of schools nationally and internationally. She works with schools and districts K–12, on issues and practices pertaining to: curriculum reform, instructional strategies to encourage critical thinking and strategic planning.” (quoted from Wikipedia).  She is the founder of Curriculum 21 helping thousands of educators to reflect on their practice for the good of all students. Dr. Jacobs struck a cord with me when she made a simple request of all teachers - Why not “upgrade” your assignments? Upgrading an assignment gives the students peaked interest and a real-world application of the skills essential to success in today’s world. Dr. Jacobs has written many books and blogs and makes the case for rigorous disciplined action steps to identify new literacy terms, find points of curriculum intersection, learn how to acquaint faculty with new technologies, and explore case studies featuring teachers and students operating in 21st century classrooms.

An image to share


The latest upgrade of my phone (It was a no-brainer, since they gave me $200 for my old phone!)

A proverb

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”


Wedding tradition (was this the start of upgrading?)


An encouragement

First, I would encourage you to watch Dr. Jacobs TED Talk. She throws no punches about what she believes, but she is certainly a gifted professional who is passionate about teaching and learning. Next, review the TED Talk to look specifically for her take on what she had coined “upgrading assignments.” Listen in for her suggestions to make the classroom more realistic and engaging. I love how she wants to “upgrade” assessments to performance tasks that match real-world situations. Finally, consider newest book, “The New Literacies,” that promote:
  • following a detailed, four-phase implementation model to integrate digital, media, and global literacies into the curriculum.
  • teaching students to be self-aware, self-motivated, critical thinkers capable of thriving in the 21st century.
  • examining the practices of real schools that incorporate the new literacies into their programs.
  • reflecting on your own teaching and learning practices to construct 21st century classrooms and globally competent students.

Heidi Hayes Jacobs is on to something. I hope we have ears to hear.

How do you do that?

How do you “upgrade” assessments? Dr. Jacobs has given us a step-by-step plan of action.

Step 1: Develop a pool of assessment replacements.
  • possibilities can include: documentaries, podcasts, films, quarterly reports, blogs, video conferences, email correspondence, webcasts
Step 2: Identify existing technologies available at your building/district level.
·       Interactive whiteboards, laptops, desktop computers, Web 2.0 sites, flip cameras, tablets, etc.
Step 3: Replace a dated assessment with a modern one. 
·       Each teacher can commit to one replacement/upgrade per semester; baby steps rather than a complete overhaul at once.
Step 4: Share the assessment upgrades formally with colleagues and students.
·       Don't overlook students as a great bank of ideas. This also models lifelong learning for students.
Step 5: Insert ongoing sessions for professional development.
·       Give teachers specific professional development time for “upgrading.”

Thank you Dr. Jacobs for your insight and boldness for today’s students’ needs.



As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K