Tuesday, May 21, 2013


To follow and/or contribute to the conversation digitally on Twitter, use the hashtag below or click here to be directed to the dialogue scroll on Twitter. 


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Round Table Dialogue: Part II on May 22

On Wednesday, May 22 from 3:30-4:30 PM, we will be meeting again in the upstairs library for another Round Table discussion exploring Educational Technology, our roles as educators in the 21st century, pedagogy, theory, and the perks of being a teacher these days. Join us to hear and discuss technology, teaching in the digital age, and our changing pedagogies and theories. If you would like to submit a topic or question for exploration, do so to Emily Newton via email.

To see how others are continuing the dialogue in the digital realm, click on one of the names listed below to be directed to his/her Twitter page:

To see my reflection regarding topics covered at our last Round Table, view the blog post below. 

Click here to register for the course on Workshop-Eduphoria.

Reflecting on Yesterday's Round Table Dialogue

****I tried to have this reflection up immediately after our last Round Table, but alas, due to a district name change and problems with my Google Account, I could not get back to finish this reflection until now. Apologies if it's a bit outdated now.****

Yesterday afternoon's dialogue was refreshing for me not only as an eTrainer but also as an educator on this campus. My colleagues reminded me of the innovation, questions, energy, and pedagogy we need to be constantly pursuing. I want to thank those who came, and also spend a little time reflecting on our time and on a few of the conversational nuggets that struck me.

One interesting thing to note about the afternoon: the ages of those in attendance spread from 24 to at least 55. There were 25-30 years of educational knowledge and experience in that space. It was encouraging to see such a spread of ages; innovation and reflection is not just for youth. It was also interesting to watch our conversation shift over the course of the hour. Everything we talked about was tech-centered, but the group's conversation moved very quickly to pedagogy and theory. We revolved our conversation around Digital Pedagogy: How Twitter and Social media is impacting the way we learn.

It will be difficult to only choose a few comments or pieces of our conversation to record and reflect on here, but I shall try. Some quotes might not have been recorded verbatim, but we did our best. 

"I need my own digital space." -Javier Martinez
I found this to be a powerful idea. We (as in humanity) pretty much accept the idea that we need our own physical space. Husbands and wives have "his and her" bathroom counter top spaces and sinks. It is considered socially unacceptable to stand too close to others (with the rare exceptions of subways and airport trams, and even then sometimes it's just "too close.") I am reminded of the Seinfeld episode in which Elaine dates a man who stands up-in-your-grill when he's speaking to you. The humor of the episode is created by the discomfort people feel when he's speaking to them at a distance close enough to lock lips. If we need physical space, if we all KNOW we need physical space, we should be more aware of our need to have our own digital space. I wonder if I should create another Twitter handle or Facebook identity devoted to simply "being" on the digital sphere. Do I need another way of being in the digital realm?

"Sometimes I walk through the halls and count the number of teacher voices I hear, which speaks to the difficulty to consistently implement student centered instruction" -Shelby Acevedo
I could not stop thinking about this idea all day. How frequently am I talking at my students? And what kind of "talk" am I doing? Is it in response to their ideas, or my own? This is SUCH a difficult transition to make as an educator, one that takes specific discipline and reminders of our students' need to TALK. This reminds me of the Vygotskian Venn Diagram, which visually depicts the synergistic relationship between thought and language. Vygotsky maintained that without language use, thought could not exist. It's no wonder we complain that our kids can't think for themselves. Maybe we're not letting their thoughts develop by letting them use their language enough- we give them our language instead of letting them develop their own. 

"The quality of thinking is a result of the task we are being asked to do." -Quinton Freeman
I will be frank. I blame my students at times for not knowing or doing "what they should already know how to do." I think I often indirectly shame them for responding to some of my assignments the way that they do. I think to myself, "HOW IS IT POSSIBLE that they do they not know how to write a thesis?" The fact of the matter is, they probably know exactly how to write a thesis. Maybe my prompt is what sucks. 

"What would it look like if we slapped the TEKS up on the wall and told our students, 'Have at it.' Prove to me that you've learned it by the end of the six weeks." -Karen Justl
How awesome would that be if we had the capability, support, willingness, and room to try this? Our students would be entirely responsible for their own learning. 

"I don't think we should let ourselves be limited by a grading structure." -Katie Fitch
I completely agree. I liked your use of the words "let ourselves..." because we do, indeed, let ourselves be limited. If we really wanted to allow our students the opportunity for a personalized learning experience, we could make it work. It of course would call for much more thought and bravery. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q & A with Q & J: A Round Table Discussion

Our very own Quinton Freeman and Javier Martinez constantly practice reflection and introspection with regard to Educational Technology and their roles as educators in the 21st century. Join us for a Round Table discussion with these two and have a chance to hear and discuss their use of technology, their wishes for technology in the classroom, and what they're simply learning as educators. Submit any questions you may want answered to Emily Hunt, who will help facilitate the dialogue. 

To follow the discussion via Twitter, use #Q&Jrt (for Quinton & Javier round table) or simply follow any of us using our Twitter handles: 

Javier: @Martinez_FTE

Quinton: @inQuery

Emily: @emhuntnewt

Examples of questions that will generate a dialogue
What's with the technology push across the district? Why is technology so important?
What types of technology do you use in your classroom (or in others' classrooms, Quinton), and why do you use those tools/devices?
How do you think technology should be utilized with our students?
What can we expect in a classroom that is soaked in technology and 21st century thinking? 
If I am technologically illiterate, where should I begin?

To register for this course in Eduphoria-Workshop, click here.

Reactions to the Boston Marathon Bombings

Yesterday, I had my Advisory kids explore some of the information flooding out of news sources across the country regarding the Boston Marathon bombings. I just wanted them to explore the news, images, articles, videos, etc. at NYTimes.com. To synthesize their explorations, I created a wall on WallWisher (which is actually now known as "padlet") and had them quickly write their reflections. Below is simply an image of their wall. To interact with their writings and read their responses more clearly, click here to view their wall. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Great Article in Relevant Magazine

I just read an intriguing article that captures much of the problem with digital media when used for social purposes: what we see when we scroll through our friends' post-worthy moments is a more exciting life than the one we have. This picture-perfect view of others' life experiences is shaping our feelings about our own lives, relationships, looks, experiences, etc. etc. etc. And this is a problem. Great read. Do it.  

Read the article HERE

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Google Takeout Supplemental Training

On Wednesday, April 10 from 3:30-4:30, I will be hosting a Supplemental eTraining, teaching specifically on a tool called "Google Takeout." We will meet in my room, A202.

A bit on the actual training: Google Takeout is a tool that lets you quickly and easily download data that you created in (or imported into) a number of Google products. It provides the data in a variety of open, portable formats so that you can easily import the data into other internet services. In other words, it's a service that lets users take back their data from various Google services, including Buzz, Drive, Picasa, Profile, Stream, Voice, YouTube, as well as +1s, Circles, Connections and Streams in Google+.

Many of our students often leave our campus for another district, not to mention our Seniors who graduate, leaving behind their easy access to the data they created and stored within their Google account. Come get a quick tutorial on how these students (or you) can download and take back original data from a Google account and take it "To Go" as "Takeout." 

Click HERE to register for the class on Eduphoria-Workshop. 

Personal Learning Networks

A friendly and non-threatening goal for entering the "realm" of PLNs is simply to "Find, follow, and begin engaging online with experts and beginners alike." Now is the time (any time, really) to take some time to develop your network. Below are some great articles in regards to PLNs. Some old stuff. Some new. Take a bite of one or all, and chew on the tidbits they offer. 
Why Networks Matter
Why (and How) You Should Create a Personal Learning Network
The What and Why of a Professional Learning Network
5 Reasons Teachers Should create a PLN Now!

My own reflections: My personal learning network has begun with Twitter, as well as my blog (here, duh). I am pausing now to reflect a bit further on how I am using and engaging in this network. Is Twitter right for me? Am I using it as effectively as I should be? Is blogging really for me? 

I am finding that while I may peruse Twitter quite often, clicking here and there, maybe re-tweeting or posting my own thoughts to the twitter-sphere, I haven't quite unlocked the secret to "finding friends" on Twitter. I feel a bit like a 1st grader again, looking around the cafeteria for an empty seat, friendly face, or some commonality with a stranger. I do engage in twitter dialogues with a couple colleagues here (at Northbrook HS), but I haven't started any conversations with a "follower" that I hadn't already met face to face. I know people do it. I see it happen all over the network. I watch #engchat happen in real-time, but I have yet to jump into the conversation. I look at the individuals leading those twitter #engchats and think, "How in the world do they have time to spend 8 hours on twitter every day? To tweet with random people every 2 minutes? I could never devote that kind of time or energy to being a part of the dialogue. I suppose I have to stay on the periphery and just watch." The same goes for my blog- sure, I publish. But do I engage with others? The same mentality pervades there: "I don't have the time or energy to do anything else but stand on the periphery and applaud those in the game." 

But do I? I wonder if there IS a way to skim the surface of these dialogues, get my feet wet in a bit of twitter chat. I suppose all I can do is try. A 1st grader has to learn to be social some day, might as well be now. 

One more thought on PLNs: tumblr is a great network to try out. While I haven't created anything of my own on tumblr, I often look to it for visual inspiration or ideas. A shout-out to my friend and colleague, Mr. Javier Martinez, whose tumblr (click here to access) has often been the source of a last-minute journal topic or inspiration for a writing day. Good stuff right there. Good stuff. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Becoming a Tech Savvy ETrainer in the English Classroom

I am excited to begin the reflective work of becoming a more tech savvy ETrainer. For 2013 (I know, a little late to be posting about New Years Resolutions on February 15th, but hey...it's all in the spirit, right?), it is my goal to make my way through Jennifer Funk's "Become a Tech Savvy Teacher by 2014: A 12 Month Plan" in order to further my tech skills as an eTrainer, as well as the technology I am able to bring into my own English classroom. 

So, to begin my reflective and evaluative work...

Below is an explanation of the tools that I currently use regularly or am comfortable using with my students. 
  • I use the iPads as general search tools most of the time. It is much "sexier" for my students to use the dictionary app on the iPads instead of the old, smelly dictionary that weighs 5 lbs. Not only so, but when my students sometimes have background knowledge questions, it is so much easier to hand them an iPad and ask them to look it up themselves rather than interrupting my own activity in the classroom to go look it up at my computer. The conversations we have in class often lend themselves to questions about our world, our society, our government, etc., so it's helpful to have the iPads readily available for quick references. It also encourages students to be independent seekers of truth, rather than those who have adopted the ask-the-teacher-until-she-gives-you-the-answer habit.
  • In terms of Web tools, I have used Facebook for quite awhile to post information, send reminders, as well as communicate with my students. At the high school level, we have access to Facebook, so Edmodo tends to be phased out after middle school; the kids don't seem to think it's as "cool." I also have begun to introduce my students to Twitter and often have them write "tweets" on index cards in response to things we read in class- I have yet to actually have them post to Twitter, as I would prefer that they have a more sound understanding and grasp of its function before throwing them in before they can even doggy-paddle  I plan to have them posting by the end of this school year, however. More updates on that later. I use Twitter myself quite frequently for professional purposes- I am a part of an excellent cadre of professionals at NHS, and we constantly dialogue back and forth on Twitter about what we're reading, what we're learning, what we're doing in our classrooms, what we're finding, etc. etc. etc.
  • I use goodreads.com both for myself and with my students. It is like Facebook but for nerds who read (like me). I find it extremely useful to read others' opinions of books I either have read, am currently reading, or intend to read. It helps frame my mind around the text a bit better. Not only so, but when my students use it, they are able to make better decisions about which books they choose (or choose not) to read. I love that it allows them to see just how vast and grand the world of literature is, and also that tons of other people (besides teachers and forced students) are actually reading.
My toolbox, however, is incomplete (of course, everyone's is in some way or another). Some things that I would just LOVE to be able to do and haven't found a way to do it:
  • I would love for my students to be able to use the iPads, their phones, or the iPods as a grammar reference. When writing, they often simply have no idea what the "rule" is about commas, about semi-colons, about periods, even (yes, I teach freshmen). I wish I had an easily downloadable app that my students could all have access to regardless of whether they have an Apple product in their hand or not.
  • I'll think of more...I just need to lets these thoughts percolate...