image of quote

“Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.”

I heard this quote today while watching the news. A survivor of the Boston Marathon Bomb quoted it as her reason that she would be a survivor and get past this horrible event. It got me to think about, how on one side all that we go through in our lives and how petty some it really is but on the other side how strong we really are when things get difficult. I remember that I had a student in my class a number of years ago who was in remission after being diagnosed with Leukemia. At first I admit I felt sad. He was so young and he and his family were fighting this battle. I remember one day while in class he asked to go to the front office to call home. I replied with “just use the phone back here so that you don’t have to walk back and forth to the front of the school”. He did and a few moments later the front office intercommed into my classroom and asked for me to send the student to the front office as he was being signed out. The student was absent the next and the day after that and I became worried. When I called home to check on him I was informed that due to his treatments he had stress fractures all through his hips. They went on to tell me that he was going to be going to get a complete hip replacement. I remember thinking, wow what a strong kid. He didn’t let on that he was hurting or in any pain even though I know that he must have been. He taught me so much in the several years that I ha him as a student. He was and is such an inspiration to me. At his 5 year mark for remission we, my class and I, gave him a “re-birthday” party. I’m happy to say that has graduated and is living his life. The quote really does ring true, doesn’t it?

“Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.”


BYOD: Bring Your Own Device

My school system has started a new thing this year called BYOD, also known as, Bring Your Own Device. I know a number of other school systems that have gone to this new way of teaching here in recent years. As you know by reading some of my other posts I love technology and with this new idea of BYOD also brings a new way of teaching. I’m currently in my 10th year teaching and a few years ago I heard someone refer to the teachers as “Edutainers”. The more I think about that and what that means I can’t agree with it more. Teachers take on a new role now especially with the BYOD in our system. As a teacher you have to give students quick bursts of information all the time and do it in a way that is not “boring” to the students. I know what you are thinking, but when we were in school we had to do what we had to do, and I agree with you but we grew up in a different time. The students we have in class now have never lived in a world without internet, email, social media, video games, etc. I like to think of it as of “oh shiny generation”. Some students will pay attention long enough until they see something else new and shiny and then they move on. I do like the way that our system went about creating the policies for students to use their devices but it is still up to the teacher in how they wan to incorporate it in class. It allows the teacher or Edutainer make up the rules about how they want to use those devices in their classrooms. The rule taken directly from the student/parent handbook states the following:

Rule 20: Articles Unrelated to School Instruction

Students shall not bring radios, CDs, CD players, MP3 players, video cartridges or games, cameras, battery-powered video games, other electronic games, sports cards or others such as Pokemon, large sums of money, or tazers/shockers, etc. The use of cell phones or personal digital devices (iPods, iPads, tablet computers, eBook reader) during the school day (first bell to last bell) is authorized only under the direction of the classroom teacher to support student instruction. The school assumes no responsibility or liability for lost or damaged cell phones or personal digital devices if brought to school. Unauthorized use of a cell phone or other digital device during the instructional day or on a school bus may result in the following: (1) first offense – device will be taken and parent called to pick up device. (2) Second offense – student will serve a day in ISS and parent will be called to pick up the device (3) third offense – student will serve a day in ISS and parent will be notified that (parent) can pick up the device at the end of the school year. Taking pictures or the recording of audio/video with cell phones or other digital device at school is prohibited unless under the express direction of a teacher as a component of instruction or a project. Students utilizing a cell phone or digital device for the capture of photographs or audio/video may be subject to additional punishment under this progressive discipline code.

A handout was issued to students/staff with additional instructions:

  • The content provided by this connectivity is filtered and activity is monitored for inappropriate content as required the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Additionally, by connecting to this network, you agree that such connectivity is for educational and lawful use only. Any abuse of this system will result in loss of the privilege.
  • Students should only use Personal Electronic Devices (e.g. smart phones, tablets, e-book readers, iPads, iPhones, iPods, etc.) at the direction of a faculty member. Violation of this provision may lead to confiscation of the device. Please refer to the Student and Parent Handbook, Rule # 20 for additional information.
  • Bypassing or attempting to bypass the protection measures provided within the district, including the use of 3G or 4G to bypass the wireless system, will lead to disciplinary action as described in the Internet Acceptable Use Policy.
  • Hacking, or attempting to access restricted systems will also lead to disciplinary action. Individuals caught attempting to do so will lose access to district network resources and may face criminal prosecution.

All that being said, I am curious to find out your thoughts and/or what your school system is doing. Do you think that BYOD is a good thing?

Social Media in the Classroom: Introduction to Edmodo

What can I say, not only do I love Edmodo but more importantly, my students love Edmodo. This school year we decided to try something new, let’s meet the students were they live…. On the Internet through the use of social media. As most schools, websites such as Facebook, Google +, MySapce, LinkedIn, etc. are blocked in the public school setting by law. While at a conference last summer, I was introduced to the FREE for schools social media site called Edmodo. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure that high school students would really jump on the bandwagon but they did… and they LOVE it!!!! They were even excited to learn that there was even an App they can download to their phones, in which they do use, for FREE. I have a lot of students who may not have a lot of access to their home computer but they always have their smart phone or tablets on them. Now, of course, I also have students that don’t have a computer at home, not a smart phone, but I am lucky to have a computer lab as my classroom in which they have access to our class on Edmodo.

If you are a teacher and have not tried Edmodo yet, I really would like you to take a look. A few words to the wise make sure you set ground rules and keep it professional. It has made my life so much easier and I know that the students are always engaged!

Evernote…. how I use it

Why is Evernote so AWESOME ?!?!?!?!?

As a high school teacher, a committee member, family member, artist… I use Evernote daily!!!! Evernote is a FREE product that allows you to remember anything / everything. If you are like me, someone can ask me a question or tell me something but I can walk away and 5-minutes later I will have forgotten everything that was said 🙂 Evernote has really become my right hand man. I use it for shopping lists, reminders, notes, lesson plans, professional learning, etc.  If you not tried to use Evernote yet I really want to encourage you to do so. Below you’ll find a video tutorial overview of Evernote that I created. Enjoy!!!!

Social media and the use of it in the classroom

After watching the Casey Anthony trial on TV the news/media started to talk about why this trial is so BIG and why so many people were so interested in this trail. One reason, they said, was that it was this was the “first social media trial“. It really got me thinking about the power of social media whether it be Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, etc…. I wonder if social media is so powerful, what if we used the powers for good and not evil, and tried to use it in the classroom. I have my personal thought about if and/or when it should or shouldn’t be used. I would like to see what you all have to say and then I will tell you my thoughts.

So here’s my question for you all… What do you think?

** UPDATE **  ** UPDATE **  ** UPDATE **  ** UPDATE **  ** UPDATE **  ** UPDATE **  ** UPDATE **

After viewing the poll it does seem like many of you think that we should use social media in the classroom somehow. Now here’s the question, how, when, where, etc. There are many questions that come up. My friend Amy and I have been taking about helping students become more of a “Responsible Digital Citizen”. I think that it wouldn’t work currently because students, and as we have seen, adult, don’t know how to use social media responsibly, i.e. the Anthony Weener incidents!!! But I think if we introduce it and teach students how to use it and remind them that this is not a private diary, that anyone at any point can and will look at your entries. Now it might be just a friend reading it, or a spouse, or an employer, but rest assure it will be read. A friend once told me that if you didn’t want something published on the front page of the newspaper for all to see then don’t do it. I think the same goes here. If you don’t want EVERYONE to read it then don’t post it.

I think if teachers use the powers for good and not evil it can be a good thing, i.e. remind students of due date, extra resources for assignments, etc. But I think we as educators have to follow some other rules. If you are going to create a Facebook page make it a Fan Page instead. Post only things related to your subject area. Avoid posting things that are personal. Never friend a student. For school consider a social media site that is more for education, such as instead. It is a wonderful resource and the best part it is FREE!!!

On your personal, secured page, I would even avoid friending graduates, they are still friends with your current students!!! Also keep in mind, like I stated earlier, social media is not a private diary, somehow someway it will be read. Only post things that you feel comfortable about everyone reading. Finally, as for your personally Facebook site, only friend people that you and trust personally. Twitter is more for following people you don’t know or you find interesting.