Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Schoology User's Guide -- The Basics

Schoology Guide -- Basics

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back in the Classroom Again

Last year I started feeling a little disconnected from regular classroom teachers because I was ending my second year as a full-time EdTech specialist at Korea International School, which meant that I had been completely out of the classroom for two years. The classroom is my laboratory, where I experiment and test different hypotheses. Without that environment, I felt that I was loosing touch with what really works in a classroom setting. How can I recommend something that I haven't done in a real class? I approached my IT Coordinator, Ben Summerton (@bensummerton) and explained my frustration and concern. He was very supportive and pointed out the many contributions that I make to the EdTech team and, as a former classroom teacher, he understood exactly why I was feeling the way I was feeling. He asked me how I felt about being in a classroom situation as well as continuing in EdTech. We came up with the proposal that I could teach one 75-minute block class on the rotating high school schedule and budget in 45 minutes for prep time as well. This translated into me being in the classroom two to three times a week with one or two shorter prep periods.

We then pitched it to the high school principal, Don Drake, who was ecstatic to have me in the classroom again in his building. The English department needed some redistribution of class loads and my Creative Writing course would help with that problem. Although it has meant some extra work for me, it has been totally worth it thus far. I'm very happy to be back with students on a regular schedule in an actual teaching role. I am also advising two clubs and still continuing my EdTech duties -- offering PD in the Fish Bowl, supporting teachers with iTunes U course development, supporting the G4 team with an iPad implementation, co-planning and co-teaching lessons, and helping teachers with Schoology. The plate is full, but I'm loving it. It feels great to be respected enough by my administrators to be given an opportunity to explore, change, and grow. Plus, it is great being with students in an elective Creative Writing course that allows us the freedom to explore and learn together.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer 2013 Bucket List Update

Before the summer holiday began, several folks in my PLN wrote Summer Bucket Lists of things to accomplish during summer. My original list is at this post and was admittedly quite ambitious, but I didn't to too badly. This is, of course, the follow-up to report on the progress (or lack of progress) on my Summer 2013 Bucket List. 
  1. Furnish the house in Bozkoy. This goal was basically completed. I mean we still have some furniture we would like to purchase, but we have a functional house where we can live and enjoy. The first big purchase will be a bed for the guest room, because my father is already stating that he will not come to visit until his guest room is completed and apparently having a bed is on his mental list of items that are necessary.
  2. Begin the landscaping around the house. This goal was also accomplished with some very long and painful days for me. When we arrived in Turkey, the yard looked like a construction site. I moved 3-4 cubic meters of rock to one central area of the yard and planted several plants, a jasmine bush, and three fruit tress (apricot, pear, and peach). These trees were chosen because they will be producing fruit during the months of June and July when we are most likely to be there. I love oranges, but they don't produce fruit until November and we will never be there then. :-)
  3. Finish reading Schooling by Design. Missed out on this one completely. In fact, I picked the book up once and read about ten pages during the whole summer. :-P
  4. Reflect on Out of Our Minds. I finished the book and have been thinking about the implications for how schools deal with teaching and learning. I will be posting more about this in the coming months, but it has impacted the way I will be teaching Creative Writing this semester.
  5. Study my Turkish more diligently. I have to say that this goal was worked on a bunch. I had several discussions with multiple local Turks, when Aysem was either busy or not around, and I held my own pretty well. The one I felt the most positive about was when I provided a tour of our house to a couple who are building a stone house in another village. Aysem was away and I handled the tour completely on my own. 
  6. Music and Movie production. As Schooling by Design, this was a bridge too far. I only made one short stop-motion video about a disappearing rock pile. I created one song in GarageBand on my iPad, but that was all. Not a good summer of music/movie creativity. Too many hours spent on the yard work.
  7. International Ethical Educational Leadership website. I continued my planning for the website and managed to plan out some major next steps that will help to make the site a success when it finally is launched. 
In other matters, please note that International Educators Chat is happening Wednesday evenings (6:00PM) Beijing time in Twitter with the hash tag #intedchat. This chat focuses on the issues and concerns facing international teachers and schools and is hosted by the amazing Brett Petrillo (@brettpetrillo).