Wednesday, August 15, 2018

30-day Countdown to back to school-- day 8

Today we worked in the classroom, setup the Oculus.🙌 Went to yoga. I sent emails for ice cream social, that's a class advisor activity I'm responsible for. And I didn't get back to the chairs so those are to be continued...

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 15

Took some time and outlined my 6th grade tech course with a quarter plan, the CSTA standards aligned, and additions and changes needed for a new group of students. Also made appointments, stopped at the grocery, and went to Yoga. Really starting to focus on classes I can do in the afternoon so that the gym works for me even after school starts back up. Really, the outline took a long time I guess because I don't remember doing much more.

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 16

Spent the day documenting as you could see from the numerous post-vacation posts. Documenting like the proving statement I made can be difficult. Staying on top of it and making it a routine is the only way to make it manageable. 

After documenting I took the CSTA standards and split them by grade level into an Excel spreadsheet and then felt overwhelmed lol. Then I designed a few shirts for back to school and indulged in a Counting On marathon. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 17

Tax-free day

We are home and went shopping for back-to-school.  I know if we wait too late into August the prices go up on supplies, there is not as much variety and so might as well take advantage of tax-free.

There were choices to make too.  What coupons to use, what sales to take advantage of, and when did tax-free matter?  I looked at planners something I have been considering all summer.  I generally use Google Calendar as my planner. See previous posts google-calendar-for-work-and-home & google-calendar-lesson-planning

I also though have this awful habit of writing things down in a monthly view and of course there is that detailed lesson plan for a sub or when you're getting evaluated. ;-) I'm trying to streamline the process and hope to have that worked out over the next couple days but my daughter and I decided step one would include printing our own pages on pretty paper instead of buying a planner so we are going to start here.

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 18


This was an interesting day of travel.  Another one of those moments where we cannot control everything or anything for that matter. 

We experienced an hour and half 6-mile backup in Virginia for West Virginia’s roadwork that isn’t even happening on the weekend and cones in Virginia in preparation for West Virginia is roadwork? And one lane —it was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. 

Apparently they have to back up so far down the road purposely so that they can let the tunnel run freely so they purposely back you up and only let so many cars at a time through the tunnel. Still with that explanation I was confused about the math behind the backup location. 

We were warned while at the Virginia Welcome Center but here was the thought process. The scenic alt route was 20 extra miles but 40 extra minutes. The alt route you did was 47 extra miles. At the time we decided not to get off the alt route the backup was 40 minutes so either alt route was a wash. Issue...some idiot got in an accident added 20 min. Ultimately the backup took us an extra 20 minutes over either alt route. I used a timer and everything. When it came down do it though all that waiting was for NO construction on the weekend and they are only paving no adding a lane or anything. Seems extreme. And with all that said, we took an alt route in Savannah that ended up adding more than 30-45 minutes to our trip cause the alt route couldn't handle the extra traffic. Decided to chance it this time. 

On the other side of the backup we finally found a Welcome Center with a gift shop so we got some souvenirs and found a happy rock. 

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 19


On this day I don't have much to reflect on.  I spent most of the day driving.  We did go to the Dinosaur store in Cape Canaveral before leaving.  This was a suggestion of Sebastian our tour guide from kayaking the night before. The Waze app sent me on an unnecessary detour through Savannah, GA.  This leads me to the question of how much to trust technology.  We came up with several ways to improve Waze. For example, if you are going to alert people to a pothole, name the lane.  If you want to reroute someone, ask if they want to take the alt route instead of rerouting, and if you are going to announce there are police up ahead list if they are scanning traffic or if they have someone pulled over and again, what side. 

We used Expedia to choose a hotel for the night but the site was done.  Another issue regarding tech.  We had to call.  We found on the way down going up to a hotel at the last minute may not be the best strategy.

The negative to taking our time is we didn't have time at any of our hotels to enjoy any of the amenities they actually did offer whether it be the pool or popcorn in the lobby.

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 20


This post would have been very different if I wrote it on the beach during the day.  I almost did, but decided I needed to wait until the end of the day.  This was our beach day and we spent time playing in the water, and I sat under an umbrella for most of the day when everyone else went inside. After sitting on the beach, reading and writing it was approaching time to get ready for dinner.  Showers etc. We had plans at 7:30 to do a kayaking tour so dinner needed to be at 5. I stood up and looked at myself and thought "I don't look like I've been in Florida." I run into this a lot teaching.  I can say Bill got it and Jill did not. I watched them do activities but I dislike giving tests, I prefer application.  I don't like grading, I know I can automate it. But, none the less I need proof.  Sometimes I don't like to test because then a topic like directory may not be known and I think it should and that's frustrating and I know in a few weeks if they don't know what a directory is now they will soon.  And I don't want them studying for a test to get it correct but I have to announce tests so students can study but I know that does not mean they know anything because will they know it to use it in 2 weeks? 

Anyway, I wanted proof so 20-30 minutes outside of the umbrella should make it more obvious I was in FL.  Well, sure, all the sunscreen and tanning lotion has washed off.  So this is what it got me. More than a burn, pain and a headache. So totally worth it to prove my experience.  A perfectly good day ratcheted by the need to prove to others my progress. To look a certain way. 

3 days later :(
Now thank goodness we could salvage the day and have an experience and I kept pressing on determined to turn things around but there definitely was a down moment.

As far as proof in the classroom.  I've been working on a badge system so that students can earn badges when they successfully complete a skill i.e. save without help For me it's a way to celebrate skills instead of vocabulary. I'm hoping the vocabulary is coming through the skill reinforcement. Generally it seems to.

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 21


Went to the Kennedy Space Center. Speaking of everything educational... The experience was good. It was hard to know what to do first. We took the bus tour of the launch pads and to Apollo/Saturn V. I truly believe was should have started with Atlantis. 

They say you can stay at an exhibit from 3 minutes to 3 hours but that’s not entirely true. Once you enter most exhibits there is a pre-
show, show, and then exhibit. This is great for crowd control and educationally its a model of explaining what you see before seeing it, then seeing it and having background. Unlike Sea World however it was long and too much information that was difficult to retain and the entertainment aspect was limited. This was definitely a reflection point for me as a teacher and parent. The things that stick with me were related and even for the people most interested some of the information delivered was too much or not enough of the “right” content as in more about the past and less about the future. More about the space program and less about space or lessons learned from space. 
Definitely things to think about when delivering content.

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 22


Today we went to Disney Springs. We were going to visit Universal CityWalk but they charge $22 to park where as DisneySprings has complimentary parking. How often do we not know what an experience offers due to the cost?  I know this is true when it comes to choosing curriculum too. We ate lunch at the Rainforest cafe and it brought up an interesting conversation. They said they weren’t passing out straws. Now at this point, since this conversation, there are an array of memes about straws. What was the most educationally engaging topic of this discussion was what taking away straws does to the people who need them. Straws may be dangerous to animals on land and water but what about the disabled or elderly people who cannot hold their cup. They find it difficult to drink without the straw. This was engaging as we apply our thoughts to differentiation because its one thing to offer solutions that diversify our classroom or remove harmful effects but what about when we remove something for the good of one student that negatively impacts other students? How about the other way around? How about when I introduce something to accommodate for your disability but it puts something harmful into the environment for others? i.e. a service dog where someone has an allergy

As I get even closer to setting up my classroom I think about this. I ran into this a couple specific ways last year this impacted my room.

I had a candy machine full of Skittles that I used as an incentive to my students. Someone did something well they could have Skittles. It added something to my room that was fun as I'm an “academic” elective. Quotes needed as I'm not termed academic but if you ask students they have to work in my class differently than say choir, a performance elective. Anyway that incentive became an “issue” when a student who had a class with another teacher in my room was accustomed to having Skittles as an incentive. Apparently he could not handle the visual of the treat without indeed receiving it. Once out of sight it was out of mind, not only for that child bit for me as I would forget to provide the incentive to my classes and took away something they came to enjoy but didn’t need.

On another note I added a Scentcy to my classroom. I selected a mild no-floral scent. Students liked it and never once was there a complaint however in another hallway a student had an adverse reaction to a scent (aerosol, diffused, melted??) we had no information to the type of scent or the method the scent was released into the air, we were all mandated to turn off our scents. No melted scents, diffused scents, etc. It didn’t matter that the scents helped some students concentrate. Just done! I had several students state my room was less inviting once I quit using the scent.

How do we decide to make certain concessions for certain students and not others? When is it for the good of the group vs. one student? How can we maintain that concept of least restrictive environment for students when one student that cannot handle something can dictate the entire course?

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 23


Spent the day at Sea World. I found it interesting that compared to when they were in Ohio every show discussed education and how coming to Sea World helps conserve endangered animals. The entire experience was about education and really addressed education in an entertaining way and with the excitement of why you would want to learn more. It’s like I cannot even go on vacation without being in teacher mode but it really is something to keep in mind. 

Shows were only 20 minutes and many times we left saying, “Is that all?” (Since I cheated and am writing this late this theme becomes important as I relate it to my classroom later.) What stood out in the message was educational through the entertainment but also consumable as in you could really take in new info in those 20 min. segments.

Something to ponder.

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 24


A day of driving and decisions.  Do we take the alt route?  Do we stop for coffee, the bathroom?  Will we make it to Florida while they are still giving away free orange juice at the Welcome Center?  After leaving Chattanooga we immediately are in Georgia and you know none of these Welcome Centers have gift shops.  

We probably should not have stopped as it wasn't necessary and just made Georgia last longer. I kept reading my book and my daughter learned about downloading movies while on WiFi versus streaming. I don't even remember eating lunch.  

I'm sure we did but we ate dinner at Outback.  Against my "let's not eat at a chain" plan but it was open at midnight so, well there's that. :-) 

My take away for the day was,"Don't Expect to a an Expert." This works for both travel and teaching.  There are somethings you just won't know. 

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 25

July 28, 2018

Vacation has begun. After picking up our stuff from the fair we rolled out headed to Florida. We stopped halfway in Chattanooga, TN. We learned about limitations of devices using data when you're accustomed to having WiFi. My daughter has already used her data for the month. SMH We learned that Expedia has a desktop site, mobile site, and mobile app and ALL the options offered different prices on the same hotels. Definitely some topics to discuss in class.

I also took some time to read Computational Thinking and Coding for Every Student.

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 26

July 27, 2018

I tried to say that I did nothing back-to-school related on day 26. Then I write how how the day unfolded. In the morning I got new keys for my car. My key quit working so in a key less car that is rather unfortunate and the dealership wanted to charge me $400 but I found a local locksmith (Baker's Locksmith) who programmed 2 keys for that price! Then I got an oil change but look at the condition they left my car.
oil stain floor
Driver's side floor
Passenger side door 
Driver's side door

Driver's side ceiling
I was not going to say who but the thing about posting my updates a week late is I contacted Grismer-Springfield and they have not bothered to respond to my contact so here is my official note that the front desk is polite, they always take "too long" in comparison to other places for similar services.  1 hour for a scheduled oil change, 2 hours for a scheduled tire replacement. I went in for a FREE oil change and tire rotation that came with the tires I purchased from them.  I left paying $80 for new filters.  An engine filter and cabin filter but hey we were leaving on vacation so I was OK with that maintenance.  The photos let you know what care they took of my car that was just interior detailed a month prior and was in very clean condition prior to our vacation. 😠😠😠

Then I had to deal with my leaking pool, see Social Media: perceptions: Owning a Pool, link posted soon. We took our sons-in-law to dinner for their birthdays that are within 2 weeks of each other. Then came home to pack for vacation. Whew. 

But mixed n there between oil change and pool I stopped at the Springfield Masonic Community to discuss property rental for prom and the details of their print shop related to my Digital Production Concepts course. After dinner I bought this for my classroom at Cracker Barrel Country Store. 

I guess no matter how busy I am, I'm still always a teacher, even in the summer.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 27

After a rather stressful day, the circumstances of how it became stressful is rather silly. What was rather relaxing including eating pita chips and an iced coffee, turned into a lot of thinking. LOL 

So, how do I turn this day into something I consider productive? 

I have a lot of Pinterest boards. This means a lot of pins I don't look at again. This evening I went through previous boards and re-pinned items to my new board for the 2018-2019 school year. That board has sections with all my classes for the year. Then I pinned resources to boards specific to things I plan to teach and subject areas so the boards become more meaningful. 

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 28

So, it's that time of the day to recap and although it's the summer I'm prepping for a new school year.  I wanted to get so much more done today but, unlike yesterday when being a parent "got in the way" today it was those darn supplemental contracts.  You know that thing you do for pretty much zero extra pay that takes a lot of your time. I am a class adviser and today I shared in a lot of conversation and research about activities that are essentially extra-curricular. Powder Puff and Prom. Trying to figure out why all these phone calls are taking so much time. And I have help!! In addition to not quite reaching my goals on the front of prepping classes I realized some things about my prep.

1) Ohio has new Computer Science Standards.  They are still in draft form but I thought I should read them and compare them to CSTA and the current Ohio Technology standards. 
I felt so unproductive because nothing formal was completed.  I looked over standards to see what were included expectations for grades 6 - 12.

2) My SMART goal(s) are generally written the first quarter of school.  Maybe anticipating that the goals need to be written that is something I should consider writing and make goals BEFORE school starts.

3) My SLO tests are created by myself as I'm not a state-tested subject. I have used the same test for the last 5 years and students come in with scores of 10 - 15% and leave with scores 70%+ and this is really good because I only see my middle school students in 9-week rotations.  BUT as well as they have been growing on these tests I thought it was time to create a list of things students should know by the end of 8th grade so I could test toward those things. Not only do I want to test these skill I think these skills will be used across curriculum.  I'd love to get more in-depth with actual computer science but I make sure a lot of CS gets in while supporting use of applications that will be used in core high school curriculum. Keeping in mind that my students rotate in 9-week sections it's not feasible to do a lot of the curriculum out there for CS that is designed for an entire year.

See my list below of competencies/specific learning objectives (not standards) to see if you agree because that is pretty much all I completed that I can show on day 28. LOL

8th grade minimum requirements
Students can

  • create a folder in a drive
  • use a flash drive
  • use the hard drive
  • use Google drive
    • change the color of the folder
  • differentiate between drives 
    • understand a cloud drive requires Internet access
  • rename folders and drives
  • differentiate between save & save as
  • save files as a different file type than the default for the program
    • i.e. save .xlsx to .csv or .docs to .pdf or .txt
    • recognize they cannot simply rename the file with the file type
  • understand what an operating system is and does
  • understand the difference between editable files such as .prel and .wlmp or .ai and final files such as .mp4, .mpg, .png
  • understand basic syntax of HTML5 tags and incorporating CSS
    • Note: other coding skills should be introduced but this is a minimum
    • compare and contrast creating a website from a text editor vs. Google Sites and Weebly
      • recognize that website builders still use HTML and CSS in the back end
    • compare and contrast editors such as Notepad, Coffee Cup, CodePen, and Dreamweaver.
  • Identify responsible use of technology
    • understand copyright laws
      • use and create images
      • understand the value of taking own photography
    • have strategies against plagiarism
      • demonstrate varied research techniques
    • understand Internet safety
      • create and remember secure passwords
      • understand personal information
      • recognize unsafe activity
      • guard against malware
  • Edit photos and video

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 29

When I got this bright idea I knew it was ambitious.  I'm actually stating that I will give updates on preparing for back-to-school EVERY day.  As productive as yesterday was, I must admit today was not as "productive" on paper. The realization that being a teacher, and being a parent and the energy that goes into my ALL my kids is not easily balanced. This is a task that plagues me during the school year too.  All the more of a reason to plan out the school year when things come up unplanned in your daily life. 

Today I planned to make an outline for AP CSP, instead I went shopping for vacation, went to yoga class, collected 45 text messages as an exchange in preparation for prom in which I'm an adviser for, and I went to the county fair for the 4-H winners' review. While at the winners' review a statement was made by the executive director of the fairgrounds when he presented the awards for the flower beds.  The statement paraphrased to the best of my recollection was: earlier today couples filled this room celebrating 50 years or more of marriage and one couple shared 73 years, and this commitment was a positive in a world where the media is sharing so many negative circumstances. Tonight this room is filled with hope for the future as we celebrate the achievements of 4-Hers via the winners review.  One example of this hope is all the work the 4-H clubs do to maintain the flower beds at the fairgrounds.  Today a group from Washington State visited Ohio for the first time and they came directly from the airport to the Clark County Fairgrounds and after seeing the facility including the beautiful flower beds they think Ohio is great!

As I reflect on how I'm going to move forward in my plans and how to best prepare for the new school year I will choose to prepare an openness that celebrates small achievements that develop into a big picture. The overall Fair and fairgrounds have many elements, many individual flower beds that go into making it a place you want to visit. 

  1. What can we do as educators to develop many individual experiences into a fulfilling course?  
  2. What can we as teachers to to inspire individual students as life-long learners? 
  3. What is it that will leave students saying "CS is great!"?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

30-day Countdown til school starts -- Day 30

After a whirlwind of a summer it's difficult to think that school begins in 30 days. So far this summer I completed my first post-masters class in school administration, participated in my daughter's June wedding, read content for CTE test questions, attended training, and participated in the opening days of our county fair.

Now it's time to start piecing it all together to start a new year. One thing I've learned after teaching 5 years of K - 12 education is that having a plan to guide the year is crucial.  I lay out the year, the quarter, and each online course with supplemental material.  Then probably change 1/2 of it before the end of quarter one but at least I'm not scrambling.  In the CS world everything seems to be changing.  As if the mandates and expectations of teaching don't change enough, as in SLOs, RESA, standards are common core, not common core, technology standards vs. computer science standards then there is the whole issue that we are not using Windows 7 anymore, and Google Suite, Schoology, Office 365 (the tech) looks different but then it's time to learn Python because JavaScript isn't good enough and I always struggle with where to put my time.

This summer we are taking our summer vacation at the end of this week.  It's later in the summer but gives me two full weeks to prep before students arrive. I hope to document the next 30-days with resources AND experiences.

I will be teaching Digital Design Productions, a student-based enterprise course where students will be using various tools to design products that can be sold online. I will be teaching Technology Communications where I have students learn about social media marketing, web commerce, video production, and blogging to explore communication online and via various forms of technology. I will be teaching 6 & 7 grade computer technology courses and AP CSP.  None of these courses have district adopted curriculum so it's nice that I get to decide what to teach but also the biggest part of the challenge. 

I'm starting with AP CSP, at least it has curriculum out there already laid out within it's own set of standards and learning objectives for the course. This year I'm still using the FREE Harvard CS50 but supplementing it with and using App Inventor as the initial project to garner interest in using mobile devices.

Since my students have the benefit of having computer technology courses in middle school I will be taking a lot of the material and introducing it at the middle school level. has specific middle school content so I will be looking at how the AP CSP and Discoveries curriculum integrates with each other.

Thank you for following me as a put together this plan for the new school year.