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Adrenaline Rush…of the Nerdy Kind

Yesterday, my alarm went off at 5:30.

That’s AM, folks…not PM.

Why on earth would I get up so early on a Saturday morning?

Well, it wasn’t to attend a soccer game, as in days of old when the kiddos played and we traveled many, many weekends.

Nope.

This time I got up early, leaving my sleeping fur babies behind, to attend my county’s annual Reading Conference.

Pele tried to entice me into staying home with this sad face…

It is a much-looked-forward-to event and the “go-to” happening place if you are an educator in my district or surrounding districts.

It is always held at one of the local colleges, so the venue is comfortable.

This was a special year for me, though, because I had been asked to be a presenter.

That’s right…

A PRESENTER!

At first, I ha ha’d it off (as in laughed, in case my lingo didn’t come across well).

Ok…so I didn’t laugh, but I gently declined because, as a fourth-year teacher, I didn’t feel knowledgeable enough to be presenting to other, vastly superior teachers…many of whom are my official and unofficial mentors.

My thinking changed after my school’s TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment) trained my students how to use Google Drive.

A brief introduction of Ryan.

He is one of the most likeable, approachable young men (I can say this because I discovered that I’m about fifteen years older than him…give or take a couple of years).  Rooster was in two of Ryan’s history classes and adored him.  Ryan’s style of teaching suited Rooster perfectly.  It was very hands-on and made the kids apply what they were learning to fun tasks.

Ryan works out of the district office now to assist teachers with using technology in their classrooms, and he’s been invaluable to my growth as a teacher, sparking my thinking by the most casual comments or bits of how-to information.

We are working together to improve my students’ writing skills through the use of Google Drive and other technology…hence the training.

We work well together, and our conversation between classes the day he did the trainings (he stayed ALL DAY), led to a discussion about the upcoming reading conference.

He graciously invited me to be a part of the Google Drive presentation he was set to do with another TOSA (shout-out to Doug), and I was on board!  I didn’t feel the pressure of being a one-woman show.  I would, in essence, be the teacher testimonial to their techie know-how.

After we set that up, I was invited to do my OWN session…same material…in a second session of Google Drive.  Ryan generously offered to let me use the presentation that had been created for our session, so I took a leap of faith and agreed to do that session on my own.

Talk about nerves!

I speak better in front of a classroom of teenagers.

Heck…I know I’m not all there and a little…um…uncool.  I can get away with that with teenagers.  I am an adult, after all, and not expected to be cool.  Put me in front of a bunch of adults, and my legs turn to jelly!

Anyhoo…

Ryan, Doug, and I met a couple of times to discuss the presentation, and they were so sweet.  They sensed my insecurities and assured me that I would do fine.

Their confidence buoyed my spirits and, after writing a few notes of things I wanted to say, I walked in to the first session feeling prepared.

Look at the pretty ribbon I got to wear…

I do love technology, after all.  It’s always been a passion of mine, and teaching gives me an avenue for blending my love for students with my love for digital learning.

The first Google Drive session went off swimmingly.  We made a perfect team, and the information came across seamlessly.  Those guys are AWESOME, and the packed room of eager teachers seemed very receptive and excited as the presentation progressed.

As part of the presentation, we showed this very short video to give attendees a general idea of what Google Drive was about (we later expounded on it)…

The second session went well too.  I was no Ryan or Doug, that’s for sure, but I did my best and didn’t do too badly.

I am my harshest critic, and I can’t help but analyze myself.

A do-over would include me talking much more SLOWLY.  Unfortunately, when I get excited, I talk fast…VERY fast.  There’s so much in my head that I want to share that my words stumble over each other!

That’s why writing is good for me.  It forces me to write ONE SENTENCE AT A TIME…unlike talking, where ideas flow without punctuation and somewhat randomly.

I had a couple of chats with some lovely people after both sessions and left the college on an adrenaline rush.

There is nothing I like better than helping people.

The last few years, I’ve mostly been helping my students, but to take what I do and extend it to other teachers marks another turning point in my career…a step up and outside of myself.

I’m starting to get to the point where, now that my new teacher classwork is finished, I can stretch myself in different directions.

My natural enthusiasm for what I do in the classroom is beginning to spill over to conversations with colleagues.

I don’t do this because my IPDP says I have to in order to be “Highly Effective.”

It’s just a part of who I am…who we all should become as we learn more about our craft.

In the end, it makes us all better educators, which benefits the charges we’ve been blessed to take care of.

The Power of Student Email

Oh word, but my students have really been blowing me away lately with the way they are using the technology I have incorporated into our classroom activities!

On Monday, each student had to turn in an essay he/she had revised.  The revision counted as a test grade.

I had taken my students to the computer lab the week before to train them how to use Google Drive (more information about this in a future post).  I gave them a class period to begin typing their essays and instructed them to finish at home.  I allowed the couple of students who didn’t have internet access at home to turn in handwritten essays.

One of my girls had been absent a lot the week before, so I gave her a couple of extra days to complete the assignment.

The night before her due date, I began receiving emails from her school email account to mine.  She needed help, and she provided the introduction she had written.

We went back and forth quite a few times as I clarified instructions and answered her questions.

I assured her that I would be up late and she could keep emailing me.

She did…until 12am.  Yes, I am a night owl.  I also couldn’t leave her hanging.

She turned in a beautiful essay the next day.

My email correspondence with my students has begun to expand beyond homework help.

I received the following from one of my gentlemen on Thursday…

This guy had read his way through Marie Lu’s book series, Legend, which I’d purchased, at his request, in recent months.

Champion, which he referred to in his email, was the third installment in the series.

I guess I know what I’ll be reading soon.

Meanwhile, I had another student who was looking for Champion.  I discovered that it wasn’t on the shelf, so I sent the first young man an email, fully aware that he checks it regularly…during school even.

Sure enough, within a few short minutes, he had responded and told me that he’d do his best to deliver it to my other student’s math class.

I’m finding myself very excited at what’s happening in my classroom.

Teaching students how to use Gmail and Google Drive is opening up new avenues for discussion and self monitoring.

One of my students sent me an email after school yesterday inquiring about specific grades “I had given her” (as opposed to “her earning”).  When I got home and pulled up her grades, I was able to respond, with a full accounting.  The funniest part of her email was how she attached screen shots of a survey she had completed for an assignment…the results of which didn’t go through to the Google Form I had created.

She won that point.

You know the saying, “When you give a mouse a cookie.”

Well, in my case, when you teach kids how to use “grown up” tools, they begin to take ownership of their learning.  They begin to ask questions they are uncomfortable asking in front of big groups.  They become co-facilitators of their educational experience.

I continue to be amazed, humbled, and honored at what I get to do each day.

When You Show a Student Google Drive…

Yesterday was a long day.  I stayed after school, filling in for Barb, who is the sponsor for our school’s dance team.  She had an appointment elsewhere.  The girls are angels, so I didn’t mind.

After that, I had to run a couple of errands.

I was tired when I finally pulled into the garage, but I knew I had work ahead of me.

Mr. Principal had come into my room the day before and observed me.  After giving me helpful feedback, we determined that there was a bit of documentation lacking on the “official” website that houses teacher evaluation records, so I had to get those pieces uploaded fairly quickly so those empty fields could be filled, he could put in a final rating, and finalize the observation.

This was more time consuming than I’d anticipated.  We have four dadgum domains to provide documentation for, and I couldn’t figure out what went where.  A few hours later, I finished…I hope.

As an overachiever, I suspect I put too much online.  heehee

However, in the middle of all of that work, I began receiving emails…

From my students…

Because I’d spent time the last two days teaching my students how to access their school-issued Gmail accounts.

I’d also shown them some neat features of Google Drive and had created a document for everyone to share writing resources to.

I was surprised when, on Tuesday evening, one of my students actually POSTED a link AND an explanation as to WHY the video was helpful in learning to write.

I quickly sent out a message to that class via Remind101.  If you’re in the education field and have not heard of it, visit my link.

It.

Is.

Amazing.

As you will see.

In my text alert, I praised the student who had added the resource.

She came into school the next morning and told me that her mother, who had signed up for my alerts, had gone into her room and told her how proud she was of her.

Although I think it embarrassed my student a little, I could also see pride in her eyes as I decided to show her video to my class instead of the one I’d selected.

I also proceeded to show my other classes what she had added to the shared document and waxed poetic, let me tell you.

Several students in one of my classes began adding links to their document around dinner time.

I embedded comments on the document (such a neat feature that we will use when we are doing peer editing through Google Drive).

To my utter shock, one of my students replied to MY comment on another student’s resource!

Oh heck yes!

Folks, one of the things I am struggling with the most as an educator is turning over my classroom to my students.

Common Core demands that our students run the show…with teachers facilitating.

In fact, research shows that the more control students have over their learning, the more growth they will make.

I’m old-school, though, and grew up where students most certainly did NOT teach.  Knowledge was imparted TO us, and we were responsible for regurgitating it back to them.

Watching my students get excited about the technology and hearing them say how useful it’s going to be when we go to iPads (we can dream, eh?) is making me float on air.

I started delving into Google Drive because a techie/teacher asked if I was interested in working with him and a few other teachers to incorporate technology into our classrooms with the express purpose of improving student writing.

We are well on our way, as evidenced by the conversations that are happening, face-to-face and electronically.

I am so excited at the potential that’s in store for my students and for myself, as an educator.

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