Wednesday, October 15, 2014

#CEOlympics Week 2

I hope you're going for the Gold this week in the #CEOlympics! I know a few people have excitedly told me the new resources they have found - even if you find just one new thing to use in your classroom over the next 3 weeks, you'll be more connected!


One easy way to get connected is just to "lurk".. AKA you just follow people and see what they put on social media. I know many of you are on Pinterest, so let's start with something you might already know :-)

Through a Connected Educator resource, I stumbled upon this Pinterest board that is has lots of resources to get started with getting connected:


So, even if you aren't a member on Pinterest, you can still view the resources that have been pinned to the Connected Educators board

If you are on Pinterest, Kasey Bell from Shake Up Learning put together a list of the top 35 Educators You Should Follow on Pinterest. Some of my favorites are Sue Gorman, Matt Gomez, Edutopia, Erin Klein, and Vicki Davis.

If you follow someone from that list (or find a different educator to follow!), let me know and you'll get 50 extra bonus points this week!


Happy connecting!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

#CEOlympics

Last week, I blogged about Connected Educator Month, which is ongoing during the month of October. And tonight, I practiced what I preach :-)

A connected educator is one who continues to learn by developing networks, and knowledge from wherever they live. They collaborate online, use social media to interact with colleagues around the globe, engage in conversations in safe online spaces, and bring what they learn back to their classrooms, schools, and districts!

I'll be honest.. I don't go on Twitter that often (you can follow me @iTeacherLauren). That's part of the beauty of Twitter. It's there when you need it and you can ignore it at all other times, if you want.  But, since October is Connected Educator Month, I've been trying to make a better effort to go on Twitter and connect with other educators. Tonight, I did an #elemtechcoach chat with other Tech Teachers from across the country. And it was so much fun! I never regret when I participate on Twitter - it's just setting aside the time to do so! The #elemtechcoach chat is every Thursday at 8pm, so it's my goal to participate from now on, as much as I can.

So here's where you come in...!

Lucky for all of you, I collaborated with @venspired and @johx1 tonight, and found out they are hosting the Connected Educator Olympics!

ARE YOU UP FOR THE CHALLENGE!!! LET'S PLAY THE......


SO HOW EXACTLY DOES THIS WORK?

You are invited to participate in the first annual Connected Educator Olympics, a global competition where everyone wins... because everyone gets connected!

Central is one of over 50 schools participating in this event for the next 3 weeks. Medals will be awarded to the Bronze, Silver and Gold level participants and to the the schools! There will be prizes to top participants at Central as well!

Your challenge and the rules:

1. Spot the birds and Olympic symbols in the teacher's lounge...There will be several every week. Check your mailbox for the Connected Educator Olympic Events Chart (NOTE: some of the challenges are low or NO tech needed!). You will track your own points and submit them to me (Ms. Kolod) every week! Every person at Central (adults only) is eligible to play!

2. Our total points as a school will be submitted, by me, to the Global Points Board every week to see where we stand.

3. Stress is NOT allowed! I am your team leader to assist you as needed and to make this a FUN, low stress event all about CONNECTING! 

4. Share and help as many people as possible! If you know something someone else doesn't, help them out! (another form of connecting as an educator and learner)! Those who help earn more points!

5. Points: each challenge/activity is worth points. 1) Your CE Olympics Event Chart has the point total on them for you to complete... 2)The twitter birds in the teacher's lounge are worth a larger number of points and 3) ONE Special GOLDEN TWITTER BIRD is for 100 points every week! Try to locate this bird first!

I want this to be fun and a way for us to support each other! We are, after all, a Central family!!

Have fun! Don't hesitate to ask for assistance! And most importantly: Let's get CONNECTED!



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hello October

I think October is one of my favorite months of the year. I feel like I can get a good routine at school, the air is crisp, the leaves are changing, Bears football is underway, and it's almost time for Blackhawks hockey! 

But, did you know that October is also National Bullying Prevention Month AND Connected Educator Month?
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National Bullying Prevention Month
Sometime last year, one of my yoga teachers started class with a quote that I repeat to myself all the time, and has become one of my favorite mantras during my yoga practice. It is a quote from Henry James, an American author. 

"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind."

So, in the timely nature of National Bullying Prevention month, I stumbled upon an organization called The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. They have a great section for educators with Kindness Project ideas at K-2, 3-5 and beyond. One of my favorite ideas was to create a "Smile File" with cartoons that make students smile. Kids can go to the Smile File and choose a comic/cartoon when they want to cheer up a friend in need. 



Stomp Out Bullying also has weekly ideas during the month of October to "encourage communities to work together to stop bullying and cyberbullying."


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Connected Educator Month
I'll post more about Connected Educator Month next week, but I LOVE this digital Starter Kit for becoming a Connected Educator. One day at a time, in a just a few minutes a day, you can become Connected too!


"To become a connected educator, you have to be a connected learner... Connected learners collaborate online, use social media to interact with colleagues around the globe, engage in conversations in safe online spaces, and bring what they learn online back to their classrooms, schools, and districts."

If you're ready to dive right in, here is a list of activities occurring during the month that you can join in online, from webinars to Twitter chats! There are so many to choose from - I wish I could virtually attend them all - but I think I'll definitely pop in on some of the Twitter chats and hopefully a webinar or two. (Psst, new teachers - there's a #ntchat (New Teacher chat) on Wednesday, October 8th at 7pm CST!)


If you want a little more of a personal touch to your Connected Educator Month.. how about trying a SLANT box


SLANT stands for "Sending Love Across the Nation to Teachers". An edublogger - Jameson at Lessons with Coffee - hosts & organizes the SLANT box and matches up teachers. So, you get a box of goodies in the mail, and you send one to another teacher as well! And who doesn't like getting goodies in the mail? :-) I've never tried it before, but I just signed up for the October SLANT box. Think you want to join in the fun? Check out her blog post here for her "Fall into Success in the Classroom" themed box! If you're interested, sign up soon - you only have until October 4th!



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

News for You & Your Students

As most of you know, I like to start each day with my caffeine addiction boost from Starbucks.. but you may not know that I also start it with a little website called theSkimm. It's straightforward, witty, and short-and-to-the-point news. Perfect for me, since I never have time to pick up a newspaper or watch the news! 

Each morning in my inbox I get theSkimm's newsletter. 

I can easily browse through their quirky headlines, such as...

THINGS HEARING 'JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU’


WHAT TO SAY WHEN YOU FIND YOUR SUNGLASSES…ON YOUR HEAD…



and even...

THING TO KNOW

Paleo diet: Eating like a caveman. The reason you don’t go out to dinner with your friend who’s into P90X, because she basically only eats meat and nuts. Hold the cheese and bread basket and dessert and happiness.

So, while the headlines are catchy and grab my attention - yes, there is in fact real news from around the world included, with links to credible news sources - like CNN, NBC, Reuters, and CBS to name a few- in case you doubt their reporting :)


Looking to share current events with your students as well? We have an app on our iPads called News-o-Matic, which is a daily newspaper that's full of information and fun! 


Each day there are 5 articles that are made just for kids. But, the additional features are oh-so student-friendly:
  • Interactive maps that locate the story relative to the child – with integrated geography and math facts
  • In-app audio playback of complete articles via a Read-to-Me function
  • Definitions and pronunciation support for difficult words
  • Games that relate to the news of the day
  • Translations to Spanish – with Spanish language audio – at the tap of a button

Watch this video to learn more and check out an iPad to see for yourself!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Google Forms - New Themes!

For a long time, Google has not updated the "themes" for their forms. We had a very limited selection, but today that all changes! 

Google Forms now has 24 new themes to choose from, as well as the option to customize your own theme by choosing a heading and background image. 

To choose a theme, click on the usual "Change Theme" button in the toolbar, and you will get a sidebar with new options:


Once you click on "Customize", you get several options:


You can choose an image from your computer for the header and page background, as well as customize font options. 

So you can go from old:

To new!






Monday, August 11, 2014

#BestYearEver

It's here - the week I said I would stop ignoring the Back to School ads that came out in July and start thinking about the 2014-2015 school year. Starting with an Academy 39 class tomorrow, I'll be getting organized as best I can outside of Central's walls until our return next Monday! 

I've been saving several Back to School posts from a variety of places. There have been so many good tips that I can't wait to use this year! Edutopia has been using the hashtag #BestYearEver, and you know what?! It IS going to be the best year ever! :-)

Lindsey Petlak, a featured teacher on Scholastic, recently started a darling blog called It's Elementary, My Dear. I have really enjoyed reading her blog because it's more of a "teacher lifestyle" blog with a wide variety of things, from what she's listening to as she decorates her classroom to the bargain finds she got at Wal-Mart and Hobby Lobby. 

Check out her new blog:


She also has two posts on Scholastic of "The Extreme Classroom Makeover". She suggests great, practical tips for setting up your classroom to make it warm, inviting, and engaging for your new students! 

My favorite tips (that I also use) are #3: Lay on a Base Coat and #5: Start Styling. 



Edutopia also has a Back to School section with several articles for preparing for your #BestYearEver!


I really needed the one entitled "Teachers: 5 Ways to Ease Back Into School". I'm probably not the only one who needs it too :-)

One more.. BuzzFeed posted 37 Insanely Smart School Teacher Hacks. I love #4 for blue tape!


See you all soon!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sharing Ideas

I have a few things that have been shared with me that I want to pass onto you! 

Give your class brain breaks with this fun website! You can choose calming, energizing, focusing, and more, some of which even align to Common Core State Standards. Creating an account and setting up your class is free! 


The Teaching Tribune is a blog that has a group of teachers who contribute and write posts about things they are doing in their classroom. Lots of ideas for every grade and subject!


Thanks to Jaime G. for sharing this website with app recommendations!