Student Blog FAIL

We are in the midst of the first progress report cycle, and part of my students’ report contains a TON of zeros. While zeros are never a surprise for me, this situation isn’t 100 percent the student’s fault. *gasp*

Teaching freshman technology skills is a deceptive task. While their eyes and hands seemed to be glued to their cell phones, their brains are not actually processing new information like… what a blog is, and what published actually means. I have spent the last 6 hours (almost continuously) demonstrating to each student one on one, in the middle of our student feedback session, how to publish their blog so that their site is LIVE!

As a result of students not following directions and me dragging my feet a little to get organized, the students who had broken links to their sites received zeros in the gradebook. Is it fixable? YES! However, their parents are NOT going to like what they see.

Here’s hoping to a busy Open House tonight! 

Mrs. Christensen Has Entered the Building

Seven months ago, I left the classroom to venture into a new “field.” I shifted from the high school English classroom to the Educational Technology Department. I’ll be honest with you: the entire time I was there, I had this feeling of floating in space. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the career change I had made. However, despite the alien world I was in, I was able to learn  many new skills and, more importantly, a new mindset for technology in the classroom. So, here it is, August 25, and the first week of school is almost over.The strange feelings I’ve had since leaving the classroom are still floating along with me since returning because honestly, what I want to do this year is something I’ve never done. But as those feelings slowly dissipate, I am challenged by the one question I keep asking my students: if you can Google search pretty much anything, why do you need a teacher?

This is such a relevant question in the midst of all this technology talk, but it is one that I don’t have a solid answer to yet. IF we have the internet, and IF students actually start to use their resources to teach themselves, then what do I do? No one is really talking about that yet. All we are discussing is which tool and what website. So, I want to start the conversation. If there are an endless number of resources out there, what IS my job? What is OUR job?

Please don’t say babysitter, or record keeper, or …. disciplinarian.

How Does Your Class Flow?

Today I want to share a tool that I just learned about: Class Flow Desktop! Here’s a little video I pulled from their website:

What has totally flipped my lid is that you can use it with anything. I love ActivInspire, but it is true, I use a variety of materials in the classroom! It would be great to be able to use the pen tool with anything. I don’t have an ActivSlate, so this is a great alternative to the Slate.

Imagine what you could do with students interacting with the board!

Do you want to get it for your classroom? Go to the website and download the application to your computer!



Testing 1, 2, 3…

Hello Again!

You have probably forgotten me by now. I have been off learning new tech skills in Austin, then on Spring Break in Tennessee, then out, unexpectedly, on bereavement leave in Louisiana. Needless to say, I am exhausted. I am slowly dragging my feet back to reality and back to work. I know there are many of you who are in my shoes right now: worn out.

BUT! There is good news because it is STAAR testing week. I know what you are thinking: STAAR testing week is NOT good news. Well, I am here to tell you that it is! Use this week to recoup. There is nothing more you can do now. The test is here. So, take time this week to be filled again. What I am offering is something called a Professional Learning Network or PLN. That sounds super fancy for what it actually is: connections to people who inspire you or educate you. A PLN can be simply reading my blog when I send things out, or it could be live Twitter convos using 140 characters or less with integrated hashtags.

So, today I want to recommend one of my people I use for my PLN: Jennifer Gonzalez. She writes a regular blog which provides support, ideas, new tech, and awareness to what is happening in education today. Today’s post is about dealing with slow working students in the classroom. She has gathered resources and strategies to share with us, and now I am sharing with you. Feel free to browse her blog for other interesting topics as well as check out her book: Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School.

Think about what she offers then add your own thoughts below if you’d like to contribute. See you all soon!

A Few Strategies to Help Slow-Working Students


What’s the big deal about technology?


I am out of town this week. My bosses graciously approved my attendance to the SXSWedu conference in Austin. I am surrounded by gurus. Everyone is good (or great) at some skill, aspect, or theory on the state of education and the imperative role of technology to become the transformative source that it has been in so many other areas of society. And, while I am techy, I still turn everything off on a regular basis. I also ask the question, what’s the big deal anyway?

I think about Facebook, and remember that honestly, sometimes Facebook ruins my day. On those days, I hide my account then I delete the app and log out of my computer’s bookmarked page. For days on end, and sometimes only minutes, I power off my phone. I find myself rolling my eyes about my robotic, compulsive check for new texts, so I force a disconnect. Technology annoys  me. Mostly, it annoys me because of who I have become: someone dependent on technology. I often find myself questioning why I need any of it at all. Don’t get me wrong, I love my computer. I did painstaking research on the kind of memory and graphics card I wanted to run the video games I play. But, when it comes down to it, it’s just for fun. It is a toy. I don’t need toys, I only want them. And what’s more, I don’t want to be dependent on them.

This brings me full circle back to the question, what’s the big deal anyway? Can technology really be something substantial in the classroom, something worth using, or is it just another toy for centers? Is it just a way for teachers to disconnect from the students after a long week of testing? And while I have a love-annoyed relationship with my tech, I still come to the same conclusion, it can be a an effect tool to promote real learning but there are conditions.

The conditions truly depend on you, the teacher. If you drop a tool in their lap without considering, planning, and creating an effective use of the tool, we both know it’s useless and just burns time. If we show a student how to do something using technology but never ask them to explore and create with it, then what’s the point? Sure, your admin will love to see students working on the device that they paid for, but we all know what it looks like on the outside doesn’t always reflect what’s on the inside.

So what should we do? Pick one tool. Learn it. Then plan to use it. Once you have integrated it, expand with it. Google search what others out there are doing with it. Go to the teacher’s lounge and talk about it. See what your coworkers think even if they aren’t using the tool yet. The best ideas come from collaborating WITH people, not from creating a safe bubble in your room where you are the center of knowledge, where you are the end- all-be-all of your curriculum. There is a world wide web with ingenious tools waiting for you to be a guide for your students. Teaching students to be dependent on technology  is in all reality teaching them to be dependent on themselves to find answers, to find others, and in the end, to find themselves.