Wednesday, September 19, 2018

They Hate Reading... But it's Okay! #busedu

Ever want your classes to read? You assign an article, they sit there and read it, maybe you have them write a short reflection... and you move on. They might have read it. Some read it quickly and others probably never finished. Some understand and others just move on. 

I've even heard teachers say they don't assign textbook reading anymore because they don't read it anyway.

Sound familiar?

I recently read about Reciprocal Teaching (or Reciprocal Reading) in the classroom. I am teaching a Business Communication class and need them to read nonfiction articles in this course and learn how to apply them, but I know that students do little reading these days. And, I also know that they tend to skim over unfamiliar words and zone out when reading (even when reading in groups).

But, I love this idea. And, I borrowed the worksheet from Literacy in Focus. It worked great for my class, too.

Let me be clear:  This didn't require a whole lot of prep (but more than it will in the future because I wanted to communicate expectations) and the students were reading a TWO PAGE ARTICLE. That's it. But, they were really digging into the article. As I told them, to do this correctly, it will take about 30 minutes. And I meant it.

I picked groups today (with the promise they could in the future if they behaved) and they got to move around in the classroom (circles, sit on floor, whatever) so that the group could work together. Each group member got a worksheet to complete (look at my Google Doc for the instructions as I gave it). 

Here's the Google document with the steps for this activity (you'll need the Literacy in Focus worksheet, too) and links to the four articles they analyzed today along with the "vocabulary" words I picked (I printed one article for each group with those words underlined). 

It actually went well. They all participated. Everyone had to lead at some point. Everyone had to speak to their group members at some point. This is a group I struggle with, too. But, I was upfront that at their age, I know they don't read much, I know they skip over unfamiliar words, and that I wanted them to change that. When you aren't taught how to "really read" for comprehension, it's hard. This gave them a process that make it easier to do (and they paid attention and did what they were supposed to for the entire class period).

I plan to do these every few weeks. Take a look and let me know if you've done something like this before in your classroom. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Chromebook Curse... #busedu

So, my school district went "one to one" on Chromebooks a couple of years ago. As a teacher in a very nice computer lab, we don't use them in my room, but I think it's a good idea to have in the general classroom. I teach Adobe applications, which don't run on Chromebooks, and a dual credit MS Office class, which must be articulated through the university and must use the full version to meet articulation requirements (so no Google Docs).

But, I am Google Certified and feel like Google Docs is great for students to know.


Our Computer Applications team (which feeds into my dual credit class) has had the worst time this year with students not knowing computer basics. Sadly, I have to blame this Chromebook situation. As students must have Computer Applications to take the higher level technology classes, I haven't run into the situation YET (I have Computer Applications next semester, though, so I am prepping myself).

Students are not adept at saving documents, understanding file extensions, basic file management, or even understanding where "Downloads" disappear to when they download something from the internet.

When we meet with our vertical collaboration team, we intend to try to find a method of attack for this issue, but it's been a rocky start to our Computer Applications classes, which use an online textbook/Mindtap and SAM. As students must download starter files, move them to a location other than the Downloads folder, save/rename to upload properly, etc., they are just lost getting through the first unit. And, they aren't struggling with PowerPoint; they are struggling with basic Windows things.

Anyone else noticing this? I guess this is the first year where students in junior high did not learn "the old way" and it's quite apparent. What I assumed were just known concepts are foreign to these students, which would be terrible if they entered business/industry with only knowledge of Google Docs (um... or college!).

Curious to see if any of you are experiencing a similar plight in your classrooms. Head back to my Facebook and let me know!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

I Heart Podcasts. :) Keeping Up with Tech! #busedu @techmeme

So often in my technology training travels, people ask me how I keep up with so many "new things" and that I must spend all my free time practicing Adobe programs and reading textbooks. I assure you, I do not. Well, I do spend too much time learning new programs (but I love it!) but I also have a great PLN on Twitter/Facebook and that helps a ton!

This summer, though, I ran across a podcast that just really blew me away. I wasn't even familiar with TechMeme, but apparently they've been around awhile. They aggregate technology news. Simple enough. They look for new tech news so I don't have to. But, I don't have time to read more articles. (Come on, I have curriculum that won't rewrite itself.)

They do, however, have the TechMeme Ride Home podcast, which I listen to through Castbox, but you can access through iTunes or any plethora of podcasting apps. Let me give you a simple example of what I heard on my ride to work this week!

  1. Uber: I love Uber and use it frequently when I travel. They talked today about the new Spotlight feature, where you can light up your phone with a special color specific to your driver. Your driver will receive a message telling them what color to look for, so you can just hold your phone in the air. 
  2. Facebook: Though this wasn't "United States" news, a German court ruled you can inherit Facebook content like a letter or a diary (based on a parent wanting access to their teen's FB to determine if she was suicidal). Under its current policy, FB allows relatives only the ability to change the page into an online memorial or to delete it entirely. They wanted full access.
  3. Photoshop: Did you know the full version of Photoshop will be released this next year for iPad? Yep. Seems to be the case. 
Earlier this month, I learned how Netflix is removing their movie review feature soon (all ratings except thumb up or thumb down). They won't allow new user reviews and they were completely remove all current reviews. 

But, five days a week, they put out a 15-20 minute podcast. I listen in my car either on my way to or from work. No reading, just listening to some new trends happening in tech, and this will be great fuel to use to get my students talking in my classroom when they get back to school. Friends, it's such as easy way to stay "up" on technology happenings.

Check it out!

Prime Day is Just a Prime Example #busedu

Well, yesterday, Amazon users "broke the internet" trying to surf for deals online. I was actually online that morning with my daughter helping her pick out a swimsuit for our upcoming vacation and wasn't even worried about waiting until the big deals came out later that afternoon, but my Facebook feed went crazy with anticipation and then with questions about whether Amazon was down. Memes started happening comparing this to the Build-a-Bear fiasco of last week. It seems many businesses are trying innovative techniques to get customers in the door (online and offline) and often, they can't deliver.

What a PRIME EXAMPLE (pun intended) of our society today! We are just go-go-go, want-want-want, and give-give-give me NOW! About everything. I'm at fault, too. Let me be clear. I prefer to DVR my television shows (mostly) so I don't have to deal with waiting for commercials. I binge hardcore on Netflix for hours (thanks, $mom). And, I check reviews online while walking through Best Buy before buying something like some crazy secret shopper.

Let's go back to my youth for a minute.  I communicated with my dad when I was little via the CB radio we had in the house (while he was out on visits to people in the community). I was excited when I got a cassette walkman (which I recorded songs off the radio "live" in order to listen later). I learned to type on a typewriter with no easy spell check. I had a phone with a long cord and no voicemail. I called my boyfriend on the grocery store pay phone to avoid charges to my house. Oh, and we didn't have remote controls for our televisions. Such depravity!

But, I won't criticize people for accepting the wonderful technology advancements we've been blessed with. Likewise, I try to be accepting of businesses when they try hard to accomplish something and don't quite live up to the hype (heck, I'm still shocked I can order something online and have it here two days later!). As a business teacher, it's important for me to help students see that as well. Students must learn from the mistakes of others, but not be afraid to try something, even if they fail.

There is a great lesson out there folks (for Amazon users, it might even be patience). But, this wasn't totally surprising. Do you remember the first Prime day, which is when their "lightning deals" originated? Three years ago, Prime day was considered a bit of a let down for different reasons back then.

The reality is this. As teachers, it is our responsibility to help our students see this as an example, like any other example... an example of how to hype up something (though hopefully with better follow-through), how to take failure in stride (I did have some friends online who jokingly commented how they met all the Amazon dogs yesterday), and how to push through and move on when things do not go as planned (I'm sure Amazon will be just fine and still make tons of money this week). 

As for me this time around? My cart is empty and I'm totally okay just watching the events unfold.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

LEGO Movie Posters UPDATE **check 'em out! #busedu #legos

So, last month, I made a post about my new idea for a Lego movie poster. You can read it here, including how I scored it and the examples.

But, I'm so proud of my students and they allow me to share, so I wanted to share a few of my faves. Can I just say again how excited I am to really be able to "see" that they mastered using masks and adjustment layers by having them submit these with screenshots on a Google Slides project?

Anyway, take a look!

Back to the Future

Indiana Jones

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

LEGO Fun in Photoshop! #busedu

It's been several years since we've created movie posters in Photoshop class and I wanted to bring the ol' project back but with a twist. So, after talking to some students and tossing around ideas, I decided to create some LEGO versions of non-LEGO movie posters! Fun, right?

I took a simple poster for The Post and gave it a LEGO spin. They will be required to use masks for selections/blending, adjustment layers (I made his shirt blue), and keep with the "feel" of the original poster, but it doesn't have to be an exact match.

My students maintain a Blogger portfolio in the class, but I am going to have them submit this as a Google Slides project (and embed it in the Portfolio) as I want them to visually include their Layers panel and a "before and after" Adjustments to show me the changes they've made to the original images. 

Embedded below is my Google Slideshow I will show tomorrow to go over the project that includes my scoring criteria for mastery and some examples of others I found online (oh, and my Jumanji one! I'm pretty proud of it!). I hope to be able to show you some cool examples from my students in the near future!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

From the Mouths of 6th Graders... "Bad Teachers" #busedu #teach

Yesterday, my Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter hosted our annual Career Fair at a local middle school. Sixth graders moved around the gym and heard from over 20 speakers about various careers--dentist, health care, police, plumbing, travel, etc., for five minute talks.

One of the businesses didn't show up, so I was asked to pinch hit by our organizer (my fellow adviser). Thus, I ended up leading a "teaching" station and talked about what it's like to be a teacher. I wasn't too excited. I didn't have any props, presentation, candy to hand out, or promo items, like most of them had. But, I took it as an opportunity. I essentially said that I wasn't there to convince them to be teachers. I didn't want to be a teacher at all during my k-12 school years. And, I felt that "good teachers" needed three important things-- to be good at what they want to teach, to be passionate about/love the topic they want to teach, and to want to help students learn. It's not enough to be good at math; that doesn't make you good at TEACHING math. You have to be good at explaining it, passionate about why people should learn it, and patience to work with students until they understand.

To try to get the students talking, I asked a few questions. One of those questions was if they ever had a "bad" teacher and what makes a teacher a "bad" teacher? Even students who were busy with the balloon that some station gave them (thanks) stopped playing and shot an arm up to answer. They all had opinions on this. Feedback was pretty consistent from group to group, but I wanted to share the highlights:

  • "Teachers who are always in a bad mood."
  • "Teachers who are rude and sarcastic."
  • "Teachers who find some reason to get onto me all the time."
  • "Teachers who pick favorites."
  • "Teachers who are always on their phones."
  • "Teachers who just sit at their desk all day."
  • "Teachers who won't help you when you ask."
  • "Strict teachers who won't let you do anything."
  • "Teachers who hate kids."
I had about 50 groups of students today (around 400 total) and these were the themes. There were some isolated other complaints (like teachers who send me to the office all the time or teachers who put a kid out in the hall and never even go talk to them or teachers who give homework) but those listed above were mentioned multiple times.  On occasion, I'd call on a student and they would be one of the lucky ones who only had good teachers and didn't really have anything to contribute. But, the general consensus is that most students have had teachers who are inattentive, cranky, or who don't equally show attention in the classroom. 

Hey, I'm not perfect. These were sixth graders, but I teach high school and know that I occasionally lean on sarcasm to try to get attention (and probably will be more aware of that in the future) but I felt truly sad to hear that children (I mean, most of these kiddos were probably 11 years old!) had already had teachers who obviously didn't enjoy teaching or who consistently spent time ignoring students either at their desk, on their phone, or just through their attitude that made students feel like they couldn't ask questions.

I have made a big attempt this semester to walk around more and ask students if they have questions one-on-one rather than the blanket statements or just waiting until they ask me. I have a teenager of my own who honestly is pretty poor at advocating for herself because once a teacher snaps at her or seems upset with her, she just shuts down and pretty much refuses to ask for help.  I'm also one of those "strict" teachers who just doesn't let students sleep in class, play games, and I push them to complete work and won't let them just have zeroes if I can avoid it. If you forgot to turn it in, I'm probably going to approach you about it! But, I certainly try not to ignore students.

Note what is NOT on this list; there is no mention of teachers who just aren't good at explaining or aren't the smartest. Most of what they had to say had more to do with perceived attitude than skill.

As teachers, let's think about that list. Some of these things are subconscious. We don't try to pick favorites. We don't want to pick on certain students, but they just won't listen or constantly push our buttons. But, it's time to stop making excuses. Start over with kids. Let them know that you WANT to help them. Let them SEE that you want them to learn. Try different approaches.

And, for goodness sakes.... SMILE. No student should think their teachers hate kids. Wear your passion on your face as much as possible. And if you have to discipline or negatively spotlight a student one day, be sure to counter that with something positive the next day.  Show students you care, regardless of their past.

It's important.