November 21, 2013

Haiku Deck Web App

It's 'official! The Haiku Deck Web App is out! To show my happiness over this event here's my Haiku Deck:

December 28, 2012

2013-365 With a Twist!

As one year draws to a close and another begins my RSS reader fills up with 'The Top [fill in a number] of MUST HAVE [fill in an item]' posts. And the other posts that tend to populate my reader is the [next year] 365 Photography posts. Don't get me wrong -- I like a challenge just as much as the next person (granted, I never made it past the month of January, but that's my issue) and I will more than likely participate in and host a few of these myself.  (Shameless plug: Check out the 2013-365 Photo a Day (Education) Community on Google+ and while you're at it, check it out on Flickr as well).

Since we are always sharing out how wonderful our PLNs are I thought we should take this 2013-365 to another level (or perhaps 'playing field' would be a more accurate term). Let's use the power of Twitter to share out ONE tip a day (use the hashtag, #tipaday - yes, I already did a search to make sure the hashtag was neither taken nor inappropriate -- happy to report it doesn't currently exist). Let's see what we can curate. The tip can be tech related, it can be related to housekeeping (I really NEED some of those tips!), it can be trip related, you decide --> you Tweet!

December 01, 2012

Photo Stand = iPad Stand

As you know, I love my gadgets and all the accessories that go with them. As the 'Top 10 Geek Gifts' lists go around the blogosphere, I once again see iPad stands listed. Mind you, I do own one from Merkury Innovations and I have enjoyed using it. But then I thought if I'm going to try to go back to a New Year's Resolution of 'Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle', maybe there are alternatives out there. Well, that's not exactly how it went down. Truth be told I woke up this morning and I had a 'AHA!' moment (seriously! This happens quite frequently) and realized that those photo frame stands you can purchase in any local craft store would work just as well. Oh, and the ones I purchased for school actually came from a local dollar store.


I've got a bunch of those stands at school (they work great for desktop anchor charts, etc.), but having an item at school just wouldn't do the trick if I want to write a blog post now. Then I realized I had one on our kitchen counter and went and grabbed it. As you can see from the images it does the trick quite well.

How do you prop up your iPad?

September 03, 2012

New School Year, New Job, New Direction

Topaz Philly LOVE
It's official. I'm out of my classroom (2nd grade) and working at the district level (though still as a teacher) on overseeing K-12 online assessments, data analysis, professional development for teachers related to the data, and whatever else happens to fall my way (I'm hoping to get in a technology course or two for our students).

I'm nervous, excited, anxious, exhilarated, and raring to go all at the same time. I'm setting up my Google Calendar and thanks to a recent Tweet by @KTVee I'm making sure that I 'schedule' things like 'create a photograph of...' and 'walk down the hall, breathing deeply', etc. As much as I'm anxious to jump in with both feet, it's important to realize that I (and really all of us) need to realize that in order for us to be at our best, we need to carve out some down time as well. And if that means it's an entry in my Google Calendar then so be it.

Here's wishing all in my PLN a Fabulous and Fantastical school year, whether you've already started, or will be greeting your staff/teachers this coming week.

April 17, 2012

Opting Out of State Assessments - Not What You Think

Image Source: dmolsen

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are solely mine and do not indicate any position of another organization or employer.  I am also a teacher in a non-tested grade in New York.

I felt it last week. Like a fog rolling in. I saw it, I cannot deny that. As it neared I saw its tendrils (Tweets, blog posts, news articles) reach out and eventually the entire bank rolled in. I attempted to respond in Tweets and in blog comments, but there just wasn't enough space (or at that moment, enough time). So in an attempt to dissipate the fog bank, I'm sharing my thoughts below.

Across our nation, schools are either already immersed in or preparing themselves to administer state assessments.  You can feel can even see it, 'Prep' rallies, suggestions for student incentives (let's just call them what they are, 'rewards') for attending school on assessment days abound on listservs, the sprinkling of 'fairy dust' in classrooms (I'm still not sure about THAT connection), the list goes on and on and on.

But what makes this year different from other years? A call to 'opt out'. Parents deciding that enough is enough and making the decision to not send their child to school on days when state assessments are administered. Before reading further, please take a moment to read Will Richardson's post, 'Opt Out' and then head over to Lee Kolbert's response, 'Dear Will Richardson'. This will help provide you with an idea of the dialogues occurring online. And while you're there, consider leaving a comment to continue the conversations.

Before you pass judgement, realize that I am by no means advocating for the 'snapshot model' of state assessments that determine so many things in a district. But please stay with me a moment longer.

'Opt Out' websites are popping up like crazy (go ahead, enter 'opt out state assessments' into a Google search to see for yourself).

Here are my issues: (keep in mind I'm in New York, and no part of my writing should be taken as legal advice)
1. Some of these websites provide only the most rudimentary of information. I've seen some of these websites copy/paste just snippets of regulations, often taken out of context. To me 'information is power', however, 'lack of information' can be disabling. If you aren't getting the full story, are you getting the story at all?

2.  From what I've read, yes, a parent has a constitutional right to keep their child from taking the state assessments. And yes, state assessment scores for tested grades below High School aren't reported to colleges.

But here's what is rarely shared:
1. For schools/districts - if your reported participation scores go down, that will negatively impact the complex formula which determines a school's AYP (Annual Yearly Progress), most especially if those who 'opted out' might have scored a 3 or a 4).  From where I sit, that means that we'll see an increase in schools failing to meet AYP.  Oftentimes AYP is directly tied into funding.

2. For schools/districts - Negative publicity - An ensuing media frenzy of reporting of schools not meeting AYP, community members reading reports will assume the school and/or teachers are inept, ineffective and overall worthless. GREAT! Just what we need! More bad publicity for education.

3. For teachers - With the new APPR (teacher evaluations) being negotiated and with 20% of a teacher's evaluation based on the scores of state assessments, there will be a negative impact on whether a teacher is rated 'Highly Effective', 'Effective', 'Developing', or 'Ineffective'. (Opt out = lower rating) Do we really want a repeat of that media frenzy?

4. For students - Opting out could result in the student being placed in AIS (Academic Intervention Services) classes. And guess what?!? The parent MAY NOT have their child opt out of this!
Retrieved from:
"53. What is a district’s responsibility if a parent objects to having his/her child receive academic intervention services?
 Placement in educational programs during the regular school day, however, remains the responsibility of the district and school."
And in some districts, particularly at the Middle School level, with AIS being provided during the school day, due to scheduling, if a student requires AIS services they are unable to take Art (or another humanities class).

If you're so inclined, please consider leaving a comment. You can agree, respectfully disagree, provide links to more information, or perhaps you have an idea for a means by which we can change the state of testing in this country, without resulting in such negative results. 

And if I haven't taken up too much of your time, please consider filling out Diane Main's crowd-sourced form, 'Consequences of Opting Out of State Standardized Testing'.

March 13, 2012

How Fast Can You Read?

Ran across this in my Google Reader and thought it was too fun to pass up. Read the following passage, answer three multiple choice questions and see how you stack up in terms of your reading speed. Then check out how long it would take you to read some of the classics. Click on the image to launch the website.

ereader test
Source: Staples eReader Department

January 16, 2012

Real Simple Magazine -- #FAIL!

As my husband can attest to, I have a thing for magazines.  I LOVE to purchase them, tear out things, pass them along, etc. I think that if we purchased one of those log makers we'd have enough fuel to get us through the winter (OK, OK, I know that the winter in the East has been mild, but still).

So I was on one of my frenzied shopping sprees this past weekend and picked up an issue of Real Simple.  I didn't pay any attention, just realized I didn't have that cover in my possession and assumed it was a new issue. Two shopping stops later I ran across another Real Simple whose cover image I also did not recall -- in to my shopping cart it went.

Imagine my ire when upon arriving home I noticed that BOTH Real Simple issues had the SAME date (February 2012) AND that the content was the same.

I've posted an image above for you to see what I am talking about.

Would you say that this is 'false advertising'?