Staff Treat

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Blogging Technology Lesson Plan

Below is part of an assignment. I have chosen to complete my assignment here and share a link to this post.
These are 30 min. lessons I used during intervention time last year to introduce blogging to students. These lessons were modeled to two 4th grade classes and one 3rd grade class.

Objective:To help students understand the mechanics of blogging and commenting on blogs, discuss appropriate uses for blogs, and practice safe blogging and dealing with trolls.

Day 1:
Blogs in plain English
Show examples of student blogs.
Mrs. Hillenburg's Class
Mrs. Barnes' Class
Mrs. Grant's Class

Day 2:
 Paper blogs to introduce creating your own blog.
Show students this lesson/post then allow them to create their own paper blog
Paper blog examples

Day 3:
Commenting - Post all paper blogs in the hallway. Students will comment using post-it notes.

Day 4:
Introduction to Kidblog
Logging in and creating your own kidblog

Day 5: 
Quality control - How much is too much or not enough to post? Quality of comments - examples of quality comments and just "high-five" comments:)

Last year it took about 5-6 days to cover all aspects of blogging for students. Every now and then issues would come up that would have to be addressed but could be addressed in just a few minutes prior to allowing students to work on their blogs.

Our uses for student blogging:
*This year this can be taught by the computer lab teacher and the teachers can jump right in to using Kidblog from the beginning. We keep the blogs private at first so the children can learn. Then once they are comfortable and post/comment correctly we open them up.

Mind Mapping with Mindmeister - Guest Post

I LOVE mind mapping software! My friend Richie at Mindmeister shared this information with me so I thought I should share with you! I think you will find this very helpful!

What is Mind Mapping?

The term ‘mind mapping’ is becoming more and more popular in the education world. So, you may be wondering what exactly is mind mapping?
Humans are always looking for ways to be more productive, how can I better manage my study? How can I better show my students what I mean? How can I organize my week to get the most out of it?
Well, a mind map is a great way to graphically represent your thought process and goals. A mind map creates a link between both sides of the brain, the creative (right side) and the logical (left side) allowing you to fully realize the abilities of your brain. The majority of people's brains are either dominated by the right side or the left side which means your decision making or line of thought is generally in the same direction.

All mind maps start with a central idea or concept and then with a series of sub topics and ideas you can create a map of all thoughts, ideas and anything else related to the main concept to have a complete visualization of what’s in your head!

How to mind map?

Mind maps in a few easy steps
All you need to create a mind map is a pen and paper, It is very easy and anyone can do it!
    1. Get a pen and a piece of paper
    2. Draw a circle in the middle of the paper and begin with a central idea or topic
    3. From the central topic or heading draw branches to other sub headings
    4. Then from the sub headings you can write down all thoughts or information you have on the subject
You now have a graphical representation of everything to do with your topic. With all this laid out in front of you, you can then to prioritize and structure your thoughts for achieving goals, completing tasks or organizing parts of your life.
Using Mind mapping Software
Mind maps can also be created using mind mapping software which offers a bit more than just using a pen and paper. The concept is the exact same as above; you create a main idea or concept (center node) and then branch off sub nodes and fill with information to create your mind map.
The added benefit of using software over paper is that you never run out of space and you can re-arrange the map by dragging and dropping topics whenever you want. Also, all your mind maps are stored, accessible and backed up in one location.
When you get more advanced at using mind mapping software you can benefit from additional features such as creating tasks and setting reminders, collaborating online with your colleagues and creating presentations.

Mind Mapping in the Classroom:

How do I introduce mind maps to my class and school?
Mind mapping can be used for all levels of education and it is a great tool for both teachers and students alike. School's that implement technology such as this encourages the sharing of ideas between teachers, classes and grade levels providing a more rounded education.
The best way for a teacher to introduce mind mapping to their class is to start with something simple and fun for their students, an example would be to create a mind map of their favorite cartoon or show. They can start with the center topic which will be the name of the show and then the different characters can be the sub topics, from here they can enter information about the characters and link them based on their relationships. Once kids get used to the idea of mind mapping you can show them how it can be applied in many other ways.

When using mind mapping software a teacher can create a map for the class where students can collaborate and add ideas to the map (multiple users can edit the same map and see changes in real-time). An introductory map could be a class plan like the example above. The mind map will engage the students and encourage interaction and group participation. After this, when students become more familiar, individual and group assignments can be set. A mind mapping tool creates a better link between home and school activities.
What can I use mind mapping for?
There are unlimited uses for mind mapping in the classroom. I have listed some of them below:
  • Group collaboration
  • Lesson planning
  • Essay structure
  • Assignment planning
  • School year plan
  • Link school and home activities
  • Course syllabus and material
Mind maps allow for the user to be creative and explore a range of ideas and thoughts which you might not even know were stored in your brain.
Latest technology
The introduction of technology to classrooms, most notably in the US and Europe, has made learning tools and applications very accessible to teachers and students. Both Apple and Google have launched big campaigns in the past year to introduce iPads and Chromebooks to schools.
This has created greater interaction between teachers and their students and also between classmates. Recent studies have shown an improvement in grades where students have access to and regularly use the thousands of learning applications and tools available on the web today. Mind mapping software is available across all the different platforms, on the web, Apple devices, Android devices and the Google Chromebook.
What are the benefits?
Mind mapping has the ability to make learning easier and more fun. You can take a complex topic or subject and break it down into more manageable sub topics which can be broken down further to better explain the main subject. The visual representation of a complex topic allows kids to take in and digest parts of information at a time instead of having a huge amount of information to be learned when written in front of them.
Mind mapping:
  • makes information easier to understand
  • engages students want to learn
  • encourages group learning and interaction
  • is a good aid for structuring and creating better assignments and essays
  • helps to organize the students thoughts
  • aids teachers in the classroom
  • gives teachers a tool for monitoring a students level of participation in group situations
Students have a greater willingness to learn when they are able to interact with their classmates and visualize their thought process.


Whether you use pen and paper or mind mapping software, introducing the concept of mind maps to students from an early age will be hugely beneficial to them. Creating mind maps means students can use both sides of their brains to better explore the full possibilities and power of the mind.
This is a guest post created by Richard Egan, Richard works at Mindmeister mind mapping solutions.

Calendar "events" as To-Do Items

Yes, I too have tried EVERY to-do app. My go-to apps right now are Reminders which comes on the iPhone and/or Notes that comes on the iPhone/iPad! But I STILL can't remember "events." When I say "events" I'm actually referring to "ideas" for specific dates/times in the near-ish future.

For example, Pinterest! Holy cow! I can't even keep up with all the ideas generated from Pinterest. Today I came across an activity to use with my teachers for Thanksgiving. Well for crying out loud! I can't even remember what I'm on my way to the grocery store to pick up let alone something as far away as Thanksgiving. Geesh!

Here is my process:
1. Add an "all day" event to my google calendar. All day events are "highlighted" that's why I like them.
2. In the event description I can include the link to the idea or write where I stored the idea so I can find it on the day I need it. (You can see below that the idea for my activity is in Goodreader.)
3. Usually I put the event a few days before I actually need it.

I have also tried google to-do but it just clogs up my calendar to the point I can't even read anything. I always have to turn off the to-do items.

Whatever works! What works for you? Come on I know there are other unique organizing ideas out there to help your principal friends......anyone? Anyone?

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Digital Book Study - Classroom Instruction.....2nd edition

One of the other principals in my district came up with the idea of a digital book study! This is such a great idea I would love to hear how other principals have done this type of thing? Google doc? Wiki? (I posted a schedule of chapters for teachers to sign up to post. However I am using my iPad and and unreliable blog app so I am afraid to exit the app and copy/paste:) (This is cross-posted on my staff blog.)  Welcome to our digital summer book study 2012! Thank you Josh for volunteering Chapter 7. Do I have any volunteers to send me reflections for chapters 2 & 3 next week??? Try it! You'll like it! Here is how it works.... My reflections from Chapter 1: Setting objectives: *Research shows that telling your students what they are going to learn improves their achievement in that area. *When I think back to teaching 5th grade I remember we always wrote objective on the board. For me, this was good so I could refer to it often. I think I could have done a better job of wording the objectives more kid-friendly. This chapter talks about using kid-friendly language. *Objectives hold not be too broad or too specific. *Somtimes I know I would get busy and forget to tell the kids what we were going to learn. I'd have them get their math books out and just start teaching and then think, oh yea, "Today you are going to learn about......" most of the time I told them what were going to learn but I knew when I forgot to tell them:) I'd get that blank stair over my head. *Something else mentioned in the chapter was to post your objectives to your website for other parents, the students, and other teachers could see. I know that when Tillie would post something specific I could ask Alyson more specific questions about her learning. Providing Feedback: (I read this part through the lens of the principal and how to give teachers quality/better feedback.) *Talk about what's going well and give next steps ideas. *Feedback needs to be timely.(within 24 hours if possible??) *Students(teachers) provide their own feedback or provide feedback to their peers. Love this idea to use during collaboration time! *Students could provide each other feedback on their posts on kidblog. See! That was easy! Who's next? Chapter 2? - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

"No More Monkeys Jumping On My.....Head?" (Book Review)

Yep! You read that right....I said HEAD!

But I found a solution. Shifting the Monkey by Todd Whitaker.

How many monkeys do you take off the backs of others? I can tell you that I take plenty. My children's, my husband's, my friends, my teachers', co-workers, etc. It's no wonder I suffer from headaches!

Sometimes the monkey should have been mine from the beginning and I gave it away. I will gladly take those back and clean up my own messes. I am talking about when I think I am doing someone a favor by taking over there problems or assignments. This is not helpful for them or for me. Most of the time the "monkeys" that visit my office at work just need a rest and/or to vent. Teachers work so hard that I think that I am helping them by taking their monkeys. Small or large it doesn't matter. I will take them all if it helps a teacher feel less stressed.

But it's not about that. I am discovering that most of the time people just want to talk. Even my staff survey said I need to be a better listener. So instead of taking care of everyone's monkeys I need to listen.