Zigazoo: New Video Response App with a Social Media Feel

I haven't written in a while, and I totally blame COVID-19 for my lapse. The additional workload that comes with pandemic teaching can be overwhelming, and then when you realize you have the virus, productivity takes another dive. However, right before I became sick, I had the opportunity to create videos for the new app, Zigazoo, and I discovered that not only did I love making short instructional videos for students, but this app has a really wide range of appeal for students of all ages.

How to Add Game Elements to Your Lesson: Among Us-Google Style!

I am always watching to see how I can incorporate them, and this past week, with the help of other educators and my students, I figured out how incorporate Among Us-Google style! Please note right now that I have never actually played this game. I have observed students become obsessed with it, and from there I just asked a lot of questions, which my 14 year-old son can verify. If you are not a Google school, then using the collaborative features of other programs, like Wakelet and Powerpoint, will function similarly for you. As we rolled it out this week, I took notes, and the students helped me revise the game elements as needed, so the following is what we came up with, and it includes how to do this if you are teaching virtually or face to face. Get ready for some fun with a collaborative or gallery-style lesson.

Spreadsheets and Pandemic Teaching

Back in the days where conferences were in full bloom, I attended one of my favorites, Innovation Institute in Springdale, Arkansas, where I was also presenting. The keynote that year was Alice Keeler, and I also attended one of her sessions on Google Sheets. Yes, she is the Queen of Sheets, and for all of you English teachers out there, my content brothers and sisters, I know it seems weird to use spreadsheets in the English classroom, but you should. Here are a few ways I use spreadsheets that can be done whether you are teaching virtual or face to face in this year of craziness and uncertainty.

There’s Not Always A Relief Pitcher: School During a Pandemic

Recently, my fourteen year-old son had to pitch for his high school varsity baseball team against the best team on the schedule. He's just a freshman, and pitching isn't his passion or any of the positions that he practices regularly outside of actual baseball practice. However, with the pitch count and rest rules, every team needs as many pitchers as they can scrounge.

Building Coding and AR/VR Into Your Curriculum

Many states are seeing the value and importance of the computer sciences as technology advances continue to change the career landscape for our students. While there is a growing movement to weave those computer science standards throughout regular classroom curriculum, it is still overwhelming for many teachers.

Build Empathy: Connect Students to Others

One of the greatest advantages of today’s technology is the power of connection. If we weren’t aware of it before the Covid19 pandemic, we are now. As a teacher in a rural Missouri high school, I always look for ways to expand the world for my students. Our community is small and is very supportive of our students, and while I bring in guest speakers from the community each year and value what they can offer my students, technology allows me to broaden our definition of community.

Your Story Matters. Here’s Mine.

From the time I became very aware of what my parents did for a living, I firmly decided that I did not want to follow in their educational footsteps. They worked too hard for too little compensation for all the time and effort they spent on their work, students, and school. They were outstanding educators (my dad retired as an elementary principal, and my mom retired as a psychological examiner for an educational cooperative). In college, as I considered my major area of study and degree options, Dad pointed out that careers define where we live.

Why esports?

Students develop a sense of belonging when they feel accepted, respected, included, supported and see themselves as important members of a community. I knew esports has the power to reach those students who normally slip through the extracurricular cracks, so when my good friends, Jeff and Elizabeth Wofford, approached me about starting an esports club and team at school this year, I didn’t hesitate, because I believe that helping students connect and belong at school improves overall school culture.

Parent Square Learning Network Graphic

4 Tips for a Fun Family Staycation

As educators, we know how important family is to student success, and having been remote learning at home for three months, a summer at home feels the same as school — the role of parents as teachers may have even strained the family dynamic a bit. Even if you can’t go on a big vacation, we know students and families need renewal, change, and to just recharge after a tough end to the school year. Now that thoughts of vacation for many of us have bubbled to the surface, we face another challenge.

Title graphic for blog post

Connecting Guardians and Schools Remotely

As our 2020 second semester turned into distance learning during the Covid19 pandemic, many of us found ourselves overturned in the middle of the creek, clinging to a paddle with one arm slung across the canoe to keep our heads above the water. But now that summer is upon us, we have been able to upright our canoe, toss in both paddles, and climb back into it. While the direction we will be taking this fall is still unclear, we can look back at what worked and what didn't during the school closures. There were definitely many things we did not do well, but we did shine in one particular area: connecting guardians and our school remotely.