Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes. Inspiration emotionally keeps me interested, grounded, it is my super power. Inspiration is so important because it is rooted in humanity which means people providing power and energy to other people. It comes in the the form of books, movies, speeches, interviews, observations, conversations and so much more. In education, if we do not continue to seek inspiration, we slowly stop feeling and die creatively. I visited a school recently during Global School Play Day, where every last student was smiling, having fun and actively engaged in their chosen activities. I was lucky enough to play card games, checkers, watch students drawing and even got into a game of flag football. Watching kids play is extremely inspiring and continues to remind me that I have an obligation as an educator to create opportunities for teachers to find their inspirations so they can provide students around the world with engaging, rich environments of learning.
I have spent the last sixteen years trying to make kids smile, get to know them, allow them to know me and lately, open myself up to educators so that together we can create a whole new world of learners. Learning is so much more than digesting information and if we can place a high priority on engaging students, making them smile and placing them in positions to fail so they can succeed, we will have an army of sophisticated, empathetic communities.
You Must Do The Things You Think You Cannot Do
Below are a list of books, movies, speeches and so on that have inspired me. What inspires you? Leave comments below.
Here is an activity that can be a class starter or center or a stand alone assignment that allows students and teachers to incorporate technology and writing.
Have the students go out with their iPad or mobile device and capture two images that they they believe compliment each other. Next, using a photo blending app such as the iOS app Photoblend, edit the images to their liking and have them use the image as inspiration to create a poem. Students can save their edited image to their camera roll and them import into a writing or presentation app that allows them to combine their image with their writing that they can then share with the teacher and the world!
Here is my example poem:
On The Tracks
When I’m on the tracks I can go where I want
I dream Arizona, Boston or even Vermont
When I’m on the tracks I feel the movement of the train
With every forward bump and sway there is excitement to gain
When I’m on the tracks it reminds me of my past
As kid putting pennies on the track to get smashed
Most of all it just peaceful with lives moving about
At the end of their journeys with with families no doubt
There is absolutely nothing like engaging with motivated educators, sharing ideas and making a stronger workforce of teachers. It is evident of a teacher’s will to improve on their craft when they arrive early on a Saturday morning, either towards the end of their school year or in some cases already on their summer vacation.
The 3rd Annual Think, Create, Share Conference at Cal State Fullerton was kicked off by the very engaging and inspiring poetry of Taylor Mali . Mali is a former classroom teacher who can now be found speaking all over the world, reciting his poetry and supporting the teaching profession.
It is the teaching profession and the educators who make the wheel of learning go round and round, that inspire me, to care enough to share ideas and make a forward moving difference in education.
This is a simple message to all teachers. Care enough to know that teaching….
is not following a step-by-step procedural textbook
is not over when the last bell rings
requires you to be open to new ideas
requires you to love children
requires you to differentiate
requires you to be early and leave late
requires you to stop making excuses
requires you to create or find solutions
requires you to engage with technology
requires you to seek out the latest teaching strategies
requires you to love teaching
Thank you to all educators who inspire me and thank to all educators who care enough to know what teaching is!
This is a recap of my observations and notes at a mathematics workshop in Pasadena, CA. This was by far the best math workshop/conference that I have ever attended. One of the primary reasons I felt this workshop was elite was the way it made me feel and act as a professional educator. The main catalyst of the presentations that I attended was Juli Dixon (@thestrokeofluck) who is a dynamic speaker and thought provoker. The information received mainly revolved around how to develop a strong math PLC at work.
When team building sign-up for a duty that compliments your #passion
Be aware of sellout stories when building strong learning communities. Stay away from phrases such as ‘nothing I can do,’ ‘it’s not my fault’ and ‘it’s all your fault.’
Here are what high leverage teams should be saying: What do we want students to know, how will we know they know it, how will we respond?
Checking for understanding without meaningful feedback for the student is diagnostic not formative
Students need to take action on feedback so there is growth and learning
If you give homework, make it formative so students get feedback that goes beyond diagnosis
Focus on strategies for struggling students in math. Fluency takes a back seat for the moment & will support all learning over time
Model the mathematics by mathematizing the lesson. This means use math language
Time to come back to the math practices and use them during instruction
We have an understanding that word problems make math more difficult when in fact it makes it more believable & supportive
To make sense of a student explanation and check for understanding, ask students “what did he/she say.”
If you dont hear what you need to hear in a discussion, guide the conversation w/ “I heard…” Even if you did not hear it from them at least the students have a buy in
You have to ask students questions when students are right, not just when they are wrong
Scaffold questions to students, don’t bail them out too quickly
Create enough imbalance that a student gets back to equilibrium w/o turning the student off
When creating math tasks, make sure that you keep common errors in mind to treat the misconception.
During every math lesson choose only one or two math practices to focus on. Others will be there, but keep the focus!
Dont teach students to use key words in math. Allow them to think abstractly & quantitatively
In Summary, create high level cognitive demand questions balanced with lower level cognitive demand questions that grade level teams agree on. Introduce more word problems as tasks to teach math strategies. Finally, support place value, fact strategies, addition and subtraction with re-grouping and fractions as a basis for math fluency.
There are a lot of easy to use QR code generators out there to be used in education. Some of them even create large batches of codes by simply cutting and pasting. There is one small problem with most of these generators if you are creating more than one, more often than not you lose track of which QR code belongs to whom. As a teacher, one way to double up on your productivity and create batch QR codes identified by a student name is to create them in a spreadsheet.
Here is how:
1. Collect student’s digital projects via a Google form (optional)
2. The form that students fill out requests that students submit a link to their project which ends up on a spreadsheet.
QR Code Formula
4. Look at the formula and notice that the last couple characters are A2, which refers to the cell that QR code will be made for. If the links that you want converted into QR codes are on column D2 for example, then change the last piece of code to D2.
5. Click on the cell that contains the formula. The cell will highlight and you will see a small blue box that you can click on, hold and drag down, making QR codes for every single student link just like that!
6. Lastly resize the cells horizontally and vertically to increase the size of the QR code and print.
Screenshot aided directions to create batch QR Code
On a frigid Saturday morning, droves of educators gathered in West Hollywood, CA at the The Center for Early Education to talk technology and education, all for FREE! Yup, this was an un-conference called EdCampLA, where participants are invited to post 45 minute sessions on something they are passionate about and lead a discussion, how-to or just sit back and enjoy all of the great information being delivered. The following is a second look at wonderful presentations, ideas, resources and thoughts that I was fortunate to be part of!
Evernote was the first session on my agenda and in un-conference fashion, the speaker had posted the session on Evernote but wanted to learn more about it, rather than lead the session, and quickly, educators chimed in about their experiences. Just like that we had a full blown discussion on Evernote. Evernote is an online based product that can store notes, documents, audio and much more. Use it with students, share information anywhere, anytime from multiple devices.
Resources: @nerdyteacher for hands-on experiences using Evernote Laurence School has great resources for teachers regarding Evernote
artsonia art online gallery for displaying kid’s art (can also monetize)
Apps! App Differently
This was the second session of the day for me and as the title states, apps! Jo Ann Fox (@appeducationfox) moderated this discussion and many apps discussed. Below is a small list and some of their attributes. See the image below for a more comprehensive list of apps that were discussed in this session. My favorite by far was MyScript Calculator (see video below)
-madlip app- free version gives you 15 seconds of audio. Have students make a talking book cover using
-imovie app. Use to make trailers with your content
-bugsandbuttons, bugsandnumbers, etc (for lower grades)
-imotionhd for creating stop motion movies
-remind101 – a single directional text for parents and students (can set up groups and for field trips )
-vintagio (for silent films)
-creative book builder
-pickplaypost (create collages) idea: take pictures that relate objective, make collage and explain
-myscriptcalculator (Microsoft version is mathmatica for PC). My favorite of the day (see below)
The 1 iPad classroom John Stevens (@jstevens009) and Eduardo Rivera led this session on how they use a single iPad in the class to teach 8th grade and 9th grade algebra respectively. They utilize both Apple TV and/or the Reflector app to connect their iPads wirelessly to create an interactive and collaborative experience. Here are a few of the apps and resources they recommended:
-educreations and explaineverything (.99)
-appshopper (track apps for pricing)
-class dojo for participation
After a great lunch I headed off to John Omekubo’s (@jumekubo) session on Subtext. Subtext is an app that allows students and teachers to collaborate on the same book. Students can be invited to a group by their teacher and then both parties can interact by asking questions, tagging and highlighting text , adding resources for the students and much more! Below are a few ideas and resources to support this app.
-readlist.com: turn web articles into chapters
-make an epub file
The day culminated in a Slam session, where educators stood up and presented their favorite thoughts, apps, websites or whatever they wanted to reflect on, from the day’s events. My favorite is listed below. I actually stood in line to present my slam of the day(MyScript Calculator) but @jstevens009 beat me to the punch, SLAM!
video 514.mov for playing youtube
– upload any video from google using google docs
Here are some other links that might be useful for finding information on sessions that I did not attend or did not cover in this blog post. You can also peruse the EdCampLA website to search for specific information. Thanks to all of the folks @EdCampLA for a great day!
It was a pleasure to speak to all of the young, pre-service teachers today at Santa Ana College’s Road to Teaching Conference. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have. I am very willing to help aspiring teachers. If you decide for this to become your profession, you are joining ranks of the selfless and the very giving.
A Fresno State student is interviewing me through Twitter! Below are the questions and my responses. The Interview was recorded over the course of a few days
Question 1 by: Jessica Zendejas @jessica84011
@teachusingtech Hi Mr. Diaz, I am going to begin our interview.How have you used twitter in your professional development?Thankyou #ci100
Question 1 response: I use Twitter on a nightly basis to improve my skills as a teacher, stay current with ongoing education news and also to help where I can professionally. Twitter is an awesome tool that allows me to reach out to teaching professionals on a daily basis and ask questions and/or provide help to those in need. I primarily follow like minded people on Twitter. What I mean by that, is that I follow people in the area of education. This allows me to ready micro-blogs that are written specifically for my area of interest.
Follow-up Question 1a: Jessica Zendejas @jessica84011
@teachusingtech and why twitter, when there are so many other social media sites out there? Thanks again for your help
Question 1a response: You are right, there are a lot of choices when it comes to social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and so on. However, it has been my experience that Twitter allows for the most convenient and densely populated center for the type of information I am looking for. You get to populate your Twitter feed with interests that fit your needs. My needs are in the area of education and more specifically education technology and I follow like minded educators. My Twitter feed is populated with links to articles and videos, as well as 142 characters of thought provoking statements and conversations.
Question 2 by:Jessica Zendejas @jessica84011
@teachusingtech Thankyou. Second question:what suggestions do you have for educators who want to use twitter as an educational resource?
Question 2 response: My number one suggestion would be to try it out and see if it fits your needs. I am a fan of Twitter but you may not be and that is okay. On the other hand, the education conversation needs to continue outside of the classroom and being a good educator, one who works on making a difference, takes time outside of the classroom. Therefore, some type of social media allows you to access the minds and thoughts of thousands of educators all around the world who have a similar mission. Okay back to Twitter as a resource. Another suggestion I have is to find a hash tag, which is a grouping of comments tied to a specific idea, and begin browsing through content and comment when you can to add to the discussion. You can only be better for it and you begin to form relationships with people you can count on. If you want to follow education technology conversations, a suggestion would be #edtech or if you are a new teacher #ntchat is great! One last suggestion would be to have parents, students and/or teachers create a hashtag, so that you can create a conversation about a particular topic. For example, I have started a hash tag on the greatness of #dchilders. Please go there and comment when you can. We will see how popular this topic is?