MAT Blog

Meet English Teacher and Technology Enthusiast, Amy Wilkinson

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on May 1, 2014 2:10:00 PM

How I Work

This is the fifth in an ongoing series of posts inspired by How I Work, a series on one of our favorite sites, Lifehacker. As educators, we like to know how other educators work, how they live, and how they play, so every few weeks we’ll be featuring a new interview with a new teacher.

This week, we’d like to introduce Amy Wilkinson!

Location:  Avenal High School, Avenal, California, south of Fresno

Desired location:
A view of the beach

Current work title? Also, what grade do you teach?:
ELA Department Chair, English Grade 9 teacher, technology enthusiast and cheerleader.

Area of expertise: I teach English, but my expertise seems to be pop culture, as I am constantly referencing TV and movies and all things Nerd as a way to make connections between what we are reading or writing about and the world at large. I also love history and getting into the historical background of whatever we are currently studying.

Do you have a specific long-term career goal?:
I have an evolving long-term goal: I want to continue to be a classroom teacher, but I would like to start helping teachers more directly with successfully incorporating technology into the classroom.

Languages you have studied or currently speak:
English, Teenager, Jive

The project you’re most proud of: This year my students and I participated in the NaNoWriMo project, where we all tried to write a novel for the month of November. It was the most ambitious thing I’ve done, and it changed how I did everything else this year.

Favorite time of the day: The morning, when it is quiet and the only sound you hear is me, swearing like a sailor at the copy machine or printer as I try to get ready for the day.

Favorite technology gadget for the classroom: The Apple TV, which, in theory, should allow me to seamlessly display what is on my laptop onto the projector. This is a working theory.

Next conference/professional-development event you’re planning to give or attend:
CUE Rockstar Teacher Camp in Tulare. I can’t wait!!

How many hours per day do you usually work?: I work from about 7:30 to 5:00, and I put in about 3-5 hours on the weekend doing lesson planning or thinking about different ideas for lessons.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?:
I am fairly extroverted. I really love interacting with my students, and that is what I miss the most when we are on vacation. Grading, not so much J

Are you an early-riser or a night-owl?: Early riser. Even on Saturdays. Ugh.

Do you have any pets or kids (names and ages)?:  
I have two children, Sam, who is 12 and Kate, who is three.
 
Next city/country you want to visit:
I can’t wait to visit New Orleans and NYC.

Favorite vacation place:
San Francisco and the Central Coast.

Favorite book: That is like asking me to pick my favorite child. I currently love the Harry Potter series, The Book Thief, Gone with the Wind, Pillars of the Earth, World War Z, and any other book I can get lost in. My favorite non-fiction book is the Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Favorite song: “One” by U2 and “Happy” by Pharrell

Where we can find your website/blog/classroom blog: That is still in progress

Do you have a Twitter account we can follow you on?: @MsWClassroom is my PLN

Tags: How I Work Series

Meet Librarian, Information Science and Technology Teacher, Susan Hefley

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 25, 2014 11:35:00 AM

How I Work
This is the fourth in an ongoing series of posts inspired by How I Work, a series on one of our favorite sites, Lifehacker. As educators, we like to know how other educators work, how they live, and how they play, so every week we’ll be featuring a new interview with a new teacher.

susan hefleyThis week, we’ll be hearing from Susan Hefley!

Location: Rural area north of Pittsburgh, PA (Butler, PA).

Desired location: Somewhere warmer and closer to family (Florida and Texas look really good after the winter of 2014 J).  I also really want a position in either Utopia or Disney. 

Current work title (administrator/teacher/school technologist, etc.) Also, what grade do you teach?: I am the Librarian/Information Science and Technology Teacher for grades K-6.

What I teach:  Library and Information Science are my greatest strengths followed by computer science and just technology in general.

What I have an interest in:  Technology, apps and gadgets, history, all things French and making learning fun, reading.

Do you have a specific long-term career goal?: I want to BE a life-long learner and encourage as many other people as possible to be life-long learners. This is often through my work as a teacher, a volunteer and with professionals through various professional organizations and social networks.

Languages you have studied or currently speak: I studied French and later became a foreign exchange student in France in high school. I minored in French in college and studied for a summer semester in Quebec. However, after not USING the language at all for ten years I have lost most of my proficiency and would love an excuse to brush up and go back.

The project you’re most proud of: This is a hard one. I am proud of all of the hard work that I help my students to accomplish, and their learning. I am proud of my own education and professional accomplishments and contributions. I am also proud of all the little things like catching “my” own little ones reading. I am proud of my volunteer work including my current project to raise an assistance dog. However, if I could only pick one it would be that one that no one knows about: the books I write.

Favorite time of the day: 7 a.m.

Favorite technology gadget for the classroom: It changes all the time! Right now I love the AURASMA app, but that is not a gadget per say. I love Class DoJo.  I love Google Docs.  I love Edmodo.  If I had to pick one gadget right now it would be a Smart Board and iPad combo. 

Next conference/professional-development event you’re planning to give or attend: I just attended and learned so much from the PETE&C conference! It was great! I am looking forward to PSLA in May. I have a WPSLA workshop in a few weeks and my own school is planning a “Tech Academy” where I will be a presenter in May. 

The librarian in me also loves a good Book Festival, my own book fair starts next week but Johnstown PA has a children’s book festival in April that I want to try to get to.

How many hours per day do you usually work?: Technology is a blessing and a curse. Now my work follows me home. I reply to parent emails on my phone, I talk with the PTO over Facebook. I post things on snow days to a community group on Facebook. I work after school at home on lesson plans and other work. Then I come in early the next day. I know I need to cut back, but on AVERAGE I probably work about a 9-11 hour day.  Some days a LOT more, some days only 8 hours. ALWAYS at least 8 or 9.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?: INTROVERT!

Are you an early-riser or a night-owl?: Early Riser.

Do you have any pets or kids (names and ages)?: I babysit/nanny on the side and have been with the same families for years!  “I” have 3 boys who are now 13, 11, and 2 and a little girl who will be 6.

The ones that actually live with me are four legged. I have one 10-year-old dog named Lia and a new foster puppy named Biscuit. Biscuit will grow up to be an assistance dog and will only stay with me for about 18-20 months.

Next city/country you want to visit:  FRANCE!

Favorite vacation place: Where ever my family is, but I like to champion places to visit and learn over the lazy beach vacations.

Favorite book: You can’t ask a librarian this. I can give you a favorite for every genre, every grade and interest level; then every month it changes!  I have so many favorites but luckily I have a wonderful library where I can put them on the shelves and share them!

Favorite song: “For Good” (from Wicked)

Where we can find your website/blog/classroom blog:

My library website is: www.dassamckinney.webs.com

My personal site is: http://susanhefley.webs.com

You can find links to MOST of my other sites here:  http://susanhefley.webs.com/apps/links/

Do you have a Twitter account we can follow you on?: I have never gotten into Twitter.  “My” community and the ones that I want to follow, share and communicate with are on other social networks……except for my little brother and local news. They tweet and I read it with my account. So I have one…..I just never use it.

If you want to connect with me, try LinkedIn, Facebook, Edmodo or traditional email.

 

 

 

ten common technology challenges for teachers

Tags: How I Work Series

Meet the Man Behind Quick Key App, Walter Duncan

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 18, 2014 10:49:00 AM

This is the third in an ongoing series of posts inspired by How I Work, a series on one of our favorite sites, Lifehacker. As educators, we like to know how other educators work, how they live, and how they play, so every week we’ll be featuring a new interview with a new teacher.

TWalter Duncanhis week, we'll be getting to know Walter Duncan, the creator of Quick Key, a free application that turns smartphones and tablets into optical scanners so teachers can quickly grade quizzes, tests and formative assessments.

Location:  Boston, MA

Desired location:
Boston, MA

Current work title (administrator/teacher/school technologist, etc.) Also, what grade do you teach?:
Co Founder of Design By Educators, makers of the Quick Key Mobile App. I am certified in Massachusetts for teaching Middle School English Language Arts. Additionally, I have 15 years of classroom experience.

Area of expertise (subjects you teach or have an interest in): English Language Arts, Spanish, Speech and Drama.

Do you have a specific long-term career goal?:
To make easy to use tools that help teachers improve student outcomes and maintain the autonomy of their classrooms.

Languages you have studied or currently speak:
Spanish

The project you’re most proud of: Launching Quick Key is my greatest accomplishment to date. Choosing to leave a successful career in the classroom to become a Teacherpreneur carries great risk. Thankfully, teachers all over the world are using Quick Key every day to help their students achieve at the highest level. It is catching on like wildfire!

Favorite time of the day: Any time I get to hold my son.

Favorite technology gadget for the classroom: Quick Key of course! It saves time grading and gives teachers data to drive their instruction in real time.

Next conference/professional-development event you’re planning to give or attend:
I would love to present to Marygrove students on the power of formative assessment and data driven instruction. As of now I don't have a conference planned.

How many hours per day do you usually work?: I usually spend 10-14 hours a day working, it can be grueling, but rewarding.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?: I would say I am an extrovert, but every one in a while I need to unplug and be by myself.

Are you an early-riser or a night-owl?: I am a night-owl, that is often the time when the house is quiet and I can get the most work done.

Do you have any pets or kids (names and ages)?: I have one dog, he was made famous when my Quick Key video went viral, check him out: Quick Key Video . I also have one son, he is my first born and the light of my life!
 
Next city/country you want to visit: Madagascar, because I love the way it sounds.

Favorite vacation place: Anywhere with my son.

Favorite book: Anansi Boys by Niel Gaiman

Favorite song: Anything by Michael Franti and Spearhead

Where we can find your website/blog/classroom blog: www.quickkeyapp.com

Do you have a Twitter account we can follow you on?: @4_teachers

 

Tags: How I Work Series

Meet Teacher-Technologist Clint Walters!

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 10, 2014 1:19:00 PM

This is the second in an ongoing series of posts inspired by How I Work, a series on one of our favorite sites, Lifehacker. As educators, we like to know how other educators work, how they live, and how they play, so every week we’ll be featuring a new interview with a new teacher. This week, we’ll hear from Clint Walters, a Computer Information Technology teacher from Stewartstown, PA.

clint waltersLocation:  I live in beautiful Stewartstown, nestled at the bottom of South Central PA, just north of Baltimore MD.

Desired location:
I love it here, but I’m willing to live wherever I can pursue my passion for teaching in the Computer Information Technology field, support my awesome wife and family, and ultimately where ever God and my career take me.   

Current work title (administrator/teacher/school technologist, etc.) Also, what grade do you teach?:
I am a Computer Information Technology teacher for grades 7 & 8. I occasionally facilitate online courses for Graduate students. I recently conducted a gaming literacy workshop for undergraduates at a local university.  

Area of expertise (subjects you teach or have an interest in):
My area of expertise is hard to articulate. Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about Game Based Learning, Game Design, and Gamification, which are big areas of interest. That is my current passion, and what I most often teach online and speak on. Design is a big part of what I teach from graphic design to design thinking. I’m getting more into the areas of Coding and Programming for my students because I feel that that is an essential tool for my student’s future. When it all comes down, my goal is to teach students to be “awesome”. I want them to be fluent users of technology, sure, but the ultimate goal is to make them expert project managers, leaders, entrepreneurs, and world-changers. There’s not enough of that happening in the school day. I don’t think we became a world power by producing great test-takers, and I don’t think that’s enough to keep us there.

Do you have a specific long-term career goal?:
My current goal, as lame as it sounds, is to continue doing what I am doing, and remain open to what comes next. Currently, who I am fits what I am doing. When there is a disconnect there, it’s time to change.

I do, of course have dreams and aspirations. I would love to develop relationships with entrepreneurs and companies in the education technology field. I would love to get involved with a company that promotes serious epistemic games or game-based-learning, while still staying connected to the education field. I really admire the work of companies and organizations like Institute of Play, E-line Media, Games for Change, BrainPop and the Games Learning Society, to name a few. There’s a new company in Baltimore, called Immersive 3d that’s doing some really impressive work with Baltimore County Schools. I just think that it would be incredibly engaging and rewarding to get involved with one of these projects or something like it.

In my heart of hearts, I would love to make my school into a Quest school. I would settle for being part of starting something like that somewhere, locally or otherwise. I want to see the whole concept of systems thinking, design thinking, STE[a]M learning, and 21st Century skills become available to more students in more places. I want to engage policy makers, teachers, administrators and most of all, parents in demanding more for our kids than rigorous testing, useless trivia, and constant remediation.

Languages you have studied or currently speak:
I’ve studied French in high school and college, but I currently know more Japanese than French. That may be misleading, though. I only know enough Japanese to survive on the mat at the Aikido dojo I attend. I’ve studied a fair amount of html and css, though I can’t really speak those languages.

The project you’re most proud of:
Currently, my pet projects are my classroom and curriculum, my workshops and presentations, and my online course writing. I take pride in all of these. Mostly, I take pride in my students, who make and do awesome things in my room.

The classes that I teach are my ongoing project. I’m constantly re-thinking, revising, and re-iterating curriculum, activities, and even classroom layout. I inherited a 7th grade class in MS Office and an 8th grade class in technical drawing and digital photography. Now my seventh graders publish blogs, participate in social networking, design engaging graphics, make their own video games, learn coding and programming, and explore the nuances of project based learning. My 8th graders go deeper by experiencing 9 weeks of project based learning, which requires them to develop unique solutions and select and use computer applications effectively and productively, seamlessly transferring created objects between selected computer applications and other tools. Both of these classes focus heavily on design and systems thinking and employ a generous amount of gamification and game based learning.

Favorite time of the day:
That depends on the day…  

Favorite technology gadget for the classroom:
I’m not sure how to answer this. I have a lot of software that I like to use. I have a lot of techniques that I like to teach that are made easier with technology. I have access to several gadgets that do things well, but I do not have a favorite. It’s all in the application.  

Next conference/professional-development event you’re planning to give or attend:
Whatever and wherever I can. I just attended EdSurge Baltimore, and I just missed SXSWedu (tears). Being a public school teacher does not afford one the opportunity to attend such events. The funding is barely there to retain teachers, let alone provide them with any real and meaningful professional experiences. This is one of the reasons why I wish to develop more relationships (and see teachers in general be more connected) with entrepreneurs and companies in the education technology field. In order to get out of one’s duties, let alone cover travel expenses, one practically needs to represent a company.

How many hours per day do you usually work?:
That depends. Some days I work in my sleep. Typically I’m on the clock from 7:30 to 2:50, but I’m at work from 6:30 to 3:00 most days. Then I come home and devote myself to my family. After my kids go to bed, I typically put in an hour of work on my blog, any freelance design work I may have, or facilitating online classes. I also tend to spend between two and four hours on these pursuits on the weekend as well.  

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?:
I am an extreme extrovert. I really dislike being alone. I recharge in the presence of others. I dwindle and wither in isolation.

Are you an early-riser or a night-owl?:
I am neither. I like to get to bed before 10:00 when possible. I wake at 5:00, though I can’t say that I am particularly joyful at waking. I think that I used to be a morning person... before children. Now, I spend a lot of time feeling tired.

Do you have any pets or kids (names and ages)?:
I am blessed with an awesome family. My wife, Lanette, and I have two kids. Hudson, age six is in Kindergarten, and loves Legos, Games of all kinds, and building stuff out of anything around the house. Eliza, age 2, loves climbing, demolishing whatever Hudson builds, and using mommy’s iPad.  

My wife, Lanette, is a K-5 technology integrator in a 1:1 iPad school and is now the Digital Curriculum Reviewer for Kindertown.

Next city/country you want to visit:
Here, I don’t have a strong preference. I recently went to Boston, which was not on my radar at all, but I loved it. I enjoy visiting new places. I would love to go to Japan someday. That would be cool.

Favorite vacation place:
My favorite vacation spot is anywhere my family is. Lately I enjoy Bethany Beach, DE because that is where my family goes on vacation. I would be as happy vacationing in Maine or Florida or my back yard.

Favorite book:
My favorite fiction book is JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings, which I discovered in 11th grade. Thank you, Mrs. Smith. My favorite non-fiction title is Reality is Broken, by Jane McGonigal.  

Favorite song:
I’m a musician. I play the drums and world percussion. I love music. I do not have one favorite song. Today, I am enjoying Cake’s rendition of Mahna Mahna. I consistently enjoy music by the Black Keys, Mofro, and Jack White. I tend to enjoy everything from the Ting Tings to Mavis Staples. I have eclectic tastes.

Where we can find your website/blog/classroom blog:
http://www.clintwalters.com
(my main website)

http://mrwaltersdesk.blogspot.com/ (my education blog)

Do you have a Twitter account we can follow you on?:
https://twitter.com/mrwalters

 

 

 

Surfing for Substance II Download

 



Tags: How I Work Series

Meet Teacher-Technologist Marc Hamlin!

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Mar 4, 2014 4:02:00 PM

This is the first in an ongoing series of posts inspired by How I Work, a bi-weekly series on one of our favorite sites, Lifehacker. As educators, we like to know how other educators work, how they live, and how they play, so every other week we’ll be featuring a new interview with a new teacher. This week, we’ll hear from Marc Hamlin, an English Language Arts teacher from West Greenwich, Rhode Island.

Marc HamlinLocation:  Exeter- West Greenwich Regional Senior High School, West Greenwich, RI 02817

Desired location:
Eventually, I want to move on to teaching at a local community college. I want to “age with the profession.” I can’t say I’ll have the same relevance or world view of a 15 or 16 year-old when I’m in my late 50s-early 60s.

Current work title (administrator/teacher/school technologist, etc.) Also, what grade do you teach?:
It’s interesting. I taught ELA at my school for the first 8 years of my career. Then, I had an opportunity to teach educational technology for 10 years. It was fun, but 10 years of teaching in “The Bunker” (room with no windows) can really warp your perception of reality. Then I went back to my first love, ELA, and here I am, but with a strong technology skillset. I’m all about integrating technology into lessons to improve learning.

Area of expertise (subjects you teach or have an interest in):  ELA, computer technology, web design, computer networking and network design, relational database management systems (RDBMS) with languages like MySQL.

Do you have a specific long-term career goal?:
Yes, I want to start creating instructional videos on YouTube. I really think it’s now, not the future.

Languages you have studied or currently speak:
Well, It’s funny. On my father’s side, they came from France and Belgium. On my mother’s side, they came from French-speaking Canada (Quebec). But the language was taken out of them when they went to school (My mother spoke French until she went to school.) They were told not to speak French at home. It was all about assimilation, then.

As a consequence, I speak the French I learned in French class- “Un petit peu.” I feel I’ve lost a good deal of my cultural heritage as a result. When I look at Hispanic students, I think, “Yes, learn English, but don’t ever stop speaking your language. Once you lose that, you lose your cultural treasures.”

The project you’re most proud of: The “Sweded Video Project” is my very favorite. Inspired by the Jack Black/Danny Glover/Mos Def film, “Be Kind, Rewind,” the project centers around creating stories (or adapting stories read during the semester) to a five-minute “short attention-span” theater.

Imagine breaking down Moby Dick to 5 minutes. It’s breathtaking.  It’s not merely about how we tell stories, but why, after all these thousands of years, we still gather around an electric campfire to hear and tell each other stories. And unlike other group projects, each student has a clearly defined job, with a “deliverable” at the end of the process. That part is 70% of the project grade. The video is only 25%. They make a movie poster using Photoshop to promote their movie- 5%. We have a large-format printer that allows us to print to poster size. We put these posters up in the hallway to promote their videos. Then, we roll out a red carpet at “premiere time” and “movie day” becomes a party, a human coming-together. I’d like Arne Duncan to put that through his testing regime and see what he comes up with.

Favorite technology gadget for the classroom: I’m a big fan of BYOD (bring your own device). As long as your platform isn’t too esoteric, most devices can play nice-nice with web 2.0 tools out there. I’m now exploring a site called exittix.com to facilitate some formative assessment strategies in my classroom, but we’re not 1:1 yet. Until then, 5-up (hold up five fingers, students self-assess their competency before and after a lesson) will have to suffice.

And I’d be crazy not to mention the impact Edmodo.com has had on my classroom. Parents, students both know what is expected of them, and when. Not to mention the fact that I don’t lose out to snow days anymore. And it’s a place for students to distill what they think about a work or a topic before they are asked to comment, at night, in a thread.

Next conference/professional-development event you’re planning to give or attend: I’ll be attending something called “Writing Strategies to meet CCSS” which is supposed to be good. I’m going with my department on 3/17. If it doesn’t work out, well, there’s an Irish bar across the street from the conference site. So after the conference, I may have to go in there for a debriefing.

How many hours per day do you usually work?: As a teacher of ELA, I often work 10 hours per day. At 48, I can’t work as long or as late into the night as I used to. When I first started, I’d be up until 12, 1 am…Now I have rules for myself. Like, “Don’t bring home more than you can evaluate in one night.” Otherwise, that “teacher bag” can become something of a nemesis.

Are you an early-riser or a night-owl?: It’s also seasonal, and generational. Used to be a major night owl back in my younger days. Hated mornings. Now, I’m in bed by 9:30-10 p.m. because I’m up at 5:30 for work. I like to get in early- 6:30 or so, plan, think, and pray that God gives me the wisdom and the words to help every single kid I encounter. I pray for certain students who I know are in turmoil. And I pray for good cycling weather.

Do you have any pets or kids (names and ages)?: I have one kid. She’s black, has four legs, never changes clothes, and she’s an obedience school dropout, but I love my dog Holly, a black lab-weimaraner mix.
 
Next city/country you want to visit: I’m headed to England and Scotland in April with a group of students on an EF Educational Tour. Just got back from Paris, France in November (Thanksgiving). Paris blew my mind. It’s a jaw-droppingly gorgeous city.

Favorite vacation place: It’s simple enough, but hard to get there (from the northeast, USA)- Maui, Hawaii. Went there a few years ago and did not want to come home. Don’t ever go there during February break. It will seriously mess you up for life. It really is paradise on earth. Why anyone would want to live anywhere else is beyond me.

Favorite book: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is my all-time favorite. You hear about “Macondo” and the house of mirrors and you wonder what is going on, and why all these people in the novel have the same names over the generations, and then, in about the last 50 to 100 pages, it hits you, and you can’t put the novel down until you’re finished. And then your mind explodes with reverence for Garcia Marquez’s genius.

Favorite song: Right now, Joe Pug’s “Hymn 101.” He’s picked up Dylan’s crown, shined it up, and it fits.

Do you have a Twitter account we can follow you on?: I have a twitter account: @mrhamlinewg but because Twitter is blocked in our school (I’m behind the Iron Curtain) I don’t use it very often. Yeah, I need to get writing.

Tags: How I Work Series

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