Monthly Archives: February 2015

4 Ways to Prevent Brain Overload

 

4 Ways to prevent Brain Overload

Today I’m home on a “snow day”. We haven’t actually gotten any snow, but it’s raining and a little part of me is hoping that rain =ice. Why? Because the past couple of weeks have brought me some AMAZING ideas and I’m itching to execute. The only problem is, where do I start? Coming up with ideas is hardly a problem for many teachers, but the execution is often where we hit the brakes. I have come up with 4 ways to prevent brain overload for myself and thought I’d pass them along to you, my teacher friends!

1. Don’t stop dreaming up ideas. I am of the belief that when you stop dreaming, you stop yourself! There really isn’t anything wrong with tons of ideas and that is the key to keeping our classrooms alive for our students. When we stop coming up with ideas, our lives can become stagnant and that can send you right back into the brain overload you’re trying to prevent.

2. Write it down!!! The first thing I did today was make a to-do list. It was long and I added to it throughout the day, but I had a guide and goals set. When you know what you need to do, it will keep you on track to actually getting them done. Most of the time, we find ourselves overwhelmed because we have “so much to do”, but don’t do it because you just have “so much to do”. Write it down. Do it!

3. Accept mistakes. Once you’ve started on tasks, you can get so caught up in doing that you can then be sidetracked by imperfections. I can remember people telling me don’t do anything with less than 100% off you. Give it your all, but know that it will not all work out exactly as you want it to. It may take a little while longer, cause more than the number of edits you’d like to have on your product, or just not get done. However, you have the opportunity to get bewildered with the mistake or make a decision to accept it and fix it.

4. Find your happy! As a teacher, so much of my time and efforts are expended in teaching. Quite honestly, I see the 160 students I teach daily more than I see my own children during a school week. It becomes “work” at time to come home and do anything else besides be mommy. Because I know that I am important to my mental health, I have found ways to give back to myself and find my happy. Over the last few months I’ve found a love in Project Life, planners, and now I am using my supplies for my Journaling Bible. Doing these things does take a late night and maybe leaving the dishes until later, but the joy I feel when I see a finished project reminds me why I do it. Take some time and find your happy!

I hope you find these tips to avoiding brain overload useful.

Need to see my list and happy in action? Head to the Instagram feed! 

What are your tips to avoid brain overload? What is your happy?



#whattheteacherreads Feb 21

#whattheteacherreads

 

After missing last week, blame me having a weekend of fun with the Mr. for Valentines day, it’s time to share some goodies with my favorite internet friends. This week, I want to highlight reading in the classroom and the need for diversity in children’s books. I know that this is an issue that teachers face in every area of education and it seems SO hard to manage at times. As a parent, I have an advanced reader that loves to read and I’m always wondering how to increase comprehension and keep his love for reading alive. A few years ago I had a student mention that a presentation we’d had by another school was just “ok”. When asked why he felt like this, he replied “Nobody in the video looked like me. I don’t think I would fit in there”. Since that day I’ve tried to consider my student’s lives when choosing texts and assignments; it works!

I hope you’ll find the articles this week just as engaging as I have….here’s #whattheteacherreads.

 

Childrens Books Infographic 18 24 V3

 

Diverse Students, Diverse Books – This teacher chose to take matters in her own hands when she realized that students were not interested in reading because they didn’t see themselves in the characters! Instead of sitting back, she founded We Need Diverse Books and has helped not only the diverse readers, but writers as well!

Diverse Comic Book Awards – Got an older reader? Maybe a student who enjoys comic books? This article highlights comic books that feature diverse characters and are nominated for the McDuffe award, named after an African American comic writer who encouraged diverse comic books.

Diversity in Books is Growing– According to this article,  “The number of books written by or about African Americans almost doubled last year to 179…”. Growth in diverse books is rising, but this 179 books is a very small fraction of the 20,000+ children’s books published yearly!



3 Character Traits of an Exemplary Digital Citizen

Exemplary Digital Citizen

In my current teaching role, Business Technology, I begin my class with teaching about digital citizenship. Teaching this and exercising this skill has become a day-to-day activity as we live more and more of our lives in a more digital manner. I believe it is an inevitable fact that we will have more of our lives online in a manner you may never know as we leave a bigger and wider digital footprint. However, there are things we can do to make sure that our footprints leave a positive mark versus wreaking havoc in many features and facets of our life. Describing  three of the most impressive character traits of an exemplary  digital citizen within a digital learning community isn’t an easy feat, but here are my most important!

Digital Citizens are:

1. Cognizant- Although we now walk around with a world of access in the palm of our hand, literally, an exemplary digital citizen is aware of the immense amount of knowledge we hold and can impart. However, this same knowledge can be deemed as a distraction according to those who are leading students on this path.

“At the same time, these teachers juxtapose these benefits against some emerging concerns.  Specifically, some teachers worry about students’ overdependence on search engines; the difficulty many students have judging the quality of online information; the general level of literacy of today’s students; increasing distractions pulling at students and  poor time management skills; students’ potentially diminished critical thinking capacity; and the ease with which today’s students can borrow from the work of others.” 

Being aware of the way it can be used forces us to create a cognizant mind in students to help decrease the feared dependence. Mindful of the “bad” ways technology can do should help us to understand that being acting as a digital citizen can improve our learning experience and overall knowledge seamlessly in the classroom and beyond. Teachers and students must remain mindful of the ever changing world of technology and the impact we can have on it, as well as ours on it!

2. Connected- As we move forward in a world where we encourage use of technology and access to the digital world, we must remain connected. Based on research, “Technology disparities have the potential to reinforce or even deepen existing place-based inequalities in health, the labor market, the democratic sphere, and access to public goods.” Although think that access to the internet is enough, we must also realize there are many more areas of technology where we can connect as well. For instance, as an educator owning a smartphone was once deemed as “connected”. However, now that is not enough! A connected educator is one who interacts through social media, is aware of trends and tools to improve his/her classroom, and frankly isn’t afraid to connect with others. Being connected helps the digital citizen remain abreast of what is best for him/her and allows areas of growth to remain active and amplify over time.

3. Kind- Such a simple word, but being kind is often an afterthought in the digital world. As we move to less personalized experiences via the internet, it is still such a good feeling when we do have kind experiences on these platforms. This can mean various things for people. For my students, this may mean thinking before you post a comment on an Instagram post or for me replying to a post on Twitter asking for help even if it doesn’t deal directly with me. In our schools we now celebrate Kindness Week, which to me is quite sad, because this means we are reteaching and preaching an emotion which should be a part of our daily life.

As we move through our lives, it is important to remember the footprints we leave digitally cannot be replaced. They are forever there for the world to see and with a simple keystroke you can impart so much, but you could also take so much away. It is our duty as users of the internet to be mindful of our role as digital citizens, after all aren’t the 3 traits of an exemplary digital citizen those we should exude in every walk of life?

Sources:

http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/1777/808

http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/11/01/how-teens-do-research-in-the-digital-world/



Reaching New Heights

 

 

Reaching new heights As a teacher, mom, and the zillion other hats I wear I think it’s important to always have your eyes on a bigger and ever growing prize. I know that I have worked VERY hard over the last seven years to become  pretty decent teacher. My most recent degree, Ed. S. in Technology in Education was quite the passion project for me and has opened doors I never knew I wanted to be open. As I continue my journey in education, I only hope to keep busting down doors and do new and exciting things with and for my students. My most recent endeavor has been a culmination of ideas and was especially ignited after meeting a few representatives for the Georgia Virtual School last Fall. I have always wanted to venture into virtual education and I’d say with new testing and a growing need for mobile schools, this will definitely be a growing field.

To be employed by some virtual schools, and to increase my marketability, I am in the process of completing a certification for Virtual Teaching in Georgia and will be prepared to apply for a job with the Georgia Virtual School. The TOOL process involves different modules and one of the very first assignments is to start a blog. Interestingly enough, if you’re here you’re probably aware that my blog has been in existence since July 2014…so check that off my list to do! I went back and forth with starting a new blogger “blog” for the sole purpose of chronicling this journey, but thought again when I realized that I’d simply be reinventing the wheel ( and to be honest decreasing the likelihood I’d post here often…if at all).

Starting a blog wasn’t necessarily a hard process. I can remember going back and forth with the idea of beginning 180 Days to Happy and deciding on a platform was probably my most difficult task. Since I’d only ever used Blogger before, I didn’t really know what to do and decided to start a Wix page. Building that page was…interesting, but I didn’t like what I had. Instead, I decided to invest some money and get a template that I could personalize and use WordPress. Less than two weeks after I begain the process with WordPress my blog was up and running. Some people say that this platform is more difficult than another, but to be honest I haven’t had any issues! I like that my teacher blog is somewhat different than most others and it’s just my personal preference to have the layout that I do. Nothing against my fellow teacher friend blogs, but this is the platform I like most.

I imagine that the TOOL process will afford me the opportunity to grow as a blogger, teacher, and communicator by completing tasks and sharing my insight with other teachers and those looking to evolve and become virtual teachers as I am! I hope that you’ll find these posts interesting and engaging and follow along on this fun journey and I continue reaching new heights!!!!!

 

Are you a virtual teacher? Any suggestions as I begin to move in this direction?



#rockthelunchbox

#rockthelunchbox Post

This year I made a decision to create (remember my #onelittleword). Although I want to create many things, a focus is definitely creating a more healthy lifestyle and habits. Yes, I picked this word for me but I knew that it would trickle down to my family as well.  Fast forward a couple weeks into 2015 and I was super happy when I received the email that I’d be a part of the #rockthelunchbox campaign with Influenster !!! I got the cutest little package with some even better coupons and took off to the store ready to shop and stock up our lunch cabinet with some super fresh goodies. Included were coupons for Annie’s, Rudis, Applegate, and Honest goodies that I picked up at my local Target and Kroger. Just when I thought I couldn’t be more excited, my son got a hold of my groceries and couldn’t wait either 🙂

* I will tell you that lunches packed in my house have become more and more scarce, so this was a more “let’s have snack” trial for us. We used the products in “lunch” form and went from there.

These are the products we received

 – Rudi’s Gluten-Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Honest Kids Super Fruit Punch

Applegate Halftime Lunch Box

Annie’s Frozen Bagel Bites 

Annie’s Bunny Graham Friends 

#rockthelunchbox 1

 For afternoon snack, my son LOVED the Bagel Bites!!! I didn’t tell him they were any different from anything else, but I did taste one and was quite impressed. The texture was amazing and I he wanted MOREEEEE!!! I take care in asking about how things may be different because I’ve found with kids, that can go left…FAST. So those definitely got two thumbs up!

Photo Jan 17, 12 48 23 PM

I have to admit, I’m probably a bad mom when it comes to fruit juice. With my son, he didn’t have juice until he was probably two but my daughter had her first sip at a much younger age. It is HARD to turn a kid on to a “less sweet” option and this Honest Kids drink was no different. My son had one sip and wanted no more, however my daughter enjoyed it! I’ve come to the decision that I will continue to buy them for her, but I don’t think I’ll have to worry about missing any of these on my son’s behalf…these get a thumbs up, but only from my littlest kiddo.

#rockthelunchbox 2

This little box, I LOVE!!! Sometimes, we get home and my son is STARVING…that’s more like EVERYDAY!!!!! I picked up this box from Target before picking my son up and it didn’t last five minutes in the house. I had to force him to take the picture before ripping the box open and he sat quietly and ate quickly. I looked at the nutrition and I think this is quite the amazing little thing. This entire box contains less than the amount of sodium in a small lunchable, which is always a win! My son enjoyed the variety of the items in the box which included yogurt and fruit snack! This was a homerun and definitely got two thumbs up, from the kid and me.

Buying a gluten-free bread, interesting thought. I snuck this in at breakfast and snack and didn’t try it myself before asking my son how he felt, “It was weird, but OK” was his response; I tasted it and felt the same. I had trouble finding this bread, but mostly because I didn’t read (lol). It’s found in the frozen aisle and there are TONS of varieties. Since I try to cook a hot breakfast a couple days a week, this flavor seemed a good idea. Along with our bacon and eggs, it was tasty toasted and didn’t really seem that different. There is definitely a difference, but I do like that even after only thawing only half of the bag for the first trial it tasted the same a week later when I unthawed the other half. Great option if you’re going gluten free or just looking to add a healthy option to your raisin bread. From the kid and I, this bread gets  one and a half thumbs up.

 

As a mom, I love quick snack that works for my seven year-old and twenty month-old. Oh how perfect the Bunny Graham Friends were for this exact purpose 🙂 After opening this bag of bunny’s, it didn’t take long for them to disappear (I may have snuck a few for myself). Of course in a previous, less healthy life, we snacked on cookies, chips, and anything else that was easy to open and feed yourself. I loved how cute the packaging was, how small they are which is super convenient for my little one’s hands, and of course that they both loved them! These snacks were reasonably priced, which will make it much easier for me to buy them again and not be upset that they dissapear quickly! I am sure that my kiddos would give this snack two crazy, wiggly, and happy thumbs up!

Photo Feb 06, 2 59 35 PM

Overall, I was super impressed with the products included in this Voxbox. I love that it encouraged me to try more healthy, yet VERY tasty options for my kiddos. I know that health is important and it starts young, so food is one of the places that we can influence our children to make better choices. Even as a teacher, I know that my students see what I eat and they mimic what they see others do. I am so happy to have been a part of the #rockthelunchbox experience and I will definitely be purchasing these items again for the kiddos (and maybe sneak a snack for mom too).

 

*I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.