Guest Post, Online Learning, Professional Development, Teaching
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On-Demand Professional Development Collaboration

We’ve all been there: it’s that moment when you realize (gulp) you don’t know what to do. The grade of this hill is just a little too steep. For me one of those moments was in my first year of teaching. It was a specials class of kindergartners who came through my door excited and energetic, but also a little nervous about a new room and teacher. As we started into the lesson I had planned, their nerves eased and their excitement and curiosity spilled over…all over. It was the longest 30 minutes of my life. When their awe-inspiring classroom teacher walked back through the door (had she sprouted wings and a halo in the past 30 minutes?) I was so relieved – I felt as if the cavalry had arrived. I waved and smiled as they filed out the door – and then sat down and cried. Yes, I cried. In that moment I realized I needed help. I needed a whole new set of classroom management skills – and I needed them before next Tuesday when those sweet kindergartners would return!

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Guest Post, Professional Development, Teaching
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PLN – The Most Important Tool for Educators

Education has dramatically changed since I was a student in the eighties and nineties. My teachers could not have even imagined doing things that are quite commonplace in classrooms today. In my content area of Spanish, my students are able to Skype and easily collaborate with students in Spanish-speaking countries around the world. I can show news clips of Mexico’s Independence celebration from the night before. I can use YouTube videos of the latest Spanish pop song (after vigorously previewing for appropriateness, of course) to really pique student interest in the language. These days, there is no excuse for world language teachers not providing authentic content in their classrooms.

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Blended Learning, Guest Post, Online Learning, Sevenstar, Teaching
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Overcoming the #1 Challenge for Online Students

Most students still learn using a method that has existed in our schools for over 100 years. In a typical classroom setting, students sit at desks in rows and the teacher “teaches” from the front of the room. The typical student has been trained since childhood for someone to give them information while listening and taking notes.

While the traditional classroom is adept at preparing students for industrial and knowledge-based jobs, it has not kept pace with preparing students for an economy that employs a greater share of workers in service and innovation-based economies.

Today, new learning methods are available to give students an expanded skill set needed for their future. Many schools today are utilizing project-based learning (PBL) and computer-based instruction in the form of online and blended learning to fill the gaps left by traditional instruction. These initiatives are expected to grow as research studies indicate that families want more technology-based instruction and less use of teacher-driven instruction.

However, given that students have been conditioned to learn in only the traditional model, schools and students typically struggle when online courses are made available. Suddenly students must control the pace of learning, show initiative, and make choices about where to invest their time and energy.

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Blended Learning, Guest Post, Online Learning, Teaching
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Keeping Content Fresh

We have all seen it: a great idea has gone stale. Do you remember when the hot toy was Webkinz by Ganz? It was an ingenious marketing plan: purchase a stuffed animal for $14.99 and gain access to an online world where you care for your virtual version of the stuffed animal. My girls went nuts for it; we had Webkinz all over the house, purchased with their own money or accepted as gifts from doting grandmas. They played with them a lot but then suddenly—nothing. Ganz still makes them, but they are not the “buzz” that they used to be. Why? Something new came along.

Fads in toys come and go. Fads in education come and go. That is ok. In education, we do not need to embrace each fad that comes and goes, but we do want to keep our teaching fresh.

That brings us to a paradox. There are so many places and ideas out there that we could get sucked into a black hole of ideas. How do we know what to choose?

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Blended Learning, Guest Post, Professional Development, Teaching
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Common Sense Media: Helping Parents and Teachers Navigate a Digital World

Our students and kids are growing up in an increasingly digital world. As soon as parents and teachers catch up in one area, new technologies have already emerged, bringing with them new opportunities and challenges. Staying on top of what’s best for kids can feel like an insurmountable task. How can we as parents and teachers prepare children for their digital futures while also setting appropriate boundaries to keep them safe? Enter Common Sense Media.

Started in 2003, this independent, non-profit organization proves to be an invaluable resource to both parents and teachers. As their website states, their mission is to “…empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.”

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Professional Development, Social Media, Webinars
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Social Media: Dynamic for Professional Development & Building a Professional Learning Network (PLN) – Webinar Re-Cap

If you missed the live webinar, “Social Media: Building a PLN,” be sure to check out the event recording below.  Tyler Amidon, Denver Christian School Middle School Principal and Director of Student Life, presented an hour full of great ideas, advice, and resources for building your personal learning network utilizing social media.

Slides: Copies of the CSI Webinar – Social Media for Building a PLN slides cane be viewed/downloaded as a PDF with active links to resources that Tyler mentioned during the live event. Just click the link above.

Link to the webinar recording: http://bit.ly/PLNWebinarRec

Helpful contact info:  If you have questions for Tyler Amidon following his webinar, you can reach him on Twitter @tyleramidon or email tamidon@denverchristian.org.

Action Step: To further benefit from building our networks, we ask that you leave a message on this blog post and share your Twitter handle, Voxer handle, and/or the URL to an educational blog you write so others can connect with you.

Stay connected & build your PLN with:

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Guest Post, Professional Development, Teaching
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Skype in the Classroom: Where Can You Take Your Students?

skype_logo“So, where do you get your fish from?” asked one student.

“Can I buy your fish in the store?” asked another.

These were just two of the many questions asked by our 7th grade social studies class last year when they took a virtual field trip to a fish farm. While talking to the owner, they learned about the process of raising fish for commercial purposes in connection with their studies of the impact of fishing on the economy of southeast Asia. The farm, located near Ames, Iowa, is approximately a three-hour drive from our school in the northwest corner of the state.

When we first heard about opportunities to connect our students with farmers through Siouxland Ag in the Classroom, a number of teachers jumped at the opportunity to link the work in their classrooms with relevant and meaningful experiences outside the classroom. However, as great as it all sounded, we didn’t have time in the school day or money in the budget to bus students around to learn about the ins and outs of a variety of farming styles.

Welcome to 21st century learning, courtesy of…Skype!

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Blended Learning, Devices, Guest Post, Professional Development, Teaching
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Increasing Student Responsibility with Google Classroom

google_classroom_logoI teach middle school. That means that I teach students a lot of content, but I also teach students about what it means to be human. Part of teaching students to be human is about teaching them to be responsible.

At San Jose Christian, we have a 1:1 laptop program in our middle school, where students all have their own MacBooks.  We use Google Classroom to offer students tools, resources, and a management hub for classroom work.

However, Google Classroom is not just for middle school. It’s great for students to use to turn in work at almost any level. They have a great app for iOS and Android as well, which makes it easy for students to use on any device or even across the multiple devices they have.

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Professional Development, Sevenstar, Webinars
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10 Actions Christian Schools Are Taking Now to Be Flourishing in 2025 – Webinar Re-Cap

chart-your-progressSchool leaders and boards must be looking over the horizon to lead their schools into the future. Ten actions were shared that schools today need to be doing so that their schools will be flourishing in 2025. Dr. Mark Beadle, CEO of Sevenstar, discussed new financial models as well as case studies from schools like yours that are marching ahead. He also invited representatives from Beaver County Christian School and Rehoboth Christian School to share advancements they are making to succeed in the years to come.

 

 

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Blended Learning, Devices, Professional Development, Teaching, Webinars
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Making the Most of One Classroom iPad – Webinar Re-Cap

Recently, Brandon Helder led a CSI Webinar and two CEA sessions entitled “Making the Most of One Classroom iPad.” This session, which is shared with you below, is a collection of some of the best tools and tricks he has for teachers with limited technology.  Check out his presentation below.

 

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