Summers Off

I’m spending the week at my mom’s house in Northern California, doing not much of anything! I could have titled this post “Sleeping In,” “Stopping to Smell the Roses,” “Refilling the Well,” “Summers Off,” or “Being a Slug.” But “Recharging” fits the best, especially because of my edtech-themed summer.

The point is everyone needs a breather as part of every cycle. We build vacations into our work contracts, we take weekends off work, we sleep at night, even our tech devices have “sleep” mode. Much is said of teachers who have “summers off,” but every teacher I know has spent at least part of the summer planning, reorganizing, expanding their professional learning network, and learning new stuff for the classroom. Summers are a necessary time to replenish our stores of energy, ideas, knowledge, and tools. During the year, we are never 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. workers. That’s only the time we are required to be on site. Planning, grading, and much parent and student communication, occurs outside of those hours.

So, the last few days, I’ve woken at my usual 5:45, but rolled back over and slept gloriously to past 8:00. Yeah, that’s unthinkably early to some, but my body really appreciates it. I can’t get to complacent, though — I report back officially on August 28.

And I’ll be ready and recharged!


Days 2 and 3 of CUE Rockstar Teacher Camp – What – How – Why


So much to distill down to a manageable blog entry! Here it is: What – How – Why And above is my distillation in the form of Sketchnotes.

On Day 2 of CUE Rockstar Teacher Camp in Manhattan Beach, I attended Jen Roberts’ session on Writing and Citing with Google Tools and Victoria Olson’s session on Screencasting basics.

1 – I’ve said it before — Jen is a goddess! The beauty of her session was that she focused on our primary task (critical thinking and writing instruction),THEN identified some uber useful tools and demonstrated their use. Granted, we didn’t get to create as much original material in her session as in others, but we got access to Jen’s stuff and, more importantly, got to PICK HER BRAIN! All of us were happily late to lunch. 😉

2- Ironically, I had uploaded almost all the tools Victoria listed in her session description, but never learned how to use them. She, too, provided the What and How, by modeling with us how she introduces the process to her little guys with Explain Everything. (I’d love to be one of her students!) We got to make something simple on any topic we wanted for our first project – mine was about Knitting, of course (this is the YouTube version of it). Then she practiced more advanced techniques and had us make a second project we could use in class. (Mine’s not finished, but I didn’t want that to stop me from posting this.)

On Day 3, I focused more on “How” and especially “Why” in sessions by Karl L-S on 20% Time and by Moss Pike on Design Thinking for Innovation.

3- Last year I had dipped my pinkie toe into the world of student choice in long-term content creation by having my AP English Language class make TEDtalks after AP Exams concluded. Karl’s materials confirmed that it’s worth diving into the deep end with #20TIME. It leads to incredible engagement and learning. I love that Karl is so transparent – he explained his lessons learned from his missteps as well as his successes. His materials also gave me a great start in putting on paper (well, in a Google Doc) concrete plans for my classes later this month. (gulp!)

4- Moss introduced me to a new way of looking at problem-solving and critical thinking, at  “why” we teach, or going “deep.” My biggest takeaway is that INNOVATION IS A SKILL, a muscle we all have that we can exercise and fine tune to address future questions and problems we haven’t yet imagined. Our small group tacked Teacher Time Management. We identified the key parameters of our “wicked problem,” but, sadly, didn’t have time to come up with permanent solutions. Just collaborating was a fabulous start, though. I was STILL mulling over design thinking as I was going to bed. It’s that powerful.

More on “why” — the day began with a lovely, inspirational video called the First Follower – Dancing Guy about leadership. Interestingly, it ties to a video Moss showed at the end of my day called “Moonshot Thinking” about nurturing the human impulse to dream and achieve.

CUE Rockstar Teacher Camp nudged me more on that path as I help my students do the same.