Monday, September 3, 2018

Back to School Message from a "Retired Teacher"

I've been thinking of this post since I received a "Happy Retirement" card from my Google Girl, Morgan! It doesn't seem possible that this video was shot by the Google Search team in 2012. This video is still very timely, because it is timeless. This video shows the motivation and independence that Morgan shared with the world. I was the  teacher/coach standing nearby and in the background.

Morgan's card to me is something that all students would share with their teachers in their thoughts. Morgan went with the extra mile and put her thoughts into words with specific examples about how she uses some of the Google tools that she learned about in high school. This made me smile. The Google tools she learned about did in fact level the playing field for her. Not only did the tools help her throughout her high school classes, but the tools are doing the same for her at work and in her college classes.

My message to all of you starting out in the teaching profession or returning to yet another year of school. You have an important job to do. Not only are you making a difference in these 180 school days, but also, you are making a lasting impression on those students. It may take one school year to hear the thanks from your students or it may take years for you to hear thanks for the impression or the connection you made with your students. Regardless, keep making those connections and know that you are making a difference in many lives.  Thank you Morgan for also making a difference in my life. Happy Back to School!

Monday, August 20, 2018

York Summer Institute 2018

I'll be presenting in York, ME at the Summer Institute. It's an awesome venue with amazing teachers from 3 different districts. You can catch many great presenters and a wide variety of classroom topics, technology offerings, and exceptional professional development. Summer PD on the Coast of Maine, not a bad way to spend the day!

I'll be presenting about Using Google Tools as Assistive Technology for All Learners and Using Read & Write by TextHelp in your classroom.

See you there!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Sharing what is happening in Maine this August 2018

Although I've been retired since December 2017, I am still in the loop, so to speak! Today, I am presenting at EdTech207 at the University of Maine at Farmington. One session is about Curating Student Resources, the other is about Creating an Online Presence. I am excited to share how classroom teachers can dip their toes into the digital waters of sharing and collaboration and still keep their curriculum, their themes, their ideas all continuing in their classrooms.  By just adding one new tool, one new share, one Twitter, one Instagram the ripples will reach far away places. What are the benefits to their students? Doors will open wide and far and students' voices will be heard and make a difference in theirs and our digital world.  What are you adding to your classroom this summer?

Friday, April 20, 2018

ACTEM has some great speakers October 11 and 12, 2018

Be there or miss out! Yes, I know October is a ways off, yes I know many of you are finishing the last part of your school year, yes,  I also know,  you need to make plans way in advance. So, in order to block out some time for the best conference in Maine, put the dates on your calendar.
The conference  scored two great speakers for our conference. Dr. Joe Sanfelippo and Holly Clark.

"Dr. Joe Sanfelippo is the Superintendent of the Fall Creek School District in Fall Creek, WI. The Fall Creek School District was named an Innovative District in 2016 and 2017 by the International Center for Leadership in Education."

Dr. Joe Sanfelippo has a great book series Hacking Learning Series,  and this title Hacking Leadership 10 ways Great Leaders Inspire Learning That Teachers, Students, and Parents Love is the one I will preview to get your interest piqued for the conference. I can't wait to hear Joe speak and listen to his stories about his 10 ways great leaders inspire. His message is all about being purposeful, being present and engaged.
Joe's message is about hacking the system! "To Hack something is to change something."
Think of this underlying hack as something that is happening while driving the vehicle. Changing the system while driving a vehicle is a good analogy as to what is happening in our school cultures today. In order to be purposeful about the "hack", one must consider how you will be communicating with your school community. In order to be purposeful one must be transparent about reflecting the goals and progress of the school community. (Try Twitter, Instagram, Facebook with your own brand #hashtag!) Student's voice think Podcasts, live streaming school events which can then be available 24/7. The school community has embraced the flattening of the school walls to include the world. Why are we still locked into school day and school event hours? Archived podcasts and recorded events will flatten the time zones and time of day.
Joe concludes this book with a quote, "A fun classroom where children feel safe and excited about daily opportunities can easily become a hotbed for innovation, one in which kids get used to failing and trying again, because focus is on all that the kids can do instead of on what they can't do."

Holly Clark,  "Holly Clark is an Education Strategist from San Diego, California. She is a Google Certified Innovator, National Board Certified Teacher, and holds an MA in Technology in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University." 
In 2017, Holly published her first book The Google Infused Classroom which is available on Amazon. This book is actually a guide for the how to's of making your classroom student-centered using digital tools that speak the language of your students, students who have grown up and lived technology as their first language

Holly is also available on YouTube with many great presentations including a TedTalk. I love TedTalk because the videos are short, purposeful and passionate. Holly has 3 thoughts for us: 1) Let students come up with the questions-then give them space to answer those questions 2) Re-focus how the educators capture the learning and growth, HINT-it is NOT with M/C questions 3) Expand the definition of literacy, it is not just read and write, but video, podcast, how to tell a story online and CODING.  Check out Holly's TedTalk and I know you will want to attend the ACTEM Conference in October 2018 in Augusta Maine so you can hear more about making purposeful and passionate changes in your classroom.

A lot can happen in a year!

My last post was about the fabulous learning adventure that Alice Barr and I had in Sao Paulo, Brazil,  thanks to Carla Arena and her awesome group of international learners. Check out the post from last April 2017.
A lot has happened:
~ A great connection was made in Sao Paulo and using  Microsoft's Skype Mystery Classroom and several classrooms in Maine and Roberto Bemfico Peters. Roberto made a promise to me when I was in Sao Paulo, "I'll be and stay in touch." He did and one year later we do check in on one another. He worked through time zones, internet issues, as well as audio issues in order to allow his students to speak to our Maine students. The smiles on the faces of students and teachers were illuminating!
~ I retired from teaching in December 2017 in order to fulfill one dream of skiing 100 days in a season. On April 5, 2018, I reached my goal of 100 days. I have a happy heart and was so fortunate to be able to ski all winter!
~ Two hours after I retired I received an email from ACTEM- Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine- to see if I was interested in a role as Conference Chair for the October 11 and 12, 2018 dates. I had worked on the conference committee for several years and I knew what I was getting into, so I said YES! So, my role as conference chair has brought me out of blog retirement! I'll be updating information and making connections about the upcoming conference. Put the dates on your calendar, you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Wells, ME, USA to Sau Paulo, Sau Paulo, Brazil and back again!

We are a global society, and now our students join us in this global connection. Early on, during winter, for inhabitants of the northern hemisphere, and summer, for inhabitants of the southern hemisphere, Alice Barr and Cheryl Oakes agreed to present at  Amplifica Internacional ELT for the English speaking strand.
Many years ago Carla Arena met Alice,  Cheryl and our friend Bob Sprankle in a Brazilian restaurant in Cambridge, MA. We laughed and talked about education, educators and technology, all the while, enjoying a terrific meal and afternoon. We kept in touch virtually and went on our separate ways.

So,  when Alice and I were asked to speak at Amplifica 2017, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, we jumped at the chance. We would be sharing Google tools and different ways that educators could #changeitup with #studentpurpose in mind. In our Ignite, session Alice and I touched on different ways that educators could change one thing in their classroom or lesson that would allow their students global access. We mentioned free online conferences, Twitter chats and the last one I will focus on is Mystery Skype.

Mystery Skype is a global guessing game where students learn about geography, culture and how we are very much the same and very much different. The process requires a free registration, two interested classrooms, some finagling with time zones and technology including the internet and a way to view the each other's classrooms through SKYPE.
Wells, ME            coakes photo

When our presentation was finished a Brazilian educator promised me that he would be in touch. I was excited about the prospect and two weeks later, thrilled that Roberto had arranged for two classrooms to be involved in the Mystery Skype guessing game. I quickly enlisted two 4th grade classrooms and last Thursday the games began! I was fortunate to be able to participate in both sessions. There were job descriptions for the students and teachers. There were signs used to help the process of speaking, listening and giving think time as the student researchers looked up information and consulted with one another. There was joy as the students learned about one another and there was pride as teachers watched their students correctly guess the clues from the classroom partners in another country.

I even got to speak to Roberto at the end of the final clues. Obrigado to all teachers and students. 
The big take aways! A teacher reported that this was the easiest hour of her day with the script and jobs that the students carried out. A student asked, "Can we do this again, this was the most fun!"

I believe teachers and students in both Sao Paulo and Wells will be enjoying other global opportunities. I hope you will too!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Rewordify- a Whiz-Bang technology tool you must have!

I’ve been using Rewordify with my students for the past 4 years in my job as a high school resource room teacher. I try and use tech tools that can help level the playing field for challenged learners. It is overwhelming when I am trying to differentiate reading material because there are just so many words that I have to address in each passage.

I found rewordify at . It is FREE! It is available to all my students. It is easy to use for them and easy for them to bookmark and use independently! It is a tech tool that once it has been introduced to a student, it is one thing they remember to ask for and use.
Basically, Rewordify takes a passage, an article, a webpage or a book and can sift through the vocabulary and whiz-bang produce a passage with understandable vocabulary with the same meaning.

Here is a passage I entered into the home page from a NOAA website.
An river is the thin zone along a (land next to a body of water) (such as bays, lagoons, sounds orsheds (skin, etc.)) where freshwater systems and rivers meet, and mix with a salty ocean,becoming partly salty.
Sometimes, freshwater from rivers mixes with large freshwater bodies creating a "freshwaterriver" that functions like a typical partly salty rivers.
The five major types of rivers are coastal plain, bar-built, delta system, (related to Earth's surface plate movement), and fjords.
Rivers are (like nothing else in the world) places that are valuable to (the health of the Earth/the surrounding conditions) and to (community of people/all good people in the world).

Original passage:
An estuary is the thin zone along a coastline (such as bays, lagoons, sounds or sloughs) where freshwater systems and rivers meet, and mix with a salty ocean, becoming brackish.
Sometimes, freshwater from rivers mixes with large freshwater bodies creating a "freshwater estuary" that functions like a typical brackish estuaries.
The five major types of estuaries are coastal plain, bar-built, delta system, tectonic, and fjords.
Estuaries are unique places that are valuable to the environment and to society.   

But that is not all! There are features that extend the learning beyond the passage!
I can get a read out of the statistics about words per sentence, letters per word, and much more.This image shows some of the great features. My favorites are the rewordified text, Cloze activity and the answer key! Use this link for a larger clearer image.   Understand what you read.png

This next image is a shout out to my ELL friends and speech and language therapists! The color coded passage with all the parts of speech is such a bonus! Larger image.  2.png
Go to!  Make your own FREE account. Begin differentiating immediately. You have time, the school year is just beginning!      Check back for my next post about Educator Central a part of the Rewordify page.

You are probably wondering who made this site and who supports it. I didn't have to look far to find out about Neil M. Goldman. Here is the scoop! Thanks, Mr. Goldman, this is a treasure. I am glad you found a way to help challenged learners.

Biography from Amazon

Neil M. Goldman spent fifteen years as a cubicle-bound computer professional and decided that he wanted to do more meaningful work than sit in front of a screen and write for-next loops.

So, he said a hearty goodbye to his marginally competent managers and a warm hello to the learning-hungry students in a suburban high school English classroom.

That first year of teaching was the hardest, most rewarding year of his life, and he felt he had to write about it. His first nonfiction book, Never Too Old To Teach, chronicled the joys and frustrations of that first year as a teacher.

Electric Dawn, his first novel, explores a scenario that's been on his mind for many years: what would happen if someone made a miraculous discovery of a device that would change the way the world works? Would that person be embraced and celebrated, or surrounded and destroyed?

When he's not writing books and grading papers, Neil enjoys motorcycling, cooking, and travel.