Monday, December 29, 2014

Where I Hang My Hat

As an introduction, before I begin posting ideas and lessons that I've used in my classroom, I thought that it might be helpful to write a bit about my school (in case anyone reading is interested). I've been teaching for 8 years at a small, rural school in Indiana. The middle school (where I literally hang my hat when I wear one) is made of roughly 730 students in grades 6 through 8. The school is located in a very small town, but spans a very large geographic area due to immense farm land surrounding our area. We have a lot of Amish students enrolled (about 20% of our student population) which creates some diversity in our school. We genuinely have great students. I know that every teacher says that, but I TRULY mean it. We do have our challenges, but I couldn't think of a better place to hang my hat (or coat...this IS Indiana, after all).

This year has certainly been full of new challenges. I was given a new position at my school (one that didn't exist before this year) as the building's instructional coach. I do that for half of my day and teach 7th grade Language Arts for the other half of the day. It has certainly been a change, but I'm loving my new position. I enjoy helping other teachers with curriculum and technology, so it has been right up my alley. Additionally, I was selected to be a part of the Indiana Department of Education's Office of eLearning Digital Cohort. It is a fancy title for a group of educators who are working diligently to create new digital content to match Indiana's new College and Career Ready Standards. Our state has had quite the excitement the last few years when it comes to our standards and Common Core (if you're interested, you can read about it HERE).

I was recently selected to be a member of a group of educators with Microsoft called the Microsoft Innovative Educators.  800 educators were selected across the globe to be a part of this focused group (only 100 from the USA).  I can't tell you how excited I am to have this opportunity!  I will be able to access and share new and exciting tools that Microsoft is developing for education.  One such tool that I've learned about and am SUPER excited to try in my class is One Note Class Notebook.  This comes with the Office 365 that schools can now access.  It allows teachers to create notebooks for their classes so that students and teachers can collaborate and stay organized.  Here is an article announcing the tool.  Stay tuned to this blog for tutorials and ideas for how this can be used!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Here it Goes...

Christmas has just ended (though my decorations are still up and my house looks like a toy store threw up), and so I am beginning to focus on the new year.  This school year, I've embarked on a few new adventures: a change in position, a part in a state-level cohort, and an amazing opportunity through Microsoft.  With all of these new adventures has come many challenges and many opportunities for personal learning.  As I navigate these sometimes unclear waters, I thought a blog might be a good way for me to not only reflect on the new and exciting things coming my way, but also be a place for others to learn and share resources.  I will ask for your patience as I figure out this whole blogging "thing".  I've read many a blog, but have yet to take a stab at it myself.  Hopefully I won't bore you (or myself) and this can be a productive exercise for everyone involved.