Sunday, January 25, 2015

Week 4 Challenge: Enhancing Communication and Relationships

I really think this week's challenge is a must-do for every educator.  It involved building relationships and enhancing the ways you communicate with families.

It's brought to you by my good friend Daisy Marino.  Daisy is a teacher in Warren, Texas.  She is passionate, innovative, and kind.  So without further's Daisy's challenge for YOU!

From Daisy:

First off, watch her video HERE.

I am a strong believer that parent/teacher relationships are vital to educating the 

whole child. When we are working together as a whole unit instead of just parts we 

are going to be more successful. My challenge for you is to tear down the walls 

between teachers and parents. I am on a mission to open up the lines of 

communication and form relationships that help foster student success, and I hope 

that you will join me. There are several different ways you can begin. I challenge you 

to choose two of the following:

1. A simple postcard home – Send a positive postcard home to at least three 

students this week. They will be thrilled to receive “real” mail, and their 

parents will appreciate that someone else took the time to notice their child’s 

great qualities. Students are more than just students. They are artists. They 

are kind. They are helpers. Let them know that you’ve noticed and that you’re 

thankful they are in your class.

2. Start a Remind group for your class – Remind is an amazing way to 

provide effective communication to your parents and students. I send 

spelling lists, reminders about upcoming events, pictures of students during 

school, and encouraging words. Parents will always be in the know, and the 

frustration of forgetting events or homework lists will be removed from 

already stressful evenings full of activities, sports, dinners, and homework. 

Visit where they provide you with easy instructions to 

start your own group. They also have tips on ways to use Remind in your 

class, blogs about educational happenings, and teachers for you to connect 

with from all over. I am on their Teacher Advisory Board (so is Todd) and 

would love to answer any questions that you have regarding their awesome 

tools for teachers.

3. Start a class or school Facebook page – We started our school Facebook 

page 2 years ago and have had amazing results. Our page is not just an 

informational page. Our Facebook page provides parents with a glimpse into 

the day of students in our school. It’s like they get to walk down the halls of 

WES and check out what’s going on. Parents have been extremely 

appreciative of the up to date happenings and pictures of their students 

being actively engaged throughout the school day…not to mention having 

fun! These students are their kids. They love them and miss them during the 

day. Being able to see a glimpse of what they are doing while away from them 

is comforting. It also gives parents the opportunities to ask questions at the 

dinner table. Example – “I saw a picture of your class on an Augmented 

Reality Scavenger Hunt. What’s that??”  Here is the link to the school 

Facebook page that I manage for Warren Elementary School. Check it out for 


4. Start a school YouTube channel – I started our school YouTube channel in 

hopes of providing supplemental learning to parents, teachers, and students. 

Our assistant principal, Karen Ford, has made wonderful videos outlining 

parent pick-up and drop-off, dress code, and staff development for teachers. 

These videos have been extremely helpful to parents and teachers new to the 

district. Teachers are making videos to help students with their homework at 

night. What does this communicate to parents? It shows them that we care. It 

shows them that they matter. It shows them that we will go the extra mile to 

ensure student success.  Our YouTube channel is new, but please take a look 

at it. I hope that it will give you a few ideas. Setting up a YouTube channel is 

extremely easy. In fact, I watched a YouTube video to figure out how to do it! 

My students love making their own videos to help their peers and then 

watching them at home with their parents. Check out our WES Warriors You 

Tube channel here: 

Good luck! I hope that you will connect with me on Twitter @daisyray215. I can’t 

wait to check out the #EduLS hashtag to see how your challenge is going. If you have 

any other tips on parent/teacher communication please share them out.

Clcck this link to claim your badge! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Producing Infopics #EduLS Challenge 3

I'm really pumped about this week's challenge.  One person that I've continually learned from and been inspired by has been Tony Vincent.  He is incredibly intelligent and has such a great grasp on exciting ways to use technology that isn't hard to figure out!  So when I reached out to Tony, I was thrilled when he agreed to design a challenge for the Educator Learning Series!

This week's challenge is all about infopics.  If you don't know what an infopic is, it's a picture with text overlaid on top of it to relay a message.  They're super easy to put together.

You can watch Tony's video HERE that explains more about it and shows you a few examples.

Your challenge this week is to create your very own infopic and share it on social media (Twitter, instagram, Google+, Facebook) using the hashtag #EduLS.

And remember, once you share it out, click HERE to earn your digital badge!  If you forgot how to get that check out last week's post by clicking HERE.

Happy Learning and Creating!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Videos? In Education? #EduLS Week 2 Challenge

I first have to start off by saying I absolutely loved checking out the #EduLS hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, instagram, and Google+ and seeing all the AMAZING #onelittleword that each of you chose to help guide and define 2015!

We have so many great things happening in education!

This week's challenge comes from my friend Rushton Hurley.  Rushton is the founder and executive director of a neat little site called Next Vista for Learning.  When I contacted Rushton to be a part of this Educator Learning Series, he was all in!  And I must say, I absolutely love this week's challenge that he's created for you.

As a teacher, once I started incorporating more video into my class it really energized things.  Now I'm not just talking about videos I found online.  I'm talking about when I started creating videos for my students, but even more so when my students started creating their own videos to share with the world!

And this challenge is great regardless of what subject or grade you teach!  I often hear teachers who teach the youngest of our children talk about "how do I make this work for my little ones".  The funny thing is those kids often make the best videos!  Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try something new!

So without further ado, Rushton's Challenge intro video is HERE, and the rest of the challenge is below.

Part 1

The first thing to know is that all of these videos (the linked item in each paragraph) are short. Really short. As in, don't blink; you might miss them.

There are all sorts of ways a video can help one learn something. Sometimes they mix rather traditional instruction with clever tweaks to make them more memorable, like this high school math one.

Other times, a teacher has worked with a class to tell a story so that the involvement of the students helps them better learn the ideas. This one, by students at an elementary school in Nebraska in the United States, shows the teacher's focus on helping the students improve their reading skills.

Videos don't need to include students on camera. What's important is that the visuals, however they are gathered, support the ideas to be conveyed. In this video, a teacher uses toys to tell a history lesson about Peter the Great of Russia.

Even when using footage, a video can be shot so that the person in it isn't identifiable. In this piece, a child explains how to tie a shoe, and the camera never shows his face. Note the shadow of the friend as you watch it.

Part 2

In all of the videos so far, the goal is to explain something clearly and creatively. Next Vista runs contests three times a year in which we invite teachers and students to creatively explain something one might encounter in school in 90 seconds or less. However, there is plenty more that students can learn through media projects.

We require that when students submit videos for our site, they use Creative Commons-licensed music or images from specified sites. Click here to see the guidelines for sources and citations for the current contest, Creative Expression.

We also challenge students to get to know charities in their communities and tell their stories in short videos. The idea is to help them better understand the joy and meaning that come from helping others. In this video, a team of boys tell the story of a special division of a local little league.

Sometimes teachers want to create a set of videos for a particular audience. In this case, the video is part of a set created by a group of Year 5 students in Birmingham, England, designed to help the youngest children at the school learn the alphabet.

Finally, it's important to know that video can help a child tell his or her story in especially powerful ways. In this case, a teacher asked his middle school students to create a video telling how they see the world. One student, Michael, created a video that might help your students better understand some of their peers.

Part 3 (optional)

The goal with these videos has been to help you think of different ways your students might use videos they watch or create to make their learning more memorable. As I often say, when students know others will see their work, they want it to be good. When it is just for the teacher, they want it to be good enough.

There are lots of tools students can use to create videos, even if they don't have anything more than an old laptop with a microphone. Even if you have no tech at your school, simply asking students to design a video and submit a script can be a creative way to get them to think through what they've learned. The bonus for making it this far is getting a set of free resources to explore how to do new things with technology, feel free to visit the resource pages linked below.

And finally, the extra-cool, out-of-control groovy, over-the-top hip element to this challenge (you might be able to guess my age, following that last round of adjectival terms) is to take a shot at entering our spring 90-second video contest, or getting your students involved in this year's Service via Video project. This part is not something you need to do as you report in your challenge via the Learning Series form, though. Just give one or both of those sites a look, and see what you think.

Best wishes for 2015!

So, there ya go! The challenge this week is to learn a little more about video creation and remember to share out your learning on social media via the #EduLS hashtag! Take a step outside your comfort zone this week! Create a short video, or better yet have your students create one, upload it, and share it online! We all can learn so much from each other!

I've also contacted my good friend Russell Kahle. He's going to be designing digital badges that you can claim as soon as you've finished one of the challenges through this Educator Learning Series! He's created a video (HERE) that you can watch to see exactly how to claim your badge!

Week 1 - #onelittleword

Week 2 - Create a Video

Happy Learning! (and look out for next week's challenge from the amazing Tony Vincent!)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Week 1 Challenge: One Little Word #EduLS

Well, we're BACK!!

I can't tell you how excited I am to be bringing you the Educator Learning Series for an entire year instead of just the summer!  We had over 3,000 people from 8 different countries participating last summer!

If you missed our summer installment, don't worry, you can still check out all those awesome challenges, HERE!

Just like this past summer, I am going to be reaching out to many of my friends to help me create these weekly challenges.

There are no rules to these challenges.  You don't have to complete them one by one.  Complete the ones that speak to you!

My hope is just that you find some value in some of the ideas, tools, and teaching practices that will be shared by people from all over the world.

First off, I want to remind everyone to SHARE your learning!  Whether that be through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or wherever you are!  We want as many people learning together as possible.  Use the hashtag #EduLS so that we can easily find all the great stuff you're sharing!

Challenge #1

So here's our first challenge.  Earlier last week I read a post by the incredible Lisa Dabbs.  I asked Lisa if I could use her post for our first challenge and she was thrilled!

Every year we hear all this talk about resolutions and getting ready to be better in a new year.

This year, instead of a resolution, what if we just came up with #onelittleword to help us guide and define our year ahead of us?

You can read more about this HERE.

So your challenge this week is to come up with your #onelittleword and share it on social media using the #EduLS hashtag!  Be creative though.  Take a picture of yourself holding the word up, design a graphic, paint it on a canvas.  Create it in a way that you can post it somewhere to remind yourself every day!

So there you have it.  Week 1 is pretty easy.

What's my word you may ask?  Well I've decided that my word for this year is "impact".  I want to make sure that every choice I make and every path I choose is one that will leave a lasting impact.  One that will make waves, challenge, support, create, and show love.  I want my entire journey this year leave an impact.

So, what's yours?