Teacher Burnout

FireI recently read an article by Nick Provenzano titled Teacher Burnout: Start Preventing it Now! 

He discusses three things teachers can do to avoid burnout and it is the first one, Partner Up, that I agree with the most.  He suggests that you find someone that you can talk to when things get rough and that you are willing to do the same for when they need to vent.

I also think this person should be someone you share your successes with.  I know that I tend to dwell on the negative incidents and I really need to focus more on what goes right. I have found that when I am with friends who focus on the negatives, I tend to do the same thing.  Make sure you choose someone who is also willing to share the positive things that happen throughout the day.

It’s ironic that teachers are surrounded by people everyday, but actually work in isolation. I love the fact that the departments at NEC share a planning as well as a lunchtime.  It gives everyone an opportunity to discuss things without having to supervise students at the same time.

Photo obtained:By Awesomoman (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/41/Fire.JPG

Tips and Tricks for Using Gmail Efficiently

By PCL-BO [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

By PCL-BO [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

As we move towards GMail, I wanted to share some sites that will make it easier to use.

Google Education schedules Hangouts on Google+ and archives the sessions.  I found one titled Tips and Tricks for Using Gmail Efficiently. You can access the slides either from the SlideShare link or the Presentation Slides link.  The second link opens up in Google Docs.

The session covered information on keyboard shortcuts, labels, Gmail search, and labs. I’ve used Gmail for years and I still learned something new.

I’ll add other useful sites as I find them.  Please let me know what you think.

50 Page Rule

bookcart to be shelved

“Never read a book through merely because you have begun it.” – John Witherspoon

I used to believe if I started a book, I had to finish it.  It didn’t matter whether I particularly liked the book.  If I started it, I was committed to finishing it.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized I will never be able to read all the books I want to read before I die . . . and that’s if they stop publishing new books RIGHT NOW! I don’t have the time to read books that I don’t enjoy.

That’s what I try to teach the kids who are looking for a book to read.  You don’t have to finish a book.  If you start one and you just don’t like it, quit.  I do encourage them to follow the 50-page-rule.  That means they at least give the book a fair chance.  If they still don’t like it after fifty pages, it’s time to find another book.

There are millions of books available to read.  There is no reason to waste your time on a book that you do not enjoy.

Socrative: As Easy as Raising Your Hand

I have discovered a FREE site that was created by educators that looks like it would be great for when our students are allowed to use their smart phones and/or tablets/laptops.  It is web based, so would be available to anything that has web access.

This is the description from the website.

Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers by engaging their classrooms with a series of educational exercises and games. Our apps are super simple and take seconds to login. Socrative runs on tablets, smartphones, and laptops.

The teacher can ask verbal questions or create quizzes ahead of time for the students to complete.  Answers can be multiple choice, short answer, or a combination.

I experimented with the program with one of my library aides and it worked very smoothly.  I think it will be a good addition to your “toolbox” of resources.

The URL is www.socrative.com and I have already verified that it is not blocked to students.

Mobile education AKA BYOD

GALILEO Quick Access

Last week I sent out an email with a copy of this QR code attached.  Using a barcode scanner app on you smartphone or tablet will allow you to immediately access GALILEO without having to type in the URL.

Recently, I had a group of students in the library who were typing in fairly long and complicated URLs for an assignment.  That is difficult enough to do on a keyboard.  It would be even more so on a smartphone.

By including a QR code with the assignment, the frustration of typos would be alleviated.

Andrew Miller has a post on edutopia titled Twelve Ideas for Teaching with QR Codes.  I think the ideas offered in the comments are even better than the ones in the article itself.

You can access the article by clicking on the link above or by scanning this QR code.

Twelve Ideas for Using QR Codes

If you would like to learn how to create your own QR codes, let me know in the comments.  It’s really easy.

Have you tweeted today?

Twitter Bird SketchNext semester I will have an intern working with me as partial fulfillment of her media specialist certification.  One of the items she has to complete is the design of a professional development plan.  I immediately thought of Twitter.

Although I am a fan of Facebook, it is almost entirely limited to my personal life.  I only “friend” people I have actually met.  With Twitter, however, I follow hundreds of people I have never met.  I follow other librarians, teachers, authors, publishers, and yes, some friends.  I learn about new resources and ideas on a daily basis.  If I need to know something, there are hundreds of people to help me.

My name is @ElaineReads and I am a Twitter addict.

Bec Spink of Miss Spink on Tech recently posted an article on how she uses Twitter with her students. She also discusses how we need to be teaching our students to use social media responsibly rather than just banning its use.

If you already tweet, please let me know.  My handle is @ElaineReads.

“Twitter Bird Sketch” © 2010 Shawn Campbell, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/


Google Search Tips for Students


Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers has created a poster to help students perform better Google searches.  I imagine a number of our students are not aware of several of his suggestions.  One item that I use on a regular basis is searching within a webpage.

8.  Once you’ve found a webpage you like use “command + F” or “control + F” to search within that page.

The poster can be downloaded from SCRIBD, but you will need to register first.

I have a copy of the poster on the bulletin board in the library if you would like to see it.

Image obtained from Answer This.

How many different technology tools do we really need?

I recently read a post by Doug Johnson of Blue Skunk blog titled Some technology schools should stop buying TODAY.  Mr. Johnson is an expert in school technology applications and has written a number books and articles on the topic.

Anyway, I thought he made some excellent points.  How many different tools (or in my case, toys) do we really need?

  • I’m not a photographer, so do I really need a dedicated camera?
  • How often do I actually use a calculator?
  • Do I really need the Magellan GPS unit?
All three of these items are integrated into my smartphone.
When I travel, I rarely carry my laptop anymore.  At the most, I will take my tablet. Why should I lug around a 7-8 pound laptop when the tablet can do almost everything itself?

Mr. Johnson believes that a tablet can replace numerous tools we use in the classroom: IWBs, classroom response systems/clickers, document cameras/Elmos, graphing calculators, and computer labs.

The only item that I am hesitant about is the computer lab.  Typing is still far easier to do on a physical keyboard rather than a virtual one.  At least it is for me.  The students can probably type faster on a tablet or phone than I can on a keyboard!

Should we be focusing on tablets rather than individual tools?  What do you think?

Revolusi digital” © 2011 Marfia Adlina, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Student email accounts

Many of us are using Web 2.0 tools with our students that require an email address.  An amazing (to me) number of students do not have their own email addresses which makes account creation more difficult.

One method to alleviate the problem is to create a Gmail account for yourself and then follow the steps below to create “dummy” email accounts for your students.  All email to them will come to your account.  Obviously, you shouldn’t use your personal account, but create one specifically for this purpose.

Gmail (or Google Mail) is Google’s free web email service with tons of storage space and lots of great features e.g. ability to easy search mail messages, threaded messages, built in chat. Create your gmail account here. I recommend choosing a name that people can identify easily as being you e.g. mine is my name with the s missing from the end of waters.

Educators can use one Gmail account to set up student blogs or sign up for different online services using gmail’s support of plus addressing. How this works is simple! Gmails ignores anything in the first half of an email address after a plus sign so if you create each email with the format username+studentname@gmail.com all emails will be sent to the inbox of username@gmail.com. You can use both text and numbers in the student names.

This information was taken from Edublogger which is the support site for Edublogs. Edublogs is a wonderful site where you can create student and teacher blogs. They have both a free and a paid version.  It is the site I use for this blog.

By PCL-BO [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Do we really need CD/DVD drives anymore?

Computers and tablets are becoming smaller and one of the things they are missing is an optical drive.  How many of us actually use a CD or DVD drive anymore?

I was reading a blog post on Lifehacker this morning that discussed this issue.  The consensus seems to be that most of us use our flash drives or an external hard drive to transfer files and for backup.  A few people still prefer to create backups on CD/DVDs because of the stability of the medium.

The people who prefer to use discs for backup certainly have a point.  I know I have accidentally fried one of my external hard drives and lost all of my iTunes videos. How was I suppose to know that Apple only allows you to download a video once?

Anyway, I do not want an optical drive installed on any of my computers.  They just add weight for something I rarely use.  Having said that, I do want an external DVD burner. I don’t have to carry it with me, but I can backup files with it if needed.

What about you?  When was the last time you used your optical drive?

“DVD 7” © 2012 Serkeros Bloodgood, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/