In May of 2013 I was asked to speak on TED's first ever TV special, TED Talks Education, As a full-time classroom science teacher, I am confident that any number of my current colleagues at Sacred Heart Cathedral, future colleagues at Sonoma Academy, or the myriad of other teachers I have collaborated with in a professional development context, could have delivered the same message about the importance of cultivating student curiosity and inquiry.
Since TED, I have had the opportunity to work with many teachers I would have never met before, and I am so grateful to my colleagues for allowing me the freedom to connect with other teachers and students around the globe. However, staying grounded as a full-time teacher has always been, and will continue to be, central to the way I define my vocation and efficacy as a teacher. More importantly, it has given me the opportunity and desire to empower my students in the way I was empowered. This desire was the catalyst of TEDxYouth@SHC.
A 100% student developed, curated, directed and produced event, TEDxYouth@SHC 2016, our second TED event, was a huge success. Topics included Sex Education, HIV Awareness, Gender Equity, Jazz Piano, Building Homes, Racial and Religious Misapprehension, Speech and Debate, and much more! In 16 tears of teaching, TEDxYouth@SHC 2015 and 2016 have been, without a doubt, the most powerful experiences I have had as an educator. Moral of the story: If you want something done well, put it in the hands of your students! It took 16 years to truly learn that lesson.
The more I teach, the less technology I use. Don't get me wrong, I love using technology as a strategic partner when designing lessons. However, with each new year in the classroom,, I find myself choosing only few tools but working hard to amplify their impact in creative ways.
Minus Schoology, the LMS leveraged at my school, this year I only (pretty much) used YouTube, GoogleDrive and Blogger. Ironically, I feel this year was the best teaching year I have had to date. Specifically, two "Hacks" if you will, one associated with GoogleDrive, and the other with Blogger, proved to be very successful.
Hack #1: Blogger Post via Email
This hack allows you to create a blog post by sending an email. Any text, images or video attached to the email becomes embedded in the blog post. The subject of the email becomes the title. The email address you create is a way for YOU to post to YOUR blog and is meant to be private. H O W E V E R, if you share the email address for that blog with your students, you can create a means for all your students to post to one blog via email. A class picture splash page, field trip documentation, white board images and presentations, etc. The options are endless! Below is a screencast tutorial.
Hack #2: Pre-Filled GoogleForm Question
This hack allows you to create a GoogleForm with aspects of the a text box pre-filled to prompt the user. I have been using this feature, which is new to the recently updated GoogleForms, to create response templates to help scaffold AP FRQs, video or reading summaries, substitute assignments, etc. Essentially, anything students are submitting that I, as the teacher, would like to either be very structured or could benefit from a template that could be introduced early then gradually released as students gain fluency. Below is a screencast tutorial.