Tuesday, December 31, 2013

14 EdTech Trends of '14

Hey guys!  As of this writing, the time is currently 5:26 PM on December 31, meaning that we have roughly 6.5 hours left of 2013.  I'm super-geeked...how about you???  As I sit here, watching "The Sing-Off" on Hulu Plus, I figured that I'd share my thoughts about the top #edtech trends of 2014, as seen by this "teechur."  Feel free to agree or disagree...it will just make the convo better! Soooo...let's get it on!  Here are the top 14 trends of 2014, for better or for worse.

The List

  1. OUT:  The teacher-centered model of instruction, also known as IRE.  "I" stands for teacher initiation, "R" stands for response, and "E" stands for evaluation.  This reminds me of the promoted model when I first started teaching, the 5E's.  Don't ask me what the 5 E's are...I never had much of a clue.  Anyway, IRE includes all the boring stuff that we had to endure when we were kids, such as lectures.  Boooooo.
  2. IN:  Students take charge of their own learning.  The teacher's role becomes more of a facilitator.  When done correctly, students will be the ones doing most of the initiation, and asking questions of each other.  Some ways to encourage this in the classroom are through student-led conferences, project-based learning, backchannelling, and flipped/blended learning.  Woot woot!  Que bien!
  3. OUT: Traditional professional development.  Let me be crystal clear...it is our job as educators to be life-long learners; however, we don't like lectures any more than our students.
  4. IN: Hacked PD.  We live in the Information Age.  With access to the Internet, people can educate themselves on nearly ANYTHING, for little or no money.  There are tons of tutorials on YouTube  and many other sites, on all topics under the sun.  Many MOOCs  will give you free access to university classes.  In addition, #edcamps are a great way to "vote with your feet," for the topics that you find important.  And, speaking of voting...
  5. OUT: Teaching in isolation.  Let me paraphrase an idea from George Courous's keynote at #edcampnj: the room is smarter than the individual.  Think about it...collectively, we have so much more knowledge than each individual.  It's a given, since the individual is part of the room...yeah, it took me far too long to pull out that bit of logic lol.  Long story short, you can only get so far teaching in isolation.
  6. IN:  Collaborative teaching.  Teamwork makes the dream work.  A big step to teaching in collaboration is to establish a PLN (Personalized Learning Network).  Sounds fancy, doesn't it?  Lol.  Basically, a PLN is a group of like-minded people with whom you grow, personally and/or professionally.  Keep in touch with interesting people that you meet at conferences.  Participate in some edchats on Twitter.  Don't waste any opportunities...the people that you meet are great resources.  Trust me!
  7. OUT:  Email.  Oooooh...this one may be controversial lol.  We can agree to disagree, but I rarely, if ever, go to my email anymore.  Truth be told, I would miss most of my messages, if I didn't have them routed to my cell phone.  AOL...Yahoo...sorry, old buddies.  Instead, I'm using a lot more...
  8. IN:  Social Networking.  See Exhibits A and B.  This is pretty much where I live:  2013-12-31 17.59.42 2013-12-31 17.59.40
  9. OUT: Killing trees.  Gone are the days of dittos and other print-outs.  Well, they're not totally gone, but if you go through a ream of paper per week, you, my friend, are not hip.  The paperless classroom is where it's at!
  10. IN: 3D Printers/Augmented Reality.  These concepts don't have very much in common, but I combined them to show the contrast between the old and the new-school ways of teaching (pun intended).  I haven't tried 3D printers yet, but I heard that they are doing some amazing things.  Augmented reality refers to using devices to access additional information that is not visible otherwise.  I like to think of it as "Terminator technology."  I want to get Google Glass in 2014...hopefully it will hit the market this year!
  11. OUT: ACLB aka "All Children Left Behind," aka "No Child Left Behind."  Thank God.  Now I know what you guys *think* I'm going to say, but I haven't made my mind up about Common Core.  Instead:
  12. IN:  Gamification.  Extra, extra, read all about it!
  13. OUT:  Microsoft Office.  Oooh, more controversy lol.  I'm sure Bill Gates won't be too happy about being unlucky #13.  Sorry, Bill!
  14. IN: Google Drive.  Almost all of the functionality of Microsoft Office, but without all of the pesky versions.  Also, many more perks, such as cloud storage, revision history, and collaboration.  Did I mention, it's FREE?
So, there you have it folks.  Those are my picks for Educational Technology trends of 2013-2014.  But wait, there's more!

Honorable Mentions

  • IN:  Teaching students to become consumers AND producers of digital content.  Three words for you..."Hour of Code."  Enough said.
  • OUT:  Bad "Twettiquette."  Ok, this is more of a pet peeve of mine.  I tend to follow most people who follow me, unless a) I can't understand the language they tweet, b) their content is questionable, or c) they seem like a spam account.  I wasn't always so open.  At first, I wanted my account to be totally dedicated to #edtech, so I never take it personally if someone decides that I'm not his or her cup of tea.  However, these three things in particular make me see red.
    1. Direct messaging  if you're not following me back.  Um, I can't respond unless you follow back.
    2. Those stupid TrueTwit validations.  What is the point?
    3. Mentioning me, saying "thanks for the follow."  Then, not following back.  What is that supposed to mean?  Just don't say anything at all.

I also get peeved when educators preach collaboration on social media, yet don't practice it...but I digress.

Wrapping it Up

So, what do you think?  Agree or disagree?  Chime in below with a comment.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!  Happy 2014...wheeeeee!!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

I keep forgettin'...

I was going to wait on this post until the new year. The topic has been in my "To-Blog" list for quite some time now, but after reading this article in the Huffington Post, I was inspired to go on ahead and write it. My long-term memory is impeccable...I can still spout off my old best friend's phone number from first grade (even though we had a huge falling out two years later).  I remember every detail of my grandmother's apartment.  I remember being carried back to my crib as a toddler. Short-term memory?  Ehh, not so much.

Too Young for "Senior Moments?"

When I was a kid, grown-ups used to tell me that if I had a thought that passed through my mind then disappeared (aka a "senior moment," as many people call it), it probably wasn't that important.  I've noticed that the older I've become, these senior moments have become more and more the norm.  What's super-frustrating is when you know it was something important, but you just can't freakin' remember! Take this situation, for example.  Right before break, I promised my co-workers that I would burn a CD for a school roller-skating party.  I came home, set up the playlist, then went upstairs to grab a blank CD.  When I got to my home office, I forgot why I was in the room.  So, I went back downstairs.  Five minutes later, I remembered...oh yeah, the CD!  I went back upstairs to get the CD, and almost forgot why I was there yet again.  Le sigh.

The Accident

Unfortunately, these moments happen more frequently than I'd like to admit, especially for someone my age (*cough cough* twenty-tween *cough*).  So, naturally, I attributed my shortcomings to an accident I had a little over two years ago. *cue dream sequence music and zig-zags* Two years ago, back in September 2011, I had a bad fall.  Prior to this incident, I was a freakin learning machine!  I was built for the academic life, soaking up information like a sponge, writing papers in record time, yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah.  But one night, that all changed.  Dun dun dun. I will save you all of the yucky, gory details...long story short, I ended up with staples in my head, and a very bad concussion. If you've never had a concussion, let me tell you, it was quite an experience.  I found it fascinating, although quite sucky.  These are the main things I remember, from the following week:
  • My mind was moving at normal speed, but my body wasn't responding.
  • I'd try to send a text, but I realized that I couldn't spell anything right.
  • I would sleep all day.
  • Strangers started being really nice to me, for no apparent reason.
Within a few weeks, on the surface, it appeared that I had returned to normal.  However, things were far from being the same.  For over a year, I was very emotional about everything.  I had little patience, and hardly any attention span.  This made teaching and studying very difficult.  However, my family, colleagues, and professors were very supportive. Eventually, the moodiness and impatience diminished, and I found strategies to cope with the forgetfulness and lack of attention span (which never fully returned).  Most of these included technology.

My iLife

My students are always teasing me about my brand loyalty to Apple.  99.99999% of the time, I have either an iPhone or iPad or iMac somewhere within three feet of me.  However, these products help me to stay organized.  Here are a few apps that I have found useful, and you may, too (concussion or not):
  1. Evernote: allows you to take notes, and sync them across all your devices.  Even supports pictures, audio, and videos.  You can create different notebooks to organize the information you collect.  Teechur bonus: You can use Evernote to create electronic portfolios of student work.
  2. 30/30:  allows you to set up to-do lists with a specified amount of time to spend on each task.  This helps me with the whole attention thing, as I tend to get restless unless I'm multitasking.  Since multitasking may be counterproductive, this app helps me to stay focused on one activity, and reduces my anxiety by showing me how much time I have left.  Teechur bonus: Sound familiar?  A lot of people (including the little ones that we teach) can probably relate.
  3. Pinterest/Diigo/Pocket/etc.: (includes all the apps that can bookmark interesting content for later.)  I worry less about missing important information and can stay focused on the task at hand.  Teechur bonus: All these useful links come in handy when collaborating with my PLN.  (Did you know that you can set up Diigo to sync with your favorites on Twitter?)
  4. Parkmobile: never forget to run out and feed the meter again.  Also, it can even find your car for you.  Winning!
  5. Calendar:  Ohhhh, this is a lifesaver.  It's pretty self-explanatory, but I have to say that I love how it auto-syncs with my Google calendars.  I must have about 15 different calendars floating around, from work to workouts, from social activities to gigs.  Electronic calendars that sync across devices?  Total game-changer.  I was sick of losing the paper one, anyway.

Closing Thought

Jerry Springer, I am not.  However, the Huffington Post article that I read today really gave me some food for thought.  After I read it, I wondered if maybe I became too reliable on all of this tech?  Is it possible that I could have made a full recovery, if not for these crutches on which I continue to lean?  *lawyer voice*  And is it not a coincidence that this aforementioned incident coincided with the release of the iPhone 4S, packaged with Siri and iOS5?  Is this just a classic case of "the butler did it?"  Just blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-accident??? Ok, I'm done lol.  Maybe one day, when I have a few weeks of leisure time to kick back, I can try to unplug totally and see what happens. Leisure time...pshhhh...who am I kidding?  I'm a "teechur."

What are your favorite productivity apps?  Chime in below.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hanging Out for Winter Break

2013 was epic.

I've been doing a lot of new things in my classroom this year, such as #gamification, #blogging, and #flipclass, and it's been working out!  Yaaaaay!  Big shoutout to my PLN for teaching me all of these great strategies.  My group of highly intelligent young scholars also thanks you, whether they know it or not ;)

Needless to say, I was really amped about Winter Break, but this year, it's for a different reason.  Most other years, I'd put in some much-deserved R&R, binge watching series on Netflix (ok, you got me...I'm doing that too); however, this year is different.  This year, I'm "hanging out."

Wait, wait...

Before you click off, let me explain.  When I say, "hanging out," I'm not talking about sitting around playing Playstation, or going to karaoke with my buddies.  I'm referring to Google Hangouts on Air, a way to interact with people that is changing the way we can collaborate, educate, and...uh...something else ending with "-ate."  Relate.  There we go.

Let me backtrack for a minute.  A few years ago, I had this totally awesome idea that went...absolutely nowhere.  Womp womp.

A parent at my school suggested that I offer technology courses online, so I ran with it.  I got it all set up, made a Google Voice number, and even printed up business cards through VistaPrint.  Check Exhibit A:

I had a website all ready to go, but I never launched it, because one little thing held me back.

It was too daggone expensive!!!

I window-shopped all the various platforms for collaboration at the time, and I realized it was going to cost me an arm and a leg.  Hence, I would have to charge an arm and a leg for tuition.  No bueno.  So the idea just sat, and festered, and sat some more.

Flash Forward

(That was an awesome show, by the way.  Highly recommended for winter break binge watching.)

I was introduced to Google Hangouts (offered free-of-charge), first hearing little bits and pieces through the grapevine, mostly on Twitter chats and the like.  One day, I took the plunge to meet with a supervisor in my school district to discuss new features in Safari Montage (also awesome).  That was the moment that I fell in love with Hangouts.  Awwww...flowers and roses.

I could tell that Hangouts were going to change my professional life, but the gears in my head didn't really start to turn until I attended a session at EdCamp NJ about Google Hangouts, presented by several of my PLN members, including Bill Krakower.  There, they introduced us to Google Hangouts on Air, which would allow large groups of people (up to 10), to sit in on a panel.  An unlimited number of people can watch the hangout as audience members.

Later, I discovered that audience members can use a Q&A feature to interact with the panel.  Thus, Thomas Tech Tutorials was reincarnated!  Yaaaaaaay!  Wait, that sounds like the plot of a scary movie.  Oh well, you guys know what I mean :)

I learned more about the features of Hangouts while I was helping my sister-in-law design her website on Wix, which will be the topic of a future walkthrough.  Within Hangouts, you're also able to share your screen, and even access the computers of other participants, through the Remote Desktop app.  Sweet!  Of course, I don't plan to do this during the On-Air Hangouts, but it's a nice feature to have.

Flash Forward...Again

To wrap it all up and throw a nice bow on it, I've been using Hangouts to do tutorials for a few days now.  So far, I have the following tutorials under my belt:

Google Drive
Google Sites

It has been such a great experience...since Saturday (five days ago), I've met a ton of great educators from all around the globe.  We've bounced ideas back and forth, and I've learned so much already.

This Saturday, at 1 PM EST, I will be leading a discussion of ways to extend the recent Hour of Code initiative throughout the remainder of the school year, and beyond.  Please click here to RSVP.

It's geared towards the absolute beginner; however, I would love to have those with more experience sit in on the panel and offer their tips, too.  Please contact me if you are interested.

Welp, time for me to sign off...tis the season, and I'm about to spend some much-anticipated time with my family.  Adios mis amigos...I hope to catch you on the Hangout!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Yaaaaaay!!! Homework!!!!

If you knew me back in my pre-teechur days (the "stoodent" days lol), I'm sure you did a double-take at that title.  I don't cheer for homework, unless I'm assigning it and trying to sell my kids on how fun it is.  This is similar to saying "yum," when you try to get a baby to eat that nasty orange stuff out of a jar.

But this time, my friends, this time is different.  This is Super Homework!  This is blogging homework.  I love any and everything that will allow me to collab with my PLN (see previous post if you're not hip to the acronyms).  So, here goes!

Big shoutout to Ross LeBrun for including me on this.  ELA in da house!!!  Woot woot!

Here is my task, as I have chosen to accept it (copied verbatim from Ross's blog):
"1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers after you write this.  
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated.  Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you."
Let's do this!
Task One:  Done (see above)
Task Two: Eleven Facts
  1. I'm a vegetarian, and have been since the age of eight.  I made this decision on my own, after engaging in a "gross out contest." I don't remember exactly what was said that turned me off meat, but I think it had to do with hot dogs.
  2. I've got legs. I know how to use them.
  3. I write very complex and confusing to-do lists on a daily basis.  
  4. I was the captain of my high school's It's Academic team my senior year (RIP Mac McGary). A former captain from a previous year went on to win on Jeopardy.
  5. I missed going on TV for It's Academic because Honors Choir was the same weekend.
  6. When I was 21, I started a record label with my friends.  I have random, horrible music floating around the Internet.
  7. I fear many things, including heights and planes.  That's why I threw myself out of one in October 2011.  Skydiving didn't cure me...it made things worse.
  8. So...I signed up for a private flying lesson.  That actually did help.
  9. I have a story for nearly every situation.
  10. I have a song for nearly every situation.
  11. My greatest strengths are usually my greatest weaknesses, because I tend to go hard or not at all.
LOL this is harder than I thought, but I'm having a blast.

Task Three: Q&A

1. What would you do with a lottery win of $50,000?  Haha, with 50K?  Taxes would take half, so that would leave me 25.  I'd give 10% away to charity to pay it forward, which would leave 22.5.  I'd save half of that...um...too late for math.  Then, I'd spend most of the rest on experiences...travel some, see some concerts...then I'd drop some bomb-diggedy gifts on family and friends...then I'd splurge some...then I'd buy stuff I need.
2. What was the first thing you read that you remember loving?  Hmmm...the first thing I remember reading that I loved was probably some scary story book or Encyclopedia Brown.  However, before that, I was just reading the encyclopedia. And medical books. Yeah, I was kind of boring lol.
3. Diving - Sky or Scuba?  Aaaaaaah!!!!  SCUBA!  SCUBA!!! SCUBA!!!!
4. What is your favorite season? Summer...I can't stand the cold.
5. Would you move for a job? Possibly, but it would have to be a helluva job.
6. Have you monetized your blog? Do you plan to? Doubt it.  I think the best knowledge is free.
7. Are you a cat or a dog person? There can be only one! Neither...they both scare me.
8. Pick one musical instrument to learn now that you're an adult. Why that one? I'd go with drums. I can play a little, but I've always had a thing for them. I want to be really good!
9. To where did you fly on your first flight? Does anything about the experience stand out as significant? Ummmm, Puerto Rico I think.  I was one.  Nothing really stands out, but I remember when I was three, we went back.  The coconut water was disgusting.  I'm just getting over that.
10. Do you play video games? If not, WHY? If yes, which system/games? Ohhhhh yeahhhhh...I haven't touched them much lately, but I love the music games on any platform (i.e. Rock Band, Guitar Hero, etc.), as well as sports and fighting games.
11. What was the first CD you ever bought? Do you still have it? I'm not quite sure, but the first one I remember having was Tevin Campbell's T album.  It's around here somewhere.  I used to be in love with him haha.
Task Four: Eleven Bloggers
Here we go (random order)!  P.S. I saw a disclaimer on someone else's that I'd like to paraphrase.  Don't feel obligated to do this...I'm just mentioning you because you came to mind and I dig your stuff!
  1. Vicki Davis
  2. Aaron Smith
  3. Timonius Downing
  4. Sandra Paul
  5. Kevin Honeycutt
  6. Eric Sheninger
  7. Sharon Lepage Plante
  8. Shelly Terrell
  9. Starr Sackstein
  10. Liz Davis
  11. Rafranz Davis
Task Five: Eleven Questions
These questions may be on the silly side, as it's way past my bedtime.  Bear with me.

  1. What kind of student were you growing up, and how do you deal with students like your former self now?
  2. Is it just me, or does middle school romance gross you out?
  3. How much would could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
  4. What is your favorite tech integration tool?  Why?
  5. What is the best piece of advice that you have ever received, and who gave it to you?
  6. What do you do in your spare time?  (Spare time...pssssh yeah right...)
  7. What do you think schools will look like in fifty years' time?
  8. What is your story (i.e. how did you get to where you are today)?  Give us the Twitter version...140 characters or less.
  9. What was the technology du jour when you were 12 years old?
  10. What skills do you believe that students today need to succeed?
  11. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers...um, I forgot the rest, so...what's your favorite genre of music?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Branding da Teechur


When I was five, Chuck E. Cheese was the place to be...an oasis where "a kid [could truly] be a kid," and escape the many pressures of kindergarten life.  On their television ad, there was a particularly happy child who had just won some stupid game.  I guess it was skee-ball, because that's all I remember of Chuck E. Cheese.  The pit, the six-foot-tall rat, and skee-ball.

Anyway, so the kid won or something, and jumped up and down (rather obnoxiously), yelling, "I won, I won!"  Of course, being a master of imitation, as most five-year-olds are, I couldn't *wait* for the day when I would be able to reenact this scene, with all of my kindergarten homies giving me dap.  Like a G.  One day, this glorious moment came.  I had just won...skee-ball, I guess...so it was totally my cue.  Lights, camera, and accione!  

"I won, I won," I yelled, jumping around like the annoying kid on TV.  However, unlike him, nobody crowded around, showering high-fives upon me.  Barely anybody even looked.  The ones who did shot me glares of contempt and disgust.  

Later, I learned that some people didn't appreciate the bragging.  I didn't understand how someone can be your friend, yet be so mad when something good happens to you.  As I got older, I learned that people will decide to hate you for far less than that.  You don't even have to announce any of the good things that you do...a lot of people will see your shine and attempt to bring you down.


The lesson about haters was a tough pill to swallow, but I learned my lesson a little too well.  It came to the point where I would downplay most of my accomplishments, just to save myself the drama of people hating.  (Note to self: they will find something to hate anyway.)

While this has earned me a reputation of being a private person, it has also cost me quite a bit.  I'm sure most people have heard the saying, "be careful what you wish for."  If you wish to get lost in the shuffle, you will.  While you may have less "haters," you may also be passed over for opportunities, simply because people don't know the full extent of your capabilities.

Another thing that shocked me was a comment made at a workshop, prior to the beginning of this school year.  A question was asked to the crowd, "why don't educators collaborate?"  An answer provided from a participant was that, "people don't want to share, so that they can keep all the glory for themselves."  To my surprise, many people shook their head in agreement.  Even though the comment wasn't directed at me, I kind of wanted to bury my head in the sand.

Livin' On the Edge

So, what can you do?  It almost seems like you're gosh-darned if you do, and gosh-darned if you don't.  Well, my friends, fear not.  There has to be a happy medium, and I'm determined to find it.  My plan is to step out of my comfort zone big time and start toeing the line.  I believe that I've come a long way since that day at Chuck E. Cheese (and the resulting aftermath), by doing the following:

  1. Identifying my strengths.  I'm a proud geek...always have been, always will be.  I learned to read thanks to the efforts of my family members, as well as a video game.  In it, there was a scary clown that would pop up every time you would hit the letter C, but that's beside the point.  Game-based learning hadn't even been identified as a best practice in the 80's, so my family was way ahead of the curve on that one.  Good job, family.  Anyway, this is all to say that I was pretty much born with a keyboard in my hand.  I really take issue to people who say that you can't be a digital native unless you're under 25 (*cough cough* bs), but that's another post for another time.  The point is, I'm reaaaaally good at technology.  I started my teaching career as a general primary educator.  Let's just say it was a bumpy road...that is, until a very clever principal allowed me to use my background in media and tech.  From that point, it was on and popping.  In my building, I am THE crazy tech lady, and I love it.
  2. Acknowledging my weaknesses.  We're all human, right?  I mean, last I checked...but anyway, nobody is perfect.  Humans are a weird type of creature...it's almost like the more you fail, the more other people like you.  This is to an extent, of course...I mean, if you're a total fail, you're kind of a drag.  But anyway, the more perfect you try to be, the more you're going to get hated on.  I just read this article today that says pretty much the same thing.  It's weird.  The more perfect you try to be, the more people will hate.  Isn't the point to try and get them not to hate?Anyway, this is all to say not to be afraid to try, and even fail from time to time.  Another benefit...according to the same article, the more you fail, the more successful you are.  I guess that's because it means you're actually trying, instead of sitting on your derriere, trying to be Little Miss Perfect.
  3. Combining the two.  Ok, this is where I am now.  Recently, I went to this awesome branding session at #edcampnj, where the presenters, Tony and Joe, stated that, unless you share all of the great things that you do, you will be the only one who knows about them.  I believe the line was, "tell your story, or someone else will tell it for you."  This struck a chord with me, and really made me think.  I also realized that I have established a phenonmenal personal learning network (PLN) through sharing and collaboration.  Ideas from my PLN have totally reinvented the way that I teach.  For example, I learned about flipping at a conference back in January, but was really able to grasp the concept through suggestions from other educators on Twitter and Pinterest.  I am now passing on this knowledge acquired from my PLN to more teachers.  This reminds me of tribal wisdom passed down through generations.  Ooooooooooh.  Aaaaaaaaah.  For another example, I wanted to implement backchannel discussions in my class, but when I tried it, I had kids telling "yo mama" jokes the whole time.  A member of my PLN suggested that we backchannel through Edmodo so that I could monitor the conversation during and after the lesson.  Golden, yo.

Recently, I've started up some initiatives to put myself out there even more, and to grow my PLN.  I've been resisting this for a while, since Chuck E. Cheese was still fresh in my mind; however, I've realized since then that this isn't about me.  It's about networking and growing my PLN.  We are all in this together.  By increasing my PLN, I'm learning more and more...about more and more.  Then I can take this new knowledge and regurgitate it to other teachers who want to know more, like a mother bird feeding her young.  Or something.

I just started up a new website at sarahjanethomas.com.  That's me!  Speaking of me, that's my email address.  Me@sarahjanethomas.com.  No, seriously.  I went on fiverr and got all this stuff done for $5, including a logo, a theme song, and a rapping puppet video.  I kid you not.

Anyway, this is getting a bit lengthy, and I'm now about to take on the challenge of using social media to find dissertation participants.  That can be a whole 'nother blog post by itself.  Hmmmmm...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Horrors of Technology...AAAAAAHHH!!!

About a month ago, I attended the C3's Cybersecurity conference at UMD.  I learned so much, but it made everyday life feel like a horror movie!  The part that intrigued me the most was regarding identity theft.  Two speakers in particular captivated me, who shared exactly how easy it was to steal someone's identity.

When I came back, I shared this information with my principal, who asked me to conduct PD on it at our monthly staff meeting.  *puts pinkie to mouth like Dr. Evil*

For your viewing pleasure, here are the slides of this morning's presentation.  They are a bit sparse, because I ran my jibs mostly; also, I heard that best practice is to limit the number of words per slide and use vivid photographs.  This lends itself to...say it with me now...Haiku Deck.

Anyway, without further ado, *ta da*!!!!  Shoutout to #pgtech.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Friday, October 25, 2013

@sarahdateechinghuman on The Life Cycle of a Teechur (Part 2)

For those of you who were at my #edscape session, will be at one of my #puwt sessions, or just checked out my archives online, you may be familiar with my "Life Cycle of a Teechur" slide. I just had an "aha" moment in the car, building on that. I probably shouldn't blog in the car, but let's just say I'm "at a red light."

Growing Up to Become a Teechur, in order to Grow Up (A How-To Guide).

Step One:  Grow up.
Be a kid, but not just any kid. Be the kind of kid who overanalyzes everything. Start practicing early, so that you can master this skill and drive everyone around you crazy. The sooner, the better. 

Start questioning basic facts of life. Like, why can't kids vote for president? Why is there a Mothers' Day and a Fathers' Day, but not a Kids' Day? I mean, don't we matter? This must be a grown-up conspiracy against kids. Kids' Rights, Right Now!!! Fight for the right to potty!!!

Vow that when you grow up, you will continue the struggle for Kids' Rights. You're sick of teachers  yelling at you, and constantly correcting you...they don't treat each other like that. You will treat every kid as a person, not like some little...thing. Like a caterpillar. Even though caterpillars are kinda cool. 

Step Two: Become a teechur.
Congratulations! You made it through childhood and puberty, even though you were a second-class citizen, having to deal with age discrimination and the like. Now that you're 22 and officially an adult, it's time to start working for the cause by infiltrating the other side...as a teacher

Time to start changing some minds! Since you're an adult now, these other adults have to listen to you. That's how it works, right?  After all, you are still young enough that you can relate to the kids, so everyone should be happy that you're here.  It's like having the other team's playbook, but everybody wins. This will be great, viva la revolucion!

Wait, what? Why is nobody taking you seriously?  Just because you're new doesn't mean you don't have good ideas. Wait a minute, is this deja vu?

Rookie Rights, Right Now!

Step Three: What da???
Whew, that was close. You almost didn't make it through that last one. A lot of your fellow rookies bailed when they saw that teaching wasn't what they thought it would be. But not you. You're tenacious. Good for you. 

So here you are, in the classroom. Fully supporting your Kids' Rights platform. You treat them the way you'd want to be treated, as a human being with valuable contributions and input. You want to be the opposite of some of those adults they have to deal with. So you always have a smile. You ask for their input. You try to never raise your voice.  You let them know that they matter. This is great stuff, and plus, all the experts agree with you. 

You don't want to discipline your students, because you remember what it's like to be embarrassed by your teachers. You give them rewards all the time, even for mediocre work, because hey, at least they tried. Gotta build the self-esteem, right? You try to avoid calling mom and dad, because they cry and it kills you to see them so upset. 

Everyone chews you up and spits you out, you frigging softie. 

Step Four: More growth.
A few years pass, and you realize that maybe you had a few things wrong. You've realized that it is your responsibility to help raise these children, being that you are with them for more waking hours than their parents. 

You start viewing them as your extended sons and daughters, and think back to how your parents raised you. When you asked for Kids' Day, who gave it to you? They did. So even when you thought the rest of the world was against you, Mom and Dad still had your back. 

On the flip side, remember all the bad stuff you used to do as a kid, and you got punished? Yeah, you may have been upset at the time, but you see now how those punishments probably saved you from being some kind of societal miscreant now. You actually turned out okay. (A few years later, you tear up a little while writing a blog post.)

So, you redefine your teaching philosophy. You decide to keep all of the good things you're doing, but decide to stick to your guns and grow a backbone.  You finally understand what it meant when the loving adults in your life would discipline you and say, "this hurts me more than it hurts you." 

Also like your parents, you realize that, along with the discipline, kids need love and support. You tell them (and show them) how important they are, charging them with doing the same for each other.

In the classroom, you keep some rewards, but not all. You recognize quality work, AS WELL AS serious effort. When kids turn in some garbage, you don't accept it and ask them do it over. You realize that when teachers did this to you, it wasn't to be a jerk, it was to make you better. You suddenly want to go back and thank them.

When you apply your new attitude to your classroom, you notice a gradual change.  Before you know it, your reputation has changed from pushover to seasoned teacher. Excuse me, teechur. 

You are still an advocate for Kids' Rights, though. 

Step Five: Never stop growing.
Everything you've learned about dealing with kids, you apply to humans in general. You realize once again, as you did when you were a child, that adults and kids aren't that different. Adults also sometimes make mistakes that need to be addressed.  You should know, you make mistakes all the time...and you love it when your kids show you the right way.

Monday, October 21, 2013

@Sarahdateechur on: iCoach

Two more days.  I have two days until basketball tryouts, and I am terrified.

Will I be good enough?  I know they're all going to be looking at me, dissecting my every move...seeing if I can handle the pressure.

They've been doing this for a while, playing in rec leagues, some even on select teams.  I'm just a rookie.  A nervous, bumbling rookie.  But I can't let them see that.  I've got to put my game face on and look tough.  Why?  Because I'm the coach.

Truth: I haven't played in a while, and I'm a little rusty on the rules of the game.

Truth: 75% of the players trying out are taller than me, and many of them can't even get into a PG-13 movie.

Truth: The last time I watched a season of professional basketball, my favorite team was the Bullets.  I think I have a Shaq rookie basketball card somewhere.  It may be worth some money now.  Hmmm.

But never fear, @Sarahdateechur...technology is here!  And just like that, I shall be *iCoach!*  (Cue theme music here.)

I've been cramming hard.  These are the ten tech steps I've taken so far...time will tell how effective they turn out to be.
  1. Went to the Kindle Store and downloaded a variety of books on basketball coaching, including:
    • Coaching Basketball for Dummies (because I am one)
    • Better Basketball Practices
    • Plays for Basketball
    • Coaching for Success
    • Survival Guide for Coaches
  2. Went on Pinterest and created a new board called Coaching.  Did a search and pinned like 30 things, then stalked...ahem..followed those people's boards.
  3. Started reading the first book, and brainstormed a list of things that I need.  Stuff like whistles, a clipboard, and some other stuff that has been sitting in a box by my stairwell for the past month.  Ordered it using my Amazon Prime (thanks, Mom), and got it in two days.
  4. Saw a megaphone in my suggested item list on Amazon, and got that too.  BECAUSE I FELT LIKE IT!
  5. Had the bright idea to see which coaching apps were in the App Store.  Spent more money than I probably should have.  Got such apps as:
    • Whiteboard (to make plays, but I can't figure it out)
    • Ubersense (super-cool...analyzes videos of kids so you can help them correct mistakes)
    • iTouchStats (statistical data)
    • Total Coach (no clue, but I bought it anyway)
    • Coach-Assist (no clue)
    • CoachMe (no clue)
    • rTeam (nc)
    • No Turnovers (nc)
    • miShotTrack (I guess it says where the kids miss shots or something)
  6. Created a permission slip and tryout packet by looking up other schools' stuff from Google and tweaking it. (Ha!)
  7. Went to the district coaches' meeting, and took notes on Evernote.  I also did this with the kids' jersey sizes and the list of games, because I lose everything.
  8. Created a roster of who is allowed to stay after school by downloading the All-Star font I saw on Pinterest.  (Hey, I'm a Virgo.  Details matter.)
  9. Watched a tutorial on how to run try-outs on Youtube, from which I learned nothing.
  10. Planning to create a Google Spreadsheet to take notes on what the kids show me at tryouts.
What did we ever do before all this tech?  Shoot...pretty much anybody can be an expert on anything.  I'm probably using the term wrong, but since I'm jocking everybody's stuff, is this like crowdsourcing intelligence?  What a mindfreak.

Seriously, it's amazing how far internet tutorials will take you.  Look at this logo I made on Photoshop, knowing absolutely nothing about Photoshop!  Don't ask me to explain the steps...I just did what the guy on the video told me to.  I only wish there was some magical video guy to run tryouts for me.  Twenty years from now: hologram coaches.  You heard it here first.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Quickie: @Sarahdahuman's App of the Day

Helloooooooo good folks!  This is going to be a quickie, because I'm already past my bedtime.  Oh yeah, if you haven't noticed, my alter-ego, @Sarahdahuman, is blogging tonight.  I even created her a Twitter account.  I'm mainly talking to myself, but that's beside the point.

The app I want to talk about it this gem I found on the iTunes Store last week or so.  It's called 30/30. It has nothing to do with Jay-Z's club (40/40...ba-doom-crash), but everything to do with productivity.

I think it's free, but I may be lying.  I'm too lazy to check.  Don't be like me...seriously...it's worth checking out.

I like to think of myself as a Super Virgo.  I am crazy about lists, and multitasking, and multitasking while making lists.  I've always been this way, and it's slightly compulsive.  Oh wait, you guys aren't therapists.  My bad.

Anyway, what this app does is that it lets you create lists of stuff to do (score!).  But wait, there's more! It also will time these activities for you, and play a nice little jingle when it's time to transition to the next thing.  And so on.  And so on.  

I've found this app to be very helpful, to the point where doing boring stuff is actually fun.  It's kind of like a little game that I play with my to-do list...hee!  But this is coming from someone who used to do long division to entertain herself in fifth grade.

Check it out...it's dabomb.com.  On a scale of 1 to 10 of dabombness, I give it two thumbs up (er...or something).

Come back tomorrow if you feel so inclined, to see which one of us will be blogging: dateechur or dahuman.  We'll find out together.  Yay.

Nighty night!

Edscape! Edscape! Edscape! (The Sequel)

What a day...I'm beat (but in the best possible way)!

I just got in the house about an hour ago, coming from New Milford High School in New Jersey, where they had their 4th (I think) annual Edscape conference.  It was soooooo awesome!  I think the exact phrase I kept tweeting over and over was, "it's like Disney World...but for teachers!"  No exaggeration.  Now that I'm twenty-teen, I've stopped getting excited about things like birthdays.  But nothing riles me up more than a good Edtech conference lol.

I figure that I'll do this post Memento-style, because...well, why not?  Let's start at the end, and go backwards, shall we?  *insert trippy time-travel music here*

11:50 PM  October 19th, 2013  
I am sitting in bed, blogging on my laptop, about how awesome my day was.

I am fast asleep in the back seat of a car, with my mouth hanging wide open, coming back from New Jersey.  My family and I drove up together and stayed overnight.  We stopped to get some gas and I got a scoop of cookies and cream from Hershey's at a rest stop.  Ok, I'll spare you the rest of the minutiae.

OMG, I just met *another* member of my personal learning network (PLN) on Twitter, face-to-face!  This is too cool!  Three of us are standing in the now-empty auditorium, talking shop, but it feels like we are old friends.  Developing a PLN is probably the best thing I've ever done for my career.  I've learned new concepts that have revolutionized my teaching.  Continuing to build and grow!

Just attended an awesome session on Augmented Reality (AR), delivered by a member of my PLN, who I've been learning with for over a year.  She was so excited about the topic, and her enthusiasm was contagious.  I can't wait to try this with my students.  AR means using technology that annotates (for lack of a better word) ordinary objects, and makes them more interactive.  You can use it in education to add depth to your teaching, and it looks really fun!  I've had Aurasma on my iPad for a while, but now I'm getting ideas on how to use it.

I made sure to also follow the co-presenter, who had some phenomenal examples of how she uses it with students.  She is also a Yearbook Coordinator, and talked a little about adding AR this year.  I heard someone mention that a few months ago (it was most likely her), and I was inspired to give it a shot as well.  Now, I understand.  I'm really excited about the possibilities.

Made a new connection with another session attendee, who is somewhat new to Twitter.  I'm excited to have her in my PLN, because she teaches engineering.  I'd love to learn more about how to apply some of those concepts to my Tech class.

I received information about an edcamp in November.  I'm definitely hoping to come back to NJ and learn more great things!

Just wrapped up my session on flipping the classroom.  I'm sitting at a desk, chowing down, because I took the lunch hour to set up for my presentation.  This food is bomb-diggedy, but I need to hurry up because I'm already late for my next session.

The presentation went really well!  There were 10 other educators in the room, teaching at the middle and high school level.  Most were from NJ, but there was also a New Yorker in the room.  I set up my camera in the back of the room to videotape myself, and hopefully put it online.  We'll see how that goes (ha!).

Anyway, back to the session.  The consensus in the room was that most of them had heard of flipping, but wanted more information before they tried it themselves.  Throughout the session, we had a dialogue of what flipping is, reasons to flip, and how to do it.  After the session, I shared my presentation with participants through Google Drive.  Speaking of Google, we spoke a little bit about how well Google apps for education can support the flipped model.  I'll be doing this presentation again in three weeks for Powering Up.  I have, once again, caught the presenting bug.

Huge shoutout to a fellow PG educator for allowing me to show his YouTube channel on flipped ELA as part of my presentation.  Sharing is caring!

Here we go.  OMG...OMG...OMG...

Finally got the speakers to work, thanks to one of the session attendees.  My brain was going a mile a minute, and I forgot to do something very simple.  Like George said in his keynote speech, the smartest person in the room is...well, the room.

Got the Apple TV to work with my iPad.  I switched over to my hotspot and it was smooth sailing.

Oh, crap.  Nothing is working.  I'm screwed.

Just grabbed a box lunch, and I'm making my way upstairs to set up.  I'm paranoid that nothing will work and I'll be screwed, since this is the first time I'm presenting via Apple TV.  

Yay, they have a veggie option.  It looks like it's dabomb.com.  Wow, just ran into a member of my PLN in the hallway!  It's the same one who presented in Session 1 at 10:10.  Big hugs all around.

Attending a session on how to create iBooks using iBooks Author.  This is very timely, because I promised my students that I'm going to look into creating an eBook using their in-class poetry assignment that we did last week.  I think it would be awesome to be in 6th or 7th grade, and be a published author.  A member of my PLN sold me on the concept last year.  Time to put it to work.

This is too cool.  Now I know how to do it.  My goal was to do one while sitting in the session, but I need Mountain Lion.  It's gonna take an hour to download.  Grrrrr.

Just got out of Session One of being a connected educator.  Two or three members of my PLN are on the panel, and I just followed the rest.  This session is really making me think of the progress my school has made so far regarding technology.  I've been there for six years, and teachers are now embracing tools such as document cameras, iPads, and SMARTBoards.  It's amazing how they have just thrown themselves into it.  I am so thankful to work in a school with a supportive administration, where risk-taking is encouraged, particularly regarding technology.  It makes all the difference in the world.

Next step: encourage my co-workers to get on Twitter and other social media, to grow their PLNs.  Ed chats are the bomb!!!!

Made a new connection with the lady in front of me.  (Spoiler: she attended my afternoon session, and messaged me afterwards, saying she was ready to try flipping in her classroom.  Yay!)

A member of my PLN (PLN must be the acronym of the day lol) just wrapped up his keynote.  He is a very engaging speaker.  You want to laugh with him.  You want to cry with him.  He excites the crap out of you when it comes to technology innovations.  I love the videos and anecdotes that he shared with us.  I was backchannelling the entire time via Twitter, which was exploding with the #edscape hashtag.  Backchannelling is the bomb.  I need to start doing it with my kids again, but I'll make sure they know that making "yo mama" jokes while I'm teaching is not the point.  

Walking upstairs to the auditorium to get ready for the keynote speech.  I ran into the principal of the school, who organized this whole thing.  Big props to him for doing so.  It is so well-designed, and the student guides are very helpful.  Walking through the halls, you can tell how much the school as a whole has bought into educational technology.  There are QR codes on the walls, each teacher seems to have a class website, and there's an area right outside the cafeteria where, it seems, they do annoucements via TV.  (Note to self: gotta get back on that project.)  There is even a charging station for electronic devices on the cafeteria stage.  I really hope that my district will switch to BYOD (bring your own device).

Sitting in the cafeteria, alone, going through the program for today's conference.  In the list of sessions, I'm putting stars next to the people whose names I recognize.  I definitely want to hit the sessions of as many members of my PLN as possible, so that I can introduce myself.  I think most of them know each other, since NJ seems to have a lot of tech conferences.  However, I am a newbie here.

OMG, there are so many people here.  I'm seriously going to have to step out of my shell and start making connections.  I didn't drive six hours not to.  How, though?  I suck at conversations.  Hmmm...maybe I can use Twitter.  I'm definitely not shy on social media.  (I wonder how many of our students are like that?)

Leaving the hotel.  Oh crap, #satchat went live at 7:30.  I'm going to miss it, but I'm sure that I'll make up for it by the connections I make today.

Woke up. Started getting ready.

Woke up.  I'm hot.

Woke up.  I'm cold.

2:15 AM
Just put the final touches on my presentation.  Time for bed. 

October 18, 2013 7:30 PM
Just got to the hotel.  Time to polish my presentation for tomorrow.  I have a few last minute ideas.  Shouldn't take more than an hour or so.

So, that's pretty much it.  I had such a great time.  I absolutely cannot wait for the next conference, which is November 9th.  It's in my district...I'm so excited!!!  I hope to return to NJ for their Edcamp next month.  Thanks so much to everyone who made today such a positive experience.  It's way late, sooooo...goodnight!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Edscape! Edscape! Edscape!

This blog post is so that I can maintain my 3 day streak. I just finished my presentation for Edscape tomorrow and now I'm going to bed. Goodnight :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

@Sarahdateacher on Gamifying Instruction

Well, look at me...I'm on a roll.  Two days in a row, blogging!  That has got to be some kind of record.  Now, now, don't get spoiled (or scared, depending on your opinion of the blog so far)...I'm usually not very good at keeping to a writing schedule.  But let's savor life's small victories, shall we?

Now onto today's topic at hand: gamification.  As many of you know, I teach middle school English and technology as my 9-5 (and 5-9...I have no life [see Unplugged 2 for more on how having a life sucks])).  Enough with the parentheticals.  

We are officially two months into the school year, and this year has gone pretty well.  As for my English classes, I've been throwing a lot at them, and they've been throwing it right back at me since Day One.  We keep each other on our toes.  Technology on the other hand...

...nah, it's still awesome.

Let me explain.  I'm not some educational narcissist who goes around all day patting myself on the butt, muttering, "good job, Sarah."  No, it's not eeeeven like that.  I wish you could have been a fly on the wall the first couple weeks of my fifth period (Tech) class.  Well, actually, no, because I'd probably spray you with Raid.

This group of students that I have now, they are my babies.  I've been working with them going on six years.  Now, they are in eighth grade.  The first two weeks of school, they had an acute case of "Big Fish, Little Pond" syndrome.  You know, how high school seniors are...but without the additional four years of maturity.  Dun dun dun.

It didn't really help things that technology is classified under electives.  Historically, some students have taken this to mean, "Easy A."  And really, who could blame them?  The way I'd been teaching it in previous years, it was pretty much showing kids stuff they already knew.  I thought I was really doing something, and I guess I was (for maybe, a third grader...), but it was really basic and not very challenging.  Microsoft Office, blah blah blah, internet searching skills, yadda yadda yadda, BORING!!!!

So this year, these SAME kids who have taken pretty much the SAME course for the fiftieth time, came in expecting the SAME thing.  There were some behavioral issues...I'm not going to lie.  But, little did they know that I had a secret weapon in my back pocket.

One word: gamification.  *GASP*

What is gamification, you may ask?  I'm so glad you did.  I'm no expert, but what gamification means in my class is that we apply video game concepts to learning.  Remember all those hours you used to waste, playing Donkey Kong Country?  You know, the one with Kong and his annoying sidekick Diddy, who would always get in the way when you were trying to jump on bad guys' heads?  Well, I do.  We used to play that game (or Q-Bert, depending on your generation) for hours on end, when we should have been doing our homework.  Shame on us.

That was about twenty years ago for me, but really, nothing has changed.  I mean, everything has changed, but nothing has really changed.  Sigh.  YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!!!!

The fact remains that kids still love games.  Luckily for me, I went to this amazing PD session over the summer offered through my county (shoutout to #pgtech, whut whut) that taught us how to gamify our instruction.  Here's how it works.

There are certain things common to most popular video games.  You usually have levels.  You usually have points.  You usually have strategy guides.  You usually have some Big Bad to defeat at the end.  What gamifying instruction does, in a nutshell, is applies what kids love about games, to get them excited about learning.  Well, except for the Big Bad.  Let's call it a Big Good...that helps you pass the levels...and gives you grades and stuff...ah, nevermind.  This extended metaphor just isn't working out the way it sounded in my head.

Anyway...back to the subject.  Just like in a video game, everybody starts off at the beginning level.  In my class, I call it the "Tutorial Stage."  Here, I have placed several basic assignments that all students must complete before they are allowed to move onto the fun stuff.  They earn points for each assignment, and level up every time they hit a certain point threshold.  I chose the arbitrary number of 2100 points, because every major assignment is worth 700 points.  So, if they complete each assignment perfectly, they only have to do three at each level.

In each level, the assignments get harder and harder, building on skills that the students learned in previous stages.  However, the higher level assignments tend to be more fun.  Students are allowed to go back, but not allowed to skip ahead...just like a video game!

Each assignment has a specified number of players.  Some are solo missions, and some are multiplayer.  Just like a video game!

Each stage has multiple missions.  Of these missions, students can pick what interests them, as long as they reach the 2100 point threshold.  These missions are usually new skills that the student isn't as familiar with, such as coding and video production.  As stated earlier, there are strategy guides and walkthroughs for most missions...get this...video tutorials.  Just like a video game!

This post is getting really long and my eyes are starting to shut, so I'm going to go ahead and post it now.  If you would like to see an example of gamification in action, feel free to visit our class site at www.tinyurl.com/madamethomas.  Go to the Technology subheading, and click on the Class Structure page.  There, you can see all of the rules, and links to assignments.

I'm always telling my students to end their writing with a proper conclusion, so I should follow my own advice, no matter how sleepy I am lol.  We are nearing the end of the first quarter, and the inaugural run of the gamification of Tech.  I am so impressed by everything the students have done so far.  I can't say that they've turned a 180 in terms of behavior, but it's definitely north of 150.

I'm sure that there will soon come a time when students are regularly teaching me new things about technology.  That's how I'll know that I've done right by them.  Already, they are turning in projects that are way better than my crappy examples.  Gamification is rooted in inquiry and PBL, and helps to address the multiple intelligences.  There's some teacher-talk for you academic types.  Ok, that was the Nyquil talking, so don't blame me.  Nighty night.

Last thing: I'm so grateful to have learned about this concept from my fellow educators.  Thanks so much for sharing :) :) :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Being Cool Sucks (a.k.a. Unplugged Part 2)

My username on Twitter may be @sarahdateechur, but this blog isn't for my students.  Maybe I should change it to @sarahdahuman instead.  

When I was a kid, people used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Pretty standard.  However, instead of saying "a ballerina," or "a princess," like most other girls my age, I'd reply, "I want to be Sarah."

My parents instilled in me at a very early age that what you do doesn't define who you are.  It's time for a reteaching moment, because Sarah da Teechur is starting to get all up in Sarah da Human's shizznit.  Oh well.

Anywhooooo, all that being said, let's move on to reason number two why I'm going unplugged.  It all boils down to one word: maturity.

Screeeeeeeeeech...stop the press...throw it in reverse...I'm not saying that it's immature to be on social networks like Facebook.  No, what I'm saying is that my motivations were highly immature.

When I was growing up, I never quite fit in for one reason or another.  As I got into my unbelievably-even-more-awkward teenage years, being an outcast grew old.  My elementary school friends were starting to abandon me for the "cool kids."  These cliques were comprised of Saved by the Bell rejects...and girls with long, fake hair...who wouldn't yell inside jokes you shared in fourth grade across a crowded cafeteria.  

Ok, I get how that last part could be a little embarrassing.

Anyway, this story has the potential to get really long and convoluted, so let me get back to the point.  In middle and high school, I wanted what everybody wants...popularity.  I mean, who didn't want to be homecoming queen?  Probably the captain of the football team.  Ba-doom-crash.

Well, the more I tried to be popular, the more annoying I became.  It got to the point where I lied about fake boyfriends, in hopes of getting some attention...then when everybody wanted to meet him, I said he got shot.

So the story goes on, yadda yadda yadda, high school was hell, blah blah blah.  Fast forward.  It's now 10 or so years later.  Actually a little less, if you want to be technical.  Something called Facebook comes along and completely takes over the world!  Wow!!!!  Myspace was okay, but everybody and their mom is on this Face-thing.  

Me:  Wow, look at all these people from high school.  Cool!  Let me send him a request and see if he remembers me.  Hmmm...what about this chick that sat in front of me in physics?  And that dude I had a crush on?  And...

Fast forward a year or so...

Me:  Whoa, I have like 300 people on my friends list!!! These people aren't the same d-bags they were in high school.  Some of them are actually cool!

Another year later...

Me:  1000 friends!  All my friends are on it, and I made friends with their friends, and even some of THEIR friends.  Look at me...look how many friends I have...I'm finally cool!

Another year...

Me:  Every day, somebody's having some kind of event...well, I wouldn't want to NOT show up...I mean, now that they like me and all.  I can't jeopardize my newfound coolness.

A few years later...(present day)

Me:  I'm tired of socializing.  Being cool sucks.

And that, my friends, is reason number two why I'm going unplugged.  I love my friends, but having too many acquaintances might do more harm than good.  I'll revisit this concept in the third chapter of "Unplugged."

Moral:  Use responsibly.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On why I'm going unplugged...

"The world is becoming smaller and smaller, thanks to globalization." -The first line of every college/grad school entrance essay I've ever written

You can call it fluff, I don't mind. I call it bullsh*t. Anyway, there's some truth to that statement, particularly if you substitute the word "technology" for globalization.

Thanks to technology, I've made long-distance friendships with people all around the country, not to mention the world. I've learned tips and tricks from educators in other countries, which have helped me to grow tremendously in my job. I love jumping in random chats on Twitter and following random strangers' boards on Pinterest, just to see what the eff they do. I am very well aware that this also makes me random. And slightly creepy. 

I don't care, though. If it makes me a better teacher, then I'll be that random creeper who lurks on your page, randomly liking your pins. 

But herein lies the rub, my friends. Anyone who has ever met me, even for five nanoseconds, can tell you that I'm a huge technophile. You'd swear that I came out of an iWomb. But lately, I've been regressing, and becoming unplugged. 

RIP Sarah's Facebook: July 2013
RIP Sarah's Instagram: Last night
RIP Vine and Snapchat: Within the next 24 hours


Yeah, you heard me. I'm keeping my Twitter and my Pinterest, because those are the two I still find that the pros outweigh the cons. But yeah...I'm pretty much done with social media for the moment, particularly when it comes to my personal life. I have my reasons. I won't share them all, because some are personal, but here are a few. 

1.  I'm an introvert. 
Now, now...before you call BS (and I do see your mouth getting fixed up to say those two letters), let me explain. Just because someone can fake a sunny disposition most days, that doesn't mean that they are a "people person." As a matter of fact, I really don't like being around people, most of the time...unless you're special. And yes, that includes you. Aww. 

But seriously. Being around people kind of wears me down. Small talk is my kryptonite. And that's pretty much all FB is. All small talk, all the time. 

Ok, so I lied. I'm only sharing one right now. It's 4 am and I'm going back to sleep. 

I might pick up where I left off in my next post. Or not. Watch this space, if you feel like it. Goodnight. 

PS. I'm not usually this snarky. I'm just too sleepy to fake a sunny disposition right now. Goodnight (this time, I really mean it).