Monday, April 20, 2015


I recently completed a webinar on useful websites for teachers.  One of the most useful I thought was called  This is a website that you can bookmark websites you frequent and you can categorize them.  It makes it really easy to have all of your websites in one location.  It's also super easy to set up.  I put on all the websites I use frequently, also websites I want to explore further.  For esample, my ELA webmix looks like this:

The tutorial is super quick and super easy.  You can either take a look at my pages (they call them webmixes) and if you want my whole webmix you can add it and it will appear in your symbaloo page.  Or creating your own is easy.  Adding a tile is simple, you just click in the middle of the tile, then choose create a tile.  I find it most easy to open the website I want in another window, copy the address and then paste it into the box asking for the website address.  Most of the time an image will automatically pop up on your tile.  One thing I didn't catch on right away, is if the image doesn't include the name of the website you might want to include that, so in the next box "name on the tile" type the name you want and check the box "show text".  When you do this anything you want to name it, will appear.  If a picture doesn't automatically appear you can then design your own, with a color background and choices of icons.  You can also lock webmixes, so if you were to share your link people couldn't see any of the locked ones.  Here are my symbaloo links if you'd like to take a look at mine:
Math          English Language Arts       Science       History and Social Studies      Art     
Thinking Maps        
I have mine categorized by subject.  Of course many of the sites are geared to primary, but I do know I have some that I haven't played with yet which might also be upper grade appropriate. 

I've also created a page of my own personal favorites, like pinterest, TPT, I won't share that one with you.  I've only been playing with it for a few months, so I don't have a whole lot.   I'm sure mine will be growing.  You can continue to use my links, but if you were planning on building your own symbaloo, it might save you time seeing what I have and copying my links.  Have fun!

You might also want to visit my TeachersPayTeachers store.  If you like what you see, don't forget to follow me.

Also, did you know if you leave feedback for items that you purchase on TPT you earn credits?  You earn 1 credit for each dollar spent.  Every 100 credits is equivalent to $5.  Then when you go to check out you can apply your credits and it deducts that amount from your total.  Before you leave negative feedback to any seller you should contact the seller first, they may not be aware of your concerns.  For instance type-o's can be fixed and then re-uploaded, you get the fixed version and any updates the seller makes. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Teaching Conferences

I love going to conferences.  I always feel like there is something to learn.  Yesterday, I went to a conference, I won't say which one, but it was a waste of my time.  If you are reading this and you are someone who provides professional development, I'm going to let you know what you shouldn't do. The presenter started off saying, "I know you already do this, but it's a good reminder."  If we already know how to do it, why are we paying to listen to you tell us how?  This presenter started out by telling us, we have different kind of learners in our classroom and went into detail as to what kind and what each learner needs.  (Duh!)  Next subject, when we'd like our students to partner share, make sure they are looking at each other, we can do this by telling students to have eye to eye contact, ear to ear sharing, or knee to knee.  (Come on!  Teachers fresh out of student teaching know this!)  This whole thing, plus him introducing himself and telling us about his teaching experience took 1 hour.  (REALLY?!)
We then go on and he instructs us that student writing is a great way to find out what students know about a subject and what they are curious about.  (I gave up a Saturday for this?)  He then has the audience model what he's teaching us about.  Which was to write letters to each other as a way to have students dialogue about the subject.  He gave us a subject and we wrote to other teachers at our table on his choice of a subject "aliens".  This took us up to break.  Now the sells pitch.  He was so gracious to bring the publisher of his books and guess what?  They were selling all of his books in the lobby.  How convenient!  (Can you hear my sarcasm?)
The break was supposed to be 15 minutes, it went on for 25 minutes.  (Please honor our time!)  He tries to get our attention at the conclusion of the break (I know, I know, teachers are the worse) when the audience does not quiet down, he passes the mic to someone in the audience and she uses her attention getting strategy to draw the audience back to attention.  Ok, so now an audience member has us back from break.  He shares for 45 minutes which schools throughout the country he has worked with and letters he has seen or received from students.  Show us 1-3 that get us laughing and break up the day, NOT 45 minutes worth of student letters.
We are to again model what students should be doing, which is to find a question to answer.  He gave us 15 minutes to hear each other's questions and pick one.  Now it's time to investigate and find the answers to our questions.  30 minutes for this activity, which we needed since so many of us were on the internet and it took so long to search.  Time to share out, he picks teams from the audience to share their question and the answers they found.  Guess what?  He doesn't pick one or two, for us to get the idea and move on.  No, instead, we have to listen to 6 different teams share out their question and the answers they found.
Lunch time!  I stayed for lunch and then I left.   I always say I can learn something from a conference.  This is what I learned: When presenting honor your audience's time.   Saying we have a 15 minute break, stick to that.  When giving examples give one or two, to get the idea, NOT 6!  Don't start a training with "You already know this" and then review learning styles and how students should partner share.  (ARGH!)
I apologize that this month's post is more of a rant, but I think we've all experienced these types of presenters and the frustration one feels, after giving up their time, or pay their hard earned money. I know there is an app out there called rate your instructor.  Is there one out there called "Rate your Presenter"?  If not, someone ought to create it, I'd pay for it.

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