September #blogamonth

This is my first blog post as part of the Blog-a-Month PLN.  I started my technology blog this summer, and I am trying to keep it going during the school year by posting some of my tech findings throughout the year as well as how I am using them in the classroom.  I also want to continue reflecting on my teaching, especially with using technology.

This month’s topic is all about where you find resources to help you in your teaching.

One website that I use a lot for teaching resources is TeachersFirst.  This site is full of ed tech websites, activities, interactives, and professional development for teachers and students. I get their weekly update emailed to me, and I always find something useful to try either now or in the future.  I particularly like their Featured Sites listing, which changes every week and includes a variety of tech tools that teachers and students can use in a wide range of content areas, including study and research skills.  Bonus: You can embed this into your blog and it will update weekly automatically.  I love their OK2Ask webinars.  I have learned how to use Edmodo, ThingLink, and Google Forms better from these webinars.  About an hour and a half long each, plus you can get professional development credit for attending.  I always learn so much from these webinars!

I am also a member of several PLN’s on Facebook, and they are where I go to ask questions and get feedback from other teachers like me.  I am part of the Fabulous in Fifth Grade group for 5th grade teachers; the Upper Elementary Teacher Connection group for 3-5th grade teachers, created by Laura Candler (another good online resource for content-area resources); and the 40-Hour Teacher Workweek Club for elementary teachers, created by Angela Watson (an excellent group to join if you are looking to work smarter, not harder–it does cost money, however).   These groups are all very active, so I not only get advice on questions I have, but I can learn from other questions that are posted as well.  I think it is so cool that I can ask a question and get responses from people all over the world.  Teachers are so helpful and encouraging.

I love listening to podcasts. My favorite education podcast is Cult of Pedagogy by Jennifer Gonzalez (also a blog).  This summer, I took her JumpStart course and learned how to create a website, embed videos and other documents into websites, use a screencaster, create online quizzes, and use Vimeo, YouTube, and Slideshare in the classroom.  This blog is the product of her program.  From her podcasts, I learned about dialogue journals, The Compliments Project, icebreakers that rock, and classroom management strategies.  All of her podcasts are interesting and informative.  I always learn something from them.

A book that I really like is Whole Class Novels for the Whole Class by Ariel Sacks.  My principal really likes whole class novels, so I was looking for a way to make them more personal and differentiated for my students.  The premise of this book is to make the reading experience as authentic as possible for your readers; the students read the whole book before having a whole group discussion on it.  During the process, students work through different reading and writing activities in class, but they do not answer comprehension questions as the end of each chapter.  I used this strategy with my 2nd graders last year, and I thought it was really meaningful.  I liked that students had to authentically react to the text while they were reading it.  I was surprised at the depth of discussion we had after we finished the book.

Personally, I love reading and running.  I find so many amazing books for my classroom (as well as myself) on Twitter and in my PLNs, and I love sharing books with my students.  Running is purely for me.  I usually listen to an audiobook while I am running, but it helps me take a break from teaching and do a little something just for me. I think it makes me a better teacher for my students.

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