Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Expanding #MiSci PLN in the 21st Century

This is a newsletter article that I published in the MSTA Newsletter in June 2015.

Does this statement confuse you?  Don't worry, I'll explain.  A year ago I had no idea what that meant, but that all changed last June. I was presenting and attending the Boyne Tech Conference, a great conference by the way, you should look into it.  There were all these educators there with t-shirts that said #michED.  I had seen these shirts before at the MACUL conference, that March.  So I asked Todd Bloch, he was wearing one of the shirts, "What is #michED?"  His answer was amazing, and changed the way I view professional development.  Todd said very matter of factly, "You're #michED". You see, #michED is not an organization, but it's a movement.  It's all educators in Michigan, and really beyond, that want to connect, collaborate, and share.  They do this by using a hashtag.  This is a hashtag - #, and it allows you to sort information.  I don't pretend to totally understand the intrawebs, but here is the gist of it.  When you post something on social media, whether it be Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or some other form that I'm too old to keep up with, and you use a hashtag #, this allows people to search the hashtag and find your post.  Connected educators are posting the amazing things they are doing on a daily basis and hashtagging so others can see it.  If you are a Twitter user, try it.  Search #michED, and you will see post after post from Michigan educators showcasing their successes.  

In an effort to differentiate, for those of you that are ready, let's talk #chat.  The next level of this connection is scheduled chats on Twitter.  You can search out educational chats and participate using a hashtag.  #michED chats are every Wednesday at 8:00.  Rachelle Wynkoop does a tremendous job preparing these chats.  To participate you just have to search #michED, and start following the tweets.  There is usually a moderator who posts the question, then everyone tweets their answer, and as long as you hashtag your answer, it shows up in the feed.  They even post the questions ahead of time so you "A Type" people can prepare. 

Why?  We all attend conferences, and come back invigorated and excited,  but as we deal with behaviors in our classrooms, curriculum and testing, life in general, that excitement can fade.  I have found that these #chats help me remain excited and motivated all year long.  They allow me to connect with educators whom I can learn from, and build a PLN (Professional Learning Network). 

So let's get back to the title of this article.  Expanding #MiSci PLN in the 21st Century. We now know what a # is, so #MiSci is twitter verse for "my science", and PLN is Professional Learning Network.  MSTA would like you to use #MiSciChat when tweeting about science education.  (#MSTA was already taken by Missouri Science Teachers Association, a motorcycle club, and various other organizations).  

MSTA would also like to begin a science chat. The chat will be held the second Monday of the month at 8:30pm, and we will use the #MiSciChat.  If you have any suggestions for topics please tweet Crystal Brown @MrsBrownC, or email her at  Don't forget to follow MSTA @MSTAmich on Twitter.

Mike Brown
Second Grade Teacher
Chelsea School District 

Expand your PLN, follow:
Todd Bloch @blocht574
Rachelle Wynkoop @RMWynkoop

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I HATE the first day of school!

Tomorrow will be Friday...TGIF right! The end of the second week of school,, and as much as I love Friday because it is the end of the week, and Friday Night Football, that isn't what this post is about.  Today I am writing about why I HATE the first day of school, but it isn't for the reasons you may expect.  Sure, I'm bummed because summer is over, and my alarm clock that I haven't had to set for 2 months is ringing.  I had to pack lunches for my kids and myself...ugg!  Oh, and wear pants....I hate wearing pants.  No that isn't why I HATE the first day of school.  I hate it because I have to talk to much.  I have to tell them where to line up after recess, where to find the bathroom, turn in notes, make their lunch choice, what their number is, how to log into drive, and even what my name it isn't "teacher".  Although that is necessary at the beginning of the year, it doesn't need to continue. Teachers talk TOO MUCH!  I pride myself on letting my students do as much of the talking as I can.  I want them to learn from each other and figure it out.  I empower my students to take charge of their learning, give them choice, the basics, then they go do it.  As I sit here reflecting on the end of the second week, my kids are doing that already.  They are asking their neighbors for help, trying, failing....and being ok with it.  They are working independently, making good choices.  I feel like the first day of school was years ago.  How far they have come in eight days of school.  It makes me proud!  So teachers, I encourage you to abandon the "sit and get" model.  Classrooms shouldn't be silent.  Let the kids talk, learn, fail, because then they can succeed, and exceed our expectations.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Book Creator does EVERYTHING!

I have said on more than one occasion, if I were stranded on a desert island, and could only have one app, it would be Book Creator.  That is, of course, if I had a way to charge my iPad.  The bottom line is Book Creator is an amazing app to use with your students.  Whether you are in a one to one environment, or you only have one device, Book Creator can get it done.  

Create Content:  If you are anything like me, the district provided curriculum is good but needs a boost.  Enter Book Creator.  Take your existing content and add your voice, a student’s voice, a bad celebrity impersonation, whatever it takes to engage your students.  Dump in video, pictures, graphs, charts….the possibilities are endless.  You have now created a student friendly, content based, “text book”, saved digitally, that your students can download to their device, and take with them on the go.  It is personalized for your group of kiddos!

Share projects:  My students are constantly creating content of their own, whether it is publishing writing, sharing what they have learned in science, responding to texts they have read, or what they have learned during Genius Hour.  Book Creator gives them an easy way to digitize their learning, and share it with the WORLD!  That authentic audience is so crucial to students, and Book Creator allows them to publish ebooks, PDFs, and even turn their book into a video.  They email it, tweet it, post it to blogs, and share it with classmates.  

Endless other ways: We use book creator to create digital portfolios of our best work to use during parent teacher conferences.  We create science response journals, to record observations and photos, create video, and document our findings.  We publish our writing throughout the year, and share it with our peers, the school, and the world.  We create personalized word study books, and I can’t wait to use it even more!

It is a digital world, we just teach here, and Book Creator helps you navigate it, and use it to your advantage, engaging all students.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

First Blog Post

I just started this blog, so this is my first post.  This blog will be mostly about my experience teaching second grade, using technology in second grade, and the fun and frustrations of being a teacher.  Hope you enjoy it!