Back to school!

And it’s back to school!  Friday was our first day with students and I’m excited about my new schedule.  There will be several firsts for me this year.  The biggest first is heading back to school as a mom…definitely a different perspective!  Jeron goes to an in-home daycare, a friend of ours who is a former junior high science teacher and he had a great week.  Guess the transition was easier for him!

The “second first” is my brand new classroom.  The history, science and math departments at BHS got a total remodel this year.  My room is HUGE!  Everything is brand new, and the kids love it as well.

I’m also teaching 7th hour this year, the last hour of the day.  I haven’t taught last hour in seven years, so that will take some getting use to.  My conference hours are both in the morning, and my day is broken up nicely in order to run copies, respond to parent emails and phone messages, etc…so I’m excited about that.

Another first comes with some crazy student excitement.  MTV’s “Made” has selected one of our students to “make over”, so they were in my classroom on Friday.  They will be back in September for a two-week stretch to finish filming.  So, needless to say, the students are happy for her and think it’s pretty cool that they might be on MTV come October.

After 14 years, I still love heading “back to school”.  As much as I loved staying home with my son all summer, I’m pumped for another fresh set of students and a new school year. Bring on the learning – let’s have a great semester Raiders!

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Summer is flying!

It is July 14th?  This summer is flying, and I wish I could slow it down.  My son will turn 7 months old on Saturday, and I cannot believe it.  He is so much fun right now – the giggles, the constant activity and wonder as he discovers new things, and the oh-so-close to crawling and getting his first tooth milestones – they are right around the corner!

I always hate to see the 4th of July come and go.  It’s such a great holiday, but then before you know it, summer’s over and it’s time to head back to the classroom.  Although, even after 14 years, I still love the anticipation of the new school year.  Guess I have loved that time since I was 5.

This year, the history department will be in new classrooms, gutted and completely redone this summer.  It’s exciting to know I will have a new room come August, but also a reminder that, as with all history, things change.  Among other things, there will be no more blackboards in classrooms, maps hanging on the wall are obsolete as we can pull them up online now and project them onto the wall.  Still, welcoming the change and cannot wait.

However, I’m going to cherish the last month of summer vacation with my little man.  I’ve always loved teaching, but having this time off with him has also been amazing.  Best job in the world, with the best benefits!

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Last Week of School!

This week is my last week at school.  I cannot believe how fast this school year has come and gone.  Each year continues to go by faster and faster, and the birth of my first child this past December only accelerated that effect.  Didn’t I just leave the hospital with him? Where did my newborn go?

And didn’t I just return from my maternity leave, which was back on March 7th? Incredible how quickly time has flown by this Spring.  Jeron just turned 5 months old this past week and I do NOT know where that time has gone.  As the school year comes to a close this week, I am reminded of how precious life is and how thankful we should all be, no matter what our circumstances.

Take, for example, the thousands of people who lost everything in the devastating storms that tore through the South just a few weeks ago.  Or Mt. Vernon High School in Iowa, just a short trip north from my husband’s hometown, who has had three students commit suicide this school year – and the agony that their community must be dealing with over the loss of its’ young people.

I am thankful for so many things:  My wonderful husband and newborn son, my extended family whom I cherish very much, a teaching job that I love, with amazing colleagues that keep me sane, and even those teenagers that file in and out of my room each day.  I’m thankful that God has blessed my family this year in so many ways, as well as comforted us through the previous year as we lost three loved ones.

As BHS graduates the Class of 2011 a week from today, I wish them well as they take the next road after high school.  I hope when they reach their thirties, they can look back and be thankful for all of the people that have supported them along the way:  family, teachers, administrators, counselors, etc…and also find a way to give back to the community that raised them.  GO YOU RAIDERS!

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C&I Reflection # 3

Often times, graduate work focuses on theory rather than practice.  Throughout this semester, 579 has been a refreshing and exciting look into the latest technology and networking options available to educators.  While at times overwhelming, it has been an extremely valuable learning experience.

This class forced me outside of my “technology comfort zone” and into the world of Twitter, Diigo, and Virtual Worlds.  I stretched myself by consistently making time to read blogs, follow tweets, and simply “jog the web” in search of sites that would  best fit my PLN.  To be honest, it wasn’t easy to always find time, but learning to balance all of the information available was quite a process.  I was able to learn so much and gather an incredible list of tools that my students can benefit from, as well as resources that I can use to enhance my own network.

My project began as an introduction to Educational Technology, but blossomed into a “technology boot camp” that incorporates several Web 2.0 tools.  I have never designed a workshop before, so I wanted to push myself into trying to develop something that took me out of my comfort zone.  I have tons of experience with technology and lesson planning, so this was a new adventure.  I am happy with the design of my workshop, specifically how teachers can access all of it online, so if the speed of the instruction time moves too quickly for some, they can return later to my wiki and look at these tools, moving at a pace that they are comfortable with.

In the future, I would probably switch back to lesson planning and start to incorporate these tools into more of my unit plans.  It would be great to have a wiki that organized all three of my courses for students to access from a lab at school, while at home on a sick day, and especially for homebound students and their tutors.  While I found the creation of my workshop to be a great experience, I’m now ready to start implementing more of these tools into my current unit plans.

I thoroughly enjoyed the developmental process of this project.  With the topic and outline due earlier, I was able to set it up and build on it over time.  Every week we learned about sites and links that could improve our projects, so I found it easy to continually work on.  The biggest issue that impacted the final outcome of my project was the idea of “usability” for me.  I wanted to create a workshop that suited the needs of the educators that I work with at BHS.  I believe that I accomplished my goal and that this presentation of Web 2.0 tools will serve as a valuable learning session for the teachers in my building.

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Looking for Suggestions!

I have compiled an Annotated Webliography for my grad class this semester.  It contains 20 sites related to Ed Tech or issues in Ed Tech.  They include websites, blogs, wikis, podcasts and webcasts.  Do you have favorite sites that you visit on a regular basis?  If so, please share them with us!

You can find my list at:

http://sfindley.wikispaces.com

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Blog Response #4

Selected Blog = Eat. Pray. Teach – by Morgan Kolis, Sped Ed Teacher

“Our Love Affair  With iPads Continues”

http://mlkolis.blogspot.com/2011/02/our-love-affair-with-ipads-continues.html                                          

Morgan – This is so awesome!  I am currently getting my Master’s in C&I with my focus being on Ed Tech, and I found your blog through “The Educator’s PLN”.  I enjoy reading it and learning how you are using iPads to enhance your students’ learning.  They are very lucky to have such a dedicated teacher who is using technology to enhance the curriculum.  Also, how has the Twitter use gone with improving parent involvement?  I am very interested in adopting that in my high school classroom as well.  Please let me know!

Thanks!

Sondra Findley

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C&I 579 – Reflection # 2

My reflection today is based on the professional learning networks that we are building through our course work.  The influence of online learning communities on educators is both exciting and staggering.  There is a wealth of information being shared, as well as new thoughts and attitudes that are emerging and as a result, this new shared network is a wonderful professional developmental tool for teachers.  Developing my PLN has been exciting, on top of being overwhelming.   There is so much information available that it is almost hard to soak it all in and decipher what sources are best for my network.

I will not soon forget the power that these networks possess to improve teaching across the nation.  Through these shared networks, educators can improve not only their own learning, but their students’ educational experience as well.

My PLN will affect my teaching and future learning for years to come.  I am establishing connections through my PLN that will continue to allow me to actively share ideas with other educators and gain access to cutting-edge resources, tools and ideas.  Through my blogging and Twitter use, I plan to continue to grow and expand on my network and make it work for me and my students!

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