Monday, March 23, 2015

My take-away: The Swiss Army Knife of Education

I spent five days attending different sessions at the CUE 2015 Annual Conference and the Google West Coast Summit. I met amazing people and am still processing a lot of what I learned. I got excited about like-minded thinkers who helped give me fresh inspiration and celebrated new ideas that will fit wonderfully into my plans for the rest of the year, as well as for next year.

As I returned to school today, my students were excited to see me back with them. They were also excited to hear about the conference. I asked two of my three grade levels to include in their Five Minute Writing assignments what their hopes for technology in education are. It was wonderful to hear student perspectives' and how they aligned with what I spent five days hearing and learning. It all fits together so nicely.

As I spoke with my seventh graders, I shared a few thoughts of my own (in connection with what I heard them saying). We talked about technology as a tool.

Is technology a hammer? No.
A screwdriver? Guess again.
A wrench? Nope.
Pliers? Still no.
I know! It's a corkscrew!

So, just what kind of tool is technology?

Here it big take-away from five days of Education Technology.

Technology is THE Swiss Army knife of education.

It's a tool that can be used in different ways at different times. It can do amazing things. It can do big jobs and small jobs. It can make the difference that we need to make. But, it is something we can keep in our pocket. We can have it ready to go. But, there is much we can do without it as well as with it. Everyone needs to have a pocket knife, but it is a Swiss Army knife that is the utili-tool that many adventurers rely on most.

If you're packing for an Edu-awesome adventure, be sure to pack in technology and use it differently at different times.

Students need to be familiar with technology and able to use it under varying circumstances. In order to help them along with that, we need to be familiar with it under varying scenarios ourselves. I have often been excited by the fact that my technology all works so well together. I am an Android "baby" and love the Google. I appreciate greatly that my two tablets and my phone all work well together. I have set out on a Google adventure. But I must also become familiar with other forms of technology and how to use them to help my students through their Edu-awesome adventures. I need to prepare them for what is still to come. I must prepare them as they are the LEAD LEARNERS of tomorrow.

There are three components to technology use in education that work together.

1. The hardware
2. The software
3. The knowledge (or know-how, if you will) to use both

I'm still building my technology tool chest, but the best part is that it's not a heavy case that I must lug around. It's a pocket-sized Swiss Army knife that I will have ready to go.

I returned to the classroom today from five days of education technology awesomeness to have at least two technology "fails" within the first two periods of the day. My WiFi gave me issues and I struggled to get my new Chromebook to do what I wanted it to do. But, you know what, all went well overall. We made it through the day, had a little laugh, and moved about our business. I listened to what my students had to say and we are ready for another day in our educational journey.

Happy Monday! Let the new journey continue!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

10 minutes to blog the official launch of Edu-Awesome Adventure

I have given myself a maximum of ten minutes to blog this morning. I have been attending the CUE 2015 Annual Conference and today have a full day of the Google West Coast Summit. This seems like just the right place and time to officially launch my Edu-Awesome Adventure. My first post (see below) was done when I set things up so that you can have a chance to get to know me and why I am here.

My mind is already so full of ideas from some of the CUE sessions that it's a good thing I took notes. What high-tech note-taking method did I use? (Afterall, I'm at a technology conference, so I must have the latest and greatest tool to use, right?)

Kickin' in "old school"
Are you ready for this....I used something called a notepad and a pen. It was a yellow legal pad with real paper and two colors of pen: blue and red. WHAT?!

Yep! That's what I used. I always keep some real paper source and lots of pens with me or nearby. I typed my first kindergarten spelling homework in 1982 at my dad's work. I love to type. I appreciate technology. Always have. But just need a piece of paper and a pen or pencil.

Guess what else...I still do my lesson plans by handwritten means as well. I have a plan book and always write them out in pencil. Then, when I make changes as I go, I can erase and write in what I've done whether I'm at the front of the room, the back of the room, the car on the way home, or at a coffee shop. I type my lesson plans for subs and I do it on Google Drive so I can easily share, even giving my principal comment privileges in case there's something the sub, or I, need to know.

Sometimes, you just have to kick it old school.

Time's up. Time to get ready for my first Google Summit session. My paper and pencil are already packed into my briefcase, along with a journal, a Chromebook, a laptop, and a tablet. And pens... lots and lots of pens!

What are you doing today?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Welcome to Edu-Awesome Adventure

Education is an Awesome Adventure. I like to think of it as Edu-Awesome! I currently teach sixth through eighth grades and greatly enjoy what I do. Let me take a moment to introduce myself and my background.

My name is Rebekah Remkiewicz. I come from a family of educators. One of my great-grandmothers was a teacher, both of my maternal grandparents and both of my parents were educators. I have several other family members who are also educators or otherwise work in education. When I was 14, my granddad looked at me across the dinner table one evening and said, "You're going to be a teacher." I countered, "No, I'm going to be an entertainment lawyer." He insisted that education was in my blood and that I was destined to be a teacher. He was right.

I have worked in education for over 15 years and even before that, I often helped my mom in her classroom. I have worked with students from preschool age to adult, including spending five years as an adult school teacher. My work as an educator overlapped some with my work as a journalist. I spent well over ten years working in various capacities as a smalltown journalist, including functioning as the owner and publisher of a small weekly-turned-monthly newspaper publication. I have two passions in my career life:
1. Education
2. Writing

My other passion, of course, is being a mom. It's amazing and there are things from mommyhood that overlap what I do in education.

When I first set out to get my credential, I intended to obtain my single subject credential and teach high school. What I learned about myself as I started that credential work was that I was better suited for younger ages. In fact, what I like most is the set up of K-8 schools, though I knew I would be happy anywhere teaching intermediate level. When I first started my credential work, I excelled at the Education Technology coursework. It was recommended that I consider getting my Master's in EdTech. I put it in on hold. At one point, I put a lot on hold. I obtained my Adult Ed credential and loved substitute teaching in K-8 schools, teaching adult school, and working with the Special Day Class and Resource students at a couple of different schools. Then, the time came to make a solid decision. I needed to either complete additional coursework in order to maintain my adult ed credential or I needed to get back to work on either my single or multiple subject. I looked at what made me happy and where I was headed. I considered the teacher I had adopted as my mentor. I knew it was time to finish my multiple subject credential. So, I did.

Having completed that credential and finding a school I love, I have finally been able to explore EdTech. All these years in between caused me to fall a little behind when I had always been ahead of the curve. (I was typing my spelling lists as a kindergartner before most anyone even really knew what a computer was and my family was among the first to have a home PC.) I have spent a great deal of time (summer vacation last year helped a lot) investing in getting myself caught up with the times and now I'm moving full speed ahead. I am in my second year as a CUE member and preparing to attend my second CUE annual conference. I have attended other EdTech conferences and I get excited about many different aspects of it. I completed my Google Educator qualification last fall and have a goal of attending a Google Teacher Academy.

Teaching science has allowed me wonderful opportunities to blend my love of technology with education. I created a virtual hike that led into an investigative lab for life science in January and it was one of the best lessons I've done in my entire career so far. My strongest interest has always been in Earth Science and this was nurtured throughout my life, especially when at age 11 my nana took me to Hawaii and I got to visit volcanic trails. I have been spelunking and love hiking. EdTech blends my loves in wonderful ways.

This blog will be a place to share resources and approaches, as well as some of my general thoughts on education. I am who I am because it was nurtured by a family of educators. I do what I do because it is a passion. My passion.

So, welcome to Edu-Awesome! It's going to be a fantastic adventure!