OneNote As A #OneWord Journal

Like so many people across the country, especially educators, I made the decision a few years ago to forego making a New Year’s resolution and instead choose a #OneWord.

If you haven’t heard of #OneWord before, it’s not a specific goal like a resolution might be, but rather it is a mindset to guide a person toward some sort of self-improvement throughout the year. It’s a focus word, a personal challenge word, a #OneWord.

I’ve seen hundreds of incredible and inspiring #OneWord examples on Twitter. Just search the hashtag, and even add the year (#OneWord2019) to see examples from people all over the world! Last year, I chose the word BETTER, and I truly did focus on achieving that word in a variety of ways. I came back to that word often throughout the year to ground myself and be mindful of exactly what it was I wanted to accomplish. On December 31, I sat down and reflected on ways I accomplished my #OneWord. It took me several hours to go back through my calendars, tweets, blog posts, photos, Facebook posts, etc. to try to form a timeline or list of ways I had achieved BETTER – and I was pretty astounded when I was finished! It was a laborious process, but it was really personally rewarding.

This year, I chose CREATE as my #OneWord. Like many others, I created a graphic as my inspiration, and I even went so far as to explain exactly what I hope to accomplish by focusing on the word CREATE .

Without going into too much detail, last year I felt like I spent most of my energy on learning and consuming knowledge. This year, I really want to be more mindful about actively creating. I feel like it will not only engage me in a different way, but also give me a chance to be more of a giver than a taker…and that’s important to me.

For 2019, I decided to use OneNote to help me document my #OneWord progress. I’m all about keeping it simple, so I just titled my OneNote Notebook “CREATE”. I made a section for each month, and I’ll add a page for each day that I feel that I’ve created something.

I set up all my sections as the months of the year. I LOVE using emojis to make my notebooks look awesome!


The pages from my January section. I already know that there won’t be one for every day, and that’s fine. I don’t want this to become an unattainable #OneWord by putting too much pressure on myself.


This is a screenshot of my page for January 2nd. In OneNote, I am able to add text, a link, and even a photo to document whatever I’ve created!

Some days, I already know that I will create and write notes on a dated page in advance – a way of pre-planning or outlining a particular goal or project to work on for that day.

Lastly, I want to point out that I used my OneNote iPhone app to do create all of my entries so far. I love the ease of having the handy app in my mobile phone, and also the fact that I can take photos and add them directly from my phone. When I’m on my laptop, I generally use the Windows10 OneNote app, because I totally love how many choices I have for page color in the app, and I can also have the most fun with digital inking. I could always use my desktop OneNote 2016 or even OneNote Online, too. So many choices!

December 31, 2019 is going to be really fun. When I’m ready to sit down and reflect on the year, every single thing will be organized and chronicled in my OneNote CREATE Notebook!

I hope this gives you an idea or two about how you could use OneNote as a journal – either for your own #OneWord or whatever else inspires you!

PS – Blogging is creating, so I’m adding this very blog post to the OneNote!


I would absolutely LOVE to hear if you’ve learned or incorporated any of these ideas into your own practices! You can always reach me on Twitter as @kerszi or on my Facebook page Integration Innovation.

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What Are The Non-negotiable Traits For A “Teacher of the Year”?

I’m sitting here ready to write my annual recommendation for someone who I really feel exemplifies a “Teacher of the Year”. I don’t take this lightly at all. I probably put more thought into this than most people, but if it is to be an authentic honor that maintains a reputation of respectability, then it SHOULD be given great consideration.

Just think about the very words: Teacher Of The YEAR! OF THE YEAR! The number one, best, most outstanding and deserving person in an entire SCHOOL? What would be the traits and the accomplishments of someone who deserves this recognition over ALL of the OTHER teachers in a school or district?

Wow. If every person REALLY weighs these lofty and noble considerations before writing a recommendation, then it will be clear that a Teacher of the Year is someone who goes WAY above and beyond and is a shining example of excellence in teaching, leadership, selflessness, and professional learning. It’s not a popularity contest and it can’t be a consolation prize. Awarding this honor for any of the wrong reasons “dumbs down” the award – and everyone in the organization will not only know it, but lose respect and hope for the very title of Teacher of The Year. The legitimacy will remain tarnished for years. So choose wisely, young Jedi.

If you’re writing a recommendation for someone, or if you’re on some sort of evaluative team that considers nominations, I beseech you to look deep and be intensely respectful of the title Teacher of The Year. It’s our collective responsibility to keep the integrity of this honor intact.

  • Above and Beyond: This is a person who volunteers and shows up for all kinds of things. He is at the fundraisers and the pep rallies. She volunteers to lead workshops or coordinate assemblies. He comes up with new programs or ideas that benefit the whole school or organization – and then leads that charge to fruition. This person does education things during non-contract time (YES, even weekends and summers) because teaching is her PASSION….and everyone knows it.
  • Team Player: You’ll see this person spreading positivity with a can-do attitude! Someone who is the Teacher Of The Year strives to lift others up, builds the capacity of other teachers, and shares recognition for team accomplishments. This person shares – a lot! He joins committees willingly and everyone can attest to the fact that he is an enthusiastic participant. She invites others into decision-making. He is a cheerleader for his colleagues. She feels more successful when the department/ team/grade achieves goals than when she achieves them alone.
  • Lifelong Learner: Without a doubt, this is a non-negotiable necessity for ANYONE I ever nominate for Teacher of the Year. You cannot be an outstanding educator if you’re not continually updating your own learning. And I don’t mean those things your district provides. It’s got to go beyond the mandatory stuff, because a truly deserving teacher OF THE YEAR (think about the weight of those words again) is that person in school who finds the optional, on-your-own-time, just-because-you-really-❤️-education kind of learning. A REAL Teacher of The Year seeks out his own PD – college classes, conferences, edcamps, webinars, professional organizations, educator blogs, cultivates a PLN, and more. Most importantly – he or she is a CONNECTED educator…one who frequently communicates and collaborates with many other educators outside of the district.
  • Leadership: This person volunteers for committees. This person signs up to mentor new teachers. Other people go to this teacher to learn how to do new things. This teacher tries to stay cutting edge with technology and current best practices – and then teaches those things to his peers. This person takes advantage of every “optional” opportunity and then has a way of persuading others to join, too.
  • Innovation: A worthy Teacher of the Year candidate is widely known throughout the school as someone who oozes creativity. Very literally, he or she innovates. She finds new ideas at workshops or on social media, modifies it so it works for her school, and takes a leap of faith to implement something new! He is a risk-taker, a trier of new things, a go-getter, and an idea guy. She has crazy ideas at all hours of the night and comes to school having formulated highly-detailed plans to make it all work. He eagerly puts ideas into practice. She braves new worlds and has an adventurous spirit. Others in the school frequently comment about how clever or creative she is and ask, “How does she even have time to THINK of all this stuff?” He is transformational and a change-maker.

As I said at the beginning, I take this Teacher of the Year business seriously. It matters to the future of the profession and certainly to the future of this distinction. When you sit down to write a nomination this year for a TRULY worthy and deserving person, I hope that you’ll remember this post and my list of non-negotiables. I hope you reflect and add a few other criteria of your own. I’d love it if you would share them with me. I’ll look forward to your comments, thoughts, suggestions, and stories.

Ozobots: A Recommendation

A friend recently asked me to share some of my thoughts about why Ozobots are a worthy purchase for her school.   As a long-time OzoFanGirl, the following recommendation and overview is what I sent to her.  I sure hope that it persuades her administrators to put a bunch of Ozobots in the budget!

ozobots

Ozobots have been a wonderfully popular item in my STEAMmakers Club and with students from grades K-5 in my schools.  They are a relatively inexpensive way to get students introduced to coding, and there are a multitude of ways to differentiate lessons so that the user experience is always evolving.  All materials related to Ozobots are free!  There are free iPad apps, a free website on which to code, and free fun printables and lesson plans on the Ozobot site.

     Kindergarteners and first graders are first introduced to Ozobots as cute little robots that know how to follow trails.  I teach them terms like SENSORS (on the bottom), PATTERNS, and CODE.  After they explore how Ozobots work on many of the free printables available on the site, I have them begin to draw trails on paper.  Lessons in line thickness and curves vs. angles ensue, and even line thickness is a challenge as students begin to understand that coding is a precise thing!  Students add in colors and begin to dabble in drawing their own Ozocodes correctly (it’s a challenge!)  Students at this age also really like to use the iPad apps with the Ozobots because the lines are already drawn for them, the Ozobots can “dance”, and it just adds another layer of engagement.

     Second and third graders get pretty good at creating trails that include drawn codes.  Precision is key when making these trails with markers, and students refer to the Ozocodes sheets to begin to draw more and more complex routes for their robots to travel.  Teachers can issue challenges in which certain codes must be incorporated. Students often start making costumes for their Ozobots that relate to different literature stories they read and programming Ozobots to travel paths related to stories.  (Try Goldilocks or Three Billy Goat’s Gruff.)  Again, the free iPad apps continue to motivate this age group because Ozocodes can easily be dragged in and there are some fun contests/games to play with peers.  Students who are emerging coders can start to explore the Ozoblockly games on the website.

     By fourth and fifth grades, it’s a great time to really introduce blockly coding.  This works with the Ozobot Bits and the Evo.  With the Evo, students now can create programs on the computer, hold the Ozobot to the screen, and the program is downloaded directly to the Ozobot!  When it doesn’t work as planned, students go back in and debug.  Many teachers are doing amazing interdisciplinary integration with coding Ozobots.  Some great examples include: Solve a multi-step word problem with a number line that the Ozobot travels, navigating through a large map to given destinations (I’ve seen a great lesson with the NYC New Year’s parade route!), have students design a 9-hole miniature golf course with challenges that the Ozobot must be programmed to navigate…there are options for every subject and every ability level.

     There are all sorts of games and challenges in the user portal on the website!  I have one posted there that is a serious timing challenge and can be aligned with the literacy idea of revising/editing:  https://portal.ozobot.com/lessons/detail/cube-challenges .

    I hope this is helpful.  I’m obviously a big fan of Ozobots and know that I haven’t even scratched the surface of their potential.  The online community keeps growing and growing, and educators continue to share resources.  This isn’t a fad – I got my first Ozobots four years ago and the company continues to thrive, improve, and develop new resources all the time.  At almost every Ed Tech conference and edcamp, you can find people who are still inventing new uses, challenges, and integrations.  I would highly recommend Ozobots for any teacher, school, or district that is looking for an affordable way to integrate STEM and coding into their programs.

Minah Minah… #EdLeadership Lessons from a Muppet

minah minah

Someone shared this video with me this morning, and I haven’t been able to get the song out of my head ever since.  I’m pretty sure I just did the same thing to you – sorry!  It’s such a catchy little tune and it’s been around since I was a little kid, which means it’s been around for a long, LONG time.  It’s old school Sesame Street, it’s the Muppets…it’s Minah Minah.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that this is the PERFECT metaphor for how I approach educational leadership.  Minah Minah……..

See those two fuzzy pink critters?  They do a great job.  They work in harmony.  They have found a schnazzy little number that really just works for them.  People like it. It has caught on.  It makes others feel perky and peppy and good.  BUT – it’s so repetitive.  It is so monotonous.  It’s goes on and on and on…it’s the same old song.

See the shaggy orange-haired rogue rebel?  He’s part of the trio.  He has a voice, and he’s expected to come in and do his scripted part at just the right moments. He goes along with the plan and sings their tune, too…at first.  After a few rounds of the same old chorus, he decides to put his own spin on things.  They stop and look at him funny, so he goes back to doing what is expected and just sings the same old song with them again.

until he just can’t contain himself and the very NEED to be creative and try something new just explodes out of him!  It’s who he is.  It’s in his nature to take risks, to add a little unexpected magic to the music.

He doesn’t abandon their song altogether, he tries to enhance it.  He just wants to be allowed to get a little creative and perhaps make that same old song a little newer and a  little better.  After getting funny looks (are those reprimands?) several times, we see him walk off into the distance – seemingly giving up.  I think we would all understand if he left to go find a new group because staying would mean continually fighting that resistance to change.

But our shaggy, orange-haired friend comes back!  He has grit, and he’s not afraid to use it!  He’ll keep plugging away to have his inspired, wacky, off-the-cuff little vision be a part of that song.  Yup, that’s grit – and steadfast belief in a vision to make things better.  Not only does he keep plugging away at that monotonous pink duet, but then he goes out and spreads his song!  Okay, it’s just to Kermit in this video, but let’s face it – Kermit knows all the right people.  If he can get Kermit to make a few phone calls in support, pretty soon there will be a whole SNAGGLE of Muppets jamming to a new beat.

If you watch to see what happened at the very, VERY end of the video, you’ll see that even the staunchest, most set-in-their-ways spectators are interested and suddenly asking the question, “What’s a Minah Minah?’

whats a minah minah

This is the work of transformative and visionary leaders in education.  Be shaggy.

 

 

#iiCHAT for Technology Integration Specialist Leaders

I recently gave a technology leadership presentation on “Coaching the Coaches” (see image below).

Most of those in attendance were already Technology Integration Specialists (or tech coaches…we go by SO many different names) who aspire to achieve the next level by becoming recognized as their district’s leader, coordinator, department head, supervisor….or whatever the local title for that type of recognition might be. I use the word “recognition”, because we collectively decided that in many places it’s not yet a formalized position. It’s just a leadership space that seems to materialize almost everywhere.

I was excited to share my own journey. In sharing tips, tales, technologies, to-do’s, and tribulations – I also welcomed a participatory dialogue from the attendees. In keeping the session less “lecture-style”, I really got learn a lot, too! Indeed, I learned just as much through discussion, feedback, and subsequent digital communication with an ever-growing group of people who want to establish themselves as their school or district’s digital leaders.

One of the greatest suggestions I received that day was that I should consider hosting a Twitter Chat. I’ve already “branded” myself with my Integration Innovation logo (Twitter Header, blog, FB page), and I post fun general EdTech things in all of those places. This Twitter chat would supplement that and provide a new venue for a new & very specific type of crowd. I do have a LOT of tips for tech coaches, but I also have some innovative leadership ideas, and so I jumped in and combined those into a Twitter chat called #iiCHAT.

#iiCHAT made its debut during EdChange Global on July 28, 2017 – and so the inaugural #iiCHAT did indeed attract an enthusiastic bunch of Tech Integration leaders from around the world! It was inspiring to meet, share, & learn from such an ambitious group of people.

I’m going to keep #iiCHAT going for almost entirely selfish reasons – I loved learning with truly kindred spirits! It’s fun to share ideas & hear stories from those who are (or who are trying to become) the “head coach”, as one clever friend puts it!

#iiCHAT resumes Wednesday, November 15

as a weekly chat!

UPDATE:  NEW TIME/DAY FOR iiCHAT:  It’s just 1/2 hour chat with 3.5 questions each week – so we’ll all meet up on Wednesday nights at  9:00 pm Eastern Time.    

 

PS – We also have our own #iiCHAT Voxer group – let @kerszi know if you want to be added.  The offline conversations are great & let us share so much more in a really comfortable, open, safe private group. 🤗

Here is a link to a Remind group if you’d like to receive a “day-of” text message so you don’t forget: https://www.remind.com/join/iich

😊 Oh, and I just have to share this very VERY kind blog post about that first #iiCHAT by @MsClassNSession : EdChange Global Shoutouts

Powerful Literacy Web Tool That Brings Close Reading Even Closer – it’s Edji.it

edjilogo

I haven’t ever come across a web-based tool that’s anything quite like Edji.it.  This is new territory in the world of EdTech, and I like it.  As you can tell from the title, Edji.it is a brilliant tool for close literary analysis, and the content you analyze can really be anything.  You can create your own readings, copy/paste from other sources, and even include images and PDFs.  In addition to being able create an in-depth close read and easily share it with your class, thoughtful and purposeful annotations can be made in the form of highlights, text comments, and even emoji reactions.

ej comment

As the admin, you import or create the text.  That’s done very simply by clicking the “New Reading” button and inserting text (which you can format.)  You can also insert images and even PDF’s – all of which can be annotated.

ej dashboard

When you’re satisfied with the text, you save it as a draft and finally hit “share”.  It creates a join code (also called lightning code) for your students.  They, in turn, access your text by going to the edji.it main dashboard and typing in the simple code where it says “Join”.

ej top toolbar

A simple join code for the group is all your students need!

ej joined

This is where it gets really clever.  As each of your readers are doing their own text analysis, their comments are private only to them.  You, as the admin, have a handy toolbar on the left that lets you see how many users are accessing the piece, and you can open your “feed view” sidebar that shows you all comments/annotations from all users.  The neatest feature in that toolbar is something called “Heat Vision” – when you click on this, it allows all users to see all annotations.  It’s the ultimate instantaneous, simultaneous sharing button.  Imagine the in-depth class discussions that can ensue based on this diverse collective annotation!

ej admin bar  ej who can see

I taught Literacy for years, and I adored it!  I loved being able to teach all of the nuances and sub-skills that went into the understanding and synthesizing of various texts.  As any Literacy teacher knows, the obstacles and points of confusion are different for every single student on every different piece of text.  Students may struggle with vocabulary, colloquialisms, understanding irony, theme, tone, or even just decoding.  With a tool like edji.it, a teacher has a remarkable looking glass into the insights, reflections, and understandings of every single student.

Would you like to try it from the “student view”?  Feel free to use my join code (jbvn) and play around with the text and emoji commenting.  You’ll see how easy this is for your students!

ej jbvn

 

Any teacher of Literacy and especially content area literacy will want to explore this clever tool with small groups (I really love this for Special Ed and ELLs) and even as a whole class.  It can be assigned for homework, and tracking/data is automatically saved as long as students enter their real names (or student ID numbers).  Edji.it is a winner for sure!

Addition: After I posted this, I found this handy slideshow called Getting Started With Edji

You can also follow them on Twitter at @edjinotes.

As always, I love to hear feedback and learn from you as you use the tools I share.  Please leave comments here on my blog, on my Facebook page Innovation Integration, or find me as @kerszi on Twitter!