Great Things Never Come From Comfort Zones…

Hi New EC&I 830 Friends,

My name is Tayler Cameron and I’m thrilled to be learning alongside such a fun, outgoing group of grad students this semester! This is my third class in my journey through the Master’s program, and my first (ever) online class. The fear of the unknown had me a tad unsure whether or not I would be a good candidate for online studies, but after our first class I’m excited to step out of my comfort zone, jump in with both feet and get started!

I teach Grade 3/4 at Gladys McDonald School and love every minute of it! Over the past 3 years I’ve had the pleasure of teaching grade 2 at Jack MacKenzie School,  as well as grades 3/4, and 4/5 at GMS. I love how technology allows my students and I to stay connected to our community of families by providing a virtual window into our classroom each week.

Dog with a blog
Anything to motivate these kiddos!

It’s common for students in my school to take family trips to Pakistan and India, among other destinations, for months at a time. Using tools like  KidBlog allows my students stay connected with classmates while showcasing their writing for an audience and learning about being responsible digital citizens. Not to mention, they go crazy for writing when my pup, Gracie, comments on their blogs or leaves a very opinionated post – dog with a blog style!

My relationship with technology is a bit complicated. I love using technology,especially in my classroom, but I often become frustrated with how few laptops are available, or the dreaded “Too many servers are being used” pop-up that interferes with my lesson plans – but that’s life. I try my best to be proactive in avoiding these issues and not let it inhibit my use of technology in the classroom.In my opinion, the benefits of using technology far outweigh these minor annoyances.

The simplicity of using Planboard and saying goodbye to my wasteful paper plans has completely changed my life and made my planning so much more efficient! I will never go back to the “Old School” planning books again.We do interactive brain breaks daily (Love Go Noodle for that!),  “Flocabulary’s Rap Jr.” for Current Events (My class loves singing along) and Google Read & Write has been a great tool in my classroom – especially for my reluctant writers who benefit from speech to text technology. I use technology often but sometimes feel overwhelmed like I’m falling behind with the latest and greatest apps, programs and websites. I have many things on my “tech-to-do-list” to try in the classroom that I haven’t yet (ie. online portfolios, classroom twitter account and connecting with other classrooms). I’ve come to realize that as much as I would like to, I can’t do everything at the same time so I hope to tackle these things one step at a time in the next year. I’m also looking forward to learning some new tools this semester that I can add to my list! If you haven’t already noticed, I have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with making lists!

yoga pic

Yoga PicDuring my first year of teaching I started practicing yoga in an attempt to find balance in my crazy hectic teacher life. I’m not sure there is anything better than rolling out my mat in a quiet room after a loud, busy day.  This “dog with a blog” has been a little shadow on my mat ever since.

I also love to read, run,  and occasionally binge watch a series of (Hmm, where do I even begin?) on Netflix. I enjoy the great outdoors and visiting the family farm where I grew up when I can. I can’t wait to challenge my own thinking this semester, learn some new tools and meet some new faces along the way.

Looking forward to a great semester!
Feel free to follow me on Twitter here and see you all in the zoom room!

-Tayler

After thought:
I just realized after reading my comments that I forgot my most favorite tool I use in the classroom – the online Penseive! It’s a place to store all of your notes about students’ reading and writing (or whatever subjects you wish to document!). You can plug in what strategy you are working on with each student and the “next steps” for instruction. Each time I meet with a reader I keep my laptop beside me so I can write a few sentences about their reading behaviors afterwards. It has made report cards SO much easier because I can pull up all of my notes on each student and summarize my observations and their progress. I believe a year’s subscription is $39, but the first month is free and it’s definitely worth trying! I’ve been using it for 3 years and I can’t imagine not using it now! Seriously – it’s a gem! 

 

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17 thoughts on “Great Things Never Come From Comfort Zones…

  1. Your title is so true. I’ll be stepping out of my comfort zone next year as I move into an info tech position. But it should be really awesome.

    Also, you are a ninja! Your yoga skills are impressive!

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  2. Thanks Angela! KidBlog has been a really powerful way to get my kids to start writing at home (if tech is accessible to them), publish their work and improve their typing skills. Comments are all moderated by the teacher before they are posted, so it’s a great way to introduce blogging! I highly recommend it! Looking forward to working with you this semester too!

    Thank you Mslaj – Sorriy, I didn’t catch your first name! That sounds like an exciting gig! Being comfortable is only fun for the first few minutes, then I get bored and feel the need to find something else to work towards – partly why I decided to go back and do my Masters! Best of luck in your new position!

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  3. Haha I’ve never thought of myself as a ninja before – I like it! I could barely do a push-up when I first started, so yoga has definitely made me a stronger ninja in so many ways! 😉

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  4. Erin Benjamin

    Great intro post Tayler! I look forward to learning from you this semester. I haven’t heard of Planboard before, so thanks for sharing the link.

    I’ve used Kidblog in the past for students blogging but switched to Seesaw eportfolios that have a blogging feature. I made this switch last semester as part of my Major Digital Project in ec&i831. Have you heard of Seesaw before? It is a fantastic digital tool for students to document and share their learning. If you’re interested, feel free to check out more here (https://beyondthefourwalls.wordpress.com/category/major-project/) or follow Seesaw on Twitter!

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    1. Thanks Erin! I’ve heard of Seesaw but don’t know too much about it. Is it free to use? I like the idea of online portfolios and if it combines blogging it would be nice to use just one program. Kidblog started charging (I didn’t remember it being a paid subscription when I first started using it) so maybe it’s time to make the switch next school year.

      You will LOVE planboard! I clip all of my little videos and links right into my lessons so it’s all in one place. It’s so quick to move your plans around when you don’t get through everything and if you miss a lesson for an assembly you can just click an arrow and it bumps your lesson over to the next class (and pushes all the lessons behind it over one class). I like to plug my whole month of lessons in at a time and just adjust as I go so it’s easy to plan far in advance and saves so much time re-working plans. You can also e-mail you’re sub plans too which is handy – oh and it’s Freee!!

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  5. Great title!!! All the learning happens outside of your comfort zone. Impressive yoga moves. Thank-you for sharing your favorite tech tools. We are having very positive results with Read write, as well. I love you have engaged your students by connecting them to Gracie!! How much fun is that!! Looking forward to learning from your experiences this semester!

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    1. Thanks Stephanie! I still feel like I have so much to learn with the Read and Write program – it’s a little intimidating with all of the options and different ways you can use it so it’s still a learning process for me. Looking forward to learning from you as well!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! I forgot my most favorite tool of all – the online pensieve! It’s a place to store all of your notes about students’ reading and writing. You can plug in what strategy you are working on with each student and the “next steps” for instruction. Each time I meet with a reader I keep my laptop beside me so I can write a few sentences about their reading behaviors after. It has made report cards SO much easier because I can pull up all of my notes on each student and summarize my observations. I believe a year’s subscription is $39, but the first month is free and it’s definitely worth trying! I’ve been using it for 3 years and I can’t imagine not using it now!

      http://www.ccpensieve.com/login.php

      Looking forward to learning from you this semester!

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  6. Hey Tayler, great blog post! I’m curious about the differences in technology between an elementary teacher such as yourself and me who teaches high school. Do you have a lot of students with their own phones? When you do use technology in the class, what percentage of students are using it correctly versus those who are using it as a distraction tool?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

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    1. Thanks Kyle! Great question! Only a few of my students that walk to school bring cell phones but they stay in their backpack for the day. I’m pretty sure the one’s that do bring one just have it for calling – no data yet! Not enough students at this age have them to really utilize it in my lessons (at least in my school) so they just use the classroom iPads or computers instead. It would be interesting to see what it would be like though!

      Do you use cell phones in the classroom? I’ve heard many mixed opinions about it but don’t have enough experience with it myself. Most of my students are often just learning to navigate their way around the tools we use so they are pretty engaged because even just doing research online is pretty new to a grade 3/4, and the novelty of it keeps them excited and engaged. Believe it or not, even just learning how to type in a word document is pretty exciting for my kiddos at this age! Haha! I can imagine it being much different though as they get older and that novelty wears off! What grade do you teach?

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  7. We have a large number of students from the Philippines (and growing every year) – some of them take trips similar to your students – love idea of KidBlog – we have many other students that leave for extended periods that would also benefit from something like this. I will have to research all about this.

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    1. Hi Tyler! Which school/grade do you teach? Erin just recommended “Seesaw” to me in her comment above, which would be worth checking out too! I hear good things about it. It’s an online portfolio that has a blogging feature. I think I’m going to try it next school year and see what it’s like – although I’ve had no complaints with KidBlog!

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  8. I definitely enjoyed reading about your technology adventures in the classroom. I am really thinking that I should have my students start blogging. My stance on the debate will address some of the issue and challenges that you and your students face when using the school laptops.

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