Thursday, November 18, 2010

Strategies for Juggling Involvement and Life

by Leah MacVie

Today’s students have crammed schedules. They wake up early, shove food in their face, jump in the car, run from class to class, go to band practice followed by soccer practice, get their homework done while eating, and then off to bed. If you think that is stress inducing, imagine their parents, who work full time and juggle schedules for 3 kids.

As a parent, you have to choose your priorities. Here are a few strategies for balancing life and being involved in your child’s schools.

Support your Child

Coming up with a consistent schedule during the week will definitely help students to nail down a routine. Show an interest in not only what your child is attaining in school, but also what they are learning and interested in. When adults keep asking about the grades, students begin to believe that’s all that matters. There is more to school than grades. There are experiences, friendships, open minds, innovative ideas, and current events.

Meet the Teachers

For younger students, contact your child’s teacher a few weeks after the start of the school year to say you want to stop by and introduce yourself. For the older students, you may have this opportunity at an open house.

Stay up to Date

Some teachers will send out newsletters. While you don’t always have the time to comment face to face on these newsletters, you can e-mail questions and comments at any time of day. Also, check the school Web site, and contact the webmaster if you notice it is out of date. If you can, attend school board and PTA meetings, even if for a short amount of time.

Volunteering Time

If you are lucky enough to have a flexible employer that supports families, then it’s definitely a great idea to ask your child’s teacher when an extra pair of hands will be needed and to schedule it in advance. If you don’t have daytime hours to spare, then ask your child’s teacher how you can volunteer in other ways, like baking or assembling handouts.

Juggling involvement and life isn’t easy, but being consistent with these simple strategies will help you to maximize the time you have.

Leah MacVie blogs about educational choices at She loves contemplative comments from bloggers like Rob Griffith and appreciates helping faculty that think online learning is an interesting choice.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Shades" of Influence

Have you ever wondered how much you influence others, particularly students? And I'm not just talking about the students you directly teach. I was caught off guard yesterday in that regard and it had to do with a pair of "Shades". Let me take a moment to explain.

I have the unique privilege and opportunity to not only teach in my district, but also to be a full-time bus driver as well. I have posted about that before and discussed the positive benefits that it provides (The Value of Pupil Transportation). Yesterday however was a day that touched me emotionally, and here's how the story unfolds.

The number one priority as a bus driver is student safety. As the sun begins to get lower and lower on the horizon during the Autumn months I always put on my sunglasses for the afternoon bus run making it easier to view the road and traffic conditions. For the past week there has been a Pre-k student that I transport home in the afternoon who has also been wearing sunglasses. I noticed him wearing them, but did not think anything unusual about it. While exiting the bus his sunglasses shifted and were about to fall off. I made a comment about not wanting to have them fall and break to which he smiled, re-adjusted them, and continued up his driveway to his waiting mother. She took his hand looked at me and said "You know why he has those glasses don't you?" I replied that I did not. Her response was "Because you do!" As she said this the young boy stood by her side looking at me and beaming from ear to ear. Three words that packed so much power I had to stop for a moment to process their significance, "Because you do!"

Never would I have guessed the reason the young boy was wearing the glasses. I spent the time during my commute home to reflect on those three words. I began to realize and recognize just how much influence we have on the lives of students. We shape their lives in so ways without ever thinking about it or realizing it.

I spent the evening reflecting upon the chances we have to both encourage and discourage the students we are around each day. I woke up motivated and inspired to take every opportunity, no matter how small, to make sure that each student I come in contact with will see the positive aspects of my life.

Little eyes are always watching, what do they see in you?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

PaperlessPosters EdTech Workshop

I had the wonderful opportunity and privilege to be part of the Lancaster EdTech Conference hosted by Lancaster Middle School. My role as a workshop presenter was to present GlogsterEDU to session attendees. The title of my workshop was PaperlessPosters, and I put together a Wiki to assist in the introduction, interaction, and inspiration of GlogsterEDU.

I first introduced GlogsterEDU and Glogs by showcasing a Glog I had prepared for this event. It was created to provide an example of the functions of Glogs, and to introduce those in attendance to the uses of Glogs as well. They were able to see the different way to use text, graphics, videos, images, and audio in the creation of a Glog.

Those in attendance were also given the opportunity to explore, on their own, the functions of GlogsterEDU. Hands-on assistance and instruction was available as teachers took the time to familiarize themselves with Glogster, and brainstorm ways that they would be able to incorporate Glogs into their instruction.

The participants were also shown various other resources dealing with GlogsterEDU and Glogs. Visiting the Paperless Posters Wiki participants were able to explore more on their own the various aspects of creating a Glog and using GlogsterEDU.

The Conference experience was exciting and enriching for me as presenter and educator. Being able to share my passion for learning and introduce others to methods and tools I use in classroom was truly rewarding. A big thank you to Heidi Chaves and Lancaster Central Schools for affording me this opportunity.

Glogs - 2 Ways

If you are unfamiliar with Glogs let me begin by describing what a Glog is. A Glog is a digital multi-media collage style poster created using GlogsterEDU. A Glog can include audio clips such as music and narration, video clips, digital images, web links, text, and graphics. Glogs can be created for any topic, and to display multiple forms of information. Here is how you can use Glogs in your classroom, 2 ways!

1-Content Presentations: The following Glog was created and presented in my US History classroom. The Glog was to be a simple Glog to introduce students to what a Glog is, and what a Glog can do. It was the lesson material for the day, and provided students with an interactive learning approach to content material surrounding the Constitutional Convention and the Federalist vs. Antifederalist debate over ratification. I was able to put multiple links, images, and information into a single Glog and present the material in a creative format that students enjoyed

This type of content instruction that a Glog provides allows a teacher to take lessons from ordinary to extraordinary with a little creative thought and planning. This is one of the ways that you can create excitement in your classroom by using GlogsterEDU

2-Creative Products: A second way to incorporate Glogs into your class is through student created projects. Below is an example of a student project. The project was to research and present the Economy of of a particular country. Students were to include multiple images, audio components, and links to additional information as they constructed a Glog to depict aspects a countries economy.

Utilizing Glogs in this manner enables the teacher to tap into student creativity and generate student interest. GlogsterEDU has numerous images, graphics,and text components that give students the opportunity to complete assignments while expressing themselves in a creative format. This gives them control over presentation functions and features, while maintaining class consistency through the use of a Glog as a product for learning.

Additional resources for exploring and utilizing
GlogsterEDU -

PaperlessPosters Wiki

ButlerTech Wiki

Sample Glogs to view -

Civil Rights

Food and Nutrition


Blogs about Glogs -

Using Glogster in the Classroom by Jonathan Wylie

GlogsterEDU for Teaching and Learning by Kelli Erwin

6 things you should know about GlogsterEDU by Danny Maas

Check out the GlogsterEDU website by clicking below.