Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My Summer of Learning - 2016

My summer is rapidly coming to an end, but it has been a great one. I have presented many times both in person and virtually. I also attended many conferences and training opportunities.

School ended for me the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, so I took off and spent a few days to relax and revitalize in Bioxli, with one of my travel buddies, Janet Keller.


  1. I met with my EdcampNOLA co-founders and organizers to plan our upcoming edcamp. We decided on October 29th for this year and our venue is the ReNEW McDonough City Park Academy in New Orleans. 
  2. I presented for SimpleK12 twice during June. Once on Impromptu Skype Calls and the other was on Using Google Hangouts to Connect with Other Classes. 
  3. I attended several OK2Ask webinars and another one by my friend and fellow LACUE board member, Desiree Alexander
  4. The LACUE Tech Leadership Summit took place in Baton Rouge in the middle of June and I both presented and attended many sessions. 
  5. One of my team members, Elisa Western, and I met several times to do some cross-curricular 4th-grade planning. Our principal, Audrey Easley, even joined us for one of these meetings. 
  6. At the end of the month, I flew out to Denver to spend a week at ISTE Unplugged and ISTE2016, which is always the highlight of my summer. I got to spend time with members of my PLN from around the world who gathered for ISTE. It was especially nice this summer since I had to miss last year due to having surgery. 
  1. I spent the 4th of July weekend in Natchez, MS, with my dear friend, Janet Keller, and helped celebrate our friend, Mr. Bob's, 95th birthday. 
  2. I did three more online presentations for Simple K12.
  3. Twice I did a Google Hangout (GHO) with Amy Shah from Peekapak, which is a new social/emotional online program I will be using this year with my students. I met Amy while attending ISTE and agreed to work with her and her company during the year. 
  4. Our #4thchat moderators, Nancy Carroll, Jennifer Regruth, and myself,  got together in a GHO and planned out our chat topics for the first half of the 2016-2017 school year. 
  5. I presented to Tammy Seneca's teachers in West Baton Rouge via GHO and talked about how I use GHO to connect with other classes and different collaborative projects I'm part of. 
  6. Elisa, Audrey, and I had another 4th-grade planning meeting.  
  7. Next, I attended and presented four sessions on BreakoutEDU at the LACUE Region 4 LETA conference in Lafayette, LA. 
  8. My learning was extended with even more OK2Ask webinars. 
  9. EdcampNOLA organizers met again to do even more planning and help me prepare questions we wanted addressed when I attended the Edcamp Organizers Summit.
  10. I finally got to meet Dave Burgess in person, when he presented in Baton Rouge. Dave is the author of Teach Like a Pirate and is a very inspiring member of my PLN. 
  11. My cohort from when I did my Masters program at SELU got together for coffee and catching up time. 
  12. I attended the Edcamp Organizer Summit in Atlanta with #edcampCenLa founder, Emily Swenson, #edcampLafayette QT founder, Natalie Chustz, and over 100 other edcamp founders/organizers mostly from the southeast region of the United States. 
I'm sitting in the Atlanta airport waiting for my flight home from #EdcampOSAtl16. I decided to write this post as I waited. Here is want I have planned for August before school starts for me on August 8. 
  1. I'm presenting about Chrome Extensions tomorrow for Simple K12. Also, I will be presenting in person a 90-minute Breakout EDU session and a concurrent session on Mystery Location Calls via GHO at the Mini LACUE Region 3 Conference in St. John Parish. 
  2. Friday I will be presenting a one-hour webinar for LACUE on No Email, No Problem - Great Sites To Use that Require No Registration. 
  3. Saturday I will be doing a GHO with Heidi Samuelson(@swampfrogfirst) to discuss some collaborative projects we hope to do during the 2016-2017 school year. 
  4. During the first week of August, I will be "hanging out" with the #4thchat moderators again to do even more planning for our weekly chats. I will attend EdmodoCon2016, an all day online conference, and a Remind Train the Trainer online session. I will end the week by attending some PD sessions at my school and getting my classroom ready for the new school year. 
My summer break consists of exactly 41 weekdays and I think I used them well. I have been very busy, but extremely happy during this summer and am looking forward to a wonderful school year as I begin my 41st year of teaching. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I’m Ditching Homework! Opting for Family Time Instead

Fuck homework(parody of fuck ...
Image source: 

Instead of fighting the homework battle as I have done for the past 40 years, I'm ditching homework this year. Instead, I will be sending home Family Time activities which my students and their parents can choose to participate in or not. The choice will be theirs. There will be no tracking to see who is doing the activities, and no punishment if the student and his/her family do not do it.

Each week I will send out a Remind notice to the parents of my students with a suggested list of Family Time activities they can do instead of traditional homework. Since I am an ELA teacher one of the activities will always be read to siblings, parents, pet, or self. This has been a homework assignment for years, but since I don’t require reading logs, I never knew if my students read at home each night or not. I want to help my students because lovers of reading, but I feel that making them read each night at home doesn’t really help foster a love of reading. Doing daily read alouds, having robust book discussions as a class or in groups, and making my reading lessons fun and engaging will do a much better job of helping my students realize how much fun reading can be.

Other activities I plan on including will range from playing a game that uses math, creating and doing challenges with your family, watching a TV show or movie and critiquing it as a tweet, making a dish and sharing the recipes with your class, or exploring a hobby or passion. I plan a having a suggestion jar where my students can add ideas for Family Time activities that can be included in my weekly notices. (Label for my jar)

This places a burden on me to make sure that my students have enough time at school to properly prepare and learn for the assessments that I must give without relying on any time at home for studying. How will this be accomplished? I will build into my class schedule each day time for my students to use Kahoot, Quizizz, or Quizlet to review vocabulary and concepts that are included in our daily lessons. Playing these games in class will allow me to know that my students are reviewing (studying) each and every day. Each platform provides me with data so I will be able to track how my students are doing.

I am feeling so relieved that the homework battle will not be a part of my life this school year. I plan on using the #familytime hashtag to promote what I am doing and to share out awesome ideas to send home instead of traditional homework. Please consider joining me!

What are your thoughts? Are you ready to ditch homework this year?