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Top 5 Take-Aways from the Pennsylvania Education and Technology Conference

The Pennsylvania Education Technology Expo and Conference was very special to The Teacher’s Academy this year. Not only did we get to see lots of familiar faces and meet new teachers, we were honored to be able to present a small section of our Mindfulness in Education course.

Throughout the conference, we received tons of great teaching tips, advice and tech tools that teachers swear by. Now it’s time for us to share the best of the best with you! Check out our Top 5 Take-Aways from PETE this year…

5: Words of Wisdom

Teachers were eager to share their favorite philosophies and quotes that keep them motivated from September to June! Here are our favorites:

  • “Kindness 1st!” -Rianna, Sayne School District
  • “Always be willing to learn from your students.” -Amanda, Derry Township School District
  • “Show students it’s okay to make a mistake or that things go wrong. Adjust and reset, that’s how we learn.” -Dom, New Brighton Area High School
  • “If you take care of yourself, you can better help each other.” -Kevin, Garnet Valley School District

 4: Mindfulness Apps
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As Mindfulness continues to make waves in public education, curious teachers may want to try out some mindful practices on their own before bringing these strategies to their students. Fair warning: Learning Mindfulness may change the way you live! Here are some of our favorite Mindfulness Apps:

  • Insight Timer.com Download this app to your mobile device for instant connections to group meditations, poetry readings, and more. The timer feature allows you to set your meditation time, background music, and peaceful meditation sounds. So nice!
  • Smiling Mind.com au A non-profit seeking to make mindfulness accessible to all. Take a survey to assess your current state and find recommended meditations based on the results. Their programs are designed for ages 7-9, 10-12, 13-15, etc. Included on the site is a meditation/ mindfulness tracker.
  • Buddhify.com For meditations on the go! Choose what’s happening in your life at the moment and find a 6-14 minute meditation for it: Traveling, difficulty sleeping, or just simple meditation- it’s all there!

3: Video Resourcescamera

  • YouTube You Tube is a dumping ground for all kinds of educational videos, movie clips, inspirational talks, tutorials, etc. Did you know that you can create your own playlist of saved videos and subscribe to helpful channels? (It’s not just for looking up old 80s rock videos anymore!)
  • Snip for MS Windows This is an easy-to-use feature for MS users. You can create your own screen casting video or convert your PowerPoint Slide Show into a video! You can even annotate on the screen and record your voice to customize your videos- and it’s free! Look for our new course on Mix to be released in 2017!
  • PBS Learning Media  A familiar site for many teachers, PBS Learning Media provides quick clips of historically accurate videos. Science news, as well as tutorials for English and Math concepts provide another way for teachers to differentiate learning, and for students to achieve deeper understanding of content.
  • Do Ink Your students will have a blast creating their own videos using a green screen backdrop. They can use pictures, video, or design their own graphics to create and retell stories or present information. Visit the tutorial page to see how you can use this in your own classroom.

2: Newest Apps

Do your lesson apps need an update? Are you just starting to integrate apps in your classroom instruction? Check out these tested and favorite apps submitted from both teachers and students.

  •  Epic! Encourage young readers with instant access to an extensive library for free! Audio and Spanish versions are available too! Anyone else can join for about $5 per month.
  • Seesaw Remember when students would keep all of their work in a folder? Using Seesaw, they can keep all of their work on an interactive, online folder that can be shared with teachers, family and peers. This is a great time management tool for teacherkidscomps and an empowerment tool for students.
  • Newsela This news source for students provides information on the latest scientific discoveries, political issues, weather, current events, etc. Students can use the information to write their own summary and teachers can use the quiz tool to assess. Stories are written in Spanish and English for students interested in learning another language. Lots of ways to differentiate instruction too!
  • MobyMax This is an educational tool designed to find specific gaps in student learning and then “fix” the gaps with differentiated instruction and motivational tools. Reading, writing, science and social studies content are covered. There is even a test prep tool!

1: Mindfulness in Education Workshop

This is particularly special because The Teacher’s Academy presented, Unplug: Mindful Practices that Work for 150 technology teachers! Our presenter, Maggie Haflett, was overwhelmed with gratitude for the immediate and eager acceptance of this new (to education) practice. Teachers came to this conference thirsty for the latest and greatest in technology, but came out of that workshop with a renewed appreciation for slowing down and fostering our abilities to focus more.

We want to thank all of the teachers who attended the conference for their support and promotion of Mindfulness in Education. To learn more about this practice and get 18 hours of PD, click here!

There were so many great ideas, it was impossible to fit them all into this blog. In fact, we are inspired to write another course to showcase what we learned from you! Look for another website review course to be released later this year. It will contain more suggestions from our PA teachers as well as our teachers from Michigan, Massachusetts, Texas, Indiana, South Carolina, Virginia, South Dakota, Tennessee and Colorado!

The Teacher’s Academy is honored to provide high-quality, relevant and affordable professional development courses for busy teachers. Visit our website to view a complete listing of courses in our course catalog.

Getting to Know Your Students Through Art

 

Getting to know your students through Art                                                                      paint hands

Our most important duty during these first few weeks is to get to know all these bright new faces sitting in front of us. All of your students will bring their unique stories and personalities into your classroom and it is your job to figure them out.  How will they learn? What are their likes and dislikes? What is their home life like? Will they respond to you? AHH! There is so much to figure out and so little time to do it. Instead of giving them a 100-point questionnaire, consider utilizing a few of these art activities. You might learn more things about your group than you thought you would! Oh, and it might actually be fun! Who would have dreamt it?

Name that Kid

The dreaded “name game.”  As classroom sizes inflate each year, teachers are challenged to find new ways to log their kids in the old memory bank. Of course there are always THOSE students who are burned into your brain almost instantaneously— the little boy that tells you he likes to eat boogers for breakfast or the little girl who blurts out how she likes to put makeup on her dad. Regardless, how are you to remember the other 28 kids staring back at you on the first week of school? Or even worse, what if you are a special area subject teacher that only sees these kids for an hour once a week or on Day 6? The task can seem pretty daunting.  One way that helped me on the first day was to have each child create his or her own nameplate. Jazz up the classic table tent or folder with a few of these variations.

  • Have the children turn the letters of their name into favorite things. For example, have each letter reflect something about themselves: a favorite animal, food, season of the year, subject in school, after-school activity, etc.
  • For younger children, print out blank bubble letter versions of their name and ask the kids to fill them in using stickers, cut-outs or stamps.  Each day of the first week, pose a question to the students and have them use their bubble letter name plates to answer it. The repeated exposure will help both you and your students identify names and provide associations with their favorite things. Check out Woo Junior for some great printable letter templates.
  • For slightly older children, ask the students to pick a “spirit animal” or an animal that best represents them. Then, ask the kids to pick their favorite color and an adjective that best describes themselves. Challenge them to incorporate all of these ideas into a picture with the first letter of their name.  By the end of the first day, you will have a bulletin board full of dancing horses with pink hair and skateboarding bears with blue sunglasses. By reviewing these names and drawings frequently, you will actually create a memory device to help you learn about your kids!

Under Your Roof

Finding out about students’ home life can help teachers a great deal. One of the best ways to learn about what is going on at home is to have your kids draw their families. Art therapists and child psychologists have long used children’s drawings to help analyze their feelings about a situation. Some characteristics may be exaggerated or left out and can house artgive insight into what a child views as valuable.

  • Fold a paper inward and cut the upper corners to make a house shape and have the children fill it with their family, pets, and favorite things.
  • Don’t forget to have them draw themselves in the portrait. If there is something alarming about their picture, seek counsel from a professional.
  • For older kids, ask them to draw a typical day in their house with their family or make up a cartoon where everyone in the house makes an appearance.

Learning about their home life will at least give you an idea if there are specific challenges your students are facing each day. Knowing that a child shares a room with a younger sibling or splits time between divorced parents may help avoid awkward exchanges and give insight into everyday struggles.  There are websites such as this one which can be helpful in analyzing your students’ psychological status, but always consult a professional if you have serious concerns.

My Superhero Alter Ego

art suppliesWho hasn’t fantasized about having secret superpowers? Personally, I’ve dreamt about teleportation on just about every Friday afternoon commute. This is a great activity for all ages with a few modifications. Challenge your students to draw their future selves as working adults. They can pick any career and environment that they want. Encourage them to dream about what they want to be when they grow up with no limitations or barriers. Then, have them draw their Alter Ego Superhero self (think Clark Kent/Superman).  They will need to be specific about their special powers and at least one weakness.

  • Encourage them to use details in their drawing like making their cape a favorite color, a poster in the background with their favorite pop star, or perhaps their favorite food on their desk at work.
  • Descriptive drawing is just as important as descriptive writing so have them tell you all about their characters by writing about them.
  • Questions such as, “If I could solve one problem in the world it would be…” can provide interesting responses and may even reveal a specific passion or emotion in some kids.
  • In order to make this a little easier on students, provide blank templates or drawings of people that they would need to change or add details to.
  • For small children, give choices or ideas about what sort of powers there are and what they could help solve.  You could prompt them to discover what their “kryptonite” is by giving them examples of unappetizing foods or unpleasant weather situations.

Believe it or not, a Superhero can tell you a lot about what someone values and fears. Be prepared to be asked what your superpower is as well.  It might help to come to school with your cape in hand that day. It shouldn’t be too difficult, since being a teacher gives you instant superhero status!  Have a great year!

The Teacher’s Academy is the proud parent company of Act 48 Academy. We provide Act 48 Hours for PA teachers, and professional development hours for teachers across the USA. Check out our Online Course Catalog for the most relevant, affordable and convenient professional development courses, created by teachers for teachers.

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Enjoy!