Bringing Life to the Holidays....

Bringing Life to the Holidays ....

When I was younger holiday get togethers where nonexistent, which happens when you have a dysfunctional family life.  After I got married the annual Thanksgiving dinner tradition began.  Eric and I always found time to return to his parents' house to enjoy a family dinner followed by a round of Hearts or other fun card games.

After almost twenty years of the Wilson's tradition it shifted just a little. The family dinner seems to hosted at my house along with the fun family card games.  I really don't mind being the hostess for these once in a life time memories.  Eric has loving memories going to his grandmas for Thanksgiving and or Christmas.  Some days I am jealous of his childhood memories and other days I am not.  I am now the mom that makes sure that everyone has a wonderful memory.  I even giggle a little at Eric who is panicking at the darn turkey getting dry or not as he is trying to smoke it.

I resent asked why our joined family loved coming to our small house to either a Thanksgiving or a Christmas dinner and the response was overwhelming.  For some reason the people around me believe that I am the heart of it all.  To them my house is warm and comforting.

I foresee my children will love coming home for the holidays, which will happen in a few years if I am ready for it our not.  I think in some way I may even be looking forward to it.  I just pray that one of my sons finds an amazing wife (which I know that they will) that one day will take on the tradition of hosting the family get togethers.  It has taken me 20 years to be the heart of it all.  I hope my future daughter in-law will not get discourage.  Don't worry I know when my daughter is ready she will take it all over and will be the heart of the family get togethers.   I've been told she has one amazing mother as a role model.

App / Tool of the Week .... Actively Learn

App / Tool of the Week .... Actively Learn 

I get the privilege of teaching 6th grade Social Studies which focuses on the Ancient Civilizations when I am not teaching technology skills to middle school students.  With common core it is my job to teach my students how to pull information out of primary and secondary sources.  I find it difficult to assess my student's comprehension as we go through the various civilizations.  I am constantly asking myself: Do they really understand the Caste System?, Do they realize what they are reading happened thousands of years ago? and etc....

I recently had a chance to test drive Actively Learn. Actively Learn is an online platform that allows the teacher to pull in reading materials either from Actively Learn's catalog, the teacher's Google Drive, online source, or even a PDF.  The teacher then can add notes, video clips, and even questions.  I found the ability to add files from my Google Drive a huge plus since most of my resources are saved to my Google Drive.  Another big plus for me was that I could connect the common core standard with the questions I am asking.  I like that I can ask question while they are reading.  This breaks up the reading and assess my students' understanding.  While they are reading about King Tut I can include a video clip about his tomb and ask questions to assess their understanding.  This type of assessment gives me a better understanding if my students are really getting and understanding what they are reading.

Since some of my content has to do with diagrams and maps I love that I could add an image/media and ask questions about that image/media.  A lot of online quizzes will not support that feature.  I really liked that I can assign proficient levels to the short answers questions.  Assessing students' knowledge is more than just a letter grade.  To have the ability to show proficiency to parents is the key.  

Another great tool Actively Learn has built-in is the dictionary.  This tool is great for my students as we wade through the various ancient civilizations.  I like it because all of my students are reading the same definition not one from Webster Online another one from and etc.... Students even have the ability to take notes and highlight text.

Even though I teach Social Studies I can see all of these tools very useful for other subject areas.  Actively Learn is free and students only need one account.  Students just need the code to a join class and can belong to as many classes as needed. When students are finished with the classes they can withdraw.

The biggest perk for me since I am a heavy Edmodo user is the ability to connect Edmodo to Actively Learn.  Having the ability to use Edmodo and Google Drive with Actively Learn for me is a win.

Click HERE for more information about Actively Learn or to sign up and give it a test drive. 

Miami Device 2014....

Miami Device 2014 ....

I was a little bummed out that I couldn't make it work to attend Miami Device, well not in person any ways.  I had the chance to remote into the conference thanks to Essdack and their robot.  I was able to drive it around met some new people and say high to a few friends.  I even got a chance to sit in on a session.  Several people even took their picture with me, I kind of felt like a mini star for a moment.

I did have an issue with staying connected to the robot, not sure if it was on my end or theirs. Anyway it was a lot of fun attending via the robot.  When I wasn't operating the robot I was living vicariously through the attendees that Tweeted out resources, pictures, and their experience at Miami Device.  One of my take aways from the conference is the augmented reality puzzles by Ravensburger.  It appears that they currently have 5 different puzzles that have been augmented.  I can't wait to get my hands on those.

Another thing that I learned about was Sketchnotes.  You can create these sketchnotes with a variety of apps such as Notebility and isketchnote to name a few.  Creating sketchnotes makes your thoughts visible.  What I loved was that Marie made her sketchnote interactive by turning it into a Thinklink.  AWESOME!

Since the robot had no arms Brenda was very nice and signed my Twitter handle to Kevin Honeycutt's guitar for me.

It was great being apart of Miami Device even if it was just for a moment. Maybe next year I can present at Miami Device instead of living through the hashtag.

Thanks again Essdack for the chance of using the robot.