I have officially started an EdD program! I am thrilled to be a part of the Boise State EdD in Educational Technology 2019 cohort! I know it’s going to be a ton of work, and I also know it’s going to be worth it in the end. This program is entirely online, and can be done in 4 years.
My goal is to blog throughout my EdD journey. I meant to have this starter post out 7 weeks ago, but my first class was time and brain intensive (and I loved it), and I didn’t have time to get it done. I’m not pressuring myself to post at regular intervals, just whenever I have time an energy. I will also share out smaller parts of my journey on Twitter and Instagram using #MariEdDJourney. I hope these reflective practices are useful for me as well as anyone considering this journey.
How did I get to now?
Since finishing my Masters in 2012, I knew I wanted to go all the way with my education. I love learning and I love school, so why not add on a doctorate? With how much work a doctorate is, simply wanting to get a terminal degree is not enough. Although I’m not decided on where I’d like to be in 5, 10, or 15 years, I do know I’d love to work with preservice and new teachers in a larger capacity; right now, I think I’d like to teach or supervise student teachers at the university level.
When researching programs, I looked at a variety of options, including online, in person, PhD, and EdD. I narrowed down my applications to the UC San Diego PhD and Boise State EdD programs; they had very different formats and focuses, and both aligned with my values and interests. I applied to both, then waited.
When I had my video chat interview with the UC San Diego PhD program coordinator, we both quickly realized the program wasn’t for me. It was 6+ years and full-time, meaning I could no longer teach. The program coordinator recommended their EdD program, with applications due in the summer. I told myself that if I didn’t get into the Boise State program, I’d apply to that one.
A few weeks later, Boise State sent me a follow-up questionnaire to fill out, then I had to record six asynchronous video interview answers. A couple weeks later, I received an email that I was admitted!
I started my first 7-week summer class in May 2019. My cohort seems awesome, and I know I’m going to enjoy getting to know them over the next 4 years.
Are you on this doctorate journey too? Considering a program, working on it, already graduated? I’m collecting advice on this Padlet — please add your own wisdom. I hope this can be a resource for myself and anyone else on this great adventure.
Another ISTE in the books! As I have for the past three years (2016, 2017, & 2018), it’s time to reflect on my experiences.
Seeing all my friend’s social media and blog posts, I noticed we were all talking about appreciating the people around us. I especially appreciated Sarah Thomas’s approach to ISTE in her recent post “One Thing I Did Differently at #ISTE19” where she explains how she prioritized her own needs by saying “maybe” to all social invites, and not pressuring herself to attend anything.
This year, my personal ISTE theme was relationships! I spent the majority of my time with old and new friends. There were so many hugs, squeals of excitement, and selfies!
It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to find all the people, especially the educelebrities (oy, that word makes me cringe, sorry y’all). Find the people who are going to stretch your thinking and build you up, not the people selling you their brand.
I filled my ISTE time with social events and meetups. I loved having a Fueled by Coffee and Love authors and friends meet-up. I got to meet some of the authors in person for the first time, and share some exciting new things coming for the book project (follow @fbcalbook, announcements coming soon!)
This year, I intentionally limited my presentations to just one, and reserved the rest of the time for informal learning moments. While it can be fun to be super busy, this year I chose to build relationships, not my portfolio. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with presenting multiple times and being super involved. This year, that style of ISTE wasn’t for me, and I had to respect my own energy.
What matters most to me is the quality of people around me; I love my friends, and I know they always have my best interests at heart. After the year I’ve had, I spent many conversations talking about the changes in my professional and personal life, and where I’m going from here. I heard so many words of encouragement from my friends, and it means the world to me to have these quality people around! Personally or professionally, there’s nothing better than a friend saying, “I’ve been there, I got through it and so will you.”
Seriously, I love y’all so much! See you next year in Anaheim!
This is one of my favorite blog posts of the year! I love reflecting back on a whole school year, seeing how I met my goals, and how I’ve grown as a person and as a teacher. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to look back on 2017-2018, and see areas of growth and success.
When I set my 2018-2019 school year goals, I had no idea what this year would bring. Though I planned to be more reflective, I didn’t regularly come back to my goals throughout the year. However, when I read back on what I wanted to accomplish, I did a fairly good job of meeting my goals. Next year, I’ll have to put my goals in a more visible place.
Working at work, relaxing at home
At this time last year, I was borderline burned out. I know I wasn’t fully burned out because I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel or search for a different job; however, I recognized that I was exhausted and needed to make a change. I did so much better with leaving the majority of work at work. Overall, I felt much better and more relaxed this year! I reversed a lot of the burnouty feeling, and kept up my energy better.
I was thrown a curveball in December when a teacher in my department decided to resign and left us scrambling to cover the classes. This, paired with the district cutting our resource positions, left me teaching two additional classes, including a new prep: AVID 0 period, 4 sections of 7th grade science, and 1 section of 7th grade science elective. It was exhausting, but I loved every second with my kids. With the added load, I somehow managed to complete the April No-Work Challenge again this year.
Additionally, there were some serious personal ups and downs this year. I had a huge life change in the fall, and spent the better part of December – February rearranging some pieces. In February, I turned 30 and celebrated by committing to work on myself and invest in my own happiness. I celebrated my 30th birthday with a solo trip to New York City!
Of my seven years of teaching, this year was one of the best, relationships-wise. I built strong relationships with my classes. It was tough to gain two new classes at the semester, and it took a while to build a functional relationship; the time and effort was worth it, and we ended the year on an amazingly positive note. I often received random hugs from my kids, and we ended most classes with, “I love you, bye!”
For the entire year, my fourth period class was a dream. They were this unique blend of students who figured out how to work well together, asked great questions, and knew how to transition between joking and serious–you all know that’s a huge deal in middle school. Academically, they weren’t the most skilled, but they made up for that in determination and joy! In fact, when I did my last day of school thank you speech, a few raised their hands and contributed their own thank you’s.
On the other hand, I really struggled with my third period class for the first two-thirds of the year. There were multiple behavior challenges, and students negatively fed off of each other’s energy. Teaching that class made me exhausted and a little frustrated; it was a great opportunity to model restorative practices and being honest about my own emotions. But, I didn’t give up! In late February, they began to turn a corner and became a goofy, empathetic, and productive bunch.
Finally, this year my first group of 7th graders graduated high school! I attended graduation with a few colleagues, and I’m so proud of my former students! It was great to see so many familiar (and grown up!) faces, and cheer for them and all they’ve accomplished.
Mentoring new teachers
Even though there weren’t many science student teachers and I didn’t have one placed with me either semester, I spent some quality time informally mentoring new teachers. We had the most awesome
right-out-of-college first year teacher at our school this year, and she and I really hit it off! I enjoyed teaching science in her classroom, sharing advice and silly stories, and providing some support. Additionally, we had an incredible history student teacher; she and I spent quality time together, discussing teaching, life, and kids. I am grateful for these opportunities to give back and live the “it takes a village to raise a student teacher” idea.
Back to school!
I’m excited to share that I was accepted into the 2019 Boise State EdD in Educational Technology cohort. We started our first class in mid-May, and it has been non-stop work since then. With an expectation to devote 18-25 hours per week to school, I have had to be more proactive with my self-care and balance. Despite it being a significant time investment, I love the work I’m doing, and I’m grateful for this opportunity. It’s a much different feeling being in school because I want to, not because I have to.
Overall, I’m thrilled that this year was so successful. Looking back at all my photos, it’s fun to reminisce on the fun memories, activities, and journey we had together. Even though I am excited for next school year and making to-do and goals lists, I know I need to take this time to enjoy some sunshine. I’m grateful for summer break! I am looking forward to more schoolwork, relaxing, and a few fun adventures!
Whenever we finish a task early, my students beg me, “Let’s play Kahoot!” They don’t care if it’s content-related or just for fun, they’re super competitive. Whenever we play, the top 3 winners in each round earn a prize–the prizes are usually the trinkets (pens, pencils, sticky notes, etc.) I pick up from conference exhibit halls. Or, if there’s only a couple minutes left in class, I’ll let the winners relax outside my room until the bell rings.
Back in March 2018, I wrote a post called Student-Created Games with Quizizz. At that time, Kahoot didn’t have an option to batch upload questions. Thankfully, Kahoot now has integrated a feature to upload a spreadsheet of questions too. My students like Quizizz when working on an early finisher assignment or stations rotation game, and prefer Kahoot when we’re playing with the whole class.
Using student created Kahoot games in class
Kahoot is a perfect platform for final exam review. To prepare for our upcoming final exams, I’ll assign different students topics, and have them write final exam questions. We’ll play their crowdsourced Kahoot in class. Inevitably, at least one student whines at how hard it is to write a question, a correct answer, and three convincing incorrect answers. Yep, welcome to teacher life!
6. Create a new Kahoot game. Upload the spreadsheet.
7. Play and have fun!
I created a video walkthrough to show you through the process. Having them template makes the whole process very quick!
Thank you Debra and Cesar for contributing trivia questions to the example set!
My students love the opportunity to create their own Kahoot games, and are thrilled when their questions are up on the screen. Student-created Kahoots are such a fun opportunity to get everyone involved in the learning!
One thing I appreciate about my district is our Teacher Leadership Book Study. This phenomenal professional development opportunity is spearheaded by Amy Illingworth, our Director of Professional Growth. For the past 2 years, we’ve had four book studies spread throughout the year–at each book study, we meet teachers from across the district, discuss the book, and reflect on our teaching practices. This year’s version allowed us to select from a list of books around a unifying topic.
One of my biggest takeaways from this book is “the power of seven seconds,” which Pete Hall describes as, “every morning, ever student who enters the school has a story…we don’t know these stories, and we can’t control what has already happened. But we can control our ability to say, ‘Good morning!’ right off the bat. The first seven seconds of our interaction with every student in our school should be brimming with enthusiasm, joy, compliments, or some sort of friendly banter” (Souers & Hall, 110). These relationships mean everything to our students!
A student walks into first period 10 minutes late. Instead of putting them on the defensive by grilling them for why they’re late, cheerfully say, “I’m so glad you’re here today! I was worried we wouldn’t see you. You’re just in time for our lab!” The students’ entire demeanor changes when they realize they’re being celebrated, not scolded.
Another big takeaway from the book is the concept of the downstairs brain (fight or flight reflexes) and the upstairs brain (empathetic response). It made me sit back and realize that when a student is in their downstairs brain and acting out or refusing to work, I need to stay in my upstairs brain and not get sucked into the frustrating back-and-forth with the student. I know when I’m frustrated with a student’s actions, I’m not the empathetic and caring listener that they need at that moment.
Here are some strategies I already use in my classroom:
Restorative practices: Restorative practices is a mindset where students are held accountable for their behavior in conjunction with a high level of empathy. The goal is to have students empathetically understand how their actions impact those around them, and take steps to repair any harm caused. This can be a whole-class strategy for discussing an incident, running a mediation between two students, or having a conversation with an individual student. In any case, we use the same three guiding questions: What happened? Who was impacted? What needs to be done to repair the harm?
Fidget box: I know my students come to class burdened with all kinds of trauma and stress. Some is the everyday middle school drama, while others are deeply rooted life experiences. I provide a fidget box that students can choose an item to help focus or calm down in class. In order to use the fidget box, students must first meet with me to discuss expectations. These expectations include trying out a few different fidgets to see what works, not sharing a fidget with another student (it quickly becomes a toy that way), and to select and return their fidget without distracting their peers. It has worked out great for my students!
Behavior log: When we do have minor incidents in class, I track these with a behavior log. It’s a simple Google Form a student fills out as the second chance in class (after a warning). The purpose is to reflect on what happened in class, and how they can make a change. After class or during work time, I’ll quickly conference with the student to debrief the incident. One new thing I will implement next year is behavior log cards; these will allow me to nonverbally ask students to complete behavior logs.
Each student and each class presents their own unique set of challenges and successes. I am grateful to support my students, no matter their circumstances outside our classroom.
I first learned about Fliphunts from Natasha Rachell (read her blog here!). It seemed like such a cool idea that I bookmarked it and made a mental note to try it soon. Soon came along just after spring break, and I couldn’t wait to jump in with my students.
A Fliphunt is a scavenger hunt using Flipgrid! Students work in teams to record videos for as many challenges as they can in the alloted time period. At the end, watch the videos and tally up each team’s points to determine a winner.
Setting up a Fliphunt
The setup was super easy — I created this Slide with three levels of challenges (one star, two star, three star) based on difficulty level. A quick Google search or scroll through #Fliphunt on Twitter will lead you to lots of examples and fun ideas. I also created a student handout they could take with them when they went outside to record and check off challenges as they go. At the bottom of the student handout is the class scorecard; I printed one per period, then recorded scores as we watched the Flipgrid videos together as a class.
I created one grid on Flipgrid for the assignment, and separate topics for each class period. This is where “duplicate topic” comes in very handy!
Running the FlipHunt in class
I used this Fliphunt as an introduction to a new unit, so each topic was something new they needed to search up and explore.
Students worked in teams of 3-4 to complete as many challenges as they could in about 30 minutes. I released them for 10 minutes to record at least one video, then had them come back in to watch what had been submitted, record scores, and quickly debrief the recording process. They went back out for the remaining 20 minutes, then came back in to watch and record final scores.
Some groups weren’t as into the Fliphunt as others, and other groups struggled with effective teamwork; breaking up the work time helped keep these groups on track. Next time, I’ll add our lab group roles as an additional teamwork scaffold. Even with all the progress we’ve made with Mastery-Based Grading, some still struggle with motivation if they know there isn’t a grade attached–we’re working on it.
On the bright side, the groups that were participating and excited made this a lot of fun for all of us! Some groups were extremely competitive and worked super hard. Many students let their personalities and sense of humor shine in the videos. It will be helpful to look back on these videos as learning tools as we learn more about the Earth.
Additionally, my teacher next-door neighbor is interested in trying a Fliphunt at some point, so we may create another one for an end of the semester review!
I’ll definitely do another Fliphunt with my class. We had a great time, and it was fun to watch students explore a new topic, navigate effective teamwork, and share their creativity with the class.
What are your tips for running Fliphunts with your students or staff?
Comment below so we can all learn from you!
Technology can take us on adventures, far and wide! Where will you go?
I love working with teachers from all over the country, and helping them find meaningful ways to integrate technology into their classroom. So often, I come in for a day or a couple hours and hope something sticks. Occasionally, I’ll receive an email or tweet from someone in a workshop, sometimes months or even a year later, sharing what they tried and how it went.
Back in November, I received this happy email from Norm Peckham, an edtech trainer in Mesa, AZ: “I already had a teacher at one of my junior highs call me and he’s changed his whole lesson plan about migration in science so that his students are creating a [Choose Your Own Adventure] story in the Google Form template you created, and I’m helping him and his students out on Monday!!…” He went on to share some resources and example Forms he created as models for his teachers.
Seriously, how cool is that! It’s the kind of email that puts a smile on my face for days!
You’ve probably already figured out that Google Forms is my go-to tool for just about everything in my classroom. However, I haven’t talked much about student-created Forms. These Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) stories are a perfect way to get students comfortable with building Forms, since the template is already done.
Last fall, I had my 8th grade AVID students create Choose Your Own Adventure stories to take us on a tour of a university. This required a lot of background research to create interesting and compelling CYOA campus tours.
Here’s how we did it:
1. Students first researched the university, including history, average freshman profiles, campus features, and interesting facts.
2. Students planned out their journeys using this CYOA Google Doc. This took a little bit of explaining on my part, to help them see how the doc would eventually lead to a branching Form.
3. Finally, students made a copy of the CYOA Form to take us through their adventure.
Once students were done, they presented their story and allowed us to choose two different adventure paths. Each student received peer feedback using, you guessed it, another Form!
Looking back, I wish I had an example to share with students before hand (I know, rookie move) so they could see the vision for the final product. Luckily, Norm created this awesome tutorial video and an example story, The Online Adventures of Mousey and Mickey. Huge shout out to Norm for allowing me to share these with y’all!!
How have you used Choose Your Own Adventure activities in your classroom? Share your best tips in the comments!
This post has been a long time coming. It’s taken me two months to sit down and finish it. In fact, I’ve hardly blogged or tweeted at all in the last two months. There have been so many changes in my life, most of which have been positive.
In the last two months, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and reflecting. I’ve known my 2019 word since December, though I’ve only shared it privately with a few friends. I’m now ready to share it with the rest of my friends:
My word for 2019 is RECLAIM.
As I shared in my 2018 in Review post, I ended a 10 year relationship last fall. While picking up the pieces hasn’t been terribly difficult, I’ve realized how much I need to reclaim myself as a human and as an adult. I’m feeling very positive about the new direction of my life, even through the tougher moments.
On top of it all, we lost our resource positions due to district budget cuts, so I gained another class, plus a 6th class to cover for someone on leave–that’s 6 classes and 3 preps (4 science, 1 science elective, 1 AVID). Included in all of this is my 0 period, so my school day is 7:19 – 3:15, pretty much nonstop. I have a “prep” period on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but that’s the 7th class period. It’s exhausting. I love my kids so much, and they’re worth it.
Oh, and I turned 30 in February!
So, I’ve taken a step back and spent time focusing on myself. I’ve enjoyed making lots of plans with friends, taking a solo trip to NYC, and spending time with my doggie.
Part of reclaiming for me is learning who I am. There have been a lot of opportunities to explore what I truly like and how I fit into this world. I’ve spent time thinking about both my short-term and long-term goals, while not allowing the future to create unneeded anxiety. It’s much easier said than done!
I’m grateful for so many phenomenal friends who have stood with me on this journey. Throughout the past few months, I’ve had so many insightful conversations with friends that have challenged me to think deeper and step out of my comfort zone. Thank you all!
Additionally, I’ve been reclaiming my physical space, which has taken a lot of time and energy. I’m in the process of re-doing my 3rd bedroom, which I’m turning into my office with an awesome navy blue gallery wall (I’ll post pics when it’s all done). I bought new bedroom furniture and lamps, which instantly made me feel calm and happy. It’s amazing how much making some updates and changes to my physical space has made me feel like a new person.
So, here’s to new possibilities and new opportunities as I reclaim in 2019!
I love reading and talking about books! It brings me so much joy to share this love with my friends and students. Last year I shared “What I read in 2017” to highlight my favorite books of the year.
2018 Reading Data
It’s crazy to say I achieved my 2018 reading goal of 100 books. Of these books, 42 were audiobooks and 58 were books (24 physical & 34 ebooks). I always try to read more than I listen. I read a total of 19388 pages, and listened to approximately 191.35 hours of books (rounded to nearest 15 minute, and divided by 2 since I listen on 2x speed). If I had been paying a little more attention to page data, I would have pushed myself to hit 20k pages.
One of my favorite parts is that I keep fairly extensive reading data. I used to use Goodreads, but found that I like entering and analyzing my own data. Make a copy of my book spreadsheet. Each year, I add a new tab and track the same data. It’s fun to see my trends and graphs as the year progresses. And yes, Harry Potter has its own category–do the math, 100 total books and 7% Harry Potter–yes, I did a full series re-read in November and December!!
There are a couple books that I technically read more than once this year, but only counted once. For example, 3 of my classes and I did a read-aloud with We Are All Made of Molecules (Susin Nielsen), but I only counted it once. And, all the edits and such ofFueled by Coffee and Love: The Refill probably equate to reading it at least 5x all the way through.
As you can see from my graph, I read a ton of YA. I truly enjoy this genre, and I appreciate the complexities of the stories as well as the self-discovery. Plus, there are so many talented authors out there writing for my students, and I want to pass along these recommendations.
Some of my favorite books from 2018 are:
Love, Hate, & Other Filters (Samira Ahmed)
Rebel Seoul (Axie Oh)
Dear Martin (Nic Stone)
Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertalli)
Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
At the Edge of the Universe (Shaun David Hutchinson)
The Porcupine of Truth (Bill Konigsberg)
I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Erika Sánchez)
Children of Blood and Bone (Tomi Adeyemi)
The Poet X (Elizabeth Acevedo)
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit (Jaye Robin Brown)
March, Book One (Andrew Aydin and John Lewis)
Even though I don’t blog about every book I read and I’m super far behind on blogging, I do enjoy sharing about some of my book highlights on my “What is Mari Reading” blog. It’s all just for fun, and a great distraction from chores and such.
This year I don’t have any big reading goals, other than to finish at least 52 books and read more than I listen. I’m also intentionally reading more diverse books, specifically LGBTQ+ YA novels and novels written by authors of color. I didn’t track this data in 2018, though skimming my list it’s over 50% of the books I finished.
I’ve been putting off writing this post for the past week. I usually love writing these reflective blogs (past year’s posts: 2017, 2016, 2015), but this year, not so much. Out loud, I’m blaming the busyness of ending school on December 21st, then immediately diving into all the holiday crazy. However, internally I’ve been finding plenty of other things to do instead because I want 2018 to be a thing of the past and I don’t want to dig back into the less great things of 2018. It’s necessary to reflect and learn, so, here goes!
Where I was (December 2017)
A year ago, I was very intentionally navigating the never ending challenge of work-life balance. It wasn’t easy, and thankfully I have amazing friends around me who constantly check in.
Professionally, I was coming off of a fulfilling year. And personally, I was having a bit more of a rough time. But, I was hopeful things would get better (spoiler: they didn’t get any better until the very end of 2018).
Where I am (January – December 2018)
I was so fortunate to participate in our district’s Teacher Leadership Academy, led by the amazing Amy duo, Amy Hunt and Amy Illingworth! I learned a lot about being an effective teacher-leader, working with Difficult People, and how to say “I’m not going to take that on.”
I had the opportunity to share my love of teaching and technology all over the US at various summits and professional development opportunities. Some highlights include Atlanta, Nashville, Phoenix, Chicago, and Greenville, SC.
“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I did a full re-read of the Harry Potter series in November and December, and I loved immersing myself in the magic again. It was so helpful to escape reality and the stress of life. I had to make a big choice this fall, and ultimately decided to end a 10 year relationship; though there are moments of sadness, overwhelmingly I feel happier and healthier. Along the way this year, I’ve had so many friends encouraging me and sitting down to have heart-to-heart chats about relationships and life. Thank you, friends.
I ended 2018 at a freezing cold New Year’s Eve party, surrounded by friends! I couldn’t ask for more (except maybe a heated blanket).
Where I’m going (January 2019 and beyond!)
New year, new me, right? For once, it really feels that way. After the stress of 2018, it’s as if a huge burden has been lifted. I’m ready for new opportunities and adventures! In the fall, someone asked me what 1 year in the future Mari would want for current Mari; that helped me put a lot of my life into perspective, and helped me make both hard and fun decisions.
In February, I turn 30, a gigantic adulting milestone. As my gift to myself, I planned a fun trip to New York City! I’ve never been, and it’s time I do something awesome just for myself.
As I planned out this post, I scrolled through my entire year on Google Photos. It’s fun to reflect back on the fun adventures I’ve had, and remind myself that, despite some setbacks and dark clouds in 2018, overwhelmingly it was filled with incredible friends. I’m really looking forward to 2019!