Author - Kristin Oropeza

Get Googley This Winter with Activities from Eric Curts

Child coloring Christmas pictures

With many educators looking forward to the upcoming winter break, some of us may need a little help wrangling in our kiddos in the days leading up to their time off. While Teachers Pay Teachers is inundated with holiday activities you can pay for, look no further than Eric Curts (Control Alt Achieve) and his wonderful, FREE holiday resources. His activities get students writing, while also being very tech-friendly and skill-based.

In Curts’ “6 Googley Wintertime Activities for Kids” educators gain access to some valuable winter G-Suite activities including “Build a Snowman with Google Slides,” “Wintertime Magnetic Poetry with Google Drawings,” and “Pixel Art Ornaments with Google Sheets.”

If you’re looking for winter activities that will engage your students while still addressing important technology skills, then Curts’ activities should be on YOUR Christmas wish list.

Want to Grow as an Educator? PRESENT!

Conference podium

I was recently involved in a #caedchat Twitter chat in which the question was posed – “What is the value of speaking at a conference? How does one go about doing so?”

This question got me thinking (as they usually do) and it probed me to do some self-reflection. Why present at conferences at all?

1. It (not so gently) pushes you to grow as an educator. Presenting wasn’t even on my radar until this past summer when I approached one of my close colleagues, Angela Barnett, and brought up the idea of submitting a proposal to a local conference. Why not, we said? What’s the worst that could happen – we get turned down? And we did…a few times. Until we didn’t and were asked to come present (for the first time EVER) at Gold Coast CUE’s Techtober event. That first proposal acceptance snowballed into a slew of others (California STEAM Symposium, SGVCUE’s Innovation Celebration, SDCUE’s Tech Fair, IACUE’s Tech Fair, and the Spring CUE Conference). Every time I get up in front of a room full of my peers, it pushes me to step a little bit more out of my box and comfort zone. (I am no public speaker!) It also teaches me some very valuable things about myself as an educator of adults – patience, positivity, and passion just to name a few!

2. Represent. I wanted to start presenting because I, as a special education teacher, felt majorly underrepresented at every conference I went to. I wasn’t seeing many SPED teachers showing up to the conferences that I was attending. And I was seeing even fewer up at the front room, talking about the things that I value and wanted to hear about. Gandhi’s “Be the change” words played over and over in my head every time I saw another conference schedule that lacked teachers with backgrounds or experience in teaching students in special education. If you’re not seeing the types of presenters you want to at conferences, apply, apply, apply! BE THE CHANGE!

3. Passion is tangible. I don’t consider what I do to be “innovative” or at the forefront of EdTech. But I have a passion for helping students, especially students who have long been marginalized. The tools and strategies I preach aren’t new. But I find that they work with the demographics I teach…and work well. I would hope that my passion and background in special education is what helps bring educators to our sessions. I absolutely LOVE when I see teacher attendees (and admins!) get excited about the material I’m presenting! It makes me want to go out and keep presenting – to share the knowledge!

4. Network with your Twitter PLN IRL! The power of Twitter is truly amazing. I have made more professional connections via social media than I have in any of the districts that I have worked for – combined. Not only do I have the privilege of chatting, tweeting with, and connecting with these educators online, but I’m also now doing it as a conference presenter, connecting with my professional learning network in real life! I’m meeting those individuals whom I follow and admire on Twitter – they are filling the seats of my session or workshop. Talk about having to bring your A-game!

Presenter at Conference

5. Opportunities abound. I don’t think that I would have ever had the guts to apply to be CUE’s next OnCUE blogger had I not taken a chance with presenting. Presenting pushed me – and continues to push me – into becoming a better educator than I was before. I grow a little more confident in my craft every time I present and I have someone approach me and say, “Hey! That was a great session! I really learned something!” Presenting at conferences will definitely make you a better educator…and it can lead to other opportunities you couldn’t (or wouldn’t let yourself) imagine before getting into presenting.

If you’re looking to present a proposal for an upcoming conference (or would just like to attend one), here are some upcoming conferences that you don’t want to miss:

CUELA Palooza, January 12th, 2019 @ National University, Los Angeles
IACUE’s Tech Fair, January 19th, 2019 @ Bloomington HS, Bloomington, CA
Cahuilla CUE’s Tech Fest, February 2nd, 2019 @ Desert Ridge Academy, Indio, CA
MDUSD & EBCUE STEM & EdTech Symposium, February 23rd, 2019 @ Valley View Middle School, Pleasant Hill, CA
Silicon Valley CUE’s Teach Through Technology, March 2nd, 2019 @ The Harker School, San Jose, CA
Spring CUE Conference, March 14th-16th, 2019 @ Palm Springs Convention Center, Palm Springs, CA

Computational Thinking for the Digital Age

College course scene

As Computer Science Education Week wraps up, some teachers may be looking ahead for the “What’s Next?” If you were inspired by this week’s activities or if any of the activities you did in your classroom got you pumped up to try (and learn!) more about computer science, check out ISTE’s FREE course on Computational Thinking.

ISTE says this of the course:

“In the digital age, computational thinking (CT) is an essential skill for students and educators alike. This systematic approach to solving problems is at the foundation of not just computer science, but many other subject areas – and careers – as well. Developed with support from Google, Introduction to Computational Thinking for Every Educator unpacks how CT can be integrated throughout subject areas and grade levels.”

Enrollment continues now through February 11, 2019 for this 15-hour self-paced online course. Included with enrollment is on-going instructor support from Mike Karlin and Heidi Williams – two educators with passions and professional ties to the world of computer science.

And, did I mention that this course is completely FREE!

For more information or to sign-up, visit: ISTE Computational Thinking

Dive into Computer Science with Hour of Code!

Hour of Code

The holidays aren’t the only thing we can look forward to celebrating this December! This coming week marks the start of Computer Science Education Week (December 3-9). Computer Science Education Week is held annually in recognition of computing pioneer Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906).

But really…what is “Hour of Code“? Initially, it started as a one-hour crash course into computer science (CS) – a look behind the curtain to show that anybody (really, ANYBODY) could learn coding basics…and hopefully through these initial activities, could inspire and encourage further participation in the area of CS. Since it’s original conception, it has become a worldwide effort to celebrate all things CS and to bring coding and computer science into more classrooms around the globe.

Ready to jump in? Here are some great resources to get you started:

Matt Miller (Ditch That Textbook) provides a list of activities in his “20 Ways to Celebrate the Hour of Code in ANY Classroom” that can be completed in an hour, are offered in multiple languages and have teacher guides. The list also includes ideas for those classrooms that may not have the technology to use – including an “unplugged” traveling circuits activity that teaches students coding basics without being tethered to a device.

Karly Moura also curated a “30+ Hour of Code Resources” via Wakelet. Included on her list are a plethora of ready to go lessons for the G-Suite – including a HyperSlide presentation aimed at our youngest K-2 coders.

Finally, Kasey Bell (Shake Up Learning) has some great information for those just wanting to start up their first Hour of Code, along with a list of resources (categorized by content and age) and some helpful hints at moving beyond the first hour.

Now, if you aren’t inspired yet to get your feet wet or just full on DIVE into your first hour of coding, take a couple minutes to watch Code.org‘s video on Hour of Code. The students’ smiles and looks of elated joy will make you jump up and run to the nearest computer to get your next CS lesson!