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Finding Your Teacher Voice (Part One)

A long time ago in a classroom far away, a 20-something student sat in a class titled Speech Communication in the Classroom. The professor explained that among the many concepts learned in the course, one of the most important would be finding your voice. Throughout the semester, each student had multiple opportunities to stand and deliver his or her lesson to the class. Of course, each student would receive a grade and comments on their performance. At the end, the entire class would receive an impromptu mini lesson on teacher voice. Personally, I thought this old man couldn’t hear! I was not entirely wrong, but that is another story.

A few years later, I found myself in my first classroom. As a wide-eyed graduate of teacher college, I was ready to impart my knowledge on the young minds in my charge. I thought of the fictional character portrayed by Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society and the teacher portrayed by Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver. Would I be that good? Unfortunately, my delivery was lacking. My knowledge of the material was spot on, and even my methodology was solid according to my principal. The problem was my voice. My teacher voice was too harsh. Despite my effort to create an inviting and safe environment for learning, my teacher voice—the loud voice required to be heard across my classroom—was harmful.

My administrator once told me, “You sound like you are yelling at your students all the time. It doesn’t make for an inviting classroom.” Mortified with this comment, I realized she was correct.

The Science Behind the Voice

The reason all teachers are required to create a teacher voice is not a matter of profession, it is really a matter of physics. The term, or in this case the physics law, is called the inverse square law. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? The general idea is that the farther you get from a source, the lower the intensity.

Think of the headlights on your car when you drive at night. The road close to the front of your car is bright, so you can see it quite well. However, farther down the road from your car, the light is not as bright. The intensity diminishes. Now think about being at the park for a picnic. As you look for a place to sit, you walk by a group with a radio playing loud music. As you continue to walk away from the music, you notice the music becomes more difficult to hear. You then find a place to sit where you can no longer hear the music from the radio. The sound intensity lowers the farther you get from the radio. These are two examples of the inverse square law.

Let’s get back my classroom. My voice is required to adhere to the inverse square law, which means for the student in the back of the room to hear me (assuming I am standing in the front), I must make my voice louder. Even worse, if I turn to write on the board, I now must also project my voice to bounce off the walls for my students to hear. This projection causes my tone to change. To some, I am now yelling at my students. Whatever label we put on my voice, it was not conducive to teaching and learning.

Tackling Learning Barriers

Understanding what can get in the way of teaching and learning is paramount to ensuring our students have the best possible opportunity to learn. As I did research for this article, I came across information that I found fascinating. Some of it I knew—for instance, I knew that when standing behind a person, the person cannot hear me as well as they can when I am in front of them. And I knew that classrooms are full of items which absorb sound, including the very students we are trying to educate. What was fascinating was the fact that changing the angle of my voice in relation to my students lowers the level of my voice. What really shocked me is the number of students who have hearing problems—both permanent and transient. Normally a student squinting at the board has trouble with their vision, but I have never known what a student with a hearing loss looks like (and I still don’t). I have yet to see a visual clue outside of them cupping their hand to their ear, but that action is not often seen with K-12 students.

According to the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), 1.3 out of 1,000 8-year-olds have bilateral hearing loss (loss of hearing in both ears) of 40 decibels (dB) or more. 14.9 percent of students between the ages of six and 19 have hearing loss of at least 16 dB in one or both ears. A hearing loss in only one ear has a tremendous impact on academic performance; furthermore, research shows anywhere from 25 to 35 percent of students with unilateral hearing loss are at risk of failing at least one grade level.

The Importance of Hearing for Learning

The ability to hear is critical to a student’s speech and language development, and a hearing loss causes delays in the development of their speech and language skills. Consequently, these delays lead to learning problems as well as poor academic performance and behavior. According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), children who have mild to moderate hearing loss and do not receive intervention services are very likely to fall behind their peers by as much as four grade levels.

In addition to students who have a general hearing loss, hearing students often suffer transient losses of hearing due to illness. According to WebMD, students have six to 10 colds per year, and temporary hearing loss typically accompanies the cold. While the hearing loss is temporary, there are still a large number of days per year when the student is missing instruction due to illness.

Unfortunately, we do not have a magic wand to cure the common cold or permanent hearing loss. We do, however, have the next best thing to a magic wand: technology that helps alleviate some of these challenges. Stay tuned for the next part of the Finding Your Teacher Voice series, which will cover how technology like the MimioClarity™ classroom audio system is tackling these challenges and helping all students hear more clearly.

Want to read all about our new MimioClarity classroom audio distribution system? Click here to learn more!

High STEM school science and technology teacher helps teenage boy and girl with their robotics project. The boy is using a laptop computer. The students are wearing school uniforms.
High STEM school science and technology teacher helps teenage boy and girl with their robotics project. The boy is using a laptop computer. The students are wearing school uniforms.

Expanding Proprietary STEM Solutions to Programming and Robotics

As educators, we know how important STEM learning is to ensure our students succeed not just in the classroom, but out in the real world as well. Students need to develop the critical skills that will prepare them for life beyond the classroom as tomorrow’s engineers and innovators.

Modern Robotics merged with Boxlight earlier this year, enabling us to introduce the Mimio MyBot educational robotics system. This system was conceived and developed to fulfill a need in robotics and coding in the classroom without the added complexity common in most systems. The MyBot system helps students engage in learning experiences, preparing them in emerging STEM fields including software, robotics, and technology.

With Mimio MyBot, students can learn without limits. This flexible, expandable system encourages creativity and exploration while enabling the construction of nearly anything a student can imagine. And since it’s built from rugged, aerospace-grade materials, it’s made to survive the rigors of classroom use.

Steve-Barker-150x150Here’s what Stephen Barker, Boxlight’s VP of STEM Education, had to say about this exciting new technology:

What Is Mimio MyBot?
The Mimio MyBot is an innovative K-12 robotics system that helps students develop skills and a passion for coding and robotics. Through the cohesive software platform, educators receive a solution complete with a robust curriculum, STEM lessons, tutorials, and videos.

Why Are Coding and Robotics Important in Education?
There are several compelling reasons why it makes sense to teach all students coding, regardless of where their interests might lie. For one thing, exposing all students to coding as part of the school curriculum might change their minds about a career in computer science and open the door to new possibilities. Learning what it means to write code could help students overcome stereotypes about who coders are and what they do, perhaps putting them on a path to a promising career.

Why is this so important? Because the nation’s economy is going to need more computer programmers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for software developers overall will grow by 24 percent by 2026. Additionally, the need for application developers will grow by 31 percent.

What’s Next for Boxlight and Mimio MyBot?
We are excited about working with the Buzz Aldrin Family Foundation and ShareSpace Education Foundation in bringing Mimio MyBot to districts, schools, and community learning centers around the United States as early as this summer!

Want to learn more about our brand-new educational robotics system? Click here to discover Mimio MyBot!

The Power of Belief

Educators tend to focus on what students know in school. We teach, we test, and we intervene if needed. We also take into consideration the social and emotional wellbeing of students, caring about their socialization and their effort. But one of the most foundational factors in a student’s future is often ignored. One thing that, when changed, can literally change the course of a person’s life: their belief.

How often do teachers ask their students, “Do you believe you can be successful with this? Do you think you can do it if you apply yourself?” I have found this is very rare, but it really matters more than much of what we do.

Considering the Research

To take a quick look at some research, we will use Robert Dilt’s Nested Levels of Learning (or Logical Levels, depending on your translation). Dilt takes a psychological and neurological approach to the topic and lists five different areas that need addressing if learning (or belief) is to occur.

The levels begin at the most basic: the environment. In order for a student to learn, they must have an environment that is conducive to learning. Even though this is true, more than this is needed—like a pyramid, the levels build on each other. The second level is behaviors. We can change the behaviors of a student—mainly through rewards or consequences—but again, this isn’t enough to make lasting change. The third level is capabilities. We can teach the student new skills so that they are capable of success. The fourth level is the belief system. This is at the core of the person and comes directly from the fifth (final level): the foundational level of identity. The student may have all that we think they need—the environment, the behaviors, and the capabilities—but unless they believe, which forms their identity, lasting change really isn’t possible.

This model is one of many, so teachers might not agree with it, but we probably all have anecdotal examples of kids who we thought would make it. These kids seemed to have everything the needed in place: grades, work ethic, etc. But if that student doesn’t identify as a high school graduate or a college-bound student, the rest doesn’t really matter. As educators, we don’t understand why a student would choose something like this or throw away a great opportunity. What we don’t know is what the student believed and what they identified as.

The Participation Trophy Debate

As we take the long view with our students, looking at where they want to be in life someday and not just what their current grades are, we see how important knowing a students’ beliefs really is. And sharing beliefs isn’t something that we readily do in our culture. Most students don’t feel like teachers know them well, so they most likely aren’t going to feel comfortable sharing something as deeply personal as beliefs about identity.

There have been times in the past decade when people have bashed the participation trophy culture—the sentiment of this being that we’re trying to falsely build up student self-esteem. There could be some truth to this, and sometimes there is overkill, but we know from Dilt’s research that if a student believes they can do things, this belief can impact their identity. Until they see themselves as a person who can go to college or believe that they can get a passing score on the SAT, all the intervention in the world is for naught. So, we give trophies. We give students recognition that their small successes are not just part of making teachers happy, but part of who they are as a person—someone who is successful. This is a teacher’s primary job: to instill hope.

Think of how many times you might have sat in a student meeting and heard a parent say things like, “I wasn’t any good at math either” or “She comes by it honestly, I’m just like that.” These kinds of comments begin to form a student’s identity from early on. The reality might be that a student could be good at math, but they just don’t believe they are (it isn’t who they are) and therefore they don’t succeed at it.

I even fell into this trap myself as a parent recently. My wife and I are not musical at all and cannot carry a tune. We have guided our kids into things that we are good at: sports, academics, reading, etc. When our son came home telling us about a solo in the 5th grade music program, I inwardly cringed. I didn’t see him as a singer because I was never one myself. I was so proud of him for trying and was really taken aback when he did a great job. I had created an identity in him that I hadn’t intended, but through the encouragement of a teacher instilling belief in him that he could be successful, he changed his identity.

The power we have as teachers is profound: the power to help students believe.

Want insightful teaching tips delivered to your inbox all summer long? Be sure to subscribe to the Educator blog today!

 

10 Summer Opportunities for Teachers to Recharge and Learn

Summer vacation is a great time for educators to get some much-needed rest and relaxation after a busy school year and intense testing season. However, getting too relaxed can make for a rough transition into the next school year. To take full advantage of your well-deserved free time, it’s important to fill your summer with productive, fun, and fulfilling activities that will leave you refreshed and ready to dive into another great year come fall.

Here are 10 ways you can be productive this summer while still having fun:

  1. Serve and study while you travel

Join a cross-cultural exchange program and travel to a foreign country for free by exchanging your skills as an educator for travel to and living expenses in countries all over the world. Some programs require serving as a teacher, while others involve a study program and creation of resources for other educators to use in the future.

  1. Join a fitness class or club

If you’ve been wanting to try out a fun fitness class or join a local gym but haven’t had the time or energy to do so during the school year, now is your chance! Many fitness clubs offer membership discounts for educators—just make sure to bring your teacher ID when you go to sign up!

  1. Attend ISTE

One of the year’s hottest EdTech events comes around every summer in June, bringing together educators, education leaders, and EdTech vendors from all over the world. Attend ISTE this year from June 23–26 to discover new EdTech trends and products, network with fellow education professionals, and brainstorm and share creative ideas and best practices for implementing technology in the classroom.

  1. Put time into your hobby

Whether you’re a master painter or have been wanting to learn how to knit, summer vacation is a great time to dive into a hobby. If your hobby involves making a final product, try selling your creations online through Etsy or at a local artist market to make some extra cash.

  1. Teach English online

If you’re looking for some part-time work over the summer but can’t leave your kids to go to a physical job, try teaching English online from home. Your teaching credentials and experience will make you the perfect candidate, and you’ll make as much as $25 an hour—all on your own schedule.

  1. Volunteer your time

If you have time to give over the break, find a local organization to volunteer with. Community service can be an enriching opportunity to help others and meet new people. If you have kids, bring them along to teach them the importance of serving their community while you enjoy some time together out of the house.

  1. Schedule all of your annual appointments

This one might not be so fun, but it can be a really productive use of your free time to schedule your regular dentist, annual physical, and routine eye appointments during the summer. Save your days off during the school year for when you really need them—not for annual appointments that can be done over summer vacation.

  1. Read some of the books that have been on your list forever

During the school year, you may find your reading list stacking up fast, but after a long day of teaching and grading papers, reading a book for leisure is probably the last thing on your mind. Summer is a great time to catch up on your ever-growing reading list while you have the time and mental energy.

  1. Work or volunteer at a summer camp

At the end of the school year, you might just need a break from being surrounded by kids all day. But if you’re passionate about serving youth year-round, consider working at a summer camp. Many camps are looking for experienced educators to fill directing and planning positions.

  1. Find professional development opportunities

Summer is the perfect time to focus on your personal education and dive into professional development, whether through free, online resources or taking a course at your local community college. Boxlight offers no-cost Quick Learn training sessions that give you the opportunity to earn professional development credits just for attending. This summer, Boxlight is offering MimioStudio™ Educator certification at 50% off, so you can get 6 hours of PD for only $75! Learn more now.>>

No matter what you choose to do this summer, be sure to focus on yourself. After spending the whole school year dedicated to the success and wellbeing of your students, summer vacation is your time to do whatever fulfills you outside of the classroom.

What do you like to do to stay productive during your summer break? Let us know in the comments below. And to keep up with the latest education news and trends over the summer, be sure to subscribe to the Educator blog!

 

The Curriculum Question

A student is sitting down to eat a “meal” of information that has been prepared for them. One teacher offers them a homemade meal as a chef would, with different ingredients pulled together to create the meal. Another teacher produces a quick ready-made meal that has been provided for them (think Hamburger Helper). The student is offered both meals—which will they eat?

This is an overly simplified metaphor, but one that many teachers struggle with. It is also a question that leaders in education struggle with. We want to give teachers freedom and latitude to develop lessons around the curriculum. We know in our heart that this is usually more engaging and has a much higher degree of buy-in from the teacher. But on the other hand, we might read research about instruction that says we need explicit phonics instruction, and then we realize that phonics instruction needs to be aligned from kindergarten to first grade to second grade. We might then realize it makes way more sense to have a canned curriculum that we all use to work through phonics instruction, instead of everyone just making up their own “recipe.” So, we now ask ourselves if that is a better approach.

The Role of Student-Teacher Relationships

This question is a good one and the answers are complex. Different philosophies contend that both are appropriate and valid. But what does research show us about these two different types of strategies?

For starters, it must be said that student learning takes place when the student feels a strong connection with the teacher. Regardless of the curriculum, the approach, or the instruction, this must be in place.

Let’s assume that a teacher has strong relationships with their students. Should administrators and curriculum leaders give that teacher a textbook with a calendar of what to teach and when to teach it? Or should the principal give the teacher the standards that need to be taught and let them figure it out on their own?

Finding the Balance

The answer is probably some of both. Neither of these extremes should occur all of the time. The better question might be when is one of these philosophies more appropriate than the other? And what advantages and disadvantages are there to either?

For starters, I think all teachers should see the textbook as a tool to use and not as the curriculum. Covering material is important, but if we are really teaching effectively, we are adjusting instruction as we go in both pace and depth. In order to do that well—and do it effectively—teachers can’t always stick to the textbook.

Having a textbook and an agreed-upon curriculum anchors the instruction and creates a common language, so there is an advantage to having one and using it. Instead of each teacher doing it his or her own way, there is a commonality to what’s being taught and how it’s being taught. Having blind faith in the textbook isn’t ideal, but it does have its place in the classroom.

The Importance of Professional Development

Teachers should also remember that textbooks are not the be-all and end-all. And even though textbook companies have begun to offer more tiered resources and leveled instructional tools, they still aim for the middle of a classroom. When thinking about engagement, we must understand that whether it is a textbook or another source, there must be engaging strategies that coincide with the material being taught (i.e., even if we are serving Hamburger Helper, we can still spice it up to make it better).

Professional development is key (if I had a nickel for every time I have said that!). If we expect teachers to use engaging strategies and be willing to branch out beyond the textbook, we must train them how to do so. Doing this, and doing it well, also requires time for thoughtful collaboration between teachers. This is why we sometimes see teachers lean on the textbook. For the same reason a parent might grab the Hamburger Helper in need of a quick meal, a teacher might lean on the textbook if there isn’t adequate time to prepare. Even though we know a dinner made from scratch would be better, there is a reality to life that sometime requires a something quick. As teachers try to hone their craft as the “chef” of the classroom, they need time to think and plan.

In the end, the most critical step in the process might answer our question best. This step is reflecting on the lesson and evaluating the learning. If students are learning to the depth that is required, does it matter how the teacher gets there? Again, time and training on that end is critical, but think about how important this is and how rare it is that we do it.

In the end, we need teachers to have time to become “chefs.” We must recognize the value of a canned curriculum when it is appropriate, and, most importantly, we must know if students have learned to know if we are effective regardless of the tools we use.

SummerCert_Email_headerLooking to add some professional development to your schedule over the summer break? Boxlight offers a range of engaging, differentiated PD to help teachers improve student outcomes. Plus, we are offering our MimioStudio™ educator-level certification at 50% off the regular price for a limited time. Click here to learn more!

 

Customer Profile: Refreshing the Digital Classroom

When school districts invest in technology, the tools they buy must be user-friendly, integrated, and ready to use to support instruction—not something that creates an additional burden for teachers. That’s the foundation that Clayton County Public Schools (CCPS)—Georgia’s fifth-largest school district—used in 2018 when it was time to refresh digital classroom tools.

Years earlier, CCPS had spent millions of dollars putting digital technology into classrooms, ending up with a very disjointed solution that included projectors from one manufacturer, whiteboards from another, student response systems made by a third provider, and slates and cameras by yet another. “None of it worked well together,” says Chief of Technology Rod Smith, M.Ed. “From an instructional standpoint, teachers need something that’s seamless so they can save instructional time and focus on teaching students.”

Ready for a refresh, the district’s instructional and operational technology teams developed a comprehensive RFP that yielded a number of different bids and submissions. Boxlight quickly surfaced as a top contender. “They had everything we needed, including interactive flat panelsa student response systemdocument camerasslates, and a software suite to run it all,” says Smith.

Addressing Needs

To date, CCPS has installed Boxlight’s technology in approximately 3,000 classrooms and media centers. Comprised of 38 elementary, 15 middle, and 12 high schools, the district—working with ProLogic ITS—installed 75-inch interactive flat panels with PC modules and MimioPad™ wireless pen tablets in all classrooms. CCPS was also able to provide several MimioVote™ assessment systems and MimioView™ document cameras for teacher and student use at all grade levels across the district.

Director of Instructional Technology April Mayo, Ed.S. says Boxlight’s solution met CCPS’ requirements for new investments by helping teachers maximize instructional time, increasing student investment, and providing opportunities for timely or immediate feedback. “During the evaluation process, the Boxlight solution met those baseline criteria right away,” says Mayo. The all-in-one solution also eliminated the disparate, underutilized technology that had been put into CCPS’ classrooms years earlier.

Supporting Teachers

“Teachers have created a lot of content using other systems and platforms,” says Mayo, “and don’t want to lose this work just because their district invests in new technology. With the MimioStudio™ software, they don’t have to,” says Mayo. “Teachers can take content they’ve created in other applications (i.e., PowerPoint, IWB apps, etc.), insert those files right into MimioStudio, and then use the rest of the Boxlight tools on top of it.”

Additionally, schools have an assigned Digital Learning Specialist (DLS) to provide ongoing training and support to teachers for the entire Boxlight suite of tools. “The older technology required teachers to learn multiple applications,” says Mayo. “We don’t want teachers to spend hours of their own time learning how to use many pieces of software just for the sake of having those components in their classrooms.” With this in mind, the CCPS team placed a premium on finding a partner that could deliver the professional training to ensure teacher success with the technology.

High Adoption Rates

Less than one year into implementation, the project is 96% complete and on track to post very high adoption rates of the Boxlight solution for the 2018–19 school year. In addition to the onsite DLS support, teachers are able to participate in self-paced online coursework, enabling them to earn a Mimio Educator Certification through Boxlight EOS. Participating teachers have reported only positive feedback, stating that earning the certification has allowed them to build upon the DLS support and utilize the platform at a much deeper level in order to support instruction.

“You can walk up and down our halls at any point and I guarantee that the IFPs (interactive flat panels) are turned on, being used to display content, and supporting instruction,” says Smith. “That’s better than what we were doing previously, and that’s good for teachers, students, and our taxpayers.”

The Summer Slide: Teacher Edition

You have no doubt let your parents know about the dreaded summer slide: That time when students can lose progress during the summer months. And I’m sure you have also let them know the importance of practicing those skills over the summer so students can start off the new school year ready and raring to go.

But what about us teachers? What should we make sure doesn’t take the proverbial slide over the break? And are there some things we should let slide away into the summer abyss?

Here are some dos and don’ts for the summer slide:

Don’t let your school achievements take a slide: Take time to reflect to see what has worked well with your students this year. What standout moments did you have this year that really brought your students to the next level? Write it down, make notes, and add to/delete from current lessons, units, and assessments. Spending some time at the beginning of the summer to analyze your instruction and reorganize your files will help you start off the school year on better footing. It is beneficial to reflect while it’s fresh in your mind instead of waiting until August comes around.

Do let your negative energy take a slide: The end of the year is exhausting. You have been with your students and coworkers for over 150 days. You juggle coworkers, district objectives, curriculum, testing, your students’ social and emotional needs, and their academic success on a daily basis. It’s no wonder we all look like we have just been hit by a dump truck at the end of the year! And with that exhaustion can come complaining, negativity, and pessimism. It’s time to let that negative energy take a slide! Practice self-care this summer: travel, see friends, and catch up on sleep. You will feel renewed and ready to start the new school year with a more positive attitude.

Don’t let professional development take a slide: We are in the business of learning, people! I realize our summers are getting shorter and shorter, but you actually do have some time to learn something. With webinars, TED talks, and podcasts, you can do a lot of this learning poolside. Self-care and professional development all at once—it’s a win-win! Seriously, figure out what shortcomings you may have and do something about it. I plan on becoming an Apple teacher and learning more about integrating arts into the classroom. What better example can we set for our students when we show that we are lifelong learners?

Do let unhealthy habits take a slide: I understand and enjoy that Teacher Appreciation Week falls at the end of the year. It is such a special time when the PTA and families let us know how much they have appreciated all we have done for their children. I really love it, but my own lack of self-control kicks into high gear during this time! I wholeheartedly join in with my own self-appreciation by shoving copious amounts of chocolates into my mouth, drinking soda after soda, and not exercising—because I’m exhausted, remember? Well, now is the time to put things into check. Get back on track with your diet and exercise routine, and if you don’t have one, get on it! Just walking the dog and cutting back on sugar can do wonders for your overall health and well-being.

Don’t let inspiration take a slide: Teaching is one of the most inspiring professions on the planet. I try not to take this lightly. For one year, I am the most important person in my students’ lives (aside from their families, of course). I inspire my students to learn, grow, explore, and create every day. Teachers literally change the world one student at a time. We are educating future doctors, lawyers, artists, writers, psychologists—the list goes on! Take time to watch a cheesy teacher movie like Gifted or read a book like Wonder to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Last summer I watched Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and was completely inspired by Fred Rogers. I changed one of my daily songs for my students and sang about how much I loved them at the end of every day, because kids just need to hear that, ya know?

Do let self-doubt take a slide: Almost 77% of educators are women, and what do many women love to do? Self-doubt. And if there are any doubting Thomases out there, listen up! It is so easy to criticize ourselves. Keeping up with the Joneses isn’t just a term for our neighbors. It’s very easy to fall into the trap: my principal likes her better than me, why are his test scores always better than mine, she always has the best ideas, etc. Self-doubt, self-loathing, and self-criticism can wreak havoc on your lifestyle. It’s hard to dig yourself out of this hole, but it is really important that you do so. You are amazing, so be sure to practice self-care, continue learning, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Celebrate your successes and forgive yourself when you fail, because you will fail, and that’s okay! Lean on those who love you—and love yourself while you’re at it, because you are worth it.

Summer is here, my friend. You made it! Now, take some time to let some things slide away and regroup to be ready for fall. And keep the momentum going with those things that energize and excite you—don’t let those take a slide this summer. You will be ready for the new school year before you know it, because we all know how quickly August catches up with us!

Boxlight is offering MimioStudio Educator Certification at 50% off this summer. That means you can earn six CEU credits from the comfort of your couch! Sign up now.>>

June Tips and Training for Teachers

As the school year comes to an end, you (and your students!) might be feeling ready to wind down and get summer started. But the year isn’t over just yet! Keep your students engaged and learning until the last day with our collection of themed lesson content for June:

  • June Calendar and Morning Meeting: School’s (almost!) out for summer. This calendar and morning meeting pack is full of fun and celebration to bring into your classroom as the school year comes to a close.
  • Lesson Renovation | Summer Gallery Pack: This fun Gallery Pack contains summer images, templates, and lessons/activities to engage your students as you count down to the break. Happy summer!

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If you enjoyed the above content, consider joining MimioConnect™, our interactive teaching community, to access more of our valuable lesson content and resources. Click here to register today!

Interested in contributing to our content collection for next year? We are currently working on the 2019–20 Calendar and Morning Meeting packs, and we’d love to hear some ideas and additions that teachers would like to see included. Send us an email at [email protected] if you’d like to provide feedback!

Making the Most of Summer Break

As educators, we know how the summer slide can impact students during the break when they aren’t engaged in learning activities. Did you know the same can apply to teachers? The summer break allows time for teachers to reflect and re-energize for the next school year just a few months ahead. Take advantage of opportunities designed to give you an edge when you have a few less things on your mind.

Boxlight offers a wide range of no-cost Quick Learn training sessions designed to have maximum impact for your classroom. In June, we’ll begin offering our training sessions during the day at 11:00am ET as we kick off our summer learning opportunities. This offers a convenient time to learn whether you’re sitting poolside or in your favorite spot at home, giving you the chance to earn professional development credits just for attending.

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Visually Represent Processes

Make a simple activity even better while adding interactivity and problem solving with the simple use of the Clone tool. For example, students could be provided various numeric equations in a math lesson within the MimioStudio™ classroom software. To help them visually represent the process of the mathematical operation, you could provide them with a graphic that they have to use to represent the problem. Cloning the object allows the teacher to have one item on the lesson that students can click and drag on multiple times to replicate quickly.fish2

To clone an object, simply select the object to be cloned. On the MimioStudio menu, click Insert and choose Clone. A blue border will then appear around the object, indicating that it is now an interactive component. Position the object in your lesson where you want it to be along with the rest of your page design. Select all objects and lock them on your lesson page by choosing Format > Locking > Lockfrom the MimioStudio menu.

You can learn more about the Clone tool in our upcoming “MimioStudio: Formatting II” Quick Learn session, offered on June 12 at 7:30pm ET and June 25 at 11:00am ET. 

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Endless Drawing Possibilities

toolbar-shapesCreating your own lessons can definitely take some time and creativity. Luckily, MimioStudio classroom software has a variety of easy-to-use tools that just make sense and bring a lot of power to each lesson. Built-in drawing tools allow you to create a number of shapes and lines. Additional options that include adding color to a border, fill color, and even line styles allow you to customize any design ideas you have. How you use the objects created can be endless and have a number of possibilities.

On the MimioStudio toolbar, select the Shape tool. You’ll see options that include lines, rectangle, ellipse, triangle, right triangle, five-pointed star, hexagon, and pentagon. Within lines, you will also find additional options that include lines with arrows. Once you select your tool of choice, you can choose the appropriate colors. With lines, you can choose one color from the color palette on the Toolbar. With any of the shapes, you have the option of selecting a border color and a fill color for each shape. You can select colors before drawing the shape, or you may select the object after the fact and choose your color combinations. You’ll also have the option of adjusting the thickness of the border or line, along with choosing from either a solid, dashed, or dotted line style.

Learn more about these drawing tools and how they can easily be incorporated into any lesson in our “Tour of MimioStudio” Quick Learn session, offered on June 4 at 7:30pm ET and June 18 at 11:00am ET.

Interested in checking out more of the Quick Learn sessions offered this month? Click here to view our complete list!

Spring Webinar Series: Now Available On Demand!

This spring, hundreds of educators joined us for our Transforming Learning in the Classroom webinar series. Each of our 45-minute sessions were led by experts and leaders in the field of education and technology, who shared their insights into creating successful learning environments. These presenters work in schools and make an impact every day, and they brought their vast knowledge, expertise, and advice to our series.

We will launch another series in the fall, featuring new topics and speakers to offer their insights into educational trends. If you missed our live spring series or can’t wait until fall to be inspired, don’t worry! You can still be motivated by all of these wonderful educators and innovators by viewing any of our sessions at your convenience.

Here’s just a sampling of the on-demand webinars we have available to you:

  • Teacher Choice = Teacher Success | How Personalized PD Keeps Teachers Learning: Dr. Althe Allen and Thea Andrade from the Phoenix Union High School District joined together with Dr. Aleksandra Leis and Daniel Leis from Boxlight EOS for an informative webinar about improving teacher effectiveness through professional development. Hear as they discuss how putting the teacher at the center of the PD experience has catalyzed the technology adoption process.
  • Rethinking Technology Integration in the Classroom: In this webinar, Lynn Erickson and Paul Gigliotti—two experienced educators and tech lovers—dive into the challenges of integrating new classroom technology. They also share ways to achieve this seamlessly using strategies from the SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition) and TPAC (Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge) models.
  • Innovations Bringing STEM and Robotics to Today’s Classrooms: There are many barriers for providing STEM education to today’s students, but these fields represent the highest area of need for tomorrow’s workforce. Listen as Charles Foley (Chairman of the Board for Critical Links, Inc., Boxlight Advisory Council) and Stephen Barker (Boxlight VP of STEM Education) discuss how educators can introduce the concepts of programming, robotics, and IoT without network infrastructure or expensive workstations.

Missed any of our sessions from previous seasons? You’ll find them on our webinar page as well! You can hear about how classroom design can foster (or hinder) learning, get tips for making your lessons more engaging, and discover how you can bring critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities together in the science lab. All this (and more!) is available for you to access at your convenience on our webinar page, so you can watch when it fits with your schedule.

A multi-ethnic group of elementary age children are playing together outside at recess. They are chasing each other and are playing tag.
A multi-ethnic group of elementary age children are playing together outside at recess. They are chasing each other and are playing tag.

Life Lessons From My Students

Each school year, I spend about two weeks (paid) and two months (unpaid) prepping, planning, and dreaming of the year to come. I attend workshops and professional development, all centered around how to strategically and effectively pour knowledge into the little brains in my care over the coming nine months. It becomes this massive multi-dimensional chess game of student placement, centers, guided teaching, whole-group lessons—the list goes on. What I fail to account for each year is the profound effect my students will have on me and my personal and professional growth.

Being a mother of four small children, getting ready for work is no small feat. Some days have a greater success rate than others. One morning, a sweet little girl remarked to me, “Oh Mrs. Mullen! You actually look nice today!” I replied with a startled, “Oh, thank you!” and then laughed until I cried with a co-worker. I could have scolded my young student for delivering such a barbed compliment, but instead I chose to accept it with the pureness with which it was given. There have been many moments when I could have chosen to focus on the sting from a co-worker’s or administrator’s observation and feedback of a lesson, student progress, or test scores. However, I endeavor to focus on the nectar: The opportunity to improve, learn, and become a better educator.

Small Moments, Big Impact

Playground drama loves to rear its ugly head as spring flowers bloom. The fierceness in which friendships are guarded and quality play time is traded as a high commodity never ceases to amaze me. In the midst of my internal eye rolling as yet another group of girls recount their friendship woes, I begin to think of my own girlfriends. As we have grown, time together has become sidelined as geography, relationships, and children have risen to the forefront as seemingly impassible impediments. With the absolute solidity in which my friendships once existed, I now find them unexpectedly faded. I have realized that I need to rediscover my inner playground fierceness and renew my commitment to preserving quality time for my girlfriends, because these friendships feed my soul in a unique and special way.

Lining up to leave can be fraught with sharp elbow jabs, hip checks, and frantic whispered negotiations; reflections of which can often be seen in the car drop-off line with honking, harsh looks, and ignored blinkers. As chaotic as transitions can be, amid these I have observed many acts of compassion and kindness. True character, as I have heard stated, is how one behaves when no one is watching, no sticker is awarded, and no praise is sought. These young children who make way and allow for another to step in front provide a powerful testament to how I should better treat my co-workers, family, friends, and—most poignantly perhaps—a stranger.

I find myself preaching kindness, compassion, respect, and a multitude of other characteristics to my students throughout the year. Striving to improve their emotional and social development, acknowledging that these little people will grow into adults who are more than just a collection of facts and figures that must be regurgitated on a test. It is continually surprising then, when the simple actions of those children teach me how to be a better person.

What lessons have you learned from your students? Share with us in the comments below! For more insight from fellow educators, be sure to subscribe to the Educator blog.

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