Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Vision, Plan, Execute!

This school year introduces a new era in technology for our district and I am super pumped about it! Our district is rolling out a full Technology Plan this fall and it is not just small talk either. This plan involves the 4 C's that we began with a couple of years ago, Communication, Collaboration, Contextual Learning and Curiosity.  It takes it a step further with Formative Assessment and Differentiation, Digital Citizenship, and Critical Thinking and Problem Solving.  The topics alone sound terrific, but the meat of it all is that it was well thought collaboratively with a huge group of executive directors, teachers and instructional specialists. This is not something that will be the "next thing" or a "fly by the seat of your pants" concept.

This plan is written with many cogs in place to keep it moving. It has a cyclical, continual support system from its implementation to its continuation in the future.  There are a set of Teacher Behaviors and Learner Behaviors that drive the entire process for each of the 7 strands. With each of these behaviors is a rubric that consists of 4 levels of engagement/knowledge and performance. Each teacher will be able to set realistic, measurable goals now. It has been a long time coming and I am excited to see how the teachers and campuses improve.

My favorite part about all of this is that the focus of this technology plan is that it isn't about "Techie Tools" but about good instructional practices.  Wow!  Imagine that! Instruction is at the forefront even with technology.  I feel like my new mantra could be "No excuses now."  Our focus is instruction and good instruction raises good teachers and good students!

Well, with that said, my very, very favorite part is that TEST SCORES are not talked about.  It is implied that with good instruction, test scores will rise! I like this!

Let's look forward to this new school year and work together to make it the greatest!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Happy Summer!

I hope that you are enjoying your summer!  It is so fun getting to see the grandkids and to do things around the house.  If you haven't heard, I have been assigned different schools for next year.  I am going to miss my schools. Hanby, Range, Rugel, and Academy are very near and dear to my heart, but new adventures now await me. I will be at...wait for it...


I have already met with one principal and have begun making plans. I can't wait to meet the other and make plans and continue what my fabulous predecessors have begun!

I am attending ISTE this week.  ISTE stands for  International Society for Technology in Education.  I am so excited because this is and INTERNATIONAL event.  People that I have been following from around the world for years will be there!  You can join in and keep up with the learning and thinking by reading this article that gives some great ways to  "BE THERE" without actually being there:  http://www.coolcatteacher.com/5-ways-participate-iste17-even-youre-not-notatiste17/

I hope you join in!


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Goodbye 16-17 school year!

It's that time of the year!  Super hectic, exciting, sad, crazy, stressful and every other emotion in between.  I know because I am feeling many of the same things that you are!  Every position in this district has its own set of stress and responsibility. None is more important that the other, yet we often think that they are.  We try to compare our jobs to that of others, but we always seem to fall short or think that we have the heavier load. If we are giving our job our full potential, then there really isn't any time for comparison.  There is so much to do and reading this isn't going to help you get it done!  So, on to what will help you!  Below is the newsletter and it covers the end of year procedures and what to do with your Google Classroom.  There are offerings for Summer Staff Development and an introduction to the new Google EArth!

  If you haven't signed up for EdCamp Mesquite 2017, then you are missing out on some of the best professional learning right here in Mesquite.  Here is the link to register:  https://bit.do/mesqedcamp

Watch this video that tells all about what an EdCamp is:
EdCamp 101

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Help! I've gotten a Pages doc and I can't open it!

I personally know how frustrating it can be when you receive a great document that has all of the cool things in it to teach a great lesson and it cannot be opened. It comes to you in an Apple format such as Pages that says that "you need to update your version of ___ in order to open and work on this document."  You call your tech facilitator. You call the helpdesk. Noones has an easy solution.  The best you may get is to save everything on your computer and soon (in a few weeks) a technician will come and re-image your computer.  UGH!  No one wants to have to do that OR have to wait on it to be done.  We want it NOW!  Well, this just happened to me today.  Technical Services finally came up with a plan and the wonderful lady from the help desk calmly and patiently explained to me how I would do it.  She allowed me to go painstakingly through the steps (that she had been sent...no experience for her, either) as I held my breath just hoping that this was all going to work. Of course, it was a document that I desperately needed to work on so that I could meet a deadline!  It never can be anything as easy as a funny story to read at my leisure that would get me caught up in this mess.

Thankfully...it WORKED!  It was such a good plan that I decided to step you through it in this handy little video that I made.  Please let me know if this does not work for you (kudos are appreciated as well 😉 .)

Website and March Newsletter

Now that you are the expert on this, you can continue to read on here!  Thanks to our team of facilitators, we have put together a March newsletter for you to glean information.  It is now located on the district website at the Technology Resources webpage.
          Don't forget to check out the Teacher Feature, either.  One day it could be you!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Recharged and Pumped UP!

NO STUDENTS!  This kind of a day can bring mixed emotions by all teachers.  One is relief that you don't have to be working non-stop all day with the noise and chatter of a full school and a full classroom, yet at the same time you are perturbed that you DON'T have your students because there is so much to teach and so little time for them to learn it. Just how often do you go into a staff development excited to be there and waiting for it to start with baited breath?  Honestly, not very often.

Monday was one of those exceptions for me.  I was so excited to be able to hear not one, but TWO great speakers. I woke up early and was looking forward to going!  I was given the privilege to join one of my campuses to hear Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer.  She has been one of my favorite reading experts for years.  She did NOT disappoint! She reminded us of how a Reader's Workshop should and could look like.  She said that digital reading is just as effective, if not more so with today's children than ever before. Reading digitally can allow those students to have access to more books than ever before, hear the book aloud without castigation, or being chastised, and can continue the reading in any location with different devices.
She spoke of differentiation in a different way than what we normally think. There were four avenues for her focus: Content, Process, Product and Learning Environment.  In the last three phases, she spoke of how technology could and should play a roll in these. The Process and Product can be paper/pencil, digital (recording, creating, reading, manipulating) with the Learning Environment including computers, laptops, iPods, iPads, Chromebooks, etc. In all of these, she emphasized CHOICE.  Without choice, the students lack the desire to engage. One of our district's 4 C's is Curiosity.  How can they be curious without choice?  This got me to thinking of so many options for teachers.  I immediately thought of Choice Boards.  Donalyn Miller spoke of dividing a sheet into Tic-Tac-Toe boards and writing choices on them for the students to choose.  She mentioned that writing should be published in some form or fashion. My brain flew to podcasting, Explain Everything App, creating student websites,  blog sites, Twitter, etc. I could go on and on about all of these things!  I love READING and I love technology!  These two can coexist, intermingle, infuse each other, etc.   Let's get reading on!

Do you know the difference between a good teacher and a GREAT teacher?  I do now, more than ever! My second part of the day was even more exciting, if that were possible.  Todd Whitaker, author of so many books, spoke specifically from his title What Great Teachers Do Differently.  He was funny, engaging and made you squirm.  You know what I mean...when learning and growing becomes uncomfortable, but you know that you need it. Here are many of the points that I gleaned from it:
  1. We all got into education to make a difference. It's people, not programs that determine the quality of the school.
  2. Teaching reading is a teacher's job. Teaching the LOVE of reading is a teacher's gift.
  3. To change student behavior, you first must change ADULT behavior.
  4. Great teachers have higher expectations for themselves than even for their students.
  5. You are the only variable that matters in the classroom.
  6. Be positive! Seek out the "bad attitude teacher" and sidle up beside them.
  7. Treat everyone, parents, students, teachers, administration, etc. with RESPECT!
  8. Great teachers have a filter before it comes out of their mouths. Learn to handle discipline without escalating the situation.
  9. Teach and reflect, then adjust accordingly.
  10. Treat people as if they are GOOD.
  11. Focus on student learning, not the test.
  12. Whiner's whine because it works! Great teachers look to themselves as to how they can make it better.
  13. Be ON everyday...10 out of 10!
  14. Three things to NEVER do is:  Never Argue, Never use Sarcasm, Never Yell.
What a great day it was! What both speakers mentioned was the power of TWITTER! Both of them proclaimed that Twitter is the largest and easiest method of professional development available and that it is the most underused avenue with teachers.  Twitter allows you to connect with teachers, principals, all educators of all kinds from all over the world. You can talk and interact with your favorite "gurus" of education.  Try it.  You will be amazed that they will tweet back at you and it is NOT automatic replies, either. They are true, sincere and live!  You can follow me on this blog, on Twitter where my Twitter handle is @Buffkota.  Sign up today for a Twitter account. If you need help and want to know more about this and how it can help you, just email me.  I would LOVE to show you!


Friday, February 3, 2017

Here's the Newsletter for:  January 2017

Don't forget to use the scroll bar on the right side, so you don't miss out on anything!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


YIKES! Hey!  I know how frustrated we all get when we take students to the computer lab.  We have noticed that when every computer is used and rebooted often, then there are less problems with the computers.  In the past, we have asked you to make a seating chart and stick to it, but we are finding that when the larger sized classes go into the labs, there are more problems. A remedy for this is to use different computers so that ALL computers in the lab are logged in from time to time giving the computer the necessary time for it to receive all of the updates from the servers.  Those computers that are just white screens with the line that never moves are perfect examples of this.  They have been unused for so long that they are taking their sweet, sweet time to receive all of the updates.  It usually locks them up and then we have to reboot them several times.  

Will this solve all of the problems? NO

Here are some steps that you can take when you find a computer not functioning.  
  1. Force it to shut off by holding down the power button on the back left of the computer.
  2. Wait a good 3 minutes an turn it back on.
  3. Not working?  Unplug the computer from the back of the machine.  Wait 1 minute...Plug it back in and press the power button.  
  4. The screen is locked up on a website or program.  Hold down the Option and Command buttons at the same time (located next to the space bar) and then, while holding those two buttons down, Press the ESC key at the top left of the keyboard.  A pop-up box will appear that will ask you which programs would you like to kill. you can select them all or just the one that is not responding.  
  5. I suggest that you choose a different browser if you cannot get a website to respond or behave properly.  Try Safari, Chrome, and/or FireFox.
  6. If it says that your computer needs Adobe Flash, then YOU, the teacher, can click on the install and install the flash player.  BE CAREFUL TO READ EACH LITTLE SCREEN THAT POPS UP!  You don't want to add anything but ADOBE FLASH PLAYER!  When it asks for an administrator's password, just put in your teacher credentials from the district. 
  7. What if Chrome isn't on my computer?  You can choose another browser and type in chrome.com.  Choose Personal Computer. Choose download and follow the steps on the screen.  Your teacher credentials is all that you will need.  (You will have to find the download and click on the .dmg file to get it all going.)
  8. Why are the apps not showing up on the dock?  Please make a work order to the Helpdesk.  
  9. If the Launchpad (Rocket) is on the dock, you can click on it and most all of the applications will be there in icon form for your students to choose!
  10. Still having problems?  HELPDESK@mesquiteisd.org   Please include these things: 1. School Name  2. Room number of location 3. Computer name (sticker on top or back) 4. Etag number (sticker on center back of computer) 5. Description of problem that you are having. 6. Your name and phone extension where you can be reached