by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA
But this year, I find myself in a Spring Break Stay-cation where everyone in my family has to work except me. Doing laundry and lesson plans all week does not sound like much fun.
Instead, I’ve decided it’s the perfect week for a little professional development in the comfort of my own home.
First, wearing my cozy slippers, I registered for and attended the March edition of Microsoft Edcast’s monthly webinars to learn about “Prepping Students for 21st Century Skills Using Office 365.” It was eye-opening to see the International Data Corporation (IDC) Skills Research for Tomorrow’s Best Jobs. The top three skills employers ask for include oral/written communication, detail orientation and Microsoft Office. I also learned at the webinar that Microsoft is not only offering Office 365 free for certain students and teachers, they are also offering MS Office Specialist certifications to students and teachers (and the testing sites were closer than I’d hoped)! This certification would be a great addition to a student’s resume when he/she enters the job market! There is a webinar for almost every month of the year, and the nice thing is, if you’ve missed any of the earlier webinars, you can view them on-demand at a time that’s more conventent for you. (For schedule, click HERE.)
Next, after sipping a nice home-brewed cup of coffee, I’m going to continue working on the “Windows in the Classroom” courses on the Microsoft Educator Network (complete listing of courses can be found HERE). I’ve already completed the Teaching with Technology course which helped expand my thinking of how to infuse technology into my classroom in different ways and thereby differentiate instruction for my students, so I’m interested to learn even more to help my students find success. These courses are also offered on-demand, which means you can complete them in a time frame that fits your schedule. You can stop any time you need to and start right back up where you left off the next time you log on. While on the Microsoft Educator Network, I will also go to the Microsoft Trainer Provider Portal to check out the myriad resources offered there to trainers. (Interested in becoming a trainer? Start HERE!)
Then, while my beautiful kitten Charlemagne sits on my lap, I’ll participate in some Twitter chats like #caedchat on Sunday nights or our own district’s #ptbmtechchat on Monday nights to share ideas with my fellow educators. My Facebook educator friends will undoubtedly have several conversations going about technology in the classroom which I’ll have to comment on. And I’ll also read some more blogs right here on Microsoft’s Hot Topics to get inspired and excited about new strategies, ideas and tools.
Finally, I’m writing this blog. I used to think that blogging was kind of egotistical: a journal of “Look-What-I’ve-Done.” But now that I’ve been blogging for a while, I realize that it’s simply a reflection of what’s going on in my educational technology journey. And while I hope my readers glean some nuggets of wisdom from it, I also realize that blogging has helped me think about what’s going on in my professional life of education and how I can help make learning better for my students and fellow teachers.
When I return to my classroom next week (sans a tropical sunburn), I will be professionally refreshed, rejuvinated and ready to get back to work with my students.
When you join the Microsoft Educator Network, click on the “Resources” tab and you’ll discover Free Tech Tools for Teachers! There are Windows apps, web apps and even Office plug-ins, any one of which might be just the right thing to inject the right kind of tech into your particular classroom.
Tammy Brecht Dunbar, M.Ed., S.T.E.M. teaches 5th grade in Manteca Unified School District and Pre-Service Technology at Teachers College of San Joaquin (Stockton, CA). She will be presenting at ISTE 2015, CUE 2015 and CTA Good Teaching North 2015. Tammy has presented for CTA Good Teaching North (2014), Cap CUE (2014), all three California Subject Matters Project Conferences, Capitol Area Science Education Leaders, and several San Joaquin County Office of Education events as well as others. She won the 2010 eInstruction $75,000 Classroom Makeover Video Contest, wrote a successful Enhancing Education Through Technology grant for Manteca Unified School District in 2008, and was Teacher of the Year in MUSD in 2006. She is on the MUSD Superintendent’s Technology Committee as the district embarks on their “Going Digital 2015” project.