All posts tagged: Tammy Dunbar

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Tammy Dunbar: Sharing Test-Taking Tips With Sway!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA One year when I was teaching a First Grade class and we were nearing the end of our week-long standardized testing, one little student was so stressed out that he wrote an inappropriate word on his testing booklet. When I showed it to my principal, she sighed and said, “At least he spelled it right.” No one enjoys standardized testing. Not students. Not teachers. Not administrators. Is that a number two pencil? Did the students bubble things in clearly? Did they put the right answer with the right numbered question? Erase those stray marks, please! The new Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced Assessment is administered online, which brings a whole new set of difficulties and challenges. Wait! The volume isn’t working. Did you turn it up before entering the secure browser? What’s that flashing on my screen? My screen went blank in the middle of my test! What do I do now? But we know testing – in some form – is necessary, and we know we must do …


Tammy Dunbar: OneNote To The Rescue!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA We had to have a Student Success Team meeting for Paris immediately. She had recently completed trimester proficiencies as well as reading comprehension testing in Read 180, and it seemed clear she might need more help than she was receiving. Emails were sent back and forth, but because we were in the middle of standardized testing, it was impossible to schedule a meeting so everyone could review the new data that would guide our suggestions on how best to help her. The new data was difficult to review without getting together: only I had access to her district proficieny scores, our Read 180 teacher was the only person with access to Paris’ reading comprehension data, her cumulative file was in a secure room, and our administrator had the only copy of the original SST recommendations which were on paper.  Then it hit me: why not create a OneNote for our Student Success Team? We had been training on using OneNote for ourselves and our classrooms for several months …


Tammy Dunbar: Add New Spark to Your Class with Newspapers!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA Teachers need fact-based, non-fiction content. We need lots of it. And we need it now. The adoption of the new Common Core State Standards paired with the lack of approved curriculum and funds have pushed many educators to be creative in finding appropriate, timely reading material. That critical reading material also has to allow students to demonstrate independence, build strong content knowledge, comprehend as well as critique, understand other perspectives/cultures and use technology & digital media strategically and capably. (From the CCSS English Language Arts Standards.) Thanks to the Newspapers in Education program, teachers and their students can “read all about it” in daily digital editions of their local newspaper. And the cost is a teacher’s favorite “F” word: Free! Most large local daily newspapers participate in the NIE program. All a teacher has to do is contact their local newspaper and ask about it. We have been lucky to participate in The Modesto Bee’s NIE program for almost 12 years. My students have access to a daily …


Tammy Dunbar: Learning on the Edge of Chaos

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA Successful learning is less about what’s memorized and much more about having the ability to make the right connections. But should teachers be the ones making all those connections for their students? At the CUE 2015 Conference, TED Prize winner Professor Sugata Mitra spoke about creating a “Self-Organized Learning Environment” or SOLE. As he points out, it’s often called “learning on the edge of chaos” because it requires an educator to truly be the “Guide on the Side” rather than the “Sage on the Stage.” Sugata postulated: What would happen if we presented our students with goal-oriented challenges that allow them choice and provide opportunities to solve problems on their own? In a remote village in India, he placed a computer and track pad in a Hole in the Wall three feet above the ground to see what would happen. What Sugata discovered, as he outlined in his 2013 TED Prize winning talk and at CUE 2015, is that if children were allowed to work in groups to …


Tammy Dunbar: A Genius Idea!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA “Have you heard of Nancy Wake?” Isabella had just run up to my desk and her eyes were wide with excitement. “I read a story about her when I was younger, and I thought she wasn’t real. But I just found out that she IS real and she was a spy and they called her the White Mouse! May I please study Spies in World War II for my Genius Hour project?” Genius Hour, or 20% time as some call it, is a movement that started more than 60 years ago. The 3M Company (originally known as the Minnestoa Mining and Manufacturing Company) started their “15 Percent Program” in 1948, which allowed all employees to pursue ideas that came up in the course of their work day but which they did not have time to follow up on. Art Fry, a 3M scientist, wanted a bookmark for his church hymnal which would stay in place without runing the book, and his inspiration became the Post It Note. Then …

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Tammy Dunbar: A Very Edtech Spring Break

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA Spring Break usually means traveling to some exciting exotic destination with family or friends to enjoy some much-needed rejuvenation. 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 …


Tammy Dunbar: Never Have a Subpar Class with Digital Sub Plans!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA It’s three in the morning, your nose is ridiculously stuffed, your throat is sore from all that coughing and you are convinced you are coming down with the next big flu. You definitely aren’t feeling well, but even so, you are struggling with the same decision most every teacher dreads: should I put in for a sub? Unless you are unable to crawl, you ultimately decide against it because being at work sick is much easier than making sub plans. Or is it? With a connected classroom, Microsoft Office and proper training, sub plans from home are now relatively simple to create and share. One method is to create a PowerPoint that walks the sub and the class through their assignments screen-by-screen. My class is very used to starting lessons with a short PPT presentation to get them into the topic and then lead them to the actual assignment. Since we have done many of these together in class, the next logical step was to create a PowerPoint …


Tammy Dunbar: Have You Tried App-Smashing?

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA The choice was easy: either take a bucket of cold water to the head (for which I would definitely be holding my breath) or create a video response that might be breathtaking. For many years, I have enjoyed trying different ways to combine creations from various digital applications and software and put them together to make memorable presentations. This ALS Ice Water Challenge was my chance to do some real app-smashing. App-smashing is combining content from a variety of apps and software to create something both visually engaging and exciting. How much more interesting is a presentation when it includes elements like specialized graphic art or humorous video clips? (Or Mrs. Dunbar doing her best Betsy Ross impression?) App-smashing requires creatvitiy and problem-solving skills in order to figure out a place where all your creations can come together. And best of all, app-smashing can be done across platforms. Back in the early days of home computing, working across platforms was not easy. I can still remember the thrill …


Tammy Dunbar: Making Digital Connections in Learning

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA “Does anyone know where Emily is?” I asked. The young ladies at Table One quickly informed me they had connected with her online with Lync that morning before school. Emily was in Merced, 60 miles away, staying with her aunt while her parents were on a long weekend trip. The big writing assignment had to be done today, and everyone was present and accounted for in Room Nine except Emily. In the past, such absences would mean a a lower grade. But perhaps Emily had taken her new Panasonic 3E – which every student in our district is receiving through our #goingdigital2015 project – with her to Merced? “See if you can get her back on Lync,” I asked her table group. Within five minutes, there was Emily, smiling at me on the screen through Lync. After explaining she hadn’t known until late last night that she was going to be absent, she asked what we were doing in class. I reminded her that it was the day …


Tammy Dunbar: Share Your Ideas at Educational Conferences!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA Standing alone in front of the room, I could feel all those eyes looking at me. Could I hold their attention and keep them engaged? Would they take something away from my lesson? Would they be inspired to continue their learning after they left? This was not my classroom, where facing 34 bright, shining fifth-grade faces is something I do every day. This was a large meeting room at a conference center with more than 80 educators in attendance – and, as we all know, teachers can be the most difficult audience of all. Yet there I was, poised to share some ideas I had used in my classroom with roughly 80 of my fellow educators. Educational conferences can be amazing, invigorating events – you discover a wealth of new instructional strategies, learn about exciting technologies to enhance your lessons and collaborate with incredible educators offering ideas you’ve never before encountered. But have you ever considered presenting at an educational conference?