All posts tagged: Tammy Dunbar


Tammy Dunbar: Can I Sway You to Blog?

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA Outdoor School (aka Science Camp) is an amazing experience for students in the fifth and sixth grades: hiking along redwood trails with banana slugs or tide pools with colorful sea anemones, learning about precious ecosystems, practicing teamwork in cabin groups and singing joyful campfire songs for five whole days. But the hardest part about convincing parents their students should participate in this incredible life-changing experience is the fact their students are gone for five whole days. One great solution to making parents comfortable enough to allow their students to attend Outdoor School is for the teacher going with the students to blog from camp. Most Outdoor Schools have wireless internet available (at least in the administration cabin), so all a teacher has to do is bring a camera and a computer (or just a smart phone) and spend a little time after lights out to post their blog and pictures. We just returned from five incredible days at San Joaquin Outdoor School in the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains …


Tammy Dunbar: Manteca Unified’s Going Digital 2015 Has Started!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA The quad area before school usually looks a little crazy: students speeding around the benches, yelling to friends across the quad, tossing footballs (hoping to avoid the alert eyes of any yard duty personnel nearby). But last week on Thursday, things looked much different. Students were still gathered, but there was no yelling or running. Many students were quietly seated on cement benches, some standing happily with their heavy backpacks, others animatedly chatting without an increase in volume. What happened? Last week on Wednesday, our Going Digital 2015 project in Manteca Unified School District finally brought 1:1 devices to our campus. We are the fourth school in the district to receive our devices; all devices will be deployed to all students by the end of February. This amazing work in progress started with our visionary superintendent Jason Messer. Next came an upgrading of our infrastructure by Cisco, staff development for all teachers (often by their fellow teachers), training for our students in digital citizenship, device care and responsibility. …


Tammy Dunbar: Enhancing Reading With Technology!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” My husband and I used to read to our two children every night until they were almost out of high school.  There is nothing quite like reading out loud to a child.  You can model how to read out loud, how to interpret characters, how to create memorable voices (my husband did a mean Gollum,), how to predict/summarize, how to reread if you don’t understand something, and how to fall in love with reading. It’s a practice I enjoy continuing in my classroom.  But there’s no technology involved, right? There doesn’t have to be, of course.  But technology can absolutely be used to enhance the experience.


Tammy Dunbar: Use Tech to Inspire More Imaginative Writing!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA Give someone a dull and unimaginative writing prompt, and you’ll get back dull and unimaginative writing. College and Career Ready Anchor Standards call for students to use writing “as a way of offering and supporting opinions, demonstrating understanding of the subjects they are studying, and conveying real and imagined experiences and events.” Students are called to devote a significant portion of their time to writing, including many pieces over both short and extended time frames. So we dutifully assign essays, reports, weekly writing assignments, daily journal prompts, and assorted quick-writes. But if students are not motivated, they will not give their best effort.  If we overwhelm them, they will shut down. As educators, we know the only way to become a better writer is to write. So what can we do?


Tammy Dunbar: Let’s Resolve to Get Messy!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA Too often our New Year’s Resolutions involve perfection: we want to look better, weigh less, and have whiter teeth (but not whiter hair). We want our students to score higher on those standardized tests, our lesson plans to work efficiently and effectively the first time, and our technology to work exactly the way it’s supposed to every time. This New Year, let’s instead resolve to be more like my animated hero, Ms. Frizzle. Let’s take chances. Let’s make mistakes. Let’s get messy. If we want our students to become problem-solvers, we need to let them practice it without worrying about grades or assessments. We need to be comfortable with them discussing ideas and trying them out. We need to embrace this attitude, both in ourselves and in our students. Our students are terrified of being wrong; we need to guide them toward the idea that failure is valuable. Henry Ford once pointed out, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”


Tammy Dunbar: The Gift of Time

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA ‘Tis the season when everyone is looking for the perfect present. Wherever you turn, there are gift ideas for outdoors folks, gourmet cooks, book lovers, animal fans and, of course, tech people. In our interconnected and fast-paced world, it’s easy to point, click and order something that can be delivered right to someone’s front door. But, if you listen to Dr. Seuss’s Grinch, the best gift comes without ribbons, it comes without tags, it comes without packages, boxes or bags! The best gift for anyone on your list is the gift of time. Our students need time to think, to create, to question, to explore. Technology allows us to differentiate our instruction so that students can focus on their personal learning needs. One student may be creating a great presentation on PowerPoint using Office Mix while another is still searching for the just the right resources to copy into their OneNote. When we allow students the time to work at their own pace, we can more easily focus …


Tammy Dunbar: Shortcuts to Success!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA Sometimes, it really is the little things that matter most. “It’s nice that we were given these Surface Pros, but the screen is just too small for me to see.” I overheard this from a fellow teacher as she gestured toward her new SPro on the table in front of her. Without saying a word, I reached over and hit Ctrl+ several times on her keyboard.  Catching my movement out of the corner of her eye (like any good teacher would), she glanced at her screen, then turned to me wide-eyed. “Are you kidding me? That’s fantastic! What did you do?” During a recent computer lab visit, I noticed that one of my students was hitting the Caps Lock button, then hitting the letter needing capitalization, then hitting the Caps Lock button again.  Why? He only knew how to type on his cell phone, and that’s how those devices work. When I showed him what the Shift button was, he turned to his two buddies sitting nearby and said, “Hey, …


Tammy Dunbar: Taking Time to Teach Technology

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA Excitedly showcasing an Hour of Code activity for my grade level teachers, I was speeding through how one could easily project the website onto the classroom screen and model for students how to snap blocks of code in place, programming the Angry Bird’s journey through the maze to capture the Green Pig. When I looked up from my screen, expecting to see looks of amazement on their faces, I saw one of my colleague’s eyes glazing over. She was falling behind and beginning to tune out. “How do you know it has to go forward?” she asked. “And what does a naughty pig have to do with coding?”


Tammy Dunbar: Overcoming Digital Overload One Byte at a Time

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA Do you know what a yottabyte is? No, it’s not a nip on the knee from a beloved Star Wars character. It’s a measurement of digital information. And one I never dreamed would ever be necessary. When we purchased our first home computer in 1987, we upgraded from 10 to 20 megabytes, because we were convinced that was all we’d ever need. But now, the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast for 2014 has included the word yottabyte when discussing the amount of digital information in our connected world. Cisco reports that “IP traffic will reach an annual rate of 1.6 zettabytes by the end of 2018.” Zettabytes? Hang in there, I can explain. It takes 1,000,000 gigabytes to equal an Exabyte, 1,000 exabytes to equal a zettabyte, and 1,000 zettabytes to equal a yottabyte. A yottabyte equals about 250 trillion DVDs of “The Empire Strikes Back.” Technology is ubiquitous. You can’t walk into a grocery store or drive past another car without seeing someone looking at or …


Tammy Dunbar: Teacher Geek is Chic!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA The first day back to school after a lovely summer break is rough on any teacher. There’s so much to do- organize the desks, chart out lesson plans, decorate walls and hook up whatever technology was packed away and locked up over the break. One such a day I got a frantic call from a frazzled fellow teacher: “My internet won’t work!” When I arrived in her classroom (beautifully decorated and much more ready than mine), she pointed to the guilty tower computer. She showed me how she’d tried several desktop shortcuts, gone to internet connections and attempted to establish some kind of link to the web. She had used every trick in her book to open a connection to the Web. “I’ve tried everything. I just don’t know what to do!”