Category Archives: Teachers

The Importance of Rest & Recovery

Last September, I had my third knee surgery. Two ACL surgeries in my late teens/early twenties had resulted in some degenerative knee problems that I could no longer ignore. So, I went under the knife for a third time. Now, a little more than six months out, I’m almost back. It’s been an exercise in frustration and patience. However, it has also been a good reminder that rest is as important as action. You see, I’m really good at sticking to my physical therapy regimen… a little too good. I’ll push myself too hard and work through the pain (something that got me under the knife a couple of times). What I had to learn this time, is that rest is just as important as action. So some days (more than I would like), I have to skip the gym and rest.

So, what does this have to do with education? Today is the last day before Spring Break. I can feel the mental and physical exhaustion not only in myself, but all over campus. I need to unplug, and so do my students. Taking a break to rest and recharge is vital not only for our physical selves, but mental and emotional selves as well. As educators, we put far more emotionally into our jobs than many other professions. That’s why it’s important to take some time for self care. If you’ve ever read a book by Stephen Covey (especially his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), then you’ve likely heard his parable of why we all must “sharpen the saw.” You cannot effectively cut down trees all day without taking breaks to sharpen your saw.

sharpen the saw

Sharpen the Saw via Stephen Covey

While I won’t be doing a big trip on this break (just an overnight on Key West), I’ll be spending some time sleeping in, reading non-work related books, wandering some museums, and slathered in sunscreen while on the beach. So to all of the other educators, whether you are on break or just looking at a short weekend, be sure to take some time to rest, relax, and sharpen the saw!

Stay on Top of your News with Feedly

I read a lot of news, blogs, and magazines… a lot. People often ask me: “how did you find this?” or “how do you stay on top of it all?” Well, I cheat. Well, it’s not really cheating. I use an RSS reader. My favorite is feedly. Feedly helps me to organize all of my news feeds by category; for me, those categories include: Hard News (NYTimes, Washington Post, etc), Lite News (think HuffPo), Education, Technology, Social Studies, etc. I don’t need to hunt around the newspapers for relevant content. Rather, they show right up in my feed.

feedly

Courtesy of blog.feedly.com

Feedly has some great free features, namely up to 100 feeds, easy organization into three (3) categories, and mobile & desktop access. You can also share stories directly from the preview pane via Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and email. However, it also has some pretty powerful “pro” and “team” features. For a small fee you have unlimited feeds, unlimited categories, clip from Feedly directly into notebooks like Evernote or OneNote, annotation and highlighting, sharing to WordPress (great for bloggers), and an overall faster interface.

If, like me, you’re an avid reader and need some help staying on top of it all, check out Feedly!

Free Meditation & Mindfulness Tool for Teachers

Mindfulness meditation is enjoying a moment in education. If you’re unfamiliar with the practice, mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique” and is often paired with meditation practices. Once viewed as a new-age fad, the benefits of mindfulness and meditation have be backed by science, which have found that it helps reduce stress and provides relief for a variety of ailments from insomnia to pain relief. You can find some peer-reviewed studies from the National Institute of Health. Additionally, Harvard recently published findings that brain scans show that the brains of meditators have more gray matter (linked to enhanced senses, increased memory, and executive decision making). 

Dharma_Primary_School_-_Children_Meditating_2015

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

With these findings, it’s no surprise that meditation and mindfulness are enjoying some attention in the education. KQED Mind|Shift has published a series of articles on the benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation practices in schools for both students and teachers. Also, Edutopia has published a series of articles to help introduce these tools in classrooms. Many educators are implementing these exercises to help students manage stress and anxiety, improve memory, and address behavior in their schools.

Several years ago, I came across mindfulness and meditation practices in a few educational conferences. It wasn’t until I had a series of stressful events that I listened to my friend Larry Kahn and decided to give it a try myself. It has now become a regular practice for me and I can attest to its benefits. Recently, I learned that one of my very apps (I am a paid subscriber), Calm, has implemented The Calm Classroom Initiative to help bring meditation and mindfulness to classroom across america.

After you are accepted into the Calm Classroom Initiative, they will send you “tips, suggestions, and best practices to introduce mindfulness to your classroom and get your students excited about meditation.” This is a great way to bring these resources for both you and your students. Please note that Calm has in no way provided me incentives (financial or otherwise) to promote their program. This is a personal attestation to the value of their tool.

Apple Introduces Apple Teacher Learning Center

In case you weren’t paying attention, yesterday Apple held an event and launched the iPhone 7. However, September 7th also saw the launch of a great new resource for educators: the Apple Teacher Learning Center.

business-925900_1280This free new program allows educators to access training resources for using Mac, iPad, and their built in apps to build creative and engaging lessons. The resources in the Apple Teacher Learning Center can help you to build personal learning environments, harness accessibility tools to empower students who learn differently, redefine assessment, and enhance the tools in your classroom.

The Apple Teacher Learning Center awards badges after you have mastered various tools and stages. Once you have completed all of them, you earn the ultimate Apple Teacher logo badge to proudly display on your blog or print out and post it in your office! Sign up today!

Common Sense Media – Free Digital Citizenship Curriculum (Limited Time)

Common Sense Media has just announced that it’s Digital Citizenship textbooks are currently free via iBooks until September 30, 2016. After September 30th, the iBooks will go to $8.99 per device for the teacher edition and $1.99 per device for the student workbooks.

You can download the books via the iTunes store here.

Must Read Educational Sites for Summer

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers

There are a lot of resources on the web for educators, and it can be challenging to sort through all of that information to find those hidden gems. Here are a few of the websites and blogs that I recommend to educators looking to get started. Some are on the general topic of education while others focus on specific themes or topics. Check out this list and add your own in the comments below!

General Education Topics

Edutopia – Edutopia was founded by the George Lucas Education Foundation to provide a place to share evidence-based practices and programs that help students learn. They cover topics from professional development to digital citizenship initiatives.

EdWeek – Education Week covers topics in education around the country, including public, charter, and independent schools. They report on current events, publish articles, and touch on pedagogical practice. Some parts of EdWeek are free but note that others are paid.

Huffington Post Education – The Huffington Post Education section includes a curated list of stories and blog posts on education. They may cover school policies, digital equity, or teacher pay disparities. This is a great resource for educators who want to keep the pulse of topics in education.

NPR Education – National Public Radio reports on education topics at the national, state, and local level. Always a great resource, NPR reports on topics such as chronic absenteeism or violence in schools.

MindShift KQED – MindShift focuses on innovative practices in teaching and learning. They cover both theory and practice in a way that is both academically sophisticated and accessible in short bites.

Educational Technology

To read the complete list, visit FreeTech4Teachers

How to Get Free eBooks on Your Mobile Device

This is reblogged from my post on FreeTech4Teachers.

With the rise and prominence of eBooks have come a number of resources for educators and students to access free content on virtually any device. Using e-readers, tablets, or computers; in conjunction with apps such as Kindle, Nook,iBooks, Google Play Books, and OverDrive; you can access libraries of books for free on virtually any device. By downloading these free apps, you make your device a digital reading device that is not dependent on a specific vendor. JenCarey-1

Once you have the apps installed on your device, there are many resources you can use to find free eBooks. While books in the public domain are readily available, there are also self-published books, books available to educators, books on special promotions, and even places that will allow you to check out books temporarily. Here are a few places that you can go to find free eBooks:

  • Kindle books – Kindle curates a list of free and low priced books ($1.99)here; come back regularly for newly added materials, especially during promotions and the holiday season. If your school has signed up for Amazon’s Whispercast service, you can even push books directly to students’ Amazon accounts.
  • Nook Books – Barnes and…

For the rest of this article, see the post on FreeTech4Teachers.