If you teach writing, you should be a writer.

It’s really as simple as that. Students need to know you have a credible voice for instruction. If you think it’s important for them to see you read, then you should agree that it’s important for them to see you write.

Your writing can take many forms; the important thing is that they should be able to see and read it. I’ve been blogging for several years about being Older Never Old, and I’m also published in the book Teaching Hope: Stories from the Freedom Writer Teachers. I share these with students to let them know I am not just asking them to do something, I am doing it myself.

It also sharpens my skill to practice, just like what I’m asking them to do. If I want my students to read, I need to be a reader. If I want them to write, I need to be a writer. Blogging is a great way to accomplish this. I’d love to hear your thoughts and your experiences about writing. Leave me a comment!

Another resource- Wakelet

I’ve been learning about new things in social media, and one I think I might find useful in my classroom is Wakelet. My first collection is a hodgepodge of sources, but I can see this as a great place to collect articles to share with Teacher Cadets for their blogs. Here is my first attempt at a Wakelet collection.

Twitter on the weekday, Facebook on the weekend. And don’t even ask me to check Instagram!

apple applications apps cell phone
Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on Pexels.com

There’s just so much time a teacher has for checking social media and posting, and I admit freely that I prefer Facebook. I like the format of posts, the control of what I see and who sees me, and the easy options to add files and extend posts, all of which I find more difficult or nonexistent on Twitter. That said, Twitter has a place, and a growing one, in the world of education that I don’t see Facebook ever matching.

In the last couple of months, I’ve been checking and posting on Twitter more frequently than usual because of the Social Media tech class I’ve been taking. What I’ve discovered is that not only my use, but the usefulness, of social media can be easily categorized into the same categories that drive my life.

Twitter is my Monday through Thursday connection outside the walls of my classroom and school, and Facebook is my weekend getaway. During the school week I post about cool things in my classroom, participate in Twitter chats, and read tweets and re-tweets from my colleagues. I am inspired by education leaders I’ve never met, challenged by great thinkers and writers, and intrigued by clever tweetsters.

On the weekends, I catch up with family and friends on Facebook. I see what they’ve done on holidays and how cute their children are in costume, what they’re reposting that might also strike a chord with me, even what they had for dinner. On holidays when I have extended time, I’ll check Instagram. I might even post something every few months, but my interest in influencers and stories is just not very high.

So, yes, Twitter has been become my work week friend. Check me out @mrsjacksondfhs and give me a follow Monday through Thursday, but unless you really know me, don’t ask me to become your Facebook friend. I’m keeping my weekends private.

Digital Citizenship

Sometimes you just have to be forced to do something, and after you do it, you’re pretty happy about it. Such is the case with a lesson plan I had to create for a class I’m taking for the SC requirement of tech proficiency.

I love the #DigCitCommit movement. Learning about digital citizenship gave me more enthusiasm for creating a lesson for my AP Literature students about the Congo. Since I teach two novels set in the Congo in different time periods, I want my students to learn as much as they can about this region and its sordid history. To that end, I created this lesson to help them explore, explain, and apply.


I recommend this podcast!

Education Rockstars is a brand new podcast by one of the most amazing educators I’ve ever known – Dr. Ann Marie Taylor. What she brings to this crowded field is an unwavering positivity and firm belief in what matters most! I urge you to give it a listen – wherever you get your podcasts! Here’s a link to the iTunes download.

You, too, can be a graphic artist!

There are so many tools that make it easy to be a graphic artist, or at least pretend to be. Granted, these tools like Adobe Spark which I used to create the image above, make bloggers give the appearance of professionalism. I wonder, though, if we aren’t contributing to the “fake news” epidemic. Hear me out.

I am not a graphic artist. I’m not even a good doodler. With such cool graphics at my fingertips, though, I can fool you. I can create a website, business card, flier, without knowing the first thing about graphic arts. Having a professional looking document also allows me to “pose” as a professional. I could easily make up a beautiful flier advertising my services as a hair stylist, and because we have been long-accustomed to judging authenticity by appearance, you would believe me. But I am not a hairstylist. Not even close.

Perhaps we need to evolve in how we choose and judge because these awesome tools make it very easy to be “poser.” I’m not complaining about them; I am just offering another view to the inherent dangers in the ease of access to wonderful tools like Adobe Spark.

Video Reveals Learning Disability Reality

My Teacher Cadets are learning about special education, and video is the best tool I have to show them the various categories. Of all of the videos I have shown over the years, though, “F.A.T. City” remains at the top. Invariable, students will see either themselves or a family member in this video, and the comments and discussion following the viewing are wonderful for extended learning.

Although the video is old, it is quite relevant, and it also gives me the opportunity to talk about nomenclature and the evolution of terminology in the world of special ed. The facilitator, a well-known expert in learning disabilities, uses the R-word as he introduces the immersion experience that will be presented on video. At the time, this was perfectly acceptable, but because it is before my seniors were aware of special ed, they could be shocked by it. I take the opportunity to explain how a word goes from acceptable use to a slur.

This video is not always on YouTube, and I have it on DVD. However, when it IS on YouTube, I prefer to show it there because I can link it to the planning calendar and Google Classroom for students to re-watch or see if they were absent.

F.A.T. City stands for Frustration, Anxiety, and Tension, and I do believe it should be required viewing for all teachers at least every few years. Many teachers do not have the understanding that comes even in the first two segments of this video.

F.A.T City

Compromised Email & Digital Footprint

It’s so easy to think that you keep your online presence secure by safeguarding passwords, but today I learned that is not enough.

In checking my online guardian purchased through TurboTax (and only checking that because of an email I received that I would ordinarily ignore), I discovered EIGHT notifications over that last six weeks I had not seen. Every one of them was telling me that my personal Gmail address had been compromised, and each was from a different website where I had established an account. I don’t know how much damage has been caused by this, but if any of those websites had stored payment information accessible when logged in through email, I could be in serious trouble.

I immediately changed my password and vowed to check this more regularly. This issue touches all of us at one time or another, and reading through the material presented in a social media class I am taking has made me more aware. In fact, I probably opened that notification email BECAUSE of the class.

Digital Footprint

In 1996 I was the first teacher in our district to have a 1:1 technology for my students with Palm Pilots. I was the first teacher to have a Windows computer and the first to have a Macintosh at Dutch Fork High School. Having been on the front lines of instructional technology, I have signed up and created accounts on so many services and websites that I no longer can count them. Many of them are no longer in existence, but it makes me wonder if I should have kept a list. At the time, nobody could have imagined the explosion that technology would experience and how it would reshape teaching. Still… I wish I had known.