Lesson Planning: Want to Create Summer Professional Development for Teachers from Your Couch to Theirs? Thank You Edmodo!

Why all the fuss about who’s going to who’s house to “meetup” and plan for next year?

Why are you still planning on schlepping to a cavernous school building, devoid of all the lovely sounds of students?

It’s summertime!  Save your gas, keep on your house clothes.  Push away from the desk for good on the last day of school, and declare your school-building off-limits.  Teachers really do need to break away so that they can bring their best selves back in the fall.

Stepping away is also good for, wait for it…wait for it…REFLECTION.

Edmodo has an awesome guide for setting up online collaborative professional development training.  Yea, you could use Webinars, Conference Calls, or other platforms, but Edmodo has it all in one place for you.  And I promise I’m not affiliated with them, BUT, I really like good stuff that increases productivity.

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You could also use the Edmodo group to plan (without the incessant back and forth that I can’t stand at meetings).  On the discussion board, everyone gets to state their piece, vote on a resolution, then move on.

Imagine all the planning you could get done…on the beach!

So don’t put off that trip to Puerto Rico because you have to go to pd or meetup to plan.  Step into the world educational technology and enjoy your summer!

Need help setting up your Edmodo PD or collaborative planning?  This Teacher Speaks LLC is at your service to create your group’s next online professional development or online collaborative lesson planning sessions.

(Remember those people you live with….your children?  your family?  your friends?  your health?  your pet projects and passions?)

Any questions?  Contact Christina.


Lesson Planning: Parents Included?

This post was inspired by an article I read in the Press of Southeast Queens about a recent Benjamin Cardoza High School graduate, Shanelle Davis, who became the first Black valedictorian of her school in 2014.

She came to the United States from Jamaica as a small child. And perhaps this article resonated with me because we share a similar story. Even though I was born in the Brooklyn, NY, my parents were immigrants to this country from Jamaica and England. And I was valedictorian of my ELEMENTARY school class.

How does this connect to lesson planning and parent involvement?

Well, the secret recipe to my success in school had as much to do with my teachers’ lesson plans as my parents’ super strict work ethic. Whether I was at my mother’s house or my father’s house, there was no doubt about how important it was that I be glued to my desk and busy doing homework or reading. And if my work wasn’t correct, I would have to correct it. And if I didn’t bring home As, I’d better work harder.

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Now, the best teachers have strong rapport with not only their students, but their students’ parents as well. They involve parents in classroom and school wide celebrations, school trips, discipline issues, etc.

But one oft overlooked time when parents should be involved is in during the lesson planning stages.

How often do you consider your parents as real-world resources for information and resources that can aid the impact of lessons?

How often do you consult parents about canonical books that were meaningful to them as children?

Why is it that as children get older, teachers and parents become so incredibly isolated from one another?

Of course we know about asking parents to give lectures or stop-by the classroom to do read-aloud with students. But this type of involvement is easy and perhaps superficial.

Many parents have strong opinions regarding what they want their children to learn and others have the ability to impart very strong work ethics in their children.

Give parents a voice in your lesson planning and watch it come alive!

Any questions?  Contact Christina.

Lesson Planning: Google Classroom vs. Edmodo

As you consider planning your lessons, it is helpful to think about what educational technology platform you wish to use with your students.

In my experience, every platform, no matter how simple YOU think it is, has to be taught. You have to ask yourself: What platform should I use? When should I use it? Why am I using it? How will I use this platform?

1. When teaching new technology skills, be sure the content is easy. It is my advice that when teaching your students to use a new platform, make sure the content is super easy. For example, if you are teaching students to, for example, upload a document and share a private link (Google), then make the assignment a diary entry about their day.

When a child has mastered the skills needed to use the platform, then ramp-up the assignment.

2. Introduce one piece of awesome technology at a time. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew. Sometimes you may get excited about using platforms like Twitter, Voki, Voicethread, Storybird, PbWiki, and so on….but save your excitement for the duration of your career. You can’t unroll everything at once…that leads to disaster. And you have a learning curve too. So allow yourself and your students to ruminate within the platform. Once a comfortable level of mastery has been achieved, then you can introduce the next platform.

3. Let everyone use the technology because the more the merrier. This brings me to this point: the more your colleagues jump on board with a particular educational technology platform, the better your success will be. If it is not very difficult to do it on your own, then it will certainly be time-consuming. Students will also buy-in to the new technology more if it has higher stakes for their success in school.

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4. Let the platform be an extension or reflection of your teaching. Be sure the platform you are using is best for your particular style of teaching. The best way to discern this is to experience one platform for 5 to 10 months before determining a good fit. Google Apps for Education is evolving…soon it’ll be called Classroom. Edmodo is also updating and reinventing itself as well. You will have to figure out what works best for you and your students.

5. Let the platform you choose best match the intended objectives of the assignment. Lastly, be sure you match the task you want students to complete with the appropriate platform. For example, Twitter is best for short–140 characters to be exact–discussion. For more in depth discussion you probably would want to create a group on Edmodo.

So is it Google or Edmodo, this one or that? Every teacher is different, do what works best for your lesson plans and teaching style!

Any questions? Contact Christina.

Lesson Planning: Listening for Interests and Strengths



Recently my son stared into my eyes and said, “Eyes, nose, mouth.” And after being prompted to say ears, he also said “Ears.” Now he’s said these words before but this time it was different because:

1. We were chillin’ and watching TV and mommy wasn’t even close to thinking about body parts.
2. He was spot on with his phonetic pronunciation of each syllable.

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So needless to say, I was extremely proud of my two year old! I also felt extremely validated to know that he is soaking up knowledge, even if to save for a later date on which he can shock his mommy.

Lesson planning for my 2 year old is much easier than lesson planning for a high school student, but there are some key take-aways that should apply to any group of students: let their natural interests and strengths be your guide.

So of course, I’m online researching body-part songs and printable posters to capitalize on my son’s sudden proclamation!

Listening to your students is as important as teaching them. They will reveal to you the much sought-after secret to connecting with them and imparting content and skills through your lesson plan.

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