YOU MIGHT BE AN ONLINE TEACHER IF…

YOU MIGHT BE AN ONLINE TEACHER IF…
by Viki Gardner

So, the other day, I received another funny email with what is said to be Jeff Foxworthy’s “YOU KNOW YOU ARE A TEACHER WHEN” snippets. I have always enjoyed reading them, and this particular day, the words motivated me to go cyber surfing for something funny about ONLINE teachers. What did I find? Nothing! Can you believe that??!! Well, I said to myself, “harrumph,” and then I decided to “borrow” from Jeff Foxworthy and come up with my own eloquent snippets. I tried to locate an email address for Jeff Foxworthy, so I could ask permission to use his snippets; I really do want to be a good digital citizen…would that make me a good “digizen?”
At any rate, I give Jeff Foxworthy credit for his thoughts and thank him for sparking a nugget of witticism in my own brain files. At least, I hope a couple of them will bring forth a smile, especially if you’re an online teacher. I will start by posting Foxworthy’s thoughts beside my own. Then, below the comparison, you will find a few more snippets of my own creation, and a few that are adapted from tidbits I’ve gathered around the Web. My sincere apologies if you recognize any of these; I will be happy to apply credit where credit is due. All you have to do is let me know. I mean no harm; I just like to make people smile and share the love. Oh, and if you have another snippet to add, feel free to comment!

Below is my response to Jeff Foxworthy’s “HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE A TEACHER?”

Jeff Foxworthy1. You can hear 25 voices behind you and know exactly which one belongs to the child out of line.

2. You get a secret thrill out of laminating something.

3. You walk into a store and hear the words “It’s Ms/Mr.> _________” and know you have been spotted.

4. You have 25 people that accidentally call you Mom/Dad at one time or another.

5. You can eat a multi-course meal in under twenty minutes.

6. You’ve trained yourself to go to the bathroom at two distinct times of the day: lunch and planning period.

7. You start saving other people’s trash, because most likely, you can use that toilet paper tube or plastic butter tub for something in the classroom.

8. You believe the teachers’ lounge should be equipped with a margarita machine.

9. You want to slap the next person who says “Must be nice to work 8 to 3 and have summers off.”

10. You believe chocolate is a food group.

11. You can tell if it’s a full moon without ever looking outside.

12. You believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone says “Boy, the kids sure are mellow today.”

13. You feel the urge to talk to strange children and correct their behavior when you are out in public.

14. You believe in aerial spraying of Ritalin.

15. You think caffeine should be available in intravenous form.

16. You spend more money on school stuff than you do on your own needs.

17. You can’t pass the school supply aisle without getting at least five items!

18. You ask your friend if the left hand turn he just made was a “good choice or a bad choice.”

19. You find true beauty in a can full of perfectly sharpened pencils.

20. You are secretly addicted to hand sanitizer and

finally,

21. You understand instantaneously why a child behaves a certain way after meeting his or her parents.

Viki Gardner (me)1. You can hear an email beep when you are in the other side of the house.

2. You get a secret thrill out of being invisible on Skype.

3. You log into your classroom and hear the beep on Skype and know you have been spotted.

4. You have 25 people that accidentally forget to take you off their mailing lists.

5. You can take all the time you want to eat a multi-course meal, so long as it can sit next to your computer.

6. You wait until you can stand it no more, and then you broadcast on Skype, “brb” and run to the bathroom.

7. You either donate or throw out all your trash, because you can’t use it in the online classroom.

8. You believe you should set up your desktop in the wet bar.

9. You want to slap the next person who says “Must be nice to work 8 to 3 and have summers off.”

10. You believe caffeine in any form is a food group.

11. You can’t tell if it’s a full moon without looking outside.

12. You believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone finds out who you really are.

13. You feel the urge to grab strangers’ Blackberries and iPods and run with them.

14. You believe in aerial spraying of No Doz.

15. You think caffeine should be available in intravenous form.

16. You spend more money on Web 2.0 applications than you do on your own needs.

17. You can’t read an educational site without clicking on at least five hyperlinks!

18. You ask your friend if his school is “accredited or non-accredited.”

19. You find true beauty in a classroom where all the hyperlinks work.

20. You are secretly addicted to Diet Mountain Dew and

finally,

21. You understand instantaneously why a child responds in a certain way after reading the first email from his or her parents.

On the Road…errr…Home again…

We just spent a marvelous six weeks in Indiana, where we first visited my 93-year-old father and my older brother in Richmond, IN.

Dad, Viki, Roger

Really, Roger?

We also visited my daughter and her family, who live in
Franklin, IN.Jake and GavinDillon and Karley

My grandkids in order of appearance: Jake (2), Gavin (10), Dillon (12), Karley (8)

Below is Dillon, Karley, Angie (my daughter) and Joe (my son-in-law).

Grandkids, Angie, Joe

My dear husband took care of all of us, including our dogs, JoJo (Miniature Pinscher) and Buttercup (Rottweiler/Doberman mix). Mike with JoJo and Buttercup

So what exactly does this have to do with online teaching, you might wonder. Well, it means that if you have a laptop, there is nothing stopping you from traveling and working at the same time. Your classes go with you wherever you go because they are right there, in your laptop. For instance, we have an RV and during our visit, we worked mornings and evenings, and sometimes, in between.

Laptops and the RV

Traveling and working allows the best of all worlds. At the end of the day, it’s nice to sit by a small lake and watch the ducks go by…Lake with ducks and then tuck your baby grandson into bed…Sleep tight, Jake!

Are there any full-time RVers out there? What are your experiences? Any problems connecting to your online classes? If you travel extensively, by RV or otherwise, tell us your stories; inquiring minds want to know!!

Until next time,

Laugh a little; learn a lot; live long!

Viki

I’m baaaaack….

I know I haven’t written much on this blog for a very long time, and I apologize for that. Life is very busy! For that reason, I thought I might explain just exactly what I have been doing in the field of online education.

First of all, you should know that I hold a M.A.Ed. in Adult Education and Distance Learning. I completed the entire program from University of Phoenix online, so I understand the student position in online classrooms, as well as the instructor position.

Currently, I instruct critical reading and writing classes for gifted and talented elementary students at the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University (grades 2-12, using Moodle), high school writing classes at Time4Writing (where I also develop high school classes, in Moodle), and elementary, advanced writing classes at Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University. The classes I teach at Johns Hopkins are asynchronous and include working in a Moodle environment. The work includes planning, teaching, tutoring and student tracking, including weekly assessments. The students in this division range in grade levels from 2-5, while students in the writing classes are grades 5-12, and all students are gifted and talented, so the curriculum is structured at middle to college level. At Time4Writing (Moodle), I teach all the high school writing classes; I also develop new high school classes and work on special projects for Time4Learning, the parent company. I developed the classes I teach at Northwestern, and they are geared toward gifted and talented 3rd – 5th graders, which means a middle school level curriculum. Finally, I do private tutoring via email for elementary and secondary students.

Besides working with elementary and secondary students, I also teach online classes for adults at Performance Learning Systems where I am certified to teach “Developing 21st Century Literacy Skills” and “Foundations of Literacy: Beginning Reading.” I also work as an SAT essay scorer for Pearson, and have done so since the fall of 2007.

My most recent endeavor is training to be a facilitator for Quality Matters, in the G6-12 program. Quality Matters (QM) is a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses, and I will begin training for them in June. I have previously reviewed online courses for Colorado Online Learning.

For those of you who don’t know me, I have been teaching online exclusively since 2005. Some of my previous online experience includes being an instructor for online high school English classes for both a private school, Advantages Online Private School (using Apex curriculum) and a public school, Texas Virtual School (using Blackboard-classes based on iNACOL standards). In addition, I was an e-structor with Smarthinking, where I worked in an online writing lab to assist high school through doctoral students with their writing. I also taught AP English Language and Composition to at-risk high school students at Aventa Learning, as well as honors and regular high school English classes that I developed, as well as taught, at Excel High School.

At Advantages Online Private School, I was the English department head, and I also taught all honors and regular English classes for grades 6-12. I taught AP Language and Composition classes to at-risk kids for Aventa Learning; I also developed and taught seven English classes at Excel High School.

Prior to my online work, I taught writing exclusively for nine years in a brick and mortar fifth grade (100+ students each year); three years prior to that, I was in a self-contained classroom, where I taught all fifth grade subjects. During my time as a fifth grade face to face teacher, I also worked as a teaching mentor for student teachers, a position that involved instruction in methods of teaching, development of course materials, regular conferences with the students’ university supervisors and ongoing evaluation of the student teachers. In addition, I served as a mentor teacher for veteran teachers who were new to the district.  This involved instructing the new teachers in district policies and procedures, scheduling meetings and remaining in constant availability for coaching and support.

My interest in teaching online grew out of my classroom experience of utilizing technology to teach writing at the elementary level. I was in a fifth grade public school classroom for twelve years.  For nine of those twelve years, I taught writing exclusively to 100+ fifth graders.  My students ranged from remedial to gifted, and all ranges in between.  When technology first presented itself, I saw a new avenue for my writing classes, and as the writing teacher for the school, I required that my students use computers for writing and turning in notes and reports, communicating with one another and with me, conducting web research, and creating special presentations (such as with Publisher or PowerPoint). I also founded and sponsored a school newspaper, published entirely by fifth graders in my writing classes.  The newspaper was run like a regular business; the students applied for positions on the newspaper staff, and were required to undergo an interview with me and my colleague, the reading teacher.  We “hired” the editor and assistant editor, and allowed them to manage the “reporters.” I sponsored the newspaper for six years.  The students sold their newspapers for anywhere from a dime to a quarter, and always earned enough to pay for paper and ink and have enough left over for a party at the end of the year.

Running the newspaper was one of the most satisfying experiences for me as a teacher; another has been guiding students on an individual basis, as I do with all of my writing students. I believe one-on-one interaction is essential to students’ development as writers.  I may offer suggestions for correction and revision, but I leave the actual corrections and revisions up to the student. Many parents have commended me for my “insightful, guiding, gentle, encouraging and positive feedback” which they believe “inspired” their student; that’s how I achieved the Online Teaching Excellence Award at Johns Hopkins in 2007, and I have been nominated every year since then. Many parents of my former students specifically request me to teach their younger siblings.

Well, there you have it! As I said, life is busy! I am looking forward to a busy summer as well, but I am planning to set aside some time to travel to Indiana to enjoy some quality time with my 93-year-old father

and my beautiful daughter and her family. I can’t wait to hug my grandkids!!!

Well, I know I’ve said it before, but I will try not to be so long between posts.

Have a great one!

Viki

In the summer time…

when all the trees and leaves are green…it’s really hard to be stuck inside, working online. Of course, if you’re wireless, and if you have a laptop, you can always go outside and work. Ah, the joys of working from home, online!

I enjoyed a great July, visiting my dad and daughter and other relatives in Indiana. The weather was even nice, most of the time.

There was lots of hugging and baby-holding going on (I have a new grandson, born in May).

I have to admit, I miss being near my family, so we have decided to try to sell our house here in Texas and move closer to my family in Indiana.

This old house is going to take a lot of work to get ready, though, but since I work from home, I can do little things here and there, in between working for the different schools.

I have a couple projects to finish up before the fall session gets started, and then I need to get my classes ready for the first day. I always enjoy starting fresh each semester. I have lots of new, 21st century ideas to incorporate into my classes, like digital storytelling. I want to try that with my high school English classes this year.

How about you? Any good 21st century projects you’d like to share with the rest of us? We’re all in this together, so let’s share our ideas.

Well, deadlines are at hand…gotta run for now. I promise I’ll try not to be so long in between posts from now on.

Have a great one!!

Viki

You might be a blogger if…

…you take an online blogging course!

i_love_blogging

Well, taking the course doesn’t guarantee that you will actually become a frequent blogger, but it will tell you almost everything you ever wanted to know about blogging, and it will certainly help you get started. I am proud to be an alumni of Blogging 101, or the  “BlogWritingCourse,” and you can take the same course, starting October 12!

Blogging 101 is an 8-week, instructor-led course, and it’s only $59.00! What a fantastic deal!

The instructors are fabulous and trust me, learning how to be a blogger in a class with other newbies helps build your confidence, and it’s so much more fun learning and blogging with others who are just like you! You don’t have to spend hours fiddling with the technology and frustrating yourself; just go into the classroom and ask somebody! Quick answers from instructors and helpful support from classmates definitely motivate you to keep going!

I would recommend this course to anyone who is thinking about blogging, who is already blogging but wants to fine-tune their skills, or who really wants to blog, but is scared by the thought of all that technology. At the very least, go visit the site, and after reading about it, then you can decide if taking the course is something that interests you.

Oh, and it is an online course, so if you have not had the experience of taking an online course, then this would be a great place to start! If you are a traditional teacher, thinking about making the move to online teaching, this would be a great first experience. Most online schools want their teachers to have had the experience of being a student in an online class, so they can understand the problems and frustrations faced by their students. Really, taking (and completing) this class is a win-win situation! Not only do you obtain the knowledge to start your own blog, but you also end up with a little something you can add to your resume! Student

What are you waiting for?

The link is over there in the right-hand column of this page…yep, you have to scroll down a little, but you’ll see the gold and black button; just click on it and poof…there you are!

Okay, for those who are too lazy to scroll…here’s another way to get there:

BlogWritingCourse

Enjoy!

Oh, and please come back and tell me about your experience in the class! I need more blogs to add to my personal “blogroll”!

Until next time,

Laugh a little; learn a lot; live long!

Viki

YOU MIGHT BE AN ONLINE TEACHER IF…

So, the other day, I received another funny email with what is said to be Jeff Foxworthy’s “YOU MIGHT BE A SCHOOL TEACHER IF…” snippets. I have always enjoyed reading them, and this particular day, the words motivated me to go cyber surfing for something funny about ONLINE teachers. What did I find? Nothing! Can you believe that??!! Well, I said to myself, “harrumph,” and then I decided to “borrow” from Jeff Foxworthy and come up with my own eloquent snippets. I tried to locate an email address for Jeff Foxworthy, so I could ask permission to use his snippets; I really do want to be a good Internet citizen…would that make me a good “Netizen?” <Really hoping so.>Netizen At any rate, I give Jeff Foxworthy credit for his thoughts and thank him for sparking a nugget of witticism in my own brain files. At least, I hope a couple of them will bring forth a smile, especially if you’re an online teacher. I will start by posting Foxworthy’s thoughts beside my own. Then, below the comparison, you will find a few more snippets of my own creation, and a few that are adapted from tidbits I’ve gathered around the Web. My sincere apologies if you recognize any of these; I will be happy to apply credit where credit is due. All you have to do is let me know. I mean no harm; I just like to make people smile and share the love. Oh, and if you have another snippet to add, feel free to comment!

Teacher+Title

YOU MIGHT BE A TEACHER IF…                      vs.   YOU MIGHT BE AN ONLINE TEACHER IF…

Jeff Foxworthy Viki Gardner (me)
1. You can hear 25 voices behind you and know exactly which one belongs to the child out of line. 1. You can hear an email beep when you are in the other side of the house.
2. You get a secret thrill out of laminating something. 2. You get a secret thrill out of being invisible on Skype.
3. You walk into a store and hear the words “It’s Ms/Mr.> _________” and know you have been spotted. 3. You log into your classroom and hear the beep on Skype and know you have been spotted.
4. You have 25 people that accidentally call you Mom/Dad at one time or another. 4. You have 25 people that accidentally forget to take you off their mailing lists.
5. You can eat a multi-course meal in under twenty minutes. 5. You can take all the time you want to eat a multi-course meal, so long as it can sit next to your computer.
6. You’ve trained yourself to go to the bathroom at two distinct times of the day: lunch and planning period. 6. You wait until you can stand it no more, and then you broadcast on Skype, “brb” and run to the bathroom.
7. You start saving other people’s trash, because most likely, you can use that toilet paper tube or plastic butter tub for something in the classroom. 7. You either donate or throw out all your trash, because you can’t use it in the online classroom.
8. You believe the teachers’ lounge should be equipped with a margarita machine. 8. You believe you should set up your desktop in the wet bar.
9. You want to slap the next person who says “Must be nice to work 8 to 3 and have summers off.” 9. You want to slap the next person who says “Must be nice to work 8 to 3 and have summers off.”
10. You believe chocolate is a food group. 10. You believe caffeine in any form is a food group.
11. You can tell if it’s a full moon without ever looking outside. 11. You can’t tell if it’s a full moon without looking outside.
12. You believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone says “Boy, the kids sure are mellow today.” 12. You believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone finds out who you really are.
13. You feel the urge to talk to strange children and correct their behavior when you are out in public. 13. You feel the urge to grab strangers’ Blackberries and iPods and run with them.
14. You believe in aerial spraying of Ritalin. 14. You believe in aerial spraying of No Doz.
15. You think caffeine should be available in intravenous form. 15. You think caffeine should be available in intravenous form.
16. You spend more money on school stuff than you do on your own needs. 16. You spend more money on Web 2.0 applications than you do on your own needs.
17. You can’t pass the school supply aisle without getting at least five items! 17. You can’t read an educational site without clicking on at least five hyperlinks!
18. You ask your friend if the left hand turn he just made was a “good choice or a bad choice.” 18. You ask your friend if his school is “accredited or non-accredited.”
19. You find true beauty in a can full of perfectly sharpened pencils. 19. You find true beauty in a classroom where all the hyperlinks work.
20. You are secretly addicted to hand sanitizer and 20. You are secretly addicted to Diet Mountain Dew and
finally, finally,
21. You understand instantaneously why a child behaves a certain way after meeting his or her parents. 21. You understand instantaneously why a child responds in a certain way after reading the first email from his or her parents.

More from me…YOU MIGHT BE AN ONLINE TEACHER IF…

You panic at the sound of thunder because you know you have to turn off the computer.u28555339

You wander aimlessly through the house during a thunderstorm.

“Sheesh…how did it get so late?” comes out of your mouth at least once a night.

The verbs, “cooking and cleaning” are not in your vocabulary.

You know the meanings of the terms, “digital dinosaur,” “digital immigrant” and “digital native.”

You think that looking out the window is a form of entertainment.

You get flushed and excited when you hear the beep that signals, “You’ve got mail.”

You live in your PJs and fuzzy slippers.

You don’t know if it’s hot or cold, rainy or sunny outside.

Your teaching day starts at 1:00 pm.

“Turning in early” means anytime before 2 am.

You watch television via YouTube, Sidereel or Hulu.

You think of doing the laundry as a social event.

You understand Internet verbs, such as “Facebooking,” “Myspacing,” “Youtubing” and “Twittering” (aka “tweeting”).

You believe that cereal is a meal any time of the day.

You identify schools by their Internet domains.

You have difficulty reading anything that doesn’t have hyperlinks.

The concept of free time scares you.

You use smileys to communicate approval of your colleagues’ ideas. Smiley%20Face_ThumbsUp

You go by your SKYPE screen name.

You have so many usernames and passwords, you don’t have a clue who you really are.

You believe that your colleagues actually look like their avatars.

You buy Visine in bulk.

Your best student demonstrates her intense passion for a discussion by typing IN ALL CAPS.

Your back is hunched from sitting slumped in a chair, not from carrying heavy tote bags.

You realize your students have forgotten the difference between “surfing” and “researching.”

Faculty meetings are held in a chat room on a Friday night.

You take your laptop on vacation and actually work.

You don’t remember your last “weekend off.”

You can email and cook at the same time.

You find yourself citing websites in conversation.

You have ever attempted to track your own progress across the Internet.

You are startled to meet people who neither need nor want to “Twitter.”Twitter_Bird_Logo_by_iPotion.png

You rate coffee shops by the availability of outlets for your laptop.

You tell the time of day by looking on your taskbar.

You regard ibuprofen as a vitamin.

You consider online job applications to be works in progress.

You have your resume in several different “databases” at all times.

You have given up trying to keep your documents and files organized and are now just trying to keep them all in the same general area.

You have accepted guilt as an inherent feature of relaxation.

You live 500 miles away from your school and you commute to class in warm, fuzzy slippers or flip-flops, depending on the season.

fuzzy slippersFLIP-FLOPS

Remember, if you have another snippet to add, feel free to comment!

Until next time,

Laugh a little; learn a lot; live long!

Viki

What am I doing here?

teaching_online1

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on what I’m doing here–teaching online, I mean. Here I am, teaching a new graduate class on 21st century literacy skills, and yet I feel like such an infant when it comes to using those skills myself. Oh, I know and understand the industry lingo; “blogging” and the “blogosphere,” words like “social networking” and “bookmarking sites,” “RSS feeds” and “tags,” “wikis” and “Web 2.0″ fill my curriculum and often spill off of my fingers (out of my mouth). But I’m no digital native; I only know ABOUT those things. I’m not really very efficient at using any of them, yet. I sign up for all of the latest online tools, and skim and scan the Help tutorials, but I don’t really UTILIZE them with any degree of frequency, so I have very little success with any of them. And why is that, you ask? Because I feel so, so overwhelmed with it all. For instance, I have many email accounts scattered around the Web; I belong to several social networking sites and listservs; I have a few blogs and wikis; my husband and I own several different websites; I have accounts at many online tools and apps. Heck, I even “tweet” on “Twitter”! twitter_bird_follow_me

But I’m never the same person on any of them; why is that? I use Password Safe to keep track of all these different registrations, but here’s my problem. Let’s say I have a student who wants to share a private video on YouTube. He plugs in my school email address, thinking that will work, and it should, except I didn’t register at YouTube with my school email address. Ooops. What happens? Well, I do get his invitation in the school email, but when I go to view it, I don’t get to see it unless I sign up with my school email address. So I do, and I get to see it, but now I have one more username and password to keep track of.

Sigh.

One Stop Shop

One Stop Shop

What I need is a one-stop shop for me, online teacher, Mrs. Viki Gardner. A place that will hold all my pertinent information and actually filter it to the proper places. I should be able to go anywhere on the Internet with one name and password and every place should automatically know me. When a student types in my school email address in order to share his work, that email address should light up and say, “Hey, that’s one of Viki Gardner’s work addresses; I know her! Here’s where that invitation needs to be sent…”

That’s just one corner of the chaos. I could choose any number of skills to discuss, but let’s talk about blogs for now. They’re a huge part of Web 2.0 these days. Everybody blogs, but few people blog successfully. Why? Because most of us are still trying to figure it out. What’s the best way to Blog? What is the best blog host to use? Would this theme be better than that theme? Is this widget better than that widget? What if I want to blog about different topics? Do I start more blogs? What if I want to have more authors; will this host let me do that? What if I want to have more pages? This blog won’t let me do that! By the time we figure out the answers to our questions, we are out of time.

blogshakespearecomicOkay, so now you have a blog; what will you say? You want people to visit and “follow” you, but how do you hold their interest enough to want to come back? And when you do get some “followers,” you really start to sweat; Oh no, now you have to write well and you have to write frequently, or you’ll lose them. Well, I’ve heard that one way to keep them coming back is to wow them with graphics and multimedia. Hmmm…what do you know about that? Can you make a digital story and then embed it into the blog? Can you even turn a URL into a hyperlink on the blog?

Hands to the head again…can’t I just click something and make it all happen?frazzled

Sigh.

In my class, we’re working in Google Documents this week, so I guess I better go refresh my memory…now where are those tutorials again?

Until next time,

Laugh a little; learn a lot; live long!

Viki