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Showing posts from 2018

Hats off to 2018, Setting Goals for 2019

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Hopefully over the last year or so as a reader, you've come to see how important reflection is to me. You've also probably realized how much I like a good list, so as 2018 comes to a close I want to reflect on some of the top lessons I've learned and set a few goals for 2019. I would encourage you to do the same. There is so much research that supports reflection and goal setting as important aspects of growth and learning. 



Peace Out 2018 ✌️
2018 brought some incredible experiences, but these are the top of the list.

We bought a house! My husband and I become homeowners in May of this year. Our home has been filled with moments full of stress like unpacking, but mostly many moments full of love like our first holiday season in our new home. I am already looking forward to our first of many full years here. I presented at ISTE! When I got accepted to present at ISTE last December, I squealed in excitement in the hallway at school. When I got to Chicago and was about to presen…

2018 Tech Tip #9- Google Sheets

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Tech Tip #9 - Google SheetsWhat is it?

Sheets is one of Google's many collaborative productivity tools, but it is for spreadsheets. Maybe it's because I am in the sciences, but spreadsheets have always been a personal favorite of mine. I love using Sheets to organize data, make data visualizations, create digital sign-in sheets and more. It is easy to use and like the rest of Google's suite, collaboration is at the core. 

How do I get started?

On a mobile device? Download the Sheets app. On a Chromebook/Mac/PC? Go to sheets.google.com Create a new Sheet using the plus sign. Give your Sheet a name and you can get started. There are some additional graphing features that work more effectively when you are not on a mobile device, but overall it is very robust. Tip - Start by using it to organize data. Once you get comfortable with that, dive into the advanced features. If you are a Docs user, try adding your Sheet into your doc rather than making a chart in Docs.  


2018 Tech Tip #8 - Podcasts

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Tech Tip #8 - PodcastsWhat is it?

The first 7 tools I've highlighted have been for students, but it's time to switch gears and highlight one for teachers. I have found that listening to podcasts while I drive or work around the house is a way for me to continue to be a learner. I love hearing new ideas and feeling empowered to try new things. The best thing about podcasts, they're free PD and many of them have Facebook or Twitter communities to connect with the hosts or other listeners. 

How do I get started?

Download a podcast app. I have a Pixel 3 so I used Pocket Casts, but there are loads of options.Subscribe to a few to get started. Not sure where to start? My favorites are the Google Teacher Tribe hosted by Kasey Bell and Matt Miller and the House of EdTech by Chris Nesi. Still not sure where to start? Many of these awesome podcasts are members of the Education Podcast Network. Their site does a great job pointing you in the right direction depending on your interests.…

2018 Tech Tip #7 - Notability

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Tech Tip #7 - NotabilityWhat is it?
Notability is the app my students use more than any other. It is a note taking app fo iOS that allows you to import and export as PDF, handwrite, type, record audio, and so much more. It is very intuitive to use and the students enjoy using it. I particularly like using it to sketchnote on my iPad. It provides an outlet for both organization and creativity.

How do I get started?
Here's the catch, it is a paid app. Once you purchase it, you'll find that it is well worth the price. Once you have the app, you don't need an account to use it, you just get started. I would recommend clicking on the gear and signing into a backup account. Start by making a divider and a subject to keep yourself organized.Within the subject, make your first note by clicking the pencil. Start exploring! Ginger labs got it right with this lab. 

2018 Tech Tip #6 - Code.org

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Tech Tip #6 - Code.orgWhat is it?

If you participated in Hour of Code las week and are looking for a way to continue learning or teaching computer science, Code.org is the place to start. I have used it for single activities, but also as my curriculum for AP Computer Science Principles for the past two years. It makes it so easy to get started with a topic that can be intimidating to teachers. My college degree was in chemistry education, but through a variety of trainings and the materials available from Code.org I am able to successfully and confidently teach computer science.

How do I get started?
Go to Code.org and click Sign In.You can create an account or sign in using Google (my personal favorite). Then you are off to explore! Once you are logged in you have the ability to create classes, access lesson plans, and create your own coding projects. 

2018 Tech Tip #5 - Albert.io

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Tech Tip #5 - Albert.ioWhat is it?

Last year I was searching for resources to help prepare my AP Computer Science Principles students for the exam in May. Albert.io was recommended from one of the AP CSP teacher groups so I gave it a go. It is an incredible test prep tool. It is full of multiple choice and free response questions that the teacher can put into assignments. My favorite parts are that you can get excellent insights on where students are individually and overall struggling and that students can see an explanation, not just a correct answer for each problem. I am confident that Albert.io helped my scores and it has now caught on to all our AP teachers!

How do I get started?

Go to Albert.io and sign up as a Teacher. I love that I can get sign in with Google. There is a fee to use Albert (that we found to be very reasonable), but you can explore some of the content to see how you like it.Once you've worked with the awesome team at Albert to set up your school account, you…

2018 Tech Tip #4 - Flipgrid

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Tech Tip #4 - FlipgridWhat is it?

Flipgrid is one of my favorite apps that I have discovered over the last couple years. It is identified as a video sharing platform that creates opportunities to empower student voice and hear from every student in your classroom. By far, my favorite thing about Flipgrid is the community it has created. I am proud to be an ambassador and have learned so much from Charlie, Joey, Adam, Jornea, and the rest of the team at Flipgrid.

How do I get started?

Download the Flipgrid app on mobile or go to Flipgrid.com. Create an Educator account (which is FREE!) and get started. You'll want to create a Grid and then a Topic within that Grid about what you'd like your students to discuss. (One of my favorites is to teach my students what an "Elevator Speech" is and have them learn to introduce themselves and a little about themselves)Share the Grid code with your students and you are good to go! Here's the best part... if you have questions, …

2018 Tech Tip #3 - Clips

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Tech Tip #3 - ClipsWhat is it?

Clips is by far my favorite video creation app. Let me tell you, Apple really got it right with this one. It's so easy to use to add text, filters, stickers, and music. My students take to it immediately because it has a social media feel to it. Clips makes it super easy to create professional products in seconds and it is such a great way to help students learn about how to tell a story.

How do I get started?


Download the Clips app for FREE on your iOS device. Click "Create New" to get started. Add posters, videos, or photos to get started and hold down the pink button to record. Add your voice with the live titles feature and spice up your video with the stickers and labels options. Click the music note (top right) to add a sound track and then export your finished product. You're done! It's that easy. 


2018 Tech Tip #2 - Google Photos

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Tech Tip #2 - Google PhotosWhat is it?

If you're like me, you're constantly photo documenting in your classroom. It helps me to remember what activities looked like, have media when we are putting together presentations, and it's fun to save those memories. If I wasn't using Google Photos, I would be totally out of space on my phone and iPad. As a Google for Education user, I use Google Photos to backup my school iPad so that all my school related media is catalogued together and it's Free! and Unlimited!

How do I get started?


Download the Google Photos app on the mobile device you use to take pictures (YES it works on both iOS and Android)Log in with your Google accountIn "Settings" turn on "Back Up and Sync" and you are good to go! You can now go to photos.google.com and you will be able to access high quality back ups of all your pictures for free!


2018 Tech Tip #1 - Canva

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As the holidays approached, I wanted to do something a little different on the blog. At this time of year, it feels that everyone is a little short on time (myself included). We are trying to fit in shopping, family time, cookie baking, and hopefully still a little shut eye each night. As we approach Christmas break (only 9 and a half days, but who's counting...) I'll be sharing 10 tech tips to help us close out 2018!
Tech Tip #1 - CanvaWhat is it?

Canva has easily become one of my favorite tools because it is so easy to use and makes beautiful products! Canva is a digital design tool that lets you create logos, flyers, and more. I have used it to design stickers, posters, and update branding for one of my professional organizations. It's student friendly, works on computers and runs in an app form on mobile devices.

How do I get started?


Go to https://www.canva.com/. I love that I can login with Google and don't have to make another account. Click "Create a Design&…

St. E 12 Days of Twitter

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Looking for a way to motivate yourself and learn from build a network of educators to share ideas with? Join us for the #12daysoftwitter challenge.

Step 1- Create a public Twitter account.

Step 2- Each day, post the answer to the prompt and include #12daysoftwitter

Step 3- Enjoy meeting new educators and learning new things!

It's that easy! Follow me at @KammasKersch to get started.


What is hard? Yes. What it worth it? Definitely. [Teaching Grit]

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As a classroom teacher, I do my best to teach life-skills in addition to content. I know that not all of my students will go on to be future chemists and computer scientists, but I know that they will all need to know how to work well with others, think critically, and apply creative problem solving. There are some life-skills that seem to lend themselves to being taught through extra-curricular activities, rather than class. Angela Duckworth discusses this concept in her book as well.

This weekend I traveled with my colleague and 7 students to Boston to attend Harvard's Mock Trial Seminar for high school students. Throughout the weekend, I observed my students learning life lessons that aren't necessarily taught during the school day.

Teamwork & Leadership
Over the weekend, the students prepared a mock trial case in 48 hours that we normally would have prepared over 3 months. To make this possible, they had to work together effectively. The students came into the seminar w…

Physics, Focus, and Board Breaking

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This year has been harder than last, but I still love contributing to my blog and am ready to be back at it. If you listen to the "Ditch That Textbook" Podcast (which you should if you don't), then you've heard Matt Miller wrestle with the idea of not giving up when you miss a post or a few, so this is me getting back on the horse. Yee-haw!

PHSYICS Physics tells us that the force applied (F) divided by the area (A) it is applied over is equal to the pressure (P) exerted. What does this mean? This means that less force is needed to create the same amount of pressure over a smaller area than a larger area. If your efforts are focused on a small area, you are more likely to see the results of your efforts.

FOCUS This year more than most other years, I am noticing that I am teaching very tired students. My students are distributing their energy over so many different sports, clubs, and demanding courses that they are not able to give each aspect of their life the attention…

Show Don't Tell - 3 Reasons for Student Study Abroad

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It is no secret that I have been pretty terrible at weekly blogging during this school year. Rather than share my laundry list of excuses, I'm going to own it. Sometimes balancing all your passions is hard, but I'm determined to get better.

When we want to see results from our students, we frequently use the phrase "show don't tell". It is especially common to hear this from ELA teachers when students are working on writing pieces. We want them to show the reader rather than just tell the reader. I am going to take the same piece of advice. Rather than tell you I'm back, I'll show you! You can expect weekly posts coming at you each Monday morning to help you start your week. Get ready, because I have some exciting new content ready to share with you all as I kick off this second phase of my blogging journey.

"Show don't tell" makes me think about why Study Abroad programs are such amazing opportunities for our students. I have been lucky eno…

True Life: First Day Back with Students

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Did you ever watch MTV's True Life? Where they would show the unseen, little known aspects of activities, subcultures, and more. I know I watched it more than a couple of times. This post is going to be a True Life style look at what it is really like to be back for the first day of classes with students, and a few tips on how to make it the best day.

Goal- Students walk in early for class with smiles on their faces, into a Pinterest-perfect classroom.
Reality- Students are exhausted because they haven't woken up this early since June. They start their day frustrated because unlocking a new locker is hard. Despite working non-stop for the last ten days, you look at your classroom and see all the ways it could be better.
Tip- Your day will start the way you want it to. Ignore the imperfections in your room, because your kids don't notice them. All they know is you took the time to set things out on their desk, smile at them, and say good morning while offering to help them wit…

You're a teacher... so what do you do all summer?

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I've been thinking about how to write this post all summer and I think I have finally wrapped my head around it. I am sure I'm not the only teacher who gets annoyed when she hears "but what do you DO  all summer" so I wanted to provide a little insight into what I do.
I work! I'm not sure if you're aware, but teachers are not making the big bucks. I know I am not the only teacher out there that spends time over the summer (and after school during the school year) working additional jobs. Fortunately for me, I L😍VE the work that I get to do. (See post: Why did I become a teacher? Because I was a black belt first. ) I also attend our international conference every year for ATA Taekwondo in order to be the best instructor and martial artist I can be. #lifelonglearner
I learn! I spend a lot of my summer traveling to conferences to present and to learn from others. One of the best ways to get better at what you do is to surround yourself by other motivated people i…

When was the last time you did something for the first time? - Presenting at ISTE 2018

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I'm a big country music fan. I have had Darius Rucker's "When was the last time" stuck in my head this week. As educators, we encourage our students to try new things and take risks, but how often do we do this same? This week, I stepped out of my comfort zone and did something new and terrifying. I presented at my first international conference, ISTE 2018.

I applied on a whim last year to present on "Launching Computer Science for Every Student in Your School", a topic I am very passionate about. I knew that getting accepted to present at ISTE was unlikely because they receive so many applications, but I applied anyway. 
Rewind to several months later. The ISTE application was barely on my mind as I was in the heat of the semester. I was walking down the hallway after mock trial practice with a few students and my colleague and I audibly squealed. I was convinced I was misreading the email because I was full of self doubt. I had been accepted to present in…

Launching something new? Step 1 - Get Buy In!

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The end of the school year always seems to soak up all the free hours in my day. As many educators can commiserate, there seems to be endless grading, organizing, and cleaning. Now that we are into our first week of summer, my reflective juices are flowing and I am looking forward to a restful and educational summer.

I have had the pleasure to be apart of several launches during my time as an educator. I have watched others launch, I have been part of launch teams, and like every classroom teacher I have launched countless projects, events, lessons, and new ideas in my class. As I sit back and reflect, each of these launches has something in common, they all require buy in.

Let me give you an example...

In my first year teaching, I went to NSTA's national conference. I saw Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams present. I knew as soon as I saw their presentation, that I wanted to flip my class. When I cam back to school, I launched one lesson and the following Fall, I completely flipped all …

Measuring Success- Anecdotes from Teaching AP Computer Science

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This year, I was able to teach our first class of AP Computer Science Principles. It was some of the most fun I have had teaching, though that is not to say it didn't have it's challenges. It was challenging to have days without internet when we were programming on a cloud based platform. It was challenging to have 5 snow days in the months before the AP exam. It was challenging to have Prom on the Friday before digital portfolios were due.

When I started this course, I was thrilled to have almost 30% of the senior class enrolled. This year it was all seniors. They were excited for something new, and from the beginning identified that CS would be important in their futures somehow. I had them take a survey on the first day to get a baseline. I tried to get them to take the survey again on the last day, but anyone who teaches second semester seniors knows I didn't get a response from all of them.

Since my survey data is a little lacking, I would like to share with you a few…

Find Your Teacher Tribe

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When I started teaching, I started building my tribe. My tribe is the group of teachers that builds me up when things start to fall down, who inspire me to be a better teacher and a better person, and who are always there day in and day out.



Six years in, these are a few of the "go-to" people in my tribe. I cannot fit them all in one blog post, so stay tuned for the second installment of my teacher tribe. 

The one you met on day one - She is the one you met at orientation for your new school or first day teaching. She is motivated and passionate, just like you and she cheerleads for all your new ideas as you do for hers. She is a crucial member of your tribe because she started it. She's your first teacher friend.

The one who motivates you - She might not be at your school or in your grade level, but she is always willing to try new things because she loves her students and she loves learning. She steps out of her comfort zone to take on new challenges and she encourages yo…

5 Tips for a Great Conference Experience

If you're like me, you might be spending your Spring Break at a conference or convention soaking up all the tips and tools you can absorb over just a few days. I was very luck to be able to attend my first large scale event as a senior in college when I was sponsored to attend NSTA (National Science Teacher Association) Conference in Indianapolis. I am so grateful for this experience because it immediately showed be the value of getting out of your own backyard, growing your network, and continuing to be a good learner.

Over the last several years I have attended and now presented at many conferences. Here are my top 5 tips to make your next conference experience a great one!
#1 Plan your first conference day before you leave home Conferences are incredibly busy, full of a multitude of sessions, exhibitors, special events, and meals squeezed in between everything else. When I arrive in my final destination, frequently after a flight and a ride to get to my hotel, I am typically hu…

My Top 3 Ways to Take Advantage of Cyber Days ❄

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I'm not sure what part of the country you live in, but I live in a part where it snows. Growing up in New England, we missed a lot of school. We had days where it was snowing, days when everything had iced over, and days when pipes froze. All these days required us to have "snow days". This was all before the age of 1:1 technology in schools.



Things have changed. Instead of snow days, we now have cyber days.
Here are my top 3 ways to take advantage of cyber days!

#1- Have a plan. Make sure your students know how you will be communicating with them. Should they expect an email? Will you post an assignment on your LMS? Will it be posted on Google Classroom? Make sure you have established a plan with your students (and guardians) before the first flake falls.

#2- Use discussions. Find a way to be available to communicate with your students. Initially I held "email office hours" and told students I would be available between certain times to answer their questions.…

Why I Teach Respect First

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Over the last week I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what students are learning through my class and the experiences they have in the extra curricular activities. While I hope they are learning about molecules and reactions in my chemistry class, I also hope they have learned skills they can take with them to help them be successful in life. 
As I mentioned in a previous post, I spend my time outside of school teaching martial arts. I talk to my taekwondo students about respect. It is part of our curriculum. Students learn the importance of respecting themselves and others. It is a critical aspect of learning to be disciplined athletes and citizens with a desire to serve. Because of my unique inspiration to become a teacher, I keep these very fundamental (sometimes referred to as "soft") skills at the center of what I do in my classroom. 
On day one each year, I tell my students that I don't have many rules. I tell them I expect them to show respect. Respect them…

Using Tech Outside of the Classroom

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Like many of you I'm sure, I wear several hats at my school. One of these is that I (along with my awesome colleague) coach our mock trial team. This is one of my favorite hats because it gives me a chance to really get to know my students outside of the classroom. It is also why I haven't blogged in awhile as we are in the final parts of the season.

Just like we need our students to be able to read books that are not assigned for school, exercise when they are not in gym class, and do math outside of the building, we need them to understand how to effectively use technology to make their lives easier. This skill, like all the others, is not a stand alone. Technology is most effective when it helps us be more efficient and do things we didn't used to be able to do.

Example - Mock Trial
As a mock trial coach, before going 1:1, we would print out the 80 page case packet for each student. They would keep a folder of the questions and other things they were working on. At the e…

Wow! My reaction to Dual School's Discovery Day

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Last night I attended Dual School's Discovery Day and I was blown away by what I saw and heard. Dual School is a 10 week program where high school students identify a problem they are passionate about and work to implement a solution. Students are paired with mentors and connected to professionals in their field. The event that I attended last night is the culmination of lots of hard work. The students prepared 10 minute talks, artistic displays that represented their process and project, business cards, demonstrative materials, and more.



Simply put, this event and this program are awesome. I was impressed by several different aspects.

1. Despite not knowing any of the students, it was evident in how they talked about their projects and the process that they undertook, that they had each learned an incredible amount. They did not solely learn about their projects however, they learned a great deal about themselves and several important life skills, such as networking and rapid pro…

Modeling Grit

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Over the last few years, grit has become a buzzword in the education community and beyond, largely due to Angela Duckworth's amazing work. On her website she defines grit as "passion and perseverance for long term goals." Check out her website for more information on Grit and watch her TED talk here.

As teachers, I think we know how to recognize grit when we see it in our students. We see it when a student continues to work their hardest, despite challenges outside of school. We see it when a struggling student doesn't give up and masters a tough concept. We see it when students who felt like the world was against them walk the stage at graduation.

While we know how to recognize grit, do we know how to be gritty ourselves?
Teachers know the importance of modeling. We do it everyday. We model how to walk quietly in the hallway, how to speak nicely to others, how to solve a math problem on the board, and how to write a proper paragraph... but do we model grit?
Do we let…

Why I'm Flipping Out Over FLIPGRID 🎥

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If you are an active Twitter educator, you have probably seen something about FlipGrid or #FlipGridFever over the last few months. I saw the hype start to grow over the summer, but did not know what it was about. I tried it. I loved it. I caught FlipGrid Fever! I have now integrated this diverse tool into my classes and have worked to become a Level 1 and 2 FlipGrid Certified Educator.

What is it?
FlipGrid describes itself as a "social learning" platform. It is a sharing platform for short videos, feedback, and reactions. Users can respond to each other's videos with emojis and comments. It is multi-platform, meaning it will work on just about any device your students might have. They can upload videos of themselves speaking, short movies they have created using iMovie, or screencasts of themselves explaining a topic.

Why the hype? FlipGrid is different than other tools available right now. Students and teachers alike are able to share ideas through video. Video recording …