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Posts tagged ‘write6x6’

27
Mar

Okay, All Your Students are Online. Now What?

I still chuckle when I think about every teacher I work with is now doing some form of remote or online teaching. I know it’s not a laughing matter, but I can’t help it. After spending four years as eCourses coordinator at the college, I know the reality of that statement. I’m sure everyone is doing their best. However, I can’t help but think about that select few who wanted to teach online because they thought it would be easy. Well, it’s not so easy after all, especially when you only get two weeks to do it.

It’s easy to post content (documents) online, and most LMS’s make it easy to record video and audio. But the hardest part is engaging students. How do you even know they are watching, listening or reading what you put online? I hope I’m not freaking people out, but trust me, they’re not watching, listening and reading all that stuff you just put in Canvas. They are just looking for the stuff the “counts.” I know I sound pessimistic, but I speak from experience. When I first started teaching online over 15 years ago, the first thing I noticed was that if there was no point value attached, it got ignored. That included textbook chapters, handouts, content pages in Canvas, and yes, even YouTube videos. I was shocked. They don’t like my videos? Did anyone even watch them?

I couldn’t really tell if students were engaging or not with my content, but they were missing huge gaps in knowledge that would have come from engaging with that content. I constantly found myself asking in my feedback, “Did you watch the video?” or “Did you read the handout?” It was definitely frustrating especially since I made a ton of videos. Once I got fed up with that I decided to change the design of my courses. I now have several different formats depending on the course. I made a couple of videos showing how I changed things up that you can watch below, but I’ll summarize here first.

For my ENH114 African American literature class where reading is crucial (Duh!), I changed the course so that every reading is an assignment. Yes, you read that right. Every single reading is an assignment. I call them lessons, and each lesson either has reading handouts, video or audio and then something for students to do. For example, in Lesson 1.1.1 Origins of African American Language, students watch a YouTube video and then write a summary about what they learned. Simple. I create this by using Assignments in Canvas, embed the video, write my instructions and then set the assignment to accept text and uploads for submission. The best part is I didn’t have to make the video. Thank you internet and YouTube.

Another example from the ENH114 class is a lecture I wanted students to read. Again, I made it a lesson: Lesson 1.2.1 Importance of Negro Spirituals that included a recording of me reading the lecture as well as the text of the lecture, and then asks students to answer a question about the content. I use rubrics so the students know what I’m looking for, and it makes it easier for me to grade. The idea that everything I want students to do is graded in some way can be daunting, but using rubrics makes quick work of it. I’ll demonstrate more ways that I engage students in this class in the video below.

For my freshman comp classes, I have a slightly different approach. Not everything I want for them to read and do is made into a lesson, but I do wish that would work. However, I do consistently make some of the content into lessons. You really need to have something for students to engage with on a weekly basis. If you don’t, students get in the habit of “skipping” weeks. Having assignments with weekly due dates draws them into the course. They don’t have to be much, just something that says, “Hey, remember you have this English class over here.” You can see more from these courses in the video below. You can find the YouTube Series I mention here: Crash Course Navigating Digital Information.

Lastly, I teach a hybrid (used to teach a hybrid) JRN203: Writing for Online Media course. Luckily for me, I design all my courses as online courses, so I only had to make a few adjustments in this course to transition to online. The biggest change was adding more online discussions. Oh, I know. That sounds so boring, especially since students hate online discussions. But these discussions are fun. I use FlipGrid. It’s a social learning platform that allows educators to ask a question, then the students respond in a video. Students are then able to respond to one another, creating a “web” of video discussion. They’re fun and students really like these discussions. Some are a little shy at first, but they quickly get over it. I got permission from my students to show a discussion they are working on currently in class. See below.

The reality of the situation is I didn’t create all of this in two weeks. These are things I’ve added as I’ve taught over the years. For many faculty out there now rushing to move content online, my best advice is to pick one thing you can add now to help engage students, and as the semester continues on, consider what else you might be able to add. You can’t do it all now, but just one thing might prove helpful.

Engaging Students in JRN203 with FlipGrid
ENH114 Course Using Canvas, Softchalk, and FlipGrid
ENG101 Composition Course Using Canvas,
McGraw-Hill Connect & YouTube
20
Mar

Where Do Great Ideas Go to Die?

People have great ideas all the time that they never share with others. They secretly harbor them in their heads. This is often where they die. We’re not always given a platform to share ideas, so that’s part of the reason. Another is we often feel our ideas might not be well received, so why bother. Or change is just hard for some and doing things the way we’ve always done them is commonplace. I tend to lean more on the side of people will listen if you bother to seek out the opportunity even if change never happens.

I have what I think is a good idea, and I’m going to share it with you. I don’t have any expectations for change, but at least my great idea is not going to die in my head. Also note, this post was conceived before our current situation with moving courses online. I started this while on Spring Break.

I’ve been teaching online for a long time – since 1998. I can see an inherent problem with how we offer online classes for our students. We open classes. Students rush to fill them, and all the online classes are full weeks before the semester begins. Sounds great, right? Well, it’s not. Not every student who signs up for an online class is prepared and ready for an online class. Many never make it past the first few days, finding it difficult to follow simple directions and get work completed. What do we do with these students? Some drop on their own, others stay and struggle for a while and eventually drop. The end game is that often after just one week a once full class is now left with multiple open spots. These are missed opportunities for students who were never given a chance to even register.

So here’s my idea. Open all online courses 3 days early and require students to complete an orientation. If students “No Show” or can’t complete simple to-do items, they are dropped as a “No Show” from the class. They were given an opportunity and failed. The student gets a full refund and there is now an open spot for another student to enroll. But we don’t allow late registration, so that doesn’t work. However, if we designated some courses as “rolling overload.” I made that term up. It means that faculty can designate the number of overload students permitted to enroll in their online courses. Presently faculty can teach an online course that doesn’t have the required max number of students (15) and are compensated from a rolling payscale, meaning I can teach ENH114 if I only have 10 students enrolled if I’m willing to be paid a certain percentage of the full load. That number used to be 2.04 load for 10 students. Five students would be 1.08 load. These are just examples at this point based on old numbers.

With this new plan, faculty could designate the number of overload students they are willing to teach, and the load for that class would increase by the number. Then after the three day period where students are given the orientation to complete, the actual course load is determined. Here’s the example: I teach ENG101 with a course load of 24 students. I designate 10 open spots for overload (2.04), so initially, my new full-time load is 15 + 2.04 = 17.04. After the three day orientation period, I only have 29 of the 34 students successfully make it through. My new load is 15+1.08 (5 extra students). We have technically helped 10 students. Five were shown they were not adequately prepared for an online class and were given a refund, and five more were given the opportunity to take a class that previously would have been full and closed. And I am compensated for the extra students in my class.

So let’s look at some real numbers, and I’ll show why I know this will work. For the last 5+ years, I’ve been keeping track of students enrolled during the first two weeks of my online classes. This semester I have 5 online classes. The two online 8-week ENG101 classes ended last week, and two new ENG102 online 8 week classes began this week. I already knew that at least 3 of the students enrolled in the ENG102 courses were not eligible to take the class, but I couldn’t drop them from the ENG102 because the semester wasn’t over yet for the ENG101. They hadn’t officially failed ENG101 yet, but trust me; they failed. So there were 3 wasted spots already. By the time all the official stuff happened, we are already in the no late registration stage. But let’s focus on the two ENG101 courses. I started with 48 students and I ended with 34. After the first week, I had a total of 43 students. So 5 enrollments were lost within the first 3 days. Most of the other 9 students were lost within the next two weeks.

Here’s the best part. I can predict after one week which students will not succeed in the online course. As they complete the 7 step orientation, I rank them in order of how quickly and successfully they complete the orientation. The names at the top completed it quickly with very little difficulty. Names toward the bottom are students who didn’t get started right away, required several emails to prod them, and didn’t complete things in a successful manner. The majority of the 9 students who dropped or were dropped after the first week were at the bottom of this list. Only 3 students in the top 32 have dropped or been dropped from the class, while the bottom 7 have either dropped or are failing the course.

Now let’s look at what is happening right this minute in my two ENG102 courses. The orientation was due last night. Both classes were full before we started. I add one off the waitlist and 2 students from my previous ENG101 that just ended, so I started with 51. One disappeared right when I opened the class on Wednesday of Spring Break. Poof. Vanished. Down to 50. Today a week later, three days into the 8-week session, I have 44 students. What happened to those 6 students? Two more dropped on their own. One said she had too much going on to handle a new class right now. Three were complete no-shows. I emailed daily and then called to no responses. They were dropped with a 43 (no-show) this morning. The last was a difficult decision but he was dropped with a 43 because he couldn’t figure out how to complete the orientation and never responded to any of my emails or texts offering help.

So even with all the intervention I still ended up for 4 open spots that didn’t get filled for this 8-week session. I bet there are a lot of students out there right now that wished they’d just signed up for an online class. But it’s too late now, as those 44 students are already deep into the course discussing personal freedoms and learning about writing arguments. Anyone who tried to join now would be too far behind for it to be a fair challenge. The system is just not designed well enough to give more students the opportunity to take online courses. Who knows if my idea would work. It’s certainly not without flaws. It’s just an idea, and now that it’s not dead in my head, I’m good with letting it go. Fly away idea. 🙂

And Write6x6 is a wrap. I hope you enjoyed my brain dumps over the past 6 weeks. I’ll try not to wait until next year to post again.

18
Mar

Remote Teaching: More Questions Answered

So I’ve gotten a few more questions from faculty about moving content online. The questions are good questions indicating that they have the right idea about adding audio and video. After posting on Instagram about using my iPad in some of my videos, Mary wanted to know if I could record live using Notability in a Google Hangout. I don’t usually do it that way, but I was curious too, so I tried it. Notability is a notetaking app on the iPad. It works like a digital whiteboard if you have an Apple pencil. I use it to show students how to correct errors in their papers. I’ll pull up a document that has sentences double spaced and use my pen to show how you can add a comma and conjunction to a run-on sentence and make it a compound sentence, for example. I usually just do these alone and record the screen using the built-in recording feature on the iPad. I can also do the same thing using Explain Everything Whiteboard, but that is not free ($25).

Anyway, this method of recording videos is perfect for the instructor who likes to write on the board while teaching. I don’t do that often, but when I do students like it. Here’s an example of How to Write a Basic Essay that I created in Explain Everything. Now back to Mary’s question. Yes, you can log into a Google Hangout Meet session on your iPad, start presenting, open the Notability app and start writing. As I tried this, I was also logged into the webinar on my desktop and could easily see what was going on on the iPad. I might have to try this in my next webinar class.

iPad and computer screen
Presenting from Explain Everything on the iPad in a Google Hangouts Meet session.

Another media question I got today was about recording audio in a Canvas quiz. Yes, you can do that. Canvas is good at giving the ability to record audio and video either from within Canvas or uploading it from your computer. Most already know you can record audio and video in assignments and pages, but even I didn’t know about adding it to quiz questions. So when you’re setting up your quiz and you add a question, just click the “record/upload media” button on the menu bar. You can record right there in Canvas or you can upload a file recorded earlier on your computer. This is a good solution for a class that is learning pronunciation or a foreign language.

The rest of the questions I got today were about the extended delay for beginning face to face and hybrid courses. I think the messaging just confused everyone who worked their butts off to be ready for next week and now we have to delay. It’s really not fair to those who are teaching 8-week courses that were to start this week. Essentially they are not only moving the content online but now they have to teach it in 5 weeks. That’s crazy. We don’t even teach 5 week online courses in the summer in our department. My advice was to just start now if you’re ready. Students will do what you tell them if you help them. I have two hybrid courses that didn’t skip a beat. We are moving on as planned. They’re showing up to webinars, submitting work, and asking good questions. We’re going to get through this and finish on time.

17
Mar

Remote Teaching. We Can All Learn Something New

This week many of my colleagues are frantically working to accommodate a district mandate to move to remote teaching. For many who have never taught online before, this is a daunting task. Even if they are not being asked to teach online per se, essentially a similar skill set is needed. The number one skill is being fearless. You can’t be afraid or nothing will go right and nothing will happen. You have to have a “F it” attitude and say I’m just going to try it. If it doesn’t work, oh well. At least I tried. Nine times out of 10 it will work well enough (not always perfectly).

I already teach mostly online, and my two hybrid courses are already designed to be taught completely online. So this transition is a simple process for me. But I feel for my colleagues and I’ve volunteered my expertise to help others. So far it’s been surprisingly quiet. I’ll go through a few of the questions I’ve received and my suggested solutions in my next few posts. Let’s start with this one.

I’m still learning new things during this process too. I got a question about how I teach my students to “do the stuff” online. It was a little vague, but I think I understood. The hardest part for me about teaching online is not being able to experience the course and materials the way my students might. I can’t see what they see, but I can show them the way I see it. So I make videos using the student view in Canvas and videos on my phone showing them the mobile version. I use either SnagIt or Camtasia to record my screen, and I show them how I want them to do something. Both are not free tools, but you can do the same thing with Screencast-o-matic, which is free. Snagit is $30 and Camtasia is $170, but GCC may have a few licenses available that you could use, and I hear TechSmith is making Snagit free to use through the end of June 2020 to any organization that needs it. Visit: https://discover.techsmith.com/remote-techsmith/

Clearly I take advantage of working from home by not getting all “dolled up.”

The reason I use Snagit and Camtasia over the free tools is the ease of saving and sharing. TechSmith Screencast® online hosting services allow you to share video, screen captures and multimedia content with others. They make it so simple to record and share. I made a video of how I use this service here.

Stay tuned for more questions I’ve gotten about teaching online or remotely in my next post.

18
Feb

Is There Value in Having Students Do Collaborative Group Projects?

Collaborative group projects in online and hybrid classes – Is there value in having students do them?

I go back and forth with whether I should dump it or keep it. Students hate it, but I think there is value, and it’s a lesson students need to experience. Things don’t always go the way they should, and students can learn a lot from having to deal with this adversity.

I’ve been using a group project in my ENG102 hybrid course for about two years now, and I think it teaches students a lot about collaborating, working in a team, and sharing in the learning process with others. In the video below, I’ll share my process with you, as well as a few tools in Canvas that you may or may not be familiar with: Collaborations, Groups, Perusall and NoodleTools. 

Purpose: The purpose of the project is to teach students the process of writing an argumentative research paper. In groups of four the work through the whole process in four weeks. The only thing they don’t do is the actual research. I provide that for them. Let’s take a look, and I’ll show the tools as they are integrated into the process. 

Collaborative Group Projects in Canvas
3
Feb

Is It Our Job to Teach Students Responsibility in College?

I spend a lot of time each semester revising and updating my syllabus. Some say “a syllabus functions as a contract between you and your students.” So I feel it’s best to have my policies in place and make them clear for students upfront, so there’s no misunderstanding down the road once we’ve started. Over the years I’ve developed a pretty generous late work policy to help alleviate much of the stress that comes along with the unexpected emergencies that pop up during a semester, yet I truly believe that part of what I’m teaching my students is responsibility and how to properly deal with such situations. Having a strict no late work policy only teaches students that life truly does suck sometimes, and there’s not much you can do about it. My motto for students is “no one late assignment is going to kill your grade.” So suck it up, deal with your emergency, get your late assignment in, and accept the responsibility for it all and the late penalty. Move on. Emergencies don’t happen weekly.

My late policy for assignments and essays is 10% off for each day it is late, up to a week late. After 5 days it’s just a straight 50% off. After a week, the assignment or essay can not be submitted for credit. This policy does not apply to discussions or peer-review assignments, as they both require students to engage with one another, and you can’t really do that after the discussion has ended, so no late work for those. I give students several reminders about this policy and missing work. The day after the assignment is due, the assignment is given a 0, and I send a notification to students reminding them that they missed an assignment and what the late policy is. I encourage them to submit the missing work right away. Let’s go! You got this.

Generally this process and policy work out well; however, there are times when it just doesn’t. If students don’t understand or value the importance of being on time or submitting work on time, they make little effort to do so, especially if there are no consequences. If an assignment deadline is merely a suggestion, very few will submit it at that time. I gave students an option once. They could submit their essay drafts by Thursday, and if they did so, I would provide full feedback on the draft with which they could then revise the draft and submit the final draft by Mondy night. If they didn’t want that option, the final draft was just due on Sunday night. No feedback. No extra day. I got two papers submitted on Thursday, two surprisingly submitted on Friday (wasn’t an option), 10 submitted on Sunday, one submitted late on Monday, and two not submitted at all. All 15 papers submitted could have benefited from another round of revision, but only two got that opportunity.

The only way I can see to teach students responsibility is to provide clear expectations and consequences, hold them accountable for those class policies, and reward and praise them when they are being responsible. In the scenario above, the two students who took advantage of the opportunity to revise with feedback obviously did well on their final essays. Students don’t get that option anymore; it’s all built into the process, like a forced acquiescence so to speak. If drafts are submitted, feedback is provided and time to revise and edit is given. If they are not, points are deducted, minimal feedback is provided, and there is less time to revise and edit. Essay grades clearly reflect which path is chosen and hopefully, students are learning what it takes to write good essays as well as how to be responsible for their part in the learning process.

28
Mar

Pain & Suffering or Just Assessment & Evaluation?

That’s how many instructors and students feel about assessment and evaluation. It’s a lot of needless pain and suffering. It always seems so punitive to students who struggle. But assessment doesn’t have to be that way. Many instructors have found ways to teach and use assessments in a way that encourage students to do better the next time. The key is that there is a next time, and that can be the challenge.

In writing courses, instructors can get overloaded with grading. The more a student writes the better that writing becomes, but who has time to grade all that writing. Apparently writing instructors do. However, there are ways to break down the concepts and skills needed to write well and have students practice those concepts and skills without the need of instructor grading. For instance, much of the bad writing that I see, stems from poor sentence structure. Students love a good run-on sentence, with a few fragments thrown in for good measure. It drive me crazy. “Use a comma or a period somewhere, please,” I beg.

Lucky for us at GCC, we’ve found an adaptive learning tool to help us teach students the grammar and mechanics skills, including sentence structure that they struggle with. If you’re not familiar with adaptive learning, it “is an educational method which uses computer algorithms to orchestrate the interaction with the learner and deliver customized resources and learning activities to address the unique needs of each learner” (Wikipedia). The tool we adopted from McGraw-Hill is called Connect, which includes LearnSmart Achieve. LSA provides an adaptive learning system designed to identify students’ areas of weakness. It uses supplementary content, such as videos, interactive activities, additional readings, and even a time management feature, all intended to guide students through content and resources at an appropriate pace. You can see an example below.

The beauty of this type of tool is students are being assessed all through out the process, and the system is adapting to their needs. If they’re struggling with the content they get more resources and more practice. If a student clearly understands, they hit mastery sooner and complete the lesson. So instead of a lot of pain and suffering, students get what they need. Missing a question doesn’t seem like a punishment. It becomes and opportunity to learn why and try again until they get it right. And as an instructor, I don’t have to grade any of that work. That’s the real beauty. My assessment comes when they put those skills to the test on an essay assignment.

Unfortunately, we can’t eliminate all the pain and suffering. At some point students have to write an essay, and instructors have to grade it. Well, more like grade 100+ of them (24 students x 5 classes). And we assign 3-4 essays in each course, so it’s still a lot of grading. But I digress. Once a student submits a finished essay, eager with anticipation of a passing grade, it takes some time to get that feedback back to students. During that span (1-2 weeks on occasion), students forget all about that paper and the effort or lack of effort they put into it. And when the paper is return, the process often ends there. There’s no motivation to do better. We teach that writing is a process, yet we make the process end when we’re ready. I believe with a C paper and especially an F paper, the process is not over yet. The student needs to continue to work on that essay, not the next one, in order to improve his/her writing.

So my assessment technique involves giving students an opportunity of a rewrite. Yep, more pain essays for me to grade. But it works because students have to tell me what it is they did to improve the essay. What skills did they work on? What help did you seek? Did you work in LearnSmart Achieve? Did you visit the Writing Center? Did you schedule a conference with your instructor? So the process doesn’t have to end with an F paper crumpled and thrown in the trashcan as the student walks out the door (clearly that’s an old reference to times gone by). Writing is a process and the only way to get students to write better is to keep the process going for as long as they need.

Example of McGraw-Hill LearnSmart Achieve

27
Feb

Don’t Mind Me. I’m Just Breaking the Rules

I know you’re reading this, but technically this post does not exist. I love Write6x6, but since I’m on sabbatical this year, I can’t participate in any on campus activities. Hence why you are not really seeing this post.

But I could not resist posting about my inspirations for who I am today. No doubt it is those who came before me and had the responsibility to coach and/or supervise me. I was an athlete growing up; pretty much still am to this day, so I’ve had many coaches along the way. And when I started teaching, I realized that department chairs served in much the same capacity as a coach for teachers. My first teaching job was at Deer Valley HS way back in the day. My first chair’s advice to me was: “I’d rather you beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.”

Well, I took that advice and ran! I thought she was crazy, but if that is how she wanted to play it, I was game. The quote is attributed to Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. The idea is not that you abuse the situation and just do whatever the heck you want. It’s meant to encourage others to go for things if they truly believe in it. A lot of good ideas go by the wayside because it’s too complicated to figure out how to get permission. Hopper believed “If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It is much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.” So it’s really about knowing when to push the boundaries.

In my 30 years of working in education, I’ve learned that there are a lot of naysayers, those who can’t think outside the box and just want to follow the status quo or their perceived rules. It’s a wonder we get anything done sometimes, but I think it’s those that push the boundaries and take risks, and often have to beg forgiveness, that help move things along and drive innovation. So that has pretty much been my motto and way of life for the last 30 years. Luckily I didn’t have to do a lot of begging.

So I’d say I was inspired by that first chair, and because I took her advice, I think it shaped who I am today as an educator. It opened up lots of opportunities I may have never gotten had I asked for permission first.

Cheers to Jeanne Sabrack who now teaches adjunct at Scottsdale Community College.

9
Mar

Is It Time for Happy Hour Yet?

That’s a pretty relevant question. It is Thursday, and the To-Do list is fairly long. So why not shirk all responsibility for 30 minutes or so and blog about happy hour? Sounds good to me. Happy hour is the obvious choice for this week’s writing prompt for Write6x6Building Relationships. How do you build relationships with faculty, staff, and students on campus? How important are these relationships to you?

First, I’m going to point out the obvious. There will be no happy hour with students, but everyone else is fair game. It’s the perfect way to build relationships. When I left South Mountain Community College 8 years ago, one of the pluses on my Pro/Con list for leaving the college was building relationships and community. I have some wonderful friends at SMCC and built some long lasting relationships, but not many of those relationships went beyond the boundaries of the college. I just felt like if I was going to spend 6 hours a day with people, I should be friends with those people outside those boundaries – at least some of them. So I left. I felt like a bigger campus, more people would open up those doors. And I was right. I went from having 6 faculty in my department to 40. There might have been more at SMCC if I counted the Reading faculty, but I didn’t really know of any of them. But you get the idea.

Everyone is busy, and teaching schedules can be chaotic. It’s difficult to build relationships when you never see the people you work with. So I made it a habit of walking the halls and spending time in my office beyond the required 1 hour office hour, just so I could connect with my peeps. After a while, I quickly learned that I was never going to get much work done when I was in the halls of 05. I spent my time there popping into offices, talking with colleagues, answering questions and generally just chilling.  It was a great trade off. Not everyone agrees with that sentiment, as there were plenty of closed doors in the hallways.

But there are also many happy hours. Meeting up off campus allows for people to feel free, be more relaxed, and open up a bit more about how things on the job are really going. It gives us all a chance to problem solve together and brainstorm ideas. But it also builds stronger relationships. I work with a bunch of awesome people who travel to conferences for professional development together, submit proposals for grants together, work on projects together, and of course, attend many happy hours, dinners and gatherings in our own homes together. We’re just one big kumbaya song.

6
Feb

In Search of My Inspiration. How Do I Expand Beyond?

I have to admit I’m borderline burnout, but what keeps me going these days are the people I work with on a daily basis. My inspiration comes from all of those faculty and staff who take the time to better themselves and be the best they can be and utilize the CLTE to help them with that. I can’t be a slacker around these folks. Oh no, so I’m inspired to step my game up and help provide the services they need, and it reminds me of why I’m doing this job in the first place. It’s easy to forget at times.

So the last thing I need to be doing right now is agonizing over a journal post, but I’m inspired to do so because of the 10+ posts already posted on Write6x6.com from last week. They are my inspiration to post, to share. They are my inspiration to complete a tedious FPG application for an upcoming workshop. My inspiration to schedule FMS training in the CTLE. My inspiration to send out yet another announcement about what we have to offer, knowing very few will bother to read it. But it’s that few that inspire me.

Recently I attended a district event at SCC called TechTalks. It’s a TEDTalks type of event where 8 speakers talk about their experience with using technology in their life or work environment. These talks are very inspirational, but on this particular Friday I had every legitimate excuse to not miss work and not attend. I’m so glad I didn’t give in to any one of those excuses because that’s all they are is excuses. Attending TechTalks rejuvenated me. It inspired me. It made me want to go and do ALL those things those speakers talked about. I wanted to understand data, play with virtual reality, create portfolios for my students, create OER, and even make a music video despite my lack of music and movie making skills. I was inspired. Again by my colleagues in Maricopa. I’m so glad I didn’t pass up this one of a multitude of opportunities to be inspired because what good am I to you, my colleagues, my students if I’m not inspired to do my job?