My name is Chris Malanga and I work at Northern Buckeye Education Council/NWOCA as an Educational Integration Specialist. I have been working in the field of educational technology and professional development for the past six years. I love working with teachers, administrators and students as we implement technology in our schools.
I plan on updating this site regularly with news and information about NWOCA, our trainings, and other interesting items about the world of education
I had the pleasure of presenting at Anthony Wayne Schools’ 2018 CREATE! Conference today.
If you missed my sessions or just need the materials, you may access them below.
Thanks to Chris Hamady and all the staff at AW, along with Allison Goedde from BGSU for a wonderful conference. I look forward to the 2019 edition.
Digital Breakouts: No Box, No Problem
STEAM and Makerspace Tools
I am an English guy – no, I’m not from the UK – I just really enjoy writing and grammar. I even taught ELA for two years before entering my current career. I am married to a math teacher, so in our house, if you need math you see my wife. If you need grammar help, you see me.
Even though I love grammar, I’m not always 100% sure I’m following the rules. Enter Grammarly. John Mansel-Pleydell wrote a Tech Tips article about Grammarly back in March, but I wanted to follow up and add some more.
If you don’t know what Grammarly is, in a nutshell, it’s a Chrome extension that will help check your grammar and spelling within Chrome. For a more in-depth explanation, check out John’s article. It works on most websites (including Gmail), but as of this writing, Grammarly still is not supported by Google Docs.
This week, Alice Keeler tweeted that Grammarly is beta testing integration with Google Docs. Until that happens, the workaround is to cut and paste your writing into the online Grammarly Editor and check it there.
But there is more to Grammarly than just a Chrome extension. Did you know that Grammarly is available as a native app for Mac and Windows? Just go to grammarly.com/native and you can download the correct version for your platform.
Still using Microsoft Office on Windows? First off, I’m sorry Second, Grammarly has an add-in for the Windows version of Word and Outlook. Mac users will need to use the Web Editor.
Finally, did you know that as of this year, 50 percent of workplace communication and collaboration happens through mobile apps? Good thing that Grammarly now has keyboards for both iOS and Android.
You can use the keyboard to check your grammar when writing texts, emails and more on your mobile. Here’s a quick video to show how it works.
Grammarly is free, but there is a premium version that costs $139 a year. That version gives you some cool features including plagiarism checking, sentence structure, vocabulary enhancement and proofreading services. Grammarly Premium is even available for school districts.
Now there’s no excuse to be afraid of grammar!
This is a good read from Alyse Consiglio, who is the Principal at John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Warren, Ohio (my alma mater!). Being a parochial school, JFK students aren’t subjected to the state test requirements that public schools are. But Mrs. Consiglio makes several good points that should be considered in the larger debate about state testing. She writes:
Test results aren’t useless. I personally looked at all JFK test results from 2016-17 and will continue to do so as our results return this year. I analyze our strengths and weaknesses as a school. I make copies and highlight relevant data, and every teacher receives a copy of their students’ results and my notes for the classes. Teachers break down scores by student to try and understand what is working and what needs work. The key part of this process is that we take this score as just one piece of the puzzle. Our students have so many talents. How they perform one day on one test does not define their worth as a student. I would emphatically say that no staff member at JFK treats any of our students as a score on a test. This is why we are data-informed and not “data-driven.” This data is just part of the evidence of student achievement. It is not the entire story.
She is spot on here. Our legislators and educational higher-ups have pushed these state tests as a way of measuring student achievement (and teacher effectiveness). But is it an accurate portrayal?
How can a teacher expect a student to achieve on a test when they come to school tired from staying up late with younger siblings because their parents are at work? Or they are hungry because instead of food, their parents spent money on drugs or alcohol? Or their medication isn’t working because their parents sold it? These are real situations that teachers face every day – I know, I’m married to one. Every student is different so by its very definition, asking them to take a standardized test is folly.
Every day teachers are educating students with various, sometimes ugly, backgrounds. They are imparting knowledge and wisdom, sharing compassion and love. How can a test measure this? And what about the students? Where is the joy of learning? I’ll tell you, it’s been killed by standardized testing.
From Psychology Today:
We know that for most children, kindergarten is anticipated with awe and enthusiasm – especially when one or older siblings are already in school… The idea of being a student is exciting. Most kindergarten or first grade students speak passionately about what they learn and do in school. Then, as years progress, burdensome memorization and test preparation are emphasized at the cost of diminished discovery, inquiry, and project-based learning. As school stops engaging children’s imaginations, boredom and frustration replace joy, and learning stops.
Our legislators and educational administrations would benefit from a very careful read of Mrs. Consiglio’s blog post – and note the title: “Test Less. Smile More.” Then they should reflect on it, and see how freeing students from the heavy burden of testing can make education relevant, effective, and (dare I say it?), fun!