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Peergrade.IO

Peergrade I/O

In preparation for our Fall Break (Monday, October 9th), I asked my students to craft an argumentative essay about Columbus Day. The writing prompt was, “Should we celebrate Columbus Day or not? Be sure to cite textual evidence from BOTH passages to support your claim.” Students read two articles from our Performance Assessment Workbook about Columbus Day and then they used those sources to write their first draft. For any extended writing piece, I have students organize their thinking using a graphic organizer. I’m an advocate for using the 4-Square Writing Model. There are different variations but I used one that looks like this. You can learn more about the 4-Square Model HERE
Anyway, because I printed out the 4-square model for everyone, I couldn’t print out my peer-evaluation rubric. Typically, once students craft their first-draft, I have them peer-evaluate each other’s essays. But that requires MORE paper! We have a limited number of copies, so I was thinking about …
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Crowdfunding Campaign: STEM Books for Literacy

A lot of teachers already use crowdfunding platforms like DonorsChoose or Indiegogo to fund their classroom ideas. I've heard a lot of mixed reviews about them so I've always been hesitant to use it. A part of me is scared of failure. I'd hate to create a big social media campaign, inform parents, notify students, and share with my staff.....and still NOT meet my fundraising goal!

Do I have enough social media capital? Do people like me enough to invest into me or my ideas?! Lol! Then after you navigate the personal barriers of self-doubt, you have to decide on a platform. There's a LOT of them out there. Then most of them don't seem catered to an educator's needs. It seems like crowdfunding is more-so for people who want to pitch their ideas on SharkTank instead of teachers who want books and copy paper for their students. You got Kickstarter, CircleUp, Adopt-A-Classroom, GoFundMe....!

Then you have to consider how are the funds ACTUALLY used?! Does the organi…

Video - The Importance of Writing

The 2017-2018 school year is almost here! The summer break is just about finished, and now I'm starting to curate some resources for my new crop of students. I've decided to create a YouTube channel with tutorial videos and you can subscribe HERE!

While collecting tutorial videos, I came across this intriguing video from CNN about the importance of writing. It's about ten minutes and definitely reminds me how important literacy is to the next generation!

The most surprising thing about this video came at the very end. There's a graphic at the end that displays the "Ten Things on Which Women/Men Judge Women/Men the Most." The data was collected by ABC News in 2013 and shows that "Grammar" is #2 on both lists!! Lol!

Let's make a big push to promote #literacy everywhere we go.

Educator Investments

We're in the process of getting our first house, and as we get closer and closer to crunch time, we have to secure the money for our down payment. As we are going through this process, I'm learning that home buying comes with its own particular language! It's crazy. It feels like we're taking a mortgage literacy course because we're hit with a new word every day!

Anyway, most people miss out on a home because they don't have the funds for the down payment. I'm looking at the few resources that I have to pull from, and since I'm an educator, I've been asked to look at my retirement funds as a source for the down payment.

I live in Georgia. Georgia educators use the Teacher's Retirement System (TRS), and you can learn more about it here. Here's the good part, "A defined benefit retirement plan (401A) relieves its members of the burden of making investment decisions and assuming the risk associated with those decisions. TRS assumes this ri…

Google Certified Educator (Level 1)

I finally made the plunge! During Google's PD Week, I registered to take the Level 1 Exam, and earlier this week I passed the test! For the next 3 years, I'm officially a Level 1 Google for Education Certified Educator! 😎


The test was a challenge but I feel better about using G-Suite products and the test forced me to think about different ways of using those tools. I'd like to take the Level 2 exam and eventually become a trainer! I'm taking the time this summer to add to my toolbox and become proficient at things that will make me more marketable. 
I've been teaching since 2009 and as I approach the 10-year mark, I realize that I need to challenge myself in new ways. I've signed up for a Web Developer Bootcamp through Udemy, I purchased a boxing membership, and I've added a few new books to my summer reading list. I think I've gotten too comfortable, so at 31 years old, I've got to reinvent myself a little bit and I think Google is a great starti…

1st Father's Day

This was my first Father's Day as an actual father! Prestin is a little over 3 months old now, so we're starting to be more adventurous and taking him out to different restaurants and so far he's been awesome! I'm thankful that I have a great son, a great wife and a great family (on both sides) to support us!

When I pause to reflect on things, I can't imagine a father not wanting to be involved with his son or daughter. It doesn't make sense to me, and yet SO many people do it. Absent fathers and absent mothers just don't make any sense. My son has grown so much these past 3 months and I can't imagine not being a part of it. The math part in me wants to survey absentee parents and try to get to an understanding of why they behave the way that they do.

Then the other part in me kicks in and realizes that MY understanding of THEIR behavior won't change them! I can do case study after case study but I don't really see the benefit of understanding t…

Married with Taxes

Nateil: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” - Benjamin Franklin

It’s February, and it’s tax season. Both of our W2’s have come in and I usually do both of our taxes. In 2015 a coworker of mine put me on to TurboTax and I’ve been using it ever since. But according to the tax law, a lot has changed since 2015. We got married!! Marriage is awesome and everyday I wake up and realize that I’ve made the best decision of my life! However, marriage brings tax implications, considerations and frustrations that I wasn’t even aware of! And I’m still clueless! 

Collectively, we made approximately $75,000 for 2016. We live in Georgia so you might think that’s a decent annual income but it doesn’t FEEL like it. There’s not a lot of COMFORT in that. We were both transitioning between jobs so we spent part of 2016 looking for work, but ultimately we still lived paycheck to paycheck. That’s no longer acceptable. However, in the eyes of law, since we’re ma…