Saturday, June 16, 2018

Musings on Technology - Are GenXers the Last Generation of Hoarders?

In 1999 one of my best friends died in a car accident. Today I received a letter from his mom.  She said she was cleaning out his room and came across an email from me to him that he had printed out.  The email was dated July 27, 1998. She thought it was hilarious and thought I'd get a laugh from it.  I did, but first I bawled. There was this piece of paper that proved some sort of conversation existed 20 years ago. After a bit I did laugh. I laughed at the actual email: "68 Things to Try at Walmart." Then, I laughed, and asked my husband, "Why would he print this?  That's so stupid!"
It got me thinking, way too much, about what has changed in the past 20 years.  I realized pretty quickly why he printed it. Back in 1998 we had either AOL, Hotmail, or Juno. Our email boxes would get full and notify us that we couldn't send any more messages until we deleted some.  There was no magical archive folder that kept everything, once we hit that trash can button, it was gone! So, we saved our emails to folders on our desktop, or, for the best emails, we hit the print button.  I totally forgot about that! I had emails printed and tacked on my bulletin board.
This email to my friend was hilarious. Here it is with the old email addresses scribbled out.

Some of the suggestions are even impossible because the technology has changed so much that the items they talk about are nonexistent: set the alarm clocks for 10 minute intervals; write cryptic messages on the typewriters. Typewriters! These stupid chain letters were the equivalent of sending memes today or the junk posted on Facebook, "Cheer me up with the 7th photo in your camera roll. Once you post your pic, I'll send you a number."  Today we smile and scroll past it. It'll be there if we want to go searching for it, or, it won't. The fact that it might disappear in 10 seconds doesn't faze us.  This got me thinking of teens today, wondering what do they hold on to?
Are advances in technology teaching us to let go more easily?
Technology has made me let go in some respect. I rarely take screenshots on Snapchat, mostly it's when my husband sends me a cute pic of our kids when I'm at work. I take pictures of my daughters artwork from school then hang a few pieces, share some with family, and the rest secretly goes into the garbage when she's not looking. I'm ok letting go because I still have record of it save in the cloud. I make digital scrapbooks, but mostly rely on Google to keep all of my photos organized, saved, and in order. I can even make an album and Chromecast it to the TV if I'm too cheap to print it.
Going back to 1998 and the early 2000s - We hoarded everything!  This technology was new, and so much was at our fingertips that we felt we had to take all of it for ourselves!  We printed emails, we downloaded music on Napster and burned 100s of CDs for ourselves and our friends.  There are a ton of things I look at today that I can't let go of: CDs, DVDs, sometimes old phones...
Whenever I clean, I find that massive CD case in the basement closet and look through it and think, "Oh yeah, that CD I forgot about that, I'm gonna add it to my Amazon Prime playlist."  Every year we go through the DVD's and there are so many that we can't part with on the off chance that we might want to watch it. I've watched some of my favorites this summer like Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Cutting Edge, but on Netflix, not the DVDs still sitting in the TV stand.
My daughter plays games on my old Galaxy S3 because it still works on wifi, and I worry that I'll break my phone some day and will need it. That's so silly, why would I think that?
As a GenXer/Millenial/Oregon Trail kid, I think we still sort of hoard because we saw our parents do it. They held on to everything because they saw their parents do it because during the Depression or wars, you got rid of nothing. However, I think we're the last generation to do this. That actually sort of scares me.
The teens in my classroom this year seemed to not have any of these cares. The technology isn't new for them, it's been a very present fixture in their lives, their whole life.  Because of this, I am pretty positive they don't own movies or music, and they would never hold onto a five year old phone.
I ask them what they watch and they respond with, "The Office, Friends, Grey's Anatomy, Stranger Things..." Basically Netflix. They watch anything on Netflix even shows that I watched 20, 15, and 10 years ago. They are not the ones buying the new releases at Target, those are downloaded on Google Play or iTunes, or just streamed once it's on Netflix or Prime.  When we're working in class they have their Spotify playlists streaming with their headphones on. Also, of course they use the programs such as Verizon Edge where your phone is leased not owned, and if it's broken your warranty covers it. If it lasts a full year, you get a new one!
Here's where I sound like a geriatric, Do today's teens have any idea what it means to hold on to something?  What would be an item of sentimental value to a teen today?  Do movies and music hold as much sentimental value as it did to those of us who were teens 20 years ago? When they see that hilarious meme do they screenshot it to look back on? Or, do they let it pass, because tomorrow's meme will be better than today's?
If you are a teen or a parent of a teen, I'm desperate to know, what are teens holding onto today? You should seriously tweet it at me or comment.  What has sentimental value? Here's some sweet things that they may be missing out on: 1)Buying the newly released movie to watched it with all of your friends and put certain parts in slow-mo to see the funny faces or partial nudity. Teens today will just find that clip on youtube (not even the same as discovering it yourself!). 2) Making a mixed tape or CD specifically for one person as a gift. Making a playlist for someone just doesn't cut it! 3) Taping/rubber banding/glueing your phone together because it has to make it until your contract is up to get a new phone for free or $50. Well, Ok, this is still sort of the same. I see lots of teens with some nasty shattered screens that parents won't replace or repair... again. 4) Getting a letter 20 years later because you sent something to someone that made them laugh so much they wanted to keep it.
I hope what they're holding onto is still worthwhile 20 years from now, even if at first it seems ridiculously stupid.

Thanks for reading.
English Middle School Mania

Thursday, February 15, 2018

My NEA Letter to My Congressmen About Gun Control

Today NEA(National Education Association) sent an email out to educators in the national organization. This email urged educators to write letters to their representatives in congress demanding change. The template was given, but I wanted to add a little more.  I wanted to say that I was scared to go to work today. I wanted to say that I keep my car keys on me at all times at school in case I need to run as fast as possible. I wanted to say I fear for my children, my husband, my friends, and all teachers, students, and parents across the country.  At school today there was a little extra security in the hallways. I call it "all hands on deck" when I see the afternoon crew in the morning.  I wanted to hug our security team and thank them, but I didn't. Maybe that's because then I'd be admitting just how scared I am on a regular basis. What if they admit they're just as scared? We've been here too many times.  My husband brought up 9/11 as his point in our discussion about the latest school shooting. His point was Americans are willing to give up some of their rights when the issue is coming from somewhere else. No one is willing to budge when it's our own epidemic.  The fear will subside, until it happens again. It's not enough. This random educator, inconsistent blog isn't enough.  When will it be enough?  Here is my letter to my Congressmen. If they don't see it in their emails. Maybe somehow it'll get to them online. 

"Dear Congressman,

As a constituent and an educator, I demand that you take action now to address the tragic gun violence that continues to plague our nation - in our schools, our houses of worship, our theaters, at concerts, and in our neighborhoods.

Far too many children, educators, and Americans from all walks of life have lost their lives to senseless gun violence - in all of these places. And the list goes on. The time to act is long overdue. What if it was your family member?

On 9/11 an estimated 2,753 citizens lost their lives in the attack on the towers. Action was taken by our government quickly and swiftly to ensure the safety of our families. Since this tragedy, Americans have given up time in security lines and "rights" under surveillance to undergo safety measures. The Patriot Act was signed within a month and a half after 9/11, taking away some of the citizens so called rights of freedom to ensure the safety of our nation's citizens.  Will our government finally act when mass shootings reach the same crippling devastation?  Why is weapon control on American soil a battle that our government is not willing to take on in order to ensure our safety?  What will it take for our government to finally fight the gun lobbyists who say it is their constitutional right to own any type of firearm? How many more Americans have to die while sitting in class, going to a concert, or enjoying a movie?

My husband and I are both teachers. Each day our family of four heads in different directions to a day care facility and three different schools.  Even though I feel safe in my school, I also feel that it is a false sense of security. Someone with access to a semi-automatic or a weapon with a high-capacity magazine could take my safety away. Why do I have to fear for my life? My children's? My husband's?  What if one day I have to make the choice between going home to my family or allowing a child to go home to his? Your educators are scared. Your children are scared. Your citizens are scared. How many more have to die?

I demand that you support common-sense measures to help keep guns out of dangerous hands, including voting to require universal background checks (to close the gun show / online sales loophole) and ending the loophole that inexcusably allows suspected terrorists to purchase firearms.  I also support a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that have been used far too often to kill and injure massive numbers of people in single incidents.

We need to take steps that respect the rights of lawful gun owners while providing sensible reforms to help prevent the epidemic of gun violence that continues to take tens of thousands of lives each year.

Our country has to be better than this. No other nation faces these unyielding tragedies. No other nation stands by and does nothing. How many more children have to die?

Please take action. Now.

Sincerely a mother, a teacher, a citizen,

Andrea Adams"

Friday, December 22, 2017

ipsy Glam Bag Review From a

In my Teacher Self Care blog I mentioned that I was going to give a full review of ipsy from the past six months. So, here it is!

For those who don't know ipsy is a make-up subscription box. It's $10 each month. Each month you get five items. Some are full sized, some are samples. Usually the Glam Bag, as it's called, is worth over $50. 

I am a full time teacher and blog in my free time.  In no way shape or form has ipsy paid me or provided me with free items.
Bag #1 - July 2017 Glam Bag
I signed up for ipsy through my sister, so she got some incentive points for free product. I was put on a waitlist. This was a bit annoying, but received an email about four days later that my wait was over.  I signed up, but because of the shipping and billing cycle I would have to wait until the next month for my first bag. This seemed like forever, it was about a month and a half.

First bag - Three Full Sized Items - Woot! Woot!

Two Sample Items

Total Cost - $10  Value - $56.70 + bag
Six month verdict - The Blush Palette is the best.  I use a brush and just sweep it across all three colors.

Bag #2 - August 2017 Glam Bag 

Two Full Sized Items

Three Sample Items

Total Cost - $10  Value - $41.84 + bag
Six month verdict - The pistachio color corrector was a decent size for a sample and helps with dark eye circles and red spots under foundation.

Bag #3 - September 2017 Glam Bag
Four Full Sized Items!

One Sample Item

Total Cost - $10  Value - $50.20 + bag
Six month verdict - For a bunch of full sized items, this bag was meh. The lipstick was ugly and made me think they had never looked at my style profile. However I did love the nail polish, it's a beautiful neutral that will go with everything!

Bag #4 - October 2017 Glam Bag

Two Full Sized Items

Three Sample Items

Total Cost - $10  Value - $50.46 + bag
Six month verdict - I am currently wearing the dark hunter green nail polish it looks like glass and is perfect for Christmas! I think the nail polish is a great deal!

Bag #5 - November 2017 Glam Bag
Three Full Sized Items

Two Sample Items

Total Cost - $10  Value - $52.44 + bag
Six month verdict - I am pretty in love with the Calypso lipstick. It's my go to purse lipstick for a touch of color!

Bag #6 - December 2017 Glam Bag

Two Full Sized Items

Three Sample Items

Total Cost - $10  Value - $64.91 + bag
Six month verdict - I don't know if I was supposed to, but I got two face mask packs! It felt like a bonus, instead of five items, I got six!

Pros of ispy:
  • Each bag has been worth $40 or more in the past six months. 
  • If you like brushes, you get one almost every month!
  • Full sized items like lipstick, nail polish, and eye liners are totally worth it!
  • You get a cute make up bag each month for $10! These are perfect for gifting gift cards or having a small purse stash of make up or anything needed to stay separate in your bag. 
Cons of ipsy:
  • You do not get to pick your items or even request items
  • You are able to fill out a style profile, and they say they will curate your box especially for you - sometimes I'm not sure if that happens. 
  • My eyeshadow shades all tend to be in the same swatch line, beige, bronze, gold, gold, beige... but at least I never run out of these basic colors.
I have blogged previously about Stitch Fix. So, this is my newest subscription addition. I pin my monthly bags each month if you want to follow! I'm definitely going to keep this subscription going! I look forward to earning more points towards free items in my Glam Bags!
I wish my budget would allow for every mailbox subscription that I have on my wishlist!  I just recently found out about Amazon Wardrobe. I may have to try that next!

Thanks for checking out my blog!

English Middle School Mania

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Teacher Self Care

Teacher Self Care! Happy Winter Break! Time to Recharge!

I haven't blogged in a while. It's been a busy semester in my new position. I have so many ideas to blog about though for photography teachers, yearbook teachers, tech teachers, and English teachers! I'm hoping to get those ideas down over this holiday break and post at least one more blog this break focusing on teaching.  I've been working on part two of this blog for the past six months by tracking my ipsy Glam Bags each month, so I think it's time to post. That'll be part two. I realized as I began writing that the reason I started my ipsy subscription in the first place was because I needed to take care of myself. I wanted to pamper myself, but I was on a teacher budget with a daily teacher schedule.

For those who don't know ipsy is a make-up subscription box. It's $10 each month. Each month you get five items. Some are full sized, some are samples. Usually the Glam Bag, as it's called, is worth over $50.  I'll give an actual review in another blog.  I signed up because I wanted to gift something small to myself.

Teaching, and students, and grading, and family, and raising my own children can be stressful.   There are so many ways that we take care of ourselves, but sometimes it feels that there are not enough useable hours in the day to read a book, go to the gym, or even enjoy some retail therapy. I decided affordable "Happy Mail" was one way I could care for myself. If it came with a facemask that was a bonus! Then I could also steal 20 minutes pretending my bathroom was a tiny spa!

Another thing I do for Teacher Self Care is stay up way too late working on "my own thing."  It's midnight and I'm writing a blog and watching a cheesy Christmas movie on Netflix.  On a regular basis my grading could wait until my plan the next school day, but I stay up watching another episode of Gossip Girl while finishing up those grades. I do this not just to give great feedback to my students the following day, but also because the house is quiet.  No one is demanding anything of me, not students, not their parents, not my family, not even the dogs. When it's this late, they're curled up next to me. This is part of my self care.  If this was a school night, I would be dead tired the next morning and would definitely curse myself for that late night cup of coffee, but this has always been a part of my Self Care routine.  Lack of sleep is the price I pay for these peaceful moments.

The last  thing I allow myself is social media.  Although, I think I'm weird about it.  I use my Facebook for my family and closest friends. I'll post family photos there, but I think I've got them pretty locked down so they are not public.  On Twitter and my blog, I'm a teacher. I try to share the wisdom that I've gained over the past 13 years.  On Snapchat I'm a mom. I think I've got that pretty locked down as well when I share the funny filters of me and my children.  Lately, I've gotten into Instagram.  On that one I'm a photographer.  I rarely post faces and just focus on capturing a place, a mood, a moment. This allowance does eat up my phone battery, and I find myself being that mom that I don't want to be as I check my phone for the latest updates over and over again.  Social Media is my nasty habit that I should spend less time with.These three things ipsy, late nights, and social media may not seem like much. But it's what I allow myself. It's how I care for myself.

What's in my future? Maybe in 2018 I'll add more "Happy Mail." There are a number of subscriptions I'd love to try. Maybe my next blog about a mailbox subscriptions will be one of these (I was in no way paid to post these, although I wish I was!):

Teacher Box - a new company geared towards helping with the very thing this blog was about, teacher self care.  A quarterly subscription will send teacher items including a shirt and other stuff to boost spirits during stressful seasons. It also includes an emagazine and is crafted for men and women.

Fab Fit Fun - a quarterly subscription of fitness and health items as well as a subscription to their website for workouts and their emagazine. Geared towards women.

Sparkle Hustle Grow - This box just sounds fun. It includes stationary and messages about being a #bossbabe.  Sorry #bossfellas most of my blog isn't for you.

Here's to another blog longer than I thought it would be. Thank you for reading!  I'll post my ipsy review soon!

In case I forget to say it in my next blog, Merry Christmas, and to any teachers reading, Enjoy Break!

English Middle School Mania

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Why I Finally Switched to Google Classroom

I finally made the switch from Schoology to Google Classroom.  I wasn't planning on it, but it just made sense in the long run.

There are a few things I'm loving about Google Classroom!  1) Easy sharing of a doc with 100 students. 2) My rubric is attached to my doc. I can create an assignment on a Doc with my Orange Slice rubric at the top and load it into Classroom. 3) Students can mark something as "Done" if they worked with a partner.

Here's why I switched. 1) I use Google Docs, Slides, and Youtube for 98% of my assignments. It really just made sense.  2) My professional portfolio/website is a Google Site, so now, I can load student work examples seamlessly from Slides.  3) Even though there is a new Google Drive connection with Schoology, our district's firewall was not letting it work the way it should have. Therefore, each student was sharing their Google Doc or Slides. I would end up with 100 different assignments to sort through.

Here's what I did love about Schoology. 1) The quiz functions were better than Google Forms.  2) I could lock an assignment after the due date. 3) I could hide an assignment, but still access it myself for example to review a students previous work and compare growth. 4) I could organize folders so new students could go back to get caught up on something, but it wasn't just a scrolling mess.
Where are these functions on Classroom?

I wanted to point out that both systems have some amazing benefits. Our district has paid for Schoology Enterprise, so I'm not going to knock it!  As an iPad teacher it was really easy for me to load assignments as PDFs to Schoology and grade on the iPad by swiping. That was pretty glorious! When students worked on Google Docs or Slides last year I had them share their work as a link and post the link on Schoology. This way my grading was still organized by classes and I could easily access it. If the newest Google Drive updates had worked I might still be on Schoology. Also, once you have a class set up in Schoology you can copy assignments such as tests and quizzes from one year to the next. I found that really handy in my second year on the iPad.

Since I'm in a completely different role this year I'm not on the iPad anymore. I have a full Mac lab for digital photo and yearbook.  Yearbook is its own beast that I can talk about another time. In photo we use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.  With Classroom, I love that I can load one Doc or set of Slides, and I can mark it to "Make a Copy for Each Student." Boom! It's instantly done.  They don't have to create a copy and share it with me.  Then, even if they forget to press "Turn In," I can still open their document and grade it or see their progress.  I really do love that aspect of the Google Suite for Education!  For Photoshop tutorials I can load a video tutorial directly from Youtube.  So far, I'm very happy with the switch!

I know a ton of teachers love their LMS such as Schoology or SeeSaw.  What LMS do other teachers use? I'm going to take it to Twitter to find out!  Also, if you have some new Google Classroom tips for me, I'd love to hear them!

Thanks for reading!

English Middle School Mania