Tammy Dunbar

Tammy Dunbar

Tammy Brecht Dunbar, M.Ed., S.T.E.M., is a 5th grade teacher in Manteca (CA) Unified (USA) and a pre-service technology instructor at Teachers College of San Joaquin. Tammy believes the most important 21st Century tool in any classroom is the attitude of the teacher. “Teachers need to be comfortable tackling the challenges of using technology in front of their students and modeling how to overcome obstacles,” says Tammy. Tammy agrees with Bill Goodwyn, CEO of Discovery Education: “The motherboard and the memory chip will never replace the passion and inspiration of a real-life teacher. Technology doesn’t teach. Teachers teach.”

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Tammy Dunbar: Sharing Test-Taking Tips With Sway!

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeekOne year when I was teaching a First Grade class and we were nearing the end of our week-long standardized testing, one little student was so stressed out that he wrote an inappropriate word on his testing booklet. When I showed it to my principal, she sighed and said, “At least he spelled it right.”

No one enjoys standardized testing. Not students. Not teachers. Not administrators. Is that a number two pencil? Did the students bubble things in clearly?… Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: OneNote To The Rescue!

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

We had to have a Student Success Team meeting for Paris immediately. She had recently completed trimester proficiencies as well as reading comprehension testing in Read 180, and it seemed clear she might need more help than she was receiving. Emails were sent back and forth, but because we were in the middle of standardized testing, it was impossible to schedule a meeting so everyone could review the new data that would guide our suggestions on how best to help her.… Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: Add New Spark to Your Class with Newspapers!

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeekTeachers need fact-based, non-fiction content. We need lots of it. And we need it now.

The adoption of the new Common Core State Standards paired with the lack of approved curriculum and funds have pushed many educators to be creative in finding appropriate, timely reading material. That critical reading material also has to allow students to demonstrate independence, build strong content knowledge, comprehend as well as critique, understand other perspectives/cultures and use technology & digital media strategically and capably.… Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: Learning on the Edge of Chaos

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA teachergeekSuccessful learning is less about what’s memorized and much more about having the ability to make the right connections. But should teachers be the ones making all those connections for their students? At the CUE 2015 Conference, TED Prize winner Professor Sugata Mitra spoke about creating a “Self-Organized Learning Environment” or SOLE. As he points out, it’s often called “learning on the edge of chaos” because it requires an educator to truly be the “Guide on the Side” rather than the “Sage on the Stage.” Sugata postulated: What would happen if we presented our students with goal-oriented challenges that allow them choice and provide opportunities to solve problems on their own?… Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: A Genius Idea!

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeek“Have you heard of Nancy Wake?” Isabella had just run up to my desk and her eyes were wide with excitement. “I read a story about her when I was younger, and I thought she wasn’t real. But I just found out that she IS real and she was a spy and they called her the White Mouse! May I please study Spies in World War II for my Genius Hour project?”

Genius Hour, or 20% time as some call it, is a movement that started more than 60 years ago.… Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: A Very Edtech Spring Break

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeekSpring Break usually means traveling to some exciting exotic destination with family or friends to enjoy some much-needed rejuvenation.

But this year, I find myself in a Spring Break Stay-cation where everyone in my family has to work except me. Doing laundry and lesson plans all week does not sound like much fun.

Instead, I’ve decided it’s the perfect week for a little professional development in the comfort of my own home.

educastFirst, wearing my cozy slippers, I registered for and attended the March edition of Microsoft Edcast’s monthly webinars to learn about “Prepping Students for 21st Century Skills Using Office 365.” It was eye-opening to see the International Data Corporation (IDC) Skills Research for Tomorrow’s Best Jobs.… Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: Never Have a Subpar Class with Digital Sub Plans!

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeekIt’s three in the morning, your nose is ridiculously stuffed, your throat is sore from all that coughing and you are convinced you are coming down with the next big flu. You definitely aren’t feeling well, but even so, you are struggling with the same decision most every teacher dreads: should I put in for a sub?

Unless you are unable to crawl, you ultimately decide against it because being at work sick is much easier than making sub plans.… Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: Have You Tried App-Smashing?

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeekThe choice was easy: either take a bucket of cold water to the head (for which I would definitely be holding my breath) or create a video response that might be breathtaking.

For many years, I have enjoyed trying different ways to combine creations from various digital applications and software and put them together to make memorable presentations. This ALS Ice Water Challenge was my chance to do some real app-smashing.

what-is-historyApp-smashing is combining content from a variety of apps and software to create something both visually engaging and exciting.… Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: Making Digital Connections in Learning

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeek“Does anyone know where Emily is?” I asked.

The young ladies at Table One quickly informed me they had connected with her online with Lync that morning before school.

Emily was in Merced, 60 miles away, staying with her aunt while her parents were on a long weekend trip.

The big writing assignment had to be done today, and everyone was present and accounted for in Room Nine except Emily. In the past, such absences would mean a a lower grade.… Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: Share Your Ideas at Educational Conferences!

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeekStanding alone in front of the room, I could feel all those eyes looking at me. Could I hold their attention and keep them engaged? Would they take something away from my lesson? Would they be inspired to continue their learning after they left?

This was not my classroom, where facing 34 bright, shining fifth-grade faces is something I do every day. This was a large meeting room at a conference center with more than 80 educators in attendance – and, as we all know, teachers can be the most difficult audience of all.… Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: Can I Sway You to Blog?

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeekOutdoor School (aka Science Camp) is an amazing experience for students in the fifth and sixth grades: hiking along redwood trails with banana slugs or tide pools with colorful sea anemones, learning about precious ecosystems, practicing teamwork in cabin groups and singing joyful campfire songs for five whole days.

But the hardest part about convincing parents their students should participate in this incredible life-changing experience is the fact their students are gone for five whole days.… Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: Manteca Unified’s Going Digital 2015 Has Started!

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeekThe quad area before school usually looks a little crazy: students speeding around the benches, yelling to friends across the quad, tossing footballs (hoping to avoid the alert eyes of any yard duty personnel nearby).

But last week on Thursday, things looked much different. Students were still gathered, but there was no yelling or running. Many students were quietly seated on cement benches, some standing happily with their heavy backpacks, others animatedly chatting without an increase in volume.… Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: Enhancing Reading With Technology!

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeekIn a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

My husband and I used to read to our two children every night until they were almost out of high school. … Visit the author's original post

“Students need to know that as technology continues to change, they will need to continue to learn how to use it — just as their teachers have.” – Tammy Brecht Dunbar, USA

To be sure, setting up a classroom – let alone an entire school district – to prepare students for the 21st century workplace is no easy feat.  Teachers and school leaders must effectively incorporate technology into learning, while balancing extremely … Continue reading Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: Use Tech to Inspire More Imaginative Writing!

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeektammy-develop-adGive someone a dull and unimaginative writing prompt, and you’ll get back dull and unimaginative writing.

College and Career Ready Anchor Standards call for students to use writing “as a way of offering and supporting opinions, demonstrating understanding of the subjects they are studying, and conveying real and imagined experiences and events.” Students are called to devote a significant portion of their time to writing, including many pieces over both short and extended time frames.… Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: Let’s Resolve to Get Messy!

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeekToo often our New Year’s Resolutions involve perfection: we want to look better, weigh less, and have whiter teeth (but not whiter hair). We want our students to score higher on those standardized tests, our lesson plans to work efficiently and effectively the first time, and our technology to work exactly the way it’s supposed to every time.

This New Year, let’s instead resolve to be more like my animated hero, Ms. Frizzle.

Let’s take chances.… Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: The Gift of Time

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeek‘Tis the season when everyone is looking for the perfect present. Wherever you turn, there are gift ideas for outdoors folks, gourmet cooks, book lovers, animal fans and, of course, tech people.

In our interconnected and fast-paced world, it’s easy to point, click and order something that can be delivered right to someone’s front door. But, if you listen to Dr. Seuss’s Grinch, the best gift comes without ribbons, it comes without tags, it comes without packages, boxes or bags!… Visit the author's original post

Tammy Dunbar: Shortcuts to Success!

by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

Sometimes, it really is the little things that matter most.

“It’s nice that we were given these Surface Pros, but the screen is just too small for me to see.”

I overheard this from a fellow teacher as she gestured toward her new SPro on the table in front of her. Without saying a word, I reached over and hit Ctrl+ several times on her keyboard.  Catching my movement out of the corner of her eye (like any good teacher would), she glanced at her screen, then turned to me wide-eyed.… Visit the author's original post