The Learning of all Lives Matters

Ferguson-FP-share-thumb-580x580-8130I know I’m stating the obvious to most in the title but I wanted to pick one that grabbed peoples’ attention and caused them to read these few thoughts on the matter. This issue has the potential to heal or harm so much racial tension that has been building since the Rodney King’s trial. As teachers, we need to be on the front lines of universal acceptance. The culture of our black students is more important now than ever before. White teachers, including myself, need to spend the time reading articles, watching movies, paying attention to sound bytes to try and gain a better understanding of black culture. If we don’t, we will not be able to foster literacy in the black citizens of tomorrow. Hispanic, Caucasian, Asian students and the array of all cultures in our schools are important. We need to agree that all lives matter and the learning of all lives matters. Continue reading “The Learning of all Lives Matters”

What Students Need from a Teacher

More Classroom and Walls (7)Education has been in a state of flux for about 20 years. The latest trend is online teaching but there have been a lot of changes already in the last 20 years. Some will say President Bush tried to develop it with “No Child Left Behind” and I think most educated and informed people knew that would have only mixed results. By “left behind” it simply meant no one would fall below the C or passing on a uniform assessment. Many now may wonder, “What do students really need in a teacher?” Below I offer some suggestions.

1. Students need a listener. In a room of 20-30 students, it is hard to know the individual idiosyncrasies of your students right away. I have half-jokingly and half-seriously said for years that teachers should spend the first three weeks reviewing the classroom rules. Of course, other things should go on like pair share and group share. Most of all, the teacher should try to elicit responses to questions in effort toward getting to know students and listening to their needs. Continue reading “What Students Need from a Teacher”

A Starting Place for New Essay Writers

pencilsI’ve run across a help for new high school and University writers. usefulresearchpapers.com is a simple, yet helpful resource that can take a student who is a struggling writer and turn her/him into a scholar on the path to prolific. Here’s how it works: You visit the website and read the different lessons in the menu. One of them is “How to Write a Research Paper.” Another is “What is a Research Paper?” These are simple and well-written introductions to the world of higher education writing. I think for many students starting college this would help immensely by modeling. I wish I had these when I was in junior college back in 1988.

I’ve learned through my years of teachers that count up to 16 as I’m here writing that kids need things shown to them. This website models what essays should look like in many differents topics and disciplines. Leaarning abstract concepts is always easier when you have an example to follow. This site has those examples and can help kids see what a paragraph in an essay looks like. There are no annoying style ads popping out and sliding across the screen. Instead you have a foundation to start from as you begin your adventure of essay writing. I recommend this website for new essay writers.

I was compensated for my review but the opinions are 100% mine.

Check this out!

Just delegate your essay writing to ThePensters and be sure in getting a good grade.

Igniting Brilliance (Book Review)

Igniting Brilliance is a powerful new book about teaching with the integral education model. Edited by Willow Dea, It consists of visionary writings by about 20 educators. This is a great book for any teacher but especially one who wants to try something new. To the left you see a graphic from the book showing one way of planning lessons with integral education. It is a concise visual summary of what the book entails.

The book offers more than traditional lesson plans have to offer. Concepts of the “whole child” as well as many other modern concepts are mentioned. As a teacher I have learned it’s not enough to just present the material, we need a way to reach all personalities. By outlining the needs and learning styles of our students we can make better lessons that have a deeper impact on our students.


This book concerns itself with reaching students. It assumes that will produce achievement. It has a scope that is larger than a standardized test but encompasses standardized test achievement. After perusing the book, I can tell you it is an excellent resource that any teacher will benefit by. A book like this is eclectic in its voice and scope and valuable in its universal practicality. I recommend it to my readers as a resource to help you plan modern dynamite lessons in the new milennium.

 

Teaching the Value of Honesty

IMG_2500.JPGHonesty is such a lonely word. That’s why we must be taught what it means. My students are chomping at the bit to take a test on the computer. This is true whether or not they have read their AR (Accelerated Reader) book that they are being tested on. They often will interrupt a lesson or a time of independent work to ask me about taking an AR test. More often than not, at the beginning of the year, they have no idea what their book is about because they haven’t read it thoroughly. When I ask them if they are ready and did they read the test, they always tell me, “Yes! I read it two times.” The data unfortunately speaks otherwise when I see 30% correct, 0% correct. It’s hard to light a fire under kids for reading but it’s even harder sometimes to convince them of the value of honesty. Continue reading “Teaching the Value of Honesty”

Happy Teachers Day 2016 #Education #Teaching

Google Search has this graphic up and says it’s happy teachers day. I wonder if the kids will give me a break and not talk while I’m teaching. Well, if they do, I’ll just remind them it’s Teachers Day ;) Happy Teachers Day to my Union brothers and Sisters, my employing school district, and of course, my students and their families. Without those three, I wouldn’t be a teacher. I’m so grateful that I am one.

Reflections on the Reflective Teacher

Taking time to reflect is beneficial to all human beings. My daughters seem to remind me it’s time to color or otherwise stop what I’m doing at the most inopportune times. I find, however, that those times yield some of my best ideas. Along those lines, it is crucial, in my opinion, to be a reflective teacher. Time off work, out of the classroom is an excellent time to practice being a reflective teacher. Like Winnie the Pooh says: “Did you ever stop to think and then forget to start again?” I think he meant because it can be so wonderful to “stop” that you neglect starting as you were. We need to stop as human beings, especially by our teacher definition. We are entrusted with children and teaching them academics. This is of course one of the highest callings of a society.

Quotes and stories can be excellent sources of teaching inspiration. I like to remind myself of the story of 2 lumberjacks trying to chop more wood in a competition. The first was a busybody with a great work ethic. He chopped until it hurt and then kept right on going limping to his bunk at night. The second was seen taking regular breaks and meditating. At the end of the competition, oddly enough the resting lumberjack had cut down far more trees. When number one asked him how he achieved such an accomplishment he replied: “I stopped regularly to sharpen my axe.”

If we don’t stop we can become fatigued and worse … burned out. Here are some ways I try to be a reflective teacher. Let’s define that here as a teacher who is willing to “stop:”

  • Meditate. While you should have a daily time to stop and meditate to stay healthy, set aside a short time to meditate on your class. Picture it empty, then any way you imagine it. Try this a few times and see the sort of ideas manifest themselves.
  • Make a list. Motivation theory shows that with pen and paper, it helps to start writing ideas down. You might start with the prompt of: “What could be better in my classroom?” Make up other questions and remember the reflective teacher is truly “stopped,” unstressed by the demands of every day work things. Only when you get outside of the routine can you see things differently and fix them.
  • Examine your daily schedule. Look for the times where the day goes smoothly. Can you think of a way to make the who day go more like that? Try the vice versa as well: Where are the long parts of the day that drag on. Chances are, they do the same for your students. Can you help that in any way?
  • Acknowledge the importance of stopping and being a reflective teacher.

In the past few years, I have come to know the healing powers of meditation and relaxation in my personal life. The same practice brings better lessons and better classroom management. Americans as a whole are so caught up with working and doing. I hope you agree that “stopping” and meditating as a reflective teacher will make you more effective.

CD Hovercrafts – A Fun Science Craft Idea

A science lesson can be such a great part of the teaching day. Unfortunately for some, it can also be the most boring. I am always looking for innovative ways to get kids’ attention while teaching them science. Bill Nye videos are very useful and they are titled by standard which makes it easy to select one for your class. But video can’t be the sole thing you rely on when igniting interest. I discovered in the last few years that crafts or experiments can awaken even the most sluggish learner.

I’m currently teaching guitar in Summer school and I saw a science craft another teacher did I want to share. It shows how one force can work against another in unison to create movement. In this case, it is a hover craft. The materials needed are: 1) an old CD you don’t want anymore 2) a balloon 3) The “pull top” style water caps (see image) and 4) a glue gun.

As far as the lesson goes, the sky’s the limit. Do you think you could do something with this idea? I’d love to hear about it.

Ideas for Better Teaching 2011-2012

This is my 13th year teaching public school. Like most things that matter it has taken time to achieve what feels like some level of mastery. This past year I found it helpful to keep a small section of my whiteboard for writing down ideas and solutions.This is important because many times I forget about “light bulb” solutions that take things like a trip to Staples or laminating to make happen. Here are some teaching strategies and tools I plan to use in the 2011-2012 school year.

  • Teach higher volume in answering voice – Teaches all and reduces class boredom.
  • Fruit: Our school gives each class a basket of fruit every day that is provided by a private grant. My rule: must eat all 10 minutes prior to recess or no recess.
  • Random Non Volunteer Cards. Begin use on day 1. #’s work better than name cards.
  • #’s on desk a priority that requires maintenance make a dedicated spot where you can maintain the numbers when kids pick them off etc. Make replacing damage they do an easy task I am prepared for.
  • Plastic “glass” overlay for desk to show observation papers etc. Helps with focus and anxiety over the unknown.
  • Homework is Focus Reading Comp etc. packets. Also Scott Foresman Math. CFU first thing in am with questions. They must be ready to answer my question of “why.”
  • Have a central location to file report cards etc. Organization takes effort but saves mental and physical energy in the long haul.
  • Desks rows and “away” areas for troubled students. Protect the rest.
  • Pick days to stay after school and do copies. This will avoid traffic jams there and hence discouragement. Take the let downs away before they happen.

These are just a few things I plan to implement to make my year better. Have you taken the time to reflect upon your year last year? What worked and what didn’t?

Seize Training Opportunities

Professional Development - Seize OpportunitiesNo matter how bad the economy gets, educational institutions offer trainings of one sort or another. These can prove invaluable to your journey in the classroom so seize them whenever you can. Get on mailing lists of educational publishers, sometimes they will offer a free seminar for their product. Subscribe to RSS feeds of blogs that offer training courses. These can be on anything in education from behavioral management to holistic therapy techniques. I know the latter sounds “out there” but we should all be open to new ideas if we ever going to transform education. You can also seek out trainings in your area and then inquire to your supervisor about getting funded to attend. Most districts and schools are very into professional development, they want to develop the talent they have within. To them, it is an investment. To you it equals mastery, wisdom, and clarity in the teaching profession. Continue reading “Seize Training Opportunities”