Category Archives: Teacher Ideas

Climate Change

Source: Climate Change

Check out the response to the Booklet being sent out to Teachers about Climate change from the Heartland Institute. Here is another source mentioned on the NESTA website The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change

Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming: the NIPCC Report on Scientific Consensus, and a DVD, History of Climate Change in Greenland. The package looks official with the NIPCC’s seal in the upper left corner. The deceptive marketing is intended to take advantage of many teachers’ unfamiliarity with climate science….

Quinn Rollins: Play Like a Pirate: Celebrate Wonder Woman Day!

Source: Quinn Rollins: Play Like a Pirate: Celebrate Wonder Woman Day!

I came home after watching this movie with a sense of wonderment (no pun intended). I think, and I’m not expert, this was a great movie. Mr. Rollins has some really neat ideas to use this movie and other superhero movies for the classroom. Check out some of his ideas about Wonder Woman.

A Challenge… less connectivity and less stress?

This was one of the first challenges I tried to do, so I could create a less stressful summer.

School has just let out, we’ve been out for about two weeks. I took my little vacation and now I’m ready to really start the break. But I don’t want it to end up like last year. Stressing the last minute about all the work I would have to do in the first two weeks. I always feel disorganized and rushed when the year starts.

Well not this year, I decided I needed to do something to help myself out. So, I looked to Angela Watson and her website “The cornerstone for teachers”. When I first got to the site I found a good deal of help and advice on the use of my time. I then signed up for her newsletter and have become more aware of my habits that waste valuable time I could be using completing various tasks.

The first challenge I took part in was Ms. Watson’s 21 Day Challenge for Teachers Intentional Connectivity. Each week I received an e-mail with a weekly habit, these habits were geared towards changing my bad habits with connectivity. Low and behold they worked. This challenge really helped me see how I had to change the way I used my phone and computer. Eventually I developed better habits as I went along with the challenge. I became aware of the distraction these devices and social media could be. This was the beginning of creating a less stressful summer. It allowed me to realize how much time I wasted with my devices and social media. This wasted time could be used for school work and other things.  Of course, there have been times when I fall back into those bad habits, but now I’m aware of them address them.

I would recommend this challenge to anyone and a huge thanks to Angela Watson for sharing this with teachers.  The next post I’ll discuss will be “ 5 Summer Secrets for a Stress-Free Fall,” from Ms. Watson’s website. This I started and I’m finding a bit tough, but I’m hoping it will led to a better start for the school year.

Growth Mindset: Personal Accountability and Reflection

Do you think you could use this in class today? I’m willing to try this out next year. But I would start at the beginning of the year so students knew where I stood on their grades and reflection. If you do try it let me know how it works.

User Generated Education

I am an adjunct faculty for several teacher education and educational technology programs.  I have been so for a few decades.  During that time I have noticed the changing nature of student behaviors and expectations regarding their class projects and assignments.  Students seem to expect perfect grades for not so perfect work.  I can predict that when I “mark down” a student, I will receive a complaint about that mark down (it happened just this evening) even with clear cut and concrete grading criteria like uses references to support ideas in blog posts, includes copyright available images.

I have been studying, blogging and presenting about the growth mindset (see The Educator with a Growth Mindset: A Staff Workshop).  When speaking of a growth mindset, a fixed mindset also needs to be discussed and described.  Fixed mindsets are associated with avoiding failure at all costs.  What I don’t see mentioned as…

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Invite Your Students to Create Their Own Countries With this Geography Design Project – WeAreTeachers

Your students will transform into world explorers in search of new land.

Source: Invite Your Students to Create Their Own Countries With this Geography Design Project – WeAreTeachers

This looks like a cool lesson for Geography or History Teachers. A new twist on it could be using it for Alien Planets when doing an Astronomy Unit.

Genius Hour! We started our projects again….

Well, my 30-day blog challenge went out the window a while ago. However, I’m not discouraged and I’m starting over.

Genius Hour! We started our projects again and I’m really impressed by my students. Some had a bit of an issue with the brainstorming process. This doesn’t surprise me. Every year I get some students who can’t or don’t allow themselves a chance to think outside the box. I don’t blame them for this, I blame us; teachers and adults. For so long we have insisted on telling them projects should be 10-page research papers, not that sometimes research papers are good, but allowing them a chance to do something else upsets the cart. However, in the end, they all succeeded in doing something that related to themselves and they could enjoy.

I modified the Genius Hour project to suit our class a bit. Similar to last year. I wanted to modify the project to include the LAUNCH cycle. Nevertheless, this just did not work out this year. I did decide to use the Look, Listen and Learn process. This did help the students who were having a difficult time with the brainstorming activity. I do like the LAUNCH cycle and the book was great, but I really want to make sure I have everything in place before having my students do it. I am hoping to work with the Physics teacher to use the LAUNCH cycle for next Mars Rover project. For those of you have not read LAUNCH: Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student, I would advise you read it. It is a great way to start your Genius Hour project. The authors John Spencer and  AJ Juliani have written a very creative way of empowering students to utilize design thinking when completing their projects.

A Plus this year was I changed one of the components of my Genius Hour Project, I added the “A”, Art. Instead of STEM, I now used STEAM. This has been a great idea, I have a couple of students working with Music and Drawing. I have one student investigating sound with different enclosures. Another student creating a new Alien and Alien world.

My motto for this year’s project is to allow my students to be creative and enjoy their what they are learning about

10 Things Pixar Can Teach Us About Creativity

Source: 10 Things Pixar Can Teach Us About Creativity

Could be used as a teachable moment in class when working creative projects. Thinking about reading the book too.

Learning from the students

I’m starting my blog challenge by writing a few words about a learning moment I had in class. Yep, I learned something from my students and it was fantastic.

We had been talking about geological history and going over various topics in the chapter. Our discussion began with my sharing my experience I had with the Siemens Program. During my time there I had the opportunity to work at a dig site with mammoth bones. My training also included getting certified as a lab technician with radiation certification. We were working in a lab with radiation materials and working with the  XRF(X-ray Fluorescence) to identify the layer’s elements in the dig site. You can check out my blogs on my PD experience in an earlier blog entry.

Students began to talk about mammoths and elephants. Their size differences. I was honest and admitted I had no idea. I know I should have, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember. Especially because I was an Earth Science teacher I should have, but… So they decided they needed to look it up and show me. I decided to go with the flow, thinking “Let’s see where this takes us”. Yep, learning experience. By the way mammoths stand at about 5 m tall while elephants are about 3.5 m tall, I’m rounding here.

Point to this post is as a teacher to admit you might not know the answer can be an asset to your students. It seems after this we started to discuss various other topics that the students were interested in and wanted to understand that was related to the geological time line. By admitting I didn’t know something this sparked inquiry in my students and made the class one of exploration and inquiry. While having fun. And the students? I think they actually respected me more because I fully admitted to them I did not know all the answers.

Resolutions or Goals?

Its that time of the year when everyone makes their resolutions. To me they are Goals, what do I want accomplish this year. A challenge, because by April, I’m totally lacking the determination I was in January. And my teaching goals are a bit different from my personal goals. I’m not sure everyone agrees, but my personal goals are more geared to me, teaching goals more geared to students and others. I thought this infographic was interesting, these are the top responses for resolutions. More personal, but now look at the teacher resolutions.

Both have some great resolutions, but just a bit different right? So what’s my point? My point is I think why people give up on their “resolutions” or “goals” is because we overwhelm ourselves with too many.  Start simple and work your way through the year, add more when you think you are ready. As a teacher I really think that my goals in the classroom help my personal resolutions. Ms. Cabeen does a good job in summarizing some resolutions. But that doesn’t mean you can’t come up with your own.

So what are my Goals? Again I’m calling them goals. Honestly, I just want to take each day and try to do the best I can in being a positive influence on my students. There are many ways to do that and that is where some of my personal goals meet my teaching goals. Positive is the key word for this year. Bring out the best in myself and my students. And be optimistic, negativity never works. Too much energy spent on the negative thoughts. If teachers are going to be that positive influence on their students they need to show students there is always hope. Optimism and being positive can be that hope.

Bridges and Towers Part II

In my previous post I talked about the Bridge/Tower project we did in class. In this post I’m going to go over “the Good, the Bad and The Ugly” as they say. Let’s start with the good, students seemed very engaged with the project. Groups were working together and coming up with some great ideas. At first it was a bit slow for some, they seemed to be having a hard time with an open-ended project. I allowed them to decide on their design process.This was a bit different for them at the beginning. But once they knew the criteria and what was expected of them they off to the races. The open-ended part of the project I really liked it because it gave students a chance to experience the problem-solving I was hoping to introduce with the project. I did have some students come after school and during lunch to finish their design.

 

The Bad, well only a few towers fell. And you might think it weird that I’m saying bad for this. But I think the criteria was good, but fewer materials should be used. Or a budget created for the project. This might restrict the structures and create a more realistic goal. Due to the amount of the materials allowed and no real restrictions there weren’t many buildings falling. For the Bridge part of the project I think we need to come up with a few more restrictions. None of the bridges failed. I actually added weight to some to see if they would fail. So bottom line is we need to adjust our material use to increase the challenge.

 

The Ugly, Glue! They went through more glue than I’ve ever seen. Once they attached the different parts they had to use blow dryers to dry their work.  I think the glue needs to be regulated also. A bit messy also. Make sure they have tables or desks covered. I have high school students and quite honestly I was glad I used plastic table cloths. Made a huge difference with cleanup. As for anything to do with the material. I would introduce Earthquake Waves before giving this project. We had thought having students research the background information, such as Earthquake waves, would be ideal for this project. But I feel like the students really didn’t get a better understanding of that information. Part of the lab activity had background information on Earthquake waves. It’s good information, but I think I need to access their knowledge after the project. We did more of a survey.  I think this goes along with all the other changes we have talked about doing next year. For the Tower, limit the material and create a budget. For the bridge, limit the weight, materials and create a budget.

 

A definite project for next year, I think the improvements we make on it will increase the student’s learning process.