Category Archives: Teacher Strategies

Freedom to Learn — User Generated Education

I was painfully bored during my K-12 education. I looked forward to college anticipating that it would be different – more engaging, more interesting, more innovative. I was wrong. My undergraduate education, except for a few bright spots, was just an extension of my K-12 education including more grill and drill with sages on the […]

via Freedom to Learn — User Generated Education

Below are just a couple of quotes from the blog post that I truly appreciate. I’m not interested in reading this book. Carl Rogers, Freedom to Learn.

Much significant learning is acquired through doing. “Placing the student in direct experiential confrontation with practical problems, social problems, ethical and philosophical problems, personal issues, and research problems, is one of the most effective modes of promoting learning” (p. 162).

One cannot measure the difference in attitude, the increased interest, the growing pride in self-improvement, but one is aware that they exist. (Rogers, 1969, p. 19)

Part II “5 Summer Secrets…”

5 Summer Secrets to a stress- free fall

This is a continuation from the previous post.

5 summer stress free secrets include tools to help you make a plan to complete tasks during the summer that will make your year less stressful. An example, the first question the challenge or plan asks is “What do you want your life to like when school starts again? So, what do I want my life to look like when school starts again? Good question. Well stress free of course.  I wanted to have first quarter ready to go, or my plans completed. I want to be prepared. When we get back to school I always feel like I’m not prepared for school.

So to keep up with this vision and Ms. Watson’s challenge for the summer, I signed up for email notifications. Her 5 Summer Secrets started with number one “Eliminate unintentional breaks”. This is common sense, meaning be to be more productive you must task manage. By straying from your work, you create an environment that wastes time and you don’t complete your tasks. Sounds familiar, yep sounds like the kids. Keep them on task. Well what about the teachers? I  find myself doing this especially during the school day.  I start one project and end up straying from that task, going down a rabbit hole as they say. Eventually that project takes me a lot longer.  According Angela Watson we take unintentional breaks. So, she talks about how you need set a break later and work for a good amount time doing one thing. An example is I’ve decided that I should work through my planning period grading  and not go off on a tangent doing something else. Hopefully this will give me some solid time to complete some tasks.

Second  “secret” is avoid “task-Switching”.  Work ahead and avoid task-switching, which I’ve caught myself doing many times. You need to batch together similar tasks and stay on task. Don’t allow yourself to stray from those tasks. Again, sound familiar. I find there are times where I’m working on something, I’ll stray away and go on to something else. So, what happens I’m unproductive and end up not getting what I need done. Seems all commons sense right? well then why do we end up not following that common sense. Got me, but I tried to correct that this summer.

The third “secret”, use scheduling to create your boundaries around time. I found this to be very helpful. I scheduled different tasks I needed to get done during the summer on certain days and hours. When I did this, and followed the plan I got a ton of stuff done. For example, on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings I would work on lesson plans. When I kept to the plan it worked and I got a lot things done. Once I strayed from the plan, well let’s just say very little got done.

Number Four on the list is “Figure out the main thing and do it first”. So, what is the most important or main thing you need to get done this summer. Or, which is the most urgent and an overwhelmingly large task that you need to do.  My main task would be my lesson plans and activities. I know, summer is almost over, but this does work during the year also. The most important tasks need to be done first. Make a list, put the most important at the top of the list.

The last secret is to look “for innovative ways to relax any standards that create unnecessary work”. Look for ways to make things easier on yourself this year. Relax and say no to unnecessary work. Look for activities or assignments from another teacher. Adapt them to your class but don’t reinvent the wheel. If something didn’t work last year, then change it to suit your class, or don’t do the assignment. With this one I have a tendency to create an assignment that is a lot more intricate then has to be. More work for me. Simplify things, let the students take control of their learning. This is where Blended Learning and Flipped Learning comes in. Collaborate with another teacher to make things a bit easier on yourself. All good advice, that I sometimes must admit I forget.

When I followed this advice, I felt good about the beginning of the year. I still do even though I strayed a bit. This is great advice and does work. Try it. I know the summer is coming to an end, but some of this can still be done during the year. I would advise you subscribe to Ms. Watson’s newsletter and podcasts, she really does have some great advice.

Anglea Watson The Cornerstone for teachers

Does it work..Less connectivity

This is the start of a series of blogs that will discuss Angela Watson’s “5 Summer Secrets for a stress-free fall”. 5 stress-free ways for a less stressful fall? Is that realistic? After listening to Ms. Watson’s podcast and downloading all her resources, I started to take her advice and use her resources to begin my journey. And I became aware that it is possible. I did this is because every summer I feel like I don’t get what I need to get done. This year I’d like to be ready for school. I always feel like the summer goes by and I haven’t completed any of the tasks I wanted to get done.

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Less of this, means more time to complete other tasks.

 

How do you do this? Using Ms. Watson’s suggestions there’s 5 ways to attack this problem. First teachers are always stressing because they don’t get what they need to get done. How do you attack this problem? You start with connectivity and decrease social media use (this wasn’t part of the 5 Summer Secrets). You don’t always have to look at your phone for everything. You don’t always have to look at email or social media right away in the morning. That’s the first challenge, I did from Ms. Watson’s website/newsletter. It works, I started to do this, sometimes I fall back into my old ways where I look at social media. But that’s okay, I’m working on changing this habit. Email in the morning, doesn’t work. When I do this stuff, I find I go down those rabbit holes and it wastes my time. I’m wasting time in the morning and I can have a more fruitful morning by reading and doing other things. So I started off with this challenge to help me create better plan to conquer my tasks this summer. I’m learning how to deal with those bad habits, and hoping I can maintain this type of task management for the summer. This challenge was separate from the “5 Summer Secrets”, but it peaked my interest and now I started to use her “5 Summer Secrets to a stress- free fall”. If you sign up for her newsletter you can also receive other tips like the “8 things you can do now to make BTS less stressful” another great resource full of tips.

I know some people are saying this is a way for her to get teachers to join her “40 hour Week Teacher workweek Club” course, but quite honestly she is a great Coach! I’ve been listening to her podcasts and reading her blog. And the resources and advice she gives is very good. Go to her website “The Cornerstone for Teachers” see for yourself.  I’m beginning to think about joining her club next spring. Next entry for me will be about my start of the 5 Summer Secrets…

One last thing..Thank You Angela Watson

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.

Empowered Students vs Engaged Students (What’s the difference?) – A.J. JULIANI

When I was in high school I spent most of my time playing sports (football and basketball) and worrying about my so-called social life. In school, I rarely was allowed to explore my interests, and

Source: Empowered Students vs Engaged Students (What’s the difference?) – A.J. JULIANI 

Never really thought about the difference between the two. Now I’m curious about the whole process. I look forward to reading the book “EMPOWER”. I’ve already read their first book “LAUNCH” and recommend it to anyone interested in trying to get the Genius Hour project off the ground in their class.

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

What is virtual reality? – A simple introduction

An easy-to-understand introduction to virtual reality, the equipment it requires, and the things we can use it for.

Source: What is virtual reality? – A simple introduction

Article simplifies the VR topic. Introducing you to the basic background information about VR.

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.

Scaling Flipped Learning: Part 2 – Flipped Learning Simplified

Individual teachers across the world who are flipping their classes, are often working in isolation and small pockets. However, as the movement has grown, there is an increasing need to think syste…

Source: Scaling Flipped Learning: Part 2 – Flipped Learning Simplified

I’m enjoying this series. Even though the series addresses school wide implementation I like the little bits of helpful hints on Best practices.

Update on Modified “Genius Hour”

Just a short up date on how my version of Genius Hour is going. I changed things around this year by allowing students a bit more freedom with topics. Again another change made because of last years results or rather outcomes from the project. Which, by the way I think are improvements on the implementation of the project.

We have passed the halfway mark on our projects and I think this year they are going much better than past years. Or should I say they seem more organized and students seem to be on track with everything. I had put Fridays aside for students to work on project, but there have been changes along the way. Of course, when does anything stay on schedule? Flexibility is the word of the day when coming to this project. Which really doesn’t bother me. If you are going to do this project you can schedule those work days, but a little advice be flexible if you can.

I posted the introduction to the project in a previous post 5-ways to launch your genius hour projects. After Brainstorming students started a journal to track their progress with the project. I made it on line so I could grade their progress and comment on it. I used Google Documents to make it simple. I handed out an outline on how I wanted the entries to look, but gave them a good deal of latitude about their information.  Some of the requirements I obtained from ROBOTC Curriculum for TETRIX and LEGO MINDSTORMS “Engineering Design Notebook”. So far their journals are looking good. Some of the students needed a bit more guidance when working on their journals, but overall they are getting the hang of it.

Entries should include the following:
• Daily logs and notes
• All sketches, photographs, videos, plans, and drawings
• Notes from design
• Calculations relevant to your project
• Documentation of the changes of your project
• Research information, such as computer print-outs and newspaper articles
• Notes for presentations, reports, proposals, etc..
• Any resources being used in the project

Some information taken from ROBOTC Curriculum for TETRIX and LEGO MINDSTORMS “Engineering Design Notebook”

(resource: http://www.geniushour.com/2013/03/31/genius-hour-ideas/  and http://www.20timeineducation.com/20-time-ideas)

I have some interesting projects this year, one set of students are using music and bacteria. They want to see if bacteria will react to sound. Another set of students are working on the Star Trek Replicator Challenge , being a Star Trek fan I was excited they decided to do this.  A great engineering challenge and hosted by the Future Engineers Website.  Another project has students creating a tutorial on how to use Tinkercad and a 3D Printer. This is part of a 3D Printer collaboration effort with another teacher. Also it’s a great way to introduce 3D modeling to my Forensics classes for their end of the year project. There are a ton of other projects that are interesting to say the least.

Students are deciding on how they present the information. I’m getting a variety of formats. Websites are bit more popular with this years group. I do have the normal Google slides and PowerPoint but they are becoming a bit more creative with adding video etc. As we get closer to the final projects I’ll make another post to summarize the whole process.