Category Archives: Teacher

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.

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.

Feedback…Is it important

After reading a blog entry from Random Teacher Thoughts Blog “Feedback Failure”, I started to think of about the two projects going on in class,  Genius Hour and Citizen Science. I agreed with the blog, you can’t just let the students go through a project and not give them something as they complete the assignment. The author of the blog is reading “Hacking Project Based Learning” by Ross Cooper and Erin Murphy. According to him Hack 7 talked about feedback. Side note here I will probably have to read this book. After reading the article I started to think about what I do for my projects. I have always valued students opinions and ideas in class, this has led me to give surveys to find out what needs to be improved. My point here is that the students have always suggested giving feedback. To address this, I had students create a journal in Google Documents. They shared the journal with me and their partner. Students have a rubric to follow when filling out the journal, it specifies exactly what they should have in their journals. Journals are due every couple of weeks. I wasn’t asking them to write a book, but I wanted a summation on what they were doing. I also wanted them to understand how science notebooks and journals are important components of science experimentation.

The project is still ongoing so I can give up to date progress. While keeping an eye on everyone’s progress, I have found that some have fallen behind. I’ve given them a bit of nudge by commenting in their journal. This is the type of feedback I think students need in order succeed in completing their projects. I would also like to point out here that, students find the journal check a great way for them to communicate their questions or research. I think students really do need feedback from teachers, sometimes it may seem to students that Teachers are only worried about the end product. Feedback allows Teachers to convey a sense of caring about the whole process.  So is feedback important? Definitely!

Google Docs makes it really easy for them to keep track of my feedback, and for me to keep track of their project. I do however want to try other forms of digital “journals”. Maybe next year trying OneNote.

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.

10 Simple Rules for Learning – A.J. JULIANI

1. Learning starts with attention. It’s almost impossible to learn if you aren’t paying attention. And whatever you are giving attention has the ability to turn into learning. 2. Attention happens for two reasons: Necessity and

Source: 10 Simple Rules for Learning – A.J. JULIANI

Some really good pointers on learning. I like #8.