Category Archives: Teacher
Recently I was honored to be interviewed for the NatGeo Educator Spotlight. They interviewed me about my capstone I did for them on their certification. You can read about their certification National Geographic Certification. I’m always a bit hesitant of being interviewed, but it turned out okay and I’m happy to have shared my project with everyone.
Now for the project I’m not sure if I did write about the project in the past. But as you read through the interview you will get an idea what’s about. I used the Book reading project we do in class and integrated the maps from National Geographic. During the year I give a book reading project, students in class read Rocket Boys and Hidden Figures. Two great books by the way. Students are given a schedule for reading, I would recommend this, I found it helpful for the students. My sophomores knew exactly what pages they had to have done by a certain date. Feedback from students indicated this kept them on track, even for my Honors class.
When completing their reading they had to answer questions on a google form and then they were to create a presentation answering the questions posted on the assignment sheet. I changed things up a bit, by choosing different groups to present after each section was completed. I decided the year after I had implemented this project, I would adjust it and assign the “Hidden Figures” book. Last year was the first year we did both books. The only changes I’m going to make for next year is I will assign this project in the 2nd Semester. I’m flipping the Genius Hour project with this project.
To enhance the Rocket Boys Project I used National Geographic Maps and Mapmaker. Basically the goal of the lesson was to get students to understand the different resources (geological) in each state. Using the maps the students needed to create a legend and indicate on the maps the resources and geology of the states. During the activity we highlighted West Virginia and Coal Mining. Integrating some of the readings from Rocket Boys. They also learned about their own state and its resources. Feedback from the students was great, they gave some ideas on how to improve the activity.
The project was my capstone for the certification. I would recommend the program to anyone who would like to become a part of the NatGeo Education community.
For those of you who are interested here are the National Standards I addressed with this project: HS-ESS3-1 Earth and Human Activity and HS-ESS3-3 Earth and Human Activity.
National Geographic Education Twitter: @NatGeoEducation
So I began a new opportunity this year, I joined an advisory board. Not something I thought I would be interested in or want to do. But I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. I applied and was accepted on the Infiniscope Advisory board. Infiniscope is a project created by ASU and part of the NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. The website is host to a number of interactive lessons that are being beta tested. Since being picked to be on the board I had the opportunity to test a lesson from the website; Celestial Jukebox. I thought it was really great how it used sound/music to help understand Kepler Laws. Students used music to try and figure out the patterns exhibited by planets in different orbits. It’s really cool way of explaining Kepler Laws, plus it addresses NGSS 3D learning. The Teacher’s Lesson guide does a good job of guiding you through the lesson.
I’m impressed by the other lessons that appear on the website. The opportunity to be a part of this advisory board has opened up new opportunities to learn about new lessons and also learn more about NGSS 3D learning. We recently reviewed a lesson with the NGSS rubric. I’ve never used the rubric before so this was a new experience for me. The rubric addresses the 3 Dimensional learning of the Next Generation standards. The EQulP Rubric lists various criteria that review a lesson.
The purpose of the rubric and review process is to: (1) review existing lessons and units to determine what revisions are needed; (2) provide constructive criterion-based feedback and suggestions for improvement to developers; (3) identify examples/models for teachers’ use within and across states; and (4) to inform the development of new lessons, units, and other instructional materials.
We used this to review a lesson that is being Beta tested on the Infiniscope website. I learned a lot through the process, it started to get me thinking about my lessons and how they would stand up to this scrutiny. It’s a good guide to use when creating a lesson if your district or state has adopted the NGSS.
If your interested in the lessons on the Infinscope feel free to use the link in this post to get to the website. Check out the information below about the research they are doing to find other topics for interactive lessons.
The Infiniscope Digital Teaching Network is seeking your help! Infiniscope is based out of Arizona State University and funded by NASA. Infiniscope specializes in creating digital learning experiences around NASA data and visualizations that are tightly aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and are built for all audiences. We are inviting you, to share your personal experience with simulations you have used with your audiences (in and out of the classroom) or ones you wish you could find to reach students struggling with the content you are trying to communicate.
Your participation in this study will involve the completion of a Qualtrics survey using the provided link below. This survey will take approximately 5-10 minutes. By completing the questionnaire, you will be entered in a drawing to win one of four Amazon gift cards. Survey closes April 30th and winners will be named May 1st.
If you would like to participate, please click the link below to take the survey. The survey will be available until April 30, 2018 at https://asu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9NZQUnMGIHa6ARL
Thank you so much for your willingness to assist us with this important area of research!
Collaborative projects can easily fall apart in the classroom. You start with a great idea but next thing you know, you have half of your students checked out. So, how do we fix this? Listen to
After listening to the podcasts I’m rethinking my group projects. How do you get all parties involved in the project? Buy in? How do you get students to own the process? John Spencer does a great job in giving teachers ideas how how to do this. But obviously each classroom is different, and something that works for me might not work for you. And there will always be that one or two students you just can’t get to work. Its frustrating I know, but its one of the things Teachers have to accept, its called “human behavior” (well that’s what I think). The classroom can’t be perfect.
“It’s complicated, John Spencer says and its because kids are complicated”.
I know the projects that are successful in my classroom are the one’s that students are engaged and have ownership. “Creative Collaboration”, definitely agree here with John Spencer. Our earthquake towers are one of the most successful projects we do in class. Students take ownership and work together on building something.
I’m definitely taking some of John Spencer’s suggestions and implementing them in the some of my projects in class.
Thank You Mr. Spencer great article!
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 […]
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)
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.