The Dreaded PD Staff Meeting

the dreaded dead spider

the dreaded dead spider

For the past year, I have been wondering why I come away from staff meetings in a grumpy mood? The funny thing is I enjoy meeting with my colleagues but I seem to leave the meetings frustrated. Don’t get me wrong here because I work for great administrators and colleagues and we have awesome students, but we are stretched too thin. I feel that a couple of things are in motion here; one, I never feel as though what I have to say matters to anyone and second, the focus is seldom on what’s best for kids but on topics that might someday be remotely related to my daily interaction with students (and even this is quite a stretch). And some things just get started and they whither away, so why put effort into something that may or may not be revisited in the future?

I feel that for a staff “professional development” meeting to meet my needs as a professional teacher and learner it has to have five things.

First, it helps if the topic will be personally useful to me and by that I mean something that I can turn around and implement in my classroom. Second, it needs to be focused on helping students become self-motivated learners. Third, I want to know that my voice is valued as a contributing member of the community. Fourth, professional development meetings need to be a dialogue not a lecture.  And last, the topic needs to have a sense of urgency attached to it. 

I want to be the best teacher I can be for every student, teacher, and parent I meet. So, wouldn’t it make sense if professional development centered around what individual teachers need most?

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Can You See Me On Your Team?

resumeI have been scouring the Midwest for social studies positions for about a year and a half. I have sent out well over 200 resumes and applications and have had over a dozen interviews. The interview process and the reasons administrators give for not offering a job range anywhere from pre-canned E-mail responses to ridiculous qualities that I could never compete with. Quite honestly, I am fed up with the entire application and interview process. I am at the point where Justin Tarte was last summer when he wrote this post, Read My Blog, Not My Resume. I will however add a question to the mix, can you see me on your team?

Let’s assume that I am seeking to work for a particular school district and/or administrator. Let’s further assume that since I have 15-16 years of teaching experience that I pretty much know the kind of people I would like to work for and I know my abilities and limitations. I always do my homework by investigating the districts and administrators BEFORE I even fill out an application and submit the requisite resume. I have already determined that the district (including student demographics) and the administrion would be a “good fit” for me. I mean why would I go through the laborious time consuming process of filling out an application, answering screening questions, and tweaking my resume and letter for a position I would not want, working for people I would not like, somewhere I don’t want to be, and doing something I might not be able to handle?

I am not a wet behind the ears greenhorn just looking for that first job so I can get my foot in the door of education. I mean, come on folks, I’ve been in the game for quite a while and I have continued learning, changing, and adapting to the ebbs and flows of our profession. If you can’t learn, change, and adapt, you cannot be a teacher in today’s connected world.

Anyone can look good on paper and possibly smooth talk their way through an interview, but what is that person’s digital footprint look like? What have they been doing currently to advance the profession and student learning? Do they actually engage with people on a national or international level? It is imperative in today’s world to establish a professional learning network and a robust transparent digital presence. The online presence of a person shows, in a very open and vulnerable way what is important to that person.

Go ahead and Google your name to see where your digital footprint leads. Better yet Google the name Timothy Scholze and check out my digital footprint. I am proud of what I have out there in cyberspace because I take the risk to stand behind what I put online. Take a look at what I have to offer and then ask yourself, can you see me on your team? 

Teacher Reboot: Lesson from the Schoolhouse

Teaching is a noble profession, but leaving a teacher to deal with EVERYTHING in a school setting is not fair. Teachers need support! 

I recently taught for a semester where there was no collegiality between some staff members. A member of the teaching staff decided to turn our school into a political firestorm and a teacher popularity contest. That teacher is the only one participating in the contest so that teacher wins. While other teachers work tirelessly to enforce school rules, acceptable behavior, and learning, one teacher turns the students against the other teachers.

It is highly inappropriate and not very professional for a teacher to become friends with middle level students. Now, don’t get me wrong here, because we do want to develop meaningful and lasting relationships with our students, but there is a fine line that teachers need to walk between friendship and friendliness. It is also very unprofessional to put down a fellow teacher with students. Professional relationships require a collegial attitude and teachers need to approach students and teaching as a team. The days of the lone ranger, I close my door and teach, are gone. No teacher has ever made real progress in education by thinking that what they have is best for the students and nothing can be learned from other teachers.

As teachers, we should always strive to bring our “A game” for the students we teach and for the teachers we work with. I made it my mission to Teach Like A Pirate (@burgessdave) this school year, but it shocked me how easily one person could knock the wind right out of my sails. When students refuse to learn, refuse to behave, refuse to follow directions, refuse to participate what can a teacher do? 

New teachers, please do not scoff at your colleagues in front of your students. Please do not commiserate with your students negatively about another teacher. Try to learn from everyone around you. That old teacher that everyone complains about just may be able to impart some kernels of wisdom if you don’t take the effort to make life more difficult for that teacher.

What did I learn from my semester in negativille? Surround your self with great people and if you can’t find those great people nearby, then leave to find them. Life is too short to be surrounded by negativity. Sometimes in order to live life to its fullest we need to go back to our roots and reboot. 

Rebooting now.

My Review of RadioShack Electronics Components Pack 2

Originally submitted at RadioShack

  • Chapters 3 & 4 of Charles Platt's Make: Electronics book
  • Contains over 130 components
  • Great Kit – Excellent Price

    By Tim S from Raleigh, NC on 12/25/2013

     

    5out of 5

    Pros: Quality, Bargain Price

    Best Uses: Hobby, Experimenting, Learning electronics

    Describe Yourself: Enthusiast

    Primary use: Personal

    Was this a gift?: No

    This is an EXCELLENT kit in both price and quantity to go along with the Make: Electronics book. Instead of scouring the Internet or catalogs for all the individual pieces, RadoShack has come up with a real time saver for those of us just getting into electronics. Some of the pieces are very difficult to even find and order online. This kit would also be ideal for after school STEM activities. An awesome kit at an affordable price. All you need are a few tools and you’re on your way to MAKE something cool.

    (legalese)

    Living the Dream: Goals can be Motivating

    Goal setting has never been one of my favorite tasks as a teacher. In fact, the goals I have set over my career were always related to what an administrator or school district has deemed important. There always had to be a connection from my goals to the building and/or district goals.

    This year, I get to set my own professional development goals. I set the bar pretty high, but I feel that as a teacher I should be held to a higher standard than most people in other professions. I am fortunate to work with 7th grade students, in a state where teachers are pushing the boundaries of education, and I am connected via social media to world renowned professionals.

    I think that with the proper administrative support and a little pushing from my PLN, that I can achieve my goals. I know that I will not be able to accomplish my goals over night, but I think that they are definitely achievable if I arise each day with the proper mindset.

    Goal #1: I want to be a positive role model for my students, fellow staff members, and my PLN.

    This goal should be in everyone’s top five list. Like most of you, I have students from all walks of life and every type of family situation. Many of my students have not had positive male role models in their lives. I feel that I need to live the Gospel message every day and try to walk in the footsteps of giants. I want every one of my students to be successful in world history this year. I want every student to see how history influences their lives every day, that they matter in this world.Image courtesy of http://teachersreflect.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/transformers/

    Just showing up with a positive attitude each day and a fully realized plan is half the battle. I mean, anyone can do those two things on a daily basis, right? It sounds easier than it actually is, but the commitment should be there. Leading by example should be a positive, easily achievable goal also, yet it is taxing when there are so many unmotivated people. It feels like the energy is literally being drained from the body because of the reactions and actions of a few. As a teacher I need to fight this unmotivated drain by getting all my students as excited about learning as I am. I need to be the model.

    Goal #2: I want to gamify my classroom and course.

    CivIVI never thought that I would even be thinking in gaming terms to try and motivate my students. I have just begun researching gamification and I find that through others successes I can model their success and help bring new life to my students and their work in my classroom. I am hoping that student achievement, motivation, and self-directed learning will increase as I develop the gaming aspects into my class.

    I definitely need to be on the lookout for fresh resources and collaborate with people like @MrDPasion, @avantgame, Dr. Kurt Squire, and @constances. If you think of any others, please let me know via twitter (@scholzet) or in the comments section. I definitely am going to begin doing this with my current students, but I need to work out how to make it work with an antiquated grading and reporting system.

    Goal #3: I aspire to become a sought after keynote speaker on topics like Social Studies and S.T.E.M.x, Massive Multiplayer Classrooms, the #flatclass project, and Educational Technology in the Middle.

    I know that with this particular goal I might have to start small. I mean, I don’t see ISTE knocking on my door any time soon, but that is what I aspire to be. Not only do I want to be an awesome teacher, but I want to share my joys and sorrows, my passion for teaching with teachers who might be doubting their own abilities. Teachers who don’t believe that they have a creative bone in their body. Teachers who want to make their classrooms and students ROCK! Can I really be that guy? Someone once said that nothing is impossible, so I figure that if I surround my self with the right people, that they just might help me make this happen, I mean stranger things have happened, right?

    Goal #4: I want to reach the pinnacle of education by receiving a doctorate degree in educational technology.

    There is a professor at NC State (her name escapes me) who is working on developing lessons on the Grand Challenges of Engineering. Not only would I like to be helping her develop and try those lessons with my S.T.E.M. Design students, but I would like to become a teaching professor of educational technology for pre-service teachers. I know this one is down the road somewhat, but I believe in long range planning and I need to walk the walk with my students. I’m not the most brilliant mathematician in the world (statistics aren’t me according to my most recent GRE scores), but I have skills in research and I believe that my research should be action research in my classroom any way. If it happens, I will have achieved my ultimate educational dream. Will the learning end? Nope, it will always be pushing me forward because I will never know enough.

    Goal #5: I want to be the best S.T.E.M.x Social Studies Teacher in North America! It could happen.

    I figure that I should set the target out there, for it is better to aim and miss than to have never tried. Someone said that once. Also, in reading Dave Burgess’s (@burgessdave) book Teach Like a Pirate, I found that as a teacher I should not be afraid to want to be the best. Parents, students, and school districts would rather have someone who is constantly seeking to improve and to be the best than to have a group of mediocre teachers who are just there for the vacations and a pay check.

    best-of-the-best

    In order to achieve this goal I will need to observe Awesome social studies teachers at work. I need to see how they interact with their students, how they present their students with learning opportunities, and I need to see how they find the energy and stamina needed for greatness.

    I’m just a middle aged man who grew up in the Midwest and moved to North Carolina to live out my passion for teaching. I have a great wife and four awesome kids. Why would I set such “lofty” goals? I want to model for my own family that they can achieve anything they set their minds to.

    This post is dedicated to my oldest daughter, Anastasia, who as a freshman in high school is dreaming and achieving and living life to its fullest. She is the inspiration in my life and continually pushes me to be a better father, husband and teacher. Thanks, Stickers 😎

    New Adventures and STEM for All!

    vance_co_schoolsI was recently hired to teach 7th grade social studies for Vance County Schools in Henderson, North Carolina. What an adventure! Nineteen straight hours on the road from Western Wisconsin to North Central North Carolina! Google Maps said it would only take 15 hours 30 minutes! Way off Google, way off. I slept like a baby for sixteen straight hours afterwards. After reading Teach Like a PIRATE by Dave Burgess.  I am ready and excited to meet my fellow shipmates, captains, and crew members. I will be involved in an early high school STEM program in a 1:1 laptop setting with iPod Touches available for checkout.

    It seems as though many teachers are trying to change the acronym STEM to make sure that their content areas are not left out. For those of you who may be living under a rock or if you truly do not know, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. Some programs have added an A to the acronym. The A stands for the Arts and the acronym becomes STEAM. I also watched a presentation from ISTE 2013 where the presenter added the letters R and A making STREAM the R stands for reading and research. I even toyed with the idea of writing a post about the importance of social studies in a STEM program. I guess that would make it STREAMS. We shouldn’t leave out foreign languages or English/ Language Arts, or what about physical education? Would the new acronym become STREAM FLAPS ( Science, Technology, Reading, Research, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, Foreign Language, Language Arts, Physical Education, and Social Studies)? It can become a rather tricky business and many people can feel left out.EHS2Plogo

    Hey, my Social Studies class is getting the axe!

    We social studies teachers should not be worried about losing our jobs because of STEM initiatives. I understand STEM from the perspective of the National Science Foundation (NSF). “The NSF uses a broader category to define STEM subjects which includes subjects in the fields of Chemistry, Computer and Information Technology Science, Engineering, Geosciences, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Social Sciences (Anthropology, Economics, Psychology and Sociology), and STEM Education and Learning Research.”[6] (Source: Wikipedia)
    According to the NSF’s broad definition of STEM social studies is an area that is included and I believe, that by extension, history and government are also included in a well rounded STEM program. “(In education) STEM generally supports broadening the study of engineering within each of the other subjects, and beginning engineering at younger grades, even elementary school. It also brings STEM education to all students rather than only the gifted programs.” (source: Wikipedia) It would be a gross oversight to exclude the fields of history and government because we do not want a nation of highly educated engineers and scientists who have no concept of how our government runs and the history that led up to our present situations. Just think about all of the engineering feats throughout history that created giant leaps in technology and quality of life for humans. For example aqueducts, the printing press, the compass, the astrolabe, etc. History and government cannot be left out of the STEM equation, however, there definitely needs to be more of an interdisciplinary or team integration/collaboration approach.

    What about Foreign Languages and the Arts?

    We all know that in order to compete in a global market, we need to understand other languages and cultures, so I believe that taking the study of foreign languages from the equation would also be foolish. Communication and collaboration across the world are necessary and we will still need people who understand the nuances of foreign languages. Where should I even begin with explaining how important the arts are in a STEM program? I think one name should suffice here, Steve Jobs. Just take a look at how Apple takes technology and integrates design to present a product that is practical and aesthetically pleasing. This cannot be done without creative artistic people. Arts programs should not be on the chopping block for any reason or any program! We simply need to have people who are creative and artistic, people who create wonderful music, who create stunning works of art, people who sculpt and build.

    I do not think that we need to add any extra letters to the STEM initiative as people in STEM careers still need the other curricular areas in order to function fully in society. As for reading and research. . . I ask one question, how do we solve real problems without being able to read and research? The letters are not necessary to make sure that a content area is included in STEM. All current content areas are necessary in a well developed STEM program. I think many teachers’ fears about the focus on STEM are unfounded and that adding letters to the acronym are not the answer. Be the best teacher you can be and let your students engage in real world problem solving. A person is never too young to learn how to solve problems and understand engineering concepts. Get your kids out there creating, making, coding, experimenting and be supportive of their passions.

    Duty, Honor, Country: Independence Day

    independence-day-ipad-free-download-iphone-apps-wallpaper_H.4817562778470762GreenMtBoysWith Independence Day being celebrated this week in the United States, I thought that I would share the story of my service to our country.

    I come from a long line of soldiers that extends back to at least the American Revolution. Myth or historically accurate, I’m not quite sure but I heard it from my mother who heard it from her mother. Apparently, I am somehow related to Ethan Allen, leader of the Green Mountain Boys of New Hampshire, who captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British in 1775.

    Skip ahead one hundred ten years and my great grandfather Anton Scholze leaves with his family, including my four year old grandfather Benno, from Prachen, a German hamlet in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, for a better life in America. My great grandfather, Anton, is said to have left the great Empire because he did not want his boys to become, “cannon fodder for the Fuhrer,” nor did he want his boys to take up arms against their German brethren. Ironically, all but one of my grandfather’s sons, my father and uncles, served in the United States military defending freedom, liberty, and independence in World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War. One of my uncles was actually part of the first group of Americans to liberate his father’s birthplace and his grandfather’s hometown of Prachen, now part of the Czech Republic. Altogether, I had one uncle serve in the Army in the European Theater throughout World War II, one uncle in the Army in the Pacific Theater, and one uncle ready to ship out with the Marines to the European Theater just as the war ended. Two of my uncles received the purple heart for their service during the Korean Conflict with one of them giving the ultimate sacrifice of his life. My father served with the 32nd Engineers, Wisconsin Army National Guard during Vietnam and one of my uncles served with the Marine Reserves throughout the same war, surprisingly, neither one of them were shipped out to Vietnam during their service.

    When I was in high school I had dreams of becoming a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force. I had enough of school by my senior year that I decided to take a non-traditional route to becoming a pilot by enlisting in the Air Force hoping to eventually earn my bachelors degree, become a licensed pilot, and then head to officer training and a billet as a pilot. I thought that the best path was to become an air traffic controller, that way if the pilot idea fell through, I would have a career to fall back on. Well, when I went for my enlistment physical, I was told that I did not have the depth perception that was necessary for an air traffic controller. I had to choose between a weather specialist or a command and control specialist. At this point I chose the command and control specialist path because I would work with pilots and commanders to make decisions impacting all aspects of national defense.

    I left for Basic Military Training on July 21st 1986. I was again put through an Air Force physical where they found that I in fact had no deficiency in my depth perception, but it was now to late to switch back to becoming an air traffic controller. I left that same day for Lackland, Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas for six weeks of grueling training. I was assigned to the 3706th BMT Squadron, Flight 8265 Drum and Bugle Corps which was the only mixed gender squadron at Lackland at the time. I played the baritone in the corps which excused me from other types of duties like Kitchen Patrol. Other than playing at two training graduations and one parade in San Antonio, members of the Drum and Bugle Corps had to accomplish the same physical requirements as everyone else. The only problems I had throughout basic training was that I could not accomplish every part of the obstacle course, but everyone could pass up to two obstacles, and I used up both my passes. All airmen were supposed to be able to do 30 push ups by the end of basic training and there is where I had trouble. I could only do about fifteen or maybe twenty and when we did our final physical training my Instructor looked the other way for my last ten to fifteen push ups allowing me to pass basic training.

    3706 Flt 8265 Aug 1986

    BMT ended in September and I was then assigned to a squadron at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi for command and control specialist school. After six weeks of training at Keesler, I was assigned to the 375 Aeromedical Airlift Wing at Scott AFB near Belleville, Illinois. I was allowed some leave time before having to arrive at my newly assigned base, so I flew home and we drove to Scott AFB where my parents helped me move into my new digs.

    The 375 AAW was part of Head Quarters 21st Air Force, located in Florida, which reported to Military Airlift Command (MAC) which was at Scott AFB. It was all a bit confusing as our Wing was located on the same base as the MAC HQ. So to go up the chain of command the 375 AAW at Scott AFB had to go through 21st Air Force in Florida to take care of matters that pertained to the MAC which was about seven blocks from our command post. The 375 AAW was responsible for aeromedical airlift worldwide and had configurations for every type of Air Force cargo aircraft. In the command post at Scott AFB, I was responsible for just Continental U.S. (CONUS) missions involving aeromedical airlift in the C-9A, C-21A, and C-12 aircraft. My wing was also tasked with moving VIP’s around the country mostly with our C-21A aircraft which was basically a Leer jet that could be configured for minimal aeromedical airlift.C-9A

    In late 1987 or early 1988, I attended NCO Preparatory Course and graduated in the top five percent of my class earning a distinguished graduate award. I also participated in a Wing exercise for the Air Force Inspector General and his staff. They were so impressed with the way I did my job that I was recognized by the IG via an Outstanding Performance Award.

    In the summer of 1989 I participated, as a search and rescue duty officer at the Combined Forces Command Post, in Exercise Ulchi Focus Lens (UFL) which is a Republic Of Korea (South Korea –  ROK) – US Combined Forces Command (CFC), ROK governmant, simulation driven, OPLAN-oriented command post exercise (CPX) conducted annually. UFL is held in the late summer, August / September time frame. The timing is such that the bulk of the summer personnel rotations are complete. I spent between 30 and 60 days in South Korea. Lesson learned, never go out drinking with helicopter pilots!

    Ulchi Focus Lens is CFC’s large scale war fighting command post exercise (CPX). It is an annual ROK-US combined forces government military exercise designed to exercise, evaluate, and improve crisis action measures and procedures for the combined war plans in the defense of the Republic of Korea in accordance with OPLAN and Supporting plans. It provides an opportunity for commanders and staffs to focus on strategic, and operational, issues associated with general military operations on the Korean peninsula. Ulchi Focus Lens is a CPX with the tactical situation portrayed through the use of computer simulation models and master scenario events list. It is the world’s largest computerized command and control exercise.

    In December 1989, we embarked on Operation Just Cause, where Panamanian leader General Manuel Noriega was captured and brought to the U.S. I received orders for Elmendorf AFB in Alaska, but I would have to extend my enlistment by eighteen months. I turned the orders down as I was already enrolled to attend UW-La Crosse and pursue my degree in geography education. I did, however, decide to transfer to the Minnesota Air National Guard upon my discharge from the regular Air Force.

    On July 21, 1990 I was honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force and began weekend warrior duty with the 133rd Airlift Wing (MAC). This was primarily a C-130 wing and they worked some aeromedical airlift and carried paratroopers around the U.S. Outside of those two operations, I have no idea what else the wing was involved in. Two days a month of work and two weeks in the summer didn’t allow me the time necessary to process fully the mission of the wing. The nice thing about the ANG was that I not only was pulling in anywhere from $300 – $400 per month while attending college full-time, but the state of Minnesota reimbursed me fifty percent of my tuition upon successful completion of each semester. In May of 1992, I wanted to be involved in a fighter wing operations so I found a billet in the Wisconsin Air National Guard based at Truax Field in Madison.

    118px-133rd_Airlift_Wing_shield

    I began my tour with the 115th Fighter Wing (TAC) in May of 1992. We started out with A-10 Warthog’s which are an air to ground assault aircraft with a machine gun that can turn the largest of vehicles into a heaping pile of scrap in less than 15 seconds. At some point the Wing transitioned to F-16’s. The summer of 1992, I spent two weeks at Volk Field/Camp Douglassm_115fw working aircraft operations. I was promoted to an E-5 or Staff Sergeant. I spent my one weekend a month and received the same college benefits as I did from the Minnesota ANG. In the winter of 1992, it was decided that I would go on a mission to Mombassa, Kenya in the summer of 1993. With Operation Desert Storm still in operation, the Mombassa mission was cancelled and I was asked to volunteer for 90 days in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Being a geography major, it was too great an opportunity to pass up as people could only get into the country via invitation. So, at the end of the spring semester of 1993, I began my trek to Saudi Arabia.

    The desert is hot, but it is a dry heat. The heat doesn’t seem to have quite the impact that humidity does. I could walk or run around Eskan village, Eskan Housingtwenty minute drive from the air base, where our Air Force troops where housed. The rumor was that the prince had the village built for a group of bedouins who eventually moved on and after it was cleaned up, three to five soldiers would share a house. Every house looked exactly the same! The only distinguishing feature was the address, in Arabic, outside the front entrance. Each house had the essentials and the back opened onto a shared courtyard. There was an entrance to the roof, and I spent a great deal of off duty time contemplating life on the roof of our house. The thing that surprised me the most about the village was seeing cats roaming around. I guess that when I thought desert, cats never entered my mind.

    At the Riyadh Air Base, I worked in the wing command post for the 4404th Wing (Provisional) attached to the Air Combat Command ACC formerly TAC. I received some computer generated flight plans occasionally and alerted base agencies of Scud missile exercises and heat alerts. I traded with 4404th Composite Wing Provisionalone of the airmen that I was there with so that I worked twelve hour night shifts. 6 pm until 6 am. Four nights on three days off. My main duties on the night shift entailed setting mouse traps, disposing of mice, turning down the lights, kicking up my feet, and watching television. I would leave about midnight to get some chow, putting the phones on hold and propping the back door to the command post open until I returned. No one ever noticed that I had deserted my post every night for a meal run.

    Near the end of my tour in Saudi Arabia, the captain in charge of the enlisted personnel told me that I would need to extend my stay another one to two months. I told him that in no uncertain terms was that going to happen as I had college to get back to and if he had a problem with that, he could gladly take it up with the Adjutant General from Wisconsin. Things got kind of dicey and I was a little bit insubordinate, but I prevailed and was released from active duty after my 90 days were up. I was unceremoniously honorably discharged from the Wisconsin Air National Guard on July 21, 1994. This brought my total time in the active Air Force to 4 years, 3 months with two honorable discharges and 3 years 9 months divided between the Minnesota and Wisconsin Air National Guard again with two honorable discharges.

    Thus ends my Air Force story. It includes only the high points, but it was truly an honor to serve my country for eight years. The dividends for those eight years are still paying off. Somehow, as long as I am a resident of Wisconsin and attend a Wisconsin school, the Veterans Administration picks up all but $100 for every class I take. And, I can still take around 115 credits at that rate.

    The Value of Blogs – Part II

    I know that I had set a goal of having this post out two weeks ago Wednesday, but it simply amazes me how little things tend to start building to bigger things and then it kind of snowballs from there. Yeah, even though I don’t have a teaching job life does go on. Like last Monday, I started a part-time job that pays $11.00 per hour with absolutely no relation to education whatsoever. It is assembly line type work, scanning documents into a computer, using very little brain power and absolutely zero creativity.

    Enough whining now and on to part two of my post on the blogs I visit most. This is something educational and creative that I can do as I wait for and apply for teaching jobs.

    TeachThoughtThis first blog I began following and reading because it was linked to in my twitter stream so frequently that I just couldn’t seem to ignore it. TeachThought, @teachthought on Twitter, is a good blog that focuses on many issues in education from learning and trends in education to technology, iPads, and games this site has a little of everything. Recent posts of note (remember I am a social studies certified teacher) include Popular Historical Learning Simulation Now Playable In-Browser–For Free very similar to the popular Civilization and Age of Empires games and A Primer In Heutagogy And Self-Directed Learning.

    I think that every teacher on Twitter has come across Free Technology for Teachers by @rmbyrne. Richard is a teacher in Maine who blogs every day offering practical advice and app reviews for the busy teacher. Richard also runs a technology retreat in the summer that I think would be awesome to attend. 29 Games Kids Can Play to Try Engineering and GeoSettr – Create a Street View Geography Game are two recent posts that I have found particularly useful. Richard provides bite sized professional development via his blog and he can be seen at many conferences presenting on larger topics. He also regularly posts on Google + and is very responsive in that space.
    Rbyrnetech-FreeTechnologyForTeachersTechTip182
    Dr. Doug Belshaw, @dajbelshaw is one of the first people I started following on twitter many months ago. His blog title Doug Belshaw: Open Educational Tinkering is exactly that. Doug writes about current topics in education but in such a way that it is accessible and personal. He is a teacher at heart, works for Mozilla, and breaks topics into chunks making Mozilla_Foundation_logothe learning of sometimes difficult concepts easier. One of the many current issues he is working on is web literacies. First draft of Mozilla’s Web Literacy standard now available! He also does a lot of work on open badges which is best described in his post Explaining Open Badges through analogy. Dr. Belshaw is at the cutting edge of making digital learning a part of educational life.

    Can’t forget to read Hack Education by @audreywatters because she will cause you to think, re-think, and think deeply. Audrey describes herself as, “an education writer, rabble-rouser, rambler, recovering academic, lifelong learner, serial dropout, part-time badass, mom.” I think her writing is truly inspired. She is not afraid to speak what’s on her mind and I can tell that she puts a lot of thought into her posts. A couple of recent posts that I found particularly inspiring are On ‘Viral” Education Videos and her newest Hack Education Weekly News: MOOC State University. She is known worldwide and has been known to give Keynote addresses and presentations.

    YouTube_logo_stacked_white

    John Spencer @edrethink is part teacher, part prankster, a dad, and an educational thinker. He shares the Blog Education Rethink with Chad Segersten. I enjoy his fun approach to life and education. In following his blog and following him on twitter and Google+, I’ve come to appreciate his humor and sarcasm as he adds to the educational conversation. I really enjoyed one of his recent posts titled, The Problem with Should. John has written a few books and also writes for a couple other websites. You can find him hanging out on various social media around the Internet.

    Coding

    Josh Stumpenhorst, @stumpteacher, challenges my thinking. He blogs at Stump the Teacher. I’m glad that Mr. Stumpenhorst is part of my PLN because he has a way of challenging the status quo and thinking through things realistically. Many times teachers and college professors like to think of ideas in the best possible case situation, Josh paints more of a picture of reality through experience. This quote from his Blog puts it well, “This blog is a reflection of my restless mind and not necessarily a reflection of my school district.” Two recent blog posts really resonate with me, Take Aways and Questions #futurenow and Bullying Will Never Be Solved.

    bully
    Lastly, I am going to leave you with link to some more general Blogs that I follow to round out my weekly reading. I hope you enjoyed this two part post, and feel free to leave challenging questions and comments by clicking on the thought bubble in the upper right corner. Cheers!

    http://edudemic.com/
    http://www.edutopia.org/

    http://help.edublogs.org/user-guide/

    http://shellyterrell.com/

    PASSION…PURPOSE…PRIDE…

    The Value of Blogs – The 10 Blogs I Visit Most

    I have to be honest, I am a relative newbie to both social media and blogging. I only started doing both this past October(ish), so 7 months of learning. As I have stated in previous blogs, I have always been a reflective teacher, but blogging and twitter have helped me find my own voice, reflect, and learn. There are so many people that I learn from on a pretty consistent basis. If you look at my PLN list on twitter, I think you will find a compilation of who I consider to be the superstars or dream team of the education world.

    skype_logo_galleryFriday, I had a Skype conversation with one of the first people I started following on twitter Ms. Kelly Tenkely (@ktenkely) and I still cannot believe that this superstar would make time for me to talk about education. I don’t think of myself as being in the same league with most of the people I follow, but I hope that every once in a while I can add to the conversation, make people stop and think, or pass on something worthwhile to help people grow professionally.

    A few weeks ago Mr. Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) wrote a post about the ten blogs that he must read every day. I thought that in this week’s blog I would follow his lead and give you my top ten or so list of blogs that I read on a regular basis. The list is in no particular order and I’m just going off the top of my head here (I know dangerous). So, I humbly present a list of blogs I follow on a regular basis.

    Learning with ‘e’s by Dr. Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth) – blackboardDr. Wheeler is a professor at Plymouth in the U.K. He writes about issues related to technology and pedagogy. My thinking is always being stretched by reading his blog. He has a keen understanding about learning and integrating technology. A couple recent posts come to mind, Learning Theories for the Digital Age and Self Organised Learning Spaces. Dr. Wheeler presents his thoughts and ideas at many conferences throughout the world and his work can be found in many places across the web.

    NASCAR Dash

    MT & CKS Poole-

    Blogging About the Web 2.0 Connected Classroom by Mr. Steven Anderson (@web20classroom) – Mr. Anderson is a technology coordinator for the Winston-Salem, North Carolina School District. Steven was one of the first people I began following on twitter and I sought out his advice frequently. Through his blog, Steven writes about many different topics that blend technology, leadership, and education. If you want to learn why you should be blogging or how incorporating technology in your classroom can help you and your students become better learners, then this is a must read blog. A couple recent blogs of note, Google Tools to Check Out and Professional Development on Your Time, Your Way. Mr. Anderson can be found presenting at many technology related conferences and helping add to the body of knowledge about how to use the web and social media for teachers and learners.

    Up next, two Canadians, both principals, but worth reading what they have to say as connected administrators and leaders in learning. The first is Mr. Interview questionsGreg Miller (@millerg6) who writes a blog titled Principal Greg Miller. In his blog Greg strives to reflect upon his experiences in education, the current state of education and what education can look like. A couple recent posts I found interesting; The New Look Teacher Interview and Try a Mystery Skype. Here’s Why. Mr. Miller is also very approachable and will answer questions that you might have. I was blown away when I commented on one of his blog posts and he commented back. Wow, me getting a message from Principal Greg Miller, unbelievable.

    cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by -= Bruce Berrien =-

    cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by -= Bruce Berrien =-

    The other Canadian is Mr. George Couros (@gcouros) who is a principal in Stony Plain, Alberta, look it up on a map. I like to refer the Mr. Couros asCurious George (no disrespect meant here, and no, I’m not comparing him to the monkey). The blog he writes is titled The Principal of Change. Always looking at moving education forward and sharing what he learns, George’s blog is amazing. He reflects upon his learning and experiences as a leader. I like his most recent blog post 10 Ideas to Move Innovation Forward.

    Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher)CoolCat is one of the most amazing teachers I know and I have never even met her. We tweet back and forth occasionally and I find that I re-tweet many of her tweets to the people who follow me on twitter. Mrs. Davis is involved in social media and education in many different ways. You have to remember that this woman teaches elementary students all day long in Georgia, tweets more than a dozen times a day, writes books (see last week’s blog post), presents at conferences (Google “Flat Classroom”), puts together magazines for Flipboard, and is on Facebook and Google+. Whew, and did I mention she writes a blog? Yep, Cool Cat Teacher Blog. And her blog is awesome. I have learned so much from Mrs. Davis and there is no way I could ever repay her for all the help she has directly and indirectly given to me. She pours her heart and soul into the profession of teaching, just read her most recent blog post, 10 ways to End the School Year on an Up Note when You’re Exhausted and you will understand how caring and noble this teacher is to all that get the honor to know her.

    I just realized that I am only half way through my list and I have a pretty long blog post for busy people on the go to read. So, I am going to put a hold on the next five and continue this blog sometime around Wednesday this week. However, I do want to thank all of you that are part of my social media networks. I would never have had such an enjoyable six or seven months if it weren’t for your leadership and encouragement. Thanks and God Bless.