30 Goals Challenge: Exercise 2

Quite a while back I began Shelly Sanchez Terrell‘s The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform your Teaching (I carry the book with me everywhere Shelly). I have been so busy that I tend to look at the cover and sigh, saying, “I will get back around to you one of these days.” Well today is the day! And I am going to Blog about it. My posts might not be real lengthy, but I hope to cause you, dear reader, to pause and think. Think about how we can become the best darn teachers in the world for the world’s best kids.

As part of exercise 2, I am creating goals and my teaching manifesto. I’m not sure of being at the manifesto part yet, but I do have goals. I used a tool called Buncee to create the stunning visual below. I also have a copy posted in my classroom for all to see. What are your goals for this school year?

My 2016 30 Goals Challenge.

My 2016 30 Goals Challenge.

 

Technology, A Blessing and A Curse

Always on, connected 24/7 always carrying more technology than the astronauts involved in the Apollo moon landing can be both a blessing and a curse. As I tried to follow along with the #NotAtISTE2015 group and all the wonderful presentations from ISTE 2015 I realized that I could not keep up. It was too mentally stimulating. I felt like my mind was on information over load. I realized that I need a break!

It seems as though I have lived, breathed, and soaked in social media and education for six years straight. I believe that everyone needs to take a vacation or even a staycation (is that even a word?). Needless to say, I’m taking the month of July off. No social media, no blogging, no Voxing, no Twitter. Unfortunately, Email never goes away. If I didn’t keep up with that at least every other day, I would most likely have over 1,000 Emails by August 1st.
July 2015 Calendar
One of the first people I began following on Twitter was Dr. Doug Belshaw. He (@dajbelshaw) started taking a month away from social media in 2007. He called it Belshaw Black Ops. Doug has the right idea, we all need to take a break from our always on society. I too am going to focus on reading books during July and spending time with my family (Coach D – I will also NOT be following news stories).

Yesterday I read a blog post written by another Twitter friend of mine, David Geurin (@DavidGeurin). He is a high school principal, blogger, and moderator of #MOedchat. You can read David’s post here. One thing from his post hit home and it hit me hard. He said, “I will pull back as I completely restructure my time. You see, there are five people in my life who are counting on me more than anyone else. They call me husband and dad.” I don’t know why Mr. Geurin’s post resonated so profoundly with me. Is it because we are both married and have four children? Is it because I too feel that my family had been getting whatever dad has left over in the tank after ed chats, school, grading, and student events?

Whatever the reasons, I have these two men to thank for my disappearance from the Twitterverse and digital social media. I’m going to live in the moment, try to dream, relax, and connect with people face to face. I’ll be back in August with #CathTheoEdChat and start gearing up for fall presentations and the 2015-2016 school year, but I’m hoping I can be a better resource to my PLN upon my return.

Student Voice and Choice: The Future is Now

Just out of curiosity, how do we move to prepare for the future in education while leaving many schools behind where those who are preparing for the future are at?
Dr_Who_(316350537)
Ever since I personally tried to catch up with where the movers and shakers of the edtech community are at I have oftentimes felt that I have been riding on the shirt tails of educational reform. I have tried to keep up to date with the research and trends in education by reading blog posts, attending conferences, creating a stellar PLN and engaging with colleagues via Twitter, Voxer, Flipboard, and other social media sources, but I always feel like I am behind everyone else.
Now, I’m not talking about “keeping up with the Jones’s” by having the newest technology, I am talking about knowing what is right for my students and being able to put what is right into action. Things such as getting rid of desks and putting in comfortable seating, making my classroom more inviting and collaborative, and getting my students connected with a global audience. A student first mindset is essential in moving education forward.
What about all the things students need to know so that they can move on to upper level courses? Should student voice and choice lead education or do we as teachers know that there are certain things that kids need to know, just because?
I would like to know how you plan for the future while trying to catch up with the now? How do you plan your professional development? Should students really have choice and voice or do we as teachers know them well enough to decide for them?
Flying Tardis

“Dr Who (316350537)” by aussiegall from sydney, Australia – Dr WhoUploaded by russavia. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dr_Who_(316350537).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Dr_Who_(316350537).jpg

Why Do I Blog?

IMG_0492Some people may wonder why do I blog? My simple reply is, I blog because it helps bring order to my mind. The longer answer is that I blog to reflect upon my craft of teaching, to share what has worked for me and what has not worked for me. I blog about my challenges and successes. I also blog about things I am thinking about and I blog about current trends and research in education.
My blogging does not have the same impact on the education world as someone like George Couros who posts about three times a week at The Principal of Change. Nor does my blogging have the same impact as Alice Keeler’s blog Teacher Tech. My blogging impacts me the most. Do I hope that my blogging helps others? Absolutely! Could I work at trying to blog on a more regular basis? Yep. Could I even create a blog that thousands of readers would flock to? I don’t know (shoulder shrug).
Many of the other Iowa teachers that I know use blogging in the same way as I do, although some of them do reach thousands of people on a regular basis. Blogging and reading blogs is sharing and we need more sharing/vulnerablility in education (read more about this at Aaron Maurer’s (@coffeechugbooks) blog here. I think that blogging will help me be a better teacher and a better person. I once said to a colleague (Coach DeMarco) that I don’t just want to be a teacher, I want to be a great teacher for my students. Coach D told me that I have to quit striving for perfection and just be me!
I have built relationships with my students and they are not perfect people, nor would I expect them to be. I love them just as they are. As long as I love them and challenge their thinking, I will be a great teacher in their minds. Coach D and I also talked about real learning and real learning doesn’t necessarily come from a book and definitely not from a worksheet assigned as home work. Real learning comes from asking meaningful questions and creating a classroom where we can talk about those questions, research those questions, write about those questions, reflect upon those questions. But how does one grade true learning? How does a teacher or sherpa distill that thinking, those discussions, those reflections into a single letter? Comments will be greatly appreciated, as I would like to know what you are thinking.
Why do you blog?

Reflections on My Teaching

imageOkay, so I blogged about once a week, but I did post on all 30 days worth of questions from @TeachThought.com‘s #ReflectiveTeacher challenge.

Day 25

The ideal collaboration between students–what would it look like? Collaboration between students would look like a global menagerie. Kids from all over the world would be working in Google Docs and communicating via various means all in an effort to solve a world problem.

Day 26

What are your three favorite go-to sites for help/tips/resources in your teaching? Twitter, Blogs, and Flipboard!

Day 27

What role do weekends and holidays play in your teaching? Weekends and holidays mean time with my wife and kids and also time to look more in depth at lessons. I also use holidays and weekends to plan for the upcoming week. In my world, every holiday is a working holiday.

Day 28

Respond: Should technology drive curriculum, or vice versa? Neither. Technology is a tool just as a pencil is a tool. We don’t let pencils drive curriculum and we don’t let curriculum drive pencils. Kids needs should drive curriculum. Curriculum should be inquiry based and individualized for every unique individual. The days of one style fits all should be a vision of the past.

Day 29

How have you changed as an educator since you first started? I have changed a lot in the past fifteen years. My due dates are merely suggestions now and I don’t have classroom management issues. I can focus on developing relationships with students and less time on prepping or finding lessons. I listen to what students concerns are, what their stress level is at, and try to make them as comfortable and at ease as they can be when they are in the classroom. Gone are the days of crossword puzzles and lists of vocabulary words. Gone are the days of watching a video for a week. And gone are the days of keeping track of how many days late and what percentage off an assignment should get. I try to give students choice and voice and I demand that if something is worth doing that it is worth doing well. My students are now always in beta and nothing is ever truly finished.

Day 30

What would you do (as a teacher) if you weren’t afraid? I would direct students to find what they enjoy doing and to go for their dreams. I would redesign my classroom so that it was a true learning space. I would become a coach and mentor rather than an all knowing god. I would make sure that every student had an iPad and a MacBook Air. I would have my students blogging and working with kids all over the globe. Finally, I would get rid of the Internet filter wall. If we are to teach students to become responsible and ethical, then we can’t go around blocking everything that they encounter when they are outside the building.

What are your thoughts?

I now know why this challenge is so challenging 😎

 

FAILED

FAIL on red.

CC Chris Griffith

Well, I didn’t make it through the 30 days blogging challenge 8-( I failed. How can I as a teacher fail at something as simple as writing and reflecting each day. I do reflect upon every single day, but why not put those thoughts down on paper or in a blog post? I really thought that I could keep up with the blogging, but I am a teacher/learner. My first priority are my kids. My own kids, my classroom kids, my robotics kids, my music kids, and my art kids. My kids are involved in a lot of things which means attending a lot of functions/games/matches/……..

The following tweet from Dr. Justin Tarte has me really thinking about mastery this week.

Do we as teachers, administrators, or anyone involved in education really want kids to master content? What is it that we want them to master? I know a teacher (in another district) who sent out three or four copies of something before I finally had the real FINAL changes/additions on it. If we do things like this as teachers and leaders, then why do many not do as Dr. Tarte states above?

I will keep blogging even though I FAILED at the @teachthought September #reflectiveteacher challenge.

Any thoughts?

Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisgriffith/3769283867/in/photolist-6K5yLT-a1ZMEn-5wgmvr-5ksCNP-d3BEaS-dc3G8M-51WiiU-9AjsuK-C2ZhA-9p8eYk-7Rgz3s-eaPVmN-4nqfGH-fkVhTp-58qgVj-awC9V8-eaJhWz-n7bB85-5Ksnmz-5pfYdD-boSDM2-4E65qQ-7i6VSq-FqcTh-nNnmJz-7RgyQA-aDvbdN-73HXeg-9KjFtm-jQPke9-8VkPB7-55zo6b-7E9K6w-4tY3LN-8Ww6Rz-5DeMt9-7Lxkqc-7Rdiq6-fxuQzs-9ZXGSb-65xbgz-4VeSrQ-6fiYFe-aaXX9v-dF45Ek-7YwsMb-5BYTfz-9oiN3B-dQEHwT-er1oP4

The Epic Adventure: Year 1

With the new school year upon us or started already, there is much for a new teacher to do not the least of which is to find a way to fit into the new school culture. I have spent a lot of time looking at and thinking about what technology tools to use in the classroom. I know I want to gamify my religion classes, but what tools will help me make class more efficient for my students as well as help them be more successful?

Tools
The first thing I started with is Google Classroom. Classroom helps me to keep track of assignments made, assignments that students have turned in, and I can add links to materials to supplement the course.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom Logo

I started using Google Forms and I was surprised when student responses were automatically gathered into a Google Spreadsheet. The only thing that we have to figure out is how we can take a Google Document have students write something and then turn it in to one central location within Classroom. I think that this tool will become my learning management system and will eventually aid students and myself to find and use class information more efficiently.

For back channel discussions or even posting and responding I am thinking about using 81Dash. I can create different rooms for my different classes thus keeping discussions organized.

81 Dash Logo

81Dash.com

There are many more tools I could use, but I need to start with a manageable few and add or make changes as we go along. Oh, I also need to get my kids writing reflective blog posts that can be read and commented on by the world.

I did give my juniors the opportunity to show how they can incorporate Dr. Tony Wagner’s 7 Survival Skills into their life by giving them access to The Periodical Table of iPad Apps by @sjunkins. Most, if not all of these apps, can also be found as android apps. I am really looking for them to incorporate the skills into their lives and get creative about showing how they will or have incorporated those skills.

Gamification
I will be using a Google spreadsheet created by Mr. Michael Matera at Teachers Pay Teachers to keep track of student levels and experience points (xp). Michael is a pro and my mentor when it comes to gamification.

picture of Mr. Matera

Mr. Matera – Gamification Sherpa

My badging system will most likely take the form of physical card stock type of badges about the size of baseball cards. Using this system of badging students are responsible for keeping track of their badges (which they can easily do with one of those three ring binder sized plastic baseball card holders).

The most difficult part of this journey is coming up with a story line. I know I will have my students time traveling from the present to the past and back so that they are taking a look at the biblical stories and then applying them to life in the present in their lives. I’m not quite sure what role I should have in the story? I’m going to have students divided up into groups called tribes and these tribes will need to find an appropriate name. Solo Quests, small group quests, challenges, and adventures will await tribes as they complete their work of journeying through the bible. Stay tuned for further updates.

 

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge, will you accept?

Hats off to Green Screen Magic

Today I was wondering about the magic of the green screen. I was asked to submit a photo of myself, without a hat on, to the office at the new school I will be working at next month. Well, if you know me very well, you will know that there are a couple very good reasons why I wear the hat. First, as my children like to say, “what hair dad?” Secondly, I supervised the kids waiting for their buses after school for a few years when I taught middle school in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. One gorgeous fall day we had a bomb threat and the entire school evacuated to the football field. The sky was bright blue not a cloud in the sky and it was great being outside (I wish the circumstances would have been better). But, by being outside that day for just shy of three hours, I got the worst sun burn ever right on the top of my noggin. That’s right a shiny red head! And later that night I was in agony. I vowed to never, ever venture into the out of doors without a hat on my head. So, whenever I give presentations on gamification (indoors), whenever I leave a building, and whenever I have my photo taken I grab for the nearest hat.

What a lead in to today’s topic that has me wondering.

I wonder. . . . . 

how is it that with some green fabric behind me, a photograph, and another image I can appear to be anywhere? I have been experimenting with, and getting better at, using iMovie and my green screen. For the photo I submitted to my school today, I simply dragged the image from my desktop into the iMovie maker and suddenly I had four seconds of video. I then had my two oldest daughters take some standard head shots of me in front of my green screen. I selected one of their photos as a jpeg image and dragged that onto the top of the previous image, clicked a button marked adjust, clicked a drop down marked green screen, and walla I had a four second video of this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRhyDiKHBH8&list=UUcO54pfwAAqOaFLNJU8SL6Q

Next, I uploaded the video to YouTube then I paused the video and using Skitch I was able to take a screen shot that I saved as a jpeg file. The following image is the final result.

A photo of Tim Scholze without a hat in front of a bookshelf

Fall 2014 No Hat Photo

The only way I can explain how you take this

Photo in front of green screen

Original Photo by Kat

 

 

    and this   PlaybraryLarge       

                                                                                     to come up with this,

A photo of Tim Scholze without a hat in front of a bookshelf

Fall 2014 No Hat Photo

 

                                                                                                                is M-A-G-I-C!

 

I Wonder…..

As I was thinking about topics for this blog post, I realized that I forgot my copy of Vicki Davis’s book Reinventing Writing in my classroom in Iowa City. You might be thinking well just run over there and get it. Whoa there Nelli! That would be 7 hours round trip on the road, not to mention a tank of gas. So, in lieu of writing my weekly post on learnings from Reinventing Writing, I thought I might start a new series of posts titled “I Wonder…..”

We are all called to be like the little children. I guess that would mean that we should ask questions, think creatively, wonder, and play. Of course, having fun and laughing is implied. I guess I got the idea for this from @coffeechugbooks Aaron Maurer and his Teacher Tinker Time. In future “I Wonder…’ posts, I am just going to put I wonder… as the heading and bold the text of the things I am wondering about. If you would like to help out, just leave something you wonder about in the comments or tweet me or shoot me an Email. My hope is that by wondering, we might engage our collective creative juices flowing. Follow the hashtag #IWonder and we will see what we come up with.

I Wonder…..

how someone ever came up with the jackalope. My friend @SKwikkel was recently out in South Dakota on vacation and reminded me of this creature that I learned about on my childhood family trip to SD.

Picture of Jackalope postcard from Wall Drug

Courtesy Wall Drug

how do green screens really work? I’ve used them a few times in my career, but how exactly do they work? I had my daughters take Fall photos of me in front of our green screen and I was able to put that together with a picture of Carson Park in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Wave the magic wand and I’m standing in the outfield!

Fall Photo

Fall Photo Using Green Screen – Photographer Kat

why do teenagers complain so much? Yes, I’ve been teaching them for over fifteen years, but now I live with one and I guess I never noticed it so much before. My daughter says it’s in the teenager handbook (I really need to find that handbook).

when do adults tend to lose their sense of wonder? It seems that as we progress in age that we become detached from wonder and awe. Why is that?
 

 

why, since Google is so successful, don’t all places of business try to model their fun-loving model of engagement? From what I have seen, the GooglePlex looks like a huge playground for adults.

Comfortable seating at the Googleplex

Image Courtesy bryanesque

 

 

 
why May Flies come out in July? I was driving on the pike between La Crosse and La Crescent last night and my car became spattered with bug juice and there were so many of them crushed on the highway that it was actually slippery in spots!

An emergent Mayfly

Image Courtesy La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Office

will I be the best teacher for the students I have this year? I want so badly to help my students become excited about learning how to learn but I often-times doubt myself and my abilities. Is this normal or just me here?

What do you Wonder about?