Teaching is my Life

I know the I have been negligent in keeping up with my blog, but (you knew a but had to be coming) I have been spending the time with my family, my students, and my curriculum. Some of you may have even wondered, where did he disappear to?

chaos-391652_1280

cc0 Public Domain

While at my son’s baseball game last night, I was able to jump on Twitter and interact a bit and to look through my Flipboard aggregator. I had to step back from Twitter chats for a while because, well, I was buying too many books and trying to filter through and process too many great ideas. Gamifying classrooms, eXPlore Like a Pirate, blended learning, Ditch Textbook, Learn Like a Pirate, grading, not grading, feedback, badges, personalized learning, embedded assessment, formative assessment, summative assessment, project based learning, innovation, HyperDocs, and mindsets in the classroom are all ideas I am trying to wrap my mind around. Oh, and let’s not forget that I also teach high school theology, college and careers, computer science principals, and junior high religion!

So, I’ve been busy. Such is the life of a teacher and teaching is my life. Being a teacher and building relationships within a classroom is something that God has hardwired into me, but being a stereotypical guy, I pour my all into it. I mean, how many people are at their son’s baseball game curating articles into magazines?
My Twitter PLN is great and I love everyone who is in it. I sometimes feel that I don’t contribute enough or I feel jealous that many of my peers have had the focus to publish a book, present at or attend conferences, teach webinars or create podcasts. Meanwhile, I am all over the place with these ideas and not really incorporating any of them into my classroom or my professional development.
So what might I do to rectify this situation dear reader? I am going to take a statistics course this summer and begin my doctoral studies in the fall. In the past I have written about trying to work out a doctorate online with a board of directors and badges as credentials. Well, I’ve decided to go the traditional university route. I know it will be expensive, but I need the deadlines, a system, and a mentor to hold me accountable. What might I research? Curriculum, assessment, and motivation. Stay tuned for more. My goal is to try and post at least weekly throughout the summer.
Pax Christi
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Hour glass with wings

A Crazy Kind of Teacher

It has been almost one month since my last blog post. Wow, time flies when you’re…….swamped!

I have had the busiest, the most hectic, the most chaotic month than I can remember since I began teaching in 1995!! And I am loving every minute of it 😎 I began my first full-time teaching job since 2009 this August and it seems as though I have been caught in a whirlwind ever since. The year got started as any school year does, and I am at the top of my game in the classroom. It seems to be that all the other pieces of being a veteran teacher have gone out the window. No, the technology pieces are just fine although there have been days….. I have been keeping up with current trends, issues, and research in education like I never have before. Thanks to my Twitter PLN, news aggregators like Feedly (blogs), Flipboard (I have about a dozen magazines that I curate to including technology news, blogs, video games, social media). I also use sparingly Reddit, Tumblr, News 360, Pearl Trees, Pinterest, Zite, and Scoop.It, Rebel Mouse,Nuzzle, Instagram, and Google+.

Google Classroom is a very nice addition that could make my classroom paperless just as soon as all my high school students have a computer of some sort. It seems that Classroom just isn’t ready for the world of mobile learning. I have enjoyed gamifying my 9th grade religion class and using Cel.ly for class communication is awesome. Implementing so many technology pieces, which will include student blogging, flipped learning, and a possible digital textbook makes for a pretty busy first year at a new school. You might be wondering why does this sound so challenging to a veteran teacher? School culture and WADITW (we’ve always done it this way) as a common, sometimes never even stated, response.
I want to be a teacher leader and I have that role firmly established in the classroom by intentionally building relationships with my students. This alone takes a lot of time and planning. I figure that I should just be able to pick up where I left off teaching and dive right in. Whoa there, back the bus up! Some say that I am setting expectations too high for myself, that all I can be is me, and that I will never achieve perfection. I understand this on one level, but on another level, I want to put the best me possible in front of my students every day. Yes, I daresay, my goal is to be a national award winning teacher of the year. I don’t say this because I want an actual award, I say it because it is what my students deserve. If I don’t challenge myself to be the best and set the bar high, what am I really accomplishing for my students?
I was asked by students to be their coach for robotics, and so it is, I am now a robotics coach. Do I know anything about robots? Not a thing. This is where I put myself on the line and get out of my comfort zone (I’m a certified secondary social sciences teacher). Yes, my kids know more than I do and I am learning by leaps and bounds every day! I also want to start a one day a week club where students get together and play good old fashioned board games (we could sneak in some video games too). I see how important it is for even high school students to enjoy time at school by playing. Play involves most of Dr. Tony Wagner’s @DrTonyWagner 7 Survival Skills and we get to have fun learning.
Okay, so my reading of books has taken a hit, but like this video about Snap Chat explains, I am living in the moment and I am definitely living the dream! 😎

Perseverence Leads to Success

Thanks to kedavis, I’m going to complete @teachthought’s 30 day #reflectiveteacher blogging challenge. In a previous post I had written that I failed at this, but once we fail we’re supposed to pick ourselves up and persevere. Maybe I will not win an award for consistency, but I should be in the running for one on perseverance 😎 So, here goes days 13 – 24 and I will try to be brief.

Day 13

Name the top edtech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom, and rank them in terms of their perceived (by you) effectiveness. Google Classroom is my favorite EdTech tool. It’s a combo of twitter, Google Drive, and a grade book all in one. I also use a reflector that turns my PC (not a fan of pc’s) into a receiver for air play which can then be displayed onto my SMART board. Yes that means I can display my iPhone or iPad screen from anywhere in the classroom as well as that of my students. I can now ask, “is that appropriate for the principal to walk in and see on the board?” The next EdTech tool would be personal electronic devices. I think this one is self explanatory. I will add that my Least Favorite EdTech tool is, a too I literally despise is THE FILTER WALL!

Day 14

What is feedback for learning, and how well do you give it to students? Feedback for learning is the stuff we tell others to help them improve. I like to tell students what I like and offer suggestions for improvement. I don’t do this often enough. I think though with tools like Google Classroom and Kaizena and track changes that I can get better at it. Now if I can just convince kids to submit their work through Google Classroom.

Day 15

Name three strengths you have as an educator. Passionate, student centered, advocate.

Day 16

If you could have one superpower to use in the classroom, what would it be and how would it help? The super power I would like to have is the ability to read minds and do that Vulcan mind-meld thing that Spock has going for him on Star Trek. Or, look like Batman!Batman                                                       http://www.technologytell.com/entertainment/48117/batman-day-means-batman-fangirl/

Day 17

What do you think is the most challenging issue in education today? IMO, the most challenging issue in education is standardized testing and the common core (bore). I like how George Couros put it at the Illinois Computer Educators Conference last year, “In the U.S. you have common core in Canada we have common sense. Wake up people. Why do we need to test every student every single year? Especially when we need kids that are creative, problem solvers that can collaborate with a global community and communicate through the use of varied media. My two bailiwicks in education are grading and standardized testing.

Day 18

Create a metaphor/simile/analogy that describes your teaching philosophy. For example, a “teacher is a ________…” A teacher is a Sherpa or guide. We help students achieve their dreams. We are dream supporters.

Day 19

Name three powerful ways students can reflect on their learning, then discuss closely the one you use most often. Writing, blogging, pod-casting. I really haven’t used anything but writing. I think that pod-casting or recording one’s thoughts could be very powerful. I want to try having the students reflect on their learning by creating a recording.

Day 20

How do you curate student work–or help them do it themselves? I would do this through either a personal website or via Evernote. I would gladly help them, but I would also want them to include things from outside of school.

Day 21

Do you have other hobbies/interests that you bring into your classroom teaching? Explain. I like games! I have gamified my religion class calling it The Epic Adventure. We are an academy of time travelers that go back to biblical times to try and understand culture and religion and then time warp back to the future and try to apply biblical teaching to the present. I also like electronics and engineering. I plan to study engineering in the future and to someday teach engineering.

Day 22

What does your PLN look like, and what does it to for your teaching? My PLN looks like a global menagerie. The people in my PLN help keep me honest and help me become a better version of myself. They have helped me out of numerous stick wickets. Thanks PLN, you ROCK!

Day 23

Write about one way that you “meaningfully” involve the community in the learning in your classroom. If you don’t yet do so, discuss one way you could get started. In the past I had community members come in and judge National History Day projects. I will be having community members coming in to share their stories with my students and I will have my students presenting at various community events. Anything to get the students out there sharing the wonderful things they do with the community.

Day 24

Which learning trend captures your attention the most, and why? (Mobile learning, project-based learning, game-based learning, etc.) Personalized learning!

By the way, Love this article on differentiation http://www.teachthought.com/teaching/what-is-differentiated-instruction/

Thanks for reading and please share your thoughts in the comments.

Education Through My Eyes

Okay, so I got a little behind on my reflecting. What did you expect? I’m a teacher. Are you going to dock your students points because they’re a few days late. Let me tell you a lot of things got in the way of typing this post. I started one day and got interrupted necessitating a shut down of my browser where I was typing directly into WordPress. With the browser shut down it disappeared because I didn’t SAVE DRAFT! But, enough with the excuses and back to #reflectiveteacher 30 days blogging challenge. Don’t worry, I’ll get all thirty days in……somehow 😉

Day 4

What do you love the most about teaching? I love the students the most.

Classroom with Desks

My Classroom 411

Content was what drew me to teaching, but the students are what keep me coming back. My students are like my own kids. I get to help 100+ kids a day become more successful learners. The excitement, the joy, the naivete that kids bring to class is so awesome that I would pay to be able to have these types of interactions and relationships (I kind of do pay in many ways because of tighter budgets).

I also love the gathering of people in one building to learn. I like online learning, but nothing beats the face to face gathering of people and the exchange of ideas that teaching brings.

 

Day 5

Post a picture of your classroom, and describe what you see–and what you don’t see that you’d like to.

 

Empty Classroom

My Empty Classroom

This photo of my classroom shows me rows of desks, put that way to maximize the number of student bodies that can fit into the room. I see lots of bare space on the walls and technology that is outdated or doesn’t work. I see a mix of student desk types and I see lots of books.

What I don’t see is comfortable furniture that is more conducive to student collaboration and relaxation. I don’t see this as a fun room to come into. I see work that needs to be done and idea paint that needs to go on the walls. I don’t see work spaces that allow for small groups to focus together. And I don’t see how this arrangement is much different than 100 years ago.

I want this space to be a student created space or at least a space that students would look forward to walking into. A space where they feel comfortable and at home.

Below is a picture of my plan for the space.

Classroom Design

My vision for my classroom. Please feel free to donate 😉

Day 6

What does a good mentor “do”? A good mentor coaches, listens, and offers advice. A good mentor is always looking for ways to improve their craft just like I am always looking. A good mentor is a connected educator who has experience and is up to date on the current research. A good mentor is an encourager who encourages others to take risks and to think outside the box. A good mentor is there for you.

Day 7

Who was or is your most inspirational colleague, and why? Shaelynn Farnsworth and Leslie Pralle Keehn, both from Iowa, are my most inspirational colleagues. These two people are in the realm of Super Heroes. They are teachers who are not afraid to take risks, they will push back the status quo, and they lead people to greatness. Shaelynn and Leslie help me become a better version of me and they’re not afraid to offer constructive criticism (which I really need at times). They present their ideas to others and they are awesome creative thinkers.

Day 8

What’s in your desk drawer, and what can you infer from those contents? There are lots of dice in my desk drawer. Dice, supplies, and dice. I would say that inferring much from what’s in my desk drawers would be dicey at best. I like to take risks and sometimes you just have to roll the dice and leave it up to God.

Day 9

Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care). One of my students with a learning disability (memorizing) made it to the state National History Day contest by doing a 10 minute performance on the Salem Witch Trials. I was super proud of her. Probably the biggest accomplishment in my teaching is that I have adapted to all the changes and challenges that technology has brought to education.

Day 10

Share five random facts about yourself.

1. I love being at school at 6 am (2 hours early).

2. I have four children.

3. I love that my kids enjoy Minecraft.

4. I am a gadget geek.

5. I love teaching in a Catholic school.

Share four things from your bucket list.

1. I want to travel Europe for an entire summer.

2. I want to visit Sue Waters in Perth Australia.

3. I want to tour New Zealand.

4. I would like to meet Pope Francis.

5. I want to win the ISTE teacher of the year award.

Share three things that you hope for this year, as a “person” or an educator.

1. I hope that my Via de Christo class makes a connection with another country to help others in need.

2. I hope to become a well-planned teacher.

3. I hope that I can keep my kids interested in the Bible.

Share two things that have made you laugh or cry as an educator.

One thing that made me laugh and cry was finding out that my new school and classroom did not have air conditioning. I cried when I found out that many people in education are still teaching the same way as teachers did over 100 years ago.

Share one thing you wish more people knew about you.

I wish people knew that I want what is best for kids and standardized testing be d***ed. I could care less about what a kids percentile rank is as long as that kid is creative, can collaborate, can communicate effectively, and think critically as well as problem solve and knows how to learn independently.

Day 11

What is your favorite part of the school day and why?

My favorite part of the school day is watching the students in the hall between classes. I enjoy interacting with the students without the pressure of having to pass along content to them. The kids are more like kids when they are interacting in the hallways.

Day 12

How do you envision your teaching changing over the next five years?

My hope is that teachers will rise up and overthrow the testing companies nooses and take back education from governmental control. Education should not be a political bailiwick. I hope that we shift focus to what Dr. Tony Wagner call the 7 Survival Skills and move toward personalized learning for all students. My constant hope is that I don’t fall into the trap of WADITW (We’ve always done it this way) and that I can keep up with the research on best practices. I see my teaching becoming focused more on what individual students know and can do versus what’s best for the group as a whole.

Whew, I hope I can keep up to date and make these posts more frequent. I’m hoping every two to three days. Keep chasing your dreams 😎

Goals, Technology, and Observations

I have accepted the 30 days of blogging from the staff over at @teachthought.com. With planning for the three different courses I teach and gearing up to coach the robotics club, I have a lot on my plate this year. I mean, I’ve already missed days one and two (well I kind of have day two’s post in last week’s blog post)!

My New School Regina Jr/Sr High School in Iowa City.  reginaDay 1

Write your goals for the school year. Be as specific or abstract as you’d like to be!

SMART (Sustainable, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time bound) Goal: I will implement game elements into my 9th grade theology course to increase student use of, excitement for, and understanding of the Holy Bible and Jesus Christ. I will measure the goal by developing a fall questionnaire, a semester questionnaire, and a spring questionnaire for students to take to see if student use of the Bible has increased. The data for the questionnaire will be gathered via Google Forms and I will gather anecdotal evidence to see if there is an increase in time spent in discussing and/or writing about how a part of scripture can be applied to life in our modern world (understanding). By the end of the 2014/15 school year I will have data to either support or refute my use of gamification in the theology course.

DUMB (Dream driven, Uplifting, Method friendly, Behavior triggered) Goal: I want to help make education AWESOME again by becoming more motivational or inspiring for teachers and students alike. My dream is that students will develop life-long learning portfolios and learn how to be strong, curious independent learners. I will surround myself by positive, innovative teachers and administrators that are relationship focused servant leaders.

See the difference between SMART Goals and DUMB Goals here.

Day 2

Write about one piece of technology that you would like to try this year, and why. You might also write about what you’re hoping to see out of this edtech integration. (See this blog post)

Day 3

Discuss one “observation” area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.

The observation area that I want to improve on is relating to my students. I am really focusing on building positive relationships with my students and I have realized that the positive starts with me. I can help students get excited about things by being excited about them. It’s all about how you convey the message to the kids. Build suspense, drama, excitement, and desire to learn by intentionally focusing on that in the daily planning.

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!

 

The Search for 21st Century Pedagogy and Minecraft in the Classroom

Right from the start I will state that as a teacher and life-long learner I am not an expert at any one thing but that I have knowledge of and interests in many different things. My university adviser used to call this type of teacher a generalist. I would like to eventually get an EdD but try as I might, it would be very difficult to specialize in the general. I hope I haven’t lost you yet.

Doctorate Degree

For the past couple of weeks I have been dwelling on an image that Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal) uses in his book Digital Leadership. The image has 21st Century Pedagogy at the center of a web diagram take a look at the image here. I am still wondering what a 21st Century Pedagogy is?

Why is This Important?

I know that many of you might be thinking, don’t worry about it, just go with the flow, or golly gee willakers man it’s summer! Well, for me and the students I will be serving in the future it is very important. Is there a true 21st Century Pedagogy? What is going to help me help my students become the best that they can be? Along with Mr. Sheninger’s book I have been reading Dr. Steve Wheeler’s (@timbuckteeth) posts on his blog Learning with e’s. Steve’s last fifteen posts each center on a different pedagogy. There are so many different pedagogies that my head is spinning just trying to keep them all straight. Add to that the Digital Overload I blogged about last week and, BAM! Instant headache Batman.

MinecraftEDU in My Class?                                                                    MCEDU

Why not? I believe that Minecraft (MC)  can and should be used in at least one class per year. The pixelated block sandbox game designed by some Swedes is super awesome! At my house the two youngest kids (ages 6 and 8) have been playing the game for about six months. The impact it has had on my kids as consumers of information and creators is nothing short of amazing. The conversations that we have around the supper table have changed. We now hear words like spawn, ether, mobs, biomes, armor, health, creation, design, recipe, and creeper. The kids are also researching videos to learn about others who have embraced MC (these of course have to be approved by mom or dad). Their spelling has improved. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing my six year old so excited about her “creation” that she is showing me, except when she gets to introducing me to her tamed wolves and self corrects the spelling of the name she gave to one! My son is so excited that we spend time looking for family friendly servers to play in multi-player mode, and he wants to create MC videos to put on YouTube.

Minecraft EDU is a version of regular MC that can be controlled by and designed by teachers. It also has a store house of lesson plans and its own Wiki. As a humanities teacher, I love the World Of Humanities lessons as it is a ready built world that kids can be directed through and teacher created creativity can be added. 

But I Heard You Were Teaching Religion

Yes I will be teaching religion, but I will still use MC or MinecraftEDU. How? I haven’t figured out the particulars yet, but I have this vision of my kids going through the Book of Exodus and designing and collaborating on designing the world as Moses and the people of Israel saw it. But, you don’t want to turn religion into a game. I know, but what’s wrong with using a game that has kids using 21st Century skills and tools to better understand the BC world and scripture? Nothing. 

Of course, the results will come out this coming school year and I will have to process through the entire process, standards, and assessment pieces, but I’m still going to use it to get kids hooked on sacred scripture. What are you going to do to get kids hooked into your class?

Digital Overload: Have I Reached My Potential?

I am a digital leader and a teacher or lead learner and I need help finding my niche in the educational universe. I feel overwhelmed by information. This coming fall, I will begin teaching full-time again after a five year hiatus. I can use and share any web 2.0 tool because I’m not afraid to take risks, try them out, and learn how to use them in the classroom. I skim through A LOT of information on a daily basis. My twitter feed is constantly notifying me of updates, I check Feedly every morning as I enjoy my cup-o-Joe. I re-tweet things that sound interesting and favorite things that are neat, cute, or should be followed up on later. I have IFTTT shunting information around from various accounts to various repositories (Diigo, Pocket, and Evernote) with the idea that I will follow up on it later. The thing about all of this is that I am never able to get around to revisiting my “saved for later” materials.

Left Unchecked and Floundering check_mark_green* Public Domain

With that being said, I rarely get around to checking Facebook, Google+, my Scoop.It information, Paper.li, Pinterest, Rebel Mouse, Tumbler, Zite, Flipboard, reddit, Goodreads, or various podcasts. See, I know how to use all the tools, but I just do not know how to manage it all. I don’t know how the #EduRockStars out there manage all of their incoming digital media sources. This may be exactly why many teachers and administrators are fearful of getting involved with social media. It can definitely be stressful and a bit daunting.

A couple of nights ago I was involved in one of the regular weekly edchats and I remember stating to my colleagues that I have given up things that I used to enjoy doing like fly tying or working with medieval miniatures, to engage in educational research via social media. Now don’t get me wrong here, I love learning, it is my passion, but I am beginning to wonder if we can succumb to a passion too much? Am I trying to do too much in the limited time that I have, or do I simply need to have someone teach me how to manage it all? I really hope that someone can offer to teach me how to become a better manager of my social media information work flow and maximize my learning potential.

21st Century Pedagogy

All of this pales in comparison to trying to understand 21st Century pedagogy. Here are a few things that I know about and want to implement in my new teaching role:

     1. Standards Based Learning/Grading
     2. 3PIBL (Project, Passion, Problem, Inquiry Based Learning) – Thanks @SKwikkel for the 3PBL
         idea, I modified it though.
     3. Gamification
     4. Game Based Learning
     5. Personalized Learning
     6. Portfolios
     7. The Maker Movement
     8. Coding
     9. Minecraft EDU
     10. Digital Citizenship

When I started to write this, I had no idea that I would be coming up with one of those “ten lists” that come up in various blog posts throughout the year. This has put an idea into my mind about the possibility of blogging about my understanding and resources for each topic over the course of this summer. Will this year be perfect? Yes and No. Yes it will be perfect because I get to spend my days touching the future, but no it will not be perfect because I do not have a firm grasp on the pedagogy. I know going in that I will struggle, and even (gasp) fail at something. After all I cannot do everything and I am far from perfect. I guess that the best I can do is model perseverance, model my thought processes on learning, and try to have as many meaningful/authentic experiences for my students as possible.

I don’t even want to get started on listing all the books on my summer reading list. They are all, with the exception of one, based on content, pedagogy, or leadership. My reading of science fiction and fantasy went out the door last year when I never completed the list and pile of books I accumulated for my summer PD reading.

Where is the Pedagogy?

I joined a book chat a couple weeks ago centered around Eric Sheninger’s (@NMHS_Principal) book Digital Leadership which is awesome, but I became confused by the following diagram:

21st Century Pedagogiesby-sa_2.5_80x15
What exactly is the 21st Century Pedagogy or is it the information I listed in one through ten in the above section? And, do learning experiences need to include all of these ideas EVERY day? I have many more questions than answers. I am reaching out to my PLN. If you have any answers please, please reach out and offer your advice.

Is School Really a Game?

I have sometimes heard life referred to as a game. Well, there actually is the game called LIFE. I’ve heard people say they’re gaming the system, jumping through hoops, she’s playing the field, if you play your cards right, make sure you have all your bases covered, he’s a real winner/loser. Life is filled with game references, or is it that games are full of life? 

GameLife      I often wonder if school is a game? According to Dr. Jane McGonigal, in her seminal book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How They Can Change the World, all games essentially have four main components: “a goal, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation.” Many other bloggers have written posts about the components of games, but I want to point out that these game components are with us throughout life’s different stages.

School is a Game

Have you played the game of school? Now I don’t mean pretending to be a teacher in the basement with your friends type of game. I would argue that school is a game we all played or are playing. Are you skeptical? Ready to stop reading because this seems ludicrous? DON’T!

Reality is Broken

Think about it for a minute. The goal of school is to graduate. I know this is simplistic, but ask any senior right now, and they just want it to end. We have rules in school. Classroom rules, school rules, playground rules, writing rules, math rules (even rulers here). Rules, rules, rules! Most schools have a feedback system called grades. Oftentimes these grades represent A, Excellent; B, Above Average; C, Average; D, Below Average; and F, Failing. Speaking of failing, I would posit that one of the problems with the game of school is that of voluntary participation. Many kids simply would not choose to go to school if they were given the choice. So, school has all the main components of a game, but it’s not a very good game.

I am sure that you can find the four components of games in other life endeavors. What changes would you make to the game of school to make it a game that all students want to play?