Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Middle School/Bullying Discussion

In Language Arts we are studying "Upstanders" for about a month.  We also had visitors from the high-school talk about bullying, cliques, and opportunities in their building this morning, which coincided greatly with what we are studying.
Today in L.A. we discussed what we had been told this morning and had a very "Reflective discussion"about it. 

The whole thing started with the question,
     "What did you guys learn this morning?"
In which people openly answered.  Lots of connections with their own lifes were made and you could see peoples eyes light up at the phrase,
     "People find out who they are and anyone who bullies is left behind, it's just not cool anymore.  Not that it ever was."
If everyone was like me they were envisioning a world where everyone got along and was their own person.  Great right?  Then this was said,
     "It's not like we all sit around a campfire and sing koom-by-a, but we all respect each other."
I then brought up the comment of,
     "In middle school everyone tries to fit in, in high school you want to be as independent as possible."
Then Mr. Maxwell said,
     "If you were to ask anyone what their hardest years of school were, most would answer middle school.  Why?  Even my wife who went through years of medical school said that it was for her."
"When I was in middle school I used to aggravate my L.A. teacher and look how I turned out, A middle school L.A. teacher. :)"

The discussion then turned to students asking about standards based reporting, but that's a whole other story....

I'd love to hear from you on twitter, in a comment, or by email on any of your thoughts!

What was the hardest part of your education?  How can you help educate your students about bullying and individualization?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

#DYF Should Students Be Allowed To Bring Computers To School?

@Russgoerend and @Amyquam 's kids are writing #DYF Posts about the same topic and I was inspired by them to write my own.

Student's should be able to bring a laptop, mobile device, iPad, or any other technological thing.  I think this because it would be a great benefit to their learning.  At this point at Waukee we would not be able to go 1:1 like this but it would be a nice start. 

The people that didn't have a laptop or mobile device could "borrow" one from the school for the day (not being able to take it home, it's not officially their property).

People also think that maybe it will get lost or stolen. My opinion is that they won't be stolen because everyone else will have one too so why would they want yours?  Plus I keep at least $400 (retail price) of items in my locker most of the day.  If nobody steals it now, they wont in the future.

Visit to read others #DYF Posts.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

21st Century Teaching

We had a substitute teacher in math class on Friday. We took a quiz that took about 30 minutes to finish.  12 minutes isn't enough time to start and finish a new lesson so we had "free work time" to read, draw, or do homework.

I was waiting for the infamous question of
     "Can we use our iPods?"
And sure enough it was asked before we even started the quiz.
This sub was an older lady and her answer was
    "Yes, but if I was your teacher there wouldn't be any of those things in this building.  All they do is distract people and cause interruptions to learning"

I realize in this case they were for entertainment purposes but my question is this
     "Does she know they are educational tools too?"

I use my iPod everyday for school purposes.  In fact, I couldn't imagine a day without it.  At the end of the day it's dead and ready to be charged again.
  • I take notes
  • look up information
  • Take pictures of directions to reference back to later
  • Access the wiki for assignments
  • Make movies
  • And it's been used as props many times
I have one last question, Does that sound distracting?

Reading Reactions

At the beginning of each quarter we make reading goals.  I wanted to be a higher thinking reader.  In order to do this I ask 2 questions, 1 connection, 1 prediction and a summary of each chapter.  I also try to read MORE often, to be truthful though I've found myself reading LESS because I don't like taking notes. 

Here's how I take notes now:

Whenever I started a new book I put 20 sticky notes in the front of my book.

As I read something that interests me I write on it and put it over that area of text.

At the end of the book I take all of my sticky notes and make them into a more formal reading journal.

There is one thing that I don't like about this system; my questions, connections, and predictions are too short.  I don't feel like I'm pushing myself enough and I'm not using my full brain capacity.

I'm going to try and solve this problem by using bigger sticky notes so there is more room to write.  Instead of using 4 little sticky notes I'm going to use 1 big sticky for that chapter.

I am hoping this will work for a few reasons:
     1. I have a lot of these I want to use up.
     2. I'll be able to go above and beyond my quota for the chapter.

Do you have a different way of taking notes?  What works for you?