Friday, February 25, 2011

Memphis In May is HERE!!! and saluting BELGIUM!!

Ever since my senior year in high school when I volunteered for the first time with the Memphis In May organization, I have always found a way to participate in the excitement.
This year, as a teacher, I am excited to be able to share Memphis In May Salutes Belgium with my students!
If you are interested in finding curriculum to go with your class, you can click here and find all the information you need.
There are lots of ongoing contests and fun activites planned throughout the month that you can do with your friends and family, as well as with your students in the classroom.

Here are links to all the upcoming main events:

April 29th - May 1: Beale Street Music Festival

May 2 - 8: International Salute to Belgium

May 12 -14: World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest

May 28: Sunset Symphony

There is lots more information all over the website of things that are going on or ways that you can get involved. MIM is a world renowned organization that is run primarily on volunteers! Each year, they are able to boast more productive and more hours of volunteerism than any other group in Memphis!

IF you would like information on volunteering with Memphis In May, click here!

Happy Friday!!
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Homework Assignment....

1. View the following YouTube: ( React to what you see and hear by using the lead-in sentence: After viewing this video, I think……..

After viewing this video, I think that I still feel the way I did when I encountered others similar to it: I do not have the classroom confidence I think I need in order to do all the things in my classroom I think I should. As a teacher, I feel compelled to teach my students to use the technologies that we have in the real world, not just the ones that have been created specifically for the classroom. However, not all of my students have access to that kind of technology. As a teacher I feel that I have a responsibility to teach my students to be thinkers, who can apply, analyze and evaluate. As a teacher, I feel that I have a responsibility to teach my students to be doers who can create, build and reconstruct things in new ways. As a teacher, I KNOW that I have a responsibility to teach my students to understand language, symbols and meanings in ways that some poeple don't even consider. But if I know that I have to do these things, why am I teaching my students the material on a test?

2. Post a YouTube or Podcast link on your blog that you could integrate into a lesson you might teach in your licensure area. Explain in detail how you would use the video and what you would have the students do.

Here's some weird science for you! Now, did you see that too?!?! The bottle froze!!! No explosion, no twisted plastic sides, just solid!!!
In science we are constantly evaluating the way things work and why they work the way they do.
For this lesson, I would do one of two things:
Lesson A:
Have the students use this as a jumping into media point, I'd post the video to the class blog and have a contest to see who could come up with the coolest science video of their own. Then the students would write a paper arguing for the one they thought was best and why.
Lesson B:
We would do a joint lesson with the chemistry class on freezing. It's pretty cool the things that they can do in a chemistry lab. Together with the chemistry class we would investigate the laws of freezing and boiling and whether stirring and moving those liquids can slow down or speed up those mechanisms.

3. Go to: and review this white paper about youth and their use of digital technologies and the implications for educators. Combine the information from this site with the site below (number 4) to respond to: “How does this information inform your teaching? What are steps that you need to take to have your classroom an engaging learning environment?”

In attempting to create an engaging learning environment for my students it is important that I see them as true people first and foremost. Then, as an educator, helping them to find ways to engage the material in a digital way; to analyze how others have presented the material, including myself, and to consider it before deciding how best to move forward with that information. I have to wonder, as we move more forcefully in the digital world, I can't help but wonder what this may mean for the actual literacy abilities and levels of students. In the texting community students learn to write symbols and "text shorthand" for the words, phrases, even sentences that they are communicating to each other. What does this mean for the future of language? How will my students 10 years from now write? And honestly, if we are so worried about our students being technologically savvy, why are we not also considering ways to make them environmentally savvy as well?

Each week, my students and I go on netflix and search through the recently uploaded documentaries. We watch 20 minutes, sometimes more and have adiscussion about what we see. Two weeks ago we watched a video called "No Impact Man". It was about a man and his family who, over hte course of a year, went from being major consumers to having literally no impact on the environment. They did not eat take-out, they moved all their mail to digital, they did not have electricity, they did not use paper products, they recycled, they composted, so on and so forth farther than most could imagine. My students and I had a genuine discussion about how this connected to our matierla, and what it meant for htis family to do this, and whether or  not any of my students could do this too. And while this is a great little anecdote, I can't help but wonder, "10 years from now will my students be able to do this?" If I were to send this video out as a link, and then tell my students to meet me in a chat room and share with everyone on a discussion, would I understand what they typed to me? I learned to type on a typewritter. I was pretty fast. However, now I am on a laptop computer, sitting on my bed, but I could be anywhere I want! In 10 years will my students even be in a classroom with me?

As a Department, my science team has started a blog where we share information, ideas and lessons, it is our place to share. As we move forward, I can only see that I will have to become more confident that I know what I am doing so I can start injecting more into the lessons. Right now it is quite daunting to try and make sure that I am teaching the kids all the information they are supposed to have. I am not even sure that i do that well. In the future I would like to include in my lessons, blogs, wikis, linkys, podcasts, youtube videos, etcdc and I'd love for all of it to be made by my students. I would love for all of my students to have a computer at home and one at school, even if they are not hte same one.  When you start a new job, no one says, "here's a desk, now go get all your own supplies and a computer, we just provide the desk and the chair." Why can't high school be more like the real world? Why is it such a huge thing to get a computer in the classroom for each of hthe kids? One of the biggest impedimnets to teaching is that there is money involved. When business people found out there was money involved, they got involved too. Now there are a LOT of cooks in the kitchen. But I"M THE CHEF! what I do is what matters!

So this is my picture of what I think the best technological digital version of my science classroom is:
I would like for all of my students to sit down at a desk each day with the paper they need, and something to write with. I would like for them to each have an ipad. (right now my students sit in groups) So, I would like for each group to have a digital microscope. I would like for my room to be wireless. Next, we will be digitally linked to every site in the world that I need access to, without me having to know whow to hack my way through a firewall designed to keep kids from seeing material that a beauracrat has decided is inappropriate without actually looking at the site. Then, they will all be able to digitally share in a privately hosted blog forum. We can chat when they are at home, they can send instant messages to me during class. They will take all their tests online, turn in all their homework and their inclass handwritten notes, will only be necessary when they want to make a note to find something at home.

4. Go to: This site predicts what learning will be like in 2020. React to what you learn and then describe the role of a licensed teacher, such as yourself, if learning in 2020 reflects what is at this website. Be sure and explore the future forces (a series of colored bars at the top right).

Seriously, if you look at nothing else, this is the site to look at! This website tries to explain some of the major changes that are about to take place over the next 10 yeras in ducation. it is incredible to me how easily they delinate the changes in technology, classroom education and the environment into such a symbiotic relationship of change! We all know that fossil fuels are not forever. What is unique about the American way of life is that it is not meant to last! We create suburbs in the 1940s and 50s as a way of encouraging soldiers coming home from war to get back into the family way, to continue in the AMERICAN WAY, unfortunately, that is a way of consumerism and it is not designed to last. At the rate we are going we will run out of so much so quickly that my children will experience life in a way I have never even considered.
As an educator it is important that I teach my students how to use the information we are gaining to become successful and contributing members of our future society. They must learn how to find information  and knowledge in new ways and to share that information with each other and others around the world in new ways.
For an educator, this is all a very daunting task! My only hope is that as I learn and grow as an educator, I become more capable of showing my students how to do this. I'm honestly hoping this is something like a 12 step program, "once you know that you need to do something and acknowledge it, actually doing it is the easy part...". Well, here's hoping!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Candy labs

So, in my classroom in order to keep me going and the kids excited I wrote candy labs. Honestly, when I first wrote the labs it was before I was ever even in a classroom. But, I just "knew" I was going to be the gift to education, I was going to come in and save the world! Yeah, right!

However, in this first year I have learned a lot about keeping the kids entertained! It has become quite clear that in today's world, you have to come up with new and exciting ways to keep the kids going. And this one is definitely one that helps me stay motivated and going!

Here you will find my candy lab that my students will be doing tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes. Hopefully, it will be fun...

If you decided to do candy labs in your own room, be sure you have a safe place to store your candy! Kids will try to take more than they are supposed to, because they're kids.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Homework for my Reading class...

Ok friends, here are the pieces of the instructions for my assignment this week:
Create a blog posting containing the following items: 1) a minimum of 4 of your favorite ways that you learned that middle school/high content area teachers are using blogs with their students, 2) one way you might use blogs with your students, and why, and 3) how you would know if this way of blogging was effective with your students.

Here are some cool "teacher" blogs out there: On this blog, the teacher, Mr. Brovont, uses the blog to inform his students. He doesn't post as regularly as other bloggers might, but it does seem to be a tool that his students can use to engage in the classroom more consistently and regularly. I am completely impressed with this blog! Mr. Chaple uses this blog to keep his students in the loop! He also uses this to create articles for his students about topics that they need to be aware of. So, Miss Baker is definitely very into the blogging world! Her blog is very complex with lots of different sections and I'm pretty sure it would take me hours to get through everything on her blog! So, Mr. Gonzalez uses his blog to keep his students tuned in and has gotten some very real attention for it! They're presenting at their local school board meeting about all the fun things their science class has been doing. I think this is a pretty interesting way of using blogs in the classroom.

One way that I have considered using blogs with my students would be to use it to share with them different "fun" things that are happening outside of their own bubble in the world of their neighborhood and school. I have wanted them to see that there are fun things happening in the world of science and so much more to life than just their school, their neighborhood, their family, even this city! However, I worry that they might not be open to the idea of participating on the blog or might not even be into it. I don't know if blogging is something that they're capable of in a way that would make this an accessible project. I think that doing this in this way would be a way for them to learn more about the world around them.
I think one way that I know blogging would be effective with my students would be that they would begin to ask questions of interest and engagement in what was happening in the world around me. In the long term, I think that I would know that this would really be an effective teaching tool because over time I would see students reaching for new things and engaging in new areas of the country or new areas of the world.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My homework today

So, I'm in a class this semester called SPED 7000 which is basically "Introduction to the Exceptional Learner". Ie, all students who have any kind of disability, physical, mental, emotional, etc.

Our assignment for today was:
How much experience do you have with individuals with disabilities?

What is your comfort level with people who have disabilities?

This was my answer:
While working in the hospital I frequently found myself dealing with the care of people who had any number of disabilities; for some they were physical or mental and there were others with emotional disabilities, and some who had more than one. These people all taught me valuble lessons about the rights that they have not only as patients, but also as individuals. Many times, there would be children in the pediatrics department, who had not yet been firmly diagnosed with a problem and while the nursing staff may know that there is a problem, it was these cases that required the most patience.

As I continued working with these children, I became more comfortable with them and with their parents. At first I felt slightly intimidated by the experience and the interactions that were required of me. However, I found that if I didn't know how to use a certain assistive device or what the patients were capable of, it worked out best, if I just simply asked them or their parents how best to help.

As an educator, I no longer have any feelings of being intimidated by their assistive devices or their diagnoses. My new intimidation comes in finding ways to be sure that I have educated students for whom, learning is a challenge. It is harder for me to feel as though I have been competent in my job as an educator and made sure that I have shared the pertinent information the best way possible so that I can give ALL of my students the education they deserve. Further, in the classes where I do have students with learning challenges or disabilities, I find I am more frustrated (and MUCH less patient) with the students who are "behavioral issues" or who have diagnosed behavioral disabilities. It's learning to balance these fears and issues that I am finding most challenging.


It really sucks when you're teaching somewhere and you feel abandoned like a ship at sea... Not having a good week and being pregnant does not help!

The kids don't help. Most of them time I feel like they barely listen to me and they don't understand how much better their lives could be if they just took an interest in getting their education.

Such a disappointing state of affairs.

It really leaves me feeling not motivated, uninspired and well, tired.

I wish there was someway to be filled with the energy and enthusiasm I had at the beginning of the school year. It's as though coming to school everyday slowly sucks the energy away from me and I'm left feeling like I'm in a constant battle to teach these kids stuff that they don't care about and won't even bring their notes the next day.

It sucks seeing so many girls pregnant who don't give a crap about their future and have no interest in having a better one. The guys aren't much better. They seem to think that acting out or lounging in their seats is the right way to go.

And then I get lectured on my professionalism?!? I work my butt off everyday to try and motivate the students to do what they need to do. However, they don't seem to care or want to be motivated. I don't know what else to do...It all just feels like I'm trying to push a boulder the size of Texas straight up a mountain without any help or slightest appreciation for the efforts. I feel like I'm suffocating in the battle.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Studying fossils

Right now we're on fossils.

I found this really cool video, or so I thought on dinosaurs and this one has a video of a dinosaur that had been mummified by nature! How cool!?!? And they did a CT Scan and lots of other things to actually get a true picture of what the dinosaur actually looked like.

Clearly, I was into into in fact that I was watching the whole thing. Of course I shushed the class several times at the beginning. Well, a minute ago I noticed it was "really" quite in the room....and now I know why!

Who knew that an exciting video of discovering what dinosaurs actually looked like and discovering a missing genetic link to T-Rex was so boring!??
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