Monthly Archives: February 2011
A hero is someone having exceptional courage, honor, and strength.
Our teachers are our heroes. Tomorrow is the first round of Big Testing here in Texas. The atmosphere in Texas is tense. Tremendous budget cuts are looming. People who do not teach are making decisions that will impact many educators in our state and our educational system for years to come.
I believe that before anyone votes on an educational funding or accountability bill, he or she should go and help a teacher for at least a week. Not observe for an hour. Get there before the students do and leave when the teacher leaves. Go to the bathroom only when the teacher can. Scarf your lunch in 20 minutes. Walk in their shoes.
Other Duties As Assigned-1st Grade
Had a wild and wooly day today and for some reason I thought of you.
It started with picture day. The camera broke after kid #2 and the photographer was determined to fix it while using us as the test subjects. It took about 3-5 minutes per student, times a whole class. You can do the math.
When she got to kid #21, she turned green and walked over very close to me.
Being a good elementary teacher, I stepped back. (You only have to get thrown up on once to learn a lesson.)
Anyway, she wanted to know if I had noticed student #21′s head. I had not noticed. I walked up to the student, and said, “Oh, that is just a gnat or something.”
After sending the student to the nurse for a head check, the rest of my morning was interrupted every 10-15 minutes when another pair of students had to go down for their checks.
I then had to make phone calls for two of them to be picked up immediately.
That should be enough disruptions for one day, right? Not at all.
One of my sweet, moms sent two boxes of store-bought cookies for the class. A little boy passed out almost one whole box before calling me over to show me a HUGE dead cockroach in the bottom of the box.
Well, I can do snakes, I can do spiders, I can do mice; I don’t do roaches. I can hardly type or say the word. I prefer saying “the r-bug”.
We decided to throw all the cookies from that box in the trash. But first one of my students wanted to know how big and what kind of bug so she could decide if we should throw them out or not.
Just as I picked the box up to toss it in the trash, the bug jumped up and RAN AROUND THE BOX! Ahhhhhhhkkkkkk!
I was fit to be tied.
We managed to get through phonics before the room filled up with the aroma of a skunk. The school exterminator had trapped one somewhere, and obviously, he had returned to carry it off.
I finally gave up and let the students tell all of their bug, snake, broken leg, etc. stories and we called it a day.
So in case you are having warm, fuzzy memories of the classroom, think again. It’s a bug’s world out there!
Yes, teachers have days like this. They continue to work passionately to prepare our students for the future, but they need our help and our thanks. Sometime before Spring Break, write a thank you note to one of our heroes. Thank a teacher.
Do you have any other creative ways to thank the educators who make such a difference in our lives?
Last week, we hosted several guests in our Whirlidub studios who interacted with our students. Our guests are carefully selected for their content knowledge and then we thoughtfully structure the interactions to take advantage of the synchronous elements of the technology.
The reason that the design of a video conference is so important is that many people, when they are in the teaching or expert role, tend to try to spew out as much information, as quickly as they can.
When this occurs, it is the person spewing information that is doing the most work.
Their brains are busy
- constructing, and
- synthesizing their knowledge.
That is fine, well, and good for them, but does not do much to engage students or challenge them to think critically or listen attentively.
Two strategies that easily engage students are
- opening focusing question
- think-pair-share before response time.
These two strategies help you to evaluate where you learners are and then to activate all brains before selecting the two or three responses to be shared whole group.
Video conferencing can be an effective technology, but you do need to be thoughtful in your delivery and design.
What are some ways that you have found to engage students or participants through distance?
Creativity has become a buzzword in education.
The first time I became aware that lack of creativity could be an issue for education was watching Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk. He made the talk in 2006 and I watched it a couple of years ago.
I was drawn to the talk because I am one of those “creative types”. I am not a messy creative. I am quite organized and love to doodle. I am a graphic note-taker. That is what I call myself now; I used to just be a doodler who was bored in class. I don’t sing or dance or play an instrument. I can’t make cute titles for lesson units or conference presentations, but I can see systems as a whole and can determine inefficiencies and apply new solutions to improve them. I am creative.
A great article to spark your thinking about what creativity is was in Newsweek last July. It is by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman and helps us understand that creativity is not just in the fine arts, but it is the alternating between divergent and convergent thinking. They discuss testing for creativity (more reliable than IQ tests), environments conducive to developing creativity (freedom + rules), and creativity in schools (how they kill it).We have a crisis in creativity is their claim. I claim that we have a crisis in understanding and defining it.
Creativity is not
- coloring inside the lines
- right brained
- developed by passive activities
- finding the one right answer
- cutting on the line
- isolated skills
- the production of something useful and original
- divergent thinking (idea generation)
- convergent thinking (combing all ideas into the best solution)
- researching and evaluating
More Readings on Creativity
- Newsweek Article, Creativity Crisis July 2010
- Fostering Creativity in Education
- Twenty-four Tips for Developing Creativity
Are you a creative type? What do you think of when you hear the word creativity? How can we teach creativity to our students?