Sunday, September 29, 2013

Join Me at the Reform Symposium #RSCON4

I'm excited to be a part of RSCON this year!  I will actually be presenting three sessions:
On Sunday October 13th at 9:00am CST I will be presenting "Connecting YOU and Your Classroom Globally".  Building connections is important.  This session will cover how YOU can become a connected educator via social platforms like twitter, but also how you can get your classroom and your students connected as well with anything from classrooms around the world, to Olympic Athletes, and so much more!

On Sunday October 13th at 2:00pm CST I will be co-presenting "Transforming Education with Augmented Reality" with the incredible Brad Waid and Drew Minock.  Augmented Reality!  What is it? How does it work?  We'll cover the basics of AR as well as creative ways that you can start using Augmented Reality in your classroom right away!  Exciting way to get kids much more excited and involved in their learning!

And finally, on Sunday October 13th at 5:00pm CST I will be presenting "Flipped Classroom and PBL".  Flipping the Classroom and Project Based Learning (PBL) have become all the rage of late!  Come learn from one "Ninja" math teacher how he successful flipped his classroom and went fully project based!  Scores improved, but most of all student engagement and enjoyment improved as well!

I hope you can join!! Here's a link to all the other presentations, and listed below are a few more details! 

In a few days, thousands of educators from various different countries are expected to attend a free 3 day virtual conference, The Reform Symposium, #RSCON4.  RSCON will be held October 11th to 13th in conjunction with Connected Educator Month. The entire conference will be held online using the Blackboard Collaborate webinar platform. Participants can attend this online conference from the comfort of their homes or anywhere that has Internet access. This amazing conference provides educators new or currently active on social networks the opportunity to connect with educators and professionals in the field of education worldwide.

Useful links (click on any item for more information):

We would like to thank the incredible organizers- Shelly Sanchez Terrell, Steve Hargadon, Clive Elsmore, Chiew Pang, Kelly Tenkely, Chris Rogers, Paula White, Bruno Andrade, Cecilia Lemos, Greta Sandler, Peggy George, Marcia Lima, Jo Hart, Phil Hart, Dinah Hunt, Marisa Constantinides, Nancy Blair, Mark Barnes and Sara Hunter

Monday, September 23, 2013

My PLN Saved My Career

Teaching has always been something I’ve wanted to do since I was 8 years old.  I always knew I was going to be a teacher when I grew up.  I started teaching about 7 years ago.  I came in wide-eyed, full of ideas, and overflowing with positivity that I was going to change every kid’s life!

What happened soon after is something a little different.  I was able to do some of my more “boundary-pushing” ideas.  I was able to convince an author to donate 80 copies of her book.  I was able to convince my principal to allow me to take 70 students to Austin, Texas on a Saturday field trip.  I was able to do some really incredible things with my students.  But none of my ideas came without some fights.  We all deal with that.  We all have those people who don’t believe in what we’re trying to do.  

And as the years went by, I became jaded.  I started asking myself, “if all I’m going to deal with is pushback, why keep trying?”.  At the same time I was also becoming what I called a “test-teacher”.  I had my students scoring incredibly high on our state standardized exams.  But how were they able to score so high?  All I started doing was giving worksheets and teaching test formatted questions, because I felt like “my job depended on it”.  And I began to think, this isn’t why I got into teaching!  I never wanted to hand out only worksheets, to constantly fight to try innovative ideas.  And I began to doubt that I wanted to remain a teacher.  At the end of my fifth year of teaching, I was ready to leave the profession and find a different career.

Then my Assistant Superintendent at the time, Troy Mooney, came to me with an idea.  He saw my frustrations, but he also saw my passion.  He encouraged me to start sharing my ideas and connecting with people outside of my district.  He encouraged me to use Twitter.  

Now before I go further, let me make sure to say, at this time I hated Twitter!  I already had Facebook and I didn’t see the point in Twitter.  But Troy taught me how to use it for professional collaboration and learning, and it changed everything.

I must say though, I work with some amazingly incredible teachers at my campus and in my district!  They are awesome!  But regardless of how amazing they are, it’s still a limited pool of ideas.  When I learned how to become a connected educator, my world exploded.  I now connect with teachers, principals, superintendents, technology directors, company founders, and so much more!  And what’s even cooler is I connect with people from all over the world!

To say joining Twitter was career changing, is an understatement.  It reinvigorated me.  It re-lit my fire and passion.  And it connected me with innovative, creative, out-of-the box thinkers.  People who were fighting the same battles I was.  People who reminded me constantly of why I do my job, but at the same time also provided me with encouragement and ideas to keep fighting the good fight.

The best way I can think to really show the power of Twitter, and the power of a PLN (Personal Learning Network) is to show the ways that some of my connections, and who I now genuinely call friends, changed my career.

Matt Gomez (@MattBGomez) - Matt Gomez was one of the first people I started following on Twitter.  He’s a kindergarten teacher in Texas.  From Matt is where I learned about EdCamps, and more specifically EdCampDallas.  EdCamps lit a whole new fire in me.  They were a completely different way to learn and connect with teachers face to face.  But more than EdCamps, Matt taught me that I am capable of anything.  Of even the craziest ideas.  He taught me that excuses aren’t ok.  In his Kindergarten class he does some of the most jaw-droppingly awesome things.  His students TWEET!  The interact with classes from all over the world.  They meet weathermen, and museum curators, and so much more.  Matt reminded me that I am capable of incredible things and that I should never count myself out.

Jon Samuleson (@iPadSammy) - Jon Samuleson hasn’t only been a teacher, and tech guy, but he also runs his own Podcast (Techlandia).  Jon is one of the most innovative and humorous people on twitter.  Jon taught me that I can try crazy ideas, and I can push boundaries, and that it’s ok!  That that’s what we’re supposed to be doing as teachers.  Jon is also the person who inspired me to start my own podcast series with two of my friends..

Jimmy Casas (@casas_jimmy) - Jimmy Casas is a principal out of Iowa.  Jimmy was one of the first administrators I really started connecting with on Twitter.  At ISTE this past year in San Antonio I was finally able to meet Jimmy.  He may be a force to be reckoned with on Twitter, but Jimmy is even more personable and inspiring in person.  Jimmy taught me that I do have a voice.  Jimmy has consistently reminded me that it doesn’t matter where we come from or what our job title in education is, every one of us has something of value to share with others!  Jimmy has also been a constant source of encouragement and strength.  To say that I look up to Jimmy is quite the understatement.

Erin Klein (@KleinErin) - Erin Klein is a teacher in Michigan.  But she does so much more than that.  Erin’s twitter feed is a constant flow of encouraging tweets and extremely innovative ideas.  When I started Twitter, like many people, I didn’t “speak” to some of the “bigger names” on twitter.  I didn’t feel worthy.  Erin mentioned me in a tweet one day, and all I could think was, “how does what I say matter?”.  Then at ISTE, like with Jimmy, I was able to meet Erin face to face.  I can’t express enough how much of a kind hearted person Erin is and how genuine.  I have formed an amazing friendship with Erin and I love following her on Twitter and her blog to continually get innovative ideas for my classroom.  She challenges my thinking and continually makes me want to be better.  She also reminds me constantly how important our students are and to never lose our focus on the fact they they are why we’re in education.


Wendy Sanders (@kenya75), Jake Duncan (@duncanbilinugal), Martha Lackey (@lackeymartha) and Andrea Keller (@akbusybee) - These four educators are all Texans.  They’re some of the first people I connected with not just on twitter but in my personal life as well.  We all met on Twitter, but after attending TCEA (our state tech conference) and several EdCamps, we’ve all become incredible close.  We talk almost everyday and these people are my constant source of not only encouragement but they also challenge me.  They build me up.  We’ve formed a little group who is constantly pushing each other but also reminding each other that we are doing amazing things with kids.  Without these four in my life, I would not be teacher I am today.

Stacey Huffine (@TechNinjaStacey) & Chris Kesler (@iamkesler) - I can’t write this post without mentioning these two guys.  We started the twitter journey in our district.  Stacey and Chris inspire me all the time.  Stacey is the most kind hearted and tenacious person I know.  She works so hard and gets so little recognition for all the work that she does.  Chris is an amazing guy to watch in action.  From knowing him on a personal level I can only imagine how amazing his class must be.  Between The 3 Tech Ninjas, EduAllStars, Genius Hour, and more, these two people are two people that make my PLN complete, and I’m so thankful to have them in my life.

Angela Maiers (@angelamaiers) - Angela Maiers is someone I was just able to truly connect with in the past few months.  I have followed Angela and her #youmatter movement for a while.  Through randomly reaching out on Twitter, I was able to convince Angela to come on my EduAllStars podcast.  And from there everything changed.  Angela is someone I talk to several times a week.  Angela is the one who first ever told me to “own my genius”.  To not back down when I do incredible things.  To own those ideas and share them.  Angela has encouraged me to push my own ideas and to change lives.  Not to teach better, but to reach those kids hearts far more.  To remind every kid, and every adult, that I come in contact with that they matter.  Every one of us has something incredible to offer the world.  So don’t hide, don’t keep quite, stand up, speak out, and own your genius.

Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) - Dave Burgess is a teacher and author of “Teach Like A Pirate”.  I first heard about Dave when I heard about his book.  I read his book and it blew my mind.  Then when I was able to travel to California, Dave randomly tweeted me and asked me to meet up!  I can’t explain how much I was freaking out.  My wife and I met up with Dave for lunch and I was again reminded of the power of being a connected educator.  Since then Dave and I have met up again, and we communicate often!  Dave taught me the power of a great lesson.  His question of “If a student had to pay a $1 to go to your class, would they?” is something I think about daily.  I want to be that teacher that kids are running to come to his class every day.  That teacher who brings something new and innovative into my student’s lives.  

Drew Minock (@TechMinock) - Drew Minock is someone that I just came in contact with in June of this year.  Drew and I met at ISTE, hit off, and have become really good friends.  Drew is someone I now consider one of my best friends.  Drew challenges my thinking on a daily basis.  He is creative, innovative, and inspiring.  The things Drew is doing with his 4th grade students are mind blowing.  Drew is also the same age as me, and what I love about him is that he challenges me.  He always asks me, “Why can’t you do that?”.  His joy of teaching and learning has reignited my fire of teaching and learning as well.  Without Drew as part of my support system and someone I can go to to celebrate and vent, I don’t know what I would do. Drew is also someone that I get to celebrate the great things that each of us are accomplishing, and at times even get to collaborate together. Drew is incredible and a integral part of the #shortmanclub :)

Steve Mesler (@SteveMesler) and Jack Andraka (@JackAndraka) - Olympic Gold Medalist & Classroom Champions Co-Founder Steve Mesler, as well as ISEF 2012 Winner Jack Andraka, are two people I would never have come in contact with had it not been for twitter!  I now consider both of these guys friends of mine.  Through twitter my classes have had the opportunity to learn from Jack and Steve as well as this school year, I was selected as a Classroom Champions teacher!  Meaning my class gets to learn from an Olympic Athlete who will be competing in the Olympic Games!  I have learned so much from the tenacity, honesty, and kindness of these two guys who have taken time out of their busy lives to speak with me on a regular basis. Neither of them will every truly understand the impact they've had on me personally and even more so professionally.

Brad Waid (@TechBradWaid) - Brad Waid.  Where do I even begin with Brad?  Like Drew, I met Brad for the first time at ISTE back in June.  Brad and Drew both work together in Michigan and actually have their own Two Guys podcast and website.  Brad is a fireball.  He is FULL of energy.  I have never met anyone with the amount of energy Brad has.  Brad also reminds me a lot of myself with his tenacity and passion.  I have never before connected with someone as quickly as I did with Brad.  Since ISTE, Brad and I have become great friends.  I consider Brad not only my best friend, but also like a brother to me (even if he is a little older than me haha).  When I need to vent, when I need to celebrate, when I am stressed out, when I have no one else to talk to, Brad has always been there.  I have never met anyone as genuine, personable, or insanely inspiring as Brad.  He inspires me every day to step outside of my box of comfortableness.  Brad also is my constant source of encouragement.  Brad has celebrated every accomplishment of mine and I’ve celebrated his!  We share the amazing things we’re doing and it never feels like bragging or anything.  We have traded the craziest texts back and forth, created crazy new hashtags, and more.  Brad is someone that I know will be in my life for many years to come and someone I am thankful every day to have as part of my life professionally and personally.

There are so many more people that I’ve met and connected with online that I could go on for hours and still not hit everyone.  People like Amber Teamann (@8Amber8), Adam Bellow (@AdamBellow), AJ Juliani (@ajjuliani), Daisy Dyer Duerr (@DaisyDyerDuerr), Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal), Amanda Dykes (@amandaCdykes), Amy Pratt (@apratt5), Mindi Vandagriff (@mindivandagriff), Evan Scherr (@Scherrology), Shelly Terrell (@Shellterrell), Jeffrey Alstadt (@jalstadt), Brad Gustafson (@GustafsonBrad) Sydney Musslewhite (@smussle), Scott Floyd (@woscholar), Jeremy Macdonald (@MrMacnology), Chris Beyerle (@cbeyerle), Craig Yen (@craigyen), Hal Roberts (@HalLroberts), Shannon Miller (@shannonmiller), Krissy Venosdale (@venspired) Carrie Jackson (@jackson_carrie) and so many more.

I can’t truly list everyone here or I would be listing for hours.  But I can say, with all honesty, that becoming a connected educator changed everything.  I can say for sure that my PLN saved my career.  Because without them around me every day, encouraging, uplifting, challenging, and inspiring me I would not be the kind of teacher I am today, much less even in education anymore.  So today, right before connected educator month starts (October), I say to all the members of my PLN, those listed and those not, Thank you.  Thank you for everything. You will never truly understand how you've changed me forever.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Multiplication Videos, Socrative, and @ClassroomChamps

This week was quite the whirlwind.  I could not for the life of me keep track of what day was what!  Whew!

So we started off the week with the students creating their own multiplication videos.  I split the kids into groups of three, and each person was given a multiplication problem to solve.  One person had a two digit x two digit, one had a three digit x one digit, and one had a three digit x two digit.  The students then had to create a "one-take" video where each student explained the problem.  I love this project because the students end up having to do the videos over and over and over again, explaining every step of the process.  Meaning they get TONS of practice with the process of multiplication.  Much more than I could have given them in class with just throwing some problems at them!

I've linked a few below that were some of our better ones :)

We also took a quiz this week to judge how well the creation of the videos accomplished my goal of having them understand the process of multiplication.  The students took the quiz on paper, and then submitted their answers via the Socrative app.  I LOVE Socrative!  It's a really great tool, and free app, that allows any student to turn their device into a clicker pretty much!  I created a quick quiz online and started the quiz.  The students "joined" my quiz via the app,and input their answers.  When they were done Socrative graded it for me! (Because I had already put my answers in online)!  I'm then able to download the results via Microsoft Excel.  So much easier than having to grade all the papers by hand.

After taking the quiz I was able to work in a small group with those students who didn't do too well, while the other students took boxes of manipulatives and began creating their own multiplication word problems that could be solved using the manips they were working with!  It was an excellent use of my time and everyone was super engaged.

Unfortunately when I told the students with the maniupulatives to design a word problem that could be answered using the manipulatives, one group misunderstood me hahahaha (creative idea the way the begged me to take a picture of this and share it on twitter, because I couldn't stop laughing!  They said "we want other teachers to laugh too, tweet this!"  Oh my kids are hilarious!)

Finally, on Friday we got to do our first ever Classroom Champions lesson.  If you don't know about Classroom Champions you need to head over to their website IMMEDIATELY.  They are an INCREDIBLE resource to use in the classroom for completely FREE to inspire your students!  

This month's lesson was "Goal Setting"  We started off by watching our Goal Setting video by our athlete, Josh Sweeney.  My students are already obsessed with Josh.  After listening to Josh inspire us to set our goals, I read "Oh the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss.  If you haven't read that book I can't recommend it enough.  It was the perfect story to read to my kids to remind them that they can all do INCREDIBLE things, but sometimes things we can't control will get in our way and try to destroy us.  My kids were fired up, and we set off!  My students each created a personal goal for themselves to accomplish at some point within this school year. After choosing a goal, they also decided on 3 steps of action they would take to reach those goals.  Then we created a big poster to all write our goals on. (And yes I made a goal too....I told my students I really wanted to present at ISTE next summer and that I was submitting a proposal and that I was hoping to get accepted!).

After writing our goals on our poster, we hung the poster in the hall to remind us every day of what we were going to work towards.  Then I recorded about 25 of my students on our iPad we got from Classroom Champions.  They shared their goals and their steps and we sent that video over to our athlete Josh :)  

It was a day of lost instruction, but in the long run, a lesson over goal setting will go much further in helping my students realize that they can dream big and if they work hard they can achieve their goals!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

We All Need A Cheerleader

Like most people growing up was full of ups and downs.  I grew up in a house full of turmoil.  My parents fought every day, my dad drank daily, if not hourly, and wasn't home too much, and I never felt like I fit in too much anywhere.  

I don't remember a lot about my childhood (I tend to block memories that aren't great) but one thing I do remember quite well is my Grandmother.

Throughout my childhood, no matter what was going on, my Grandmother was always my rock.  Her and my grandpa would take my brother and I on weekend trips.  Whenever I would visit, she would cook meal after meal with me teaching me every single thing I've ever learned about cooking.  She built in me a love of reading and every trip she would take me to the bookstore to get the next book in the Animorphs series.  She taught me how to use Microsoft Word and Excel, and had me make my own business cards.  She was the person I wanted most to like my now wife.  But most of all my grandma was my cheerleader.

Every single visit to her house she told me how special I was.  She told me how much I meant to her.  She told me that no matter what anyone said, I was going to do great things.  And as I child I believed her.  I felt like I was the most important person in the world every moment I spent with her.

Growing older, into high school and college, I continued building a relationship with my grandmother.  I would call her every time something great happened in my life and she would celebrate me!  She made me cut out every article I was mentioned in or every good thing I did at school.  And then she would take that article or item EVERYWHERE she went and would tell people how proud of me she was.  Every single trip outside of the house with my Grandmother she would make sure to tell someone, "Do you know who this is?  This is my grandson, Todd.  And he's going to change the world."  Part of me was embarrassed, but another part of me was exploding with pride inside because someone was so proud of me.

As I started to accomplish great things in my career, my grandmother would be the first person I called to tell good news.  She always told me how proud of me and excited for me she was, even if she had no understanding of what great thing I had accomplished.  And when I visited she would always ask me "What amazing things are you doing and changing the world with now?".

Almost two years ago my grandmother was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer.  Now if you knew my grandmother at all, you would know she is a fighter.  She didn't put up with crap from anyone.  And when diagnosed she vowed to fight with everything in her, and she did.

Then after fighting for almost a year and half, she wore out.  She got tired of fighting.  She refused to eat, and stopped taking her medicine.  I can still remember the last time I saw her alive.  My grandfather called me and told me he'd taken her to the hospital because she refused to eat or take meds.  He didn't know how long she would have and that she wasn't talking to anyone.  I drove up right away.  I remember sitting by her bed, holding her hand, and telling her how much I loved her.  I remember her laying there with her eyes closed breathing slowly.  The hardest thing I've ever had to do, was tell her goodbye that day.  And as I went to give her a hug and tell her goodbye, I saw her eyes open, and she whispered to me, "goodbye Todd.  I'm so proud of you.  I'm sorry."  It took everything in me not to break down and fall apart on the spot, but I was determined to stay strong, but walking out of that hospital room was so difficult.

That was the last time I saw my grandmother alive.  About a week later she passed, and when planning her funeral, my grandfather asked me if I would do the Eulogy.  How could I say no?  I wanted to honor my grandmother.  I can remember that day like it was yesterday.  Standing in the front of a church full of people, and talking about what an incredible woman my Grandmother was, and breaking down crying half way through, which is something that I NEVER do in front of people.

But the most important thing my Grandmother taught me is the importance of each of us having someone to cheer us on.  To be our cheerleader.  My grandmother was always that one person I could go to who I know would celebrate me and build me up.  There are still times when I catch myself grabbing my phone to call her and tell her my good news, but then I remember she's not there anymore.  I miss her often, but I want to continually carry on what she taught me.  I want to celebrate those around me who are doing great things.  I want to remind them of how important they are in this world.  How much I believe in them. How much I care.  Because that's what my grandmother would have done for me.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mystery GHOs, Creating Videos, and #DotDay

Wow!  This week was JAM PACKED with awesomeness!  Even writing this post it feels like some of these things happened weeks ago!

Ok so first off let me make clear that I have 3 classes (a total of 75 students).  So when I get to do creative and collaborative things with others via Skype or Google Hangout (GHO) I try to include every class period; which can become very difficult!  Well, many of us have heard of the #mysterySkype.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, you find a class around the world to Skype with.  The teachers know where each other are from, but NOT the students!  And then when you Skype, you ask each other yes or no questions until the classes figure out where each other are from!  Well, I've become a huge fan of GHO recently so this week we did three, yes three, Mystery GHOs.  I felt bad after just doing one, and the other classes were upset they missed out so I had to plan two more!  Man were they a blast.  Sadly, all three of my classes had trouble figuring out where the other classes were from.  haha.  We have some work to do. But we got to GHO with a Jake Duncan's (@duncanbilingual) 6th grade Bilingual class in Texas, Brad Waid's (@TechBradWaid) 3rd grade class in Michigan, and Drew Minock's (@TechMinock) 4th grade class in Michigan.  My students had such a blast, and have asked me every day to do another one!  Did I lose some class time do these?  Yes.  Did they have anything to do with my subject area of Math? No.  But you know what I'm more concerned with providing my kids with experiences.  Because once they experience this, they work so much harder in class to afford us the opportunity to do this again!

This week we also did some fun things in Math!  The students worked in groups of three to create videos re-teaching the concept of Decimal Place Value and Comparing/Ordering Decimals.  They used iOS devices to record their lessons.  This was their first foray into video making, so they videos were all over the place and not amazing haha.  But we watched each and every one of them with their peers and talked about ways we could improve and things we liked about what was done.  It was a learning experience for the students for sure, but I'm excited to see their next videos!!
We also reviewed multiplication and learned some new parts to multiplication.  The students are going to create videos teaching the concept of multiplication, but before we did that I wanted to review with the class quickly so I threw out dry-erase markers and the kids got to write on their tables their problems.  You would have thought I told them to trash the school!  They were freaking out!  It was quite humorous!  We also did "Fact Exercises" where we do different exercises while we repeat our multiplication facts, and I allowed some students to come up and teach the class (which they REALLY enjoyed).  It's funny to watch them try to emulate me!

Our final thing we did this week, and by far my favorite, was celebrate Dot Day!  Dot Day is based after the book "The Dot" by Peter Reynolds.  International Dot Day is September 15th-ish, so we celebrated it as a campus today.  Yes as a campus!  I was soooo thrilled when I mentioned Dot Day at the Team Leader meeting on Tuesday and almost every grade level bought in!  We had posters around the school, it was mentioned on the announcements and kids came dressed in their coolest dots and teachers built entire lessons around the idea!!!  It was awesome!

What I did with my students was read the book, discuss the message (every person leaving their "mark" on the world), and then I gave students the ColAR Dot Pages and had them design their own dots.  I didn't tell them that the page was Augmented and would "come to life" when they were they colored away.  After they finished I had them pull out their devices and scan their pages using the ColAR Mix app.  You should have seen these 5th graders FLIPPING OUT!  They couldn't believe their dot was popping off their page.  They were in awe!  It was amazing.

But by far the best part, was getting to GHO with Drew Minock's 4th grade class again.  We did the GHO at the end of the day and our students got up one by one and showed the Dot they created and explained why they made it.  It was such a neat experience!  We now have all of the dots hanging in our hallway for anyone to scan and experience for themselves.  Next week the kids will record short videos explaining how they will leave their mark on the world and we're gonna use the Aurasma app to attach the videos to the dots!  Can't wait!

Besides all the great things at school I also got to be on the "2 Guys Show" podcast, which you can check out here and I got to interview author Todd Whitaker for my EduAllStars Podcast!

Man it was an exciting week, but I am EXHAUSTED!  Who knows what awesome things my kiddos will do next week!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

13 Songs to Inspire

As I've said in previous blog posts music inspires.  Music is a huge part of my much so that for a while I wanted to be a radio DJ.

As I've been reading lots of blog posts and tweets lately, I've seen how much music means to so many of us.  So what I decided to do was just post 13 songs below that lately have been really inspiring me and lifting me up!  And I decided to let the songs speak for themselves, and hope that the inspire you, and lift you up, like they do for me...

"I Was Here" by Beyonce

"Roar" by Katy Perry

"Brave" by Sara Bareilles

"I Lived" by OneRepublic

"Who You Are" by Jessie J

"I Wanna Be Like Me" by Sara Bareilles

"Hall of Fame" by The Script ft.

"Gold" by Britt Nicole

"Legacy" by Nichole Nordeman

"Vision of Love" by Kris Allen

"Skyscraper" by Demi Lovato

"Sunrise" by Nichole Nordeman

"Hurricane" by Natalie Grant

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Flipping, Blogging, Classroom Champions, and CREATIVITY!

Week two was a great trip!  After a week one full of some ups and some downs, it was nice to feel like I was getting more in the swing of things with Week 2.

We officially started flipping this week!  Kids had two videos they had to watch this week.  The first video I only had 13 of my 75 students not watch it.  A huge increase over last year's numbers so I was quite thrilled!  The second video only had 3 students who didn't watch it.  I hope this keeps up because these kids are doing a great job so far keeping up with their videos!

We also had our week 2 of blogging this week, and man some of these kids have just become INCREDIBLE bloggers!!  I am so impressed by the amount of writing these students are doing!  Their topic this week was "the first two weeks of school" and they had quite a bit to say!

I also was able to finally tell my students about being one of the 33 United States classrooms to take part in the Classroom Champions program!  What that means is that we get an Olympic Athlete (who is competing in the Winter Olympics) that my students will get to meet (via Skype; twice at least) and that we'll learn from and gain character education type lessons from.  This program is quite incredible and Steve Mesler and Leigh Parise are doing some amazing work!  This week the kids just learned that we were selected, the got their forms signed, and we did the intro survey.  On Monday they get to find out who our Athlete is, and I can't wait to tell them!

We also had a very interesting activity that we did this week.  This week my students were introduced to or re-introduced to the concept of place value.  And every year I introduce place value by telling this big long 15 minute story about a mayor building a new city, families moving in, and what their first names and last names were, and so on and so on.  The story is always a big hit full of lots of laughs from the kids.  Well after seeing how well it went over I really wanted to "test" my kids and see what they gained from my story and at the same time see how much creativity I was working with this year.  Usually I have to really work to bring out the creative side in my students because it's been locked away for so long.

So what I had them do was work in groups to create their own place value story/skit and act it out in front of their peers.  They only had about 45 minutes.  Let me just say I was BLOWN AWAY by the results!  My kids had stories about animals, aliens, parents, bugs, alllll kinds of things.  They were humourous, creative, but most of all, every story ACCURATELY portrayed the concept of Place Value!  I was thrilled!

All that did was get me even more fired up to throw more stuff at my students and push them to their creative limits this year.  Why?  Because students will only rise to the expectations that you set, so I'm making sure to set my expectations HIGH!