May 18, 2010

Goodbye Van Meter!

May 6, 2010

Embrace it - or be left in the dust!

It was Matt Nathanson’s concert (oh, goodness, you have to see him live) on Sunday April 25th that made me realize HOW digital we have become. It started with your run-of-the-mill GPS search on the way there to find exactly where we were going on the U of I campus, and continued throughout the night…not ending until I sent my last tweet to @mattnathanson telling him that I enjoyed his show.

The obvious things were happening as I maneuvered my way around campus (let’s face it, it’s been awhile since I’ve been on college grounds, but they haven’t changed much).  There were students on a jog listening to music, and groups of kids typing on laptops on park benches.  Nothing so out of the ordinary.

It was as I was standing in line waiting for the show that I realized how different (completely tech-based) we have become…people downloading music, sharing information via Bluetooth, updating twitter statuses, using itouch apps to play games.  A group of students were even playing the different apps to create Matt's music - one on the piano, and one on the drums, while the people in line sang. The list goes on.

At the concert, people continued to amaze me. The opener (unknown until the time of the show), Megan McCormick, got on stage and played her first song, which had everyone listening intently…but her name didn’t get announced until someone from the audience yelled, “Who are you?”  The second Megan said her name everyone, maybe not exactly everyone, got out their devices and downloaded songs and albums from iTunes.  I was looking around in awe…the whole place was lit up with screens.

When Matt came on stage to sing (uh-may-zing, love him) I had to stop looking around and focus. : )  It was a slow song to start…the lighter with the real flame has long since been replaced with the lighter application on the iTouch. So during Little Victories (one of my favorites) the U of I Ballroom was dotted with little electronic flames.

When I walked out after the concert (#saditwasover), I sent @mattnathanson a message on Twitter from my iTouch, thanking him for the great show, and used Maps Buddy to find some local places to eat...

It's a new way of living, and we have to embrace it. Professionally, I feel we have to allow our students to thrive in this environment...if we close that out as an option, where will that leave our kids? In the dust.

April 15, 2010

231 Numbers

The 8th graders in my language arts class are doing a career unit.  They created resumes, cover letters, filled out applications and answered some interview questions.  A student was working on hers today and said, "I don't know what my accomplishments are."  I asked if she was proud of anything....and it led to the making of this video!

March 29, 2010

Nice comment sheets - not just for students!

Every year I have my 8th grade students write one nice comment about each other, and I include my name at the bottom (hey, it's necessary). I remind them that it is important to be able to say something nice about everyone - even if they have to DIG DEEP. :)  My cadet then compiles a document for each student (without the name of who wrote the comments).

I laminate each sheet and send them home for them to keep, love, and cherish forever (or to lose on the bus ride home).  I put mine inside my closet door so when I hang up my coat and bag, I start my day of with a smile (my students say it's the coffee that makes me smile - shhhhh....maybe it is...).

Anyway, it's been a ritual for 4 years, and my 7th graders can't wait to do their "nice sheets" when they are 8th graders.  Here is my sheet for this year...remember, they HAVE to write something nice...even if they have to "dig deep." :)

March 11, 2010

Some things should stay the same!

Everything is changing in education. Everything.  Am I excited about that?! Yes…and no.

Let’s talk about yes.
I love that classrooms are headed toward blended instruction, that grades are becoming less important, and the fact that children master benchmarks is what matters. I enjoy student-led instruction, and teaching for understanding. I am thrilled that technology is a huge part of my students’ lives and above all, it’s satisfying to know that I am finding passions in young people and encouraging them to pursue what they love. I could go on and on…

As for the no.
I feel like some “things” are foundations needed to build morally sound, quality people.  Things like respect, responsibility and dedication.  It seems like by breaking out of some traditions (that need broken out of) we let a few important things go with them.

I think it’s important that as we welcome in this new way of education we hold tight to things that matter.  Students seem to forget that adults are still adults. Yes, we value their opinion, their direction, and their passions.  We love their ideas and we understand the importance of their knowledge, but there will forever remain a general need for children to respect adults in positions of authority.  It will always be vital for students to take responsibility of their actions. Without these things, we lose any reason for classroom teachers, for parents, for adults or authoritative figures.

We (educators, administration, parents, adults) are becoming lenient and almost careless in regards to the basic expectations we have for the children we encounter.  I feel like it is time to step up and demand what is important. I don’t care if “times are changing” - some things shouldn't be.