Thursday, October 3, 2013

I Have to Pay for HOMEWORK?!?!

No New Taxes!
Image from macprohawaii
 An 8th grade social studies lesson surprised some parents. Apparently, some were so upset, they felt it was necessary to call the Channel 2 News Team in Atlanta, GA, who ran the story. I felt an immediate need to respond to this teacher's "creative teaching methods."

WSB-TV Atlanta News Story

Dear Mr. Holmes,

      I am writing to you because I feel that it is necessary to address the letter you sent home with my child earlier this week. I am not pleased with the measures you took to teach your students; I expect so much more from an educator. You are supposed to be teaching my child about whatever the 8th grade standards are, not sending home inflammatory letters about taxing me for my child's education! I pay enough taxes already! There is a government shutdown happening right now, so we adults need to deal with that, NOT your sophomoric antics. Why wasn't I properly notified about this homework assignment? Why didn't you send home a note attached to the letter? Who checks email nowadays, anyway?! I haven't used my Yahoo account in so long, they suspended it.
     I hope those students learned whatever lesson you were trying to teach. Another parent called the news station about this letter you sent home and I don't think she over-reacted at all! Maybe next time, you should just teach the lesson at school, and let them do a worksheet about it... or you could send the children home with their textbooks instead. Like Dana said, "If this is something they are trying to teach them about the American Revolution it should have stayed within the classroom."
This will prevent confusion in the future. Our students need to be taught what is going to be on the CRCT they take in April. They shouldn't be doing simulation assignments to see how grown adults would react after reading a silly letter about taxation and such! That's one of the problems in education today: teachers wasting time instead of teaching. I hope you take my advice into consideration the next time you want to do something so ill-conceived.

Thank you,
A Very Concerned and Satirical Parent


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Flocabulary Jams.

     I have had to find ways to present information and content to my students in ways that are engaging. On more than occasion, I have had to approach my second graders with some *flash and pop* to grab their attention and get them excited about learning. Teachers have to make sure that we address visual, audio, and kinesthetic learners equally and Flocabulary delivers! Flocabulary is standards-based, educational Hip-Hop that I WISH I'd had then (since my students had a knack for remembering lyrics to songs). According to the How-It-Works portion of the website, "Flocabulary presents academic content in a highly-engaging and contemporary format." I agree fully! Teachers can use these videos to introduce a concept, or during lessons to engage the students in discussions about the lyrics.Students can also review specific details from the song with online flashcards and fill-in-the-blank activities, and printables. Vocabulary Mini games, Math Mini games, and modification and differentiation tips are also provided. Also, the producers encourage students to write their own rhymes about the content they're learning, create videos, and then submit the videos to the website for posting!

     Oh what a blessing YouTube can be... there is a YouTube channel that you can subscribe to: FlocabularyYT! I strongly encourage you to check out the channel, but for now, here's a video that I like:

Figurative Language

 On the Youtube pages, there is a link that will take you to some figurative Language practice activities

     There are subscription plans listed for those who who would like to purchase this for their classroom, school, district, or home; also Books and CDs are sold in sets and individually. They do offer a 14 day FREE TRIAL! :) Sign up and give it a go. See if you like what Flocabulary has to offer and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Experiencing a Web 2.0 Event: "Personal Learning Networks: The Future of Learning"

     I watched a Webinar hosted by The Center for Learning. Will Robinson presented about how building Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) online can expand the way that people learn.
The link for the Webinar is
     Robinson emphasized that we have to make connections to build strong PLNs in safe and effective ways. Once we have information, we have to curate it; we have to share it with others. The National Counsel of Teachers of English wants 21st Century learners to "Manage, analyze, & synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information," however, that doesn't happen much in classrooms. We can offer so many ways for students to actively take charge of their own learning: Khan Academy, TED Talks, so we need to do so.
     After viewing Robinson's LinkedIn InMap, I was inspired to see what my own InMap looks like, and here it is: 
      He mentioned the Twitter Mining, which would mine resources from your Twitter feeds and creates a synopsis of information and resources that have been shared. I'm going to look into that one, myself.
     PLNs are about our passions and connecting with people who have and share the same passion. Personal learning requires taking the initiative to take ownership of our learning. He is an advocate of AAA Learning : We can learn Anytime and Anywhere with Anyone. Robinson used a quote by Jay Cross, "Knowledge itself is moving from the individual to the individual and his contacts."

Will Robinson's Five Bold Shifts that should occur in our practice
      1. "Thin Walls" We need to get out of the thin walls of our classrooms and into the world to foster learning.
      2. "Open Network Tests" We need to give kids practice at connecting with other people.
      3. Every Student "Googles Well" How amazing would it be for students to have healthy Google search results upon high school graduation? What if they had hits for positive things that they are doing?
      4. No More "Do Your Own Work" Have students work together to contribute to the discourse. Encourage them to create in collaboration.
      5. Change the World Make sure what we cover in our classrooms connects to the real world. 
     I realize that I can use PLNs in my professional life to build and foster connections with other educators to share ideas. I need to find more networking opportunities in my field. Having an extended PLN of educators would have been so helpful to me as a I was a classroom teacher and when I was looking for positions.  He says that we shouldn't be afraid to interact with people who think differently than we do because it will prevent polarization on issues and help us see things from others' points-of-view. Robinson alluded to the fact that a lot of us are afraid to be found by strangers on the internet, but to extend our PLNs, we have to be willing to let strangers"find" us. I can set an example for others by being a "Networked Learner" first.