Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Fun, fun, fun, that was the agenda at least for me today. We surprised our student teachers between placements today with a FLASH MOB inspired by our department chair Dr. Kathleen Benson - brilliant! - and delivered by our very own Edinboro Dance Troop. We rehearsed for about 20 minutes the day prior under the divine leader ship of (I will find out). We then waited for the right time and FLASH! The dance troop was interloped within the other student teachers who didn't even now they weren't student teachers. They started - we joined - and a flourish of others zoomed in and made us whole as we danced to LMAFO's "Party Rock Anthem" sans vulgarity. Once I have a link to our actual video, you can enjoy this original with vulgarity:)
I love teaching. I love experimenting. I love sharing. Here I am reading poetry on September 29, the day before my 44th birthday. This was a national event 100,000 poets and musicians for change and took a big risk to share my poetry. I must tell you it changed me and moved me to share these very personal pieces. Feel free to comment. I hope you enjoy.
Order of Poems:
"She is Tall Now"
"The Occasioned Solitude"
"Kings of Suburbia"
Order of Poems:
"She is Tall Now"
"The Occasioned Solitude"
"Kings of Suburbia"
Monday, October 22, 2012
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
As with the evolution of newspapers, the book as a form is in change. Digital books are here. With the emergence of the Ipad, Zoom, Kindle and many others, these devices are able to platform E-Books. According to Amazon CFO Tom Szkutak, "Millions of people now own Kindles. And Kindle owners read, a lot. When we have both editions [hardcopy and digital], we sell 6 Kindle books for every 10 physical books. This is year-to-date and includes only paid books - free Kindle books would make the number even higher. It's been an exciting 27 months." That was in January of last year. By July of last year, Amazon announced Kindle book sells surpassed their hardcover book sales. Naysayers dismissed this, and held on to the paperback with bulwark resolve. However, the tides continued to encroach, and Amazon duly reported in February that E-Book sales exceeded paperback sells.
Overall, my 9th grade advanced students are strong readers. Some by choice; some by habit, but pretty strong in general. Before I shared these statistics with them, I had them journal about their own experiences with books. First I had them create a list of adjectives (at least 10) describing an actual physical book and/or the experience of reading a book. Then I had them recall and write descriptively about a positive reading experience. I had them focus on who was present, where it took place, how they felt. Their responses were traditional and expected. Lists included parents, siblings, soft lights, hard books, bright pictures, beds, comfort. Titles were shared: A Hungry Caterpillar, Good Night Moon, Harry Potter, Jane Eyre. (She's an AVID reader!) However, every one of their lists excluded their experiences having anything to do with an E-book. Even though a few have books on digital devices.
I then showed them this video "A Next-Generation Digital Book" from TED Talks featuring Mike Matas from Push Pop Press
It was interesting to hear the students reaction towards this type of book. They immediately saw a connection between this and their textbooks.
"We wouldn't need book bags!" Jose shouted.
"Imagine biographies," I said.
"Then why would we need the History or Biography channels?" McKenna posed.
Kyle thought he would read more. That it looked like a video game, and "it looked a lot cooler than a raggy old book."
But as much as I played devil's advocate, they wouldn't or couldn't see the application in their fiction. They held their ground. Alyssa succinctly put it like this, "They would still our imagination." The class mostly agreed. Nevertheless, Kyle was ready to turn in every hard covered, paper backed, book he owned.
This conversation lead us into our discussion about technology development in Rand's Anthem. Here the World Council spent 100 years weighing and implementing the candle. What are their fears? What will they lose? What will they gain?
We brought the conversation back around to reading, books, technology, and change. I posed the same questions: What are your fears? What will we lose? What will we gain? Their responses were responsible, grand, even dismissive, for their entire technological life experience has been about change. This was just another development that they could quickly compartmentalize the use of: nonfiction - great; fiction - no way. As I read their exit slips, it seemed to me they were protecting those experiences they wrote about at the beginning of class. And for those avid readers, a more cautionary tone was evident - "No one is taking my book from me." - Sean
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
After serving in a variety of learning communities, I have compiled a list that if implemented by an administration in one institution at one time would make me the best teacher I could possibly be. So here it is:
The Top Ten things an Administrator can do to Make Me a Better Teacher
- Be a teacher! Don’t forget your roots. Your empathy of the demands of a classroom teacher is necessary for us to communicate fairly and effectively. More importantly, as a teacher you can share your expertise with me. I can learn from you because you have the privilege to see all of my colleagues in action. I am sure what they are doing and how they are doing it is relevant to the learning in my classroom.
- Understand that the key to lowering your discipline workload is to be in my classroom and seeing what I am doing to stimulate and motivate my students. Maybe you can share some insight into that difficult child.
- Ask to see my lesson plans not because you have to verify I am following the curriculum or checking a box, but because you earnestly care about the why and how I am teaching. Use them as conversation starters with me or other teachers. Give me feedback if you have a better way or a resource that will tweak my lesson and then follow up with me to see how the lesson idea or resource went. This will show me that you care and more importantly show me you are a resource that I can trust and use. Oh, and if I know you are doing this, then I will meet your expectations happily and readily.
- Protect my instructional time, in fact, promote it. This shows me that you value what I am trying to do in my classroom and that you really do expect learning, exploration, and discovery to happen from bell to bell.
- Create a mission statement that I am involved in and can believe in. Make sure everything we do as a school and that I do as a teacher is tied into those beliefs and ideas. Display it everywhere and on everything. Let it be central to every decision you make and it will be central to every decision I make.
- Model good practice in every meeting and professional development opportunity you provide. As you model this, integrate technology effectively. This will show me that you expect the same and that we are a community of learners.
- Control the clutter. Keep the entire email list to the staff limited. I shouldn’t have to filter my inbox because I know that everything that is sent to me is relevant to my classroom. When it’s important I will know and read all of it, and you can hold me accountable to it.
- Protect our students and me from solicitations that detract from our mission. This will tell me that what happens in this building is not for sale or sponsorship. That what we do here is highly important and unequivocally sacred.
- Be healthy. You are my leader and resource. I need you in school and on your game. Moreover, send that healthy message throughout the school. Invite me to walk around the track with you after school, remove the soda and candy machines or replace them with healthy choices, and create intramural games we can play after school. Ask me how I am feeling and share with me what you are doing to look and feel so great. This will make me healthier and happier knowing I have a support system in school and that you want me here and not using my sick days.
- Acknowledge me. Tell me I am doing a good job when I am doing a good job. Show up in my classroom and ask me what my goals are today. Ask me to show my colleagues my lesson or that resource that you saw me use. Ask me to sit on a committee and tell me why you think I should. Tell me how it will make me grow or send me to a conference and expect me to share when I return. All this will show me that I am valued in this community. That I have contributed to its development and can grow and be stronger in it.