Showing posts from 2017

My Blogging Plans

Below are my plans for blogging over the next two months. The bright blue indicates when posts will be published while the brigth yellow indicates important dates.

Reading-For-Fun as a Teacher

Even though reading is my favorite pastime, it falls by the wayside when school is in full swing. That's not to say that I'm not reading, but by the time I finish reading all the blog posts, assignments, essays I'm too exhausted to read-for-fun when I'm home.  Since reading is a stress reliever for me, I've tried to incorporate more reading into my every day life and the best way, for me, has been through Audible. Initially, I was against listening to books since 'that is something old people do' but now I'm hooked.  I look forward to my commute. I've always loved having time before and after work to decompress and reflect, but sometimes it can get a little boring. I've even found I'm more alert and awake instead of getting lost in my thoughts. It keeps me engaged. As a teacher, its so important to stay relevant and connected to the world around you. It helps me remain 'human' and also helps me connect with my students even when I…

THRIVE Everyday Every Day

While many people believe that the best educators earn respect with grand gestures, Aaron Hogan disproves this final myth in the sixth chapter of Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth. He insists respect and rapport from students is gained through everyday interactions and gives simple ideas to implement every day.

Its so simple. You don't have to do anything crazy, invest a ton of money, or take away from family time. You just need to do a few tiny things every day that show students that you care. As someone who is not the insanely outgoing and goofy teacher who has no fear, I appreciate that the 'little' things matter. I always try to be proud of my reserved manner and find beauty in it, but I still find myself beating myself up for not being the crazy, energetic that the myth requires.

My three thing I plan to add into my every day schedule:

Greeting students at the door - Hogan discussed how a daily routine or question will help you notice irregularities. A greeting is a…

Teaching in the Classroom v. PD Session

Without a doubt, I am a project-based teacher. I have set aside the "sage on the stage" mentality and have embraced my role as one that guides and facilitates learning for my students. If you walk into my classroom, chances are you will find me on the side, monitoring students, answering questions, or providing assistance where needed.

But during my professional development sessions, I'm back in front of the 'class', with the learning and focus back on me. I know that its true; after sessions I would be exhausted from all the talking and would walk away wondering if the attendees got anything from my presentations. While the official feedback from the attendees were mostly positive, my worries were confirmed with the constructive feedback that I needed to make it more hands-on.

#perfectionistsworstnightmare #imtheworst #whyme
Then I realized: I have *mostly* embraced failure in my classroom, but not in my professional development sessions. #fail

August rolled arou…

"Things Students with Anxiety Wish Their Teachers Understood"

I came across this video the other day on Facebook and I found it to be very thought provoking, especially with the increase of anxiety among students. Even though I also suffer from anxiety, many of these confessions are ones that I have not experienced. This video was a very powerful reminder that everyone's thoughts and emotions, including anxiety, manifest differently for everyone:

Flashback to #edchat Podcast

Three years ago, I had the honor to be featured on #edchat radio following an #edchat about authentic learning in Common Core. Below is the audio from the podcast:

Do you believe authentic learning can occur within the common core?

THRIVE by Valuing Vulnerability

For me, my favorite chapter of Aaron Hogan's Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth was Chapter 5: Valuing Vulnerability. He focuses on destroying the myth that the best teachers have all the answers, which is definitely one that I battle with every day. In fact, if you look back to the first time I did a project-based unit I struggled with my role changing from a 'sage on the stage' to a 'guide on the side':

"By the end of the project, I was surprised at how much they were getting out of the project that didn’t involve me directly teaching. As self-centered as that sounds, its true. I grew up with teachers that stood up and directly explained worried me that maybe the students didn’t learn anything from the research, but I know from their passionate conversations, presentations, and eagerness to complete the project that they did get something meaningful out of it. (Original Post)"
As I read through the chapter, I couldn't help but refle…

Are You Defined By Your Generation?

Recently, I made a shocking discovery: I am considered a Millennial.

Yes. I'm part of that generation that is the current bane of everyone's existence as shown below:

Ok, I definitely laughed at a few of those and even made me think of my sister, who is also a Millennial. But I also kept thinking that I'm not that person. I don't think everyone deserves a medal. I struggle to decode slang. I moved out at 18 years old. And so on. 
These thoughts were pushed even further into my mind by my EDTECH 537 course, where we've been reading about generational differences in regards to technology. The articles raised two major questions: whether or not generalizations about different generations are accurate AND whether or not these differences influences the way people approach technology. 
For me, I agree with Professor Reeves who stated that, "It is definitely not recommended to make assumptions about any one individual, regardless of gender or other factors, based up…

Embracing Failure: A Guest Post

The following post is written by Benjamin Regonini, my boyfriend and most recent hire to the Minarets Social Science Department. After working for two and half years at a middle school, he joined the Minarets family in the middle of January. This is his debut as a blogger and below are his reflections of his first semester at Minarets:

Failure is something that is not often praised in today’s society, let alone the classroom. Yet, failure is essential in the learning process not just for students but for educators, students, businesses and even parenting. I was a middle school social science and AVID teacher for the past three years and I learned a lot about how to deal with and teach the maniacal and hormonal amalgamations that middle schoolers are. Half way through this past year, I applied for and was offered the position as a social science teacher at a high school. With much deliberation, as the middle school I was at was my first full time teaching position, I decided to accept t…

THRIVE by Imagining It Better

The fourth myth busted by Aaron Hogan in Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth is that perfect teachers excel by meeting existing expectations. He challenges you to dream and rethink long-held ideas.

Every year I like to reconsider how I can design and organize my classroom. Last year, I mostly focused on tying everything in the classroom together with a clean, finished look. I got rid of a lot of the clutter and focused on simplifying the overall design. 
For whatever reason, my focus this year is the lighting in the classroom this year. My classroom is notoriously dark; most of the fluorescent lights are off with maybe one off on the side. I keep the blinds shut because of the glare it causes for the project as well as the screens of students nearby. Fun fact: never realized that darker lighting means students can dim their screens and save their battery power.So many times, it ends up being much darker than I really want, but I would rather have it darker. 
Below I compiled the vario…

The Importance of Differentiation

One of the best decisions that my boyfriend and I have made was adopting our two dogs Of course, we would have gotten dogs much sooner if our previous apartment leases allowed it, but it worked out since we wouldn't have gotten our beloved maltipoos, Leeroy Jenkins and Pacha.

If you have ever had dogs or any animal, you know that every one has a unique and different personality. For example, Leeroy is the goofy and inquisitive older brother who has immense focus and moose-like characteristics (we were told he would be at most ten pounds and currently he is pushing 25). Pacha, on the other hand, is cuddly and sweet little brother who is really the mastermind behind most crimes committed in the apartment. 
I never expected that I would have to use teaching strategies and techniques with my dogs. Of course there are the classic ones, like clear and consistent expectations, rewards and consequences, equity, patience, trial and error, and repetition of tasks. But the one that I really …

THRIVE by Rejecting Isolation

When I was little, my dream job was a meteorologist. I envisioned myself being a weather-girl/storm chaser that studied all the crazy weather phenomenon, mostly inspired by the movie Twister. My vision was set until my sister attended a college fair and got information for me about becoming a meteorologist. I realized that studying weather was more science and technical focused and less social and relationships. As a person who thrives on social interactions, I realized that maybe meteorology wasn't for me. While nerding out to my mom about something I learned in AP Biology, she suggested that I become a teacher; I enjoyed learning and talking with people about what I learned. Long story short: I became a teacher and it was the best decision for me.

This is why the third chapter in Aaron Hogan's Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth struck such a chord with me: teaching is inherently social. It is so easy to isolate yourself as a teacher, but that isolation can cause you to con…

THRIVE by Hooking Your Students

The teacher myth buster, aka Aaron Hogan, continues on in Chapter 2 by busting the myth that the best teachers effortlessly earn compliance from their students.

Unlike the "no behavior problem" myth, this was one that I believed as a new teacher, but I no longer believe. Before any teaching experience, I envied teachers that seemed to quickly build strong and positive relationships with students. Eventually, I learned that student rapport is like any other relationship; it takes time and effort to build a positive relationship.

Hogan's recommendation to thrive is to hook your students throughout the entire year and I appreciated that his solution wasn't do-this-and-your-classroom-will-be-instantly-awesome. He encourages you to reflect and "take time to identify those core values that will set the right tone for your school year." He also suggests redesigning one aspect of your classroom and reflecting on it every few weeks.

At the Model Schools Conference i…

Classroom of the Future

Classroom of the Future. A simple Google search comes up with so many options and ideas that its incredibly overwhelming. With so many options, its hard to decide or even determine what would be best. Flexible seating? HD Screens? Voice Projection? Furniture? Coffee Shops?

The reason I bring this up is because an exciting opportunity has come up about possibly redesigning my classroom, specifically the technology. Of course, I have a million ideas when I'm brainstorming, but now my brain is drawing a blank. So I need your help! What would your ideal, classroom of the future have?

As a reference, my classroom has a standard projector with Apple TV. My classroom is completely 1:1 with Macbook Airs and all the tables are also whiteboards. Below are pictures of my classroom from this last school year and here is a link of a 360 of my classroom.

Tips for Project-Based Learning

Its time to start gearing up for the upcoming school year; I mean Target already has their back-to-school section set-up so I guess its official. A new year means the opportunity to try and experiment with new things and maybe project-based learning is something you are considering. With my experience at a project-based school and various courses focused on PBL, here are five tips based on my own trials and errors.

Before we get started, here is a review of project-based learning:

Project-based learning is when studentsactivelyexplore real-world problems/challenges to acquire a deeper understanding. Teachers act as facilitators and guide students through the project process. Its not a project thrown at the end of unit where students all make similar products from information provided by the teacherFor more information:Buck Institute of EducationEdutopia's PBL PageTeaching Channel's PBL Page

MAKE IT AUTHENTIC. Projects should be as realistic and authentic as powerful. Whether its…

Preparing to Teach September 11th

As a history person, I guess its natural that I love documentaries and all these streaming services provide me with endless access to documentaries. Recently, 9/11- Fifteen Years Later showed up on my Hulu list and, of course, I watched it.

It was definitely a thought-provoking documentary and it got me thinking about how I'm going to teach September 11th next year. If you remember, it was last year that I realized I needed to change the way I teach 9/11
I've started to do some research about news ways to teach the event and I compiled some of the best ideas or collections that I found onto an Outliner on Diigo that can be found here.

How do you plan on teaching September 11th this year?

THRIVE by Teaching Expectations

Adam Hogan wastes no time in Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth. The first myth that he busts is one that I have definitely believed: perfect teachers never have behavior problems from their students.

Ok, logically, yes, I know that this can't be true. Even my role model colleagues have had kids act up  and my 'best' classes have left me exhausted and frustrated at the end of the day. But belief in a myth doesn't have be logical. What teacher wouldn't want to have to worry about behavior problems?
Yet, Hogan discusses how behavior problems do happen, no matter our level of experience. In order to thrive as a teacher we need to adjust our response to misbehavior; instead of assuming that students know how to act and behavior, we need to teach behavior expectations. We never give students the same type of grace when they make a behavior mistake than when they make an academic mistake.

This notion is not a new concept to me, especially since I am on the leadership te…

THRIVE(ing) as an Imperfect Teacher

During the school year, one thing that goes by the wayside is reading for fun. I love to read but its not always compatible with my exhaustion and lack of free time so my summers include a decent amount of reading. One book I chose was Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth by Aaron Hogan. Besides seeing my Twitter PLN raving about it, it also falls in line with the whole purpose of my blog; embracing all imperfections and failures that occur.

Despite the advice at the beginning of the book, I read through it in one sitting. But I didn't have a choice; it was so incredibly relatable and intriguing. Aaron Hogan brings up so many truths that go against go against every myth that I have been guilty of believing and he offers numerous ideas and suggestions to embed these truths into your mindset and classroom. But because I ignored Hogan's advice to read through the book at a methodical pace, I most likely missed out on some deeper knowledge.

So I've decided to take up his blogg…

From Quick Writes to Blog Posts

Routine is everything in the classroom. It gives structure to students who may not have much of a structure at home and alleviates anxiety since students know what to expect.

When I first started teaching, I would welcome everyone to the classroom, go over announcements, and then we would complete the Quick Write for the day. I created a nifty little template for students to complete and submit at the end of each week. Typically it would be a prompt that would either review the previous day's lesson or introduce the day's lesson.
The Pros: It was a great routine for the students that allowed them reflect, discuss, and engage for the period. 
The Cons: The audience consisted of me and maybe a TA so grammar, proof-reading, and full explanations were not a priority for students. The paper was frequently lost, which required students to either start over or receive a zero. As the school year progressed, it felt almost impossible to keep up with all the grading so feedback became l…

Blogging Hiatus

Last September, I reflected on my goals and feelings about my school year school. With a focus on creating more authentic project-based lessons, my Google Innovator project, and my work towards my Master's degree in Educational Technology, my fourth year of teaching did end up being epic with lots of unexpected surprises. 
The biggest surprise of all was one of my friends and department mates was offered an incredible job opportunity, which he took at the semester. With this unexpected change, we gained a new teacher, class schedules were rearranged (I ended up teaching AP Euro for a semester), unofficial mentorships occurred, and somehow a student teacher was added in. All in all, Minarets and the social science department made this seemingly negative event a positive. 
This is why my last blog post was in February. I wanted to stay online and be as plugged in as possible this school year, but the craziness of the year got the better of me. But I'm back and prepared to not fal…

Down with the Sickness 2.0

One of my favorite projects is Down with the Sickness, where students research the effects that disease have on both past and present societies. I still consider it as my top project of the 2015/2016 school year, which I described in a previous post. With a year of experience, I was able to streamline the project and improve student engagement as shown by the end of the semester survey:

"I really liked the medical aspect of our history class because it wasn't a typical kind of study for a history class. I had never done anything like it before and it was a lot of fun." 
"I enjoyed researching different disease and learning more in depth about how the CDC and the WHO deal with these situations. Creating an infographic was fun because I prefer to show people what I've learned through graphics/art."
I liked creating the infographics and I really enjoyed learning about different diseases and the bad effects and how to prevent myself from getting them. Learning …

Minarets Mustangs' Community Day

When I was hired at Minarets High School, I was asked to establish and teach the Minarets Cs class, a freshmen introduction course to help the 9th graders adjust to life at Minarets. Naturally, we always have a discussion  about the Minarets Cs, the learning objectives for students which include the 21st century skills as well as a vital addition: Community. During our discussion last year, we talked about which of the Cs were most common on campus and least common; creativity was the most common while community was the least common.

This lack of community involvement was not only recognized by the students, but our staff as well. As a result, the staff members at Minarets High School decided to do something innovative and dedicate the last day of the fall semester to the community, appropriately named Community Day.

Rather than submitting final projects or having a movie day, every student was engaged in a community project, whether it was making gift tags and cards for kids and thei…