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Showing posts from May, 2011

What Makes A Good Teacher?

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I had a great #edchat on how we can change the negative perception on education. and @MisterEason started talking about how to determine the definition of a "good" teacher, which got me thinking... What makes a good teacher? I am sure there are many more attributes, but these are the top three that I thought of.

A good teacher is someone who makes connections with students, administrators and community members.
Building relationships is very important in education. So many times teachers don't value the connections they have with their own students. These connections do not always come easily and teachers need to work on them constantly throughout the year. The connections teachers make with each other and with administrators is also important. Good teachers become leaders and help those around them for the benefit of the students. In today's world, it is more important than ever to build connections between your school and the community. I have seen first-han…

Who Really Fails When You Give Out an F?

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Talking about grading can lead to heated debate. I have been in many of these conversations and I know that people have their own opinions. If you have been reading my blog, you would know that I am going toward Standards Based Grading. Here are my current thoughts on grading.

'Tis the season of grading! As the year wraps up, grades are what determines who gets to partake in end of the year activities. This made me reflect on grades and the whole practice of grading. Don't get me wrong, I think grades are okay when they really mean something - when they help a student really understand where they are and how they can grow.

So here is my question: Who really fails when you give out an F? I have some students who are not failing, but they are doing worse then I think they are capable of. Some people might think that the student is just lazy, but not me. I read a book awhile back called The Myth of Laziness by Mel Levine, and it made me look at the idea of laziness in a whole new…

A Letter to New Teachers

In the last few weeks I have noticed that there have been many educators walking the halls of my school waiting for their interview. This scene makes me remember what I was like five years ago when I was in their shoes. It inspired me to write this letter.

Dear Me Five Years Ago,

I know you are feeling excited to finally be done with college and be out into the "real world". I also remember you feeling scared out of your mind about the "real world". I know you were ready to start your back-up plan, but I'm sure dental school would not have been that much fun anyway. Remember it is not about the paycheck. Be sure to use all of that passion you have for teaching everyday. Your passion is what gets you a job and what has been keeping you excited to go to work. Don't take your passion for granted. Don't be so worried about how you seem to your co-workers. Trust your gut and always do what you know is right for kids. Don't feel like you have to resort to…

1:1 No Fear

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Remember those t-shirts from the 90's with all the cliche phrases? I work in a 1:1 Laptop middle school. Some teachers might be hesitant about learning how to use this tool to enhance learning... I am NOT one of them.

My U.S. History students watched part of the Ken Burns documentary on the Civil War and were challenged to make their own documentary on what they thought was the most important event in the Civil War. The students were able to work in groups and could use any form of technology that they wanted to. I couldn't believe the different types of products that they made. I had a student do a whole documentary on one power point slide. I didn't even know that you could have pictures move from side to side and add different text on each picture all within one slide. I also had students use Vimeo, PhotoStory, and Movie Maker. In these projects, some students did interviews, battle reenactments, and even a satire with Charlie Sheen vs. Chuck Norris. I was very pleased …

My First EdCamp Experience

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Yesterday I was able to attend my first unconference at EdCamp Chicago. Here is what I took away from that experience.

I have to begin by telling you about my Twitter history. I have been using twitter on a consistent basis for about three months now. I had my twitter account made two years ago, but I didn't really understand how to use it effectively for my professional development. It wasn't until I took a PLN grad class (taught by @pughamy) and I learned about hashtags and twitter chats. These tools came at just the right time. I work in a pretty progressive school district, but I have been operating in my own little bubble this year (I gave up my prep and team time to take on a PBL facilitator role along with teaching my traditional social studies classes). I was starting to feel my passion dimming; stuck under pressure from standardized testing, starting this PBL environment, and parents trying to understand taking away grades. Participating in these chats and growing my …

What am I doing to further PD in my own school?

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This is my 5th year of teaching and I am finally starting to not feel like a "newbie". I have grown more in this past year than any other and a lot of that growth has stemmed from my 30 Day Blog Challenge. It really helped me reflect and re-focus what I am passionate about, while reaching out to others for feedback and support. This post is going to be all about the comment I received on my Day 26 post on professional development.

On Day 26 of my 30 Day Blog Challenge I talked about how I use twitter to develop my PLN and how many ideas I get from my PLN. Then I had @davidwees leave me a comment that read:

"One question I have is, how do you share your professional learning with your local in-school network?"

I am very at ease with students, but I have a weakness for being in front of peers. I know I have great ideas and I have a passion for learning and teaching, but I am afraid of getting negative reactions to trying to help my local in-school network with their…

How I Describe My Passion

Today I thought of something that I would like to share in case there are other educators who feel the same way I do.

How I Describe My Passion

They whisper that I will burn-out if I continue at the pace I am going.
They say that they have seen this all happen before.
They look at me with those sad eyes when they realize how tired I am.

I say that I am driven.
I showcase my love for learning and students everyday.
I sprint through the marathon because I know that I only have a short time with these students and they deverve the best from me.

I know I get tired and sometimes I let it show.
I know I get to the point where I question if it is all worth it.
I know I will make mistakes along the way.

I know I will get my energy back.
I know I will see my students grow and realize that it is all worth it.
I know I will learn from each mistake, brush myself off, and keep doing what I am doing.