This week I compared my classroom with the classrooms I had as a kid. I wonder what lies ahead for my students. What kind of technology will they be using 20 years from now? I often feel discouraged when I think about the rapid rate of change in technology. How can I prepare my students when I can’t even keep up? Te@chThoughts had a great article about what skills student will always need. This week I’ve made a conscious effort to focus on those skills and I feel better about preparing my students. I am trying to help others at my school incorporate those skills as well. I have been asked by several teachers this week if I would show them how to do MinecraftEdu.
This week I met with my mentee. I showed her how to setup Minecraft on her computer and I set up the tutorial world for her to practice. The tutorial is a pretty cool tool. This week I learned about Spheros from Ali. I want to get my hands on one of those for my class. My students would love it. This week I also hosted our Twitter session
ESSENTIAL QUESTION: How different is your current classroom from the one in which you learned when you were a student?
This week I had a teacher tell me that they teach better without technology and then they proceeded to justify their comment by saying that a recent study revealed that technology doesn’t raise test scores. I replied that I don’t use technology to raise test scores I use it to prepare students for their life outside of school. The tests she is referring to are based on the industrial education model. These tests aren’t measuring the computational thinking that programing teaches. These tests don’t measure skills in global entrepreneurship or even something simple like imagination. When I think about the conversation in general it is actually ironic; the conversation started because the teacher came to me for help because she unsure how to operate her computer. She is lacking basic computer skills and it is interfering with her ability to do her job but at the same time argues against technology.
Why are schools the only places where people feel that technology is optional. When I go to the hospital I expect it to be a 21st century facility not one stuck in the 20th century. Our classrooms should be 21st century classrooms. I can’t think of a single profession that doesn’t require technology skills on some level. Schools should not be based on Industrial Age thinking. We live in a fundamentally different world. Change is already here. Technologically driven transformations haven taken place in the workplace. I remember walking into my classroom for the first time and feeling like I had gone back in time. There is a disconnect between our schools and workforce. The technology I had used so heavily in real world was missing from the schools. John Jones pointed out “Why must we ask the 21st century to wait outside our classes? Is it just to protect the lecture? We know what a classroom designed around lectures, notes, and quizzes can do, and it is not impressive.” (2015)
When I was a young student my classrooms weren’t much different than many classrooms today. The teacher would deliver knowledge (that experts put together) and the students would be expected to store that knowledge. Growing up my classrooms were based on the industrial-era education which consisted of the factory model of skill development. The curriculum was fragmented into parts and time. There was minimal relationship between the curriculum and real world experiences and performances. Now we find ourselves in the information era but many educators still teach as if they are preparing their students to be factory workers.
How can I as an educators prepare students for jobs that haven’t even been created yet? As a teacher I can create a new culture of learning. This new culture of learning comprises two elements. “The first is a massive information network that provides almost unlimited access and resources to learn about anything. The second is bounded and structured environment that allows for unlimited agency to build and experiment with things within those boundaries” (Thomas & Brown 2011). I strive to create a classroom environment based on skills that every student will need regardless of the job:
Carver, John (johncarver). “If the Army can figure it out, then why can’t Education?” 31 January 2015, 6:17 a.m Tweet.
Jones, John. "Let's Ban Bans in The Classroom." DML.centeral. N.p., 26 Jan. 2015. Web. 05 Feb. 2015. http://dmlcentral.net/blog/john-jones/let%E2%80%99s-ban-bans-classroom.
Nichols, Jennifer Rita. "How To Prepare Students For 21st Century Survival." TeachThought. N.p., 07 Sept. 2015. Web. 18 Sept. 2015. <http://teachthought.com/learning/how-to-prepare-student-for-21st-century-survival/>.
Talbot, Mary. "Quest to Learn Offers Glimpse of Game-Based Schooling." Quest to Learn Offers Glimpse of Game-Based Schooling. The Hechinger Report, 26 Jan. 2015. Web. 05 Feb. 2015. http://www.gamesandlearning.org/2015/01/26/quest-to-learn-offers-glimpse-of-game-based-schooling.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). Chapters 1-2. In A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace
This week I really tried to concentrate on my purpose as a teacher. The reading this week was great reminder that if you focus on your big purpose it will be easier overcome the distractions. Dave Burgess has inspired me to step up my teaching. Two weeks ago I would have laughed at the idea of being a public speaker but Dave Burgess made me realize that I am a public speaker. I want to “Teach Like a Pirate”. I don’t know if I will ever be so out there like Dave Burgess. He is defiantly the type of teacher I wish I had in school and the type I aspire to be. This week I tried several new “hooks”.
This week I also met with the teacher who I will be mentoring. My mentee is a 4th grade teacher who teaches in the same elementary school as I do. She has seen the impact Minecraft has had on my students and teaching and is very interested. She has never played Minecraft but would like to learn how to use it in her classroom. She has some pretty cool ideas about how to incorporate it into her Klondike unit. I can’t wait.
Essential Question: What role does professional satisfaction play in the effectiveness of a classroom?
Before I can I attempt to explain the role professional satisfaction plays in the effectiveness of my classroom I need to define my purpose as an educator. Albert Einstein once said “Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think.” One of the qualities of a successful teacher is a sense of purpose. My purpose as a teacher is simple, to create the spark for further knowledge. Like the famous quote, “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire” (author unknown). Every fire needs 3 things: heat (ignition), fuel, and oxygen. Curiosity and creativity is the heat (ignition). Belief in oneself and the desire to grow is the fuel. Engagement is the oxygen. Like the fire triangle, each of these elements are dependent on each other.
I don’t know any teachers that teaches for the money, notoriety, or fame. The teachers I know teach because they care. There are many distractions in education that can cause a teacher to lose sight of their purpose. A teacher without a purpose is at risk. Just look at the recent national teacher shortage sweeping our nation. NPR’s article “Where Have All the Teachers Gone” states that there is a huge decline in the number of students entering teacher programs in the last 5 years. Some of the reasons included in the article are “ongoing, ideological fisticuffs over the Common Core State Standards, high-stakes testing and efforts to link test results to teacher evaluations. Throw in the erosion of tenure protections and a variety of recession-induced budget cuts, and you've got the makings of a crisis” (Westervelt 2015). The article also points out that “teachers are too often turned into scapegoats by politicians, policymakers, foundations and the media” (Westervelt, 2015). These factors and many more lead to low-moral and high stress. “Teachers with a sense of purpose that are able to see the big picture can ride above the hard and boring days because their eye is on something further down the road” (DuNeen, 2013).
My professional satisfaction plays a major role in the effectiveness of my classroom. I want my students to leave my room being a successful reader, mathematician, scientist, etc. and I am going to do everything in my power to get them there. If something isn't working I am going to try something new. If a student isn’t performing at grade level but has a love for learning I am going to feel a higher degree of satisfaction than when I have a student performing on grade level but lacks the desire to learn.
If I keep my purpose in mind I can find the strength to weigh through the distractions of education to reach what really matters, the student. Author David Burgess said “Stay fluid, keep learning, and keep up the relentless search for what is most effective” (2013, loc. 2049). This year I am implementing Maker Movement principles in my classroom. My students are excited. Their creativity and curiosity are bubbling over and driving their learning. Based on my purpose, I can feel good about the direction my teaching is going. Of course things don’t always work the way I plan but one thing is for sure, I learn from everything I try.
Burgess, D. (2012). Teach like a Pirate: Increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an educator (p. 2049). San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting.
DuNeen, J. (2013, January 28). 30 Habits Of Highly Effective Teachers. Retrieved September 10, 2015, from http://www.teachthought.com/teaching/25-things-successful-teachers-do-differently/
Westervelt, E. (2015, March 3). Where Have All The Teachers Gone? Retrieved September 7, 2015, from http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/08/19/432724094/teacher-shortage-or-teacher-pipeline-problem
I am really enjoying the text for our course, “Teach Like a Pirate”. As I read through the section containing the hooks for engagement I found myself saying things like “that’s a great idea”, “can’t believe I didn’t think of doing that”, “I need to remember that”, etc. Of course my introvert personality said “I can’t do that” to a couple hooks but like Dave Burgess said “Get over it”. I am not sure how many hooks Dave Burgess included in his book but there were a lot in there. As I was reading I soon realized I need a cheat sheet or reference list of all the hooks. I was going to go through part II and type them out but then I remember the power of the Internet and I thought I should check online first and sure enough the internet is full of “Teach Like a Pirate” resources for teachers. Pinterest and TeachersPayTeachers both have hook reference sheets that are great for keeping near your planning book. As I was reading I also realized that primary teachers like myself typically already build in hooks with our lessons. We have to; our students have short attention spans.
This week I also started thinking about my mentoring project. I am a tech mentor at my school. I help teachers with interactive whiteboards. I also have the added duty of teaching my building how to use our new learner management system “Schoology”. It would make sense to choose one of those but I decided to focus on showing someone how to incorporate MinecraftEdu into their classroom. It’s something I can put P.I.R.A.T.E into practice with. All this talk about mentorship has me wishing I could have a mentor to help me incorporate programing and coding into my classroom.
Essential Question: How do we keep our lessons engaging? Does Innovation play a part in it?
Teachers can increase engagement by making learning irresistible. It’s about engaging students by tapping into their interests and making learning and work enjoyable. Author Dave Burgess writes that there are 3 critical elements of an engaging lesson: presentation, content and method/technique (Burgess, 2012). Educators can apply innovation and brain-based education practices to these 3 elements to increase engagement.
Brain-based education is based on the neuroscience behind active engagement of both practical strategies and behavioral principles. Brain-based learning involves learning about the brain and how it functions to find the best learning strategies. (Jensen, 2012)
Engaging lessons recognize that students are constructionists and should be active participants in their learning. Learning is interactive and builds upon prior knowledge. Engaging lessons increase the range of experiences available to students. Engaged learning also involves timely feedback. Teachers often have to mix things up to keep students engaged.
Achievement is driven by interest. Engaging lessons allow students to find and explore things that they are drawn to. Teachers can get students to invest with real passion and real curiosity. By tapping into interests, teachers can maximize multiple intelligences and student learning. An engaged classroom is a place where both students and teachers learn, invent, explore, teach, collaborate, and share. Engaging lessons build on students’ intrinsic motivations.
Engaging lessons take into consideration students' attention spans. A traditional lecture is typically less engaging and therefore less effective then immersion into the content. Another way to increase engagement (and is brain-based) is to incorporate movement into learning. Brain-based learning is all about active learning. To increase engagement teachers can build in emotional influence such as risk, excitement, urgency and pleasure.
Dave Burges, points out that teachers need to “create a safe and supportive kind of environment in which creativity, learning and fun can coexist and flourish”. (Burgess, 2012) Before any lesson can be engaging students need to feel safe. As Concordia University points out “brain-based education is about eliminating barriers and allowing the mind to work without distractions” ("Bringing Brain-Based Learning Theories into the Classroom," n.d.). Outside factors such as poverty, nutrition, hormones, sleep, etc. can all affect engagement and the brains ability to learn. Often outside factors are outside the control of the teacher but the teacher can increase engagement by creating an environment that embodies respect, embeds social skills and empowers the learner.
Innovation most defiantly plays a role in engagement. Our students live in a world that looks very different from the world we grew up in. Our students challenge us to be innovative and to make education stimulating, challenging and rewarding. We can’t leave the 21st century outside the classroom. We need to build upon the technology strengths of the generation. We have a responsibility to our students to prepare them for the world they will grow up in. To be successful our students need to be innovators.
Sustaining innovation and engagement is not an easy task. It takes planning and energy. The book Hacking Education shares a quote from Michael Jordan, basketball player and entrepreneur “If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it” (Barnes & Gonzalez, 2015). Keeping our lessons engaging and innovative can at times feel like a marathon of never ending walls. Those are walls that I will gladly tackle if it means that it will help my students get closer to their finish line.
Barnes, M., & Gonzalez, J. (2015). Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes for Every School (Hack Learning Series). Cleveland, OH: Times 10 Publication.
Bringing Brain-Based Learning Theories into the Classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/reference-material/bringing-brain-based-learning-theories-into-the-classroom/
Burgess, D. (2012). Teach like a Pirate: Increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an educator. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting.
Jensen, E. (2012, February 14). Understanding Brain-Based Learning. Retrieved September 3, 2015, from http://www.jensenlearning.com/news/what-is-brain-based-teaching/brain-based-teaching
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.