Monday, August 22, 2011

Talking the Talk

Today is the first day back at school! What an exciting time for everyone involved with a school district; teachers entering refreshed and renewed after summer vacation, and students entering the school a year older, with new school supplies (one of my favorite things!), and new teachers. Every year I feel it is the job of the administrators to get everyone excited about coming back to school and giving it their all for another 180 days. This year our district had guest speaker, Brent Matthias @BrentMatthais come to talk with us about the upcoming year. This short speech really got me thinking and excited about the school year that is upon us. The following are a few important points that I will take away from Brent's speech. 
  • TEAM - Being part of a team is a much better way to get things accomplished. There is no way I can do what I do without those around me for support. I would also like to feel that I'm a valuable asset to that team as well. Also, when working as a TEAM no one person should receive all of the credit. Give credit where credit is due. 
  • MAKE A DIFFERENCE - As Dr. Fiene talked today he discussed each person who works in a school will make a difference in a child's life. You are to ask yourself what kind of difference will that be. Brent added on to this by reminding us that we spend more time with the children in our classes than their own parents. We need to take that responsibly seriously and make a POSITIVE difference.
  • BE GENEROUS - We heard two stories of Brent's generosity in the short time he was with us. He looks pretty successful. I know that I may not always be able to be generous with my money, but I know each day I can be generous with my time and talent. Not only will I reap the benefits, but so will the children that I work with
  • BE HAPPY - What more is there to say? If you can't say at the end of the day that the work you do and the people you surround yourself make you happy, than there is something wrong with your picture.
Now back to the title of this post, "Talking the Talk". Typically when hearing this saying it is followed up by, "and walking the walk". I did hear a lot of talk today and now I have to continually challenge myself and those that are part of my team to now "walk the walk."

What does "walking that walk" look like? In my mind that means putting the children at the forefront of any decision making process and continuing to know that they are the business we are in. My job today as it is for the next 180 days of this school year is to challenge my students and make that positive difference in their life. Follow my journey this year and please continue to encourage me as I attempt to, "walk the walk" and not just "talk the talk". And if I'm able to accomplish this I know that I will BE HAPPY!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Small Town Pride

On Saturday, April 9th our small Iowa communities were hit by 4 tornadoes. After spending some time in the basement praying I came to the surface to see my home was fine. As the reports started to come in I have been overwhelmed by the feeling of SO BLESSED. We had some wind damage and lost our old windmill, but other than about an hour without power my home was intact and my family was safe. However, others just miles away were not so lucky. Many have been completely devastated. With so much to be cleaned up our school decided to join the effort to help the farmers clean up.

On Wednesday more than 1100 students, teachers and other volunteers joined the effort to help with the clean up. At noon those volunteers headed to the Nemaha Fire Station to join in some food and fellowship. It was amazing to hear the stories from the students over lunch of what they have found. I heard from many of the families about how amazing it was to see busloads of kids cleaning up the fields and farms. Many stating that they couldn't have planted the fields until it was picked up. We all knew that it couldn't have been done without a HUGE effort. It's true what they say, many hands make for light work. We had such a great day that we were able to pick up more acres than they had set out to help with. What a great service learning project for these students. All day today the students couldn't help but talk about all of the farmers that they worked with and the things that they had found. I'm so proud of each of them! I'm full of PRIDE tonight to be from such a great community who really knows what it means to come together to help out!

What Would You Miss Most...continued

Here are few other students' ideas about what they would miss most if they could not read or write. All of these students were trying to create something that could be used with young readers to encourage them to read. They would love to have you share them with others!

Bugs Bunny explains the importance of reading 

One student's Powerpoint slide about the importance of learning to read.

Some students felt making a Storybird would be the best way to spread the message. 

Ally also chose to do a Powerpoint.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Asking for Help!

I currently work with at-risk Middle School students who have failed courses. I am looking for ways to improve this program and bring it into the 21st century. I would like to throw out the worksheets and have the students working on tasks that matter to them. Does anyone have any ideas on how I can have these students recover a semester of a core subject, with limited time and while helping them understand the "Why"? Any suggestions would be helpful at this point! Please help!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

What Would You Miss Most If You Could Not Read or Write?

After reading Angela Maier's Assignment for World Read Aloud Day, I took this question into my classroom and asked some of my students what their thoughts were. I was amazed with the discussion we had. The students that I've heard tell me, "This is dumb" and ask "Why do I have to do this?" all year really came up with some GENIUS thoughts and discussion. For most of the discussions the students came to the understanding that they are lucky because they have the opportunity to have an education.

After the discussion I challenged the students to spread their knowledge to others. There assignment was to get others excited about reading. Here is one student's thoughts on reading. Look for more to come. 

World Read Aloud Day...a few weeks late!

I have been encouraging my students to show their GENIUS lately by CONTRIBUTING to others. For most of my Middle School students they were very apprehensive at first. For most of them, I feel that it's the fear of what they are contributing won't make a difference or won't be to the quality that the WORLD is DEMANDING. I encouraged them to share any way. Today's post is full of students reading aloud for the world to see. This was a little scary for some of the students, especially when I got out the video tape. Please show your support for these young readers and their CONTRIBUTION to World Read Aloud Day.

Each student had the opportunity to choose a short portion of the story to read aloud to others. Here is a few of the student's choices.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hitting the Wall

Today I hit the WALL in my classroom. Nothing that I had planned for today seemed to go the way I expected it. However, just when I left the MS on a very low note and enter the HS I ran into one of my former students. When she left my room I was excited to see about the potential that she had. She greeted me with a hug and let me know she was getting all A's! This helped remind me that the work I am doing is making a difference. Maybe not everyday (like today) but all of the hard work is worth it! I'm looking forward to jumping over the wall and be off and running tomorrow. I'm not really sure yet, how, but I'm sure it will happen!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Asking Why

As I sit here trying to make lesson plans for another week (that I wanted to have completed before leaving school Friday) I think back to the work that I've been doing and keep asking myself "WHY?" I feel that many times the lessons that are done in a classroom, including my own forget that question. I now know that changing something that seems so insignificant can make a huge impact, so now this is my step two; remember the "why" of my lesson.
When I go into my classroom this week I know that sitting in front of me are 21st century learners. I know that what I am preparing them for might not even be developed yet. I do know however that if I can teach them to become learners that they will be successful in anything that they encounter. So do you suppose if I hand in my lesson plans with "Create learners by asking 'Why'" my principal will understand what I'm going to be doing all week?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Change of Language

Today I've experimented with using some different language. I have started calling my students readers and writers and learners. I have known that the language that I use with my students is so very important and today using these labels really worked for me. I have a student who is working with me to recover most of his 7th grade year. This is a student who has really struggled in all aspects of school including with me. Today was no exception. After having a really rough day together, I decided I needed to try something different. We discussed the learning that I had done the week before. I told this student that I learned that ALL students are genius. After a little more discussion the student grabbed a post it note and made this sign.

Not only did he just make the sign, but he showed me his genius the whole period! He worked so hard and I was so proud of him. At the end of the day he took off his sign and said, "I'll leave this here so I can save my genius for tomorrow". All from a difference in language!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Digital Literacy

I have sat down at my computer many times since I left the three day workshop by Angela Maiers to do some reflecting on the whole experience and I still can't seem to get it out of my head in an organized fashion. I know how amazing of an experience this was for me and all I want to do it shout about it and tell everyone. This experience reminds me of the times when I went away to be a camp councilor at a summer camp. I had the time of my life and then I came back to reality. I didn't know how to tell everyone about the experience I had, because they didn't get to experience it with me. I know that my friends soon started making fun of me for telling them all of my "camp stories", but it really was just that amazing!
In comparison, I feel that is part of my job to come back and tell everyone about my stories. It is my job to pass along what I've learned. It is so important for all of the other teachers around me to hear this message. But I'm left wondering, how can I put those three terrific days into one message and how am I going to get it across.
The message that I hope to spread is, "You are Genius and the world demands your contribution".
I am still not sure how I'm going to spread the word, but this is my start. I look forward to learning more through this journey and always remembering each child in my presents is genius and they need to be contributing to the world!