Saturday, September 24, 2016

Amorette Hernandez Third Grade Teacher

I recently began a study about our Desert habitat focusing on the High Desert.  We were studying the Water Cycle and learning about condensation, evaporation, and precipitation.  The class was split into groups and their task was to plan for what their habitat would look like (Desert).  Then, research on their chromebooks using KidRex or Dinosearch animals, plant life, and landforms in the desert.  They were to write one fact next to each plant and animal that described how they survive in the desert as a prey or predator.  Then they needed to place illustrations and places where condensation, precipitation, and evaporation was taking place in their habitat drawing.  They also added how our desert animals survive with minimal water.  We made a gallery walk in the classroom, and took turns with group presentations of their work. We took questions from other groups, and offered to add critiques to each group drawing.  We posted these pictures up in our lower grade pod for back to school night.  Students were able to explain what they did with their parents that evening.  I love when my students teach each other about what they learned! It’s empowering for them and gives me a backseat view to their learning!

Best day ever in the classroom..well, sort of, and broken up by 21 years

Posted on my sometimes-updated blog as well--thanks @jheil65 for reminding to post again.

Michelle and Dustin were in my 12th grade English class in 1995, and they fell in love.  Michelle was a witty and creative soul who had overcome spinal cancer in fourth grade--Dustin was never without a smile on his face, and loved to engage in philosophical discussions that were rather loosely connected to our literature. In other words, they were perfect for each other.  

Soon after prom that year, Michelle missed a few days and Dustin told me that she was having some tests done.  The bad news hit our class like a brick to the skull, and our worst fears were realized as her cancer had come back.

At Michelle’s funeral the next year, Dustin and I embraced for minutes.  We cried, as even now I fight back the tears.  That was the last time I saw Dustin until…

Twenty one years later, I brought by six-year-old daughter to ballet and noticed a man looking at me, then glancing quickly away.  After a few minutes it came to me.  “Dustin?”

Bridget McKenzie, Ballet

We both rose, he much bigger now, a paramedic and firefighter, and me bigger as well, but in a different way that I am less proud of.  We embraced again for longer than the dance moms watching would call a comfortable time.  Tears came again.

He said he still journalled every day because of me, that his own kids--one graduating from high school last spring--would read them and writing was a central part of their days as well.  He said he never forgot our discussions and that he told his kids about my class on a regular basis.  

There were many more questions and answers between us, and we spoke about Michelle who he said will always be a part of him.
She’s a part of me as well.

My best day ever grew out of the worst ever.

Number One

Vanessa Chambers Smith

I taught Junior AP Language and Composition in 2014-2015. One day, a few of my students were chatting in a group about their home lives, and they included me in the conversation. One of them told me that her father makes a list every day of the things and people that make him happy. She said that her placement on the list depended on her behavior, her grades, and any other criteria he felt like using - and that she was usually toward the bottom of his list. He’d say, “Today you are number eight,” or “Nine,” and so on. I thought she was joking, but her friends had been to her house and asserted that this was indeed the case. It just made me angry, that a parent would treat his child this way. I grabbed an index card from a drawer and quickly wrote “1” on one side of it. I gave it to her and said, “I think you are number one.” I would greet her as “Number One” here and there over the course of that semester, and she would smile.

Then I moved schools. She gave me a drawing as a going-away gift (it’s on my wall at my new school), and she added me on Facebook so that she could keep in touch. I forgot about the card until about a month ago, when I received a private message from her:

I didn't realize at the time how much that meant to her, and so it was a good reminder of the effect we can have on students' lives in the moments when we aren't teaching curriculum.

Best Teaching Day Ever?

I haven’t been teaching very long. Perhaps this is why I cannot come up with a “best teaching day ever”. While there are some pretty tough days, many of the days I have are the best ever. It could also be that it’s Saturday morning and I am tired from the week’s endeavors and challenges (and also on allergy medication!) Each day, one student or another makes me smile. Just yesterday, one of my “project students” achieved an 80% on a math quiz. This student was grinning ear to ear! He also turned in his first homework of the year and came in at lunch to get some help. He started the year withdrawn, shy, and just genuinely disengaged. Last week, after about the 20th time I asked him to stay after school for our tutoring program, he finally confided in me why he couldn’t come to tutoring. I understood his challenge. Perhaps this is all he needed?

Best teaching day ever? How can you possibly label one event the best ever? Let’s rename this to “One of the (too many to count) great teaching moments”

A Week of Music

Noreen Gonzalez
One of my favorite teaching days was full of music and history. As a class, we spent a week analyzing music from different eras. Part of the fifth grade curriculum is using and identifying figurative language, so we listened to songs and analyzed the lyrics for metaphors, hyperbole, similes, and the list goes on. Each day we listened to a different song, and we each posted our finding on an interactive bulletin board. My favorite part of the week was discussing the history of musical devices; record players, cd player, mp3 players...etc. It was a good week.    

A great trip to Borneo

Shane Haldeman

I arranged for Google Expeditions to bring their new program out to our site and provided my students with access to their virtual field trips using google cardboard.  I took my biology classes on a guided tour of the Bornean Rainforest.  I led them through the forest where we saw the great buttressed tree roots.  We then visited a mangrove swamp and saw the effects of rising sea levels on coastal regions.

After spending some time exploring, we then discussed the effects of Palm oil production on the planet.  We discussed deforestation as well resource management.

My students left the classroom with the amazing experience of visiting a place they may never get to physically visit.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

For me personally, my best teaching days are the days that I feel that I have made a real difference in my students’ lives. I had one of these days towards the end of last semester. This took place on a day when the students had  just received their yearbooks. During one of my AVID classes, I decided to give my students a few minutes of free time at the end of class to sign each other’s yearbooks. I noticed that one my students did not have a yearbook, I am assuming because she could not afford one. This student had made a makeshift notebook out of writing paper and staples and was having her friends sign it in substitution of a yearbook. I am not sure why, but something about this image broke my heart. I had already sponsored another student’s yearbook cost and could not afford to sponsor another one. Then I had an idea; what if I went to the  craft store and made this student a customized autograph book, something that she could really be proud of. I gave the student the autograph book the next day, and it was the look on her face that I’ll never forget and the reason why I consider this my best teaching day. I think it is telling that my best teaching day has nothing to do with content or lesson planning, rather it has to do with being in-tune with the needs of my students, and how a simple moment of empathy followed by action can make a real difference in someone’s life.

Guide on the Side

Raquel Castellanos

My best day of teaching are the days in which I am not teaching.  I sit back and watched my students explore their own thought and feelings, coming to their own conclusions,  With my 7th graders we read an excerpt from Nelson Mandela’s,  A Long Walk to Freedom..  In the unit of student we discuss apartheid in South Africa and Mandela’s background.  At the end of the unit of study we conclude with a socratic seminar.  The students come to class with 3 opened ended questions about the reading and have a dialogue with each other to pull and make their own meaning from the text.  The best discussions come out of this socratic seminar.  We discuss ideas of civic and familial duty, injustice, social justice, courage, bravery and the power of one..  Annually I am amazed at what 12 and 13 year olds have to say and I want them to be empowered to translate their ideals to actions.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Best Day Ever

Best Day Ever

It all started summer of 2015, 3 days of Google training! I signed up to be a Digital 1:1 classroom. Why? At that time I asked myself that question many times until one fine day…..
The school year started all was well, paper,pencil,markers, glue and PAPER (phew). Then THAT day happened, in walked Mr. Lambert and 22 Chromebooks. It was real I was now a digital 1:1 classroom. The Edtech team handed out Chromebooks, 22 of them, did digital citizenship and left. Now what? I remembered the one most important piece of advice. Take it slow, I decided to to set goals my first goal was to have my students create a Thinglink for an animal project. The date I decided on was March 1, 2016.Perfect!!
October 20, 2015, all of my 22 4th graders were presenting their Thinlink projects to our school administration and Edtech department.


BEST DAY EVAH (yes, I’m from Boston)

C Collin
Simmons College
Boston, MA

I teach in a graduate level social work program at Simmons College in Boston, MA.  My best teaching day ever was in my Assessment and Diagnosis Class this summer, where students learn the inner workings of psychiatric diagnosis.  This course can be a total snooze, but not this day!  

The students role-played diagnostic characteristics in a totally twisted version of charades/pictionary/heads up.  Graduate students acting out word-salad, flight of ideas, catatonia, and paranoid delusions galore - slow clap it out.  The intention of the assignment to teach mental status evaluation and help students internalize the meaning of what otherwise can seem like clinical jargon.

A day in the life....