Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Amanda Chamberlain Oakview Elementary

Adult, Education - Free images on PixabayMy Best Day of Teaching happened to be during the 2016-2017 school year. I had a student arrive to my classroom from Mexico. He didn’t have any knowledge of the English language. Thankfully, I had taken 7 years of Spanish throughout Middle and High School. Even though it had been a few years since I had spoken Spanish, I was thankful that I had a base knowledge and it came back fairly quickly. Throughout the year, I saw him grow tremendously.  The best day was when he brought in some money from Mexico. He stood in front of the entire class and spoke IN ENGLISH to our class about money from Mexico. I have never been more proud as a teacher. By the end of second grade, he was reading on a 1st grade reading level.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Katie Alvarez: Increasing Global Awareness through Mystery Skypes/Hangouts

My best day from the class from this past year was watching my 4th graders participate in Mystery Skypes/Hangouts.  My goal was to promote global awareness.  The concept of Mystery Hangouts and Mystery Skypes has been around for a few years, so I am a bit sad that I am just jumping into the trend this year.  The good news is: I did take the plunge and it has been a great swim.  I can't wait to do plan more for next year.  The greater thing, my kids loved loved loved it.  Before I go any further on why this was my best day and what my students learned I will briefly explain how Mystery Skypes/Hangouts work...

What is Mystery Skype/Mystery Hangouts?
Mystery Skype is an education game, invented by teachers, played by two classrooms on Skype.The aim of the game is to guess the location of the other classroom by asking each other questions.  The aim of the game is to guess the location of the other classroom by asking each other questions." (Mr. Kemp, check out this blog post at the link below for more information if you are interested in this activity).

Why this was my best day and How I saw my student grow...
1.   Global awareness increased.  They loved the end times where they could ask the other class questions about what's it is like to live in their location.
2.    They learned how to read an atlas and became aware of famous landmarks that may not have learned about in my current curricula.
3.      Deduction and questioning skills increased in positive ways.  Students wanted to make sure that they asked the best questions that helped them narrow down the mystery location most.  
4.      Engagement was high and students were excited about learning.   Gamification at its finest
5.      Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary was being used in running speech and writing.   That's a biggie!
6.      By answering the questions of the other class they became aware of their own state, county and town.  I was surprised by what they did not know regarding where they lived.

Student Council is the Gift that Keeps can fill in the blank

Amanda McAdams
Director of Elementary Education and K-12 Literacy at Lincoln County School District #2

During my 12 years as a high school student council advisor, I enjoyed many, many best days.  Approximately 40 students were in my class each year and we spent hours and hours and HOURS together outside of school on evenings and weekends. It was a family affair for some as many sets of siblings graced the student council room over the years.
Right now, what comes to mind is the final annual banquet my last year at Apollo High School in Glendale, Arizona in 2012.  Everyone one of my former student council presidents were able to attend and speak except for Nicole Brown. Even my very first president in 2001 was there, Bryan  Wong.  This banquet, or candlelight ceremony, happens every spring.  New officers are inducted as former officers “pass the torch/candle.”  Videos and slide shows are enjoyed by parents, students and faculty alike.
What was truly amazing was being able to sit back and relive memories over the previous 12 years.  As the wind blew my hair around to the sides and above me, images and feelings came flooding back as each president stood to speak briefly about their year, what was accomplished, and what their favorite moments were.  
Many mentioned our annual spring break trips to California (Alcatraz, San Diego Zoo, Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Big Bear, etc. Others mentioned planning and decorating dances.  Still others mentioned service projects like Adopt-a-Family, Race for the Cure, and canned food drives.  
An endless flow of tears streamed down my cheeks as I admired the amazing adults these students had become and how skills learned in student council had become a permanent part of their lives.

Why was it my BEST day?  Because I had a hand in the building of each and every one of the students there.  

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Pamela Kennemore
Media Specialist @ Taylor Mountain BUSD

images.pngI would have to say that one of the more memorable moments in the past year, was when I was teaching the class at my site. We started with the fundamentals. Then moved on to “programing our friend” concepts, and the kids soared!

Then the Coding began!

Spark story sent to parents and teachers as a progress report:

Light and Bright

Sunshine - Free vector graphics on PixabaySusan Taylor
6th grade Ripon

Really? How can I possibly narrow down my best teaching day...ever? Each day is a new opportunity to feed my personal passion for teaching and to help fuel the passions of my students. Each year, I reiterate numerous times, this message: My goal for you is that you have a career you love. One in which your alarm goes off, and you’re excited to get up and begin your day. If you have this, you’ll never work a day in your life.  While I didn’t coin this idea, I love to share the message.

The first time I share this message with a new class, I often see a weight lifted off the shoulders of some of my team. In my area, kids are being raised under the antiquated notion that they need to be doctors or attorneys...and if and only if they join the ranks of these professions, will they find happiness.

My message is counter to what they’ve been told. It brings great joy to see the light and bright expressions on their faces.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Amanda Bingham - Can't believe I'm getting paid for this!

File:RTuckerThompson.JPG - WikipediaSailing is my passion so my best day teaching was last year when I took my class on the R. Tucker Thompson. They were able to steer the boat, climb the rigging and hoist the sails. I work in a decile 1 school and it was the first time any of them had ever been on a sailing boat. They were buzzing for weeks and still talk about it whenever I see them!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ann Sielaff

Ann Sielaff
Third Grade Teacher

1.jpgWhen finding out I needed to write about “My Best Teaching Day Yet”, I jokingly told my friend and colleague who is here with me, “I haven’t had it yet.” I’m having a very difficult time thinking of one specific day in my years that was my best. I have some days that stand out because they were bad, some were sad, some had fun or funny events that took place. Like everyone else, we have good times, bad times, and in-between, and they all blend together like the paint spilled on our too-old carpet. But one day that stands out in my mind was a day when I went to school and implemented my version of Pernille Ripp. If you don’t know Pernille Ripp, I would recommend reading her. I heard of Pernille through a blog: Forever in First. Tammy, from Forever in First, has some of the best ideas I’ve stolen to date. She has introduced me to so many people (all virtually, of course). George Couros, Carol Dweck, Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome, to name a few.

    That day, I gave my kids voice. They filled out a simple survey. It was a survey of “What would you change”, “How do you like our classroom?” type questions. But that day led to a paradigm change for me. My classroom is about the students, not about me. It’s about growth for us all. Not that it wasn’t before, but I’m not sure it was. And this learning, from these professionals around the globe has led to places and activities I would never have imagined.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Future is Near

Carlos Perez
Middle School Math Teacher

... Future NEXT EXIT >>> | by ...Well, where to start?  If you haven’t heard already, Math is a subject not liked by many especially teenagers, pshhh!  When given the task to choose the best teaching day ever it was pretty difficult.  Having been in the education field for about ten years, I’ve had many moments of success and failure.  However, since becoming a teacher I’ve experienced a lot of moments where many of my students haven’t been challenged to think beyond being a middle school or high school student.  One thing that I’ve found myself focusing on is trying to connect real world scenarios to Math.  The dreaded question of “How/when am I going to use this is life?”  We had the opportunity to visit Junior Achievement of Arizona at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.  The students were to pretend they were applying for a car loan, creating a budget, etc.  I truly enjoyed connecting with the students and helping them think about their future and how their choices affect them and have good and bad outcomes.  Teachable moments is what I always strive to take advantage of. It is extremely rewarding knowing that I have pushed my students to work for not only for the present but for the future.

Sarah Coleman My Best Teaching Day Ever

Image result for sun valley high school mesa
Picking my best teaching day ever is surprisingly difficult.  I think this is because every day that I have been a teacher, I have loved what I do.  Every day I leave my job with some anecdote that makes me smile or laugh.  This isn’t to say that my job is consistently sunshine and roses.  I teach at an alternative high school, so there also isn’t a day that I don’t leave in near tears because of another difficult life struggle that one of my student’s is facing.  That being said, my best day teaching ever was earlier this year at Sun Valley High School.  I was teaching a unit on American Women’s History and I had my class doing a PearDeck I created on some basic background information on important women and events in history.  Through PearDeck, I was able to insert videos after each woman/event in order to give students a more interesting background while they took notes.  I also inserted a Blendspace so that they could further research women’s suffrage.  I have been teaching this class for years, and have never seen such engagement and interest.  As students became involved, I added some discussion questions, and even encouraged students to stop and Google for additional information on various topics.  This lesson was early in the course (2nd day) and through PearDeck, I was able to get so much information about each student, that by the end of class I knew everyone’s name and their interests.  Also by the end of class, each student had chosen a topic for their first essay, and they were actually excited to begin their research.  The end of the PearDeck included questions where they told me what they found most interesting about the lesson, and also gave them an opportunity to tell me what they would like to learn about in this class.  This provided me with the feedback I needed to modify my course to their interests.  That day was the beginning of the best class I have ever taught.  95% of the students passed with nothing lower than a C+, and the discussions, cooperative learning, and engagement that occurred was better than I have ever had.  

Saturday, March 11, 2017

IMG_1461.JPG All of my best teaching days have nothing to do with the day's lesson, but teach strategies for realistic “adulting” and being better people. Any day that results in a student becoming more resilient, more confident, and increasing the hippie in their heart is an awesome day. One of these started with a pep rally, a popular teenage girl, and an epic face plant into the gym floor. I, proud teacher, am taking a video of my step team/cheerleader squad when one of my students eats it. Face first. The video stops. The crowd erupts in laughter. She slinks over to the bleachers with her ice pack on her ankle. I went over and asked her if she was ok, and if she was really hurt or if it was something other than her ankle that was hurt. From the look in her eyes, I could see it was not her ankle, but her middle school pride that hit floor first. I took the risk. It went something like this… “Honey, this is one of the defining moments of your life, and what you do next will shape the kind of person you are. I know it is embarrassing, I know you want to hide, but I want you to suck all those feelings in. Take a deep breath and get the hell back out there with your team!” (Small cuss words are a risky but effective motivator for middle schoolers - use with extreme caution) I took the ice pack and threw it far back into the crowd, and she sprang back into action. The smile on her face was one of the best rewards I have had yet!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

My best teaching day wasn't a day at all...

My best teaching day wasn’t actually a teaching day, but it was certainly my best day as a teacher. After 24 years of teaching elementary school, in the same school where I did my student teaching, I reconnected with a former student on Facebook. Jessica had been in my first class ever, a sweet fifth grader who had Grand Canyon dimples. I was thrilled to get her friend request and added her immediate. We arranged a lunch date and got together a couple of weeks later.
It turns out that Jessica had graduated from our local high school and completed a masters in psychology. She is currently a living donor counselor at a world-class hospital, working with patients who are donating kidneys to family as well as strangers. Oh, boy, was I so proud to hear this. I know that she had so many more teachers besides me, but I still feel like this was my doing.
Jess was one of those students I kept in touch with through middle school and high school. I attended her clarinet recitals and even her quincaƱera. Her parents celebrated their nuptial mass (having been civilly married in Mexico) and I was lucky enough to celebrate with them.
When we got together for lunch at La Scala in Beverly Hills, we had the best long talk. She asked me how I had seen her when she was a student. I told her that she was one of my smarties, and that I knew she was destined for great things. She told me that it was hard to believe, because she’d had such a poor self-image when she was a child because she was a recent immigrant from Mexico, and didn’t start school in the US until she was in the third grade. When she was in my class, she told me that she felt so stupid because she wasn’t fluent in English. I told her that she was very good at hiding her insecurities, that I thought she was just shy.
Those recitals I attended 22-23 years ago made such an impression on a sensitive little girl. What she didn’t know was that I was feeling so burned out, and had lost so much of the passion I once had for teaching as a profession. Hearing her words brought back so many positive memories, and rekindled the fire.

So my best teaching day wasn't just a day at all. It was my career.

Saturday, February 4, 2017


Mark Ybarra
FCSS - VHEA Community School

I was thinking of a lesson I could co-teach with the math teacher. I decided to present a real-world environment that included using tape measures, a yardstick, and a rolling measurement wheel.
I started by taking a Google Maps screen capture of our school, and shared it with the students. To access prior knowledge, I asked students to name as many shapes as they could find - i.e. rectangles, squares, circles, triangles, etc.
I told students we were going to measure the school, starting with the basketball court, and ending with the block our school is located on. The students were told they would annotate the dimensions on the Google Maps picture. The students would work in teams.
So the students would know how to measure using a tape measure, I included a YouTube video, on how to use a measuring tape.
With the dimensions recorded of a basketball court, we continued and found perimeter, area, circle area, radius, etc.