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Engaging and Supporting All Students in Learning

My dream in teaching is being able to encourage and engage all students in learning.  I get inspired to work harder when I encounter any students that may have lost their desire to explore and learn.  I have enjoyed many years of exploring and learning and hope to ignite many others to do the same.  Amazing and Intriguing can be found in any situation.  I feel it is the responsilibity to create "wonder" in the classroom.  "Wonder" is at the core of who I am and I hope to share it with as many students as possible.  Please enjoy the artifacts below.  I enjoyed every minute of encouraging all students in learning!

December 13, 2017

Although our world is filled with beautiful diversity, it isn't always easy to experience that diversity in the classroom.  As a teacher, it is my joy to share some of that diversity.  It can be found in the furthest corners of the planet, but it can also be found next door.  Diane, in the video, is a personal friend of mine.  Our relationship is the result of two people willing to be open to each other.  Diane lives behind a bus stop near Antioch school.  Every day that I go to school I look for her.  We have each made an effort to get to know each other, regardless of how different I lives may look from the outside.  In our meetings, I have found Diane to be geniune, joyful, caring, happy, considerate, and respectful.  Diane embodies many of the qualities that I would embody myself.  

I told Diane that I was teaching a class and she asked if she could come watch me someday.  I really hope that can happen.  In the meantime, I thought it would be good to introduce Diane to the class through video.  In doing this, I made it very clear that Diane is my friend and I expected the class to treat her with the same respect that they treat me.  I told the class that she has indured more in life than I could even imagine.  She is someone I respect and protect.  My hope would be that the classroom would look hard to find the same qualities in Diane that I found.

The classroom response was precious.  They were quick to want to know more.  They were quick to ask innocent questions.  They were quick to offer any help they could imagine.  

Sharing my friend with class wasn't a descipline, it was joy.  I believe it truly creates active learning and allows the students to engage in real-life learning and spurs them on to consider diverse perspectives. 

December 12, 2017

In a planned lesson teaching through Contexts for Learning, the concept of currency was introduced.  As we read through the grade level curriculmn, I was able to assess that quite a few of the students were not familiar with the different types of currency and how to add them together.  Although the curriculumn was created to teach these concepts, there was not enough foundational information for the students to engage the content.  

Seeing that some of the students were struggling, I revised my teaching plan and circled back around to support the students that were requiring assistance.  Taking a break from the planned curriculum, I created an informational poster that showed the relationships between the currencies.  After talking through this, we played a game that allowed the students to practice making coin value decisions.  Once the students felt comfortable working with the coin values, we were able to reengage with the curriculum.  

Click here for sample of the decimal poster.

Click here for a sample of decimal poker.

December 12, 2017

"Alright class, let's do some math."  "Alright class, let's build some rockets."  Given the two statements, the class often has two very different responses.  There is so much to be learned through exploration and experiementation.  As in Alan November's book, "Who Owns the Learning? Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age" I think there is a lot of logic in allowing students to build and create on their own.  As teachers, we should try to facilitate a learning environment the pulls the students in, but then step out of the way and let the students grapple with the problems.  

With "Rocket Launch" we unleashed the students to budget, design, and build their own rocket.  They were given a budget that was purposely set to make them use their math skills to define a path.  The worksheet incorporated addition, multiplication, and subtraction.  The worksheet, although covered in mathematics, wasn't forced on the students at all.  To the contrary, they asked hourly when they could start their budgets.  

The Rocket Launch is also designed to spur on estimation and experimentation.  Students are allowed to budget for fuel (a specific mixture of hydrogen and oxygen H2O), how much weight to load (sand), and at what angle to launch.  During the launch, the students were given the launch specifics and could record the outcome.  

It would be ideal to follow the launch with an opportunity to share what they learned as well as make adjustments to their planning.




December 12, 2017

So far I have discovered that nothing, in the 2nd and 3rd grade levels, attracts more attention than a programmable robot.  I am sure this will change at some point, but for now it is a creative way to engage the students.  When I first met the robot (Wonder, click here for more info), he was in an unopened box.  Although he had been at the school for a year, no one had the time and/or interest to learn how he works.  Once he was turned on and talking, the students couldn't turn away.  Soon, we not only learned how to program the robot, named HotCakes, but we learned about programming logic in general.  The students showed tremendous interest.  To this day, they still ask for more programming time.

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