For this project, I listened to a presentation from the GlobalEdCon 2016 entitled Globalizing the Secondary Common Core Suggested Readings. The presenters teach in a cyber academy based in MIchigan and focused on the fact that the suggested readings from the common core are mainly written by white, male authors. This was a fact that I have to admit that I have not looked at. I tend to look at a book or piece of literature based on the theme it has or lesson it tries to teach more than who wrote the piece. I had not realized how limited my author diversity is in my classroom. The presenters gave alternatives to use and ideas on how to diversify the classroom. They suggested something as simple as taking a story that is well known and finding other versions of the story to compare it to. I know that in the elementary this is done with Cinderella and a few other fairy tales. However, this is not done in the middle school or high school classrooms. We are focused on reading the required readings and not focused on the lack of diversity. I could use this in my collaboration project. If I could find a teacher who is teaching a book with a similar theme but different perspective from the book my students are reading, then we could use that to discuss the cultural differences. I enjoys the presentation and will definitely look at diversifying my reading list.
Global Read Aloud:
I think I am going to try to participate in this next year. My middle schoolers love when I read aloud to them and this will allow them to connect with other students as well. I love that the teachers have the freedom to decide how indepth the global connection will be. The time restraints are minimal in that the teacher is in control. Most of my students are connected on social media already so it would mean that they would be widening their social media presence in a positive way. I would expect friendships and connections to be made and a deeper understanding of the reading to be had by all participants.
I was SUPER excited to find this. I just started teaching (learning) my students this program and will plan to attend Scratch Day in May. Scratch is a coding program from Harvard and MIT that is kid friendly but super fun. My students are just starting and enjoy it. They will be creating large social studies projects at the end of the unit. I will be looking into the Scratch Day information more in depth.
I am working on a collaborative unit for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. This novel is taught in most high school across the United States and can be used to open up dialogue about numerous important topics such as racism, poverty, social classes, prejudice, and gender roles. This unit will align with the Iowa Common Core Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1, R.2, R.3, R.4, R.5, and R.6.
During the reading of the novel, students will interact with students from another cultural background to discuss novel and specific passages. At the conclusion of the novel, the small groups will create PSA (public service announcement) that addresses an area of concern for both groups. The students will use quicktime recordings, google docs, google hangouts, and any other internet resources available to create the final product.
Time and time commitments may be an issue depending on the location of the second group of students. Ideally, the students would have class time to met with the other students; however, it will be next to impossible to arrange that. Students will ultimately have to arrange times to met during the evenings or weekends. As the instructor, I will also have to be flexible with my timeline due to scheduling difficulties.
Ideally, I would like to connect to a school that is 1:1 like we are. Our students have access to personal laptops in school and out of school. Last year’s survey of families showed that 95% of my students have access to the internet after school hours. It would be important that the group that works with us has the same access. All students should have access to a google email account or can setup a free gmail to use for this project.
If a partner group was interested in pairing with my class but didn’t read the same novel, the project could be modified for the students to read different literature but with the same theme. For example one class reads The Hunger Games while another class reads 1984. Together they would discuss the theme dystopian societies and governmental control. Teachers would have to work together to decide on the discussion questions and final project focus.
This week I focused on developing a global collaboration unit to use with the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. I start this novel in English 2 class this week so I will not be able to "go live" this year. I hope to have a workable product by the end of teaching this to use next year when I may have more flexibility to implement with another teacher. Given the connections that we are making within the graduate class that I am taking right now, I am not really worried about finding another educator to connect with. I am more worried about timing of the events - matching schedules and so on.
I spend many hours searching on line for units to model mine after but did not find any that matched what I was looking for. I found units that focused on global issues and but none connected directly to any novels. This is the gap I am hoping to fill. I want my student to interact with other students while reading the novel and ultimately discussing the world issues of race relations.
I will keep you posted on the final product.
During this week, we tried to connect as a class with another graduate class in another state. It failed. Like really failed. Even when we emailed the student directly, they ignored us. I was truly not bothered by this - in fact - I was slightly relieved. You see, if my master instructor could have a well planned project go down in flames - then it would be okay if I had the same outcome. We tell students that failure is okay - we make up saying to go with it - FAIL: First attempt at learning... etc... But teachers - we do NOT fail. We are the expects. Well planned lessons never go wrong. We are drilled this in our teacher preparation - if it failed - we did not prepare it well enough.
Well apparently failure can and will happen to everyone. You learn from it and move on. I like that we were reminded this in real time...in a real class... by a real instructor. Best lesson so far!!
Ok for my class this week I had to play an online game and then relate it to learning. Flashback - last week we learned about "FLOW". This concept I get and completely understand. I find myself in a "FLOW" state while running and while reading. I was excited to maybe experience this state while at my desk playing a game. Before I opened the app Kingdom Rush, I reflect on the fact that the last time I played a video game - it was Asteroids on my very cool Atari system with a joystick and a single red button...so gamer I am not. I was worried and anxious about playing. At this moment I understand how the student in my 7th grade English class felt last week. He does not play Minecraft and, as a class, we had just started playing a survival game based on the novel Hatchet. He complains about the assignment and I assumed it was because the assignment was creative in nature and outside his comfort zone. Now I understand it was the thought of playing an unknown game and not understanding it.
Flashforward - I am at my desk playing this game. I hate it. It is dumb. I do not understand it. I am bad at it. I cannot make it work right. All my other classmates are like "this is awesome" - "I got to level 8967 on the first day" and I am over here like "those dog things keep eating my fighters"....I never found the FLOW - in fact I want to go for a run and I just finished a half-marathon yesterday for heaven's sake!!
So what did I learn....
Two hours later:
I was at home explaining to my husband how frustrating and "stupid" that gaming experience was. Just a normal venting situation. He smiled and said - "now you know how we feel"......WHAT? I didn't understand what he was saying. He went on to explain that one of my sons and he feel like this in many situations and that another of my sons and I never understand that feeling because everything comes naturally. I was floored - and needed further explanation. He went on to explain that things come naturally to me - I decide to take up running and now I am training for a full marathon - I want to further my education and the I pass the classes. I countered that I work hard at those things - he countered with "yes, you do but most people do and some still do not succeed. Some people find tasks much harder than you do. You need to understand that."
I am pretty sure that this was not the outcome that Dr. Z had envisioned for this gaming module, but it is true. I need to be more aware when a task is difficult for a student, and they, in turn, are avoiding it. I need to understand that in my own children as well as my students.
This is the link to my PLN map as assigned by my instructor.
Ugh being sick as a teacher is the worst! No other job is it harder to miss work than to suck it up and just go! Maybe I am the only one who feels like this. But I am convinced that while the substitute teachers are Saints and I worship the job they do - they are not me...and only I truly understand my students and my classroom. (Can someone say narcissism? [side note: any English 2 student who is actually reading my blog - I just used a vocabulary word from this week - reference my blog in class and get +2 EC]) Not only does being sick as a teacher inconvenience me but also a mother and a runner. I can not help with homework, enjoy school activities or RUN. But enough whining - I know - its the flu - get over it and the self-importance you seem to have :)
This week is homecoming and to start the week, our school is traveling to help out a school district affected by the flooding. Parents sometimes seem to be hard on us as a district because we are so small. Lack of elective offerings, lack of diversity, or same kids getting chosen/elected to everything. But in reality, we are awesome because we are small. We have a district in need so we go help. It would be much easier to stay in school - teach the plans I had that aligned so well with the core - and stay focused on test scores...But instead, we will focus on the human side of our students. Students will forego a dress up day, forego a hot lunch, and forego classroom time because someone needs our help - and that is what we do - we help those in need. Our students will be better citizens because of it - but no test will measure it... and sadly people will over look it.
Well I thought I was a rock star after I posted last week, but I am not feeling that way now. I feel overwhelmed and stressed at the thought of having to write this blog. I was expressing this to my sophomore class, and they laughed at me. One them even quoted my famous advice, "suck it up buttercup and just get it done." Okay I needed that kick to get busy.
This week I started a new intervention on two students. It is the FastForword program. Our k-12 interventionist found it at a conference this summer and fell in love. It not only helps with reading, but it rewires the brain. The program helps with focus, retention of all information, and auditory processing. My youngest son has an auditory processing disorder and so he was the first guinea pig for me to use with this program. With our school day schedule the way it is, I gave up my prep period so junior high student could have access to this program. We just started last year and my son hates it - so it must be working! Seriously, what seventh grader wants to give up his only study hall to sit in his mom's room and play video games. The program is hard to explain but check out the website if you are looking for reading interventions.
This week also marks the start of English reading the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller. I really enjoy teaching great literature that is historical relevant. The students can really dig in to the story when I can relate real life events and people. Although showing the Monte Python movie clip is the real highlight of the unit:
This year marks my 14th year here at Riceville Community School. I am excited to be teaching some great classes with some awesome students. I spent much of my summer planning and looking for new and exciting projects to try with my students. Along the way, I also decided to add to my education. I enrolled at UNI in the Instructional Technology Cohort. Upon completion this is add a second master's degree to my resume. I am taking two classes right now but will discuss more about that later.
I discovered an impressive writing project for my sophomore English 2 class to do for the trimester project. I was tired on the old project I had used in the past. I had also heard talk that the district would be adding a district wide writing goal for this year. I was extremely excited to unveil this new project. The project called for each student identify a world/global issue that they wanted to learn more about. Each student had to set up his or her own webpage and start blogging about the issue. The students must also create a PSA, podcast, physical display of the work, present the project to a small group of community members, and develop a possible solution. Now as most veteran teachers will understand, the students were slightly less excited about this undertaking than I was. They complained about having to write a weekly blog and to publish it. I dismissed the concerns, until... my professor tells me that for my graduate class I have to write a blog! What?!?!?!?
I was hit with a wave of anxiety. Me? Write for all the world to see? What if no one read it? What if people did not like it? WHAT IF I MADE A GRAMMATICAL ERROR? I quickly assumed the panic position - put my head between my knees and took several deep breathes.... at look at me now - BLOGGING....feeling like a rock star!
Until the next post - check out my students' blogs and feel free to comment.
Mrs. Kuhn's Webpage