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Monday, October 26, 2015

If You Could Design a Class...
Middle school is meant to be about exploration, yet our students don't seem to get that many options in their day at our school.  Why can't a student who has a passion for music spend three hours of their day in music?  If they love art, what would be wrong with them being able to have more of their day spent in art?  Same for the subjects of English, History, Math, etc...

I know there are arguments to be made either way, but that's not the point of this post.  The point is...if you could design a class that would allow you to be with kids who truly want to learn more about a specific subject/topic that you could teach, what would your class focus on?

For me, I would want to teach a woodworking class using hand tools from different time periods in history.  I'd love to bring back teaching students to be craftsman by using their hands and their minds (I'm pretty sure the term "craftsman" is politically correct in regard to gender neutrality...just like "human").  Let's build a project that you'd like to make.  We'll use hand tools like dovetail saws, planers, scrapers, chisels, files, brace and bit, etc.  Nothing plugs in.  I think some kids would really enjoy a class like this.  I'd bring in some local carvers, sawyers, etc. to teach students their craft. 

I'm a huge fan of technology, but I'm also a huge fan of things being done the old-fashioned way.  I could see having students upload instructional videos to YouTube or showcasing what they've created via class web sites.  This has me excited!

So, what would you teach?

Monday, October 5, 2015

"Less Me.  More Them."

This is my motto for the year. 

I'm one of those people who don't like to sit around and do nothing.  Yes, I am sitting around right now typing this blog post.  Yes, I'll be sitting around uploading some TpT products later this evening.  Yes, I'll be sitting and reading with my youngest daughter in a couple of hours.  Those are just technicalities though in regard to sitting.  Every one of those activities allow me to be actively "DOING" while I am sitting.  

Most students are no different - they want to be doing something.  I teach middle school, and the beauty of that is I every day I have students who are full of energy that just needs to be channeled in the right direction.

Today I channeled that energy of theirs into exploring the Presidents of the United States.  Instead of me being the one who is occupying the majority of the class period by talking at them, I ended up talking with them instead.  What a difference in how the day felt!  I created an activity where students explore the presidents first by seeing them. 

Well, sort of. 

Students are given a packet that has the eyes of all 44 presidents (Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president so he’s in there twice.)  They then use the web site to look at the presidential portraits to try and discover which president those eyes belong to. 

Tomorrow we're going to go through the PowerPoint where the mystery presidents are revealed to see how they did.  Is it for a grade?  Nope.  It is so they begin to develop a background knowledge of the leaders who shaped our nation.

What ended up happening with this activity was that every student was engaged in their education.  They were saying presidents’ names.  They were able to talk to each other.  They were figuring out answers together.  It truly was less me, and more them, and it was wonderful.  

I’m looking forward to more days like this.

If you're interested in this product to use in your own classroom you can check it out by clicking here.

Until next Monday!