Author: Nathan Moldenhauer

Student Names (An Example of What NOT To Do!)

I have been thinking a lot about the upcoming school year. I know it seems early, considering the kind of year this last one was. It seems even earlier to me considering that I am still teaching summer school. But I recently had new student come into school, and I made a huge mistake, a mistake that created one of the biggest ‘ah-ha’ moments I have had in the past year. This student was brought in because he had arrived at school but was not registered for summer school. He was brought to me to see if I knew him. Of course I didn’t. I’m not sure how it is in other districts, but this seems to be the norm with English learners, especially when we don’t have a translator available at the time. But this post isn’t about what systemically needs to change. This post is about what I messed up. I messed up when I started trying to look the student up. Instead of asking the student for his name, I asked the …

Krashen (Out of his element)

There I was minding my own business enjoying the latest issue of Language magazine over my lunch when I took notice of Stephen Krashen’s regurgitating the KS Goodman’s antiquated construct of reading as a “psycholinguistic guessing game.” For those of you who aren’t into reading and literacy research, the idea of reading being a psycholinguistic guessing game is best explained as making inferences and checking those guesses as we read. In his own words, “Reading is a selective process. It involves partial use of available minimal language cues selected from perceptual input on the basis of the reader’s expectation. As this partial information is processed, tentative decisions are made to be confirmed, rejected, or refined as reading progresses” (Goodman, 1967). The idea that reading is a psycholinguistic guessing game as KS Goodman stated in 1967 has been proven wrong by years of actual data. Literacy, and specifically reading researchers have spent the last couple of decades accumulating evidence for a few theories of reading, how we read, and how we learn to read. All of …

COVID And Learning Loss

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why we are not in person schooling yet. The safety of our students, their families, and our staff is far too important to risk, and I am extremely glad to have a governor who took a strong stance in the face of neglectful politicians. But to say that our students will be fine with a year off from education in their developmental years an absurd platitude meant to make us feel good.

Back in the saddle

Even with all the masks, face shields, social distancing, and awkward conversations, it feels great to be back in person. I didn’t realize how much I missed working with students in a face to face until I started doing so today. I’m sure I have said this before, but I cannot stand distance learning. There is just something so mind bogglingly dull about it. But beyond getting to see my students again, it was nice to be back on a new project. I have been asked to take on an afterschool program for students who are falling behind and may be at risk for not graduating on time. This is where I thrive. I love the problem solving aspect of it all. I spent most of today trying to gather lists from our student management system, testing different ad hoc reporting combinations until I landed on one I felt would give me the most bang for the buck. There is something satisfying in solving technical problems and discovering what works best. Now I just have …

Grad School (Again)

I didn’t want to put this out in the open until my application was fully in the hands of the prospective university I would like to attend, but my anxiety is creating a mess of mental difficulties that I feel compelled to put on paper. Originally, my intent was to wait until next fall when the schools started opening up their application windows. However, as I was browsing through different programs and researching which program would be my best fit, I found one that has a much later application window than the others. Normally, I would have skipped by this because I had my mind set on two other schools, but something caught my eye that I found impossible to pass up; a complete focus on diversity and equity in education as a doctorate focus. Many programs I have found have some focus on equity in education, but this one is unique in that its primary focus is on diversity and equity. Even the courses on leadership are studied from the aspect of equity. When …

Wounded Knee Anniversary, Precise language, and Perspectives that don’t matter.

Today marks the 130th anniversary of the massacre at Wounded Knee where 20 U.S. troopers received the medal of honor for the slaughter of over 250 unarmed men, women, and children. To put history in context, this atrocity still holds active consequences today in the gold mines still operating in the Paha Sapa (Black Hills). In fact, if you’re feeling up to it, you can join the thousands of others who have stolen from indigenous lands and pan for gold yourself. This got me thinking and writing, and I came across some realizations I wanted to talk about. First, that the use of precise language is important in how we teach history. The second is that the use of the word perspective is a terrible argument in defense of atrocious behaviors and quickly falls apart when used in today’s context. The Third is that treaties matter, no matter how old they are, and to say otherwise is nonsense. Precision Language in Social Studies The Massacre at Wounded Knee was not an isolated incident. It was …

The Switch (Finally)

For almost three years now, I have been talking about switching my blog from Blogger to WordPress. I think the whole process felt overwhelming every time I did research on how to transfer the blog and domain. There was always a list of steps with a bunch of technical acronyms and e-jargon that would intimidate me into putting the whole thing off. Typically, I see myself as technically competent, and I love problem solving and trouble shooting tech problems. But sometimes it is the getting started portion of getting things done that is the hardest part. So, here is to a new medium and a fresh start. Cheers.

Hybrid Teaching

With the first week of hybrid teaching under my belt, I can officially say that I am exhausted and excited at the same time. This week has been great. Being around people and being social were things that I sorely needed. I could never have continued online teaching as a full time job. However, everything is different, and we are having to adapt to a new normal as we deal with masks, socially distanced seating arrangements and a never ending cycle of communications with our students as they transition to online learning every other day.  Occasionally I will watch the show Alone on the History channel. It always amazed me at how many people would drop out of the competition because of social isolation. Now I get it. Even though I was almost never alone at home, I missed all things social, even being in meetings. I never realized how much I needed to reconnect with people until after the first day. Even though I was physically exhausted, I was emotionally recharged by the the …

Impending Announcement.

Tomorrow (July 30th) is the day that the Minnesota governor will be announcing his recommendations for opening schools this upcoming school year. To say that I am worried would be an understatement. I am not sure I am mentally prepared for another bout of online teaching and learning. The last semester took such a toll on me and my mental health that I am more worried about that than catching Covid-19. Do not get me wrong, I fully support teachers who are fighting for the safe return to classrooms. I also fully support those teachers who cannot return to the classroom due to either having an immunodeficiency or living with someone who does. For them, I will continue to fight for their rights as employees and members of the greater teaching community. But for myself, I am hoping that I will at least be partially in person.