All posts tagged: teaching

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 …

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 …

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 …

Best Practices For Teaching During COVID-19

One of my favorite pictures of teaching in action. “Hey Google” “What are the best practices for teaching during Covid-19?” Spoiler alert: There are none. When my school district produced a mandatory professional development session that taught teachers how to transition to online learning, I became immediately skeptical. I was also frustrated at the utter hubris it takes to claim to know anything about online learning when your background is everything but, and then present it as a mandatory training module. While I did learn some things about Canvas that I was completely unaware of (which I am deeply grateful for), there was a lot of unnecessary stress added by the way the PD was rolled out. I want to make it very clear, I’m not frustrated with our district coaches. I’m frustrated with the administration that made the decisions and how it was rolled out in typical half-ass fashion, i.e., not having their poop in a group. Every year teachers are bombarded with crap. And I do mean crap. Between education corporations looking to sell you the latest …

The Needs of the Many

I spend far too much time on Facebook these days. Being quarantined at home has it’s own toll on your mental health, but scrolling Facebook for hours on end also has it’s own toll. One of the tolls Facebook creates is actually a dichotomy. On one hand it’s a false sense of empowerment. The feeling that you have a voice and can tell the world exactly your stance. On the other hand, it’s an inescapable feeling of powerlessness and depression when you notice that no one is listening. We spend so much time shouting into the echo chamber that the chamber becomes a void. Like a vacuum, it eats our words regardless of the ideologies we support.  One of the subjects that has caught my eye more than once has been the idea that education needs to change. Yet, I can’t help but to notice that whenever the idea is brought up, no one has an answer for how education needs to change. This is where my vacuum comes in. This is where I am …

Teaching During Covid-19

Recently, I saw a post (I can’t remember who even reposted it for citation purposes) that discussed the language we are using during our online teaching. The post brought up an interesting point that I want to dig deeper into. What do we call what teachers are doing right now? Is it online learning? Is it distance learning? Why am I so hung up on what it’s called? What we name it matters. Just as with all language, the vocabulary we choose to use when discussing a subject can affect the process just as much as the physical change itself. The term online teaching or online learning carries a connotation of presence. Presence implies that teachers are live and lessons are synchronous. Distance learning, on the other hand, carries the connotation of sameness. It implies that the only difference between the classroom lessons and those online is the distance between the teacher and the students. Neither of these terms accurately defines what is actually happening in the virtual classroom.So what are we doing? What should we …

Small Successes

I was going to come on here tonight and blast away at my problems and issues. This online learning thing is overwhelmingly anxiety inducing. But as I was avoiding writing by doing some grading, I noticed a trend that changed my attitude. My students are flourishing with the current work I have given them. Last week I decided to try an experiment. I saw a post from someone about how to use the 5 Es (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate) to create lessons online. I took those five components and made one module out of each of them. On top of that, I did some serious brainstorming before creating modules. I did this because creating modules is time intensive. If one doesn’t work, you have just wasted quite a bit of time. The first thing I did was I created a bland google slides presentation. In each slide, I put one of the 5 Es as base slides. In each slide I took notes for ideas. For example, in the engagement slide, I wrote down ideas to engage. …