Tag Archives: education

path: a photo challenge

Thursday – December 29, 2016. Counting today, there are three more days in 2016. Then a new year, of sorts. Last year, I had three hundred sixty-six to count, the coming year brings three hundred sixty-five. For educators, like myself, the year is defined by the school calendar mid-August to June or early May with a break in June, July and early August. Which means new year marks the beginning of second half and new birth of sorts for my eighth graders.

Christmas dessert – B’s homemade old-fashioned creampie

At the moment, I am on winter break – Day 7. I wish I could report I had accomplished more than catching up on sleep, but I can’t. I prepared an amazing Christmas Dinner – roasted bone-in prime rib, au gratin potatoes, and Brussel sprouts with bacon. Ivy got the bones. B made the old-fashioned cream pie for dessert.

Today marks the beginning of a new path – thank you notes, cleaning off my office desk, a workout (this would be three days in a row), and maybe some school work –  maybe.

We had snow in early December, the first Sunday of the month. The storm left several inches of snow covering the ground. A week later, we had another storm blanketing the area with a fresh layer if snow. The following week, we had bitter cold and last weekend we had rain and the most of the snow melted. The Monday after Christmas, I was outside raking leaves from the deck and cleaning up the yard a bit. Except for a few patches where the sun doesn’t shine, the snow is gone, it’s history. This afternoon’s forecast calls for a dusting of snow, but at the moment it is clear and sunny – a bonus for this time of the year.

Same path, different days….

Continue reading path: a photo challenge

wind in my sails

I teach kids, kids that are 13 to 14 and getting ready to enter high school. It’s fun and exhausting; and even though it’s work, I don’t call it work, because when it becomes work, I think I’ll quit and never go back. I hope that day never comes, I mean the day when it becomes work.

That’s why, when I get an e-mail like I did today, it gives me the energy to keep going.

Hi Clayton,

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted into the Recap Pioneer program! Here’s a badge for your blog. Please send us a short bio and photo for the Pioneers page.

I am excited.

2016-pioneer-badgeLet’s Recap is free software that teachers can use to assign a question and students can respond by recording a video response. It’s easy to use and easy to use for my students. I’ve used it twice, once on a test run and more recently last weekend to gauge how well my students understood why the American colonists were upset with England and King George III in the period leading up to the American Revolution. In previous years I’ve assigned a protest letter and students wrote the letter and handed it in to me. This year I tried Recap and I was impressed with the results. My students still used the traditional planning with pen and paper- though it wasn’t required – but the results showed deeper thinking and I believe better transfer of the content. I’ll discover how well it worked next Friday when I give the unit assessment.  Fingers crossed.

Teaching is an art. Continue reading wind in my sails

We the people

It’s Constitution Day, again. This year it falls on a Saturday, so I won’t be celebrating with my students until Monday. In the meantime, I am reminded of the importance to share and celebrate today, even if I only catch the end of Saturday and post late in the evening.

one of the many buckeyes we rescued today at the softball field....
one of the many buckeyes we rescued today at the softball field….

Saturday is always a busy day, even if it is Saturday. The past several years we’ve spent our Friday nights watching a high school football game, but W, my football playing son, graduated from high school in May and is no longer on the team. So we don’t have to be at all of the games. We’ll still root for the Tigers, but we won’t catch all of the games. Besides, O, my softball playing daughter, had a softball game Friday night and we rooted her and her team on to a win.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Preamble to the Constitution.

Seven Articles. Twenty-seven Amendments. 229 years and the framework is still valid. It still works. At the time, it was divisive. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay came together to collaborate on articles to influence the passage of the Constitution. These articles published anonymously are better known as the Federalist Papers and have been used by the Supreme Court justices to help decide many of the decisions they’ve handed down since the Constitution became the law of the land on June 21, 1788 when New Hampshire became the 9th of 13 states to ratify the Constitution. Virginia and New York, the two most populous states would become the 10th and 11th states to ratify the document before George Washington was elected our first president. North Carolina and Rhode Island would join the Union while Washington was in his first presidential term. By the time Washington made his farewell address in 1796, the Union would grow to 16 states with Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee joining the original 13 states.

But you don’t follow me to read Constitutional theory or even U.S. History, though it’s interesting. Just admit it, it’s okay. You click MtDc to find out what’s happening and read a little bit of positive in a world filled full of negativity. Continue reading We the people

the one hundred most

Yesterday was my first day back to school. Summer break was great, but it’s time to get back to school\work and a regular schedule. I’ve been busy all summer getting ready for today.

I know it looked like I was having fun at the lake, but I was really thinking and planning about how to begin the new year with my brand new 8th graders. AND, this year I have a bonus, I have my very own 8th grader at home – so I can experience 8th grade 24/7 without interruption.

I vaguely remember my own 8th grade experience. I struggled all year, and if it weren’t for an amazing teacher – Mrs. Atlee in RWS (reading, writing, and spelling) reaching out and giving me a hand when I needed it – the year might have turned out differently. I am grateful for her help and continually try to pay back her assistance by paying it forward to my students.

The key to getting a great start to a school year is how the first few days of school are organized and set up. My most successful years have been the years when I spent the first few days creating a climate in the classroom that fostered learning and curiosity.

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when finished, these bins will be used to demonstrate creative learning…
In the 41 years since I was in 8th grade (the first time), the classroom has changed significantly. It’s changed because as educators, we better understand how students learn and grow, and technology has had a hand in changing how students learn as well.

I am going to sound old, but let’s face it, I AM old – relative to my students. When I was in 8th grade, television had seven or eight channels, tops. Television, books, and movies – that was it for media, oh and radio. We had the major networks CBS, ABC, NBC, and PBS as well as three or four independent channels. Today, television has hundreds of channels and comes in all sorts of flavors, and then there is the internet and the media programming available online. What is available to my students is overwhelming, but the reality is my 8th graders are still 8th graders with 13-14 year-old’s brains still developing like my brain was developing 41 years ago. Today’s students are exposed to more content, but in reality, they learn it differently. Continue reading the one hundred most

Three for Thursday

It’s Thursday morning and it is the twenty-seventh day of summer break, almost two-thirds remain. There is a myth which persists that teachers don’t work a full year. It’s not true, it is nowhere close to being true and the myth misrepresents what educators do to be ready for the coming year.

Class starts in an hour.

that's y foot and W's old parking spot
that’s my foot and W’s old parking spot

This summer I am taking a professional development class, in fact the last several summers I have taken PD classes. Classes are taught by fellow educators and are filled with rich curricula and new methods to help students grow and learn.  This summer I am taking a two-week long class at the local high school. The class is offered through Fermilab Education and W’s freshman biology teacher is the instructor, he was also one of W’s wrestling coaches. It has been an interesting eight days of being transported back to being fifteen again, and then morphing back to my real age. It’s been forty years since that high school freshman year, I’d mostly forgotten that very awkward time.

Continue reading Three for Thursday

The Greatest

courtesy @FearlessMotivation
courtesy @FearlessMotivation
I was young, very young when Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali. And, I remember kids calling me Cassius, but I didn’t understand until later that it should have been taken as a compliment, even if that wasn’t the intent. Kids.

I began using the quote, “Don’t count the days, make the days count” long before I began blogging and even longer before I knew it is attributed to Muhammad Ali.  It is likely that Ali is not the origin of the saying either, but Muhammad Ali is the one gets the credit. It doesn’t matter who, or when, or how, he was the Greatest.

I can imagine how he said it, though. It was days before a big fight, could’ve been Frazier, or Foreman, or a lesser known fighter and Ali was asked by a reporter if he was ready for the fight with only days away. His response was classic Ali,

“Only a fool counts days. I am the Greatest, I don’t count the days, I make the days count. And when I step into the ring the only countin’ that’s gonna be goin’ on is the referee counting to ten when I knock that sucker on his back. I am the Greatest.” Muhammad Ali

That’s how I’d like to believe that Muhammad Ali said that he made the days count. Continue reading The Greatest

the face of determination

I am a week behind. Today’s post is inspired by last week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Face.

the doughboy's face says it all - determination
the doughboy’s face says it all – determination

Last Saturday I was at Cantigny, the former estate of Robert McCormick Chicago industrialist and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The estate is now open to the public and houses the First Division Museum, the McCormick Museum, and has many open gardens. McCormick was a colonel in the army during World War I and led troops in the First Division. After the war, he renamed his estate Cantigny after the town in northern France that his division had liberated in their first action. He served through the end of the war and returned to run the Chicago Tribune until his death in 1955.

I was at Cantigny for a professional development class, FDR’s “Forgotten Man” vs. Hoover’s “Rugged Individual.” The forum was offered through the Teaching American History organization. It was an amazing discussion and it gave me the energy for the final days of teaching American history to my eighth grade students. Last weekend there were nine days left in the school, now there are four days – two of which are celebration days and a final promotion event with awards and then, off to high school. Continue reading the face of determination

four more

It’s Saturday morning. The forecast is rain – by the time I finish writing it will be raining – and softball will be cancelled, again. O’s game Thursday was cancelled due to wet fields. It’s the same every year, April showers bring May flowers, and softball rainouts.

Last night, I stayed late at school and wrapped up the World War II unit. The WWII test is Monday and then we’ll find out just how much my students have actually learned about America’s involvement in the war. Since we returned from spring break it’s been more and more challenging to get their focus. Most of my students seem to be more focused on ‘four more’ and how many days are left than they are in making them count. It’s a ritual which plays out every year. It’s when I work the hardest.

truman_quote_WWII

April has been busy. We had our annual state testing the first two weeks right after break. After testing, we took a field trip to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. It was excellent and it helped many of our students understand the magnitude of the Holocaust. We study the Great Depression and World War II in social studies and they all read Night by Elie Wiesel in their English Language Arts classes. The last two weeks we’ve been learning about the war – I’ve used video clips from The War by Ken Burns and Band of Brothers to help, but the most significant clip I showed, was yesterday when I screened the video below. The Fallen of World War II from Neil Halloran on Vimeo.

It’s staggering to watch. Continue reading four more

reminders

I have wonderful children and they teach me as much as I teach them, most of the time. Sometimes more. It’s been hectic this week, I’ve been Mr. Mom and Mr. Dad. B’s out of town helping her sister and I have been the only sheriff in town, so to speak. B’s on her way back tonight and we’ll be whole again tomorrow.

Dulles Jr. High Vikings - seventh grade gold - can you find me?
Dulles Jr. High Vikings – seventh grade gold – can you find me?

This afternoon, we were running errands and on our way home. O was talking about her day at school. I don’t know how it came up, but she was explaining what happened in math class. It went something like this……

“Dad, do you give your kids homework passes?” O asked.

“No, I don’t.” I replied. “Why do you ask? Continue reading reminders

Time – Weekly Photo Challenge

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, cold, but it is February, after all. This morning was gray and cloudy and for February, relatively warm – 37 degrees F or 3 degrees C. Warm for February. But, it’s all relative. I didn’t get to spend much time outside yesterday. I spent the day catching up on grading – grading Civil War tests – timelines and essays. And it’s not likely I’ll get much time today, either.

essays - what is central idea of the Gettysburg Address - they don't grade themselves
essays – what is central idea of the Gettysburg Address – they don’t grade themselves

I had promised time to B, my wife, but grading the tests took longer than I expected. I went to school to grade – the tests needed to be scanned and the only scanner I can use is at school. I was sort of married to school. The school was open Saturday, the local youth athletic league had rented the gym for the basketball season and yesterday was picture day.

I donned my lanyard with my school ID and keys and ambled in. I found the library open – a bonus of sorts. The library is being transformed to a modern library use – space to sit and read, use laptops, and other devices and maintenance workers were in on the weekend finishing work on a charging station and a printing station they had started the day before. The library still has books, but times are changing and our school will be issuing all students a Google Chrome laptop for use next fall and the librarian is trying to get ahead of the curve. We, meaning teachers, are, too. Continue reading Time – Weekly Photo Challenge