#MSchat Schedule for September and October

Schedule for #MSchat for Sept and Oct

Chat is Thursdays week at 8 PM EST

Date                   Topic

August 29          No chat for Labor day holiday

Sept 5                How to address Student’s Physical needs

Sept 12              Celebrations in learning

Sept 19              Homework- Flipped Chat event with AMLE

                             and Guest Moderator Dru Tomlin

                            * *  More info coming up shortly  * *

Sept 26              How to address Student’s Emotional needs

Oct 3                  Literacy in Middle School

Oct 10                Parental Involvement

Oct 17                This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents Part 1

Oct 24                This We Believe: Keys to educating Young Adolescents Part 2

Oct 31                No Chat for Halloween

Collaborating PD- #collabed

During the last two afternoon, I joined #Collabed chat for special PD sessions on how to use twitter as an educator. Both days the chat had the same theme of how Twitter can assisted educators and help them expand their personal/professional learning network. The chats were in conjunction with professional development in Grosse Pointe School lead by @TwoTeacherZ. This type of PD is going on all over in education. Educators are realizing that collaboration is the key to our success. We need to work together for the good of our students. Twitter is a wonderful tool to enable us to collaborate. It takes teachers off of the island of teaching and into the waters of learning. If you missed the chat you can find both days archived here using Storify. IF you are an educator I recommend that you take the time to join the conversations on twitter. #Collabed Chat is starting up in September every Monday night at 8 pm EST with hosts @TwoTeacherZ and @JaimeArmin .

Dear Parents- A Teacher’s advice for the school year

Dear Parents-

As the school year starts, please listen to the following advice of how to help your child be successful in school (and life).

  • You are vital to your child’s educational process. Make sure you participate and build a partnership with your child’s teacher (s)
  • Make sure your child eats nutritional meals- Food is vital for the brain to learn.
  • A regular sleep pattern will enable your child to be alert and ready to learn in the classroom. Research shows 8 or more hours of sleep is optimal.
  • IF you need to contact your child during school hours, call the school not their cell phone. Cell phones should be off during school hours (some teachers may allow use in class for learning). You message my be important but will distract the class. Schools have systems for getting messages to students.
  • Speak positively about school and education to your child. If you don’t like or understand an assignment don’t share this with your child, discuss it with the teacher or school’s principal. It is important not to foster negative attitude towards education in your child.
  • Have a daily discussion about school. Show your child you are interested in what they are learning in school. Ask them what they like? Don’t understand? and Learned? Stay away from just asking what they “did” in school since the most common answer will be “nothing” which you know isn’t true.
  • Homework might not occur daily (I don’t give any) but learning should still occur at home. Students should review ideas covered in class and work on areas of weakness at home. If your child’s grades are low in a subject ask teachers for ways to reinforce/ improve skills at home.
  • Don’t stress over grades for your child, stress learning and best effort. Grades are just a snapshot of how a student measures up to a standard. Encourage your child to work hard and improve in their abilities. If this is your focus grades will improve.
  • Teachers are your partners in educating your child, keep an open positive line of communication. They want ALL children to succeed, listen to their suggestions and communicate your concerns.
  • Reading and comprehension are fundamental for any students success. Model reading and encourage your child to read something daily. It can be anything that interest them: Books, magazines, websites, comics,
  • Most of all: Show your child that learning is essential and many times fun!

Please try to follow this advice, so that you and your children can have a wonderful school year. It is important that teachers and parents work as partners in students success. Have an awesome year!!

Searching for Ed-Reform!

The state of Michigan has been undergoing what legislators and the media have defined as Educational Reform. As a teacher I have felt that it has been an attack on my profession, by belittling our jobs, effort and intentions. In the name of this reform teacher’s unions have been attacked, school funding has been slashed, students are tested more and the value of a teacher’s teaching lie in these test scores.  For profit charter schools have been popping up like zits on the middle school students I teach. Self-proclaimed “Educational Reform” experts Jeb Bush and Michelle Rhee have flocked to the state to promote their “system” of reforms. Conservative, business centric  think tanks continue to lobby for more “reforms” that reduce the judgement of a classroom teachers turning them over to  untrained legislators and corporate interests. Most recently proposing the outsourcing of teaching positions. All in the name of Educational Reform. I ask myself: Is this reform? Are the reforming educational practices?

To start we need the definition of “reform”: Make changes in (something, typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it. – Webster’s Dictionary.

Well the so-called reformers say they are going to make it better by tearing apart the old system and building it anew. Should this be done by parties with financial interests at stake? Most reform movement add money to the “thing” they are changing , not take it away, unless it is a financial reform.

So how is “education”: defined: The process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, esp. at a school or university: “A new system of public education.” or The theory and practice of teaching.  – Webster’s dicitonary

Are the reformers changing how teachers instruct? Some, teachers now have their practice of teaching interrupted by testing and test preparation activities. Most of the changes here in Michigan are less about educational practices of schools and more about the financial practices of the school districts. The reforms have also attacked the lobbying body for teachers (unions) in hopes of pushing all of the “reforms” through the legislative body without resistance. I would define all of this reform as Financial Reform, with the only beneficiary being corporations.

When searching for educational reform I ask: Is there any REAL educational reform out there?

From my vantage point I see many leaders of TRUE educational reform: None of which are driving state or federal policy but all should be recognized as leading the educational reform movement. Here is an incomplete list of three positive educational reform movements:

  1. EdCamps – “organic, participant driven professional development for K-12 teachers worldwide.” Edcamps are a great place to see educational reform happen. Teachers get together during their “free” time to discuss, share, teach and learn from each other about current teaching practices and issues. By having attended Edcamp, I have changed how I teach and feel that all of my students benefit. Best part about this reform movement: it is completely FREE. Nobody gets paid to be there or pays to attend. All legislators should attend an Edcamp near them to SEE a process that is changing how learning occurs in classrooms.

2. Twitter Ed Chats– Many think of twitter is a tool to keep up with Hollywood’s stars or your favorite sports team. For educators, twitter has become a place to keep current by chatting with colleagues from all over the world. There are chats going on constantly covering a wide variety of topics. Twitter helps teachers share best practices, bounce new ideas off of one another and support each other when struggles occur. Teachers also use twitter to their students how to collaborate and give their students an authentic audience.

3. Teacher Blog’s – Thousands of teachers are blogging. They are writing about an area where they are experts: TEACHING and LEARNING. The two vary things so many in society want to reform. Many teachers are writing about what needs to change in education and how to make our classrooms better learning environments. Legislators, are you listening to them? These are the experts who have NO financial interest in reforming education. Their interests are for the education of their students. Many educators disagree in the “correct” path to a better education system. In these Blogs one will find an honest debate and discussion about teaching and learning.

In the future let’s separate the two education reform movements: 1: The financial movement lead by corporate interests and 2. the teaching movement lead by educators themselves.

Who wins in the overall reform movement will reflect our nation’s values:

DO we value Education? or Money? only time will tell.

Educators always working against common misconception!!

As I was perusing my Facebook feed, I came across an interesting post from an old friend, Ed:

  • CNN’s Michaela Pereira did a story today about which states have the “higher probability” of winning the Powerball based upon the historical percentage of winners. This drivel implies that people have a greater probability of winning based on the state they play in.

    The fact that this is seen as some level of insight into winning the lottery is beyond ignorant. It reminds me of my favorite bumper sticker “The Lottery: a tax you pay for not understanding math”

Ed is not a teacher but a engineer for Intel. I am so glad that He gets frustrated with a news report that is showing ignorance of math. It seems like a regular occurrence these days that new agencies misstate facts or run a story that improperly applies math principles.

The story, Ed is referencing, implies that someone has better odds of winning the Powerball jackpot depending on the state in which they live. When in fact,  The change of winning is fixed based on a how many numbers there are and how many there are to choose from, period. CBS news ran a similar story today too.

Simple stories like this one, seem harmless at first but the undermine the entire education system. Students are more likely to believe what they see on the news, than remember a lesson presented at school. Educators are always working against the common social misconceptions. Our media outlets need to do a better job in “informing” the public. Teachers often get the blame when students don’t understand concepts, shouldn’t we start holding all of our media outlets to this same high standard?

As a teacher, I often remind the students that anyone can be wrong, and that misconceptions exist all over our society. Fact checking from multiple sources is a must but does not always result in a “correct answer”. Just remember the next time you watch the news to be a bit skeptical, and check for common misconceptions.