School Our Students Deserve

school

By all current assessments our school systems needs a make over. Schools have remained stagnate for the past hundred years as humans have rapidly advanced. Schools have failed to keep up with the innovations and advancements that have happened around them. It is time we adapt schools to their surroundings.

Our current school structure is absolute. Our high school students deserve schools without a bell schedule, built more like a modern library or bookstore. Schools need large gathering areas for students to meet, collaborate and socialize. Surrounding the large community space should be smaller gathering rooms and offices for instructors. Instead of having a set schedule of classes set to a bell schedule. Students can work like most offices with a flex schedule, attending labs and lectures as needed. Handing in assignments digitally. Teachers would use their offices to meet with individual students, small meeting rooms for groups projects and a few classrooms to schedule large group instruction. A classroom management system can be used for students to schedule their meeting times with instructors. The building could be open from 7 AM till 7 PM and students would be able to come and go as needed. School should go year round to allow students to keep learning. If students feel they need a break then they can take on, returning when ready to work.

Currently schools function as a holding cell for students while parents are at work. Students currently come and go as they please for doctor’s appointments, vacations sports and when sick. Our current structure is failing our students and families. Students miss so much instruction time, schools need a system that is more flexible allowing students to learn at their own pace with no penalty for absences.  In this flexible structure, grade levels would be eliminated.  Students would focus on learning standards and receive credit for mastering standards working at their own pace.  Students would have the flexibility to pick their learning pathway that focuses on their interests and career paths.

Teachers would be able to create their schedules to fit their daily needs and districts would not need to hire substitute teachers. Classroom management can be handled by asking any students not meeting expectations to go home for the day and return when they are ready to learn.

It is time to create the schools our students deserve, ending the school day care centers we currently run.

Lets get to work and make it happen!

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MAMSE 2018

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I will be presenting at the Michigan Association of Middle School Educators Conference on Monday March 12, 2018. I have gone to MAMSE every year since 2011. I feel every middle level educator in Michigan to try to attend at least once. Yes, I am biased since I am currently president of MAMSE. Our conference focuses on middle level instruction and the needs of middle level teachers. This is a great networking opportunity to meet up with other teachers in the middle. The conference is held in a middle school building with middle school students assisting by introducing speakers and occasionally presenting. This year our host is The Middle School at Parkside in Jackson, MI. MAMSE is a state affiliate of the Association of Middle Level Educators (AMLE) which is the leading provider of support of middle level instruction.

This year I will be presenting on Social Media and Legends of Learning. My presentations are embedded below. Hope to see you Monday.

Just Kidding …

justkidding

Part 1 of school safety series

Since Valentines day and the sad events that happened in Parkland, Florida at Stoneman Douglas High School, schools have been on edge. School safety is a ht topic on the news, radio and in the papers. Our students see how serious adults are around the topic. Many are calling out for attention by making their own threats. It seems like every news cycle we hear a story about teens making threats. When caught voicing their threat of violence whether on social media or in person, the next words authorities hear are “Its a Joke” or “I am Kidding”.

Now days schools have to take every threat seriously. At any word of a potential attack, safety plans are put into place. Police are rushed to the scene. Tensions mount. School violence is not a joking matter. The authorities are using a zero tolerance approach. Still the jokesters are still out there. Each passing week it seems more tomfoolery arises. Students are testing the system, looking to see how the adults will react. Raising the stress levels in schools.

It seems jokes have reached a new level, that similar to the famed MTV show “Jackass”. I am left wondering when jokes became this way.  We need to teach our children that jokes are obvious, if we have to tell others its a joke we weren’t funny. Another clue to a jokes is that they create laughter not fear. Has YouTube warped our children’s understanding of humor?

or is something else happening?  Has our on demand world, made our students hate the social, community demands of school? Questions to ponder as we seek answers to how to make our schools safe. (and better)

In the meantime could ALL media outlets help our children understand how to make a joke that doesn’t cause fear!

A Modest Education Proposal

sponsorship

Education is an expensive endeavor. Schools need to be kept modern. Students need the latest technology in their hands to learn and be ready for the careers for tomorrow. Isn’t it time that our education system began acting like a business so many politicians want it to be?

It is time for schools to benefit from their captive audience like movie theaters, sport and concert venues, banks and airlines. Instead of having water fountains, schools can sell water can be sold for $4 a bottle. The lockers and bathrooms use will be for a cost $1.00. Lessons can come will come with paid advertisements from the schools sponsors. Small Fees will be charged for students to be tested and a larger fee structure for grades issued. Once all these policies are implemented, taxes for the community will be reduced and schools will be able to recruit the brightest and best teachers.

When schools focus on being profitable like businesses everyone wins. These are sound business principals. Airlines, airports and concert venues take advantage of their captive audience by over charging for needs commodities like water. At movie theaters customers pay to see a movie but also see ads that add to the theaters bottom line. Extra fees exist all over the business world. It is time for schools to follow this trend and act like a corporation by find profits everywhere they can. Heck, network television charges cable companies to carry them (fees past to customer) while they charge millions for advertising. When I go down to Comerica Park, I pay $20 for a Little Ceasars Pizza that would cost me $5 at the store by my house. Why haven’t schools realized this potential before? Students have to go to school by law, time for us to capitalize on our captive student audience.

 

Please read Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” if you don’t understand my satire. It is time to recognize education isn’t a business and needs to be fully funded by taxes.

Advocacy #Oneword2018

advocate

Advocacy – public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.

My focus for 2018 will on advocacy. I need to advocate for creating a better education system for my students and peers. Right now our education system seems to be a target. Schools don’t get the appreciation for all the services that are provided. Teachers are leaving their chosen profession in droves for greener pastures. It is time for advocates to rise up and share the power of education and all that is positive in our schools.

It can be easy just to close the classroom door focusing on just my own class. Teachers need to remember what is best for our students and keep doors open. We need to discuss our practice critically with each other. Advocating for what we know is best while remaining respect of others opinions. I have shied away from advocacy in the past in fear of offending others. It can be a fine line of being and advocate and be arrogant. One must respect others points of view; agreeing to disagree to avoid confrontations.  These conversations have to occur to transform education.

Lorax

For education to turn around it needs advocates.

Advocates for our students remembering that they are more than a score. Our students come from a variety of backgrounds with a plethora of goals the education system needs to honor them.

Advocates for our teachers. The profession has been beaten down by accountability.

Advocate for funding. Our schools need to keep pace with our ever changing educational needs.

Advocates for teaching and learning methods. To improve our system we need to accept the many learning styles and methods that work.

Advocate for many paths. Our society has focused too ling on “college ready”, we need to recognize that many career paths don’t pass through colleges.

I will not apologize for my advocacy. I care to much to not speak out for my students and profession!

 

My previous #oneword posts on Time and Opportunity.

Thanks for giving me your time to take the opportunity to advocate on behalf of my students.

 

Looking back to move forward

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As 2017 wraps up, I am reminded to reflect on the past so I can plan for the future. This year has flown by with much excitement and stress. The year started with AMLE asking me to be a featured speak at the 2017 conference. One of my teaching partners struggled as her father slowly passed away. Summer was a nice hiatus to spend time with my 3 young ones as they grow up (too quickly). Fall came in like a hurricane as a school year can do full of activities and learning. In November the AMLE conference was full of passion and excitement. The winter break came just in time to allow me to catch up and reflect.

As I look back I want to focus on 3 things moving forward:

  1. Slow down – Don’t try to do everything, focus on being present where ever you may be. Enjoy the moment and don’t worry about missing something. When you spend time worrying about missing out, you miss out on everything.
  2. Focus on students – Our students matter. It isn’t the curriculum, test scores or grades that matter. Our students live very different lives than I did when I was growing up. I need to remember to give them experiences that they may never get. I need to remember that they have different expectations and desires in life than I have for my children. I just need to listen and help them grow. this growth is not always academic and comes in many forms.
  3. Try new thing – I want to stay fresh and inventive. There are days I have little time to gather all I need to make the “great’ lesson. I need to make sure I don’t resort to just reach for the file cabinet with old lessons. I need the students to be engaged daily. Lesson must be fresh, exciting and full of passion for learning science. I can’t just rely on the textbook or a video to motivate my students to learn science.

past

I hope to continue to grow and learn this year. I see changes ahead. 2018 see me join the AMLE board of directors helping guide its mission and vision. I will be giving up my leadership role for our districts Union to find time to work on the national level.

Hope to connect with many great folks in 2018! See you in the new year!

Silverdome Implosion = Teachable moment

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Flicker by Dave Hogg

“Mr Bloch, did you hear they are imploding the Silverdome this weekend?” A student asked at the start of advisory today. “Yes, I heard it on the news.”

“What’s the Silverdome?” another student piped in.

Since Ford Field opened in 2002 the Pontiac Silverdome has become a forgotten relic wasting away in the elements. My students weren’t born the last time a significant event occurred there. I quickly shared how I attended Lions and Pistons games an the occasional concert at the Silverdome while I was in college. Pulling up pictures of the stadium for them all to see.

“Man it would be cool to see it BLOWN AWAY!” I was quickly reminded of how middle school students love explosions. What science could we discuss? I quickly responded,

“You realize the matter is not destroyed, just changed into something else.”

“What?”

“Matter doesn’t disappear it just changes.” A puzzled look over came the 7th grader’s face just as the bell rang for him to move on to his next class.

Middle school students love science, they just don’t quite understand all of it yet. Implosions look like explosions, not many kids care to know the difference. When something implodes or explodes all they cares is what was once there is now gone. But where did it go? Energy transforms matter into something else, dust and debris, that has the exact same mass as the original structure. Students have a difficult time understanding this.

To help my student understand the law of conservation of mass and energy transformations I plan to use a new website, Legends of Learning, where the science is brought to life through games. To help my inquiring students better understand the implosion of the Pontiac Silverdome there is the game Energy Lab that shows students how energy flows in the chemical reactions used to implode the structure. Students are engaged while playing the learning games. Potential Match can be used to explain how the potential energy is changed to kinetic energy and back during the implosion.

Students love seeing science in actions rather than reading about it in a book or seeing it in a video. Video games help science come alive and be interactive, like those teachable moments we find in life.

I plan on getting my 13 year old son up early on Sunday to drive down M-59 and watch the dome go down all in the name of science.

Don’t miss all the teachable moments that occur in your community where science is always in action!