Reflective Teacher Day 25- Student collaboration

Day 25- @TeachThough  30 Day Reflective Teaching Challenge  

The ideal collaboration between students–what would it look like?

Student collaboration has many faces in the classroom. From the students leading over to show their neighbor where a question is in the book to a project based learning activity where each students role is dependent on each other. In my classroom I want students to collaborate. A procedure in my class is for student to ask 3 before asking me. This build a support network and promotes a “WE are in this learning thing together” attitude for my students.

Ideal collaboration looks like? This is a tough question to answer, depends on the students and the project. Ideally the students would be dependent on each other for successful completion of the task. It would be seamless. Each student would know their task, its value to the overall product, they would communicate clearly, producing something epic. To me it would be like the harmony that comes form Dave Mathews Band songs.

Many adults have issues when it comes to collaborating so reaching the ideal in a middle school classroom is magic. I do have many collaborative projects in my classroom. Occasionally ideal was near by. Will keep striving for it!

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 .

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.

#mschat 5-9-13 Hacking Education

Active chat tonight on how teaches can make changes to the educational structure to enhance learning and engagement in our students. Teachers need to be the leaders of change in schools. We need to be empowered by our administrators to find ideas that work in the classroom. Teacher Educational Programs need to be updated and in-fused into school districts to help foster this type of change. 

The archive of the chat is found here: