Exploding Gummy Bears.

So much in my head right now from Educon this weekend. Only 6 conversations and I’m in overload. I feel like an exploding gummy bear.

Did you know that gummy bears can explode? I learned that yesterday. No I did not make one explode. But yesterday I was in last session, I was tired, my brain hurt, and my lack of caffeine was kicking in. The session was about this great idea but I could tell the others in the room were low on steam as well. I looked like my 7th period usually does. When asked if anyone had comments this sweet SLA student spoke up (I never include the name of kids in my post).

He started talking about the importance of how people learn. We all know this, but it’s refreshing hearing it come from this high school student. He said that it was stupid for teachers to think that everyone is headed to one answer, one way. It is important to have the one answer, but he asked why can’t we take different paths to get there. He said it like telling someone you are football player. He said there is a difference between being a football player and a linebacker. If someone says they are a football player you can’t tell them how to play the game. If you are a linebacker you know their position and their job. (Y’all know I love football analogies!!)

He went on to tell us about his favorite lessons this year, he said in one class they made gummy bears explode. He said that he did not know they exploded but now he know why.

He then went from talking about his experiences to what made a good teacher. Good teachers develop their curriculum to meet their students. He reminded me (this was something I needed reminding about) that each class period is different. You can’t teach the same lesson every period, it’s not fair because lesson with one class may not work with another.

Last reminder was that we needed to ask questions. Ask more questions. Ask questions yet never tell the answer.

This is stuff we (and I) as educators know. It’s the same stuff I remember learning first semester in education school (I went to a college that had a PBL focus so this was everyday) but I have to sit and ask myself do I always do this? No. I do not ask enough questions. I do not vary my lessons enough for each class.

I do not always recognize the linebacker from the quarterback, often I teach them the same thing I am teaching a kicker. With that we would be the one major college in Alabama not to win a BCS title.
Cory Plough reminded me last week “if you go to work each day just to teach you will just be paying your dues.” We need to blow up more gummy bears and we need to remember not to focus on teaching your center to catch the ball.


This post was almost finished and then something happened today and I went back and added to it.

Original Post:

Do you use videos in your classroom?  You should.  I was reminded of this during church service Sunday.  The pastor was not there and the guy filling in was preaching normal sermon.  I was listening but just that, listening.  Then the video monitors starting playing just a short clip on exactly what he was preaching on.  I went from just listening to totally engaged in a matter of seconds.

It is important we show videos to students.  If they cannot experience the depths ocean in real life or the inside of a hydroelectric dam (they loved that one btw), we can show them more than a picture from a textbook.

There are many places to find short videos. I used to only use Discovery Streaming, but we no longer have a subscription so I have had to look elsewhere.  IF you teach in the state of Alabama APTPLUS has many video clips that are pretty decent, you can use your Discovery log in to access.  How Stuff Works is wonderful and fun.  The negative is that not all commercials are appropriate (ovulation testers cause 6th graders to ask questions you do not want to answer lol). Discovery Channel and National Geographic also have great video clips.

YouTube is wonderful too.  It is blocked in my district but zamzar is a great downloading tool that is not blocked.  I usually download video night before and then open zamzar once at school.  Hey it works.

I do not mean to play movies or bore them to death.  Just short clips that get straight to the point.  My students and I always rate the videos on how bad the “Science Man” voice.  But even with a “Science Man” voice they still are interested in it is short and covers the objective. Four minutes is always my limit on clips, 2 minutes is always the goal.

Those looking to try using technology in your class this is a great start.  All you have to do is push play (and pause, I’m bad about pausing to explain).

Today’s Addition:

Zamzar is now blocked.  I used it last month, now because it shares files, it is blocked.  Once again the fear of technology wins. My heart is sad.

Weeeelllll it’s 2011

So 2011 has been weird. Things are seeming backwards to me here. I mean Auburn won a BCS championship. Even more weird and backwards, I’m on my 4th snow day. In Alabama. A snow day. Last year was the first time I had ever taken one. So 2011 is weird.

My whole purpose of this is to point out that it’s 2011. Not 1993 when I was in 6th grade. Not 1981 when I was born. Not 1969 (I just chose that year bc history books make it a crazy year and I like it). It’s not 1911. It’s 2011. So why do 4 snow day make me seem disconnected with work? Why have I not been able to keep moving? Why are teachers in my school stressed because the school closing was not on her google reader (which made my week btw)?

I’m sitting in a noodle restaurant writing a blog post on what my daughter calls “That big iPhone” and tweeting on my iPhone as I write. Yet I have grades that need to go in, and can’t put them there. I have things I want to share with my students as I read through flip book, yet not able to.

I saw a tweet this morning about how Virginia wants to outlaw teachers being friends with students on facebook. Ok I understand facebook, kinda. But OMG people! It’s not about that! Where did I find out schools were closed? Not a school cast that has the wrong number and I don’t know password to change it, but from twitter and facebook. yet my district nor school have sites for the parents/kids.

When will education officials stop looking at social media as a bad thing and start teaching students AND teachers how to use?

Most of my kids don’t have email, but they almost all have facebook accts. They receive them on phones when no access to computers. I wish I could get in touch with them, I can guarantee 20+ will ask if they still have a test tomorrow when we go back. They won’t, but would love to stop that annoyance. Ha!

It’s time to embrace the now. The 2011. Not call it the future, not prepare for it, but embrace it TODAY.

No Resolutions

So it’s 2011. One day back to school and already wondering if this year could be bad. It’s been “one of those days.” Not a good way to start. So new year usually means resolutions. If you read my last post you know I’m having problems with failure lately. So the idea of setting myself up for failure AGAIN makes me laugh. No way. I’ve decided to set goals instead. Small goals. More like things to keep myself on track not as much to achieve anything. I’m hoping putting them in writing helps remind me of them. I’m setting my calendar to alarm & remind me of them on occasion. Here goes:

1. edcampbham. I am determined to make this a success. I have a great team I am working with on this. So far almost 50 have registered & we haven’t started advertising beyond twitter yet. By the way if you are interested, it is April 30. More info can be found at http://edcamp.wikispaces.com/edcamp+Bham (shameless plug!)

2. To be satisfied and thankful I have a job. So many days I get down because I do not have to career I have longed for all these years. Finishing my second degree in this field and still no progress does not help. (seems like a tech specialist somewhere has to figure out they would rather text books instead of tech and quit…someone? Anyone?) I get frustrated having ideas in a place I have no voice. I get tired of falling online and filmy against my professional beliefs. But unlike so many people in this country I have a job. And I like teaching. My kids this year are pretty good as well. I need to be thankful for these things. I need to do my best at what I am doing, not some dream I’ve held in my pocket for 5 years now.

3. To take everything I learn at educon and apply it to my daily teaching. So often I learn new things yet settle in new old routines when return.

4. To make my students write a blog post a week. I want them to reflect on their learning. I think my kids are so dependent on text books and getting a right answer they aren’t taking the time to learn. To think about the what they are learning. I’m determined to Change the way they look at learning and the way they study.

I have more. I have personal ones like be a better mom or instead of the whole weight loss deal being happy with myself. I’m hoping these small short term goals will be met. These should at least last me til summer.