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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Eduvox 1.7

Eduvox

"All my originals ideas are borrowed ideas infused with my creativity & style."

Dear Katie,

As you sift through the deluge of educational opinion and advice on the Internet (including my own), here are some blog posts that I believe deliver practical ideas and/or sound advice from voices other than my own.  Enjoy!

http://poskerhill.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/real-teaching-part-one-teaching-starts-outside-the-classroom/

TWITTER: @poska

Human interaction, encouragement, and support is so important in young people's lives, I hope that educational leaders remember that as video streamed on classes are pushed more and more.  A @poska writes a great reminder that you do not teach a subject, you teach students.  Taking time to know them outside classroom will get them excited what you are saying inside.

http://mandyvasek.com/2014/04/05/byting-off-more-pd-with-2-0-tools/

TWITTER: @mandyvasek

Teacher inservice/staff meetings, the bane of my existence as a teacher.  @mandyvasek makes some good points about the inclusion of web tools to enhance the experience and learning fort he teacher, and thus to actually get something out of it other than a sore butt.  Makes you think about what your classroom presentation is like to the student.

http://englishteacherman81.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/game-based-learning-in-the-classroom/

TWITTER: @english_maven

I LOVE implementing games in the classroom.  @english_maven offers both a blog and a YouTube video of the online tool Kahoot.  I know I have written in the past how Socrative has changed how I run classroom games, time to see how Kahoot will change things up also.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

On Being a Good Dad: A Letter to Governor Christie

Dear Governor Christie,

I was the opposing coach at your son's baseball game yesterday.  When you arrived to watch, the buzz quickly spread from among our parents and into our bench.  In 15 years of coaching middle school, we have never had such a high profile fan watching one of our games.

Although we probably do not share many things in common, two that we do is love for our family and love of baseball.  Your presence at the game yesterday to support your son was a reminder to me of how important it is to take time out of my schedule, no matter how busy it is, to spend time with my daughters.  It reminded me of my own father, who was a factory worker.  When I played ball games close to Elizabeth where he worked, he would use his lunch hour to come over and catch a few innings. Even after the game got out of hand, you didn't use it as an excuse to leave.  You were there cheering your son and his team on from the first pitch to the last out.  Sadly, in my years as a coach, I have seen fathers walk away in similar situations, allowing the tyranny of the urgent to overtake them.  As an adult I can't put a value on the admiration that grew for my father from the efforts he extended to take in as many ball games as he could right through college. I can guarantee your children will as well.

You're going to be your child's father for more years than governor or any other office you may choose (or not choose) to run for.  I think that we all can learn from that; our job or position isn't our identity and is definitely not what our kids see when we come home at night.

I'm not saying that I agree with all your decisions as governor (as you probably could guess since I'm a teacher but then again, my wife and I don't agree 100% on everything either), but the decision you made yesterday to cheer on your son is something I think everyone can agree was a good one. In our toxic political environment, it saddens me when people will not give praise to politicians when it is deserving just because we don't agree with them on other points.  If we can't say "Good Job" when it is deserving because the politician has the wrong letter next to their name, then our society is hopeless.

I have been a teacher and coach for over 20 years and have the pleasure of seeing how a father's love for their child has helped him/her to succeed in the classroom, ball field, and life.  Tragically, I have also seen how the lack of this commitment from dads effects children as well.

Thanks for the reminder of how important it is to be a Dad first.

Congrats on winning "Father of the Year".

Respectfully,

Kevin Cullen
Baseball Coach/7th Grade History Teacher
Black River Middle School
Chester, NJ


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Eduvox 1.6

Eduvox

"All my originals ideas are borrowed ideas infused with my creativity & style."

Dear Katie,

As you sift through the deluge of educational opinion and advice on the Internet (including my own), here are some blog posts that I believe deliver practical ideas and/or sound advice from voices other than my own.  Enjoy!


http://tphelps1980.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/socrative-is-the-best-app-for-education/

@travisphelps80

I have spoken about the wonders of Socrative before.  Here is another teacher singing its praises as well as offering how he is implementing it in the classroom.



http://edtechadventure.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-landscape-of-new-and-unknown.html

@teachbaltshaw

A just shared with a former student how life is change and our need to expect it and adapt to it.  This blog post encourages a teacher to embrace change as a way to grow.  Do not be the teacher who does the same thing every year. Take a risk.



http://learnworthy.net/2013/09/29/perspective-context-and-experience/

@clonghb

An older post from the beginning of the school year.  You will be introduced to many styles and strategies in running your classroom, but don't buy the lie that one size fits all.  How I do things in my classroom may not fit your personality and/or student population.  Embrace what works for others.  Be willing to work on what works for you.







Sunday, April 20, 2014

HIMYM, Easter & Happily Every After

If you are one of the few people left on planet earth who have not watched your DVR saved final episode of How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM), and don't want to have it spoiled, stop reading.  My wife gave up on the show after season three.  I stuck with it for one reason, that Carter and Bays' story telling was intriguing.  Starting with the end (the story to the kids) and getting to the beginning (the mother) was different, as well as their extensive use of flashbacks and flashfowards.  I have an appreciation for shows that have dared to tell their story differently (such as Moonlighting, Arrested Development, Scrubs, and Community).

Yet, HIMYM broke many people's hearts (I would be shocked if the writers were surprised).  The mother had been dead the whole time the story was being told.  I guess it was told to have the kids OK their father's pursuit of his best friend's ex-wife, who was also his former girlfriend (isn't that against the "Bro Code" somewhere?).  As some people sarcastically wrote, the show title should have been How I Settled For Your Mother.  For nine years viewers invested and hoped that the lovable loser ,"Charlie Brown-ish", Ted would finally get the girl of his dreams, and that dream was shattered in the course of about 2 minutes in the final episode.

My paraphrase of the writer's response to the reaction is, "Bad things happen in life and we always reflected that."  That is true.  But entertainment is to make people forget about the troubles of real life.  Yes, in real life, people get sick, people get divorced, they lose their jobs, they have their heart brokers, and we all will die.  And during the course of a TV shows run, we are okay and even now expect to see the characters we identify with struggle with these issues.  But in the end, entertainment is supposed to for us to escape what we don't see in this life.  We have been conditioned that the stories we are told end with a modification of the phrase, "And they lived happily ever after".

One of the best TV finales of the past few years was Scrubs. After the main character, JD, walks down the hallway to the hospital door (that was lined up with characters from previous episodes wishing him luck as he begins his job at a new hospital), he comes to a giant sheet on which plays a film of his future.  He winds up marrying is on again, off again love interest, his son marries the daughter of his best friend Turk, and then we are left with a scene of a Christmas in the near future where JD, Turk, and Dr. Cox's families come together in a happy and joyous occasion (well, except for Dr. Cox).  It leaves the viewers with a very positive view of the future of these characters.  Yes, in real life things don't tie up that neatly, but TV shows aren't real life (not even reality shows).

Which brings me to Easter, the ultimate Happily Ever After story.  Jesus has died on the cross, people saw him, they ran a sword in him to make sure he was dead, they took him off the cross, wrapped him in a burial shroud, and moved him into a mausoleum, rolling a stone in front and setting guards to watch from grave robbers.  The story for everyone else in human history would have ended there, but Jesus rose from the dead, and showed himself alive.  The resurrection validated who he was, and thus validated everything he said about God, us, and eternal life.

Now, Ricky Gervais in the movie The Invention of Lying would say that this tremendous lie of a real Happily Ever After was told so we wouldn't fear the finality of death.  I guess that is one way to look at it.  I would go with the idea that it seems all of humanity throughout history is longing for the same thing because God has placed that desire within us.  Without the hope of a Happily Ever After, we are left with "the now" being heaven.  Without hope of an eternal, we focus on having our best life now.  We want instant gratification no matter how far we go into debt.  Our focus becomes more "me" focused and our choices in life become more reckless as we subconsciously realize that if we do suffer consequences, they are only temporary.

But Christianity is not a form of entertainment, it is real life.  Christianity presents it's case as events that happened in real time and space, as historical happenings.  Christianity doesn't deny that I will face hardships and struggles, it only offers the comfort that Jesus has overcome the world and offers eternal life, a Happily Ever After at the end.

Some may call my hope irrational (but who gets to define what's rational without a rational God?).  I don't.  It's greater than the hope we long for of a Happily Ever After after we we begin a novel, watch a movie, or follow a TV series.  It's greater than the hope the viewers of HIMYM longed for Ted Moseby and the Mother.  It's better than just an entertaining story because it's a real hope.  And it's the hope of a Happily Ever After I have found in Jesus.

For Christians, Easter is the reminder that Jesus secured for us a Happily Ever After.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?

-Romans 8:22-23




                    

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Eduvox 1.5

Eduvox

"All my originals ideas are borrowed ideas infused with my creativity & style."

Dear Katie,

As you sift through the deluge of educational opinion and advice on the Internet (including my own), here are some blog posts that I believe deliver practical ideas and/or sound advice from voices other than my own.  Enjoy!

http://www.bradcurrie.net/2/post/2014/04/the-power-of-mystery-location-calls.html

@bcurrie5

My assistant principal recently participated in a "Mystery Location" call.  Great idea from a teacher in Lambertville, NJ, @pottsedtech in developing students critical thinking and questioning skills.

http://www.zachsnow.org/my-son-invented-the-hoverboard/

@zachsnow

Great post about encouraging creative thought in your child.  It is one of the main reasons I often use simulations in my history classes, through play, students begin to think through and research real-life solutions.  Out of a dream and play real innovations are made.  And who knows, maybe @zachsnow's kid does create the hoverboard.


http://deb-day.blogspot.com/2014/04/pittsfield-takeaways-1.html

@mrsday75

I appreciated this reminder that great teachers, as they near the finish line of their careers, don't pull up and coast across.  A great teacher is a great teacher because they recognize there is always room for growth (It also silences the argument that once teacher's get tenure they do nothing). @mrsday75 all give you some ideas she took away from her trip visiting another middle school.  She would agree with one of my principal's most often spoken phrases, "How Do You Know They Know It?".

Friday, April 18, 2014

Teaching like a Baseball Team (Dear Katie V2 #16)

Dear Katie,

Experience on a sports team is incalculably valuable.  

I enjoy life. I enjoy baseball. And I enjoy relating life to baseball.  I believe in life, one of the most valuable tools you can have is the ability to work with others.  You need to learn to create, discuss, compromise, and compete in order to succeed.  Baseball is a lot like that and teaching is a lot like playing on a baseball team.

Your grandfather calls baseball the most individualized team sport in the world (he doesn't classify bowling, golf, or tennis teams as true "team" sports).  As he would say, in football, every player on the field has a responsibility that they are being depended on completing in order for a play to work. In soccer and basketball you can be assisted by a teammate in scoring a goal, but in baseball, no one can help you when you are up at the plate.  Yet your team can't score a run unless your teammates each execute their individual mission (unless you hit a home run).  And there are many successful plays where > 90% of the players in the game have no involvement at all.

No one's block of an opponent is going to help you make the catch and setting a pick is not give a pitcher an advantage in pitching a strike.  

Baseball is very compartmentalized, and to be a successful team, each player must be able to depend on their teammates to both make the right decision and execute properly in order to complete a play.

Teaching is a lot like that.

You will be in a classroom most of the day, separated from your teammates, just like an outfielder about to make a catch with a runner on base.  Your teammates are expecting you to make the catch and make a good throw to the right base to prevent a run from scoring, but they can do nothing to help you. 

A good teacher realizes they are just one player who along with their teammates, create enriching educational opportunities for their students.

Hope that you have teammates who seek what is best for the good of the team.  Those who desire to collaborate on interdisciplinary projects, who take the time to mentor you, who assist you when you need help (even if it's just to watch your class when you need a bathroom break), and who have the courage to correct you if you are doing something wrong.  

Great teachers know they are they are playing a team sport, 
not an individual sport.  

Great teachers know any team, even a teaching team, 
is only as good as their weakest link.  

Teachers know that for the best of their students, every teacher that a child comes in contact with must be at their very best.  I am thankful that in my life I have encountered teammates like that.  But there are teachers out there who do not care about how their decisions affect your classroom, as long as it allows them to meet their individual standard of success.  Other teachers are more out for personal glory rather than good for the educational experience for the student as a whole.

It is difficult to play on a winning team when you have a teammates who would rather be all-stars than world champions.


As you know, I am not a Yankee fan, but they had the best teams in the 1990's because they had a few future and borderline hall of famers guys who placed personal glory aside for the good of the team.  They also had a bunch of players who knew they would only get to Cooperstown with a paid admission and recognized their only way to immortality was in showing of their World Series ring.  In the 2000's, the Yankees forgot about this formula, and began to sign all-star free agents at each position and they never attained what they did in the previous decade.  

All-Star teams tend to flop, and their justification most times for not playing for the good of the team is that the team doesn't want it as bad as them.  So the team's low winning percentage becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So called "all-star" teams rarely do as well as expected.  Egos get in the way.

I am proud that I was a baseball player.  The skills and knowledge I gained in playing the game has helped me in life as a whole.  I need to do my job well because I have teammates who expect that from me, and I expect that from them.  We work together because we see each child's educational growth as our "wins".  When you get your first teaching job, you are going to need to ask yourself…

Do I want to be an all-star or member of a world championship team?

Uncle Kevin

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Eduvox 1.4

Eduvox

"All my originals ideas are borrowed ideas infused with my creativity & style."

Dear Katie,

As you sift through the deluge of educational opinion and advice on the Internet (including my own), here are some blog posts that I believe deliver practical ideas and/or sound advice from voices other than my own.  Enjoy!


http://teachfearless.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/engaged-and-connected-kids/

@Fearless_teach

There is more to school than education.  It is a community.  @Fearless_teach reminds us of that in her blog post.



@mcnairan3

Have you ever wondered what kids are thinking in class?  Do you want to give a voice to the kid who may be afraid to speak out his/her opinion?  Have you ever heard of back channeling?  @mcairan3 describes it for you and gives a link to a great graphic to help you out.


@gephillip

Google puts out a lot of good product for teachers to use.  I would like to move to a paperless classroom, and Google Forms is a great way to accomplish that (besides, I think it will allow me to regain a day of my life every year since I won't be stranded in the copier room fixing a jam) @gephillip gives a great idea of embedding video into a Google Form on which students can enter their notes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Make Up Days (Dear Katie V2 #15)

Dear Katie,

Teaching in the northeast it is a certainty that one year you will face multiple cancellations of school due to snow storms.  And when your school runs out of their built in snow days in the schedule, your Board of Ed will have the task of determining when the day will be made up to reach that magical number of 180 days at which time all students receive a complete education for the year.  How to plan that day as a teacher is something you probably will not discuss in your education courses.

Much of what you do as a teacher will not be discussed in education courses.  
Have they taught you how to fix a jammed copier?

One choice is to tack on the day at the end of the year.  For me, that is my solution of choice, it is the least disruptive for my planning and my life outside of school.  If parents pull their kids due to vacation a day or two early, it doesn't affect their standing in my class.  The last day or two of school is for checking out and completing missed assignments for me.

The most ignorant reason I have ever heard against this choice is that teachers will just have another day at the end of the year to throw parties for their students.  

Trust me, no teacher in their right mind wants to throw a week's worth of parties.  They are nightmares in terms of classroom management, especially at the end of the year when kids are ramped up for summer.  Let's say the original end of the year is June 17.  That would mean I would try to give my last assessment on June 15, giving me two days to have kids who missed the assessment to make it up, and get my grades in on the 17th.  The 16th I usually play a review game on information we learned throughout the year, and the half day on the 17th is usually a celebration of the year (and I find nothing wrong in that, I teach kids who need to celebrate their passage to the next grade, not unfeeling, uncaring robots).  If the school year is extended to the 18th, that just means my last assessment becomes the 16th.  Everything just slides down one day.

Another choice is to take a day away from spring break.  That is the choice my school made this year.  The issue you run into is that families have planned out trips and other parents made decide not to send their child into school because spring break is spring break (and I do not fault a parent whose child has good attendance the rest of the year for keeping their child home on the make up day).  At our school, about 50% of the kids were in attendance yesterday.

As a teacher, the trick is that you will need to create a lesson plan that doesn't go so far ahead that when the other 50% return to class after break you will have to reteach it and at the same time fight the urge to do nothing amounting to a waste of the day.

For example, this year the seventh grade team I am on, allowed our students to work on their biome project the whole day (the biome project consists of separate science and history projects).  Now, a parent who is clueless might complain that this is no different than having their child work on it at home, but just because a parent went to a school as a kid doesn't mean they have a clue about school as an adult.  It was one of the best choices we have ever made for a make up day.

1) It took the pressure off the teachers deciding what to do.

2) We had several teachers missing due to their own planned trips, so by dividing the students who came to school by the number of teachers, we saved our principal from the logistical nightmare of determining coverage when we were short on subs (he was happy). 

3) It allowed the students access to the library, computers, magazines, textbooks, etc that they may not have at home.

4) Most importantly, it allowed the students access to their instructors who could answer any specific question about the project as they worked on it in real time.

I did not have an issue of any of my students not using their time wisely.  And interspersed between the hard work, they were talking and laughing.  There is nothing wrong with conversation as long as you maintain working on the task.  At the end of the day, one student put down his pencil, shut down his computer, looked up at me and said, "History project done!".  

His expression of accomplishment confirmed to me it wasn't a wasted day.

Uncle Kevin

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Me & My Dad's Birthday

Coming down stairs as a child on your birthday was an awesome feeling.  Unlike Christmas, that day was totally about YOU.  Except in my household, for I had the rare honor to have been born on my Father's birthday.  One of my favorite memories was bounding into my parent's bedroom as my Dad slept and waking him up with a "Happy Birthday Daddy!"  Groggy from working the night shift, he would always wake up enough to say to me, "Happy Birthday Kevin."

My father wasn't perfect, who's father is.  But one thing I know as an adult, no decision he ever made, even ones that I may disagree with to this day, was ever made to benefit him or out of a lack of love or caring for me.  I wish my daughters could say the same about me someday.

Let me tell you three ways he got it right...

My father always told me that if my teacher and I had conflicting stories of a problem in their classroom, he would always believe the teacher because the teacher doesn't need to lie to get out of his punishment.  Sound logic that the teacher in me wished more people understood.  From an early age he taught me respect.

My father worked in a factory for over 30 years.  He paid for my sister and I to college.  As he always said, he did this so we would never have to work in 120+ temperatures he had to suffer through in the summers.  He worked hard and sacrificed so our lives would be easier, yet at the same time expected us to work hard for what we wanted.

My father wanted me to feel like I earned whatever I received.  When I was young, I played baseball and I was AWFUL.  They stuck me in right field, the purgatory for little leaguers. My dad would assist the coach from time to time (whenever he wasn't working nights).  One day, our second baseman was out.  When the coach was getting us ready for warm ups, he told me to go out to second.  I had never even practiced playing infield.  

After warmups were over and before the game started, my Dad pulled me aside and said, "Coach asked me what I thought about you playing second tonight, I told him not to put you there because I help out with the team and he said that he thought you have been improving a lot over the past few games and that you earned it."  

From that night on, I was no longer awful in baseball.  It became my sport, and I practiced it and played it through my senior year in college.  It's funny, as a coach there have been several times where I am about to give a player more playing time and their parent emails or calls me to complain that I am not giving their child a chance. Or the parent who averages out their child's final grade and sees that they are one point short of an A- and pleads their case (my child has done several of your extra credits) when you were planning on giving them the A- for that very reason even without the call or email.  I feel badly for their child, because he/she will never know that they earned the playing time or the higher grade.

What will do more for a child's self-esteem and confidence, that they know they did or didn't earn it, or that their mommy or daddy was the one who got it for them?

I am proud of everything I earned, and it wouldn't of happened without parents who guided me, encouraged me, but who wanted ME to work hard for anything I earned.

Over the years my parents gave me great birthday gifts, new bikes, new baseball mitts, etc.  
The greatest gift is the honor of being born on the birthday 
of the man I respect more than any one else in the world.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Eduvox 1.3

Eduvox

"All my originals ideas are borrowed ideas infused with my creativity & style."

Dear Katie,

As you sift through the deluge of educational opinion and advice on the Internet (including my own), here are some blog posts that I believe deliver practical ideas and/or sound advice from voices other than my own.  Enjoy!

http://lifelonglearningclassroom.blogspot.com/2014/03/using-common-chord-to-encourage-student.html

@MusicEdTexas

Ideas from a music teacher, but rich thoughts for a teacher in other subjects as well.  I appreciate the ideas of seeing your students in different settings than your own classroom along with allowing them to lead the class rather than just follow the class.

http://sjsbates.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/knowing-the-truth/

The once "honored" profession of teaching gets a bad rap lately. As if expecting compensation for our labor somehow reveals greed; that somehow there is "logic" behind the belief that if teachers really cared about kids like we say we do, we should volunteer our services.  @sjsbates reminds me that truth defends itself, and tells stories that demonstrates that teacher's love for their students last long beyond their time in our classroom.  When the "Negative Nellies" attack, dwell on the rewards you received from your students.

@sjsbates

http://girlmeetstech.com/2014/01/21/flipped-classroom-videos-a-how-to/

Have you heard of a flipped classroom?  The idea is that students watch your lecture for homework and then can use class time for discussion or an activity. @ddemarest21 gives a practical, step by step guide on how to set up a flipped classroom.

@ddemarest21

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Your Town's Centerpiece

In 1976, the town I grew up in voted a large renovation of our middle school.  Although the updates were needed, looking back, it desecrated that old beautiful structure that served as a beacon not just of the education the town's kids were receiving, but of a centerpiece that town could be proud.  The original front entrance led you into a grand staircase that would lead you down to the basement in order to enter the gym or the auditorium (two separate rooms), or upstairs to the first or second floor.  Today, the only evidence left of that entrance is the decorative stone molding round the entrance.  The entrance itself was sealed shut with coats of concrete (at least it has been painted over since I attended there with a scene of how the doorways & staircase once looked.)  The stone walkway that began with large outdoor stone steps leading to the front doors have long since been removed and grown over with grass (they remained while I was there, but I guess people realized how silly it looked to have them leading to a now non-existent entrance).  The only thing that remains are the landing in front of the doors.  Where the grand staircase was that welcomed legions of students into the school now stands bathrooms for the first and second floor.  The gym and the auditorium have been combined into one room, a large gymnatorium (or auditnasium take your pick).  No longer is there theater styled seating or acoustics for musical performance nor is the floor a nice wooden one to play basketball on (it is a rubberized surface, because I failed to mention, it is also the cafeteria.)

Take a look at old schools, ones built before the 1970's.  Look at the craftsmanship on the outside, the decorative stone work on the outside.  In some schools, famous quotes about the value of an education are chiseled into plaques on the side of the building.  And I'm not just talking in wealthy towns.  Walking into a building with detail accents and a large staircase I believe represented the wonder, awe, and beauty of the endeavor that students which about to partake.  It symbolized the importance their parents and town placed in their education.  The town in which I grew up in was and is a blue collar community, yet even when these old structures went up, the town's were willing to pay for an aesthetic beauty that I believe demonstrated the value they placed on the education their children were receiving.

Today's schools structures look more like office buildings.  The "grandiose" has been replaced with the "practical".  Instead of quality craftsmanship, work goes to the lowest bidder who then use inferior material and methods to make a profit on the low price they proposed.  In the long run the repairs that need to be made may equal the cost in making it durable in the first place.

At one time it seems that the school building represented all the hopes and dreams a community had for their youth and they were designed to look that way.  Today they look like they exist to produce a product.






Thursday, April 3, 2014

Socrative Changes the Review Game (Dear Katie V2#14)

Dear Katie,

When I student taught at Blue Mountain Middle School in NY, I asked a friend if I could borrow his mini basketball hoop that hung from his wardrobe door in his dorm room.  I went down to the gym and asked the athletic director if I could borrow a referee jersey that the clock keeper would wear at basketball games.  The next morning, I set up a two and a three point line in the classroom and my review basketball game was up and running.  It was the typical review game that I had played when I was a kid, two teams, a student would get a question, if they answered it correctly they would have the opportunity to shoot. One of my first purchases when I scored my first teaching position was one of those Fischer-Price baskets.  The first class who played the basketball review game in 1989 would have seen little difference from the game played in 2009.

That has all changed...

Last year, when my classroom received a class set of iPads, one of the apps installed was Socrative.  Using this app for review has had me change up my review game for the benefit of the student.  In the old school review game, each student only received one, maybe two questions out of 30.  If the student answered it right, was that the only thing they knew?  If they answered it wrong, was it the only thing they didn't?  Who knew?

With Socrative, I have a great formative assessment tool.  I can have each student answer all 30 questions.  I receive an email that lets me know how each student responded to every question.  I know what questions I need to reteach and which ones they know solidly.  The students get instant feedback.  The app tells them after each question if they got it right or wrong.

In terms of shooting, I have split my class up into 4-5 teams, so depending on the average amount of questions their teammates get right, that is how many seconds their team gets to shoot on the hoop (best average gets 90 seconds, worst average, 45 seconds, other teams in between).  You could do the same with two teams.  How they shoot is where you need to be creative.  Don't worry about losing class time shooting.  Think of it this way, if every shot in the old style of basketball review took 20 seconds, and there was 30 questions asked, that would mean that 10 minutes of your class was dedicated to shooting anyway.

Sometimes I think back to the old way I did ran the review game, and miss it.  It was the format Mr. Bernosky used in his Social Studies classes for review baseball and football when I was in middle school.  I think back of the shots that were made "at the buzzer" to win games, or some of the great comebacks.

We all love nostalgic thoughts, but we cannot live in the past at the expense of our students.  And to be honest, my kids today are just as excited to play review basketball using this method as they were 20 years ago playing it old school.

Uncle Kevin

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Eduvox 1.2

Eduvox

"All my originals ideas are borrowed ideas infused with my creativity & style."

Dear Katie,

As you sift through the deluge of educational opinion and advice on the Internet (including my own), here are some blog posts that I believe deliver practical ideas and/or sound advice from voices other than my own.  Enjoy!


http://tphelps1980.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/can-an-introvert-be-a-good-teacher/
Can an introvert be a good teacher?  Great question!  @travisphelps80 thinks they can, and so do I (said the introvert)

@travisphelps80

http://sparkleonjen.blogspot.com/2014/03/this-i-believe-life-lessons-and-sports.html
Always have said a good teacher is part of a team filled with peers and students.  Wished I would have written this post, maybe a future one will have "steal" ideas from it. @jkloczko also adds some youtube clips to enhance her points.

@jkloczko

http://deb-day.blogspot.com/2014/03/2431-totally-unacceptable.html
Are we willing to ask a student for forgiveness? I seems many in leadership can not admit it when they did something wrong, as if power would be sapped from them by using the words, "I'm sorry", I think that attitude displays weakness @mrsday75 displays true power, by asking for forgiveness from a student, its also the right thing to do. Trust me, as a teacher, you'll have that "lose it" experience.  How will you respond?           


@mrsday75

Enjoy Reading!

Uncle Kevin