Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Here Already, Huh?

Well, that went fast.

Spring flew by last year; 4th quarter busy with all manner of writing, speaking, literature studies, and general end-of-year craziness. Then, summer shot past, already a blur in the rear-view mirror. Endless days mixed with playing, gardening, cabin, tutoring, lousy Twins games, concerts, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.


Here I am. Here we are. The first day of school, already in the books.

I've taken a bit of a leap of faith this year, and the expectations I've put on myself are higher than they've even been as a teacher. I'd like to accomplish things this year and push my students to places this year that are completely new. Opportunities are there: new LA standards, new LA curriculum, a very supportive Admin team - Principal Specific - guiding through the process of content standard PLC work, a new way of teaching my subject.

Here's where the leap comes in...

I gave up "my" room this year - an agreed-upon eviction, if you will - and in turn am receiving 30 brand new Chrome Books and a fantastic new cart to wheel them around to the various rooms in which I will be instructing this year. Additionally, my cart will have a projector, complete with Apple TV to beam straight from my iPad to help direct my instruction and engage students along the way.

One minor glitch: no cart or Chrome Books yet.

I try not to get too frustrated about such things...for one, I know very dedicated people are helping insure this stuff actually arrives, and two, there's plenty to do with my new 6th graders the first few days of school.

On a very positive note, the first day went very well, and I'm already proud of how my new students found their way to all of my different rooms and showed themselves to be very capable. What I'm excited about is the opportunity to engage and excite so many more readers and writers this year; to enhance the digital literacy skills of so many kids; to experience a new kind of classroom setting throughout the year - atrium, unused hallways, media center space, etc. My hope is for every conception of a what a classroom is, and for every wall knocked down along the way, my students (and I) will see teaching and learning in many new ways.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Speeding Towards Break

As we barrel towards Spring Break here in 6th grade, I have noticed different coping mechanisms from various students.

To wit:

-Hunker down, study hard, stay on top of things...the end is in sight, "I can do this." - roughly 15%

-Show up, take up my seat in class, cruise through assignments, assessments and notes; generally go unnoticed by Mr. Moore - 30%

-Begin showing aggressive signs of Spring Fever, talk loudly in class, become as easily distracted as a degenerate gambler in the Sports Book at Caesars  - 50%

-"I'm done, I will run amok, do not interfere with this process!" - 5%

Good times! Thankfully, there are speeches to be given, peer evaluations to be completed, and Unit tests to be taken. Oh 6th graders, I shall meet your irresistible force with my immovable object!!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012


You know what's crazy? This time a year ago, my two kiddos (twins) could not ride a bike without their training wheels. Totally acceptable; they were only four. I knew they really wanted to be able to ride their bikes, but they just weren't there yet. Fast-forward to September...they finally hit that point where they are able to ride all on their own. Such an exciting time for us all! For me, it was a very proud papa moment :)

Now? All of a sudden, they're racing down the alley, going up hills, around the block, begging to go for bike rides around Lake Harriet as a family! Today they - along with their buddy down the street - took me on 4 laps around the block looking for signs of Spring.

I suppose I really could have titled this "Growth" or "Progress," because that's what I always marvel at with my children...and beyond that, with my students. Kids' abilities to grow, expand, learn, and improve continues to inspire and motivate me.

All you parents out there can probably add a lot more. After all, my children are only five. I'm sure people with kids older have many more stories. Here are a couple truths I know for sure: I can't wait to see my children to continue to grow, stretch, improve and learn. And, I look forward (every year, really) to see how my former students have grown in their own lives as well.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Ah, The Weather

So, just a quick update:

-A thunderstorm came through about an hour ago. On March 19.

That is all.

But first, an update on March Madness:

Yes, my bracket is awful. No big deal; it happens.

The stories that crop up during the tourney are always just as much fun. Here are some good reads.

On Kansas State, suspensions, accepting gambling and the NCAA - Here

On the craziness that is Las Vegas during the opening weekend - Here

And for a comprehensive look at the first weekend's action - Here


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Six Word Stories!

Why not?! Let's give it a try...

1. Man has Jucy Lucy. Heaven ensues.

2. Boy eats pizza; evidence on face.

3. Watching children ride bikes is bliss.

4. Wife late from meeting; husband loves.

5. The New Classroom - exciting possibilities ahead.

6. She followed passions. Everyone loved her.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekday Warrior!

I'm not gonna lie. My weekend performance on the Slice of Writing project has been brutal. Many factors typically play into this, but at the end of the day, there are no excuses. Just bad execution.

Oh well. At this point, I'm just glad that: a. the two family members who were sick on Friday/Saturday are better now, and b. the gorgeous weather will stick around for at least a little while!

We've been doing some poetry work in class recently, and last week students submitted some final draft/published Haiku. So in that tradition, here are some for your Monday:


Filling out? Maybe...
So many teams, not a care
Who wins, just not Duke!


Oh, Gophers, so close
But yet, oh so far away!
NIT Ahead

School Lunch

Ode to taco day
Glorious stains on your shirt
Cmon kid, wipe that!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Conferences - Now & Later...?

Big day today.

Conferences. Spring conferences. Student-Led conferences...

It's the first time since I've been at my current school (going on 9 years) that we've had Spring Conferences. Typically, parent-teacher conferences are around Thanksgiving time, and it's a good chance to check in, assess academic progress and game-plan for the future.

The objective for these first Spring Conferences is to have them be student-led. As a result, we have spent plenty of time in our Advisory class preparing students for tonight: class reflections, goal-setting, work samples, etc. The hope, of course, is that students are able to have some well thought-out discourse with their parents about their current academic status, their achievement so far in sixth grade, and where they'd like to see themselves going.

Again, this is the plan...I think the night will go well, actually. But what I'm more curious about today is where these types of conferences can go in the (very near) future.

One of our very talented District Technology Integration Specialists has given me a wonderful idea with using Google's digital portfolio capabilities. Students would be able to build a digital portfolio of what they have produced, along with real-time grades and (if needed/wanted) access to test scores. What strikes me as most powerful about this is students' ability to display so much of their work in a very rich, bold, clean way: digital writing samples, digital storytelling, web-site development, PowerPoint and/or Prezi as the meeting's vehicle, digital pictures of class work...maybe even a Screen Cast to take their own parents on a journey of through their work at school.

Couple that with how efficient many of these 'digital natives' are with technology, and I think you may increase ownership even more, as well as boost enthusiasm.

We'll see...for now it's just a goal for next year, but one I am very excited about exploring.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Something Will Give

Oh, to be in the midst of what I like to call "The Grind," the part of the school year from Winter Break to Spring Break that's only broken up by a couple random days.

Truth be told, it's probably my favorite part of the school year. Why? Because it's when so much work and progress occurs. We're done reviewing; done initiating the sixth graders into middle school life; no fall and Thanksgiving breaks to work around...just a ton of new content with solid stretches of time to immerse ourselves in and learn a great deal.

Here's the deal though: I'm beginning to detect my students don't share my enthusiasm, and this will lead to struggles.

Some of my kids are more than ready for Spring Break. Some of my kids have completely hit "the wall." Some of my kids are reaching a point of being completely fried. And yet, I will not stop pushing them...because this is when the growth happens. And what my students are figuring out is this: Mr. Moore will not be swayed in this arena.

Why? Because I care, and I refuse to let them NOT learn and grow; as much as that drives them crazy, the alternative would drive me crazy, and we can't have a crazy teacher, now can we?

They will fight; they may kick and scream; they may get frustrated. No matter...they will lose. And for that, I will be happy and proud.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Summer's Comin'!

At one point this afternoon, as we drove the kids out for ice cream and to visit a children's book store, the thermometer inside my wife's truck read 62 degrees. This was, in fact, an incredibly awesome thing. So sweet my wife couldn't help but take a picture on her phone. I know, it's completely silly; making it seem like we've just endured the worst winter ever. In fact, this has been a relatively easy winter. For that we are grateful.

What made today so awesome is this indisputable fact:

We are 100%, without a doubt, summer people.

Yes it's good to have a lot of time with the kids during the summer, but it's really more about how much we actually do outside during the summer...sports, cabin, outdoor concerts, parades, swimming, running, biking, golfing, etc.

Last year we added another: Minnesota Twins season tickets - sharing with a couple friends anyways. And tonight, we split the tickets. It's just one more sign that spring & summer are fast approaching. I love baseball; played and traveled a lot with it growing up, and my wife and kids love it too. The new Twins ballpark, Target Field, is absolutely beautiful, and catching a game down there on an 80-degree summer night just can't be beat.

While the school year grinds on, and I continue to push my students harder and higher (all while they're doing their best to revolt some times), I can look forward to the days of summer - golf, cabin, running, biking, and Twins...I know I'll get by!

Monday, March 5, 2012


Friends absolutely rock.

I mean the really solid, known-for-a-while, pick-up-where-you-left-off, always-have-a-good-time friends.

I'm sure you know the type, have the type, appreciate the type.

This past weekend, my wife and I found ourselves incredibly blessed to spend a lot of time with some of these friends.

First we spent Saturday afternoon and evening with college friends, and our kiddos played for hours with their boys. It was wonderful; we don't get to see them too much anymore, but it's always a treat. There's always a ton to talk about, shared values, and wonderful insight to get from each other.

Sunday we were invited by other friends to join them for brunch, and once again, our kids were able to play for hours with their kids afterwards, while the adults hung out, talked a lot of golf (guys), travel, school, church, etc. and walked down the street to check out a model home for kicks and giggles.

To top it all off, a close college buddy invited me yesterday to join him in a suite for the Wild game. The game itself wasn't all that great (good guys lost 2-0), but for the two of us (both busy professionals, 2 kids apiece, married) the time to catch up, have a couple beers and some laughs was invaluable.

In terms of the Slice of Life March daily writing challenge, I already failed! I didn't post this weekend. Although to my credit, I pretty much called it last week. However, my time was spent with my family and these incredible friends, and for that, I'll accept the fact that I didn't get it done. Give me the friendship every day of the week - and twice on Sunday!

Friday, March 2, 2012


Here's to you - Sixth grade student - willing to get on stage and sing "Someone Like You," Adele-style with only a piano backing, in front of 300 peers.

Here's to you - Girls from 6th & 7th grade - performing a dance number with glow bracelets in the dark, in front of 300 peers.

Here's to you - 6th grade boy - performing a four-minute Yo-Yo routine, powered with a background song from Bruno Mars, in front of 300 peers.

Here's to you - 6th grade girl - singing a Capella "Girl Get Your Records On," leading the clapping, in front of 300 peers.

And here's to you - 8th grade boy - confidently striding on stage, doing a four-minute solo dance number, with some seriously great moves, in front of 300 peers.


Here's NOT to you - roughly 30 of the 300 peers, who couldn't help but make comments, snide remarks, giggle, or simply converse during any & all of these routines.

Not cool at all. Why?

Because it takes some serious stones to get up on stage in front of 300 of your peers and perform! Not as part of a school choir, band or orchestra concert; not as part of a school play, surrounded by classmates; not on the field of play, supported by coaches and teammates, separated from the stands. No, these students wanted to display their talents, and put themselves on a very bright, isolated stage. The very least you can do is support them and cheer them as best you can.

I know sometimes it's hard to be a pre-teen and teenager. Trust me, I've been there before. Sometimes it's equally as hard to watch students go through it too, especially when they aren't making the best decisions. Hopefully they'll learn; hopefully they'll appreciate the courage in each other.

For now, Here's to You - brave souls!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

It's March...Time to Write!

Welcome to March everybody! That magical time of year for warmer temps (hopefully) NCAA hoops madness (One Shining Moment), Spring Training baseball games, the PGA tour heating up, and of course, Standardized Testing!

Author's Note: Not necessarily a huge for of this last item. However, it's become a bit of a tradition over the last decade + as a teacher, so you just go with it...celebrate life's little nuances, eh?

Anyways...there's a new March to-do I've been introduced to, by none other than my extremely talented wife: The March Slice of Life Challenge to Write Everyday.

Here's the back-story: Last year, the aforementioned lovely, talented wife participated in this challenge as she was doing prolific amounts of writing through her Writing Cohort. She keeps a wonderful family blog that I know she & I will cherish as the years go by; in truth, I already do! As I've slowly increased the amount of writing I do on this blog, she has mentioned to me how I should do the challenge as well. So, last night rolls around and she asks, "Are you going to do the Slice of Life March Writing challenge?"

Yes, yes I will.

Honestly, I don't know if I'll make it every day. I hope to, but sometimes I forget on weekends. Also, I tend to write a lot as things inspire me through teaching, my own learning, or my own goals (for example, my latest posts on The New Classroom), and I need to become more aware of these tiny, daily encouragements to be able to pull this off. Nonetheless, Challenge Accepted!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Where to Start? A Shift In Thinking...

I have been incredibly jazzed over the past few days as I've started the initial process of brainstorming what The New Classroom may look like, specifically mine! As wish lists, goals, and objectives start to pile up in my head, I am also realistic enough to know that there will be roadblocks, and there will be people who say - rightfully so - "how can this plan improve students' learning?"

Here's why it's very fair and valid for people to ask this: It is the whole point (or should be) of everything we do in education! This should be one of the central questions behind any decision-making process..."how can this improve students' learning."

So as I thought about all this today, I read something very encouraging here, highlighting the importance of using  technology not for "edutainment," but rather "edugagement."

I want this to be the force behind my New Classroom. Better yet, I want my New Classroom to be the embodiment of this philosophy. When students walk into my classroom, my goals are simple yet paramount:

  • Engagement
  • Collaboration
  • Creation
  • Inquiry
  • High-Order Thought
I look forward to the process of research & grant writing for the vision to take shape. Some of the very right people - in my mind - are in my corner on this, and I couldn't be happier. The marriage of design, technology, content, support, and mindset can make the New Classroom a place for 21st-Century and beyond learning to happen on a daily basis.

More updates as they come...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The New Classroom

So I've been thinking a lot lately about my classroom, and how it may (or should/could) look as we continue into the 21st Century. For the past few years, there has been plenty of talk about 21st-Century learning, digital natives, using technology for learning, etc. These conversations and all the learning & reflection that go with them has been great...but I'm not talking about that stuff.

I'm talking about my actual, physical classroom: 4 walls, floor, desks, chairs.

And when I do this thinking, I keep coming back to this question: Does my classroom of the near future need to look & function like the city of the near future? More and more, I read about the importance, vitality, and potential for cities. Soon enough, roughly 70-80% of the population will reside in urban areas. Just as the ways of teaching from the 1800s are gone, so is the agrarian life of the 1800s. If a city is the center for creativity, ingenuity, discovery, communication, culture and learning...shouldn't the same be true for my classroom? I think the answer is a resounding yes. I recently watched this video, and have also read plenty of articles regarding the subject in publications like The Atlantic, The Economist, and others. While the video is a bit long, and all of it doesn't necessarily apply here, you could get a sense of what I'm talking about:

I feel like the visionary teacher needs to be like the visionary "mayor" for their own classroom. And while I don't (and can't) speak for administrators, it seems as though they need to be the visionary "mayors" for their schools. Where all of this starts, I'm not sure. My wish is to begin with the physical make-up of my room, and I have some ideas it that area...next I suppose is the money, and that's always the largest obstacle. What I can control is my approach/philosophy. I can create an environment centered on collaboration, open communication, creativity, discovery and trust. We're still working on the next steps to maximize technology, but many things are in place: BYOD for students, Wi-Fi in the building (hopefully stronger/denser down the road), on-line learning and digital communication. The lines separating schools and learning from business, culture & government have blurred; this is a good thing that should be taken advantage of so my classroom 'citizens' leave more and more ready to be global citizens down the road.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kids Are Funny

Can't believe it's been over a week. Time flies. I hope to have more time tomorrow to write about a few different things. For now, here's a great quote from yesterday:

-Sixth grade boy, overheard while making a winter outdoor survival shelter with a group: "We don't need leaves, we're men!"


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Advertising & Writing Update

Today I'm not blessed with a lot of time; too many other things to accomplish. However, I did find a great writing/discussion question from the NY Times Learning blog, and it fits right in with the writing and discussion we are having about Super Bowl ads.

At the end of this week we will be back in the computer lab doing Part 2 of our commercial study: Ads from this year's Super Bowl. This new discovery from today will help segue into the next part of this discussion: the overall power of advertising, media, and developing media awareness/literacy.

Have a good day :)

Monday, February 6, 2012

True Goals

We are going to spend a lot of time this month in our Advisory classes helping students prepare for Spring Conferences. Specifically, the conference format will be 'student-led.' I understand their are many different ways to execute a student-led conference, and we have yet to determine/be told what format we will follow. Clearly, it's important we decide on a format, and work towards being as seamless as we can be across the board as teachers within a building. What won't matter, however, is the importance of the preparation students will undergo to get ready for these conferences.

Why is this so important? Students should need to take ownership of their own learning; to set clear goals for themselves; to realize just how powerful they can & should be in their own learning journey. That's the goal for this next month in Advisory: help students become Educational Stewards for themselves. In fact, this is probably one of a few main, essential goals I have every year for my students.

1. Learn to love learning & see it as lifelong
2. Control/Own their own learning
3. Become Better Thinkers

I enjoy these goals because a.) I think they are important goals & essential learning traits, and b.) Any student can do this, no matter their intellectual/emotional/maturity level. This second point is key, because 6th graders can be all over the map! Additionally, these 3 goals are universal & can be applied/practiced in any subject area.

The past few years, I've added a 4th goal: 4. Collaborate & Utilize 21st-century tools to enhance learning...this is key too, and is becoming more fun every year (as well as important!).

Recently, we've been working on some social commentary writing, focusing on Super Bowl commercials. Students have needed to discuss why they think the ads are effective, both personal and on a larger, cultural level. I need students who are actively thinking about what they are doing, reflecting on their own experience as a media consumer, and analyzing the construction of these advertisements. Suddenly, something that seems easy (watching commercials via YouTube) becomes a little more involved! Hopefully, when students are being better, more engaged thinkers, they learn a little about themselves, their society, and the power of media...not just the awesomeness of vampires being obliterated by car headlights!

Friday, February 3, 2012


My classroom door is regularly swinging open, with former students stopping by to say hello, catch up, and say hi to my current class. Without fail, the current class is always annoying by this behavior, but then they begin doing the exact same this the next school year. It can be boys, who want to swing by and talk sports (the upcoming Pats-Giants Super Bowl is a huge topic of interest), or girls, who stop to chat/complain about older grades/ask how my kids are/etc.

As my current class of students expresses their annoyance and dismay at these 'visits,' they always ask me why I'm not more bothered. Typically, I simply answer with something along the lines of it's nice to have visitors and catch up. Every year, by about January or so, students in my current class start to ask if they can stop by "all the time next year too?" Yes, of course, I tell them; then my class next year can be annoyed!

I know this happens with many teachers; especially in my building, as there are a multitude of fantastic teachers at my school.

And I don't write about this today as a means of bragging...

Simply put, I feel very blessed. Blessed and honored that kids - teenagers - take a moment to say hello, share a laugh, tell me a story, etc. It's a hidden, unpaid perk of this job career. Another bonus is teaching 6th grade in a school that goes through 9th. I really get to know some students over the course of four year. Even some former students babysit my own children!

While some times aren't great for visits - tests, deep lectures, speeches, etc. - I will never frown upon a former student's shadow darkening my doorway; it's a blessing.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Meetings & Time

We had a grade-level meeting this morning. Bright and early - 7am. It was a fairly productive meeting; a few key things were discussed, analyzed, and generally mulled over. Quickly approaching is a winter activity field trip, and ironing out some issues was important to do, as well as starting conversation for some events happening in May & June. So it's not to say this was a waste of time, because it wasn't.

However, I left the meeting wondering if it all couldn't have happened a little faster. You know, those 30 minutes turned into 15. I don't know, I'm sure that's a lot easier said than done. Sometimes the nature of these things is that they last longer than they naturally should, and I suppose that's why the word 'meetings' tends to have a negative connotation. This is a great TED Talk video about the lack of work happening at Work. Meetings come up at the 8:40 mark or so:

My guess is there are many different possible solutions to the always-present conundrum of meetings. So much depends on where a person works, they type of work they do, who they work with, and who their superiors are at the time. Furthermore, depending on the purpose, a meeting could be quite essential - problem solving, idea generation, task assigning, etc. For every 2-3 meetings that seem meaningless and time-killing, there's always 1 that ends up being beneficial. (Some would argue this ratio should be much higher, like 5:1 or so, but the point is made)

So it was great to find this interesting Wall Street Journal article a mere two hours after this morning's meeting. Maybe there's something to this? Maybe this type of meeting structure would encourage quicker, more decisive discussion and action? I don't know these answers, and like I said, many of our meetings like today's aren't bad, but maybe there are better ways out there...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


It's amazing how news can completely shift a way of thinking; how what seems important suddenly becomes marginal; how perspective can change so suddenly. When I heard of a colleague's child passing away, I immediately thought of my own children. It can be so easy to get caught up in daily grinds and monotonous expectations; now I can't wait to meet them at the bus stop and give them a hug. My drive for my students is the same - work hard, take care of your business, push yourself, and be responsible. Those are good things - things they'll need in life. But I also need to make sure they feel safe here, that they're enjoying the learning process, and - believe it or not - even have some fun every once in a while. I hope my colleague finds peace, closure, friendship & support from everyone they know. I hope they are able to celebrate life, rejoice in the time shared together, and find the courage to move ahead. I hope Perspective stays around for a while...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Super Bowl & Writing!

Yes, an unlikely yet fun partnership. As one of the country's largest social/cultural spectacles - let alone a championship football game - it always provides many things to talk/think/write about during the following days.

We are embracing this spirit in Language Arts, and doing a 2-part digital writing exercise of 'favorite' Super Bowl commercials. Part 1 will be this week, featuring students' favorites up through 2011, and next week will will focus on this year's commercials.

So what's the angle? Social commentary, and how much advertising influences our choices. The kids are very excited about the prospect - shocker - and my hope is while we continue to develop our writing skills - developing topic sentences, establishing main ideas, providing supporting details, reflecting on cause-effect relationship - students will also develop a keener eye for media and advertising.

Of course, I had to eliminate 1/3 to 1/2 of potential Super Bowl commercials by saying "no beer commercials," but I know they will still have plenty of good things to choose from. What can I say? After all, this is a school-related assignment, and we need to keep things appropriate. Here's one from last year that the students have laughed at as we've done some research:

What's a favorite of yours from over the years?

Friday, January 27, 2012


That's where we're heading! Crazy that as of right now, the school year is half-over. Actually, it feels like it goes almost too fast. Almost. This may be a symptom of aging, the influence of constant multi-tasking and technology immersion, or how much I'm constantly on the go with my own kids. Most likely, it's a fierce combination of all three.

A few days ago I wrote about never ending lists; those seem to play a huge role in time flying so fast as well. It really makes me wonder/hope that I'm able to accomplish everything I'd like to with my students during a year. It all just moves so quickly.

Here's to making the most of every day; relishing in the accomplishments we do make; soaking up the good times, all while looking ahead to continue getting better. That's about all for now. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


My students often have difficulty reading, understanding, and executing written directions found on tests, quizzes, and assignments - especially those found from a textbook & materials writter 10+ years ago.

I typically find this mildly frustrating. The fact that so many kids can completely miss a key direction, thereby ruining any chance they have at performing at a high level, can take a lot of wind out of one's sails.

And I think this will always be a little bothersome as a teacher, and I will certainly always teach & model the importance of reading & interpreting directions, but I think there is another factor besides typical pre-teen attention deficits.

That, of course, would be the natural 'intuitiveness' - or lack thereof - of so many written directions found in older tests and textbooks...and here's the key: to my 21st-century 'digital native' students.

When I think about it (and I did quite a bit yesterday), so much of what my students interact with is intuitive: devices, games, software, etc. So, what does this mean for me? A couple things, I think: a.) it is incredibly important for me to write clear, understandable directions when developing my own tests, rubrics, etc. I mean, we're not far away from intuitive technology shaping most of our lives, right?

b.) continue to teach my students and model for them strategies on deciphering directions so they may execute them properly. This will only grow more and more important as students interact with more and more intuitive technology in the future.

There will probably never be an absolute cure for pre-teen attention deficits and general apathy, but at least I can have some control and influence when it comes to directions.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Endless List

Today I had a couple goals:

-Finish updated all the completed digital storytelling projects, and create a page on my class website to display the projects.

-Write a more thorough, thoughtful entry.

Neither of these are going to happen. At least not right now. Why? Because today is a perfect example of how a teacher's to-do list never stops growing on certain days. Today - updating grades, talking to parents about possible class changes, helping students with projects, grading quizzes, etc.

This is completely fine; in fact, it's been a rather productive day. Sometimes, however, the unplanned production gets in the way of what you were shooting for...

Oh well, this is the business I'm in. One sending thought: an interesting article/essay on Higher Education. What will my kids be facing in 13 years? I can only imagine...

That is all; carry on.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Flipping the Script

I use up the majority of space on this blog to reflect on what's happening in my classroom, with my students, or in my own learning. Today I want to shift my focus to my own kids, because a corner was turned this weekend, and in that moment I knew there would be no going back.

My own kids are 5 years old. They will be 6 in July. They are currently in Kindergarten, loving every minute, thriving in their own classroom. A HUGE reason for this is their fantastic teacher! Their class is large - 25 kids - with no other adult in the room. My kids have bounded off the bus every day this year, and on Sunday nights are excited to go back to school. I can't overstate how much of a blessing this is, and how happy it makes me feel. If you're a parent, you totally understand. If you're a teacher, that's your goal for all students.

Anyways, back to that corner being turned. Here's what happened: last night, for one of the first times - not officially, but certainly the greatest volume - our kids read 2-3 bedtime stories TO us. My wife and I would read a story to them, and in turn they would read a story to us. Not one of their leveled readers sent home from school by their wonderful teacher mentioned earlier. No, these were books they picked off the shelf on their own and powered through on their own! After my son finished reading his second book to me, my wife - who's a 1st grade teacher - looked at me and said "that's a mid-2nd grade book." And that's when it hit me: not only do my kids love reading (YES!), but they will forever be reading to me as much as I will to them. My wife and I have read bedtime stories with them every night since they were about 4 months old, and I look forward to countless future story times reading together.

That's all for now...it's a great winter day in MN - grab a good book, get comfortable, and read!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Challenge Accepted & Digital Storytelling

Well, it's about time I start to exercise the type of writing passion I typically expect from my students. It's time to strive to write every day (at least during the week, with the occasional weekend bonus)! I understand this can be a daunting challenge, but I need to throw the gauntlet down on myself - so to speak - as a way to drive myself forward.

My students have been working on some creative storytelling over the past few weeks. What started as a simple task - choose an object, find 10-15 facts about it - has turned into a full-fledged creative writing piece, focusing on "A Day in the Life Of..." Once that was finished, we turned our focus on digital storytelling. The requirements were simple: tell your object's "Day in the Life" story, be creative, have fun, and use a web-based technology. We spent a day in class talking about options:

Then students were off and rolling! A class session in the computer lab was provided; otherwise, students did this work outside of school. The results have been great so far - the rest will be presented Monday - and I will share one video as a taste. Sometimes, this teaching gig is pretty fun & rewarding. Go figure. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!