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Archive for the ‘teaching’ Category

HOPE

Throughout the year I have worked with Ms. Stubits, and her third grade class. We have done a variety of projects throughout the year, but I must say I believe the one we are working on now will probably be the one the children remember most. Ms. Stubits has been sharing a story with her students, a friend of hers has a daughter who had been diagnosed with cancer in 2006, her name is Lily Oetjen and the students have been writing letters to Lily and following her treatment through a blog her mother keeps on CaringBridge. CaringBridge provides free, personalized websites that support and connect loved ones during critical illness, treatment and recovery.

As part of their social studies curriculum the children study government, citizenship, economics, manufacturing, products, and advertising. As a culminating activity they have to make and sell a product, identify their market, estimate quantities they may be able to sell advertise and determine a goal.

This year the children as a class decided they would make bracelets, HOPE bracelets to be exact, and the money they make will be donated to CaringBridge in Lily’s name. For the past several weeks they have been making bracelets, writing persuasive advertisements to post around school for their sale to classmates and the school community. Ms. Stubits has been able to create an environment in her classroom for students to truly tie the unit of study into something tangible in their lives. The conversations surrounding citizenship, being a good citizen in their community as well as their classroom and school helped lead them to doing something for someone else. They have worked hard, are very excited about the sale, feel good about helping someone else their own age that has had some difficult issues to deal with in her young life. I commend Ms. Stubits for involving her students in an effort to make a difference and think outside the box in terms of connecting government and economics for 8 year olds into an experience I believe they will remember for a long time to come.

We hope to be able to have Lily meet this group of third graders through a Skype video chat, Lily lives in Nebraska too far for a field trip from Pennsylvania, but through the use of so many collaborative technologies available today we believe we can make it happen. Visit the links above leave a message for Lily.

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Like many others I have spent the past few weeks thinking about all of the events of 2007. It has been an amazing year for me in the way I learn, those who now make up my professional learning network and my understanding of the ease of connecting with others through the use of web 2.0 tools and the sense of community which exists with so many who I have met through Twitter and my reader. I thank everyone for stretching my thinking and helping me in my goal of being a life long learner.

I read many great blogs written by educational leaders passionate about the education of the world’s youth. I continue to struggle with my own blog in light of those I read, wondering at times what I have to offer, and if this is really something I am cut out to do. I am going to persevere in 2008 to help clarify my thoughts as I begin a new year with an entirely new administration (5 top positions) in my district. I have felt stagnant since summer, but now the people are in place and my hopes are I will have the opportunity to share what I have learned in the past year from my network and we will truly begin to embed collaborative tools into classroom practices. This will be a challenge for me, the new administration believes in the use of technology for data collection, using the data to drive instruction, not necessarily using technology to make global connections or work in collaboration classroom to classroom, teacher to teacher. ctd2005newday.jpg
I am looking at it as a new day, a new opportunity and hopefully along the way some of my reflections of what are taking place in my position will be helpful to someone else. I wish you all a healthy peaceful 2008!

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Recently on twitter Konrad Glogowski posted this – When kids don’t do well we often think of what they must do to conform … not of what we’re not doing for them. Students are blamed for not wanting to learn, not caring about school, being lazy, these are the reasons they are not successful. I agree with Stephanie Sandifer, we must begin to look at our classroom practices, and begin conversations on how we can change those practices in order to help all students be successful and engaged in their education. Teaching the way we were taught is not acceptable, it just doesn’t get the job done today. I love what I do, I love being in the classroom with students working with them using whatever possible to engage them, trying all the time to help them find relevance in their learning, develop a love of learning. My own children are “grown up”, one has a master’s degree and is an elementary guidance counselor, the other a college senior. I look back at their education, especially high school, and while they received a good education, it could have been more. Maybe some of my thinking is shaped as a result of what I perceived they missed.
Most students move through school, graduate, go on to higher education, vocational school, or enter a trade. But for some the system fails and it is a life altering failure. Our son’s best friend dropped out of high school at the end of their 10th grade year.
cobblestone.jpgHe failed his 10th grade year, he was one of those students who was labeled as lazy, one who did not care about school. He didn’t fail because he could not do the work, he failed because the work did not interest him. He was not engaged in his learning, did not see the purpose between what was being lectured to him and the world he lived in. He left school with parental permission to work in his family’s business, a business today that is no longer viable. At the age of 22 his future is uncertain, and he feels as though his options are limited. He spends a great deal of time with us, we consider him our third child, and I can tell you it is heartbreaking to see a young man whom you love, just getting by. He is at a time in his life when he should feel the world holds endless possibilities for his future, instead he feels he has few options. I think of him everyday when I am in the classroom working with students, hoping in some small way I can make a difference in the life of a child, hoping I can help one child avoid a future that is not filled with promise. I hear people everyday talk of students who are lazy, students who cannot learn, but I never hear anyone speak of what needs to change in their classroom practice to bridge the gap for those students who may not be the most interested in school. We all have to be reflective in our practice, when students fail we must look at what we have the ability to change, so it doesn’t happen again.

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