My reaction when I realized there was only one week of summer vacation left . . .
So, with the realization that I would be heading back to work (fully immersed, I should say . . . I have been going in during the summer for a few hours here and there), there are a few things I’d like share. These aren’t really “classroom hacks” in a sense, but there are a few things I use in the classroom that’s based on technology.
I think the Splashtop App is a very useful tool, especially if you use an iPad (or even iPhone) in the classroom and if you have an Interactive Whiteboard you can sync it with. It’s very convenient since the Splashtop App essentially streams your desktop onto your iPad, so you can manipulate your ActivBoard on your iPad. It’s very handy during a presentation so you can walk around the classroom to monitor behaviors if necessary.
This website is accessible for both iOS and Windows systems. You can also adjust any sort of discussion or conversation topic within the site itself after you’ve set up something for the students to talk about.
I don’t use this often, but I do introduce it to the kiddos. If someone from the class has a chance to work on some enrichment activities, sometimes I let them try to create a text message conversation between any of the historical or literary figures we’ve been studying.
Those are just three of the things we try to incorporate within the flow of the classroom. The Splashtop App is probably the one I’ve used the most for this past year, especially since it allows me to roam the classroom instead of just standing in front of the class during a Prezi.
Any other teachers out there have ideas to share? 🙂
Photo a Day
Here are some of my favorites from the past week in terms of photographs. I feel I’m getting “somewhat” better at photography, though I still have loads to learn.
With the new “balanced-calendar” scheduling, teachers report back during the first full week of August, which leaves me with little over two weeks left before going back to work.
While it’s a bit disappointing, I’m fine with coming back to work. Well, for the most part. I’ll miss the idea of being able to sleep in (honestly, even during the summer, I still manage to wake up at around 6 o’clock or even 5 a.m.!) but I’m also looking forward to helping out with another class. Last year’s class manage to come together for the most part and I was extremely proud of how they managed their growth during the course of the school year, both academically and as citizens of our community. It was absolutely fantastic to see. The challenge, of course, is to see if you can do it again. That’s always a great motivator for me.
Anyway, to continue with the summer!
But first, another disappointment.
I was planning a little trip to Los Angeles to visit friends. I was going to leave this week in fact. I was excited by the opportunity to hang out with some of my oldest friends, taking in the sights and sounds of Southern California. But sometimes, the best laid plans of mice and men . . . often get small chunks of rock thrown violently against the windshield of your car, enough to where is breaks the first layer of your windshield to cause a splinter pattern of cracked glass that’s beyond repair. The only option is to replace the windshield and the replacement windshield isn’t coming to the glass installation company until later this week.
So much for the trip.
Anyway, on to some other, more positive things!
For this entire year, starting on January 1st, I’ve made it a goal of mine to take a picture for each day of 2014. In retrospect, I should’ve been writing on this blog the entire time I was doing it, just to explain some of the things that happened to me as I was exploring Reno, Sparks, and both Nevada and California. So I think I’ll do that. Maybe not everyday, but on a day where there’s more to the picture, where the story behind it needs to be told.
Last weekend was the annual Art Club Field Trip to the Nevada Museum of Art. It was also the first time Room 55 Students had a lesson taught to them by one of the docents of the Art Museum. Normally, I’d take the students through the museum itself and then have lunch at a local restaurant. This time, however, the Nevada Museum of Art was kind enough to let us participate with the guided tour and time within their studio. A big shout-out to the Nevada Museum of Art.
If you’re a local or just a resident of Washoe County or the surrounding areas (Carson/Douglas . . . where you at!), I definitely recommend visiting the Museum.
Currently, the museum is showcasing two things:
- There is a collection on loan from the Haukohl Family who apparently own the largest collection of Baroque Pieces in the United States. Very impressive collection.
- There was also a collection from Doris Duke’s home in Hawaii. Now known as Shangri-La, it is a center for the study of Islamic Art and Culture.
Funny thing about that . . .
. . . I used to live in Hawaii and had no freakin’ clue this was there! Of course, I was probably occupied with doing 10-Year-Old Boy stuff when I lived in Hawaii, but still! Definitely a place I want to see if I manage to make it back to Hawaii 🙂
Anyway, I thought the visit went great. It was awesome to see as many students come to the field trip during the summer, especially some of the students who haven’t been in my class for a few years! However, once they’ve gone through the class, they do have that privilege of coming back on the trip, if I manage to stay in touch with them!
Anyway, we finished our trip with the Art Lesson, which centered around creating mandalas using a heavier weighted foil paper. There was also talk of geometry, especially defining asymmetrical design. I was happy the students could define “symmetrical” and sort of arrive at the conclusion that “asymmetrical” mean it wasn’t. As far as the embossing lesson itself, I’ve seen done before with embossing dragons (which I think I’ll do as a lesson next year) but this was a great application as well!
Naturally . . . I took some pics of the Art Project as well 🙂
We finished the day at My Favorite Muffin and Bagel 🙂 In all, a very fun little excursion into the city. I just hope the kiddos had some fun with it as well.
Now . . . it’s time to travel. And I think I’ll write more on my “Photo a Day” deal 😉
Tomorrow marks the official “end” of summer, at least for most of the teachers in my district. Yes, I’m included in that number and at this point, I think I’m ready to head back. Going into my seventh year of teaching, I’m glad that I still love my job. I didn’t think I’d last this long after the first few months of teaching as a newbie, but here I am (I’m going to write more about this on Friday).
So now let’s talk about “Geek Week” on YouTube. Two of the channels I subscribe to, Nerdist and Geek and Sundry, are a part of this presentation for all things “geek” on YouTube. If you haven’t subscribed to either of those channels, I definitely recommend it. Honestly, there’s so much content being uploaded on both of those channels, it’s getting to be a difficult to catch up, especially with our official “report back day” happening tomorrow. There are a few other channels presenting on Geek Week as well so I’m sure I’ll check those out too.
Anyway, I do want to show two of the videos I saw which have something of an educational component to it.
First, we have this video talking about the “issues” of building a fully functional Death Star.
Honestly, TIE fighters would be easier to get to, since they’ve already developed Ion Engines.
Then there’s this video, which is self-explanatory.
Okay, honestly, there is a very small educational component to both of these videos . . . I just want to show them because they’re pretty rad.
Yes, I used the word “rad.” Deal with it.
After coming home from work today, I noticed a few things were “off” in the house. The clock on the microwave flashed it’s green LEDs telling me to input the time. So did the oven display. At that point, it seemed pretty obvious to me.
No big deal, I thought. Luckily I was at work all day and didn’t have to sit at home when this happened. Everything seemed to be in working order.
Then I tried to turn on my television.
* * *
So . . . long story short, my beautiful 47″ LED television didn’t work. I unplugged it. Then re-plugged it. Nothing. I was about to take the back panel off when I thought to see if my warranty still applied. Again, nothing.
At that point, I thought that this would happen to me:
Luckily, I still had some beer.
Anyway, instead of really diving into some frustration over this event, I thought to myself “Hey Self! Why don’ t you use this time away from the television to do some other things. Like helping a friend out with some writing. Maybe do more writing yourself? Pick up the guitar again? Go running? Drawing? Painting? Underwater Basket Weaving?”
Yes, one of those things I made up.
Anyway, so this is my experiment. I’m going to continue trying to repair my television, but I’m not going to get a new one, or transfer my bedroom television downstairs. I’m going to leave it off. At least until school starts. I’m going to see what I can do during the day without the distraction of the television. The Olympics are over and I definitely sat around a few more “hours” than I had intended. So let’s see what I can do. I’m sure I’ll be online more, especially now that I’m addicted to that silly Simcity Social Game, but I’m hoping I won’t increase my “online” time just because I can’t find another media avenue to explore.
Anyway, I’m going to do my best to keep writing about this experiment as it continues. It’s been done before, but not by me. So it’ll be interesting to see the results in a few week’s time.
Wish me luck and focus people. The experiment begins now.
I figured something out very quickly.
In a conversation I once had, someone had mentioned “must be nice having the summers off!” And yes, I could sense a little jealousy and contempt rising from his voice. Which is fine. I’m sort of used to it by now.
However, I usually respond with “I make sure to earn my break during the year.”
And I truly mean that.
Teachers usually teach 180 days in the year (at least in my district), not counting any ESY (Summer School), classes, or further training you might attend. This doesn’t include the teachers who work moonlight jobs as well (which I don’t). Anyway, with the hours I worked during the school year, which includes school functions, tutoring, academic camps and whatnot, I extrapolated the time across the whole year (without any breaks) and still manage to work over 40 hours a week (41.5 to be exact).
Just a little something I thought about. Which also made me think, “seriously, I need a wee bit of a life during the school year.”
So I’ve decided to try and keep writing, at least in this format, for the summer, to keep myself . . . writing. After all, I did go to school to learn how to be a writer, though honestly speaking, perhaps the only way for me to get better (and this holds for the general population as well), I just have to write to get better.
So here I am, finally writing something near the mid-point of my summer vacation.
I really wanted to voice my reflections on the past school year, my 5th year as a teacher. Even though I’m officially on summer break, it still feels like I should be in the classroom at this point. I remember telling some of my colleagues that I could probably keep teaching another month or two, which garnered me a few interesting looks.
I’m getting better.
Let’s just say that I’m getting better in the sense of what I need to do in the classroom in order to get my students to learn. I’m very much trying a number of different things and still studying a number of different things to be more effective. I still read, watch videos, and talk to colleagues about what I need to do in order to become better. In a sense, it reminds me of when I was younger and studying tapes of basketball players I wanted to emulate. The only difference is I can’t go out onto the driveway to practice any new teaching method or technique.
I’m still having fun as well, if you can believe it.
Yes, teaching is a very challenging profession (but I’d argue that almost any profession is challenging if you have a passion for it. It should be for crying out loud!), but I think the key for me is still trying to find a way to have fun at whatever I do. Or at the very least, be actively and completely engaged. Whether it’s in the classroom or just poking fun at some of my closer friends at the school, I think I need that reminder to step back and smile every so often. I remember working some jobs where time always dragged along, which prompted more than my fair share of frustrations in the workplace, along with those essential “existential” questions like “what the hell am I supposed to do with my life?”
In all, I’m probably going to continue writing on this idea later in the week. I just wanted to get something down before I drowned it out with something else.
Anyway, here’s a recent book I just read on Education
I remember watching the “Ron Clark Story” on television, mainly because I knew Matthew Perry was playing the title role. I always thought Matthew Perry was underrated as an actor and I was curious to see what he could do in a very different role than what I’d seen from him recently. This led, however, to me getting more interested in Ron Clark himself, and for a brief time, I read up on what he accomplished and how he did so in the classroom (thank you interwebs). Anyway, this book, like other good educational books, outlined a few tips for students, teachers, and parents alike to use at home and in the classroom. It’s a recommended read, I’ll say.