Bringing the World into Our Classroom

Teaching in the 21st Century never ceases to amaze me. 
As stated in a post last year, I utilize Twitter in my classroom through a classroom Twitter account several times a week. I find it to be an incredible way to allow parents and our community to witness the work that goes in my History and Study Skills classes and to showcase school events and the amazing young people I teach. 
While posting a reminder about our school football teams' games on Wednesday a top hashtag caught my eye: #AskAnArchivist was trending.  I follow the United States National Archives  on Twitter and their latest post advertised an hour-long session in which a team of Archivists would answer questions tagged with this hashtag. I had less than 45 minutes before this window of opportunity closed.
My third hour class took advantage of this teachable moment and it turned out so well!
Student Historian groups came up with questions they hoped to receive answers for, I tweeted, and we began our planned activi…

My First Teacher

My Mom passed away last Thursday and I've understandably had many emotions and reflections since. I'm hoping this post will help me organize my thoughts since, at this time, my eulogy is not much more than a list of memories. This blog is about my experiences as an educator, I would be remiss if I didn't write about my first teacher. 
One of my earliest lessons from my Mom was about how to treat others. I can remember the kind way she would speak to everyone she encountered, no matter their occupation or position in society--all were equal in her eyes. She listened to others, made a comment or joke that would put others at ease, and showed through eye contact and body language that people mattered to her. This example of respect is one I try to follow and pass along to my children and my students, through my actions and words. 
My Mom taught me resiliency. When life got tough she would allow me to get upset but then walk me through my own problem-solving session. She woul…

Setting the Tone for the New School Year

A new school year is a fantastic opportunity to mindfully and consciously emphasize what matters to me as a teacher in my classroom community. The Student Historians (and Study Skills students) in my classes have:

sat in tables, not rows, to help strengthen our learning communityhad the opportunity to either reacquaint themselves with their classmates or meet a new studentdiscussed what they believe the ideal classroom, student, and teacher should look and sound likerealized that I try to be flexible when it comes to locker and restroom passes (no coupons from me)know that it matters to me that they belong to a school club/sport/activityunderstood that teamwork is valuedhad practice with activities that are creative, open-ended, and challenging realized that leadership matters, whether it's sitting with a new student at lunch or helping with classroom jobs I've been thinking a lot about the concept of "what I teach". As much as I love History and love teaching it I f…

GarageBand in the US History Classroom

My full circle moment. Almost one year later.
Monica Burns from Class Tech Tips wrote an intriguing article about using GarageBand in the reading classroom in 2016 and posted it on Twitter. I blogged last July about how I'd like to use this with my Student Historians. That opportunity finally came and the result was profound, especially for one group of students.
My History classes have studied the Civil War the past two years by completing an iMovie. I created a twist, though, each group studied one year of the war and ranked three events of that year they feel most strongly impacted the end of the war. Students needed to use investigative and discovery skills to learn about the entire war, then the impact of their focus year. Groups were required to find three primary sources related to those events, one Mathew Brady photograph from that year, and a piece of Civil War-era music (not necessarily from their focus year).
The GarageBand article gave the project another direction. T…

LEGACY Reflection-Y

Students completed their #MyBoulanLEGACY reflections today. The final letter of the LEGACY reflection was a tough one for me to create (Y is pretty limited!) but the topic I finally thought of is the perfect final reflection because it is positive, optimistic, and carries the students through until the final bell rings next Friday.
The final reflection topic is related to the Power of YET.
Each students' legacy isn't complete and won't be until the last day of school. I asked students to reflect on how they will carry through their LEGACY. It's a true reminder to stay strong, make good decisions, and keep focusing on being the same kid they were in September all the way through until the final moments of the school year.
I hope the Power of YET guides each and every one of us next week and throughout our lives.

LEGACY Reflections-A and C

Students are continuing to think about their Middle School LEGACY by writing about Attitude and Challenges.
Our attitudes impact how we are remembered by others. Do we stay positive or complain when the going gets tough? I am hopeful that this reflection helped all of us remember to pause and use patience when we speak or act, especially when we are tired at the end of the school year. How we act and react to others says a lot about our character, and our legacy.
How we handle difficult situations says a lot about who we are. Students were asked to reflect this week about a time they overcame a challenge. It's been really nice to read their responses while I was stapling these to our bulletin board in the hallway outside of our classroom. (At the start of this project all students knew that their responses would be displayed and they could keep each of their reflections anonymous.) Students wrote about challenges with friendships, classes they've struggled with, and more than…

LEGACY Reflections-E and G

The LEGACY Reflections are progressing very well. Students have written about their EDUCATION during Middle School, especially 8th Grade. Each student was asked to reflect on their educational risks and how those risks translate into a facet of their legacy. Their answers were insightful and deep.
Students also reflected on GRATITUDE, creating a list of people they were grateful at Boulan and elaborate on how this gratitude impacts how they will be remembered at Boulan. I feel this is a fitting "full circle" experience related to our Gratitude Journals created in November.
This week's writing centers on attitude.