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8 Years Old, Curious, Creative and Tech Savvy

My nephew has grown up accustomed to a pattern of learning that his school is ill-prepared to serve. He is the perfect blend of his mother, a creative artist ¬†and father, a computer programmer/technician. The kid’s first word was “mouse”. He understands the artistic design of physical objects just as much as he understands the creative necessity of a certain device. He chooses what he wants to use based on what he wants to accomplish. One would think that the adults of his life taught him these things. We did not. His dad ¬†works at least 15 hours a day …

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Visual Vocabulary Stories with Haiku Deck #txidea

Weekly, my nephew is assigned a set of words in which he has to learn the definition and spelling for class. His teacher sends the list home and other than the sentences that he is assigned to write, he is on his own to learn each meaning. Basically, he is supposed to memorize each definition which means that he doesn’t really own a connection. While experimenting with my chromebook and haiku deck‘s beta web application, I decided to allow Braeden a “chromebook takeover” to visually create his sentences. Below are the sentences that he originally wrote. As you can see, …

Leveraging the Tools in Their Pockets

Some of the fears shared by teachers regarding BYOD are that kids will have access to information that cannot be controlled, kids will cheat and that kids will be using social media instead of participating in class. In other words, kids will be engaging in everyday device use. When working with teachers new to technology, I like to have them look at their daily uses of tech and start there. When tools fit into everyday life, they have a greater chance of being utilized in a classroom setting as seamless acts supporting student learning. I remember when the conversation about …

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When Teachers are Denied Creativity

“You must all teach the same lesson, the same way every day. I should be able to walk into any classroom and see the same stuff going on.” – your future former admin The statement above kills me to no end. It is the ultimate slap in the face for many teachers because nothing good ever comes from lack of autonomy. I have personally heard this statement come from the mouths of several teachers in several different schools as they defended their horrendously bad practices. They believe that they cannot deviate from “the plan” or run the risk of being …

You Can’t Form A Puzzle with Missing Pieces

I wrote a posting a few months ago about reaching kids beyond a subgroup. Apparently, my son’s school has missed the mark…again. This week he came home and declared that he gets to go see a “special counselor” at school. He went on to say that he and his friends get to leave class to go see this counselor because of the “problems” that he had in junior high. I’m still confused as to what junior high problems that he is speaking of. My son continued that he was fine with it because the counselor told him that he would …

If You Can’t Make Learning Real, It Doesn’t Count

  Dave Guymon wrote a book titled, If You Can’t Fail, It Doesn’t Count. It’s a great book that challenges readers to explore their fears, take risks and act without thought of failure. The title is what stuck out for me and drew me to the book which may be the reason that I connected the title to “real and relevant” learning. For some, that is a risk in and of itself. Yesterday, I was talking to a colleague who has made the jump from high school teacher to middle school. She mentioned that middle school students were different because …

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The Problem with Teaching to the Test

I’m writing this post knowing that not one thing about my nephew’s education will change as his school produces the highest test scores in the area. There is zero point in talking to his teacher or administrators because they will stand by their methods wholeheartedly. Why change what’s working? You don’t! When your focus is on the state test and kids are performing brilliantly, you don’t change. You continue to teach to the test. That’s their thinking anyway. For most schools, STAAR results reign supreme because their rating is dependent on performance. Test scores are how our schools are judged …

When High Performing Means Testing Factory

It’s 9:25 pm and my nephew is just now completing his homework. He’s a 3rd grader at a “high performing” elementary school and there is definitely a great deal of pride in that. Their 3rd graders have a history of “beating the test”. That tradition was made clear to him on the first day of class. Unfortunately, their “test beating” secret has come home with him everyday in the form of the stories that he tells and the evidence in his homework. My nephew’s 3rd grade education has been relegated to drill and kill worksheets, repetitive reading, over-duplication of spelling …

Even Low Tech Schools Shouldn’t Suck

Let me preface this by saying that not every class has access to student devices. However, every teacher has access to ideas. We all share a natural connection. It’s called the internet and google works wonders. – R. Davis Effort is a big deal for most to give. In this profession, it should be the norm. What we expect is not often what we get. What we accept is an entirely different story. Those of us that are connected via social media have come to understand a reality that includes engaging students in innovative ways. We feed off of each …

Talking Math with Braeden and Teachable Moments

This past weekend, I took some much needed time to spend with my nephew before he started school today. I had a weekend of haircuts, projects and movies planned, our typical time together. Our project was to include a family game dealing with twizzlers where we explore how many ways that we can evenly divide a chosen number of twizzlers with various family members. It’s a game of fractions that I played with my own children. We barely made it into the game when Braeden stopped me to ask a “burning question”…his words. He wanted to know if the earth …