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The Problem with Awards

In Braeden, Professional Growth by rafranzdavis1 Comment

My nephew excitedly pulled out his awards that he earned during this grading period. He was so excited that he earned them…yet still not satisfied. The problem that he had was that “A honor roll” kids got a ribbon and “B honor roll” kids got a “zipper thing”. What??? (An object to place on their zippers) I took this moment to ask him a few questions. 1. Does the award matter? 2. Do you do well in school because of the award? 3. You haven’t won any awards for your art but you do it. What’s the difference? His response… …

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My BIG Connected Change: Learning to Stop and Smell the Positive

In Professional Growth by rafranzdavis2 Comments

Since the beginning of this school year, I’ve documented our struggles with my nephew’s worksheet and packet filled 3rd grade class along with the hours of homework that he has every night. I’ve been so vocal about it that the backlash within my community has been somewhat obvious. There has been a major change and had it not been for Steve Dembo and Adam Bellow, I would have surely missed it. Please allow me to explain. At the end of connected educators month, I happened to click the link leading to a CEM Cafe where Adam and Steve were speaking. …

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Owning the Dart: Change with Me, Don’t Criticize Me (By All Means, Reflect)

In Professional Growth by rafranzdavis11 Comments

Tonight I took Braeden to his school for family math night. Within ten minutes of walking in the building, three things were apparent… Table cloths are supposed to make worksheets more engaging. I hurt a lot of feelings with my blog. Those teachers have no clue that what “worked” years ago is irrelevant now. We walked into his 3rd grade hallway and were faced with three choices. Fact family worksheets neatly decorated with a picture of a pumpkin A worksheet of multiplication color by numbers Multiplication musical answers…where kids walked around stepping on multiplication problems. When the music stopped, they …

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How We Turned a Bad Worksheet into a Teachable Moment Integrating Technology

In Teaching Strategies by rafranzdavis2 Comments

Below is one of the worksheets that Braeden did at school. The top portion is a reading passage about Ecosystems with mis-spelled spelling words that he must identify and correct. The bottom portion asks him to imagine that he was an explorer and write about the ecosystem that he discovered for the first time. Sounds like a great activity? Wrong! In Braeden’s words… “I didn’t know what an ecosystem was. She wouldn’t tell us and I didn’t have my ipad to look it up. She gave it to us and sat in her desk. She told us that it wasn’t …

Give a Kid Clay and He’ll Make a Scarecrow

In Braeden by rafranzdavis0 Comments

Today I received the sweetest and most exciting facetime call EVER! Braeden, who is becoming quite the “Google” guru, found three scarecrow images that sparked his interest. He liked different elements of each one and wanted to make sure that his scarecrow reflected these traits as well. To illustrate, he put his images into his screenchomp app and circled the parts that he liked.   He then grabbed his clay and toothpicks to mold. (He learned this technique through trial and error. He refined it on youtube)   After molding the head, he decided on a body. The interesting part …

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Inside Our Battle for Good Teaching: Braeden’s Words

In Teaching Strategies by rafranzdavis3 Comments

If I could’ve recored yesterday’s “Braeden rant”, I would’ve. I sat with a child on the verge of breaking because of the educational malpractice that he is experiencing. Amidst tears, he expressed his thoughts on the reprehensible actions of his teacher. Below is the rundown After mistakenly writing down (small – large) vs (large – small), Braeden was ridiculed in front of the entire class for making the same mistake over and over. Her words were, “You keep doing this!! You also do this on your math test!!” He was then told that he would receive “extra problems” to take …

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How A Movie Fixed What Accelerated Reader Broke

In Teaching Strategies by rafranzdavis0 Comments

A week ago, Disney channel aired the movie, Judy Moody. My nephew has been obsessed since. He immediately told his mom that he wanted the books and excitedly brought home his scholastic book order form for his mother to order them. (More on this later) He has never asked for books before….NEVER. Braeden would rather draw instead of read because until now, reading has been a chore. Weekly, Braeden brings home a school printed chapter reader and must read it every night. On Friday, he and his classmates take turns on their classroom computers to take the accelerated reader test …

8 Years Old, Curious, Creative and Tech Savvy

In Teaching Strategies by rafranzdavis1 Comment

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 …

Braeden Teaches: How to Make a Jack Skellington Nightlight

In EdTech, Random by rafranzdavis0 Comments

Everyday that I come home from work, I am amazed by what my nephew has created the night before. There’s always something! As of late, he has been a bit obsessed with the Nightmare Before Christmas movie and we’ve seen Jack Skellington in every shape possible I think. His latest creation is a nightlight. Braeden loves finding and using objects from around the house. For this project, he used some flameless tea light candles that he found. He took them apart and saw that the light still worked and came equipped with an on and off switch. Surrounding the base …

The Problem with Teaching to the Test

In Professional Growth, Teaching Strategies by rafranzdavis1 Comment

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 …