Let's Get Digital

A blog by a student, for the student

Class Speaker — November 2, 2017

Class Speaker

On Tuesday, we had a guest come to class to speak to us about teaching class, and what works best for her. I really enjoyed hearing her discussion on lessons, class time, and teaching in a low-income and low-performing school. I have a dream of teaching on the reservation because I love working with kids who need the most help and attention. I went to a Catholic and Private high school where every student seemed well-behaved, and every student excelled in some way. But…that is so boring. The graduation rate at St. Thomas More is 100 percent, average GPA… 3.4 – 3.5 and college attendance is almost 90 percent. There was never much of a challenge for students or teachers. I want a challenge!! If I am going to spend time with students on a daily basis, I want to know each of them, know their weaknesses, and know how they can improve. I think because of my n=background, I would make a great teacher on the reservation. I have no sympathy. I have seen people with crappy lives, and know that there is a way to rise from the ashes. I want students to know that I want more than anything to get them out of a rut or out of a bad situation and teach them how to live a good and happy life. I see no purpose in knowing what a comma is if the student is a bad person. Schools are to be used for more than standardized testing, and more than getting a good grade and going to college. They should be used to make our students better people. I think that our class speaker made it obvious that she wants to make students better people and that she embraces the school and students that she has, and makes adjustments to relate to them.

Student relationships are the most important aspect of teaching. If I can create a lasting relationship with my students, I would consider my year a success. Our speaker really showed us how to be good teachers with friendly relationships with their students. I am excited to see what kind of lasting relationships with my students and see what effect I can make on them and what they can do for me.

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The Importance of a Grade — October 26, 2017

The Importance of a Grade

Today in class, we discussed grading and the mastery of choosing to grade a students work with a letter, and what it takes to give a student a grade without disrupting the idea of learning for learning rather than learning for an A. Throughout High School, I played three sports, and focused my life on excelling on the track rather than in the classroom. Sports came first in my life. But grades and sports go hand in hand. If I wanted to play or run that weekend, I had to get the grades. I maintained a B average which let me play every game and run every race and that was good enough for me. I knew I would never be valedictorian, I would never attend an ivy league school, and I would never be a doctor or lawyer…and I didn’t care. I was happy with my B average.  Now, I understand what kind of student I was and still am, but for many students, especially athletes, their averages lie along the lines of C-F. Many students expect these grades. While my B average never affected me and allowed me to graduate, a C-F average would most likely hold a student back. But is there really any reason to fail a student? I remember all the failing grades that I received in High School. Most of them in math or science, but still were failing grades. I also wrote a few papers which received terrible grades…but how? I did the work, I had the citations, I had the research, I had more than enough pages, and more than enough information, but still received a low grade. We had at least 2 rough drafts submitted and returned before this final paper…how, if you do the work, correct your paper, and have the criteria can you not get an A???

A grade should never reflect from lack of something but based on the existence of something. Just like the TED talk that we watched where the teacher would say plus 2 instead of minus 18.  It is all about showing students the positive outcomes of their work. If a student can see one good aspect of their work…there is a good chance they will work harder. If you give them positive feedback, there is a good chance they will work to fix the problems. My goal as an educator is to make students who are proud of themselves and who want to work. I want students to pass my classes with flying colors not because they are good students or considered smart, but because they want to pass for themselves and for me. I want the students to earn their grade by doing the work…not being the best at the work. I want to change the idea that the classroom is a competition, but put all kids on the same level and grade for learning not learning for a grade.

The Right To Teach —

The Right To Teach

If I had to guess how many hours I have wasted on writing lesson plans throughout my college career, I would say at least three days worth of wasted time. It is insane how great the reputation is for lesson plans, and how small the reputation is for actually being with your students and creating relationships. I have learned the ins and outs of lessons plans and test making, but not a single professor has taught me how to actually control and be aligned with my classroom. It is always about being the best at lesson plans and creating essential questions…ARE WE EVEN TEACHING THE STUDENTS??? I cannot believe how often I have to write a lesson plan, and teach it to the class. And depending on the class, I cannot even use creative writing or independent reading as lessons. I have made over ten lesson plans based on sentence structure, punctuation, and the 5 paragraph essay all to please my teachers. When are educators going to stop taking the easy way out, and actually teach students useful life lessons?

I am so tired of hearing about summative and formative assessments, and if I have to write another pointless essential question I might have to swallow a brick. It is no wonder that so many educators are leaving schools. They are forced to write lesson plans like they blink and are supposed to prepare their students for one single test that evaluates your entire classroom. I would leave too. It’s boring and it is not effective. A good teacher is all a poor student needs. They do not need extra help after class, they do not need accommodations, they need someone who actually cares about their learning and well-being and who wants to help them succeed. It is not going to happen on the first try and maybe not the second, but a good teacher, a persistent teacher can teach a snail to fly. I hope to move some small pebbles in the education community in order to cause a landslide for educators, administrators, and students. Every student has the right to learn, so let’s give every teacher the right to teach!

“This is Where it Ends” — October 25, 2017

“This is Where it Ends”

I recently finished a book that I found to be very entertaining, enthralling, and intriguing. This book is about a school shooting that occurs for 50 some minutes and spans through 6 or so students perspectives. This book is written especially for young adults as it is not too hard to understand, and focuses on past lives, and connects easily to each student. I found something about each of the students that I would connect/relate with.

The reason that I loved this book was due to its ability to intrigue all audiences. When I went to Walmart to find a book to read for class, I saw this book and was immediately intrigued by the cover. I put it in my cart and walked around for a bit before bringing the book back and picking up a Nicolas Sparks Novel. Right before checking out, I decided to head back to the shelf and grad this book again. I am not sure what was pulling me to the book, but I could not leave the store without it. I began reading it and could not put it down. While I do not believe that this book was written well at all, the story, and the stories of each character we so attractive and exciting that I could not let the book close without completing a characters account.

Something that I missed in this book was the sense of emotion which made for an interesting and different view on shootings. Would you panic, would you freeze, would you run, could you save your friends? I always tell myself that I could give my life for anyone, but could I really in the face of disaster? I think this book is meant to make you feel for the characters rather than know what they are feeling. You can become any one of the characters and live these moments through their eyes. I would suggest this book for all readers especially those with big imaginations.

 

This Book Im Reading — October 8, 2017

This Book Im Reading

So, this is my first book talk blog, and I would like to discuss a book that I am reading. The book is called the BIBLE…! I started reading the Bible last year for one of my classes, but it takes more than a year to truly delve into the meaning and style of the Bible. I started with the first book of the Bible and moved from there. Some people have this idea that you should read the Bible from New to Old Testament, or start with Genesis and then move to the second book…or the other millions of ways that we should be reading the Bible. So, instead of moving in any direction, I decided to move in order from page one to who knows page 4091. I am currently reading the book of Matthew. Now I won’t lie to you, I have had to skip some dry parts. Some of the books are so repetitive or just difficult to stay awake through so I simply just skip them. In my mind, you do not become a better Catholic by reading the Bible. You become better when you actually care to be reading it. You see, so many people have entered into debates with me saying…I’ve read the entire Bible, so I understand what you believe in, or the Bible says this, so you are a sinner for not following the bible. You cannot argue with these people because they have most likely read the Bible with the intention of having this exact argument. I am reading the Bible with the intention of better understanding the religion that I call my own. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to further their faith life, or willing to spend time studying one of the greatest literary works of all time.

Myself as a Writer — October 3, 2017

Myself as a Writer

Throughout this class, I have come to discover myself as a reader and writer. I was never much of either until Dr. E got a hold of me. She didn’t know that I did not like to read or write that much, but she didn’t have to. All she had to do is inspire a class of people to read for the sake of reading. And to teach my students that reading just to read is more important than reading for the sake of meeting standards. I have also b=never been given an assignment with no prompt, no standard, no page limit, and no objective. Dr. E just told us to write, and it was refreshing.

I decided to write my big piece about my dad from the point of view of a younger me. My dad is a very interesting man. He has a job that he can’t talk about, that he doesn’t tell anyone about, and that we never heard anything about. He could come home after a very hard day on the reservation, but could never tell us about it. When I was little my dad was just a cool guy, my hero, my dad, but after growing older, learning more about him, hearing about him from others, and wanting to be like him, I have discovered some crazy things about my dad. My dad has convicted more “bad people” than many of the men and women like him in the united states. People on the east and west coasts know about him. he is a beast in the interrogation room often leaving felons in tears, and he has not lost a court case in his entire 27 years on the force. My dad is not a lawyer, he’s not a cop, and he is not a judge. My dad is literally a superhero. I cannot wait to see where my piece goes.

What are we learning?? — September 17, 2017

What are we learning??

I would like to share with you all, an assignment from my class this week. Not only is it hard to understand, but completely based on the idea of creating lessons, and assessing with either a formative or summative assessment, and then…giving a score based on the bell curve describing whether or not your test has a high or low validity.

 

Please use the lesson plan you constructed for the previous assignment. Construct an assessment for this lesson plan. Your assessment must have the following:

1) One question for each of the six cognitive abilities addressed in table 4.1 (Bloom’s Taxonomy: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and create)

2) Looking at your standards for this lesson plan – does the assessment align with content-related validity? Does it measure the content it is supposed to measure? Explain how your assessment aligns with your standards.

3) What external criterion would you use to validate the assessment using the criterion-related evidence for validity? 

4) Find the next concept to be taught in the standards you used to construct your lesson plan and state what score would have to be achieved to establish predictive validity? Explain why you selected the score you did to establish predictive validity.

Value – 25 points each for a total of 100 points.

Now, after looking at this, I want you to think about the kind of classroom that you would be walking in too. Can’t you see it? White walls, projector running with a powerpoint set up. The teacher pops up from a stack of essays with red ink blotched all over them. She says  “have a seat, quietly, and pull out your notebooks”. She moves to her usual place in the room, the wood is fading where she stands because she never moves from behind the pedestal. The dims the lights and begins the lecture. After fifty minutes, a bell rings and she states “quiz on Wednesday, be prepared”. The students pack their things and shuffle into the halls. They have no idea what they have missed.  Each student assumes that, because she is a teacher she has taught them that they need to know. But the truth is…she has taught them to sit and listen and write. Chances are that the quiz on Wednesday will contain ten multiple choice questions based on the PowerPoint. 

Does that make her a good teacher? No! Students need interaction and to be involved, they need to know what it is like to be in the front of a class and to know what it is like to have a relationship with their teachers. Students should not be stuck behind a desk watching a screen day in and day out, they need to move, interact, read, write, grow, and discover. When did school become about making robots? No one ever made that rule, but teachers have become lazy. They read right from the text and never explain and argue. They follow standards (which are the bare minimum). Teachers attempt to test but only teach memorization. I cannot tell you a single thing that I learned in my High School history class because my teacher sat behind his desk and clicked through a power point. Don’t get me wrong, he was smart and knew the information, but failed to teach us.

We need to create teachers who teach! Teaching isn’t about putting grades on papers, it is about making people who believe in themselves and have confidence and a love for learning. At this point in my education I have decided that you just have to get the grade and move on…but never lose the part of you that makes you a great teacher.

What am I supposed to do? — September 12, 2017

What am I supposed to do?

In the education program here at CSC, I have found that the English program and the education program do not correlate. I am hearing in one class that lesson plans, formative and summative assessment, and the grading bell curve is the most important parts of a classroom, and on the other hand, I am hearing that personal and motivated writing is the best way to reach your students. I agree with the latter idea, but how do I pass a class if I am trying to comply with both ideas? The goal of a teacher is to educate and transform students. How am I supposed to transform a student if all I am doing is grading a student and expecting failure out of 20 percent of my students? Dr. B told me that to have a successful classroom, you must have a perfect bell curve. Meaning that 20 percent will fail, and 10 percent will receive A’s. That is so messed up. Students should want to get an A and teachers should strive to pass and give A’s to all of their students. What does failing a kid do for them…? Nothing!!!! It would ruin them! Some kids don’t give a flying fart what grade you give them…but many of them care if you care. If you see a struggling student, it is your obligation to make sure that that student knows you care about them and want them to get an A. What I struggle with is the fact that there are two sides to education. There is the side of grading, bell curve and lesson plans, and the side where relationships and motivation bring A’s. So when I am student teaching, do I focus on the grade or the relationship? Do I focus on the writing or the lesson plan? How do I become successful if my education is not correlating?

I love the idea of being a teacher and having a relationship with students, but until I have my own classroom, I will be tested and observed. How do I pass this testing when I have no idea what the popular opinion is? I know the kind of teacher I wan to be…but who does the state want me to be? Who does the teacher want me to be?

CLASSROOM EXCITEMENT — September 4, 2017

CLASSROOM EXCITEMENT

It has only been two weeks, and this class, Special Methods, has already transformed my entire idea of a classroom. I was so nervous to become a literature teacher because I assumed standards and obligations would require me to teach the same boring texts over and over again. I am sorry Hester Prynne, but… NO ONE CARES!! There comes a time in literature when we need to look at the classics, but the focus should be more on the student’s growth and development rather than looking at overrated and over studied texts such as The Scarlet Letter or Romeo and Juliet. Don’t get me wrong…I loved Romeo and Juliet, but not every student is going to have that passion. Therefore, we need to ignite that light in each and every one of our students. We hold precious lives and minds on our hands…do we really want to fill those minds with standards and classics. What if we decided instead to fill their minds with creativity and passion. While structured, I believe that students need to recognize their own passions and dreams and build on them. I believe in grades, and structure, and work ethic, but I also know the power of free writing and reading as it has transformed my life first hand.

When it comes to reading and writing, my life is simple. I like books about romance, mystery, and discovery, and I write about really anything that is in my head. But, my school experience was never like that. We read boring books about boring topics that no student wants to read. Over and over again, we were taught that literature was Shakespeare and Mark Twain…and all other books were full of uneducated and gaudy ideas. But the truth is…education is in reading, not the materials. Most students, myself included mastered navigation around SparkNotes, and CliffsNotes because no one really wants to read Great Expectations. What if we made a pact to look over the “classics” but focus on self-growth in reading a writing through free write and reading time. And what if instead of having students write book summaries and pointless articles on characters, we focused on developing a love for reading and sharing what the students have accomplished? By doing this, we establish ourselves as teachers of reading and writing and not teachers of already written works. And that is an education I could be proud of.

Elephants — April 28, 2017

Elephants

Image result for elephants in learning

For many students, school is about snoozing the alarm clock until the very last minute, dragging themselves to school, socializing with friends, and getting the “grade”. School is no longer fun for students. Why? Becaue school has become focused on getting a good grade not learning new information. Students retain the information until the test and then let it go knowing that new information will be force feed to them later. Teachers do not take the time to engage with students and fully develop the information. Many believe that if a student gets an “A” on the final test then they have done their job, but the truth is that students forget information immediately after the text. Students have been wired to look for a good grade, not for retention of learning. If you were to give a student the same exam that he took three months prior, he might do well, but that is not because he retained the information. Many students are being taught how to memorize the information not learn it. If he were to be given the test in a different form and different questions, chances are he has already blocked that information to make room for something new. Because of this student phenomenon, Will Richardson wrote the article “Nine Elephants in the (Class)room That Should “Unsettle” Us.” In this article, Richardson talks about nine classroom realities that teachers are turning a blind eye to. While all nine of the realities seem valid to me, I found three to be too true to ignore.

The first elephant is the second in Richardson’s article:” We know that most of our students are bored and disengaged in school.” There is so much truth in this elephant that it is almost disturbing. Thinking about being a future teacher, I pretend that I am going to be the fun, relatable, and cool teacher who still holds her ground. But the truth is, no matter how cool and fun you are school is still going to be boring. While we cannot change the instinct in students to be bored by school, we can change how school functions. It would take some time, and a lot of convincing, but as soon as the idea was set in place, I believe that students will wake up and be excited to learn. Another elephant that I found to relate well with my thinking is number four.

“We know that we’re not assessing many of the things that really matter for future success.” We all claim that we know that no one student is going to learn the same as another, so why do we believe that all students will assess the same? Even if you differentiate your classroom and learning, many teachers leave out the assessment. It is easier to assess using one single test that applies to most the students, but what about the students who have trouble memorizing answers, or have other ached emic disabilities? What matters is knowing what your students learned at the end of the day, not knowing how much information they can hold before an exam. We are also only assessing the information that the “curriculum” tells us to assess, but what about the information that is valuable to their lives and futures? Why do we forget about the most important aspects of school?

The third elephant falls at number five on Richardson’s list: “We know that grades, not learning, are the outcomes that students and parents are most interested in”. It is obvious when you walk into a school that learning is happening. But what kind of learning are we promoting? To play a sport you must have good grades. To go out with friends you must have good grades, and to be the best student you must have good grades. We have decided that receiving a good grade is the proof that students are “smart” or that they are “learning” but really, it is just a label. A label that says “I can memorize answers, and turn in my work”. Students no longer take their work home to show their parents, but rather, parents get online and look at the grades of their students. To change this, we must find a way to focus students on the learning. We could do this by not assessing for grades, but rather for self-interest. And let students decide what is important.

The truth is that learning is the most important. Sending kids out to learn from the world and know how to handle life experiences. Memorizing and tallying information will never help them to be the best that they can be. If we want the best for our students, and the best future leaders, we must start now. We must stop the idea that learning is reflected through grades and we must show kids that school is fun. When students and teachers work together, collaboration and LEARNING can happen.