10 Ways to teach Innovation


I read this article early this morning and loved the concept!  I just podcasted about it!  A few of the things that really stood out to me were:

* Move from projects to Project Based Learning

* Teach concepts not facts

* Make skills as important as knowledge

*Form teams not groups (seems like a small change- but  I predict it really matters!)

*Reward discovery (I plan to focus on this much more!)  I like the idea of also rewarding challenge and effort.

* Make reflection part of the lesson

*Be innovative yourself (I can always improve on this)

MEI Podcast 1 January 28, 2015

I did it!  I created a first podcast!  I am sure that I will experience quite a bit of growth along the way!  I listen to so many of them from iTunes, and they are so good. I  am confident that one day, I might be able compete with these other pod-castors!


The Secret of Shoelaces


I went to a funeral on Saturday and learned an unexpected lesson.  The lesson was about shoelaces.

Michael collected shoelaces.  For every holiday or special occasion his number one gift was always shoelaces.  His body looked so peaceful with red laces gently woven between his fingers.  Next to his casket was a wooden chest filled with the biggest and most colorful collection of shoelaces.  It was then, that I realized the secret of shoelaces.  This is a secret that can be applied to improving your personal, professional, relational, spiritual and financial life.

Shoelaces represent courage, simplicity and pride. 

Mike’s parents had the courage to take care of him for over 50 years.  He was an amazing individual impacted by Down Syndrome.  Sunday after Sunday Mike’s parents brought him to church. There must have been some really tough moments, and I am sure his parents were overwhelmed and must have felt exhausted wondering what the future would look like.  They had courage and trusted God that he had a plan for their family. No matter what area of life you are focusing on, have courage to do the tough things.  Have the courage to start a race, apply for a new job, teach your kids, get out of debt, or do whatever else might challenge you.  When your shoes are laced up, you are telling your brain that you are ready for a challenge.  You tell yourself that you have the courage to begin again.

Mike’s life was simple.  It was beautiful.  He was surrounded by the people and things that meant the most to him.  We are always striving to find the newest most complex way of doing things.  It was truly refreshing to think about someone who lived so differently.  As I stepped into my house that evening, I decided that I was going to begin simplifying my life.  I would go back to basics and focus on how simple the important things really are.  What struck me is how this can also be applied to the way I conduct my classroom, work with my own kids, train for a marathon, eat healthy, and watch my financial life.  Some of the people and pieces of writing that are the most deep, seem to have the fewest words.  Some of the best teaching methods are simple.  Training, teaching, eating and financial plans that focus on the basics consistently work.  Shoelaces are one of the most simple pieces of our daily wardrobe.

Mike’s family showed considerable pride.  His family was thankful and content with the life that they had been given.   They lived in the present.   They were never ashamed him, nor pretended that he was he was not a part of the family.  Family pictures always showed Mike.  His parents were proud of him, and their actions demonstrated this emotion.  When a person laces up his or her shoes, a feeling of pride is present.  You have no choice but to own the current ability you have.   No matter what your finishing time, current job, family you have been given or financial status;  There is always something to be thankful for- always something to be proud of.  During the funeral, I saw an old friend I went to high school with.  He asked what I did for a living, and for one of the first times in a long time I very proudly said, “I am a teacher.” It is a great feeling to be content and proud of who you are today, not just who you want to become in the future.

As I think about the secret of shoelaces being courage, simplicity and prideI am also reminded about why my thinking has evolved.  I had no idea that I, a runner who uses shoe laces daily was so connected to another human that I had never taken the time to learn about.  Yes, we are different from many people in this world, but at the core level;  we are quite similar.

30 Day Blogging Challenge Day 6

Today’s challenge is to blog about a good Mentor.  

Having a good mentor as a teacher, can be quite valuable.  But, like most things in life, something that you cannot be just assigned (as a first year teacher would be).  It is something that you have to go out and seek  yourself.  When I first started teaching, I taught in three different schools during my first three years as an educator.  Each of the assigned mentors were helpful.  However, I did not truly begin to thrive in having someone to watch to try and emulate until I started to seek out my own examples of excellent teaching.  

Today I find that most of my mentors are found through social media networks.  By following professional educators and groups on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, I am able to have numerous resources at my finger tips.  It is amazing, and only something that can be done in the 21st Century!  I love having a question, and being able to tweet it to the correct person. I love reading a book, and being able to tweet the author to let her or him know that I am walking along side them reading a book they wrote recently.  

30 Day Blog Challenge Day 5

The blog challenge topic for day 5, is to create a picture of my classroom. I think it best that I actually take a physical picture of a my classroom and upload it. But, besides just seeing the color and excitement of my room, there is so much more to what my classroom is about.

I currently teach in a computer lab where I have a journalism class (random pieces of projects and advertisements all over the place), computers, and my English class. The ability to teach all of my classes in the same room in the same building is something that I have not had the opportunity to do in such a long time. It feels so good to be grounded! I love that my English class can be taught in a complete blended learning style. Tables in the middle of the room for collaborating, computers circling the entire room, and a large book shelf in the corner lend to tremendous possibilities Many students also have their own devices.

The use of the Edmodo Platform enables me to team teach with myself! I love it. I really feel that flipping many of my lessons allows for me to read allowed. Articles about technology to my computer classes and novels to my ELA class. I will always be a literary nut no matter what I teach. Excitement for literature, no matter its form always seems to win over. It is truly inspiring and exciting to see students reading from a novel in a classroom filled with the latest gadgets and devices.



Day 4 30 Day Blog Challenge

The challenge for Day 4, is to talk about what I love the most in education.
I remember when I was first interviewing for jobs, and a college professor instructed us how to answer this question. He maintained that we should say, “I love kids and I love my subject area.” While I would agree that for the most part this is a pretty true answer that has not changed all that much, it is fairly vague.

Today, one of the things I have found to love actually has shown itself through being a community member and having my own kids. It all came together as I was sitting in curriculum night for my first grader two years ago. The teacher is also someone who lives in the community in which she works. It really made sense when she talked about how other teachers help her biological kids, and she too guides many kids in the ways in which she would want someone to do for her kids. I love being part of that community. I see kids all over the place outside of the classroom, and truly feel as though I am part of a larger community. I love watching my own children be guided by teachers, and then in turn being able to guide other people’s kids as if they were my own. I always do what I would like someone to do for my kids. Sure enough, that is happening every day.

30 Day Blog Challenge Day 3

The blog assignment for day 3 is to examine how I plan to improve one more more areas of my evaluation.  

While I do a good job with a variety of things, there is always room for improvement.  Students cannot be engaged too much.  I will never be able to communicate too much with the community or parents.  I can always make a point to reach out to one more student and inspire and cultivate a relationship.  

My areas of focus are:

1.  Working  on increasing communication with the surrounding community.  I am confident that project based learning, augmented reality and some of the photography we do will pave the way for students and community members to work together more often.  The focus this year will be more partnerships.  

2.  Likewise, I want to inspire our own students more. Photography is a great way to instill the idea that we are about students here, and they matter.  Students who see that they are valued will care more.  I plan to do an even better job of going out of my way to build those relationships.  For example;  take pictures during lunch while talking to students and getting to know them.  

I am excited for the challenges this year!  Overwhelming or not, this is my dream, and could not be better!