Friday, February 14, 2020

Why Conferences?

I just got back from METC, the Midwest Education Technology Community Conference, and have some thoughts running through my head. The one that keeps bugging me is the lack of professional blogging in the education community.

I know there are some really great education bloggers who have been writing for years and doing amazing things, but I see very little conversation around pushing for new edubloggers. Truthfully this hasn't been 'a thing' for several years but this year I noticed there was a lot of buzz around podcasting. Why podcasting and not blogging?

I remember coming back from edcamps and conferences and eagerly awaiting other attendees thoughts on their blogs, but I don't see any being shared anymore. I am curious as to why that is.

I know that I quit writing so much here when I stopped getting anyone to come and read, and more importantly to comment. I really felt like one of my students who was constantly writing but I knew that the only one who would read it (maybe!) was the teacher. Even then, the most I could hope for was a quick attaboy.

So, this gets me to my point. There are a myriad of reasons to go to an education conference, but one of the most important is to reflect on educational practices. I left METC with a strong desire to start student blogging again, it used to be an integral part of our classroom practice. Circumstances have made it more difficult, but that never stopped me from doing what I felt was important.

I am grateful for the time I spent talking and sharing with others at the conference, as I am after every conference. This time the thing I took away wasn't from a session, but from a conversation I had that made me realize I needed to go back and do something with my students that I used to do but quit. Something that was vital and useful, something that made a difference. 

Sunday, January 5, 2020


you are wrong to record your life as it happens to video and snap and live don't waste your time documenting be there in the moment at that moment revel dance joyfully in its presence you are wrong to record your life as it happens live it

Friday, January 3, 2020

Stop and Drop and Roll Away

They are driving me
to spend more time
and money
and attention
on entertainment
they keep doing things
that makes me mad
and irritates
and angers
me constantly
I can only handle so much
before I have to stop
and drop
and roll


December is bittersweet bitter memories of people passed sweet experiences with people present You have to take the bitter with the sweet or all that's left is bitter.


When I am gone Don't spend your time Thinking of me The cost is too high The past is past The present too valuable.

Blank Eyes

While blank eyes stare at me from across the room My poetry flows easier than their thoughts

Human Condition

The human condition will be the death of humanity Our inability to understand life outside our experience is so human We have so far to go yet we have so little ability to grow We can't see ourselves as valuable life forms What hope do new life forms have?

I Stood in the Snow

I stood in the snow and remembered sledding and snowballs and hot chocolate and cold, wet clothes and it is sad to think this part of my life has been over for so long I stood in the snow and remembered


The holidays are hard
now that my parents are goneand my grandparents Each year it seems I have one less placewhere I feel at home

Snow Day Sick Day

Snow Day Sick Day I am at home either way I don't understand I cannot say should I be glad or should I be mad? I am at home either way It sucks to be sick I really must say.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Reflection: The Silk Road and World Trade: What led to Columbus Re-Discovering the Americas?

This lesson demonstrates the biggest problem with teaching American history. Yes, I know that technically this isn't American history, but the exploration of the Americas didn't happen by chance and it is important for us to understand the economic pressures that led to sailing west. The biggest problem is there is so much content to cover.

I had originally intended this lesson to be a 100 minute lesson, but because I didn't want to just blow through it the lesson is now a 200 minute one. I spent some time storytelling around the Marco Polo trip before we watched the first video on the Silk Road. I gave the students the worksheet questions to read through and they were to choose to answer five of the nine questions. 

After watching the video the students finished up answering the questions. I then through a wrinkle in. This year the school district is focusing on literacy, not just reading but speaking so we are being encouraged to have our students talk more about what they are learning. I had the students find others in the class who answered different questions and had them share their answers with each other. After around five minutes we checked their answers. It seemed to be pretty successful since they seemed to be more enthusiastic about sharing their answers and the number of questions they got correct definitely improved over similar activities. 

This comes with a cost though, it took much longer than I had planned. So the question is, where does that time come from?

  • Kids were moving and sharing
  • Enthusiastic responses when sharing answers as a whole group
  • I am sure there will be better retention of information
  • time which will have to come at the expense of another lesson over different content
  • third period class is still super restless right before lunch

Map of the Silk Trade Route

Marco Polo's Route

Voyages of Zheng He

The trade routes that we collectively refer to as the Silk Road started as far back as 2,200 years ago. Although the types of trade goods were varied, it is called the Silk Road because of the demand created for silk from China. 

While we may tend to emphasize the economic implications of these trade routes including cities created as stopping points that became wealthy, a much more important trade was taking place throughout this period, the trade of culture. Languages, mathematics, literacy and religion were all shared throughout large areas of the world because of these trade routes. 

Essential Question: What led to the rediscovery of the Americas and its colonization?

  • We know that Columbus 'rediscovered' the Americas, but what events led to the need for this exploration?
  • Answer 5 of the 9 questions, then find others who have answered the questions you have not and have them explain the answers. Explain your answers to them as well. 
  • How did trade drive the sharing of culture?
  • Why did Columbus look west for a route to India?

Monday, August 26, 2019

Reflection: Creating a World Map

Not all of the things I need to learn are specifically content related. In this case I am looking for several things that aren't part of the EQ.

One of the things I am looking for is how well the student works on a project with the kids they choose to sit by. Who likes to socialize more than work, and things like that. I also look for kids who can work with a deadline. Can they self-regulate well enough to do a good job and still finish when time is up? Finally, I am looking for the ability students have to do the art. Can they draw well? Do they have the ability to make the continents the right size and shape?

I did get to find out a lot about my students with this lesson.


  1. Most of the students were trying to do a good job with their maps.
  2. There was plenty of time in class, around 60 minutes.
  3. Students had good attitudes.
  4. The third class seemed to do best with doing good work and finishing the map.
  1. The first two classes worked too slowly to finish in class. Out of 42 students I only had 5 turned in.
  2. The first class was super chatty. I remembered to break out the technique I use where I start their work time with a five minute quiet period for them to focus with the last two classes and that worked very well.
  3. The last 20 minutes of the third class, right before lunch, was rough, the kids had a tough time focusing. I realize this will be a problem due to the time of the day but I need to keep working on how to get them to get back on task.
  4. I forgot a movement break with my first class. I have made sticky notes to put on my plans so I won't do that again. 

In this lesson you will take a quick pre-assessment to see how many continents and oceans you remember. Then you will hand draw the continents and label them and the oceans. You will finish up by coloring them. 

Essential Question: Can you label the continents and oceans of the world?


  • Identify the continents and oceans of the world

  • Hand draw, label and color a map. Identify the continents and oceans. 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Reflection: The First American Immigrants

I think this is the first lesson that I had a handle on all the way through. We reviewed the lessons before this one and I talked about the artifact that we would look at in this lesson, Clovis point. I built in a short break during the video so that we could mentally and physically get some activity. At the end of the video I had the students share with each other what they recorded from the movie since we are emphasizing students speak using academic vocabulary. 

  • The lesson timing was perfect.
  • Students had opportunities to move around.
  • Students had opportunities to share what they were learning with each other.
  • I needed to talk significantly less than in the past lessons.
  • The largest class performed better than they had previously.
  • There were a couple groups of students that did not do as well as they should have. I need to converse with them about how they can improve.
The history of the Americas started well before Columbus. Unfortunately, because of the lack of or destruction of written histories, archaeologists have to rely on the discovery of artifacts to further our knowledge of these peoples. In this lesson we will learn about different theories of migration and also discover that this area is constantly changing and updating do to new discoveries. 

Essential Question: Where and when did the first immigrants to the Americas arrive?
  • Review the Kenniwick Man lesson
  • How did the first immigrants come to the Americas?
  • When did the first immigrants come to the Americas?
  • Video Worksheet

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Reflection: Which Right is Right: Kennewick Man

This lesson seemed to be well received. Everyone had an opinion to share. It doesn't hurt that the topic has a lot of emotional content with it.

I have taught this lesson for several years and I still can't decide which side is right. I suppose I would prefer a compromise of a limited amount of time to study the remains and then have it interred.


  • good engagement
  • plenty of time
  • my large class before lunch behaved well and were engaged


  • I need to consider staggering the lessons so I don't tech the same thing three times in a row. I think I would be better if I was teaching something different at least for one of the three classes.

Essential Question: 

  1. Should scientists be allowed to study the remains of indigenous peoples?


  • What would you think if a scientist dug up the remains of your ancestor?
  • On occasion, archaeologists have dug up the remains of ancient Native Americans. Should scientists be allowed to study these remains? Native Americans feel such remains should be immediately reburied according to Native American customs. Scientists worry that if reburied, the remains will deteriorate and lose their value for present and future scientific study.


  • Discover Magazine: The Earliest Immigrants video (25:02)



  • How did this story evolve over time?
  • What eventually happened to Kennewick Man?
  • What should have been done with the remains?
  • What would you want to have done with the remains if they were your ancestor?
  • According to the map below, what indigenous people group use to live here in southwest Missouri? 
  • What should you do if you find the remains of an indigenous person?


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Reflection: What Events Led to the Writing of the Constitution?

Update Thursday: The kids muscled through the rest of the video. I have decided that next week we will do some hands on activities, even if it is outside of the district timeline. I want the opportunity to see them enjoy creating something, and that is exactly what we will do.

Have you ever tried to condense years of learning into one lesson? That is how I felt today (Tuesday). I am looking forward to students being able to discover information instead of having to feed it to them.


  • I explained my theory that all content area classes are actually foreign language classes and they need to emphasize vocabulary if they want to understand better what they are learning.
  • Students had a lesson on how to dissect information so they can better understand it.

  • Still too much talking by me.
  • It will be difficult to finish the video in the next class period if I continue to add information.
  • Third period is going to be a work in progress. Large classes and hungry kids make learning a bit more difficult. I will have to use different strategies for them than I probably will in the other classes.
The Second Continental Congress, after signing the Declaration of Independence, had to come up with some rules with which they could govern the colonies. They created the first constitution, the Articles of Confederation, which lasted through the winning of the American Revolution. Eventually its weaknesses were exposed and was replaced by the US Constitution.,_page_1.jpg

Essential Question: What events led to the writing of the US Constitution?


  • How did Shay's Rebellion expose the weakness of the Articles of Confederation?
  • Who were the Federalists? Anti-Federalists?
  • Why did some of the Framers demand a 'Bill of Rights'? 


Monday, August 19, 2019

Reflection: Does the Foot Soldier of Birmingham Statue have Historical Value?

So last year I got a lot of positive response to this lesson and I was hoping to repeat that success. Unfortunately I am not sure it lived up to my memory.


  • The first two classes seemed to be paying attention to the podcast and thinking about what they were learning. 
  • The students did a good job explaining why they chose whether or not the statue had historical value.
  • They didn't expect me to give them the answer. 
  • Students responded well when we took movement breaks.
  • My third class, the one before lunch and also the largest at 27, had several students that were unfocused. 
  • Even with the longer class time I felt rushed to finish.
  • I did not allow for any time for the students to share/discuss with each other, only with the whole group.
Things to change for next year:
  • Set aside time for students to discuss amongst themselves what they are learning.
  • Consider making this lesson more than one period.
I will have a better idea about how the students felt about the lesson on Wednesday when we do a quick review.

In this lesson we are using the podcast The Foot Soldier by Malcolm Gladwell to discuss inherent bias.

In this lesson we will look at the above picture and try to decode it. What are we seeing happen here? Then we will listen to the podcast by Malcolm Gladwell. Is what we believe to have happened what actually happened?

After the lesson you will need to answer these questions:
  1. Can the art we create be used to influence belief systems? 
  2. As we examine the story as well as look at the statue and the picture from which the statue comes, what can we learn about ourselves and how we react based upon what we have learned?
  3. How will this change your view of historical artifacts as we move forward?

Essential Question: Does the Foot Soldier of Birmingham statue have historical value?

  • The statue is a misrepresentation of the facts. Does this matter as an art piece? 
  • The students will question if the statue is a reliable historical source.
  • Does the Foot Soldier of Birmingham statue have historical value?
  • Can the art we create be used to influence belief systems? 
  • As we examine the story as well as look at the statue and the picture from which the statue comes, what can we learn about ourselves and how we react based upon what we have learned?
  • How will this change your view of historical artifacts as we move forward?

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Reflection: What Are Our Rights In School? What Are Our Responsibilities?

To start with, I really don't enjoy teaching this lesson. It would be fine to do it with one class, but teaching it three times is brutal. The main reason I don't like teaching it is because it is so teacher focused. I spend a lot of time doing direct instruction, which I am not very fond of. 

When it came time to think of students' rights, I think the kids did not have enough time to process the information well enough. All three classes came up with the right to safety, easy enough since it was in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and easily transferrable, but they had trouble with others. They did come up with some good responsibilities to go with the right to safety though. 

While I think having students think about their rights and responsibilities is important, I would really like to make this lesson less focused on me.

In 1776 a group of men were meeting to discuss how to react to their country's lack of response to questions about their rights as citizens. A group of these men decided that independence was the only way to address their grievances, effectually breaking ties with a government they felt was not respecting their rights. Before they could bring their idea to a vote, the decided to form a committee to explain why they felt they needed independence. The Declaration of Independence identified rights that all men have 'certain unalienable Rights, that are among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

In 1789, inspired by the United States, the French National Constituent Assembly created the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Its second article defined the rights of man as, "liberty, property, safety and resistance against oppression."

In 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York the Seneca Falls Convention was held. It was organized by female Quakers from the area along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton. During that meeting the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments was passed, which was modeled after the Declaration of Independence. It stated, "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness;..."

If we had to come up with our Declaration of Student Rights, what rights would it identify? Let's create a statement that identifies these rights and finish the sentence below.

We the students of Noel Elementary hold these truths to be self evident; that all students are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights: that are among these.......

What does it mean to be a responsible student? Here is the definition of responsibility:

How do we show responsibility in the classroom? In the school? What things should we be responsible for while at school?

Make a list of 5 responsibilities you have at school. We will compare these with the other students. Can we identify five together that we agree are important?

Reflection: Artefact Historique: The Mystery of the Tombstone

Here is the first lesson I taught the 8th grade American History this year. I wanted to share something of me with them and introduce them to historical artifacts. 

I gave the students time to examine the artifact and write questions they could ask me about it. Most of them asked me good questions but were not happy when I could not answer them to their satisfaction. I explained that while I didn't know much about the tombstone, I did have some educated guesses which is really what most historians do. 

I think most of the students enjoyed the lesson, there were a few that asked silly questions though. It is hard to read the room on the first day of school, even when I know the students well from last year. 

This is an activity I would do again next year, but the tombstone was really, really heavy so I probably won't revive it, my back might appreciate it more that way. 

Photo by Me
This is a tombstone that resides in my yard. It has been there as long as I can remember (45+ years). Today we will be looking at this artifact and try to learn as much as we can about it.

Your assignment is to come up with 20 questions that I will be able to answer with a yes or a no. I will then answer 20 of these questions for you. You will then write down everything you know about this artifact. 

I will finish by telling you all I know about this artifact, and some of the conclusions I have drawn about it. Will what you write match my story?

Friday, May 31, 2019

Poseur Poser

Poseur Poser

I am driven by Passion
not my passion
but others

I read a book
on punk rock
and I picked up
on the writer's Passion
and I became passionate
about another's Passion

I listen to punk
I enjoy punk
I am passionate about punk
but I am not Passionate

I am no Zelig
I don't attend shows
I don't wear leather
or dog collars
or safety pin my ears
I am only passionate
about the music

Can you love something
without being in love with it?
Can I listen
without living it?

I tell myself
It is about the music
not the lifestyle
not the drama
not the scene
but what if
I am wrong?

Consumed by Consumption

consumed by consumption

do i binge
movies         no
film nevermovies

paralyzed by production

do i write
movies         no
flim nevermovies

subsumed by social

do i post
fb         no
twttr neverfb

there is no quiet
either i create
or i consume
or share