Monday, April 20, 2015

I Wish My Students Knew

After my enlightening #IWishMyTeacherKnew lesson, it got me thinking, there are so many things that I wish my students knew about them.  Things like:

* I wish my students knew that I dislike standardized tests just as much as they do.

* I wish my students knew that their score means nothing about the kind of person they are.

* I wish my students knew that they are not alone.

* I wish my students knew just how often I think of them when I'm not at school.

* I wish my students knew how much better they could be doing if they stopped talking so much.

* I wish my students knew that just because their parents didn't go to college doesn't mean they can't.

* I wish my students knew that there are so many of them I wish I could bring home with me.

I could go on and on and on, but I want to hear what you have to say...tweet it #iwishmystudentsknew or comment below.

I Wish My Teacher Knew...

Recently, I read an article about simply getting to know your students.  I've always considered my ability to build relationships with my students one of my strengths as a teacher.  The article I read revolves around #iwishmyteacherknew.  If you haven't heard of it, here is one of many versions of the article.

My daughter's 2nd grade class did this activity, and I asked her if she'd be willing to tell me what she wrote.  She said she wrote two things:

#1 I wish my teacher knew that my mom is home sick today.  I happened to have a sinus infection and was home for the day.

#2 I wish my teacher knew that I sometimes I still confuse my b and my d and that's why I write in capitals sometimes. How interesting...I talked to her teacher about it that weekend (she's a friend of mine), and she said it was good information to get because several of her students will write in capitals, when they know they shouldn't.

I decided to try it out with my students...I would like to say that their answers shocked me, but they didn't.  It did become clear that my class has a lot of father figure issues, amongst other things.

I wish my teacher knew...

"that my friends don't respect me for who I am."

"that my dad left me when I was 2 and I struggle because I miss him & I wish he could be with me."

"that my dad is in the Coast Guard and had to move to Washington."

"that I haven't seen my dad in 2 years, and he hasn't come to any daddy/daughter dances because he chose to live in DC with his wife instead of here with my & my sisters."

"that I barely see my dad & I wish he could get a new, better job so I could see him more often."

"that I never finish my lunch."

"that my mom sometimes argues with me about my homework because she won't help me with it."

"that I haven't seen my brother in 5 months."

"that I don't take my coat off because I'm always cold."

"that I'm afraid to go to Middle School."

"that I'm afraid I'm not going to pass 5th grade."

"that sometimes I feel left out by my own friends because I tried to talk to them but they ignored me, which made me sad."

and my most insightful post was...

"I wish my teacher knew that I goof off in class because I don't get a lot of attention at home."


If you haven't done this with your class I'd highly recommend it.

For Part 2 of this post please go here.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Genius Hour...Passion Projects...Being Innovative

What does it mean to be innovative? To me, it means being willing to try new things, even if you don't know if they'll work or not.  It also means being able to reevaluate and tweak things on a moments notice.

One thing I do that I consider innovative is my passion projects.  I don't consider it innovative because it's a new idea.  I consider it innovative because each time we do it, it looks different and unique, depending on my kids.

My students have done 3 different projects so far.  I've found that my kids need to start with a little more structure in order for them to be successful with less structure (did that even make sense?).

For our first project my students all chose a dream job to research.  They were totally into it, and loved sharing what they learned.   For that project they didn't really have to make anything, rather write up their information and share it with the class.

For our second project the kids all chose a famous person or place.  After writing their research report they had to choose the 3 most important facts they learned to share.  Then (and here is where the innovative part comes in), I decided to bring in a giant tub of Lego's from home.  I set them around the room and told the kids to impress me.  They had to make something that represented their project.  While they may not look like much, the kids had a blast and could explain in detail the creations.

Tony Hawk

Abraham Lincoln

Muhammad Ali

For our most recent project the students had to learn how to do something.  This has been the most interesting so far.  I had students learn to do soccer tricks, frost cakes, fold origami, code computer games, do a fishtail braid, and even make these crazy intricate bracelets.  I was SUPER impressed by their work.  The funniest thing was, my project (what I wanted to learn how to do) was an epic failure.  I desperately want to learn how to whistle with 2 know that loud shrilling whistle that some people can do? After weeks of trying, all I ended up doing was successfully spit all over the place!  What was really cool was that my kids taught me some new tricks on how to make my normal whistle louder :)

Soccer Tricks

Learning how to bake cupcakes

Teaching the class how to make origami fingers

Making donut cats

They tasted amazing!