Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Genetics and Hard Work

You never know what you will learn when you walk in to classroom.  
Today I watched students "create" a baby through the flip of two coins and a series of genetic choices.  Dominant and recessive genes were stitched together into one face.  

That was the assignment.  But, I observed so much more. 

-Two languages-Spanish and English words floated around the room
-social skills of partner work displayed with varying degrees of success
-drawing expertise on display from the quiet student in the back of the room (some serious drawing skills!!)
-a teacher able to answer questions from Ebola to chicken pox and back to dwarfism without skipping a beat
-engagement with the topic and the partner

And that was about 10 minutes worth of class.  Think of all the skills and abilities that are on display every minute of every day in the millions of classrooms across the country.  There is serious work going on!

So. are right.
There are problems In our education system.  
But there are amazingly right things happening too!

And it is HARD work for both teachers and students.  
Let's remember that before we start throwing around generalizations!  

And just maybe you might consider hanging out in a classroom before you make statements.

Because they are pretty amazing spaces!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Genius Hour

As the staff at a local junior high is sitting and discussing Genius Hour there is a word staring down at them from the wall above their heads...

What a great environment to build a genius hour for students. Their environment beckons both students and staff to grow and discover!

Way to go!!!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Specialized Search Engine

Did you know that Google allows a quick and easy way to create a customized search engine. You can add the sites you want and exclude all others. It works great!

  Here are the easy steps.
1. Log on to your Google account
2. Go to
3. Follow the directions on the page to add sites, keywords and recommended sites.
4. Click Search Features and get the embed code
5. Embed the code on to your class website

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Art in Science Class

As I sat in a biology class listening to the teacher explain photosynthesis I was drawn into the lesson. I, a self-proclaimed scientific idiot, was excited to hear about the way leaves use light for energy.  I wanted to be a part of the upcoming lab! I actually cared about this and wanted to take part in the upcoming lab.

And then it hit me... I was watching an artist at work!

I would have been able to read the teachers manual and deliver the same content to the class,  but it would not be the same. It would be rote repetition.  It would not be art!  

So in the time of computer generated this and that it is the ART of the teacher that brings learning alive. Students can watch a video lesson, read about a topic or peruse a website. But a teacher brings it all together and makes it sing. 

This is one of the secrets that is hidden in school halls. There are ArtistsinResidence inside many of our classrooms!  The students know this-they know which teachers bring the subject alive.  

But, somehow this is forgotten when they leave the school walls.  The larger world seems to look down on the teaching profession believing any old person is able to teach.  It erases the dedication that artists give to their work! 

Here's to the artists who encouraged me tol learn and grow!

This is why I love working in a Middle School

Seen @ MS in Rural Iowa
This makes me smile every time!!!