Archive for February, 2010

Dan Brown – Letter to Teachers

Posted in Educational with tags , , on February 28, 2010 by Mister A

I like this video…”Facts are free” is a good thing! Thanks for sharing @scottmerrick.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “ An Open Letter to Educators“, posted with vodpod

Line Dancing in Quest Atlantis

Posted in Educational, Quest Atlantis with tags , , on February 27, 2010 by Mister A

At the Quest Atlantis teacher connection in February, Marianne Malmstrom came up with a cool idea of having students line-dance in world.  Here is a video of my kids line dancing in Quest Atlantis.  Thank you, Knowclue, for the great idea!  The kids thought it was totally AWESOME!

On a personal note, I had to take the day off on Wednesday of last week as my oldest son had to have four screws and a plate put into and on top of his radius.  It looks as though he is going to heal very well but it sure makes you appreciate how far medical technology has come.  We were in and out of there in about four hours.  A few years ago, I imagine a surgery like that would have taken at least a couple of days in the hospital.  Tough kid is mine:)

My 79th Blog Post

Posted in Educational, Humor, Prime Number Posts with tags , on February 27, 2010 by Mister A

This is my 79th blog post.  I want it to be something spectacular and extraordinary.  You see, 79 is by far, my favorite number, and no, it isn’t because I was born or graduated in the year 1979.  It is because I am a teacher, a man, and I am 79 years old.  When I tell my students that I am 79 years old, a good portion of them actually believe me.  They are like, “WoW, you are older than my Grandpa!”  I tell them I love being 79 because it is a prime number and I love the PRIME Numbers.  I say to them, “In fact, if I were any kind of a number you know what kind of a number I would be?”… and they all respond, “PRIME”.  This is when I throw them a curve ball and say, “nope, IMAGINARY“.  Sometimes I will actually begin teaching my 12, 13, and 14 year old students about the set of imaginary numbers and although a few of the more mathematically gifted students in my classrooms vaguely grasp the concept, it usually goes over most of their heads.

This blog post makes me wonder why I continue to blog and I guess this guy said it best when he said to blog for yourself…reflecting about how and why you teach will only make you a better teacher.  And I very badly want to be a better teacher…which is better than being a mailman.

Quest Atlantis, Skype, and My Son

Posted in classroom tools, Educational, Personal with tags , , on February 10, 2010 by Mister A

QA Henny

A vice-principal came into my classroom today.  My students were working on a unit called “Ingolstadt” in a muve called Quest Atlantis.  She watched them for a few minutes and said, “Man, are they ever ENGAGED”.  I have a friend that calls virtual games like this and the activities they contain, “Behaviorist Pedagogy“.  I, on the other hand, prefer labeling them as Experiential learning.  I am not certain which of us is more correct.  Perhaps we are equally correct, but I do know a couple of things for sure.  My students are engaged, learn self-direction, and have fun when they are in Quest Atlantis.  They are learning to interact, communicate, and collaborate with others in an on-line, teacher-monitored, safe environment.  They are investigating Social Commitments and how to treat others respectfully.  All the while being invested in a standards based curriculum.  The more I see kids work with Quest Atlantis, and as I become increasingly efficient at teaching with it, the more I believe that MUVE’s like it definitely hold a very strong place in the future of education.  If you would like to see a video about Quest Atlantis described by its creator, you can click HERE or just watch it below.

Sasha Barab Video


On a personal note, my son is one of my students when I teach school on this side of town.  He was ill today and had to stay home.  The computer in my kitchen has Quest Atlantis and Skype loaded on it.  During my last class of the day, I skyped home and my son was able to attend my class and talk with his classmates as they worked their way through the Ingolstadt mission in Quest Atlantis.  My son, a seventh grader at one of the middles schools where I teach is at an age where I think he does not appreciate me as much as he did when he was younger.  However, I think he liked the fact that I was able to help him come to school on a day he was too sick to make it past our kitchen computer.

Second Quarter Reflection

Posted in Professional Reflection with tags , on February 1, 2010 by Mister A

For my formal evaluation this year, I am recording my experiences as a first year gifted education teacher here in my blog.  This will be my second of four reflections designed to explore successes, failures, and where I can improve instruction for my students.  I spent my second quarter teaching at East Middle School, the other middleschool in our district.

Quest Atlantis in the Vista Lab at East

We continued working in Quest Atlantis.  Since a big part of the grant I won dealt with incorporating Quest Atlantis in my classroom, we spent a little more time working on quests at East than at North.  I had all students working on the same mission at East, and I also provided them with a mission guide to help them record where they were at with their missions.  The increase in structure and exposure to the program helped students gain a better understanding of how to navigate through the program and the mission more effectively.  Also, the fact they were all working on the same mission increased the amount of collaboration that occurred between students.  When I do missions in the future, my plan will be to assign the same mission to each class during each quarter I have those students and also provide some type of guide to help direct them through different aspects of their mission.

I posted two of the East news stories above and below and if you would like to see the rest of them you can click here. I re-examined the rubric I used to evaluate the students’ news stories and re-designed it to reflect what I was looking for in a final product.  You can access the new, improved rubric by clicking here.  Students truly appreciate having a rubric to help guide them when they design a project.  Although there was a rubric during the first quarter, the new improved one was far more descriptive and gave the students a better idea of the characteristics of an effective news story.  Also, I had students from a friend’s classroom in Australia commenting on and evaluating the work of my students.  Students were genuinely excited when I shared with them that there were Aussie students watching and evaluating their videos and appreciated the feedback that was given to them via the web.

ECS Shout Outs, a microblogging application I have been using with my students, continues to be an experiment for my students and me.  Some students “get it” and utilize it far more often than others.  I was hoping it would be more collaborative than it has been, but by nature, it is probably too informal to be as collaborative as I would like.  Still, I was able to get students sharing with students and teachers on a more global basis, a goal I believe twenty-first century classrooms should have.  I pasted a few of my favorite shouts below.

ECS Shout Outs

Finally, a new tool I have been utilizing to collect both assignments, information and feedback from students is Google docs.  An example of one of the forms I used can be accessed by clicking here.  The information I collected from that form is gathered in a spreadsheet for easy evaluation and access by me or anyone else I want to share it with.  The spreadsheet for the above form can be accessed by clicking here.  I think google docs are a fantastic way for students to complete assignments, evaluations, and reflections and easily share them with the teacher or others designated by the teacher.

Google Form

In conclusion, I am looking forward to going into the second half of the year.  I plan to continue utilizing web tools as a means to encourage students to collaborate with others and share their work and ideas with a larger audience.  I continue to hope that my students are learning as much as I am in this adventure I am experiencing of becoming a gifted ed teacher.