13 February 2013

Khan Academy: A free world-class education for anyone anywhere.


Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. It's a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere. All of the site's resources are available to anyone. It doesn't matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. Khan Academy's materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.


Language Learning for Free

http://www.openculture.com/freelanguagelessons There are a lot of things "Free" out there. Learning a new language can be one of them. Open Culture is a website that hosts links to a variety of free language instruction in a variety of tongues. Looking for a quick lesson for Spanish class that incorporates computer-assisted learning? Want to inspire your students to learn a new language? But you don't have to actually LEARN a new language to benefit from online research in languages other than English. There is always Google Translate. One way you can help your students utilize an online scavenger hunt or a webquest is to have them utilize google translate to conduct searches in foreign texts to get authentic data overseas. When teaching...always be creative. Use those juices....and above all...have fun. There is a wide world out there and it's no further than our fingertips. Language should never be a barrier.

03 July 2012

Lisa Peck's Environmental Studies Course

Lisa Peck's Environmental Studies Course.
There are some great resources for teachers out there. But some of the best come from teachers themselves. There are some websites nationally and internationally that serve as repositories for teacher-made resources. Texas GreenSources, Resources for Rethinking and Green Ribbon Schools are among a few of them (more to come in future posts). Today, however, I would like to share with you an excellent resource for engaging your students in inquiry-based thinking. The unit is based on a wiki format. For those who have never used a wiki for projects, it's a flexible tool for online interactive research. student projects. Lisa's wiki project is an excellent example of how online media can be utilized as an instructional tool.

26 June 2012

A Caveat to Outdoor Education...Be Wise....

There are many legal protections that ensure the security and well-being of our students and their families, but teachers and administrators know all too well the challenges of maneuvering the intricate web of do's and don'ts. In a recent article that has gone "viral" two fair skinned students came home with sunburns and blisters after being outdoors all day under the sun without protection. According to the article, they were not allowed to use sunscreen due to legal issues associated with schools administering any type of drug, medication, or other substance (sunscreen included). I don't want this to discourage outdoor education, but when you do go outside, be mindful of student safety as a number one priority. If the law prohibits giving sunscreen to students, provide shaded activities. As a rule of thumb, try not to expose students to direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time regardless of whether or not they're wearing sunscreen. It's just the safe thing to do. We are stewards of our student's well-being while they're at school.

21 June 2012

WHAT'S GOOD IN MY HOOD?: An Urban Approach to Environmental Education

There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.
- Aldo Leopold.
The Industrial Revolution and urbanization has given us an amazingly complex and wonderful world. But all the wonders of technology have not come without a price. We have lost our connection to the land. Very few of us own farms anymore; none of us in North America hunt and gather our food in the wild. But we are still dependent on the land. The tragedy is that we do not see it; and, as a result, most of us are unaware of the tremendous impact we have on the Earth. Every time we turn on a faucet, take a shower, wash the dishes, drink a coke, take out the trash, turn up the heat or turn down the cooler, or open the refrigerator, most of us do so, oblivious to the impact we are making on the world around us. Nowhere is this disconnection more apparent than in our urban environments. Because of the lack of green spaces, the lack of natural things, many think environmental education in the city is irrelevant. But it's not. It is, in fact, more relevant. I would like to highlight a resource from a friend of mine; Akiima Price. Her "What's Good in My Hood?" curriculum is an urban-based environmental education program that gets kids in the city outdoors. It encourages students to look at the urban environment in new ways. To help them interpret the world around them and see the connections we have to environment. For more information click on the link above and learn how you can get a copy of "What's Good in My Hood?"

Ideas for Bringing the Classroom Outdoors: Quick Frozen Critters

Quick Frozen Critters is widely popular elementary school lesson on wildlife adaptations and the food chain that comes from our friends at Project WILD. In addition to being educational, it is active, aerobic and immensely entertaining for children (and adults). Although the focus is on wildlife and the food chain; core science concepts in Texas elementary schools, this particular activity is infinitely adaptable across content areas. There are some great mathematics concepts (graphing population curves, predicting outcomes, fractions, percentages etc.) as well as some really cool social studies themes. In one session I held, the students began thinking about human-related influences on wildlife population...such as development, roads, and diminishing habitats. Although the lesson content is best suited for elementary school, I've also used this with high school and college students. If you're like a lot of teachers, particularly in Texas, who struggle with just trying to teach to the standardized test and faced with the challenge of constantly having to apply for authorization to use anything new in the classroom...here is an option. During recess..why not play the game with your students...and then apply what they learned having fun, in the classroom to supplement a pre-approved lesson? Remember, it's not just educational...it's fun and recreational. Maybe even talk to the PE coach, ask him to play the game with your students. Even if you can't get it approved as an educational resource, use it as a supplemental and recreational one. Basically what I am saying is; there's no excuse....so have fun!

My Philosophy of Teaching

My Philosophy of Teaching:

I just finished my masters in Curriculum and Instruction. I have a firm commitment to my continuing education and strong love of teaching. My greatest draw to education is the opportunity to work daily with students, particularly students for whom success has been elusive or who struggle in the academic setting. I strongly believe in preventative behavior management and, as a student teacher, I have turned the success of lower performing students around using differentiated instructional techniques including collaborative learning, project-based learning and service learning. I do not accept the notion that some students fit a profile of failure and should be side-tracked. I am committed to the success of each and every one of my students. I believe no student should be given up on. I love that none of my students are the same and I value their diversity, linguistic, behavioral, cognitive or otherwise. I do not accept the notion that a student's difference is, necessarily, a hindrance towards their learning and hold the onus upon myself to find ways to facilitate learning for all of my students. Finally, I am aware of the importance of collaboration between faculty and staff. Cross-content instruction is not only important for the student's cognition, but is also important for a teacher's professional development. I believe strongly that a teacher's classroom is a place of constant innovation and improvement, and the sharing of ideas between faculty and staff, as well as the close cross-content collaboration of teachers, is important in improving the overall success of teachers, and, by proxy, our students. We are all responsible for the success of every student in the school, not just those who are in our classroom.