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I invented a game called “germ tag” that I thought might be helpful to some other teachers out there. Have any comments or suggestions? More ways it could be varied? Leave me a comment and let me know! 🙂

“Germ Tag”

Preferably, play outside or in the gym. If it is necessary to play in the classroom, make sure there is a safe, wide open area and a set of specific safety rules (walk or jog instead of run, keep away from certain, potentially hazardous areas of the classroom) – There are two ways to play:

  1. Two people, the “germs” are “it.” Germs try to “tag” the other students. If a student is tagged, he/she must perform an action (washing hands, sneezing into arm, etc) before being allowed to return to the game. As an alternate option, the student may be required to wait for another student to come and act out squirting soap or hand sanitizer into the “frozen” student’s hand.
  2. In this game, two or three students are “it” and the rest are “germs.” One “it” student is soap and must be the first one to tag germs. Once a germ is tagged by soap, he or she has been “soaped” and must hop on one foot (or only walk, or have some other disadvantage). After this, the “water” student must tag the germ for it to be out. If playing with three “it” students, have the third student be “scrub.” Once a germ has been tagged by all of the “it” students, it must go “down the drain” and sit on the sidelines while the “it” students finish tagging the germs.


A Germ-free Teachable Spirit


Block one has s…

Block one has significantly stretched my abilities, especially in regards to teamwork and technology. In some ways, they are analogous to each other.

As I began the block, I was quite distraught by the number of team projects we were required to do. It’s always more work to have to do things with someone else. My philosophy has been that it’s better to get them done myself. While I am a fairly outgoing person and enjoy spending time with people, I do not like having to work together with someone else when I know that my grade depends upon it. For one thing, I do not trust many people with my grades. For another, I usually concentrate better when I am alone. I like to focus on relationships more than on accomplishing work (i.e., I like to chat instead of study), so I need to have a solitary environment in order to get everything done. That said, I had a lot of good experiences in school this semester. Our team projects have been hard work, but so far, we have pulled them off. That being said, I think that this semester has had an overabundance of team projects, which has resulted in some unnecessary stress. Thankfully, however, I have been able to get over some of my aforementioned reasons for not liking teamwork.

Technology is similar. I know what programs, devices, and websites I like to use. I know what works for me, and I like to keep it that way. I am not afraid to learn new things, but often, I do not like them at first, or I simply do not have time to learn how to use them. This course has forced me to take some time and learn to work with my “Technology Team” of gizmos and gadgets and websites.  Working with new things, like the camcorder for the iMovie, the SmartBoard, the wiki website, and other things has been like learning to work with new people. Each has its own “personality.” Each has its own way of helping me, but also of making me go crazy. It hasn’t been easy, and it has been more time consuming and ultimately more frustrating, but it has also forced me to grow. Now, I am much more likely to try out new technological developments I learn about. I am more likely to read up on Facebook, SmartBoards, iPads, and other technology items that may be used in the classrooms. Finally, I am more likely to encourage other people, both teachers and students, to “come to the edge” with technology.

He Said, “come to the edge.”
I said, “I can’t, I’m afraid.”
He said, “come, learn new technology with a team.”
I said, “I can’t, I don’t trust people.”
“Come, learn how people and technology can help you be a better teacher!”
and I came to the edge,

I dared to trust

I dared to click, and type, and touch

I came to the edge—the very edge of sanity
and (what do you know?) I FLEW!

While I definitely do not always feel like I am flying, I do think that it’s amazing how comfortable I have become with my classmates and with the technology I have been using in my classes. I hope to continue with this learning in courses to come.

Class Animoto Project

Untitled Project.

Or maybe it should be “technologically frustrated.” Either is appropriate.
Beware, you have just entered the “rant zone.”
Now, I’m all for keeping a positive attitude, trying new things, etc. etc. But my issue with technology comes in when computers and their counterparts make things MORE difficult instead of more efficient.

Seriously, I just got a bucket of extra strong stress dumped on me. Here I am, trying to live my life, get ready for Christmas, and so on and so forth, and I am trying to recall the due dates that are listed somewhere on twenty different pages of cyberspace, and have possibly been changed since I last saw them. My brain is already feeling like undercooked pumpkin pie (all mushy and soupy in the middle), and the online portions of my classes are making it ten times worse. I understand there’s a place and a purpose for technology, and I like to think that I’m pretty good at handling it. But I have just about had it.

In all honesty, having a class that is in-class AND online should be worth six credits, because I have had online classes that were fully online that required less work than some of my courses in this block. Wouldn’t it be easier to just have a paper syllabus, paper assignments, and hand in what’s due on paper, rather than have everything online where it’s super confusing, always changing, and never clear? I definitely understand the purpose of having a portion of a technology class be online, and if it was the ONLY class that had online work, I would be okay. But between Wikispaces, my blog, my Taskstream, my school email, MyRedDragon, Blackboard, and various sites my professors use, I am going crazy!

Here’s an analogy: If every piece of information for every class I’m in was physically organized like it is online, it would be like having a huge room with all different sizes and shapes of desks, drawers, shelves, and cubbies, and each paper was in a folder, in a binder, in a drawer, somewhere in the room. Nothing is labeled, everything is scattered. That’s how my technologically stored school information seems to me. It’s quite overwhelming, and like I said, it’s not because I’m inexperienced with technology. It’s just that everything feels so scattered. On the other hand, when I can have everything on paper, I can keep it neatly in a file drawer in my room with little color-coded tabs, spreading out folders that I need on my desk and putting the ones I don’t need back in the drawer. Oh, for a return to simpler ways!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go kick a computer or hack a website out of rage. I’m just venting it here (that’s why I’m a writer . . . I use my words instead of using my fists! Just like we tell the kids to do when we teach them!).

All in all, I have enjoyed most of my courses. I am just tired, worn out, and occasionally yearn for the days of typewriters and correction tape.

Then again, maybe that would be bad for my carpel tunnel. What do you think? Has the online portion of your classes been a help, a hindrance, a bother, or of no consequence to you? Leave a comment and let me know! (No cussing or kicking the computer please! ;))

See you in class,
A Frazzled Teachable Spirit

This week I said goodbye to my host teacher for my practicum. I said goodbye to the other first grade teachers at the school. But the one group I did not say a final “goodbye” to was the kids. I was about to announce my departure to the class, but decided it best to ask the teacher first, and I’m glad I did. Even though it was the end of the day, she was concerned that several of the students would get very emotional and upset, so she decided that she would explain it to them the following week, when I didn’t show up and they were wondering about me. I wish I could be there to see the reactions, but, then again, that would defeat the purpose of the explanation! Anyway, I’m going to miss them. It was a joy getting to know each child (especially the troublemakers–they are so cute at that age!) The nice thing is, the teacher invited me back to visit at any time, and I think I will take her up on that offer sometime next year.

Anyway, as I reflected on this, I was wondering, how did you say goodbye to your practicum students this semester? Was it hard? Did you even say goodbye?

Oh, and since this blog is supposed to have something to do with technology too, my classroom finally got an ELMO for the room! It’s made things much easier in the class. Do your classrooms have ELMOs?

Drop me a comment and tell me about your practicum! 🙂

Saying “Goodbye” for now,
A Nostalgic Teachable Spirit

ImageAlthough popping one’s brain seems counterproductive in an educational setting, BrainPOP is far from that. A multi-subject, interactive multimedia site, BrainPOP could just be a teacher’s new best friend.

According to the website,
“BrainPOP® engages students through animated movies, entertaining characters, interactive quizzes and activities, educational games, high-interest readings, and more.”

I saw this used in my Practicum classroom to review subtraction. I don’t feel that it spent enough time on certain parts of the explanation to be a good initial lesson, but it seemed to be a great resource for reinforcing a concept that had been introduced, but not yet mastered by the students.

These students have been working on subtraction for several weeks, but they haven’t gotten the concept yet.  This reminds me of something I learned when I was taking horseback riding lessons. I kept making the same mistake over and over, and each time, my instructor would correct me. But she didn’t get upset or frustrated. She kept talking and talking as I was riding round and round in circles. My mom noticed this and asked her about it. Her response was, “I just keep saying the same thing in as many different ways as I can think of until it finally clicks and the light bulb comes on.”

That’s often how it is in teaching. Again and again, students need to be taught the same concept. Again and again, they forget what they just learned. Or maybe they never learned it in the first place. I’ve already seen firsthand that sometimes all a student needs is for someone to sit down with them and teach or explain the same thing in dozens of different ways until one of them finally clicks. I’m glad I had teachers that did that for me, and I want to be the kind of teacher who will do it for my students. 

Don’t give up–give more. More ideas, more explanations, more examples. Because sometimes all it takes is one more time of explaining it again to go from a blank stare and “I don’t get it” to the “AHA! moment” of the century. 

Lighting up my world,

A Persevering Teachable Spirit

I. Hate. Schedules!

I really do. I hate having to make lists and schedules to keep me on task.

But you know, I’m slowly learning that budgeting my time is a lot like budgeting my money (something I am also hesitant to do). Unless I keep track of it, I’m left wondering at the end of the week (or month . . . or year . . .) WHERE DID IT ALL GO???????

I’ve made a couple of spreadsheets to help myself. Using Microsoft Excel, it’s quite easy to create a schedule that gives an at-a-glance visual of what I need to do and how long I have to get it done. By using colors, I’ve also found that I can keep track of how important a task is and how much time I will need for it.

Despite my extreme dislike for scheduling, I’ve found that it can be a huge stress-reliever. Instead of constantly trying to remember what I’m supposed to do, I can be at ease about it, because it’s written down. No more nagging little voices in my head constantly whispering, “You forgot something! You know you did! Now what is it???”

So my advice to my fellow students is, get a schedule–a good one. It will make life simpler, and even though it might seem like it is restricting your freedom, it is actually giving you more freedom to do everything better.

Sufficiently Scheduled,

An Organized Teachable Spirit 🙂

Technology and the Holocaust

I recently returned from a short field trip to Washington DC. While there, I visited several of the museums and landmarks, but the main purpose of the trip was to visit the Holocaust museum. At this museum, one of the primary goals is to teach people what happened during the Holocaust, why it happened, and how to prevent it from happening again. As such, the museum aims for a wide audience, diverse in age and nationality.

The museum was well-equipped in regards to technology and other creative learning tools.  Many places throughout the museum utilized the short films, slide shows, and other audio/video tools that are common to museums. However, there were also some unique uses of technology and modern teaching tools in the museum.

The first exhibit I entered was called “Daniel’s Story.” In this exhibit, visitors were able to follow a young boy named Daniel from his home, to the ghetto he was forced into, to the concentration camp where he lived and his mother and sister were killed. All of this was done through walking through modeled rooms and reading pages from Daniel’s journal. Pages of the journal were posted in several places. At the beginning and the end of the exhibit, there was a short movie about Daniel, first introducing him, and then concluding the exhibit.  This exhibit tastefully utilized technology mixed with hands on exhibits to create a very real portrayal of Daniel’s life.

Before entering the main exhibit of the museum, each visitor is given a “passport” containing information about a real person who lived during the holocaust and was persecuted by the Nazis. Then everyone entered an elevator and saw a short movie on the ride up to the fourth floor.

In another part of the museum, there was an exhibit about Hitler’s use of propaganda in his scheme to annihilate the Jews. It was interesting and terrifying to see how Hitler used the latest technology to promote his goals. Now, ironically, the Holocaust Museum uses technology to expose Hitler’s schemes and prevent their recurrence.

Technology is a powerful tool. It can be used for great evil, as Hitler clearly demonstrated. But in the right hands, it can do a tremendous amount of good.

What if we used the technology at our disposal for good as fervently as Hitler used it for evil? We do many great things with technology these days, but it seems that we are not using it as efficiently as we could. In many ways, technology is still used for evil.  Identity theft, cyberbullying, and especially pornography are vastly destructive and dangerous, yet incredibly common uses for technology today.

Maybe you can’t single-handedly rid the world of these negative uses of technology, but you can most certainly do your part to fight against them. You can use technology to make your world a better place–not by ridding it of “imperfections,” as Hitler purported to be doing, but by overcoming evil with good.

See some of the Online Exhibits from the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Cell phones are traditionally a “no-no” in the classroom. But it seems that some teachers have found a way to turn a distraction into a useful educational tool. The thing about this article that struck me most was this quote:

“‘You start managing the cell phone use, teaching them cell phone etiquette,’ Webb says. Instead of trying to hide their phones all the time, her students use them for class. ‘It takes the cat and mouse game out of it.'”

Maybe in middle or high schools . . .  but what about in college?

During college classes, I have had some professors who were strict about prohibiting cell phone use, and others who didn’t seem to care. At Cortland, policies are all “anti-phone,” although consequences are administered with varying levels of severity. The “cat-and-mouse” game goes on constantly in some classes, where instructors warn about cell phone use, but never do anything about it. Other instructors have made it quite clear that cell phone use will result in an absence or even being asked to leave the class. I haven’t noticed people using their phones in those classes. (Unless, of course, they are certain they won’t be seen by the professor.)

On the one hand, I think it’s up to the students to be responsible for their own learning. Whether they are texting, doodling, passing notes, or even just daydreaming, ultimately, no professor can force his or her students to pay attention.  The professor’s best course of action is to make the class interesting enough that the students WANT to pay attention.

On the other hand, using cell phones in class is, in my opinion, a disrespect to the instructor. It definitely does not reflect a professional disposition, something all future teachers should aim to have.

But what if we all used the cell phones as part of the class, as the teachers mentioned in this article have begun to do?  The cell phones would have to be on top of the tables, and maybe even set in a certain spot on the student’s desk. When they were to be used, the students could take them and use them, but at all other times, they were to be left on the desk.  I think that would be a hard rule to enforce, but it might be better than having students trying to hide them under the tables. It’s always distracting for the students who are paying attention when the professor has to stop the lesson to ask people to put their cell phones away. Because we are in a collegiate setting, the teachers risk being hated by the students forevermore if they use such grade-school-esque methods as confiscating phones from delinquent users, reading text messages aloud, or simply asking the student to leave. Even calling out students by name can be extremely humiliating. College students feel that they have the right to do as they please during class. But if they have the right, they should also have the responsibility to be respectful.

Since I really don’t foresee cell phones being allowed in class anytime soon, the best method seems to be attaching cell phone use to the class participation grade, and talking to students privately and individually about consequences for their actions.

I’m ashamed to say that I was once (at my former school) reprimanded for using my cell phone to send a text message during class. I suppose I had rationalized my behavior by the fact that the class was terribly slow, and my cell phone use would not in the least bit impede my learning.  The professor was also sarcastic and demeaning to the students, and I really did not deem her worthy of my respect. However, as I later realized, it was still a bad example to the other students and a disrespect to the professor, who deserved my respect because of her position, regardless of what I thought of her disposition.

I realize I have addressed a plethora of issues in this post, but in summation, I think it is sufficient to say that professors, if they are opposed to cell phone use, should be consistent and respectful about consequences for cell phone use. Students should abide by the rules their professors have set for cell phone use. They should also remember that even if the class is boring or the professor is a less-than-likable individual, breaking the rules reflects on how people see them, and ultimately, whether or not it affects their grades, it DOES affect their reputation.

Yes, this is a little strange, but I’m writing a reflection on a piece that I wrote. 🙂

Actually, the purpose of this post is to tell you about a post I was originally going to re-post here, but decided not to. (Due to advice received in a blogging seminar last summer, I don’t typically re-post blogs on multiple sites. Instead, I link to them like this.)  🙂

The post in this link is about being too hard on editing and performance standards and not spending enough time focusing on a person’s positive qualities. As you can imagine, this can have very detrimental effects. Yet, surprisingly, we all seem to do it quite frequently. So I encourage you, read the article on my other blog, and leave me a comment to let me know what you think.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the nerdy reasons for not re-posting large portions of text from another site . . . all I know is that for **some** reason, it can kill your rating in Google search and make that post far less popular.  But I suppose it’s not like I have that much to worry about anyway, “sigh.” Oh, to be famous and well-read! 😉

Signing off,

A “Far-Too-Editorial” Teachable Spirit