The past month or so we have seen a variety of events unfold before our eyes. There has been the tragedy of Las Vegas; the hurricanes that devastated Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas; the NFL protests, the standoff with North Korea, and many more. Each of these have received a Twitter response for President Trump. With many of these events there has been controversy and conversation that followed.
This is about the third post I have started about how to discuss the multitude of current events that have taken place in the last few months. I first want to take a moment to remember those who were injured or killed by the terrorist in Las Vegas. I am deeply saddened that we continue to see these types of violent events unfold in our country.
My dilemma this week is how do we talk about these events in our classes? I know I can engage in conversation in my personal life. I can share my thoughts with friends and colleagues and family, but how do we create a platform to discuss important issues in our classrooms? I can share my thoughts after the Las Vegas terrorist attack that I think it was a terrorist attack even though the media and our government doesn't call it as such. I wonder what makes this act of violence different than those that have been called terrorist attacks? Does the color of skin of the perpetrator change the definition?
Another issue is our political response to this. Now is not the time to talk about gun control. Stephen Colbert aired a segment last night shining light on the rhetoric of politicians following every mass shooting in America. "Now is not the time to talk about gun control." Whether you favor gun control or freedom to bear arms, if the days following another senseless tragedy isn't the time to discuss how to make our country safer, then please tell me when is a good time. And when I say make America safer that doesn't automatically mean take away guns, but rather a call for action to step out of this loop of insanity. Insanity is doing that same thing and expecting different results. I think in regard to these mass shootings we are in a loop of insanity.
While I am not in the classroom everyday, I think the topic of classroom discussion of current events is one that impacts all of us. So how do we engage in dialogue about controversial issues and teach our students the skills to discuss, share, and disagree with the ideas of others in a civil, respectful manner?
School started in Wisconsin last week Tuesday and with that comes the work to establish expectations. If you haven't read Dave Burgess's book Teach Like a Pirate and explored his first week of school activities, you should take a look at how he begins his year. He helped me transform what I did my first week of school and how I approached establishing expectations in my classroom.
After I read his book, our district went 1:1 with BYOD Bring Your Own Device. When I asked about expectations for students I was told, they are expected to bring their own device to class. We didn't have any conversation about the use of facebook, twitter, instagram, snapchat etc. I had to set my own classroom expectations for students in regard to how we would use their devices which were almost always phones.
Having just taken the Teach Like A Pirate plunge into the deep end, I was excited about trying Dave's activities. It was a new way of approaching the first days of school. It was a break from the reading of the syllabus, handing out books, rules and regulations that students were accustomed to on the first day for all 7 classes. I thought about my students' experience during those first days and wanted to do something markedly different. But beyond that I was energized to do something I hadn't done enough of or well in the past which is build community.
So after I engaged my students in the first few days of school awesome activities that Dave lays out, I decided to look at expectations, and what better expectation to start with than our new BYOD policy. In the past I would have laid out expectations, what was acceptable, what wasn't and how we would deal with those. This time I thought what would happen if I didn't create the expectations, but allowed the students to do this with me. I was hoping to let them feel connected to the process and have a sense of ownership in the classroom through this activity. I created a Padlet where students outlined why we should use the devices, what and when was acceptable use, and what was non-negotiable and never acceptable. This lead to great conversation and less work on my part. The students came up with uses for the devices I hadn't thought of, and had ideas for checking each other's behavior. I put it on them to self govern or they faced losing the ability to use the devices.
What resulted for me was more freedom to teach. I wasn't worrying about students texting in their laps, or trying to hide things. I was able to focus on what we were doing in class. I also extended freedoms to students through the trust we had built together. Students were treated like individuals and young adults. There were times when they texted classmates who weren't at school to connect on assignments, to check in on projects. They texted parents when they needed something from home, or when a game or practice was changed or cancelled to arrange pickup, or drop off of gear etc.
I found myself reflecting on the idea of expectations this week because I had the opportunity to work with an amazing 3rd grade teacher again this year. I think she and her students are incredible. She allows students autonomy and pushes them to be independent thinkers, problem solvers and they always become those rockstar students and people. A few of her colleagues commented that she has great students, and while I agree, and think the same of all of our students, she doesn't magically get great students day 1. I was in her class this week and while working with students on an all about me video project using WeVideo and voice overs, I realized an important lesson. When I left her class last year, her students were 4th graders, they had learned her expectations, they earned the privilege to work on projects on their own and create amazing products of learning as a result of all of her hard work. This week I came into her class and was faced with 2nd graders. They entered this class needing her guidance to obtain the skills necessary to meet her expectations. I don't call them 2nd graders to disparage them, but rather to emphasize the idea of how different the students are from the beginning of the year to the end because of what she does early in the year to establish expectations, nurture their creativity and demonstrate love and compassion for all of her students.
I share this example because the front loading of expectations, the work that goes into setting up routines and procedures pays huge dividends. I often got caught up in the panic of too much content to teach and made minimal effort to establish the positive culture that comes through the work of establishing classroom norms and behaviors. The efforts that come through getting to know students and meet their needs pays off in ways we can't even imagine.
This leads me to this week's topic - Expectations! We are going to not only look at the expectations we have, but also the expectations students and others have for us.
So we started back to school yesterday, and I will admit, I left yesterday feeling a little deflated. I wasn't able to work with teachers or students to plan lessons or activities, or do things that I get excited about. Instead I assisted others in completing their projects. I know that my assistance made their lives easier and they were able to do other things to help students. However I came home frustrated that I didn't complete tasks that I am excited about or get a sense of accomplishment from. I was having a little pity party for myself.
So I got home and saw another video by the amazing JJ Watt who started a campaign to assist the victims of Hurricane Harvey. He has raised over $20 million dollars. He started with a simple goal of I think $200,000 and has left that goal in the dust. I have a friend who lives in Houston and shared his experience during the Hurricane with the world via social media. He was fortunate to make it through the storm relatively unscathed. He lives in a neighborhood that flooded, but is on an elevated section of the neighborhood and experienced little if any flood damage to their house while others were underwater. I am thankful my friend and his family were spared the destruction that others experienced during this tragedy. What JJ Watt and all those who donated to his campaign and other organization to assist those of this and other tragedies is that we can do great things when we come together. What is amazing to me is how quickly people rallied around JJ Watt, a football player who made a simple plea to the world. He used his voice and called on others to step up and help. Now he has raised over $20 million dollars, gathered supplies to fill over 10 tractor trailers and distributed supplies to those in need.
JJ Watt shows us what 1 person is able to accomplish when we stand up and take action. This week I have found several infographic quotes that reminded me the power of being an educator. So each question is related to a quote I found, many of those on @justintarte Justin Tarte's page, or attributed to him. So thank you Justin for the inspiration this week.
This week I was asked to assist with curriculum rollout for High School Social Studies Teachers. I was excited to learn more about the curriculum focus and the ideas being shared in conversations. I think they are on the right track for presenting history to students. They have created several different courses to explore modern US history from various POV. I won't get all the names right but there is one looking at Conflict, another is Race Gender and Diversity, and there were a couple others. The idea of exploring history from various perspectives with students able to choose their path of study.
The training and conversations got me thinking about how we approach teaching and learning. There were a few things that came from those conversations. We looked at using Google Classroom and the new feature to allow students to use the video feature. Another aspect was the idea of creating collaboration groups to share ideas and support each other. On Twitter I saw some teachers jumping into the ObserveMe movement to open their classrooms up to colleagues to come in and observe them to help them improve as educators.
Tonight's topic is about a few different ideas that I have come across that I think are important to moving us forward in education. They are relatively simple ideas, but can be powerful practices that transform the learning experience for your students.
Jimmy Fallon starts, even though the Tonight Show is not political...It is his responsibility to stand up against intolerance and extremism as a human being. Jimmy Fallon felt compelled to address the events of Charlottesville, South Carolina that occurred this weekend.
Our classrooms are not places to present political bias either, but I believe we must address intolerance, bigotry, and violence in our society. As social studies teachers we study the events of history and the impact of actions by individuals and groups that have forever changed the shape of our world. As we study history we understand the causes of social and political conflict. We guide our students to understand that regardless of era, human behavior and the motivation for actions remain at their core, very similar no matter when they occur. We celebrate advances in the fight for equality like the Emancipation Proclamation as a watershed moment in American History. However a hundred years later we are witness to another significant moment in the quest for equality, the Civil Rights Movement. While we celebrate this event as moving us forward, it spotlights the fact that we still don't have equality. We are still fighting intolerance. In 2017 we witnessed the beginning of the movement of Black Lives Matter in response to social injustice. And this past weekend, we have Nazis, and White Supremacist groups protesting that they need to take their country back because they are now feeling like they don't have power. As educators we understand that the advancements of the past still have not led us to a society of equality for all.
We are responsible as educators to be positive role models and must take a stand against actions such as we have witnessed this weekend. As someone who taught political science and government, we debated the idea of freedoms and rights. Students debated the idea of having freedoms and whether freedoms could or should be limited. With the events of this weekend, I believe the actions began as an exercise of Freedom of Speech. The group that gathered with the Nazi and Confederate flags have the freedom to assembly, protest and the right to say what they want. While I dislike what they stand for and say, if I limit their speech, it is only a matter of time before I will see my freedom of speech limited. Now there are limits that I agree with that have been created by the supreme court through the legislative and judicial process. Someone cannot incite violence against others, or yell things like Fire or Bomb in a crowded room whereas these forms of speech could result in injury to others or to property. The events of this weekend go beyond the issue of freedom of speech as they boiled over to violence between two groups that gathered. Then it evolved into an act of domestic terrorism as a car was used as a weapon mowing down a crowd of protestors killing a young woman.
I spent the past few days reflecting on how to respond to these events. How we could address these in a chat. How do we possibly turn these events into a teaching opportunity. I am nervous about this week's chat as I am not sure I will do justice to the event or more importantly delve deep enough into the conversation to begin to transform out teaching practices to make social change. Real, lasting social change that can help us create a society that sees diversity as a strength.
Join Amy Presley and Heather Goodenough for this week's chat featuring History Day. The power of getting students to engage in the skills historians use to learn about the past. The opportunity to present their knowledge in unique ways for audiences beyond their teacher. Hopefully this is something you already are utilizing in your school. If not, this chat will help you understand why you should be.
I have known about Flipgrid for awhile, but didn't really jump into exploring its potential as a resource for a few reasons, but the main one being I am not in a classroom with students everyday so I didn't have an audience. A few months ago a colleague on Twitter posted a Flipgrid about culture asking teachers to share information about their culture. This was about the time when I was working with a second grade class about their culture project. This seemed like a great idea especially since it connected people globally. A few months later I had a few more experience with Flipgrid seeing examples of teachers using it online and the thing that really got me excited to use it for this chat was the fact that you can reply to other people's posts. I at least saw the moderator or creator or the Flipgrid could reply to other people. I am hoping that all participants are able to engage in the conversation this way. This will be my first time attempting this.
Around July 4th, I had the idea of having people post what Independence Day meant to them and creating a video. I could have used Flipgrid, but I thought people might want to add images to their video to help represent their ideas. I have used video responses in the past with a few questions during a chat like introduce yourself, and a couple other questions with mixed results. The biggest issue is those videos all end up in various places after the chat, they aren't collected in one location that can be easily accessed by people after the chat. So we are going to try Flipgrid this week to see what happens when we push the technology envelop to connect and collaborate.
Feel free to get a jumpstart on the conversation and add some thoughts ahead of time and then you will be able to share more or add your replies/comments to the ideas of others. Like so many of the things we do in #sstlap we are taking a risk and we will see what happens. What is the worst thing that could happen right?
Q1 What is the best lesson you have ever taught? https://flipgrid.com/c58aaf
Q2 What content are you really passionate about teaching? Why? What about this topic gets you excited?https://flipgrid.com/ebb760
Q3 How do you turn the learning over to students? How do you create a learning environment where they have choice in what they learn and how they will present that learning? https://flipgrid.com/5e6164
Q4 How do you create student engagement? How do you hook student interest, engage their curiosity and interest? How do you make learning exciting for your students? https://flipgrid.com/e89974
Q5 This chat is about social studies teaching and learning. We cover a lot of topics, but our focus is truly about social studies. This summer we have had quest hosts and great topics. The QUESTION- how do we improve #sstlap to meet your learning needs to help you improve your skills and meet students needs? What do you want to see/do in #sstlap? https://flipgrid.com/b3ae5d
Q6 In what ways, or specifically how, has your PLN Professional Learning Network helped you grow as a professional? What advice would you give to teachers beginning their journey into online PLN? What are some things they should know or do? https://flipgrid.com/93d0cd
Q7 One area that I struggle with is organizing all of the great resources and ideas that are shared with me. I have used Pocket, Google Keep, IFTTT, Docs, Sheets etc. to keep track of links and ideas. How do you keep track of the great ideas that you learn about? How do you share those ideas? How can we organize resources for the #sstlap group? https://flipgrid.com/675501
Q8 If you are like me, you are constantly looking for new ideas and ways to do things to improve your knowledge and skills. What are some of the exciting, or meaningful learning you embarked on this summer? What were your biggest takeaways? How will you use this new information in your classroom?https://flipgrid.com/021b90
Tonight I saw a post sharing Aaron Hogan's challenge to get to know students, see question 2. This got me thinking about other challenges that we should post for ourselves and others to continue improving our practice and doing what is best for students.
I don't know that I did a great job of framing the challenges to be questions or conversational pieces, but hopefully people will see the challenge and discuss their ideas about the value of the challenge and how this can impact education.
I do have a question where you can share your own challenges for public education and hopefully we will delve into a conversation about the ideas you share that challenge our thinking and our actions.
I am still working on how to do flipgrid for our chat, we tried a couple weeks ago but I think late notice led to a very small group participating oh and it was the week of the 4th of July, so yeah that might have had something to do with it. But I think the idea of responding to questions using video responses is a powerful way to engage in the learning.
Here are some challenges to get us moving forward.
You probably saw the news headline, but if not, here is the horrible news: Ben Brazeau, leader of the #SSTLAP crew, has been kidnapped! The ransom note mentioned a series of digital locks that must be opened in order to free Ben from his captors - and we only have an hour to solve the clues. It’s imperative to open the locks, or Ben will not be able to fulfill his summer plans - celebrate the 4th of July, go on a family vacation, attend his beloved Packers’ training camp, read some of his favorite PD books, or see an upcoming summer blockbuster. Plus, #sstlap will cease to exist, crushing the collective soul of the greatest crew of social studies teachers on the planet. Braz got the ball rolling years ago by resuming the chat, and we need to keep it going. Free @Braz74!
20% Time Questions
June 22, 2017
#sstlap 6 PT
Guest Host @scottmpetri
Overview: Genius Hour is an inquiry-driven, passion-based classroom strategy designed to excite and engage students through the unrestrained joy of learning. Many teachers accomplish this by setting aside time in their weekly classroom schedules when students are able to learn about and create whatever they want, unencumbered by teacher control (Krebs & Zvi, 2016). Join High School teachers Scott Petri (History) and Holly Avdul (English) as they chat about implementing Genius Hour.
:07 Q1 How well will your department/school leadership buy into the concept of 20% time?
:14 Q2 How do you think parents will buy-into the concept of Genius Hour?
:21 Q3 Where can you scale back on content delivery so that your students can participate in 20% time?
:28 Q4 How are you planning to help your students develop inquiry questions for their Genius Hour project?
:35 Q5 How do you help students realize their intellectual gifts so that they can become high performers?
:42 Q6 What challenges do you anticipate as you shift to supporting students along an independent course of inquiry?
:48 Q7 What was the biggest “A-Ha” moment you had in devoting Genius Hour to your students this past year?
:54 Q8 What advice would you give to a teacher pursuing Genius Hour aka 20% time for the first time?
Social Science Genius Hour
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.