Tag Archives: learning

Hard to go back

Just read this over at Dangerously Irrelevant:

For a kid who spent a year with a teacher that valued collaborative hands-on, inquiry-based, and problem-based learning, it’s tough to go back the next year to a teacher that has more of a lecture-based, isolated-seatwork-oriented approach.

But why can’t all teachers teach what I called project-based learning where the students do the hard work? I do feel bad for the students who have to go back to the other way of learning. It’s time to move the sage off the stage and let the teacher be the guide on the side.


Another great business partner

Marketing is a little theory and a whole lot of application, and that’s how I always taught it. I gave as few lectures as possible, and used textbooks only when absolutely necessary. Instead of paper-pencil tests, my students had to actually DO something to get a grade. I called it project-based curriculum.

One of the units I taught in Marketing I was sales, and after a few weeks of learning about selling, the students had to actually “sell” an item of their choosing. In the weeks leading up to the actual sales presentation students learned how to approach a customer, question the customer about their needs, make a features-benefit sales pitch, get the customer involved with the product, ask for the sale, and reassure the customer after the purchase and invite them back. Once I felt the students were ready, I brought in REAL customers, and I just sat back and watched the action.

One particular business partner, Bennett Frost Personnel Services, always came through with a number of “customers” who would come to the classroom and go through the 40 or more sales presentations over a three day period. Cathy Frost, the owner of Bennett Frost, came onboard with the Marketing Academy just about the time she started her business and we were starting the Academy. She offered great advice, listening with sympathy to our pleas for help and always coming through with assistance like sending her employees to be customers. Some of our students got to intern in her office, and she gave guest lectures about job seeking.

When Cathy moved into bigger offices with a conference room she invited our department to meet there for planning days. She often popped in with advice and ideas for our classrooms. It helped make us better teachers. And, I hope it made our students better learners. My former students still remember those sales presentations I “made” them do.

My students learned to think for themselves

Just read this paragraph from here:

As Professor of Anthropology James Lett pointed out twenty years ago in an excellent article titled “A Field Guide to Critical Thinking,” people are taught in our schools what to think, not how to think. Why? Probably because it’s easier. Robert Frost once wrote that he took the road less traveled, and that made all the difference. For us teachers to make a difference, we must stop taking the easy way out.

Reminds me of some of my non-Academy students who want me to tell them exactly what they should be doing, writing, saying, thinking, whatever, and I won’t do it.  My Academy students learned not to ask me for specifics because I would always say, “Use what you have learned to make your own assumptions and do your own work.  I know how I would do the (exercise, speech, project, etc), but I want to see how YOU would do it.”  This was always, though, at the end of a unit where I had guided their learning so they would have a basket of ideas and skills from which to pull.  Maybe other teachers don’t provide a big enough basket.

By the time my students were seniors, they didn’t ask me what I wanted, they did what they wanted, and it was usually very good.

Giving students ownership of their learning

This list is from an ASCD article in November 2008.  I think it still works for this year:

What students want from teachers:

Take me seriously

Challenge me to think

Nurture by self-respect; teach me self-discipline

Show me I can make a difference

Let me do it my way

Point me toward my goals

I do a pretty good job with these.

Eat a good breakfast

Proper nutrition helps the brain and body and it’s good for one’s mood, too.  I find this with my high school students who don’t eat properly…they are grumpy, tired, not very interested in anything.  Many of them are obese because they don’t eat breakfast and then come to school with a bag of chips and a soda.  Where do kids get the money for the junk?

Yesterday, while working with elementary age kids at Vacation Bible School, I saw the same thing.  A little girl, who says she does not eat breakfast, is lethargic, behaves badly, is non-cooperative, and complains about being hungry.  I think mom may just be too rushed in the mornings to feed the child.  Perhaps VBS needs to do what we do in the public schools, feed the kids breakfast.

The teacher goes to class

I believe that all teachers should continue learning and I think they should take classes that make them feel a little dumb so they will know how their students feel.  Today was an easy class, which every student deserves to have.

Today’s class was offered by my district’s instructional technology office.  I took a little HP mini notebook from my set of 14 so I could see how it would work with real live student use.  The instructional tech office has nice laptops, but they are not what I will have in the classroom.

I used PhotoStory 3 for Windows to make a little video which I then turned into mpeg4, using different software, and then uploaded to podOmatic.  The little notebook did just fine with the software and I had no problem with doing the voiceover using the built-in microphone.

I think I will use PhotoStory 3 with my multimedia students at the beginning of the year to show off their 3 photos a week that I require when we first start class.  By the end of the first month, they have a nice little photo library that they can use for PhotoShop projects, but at the beginning we discuss the make up of the photos and what makes a good photo.  This will help them get their pictures ready each week.

It was a fast morning, which is just the way I like for a class to go.  In July I am taking two classes on building web sites using the district’s software.

Smart teaching & learning

While running yearbooks around campus, I saw this one day:


clothesline at freshmen academy

clothesline at freshmen academy

At first glance, I thought the students had gone to a swim party, but then realized it was too early in the morning for that.  Later, when I could think, I realized the freshmen have PE first period and the unit is swim.  

In talking with the teacher who set up the clothesline, and who also farms the veggie garden with the kids, I learned that they were coming to his class with bags of wet, sopping clothes that were getting his floor all wet.  At first he set up the clothesline, but now, he said, the kids have taken it upon themselves to put it up and take it down each day.

The kids have learned enough through the gardening project to understand the value of limited resources and what they can do to help.  They chimed in, when the clothesline went up, “we’re doing solar, aren’t we Mr. K?”  This group of ninth graders has come a long way in the past school year.

do your school work, win money


It was again time for the NFTE awards dinner, and just like last year, my student took third place in the competition.  This is the competition where the students present their business plans, first in the classroom, and then if they place first there, at this banquet.  The top three students from each school win money, and if the student places in the top three at the dinner, they take home additional money.  


With the big check

With the big check

My first place student got $450, the other two girls got smaller amounts.  It’s a great opportunity for all of us to show what we know and what we can do.

What I learned this semester

I learned a lot this fall semester because I had to.  I was a quick study of PhotoShop layers and my kids did some pretty good things with the little bit I knew and was able to pass on.  

I learned that my multimedia kids hate to take photos, but I don’t understand why.  I always gave them lots of leeway in the assignments, but they fought me each week on getting three pictures taken and uploaded.  You would have thought I was asking them to do calculus.  They enjoyed using the photos I uploaded for them, and many would not have done the assignments without my pictures.

I learned that the kids who did really well are the ones I’ve had before.  They are well trained and ready to get in and do the work.  The others, who don’t know me very well, would fool around, wasting time, and then want the deadlines to be extended.  Hah.  They also thought they could turn in crappy work, as long as they turned in something, and could pass the class.  They found out that I am a tough grader who expects good work.  My academy students would always try to make their work better, taking to heart each check point and the evaluations I would give them.  Maybe this next semester I will see better work from the newbies.

I learned that I must be unusual in that I don’t have a desk in my classrooms.  I sit and work where ever there is space and/or an open computer.  But reading another blog, I find that is a dream of others.  I have a wonderful office, however, where I can store my stuff.    

I learned that NOT teaching sophomores for the first time in 18 years was wonderful.  I had no idea how much time and energy I put into those kids until I didn’t have to do it.  My classes are filled with upper classmen which I really like, especially since two thirds of my students are from my previous sophomore classes where I worked so hard to get them trained.

I learned I can teach FrontPage, and the kids can do a good job with the little I give them.  I’m glad that was the last unit we did this semester and will use it as a starting point in January.  I’m sure there is still much to be learned, as that is what education is all about.

State your preference

I found this site about states over on my buddie’s blog.  It’s a great site that can tell you anything you want to know about your state or any other state.  I learn so much from all of you out there in blogland.  Thank you.