Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What I Learned this Week-August 5-12

Last Wednesday we began our transition at PHS to both a balanced calendar and from a 5 period a day trimester schedule to an 8 period day semester schedule.  The adjustment in everyone's equilibrium continues to be an ongoing learning process as staff members adjust to an entirely different pacing of classes, students adjust to more coursework due to the increased volume of classes, and I adjust to trying to figure out what period we are in on a daily basis, plus the shortened time between classes to visit classrooms and see students. All in all, it has been a smooth transition though.

As part of my thoughts on a new year, I wanted to step up to an article I had read earlier this summer in which educators were challenged to make their learning visible.  The article, which I have subsequently lost in my Pocket archive, made me really think about my role as an educator who has a passion for learning, and helping others to learn as well.
At roughly that same time, I happened upon my blog and realized that it had been nearly a year since I had written anything.  A year in which lots of learning occurred and the sharing of links happened on twitter, but the internal processes, and the growth I made from that reading stayed hidden and unshared with a wider audience.  Something that goes against my very core as a learner.

Finally, I put all of the ideas together while reading Edutech Musings Blog written by my twitter friend Chris Fancher formely of Manor New Tech in Texas, now an instructional coach at Decker Middle School in Manor.  Each week Chris has a post titled Things that Peaked my Interest this Week in which he lists some of his favorite readings and videos of the week.  I like reading this, and usually save 3-4 of the articles for me to read at a later time.  But it lacks an insight into what Chris is learning from these articles, and how he is growing.  Something that he does so well in his other posts.  

All of these sources made me I want to model a weekly post about what I was learning along the lines of what our Assistant Principal, Kyle Coffman, does with his weekly Friday Flash email that highlights comments from students as they answer his question: "Tell me something good" as well as information about literacy, a passion of his, and staff/student/school accomplishments.   Thus I hit upon What I Learned this Week Wednesday.  Each week it will be my goal to highlight things that I have learned while visiting classrooms, talking to students, and reading from a variety of sources.  This weeks list includes:

What I Learned in Class this Week:

  1. Ragtime was a pre-1900s music sensation.  As a history teacher I am somewhat embarrassed that I did not know this already.  
  2. Cadets at the United States Air Force Academy sleep on the floor so that their beds are always perfectly made in the morning, and thus they can save a few minutes for extra sleep.  
  3. If you give a teenager a card that says-Get the ingredients you need and make Rice Krispy snacks-what you end up with is nowhere as good as when you give them more detailed directions.
What I learned from Students this Week (all entries are quotes from students who were asked, "what did you learn this week"):
  1. I am really liking building trades we learned how to find the height of a building without going up it.
  2. I learned 127 medical terms, my favorite is rhinoplasty which is surgery to the nose.
  3. I learned trying to graduate early is kinda scary, but over the last 2 years I've learned when times are rough you just need to push through it.
  4. I learned about a new business in Plymouth-The Potters Pad where you can go paint your own pottery.
What I Read this Week that Taught me Something New (Truth disclosure, this first set are items from over the summer as well as this week):
  1. I learned that the simple nudge of a text message can help students learn more by reminding them to do their homework.  The article from KQED's MindShift titled "Can Text Messages and Interventions Nudge Students Through School" so inspired me that tomorrow we are meeting with the students who our guidance department has identified at most at risk to have them sign up for a Remind course so that our Director of Guidance and I can send nightly reminders for students to do their homework.
  2. On a related note, I learned their is a web based app called Whats Due that will automatically send students due date reminders to their iOS (Apple) and Android devices.
  3. Finally, from Fast Company, I learned that changing your reading habits can have health benefits.  The article titled "How Changing Your Reading Habits can Transform Your Health" showed how reading can change your perspective on life and gives you a renewed understanding of yourself.  This renewed understanding can help to make you more resilient in the face of challenges.  Additionally, reading for pleasure, can reduce stress, lower your chance of suffering from depression, and even help stave off dementia.  The ways to change your reading were to: Read what interests you, and not what you think you should read, Find 30 minutes a week to read, Create a challenge for yourself, and to Not stick with a book your not enjoying. 

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