"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body"
~ Richard Steele ~

Friday, October 14, 2016

Global Connections

Global connections are an important part of being a digital citizen.  Students need real-life experiences to practice positive digital citizenship.

I am always on the look-out for new opportunities. Some of our current connections include:

  • Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants - This website offers science and social studies related experiences. Often we have been able to get a camera spot and ask questions. The Google hangout is recorded so parents and students can find out what happened and was discussed.
  • Mystery Skypes: Teachers have been doing mystery Skypes for quite a while. These encourage students to problem-solve while practicing their geography skills. At the end of a mystery Skype, schools can share out about their city and school.
  • Global Read Aloud: The GRA is an excellent opportunity to connect with other schools while reading a novel. Pernille Ripp had a vision to connect schools and it has grown yearly.  Teachers can do as much as they want globally with other classes, but the best part is the resources you gain from others.
  • Global Monster Project: The Global Monster Project is for K-6 classes. Classes write descriptions for various monster parts which are shared.  From there, the classes design and build monsters based on this description.  Monsters come from Russia to Great Britain.  
  • Kidlink: Presently, we are doing a project for "Describe Myself, You Will Draw Me". This project emphasizes descriptive writing skills. Descriptions are shared with another school and partners need to draw each other based on this description.
Ripon, Wi is a small community of 7,733 so meaningful global connections are important for cultural awareness as well as a real-world audience for speaking and writing.  Global activities offer an opportunity to teach students about digital citizenship and apply what they have learned.  

Global Connections this Year

Saturday, September 3, 2016

New Year, New Building, New Goals

This year I celebrated 40 years of teaching. People congratulated me on this accomplishment but I hesitated slightly when saying, "thank you".  Maybe it was because I never look at my job as a chore. I admit, I do get tired at times and feel as if time is my enemy, but some of that is caused by my own choices.   I did have to stop and ask myself, "What have I accomplished in 40 years?" Was I satisfied with how I used this amount of time that was given? I could list accomplishments, presentations, or awards but is that really the heart of teaching? Not really...  Teaching is about the students and I wouldn't hesitate to say that they are at the center of my classroom.

 This is a year of reflection, evaluation, and goal setting. In class, students set goals and I personally find that it is helpful for myself as well. So, for this year...

Goals for 2016-17

1. Continue to grow and learn through professional books/resources and collaborative online communities. There are so many opportunities to grow through the expertise of others.

2. Conference and meet with students more.  I hope to create more flipped videos to meet the needs of students so that I have the opportunity to conference more during workshop times.

3. Expand on the global opportunities that students will have each week.  How can I connect my class with students around the world or experts in the field?

This year has been a challenging beginning with the move to a new building but I look forward to creating a positive environment for students to grow and develop as learners.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

End of an Era

I have spent 40 years in the same hallway, in the same building, and in the same grade.  You would think that this would have been a boring experience but it hasn't been. Each year has brought new students, updated curriculums, along with technological opportunities.  This month has been a time of reflection.  As I look back over the years, I am proud knowing that I accepted the challenges of each year and tried to bring the best education possible to my classes. Next year will bring a new environment as we move to a different building.  I plan to bring the passion and joy I have for learning to my students while engaging them with challenges to inspire and connect.  Teaching is still about students and developing relationships.

The slideshow is a final glimpse.... looking forward to new challenges and opportunities.

End of Year 2016

Friday, August 5, 2016

DIY: Project Based Learning for Math and Science

Review on DIY: Project Based Learning for Math and Science on MiddleWeb.com

Monday, July 11, 2016

Honeywell Green Boot Camp - The Adventure Begins

Prior to Camp
Before starting on the journey to San Diego, communication from staff at Honeywell was excellent. The steps to take in preparation for the trip, what to bring and how to plan was clearly communicated.Debbie Orrock from Community Relations included information on transportation from the airport, what the schedule would be in San Deigo, free time available, as well as dress code. A Facebook group was created as well and led by Rob Rand and Sherry Brewer. The Facebook group helped everyone connect before heading to San Diego and offered an outlet to stay connected after the camp was over.  Rob and Sherry welcomed everyone, offering ideas and suggestions when in San Diego. They also led many of the lessons and activities.  Of course, when I was flying over the Rockies, I couldn't resist taking photos of the mountains and how the terrain changed on my way to San Diego.  After arriving at the airport and taking the Super Shuttle (thanks again Honeywell for having easy directions for getting this lined up) I was taken to our hotel and greeted by Rob who was available to answer questions or suggest ideas on what to do as people came in from their various destinations.

Day 1: Honeywell Boot Camp
Camp began with an initial get-together. Each camper was assigned to a group that included 5 total. The groups were set up strategically to allow people to experience diverse backgrounds and experiences.  My group included people from California, Georgia, Great Britain, and Viet Nam.  The cultural differences were one of the most exciting pieces in the camp since it offered an opportunity to learn more from others as well as make connections for later in the school year.
Tables settings included flags from each of the 13 countries represented. Bubbles, chocolate, and the team placard name finished it off.  We were team "Thermal"which would be referenced the rest of the days.

Matt Willis (Great Britain), Sandy Wisneski (Wisconsin) Jennifer Nickel (California),
Thuyet Thanh (Viet Nam), Deva Hamilton (Georgia). 
It was interesting to notice the change in vegetation from Wisconsin switching to California as I walked around outside.  I also took a photo of the water-saving "dual-flush" toilets at the hotel. I understood that there was a goal for water conservation in San Diego, but this was sustainability in action.

The day started out by gathering on the bus to head out to the Energy Innovation Center.  Each day we had the opportunity to visit a different location in San Diego and the surrounding areas. Of course, the bus ride was always fun getting to know other campers.
Before starting on the journey to San Diego, communication from was excellent. The steps to take in preparation for the trip, what to bring and how to plan was clearly communicated.

At the Energy Innovation Center, Rob and Sherry had a challenge for the groups.  Create a way to lift a paper clip using water power.  Solutions to this problem were widespread and innovative.

After the testing, capstone projects were introduced so that teams were planning ahead of time. These would be presented on the last morning. Capstone projects demonstrate a combined effort by teams to incorporate experiences and skills learned at Honey Green Boot Camp.

A team photo was taken in front of the living wall. I definitely liked how the cacti were used in this space. Wonder how I could make this work indoors with the Wisconsin climate?
The Energy Innovation Center definitely challenged my thinking when I was touring the facility. Sustainability was considered from the flooring to the solar trees in the parking lot. I realize that it is easier to accomplish in San Diego than Ripon, WI, but still, a stronger awareness was embedded in the back of my mind.
The urban garden caught my eye. 

The afternoon involved interactive lessons about energy use in the home including light bulbs (how much energy does it take to power an LED/CFL/INC)? A "Kill-a-Watt" meter was used to discover the energy vampires. An assignment 
was given to go back to our hotel rooms to measure the efficiency. The infrared thermal imaging cameras were definitely exciting to try out.

Day 3

Today we headed out to the City of Escondido.  When we arrived, the city manager, Graham Mitchell, spoke with us on the growth and development of the city.  Groups would be completing various service projects and outs involved cleaning up the area near the children's museum.  Of course, this was a perfect fit for me and I came prepared with gloves.
Part of the day involved building water barrels. Teams developed new skills with power tools. An activity in water testing rounded out the day.

Day 4

Jacobs Community Center

Today's challenge involved building wind turbines...both "McGyver" style and ones from kits. These engineering challenges proved interesting.
A presentation by Mike Lee of San Diego Water Authority proved interesting about that status of water in California.
This was followed by water challenges from purifying water to removing an oil spill.

The final challenge was to build a solar car which proved interesting. The final results were a wide spectrum of vehicles...some moved and some had the gear ratio confused, like me.

That evening was the final celebration dinner. Again, Honeywell makes a teacher feel appreciated.  Certificates were handed out and team cheers were performed.  Most participants will not forget the word "sustainability" ever again after one teams' performance.  There definitely was collaboration and teamwork and each group learned from each other.

Day 4:

The final day, teams shared their capstone lessons.  This was the culmination of everything learned and experienced, sending the campers off with practical ideas to bring back to their schools.  

More information on Honeywell Green Boot Camp 2016 can be found following twitter with #HONGBC #Hon_citizenship #Honeywellbuild

Monday, July 4, 2016

What is Honeywell Green Bootcamp?

Honeywell is an amazing company.  I had the opportunity to attend Honeywell Green Boot Camp June 19 - 24 and learn about sustainable education with 50 other teachers from around the world.  "Thank you" is not enough to show my gratitude.  Besides all the wonderful ideas, friendships and experiences that I take with me, I left feeling valued as a teacher.  What a refreshing time!
Below is the information from the Honeywell website:
Attend Green Boot Camp and join a select group of teachers in gaining hands-on experience in teaching renewable energy and environmental responsibility, and in preparing students for the green careers of the future.
WHAT The Green Boot Camp is an intensive four-day, hands-on interactive educational experience to help educators become familiar with the latest methods of instruction to teach green and sustainable topics, methods, lessons and concepts to middle school students at their respective schools.
HOW At Green Boot Camp, you’ll be able to view sustainable educational methods from the perspective of your students. Educators will discover, examine and identify the roots of green technology, sustainable living, and environmental consciousness. These hands-on interactive lessons will provide you with experiences that you’ll be able to transfer into your own classroom. You’ll discover new concepts by using interactive exploratory projects, such as designing and building a solar house, a wind turbine and more. You’ll leave with a whole new understanding of sustainability issues and materials to help you teach what you’ve learned to your students.

I highly suggest that any teacher looking to challenge themselves professionally apply next year.