Tag Archives: Video

The Muses Go To School

13 Mar

As part of our seminar and tech class, my group created an RSA-style video about the book The Muses Go To School.

I really enjoyed reading this book, because it emphasized a fact that I firmly believe: Teaching The Arts in school is a vital part of educating children. Not all children will grow up to be professional artists/actors/directors/poets/musicians etc… However, every single person (child) can benefit greatly from the inclusion of arts education throughout their schooling.

We made an RSA video to mirror the importance of art in schools – an artistic form of assessment for an artistic book!

Hope you enjoy!

National Day of Service

20 Jan

In addition to being the day we celebrate the official beginning of our president’s second term, tomorrow, January 21, is also Martin Luther King, Jr Day. In 1994, congress designated MLK day as a “national day of service” – in an effort to “make it a day on, not a day off.” The spirit of the day is based on the belief of Dr King, that anyone can serve.

Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

I would like to make an addition to Dr. King’s belief – you don’t need to be wealthy to serve. Many people believe that volunteering or otherwise helping a charitable organization is something that only the wealthy can afford to do. I believe it is something that all of us must do – we can’t afford not to.

Tomorrow, my day will mostly be spent working on homework and lesson planning, trying to get a little bit ahead, so maybe I won’t be behind by the end of the quarter. I’m going to be getting ready for my first official lesson observation, for a week of classes, and for taking on more teaching duties. Though I may not be working with an official volunteer work party, it is still service. Or rather, preparation for service.

In the past, I have spent MLK Day cleaning parks, serving pancakes, organizing toy drives, and building school gardens. In the future, I hope to do these things with my students. Yes, MLK Day is a federal holiday, which means no school. However, it also means that many of my students will be home alone – because many of their parents will still have to work. What better way to ensure my student’s safety than to organize a day of service? Maybe I will have to give extra credit. Maybe I will have to receive special permission from my principal, the district, and the parents. I am sure there will be hoops to jump through and paperwork to file.

It will be worth it.

Creating a sense of community responsibility and teamwork is a vital part of being a teacher. Working together on a service project of our own creation could be a powerful way to build towards these goals. Whether on and official Day of Service or not, teaching my students that they can have a positive impact on the world around them – that they indeed have that power – what textbook can teach that?

Here’s a video about the meaning of MLK Day of Service:

For more information about the National Day of Service, check out their website.

Sometimes in my tears I drown

15 Dec

I have too many thoughts going through my head right now, too much pain and need for understanding. The events of yesterday morning cut me to the core.

Sometimes, the Universe gives you what you need. Today, as I stood in the kitchen, this song came on my Pandora stream:

And I remembered this video that I posted earlier this spring:

Teachers died yesterday, protecting their students. Let’s never forget those heroes. And let’s never forget why we teach – not to fill these vessels with knowledge, but to inspire and help them grow into adults who know what love and compassion are. Adults who will say “We don’t wanna fight no more.”

Just a little inspiration for you, and for me, on this day when we try to make sense of the world and the pain and the fear.

Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So my negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around
Because
All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
They’ll be no more wars
And our children will play

-Matisyahu, One Day

 

 

Thanks-vember 15: That’s so…

15 Nov

Today, I was thinking about words. Specifically, words that hurt. Words that make people feel like they are less than human. Words that have somehow become a part of “normal” speech. Words like “gay” and “retarded” – when they are used as synonyms for “bad,” “dumb,” “stupid,” etc…

The school culture at my middle school placement is such that these words are not used (at least not in my hearing). Kids are still kids, but these particular kids have been in school together, more or less, since kindergarten. Bullying is not a big problem at our school. All the kids are “different” in one way or another, and no one seems to be singled out.

I know it’s not like that at all schools. I know we are in a nice little bubble of respect, where students and teachers can mostly coexist happily. But I want it to be like that at all schools, no matter what the socioeconomic status of students, no matter what their neighborhood, no matter what their background. It’s not that way now, but maybe it could be. If we treat our students with respect, and expect them to act respectfully towards us and towards each other, isn’t that a huge step in the right direction?

Today, I am thankful for all the people in the world working towards ending hatred, ending bullying, and ending the idea that the word “gay” is a synonym for “stupid” or worse. I’m thankful for people who make things like this:

And for musicians like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis who create songs like this one:

 

Macklemore is really popular with my 7th graders, and really popular with my friends. It’s awesome to see someone with a lot of influence with such a positive message.  Words are powerful, and I think we need to make sure we are teaching our students to use the right ones.

Thanks-vember 14: Seattle

14 Nov

Every morning I try to give myself 10-15 minutes with a cup of coffee and the online news. I usually end up reading a bit of The Seattle Times, a bit of NPR, and a bit of BBC World News. I don’t get a lot of down time, and I cherish this little moment of quiet before my day begins.

This morning, on the Seattle Times front page, I saw an article titled “Finland’s educational success story: Less testing, more trusting.” The article focuses on Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish Education Minister, and author of the book “Finnish Lessons: what can the world learn from educational change in Finland” (Teachers College Press, 2011).

So, why should we care about Finland? Well, in case you haven’t heard – Finland’s education system has been ranked at the top of the pack since 2000, when the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) was first introduced. Finnish students spend less time in the classroom than Americans, and yet they routinely score better in math, science, language, etc…

Pasi gave a free lecture this evening at The University of Washington, which I and another teacher-student attended. The first thing he said was “I’m not trying to convince you that Finland has the best education system in the world… because we couldn’t care less if we are the best.”

No, what they care about in Finland is providing each student with an education that best fits his or her needs. Pasi said that Finland’s goal is: “We want to have a school system where pupil’s success doesn’t depend on their home background.” That is, students can succeed regardless of their socioeconomic status. Remember, many studies have been done in the US “proving” that socioeconomic status is the number one indicator of a child’s ability to succeed in school. Finland threw that idea out the window.

The idea of the lecture was not to say “Finland is better than you” or “Here is how to make the US’s education system exactly like Finland’s,” but instead to point out some key differences, and perhaps how the US can improve education based on Finland’s ideas.

I would say that Pasi’s message was broken into two main points: equity and professionalism.

40 years ago, the Finnish government looked at their country, and at their education system, and knew that something needed to be fixed. They worked on creating equal footing for all students – on improving equity (the well-being of students, providing resources to those in need, etc…) and then worked on improving education. Students who aren’t fed breakfast can’t learn. Students who have to stay home to take care of their younger siblings can’t learn. These things needed to be fixed before the actual problem of school could be tackled.

Additionally, teachers are respected in Finland, on the same level as doctors and lawyers. In fact, it takes as much schooling to become a Finnish primary teacher as it does to become a lawyer or doctor. All teachers must have Master’s degrees, which usually takes about 6 years to obtain. The programs are not easy to get into – the University of Helsinki received about 2,000 applications last year and admitted 120 people to the program. Once these highly qualified teachers are in the classroom, they are given control over what they teach – there are no standardized tests, and loose curriculum standards that must be met.

Pasi shared a video with us, contrasting the high-pressure schools of South Korea (another top-scoring country) and the schools of Finland. I couldn’t find the South Korea part to share with you, but here is the section on Finland:

The lecture was recorded, and will be put up as a podcast on the UW Finnish Studies Webpage. I’ll post a link to it when it’s up.

What does this have to do with being thankful? I am thankful for the opportunity to attend events like this. I’m thankful to live in a city with a highly respected university which attracts speakers from all over the world. I’m thankful for the opportunity to hear about education systems in other countries. I’m also thankful for the opportunity to connect with my fellow teachers and discuss these new ideas.

Thanks-Vember 6th

6 Nov

I am thankful for the right to vote.

100 years ago, women did not have a legal voice in this country. With the passing of the nineteenth amendment in 1920, the right to vote finally given to American women.

Fun fact – the state in which I reside, Washington, gave women the vote in 1883 – when it was still a territory, – then promptly voted for prohibition. The law was overturned four years later. Women officially got the vote in 1910, after “distancing” the suffrage movement from prohibition.

I am very passionate about many ballot measures and political races this year, and many of my friends and family may not agree with me. However, we all have a say. I am so thankful to the women (and men) who worked tirelessly for years to give me that right.

Today, women have a say in their lives – in their careers, their health decisions, and in how their country is run. Thank you, Suffragettes!

A Green Teacher

2 Aug

This video made me cry, no less than four times in the course of 13.5 minutes.

I want to be this kind of teacher. The enthusiasm and passion are inspiring. The love for his students is awesome. And, I love gardening and healthy eating, and urban farming, and innovation, and project-based learning, and… you get the point, right?

I want my teaching to be full of si se pueda moments!

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