Good Reads for the Win

Good Reads is seriously one of my favorite things about the Internet. As someone who is constantly misplacing or losing book recommendations, and also wondering what everyone else is reading (and how they liked it), Good Reads is a perfect website for me– not only personally, but also as an educator.

There are so many features on GR that myself and my fellow teachers can use in our classroom. It’s an ideal venue to use to get our students excited about reading– and providing them with an opportunity to connect with other people who are excited about reading.

Here is a link to our presentation on Good Reads–

Final Good Reads PPT

Podcast Practice (turns out, I need a lot of it!)

https://soundcloud.com/mskaplan222/final-pathos-podcast

So, it turns out that being a Podcaster is harder than it seems. I love the IDEA of creating a Podcast for my students, but I am not sure I succeeded in making an engaging and creative one. It was difficult to rely on just ME talking for that amount of time. I am so used to running my classes as conversations, that the back and forth between my students and I was something I really felt the absence of in my podcast.

Since I listen to a lot of podcasts, and since I was able to successfully incorporate a few of them into my student teaching placement, I was really excited to try to create my own. When I was trying to come up with an idea to use (that had to do with my unit plan), I knew that I wanted to focus on a ‘big idea’ for the podcast– something that I could provide a lot of food for thought about. something that would provide more questions that answers. The problem with this, however, is that my topic ended up being a weird mix between too general (pathos in writing) and too specific (Jonathan Safran Foer’s writing process).

In an ideal world, I would use this Podcast as draft. I completely understand why Podcasts are so heavily edited and produced– the process of them is so similar to writing, and every iteration could and should be stronger and more tightly constructed than the previous. This project showed me that I have a lot to learn when it comes to creating Podcasts for my class, but that I strangely am looking forward to it.

All Hail Sir Ken!

Ken Robinson is a treasure. Seriously, every time I watch him speak I am overwhelmed by how much I agree with what he’s saying. I want his words to start a revolution and change the face of American Education.

I could not agree more with what he said about ADD/ADHD. He hit the nail right on the head when he said the following: “If you seat children hour after hour doing low-grade clerical work, they’re going to fidget.” YES. They are. The ‘clerical work’ he is referring to is the ‘busy work’ that so many teachers spend so much time having students do, and it’s the absolute worst! I know that practice and repetition is a PART of best practices for certain subjects and certain age groups, but it shouldn’t be everything.

In his talk, Robinson focuses on the three principles that he believes are necessary for the human mind to flourish. They are the following:

1) that human beings are naturally different and diverse;

2) that curiosity is an integral part of learning (and that teachers should focus more on students learning than them just ‘teaching’; and

3) that human life is inherently created.

Throughout his talk, I kept thinking to myself how lucky I feel to be an English teacher– and how many opportunities for creativity and out-of-the-box thinking that subject allows for. I love, love, loooooove what he said about the role of a teacher– and that more than anything else, it’s to facilitate learning. So often, teachers are focused on just delivering content that they aren’t even aware of whether or not their students are actually engaging in learning while they are teaching. Our job is NOT to just deliver content– it’s to do so while stimulating, provoking and engaging.

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Digital Storytelling for Beginners

Let me start by saying this: I dare you not to crack a smile while watching the video above. Who thinks we’re ready for #broadway?

So here’s the thing: I really like this project in CONCEPT, but I thought it was a little bit stressful to actually do. I love the amount of creativity that something like this gives us (seriously– looooooove this aspect of digital storytelling; and think it would be so beneficial for my students too), but I wish that I’d been a bit more familiar with both Pixlr and Windows Movie Maker. My group excelled at the brainstorming aspect of this– coming up with a great idea and finding lots of images to support it– but the technology aspect (in particular, the pixlr part) was harder for us. I am proud of what we created, but it would be VERY interesting to see how much better this could have been had we been more familiar with the technology.

How To Motivate An Unmotivated Teen (aka How To Be A Successful High School Teacher)

The podcast I listened to, titled 3 Keys to Motivating Unmotivated Teens, spoke about the fact that so many teenagers today are just simply unmotivated. This lack of motivation is illustrated by the “ehh” attitude they use towards pretty much everything — chores, school, even how they spend their free time.

Many of the experts that spoke during the podcast seemed to believe that more than anything else, the key to getting students motivated is learning what they care about (what ‘lights’ a fire in them) and then using that knowledge to plan activities that excite them. The guests spoke about whether or not we, as teachers, are helping teens develop a passion. Or… are we just too focused on high-stakes testing? Have we moved away from hobbies and letting students figure out what they’re good at and/or what they’re even INTERESTED in?!

Podcasts are absolutely something that I will continue to use for professional learning. It’s truly amazing to be able to access so many resources so quickly. I love that I can listen to podcasts when I’m out walking, when I’m in the car driving, or when I’m around the house. It’s incredibly convenient and there are SO many interesting ones out there.

Not only will I use podcasts for professional development, I also see myself using them IN the classroom. I think that having students listen to, discuss, and possibly even write about, something they have heard is a great way of teaching so many of the skills that English classes are comprised of. Just like some teachers show movies or clips that go with things they are having students read, I can see myself having the class listen to a relevant podcast.