My Family

My Family

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Teach Like a Pirate (Part 2)

As mentioned in the previous blog post, I am reading a book called “Teach Like a Pirate” along with everyone at my school before the school year starts.

We share the book with our department so I can’t write in the margins or put sticky notes all over it, so I am blogging to remember the things that I like and want to remember during the school year. This post is my notes over Part 2. Some of these things might not make sense since they are just my notes. I have also made this post more directed toward teaching Math, so if you teach other subjects, you will definitely want to read the whole book to get the full details if this interests you.

Part II
Crafting Engaging Lessons
He showed this diagram that I thought was interesting. Of course you have Content and in many professional developments we are offered Technique and Methods (diagrapms, think-pair-share, jigsaw), but rarely are we offered Presentation training.

Transitions will kill you- when you are trying to focus on the presentation section of your lesson, the transitions are something that can really kill a lesson. Many times a teacher will capture the attention and engagement of their class and then lose it by adding some unnecessary delay between the hook and the delivery of the content. Don’t let supplies throw you off. If you know they will need paper, get the paper before you tell a powerful story and have them in the palm of your hand. Again, this is another thing I can relate to the performing world. You can be an amazing singer, but what you say between songs to hold your audiences’ attention is equally as important.

This section was filled with lots and lots of questions to ask yourself as you are developing lessons. Brace yourself, there are a LOT. Since there were SO MANY, it was a little overwhelming. I am going to share the ones that stood out to me. Other math teachers might have a completely different opinion than me and that is totally fine. Like mentioned earlier, don't be like the teacher next door. The only way this is going to work is if you are you!

The Kinesthetic Hook
·         How can I incorporate movement into this lesson?
·         Can we throw something, roll something, or catch something inside or outside of class?
·         Can we get up and act something out?
·         Can we incorporate gestures and motions that students can do from their desks?
·         Can we turn the room into a giant opinion meter and have students move to one side or the other based on a statement?
·         Can I change the structure of this lesson from a seated activity to a walk around activity?
·         Can I use a game that incorporates movement and action to enhance this lesson?

The People Prop Hook
·         Can I create a human graph, chart, map, or equation?
·         Can students be assigned a specific step in a process or an event then have them order themselves sequentially or do some type of assembly line?

The Safari Hook
·         How can I get my class outside my four walls for this lesson?
·         Where would be the best place(s) on campus to deliver this content?

The Picasso Hook
·         How can I incorporate art into this lesson?
·         What can my students draw or make that would help them understand and retain this information?
·         Can they create visuals of key information as a way to review for the upcoming test?
·         Can they design word pictures in which the way the word is written reveals its definition?
·         Can I create an art-based option that students could choose instead of another assignment?

The Mozart Hook
·         How can I most effectively use music as they enter the room or during their work time?
·         Can I use music to make my transitions smoother and more engaging?
·         Can I allow students to create songs/raps that demonstrate their understanding of the content as an alternative to essays and standard reports?

The Dance and Drama Hook
·         Can I provide the opportunity for my students to do skits or appear in videos related to what we are learning?
·         Can they write a script and create a video to play for the class? (Some of my students actually did this last year and it was AMAZING!!)

The Craft Store Hook
·         Is there an origami fold that I can teach to the class for this content?
·         Could there be a craft skill my students already possess that could enhance my curriculum and simultaneously allow them the chance to be an expert for a day?

The Student Hobby Hook
·         How can I incorporate the hobbies and outside interests of my students into this material?

The Real-World Application Hook
·         How can I show my students why learning this content is important in the real world?
·         Can they create something “real” that will be more than a classroom project but actually allow them to interact with the world in an authentic way?

The Student-Directed Hook
·         How can I release some of my control and provide students the chance to be the experts and directors of this subject?

The Opportunist Hook
·         In what ways can I incorporate current popular trends, fads, TV shows, and movies in order to make this relevant and engaging for my class?
·         Can I put intriguing images of current events on the walls with QR codes underneath that link to more information?

The Board Message Hook
·         What can I write on my board or have projected on my screen that will immediately spark curiosity and interest as the students enter my room?
·         Can I just put a QR code on the board or screen and see what happens?

The Costume Hook
·         What accessory can I wear to enhance my presentation (hat/glasses/apron)? (I wasn’t even going to put this one on here, but I had one idea. When we are learning about sales tax/% of a #, I do a menu activity. I could dress as waitress that day and “take orders”)

The Props Hook
·         What physical item can I bring in to add to my presentation (good for geometry)?

The Involved Audience Hook
·         How can I consistently keep the audience feeling involved?
·         Can I cue them to make certain motions or sounds at key points?
·         Can I bring students to the front of the room as volunteers?

The Storytelling Hook
·         Can I create a high-interest story to fit the lesson?
·         What captivating story can I tell that would draw students into a lesson?

The Swimming with the Sharks Hook
·         Can I participate in the activity?
·         Can I use the whole classroom as my platform (not just the front of the classroom)?

The Mime Hook
·         Can students be asked to get their messages across without words? (Idea: have 5 questions ready to answer on the board. One student will go to the board and solve, the next student can either correct the first students work, if they think something is incorrect, or go on to the next question. We are not done until all students have a thumbs up that all questions are solved correctly – all done silently).

The Backwards Hook
·         Can I show them an end product that will make them figure out how to get there?

The Reality TV Hook
·         How can I design my lesson to take advantage of the popularity of reality TV?
·         Can I create a Survivor-style challenge and divide the class into tribes?
·         Can this be configured as an Amazing Race partner lesson?
·         How can I incorporate a Fear Factor type of challenge?

The Techno Whiz Hook
·         Can I give my students the option to create projects and turn in assignments digitally?
·         Can I create a paperless lesson, unit, or class?
·         How can I take advantage of the fact that most phones now have camera, video, and Internet capability?
·         How can technology help to connect my students to people from all over the world and help them gain a global perspective?
·         How can I utilize the latest apps to create more powerful and interactive presentations?

The Contest Hook
·         How can I include a contest in this lesson to build excitement and motivation?
·         What type of review game can I design to ramp up the entertainment level of my class?
·         What kind of in-class challenge can I create that would take advantage of their competitive instinct?
·         Can I be part of the challenge or contest?

The Chef Hook
·         Can I enhance this lesson by adding food or drinks to it?

I warned you…there are a LOT!! And I didn’t even type half of them!! J Happy planning!

Teach Like a Pirate (Part 1)

Each summer my school asks us to read a certain book over the summer. Last year it was “The Positive Dog” and this year it is “Teach Like a Pirate”. 

I think this is a really unique thing to do because it starts everyone off on the same page and on a positive note. Last year the book’s underlying message was positivity. This year it is definitely more focused on teaching and how to up your game a little more in the classroom. Since we share the book with everyone in our department, I can’t write in it or make notes to myself in it, so I thought writing a blog about it would help me remember the key points and what stuck out to me so I can refer to it all year. I have only read Part 1 so far, but it has already gotten me excited about stepping back in the classroom and I already know a couple new things I want to try.

This post is my notes over Part 1. He has a word/explanation for each letter of PIRATE. Some of these might not make any sense since they are just my notes, I definitely recommend reading the book to get the full details.

Teach Like a Pirate

Passion – (3 different types)
·         Content Passion - within your subject matter, what are you passionate about teaching? Fractions!!
·         Professional Passion - within your profession, but not specific to your subject matter, what are you passionate about?  What is it about being an educator that drives you? What ignites a fire inside you? He had LCLs (life- changing lessons) embedded in every lesson. Refuse to enter the classroom with anything less than a burning passion for the awesome job that lies before you. 
·         Personal Passion - completely outside or your profession, what are you passionate about? Bring your personal passions into the classroom. Don't clone teachers and lessons, instead use your individuality and uniqueness because that is how you become the most effective teacher that you can be. 

Give them your undivided attention. A lifeguard sits above the action and supervises. Although s/he is focused, there is a distinct sense of disconnect both physically and mentally. If you were immersed, than you would be swimming. A swimmer is out participating and an integral part of the action. Be the swimmer, not the lifeguard in your classroom. 
This one really hit home because I am definitely self aware that my whole day/lessons go 100x better when I am fully present (mentally and physically). The days that I had outside things going on that were stressful or when I was trying to get something done along with teach, those are the days I came home frustrated. Those were also the days I usually became short tempered with students and so I need to remember immersion every day!

The first few days are crucial in building a safe learning environment and building a rapport with your students.
2 things caught my attention:
·         1st day play-doh activity. They build something that is in some way representative of themselves. Teacher makes his/her way up and down the rows talking to each student and having them introduce themselves. I ask them questions about their creation and "rescue" any student who is struggling to find something to say. Everyone leaves class feeling like they have been successful.
·         Not only do I need to get to know the students names but the students need to know the students in their class. Offer a prize or something to any students that can tell you the name of every student in the class at the end of the activity. Maybe even allow them to do this during the whole first week of school. 

Ask & Analyze
Creative ideas don't come from out of the blue; they come from engaging in the creative process. That critical process starts when you ask the right type of questions and then actively seek the answers. 
Creativity is rarely about natural brilliance or innate genius, but instead creativity results from proper directed attention, laser-like focus, relentless effort and hard work. Don't ever say, "well I'm just not hat creative"! Some example questions.
·         Where is the best place on campus to deliver this lesson?
·         What can I write on my board for this lesson that would spark a conversation or create a buzz even before the bell rings.
The quality of your question is critical. Don't ask "how can I make this lesson bearable for my students today and keep them awake?" Instead, ask "how can I make this lesson outrageously entertaining, engaging, and powerful so that my students will never forget it and will be desperate to come back for more?"
Your creative ideas will come to you probably at the most random times. Have a way to write it down, because you will probably forget about it. (I always put mine in the Notes section of my phone. I almost always have my phone with me, so this is logical to me.) 
If you haven't failed in the classroom lately, you aren't pushing the envelope. "Safe" lessons are a recipe for mediocrity at best. (Ouch!)

Is your class just like everyone else's or is yours the purple cow, something interesting that they've never seen before. 
If your students didn't have to be there, would you be teaching in an empty room?
Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?
It's time to up your game!!

You must be "on" all hours of the day. I feel like this one comes natural to me. Coming from a performing background, there really is no difference. Your last hour should get the same energy and enthusiasm as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I used to do 5 shows a day when I performed at Silver Dollar Ciry, so I am definitely used to this!
Two Ways to Light Your Fire:
·         Act enthusiastic. You can't fake passion, but you can fake enthusiasm. "Fake it until you make it."
·         Change you focus. If you are completely exhausted and can barely keep your eyes open and then someone calls to deliver good news or you remember something that’s critically important that you forgot to do, you are instantly excited or you jump up to go do what you forgot. All you are doing is changing your focus. 
It doesn't matter what we teach. Our mission is to teach in such a way that who we are as human beings has a more powerful and lasting effect on students than what we say. When we model enthusiasm it rubs off on everybody around us; it is contagious. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Doormat Project (3 years later)

In July of 2012 I blogged about a couple door mats that I spray painted that you can read about here. I wanted to do a follow up on that post. 3 years later my door mat now looks like this...

I'm not upset, I assumed the spray paint would kind of wear off, so I wasn't surprised. Luckily, I had over half of the spray paint can left, so I spent about 3 minutes today re-spraying the mat, let it dry in the sun for a couple house and voila! I have a newly painted door mat again and I didn't have to spend any money! Looks as good as new. 

I didn't mind the rustic beat up look of the door mat after 3 years...but I definitely like the bright popping color a little more! (Please ignore our dirty patio! Our pups have some dirty paws that trample all over our patio!) Just wanted to do a follow up on a DIY project! We don't use the orange one as much, it's by a door we don't frequently use, so it is still in pretty good condition. I guess that initial $35 I spent on all of the supplies and mats has paid off!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Microwave Bowl Holders

July is definitely my craft month! I have just loved sewing since Trevor's mom and grandma got me a sewing machine, plus when we moved into our house I basically have a craft room to do all my sewing in. It is so much fun getting to make home-made things for friends!
Here are a few of the things that I have made and you can too!!

Baby Blanket
Fabric Key Chains
Burlap Curtains
More Blankets and Key Chains
Insulated Casserole Dish Carrier
More Fabric Key Chains
Sandwich Bags
Oven Mitts
Bandana Bibs

For my birthday this year a friend of mine gave me the cutest gift. They were microwavable bowl holders. I have told myself since March (my birthday) that I was going to make these when summer rolled around! So here they are!

You can make all different sizes. In this post I will make a 10x10. This size works well for your everyday bowls, like cereal or oatmeal, etc. It is absolutely perfect for oatmeal. You get your oatmeal ready, then before you put the bowl in the microwave, you put your bowl in the hot pad. Then, when it is ready you don't have to worry about burning your hands when you take it out of the microwave. I usually eat my oatmeal while on the couch watching tv. So this is absolutely perfect for holding it the entire time I eat. Also, I LOVE ice cream. But I hate that it makes the bowl so cold and then your hand gets really cold. Again, what a great use for these bowl holders!
This is the video I watched on how to make them. This video is seriously helpful! She is great at explaining each and every step!

Things that you need:
2 fabrics *Must be all cotton* (you could just use one, but I like the look of 2 different ones)
Batting *Must be all cotton*
sewing marking pencil

  • Make sure you fabric and batting are all cotton. Polyester is a type of plastic so it will melt in the microwave!
  • Another side note, 1/2 a yard of each fabric and batting will get you:
    • 4 10x10 bowl holders
    • or a combination of 3 bowl holders of different sizes - 10x10, 12x12 or 15x15

Cut a 10x10 square for each fabric and a piece of batting to go with both.

Then with your sewing machine and whatever thread you want to use, sew an X on each fabric. The first time I did it, I pinned the fabric and batting together, but it wasn't really necessary. The fabric sticks to the batting so it doesn't really need to be pinned.

After you have sewn the X in both fabrics, take one of them (it doesn't matter which one because you will be doing the same thing to both) and we are going to make the darts. Fold it is half. To make things easier when you are using your sewing machine, always make sure that your fold is on the right side. Line up the fabric (don't really worry about lining up the batting, focus more on lining up the fabric) and pin it.

 With your pencil, starting on the ride side where the fold is, make a mark at the top over 1"
Then do the same thing, but going down 2"  and make a mark. (When you are making the larger bowl holders, this is the only step that will differ - when you are making a 12x12 bowl holder, you will go down 2 and 1/2" and when you are making a 15x15 you will go down 3")
Then connect your dots.
You will need to do the same thing to the other side as well. Again, to make things easy when you start sewing, keep the fold on the right side. So pick it up from the bottom and flip it over. (You can now see my pin on the bottom left hand corner.)
Now, when you pick up the bottom you should be able to see your last markings on the bottom right hand corner, like this...
Do the exact same thing to that corner - 1" to the left of the fold and 2" down, then connect your dots.
Then you will sew along both of the lines that you made.
Instead of back stitching to secure it, when you get to the end cut your thread and actually tie a little knot to secure it. Do this every time you make a dart.
When you open up your bowl holder, it should look something like can see the darts that you have made.
You are then going to make darts on the other corners as well. Fold your piece in half the other direction. Again, focus on lining up the fabric more than the batting.
Pin it in place and then make your same markings. Make sure your fold is on the right and make your marks 1" to the left of the fold and 2" down from the top and connect the dots. Flip it over the same way you did before, keeping your fold on the right and make your marks again.
Then sew along your lines. When you are done and open up your bowl holder, you should now see 4 darts.
You can then actually cut off the fabric on the outside of your darts. You don't want a bunch of extra fabric in there.
When your bowl is upside down, it probably looks like this...
Do the exact same thing to your other piece of fabric that you have sewn the X through.
Now you have two identical bowls. And your next step will be to attach them.
Put right sides together and then pin together the 4 corners. 
You will also want to pin on the darts as well. It will be kind of thick there, so you may want to kind of fold one dart to the right and the dart behind it to the left to make it easier to go through your sewing machine.
I put an extra pin to mark where I want to start and to remind me to stop because I need to leave a small opening so I can flip it right side out.

 After you sew along the edge, flip it right side out.

You will then need to close up the hole and do a top stitch around the whole thing. Fold the opening to look just like the rest of the bowl and then sew on top. Continue sewing until you have top stitched around the whole bowl.

 My helper was not so impressed!

My parents sold their house a little over a year ago and have been living in an apartment while they house hunt. They recently found a house and are closing August 4th; so I decided to make my mom these bowl holders as a house warming gift! Hopefully she won't read this blog post before I give them to her!! :)
I decided to make 2 10x10 bowls and 1 15x15 bowl. I figured those would be the best sizes so her and my dad can maybe use the 10x10 ones and when if my mom ever cooks, she can use the large one. They turned out so cute! I am super excited to give them to her!

Happy Sewing!!!