Saturday, January 24, 2015

Travel Projects and World Awareness

I wrestle a lot with how honest to be with 11 and 12 year olds about the world. I believe they should be aware of current events in a sensitive way that they can understand. I LOVE for providing that resource to my students in a fantastic 10 minute daily broadcast on the internet.

The travel projects I have designed talk about hotels, restaurants, plane flights, sights to see. But I haven't stressed hunger, literacy, crime in these cities with this project. I try not over politicize issues and I try to meet students where they are with their understanding.

An event that happened last week is very special . CNN featured a piece on a teenage girl from a rural part of Haiti that needs to walk half an hour each way twice a day to obtain fresh water for her family from a creek. She carries the water in a five gallon bucket on her head and complains of head and neck pain.

Students were so sympathetic and moved by her plight. We had a great discussion and they generated many possible helpful solutions. We discussed that clearly plumbing infrastructure would be ideal. Students wanted to buy and ship cases of water but we discussed short term and long term solutions.

They went home and each designed simple fixes that could at least help the teenager transport her water more easily. They are very excited about their inventions. (backpacks and various carts) I decided to compile the ideas into a short video and appeal to some corporations that might choose to sponsor our students with funds that could get them some materials to create and ship their ideas.

It is nice that the ideas organically sprung from the students and they are using critical thinking skills to solve a world problem. If you know of any organizations that may be interested in helping my students meet their goals of helping others, please let me know

Feeling Hopeful about the upcoming generation of kind souls ~

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome 2015

I am very pleased, proud and busy because I have so many exciting projects happening in 2015.  First, for my classroom I am designing a travel project so students can get practice using the internet to gather information about foreign cities. I am spending this break creating instructional videos to model good searching skills and to provide a "flipped classroom" scenario, where students can access this information on their own, at their own pace, to get support and practice with these skills.

Also, The first week back in January I am teaching a course on 21st Century Assessment Skills, for NVCC. I have had a lot of fun trying to organize challenging and meaningful materials to support my fellow Northern Valley peers as we explore this popular topic. My materials for both the travel project and the assessment class should be posted on my school website by the end of break if anyone has any interest or use for these :) Click here for access to my webpage

Speaking of "popular topics", I am also presenting on a panel that F&M is sponsoring that will address the issue of "The Common Core State Standards". The other panelists are very distinguished professors and authors on the topic. I look forward to getting the opportunity for discourse with them and the audience (see F&M website New Jersey Alumni Events for details!)

As I get ready for these upcoming events , I am also in full court reflection and reassessment mode to update my resume, references and letters which I send out to schools in my never ending search for an administrative job. I did get close a few more times this fall. But alas, nothing yet. This January marks two full years of pursuing this. I am not used to this much rejection, as most of the goals of my life up until now were met with success pretty quickly. I do know other administrators who say it took them 5 years to break into administration. If I've not grown in any other way in 2014, I have definitely been mastering persistence.

But I have grown when I stop to think about it. I have an exciting new marriage, a new home, kids settled in college, good health and happiness in my extended family, students who are having high quality experiences, peers at work who I am realizing I will truly miss when I do actually leave, amazing lifelong friends who I keep track of on Facebook and my own health and gratitude for all these blessings.

I think a big secret to happiness is not to overlook what you have, even as you reach for the next steps of your goals. Here is to a happy and healthy 2015 for all.