Sunday, December 31, 2017

Personal Timelines

January 1st is More Than a Start to a New Year

Dear Readers,

I live my own personal timelines. Some of them are linear and others are cyclic.

For example, I consider the school year, which for me is September-June. I also consider the calendar year, which is January-December. I am sure most people can relate to those.

However, there is another timeline that I also live by. I would consider it my "social-emotional" timeline. This one is very much cyclical.

For me it starts in June. It is a difficult month.

  • Father's Day
  • Dad's Birthday
  • My Birthday
  • Last School of School

Then I head into July-September which are pretty good months for the most part. It is summer vacation, I get to catch up on reading and then we head back to school. Football season is under way and the fall is upon us.

However, then I head into October-December. These are probably four of the most difficult months of the year for me.

  • October 26th (my dad's anniversary)
  • October 31st (Halloween-my favorite holiday)
  • November-Thanksgiving
  • December 24th-Christmas Eve
  • December 25th-Christmas Day

Throughout those months I must deal with holiday music, holiday shopping, holiday traditions, holiday gatherings, etc. Sometimes it feels like the time of year that never ends. There are moments when I am like, "How can it possibly be this time of year again? Weren't we just here?"

It always passes as I know it will and January 1st comes with a sense of relief. I know I have been strong and made it through the holidays. I look forward to 5 months that are relatively void of painful memories.

Now, some of you may think I am trapped in this timeline, but I view it very differently. I know that I am going to have mixed feelings during the holidays and sometimes I will be happy and other times sad. There will be times I need support from those I love and times I just need to be alone. I have moments where I can crank the holiday music and sing along and others where I blast hip-hop because I cannot stand to hear another carol.

I am not sidelined because I am so intuitive to my own emotions, feelings and needs. I have skills and strategies to help me through the difficult times.

As I was thinking and reflecting tonight, it made me we ever consider this when working with students? Do we ever look at social emotional behavior as a progression or timeline for that student? Are students given skills and strategies to cope with those difficult months, weeks, days, etc. that they face?

May you all have an amazing New Year and a wonderful start back to school. Remember, just as some students dread vacation, some are elated to come back!

Happy New Year!


Monday, December 18, 2017

SCOPE Preview

"I Assumed My Students Knew What To Do"

Dear Readers,

Ever since I started using SCOPE Magazine a couple of years ago I have been hooked. I adore the articles, videos, visuals, etc. They are well researched, student friendly and high interest. I am not sure who is more excited when we receive the newest issue, the students or I.

One strategy we consistently do is to preview the latest issue. We spend a day browsing, chatting and predicting what we will be learning and reading about. I had an "AHA" moment this year when I realized, do all of my students know what previewing a text is? I determined that in fact, many did not.

I created a strategy list for them. First explaining, this is how I would preview an educational journal or any magazine I would pick up.

  1. Look at the cover. Notice the titles, pictures, etc. What is typically located on the cover? The main feature of the article.
  2. Look at the Table of Contents. We know SCOPE really well so we know what genres to look for. 
  3. Look at the text features as you browse. (titles, headings, subheadings, bold/italic words, maps, pictures/photographs, labels, captions, etc.)
  4. Make predictions about what you might be reading about.
  5. Make connections to prior knowledge.
We decided to sketchnote what we were looking forward to reading! Please see below.

I then decided to spend some time previewing Escape from Alcatraz. We spent quite a bit of time using the Before Reading Resource from the teacher website. This is our thinking!

In another group we practiced finding evidence to support a claim provided by SCOPE. I love the "As You Read" questions or statements posted at the start of many articles. Why was Alcatraz considered an escape-proof prison?

We loved watching Mythbusters and are looking forward to reading the full article! We are really undecided at this point, could they have escaped? Was it possible?

More to come!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Students Inspired by San Diego Pirate Dave Burgess

The "Class" Experience of a Lifetime

Dear Readers,

As you know, Dave Burgess graciously visited our 8th Grade Language & Literature Class on December 6, 2017. Following the GHO we discussed character traits, themes, central ideas, mood and new learning. I hope you enjoy these heart-warming posts as much as I did! Enjoy!


Student #1:
An Experience With a True Pirate

Hello Readers,

Wednesday December 6,  I got to talk to an amazing person Dave Burgess. He is a kind person with great attitude and energy. He talked to us about his life and what made him start writing books.  We talked to him over google hangouts. We talked to him in our 8th grade Language &  Literature class. Me and my class got an amazing opportunity and we took it and I am so happy we did. Dave Burgess is a very busy person and he took out time from his busy schedule to come speak to our class.    
Dave Burgess is energetic, grateful, kind and funny. He made me feel happy. The way he acts is awesome because he makes me feel the same way he does. Dave Burgess made me feel happy. He had a smile that was so contagious. I love the way he brought a mood into the room, how he just made us all smile and laugh. Before Dave became a writer and a publisher he was a teacher. Hoping to make a difference in the way he teaches in the classroom. Then it took a turn for the better. He started doing things I would only dream of doing. He was putting himself out there. Making it known that he wanted to do this and would not take no for an answer. I hope of doing that one day putting myself out there and making a difference.
Dave Burgess taught me not to ever give up. He kept saying that we were, “ Stepping into something amazing.” Every time he would say that I would get so excited for the future ahead of me. I believe him! I think that we all could do something awesome. A theme he kept telling us was to never back down do what you want. I am so happy that we have the technology that we had to have this experience of a lifetime.  
Something that has stuck with me was Dave saying, “ … you can change the world.” I love that because people like you and me can change the world.  I would tell other people that what Dave does is so great. What he does can change someone's life. That is all I can say so good by and if you get a chance like this take it.

Goodbye Readers

Student #2

An Inspiring Message From A Famous Author

Dear Readers,

Have you ever thought about how you wanted to do something but never had the courage to actually do it? Well you can! You just have to put your mind to it and give some effort. “You can change the world!”
In our classroom we got some inspiring words from Dave Burgess. Dave Burgess is a famous author from San Diego, California. We had the opportunity to google hangout (GHO/video chat) with Dave Burgess for a whole class period! If you think about it we got a gift because most schools pay thousands of dollars to see this author and we got it for free. He decided to video chat with us for a variety of reasons. Mainly because he's a nice guy and wanted to say hi, but also to let us know more about himself and what he has done throughout his life. And oh I can't forget about the inspiring words of wisdom he wanted us to remember to help guide us through life.
If I had to describe Dave Burgess I would say he is...excited, happy, kind, and outgoing. I would say this by the tone in his voice. He just has that kind of attitude that is always confident, energetic, and humorous. Which is a good person to be around. I feel like his mood/the impact he wanted to give off was to show inspiration, being determined, and grateful for everything.
Dave Burgess presented to us a lot of background information about himself. He wasn't shy at all. He told us about his business life and his life in general. We learned so much about him. He told us about his life before his career now, which was teaching. He was a US social studies teacher.  You could tell kids just loved him, especially his humor. People told him he could take his way of teaching to a whole nother level and way. So guess what? He did! He went above and beyond, and look how far he's come. All you have to do is be able to speak and write well and “you can change the world.”  Over all he's a great guy and you should consider buying some of his books!
If there's one thing I can take away from the time talking to Dave Burgess is would be his inspirational words. He made me think. Think about how I can do so much more. And just in general have a better and positive attitude in life. He taught me that if someone doesn't like me, that's their problem and not mine. I shouldn't have to change anything about myself to make others happy...Just be yourself.
Over all the central idea would be that if you want to do something and make something happen you can do it. You just need to be able to speak well and write well to be able to “change the world.” And also to never give up, just try your best!
A theme that I believed developed was that: in life you are faced with struggles and obstacles and try to solve them. He basically told us people may not like you or do something to make you feel like you can't do something but just always remember anything is possible.
As you can tell Mr. Dave Burgess is a very cool guy. Lots of quotes have stuck out to me but my favorite was and is probably “If you are able to speak well and write well you can change the world.” This stuck inside my head because if you have a voice use it, just be yourself and  always remember to make good choices because once you make one bad mistake you can never take that back.
Technology definitely has a big impact on our classroom. We have a classroom twitter page(@MsGrossLiteracy) And it helps us interact with educators all across the world with in seconds. It's very cool learning about different parts of the world and the culture and time differences.
Something that stuck with me is when he said that you can change the world. When someone says that it motivates me, To be a better person and general and to just view life at a whole different perspective.  
If any other students are wondering about Dave Burgess message I would have to say
It's very inspirational. He's a very good inspirational speaker. It honestly makes you realize things that you've never thought about. It's good to have those kind of people in your life to influence or guide you with tips to help you have a better life.
In all I would have to say I'm glad that my class got to talk to Dave. It made an impact on my life even though it might not seem like it or might be weird to some people. But whatever because if you don't like me that's not my problem. I'm just trying to do what is right. Anyways Dave thank you so much!! Something so little like your words can mean so much to someone. What do you think? Do words mean something to you when people say them? Do they stick with you throughout your life?

Student #3

We Listened to a Pirate, and here’s what happened:

When Dave started talking I admit, I was a little skeptical about it. This guy is sitting here all high energy. Let me remind you, it is wednesday morning at about 10:40 ish. Knowing me I was probably thinking about homework I forgot to do. So here I am, listening to some “crazy” pirate guy. Dave lives in California, he has 2 kids, and was able to google hangout with us. When this happened I can almost assure you, we were all amazed or inspired in some way.
The room felt magical. He was funny, kind and very energetic. Dave told us all about his business and how he got where he is now. Dave talked about how he is “killing” the other publishing companies. This makes sense.
I took a lot from that day. When I say a lot, I mean a lot. He taught me a lot about life, even though he didn’t focus on life itself, he talked about dreams and goals. I realized that my dreams are big enough, I shouldn’t have to run from them, if they aren’t big enough that you aren't scared enough to chase them, make them so big, you are scared to even think about them.
One quote that really stuck out to me, and made me think, is, “If you have an idea, if you have the ability to speak well, the ability to write well, you can change the world.”-Dave Burgess.
It reminded me of another quote, a good one, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.” -Oscar Wilde.
See now, Dave is really living, he is making the world something new, something exciting, something fun, he makes learning fun. The theme of this was to show us what he does/did for a living. I took away something else, as I said, he probably inspired everyone in this room, no matter what, they will not admit it, I am. I am happy he was able to “hangout” with us.

Student #4

Hello! I am a student in Ms. Gross’ class and on the 6th of December we talked to Dave Burgess over Google Hangout.  Our presenter presented to us over google hangout and it was a very rare and great experience to have him virtually come into our classroom.  Dave joined us to present to us about the good of school and showing your voice to the world and many other inspiring things.
Dave Burgess was very outgoing and enthusiastic.  The mood of the presentation was upbeat and very happy and that is what made it so fun.  Well, we have followed Dave on Twitter for over a year now and he has given us some background information that has led us up to the point.  He has talked to us about the things that he did with his publishing company and how if you don’t like something you can do something about it and change it.
I learned that I can stand up and use my voice to do anything in this word and a kid like me can make a change.  The central idea was that us even at the age we are and even in the upcoming years no matter what we can make a change and do anything we want.  A very important theme that I saw was “with a few simple things you can achieve anything.”  Some things that Dave said to us was very inspiring like “If you can speak and stand up you can do anything you chose to do.”  Also that, “we are our biggest enemy so we have to listen to our gut and go with what we think is the best.”  With having Twitter we can communicate with people from across the world and they can tell us interesting things and then we can tell then things.  And in our classroom we use Twitter to communicate with people and talk to them and tell then what we do in our classroom.  
As you can see, Dave Burgess was very inspiring to me and the things he said made me want to so something in this world to make it better. I may not know what I will do now but eventually I will find something and do it.  I would say to other people about Dave is that he he is very outgoing and enthusiastic about his work and loves to inspire other people about his work.  Dave Burgess inspired me so much and I would love to hear him speak again.

Student #5

   A Interview With Dave Burgess

Hi, I am a student from Ms.Gross’s class on  Wednesday December 6th, 2017 our class was very lucky and got to talk to a very energetic, kind, and awesome guy.  The guy that we talked to was named Dave Burgess.  Dave Burgess lives in California, we talked to him on an app that allowed us to see him on a computer screen and we were able to talk to him and ask questions.  We had Dave Burgess present to us and he talked to us about his books and his life, he also talked to us about when he was a teacher, his kids, and much more.  Our class was very lucky to have him talk to us.  
On Wednesday when Dave Burgess talked to us he was very energetic when he was speaking to our class, he seemed very excited to talk to our class.  Also, he was very kind his words were very strong and caring, and they were very inspiring words.  Well he was speaking to us he seemed very happy throughout the whole presentation.  Dave Burgess talked to us about his kids and what grades they were in, he has a daughter in 9th grade which is a freshman and he has a son that is a junior in 11th grade, he told us what they like to do and much more about his kids.  Also, he talked to us about when he was a teacher and if he liked being and author or a teacher better.
There were many things that I learned when our class talked to Dave Burgess.  One thing I learned that Dave Burgess said was that “If you can speak and write well you can change the world” this was one of my favorite things that he said because of how true it is.  The theme while talking to Dave was everything is possible because he said if your good at writing and speaking then you can change the world.  Technology in our classroom has benefited us a lot and gives us such a lucky chance to talk to some very special and important people.  We are very lucky to get the opportunity to talk to these authors and other people around the world.
One thing I heard that stuck in my head well talking to Dave was when he said “If you can speak and write well you can change the world” this was very inspiring and was one of my most favorite things that he said well talking to out class.  Dave is very inspiring and energetic, he was very nice and caring and he was very honest well he was talking, I loved talking to him and being able to have the chance to talk to Dave was awesome.  His words were so strong and meant alot!  Dave Burgess was a very AWESOME speaker to our class!!!!!

Student #6

A very inspirational and successful speaker  talked to our class on wednesday. He talked to us using Google Hangout. His name is David Burgess, Dave is from San Diego California and he is a publisher and educator, he is also a famous speaker. He joined us to talk to us about how he became successful and to answer questions we had about him.
Dave Burgess is a very energetic, humble, inspirational and resilient man. During his presentation he said, “if you are a good communicator you can become successful… never quit.” these are the words of a very resilient and inspiring man. Also throughout the presentation he kept the mood very humble and kind he also made sure there was a humorous touch. He told us that he has a wife and is from San Diego.
During this presentation I learned that to become successful you need to have good communication skills and also you can never give up no matter what. The idea of this whole presentation was just to follow your dreams and to never quit. And the theme is in life people struggle with problems and try to solve them, because he talks about not giving up and in order not to give up you need to solve your problems. Technology has changed the feel of our classroom a lot for example without the technology of google hangout we would have never heard Dave Burgess talk to us. Also we are constantly getting tweets on our classroom that allow us to connect with other educators and stay open minded.
One quote that has stuck with me after this presentation is never give up. I would tell other students that Dave Burgess is an amazing speaker that is very humble and inspirational.

Student #7

Dear Readers,

On Wednesday, December 6th my class and I got the chance to talk to Dave Burgess. Dave Burgess is an author and a co-owner of a publishing company. Dave was all the way in California while we were in New York.The way we were talking was over a GHO and it was pretty cool.Dave joined us to talk to us about what we should be prepared for and about himself.He has been following us on our class twitter page and we got to know him pretty well so he decided to talk to us.
Dave Burgess is a very energetic, knowledgeable, caring, thinker, and determined.The mood of the entire interview was inspirational because he was telling us how to do business with the tools we have.Like how to use social media to promote ourselves to the public.Some background information he gave us is about how he started his career.The information he gave us is how he started as a teacher.Then someone said he should write a book about his ways he teaches, but he didn't like the way the publishing company was.As a result of that he created his own publishing company called
Something I learned from the GHO with Dave is that if I can speak and write well than I can change the world. One of the central ideas of the interview was how to spread your idea. One thing he said that stuck out to me was “If you have an idea, if you have the ability to speak well, to write well, you can CHANGE THE WORLD!”. Technology has changed the classroom by connecting us to people around the world who we have things in common.We have gotten feedback from the people that follow us on twitter and that has helped around the classroom.
One thing I heard that stuck with me is “If you have an idea, if you have the ability to speak well, to write well, you can CHANGE THE WORLD!”. Something I would say to other students and peers about Daves message is that they should take it seriously because this is as true as it gets. So thank you for reading this blog post and goodbye.

Student #8

An Inspiring Day With Dave Burgess

Dear Readers,
On wednesday the 6th on December, we were on a google hangout call with Dave Burgess. He is a author and was a teacher. He writes books about being a pirate and how to be one. He is a uplifting person with a good personality.
Dave Burgess is a outgoing, energetic, and kind person. Dave was telling us stories, he gave us advise, and told us about his books. We were talking to him and he was talking back to us, we listened to everything he was saying and took it serious. He wasn’t all fun and games the whole time. Of course he was serious and gave us knowledge.
We learned from him to make the right choices. He was talking to us right from his backyard! A quote that stuck with me, or made me think was,“If you have an idea, if you speak well, if you write well, you can change the world!” Technology has changed life in the classroom and the world. Technology in the classroom has changed us, for example we talk to people across the world. We can contact people across the world, and send things to people. This is a good experience for us.
This was a good experience for all of us. We really appreciate it. We learned cool things from that day. I think we can all say we enjoyed this. Dave Burgess said a lot of very inspiring things to us that stuck with us and will stick with us. We created a great memory!

Sincerely, A Student

Student #9

Dear Reader,
There are many people who look at life as a challenge to overcome, others see it as an impossible game that they can’t win.  People like Dave Burgess take the time to help others and to inspire those who need it.  Dave had many opportunities to fall under peer pressure in his career and now he is living a happy life with his family in California because of his determination of his career.  Dave skyped us and told us some of his stories about motivation to inspire us to continue doing what we are good at.
Dave had a tone of caring and experience helping people that need it.  Dave related his topics to previous times in his life and of his teaching experiences.  Dave was humorous while delivering a serious presentation.  He was a wonderful storyteller and included many emotions while telling them.
The central idea is to persevere even when you want to give up and continue to affect those around you positively.  A quote that he said was,”If you have an idea, if you have the ability to speak well, to write well, you can change the world.”  He uses this quote to inspire people to use their situations to their advantage.  Everybody who has made a difference in the world has done so with words and their voice.
Dave Burgess has taught me to try to speak out even if others don’t agree with you.  Dave has had an influence on so many people’s lives and made a difference in the world.  To all you out there, if brought the opportunity to meet him you should embrace it and learn from him.

Student #10

Dear Readers,

Recently, me and my fellow classmates have had the amazing opportunity to chat with Dave Burgess. Dave Burgess has created his own company which is now outselling all of the big company’s. Dave was talking to us right in his backyard thanks to technology. We had used Google Hangouts to talk with him all the way from California To New York. Dave chose to present to us to tell us his story of how he went from teacher to millionaire.  
Dave was very fun to watch present. He made his presentation exciting by being energetic and crazy. He would start to talk about a topic and get really worked up about it and that made the presentations a lot more fun. When Dave was being energetic, he was making us more energetic and happy. He made the whole classroom happy and upbeat. Dave told us a lot about his own life. He told us about his career before he  made his own business. He told us about how he was a teacher and what he used to do in his classroom with his kids. He also told us about what he would do at the conferences that he went to.
Dave taught a lot to me and the rest of the class. “If you have a idea, if you have the ability to speak well, to write well, Than you can change to world.” This is one of my favorite quotes. It’s telling us that no matter what you're conditions you can change to world. If your family is poor, you can write articles for the paper and get yourself out to the world. He also taught us to persevere. It took him a long time to make his company and make it big. And through this whole time, he never gave up.
One major theme that popped into my head over and over again was, everyone has the power to change the world. One of the most amazings things about this talk with Dave was how we were talking to each other even though we are in NY and Dave lives in California. This was possible thanks to the technology, we used GHO (Google Hangouts) to talk with him. And in our classroom we also use Twitter to talk with other people all around the world. We have a friend in the Philippines who we sent presents back and forth to, we also have a friend who lives in Australia. We chat with these people all the time thanks to the internet.
Dave taught me many things, but something that will stick with me for a while is, no matter what the circumstances, you can change the world. Dave was a amazing person with a amazing personality and I’m so glad that he could devote a half hour to talking with us. Thank you Dave Burgess for taking your time to talk with us and change my perspective on so many different things.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Social Media Mentors & Models

What Footprint Are You Leaving?

Dear Readers,

Have you ever Googled yourself? What would you find? 

After hearing Dave Burgess speak, my students and I started talking about social media. He made a fantastic point.

"It's about building communities and connecting with people."

It reminded me of another powerful message heard earlier this year when coach and motivational speaker, Scott Fitch, came to speak during a school wide Morning Meeting.  He too spoke about the power of using social media to make connections and build a positive profile of yourself.

On the other hand, Coach Fitch also talked about the repercussions of posting without thinking and the negative profile you might be building. He told us stories of students who were denied jobs, scholarships or admission to universities because of what was found on their "digital footprint".

After his presentation, I thought about something he had said, how he had Googled his players' names to see what kind of social media trail they were leaving behind. Out of curiosity, I decided to Google a few of my students. Luckily, nothing inappropriate showed up.

As middle school students will, some of my 8th graders turned the tables around and decided to search me out! It led to an extremely interesting and fun class last Friday. We had a modified schedule and therefore only a 20 minute class period. What I thought was going to be a lesson in blogging turned into a lesson in social media. 

One of the students commented that she tried to find me and stumbled across my Twitter feed. I asked if she looked at it and she said yes. My comment was, I post knowing students, parents, administrators and colleagues have access to it. I always think before I post anything. What I suggested, actually, was that she check out our class Twitter page. The primary focus is our classroom, it might be more interesting for her.

My Facebook page was also brought up. My response was it is locked pretty tightly, it is not accessible to the public and I rarely share on it. Perhaps once a month I might add something. It's primary use is really for me to follow others and see the photos of their lives. Therefore, I choose to keep it private.

Just in those two examples, they were able to see a model of a platform I keep private and one that is open to the public. 

This prompted one of the other students to image search me. Much to my amazement a ton of profile pictures popped up! She was searching through them and asked me about them. I explained anytime I change my picture or someone adds my picture to a guest blog post, etc. then I am associated with it. 

I noticed one of my students holding up his phone and his eyes darting back and forth between me and the screen. Finally, I said what? He said, I was trying to figure out if this was you or not." I said, "Bring it over here." Much to my surprise, this is what I found.......

I had completely forgotten about this! I admitted, yes it was. They were commenting on how blonde my hair was, which was entertaining, and naturally the crown on my head. I said that was a funny story. I was recognized a few years ago as a Champion of Literacy by an intervention company and was presented with the crown, a certificate and flowers at a faculty meeting (arranged by the company) that I knew nothing about. In addition to this, there was a small write-up in the local paper and I was entered into a contest to receive a free trip to the conference. The catch was, I had to post a picture wearing the crown and with the flowers and certificate. The focus was not on the recognition, but rather the embarrassing moment at the faculty meeting and then a colleague bringing in the newspaper with my photo.

What a natural way to not only build relationships, but grab onto a completely, 100%, real-life teachable moment. 

I let them do a little investigative work. Then a student asked me about this.......

I told her it was a profile. She asked me about "She, Her, Hers". I explained they are pronouns I identify myself with. Some people are born into a female body and identify as female or a male body and identify as male. However, some people are born into a female body and identify as male or a male body and identify as female. It caused the class to pause and think. Then one student said, I was born female and identify as female and another said I was born male and identify as male. That was as far as our conversation went because the class period ended at that moment.

As a Language & Literature Teacher, Reading Specialist and Speech Therapist, I see myself as a positive role model for reading, writing, speaking, building language and vocabulary, as well as listening. I realized, more than ever, that I am also a positive role model for social media. 

This weekend, I decided to Google image search myself and just in the first batch of photos there were 77 that I immediately recognized as either profile pictures, Tweets I have posted, posters I have created for various reasons and visuals from my classroom. In the second batch I counted 22 images. That is a total of 99 images that immediately came up associated with my name. (Of course, they were dispersed among others having no connection to me, but I was still a little shocked at that number.) 

There is power in using social media. I personally believe, it is part of my job to integrate it as much as possible into our classroom. Getting our class Twitter page off the ground took work, patience and instruction for my students. However we have made connections that would have been impossible! Not just "one and done", but have built relationships that have lasted for a couple of years! They have had the opportunity to participate in a live chat moderated by students in a town within New York State. How cool is that? They have received postcards from the Philippines! I am so grateful for the amazing educators who have allowed us to be part of their classrooms and lives.

In reality, I taught myself most of what I have learned. I was that motivated and determined to figure "it out". 

However, I decided to pull out any professional resource I owned that even mentioned the use of social media and this is what I came up with.......

Those are 14 titles that encourage educators to "get in the game" and become connected educators. Of course, my mind automatically then grouped these in two more piles.......

On the left are resources that support social media with students in some way or fashion, on the right are books geared more towards adults. As Dave Burgess says in Twitter Tip #127, it is our responsibility to become "digital citizens" and share our stories!

"You have amazing ideas and experiences that are unique to you and your path as an educator. And what you have to add to the conversation may be exactly what someone needs to hear. Share everything!"

"We change lives. We literally save lives. We need your contributions. We need you to share your special perspective and to add your voice to this ongoing discussion centered on transforming the world into a better place. We are so glad you're here!"

I shared this belief with my students. I told them how Dave encourages educators to share and have a voice in their field. I told them you need to do the same. You are important. You have ideas. You have a voice. It needs to be heard! Would my message be as strong if I was not out there doing it myself? Why should my kids blog if I myself am not blogging? Why should my kids listen to me about positive digital footprints if I myself have little to no knowledge of the world of social media?

A page in P is for Pirate Inspirational ABC's for Educators by Dave & Shelley Burgess that resonates with me, is the "C" is for crew.

In the amazing and connected world we live in today, why would we choose to not share? To not connect? To not collaborate? To remain isolated? 

Our students live in a world where what used to be the impossible (or very far fetched) is now possible. The walls of classrooms and schools extend world wide. They have access to unlimited resources. So do we. If we take the jump, be risk-takers and dive in. There is an entire world waiting for us.

I hope you take some time to look at these wonderful resources on becoming connected educators and bringing the world of social media into your classrooms. Just try one thing! You will be amazed how much you will love it.


Friday, December 8, 2017

It Was My World That I Created

Honest Teaching Reflection

Dear Readers,

As some of you may know, I have been implementing Gamification into my 8th grade Language & Literature Class. Much to my dismay, they were not jumping on board as much as I had hoped. After reflecting on the past couple of weeks I figured out why.

I made it about me and not them. 

What I realized was that I was so excited because....

  • I chose a theme I loved.
  • I chose the theme based on what I could do in the classroom.
  • I chose the characters.
  • I chose the badges.
  • I made the theme come to life.
  • I asked them to step inside my world.

That pronoun "I" drove my creativity. (I cringe when I see that.)

Not being one to give up so easily, I asked them if they would be willing to try again if I allowed them to......

  • Create a world they wanted to "play" in.
  • Create the characters to that world.
  • Create the badges.
  • Make the theme come to life.

I would still create challenges inside their world.

To my delight, they agreed. Every single one of them.

We decided that I would spend the next come of months embedding problem solving, collaboration and critical thinking into our instructional lessons to help prepare them in using those skills and strategies during challenges and tasks.

Using our science fiction unit as inspiration, they will create the Gamified World.

At times our excitement and passion can over shadow what is really important......our students. 

I look forward to revisiting Gamification again soon! Stay tuned!


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Real World Wisdom from the Pirate Himself

"You Can Change the World!"

Dear Readers,

What do you say when a best selling author and inspiration to your teaching craft offers to spend 30 minutes with your 8th grade Language & Literature students?

There are no words. It is truly a priceless opportunity. Words cannot express the sincere and heartfelt thanks to Dave for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with us. 

As educators, we want to create special moments to share with our students. What makes them precious is that shared moment in time that you will all remember. Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate and co-owner of Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc., gave that to us yesterday. 

What did one my students have to say about it?

"He is the coolest pirate I have ever met."

I would have to agree with him. 

In Language & Literature we talk about storytelling and the power it has to connect people and build relationships. It helps us to be empathetic, see the world through different perspectives and to want to make a difference in the lives of others. 

I believe in the power of writing. In standing up for what you believe to be true. Finding your voice and helping others find theirs. To be the voice for those who are unable to speak for themselves. 

I believe in my students and the ability they have to change the world, both in the present and future. Words of support and encouragement are spoken daily in our classroom. They know I think the world of them and praise them for being themselves and not changing because someone else wants them to. If people do not like you the way you are, it is their loss.

That is exactly what Dave told them as well.

One of the most powerful statements he made to them, which is now hanging on our wall, was, "If you have an idea. If you have the ability to speak well, to write well, you can change the world!" 

Another memorable moment was when he spoke about creating a PD session for teachers. "There are going to be all kinds of times in your life.....when people tell you that you can't do something or can't accomplish can be like oh yeah you're probably right and give up.....or you can be tell me I can't do what I'm gonna do now!"

My students GOT it! Today we discussed some of the topics that were brought up during the GHO and it really helped bring us together as a class. Middle School can be such a difficult time for our students and it is occassions like this that really create a pathway for tackling tough conversations.

Of course, being in my classroom, we are now going to write about this incredible experience! As they get ready to blog, here are some of the thoughtful reflections they made today:

What character traits would you use to describe Dave?
  • kind
  • risk-taker
  • intelligent
  • out-going
  • energetic
  • inspirational
  • knowledgable
  • motivated

What was the mood (how you felt) while listening?
  • happy
  • uplifted
  • grateful
  • determined

What was the tone (how Dave felt) while speaking?
  • humorous
  • excited

What was the central idea of Dave's message?
  • "You can change the world!" 
  • "Be yourself!" 
  • "Never give up!" 
  • "If people don't accept you for who you are, it's their loss."

What motivates Dave?
  • family
  • educators
  • other publishing companies

As I was looking at the photos I took, I was overcome with emotion. Seeing my students laughing, smiling and so happy.......holding our therapy dog Lucy so she could be in the photo too.......with a smiling Dave Burgess in the background.......I was reminded why I love what I do. How blessed I am to be part of their young lives every single day. It's moments like this that make everything worth it.  

Much gratitude to Dave. Wishing you and your family a happy holiday season and best wishes for the new year. You and Shelley are truly change makers.

(Student blogs will be coming soon!)