Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Teacher Feature – Steve Ahn

This week’s Teacher Feature is Steve Ahn. Steve and I worked together many years in SC and I remember how much the students loved him. Recently our paths crossed again and I was very interested in shining the light on him! I hope you enjoy learning more about Steve and what he is teaching now.

1.     What is your official title(s) and what services do you provide? 
Secondary Teacher - Holston High School, Damascus VA, Life sciences

2.     Would you describe your school setting? 
Rural - 300 students 9-12, this area was formerly tobacco and coal mining, but suffers from a lack of opportunity right now similar to a lot of Appalachia. 50% free lunch, 61% free/reduced 

3.     How long have you been teaching? 
21 years I think 

4.     What ages/grades/subject did you teach prior to this current assignment? 
I've taught middle and high school science - biology, ecology, physics, anatomy, earth science, physical science, oceanography 

5.     What inspired you to become a teacher?
My high school physics teacher 

6.     What is the best thing that a student has ever said to you? 
I have received the most amazing compliments through the years - the most impactful ones are those that come back years later and say something like "not only were you the best teacher I ever had, but you saw me as more than just a student - you saw me as a human"

7.     What do you feel is the most difficult thing about teaching? 
Pressure from high stakes testing and then just culture issues (like poverty) in our students 

8.     What do you feel is the best thing about teaching? 
Never the same day twice and one is fighting the good fight 

9.     What is the biggest issue in education that you wish the state or federal government would address and why? 
So called "accountability" that only looks at one metric - standardized tests - we do not even attempt to collect real data like "how useful was x teacher or x course or x school to student y's long term success as a functioning well adjusted citizen?" 

10.  What piece of advice would you give to a new teacher just starting out in their career?
Believe in the philosophy of education and recognize that public schools are somewhat sick right now ... public schools do a lot of things that run antithesis to actual education

11.  If money was no object, what would you want for your school to help the students you serve be more successful? 
What I really want would take no money at all. Just freedom from inappropriate and inaccurate accountability.

The other thing I want (which does take money) is to be able to do many many field trips.

12.  If you could have anybody in the world visit your school (alive or dead), who would it be?
No one really comes to mind - I would love to see my good friend Pat Hensley come by and we could catch up and talk education :) 

Thank you to Steve for this interview. I can’t wait to come up your way to visit and catch up on everything!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Back of the Book Blurb #49 Challenge

From Sioux's PageSioux offers this challenge.

She posts a picture and you need to imagine it as a graphic for a book. You choose the genre and book title, and then write a blurb that might appear on the back of the book.

The blurb should be 150 words or less (not including the title).
The genre is wide-open.
Each blogger should include their blurb on their own blog, and link back to this post.
Have fun with it. Go to the other posts and comment on the other blurbs. 
You can do fancy techy things with the photo.

(Join in if you dare...! It sounds like fun! I think this would be a lot of fun to do with students especially since they would be expected to write 150 words or less!)

The Magic Camera

Ellie’s new phone camera was supposed to bring joy into your life. She needed more joy in her life. Since her husband passed away, all she could feel was sad and depressed. When the new phone camera arrived, she couldn’t wait to give it a try! Whenever she framed something in the screen, it didn’t show exactly what she was seeing. Instead, it showed the way the object looked in its early years, before it ever saw hard times or struggled to survive. The old lady looked like a happy baby when she took the picture. The old dead oak tree looked like a young sapling with new growth. The shaggy gray dog looked like a young pup full of energy and excitement. Ellie couldn’t wait to travel with the camera and see what adventures it would take her on! Come join her for a trip of a lifetime! (149 words)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 2/24/17

Here are some interesting sites that I’ve found this week, thanks to my PLN. As a teacher, I feel we have to keep up to date concerning research in our field and current issues in the education system. I hope some of these inspire you, inform you, and even have you asking questions. Thank you for coming by and visiting!

Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels:  E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

Games Planet Arcade – “This arcade is a portal to games and interactive activities focused on ocean and air themes. It highlights the science and the activities of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other agencies and organizations promoting environmental stewardship. (L:G; SA:S)

The Art of Storytelling – from Pixar in a Box; “This topic is an exploration of the storytelling process at Pixar.” (L:G; SA:LA)

ClassTools Hexagon Generator – “Hexagon learning allows students to identify links between factors very effectively. Students categorise and link factors together for deeper understanding of the relationship between factors.(L:G; SA:A)

American Timelines Poster – “C‑SPAN Classroom is delighted to offer our new American Presidents Timeline poster – available only to C‑SPAN Classroom members. This colorful 6' long poster details the lives and public service careers of every president, plus key historical events, Supreme Court cases, Constitutional Amendments, and technology milestones throughout history. (L:G; SA:SS)

Presidential Historians Survey – “As the nation marks Presidents Day 2017, C-SPAN is releasing the results of its third Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership, in which a cross-section of 91 presidential historians ranked the 43 former occupants of the White House on ten attributes of leadership.” (L:H; SA:SS)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dealing with Behavior

“What are your best tips for dealing with problem behaviors?”

I feel the best way to deal with behavior is preventative rather than reactive.

I assess my students before teaching so I can find out what their instructional level is. Then I teach them at that point so this might mean students are doing different lessons at the same time. I feel that if students aren’t bored, they are engaged in learning and less likely to misbehave.

I believe in using Universal Design for Learning and look at the individual needs of my students. Some have different learning styles and I try to incorporate activities so that the students have some choices in how I assess their learning. Students complete more assignments this way and are more successful in the classroom. When students feel successful, they tend to misbehave a lot less.

I also like using some kind of token economy system where they receive rewards for working and are fined for not. That is what happens in the real world when we get a job so why not simulate what will happen in the real world. Students like to feel they are earning something for their hard work and can use their rewards to trade for something that they want. But I also believe that they should get docked pay if they are late or don’t follow directions (just like on a real job) or get fined if they break the rules (just like getting a speeding ticket).

I also think students misbehave to get my attention so I have small square foam blocks. One side is red and the other is green. If they need help, they turn the block to “red” on the corner of their desk. Once I help them, I turn it over to green. In this way, no student is having to watch and wait for me while I help another student and can continue on their work until I come to their desk. Students seem to like this system and it works really well.

The biggest thing that I do is that I stay in contact with their parents. I mostly brag about their good behavior so they are getting attention for behaving well. I try to call at least every other week and since I call often, these calls are short and to the point. Parents appreciate that I touch base with them and they are so happy to hear good news. Unfortunately there are times I have to call about problem behaviors but by then I have established a rapport with the students and their parents. Parents are very supportive at this point and we usually can correct the problem easily.

How do you handle problem behaviors? Please share.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Writing Behavioral Objectives

Recently I was in a discussion with another teacher about writing behavioral objectives. I thought I would share how I write objectives for my students.

Every objective should contain the following: a condition, a target behavior, a criterion and a time frame.

A condition is what the students are given such as:
·      When given a list of 20 sight words…
·      When given a story prompt…
·      Given 20 math problems with addition and subtraction…
·      Given a reading sample written on a 4th grade level…

A target behavior is what I want the student to do. This behavior must be observable and measureable such as:
·      The student will say…
·      The student will write…
·      The student will compute…
·      The student will answer comprehension questions…

A criterion is how I want to measure this behavior such as:
·      18 out of 20 words accurately…
·      5 sentences using capital letters and punctuation with 85% accuracy
·      8 out of 10 problems accurately
·      with 90% accuracy

A time frame is when I want this objective to be achieved such as:
·      By the end of the semester.
·      By the annual review date.
·      In 18 weeks.
·      By the end of the first quarter.

A complete behavioral objective would look like the following:
·      When given a list of 20 sight words, the student will say 18 out of 20 words accurately by the end of the semester.
·      When given a story prompt, the student will write 5 sentences using capital letters and punctuation with 85% accuracy by the end of the first quarter.
·      Given 20 math problems with addition and subtraction, the student will compute 8 out of 10 problems accurately in 18 weeks.
·      Given a reading sample written on a 4th grade level, the student will answer comprehension questions with 90% accuracy by the annual review date.
·      Given 3 specific tasks, the student will complete all of them 3 out of 4 times accurately.

Do you write behavioral objectives? Please share!