A Reflection on My Introduction to Objectives and Standards

Hello everyone!

Wow, this week was a doozy for me! I walked into this week knowing absolutely nothing about making a lesson plan, and I have walked out with my behind thoroughly kicked into shape! I was told in the virtual classroom that we needed to lay down a solid ground for this next module by doing the very best we could this week. I hope and pray that I did just that!

Here’s what I did this week:

Activity 1: Let’s backwards map some standards!

I was thrilled to finally read what the Common Core standards are for English. They’re totally do-able! I still don’t like Common Core, but I do like the specific and orderly standards they’ve created for the 9th and 10th grades. For this assignment, I had to start with two standards of my choice and then map my whole lesson around those two standards. Since I’m going to be an English teacher, I knew that, for myself, I had to truly start off with a book. Which one to teach? The Good Earth came quickly to mind, since i absolutely adore both the book and the film (and it’s on the reading list! Huzzah!). Next, I chose two standards which I knew I could easily apply to The Good Earth: one dealing with teaching the overall theme, and the other with comparing two similar works (the book and the movie, in my case). Everything lined up quite easily after that. I chose some of my favorite activities as the student performances: a reading journal, a short research paper, a comparative essay about the film and book, and a final group project (creativity is key!). Deciding which teaching methods to use was hard, since I had trouble finding a certain component of this lesson. Yet, I think what I chose works well. I’ve always been a fan of group discussions, since it garners participation points and allows students to freely speak their minds. I always appreciated teachers who would let us talk, so I’m hoping my students find that refreshing. I’m also hoping that using culturally relevant videos, explaining the turn of the century customs of China, counts as a teaching method. I know those kids are going to be confused on certain parts, so the least I can do is introduce them to these new and exciting things (or not so exciting, as would be the case when it comes to the ancient art of foot-binding… eww).

Anyway, as I mentioned before, this activity really introduced me to the amount of work it takes to really align standards with what you want to teach. I personally like having those standards there; otherwise, I wouldn’t know what to model my lessons around! I really like this approach to making lesson-plans.

Activity 2: Unpacking standards

I had a bit of trouble understanding this one, even though I was part of a group. Since we only had two standards, the other two ladies kind of jumped on doing one each, which left me with writing the introduction as well as organizing the prezi to look graphically aligned and nice (I’m an OCD artist here XD). Anyway, though I wasn’t as deep in the text as they were, I did learn something from this assignment: unpacking a standard can become very redundant, at times. To really unpack a standard, one must dissect it into its smallest parts. Sometimes, these parts appear to overlap. For example, take a look at this, taken from our prezi:

1. Students will analyze what the text says explicitly.
2. Students will draw inferences from the text.
3. Students will cite textual evidence to support analysis of what is said explicitly in the text using MLA format.
4. Student will cite textual evidence to support inferences drawn from text using MLA format.

See what I mean? Each part of the standard must be drawn out and explicitly stated. This is a good thing, I truly believe so. Yet, I know that, if I ever unpack a standard for my future work as a teacher, it won’t exactly be done in this way. I guess it’s just the way I think, but it felt like we were over-doing it for this project so that we would not be under-doing it in the real world.

Activity 3: Applying objectives to a standard

If Activity 1 alerted me to the amount of work necessary to get the job done, then Activity 3 whooped me into shape. The devil is in the details for this work, and I got rather frustrated with this. I first attempted to do this assignment by using one of the broader standards, the one dealing with understanding and analyzing the overall themes. I thought that I needed to write objectives for that standard for a unit, on the whole. It didn’t quite work out. The objectives were too big, even if they were specific. I now regret that I didn’t save them on another document so that I could’ve put them on here, as a kind of compare and contrast. Well, let me tell you who set me straight: my best friend, who is also training to be a teacher. She’s studying at UGA, and her teacher is putting her through the wringer. Likewise, she put my prezi through the wringer, and boy, was I unhappy afterwards. Basically, I had to scrap the standard that I had been working with and choose something more specific. My friend suggested that I focus on just one lesson, not a unit, since it’s a lot easier to create objectives that are measurable for a lesson (not that it can’t be done for a unit, but since I’m a new, untested teacher, it’s better that I stick to the small stuff). From there, I worked on a lesson dealing with comparing and contrasting the film and original book of The Good Earth. Once I narrowed my choices down, it was much easier to create SMART objectives for that standard. My friend also made sure that I was super specific about what would be used to demonstrate that students were meeting the standard (the short, comparative essay) and how many essays there were (beforehand, she said, it seemed like there was one essay per objective, which was definitely not my intention!). All in all, I’m rather pleased with the final product, and I feel so grateful to my best friend for critiquing my work and making it much better than before.

Since I’ve never written a real lesson plan in my whole life, this is definitely going to be one module to remember! I’m hoping that my efforts during this first week will pay off in the end. 🙂

Rules, Norms, and Procedures in My Future Classroom

Hey everybody!

So, this week, I’ve been asked to do some hard thinking about what rules I’m going to have in my future classroom. Now, since I’ll be teaching high school students, I don’t feel like I need to make my rules as detailed and as foolproof as I would need to for elementary school students. My students will be older, more mature (though not wholly so), so I believe that I can, at least, make a few assumptions about how much they know about good behavior. Therefore, without further ado, here are my rules as addressed towards my students. They are not in any particular order at this point since I’m still feeling my way about 🙂

My general rules:

  • Swear/curse/racially sensitive/generally offensive words are only acceptable when discussing the use of such words in literature. I, as the teacher, will let the class know before hand when such words will be discussed during class. Other than in those instances, offensive language is prohibited. If you have any questions as to whether or not a word is offensive, please speak to me in private. If the question is during class, please indicate that your question is of a sensitive nature, and I’ll see what I can do. Other than that, offensive language of any nature and directed at any person is not allowed. [NOTE TO INSTRUCTOR FROM TEACH-NOW: Because this rule has some exceptions, I have included this in the general rules. I don’t want to be inconsistent, as the Teach-NOW book indicated, so that’s why I put this rule here 🙂 ]
  • Homework will be deposited and retrieved from the two appropriately labeled bins near the front of the classroom. Each bin contains a folder for each individual student, so that neither you, my students, nor I have to hunt for your work. Each morning that I assign homework or classwork, it is to be turned in to the “To Be Graded” bin and put into your folder. After I’ve graded your assignments, I will deposit them into the “Already Graded” bin for you to retrieve. Hopefully, I will have your assignments graded at roughly the same speed as you turn them in, so each morning, you will first turn in your homework and then pick up your graded papers from the other bin. The bins are duly separated by some distance to minimize the early morning crowding which is sure to happen 🙂
  • To minimize class disruptions, you will use hand signals to indicate why you need to leave the room. For the bathroom, you need only raise one finger (the index finger and no other). For your locker, raise your index finger and middle ringer (give me the peace sign). Finally, for the nurse or any other sort of emergency, raise your index finger, middle finger and ring finger together and just head for the door. Please know, though, that I will send someone after you to make sure that you are ok, should you do this. This last signal is not to be taken lightly. Please note, though, that for the bathroom and locker, you must wait for my acknowledgment (a nod of my head or other similar gesture in your direction) before you leave. You are to take with you one of the two laminated hall passes hanging by the door.
  • Conduct during discussions/ class time: Participation in class discussions and interactive lectures is expected of each student. Each student is to comment at least two times each class period in which an official class discussion or interactive lecture is enacted. Such comments are to be relevant and thoughtful. Further, if the discussion turns into a lively debate, students are not to attack each other or each other’s respective beliefs.

My Non-Negotiables:

  • Conduct during drills: Students are to obey the student handbook in accordance with all rules about all drills.
  • No derogatory language of any sort (see above rule about swear words for exceptions).
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • I have zero tolerance for bullying. 

Now, of course the question that follows is how am I going to teach and reinforce these rules? Well, as the Teach NOW book by McLeod told us this week, I need to start from the very beginning of the school year and teach the procedures and rules along with teaching actual class content. It’s so much easier to have everything spelled out for you in the beginning than to have to stumble your way through a school year. Therefore, I plan on giving my students a syllabus WITH a schedule for the whole semester. A new syllabus will be handed out every half semester. By doing so, this allows for easier changes to the schedule and makes for less paperwork that the students have to lug around. I’m giving them such a detailed syllabus because I loved knowing exactly when everything was due when I was in college. Since I believe that knowledge is power, I can only believe that I am empowering my students by keeping them completely informed as to what the general schedule is for the semester. That syllabus will also, of course, contain all the rules and procedures by which I desire my students to abide. Though we will go over the syllabus in detail during the first day of class, I will also have creative posters on display to remind students of what is expected. As far as really teaching them, though, I think that making a video would be really fun. I’d love to combine a little rudimentary animation along with some acting contributed by my other teacher friends to create a funny yet helpful and completely valid video for my students to enjoy. I wouldn’t even show the video in class. Since I’ve taken such a shining to the “flipped classroom” model, I’m thinking about, for the first day of school, first doing a quick overview of the syllabus and what I want to accomplish during the year and then, for homework, assigning the video. Not only would it make the quiz over the video the next day even easier to pass (since the video would be so memorable), but hopefully, my message will stick a little more since it will be presented so cleverly.

Of course, not everything can be syllabi and videos. When it comes down to it, I’ll have to be modeling the desired behavior as well as strictly yet gently enforcing it throughout the year. Since my rules are few and cover mostly the basics, I think that the only ones that might be a problem are behavioral in nature. How do I police for bullying? How do I deal with students who just don’t care? Please, let me be honest: I’ve never had a real class before all to myself. I’ve worked with younger kids mostly, and I know how much of a handful they can be. I only have vague memories of high school, and that’s my desired age range. Honestly, I think some of my most important rules will be developed when I do my practicum. I realize that these rules are, at the moment, insufficient. There aren’t that many, they don’t cover a lot, and they’re rather idealistic. These rules are probably better geared towards college kids than towards high schoolers for all I know, but I don’t want to just give up an idea until I’ve tested it.

So, I guess, for the moment, there you have it! Those are my basics, stripped to the bone. They’re the most important aspects of my classroom that I can think of right now, and I know they’ll be built upon in the future.

Bye! 😀

Oh, uh, here:

Have an awesome poster that I, too, need to get my hands on.

magikarp garidos


A Reflection on High Expectations

Hey everybody 🙂 It’s been a little while.

So, I’m back this week to talk about what it means to have high expectations for students, which includes using goal-setting (to help them succeed) and helping them achieve pride in their work.

According to our required study for this unit, high expectations are essential for the mental and emotional health of students. Why is this? Well, according to some studies mentioned in Teach NOW’s The Art and Science of Teaching, students who have high expectations placed upon them by teachers typically do better than students from whom not as much is expected (Marzano, 2007, p. 163-165). This doesn’t surprise me, and to me, is almost self-evident. I would call this phenomena in layman’s terms a self-fulfilling prophesy. The self-fulfillment part, in this case, applies to both the student and the teacher. If the teacher expects much out of the student and the student is aware of that, then the student will naturally do as the teacher expects. I use myself as an example. Not to brag, but, as my teachers determined my capabilities, they made known to me that I could go far in life, should I choose to do so. Other students, typically branded as “gifted” or “special,” also received similar remarks. This put the thought in my heart that I shouldn’t let my teachers down; they wanted me to do well, so I should. On the other hand, if my teachers had passed me by as “unremarkable” or as “normal,” I might not have felt so driven to do as much as I did. Labels are powerful things. They can stick with you for the rest of your life. In this case, for this module, I needed to learn how to powerfully label ALL students as “gifted” and “special,” as someone from whom much is expected and nothing less than the best will be accepted. Now THAT is a label I want to stick to someone and stay stuck to them forever 🙂

So how does one pull it off? Again, The Art and Science of Teaching nails the ever present problem of teacher bias on the head. Teachers are, after all, human (right? Mrs. Frizzle?), and are therefore highly emotional creatures. Nothing we do as humans, no “logical” thought in our head, can ever be devoid of emotion on some level (Marzano, 2007, p.162-165). This aspect of humanity was made clear through a study on the Affective Domain for the group project in which I participated this week. According to the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (an odd place to find what I was looking for, to be sure), the Affective Domain comprises of several layers of emotional attachment and understanding one attaches to any piece of knowledge acquired. NAGT states this about how it hopes students will use the Affective Domain:

“If we are striving to apply the continuum of Krathwohl et al. to our teaching, then we are encouraging students to not just receive information at the bottom of the affective hierarchy. We’d like for them to respond to what they learn, to value it, to organize it and maybe even to characterize themselves as science students, science majors or scientists” (Kirk).

This valuing, characterizing, and organizing are things teachers do to students, often times inadvertently and innocently (Marzano, 2007, p. 162). A student might have an annoying voice (in the teacher’s mind), so the teacher doesn’t ask the student to speak up much in class. A student reminds a teacher of a hated relative, so the teacher avoids interaction with this student whenever possible (Marzano, 2007, p. 162-163). There are infinite reasons why a teacher might have an emotional dislike for a student; never the less, as this module has taught me, it is our job as teachers to rise above our feelings and to make the conscious decision to treat every student the same.

By giving every student our full attention, by overcoming our own fears and insecurities (and private dislikes), and by setting the bar at the same level for all students, we as teachers can ensure that our classrooms are hotbeds of high expectations (Marzano, 2007, p. 162). Don’t get me wrong; I know this is no easy task. I’m an idealist, so it’s easy for me to just gloss over everything and make it sound like a walk in the park. One of the ways to attain such self-awareness mentioned by the Teach NOW book was to review your own performance after every school day, noting in particular whether or not certain students were treated equally and what could be done next time to bolster their spirits. For me, as a Christian, this isn’t enough. I’m a very self-aware person; it’s just part of my personality. As an introvert, I do a lot of self-reflection, which typically ends up like this:

cat self reflection


(come on guys, you know me! I don’t like doing a post without a picture 🙂 sorry, I know that was random 🙂 oki’mnotsorry

So, anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I don’t get much anywhere just reflecting by myself. As a Christian, I try to give my problems to God (however difficult it may be) so that He can work it out in the way that is best. I want to be the best teacher that I can be and a good example for my students; I can’t do it without Him, and I certainly can’t overcome my own biases and dislikes without divine intervention (trust me, I’ve tried). So, to summarize that part, high expectations are self-fulfilling, and a teacher cannot put high expectations on every student unless they make a conscious effort to treat every student the same.

Next up is goal setting! Man, I learned a LOT about goal setting this week. For our first activity, we had to create a behavioral checklist that we could use in our own classroom if we so choose. At first, I had no idea what a checklist was. I looked at Pinterest, and what I saw there looked totally opposite of what I thought I was supposed to be seeing. Imagine my surprise when I visited a guidance counselor at Birch Elementary and was handed copies of checklists and charts very similar to what I had seen online 😄 Goodness, what a learning experience! That was one of the best interviews I’ve ever conducted during my Teach NOW experience. The counselor was so kind and helpful, and I left with a huge grin on my face. She not only helped me with this project, but also with my tutoring job at Huntington Learning Center! Basically, I learned that one needs to set realistic and achievable goals for students when one wants to encourage correct behavior, whether socially or academically or both. That’s where the checklists come in. They function as a reminder to students of what model behavior looks like as well as an incentive to do the very best that they can. Each checklist is filled with personalized goals that focus on the problem areas for each student. Checked boxes can be turned into prizes for students, so they have an extra incentive for wanting to perform well. Only a small number of boxes are required to be checked each day at first, but as the student grows, the checklist grows as well. More and more is required of the student, but since the student has grown so much already, the new goals are always attainable, as long as the student puts forth consistent effort. For me, this not only helps the students understand the high expectations placed upon them, but also tells them explicitly what is expected of them. This part is all about classroom management, and boy, do I need to learn that!

I’ve already had a taste of classroom management during my tutoring stint at Huntington Learning Center. Though i only tutor one student at a time, my students can be quite a handful. There is one particular student who I tutor who just doesn’t want to work. They get frustrated easily, and though they are too young to understand perfectionism, it is clear to me that they are afflicted with the disease. I ache for the student, for I can see how bright they are and how much they like to learn (albeit, on their own time and in their own way). That’s why the behavioral checklist appeared to me as a gift from God. I’m going to speak to my supervisor about possibly implementing one for this particular student in the hopes that we can help them make some more progress in their studies. Thank you so much, Teach NOW! That activity was literally a life saver!

This leads us into helping students achieve pride in their work. I’ll be honest, I didn’t do that much research about this aspect of helping students during the week. My part of activity 3 concerned a different topic, but I did some research for this blog and found a few interesting tidbits to chew on. First, in my own opinion, unless a student has pride in their work, then they lack motivation entirely. This, I realize, is one of the problems facing my young pupil at Huntington: they lack pride in their work. Within a regular school environment, student pride can be fostered by prominently displaying student work around the classroom and in the hallways. Students can be recognized for their achievements in different areas, and those achievements should be given equal weight to every other achievement (Rourke, Boone). By that, I mean that being the fastest typist during the typing lesson should weigh the same as having the highest grade on the math test. Students have differing skill sets, and those differences should be recognized and celebrated. Further, teachers can couple their high expectations with student achievement by telling students how those high expectations have been achieved AND how the bar has now been set higher. This, in essence, is a combination of all three topics, as now goal-setting has been introduced as well. Basically, all students need is positive and encouraging recognition. This goes so far; honestly, until you try it for yourself, you have no idea how much it can bolster a struggling student. Here’s another story for you:

One of my first pupils at Huntington was always telling me about video games. They talked about how they had beat such and such a game, and how they were now moving onto the next one. They appreciated the fact that I knew what they were talking about, too, so I tried to engage them on this topic in the hopes that I could connect some aspect of gaming to their study material. I was told during a teacher’s meeting that this student spoke about video games so much because they craved recognition. They might not be achieving much in school, but they were making giant leaps in the gaming world. That really touched me. It dawned on me that this means that, no matter how mundane, weird, or uninteresting something is to me, if it makes a kid excited enough to tell me about it with joy on their face, then I need to be excited too. That recognition will make that child’s day, and those early recognized achievements can blossom into greater and greater things to come. In short, never put down something a child shows to you with pride. Recognize their effort, and you’ve recognized their heart, their very soul.

Well, I think I’ve said enough for today. Honestly, this week taught me that I basically have a lot to learn. It whet my whistle to do more research, and left me with more questions than answers. That’s a good thing, really 🙂

Because I tend to be brutally honest when I’m giving a review, I would prefer to email someone about my review for project 3. Please expect an email soon 🙂

Works Cited:

Kirk, K. (n.d.). Student Motivations and Attitudes: The Role of the Affective Domain in Geoscience Learning. Retrieved January 10, 2015, from http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/affective/intro.html

Marzano, R. (2007, January 1). The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction.         Retrieved January 10, 2015, from http://www.teachnowprogram.com/get_help_resources/activity_resources/module4/The_Art_and_Science_of_Teaching.pdf

Rourke, J., & Boone, E. (n.d.). Pride is the First Step. Retrieved January 11, 2015, from http://www.nassp.org/Content.aspx?topic=57645

What’s Your Classroom Climate Like?

Hey everyone! Time for another educational post 🙂

To bring ya’ll up to date, this most recent unit has been about “creating a caring classroom climate” (alluring alliteration, isn’t it?). Basically, as teachers, we should make our classrooms warm and inviting while, at the same time, provide appropriate structure and guidelines to make sure things don’t get out of hand. We also, as teachers, are challenged to be empathetic and compassionate while simultaneously maintaining a professional distance from students. Even as a new teacher with little experience, I know that this is no easy feat.

The children who attend my church are quick, clever, and terribly incorrigible. Tell them not to do something and, of course, they do it. Ask them if they want to do a fun activity, and they emphatically shout, “No!” with a grin. Yet, ask them an age appropriate Bible question, and they nail it. Ask them to explain a passage, and the depth of the response is shocking. Here, therefore, is my struggle: how do I channel that energy, that curiosity which I know lies under that “I don’t care” expression, into something positive and creative while, also, maintaining control of the class?

If I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I’ve seen many different teaching styles, and most of them have taught me what NOT to do. I’ve suffered under teachers who punished more than taught. I think the worst I’ve seen was my poor middle school Chorus teacher, Mrs. P. An accomplished musician, a passionate director, I had so much fun under her direction when everybody else in chorus actually did what she told them. Instead, I think our choir about drove her off the deep end. I remember days where almost nothing was accomplished; we made it through maybe a few verses, just learning one new passage, and that was it. Mrs. P yelled at, shamed, and reasoned with my choir until she was blue in the face. That classroom certainly had a miserable, very tense climate. Due to this experience, I enter my church’s classroom with the full expectation that I will NOT, I repeat, WILL NOT yell at my students. It does nothing but stir up antagonism and prolong the disruption. Yet, as I mentioned before, they are a rowdy bunch. How, then, do I be kind and reasonable without letting the students walk all over me?

Thankfully, Teach NOW has pointed me towards what I should do in order to avoid such a disastrous classroom climate. Therefore, I’m going to share with ya’ll the three classroom management tips that I found the most relevant to me:

1.) You’re the teacher; be the boss. 

Now, that might sound a little weird, but what I mean is that you have got to be in control of your classroom. How does one accomplish this? Make sure that you have established rules and boundaries that students can understand and easily obey (Marzano, 2007, p.150). In short, make sure they know what is expected of them at all times. I read or heard from somewhere (I don’t remember where, sorry) that children respond well to regularly enforced rules and discipline. From my own experience, I can relate that this really works.

My church has Vacation Bible School for a week every summer, and for the past few years, I’ve been a group leader. A few years ago, I had four rambunctious first graders under my wing. Sure, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but, remember, these are my church’s kids. One in particular, Z, was almost in trouble. He was getting up, going down, picking up things, taking things, talking out of turn, etc. etc. I told him repeatedly that I would tell his mother on him, and I did on occasion. I even got, well, what I consider “mean” for me: I became very serious, told him, “No,” appropriately, and made him sit down and be quiet. I’m such a non-confrontational person that that was rather difficult for me. Yet, miraculously, it worked. By the end of the week, Z was begging to sit on my lap, and when the leaders held group prayer on the final day, Z told everyone that he was thankful for his teacher (me!!!). My heart melted a little then 🙂 But it worked! Now, though he still is, well, a little energetic boy, he tends to listen to me more and behave more calmly in my presence.

Getting this to work on a much larger class of different children who I don’t even see every month is another beast entirely, but I know that I can’t give up the fight. Therefore, my plan of attack is to get together with the other Primary school teachers and create a list of rules that we can prominently display in the classroom. These rules will be coupled with appropriate punishments should students get out of line. With these rules all agreed upon and enforced by every teacher, it will make it easier for every teacher to maintain control over the class, no matter how many times they teach each month. Further, as a novice teacher myself, I won’t have to second guess myself about what constitutes an appropriate punishment when I’m faced with a problem.

2.) Be aware of yourself; your behavior is a greater variable in classroom management than you think.

It’s so easy to blame everything that goes wrong in the classroom on student behavior; what isn’t easy is admitting that you might be part of the problem too. I really like this quote from one of our Teach NOW textbooks, The Art and Science of Teaching: 

“The causes of many classroom behaviors labeled and punished as rule infractions are, in fact, problems of students and teachers relating to each other interpersonally” (Marzano, 2007, p.150).

If you’re in a bad mood, can your students tell? Do you take what students say to you personally? Do you notice any correlation between how you act towards your students and how they respond to you in turn? If this is the case, heed this advice: check yourself before you wreck yourself.

I know that’s hard to do, particularly when it feels like you’re literally “in the heat of battle” some days. Yet, as The Art and Science of Teaching points out, we as teachers are called to rise above the the currents of hormones and emotions billowing about us. We are a kind of public servant, having dedicated our lives to the mental upbringing of the next generation. As such, we should stand tall, put on a brave face, and set the tone for our classroom. Truly, your students are watching you. I remember how closely I scrutinized my teachers as I tried to discern what was expected of me. Go to the mirror and take a good look at yourself. Put yourself in your student’s place, and ask, “Do I like who I see? Is this someone I can trust?”

In short, be the kind of teacher you always wanted to have as a child. Act wisely; scrutinize your every movement, if you must. Remember, you are shaping minds and souls, and students will, like little mirrors, reflect what they see.

I’m an introvert by nature, so I tend to be very aware, sometimes hyper aware, of how I appear to others. While this sometimes drives me (and others) crazy, I know it will help me as a teacher because it will help me project the best image for my students. I’m not suggesting that I’ll be fake; rather, as I sense how my students are feeling, I can change how I act and react to them so that my classroom remains upbeat and welcoming, despite whatever mood might prevail elsewhere in the school.

3.) Get to know your students on a personal level. 

This helps in three ways: 1.) Students who are known and understood on a personal level are less likely to cause disruptions and require discipline, 2.) Understanding your students helps you tailor your lessons to their individual tastes and styles, enhancing their learning experience, and 3.) It helps you see your students as what they really are: mini-people.

I know that third way sounded strange, but I have to agree with Sir Ken Robinson on this: kids are not little robots that need information routinely programmed into their systems. I really like this quote from his “How to escape education’s Death Valley” video:

One estimate in America currently is that something like 10 percent of kids, getting on that way, are being diagnosed with various conditions under the broad title of attention deficit disorder. ADHD. I’m not saying there’s no such thing. I just don’t believe it’s an epidemic like this. If you sit kids down, hour after hour, doing low-grade clerical work, don’t be surprised if they start to fidget, you know? Children are not, for the most part, suffering from a psychological condition. They’re suffering from childhood” (Robinson, 2013). 

By taking time to understand your students, you experience for yourself what they need to grow. By putting yourself in their place, by seeing where they come from, you become a more knowledgable educator and a more just disciplinarian. Take this scenario from The Art and Science of Teaching: 

“To illustrate, assume that a teacher has had a negative experience with a particular student named Chris. Chris might have spoken disrespectfully to the teacher when the teacher asked if she had completed her homework. The teacher’s first (and quite natural) thoughts are that Chris is challenging her authority and trying to disrupt the class. Such thoughts will quite naturally stimulate negative emotions in the teacher and potentially provoke further conflict. A more useful approach in terms of projecting a sense of emotional objectivity would be for the teacher to re-explain Chris’s behavior to herself in more acceptable terms. For example, Chris could be upset because of an argument she had with her parents the night before class. Chris could be frustrated because she was working at her job after school and did not complete the homework assigned, and so on” (Marzano, 2007, p.160).

Sorry for the long quote, but it makes a good point: put yourself in the place of your student, and it will change the way you teach forever. Yes, as a teacher, you have superiors who tell you what to teach and want to see results. Yes, you have deadlines to meet and required lessons to cover and standardized tests looming on the horizon. But, in the end, those things aren’t truly important. What matters are those growing human beings before you, those seedlings ready to burst into bloom. There you stand, holding the watering can. Treat your students like the individuals they are, and before you know it, your classroom will become a veritable garden, glorious to behold.

This is what I hope to see happening in my little Sabbath School classroom. Since I see the children in church, know their parents, and have mentored them before during VBS and other church related programs, I’ve gotten to most of them on a somewhat personal level. I know who plays Minecraft, who enjoys sports, and who prefers playing dress-up to coloring. I’ve discovered several artists-to-be, and I can tell already who will become leaders for their generation. All these things and more guide my teaching and my attitude towards them. May you, my dear readers, be similarly inspired to discover more about your own “diamonds in the rough.”


Marzano, R. (2007, January 1). The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction.         Retrieved December 21, 2014, from http://www.teachnowprogram.com/get_help_resources/activity_resources/module4/The_Art_and_Science_of_Teaching.pdf

Robinson, K. (2013, April 1). Transcript of “How to escape education’s death valley” Retrieved December 22, 2014, from http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_how_to_escape_education_s_death_valley/transcript?language=en

20MB File Limit :(

My Loverly Report

Presentation Topic: How to Draw a Generic Disney Princess Face using Sketchbook Express on iPads

Workshop Date and Time: 12/4/12 at 2:00 pm

Location: Shoal Creek Adventist School

No. of Students: 11

Audience Description: 5/6th graders


Describe how you prepared for this activity. Copy or link any planning documents that you created in this section.

To prepare for this activity, I first had to play around in Sketchbook Express myself. Although I have had it on my computer for a while, I hadn’t really given it much thought since I’m so familiar with Photoshop (and have missed using it). Thankfully, by doing this activity, I realized that, while it’s not Photoshop, Sketchbook Express is a fantastic program (particularly so for a free app!) that I should be using more often. To familiarize myself, I used my Wacom drawing tablet and Mac to play around with brushes, colors, layers, opacity and flow, anything and everything that was pertinent to making my drawing look great. Next, I drew two practice heads. The one with blue eyes and hair was my first attempt; notice the weird evil eyes and scribbily ramblings in the corners. I drew this without any references except those in my brain. Since I knew that I definitely wanted the kids to have a better model than that, I scoured my “Art” board on Pinterest for references (see below for links!). As you can tell in the second version, using the references greatly improved the final result, and I used this picture as the model for teaching the children.

Now, since I knew that Sketchbook Express looks different on different platforms, I had to get ahold of an iPad for myself to see what it would look like. Enter my best friend, Jordan. I met up with her, downloaded the app onto her iPad (with her permission) and compared/contrasted with the Mac app. Frankly, the iPad version is a lot more streamlined, which makes it a great choice when working with children. The only difference was that the iPad app did not respond to pen “pressure” the way my Wacom tablet does. You know when you sketch with a pencil, you can press lightly or very hard and have different marks? The Wacom tablet allows this. The iPad, unfortunately, does not, so to compensate, I made the children make the rough sketch in a different color, like light blue or green, and then, in another layer, draw over it in black. This creates a clean final sketch without any of the messy beginnings showing up.

I told Miss Dorn about my proposal, and we arranged the date accordingly. Since her class was finished with a history unit, Miss Dorn decided to let me take over the last hour of class that day instead of starting a new unit (it’s almost Christmas, anyway). In order to install the app on all the iPads, Miss Dorn had to procure a list of emails and passwords from the principal to use in the App store. Unfortunately, some of the iPads simply would not take, and some parents had not set up accounts on the iPad. To remedy this, some students shared an iPad, while another used a completely different program, and two others just used pencil and paper while also paying attention to their neighbor’s iPads. Miss Dorn was also able to procure touch screen styluses in order to make drawing on the screen feel more natural and less odd. While I know that some people like the feeling of “finger painting” on the screen, I’m just so used to using a pen/pencil that I felt the students might feel the same. At this point, I was also wondering if using a stylus activated the “pen pressure” sensitivity I talked about earlier (it didn’t). I still think the kids enjoyed using the styluses anyway. Since the school has done so much for me in order to prepare for this activity, I’m writing thank you cards to both the principal and Miss Dorn (they will receive them sometime this week).

This is the first Disney head.

FINAL Disney Head1

And this is the second.

FINAL Disney Head2

Here are links to some of the picture references I used (taken from Pinterest):





Describe what procedure you followed for setting up and conducting activity. Copy or link any activities that you conducted during the session. Add references to time segments in your recorded video if you think some portion of your session was captured well on camera.

I arrived around 15 minutes before the session was due to start. I brought my Mac, tablet and Teach NOW checklist sheet, as well as my Surface, camera, keychain full of flash-drives, and anything else I thought might be pertinent. I still wasn’t sure if I had secured permission to film, and when I was told no, then at least I had been somewhat prepared. I sketched briefly to calm my jitters, just to make sure that I still knew what I was doing. I also tried out the stylus pen on an iPad to see if it worked the way I hoped it would (it didn’t), but since I had planned for this to happen anyway when I played with Jordan’s iPad, I wasn’t fazed in the least.

I started a few minutes after 2, as it took a little while for the students to get settled, open the app, get a stylus, and get to work. I really didn’t have to tell them much in the beginning. I could already see them playing with the pen tool, using the back button to correct mistakes, discovering the eraser, changing pencil colors, etc. I knew I shouldn’t have too hard a time with them since they had already gotten this far by themselves, and I told them how glad I was that they were already familiarizing themselves with the app. After this, I told them to first select the pencil tool and change it to any light shade of color they wanted, preferably a light blue or green. I explained that animators would do an initial sketch in a light blue on regular paper, and then draw over it in black once the proportions had been correctly placed. This took a minute, and there was a lot of “uh, what” floating around the room. I encountered this a lot more than I’d like to admit, but despite their confusion, they caught on quickly to what I was asking of them. We then sketched the head, starting with a semi-perfect circle with crosshairs added in the middle for placement of the eyes. They then added two medium sized circles for eyes, a small oval for the nose, and a straight line for the mouth. I tried to show them how they needed a limp wrist with lots of elbow action in order to draw a circle well, and it seemed like most of them did a great job. My jaw kinda dropped when I noticed one girl’s circle… it looked really good J I then showed them how to align the neck line with the pupil placement, and how to add eyebrows that followed the curve of the eye socket. I really wish that I could’ve filmed this, because you would’ve seen me getting up and down and walking all around, trying to help the students understand what they needed to do next. Like I mentioned before, they complained a lot, but Miss Dorn pointed out that she has a class full of perfectionists, so it wasn’t anything to do with my teaching. They were just expecting amazingness, and when it fell short, they pouted. Loudly. I told them to be less hard on themselves, considering they were only 5-6th graders! I’ve been through college, for pete’s sake. Still, they wanted to do well and I could tell. After all the basics were laid down, I showed them how to select a new layer, change the color of the pencil to black and start darkening the lines they’d already made as well as add on new details not previously created on the last layer. They had been laughing about how, with no pupils or eye highlights, the princess looked more like a zombie, so they were glad when they were able to add the rest of the necessary components of the eye. After they had darkened in everything and laughed a great deal about the “clown nose,” which turned into the Disney one as you can see in the picture, we added one more layer and started in with the shading. I told them to use the airbrush tool set to small and to adjust the opacity to very, very light. They had a bit of a hard time doing this part, but I walked around the room and helped them as needed. I then taught them to shade in the eye cavities, the nose, under the neck, and around the jawline. Afterwards, they pleaded with me to add hair, so I threw on a quick Ariel hairpiece and called it a day. This is a general overview of what happened. Most of the time, I had to go very slow, repeating steps and helping individuals when asked. Students sometimes voluntarily started all over, trying to make it look the very best. Yet, for the most part, this was a wonderful exercise, and I think they thoroughly enjoyed it.

Key Take Away Points:

List four or five things that you consider as highlights of what you learned from this experience.

1.) Go VERY SLOWLY when teaching something step by step. Take even more time than you think to make sure everybody is caught up and completely understands what needs to be done next.

2.) Wait until everyone is quiet before proceeding. Miss Dorn helped the class quiet down a lot, but I noticed that I might have had a greater affect on the class if I had just been more assertive in demanding their attention. I know they were excited and were eager to work with the iPad and share what they were doing with their friends, but it was interrupting further instruction, so I had to put my foot down. I really need to work on my QUIET DOWN PLEASE skills J

3.) Kids take to tech like ducks to water. It’s not that I didn’t already know this; I just felt this sense of awe as I watched the whole class start fiddling with everything and figuring it out without me even saying a word. It’s just sort of… magical.

4.) We’ve got a batch of young professionals on our hands. I couldn’t believe how perfectionistic the WHOLE CLASS was. Seriously, almost everybody in that class cared about whether or not their drawing looked great. There were even a few students who lingered after the activity, furiously working on their drawing in order to make it look as epic as possible before I photographed it for this report. Those kids inspire me.


Describe or quote feedback from students and your mentor. Copy or link any feedback documents that you gathered from participants after the session.

In short: “Can you be our art teacher?” “We’d pay you for it” (this was spoken by a student, not knowing how small Shoal Creek’s budget is). “Just let us know when you’d like to come back and we’ll see what we can do” (Miss Dorn). 😀 😀 😀


Copy pictures here, or give reference to any audio or video recording files that you created of your session.

Here is my final file that I used in class. I only added hair after the students asked me to, and since Ariel’s hair is the only style that I can wing by heart, I tried my best. I saw showing them an example of an “ethnic” Disney eye, and that’s what that random eye in the corner is. Also, that’s a close up of the nose on the top right. I really don’t like how it came out. It came out better in the test picture. Oh well.

FINAL Disney Head3

And here are the students’ pictures 🙂

IMG_0473 IMG_0489IMG_0483IMG_0479IMG_0479IMG_0481IMG_0485IMG_0471IMG_0475IMG_0491

And here I am messing around at the end 🙂

Instructional Objectives Determine Selection of Tools

Hello loyal readers 🙂

I return to you today to talk to you about


Some of you are probably look like this now:


Never to fret. I was confused when I first looked at it too. Basically, whatever lesson you teach should determine what digital tools you use to teach said lesson. You must fit the content with the capacity of the perfect tool for the job.

For example, say you want to teach English, specifically a review session on King Lear. Say the first idea that pops into your head is to show your students the Ian McKellen version of the play online. While sitting the students in front of a feature length film can be a great review tool (at least, I know it was for me when I was in school), this can sometimes have unintended consequences. For example, poor sleeping habits at home makes for sleepy in-school students. Unless you plan on monitoring the whole class for the duration of the film to make sure everyone is awake (which, while somewhat necessary, keeps you from pointing out differences from the original play and/or making other valuable comments), it’s not going to prove to be as fun of an exercise as intended. No, you need something more specific, less passive and more engaging. Use the movie, yes, but do it in combination with an app. You want the students to really know the story, to understand the basic truths about humanity underneath all those “thee’s” and “thou’s.” In that case, here is your specific learning objective: “Students will be able to to understand and remember the basic plot, character biographies, of Shakespeare’s King Lear.” There are several Shakespeare apps out there which do just the job:

-” Shakespeare in Bits” is an interactive app which acts like a narrated graphic novel, allowing the viewer to experience Shakespeare in a sleek, vector style. Users can also read the play with the power to highlight lines and use easy-to-read character maps to understand just who is related to whom.

– The “Swipespeare” app allows users to, with a swipe of the finger, view a modern translation of any portion of any Shakespeare play. The app description compares the app to books which put the old and new side by side each other, but it can sometimes get a little confusing when one has to read back and forth. Instead, Swipespeare streamlines the process so that users only see the translation if they want to.

As can be seen, these apps are not only useful for review, but would work even more effectively if used throughout the entire exploration of King Lear. 

You see, what’s so great about choosing the tool to fit the learning objective is that it minimizes the possibility of students deviating from their work. Not only that, but if the tool is well chosen, the activity should be so much fun that the students don’t even want to do anything else. In my mind, that’s one of the prime reasons students try to do something else in the first place: they’re bored, tired, and frankly don’t care. The modern world is overflowing with new excitements almost everyday, making the stories from the past seem dull and passé. Therefore, we as teachers need to give them a reason to care and to show them that the old is just as exciting as the new. I mean, there’s a reason famous literature is called “the classics,” right? 🙂

Well, that about covers it, I believe. Here, while we’re at it, have some Shakespeare 🙂

WARNING: Mild crude humor, just a heads up.