Sunday, December 05, 2010


The subject of Differentiation is one I have enjoyed thoroughly.  Looking back at some of my posts it is obvious that some of the subjects have struck a note with me. Rarely am I able to write much about anything, the times that I can I am excited about the subject.  There were three blogs this semester where I put in a significant amount of verb-age.  "Will the Teacher look past me," "Clocks and Cocoons," and "Super Heroes," were the longest and my most passionate posts.  Looking back at them I feel like I forgot all of this when I got to field.  I was much more concerned about impressing my Cooperating teacher, well kind of -no adult can make me be unemphatic to children- but I assumed the position of Student teacher quickly.  There are several students in this class that are being looked over and handed over to resource because of traditional methods. At the time I came in, however, they were doing a push in service with resource where the resource teacher comes into the class room to teach with the Teacher and help those that need her particular help. This gave me hope for the class.  I hope to do a super hero unit with the kids and find ways to help them grow and really enjoy learning.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ten, Diez, Dez, Zehn, Tien, dix, dieci,δέκα,

The best and the worst.
Worst: Trying to figure out how to teach a Math Unit that I myself did not understand. UGHH
Having my supervisor say you need to talk faster I can tell it is part of your personality but you are gonna put those kids to sleep.
The best has been small groups or one on one sessions, when I have actually been able to see the light go on in their heads.  It has been much easier to connect to them one on one.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

#9, number nine, ::::.

As soon as I got to know the students in the class and know their needs, likes, dislikes, and strengths the Learning Contracts kept coming to mind. They still do yet I have not had a chance to talk them over with my cooperating teacher. They differences in this class are vast and great.  It seems silly to try and reach them all with one fits all kind of strategy. At the same time because the differences are so great it would require twenty-seven different plans, that is a lot of work.
The subject that would benefit most from this would be literacy.  Unfortunately and acknowledged by the teacher she is restricted by what the basal program offers more time wise than content.  What I mean is that the teacher is willing to use anything to help them learn more and she does, but she also needs and wants them to do well on their weekly tests that are based on the basal reading program.  The more she uses their format and texts the better the students do on the weekly tests.  

Monday, November 01, 2010

#8 Because Seven is an odd cannibal.

Why is Six scared of Seven? because 7 (8)ate 9.

Of all the strategies we went over in class I liked the Learning menu's the most. I felt like it put the other strategies together in a very usable format.  It also appeals to me because it reminds me of food.
I like that it allows you to vary or differentiate the different aspects of a unit.  Those unit aspects being the "Imperatives", the "Negotiables" and the "Options".  I imagine it would help making clear to the students what is important for them to learn, but still allow them to do it in the way that will benefit them best.  It also seems very easy to change and vary when the plan is not working.

Friday, October 15, 2010

#6 Differentiating

I looked  at Sarah Ahlberg's Blog.     Right away I figured out that I was way off on how I did my last post as far as completing the assignment. Reading through Sarah's post I also had the Tic Tac Toe idea cleared up for me, it is a simple way to organize the options you want to give your students.  I also understood better how much we can differentiate. The possibilities are endless. I liked all of her ideas they were great and very helpful to me.  I also thought that if you were to do it on historical heroes that they needed to know for core content you could go back and having collected their info on the heros make a historic hero Tic Tac Toe review.    

Monday, October 11, 2010


I have always had a deep fascination with science fiction super Heroes.  I have read many books, comic books and movie/TV scripts dealing with "Heroes".   A Hero according to many of those books is someone that saves the day. Someone that overcomes the challenges put before them to succeed at a difficult task.  A Hero to me is someone who not only over comes their own trials but also continually works to better other people, a super hero is someone with an extraordinary talent that they use to help people.
Friendly Benny
Benny "the Leopard" Bean.  As a young boy Benny struggled with the way he looked. He was short, had bright red hair, and freckles.  His classmates noticed his freckles and asked "hey what are those spots?' what are you  a Leopard?" This troubled Benny he didn't know why he had these spots.  He decided he no longer wanted these freckles. When he went to bed that night he hoped, wished, and prayed that he would wake up with smooth Tan skin and few extra inches of height. That night Benny had a dream and in that dream he saw many of his friends from school.  The friends that he thought looked perfect and also one other friend a little girl even shorter than Benny.  This little girl had something else that made her stand out and look very different.  She had crutches she had to use because of the damage done to her legs by Polio. Benny saw this classmate and thought she is happy and look what she has.  The next morning Benny did not care about his freckles.  He no longer worried about what others would call him.

This is a story about my Dad and just one of many that illustrate why I think he is a hero.  In my explanation of a Super Hero is someone with an extraordinary talent that they use to help people.  My dad has a talent to make friends very easily.  He does this by having a genuine and excited interest in the people he meets.  He finds out what they like to do or where they are from and that fact becomes his favorite thing.  He will go home and research about the place or interest and think of all the connections he might have with it. The next time he sees the person he excitedly tells them about his connections and builds more and more connections.  This seems like a pretty powerless ability but time after time Benny has helped the people he meets become happy and excited about what they are doing and succeed in so many things. Benny is not only a hero but a Super Hero.

For Teaching I think I would use the Tiered Character Map to have students explore mine and other author's heroes. Then have them build their own hero for a story.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Room For Improvement

Hallmark #2 Absolute clarity about what he wants the students to know, understand, and be able to do-about what is truly important to learn in this unit.
bad example-I was teaching a fifth grade class about explorers and part of the standard was to expand the concept of what explorer is and can be.  I gave the students an assignment to think of something they would they would like to accomplish in their lives. With that goal in mind they were to then make, a time map and, write a bout what was they wanted to be. I was not clear enough about that standard so quite a few wrote about discovering America.
good example- The teacher gives an assignment for students to learn about what an explore was, is, and could be. Understanding the specific needs of all the students the teacher gives the students specific rubric's that state what it is they are to know, understand, and be able to do with this assignment having it be clear that they the students have the ability to explore and set goals to accomplish anything they dream of doing.
Hallmark #6 Individual growth is emphasized as central to classroom success. 
bad example-The teacher gets a new class and a new set of testing standards, the teacher is told that if all students test at grade level the school will receive a large grant.  The teacher drills the students for each part of the test no higher no lower. Using only lectures and worksheets to teach and assess if students are progressing.
good example- A teacher receives a new class and takes the first week to get to know the students one on one and set goals with them individually as to what they want to be able to accomplish by the end of the year.  Knowing what is on the tests and understanding the abilities of each student the teacher plans lessons that will cater to both ends making sure the students are enjoying as much as they can.  

B-3 Become computer savvy  I feel like I am pretty computer savvy and I am familiar with the technology that can be used in the classroom but I want to learn more and more. I don't feel I know enough about Web quests, and web inquires. I get that they are a powerful tool and could be used in so many ways I just don't feel like I have adequate experience in seeing how the kids will go through the  different activities and such.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Clocks and Cacoons

Ship Chronometer
After reading this weeks chapters I better understood the role the curriculum cog plays in Tomlinson's clock analogy on page 10 and felt that I understood the importance of each cog.  I was reminded of the analogy again this week as I was watching "Pawn Stars" when a customer brought a Ship Chronometer in to sale.  Learning about this type of clock made her analogy much more powerful to me.  A Ship Chronometer or Sea Clock was used as a type of GPS system for sailors.  By setting the clock to Greenwich England mean time and comparing its time to that of sun position time and to a world time map they could do some equations to find their exact location.  But for it to work the Chronometer had to run perfectly.  On page 12 Tomlinson mentions that, "Understanding these elements can provide us with a compass for decision making as a teacher plans to adapt instruction to student needs."  When I first read her introduction to this analogy that phrase escaped me and what I gathered was that teaching had to run like clock work with each thing its place working precisely together.  That might be "good" teaching but it is not "Differentiated" teaching.  When we use these elements as best we can and have all three cogs; teacher, student, and curriculum running as they should,  we will be able to map a course for our selves and each student and then be able to monitor our progress with each part.  All parts are needed and if they are running precisely we will be able to get each student to their destination.

  The butterfly's cocoon has long been a powerful analogy for me and putting it as Tomlinson put it made perfect sense to me.  From page 17, " Important as self-esteem is, the developing person must move from its protective cocoon toward a sense of self-efficacy."  If a butterfly is aided in removing its own cocoon its wings will not have the gained strength from that experience and consequently be unable to fly.  Differentiating Teachers will not only allow students to contribute but they will find ways that will help the students grow on their own and be able to see that they themselves have strength to learn and grow.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What if the teacher looks past me rather than into me?

The subtitle to my blog is My attempt to fit in.  I have always felt a little outside the crowd and now I kind of try to remain so.  But when I was younger I wanted the teacher and everyone else to see me as a the rest of the kids, with just as much to offer.  I started kindergarten after my sixth birthday, entirely because of my height or lack there of.  So I was easy to overlook from the beginning. I worked hard and did pretty well until third grade.  At that time it felt like I became a fox who was hard to tame.  I felt no respect from my teacher and I think she was unsure of what to do with me.  So I was sent to resource with kids who had speech impediments and were on similar reading and math levels as I was.  I think my teacher was looking at me  but only saw the problems that had to be dealt with, rather than looking into me. I was a fox who looked like a hundred other foxes and she had no need for me.  I could be wrong and it could be that she did see me and thought that resource was the best solution. I do know that I don't want any student to be looked past, over, or taken for just another kid or fox.
My mom read through that first paragraph and reminisced on how shy/ quiet I was and can be.  I reread the chapters in Fulfilling the Promise with that in mind and a few things stood out to me.  After a Teacher invite the student to be a part of the class the student has to accept that invitation.  I don't know that I ever accepted that invitation.  In the beginning of chapter two it talks about this invitation and what the students go through in processing this invitation.  ("Come do what I ask you to do," says the teacher.   "I can't," says the student "at least not until you connect with me.  Oh, I'll go through the motions, of course.  But give myself to this adult thing called school?...")  I have gone through numerous things in my adult life that have showed me that I have been very scared of fully giving myself to anything I always reserve some aspect of myself for my own safety.  I can tell now that I did not feel safe enough to give myself to school. 
To resolve this for my students I will need to do as the book says and make sure that each student is contributing and more than, "each learner needs to come to see that he or she is a nonnegotiable part of a classroom system with interdependent parts."  I felt somewhat invisible as a child, the truth of the matter is that I did not make my self visible nor did I really try to make myself part of the class I always waited for them to bring me in.
Recognizing each student and getting them to feel like part of the class might be an impossible task as the book questioningly implies but as it also says we have to try and as Eseme Raji Codell says, " The goal is not necessarily to succeed but to keep trying, to be the kind of person who has ideas and sees them through."  I want to be that kind of teacher.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Lil' ol' me

1. TUESDAY, by David Wiesner.  Is a book I would love to use in my future classroom.  It is just pictures through out the story, and I would like to get kids reaction to it as just a picture book, and also as a framework for their own story that they would put to the pictures.
2. As of right now my three favorite TV shows are Heroes, American Chopper, and the Dog Whisperer.  These I watch at my mom's if I am there and have the remote in my power, or on My computer at home through Netflix.  We don't currently have a TV hooked up at my place so if I watch something it is something I choose to watch.
3. I collect musical instruments, and fun things to draw, as for instruments I have a tenor banjo, 3 guitars, an electric bass, a broken cavaquinho, harmonicas in the Keys of G, C, and D, an aluminum  djembae, shakers, boom sticks, whistles, and some other stuff.  I love music and love to learn new instruments and styles of music.  I feel like it gives me an intimate access to cultures that are shut off otherwise.  I am also helping my friend Paul Overson with his collection of big professional audio gear this also gives me an in to other musicians and cultures. My other collection consists of toys and light bulbs, bottles, all kinds of knik knaks....  Oh and I also have an international money collection it is still pretty small.
4. I keep an idea journal with drawings and writings of things I want to make or explore.
5. I would sponsor any art and or music appreciation club 1st I'd be all over that.  Then World Peace 2nd, and Ecology/ Tree hugging third ( I am a hippy at heart.)
6.  I have both taken and given art classes out side of school.  Some Sculpture and animation etc.
7.  I took piano lessons when i was 8 until 10 years old, I then pick up guitar and took lessons when I was 15 and 16.  I have had three different rock bands I have played with and two I recorded with.  The first Lyra's Landscape I wrote some of the songs for.  The second The Moon Boots I just played bass for.  I have also played off and on with some folky singer song writers, with hose I have played banjo and slide guitar, and some back up vocals.  I have had song writers block for a while I also call it no time to spare.
8. NO and NOOOO, I can't get past my self criticism long enough to make my two left feet do anything.  But I have done a little Capoeira the brazilian dance fighting.
9. No, I have done sound for some plays and my wife loves doing musicals. She is now a drama specialist at Saratoga Shores Elementary.
10. I have a bachelor's degree in Fine Art Illustration and have done a few small illustration projects here and there.  I am an art teacher going through the back door or maybe it's the front door but I am putting on a Core Teacher Disguise.  I want to become the best integrated arts teacher ever, and then teach others how to do it even better.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Civil Rights Digital Story

This is a digital story I did for school. I kinda like it.