(We are probably not the center of the universe.)

The Scale of the Universe.

This is a little piece of wonderfulness that the science teachers out there should appreciate – and even if you’re not a science teacher, it’s still some crazy cool nonsense.  The scale starts with quantum foam (the fabric of Einstein’s space-time theory) and works its way up to the estimated size of the entire universe (and everything in-between).  Plus, it’s got some lovely mood music.  Go check it out!

Love and Literature in School

Tech Task #7: a podcast from yours truly!

The examples I use in there relate specifically to teaching English literature, but I feel the principle is the same for any subject.

The Ralph Waldo Emerson poem at the end can be found here, along with the rest of his work.  The group of writings entitled ‘Conduct of Life,’ from which ‘Beauty’ originates, can be found here (‘Beauty’ is in part 8).

Enjoy!

Resource Site for New Teachers

Betsy’s Classroom Teaching Resources

I ran across this website the other day, and I just thought I’d share.  It’s mostly for elementary school teachers, but there are still some really great ideas, aids, and a ton of resources there if you’re looking.

The site creator, Betsy Weigle, posts resources for student teachers, new teachers, classroom management and discipline, and all that sort of thing.  Her site is geared towards helping teachers not get stressed out about their work, so that they can be happy with their jobs and help their students be successful and happy at the same time.  Giving it a look-see will be well worth your time, especially if you’re as new to this as I am and are looking at teaching the younger grades.

That’s all.  So long!

Edmodo vs. Schoology

Battle royale!

…Teachers have the most boring battles, it would seem.  This saddens me.

 

 

 

 

 

But! On to the topic at hand.  Edmodo and Schoology are both social media-based sites where teachers can connect and communicate with their students.  The sites are designed to let teachers give out assignments and feedback, deliver grades, keep track of attendance – all that good stuff.  In class, Ashley Parker and I got together to compare/contrast the two sites.  Now – everyone seems to prefer Schoology, but I found that I actually liked Edmodo better.

Both sites were free, and allowed teachers to give/students to view their grades.  On both sites, teachers and students could add resources to a library (from their own computers or from the internet), and both sites had simple, Facebook-like designs that just about anyone could navigate with a minimum of difficulty.  Teachers could send out assignments from both sites, and could send messages to specific students or a group of students on both sites.  However, I found that Edmodo had a few features that Schoology did not.

  1. Edmodo allows teachers to create tests and quizzes right on the site.
  2. The Edmodo help section was organized much better – it included categories and common questions, whereas the Schoology help section required us to use a search box to find a specific topic.
  3. Edmodo also provided a code for parents, so that parents could go online and look at how their child(ren) were doing, and so that teachers could contact them directly if necessary.
  4. On Schoology, grades had to be accessed from the home page, but on Edmodo, the link to a student’s grades could be accessed from any page on the site.
  5. Schoology allowed students to create a profile of interests and activities they enjoyed, like a Facebook profile, but Edmodo took it a step further. They allowed students to create a profile on how they personally prefered to be taught, which I think is much more relevant and useful on a school site. (This was my favourite feature.)

There were really only two things that I felt Schoology did better than Edmodo.

  1. Schoology allowed students to view their attendance records along with their grades.
  2. It was easier to delete my account on Schoology than on Edmodo.  For Schoology, I had to click a link; for Edmodo, I had to send an e-mail to tech support asking them to delete my account.

All in all, I found Edmodo provided a more complete service, and was quicker and easier to sign up for and use.  However, again, they were both designed in such a way that I think students would find them easy and appealing to use, insofar as education is ever appealing to most students.  Neither of them should be particularly difficult for parents, either, because even a lot of parents have Facebook pages, and these sites are likely quite a bit simpler than Facebook.

I could see myself using one of these sites in my own classroom.  The tools available on both sites would make at least a few of my jobs much simpler, and I do so hate to have my time wasted.  And that’s about all I have to say about these two sites, so…

…I was right.  That wasn’t really an exciting battle at all.

*sigh*

Exceptional Children

Almost every teacher who has ever mentioned this subject to me says the same thing: they don’t teach you nearly enough about exceptional children in university.

The strange part about that, I find, is that many of the teachers who have told me that were university professors.  So they know about the issue, but…they have no intention of fixing it?  Or they are unable to do so? I understand that changing the curriculum for ANYTHING is extremely time-consuming, but…I don’t know.  I don’t blame any of my professors for the lack of training available; it just seems like a strange situation.

To be perfectly honest, I’m pretty nervous about teaching students with special needs.  I have been informed ahead of time that my training here at university will not even come close to preparing me for those students, and that is not a confidence booster.  I worry that I will fail them.  I worry that I will make mistakes, or I won’t do everything I can/should, and they won’t get the kind of care/attention/education they need and deserve.

I have every intention of doing everything in my power to help every single one of my students succeed.  But what good are my intentions when my training is insufficient?  I am a high achiever.  I don’t feel comfortable giving anything less than my best to anyone I serve, and the idea that there is no way I will be able to do that (even if it’s only at first) disturbs me.  I will learn on the job, or so I assume, but…how can that possibly be good enough?

If there is anyone reading this who has teaching experience in this realm, give me a shout.  My insecurities as a teacher-in-training could really use some beating down just now.

The Introvert Myth

This entry doesn’t exactly have anything to do with teaching, but it does have a lot to do with the fact that not every student we encounter in schools will be an outgoing little pillar of social confidence – and neither will every teacher.

I am introverted.  I’ve known that since I was about four years old, although it’s information that my parents and teachers have always had difficulty accepting – which sounds ridiculous.  I don’t have a second head and I’m not a serial killer or a giraffe in disguise.  And yet it was – and still is – as if they thought introversion was a disability or defect of some kind; like they thought I couldn’t possibly live a normal or happy life if I didn’t have twenty-eight best friends.

It isn’t a disability, although it can, at times, be a difficulty.  But even if I’m not going to be that teacher who is best friends with every one of her students, I am going to be the teacher who pushes everyone to be their best and to love what they do and seek/strive/thrive no matter what problems and challenges they face.

People come in all shapes and sizes, and I’m glad of every single one of them – even (if not especially) the ones that make life just a little bit more complicated.

Ten Myths About Introverts

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.

History and French: the Best and Worst

My single most positive experience as a student came out of an essay I wrote for my grade eleven history class.  I received a mark of 76% – the lowest mark I’ve ever been given on an essay.  I was deeply hurt and ashamed of that mark.  I was a high-achieving students, and up until that point every teacher I’d ever had loved my work inside and out.  As far as I was concerned, I was sixteen years old and the model of academic perfection, people.  Teachers did not criticize me.

…But this history teacher did.  I hated him for it, at first.  My next essay, I worked my butt off just to spite him, and was given a grudging 82%.  Again, unacceptable – and again, I could do nothing but work even harder.  My next mark? 87%.  It was by no means the best mark I’d ever had in a class, but I was flying on that 87%.  I’d never had a teacher push me so hard before.  I spent most of that year and the next wishing I could have him as an English teacher – or, better yet, Creative Writing – so that he could beat the rest of my writing into shape, as well.  I craved the kind of teacher who expected absolutely nothing less than my very best.  Knowing that I’d succeeded in giving him that was the best feeling in the world.

My worst experience as a student came a couple of years before that, in my grade nine French class.  My teacher in that class…well, she hated teaching.  And I mean hated it, to the depths of her soul.  One day we were doing an exercise where we were given a sentence with a blank space and we had to fill it in with the appropriate French word.  We were going around the class reading out our answers to what career we wanted when we grew up.  A girl sitting two seats behind me answered, “I want to be a teacher.” (In French, of course…but that was five years ago.  I don’t remember much of anything from that class.)

Our teacher just stood there at the front of the classroom for a moment, her face suffused with shock and disgust, before saying, “WHY?” like the idea left a bad taste in her mouth.

My classmate did not answer.  None of us said anything.  I was a little scared.  I thought her head might explode, or else she would start to spit venom.  The girl two seats behind me sank down in her seat a little and we continued with the worksheet.

Now, not everyone is suited to teaching.  Miss French Teacher had clearly just gotten to the end of her rope, which I cannot really be upset with her for.  The fact remains, however, that that was the most miserable year of French classes I had ever had.

How about you people?  Give it a shot: tell us all what your best and worst experiences as a student were.