Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Is this you? My students do not respect me and I do not know what to do!

      Most districts go back next week and there are some teachers that can hardly wait and there are some that are waking up in a cold sweat dreading going back for the second half of the year. I have been watching classroom management videos from Rick Smith from Effective Classroom Management. In a post written by a terrified teacher who does not feel respected the night sweats have most likely already begun. As we know, if you do not have respect, you have little learning going on and a lot of chaos. Still, she is doing the right thing getting help.

From the WeAreTeachers Staff   Teacher Janelle writes:
“We’re almost halfway through the school year, and my classroom management is out of control. My students do not respect me at all, and it’s not just one or two of them--it’s become the culture of our classroom. The students just do not listen to me. I want to turn things around, but I’m worried it’s too late in the year. What can I do?” (My words are in red).

     From the We are Teachers Staff From Janelle, we totally get it, and we’re here to say that it’s NEVER too late to get back the respect of your students. Here is some advice from our helpliners on how to start fresh.
Make achievement a group effort! Give "points" to each class for certain things that everyone does well (like following directions or everyone turning in the assignment), and then when the class accumulates a certain number of points, everyone gets a reward, like a homework pass. - Brenda M. I like Brenda's idea. I have been using Class Dojo and have customized behaviors for both the positive and negative behaviors. Kids really pay attention when you add or subtract points. I do have a token economy and students can buy snacks and driinks and homework passes. This has worked and the principal has bought snacks twice.  Read on. 
     I teach fifth grade and use Class Dojo. I keep a total of their points for the month. Then they get a copy of the "menu" to fill out, choosing how they will spend their points for the month. Only 14 points can be carried over for the next month. The choices range from 15 points to 80. It works well with little effort on my part! - Kate F.
     Talking to peers is something that is encouraged. While you can always go to one teachers class and the kids are eating out of the teachers hand, trying the same in your class may find students still walking over you. According to Rick Smith, it is all about being consistent and having consequences that you follow through with.

     This is from another teacher. Talk to other teachers about the classroom management strategies they use that work. A lot of it is setting an expectation and following it, and you can do that at any point during the year. It’s just a matter of sticking to it and being consistent. I use a point system and give bonus points for on-task students. - Heather S.  
This is a very prudent strategy. Do not embarrass students in front of peers. Having a system where they can speak to you in private while you keep teaching keeps your class focused on content rather than the battle happening where they are rivoted to it instead of learning. 
       Don't be afraid of calling parents; they can be your biggest advocate. If you do call a parent for negative behavior, also make sure you call that parent when the child has a good day as well. That will also help get the parents on your side. - Jodi W.  Jodi is right. Many people will say that giving students discipline choices gives them options instead of backs them into the corner. Once a student knows you are following through, you have credibility. If they cannot or will not serve the consequence such as a lunch detention, let the student know they will get a phone call home or a referral to the administrator. Also, call home and ask for the student when they deserve praise. Let it be a short and to the point conversation. According to Smith, the parents will naturally want to know and may call you back. Invite the parents to come in or let them know you have an open door policy.  We document our classroom issues on a computer program where we file both referrals and classroom issues. Let the student know you are trying to do the kindest thing to get their attention and ask them if they want to change. Their answers tell you what you need to know.

If students are being loud, my instinct used to be to raise my voice to try to be louder than them. Now, I’ve started doing the opposite--I’ll speak more quietly. This tends to intrigue them, and they’ll start hushing each other so they can hear what I have to say. Try it!-Erin F. Rick Smith mentioned above mentions that against all impulses to soften your voice, face the student, mention the behavior and tilt your posture slightly toward the student. The student will know you will use the consequences.
“Fake it ‘til you make it.” Even if you don’t feel like you are in control, act as though you are--cool, calm, collected. The next time you walk into the classroom, convey through your directions, expectations, and the way you carry yourself that anything less than respectful behavior will not be tolerated. Then have a plan for how to enforce those expectations. Avoid getting emotional or angry. - Greg T.

Teachers, what other advice do you have for those struggling with classroom management?

One resource is Rick Smith who wrote Effective Classroom Management. He gives plenty of tips and is a teacher trainer in this area. You can find his books on Amazon. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

West Oakland Railroad Museum is a great place for the family (W/. photo album)

 With scores of families and model trains to look at, there is no amount of hot chocolate that can offset the family having fun winter fun. The West Oakland Museum is a popular option for families that want to have an hour or two of family fun. For Seth Lampe and Paul Gribbell, it is a way to give back to a hobby they truly enjoy. "We have plenty of families that come and enjoy our trains."
You really need more than one visit to truly appreciate what is going on at the museum. There are so many exhibits at the museum that you will easily overlook the  recreated towns and even skinny dippers and hobo shacks.

   You truly have to come in and see the several dozen train tracks and the looks of multi-generation families that watch part of the past come alive. Seth Lampe, a volunteer at The West Oakland Museum said many of the cars were hand crafted and some of the trains cost money that can only be recouped in wonder, not in cost.

     Lampe also said The Railroad Museum is the home of the World's Longest Model Train and it was running over the span of a fourty-foot bridge. Thousands of train cars on dozen of tracks. It is a fun and inexpensive place to take your family. The train museum is open 11am-5pm through the holidays and Friday, Saturday and Sunday through March.
Here is a link to the photo story in the Oakland Press

8275 Cooley lake Road
Commerce Twp. 48382

I remember Cunninghams but not the shack next to it.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

New strategy would drop college textbook costs to zero

 You probably have never heard of the term "open-sourced" content. College students will though. With the rise of textbooks being to the point where students either do without them or play a game of chicken and buy them at the last minute and share with a friend, open-sourcing is a possible 2010's solution to the rising costs of going to college. Open-sourcing is where professors actually research what they are going to teach in class with other professors to find research friendly material that is reputable. Professors do not like keeping abreast of their topics as it is cumbersome and takes time. Some might even have to do that dreaded Google search. (They should try teaching public school where we do it every day and collegial plan online and with our team in meetings during the schoolday). We may even look at your research. What this is doing is the material gathered is being shared with students and the need for a textbook is nil. Now I know that research needs to be done in all fields but the current method is outdated and too costly to continue. Carrie Wells of the Baltimore Sun explains open-sourcing with professors and text book makers. What happens to current and future college students could help them in the pocketbook. 

 New strategy would drop college textbook costs to zero

    Holding a whiteboard, the University of Maryland, College Park students scrawled their complaints and posed for a picture.
    "My name is Justin and I spent $114 on ONE textbook," a student wrote. "My name is Jeff and I spent $736 on textbooks," wrote another.
    The images, posted online by the Student Government Association in recent months, are designed to highlight the rapid rise in the price of college textbooks over the past decade. This semester, the University System of Maryland is exploring ways to bring that cost to zero with "open-source" electronic textbooks — the latest experiment in changing the way students in Maryland and across the nation are taught.

    Unlike electronic versions of textbooks sold by publishers, open-source textbooks are made up of materials gathered from various sources and are not protected by copyright. They are often designed to be interactive, with links to source material and multimedia elements. The materials are licensed openly, so anyone with an Internet connection can access them.
    A pilot program, which the university system estimates is saving 1,100 students a combined $130,000, is the latest in a shift on the nation's campuses toward digital learning. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the California State University system and the Washington State college system are among those that have built libraries of free online course materials in recent years.
    Still, open-source textbooks, which have been around for several years, face challenges and have not caught on broadly.

    "I don't know if it's transforming higher ed yet," said Craig R. Vasey, a member of the American Association of University Professors who uses open-source materials in his logic class at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia. "I think the textbook publishing business is still doing very, very well."
    In fact, the textbook industry is also working to offer cheaper alternatives to hardcover textbooks and even partnering with open-source textbook providers.
    Educators at all levels are still figuring out how to best use technology in the classroom. For example, Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance announced recently that the district would aim to place a tablet or laptop in the hand of every student within five years.
    The pilot program is part the University System of Maryland's recent strategy to emphasize online learning. The system is also expanding its online-only course offerings. And this spring, the University of Baltimore launched its first online course open to anyone outside the state. The university system is also experimenting with "course redesign," in which more course material is presented online and class time is restructured to focus more on discussion.
    Although the open-source textbook concept has been embraced by student groups such as the Student Government Association in College Park, university officials say the challenges include connecting professors with the materials they need for the textbooks and creating a system to assess the quality of the books.
    Another complication: Many universities are bound to contracts with private companies to run campus bookstores, where many students purchase their textbooks. University System of Maryland financial records show that the bookstore contracts are not always lucrative, however — last year the system lost about $1 million.
    Some students and a growing number of professors and university administrators say the cost of printed textbooks outweighs their usefulness. Textbook prices have risen an average of 82 percent between 2002 and 2012, about three times faster than the rate of inflation, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
    High textbook prices are "quite ridiculous," said Jesse Fox, president of the University System of Maryland Student Council, which lobbied system officials to study open-source textbooks. Fox, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, added, "The only reason this is the case is textbook companies can do this. There's no check and balance."
         The College Board estimates that the average college student spends $1,200 a year on textbooks, and the costs are often higher in fields like science or mathematics. The costs strain budgets as families struggle to pay for higher education, and sometimes students opt not to buy textbooks or put off purchases until late in the semester, which can jeopardize their grades, according to student groups, advocates and administrators.
    "The traditional model of textbook is like a game of 'Survivor,' " said Meenu Singh, a College Park student coordinating the textbook cost awareness campaign for the Student Government Association. "It becomes a game of outwit and outlast: Let's see how long we can last the semester without having to buy the textbook, or outwit by trying to buy cheaper editions."
    The University System of Maryland's textbook pilot program stems from a partnership with Lumen Learning, a Portland, Ore.-based company that helps professors access open-source content, tests, graphics and other course materials that they can pull together into an electronic "book."
    Lumen Learning is providing the service for free to the Maryland system and 19 other universities nationwide through grants, said M.J. Bishop, director of the system's Center for Innovation and Excellence in Learning and Teaching, who is overseeing the pilot program.
    Eleven professors at the College Park campus, the University of Baltimore, Bowie State University and Coppin State University are participating, in addition to two institutions not in the state university system: Chesapeake College on the Eastern Shore and St. Mary's College of Maryland.
    Scott Roberts, a University of Maryland, College Park professor who teaches an introductory psychology course, started writing his own open-source textbook for the class in 2010 and is participating in the pilot program. Faculty members are concerned about the burdensome cost of printed textbooks, he said, but the alternatives can be complicated and time-consuming.
    Roberts estimated that he spent 80 hours pulling together open-source materials for his textbook, working late into the night to write some sections himself when he could not find good material.
    Before the pilot, he said, he found no centralized place where faculty members could gather open-source materials and relied heavily on Google searches.
    He was motivated, he said, by frustration over textbook editions that were "constantly updated with little justification" and by the desire to save students money.
    Roberts said traditional textbooks provide some value, but added, "The question is: Is it worth the cost that students are paying for it? If we can get the job done without it, I think we have an obligation to our students to do that."
    Bishop, who believes open-source textbooks will become more common, said the Maryland system could develop its own library of quality open-source materials. Still, she noted that quality control remains an issue.

    "Anybody at this point can write a textbook and put it out there for consumption," she said. "It's still sort of a crapshoot, frankly, if the textbook you just downloaded is going to have the kind of quality that you want for your course."
    Advocates for open-source textbooks complain that publishing companies drive up costs by "bundling" textbooks with CD-ROMs containing software that adds little value. Publishers also often release new editions of textbooks, making it difficult or impossible for students to resell their books after a course ends.
    The textbook publishing industry is "not opposed" to open-source textbooks and is even partnering with some providers, said David Anderson, executive director of higher education at the Association of American Publishers. But he said traditional textbooks can cost up to a few million dollars to produce, and he is skeptical that such an effort can be re-created on a large scale for a product distributed for free.
    Anderson said traditional textbooks are usually written by several academics and are peer-reviewed to ensure they are accurate, free of typos and well-sourced. "When you're looking at open-source textbooks, that may or may not be the case," he said.
    Anderson said the industry has already developed cheaper alternatives to the hardcover, full-color textbook: three-ring-binder editions, black-and-white editions or options for students to buy individual chapters electronically. He pointed to CourseSmart, a company offering a $200 package deal that enables students to rent electronic versions of six textbooks.

    Though the concern over textbook costs is a perennial one, efforts by state and university officials to reform the system have been largely unsuccessful. In 2005, state lawmakers directed the university system to evaluate a "textbook consortium" that would coordinate purchases with an eye toward reducing prices.
    But the university system ultimately said the consortium would be unworkable. Among the reasons: Universities had an obligation to honor their contracts with bookstores, creating such a system was too expensive, and the measure could run afoul of federal anti-trust laws.
    Student advocates for open-source textbooks point to a study released in January by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization. About 65 percent of the 2,000 college students the group surveyed across the country said they opted not to buy a textbook because of the cost, and nearly all of those students were concerned it would affect their grade in the course.
    Roberts said the Introduction to Psychology open-source textbook he created is now in use by about 700 students each semester. The students he's surveyed are generally pleased with the experience, he said, with the exception of a few who prefer to have a printed textbook to write in.
    There are other benefits to open-source textbooks, he said. "Right now, if a study comes out, it can take a year to show up in a textbook. We can update it overnight."
    In contrast to the work it takes for a professor to create an open-source textbook, textbook publishers can make a teacher's job easy, Roberts said. Professors who assign a textbook can get a package of PowerPoint slides and prewritten exams from a publisher, saving them time designing the course.
    Roberts also said publishing company sales tactics can be aggressive. Salespeople will walk into a professor's office unannounced to pitch a textbook, he said, or cold-call them.
    "They come and find you," he said.
    Robert Javonillo, a Coppin State professor participating in the pilot program, said his Introduction to Biology students seemed "relieved" to learn that their assigned course materials would be free. The hardcover version of the textbook he assigned before costs $158. He said the open-source materials have been high-quality, with the exception of some of the illustrations, important for learning about biology.
    "Maybe one of the bigger issues is in certain academic circles, the rigor of a course is judged by the textbook you use," he added. "If you stray from that, you might be met by some furrowed brows."
    Javonillo said it's too early to tell whether the different materials have affected his students' learning.
    "I'm optimistic about this lowering the cost of college attendance in the near future, but I'd be curious about what the publishing companies are going to do in response to this," he said.
    "You can't beat free."

    College guarantees you will find a job at 37k or most if not all of your money back

       Parents who have told their children their entire lives that going to college was their 'babies' ticket to the good life only to see them struggle to find a job. While we all understand that their are no guarantees in life other than professor tenure and student loans, one college is offering to pay for a graduates student loans if they are not making at least 37K as graduates. Yes, you heard that right. There are some restrictions and fine print.

    Here's a little of it.   Adrian paid roughly $575,000 this year, or $1,165 per student, to take out policies on 495 students. For those who graduate and get a job that pays less than $20,000 a year, the college will make full monthly student loan payments until they make $37,000 a year. With a job that pays $20,000 to $37,000, the college will make payments
    on a sliding scale. 

    Thank God for Insurance. Adrian is a small private college that cherry picks its students. Will any other schools follow?

    College sees benefits with loan promise

      By Jeff Karoub Associated Press

         ADRIAN, MICH. — When it came time to pick a college, Abby Slusher leaned toward a private school near her southeastern Michigan home for the small campus and class sizes. Her mother pushed Adrian College for another reason: a new program guaranteeing every graduate would make more than $37,000 or get some or all student loans reimbursed.

       Adrian is among the first colleges to take out insurance policies on all incoming freshmen and transfer students who have student loans and at least two years of school remaining.

       “She said, ‘Look at me, I’m still trying to pay my student loans off — this would be great. I don’t want you in this situation,’” said Slusher, 18, who is studying to become a social worker. “And seeing

      her in this situation, I don’t want that.”

       The idea has been around for a few decades at Yale Law School and for specific programs elsewhere, such as seminary and social work degrees. Some small, religious schools started offering guarantees to all new students in recent years, but Adrian President Jeffrey Docking is taking it further by framing the program as a solution to skyrocketing tuition costs and student

      loan defaults. His crusade has gotten the attention of U.S. lawmakers and education officials.

       “Obviously, we feel like this is a big solution to a big problem — maybe the biggest problem right

      now in higher education,” Docking said.

       Adrian paid roughly $575,000 this year, or $1,165 per student, to take out policies on 495 students. For those who graduate and get a
      job that pays less than $20,000 a year, the college will make full monthly student loan payments until they make $37,000 a year. With a job that pays $20,000 to $37,000, the college will make payments
      on a sliding scale.

       There’s no time limit for the payment plan, but the college caps total loan payments at $70,000 per student. Adrian’s annual cost of tuition, room and board is about $40,000

      before any forms of financial aid.

       The school has 1,700 students.

       Docking already sees benefits: The entering freshmen class is up about 50 students to 570.

    Friday, December 26, 2014

    College students are illegally downloading books and who can blame them

         If anyone ever thought college was not really a higher educational place of learning and not big business, all you have to do is go to the local college bookstore. The prices of college textbooks are outrageous and it does not take a business major to figure out their is a monopoly on the books often written by professors teaching the course or a beneficial relationship between the college and the text book writer. Now books are not evil. I confess to reading the books to actually learn. The problem is the outrageous costs of the books, the number of outrageously priced books and the amount you get for them when you return them. Hence, when you have encountered a mousetrap, someone is going to build a better mousetrap. In the story  by Valerie Strauss, the internet provides a solution (probably temporary) on how students are getting around this problem and a students response to why he illegally downloads them. The story and answers might surprise you.

    More students are illegally downloading college textbooks for free
    September 17
    It’s hard (if not impossible) to know just how prevalent this practice is, but some college students around the country are uploading their expensive college textbooks onto the Internet so other students can download them for free and avoid the hefty fees that are sometimes more than $200 a book. has a story titled “Why College Students are Stealing Their Textbooks,” which notes that some students are even downloading them for ethics classes.
    The cost to students of college textbooks skyrocketed 82 percent between 2002 and 2012, according to a 2013 report by the U.S. General Accountability Office, the research arm of Congress. As a result, students have been looking for less expensive options, such as renting books — and, now, finding them on the Internet, uploaded by other students.
    In August, an organization called the Book Industry Study Group, which represents publishers, retailers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, librarians and others in the industry, released a survey of some 1,600 students and found, according to a release on the data, that “students continue to become more sophisticated in acquiring their course materials at the lowest cost as illicit and alternative acquisition behaviors, from scanned copies to illegal downloads to the use of pirated websites, continue to increase in frequency.”
    College students are illegally downloading books and who can blame them
    More students are illegally downloading college textbooks for free
    September 17
    We were curious how deep the selection of books is and how easy it is to download them, so we picked five typical freshman core courses, including Culture, Ethics and Economics at Barnard College, Humanities 1217 at the University of Wisconsin and Honors Philosophy 200 at Michigan State University. Working off the syllabi for these classes and others, we tried to download all our textbooks without paying a dime from the sites offered up by the “Children of the Stars” blogger…. We typed in the titles for our books, one by one, and found them all immediately. Within minutes, we had four textbooks on our hard drive: Herodutus’ Histories, Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Physics: The Human Adventure.
    The Web site said it found tweets from students across the country — “from New York University and Long Beach State to the University of Michigan and George Mason University touting the joys of shaving several thousand dollars off their college bills.”
    Here are some tweets about free textbook downloading that were published on Wednesday at “textbook pdf”:

    A professor writes a book. Then requires all his students to buy it. It's a monopoly and so he charges a crazy price. So the professor makes a good salary from the school and then rakes it in from book sales. Not good enough for the professor, he changes a couple of words and then calls on the students to use the second edition thus preventing last semester students from selling their books to the incoming class which would bust the profs monopoly. They deserve to go to jail rather than blame the students for busting a monopoly the school won't break because it is getting a share of the high prices.

    Postal Workers and locals helps out mother with stage 4 Cancer

    Working as a broadcast reporter for the Oakland Press and Digital First since 2010, I have gotten to cover plenty of human interest stories. I am back to teaching now but still have the pleasure of helping out my community. For Tanya Hutchinson and her two children, this Christmas could be the last one for a mother of two kids who has stage four breast cancer.  So did not only local postal workers, but the Oakland County Sheriff's Department and a local church. Tanya Harris-Curry, a Pontiac postal carrier took the family of Tisha Hutchinson under her wings and along with East Side Church of Christ took over presents, food and Christmas cheer. Hutchinson and her family are in great spirits but they certainly need your prayers. I will be setting up a crowdfunding account on behalf of her family with 100% of the benefits going to her family in their time of need. 
     Indiegogo money donation link is here>>>.

    The photo album is below

    Thursday, December 25, 2014

    Selma offers teaching lessons to today's protests and gives a glimpse into MLK's legacy

              Presenting current historical information to students is tricky. This is especially true when it involves race and does not teach the standards you are supposed to teach in the classroom. What I really like is the movie Selma. Taken from Ava DuVernay and her research into speaking with members of Dr. King's family speaking with US Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Young who are were confidants of King and were there, the movie gives a first hand accounting of what happened in the moment of history that sprung the Civil Rights Act of 1965. This type of movie has become popular. Made as a snippett, it does not look at King's full life but like Spielberg's look at Lincoln, it takes a deep look at one aspect of what made his work so important and can allow viewers a chance to 'incubate' on what they have just seen. In the article below by Jennifer Brett of the AJC, she looks at DuVernay's journey into making the movie and working around paraphrasing everything MLK said as there are still intellectual property disputes among the King children. As for teaching as a social studies teacher, the content is not a part of my curriculum but using primary sources from people who where at Selma deserves a mention to the principal.
    CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT  ‘Selma’ a nod to past, present
    MLK biopic filmed in metro Atlanta has growing Oscar buzz.
    By Jennifer Brett     
    The day the Ferguson grand jury’s decision was announced , actor David Oyelowo was in Atlanta to discuss his portrayal of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma.” In a matter of hours, the St. Louis suburb would be rocked by protests and a spasm of violence that gave way to more peaceful demonstrations around the country, including Atlanta, following the decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.    “Selma,” filmed largely in metro Atlanta with key scenes shot in the Alabama town made infamous when hundreds of peaceful civil rights marchers bound for Montgomery were attacked by state and local police officers in 1965, opens today in New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles and at two Atlanta theaters, AMC Phipps and Regal Atlantic Station. It will be released nationwide on Jan. 9.   A powerful work already nominated for a best picture Golden Globe and highly expected to pick up an Academy Award nod, it tells the story of the Selma-to-Montgomery march and the movement that ultimately led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In addition to Martin and Coretta King, the movie prominently includes characters playing Atlantans such as U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Young and the late Hosea Williams.    Oyelowo prepared to march in Martin Luther King Jr.’s shoes with prayer. “When I first read the script in 2007 I literally felt God telling me I was going to play this role,” he said. “I wrote it down in my prayer diary. I took a gamble and said, ‘Dear God, I pray that something will come through me that is not of me.’”    Shortly before filming began at locations including the Georgia State Capitol and the Marietta-Cobb Museum of Art, Oyelowo visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and met with the Rev. Bernice King, the center’s CEO and daughter of the civil rights icon.
    To read the rest, go to     December 25th 2014

    Wednesday, December 24, 2014

    Clayton County students take to the streets to learn about helping their communities

    When it comes to making an education practical, kids learn best in a number of ways from being fed properly and feeling safe. In this story from the AJC's H.M. Cauley, students in a county where safety is an issue, students are taking to the streets to show how to keep their neighborhoods safe. Everyone needs to play a part and this is something all communities can learn and grow from.

    Students take their studies to streets
    Clayton students cover neighborhood to offer residents safety tips.
    By H.M. Cauley For the AJC
       Kenny Glisch may be a freshman at Drew High in Riverdale, but he’s already thinking about the future. The 14-year-old is getting a head-start on exploring a career in law and justice through the Clayton County system’s Career, Technology and Agricultural Education initiative.    “This program spoke to me the most since my dad was a cop for 25 years,” said Glisch. “It’s one of the few classes where you can go right into the field out of high school while working on a post-secondary education.”    Clayton’s CTAE program offers 23 courses in topics ranging from culinary arts and carpentry to financial services and technology. Glish’s law enforcement class is part of a cluster that gives students insight into what it’s like to be a security or police officer.    “The idea is to prepare students for a skill or train them so they can continue their education at a 2- or 4-year college or university,” said Eboni Chillis, the CTAE coordinator for the school system. “Or they can obtain an entry-level position in the field of their choice. And they can take different programs at our nine high schools and open campus.”    The law and justice area is popular due to what Chillis dubs “the ‘CSI’ effect.”    “Students are so interested in ‘CSI’ that they believe the field is as fun and exciting as it is on television,” she said. “This program gives them the opportunity to delve into the curriculum and study the skills needed for public safety, corrections and security fields. It helps them visualize what they might do in a particular field.”    One of the important elements of the CTAE program is its hands-on approach. Through internships and projects with local business and organizations, they get to see the subject as it operates in the real world.    Glisch and about 20 fellow students from Drew, Riverdale and Forest Park high schools got a taste of community policing on De. 11 when they took part in Shining Light, an event organized by the school system.    In the early evening, students and members of the Clayton Neighborhood Revitalization Coalition, the school district, Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity and the county police department walked the streets of the Normandy neighborhood in College Park. They talked with residents about safety issues, particularly those that arise around the holiday season.    Toting flashlights donated by Lowe’s and led by police cruisers with lights flashing, the teens passed out flyers offering tips on crime prevention that they had designed themselves.    “I loved it,” said Glisch. “At first, when people saw cop cars with lights on coming through the neighborhood, I think they were wary. But as they came out to see what was happening, we told them it was a safety-related event, and we talked about security measures, like leaving lights on and not posting your whereabouts on social media. I think they really appreciated what we were doing.”    The event also fulfilled research and reporting requirements students must meet for the class. And it gave neighborhood residents a chance to interact positively with students who might be the next generation of uniformed officers.
    Drew High School freshman Kenny Glisch (left center) and fellow law and justice students on Dec. 11 fanned out through a College Park neighborhood offering seasonal safety tips. CONTRIBUTED

    Sunday, December 21, 2014

    It's a Kahoot If your using

       When I first heard about at the Fulton County Schools teacher induction program, I had no idea what to think. But using a kid/adult friendly program where you use technology whether it be phone, I-Pad or computer could show students that learning is fun. For educators you know you cannot keep phones out of the classroom and if you work for an employer that encourages technology and using cell phones, this is a great way to go. So what is it? Its a free program where teachers create questions on quizzes, surveys or start conversations and students simply answer them. The rest is really a blast.

    Great reasons to use it.

    1. Students go nuts! Watching students go crazy in a positive way when learning is a tremendous teaching tool. Please set ground rules. Everyone needs to be seated and not walking around the class.I stop the game if students violate this unless they cannot read a question which is pretty rare.

    2. You can use data depending on the device. These days, its all about the data. Data is somewhat reliable when every student has their own device and uses what they know and answers questions the quickest becomes the new leader. Teachers can look at data afterward to drive instruction. They key is making sure students do not share answers unless you want them to in a group setting. You can see where you need to reteach or where student mastery has occurred.

    3. Students can create questions- When a student takes ownership and they see their name next to a question being asked. Have students research a question from material based on the standards and you have students teaching students.
    4. Teachers create questions- It's a big duh but use questions from your pre and post tests. Its a great ticket in or out the door.
    5. Competitive atmosphere- Students love to compete and they realize time is just as important as mastery in order to win.

    1. Downsides- There are a few. Data works best when students have their own device. Believe it or not, not all students will have a cell phone in middle and even high school. Elementary teachers will certainly have to use laptops or I-Pads or even the media center.

    2. Use it no more than once per week. After that, you are taking a fun activity and taking the edge off of something fun. We always want our students looking forward to doing whatever we do.
    Here is the link to the free signup

    Tuesday, December 16, 2014

    Crowdfunding is a great way to get classroom projects paid for

    Scott: These Chicago fifth graders are getting a hands-on lesson in engineering by launching catapults.

    Amani Abuhabsah is their teacher and says the catapults kits weren't purchased by the school system. And she couldn’t afford the materials on her own. But she got them as a gift through a site called, where teachers post requests for classroom materials they need and anyone can help cover the cost.
    Basically like crowdfunding, which is a new online trend in charity. 
    Charles Best started Donors Choose fourteen years ago when he began teaching.

    Charles: My colleagues and I would spend a lot of our own money on copy, paper, and pencils. And we just figured there were people out there who would want to help teachers like us if they could see exactly where their money was going.

    Scott: Today more than half of all public schools in America have at least one teacher who has created a project on Donors Choose. And in response, 1.5 million people have given more than 250 million dollars.

    Charles: People not only want to support public schools, but people warm to this idea of being a philanthropist, even though they might have only have five dollars to spare.

    Scott: Best hopes Donors Choose will help change policies around school funding by shedding light on the needs of teachers.

    Charles: We think that there's nothing like sunlight to mobilize and energize citizens to demand change of their elected officials.

    Scott: To do that, Donors Choose is making all of their information public. Now anyone can see what teacher requests come from which schools.

    Charles: If we can show the world that there are students in all sorts of communities who don't have the material they need for a great education, that’s going to be the first major step to doing something about it.
    Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.

    Maggie: After a project gets fulfilled on Donor's Choose, the class writes the donors thank you notes telling them all about their project. That way people can actually hear about all the good that comes from their donation. Pretty cool right?

    Alright guys, that's going to do it for us. I am Maggie Rulli and we cannot wait to see you tomorrow.

    Georgia School Rankings- How did your school do?

    Georgia School Rankings- How did your school do

     The state's report card grades on a scale of 0 to 110. The overall score is made up of four components: Achievement points are based on results of CRCT tests in grades 3-8 and end-of-course tests in grades 9-12, readiness for the next academic level, and graduation rates. Schools can earn up to 60 points. Progress points are based on students' academic growth on state tests. Worth up to 25 points. Achievement gap points are awarded to schools for closing achievement gaps. Worth up to 15 points. Challenge points are awarded to schools with significant number of economically disadvantaged students, English learners and students with disabilities meeting expectations, or if they exceed the state targets in college-ready programs. Worth up to 10 extra points.  

    One teacher helps his students tweet their way to a Revolution

    The Revolution Will Be Tweeted

          It is nice when students can have their voice be heard through a Twitter account. For Xian Barrett and his middle school students, they had enough time to share their feelings through a classroom account of the historical implications ranging from Emmitt Till to Eric Garner. For students that do not feel like they have a voice, using a teachers twitter account where he posts the account and they link to other like minded sites gives them a voice. In the article posted by Teaching Tolerance, Barrett uses classroom conversations (I do not know if it is standards based)and students give personal accounts of their experiences with police.
    "There are some things that we can never change it seems...#racism #EricGarner #TrayvonMartin #EmmettTill #RekiaBoyd #Ferguson "-DS 8th
    "This makes youth of color feel threatened in our own communities because even eye contact w/an officer could mean death #EricGarner"-TG 8th
    "I don't feel anything. It's a misfortune he died, but things like this happen all the time, which is pretty sad to say. #EricGarner"-MG 7th
    These are just a few tweets from seventh- and eighth-graders who were doing more than expressing their views on the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and others: They were completing a classroom assignment.
    Last week, Chicago middle school teacher Xian Barrett had his students insert their voices into conversations about these cases by creating a special activity: After reviewing and discussing the details of each case in class, tweet about them. He then shared these tweets on his own Twitter feed (while maintaining students’ anonymity).
    Barrett recently shared with Teaching Tolerance his inspiration for the project and the most meaningful takeaways for him and his students.
    What inspired you to document your students’ thoughts on #Ferguson and #EricGarner, and why through Twitter? 
    Personally, what drives me on the violence issue is that I’ve had to bury too many students. It’s seven now from my classes, but there have been a lot more young people lost from the communities I’ve taught in. That’s the worst thing that can happen to a teacher. They should be putting us in the ground 40 years from now, not vice versa.
    But that’s not all. When I did peace circles with my high school students, they would describe being stopped by police 10, 15, 20 times over three-month periods. At the same time, they were terrified of the violence in the neighborhood. I mean, I just heard shots down the block as I’m typing this.
    … I’m angry like much of America about the #EricGarner and #MikeBrown cases, but this has been happening forever. It’s part of the same culture that had police working with white supremacist groups to lynch and terrorize people of color for most of our nation’s history. I teach that history, and now that mainstream America is finally discussing these issues more, I want my students to be part of that discussion. How can we hope to address deep institutional criminalization of black and brown youth if we don’t respect them to lead these discussions?
    Barrett said, "I want to make sure [my students] are thinking deeply and using their voices. I think long-form writing is still important—we will do several longer papers this year—but I want them to get used to using platforms for power, not just to get a grade for a class."
    What was the classroom context for this project? Was it an assignment?
    Yes, we studied the background details. It’s important to acknowledge the nuances and the differing perspectives.
    In all this work, I try to refrain from sharing my perspective until after they share theirs. In this latest project, some of the students (as you can see in the tweets, it was just a couple) were very sympathetic to the officers. But most were not—as has been my experience in the three settings I’ve taught at in Chicago. Even those with relatives in law enforcement tended to focus on the need for all police to act ethically and de-escalate violence so their colleagues could be safer rather than justifying deadly force.
    After reviewing the facts (and the details, like how a grand jury works, etc.), they spoke in groups and then individually wrote their tweets.
    How do you teach about Twitter?
    It is definitely a teaching tool. I think most of the youth can see that an essay they write gets seen by one or maybe 30 people if you do peer sharing, but a tweet can be seen by thousands. That motivates them. We talk about what makes a good tweet in the same way we discuss what a good persuasive essay looks like. We have looked at other tweets on the hashtags where organizers are using them to rally people and run on-the-ground logistics. But it’s still something we are developing. We’ll see where they want to take it. 
    As of now, I do a lot of modeling. As you can see, only a few of my students got parental permission and tweeted their own tweets [@OldSpiceManny, @SebasOrtiz17 and @Tiristaran]. [T]he logistics are difficult—especially with the younger voices.
    What were your goals for this activity? What were you hoping the result(s) would be?
    I want them to be able to analyze difficult situations and have big takeaways. The youth who linked Emmett Till to Michael Brown or Eric Garner in a short thoughtful sentence are already making the deep connections that transform the study of history from a trivial pursuit to work that transforms the present and future.

    That said, there’s going to be a wide spectrum, but I saw growth in all of the students, including those with big obstacles in their normal schooling. They in particular engaged far beyond my expectations. I think it’s worth remembering that, in addition to race, the students with disabilities are far more likely to run into trouble with the police, so I’m very hopeful that they’ll find this work useful.
    What have you learned from this experience, as a teacher?
    There’s a weird dynamic these days where everyone talks about “having high standards” and what they mean is that you attack the young people if they don’t conform to very narrowly defined standards. I find it to be particularly damaging to youth of color—many of whom aren’t likely to want to conform to standards defined by affluent white communities [and pushed] onto them. I learned that if you break down those high expectations from “Hit this test score” to “Dream some stuff that you are passionate about and make it real,” they do a lot better.
    I said that losing a student to violence is the worst thing that can happen to a teacher and it’s true; it’s absolutely awful.
    That said, I think probably the worst thing that a teacher can do is to be complicit with the forces hurting and killing our students. I can’t say that I am able to avoid that entirely—we are all complicit in some way—but through projects like this one, I firmly believe that my students teach me to support them better in their struggles for justice in this unjust society.
    Editor's note: For more resources on similar topics, visit our Web package Teaching About Ferguson: Race and Racism in the United States.

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014

    How can schols help students and families do better with digital citizenship?

    Schools must have a digital citizenship policy. It is far more complex than what everyone could possibly imagine. What one parent wants, another could never allow their child to follow. What about the apathetic or confused parent. Some parents could care less what their kids do or look at and most parents have no idea what a digital citizenship policy is beyond knowing a school has one. The following is from an article by Alissa Sklar from Teaching Tolerance Magazine.

    Digital Community
    by Alissa Sklar
    Implementing a BYOD policy is the perfect opportunity to emphasize digital citizenship as part of your school’s culture.
    Set up clear guidelines. Schools need to inform students and families about when devices can be used, who is responsible for damage and what the consequences will be if devices are misused.
    Talk about empathy and community. Defining your school’s expectations of digital citizenship goes a long way towards avoiding problems. Integrate concepts of safety, rights and respect for self and others—online and elsewhere—into classroom activities and homework. Check out this example of proactive, pro-technology guidelines from the Trafalgar School for Girls in Montreal, Quebec.
    Teach about privacy controls. It can be tempting to trade privacy for high follower counts on Instagram, Tumblr or Twitter, but this leaves students open to cyberbullying, trolling, identity theft and the possibility that their digital footprints can come back to haunt them. Consider asking students to research privacy settings as part of an assignment.
    Emphasize that passwords are personal. Sharing passwords is too often viewed as a sign of trust in a relationship or friendship, but true friends would never ask you to divulge this information and make yourself vulnerable.

    What happens when Johnny does not bring his own cell phone to class?

    I think its fair to say that not all schools are equal and when it comes to technology, this is especially so. One school has hardwired computers but a poor WIFI system or smart boards only go to math classes and the rest of the classes do not have that luxury. In my own classroom, we embrace technology and use it every day. Saying that, I have two computers for class exploration and I often ask students to bring their phones for a variety of activities. These include Socratic, and But what happens when Johnny or Jane do not have a phone? Do they have to sit out the activity or do a paper and pencil activity because the district either cannot offer an I-Pad or a parent cannot afford or by principle allow their child to bring a device to school. In the article from Teaching Tolerance Magazine, they look at this issue and I bring you a portion of it with some solutions to this problem.

    BYOD? [Bring Your Own Device]

    The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project recently asked over 1,600 experts what they thought the future of the Internet would look like. Respondents replied that the Internet would essentially become the equivalent of electricity—something so integral to our daily lives that it is practically invisible.
    Compelled by a similar vision of the future and the increasingly technology-driven nature of our society, more and more U.S. schools are adopting “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies, encouraging students to bring personal computers, tablets, mobile phones and other Internet-compatible devices to class to serve as learning aids. According to the 2014 Digital School Districts Survey, conducted by the Center for Digital Education and the National School Boards Association, the percentage of schools using BYOD has jumped from 34 to 56 in just the last year.
    So why BYOD instead of “one-to-one,” a system in which schools provide one device per student?
    “Fundamentally, it’s school finance,” says Julie Evans, chief executive officer of Project Tomorrow, a California nonprofit that promotes innovation in math, science and technology education. “Administrators have bought into the idea that having a personalized computing device in the hands of every student is a good idea. But they have not been able to figure out how to pay for that on an ongoing and sustainable basis. In many cases—in most cases—they have backed into BYOD as a solution to that problem.”

    There are several things that can be done to help those that do not have the means to use technology in the classroom. 

    1. Ask students to share technology such as a laptop or cell phone. If you are playing an online game, put them on a team and have them share. You have cooperative learning in a nutshell. 

    2. Check out a laptop/I-PAD cart. If your school has one, plan ahead and have clear goals for students on policy, sharing and so forth. 

    3. Have your technology person install activote software on your computer so all students can compare. 

    I like using the data to drive instruction. Using electronic devices where all students can be heard helps drive instruction and students can be retaught by class, group or individually. 

    I suggest districts/counties/principals and teachers apply for grants. Best Buy has a major grant for technology but that is geared for teachers that write outstanding grants. Mr. Akers 

     To read the rest of the article from Teaching Tolerance, click here.