Student Access to Writing for a Global Audience

Do you remember the days when you got back from summer vacation and within the first week you did a writing prompt: “What Did You Do For Summer Vacation?” and once you were finished writing it was filed back in your backpack, maybe hung on the fridge by your parents? If you were lucky, your teacher might just hang it up in the hallway for passing students and teachers to read. 

I think the majority of teachers are on the same page that students need an authentic audience to produce authentic work. When they know who they are writing to and why it gives them a purpose to not only write, but write well. So who is their audience? Peers? Teachers? Parents? Maybe they are writing something specifically for their principal? How do we move beyond the walls of our schools and write to a bigger audience? I’m not just talking in our neighborhoods or even states. I’m talking globally.

In my research on writing to a global audience, it seems to be a fairly uncommon thing still. Putting your students work out there for the world to see can be scary, people can be mean with comments and you never know who will see it. It’s also new and different, this new use of technology in schools is still developing, teachers are still being trained in new ways every day to incorporate tech in the classroom. 

So what are the benefits of writing to a global audience? First, having an authentic audience. Everyone has a desire to do better and try harder when they know their results will be public and it gives their writing a deeper purpose. Also, global collaboration can take place. Students have been sharing writing with peers, but what if a student in California sent their “What Did You Do This Summer” paper to a student in Wisconsin and vice-versa? 

Not only could they help peer-edit, but they can compare and contrast a summer in California to a summer in Wisconsin. What if they compared their winter vacations? Can you even imagine the learning that could take place with this type of collaboration? What if the student in California was writing to a student in China? Or India? We can have our kids read about winters in China out of a book and hope they remember it, or we can have them learn about winters in China first-hand from a student who is living there. Which do you think would stick better in their brain? 

Teachers may not know how to start sending out their student’s work to a global audience yet. Some ideas include via email, social media such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and more, SeeSaw, or publish to blogs. Mary wrote more in detail about how to utilize the internet for student writing a few years back. The best part of the internet is that limits do not exist. New platforms pop up each and every day and if something you need doesn’t exist, it’s simple to create it yourself. The internet can be a powerful place if we let it. 

If your students are writing to a global audience, I would love to hear about it! Comment below and let me know how you’re accomplishing this. 

Teaching the “Entreperneur” Student: An MBTI Personality Type

This is part of a series of using Myers Briggs personality types in the classroom. For more information, click here. For information on how to figure out your student’s MBTI type, click here. 

Picture a student that is highly motivated by competition, one that is highly practical, yet disorganized. Perhaps spicy would be a word you could describe this student as. A student that you see someday owning and running their own very successful business. In fact, an ESTP’s nickname is “The Entrepeuneur”. 

Extroverted
Sensing 
Thinking 
Perceiving 

ESTP students have a hard time with theoretical ideas because they are the “get to work now” type. When they find excitement in a subject, they excel. ESTPs are known for jumping in with two feet with an idea and doing the thinking later because they want results and they wanted them yesterday. 

Group work and collaboration are where they flourish, especially with their extroverted tendencies. Bouncing ideas off of peers and working with others gives them energy and fuels their fire to take off and create something great. They are known for their original ideas and especially for making them happen. 

Their quick personalities also give them a love for games in the classroom or anything else that requires quick answers with a competitive environment. They are not ones to sit down with information and take it all in, they need the reader’s digest version of everything so that they can bounce around and move onto the next idea. 

Highly structured environments are hard for them with their perceiving type. They want the room to move and create at their own free will, not under the direction of a teacher. When given the right materials and space, ESTPs can blow everyone out of the water with what they can come up with. 

The sensing type in them thrives on manipulatives in the classroom. They want hands-on experience in everything, allowing them to take in and internalize a concept by doing, not seeing. If they are having a hard time grasping a concept, put it into action for them or let them put it into action themselves, that’s how they want to learn. 

Do you have an ESTP student in your class? How do you see their spicy, driven personality enhance the culture of your classroom? 

Sincerely, Your Substitute Teacher

Dear Teachers, 

We see you. We see the work you put in. We see the sacrifice you make in providing your classroom with materials paid for out of your pocket. We see the extra janitorial work you do before, after, and even during class. We respect the amount of time you put into the learning of these students, spending hours before and after class writing lesson plans, making anchor charts, calling parents, and prepping for upcoming days. 

When we walk through your classroom we see smiles on your student’s faces. We see their excitement for learning and how hard you’ve worked to get them to this point. Your love and respect for your students are tangible by the way they talk so highly of you. We see how much you care about them too by the work you’ve put into each detail, their personalized name tags, the extra study chart you made when you realized they didn’t quite grasp concepts right away. We see it in the way you leave us notes about specific kids and their behaviors we need to be aware of- the students who are more difficult or the students who are big helpers. You know them, you know who they are and what they need. We see the sticky notes you leave for yourself about upcoming community events your students are in or the reminders for passing out those extra homework papers you’ve made at least 5 copies of this week since they all seem to mysteriously disappear in backpacks. 

We know you’re still an excellent teacher even though you had to take a sick day, or a personal day for conferences, vacation, or to visit family. We know you miss your students just as much as they miss you. We see what an accepting and inviting culture you’ve created in your classroom by the need your students feel to have you back.

We as substitute teachers are privileged to enter your classroom for sometimes as little as a few hours a day. We are given a tiny window of your space and we respect your noble work. So teachers, dear teachers, we see you. We respect you, and we are proud of you. Keep doing the great work you are doing, because you are the best teacher for this classroom. 

Sincerely, 

Your Substitute Teacher 

The Whos, the Whats, and the Whys of EdTech

Technology in schools is ever-growing. In fact, I wrote a whole post about the evolution of technology and how the computers and iPads I used in school are now archaic. Laptops were not even a possibility, and this was only 10 or so years ago. 

EdTech in the education world is HUGE right now. Administrators, teachers, and parents are mostly accepting these advancements with open arms. You can find #EdTech and #EdTechChat all over twitter right now. 

So who is involved in this educational technology around the world? No age limit exists. College classes that hold all ages are using it. Elementary schools down to kindergarten hold some type of computer, iPad, or smart screen. You can even find it in preschools and daycares! Technology is not limited to a certain age by any means. Years ago we were limited by funding, especially without the sound research that it would work and benefit students. However, technology prices are dropping and becoming more affordable as we continue to learn new ways to create what we need. 

What kind of technology are we using in schools? Chromebooks and iPads are just the start of it. Augmented and virtual reality is becoming a big part of classrooms. Now we aren’t talking about the pyramids in Egypt, we’re visiting them and seeing them with our own eyes, yet in our own classrooms. Whiteboards are electronic, papers are typed, not written, and collaborating moves beyond the walls of the school, sometimes even beyond our nation! 

This technology advancement is taking place everywhere. I recently listened to a podcast about how a community in the rural areas of Florida are coming together to create more wifi accessibility to students. Resturants around the town were installing more free wifi for students to come to use after school, as well as leaving the school grounds open for sitting outside and using wifi. From big cities to small towns, technology is hitting the hands of students all over the world.  

Why are we becoming such technology-driven schools? It’s for the students. It’s all for the students. Plenty of studies have come out to show the benefit of using these apps and resources in our classrooms. We are providing them with more hands-on opportunities and more real-life skills because the technology they use in schools will carry out into their careers someday. It’s rare to find a job that doesn’t require some sort of competence on a computer, iPad, tablet, or with functions like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Google Drive. 

Tech is taking over our schools, and we can either shut it out and keep to our traditional teaching ways, or we can accept it with open arms to give our students the best chance at the best education. 

How are you using technology in your classroom? 

Teaching To The Dedicated, Procedure Following Kids

This is part of a series of using Myers Briggs personality types in the classroom. For more information, click here. For information on how to figure out your student’s MBTI type, click here. 

ISTJ students are often described as logical, practical, and structured. Do you have one of these students in your classroom? Possibly one that thrives on consistency and struggles when rules and procedures are not followed. 

Introverted 

Sensing 

Thinking 

Judging 

These introverted students are capable of working in smaller groups, but large groups can stress them out, especially when making comments or asking questions. It’s rare to find these students speaking up or asking things in classroom discussions. In an interview I conducted with ISTJ personality types, one student expressed how she wished there could be an anonymous way to ask the teacher something without speaking up in a group to avoid shame and embarrassment. Another shared, “I’m learning even if I’m not raising my hand and sharing my answers out loud.”

They are sensing students, meaning conceptual learning can be difficult for them. They need their senses engaged to understand concepts. They do not want lists of procedures to accomplish long division, sensing types need number cubes and drawn out examples to understand what exactly division is, then they can understand everything fully. 

Interest in a topic is vital for these students and if they love what they are learning they will put in their full effort. ISTJs often do well in a university school setting because the topics and classes are chosen based on what they want, giving them a deeper interest in their studies, pushing them to work harder and do better. 

Clear objectives and expectations are big for this personality type. If you ever feel like you’re writing your objectives on the board just because you were told to by an administrator or learning coach, know that your effort is not wasted with an ISTJ student in your classroom. They often need to look at what is expected and strive to follow this, because their core values are to reach expectations, and it hurts them when they don’t or can’t accomplish this. 

Do you have any ISTJ students in your classroom? What ways do you use their interests to drive their learning? 


The Worst Phone Call I’ve Made to a Parent

My hands were shaking as I picked up the phone. I was about to make a phone call to a parent of one of my best first-grade students, a call that I never thought I would have to make during my time teaching, especially during my very first teaching experience.

“Hi, Mrs. Johnson, it’s Mrs. Ross, your daughter’s teacher right now while her regular teacher is on maternity leave. I’m calling about your daughter, we had an incident today that I need to let you know about. While we were doing an activity with scissors, a boy in the class took a pair to your daughter’s braid and cut off the end of it. It was about an inch of hair and she is devastated. Do you mind talking to her for a little bit?” 

When the phone was handed back to me a few minutes later, I apologized over and over to her. I couldn’t believe that something like that happened in my classroom. All of the reminders of procedures and the rules we had in place for using scissors, it all went out the door the second the little boy put the scissors up to her hair. I felt like a failure as a teacher. 

Her mom came to pick her up from school early, she was too upset to make it through the school day. Proper action was taken on the situation with both students, and at the end of the day when all of them filed out of my classroom, I finally let my emotions show. I sat with other teachers in the copy room while we prepped for the next day and I told them how awful I felt about the situation. All of them helped me feel better by swapping their own stories of situations they have been in with students throughout their years of teaching, it helped me realize I wasn’t alone, others had been in this boat before too. 

What really helped most was my conversation with this little girl’s mom the next day. She dropped her off at school in the morning with a fresh new haircut and I continued to apologize to each of them again. Her mom responded by letting me know that she wasn’t upset in the slightest, either at me or the other student. These kids are seven years old, they are unpredictable and emotional human beings and it would be impossible for me to keep my eyes on each of them at all times, it wasn’t my fault. She even ended the conversation by asking if she could volunteer for anything, even if it was just cutting up things for me (since we had a new classroom rule of NO SCISSORS ALLOWED until I could get over what had happened). 

I expected her to be more upset with me, blaming everything on me, so to have her be understanding and in my corner was refreshing and uplifting. It really made me realize how much we as teachers need parents. They can be your advocate in bad situations. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve dealt with my fair share of difficult parents too, but that doesn’t mean they are all that way. Even though I was only in a long-term substitute teaching job, I wish I could have gone back and utilized parents more from the beginning. They really can be your best tool, if you let them in. 

I truly am curious, what is one of your worst teaching memories that you can hopefully look back on and laugh now? 

The Evolution of Technology: How it’s Used in the Classroom

When I was in first grade, our classroom had a set of three computers that sat on a table in our classroom, taking up a good chunk of space. The computers looked very similar to this: 

They were big and incredibly slow. The day my teacher announced that we would be doing some testing on the computers was a big day in our school, we were advancing at what we felt was such a rapid pace back then. Sometimes we would type papers on the computers and print them out, it made us feel extra fancy! By the time I left elementary school, our school had a drastic upgrade in computer technology in the classrooms. The new sets looked similar to these: 

With the smaller screen and slimmer computer deck, we were able to fit more into each classroom. They ran faster and we were able to do more, like access the internet for classroom use and the speakers allowed us to hear videos (if we could get them to load). Gone were the days of researching solely through textbooks, now we could look up scholarly articles and websites for more information! It was 2005 and it was revolutionary. 

Later in my 10th-grade Biology class, my teacher was applying for a grant that would supply our classroom with a set of 30 iPads. This type of thinking was astronomical, iPads had just come out that year, they were a new concept and tool and it didn’t seem like this forward-thinking would ever be rewarded. Others around the school, teachers, students, and parents mocked him for thinking something of the sort would even be a possibility. He was fairly confident it would happen. He listed out ways for us of how useful they could be, flashcard apps, looking up information, reviews, tests, using powerpoints and multiple other online materials to enhance our learning. I truly cannot reiterate enough how out-of-this-world it all seemed. 

When the grant was passed and 30 first-generation iPads entered our classroom, it was a monumental day. I remember my biology teacher standing in front of us saying, “We are living in the middle of a technological revolution. By the time you are in college, these iPads will be dinosaurs. We should never be afraid to embrace the technology, it can be here to help you, let it, but within reason.” We used the iPads for PowerPoint slides, notes, and videos we would create for each other. We felt like we were making history, because well, we really were

iPads are still around ten years later, but not in the same way they were ten years ago. If any of us were to pick up a first-gen iPad today, we would laugh. Yet, ten years ago it was like holding gold in our fingertips! It’s incredible to see the advances and changes technology has made over the years, and how it has affected our schools- both in the good ways and the bad ways. 

I believe deeply that technology can be an incredible tool for us in our classrooms when used correctly. I’ve witnessed firsthand how impactful these resources have been to students, no matter what level they may be on. My hope is that I can use this space over the next few weeks to highlight ways we as educators can and have been using technology in classrooms and schools as a whole. Chromebooks, iPads, smart projectors, and other resources have been popping up in schools all over the nation, so let’s make some great lists on great ways to use them! 

What technology do you have in your classroom? In what ways has it helped and hindered your students?