Taking Down The Baby-Proofing: Some Thoughts On Self-Reg

Like many households with toddlers and babies, we have outlet covers placed in every reachable outlet throughout the house. For the first two years of my daughter’s life, they stayed put and did their job, keeping her safe from electrocution. 

But alas, at some point, her curiosity and fine motor skills moved beyond the simple plastic and left us with outlet covers being pulled out left and right. 

At first, we tried telling her no. 

Then we tried redirecting her every time.

When neither worked, we attempted to show her how to put them BACK in the socket in hopes that once pulled out, she would put it back in. However, instead of putting the cover back in the socket, she started sticking anything else that might fit. I’m sure a lot of parents are familiar with the objects- Pencils, forks, fingers, straws, anything long and skinny. 

Finally, I was at a loss, what was I going to do to keep my daughter from getting electrocuted? This was becoming too dangerous. 

One night it dawned on me. She was two and a half at this point and I thought to myself, it’s time to stop trying to block her from the danger and start teaching her how to properly use them as a tool, making the danger lessen drastically. 

We had a quick conversation about outlets and power, at a two-year-old level of course, and what we use outlets for. I pulled out her tablet and charger and showed her how to properly plug in one side of the cord to the outlet and the other into the tablet. She practiced over and over taking it in and out of the outlet and watching the screen turn on when it would start charging. We also talked about what can and cannot be placed in outlets. Tablet chargers- good! Forks- No way. She was overjoyed with this new skill she had just obtained. 

At some point, we had to take away the baby-proofing and hand-holding to let our kids just experience the world for what it is. This can be true for crossing the road or walking to the neighbor’s house. Maybe taking off training wheels or taking off floaties in the pool as Mary talked about in a past post. 

How do we help students learn self-regulation in our schools that can be full of figurative outlet covers? What would happen if we let elementary students choose their own tables in a lunchroom instead of assigning each grade and class a specific spot? At first- chaos. But over time, think of the self-regulation this could promote in students with the proper scaffolding. Just like how I had to sit down and show my daughter step by step how to plug in her tablet and effectively use an outlet, the same would be done with the students. 

The benefit became apparent for me almost right away after removing every last outlet cover from our home. When the vacuum cord wouldn’t quite reach the far corner of the living room, my daughter came running to unplug it from the current outlet and move it to a closer one. Less work for me! When her tablet dies, she is responsible for plugging it back in. She is excited at any chance she has to use the outlets, and I don’t have to worry about forks and straws in them anymore! 

How do we find the balance of a well run, efficient school while also putting responsibility into the hands of students to behave and act in a respectful, responsible manner? And how do we get to the point where the two can become one? A well-run school that promotes student decision making and taking off the “outlet covers”? Tell me your thoughts.

Featured Image: pexels.com

My Best Field Trip Tips

Field trips season is coming this spring! Nothing causes kids more excitement and teachers more anxiety than a day outside of school in unfamiliar territory. Field trips can be so nerve-wracking because it takes planning, permission slips, parent volunteer sign-ups, and more. 

I spent two months in a 4th-grade classroom during my time student teaching, and during that time we as a 4th-grade team went on SIX different field trips! In my next block of student teaching, I was in a 2nd-grade classroom where we went on two field trips in two months. In my first long-term substitute teaching job after graduation, the first-grade team I was working with brought the kids on a field trip to the aquarium. All within the same school year, I was able to experience TEN field trips. 

Ten field trips in nine months with three different age groups gave me a lot of experience that I am here to share with you now! 

  • Prep the students beforehand- Don’t leave them with uncertainty, walk them through what will happen, how it will happen, and how you expect it to happen. Tell them how to enter the bus, how to sit on the bus, how to handle lunchtime, how to find you if they need you, and more. Set CLEAR expectations and repeat them again and again. 
Exploring and learning about The Great Salt Lake by getting into it!
  • Give your students examples and stories of why your expectations are set the way they are. The first field trip I went on with my 4th-grade class, their teacher told them a story of how she lost a student on a field trip because the student wasn’t following instructions and she wasn’t paying close enough attention. She made them a promise that she would pay extra attention to every single one of them and do her part if they did their part by adhering to expectations. Adding a personal experience helped those students realize just how important paying attention and following procedures really was. 
  • Count your students. Then Count again. And again. Always be counting the students.
  • Use the buddy system. It is used often and is somewhat obvious for teachers, and for good reason, it works! 
Writing in their field trip journals
  • Have your students keep a field trip journal to record their learning. Give them prompts during breaks to write about what they are seeing, learning, and doing.
  • Parents. You most likely have at least one parent in your classroom that is willing to step up and to help you with what you need. Utilize these parents as chaperones, organizers, and more! Use them as often as possible. 
  • Take pictures. If possible, take pictures of your students for parents to see and to show your students later as well. These memories are priceless and everyone will appreciate them later. 
  • HAVE FUN. There is no lie a certain level of stress accompanies any given field trip. But when it comes down to it, you’ve done the planning, you’ve prepped the kids, and now it’s time to enjoy the field trip and watch the students learn and grow in a new environment. 
Handcarts and pioneers are a deep part of Utah’s state history. Field trip at the American West Heritage Center in Wellsville, Utah.
Touring Utah State University’s campus

Field trips can be incredibly rewarding if they are done correctly. Students can learn and grow outside of the classroom and it can give them the hands-on experience they need to understand how the world works around them. Gone are the days of passive learning where we sit in desks and copy notes. Now is the time for active learning and putting understanding into the hands of the students. 

What are your best field trip tips that you would add to this list? 

Technology Interview With Dr. Rose Judd-Murray

I recently conducted an interview with Dr. Rose Judd-Murray, a past professor of mine at Utah State University that teaches in the school of Applied Sciences, Technology, and Education. I felt like she would have some excellent insight on technology in the classroom as both an educator and a student, and after the interview was conducted, her answers did not disappoint! There is a lot of golden information here both for educators who are new to technology, and those who are deep in the tech universe. 

How have you seen technology in education change over the years? 

“The most positive change I have seen in the last five years has been the focus on universal design and the improvement of connection-building for online delivery of courses. There are good ways to connect online and some really poor ways—I see both used, but at least at my institution, there is a great deal of effort expended to try and educate faculty on how to understand how and why for using the good techniques.”

What are the ways you’ve seen student improvement by using technology in the classroom? 

“Content has to be relatable to be relevant. Faculty and/or instructors that aren’t using technology to make their content relevant for Gen Z & Alpha lose credibility and application with their students. I see the greatest amount of student improvement in engagement and motivation when they can see that there are real-world applications within the content. I’m a teacher advocate for using technology to connect to professionals and organizations that build these bridges for our students.”

In what ways have you seen technology help our society as a whole? 

“I believe that technology solves problems. Technology is the application of science to find solutions to our societal problems. There is tremendous potential for us to use technology to improve human conditions, environmental degradation, and create a sustainable planet for future generations. The key is that technology is applied by humans—and while an invention can be “created” to fill one purpose it may be applied in many other ways. It is our responsibility to understand that technology can hurt as well as heal and if we aren’t paying attention and actively engaging for a democratic application there will be very real consequences. The adage, “technology is dangerous” is only true if we fail to take responsibility for how we use it.”

Why is technology in education so important to you as a professor? And why was it important to you as a student? 

“Because of the consequences if we fail to see how/why it can be used poorly. The same technology that allows people to expand their families and has the potential to eliminate generations of crippling disease also possesses the potential for excessive genetic manipulation. It’s shocking to me how few people see the connections—and even more disturbing how quickly real scientific fact is manipulated for personal greed or political fodder. Providing the context and content for enabling a technologically literate society, enables us to embrace facts and enforce an ethical standard. The ethical standards set by the United States have an incredible influence on a global society. We have a significant responsibility to make sure that our students possess the capability to lead.”

In what ways have you been frustrated with tech as an educator, or as a student?

“There’s always something that doesn’t go right at the very last minute. Truthfully, I usually don’t pass on my frustrations to the technology. The biggest challenges I encounter are with instructors who simply refuse to evolve, incorporate, or adapt to the needs of our students. The days of only using PowerPoint to connect are long gone. I have a colleague who is a great advocate for gamification in the classroom. His incorporation of tech to create suspense, motivation, and competition has really transformed my version of acceptable class time. Being a teacher is the toughest job because it is a constant and continual learning process—BUT that’s the job—and we can do a better job of preparing them at the pre-service and in-service level for using technology effectively.”

Is there anything else you would like to add that would be helpful to know? 

“I know how overwhelming it can feel to want to improve your understanding of technology. Pick one thing. Make it your goal for the whole school year. If it’s just content knowledge, use a good book like, How We Got To Now by Steven Johnson. Think about how you can use readings, experiences, and historical perspective to get your students thinking about old and new technology. If you’re struggling with simply using technology in your class, again, keep it basic until you are so comfortable with an app (like Kahoot!) that you can pull something together on the fly. Learning how to use one application effectively and efficiently (e.g., polling students in real-time) is a much better use of your time than trying to run a vlog, and Twitter, and Quizlet. My go-to practice is to know exactly what I can use and when I can use it. It makes me feel tech-powerful.”

Dr. Judd-Murray has great insight into how we can see technology advance every day, as well as both the how and why we use it in the classroom. As she stated, we are using technology to create a relatable environment for students. We are stepping out of our comfort zones to create meaningful content for them. Technology is here to stay, and if we let it, we can use it to solve our problems and make our lives in schools a little easier. 

The Importance Of Students Having A Global Perspective

We have our neighborhoods and communities that kids are aware of. 

We have schools that they know very well. 

The towns they grow up in are a part of them. 

Sometimes even the cities neighboring can be important in their lives as well. 

And of course, our own state has an impact on them. 

But what about moving beyond our states? Or even our nation? What is the importance of giving kids a global perspective? 

Teaching students about global affairs in an authentic way can teach them acceptance and understanding of cultures and others. It can allow them to feel more empathy as they learn more about the various types of living styles. It can open their eyes to see that their lifestyle isn’t how someone else lives. 

They might even have the chance to say, “Hey! This kid is just like me.” 

Having a mindset that our world goes beyond the walls of our schools or the lines of our states gives us millions of minds to collaborate with and help with finding solutions. We can start asking the important questions like, “Why is Singapore’s math curriculum working so well and how can we use it too?” 

There is a better chance they will end up in global careers by learning about them now. 

Students won’t just know about the Great Wall of China, they will understand the history and importance of it, as well as the impacts it has on China’s residents today. 

So start introducing other cultures in your classroom. Give your students the opportunity to interact and collaborate with other students across the globe, through email, skype, or social media. Break down the four walls of your school and the limits of your cities to show our future leaders what a global perspective looks like. 

Featured Image: Pexels.com

A Little Math, A Little Art, A Lot Of Fun

When math overrides the majority of the time throughout the day, how do we incorporate the arts? We make art mathematical! Here is a fun activity to learn about the color wheel, as well as apply fraction skills in the process of creating the color wheel. 

You’ll need a print out of a blank or semi-filled in color wheel, and modeling clay.

I used Crayola Model Magic clay for this activity. It’s soft, squishy, and will change colors when mixed! Normal clay can work just fine too. You can either let it dry and let them glue it to the page when it’s finished, or toss it back all together and store it in an airtight container for future use. 

Start with three equal pieces of clay in red, yellow, and blue. 

Leave a small reference piece behind, then with remaining clay, split into two equal pieces, creating two halves.  

Mix the colors! Write out the fractions on the paper as well. 

Orange= ½ R ½ Y 

Purple= ½ B ½ R 

Green ½ Y ½ B 

For a shorter activity, find a smaller color wheel cut into sixths and stop here. For a longer activity, continue on. For the sake of a shorter blog post, I will only model one part of the next step.

On the blue and green side- split the blue and green pieces in ½. (For reference, I pulled a new piece of blue clay for this.)

Mix the blue and green pieces to make green-blue. Green-blue is equal to ½ G, ½ B. Or it is also equal to ¼ Y ¾ B. 

The other half of the green that was split before will be used to mix with a half piece of the yellow. 

Continue the same with yellow-green, red-orange, etc. 

Common core standards: 
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.3.NF.A.3
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.4.NF.A.2

featured image: hosmerart.blogspot.com

The Conclusion Of My MBTI Research: My Learning Summarized

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. 

In the last few months, I have analyzed all 16 Meyers Briggs personality types. Last week I wrote my 16th post in the series, the final personality type explained. Seeing my research come to an end was sad for me because I’ve dedicated so much time and interest in the subject. A few takeaways I ended  with were this: 

Figuring out student’s personality types can be hard and time-consuming, but also incredibly awarding if you’re willing to put in the work. 

You don’t necessarily need to know their MBTI personality type to know them better. Start with identifying introverts and extroverts and using that information to guide your teaching. Move on to identifying sensing versus intuitive students and then use that as well. 

Students can be aware of MBTI types as well to help them interact with other teachers and peers. 

When comparing personality types, they can be very similar and vastly different at the same time. 

There are not necessarily pros and cons to a personality type, just differences in how we think and who we are. 

Jane Kise has done extensive research on MBTI in the classroom. If I cannot convince you how beneficial is it, maybe she can with her TedTalk. Notice that she doesn’t find conclusive evidence by the majority of students acting and reacting in certain ways, but because every single student of the same personality type has the same actions. 

In the future, look for a post with links to each of the personality types to learn more about how to use your knowledge of MBTI in the classroom. Until then, share with me! How has your knowledge of MBTI helped you in your classroom? 

featured image: thedailybeast.com


The Power of Authentic Praise in the Classroom: My Personal Experience

I had a student once, you know the student. The one that pushes buttons, tests boundaries, and always seems to say just the right things to upset you. He was difficult to have in the classroom and a challenge for every teacher, resource aid, and adult that walked the halls of the school. In my attempt to reach this student and use him as a powerful player in the classroom, not a distraction, I found research on praising in a positive, genuine way and the impact it can have on students. 

In short, I found in my research that we should be praising students genuinely, immediately, unexpectedly, and both publicly and privately. It should also be honing in on your own feelings, not said in a general sense. For example, instead of saying, “Good job on your book report” if you phrase it more in a sense of, “I was really impressed by your book report, I can see how hard you worked on it.” it will come across as more personal and elicit more feelings of accomplishment in the student. After coming forward with these findings, I was ready to apply them in my classroom with not only my difficult student but all of my students. 

It started slowly, I gave authentic, specific praise as often as possible, but whole class and individual students. However, I found that it was harder to give this type of praise to the harder students that didn’t seem to naturally follow directions like the rest of the class. 

One day, my particularly hard student (we’ll call him Johnny) was having an especially rough day. On the way out to recess, I saw him shove a notebook I had never seen before into his desk. “Hey Johnny, can I see that really fast?” Instantly he was defensive and hesitant because he was expecting to be reprimanded for it. I reassured him he wasn’t in trouble and just wanted to take a peek at something I found interesting on the cover. 

Right away I saw incredible artwork cover the front. I flipped through a few pages and found sheets and sheets of dedicated time and effort. My initial thought was that if he can spend this much time creating something like this, why isn’t he spending five minutes on his math homework? But then I had to change my thinking. 

“Oh, Johnny. This is absolutely outstanding! Did you create this all on your own? I love the attention to detail you gave this drawing.” 

He instantly was quiet and his cheeks red with embarrassment. I could tell fairly fast that this type of praise was not common for him, he wasn’t sure how to handle it. I knew it was something that needed to become more and more common with my speaking not only to him, but again, every single student I came in contact with. 

I started putting in extra effort into praising my students in an authentic way and started seeing a difference in my students. 

They started trying a little harder. 

They saw the hard work they were putting forth too. 

They started complimenting their peers and even myself in the same way.

Our classroom became an even more enjoyable, positive place. And on top of that, my little Johnny had a different attitude about learning and school in general. He sought to receive praise in his hard work. Don’t get me wrong, we still had struggles and I worked hard to motivate him the rest of the time! But deep down he truly did try to find that encouragement to keep going. He was easier to understand, and I truly found happiness in his drawings, especially when he would create something specifically for me! 

Ideally what I took away from this was that a little more effort in praise can go a long way if we take the time.