Wednesday, December 12, 2012


If you’re like me, your stomach turns inside and you groan whenever you read that there is a “group project” on the syllabus.  I’ve always preferred to work on my own – high school, college, and even when organizing something for work.  There are many reasons why I prefer to work individually; in the past, it usually had to do with me doing most of the work anyway and another person getting a grade for it.  Going to group meetings was a pain; working with people you don’t know is a pain – basically, the whole thing gets on my nerves.  Today, while working on my Master’s Degree, it is still required in most classes that we collaborate on some assignments.  While lazy group members haven’t been a problem in this program (yay! J) it is still somewhat frustrating.  Technology issues, conflicting schedules, worrying that someone isn’t going to do their part, the list goes on…
So, why do teachers do this?  Why do teachers insist that students collaborate on assignments?  Research shows that students learn better while collaborating in a group setting.  Edutopia offers some insight to how a top-ranked college prep school incorporates collaboration into every subject.  In math class, students almost always work in groups of four to answer problems.  In English class, students in a large group sit in a circle and hold discussions.  The article shows that sitting in a circle is conducive to holding conversations because eye contact is unavoidable and everyone feels included. 
Making collaborative work focused and giving everyone a part is critical in a group’s success.  Even though it may often be frustrating, collaborating does often teach me a lot.  Not only does it teach about the content, but it also teaches me about teamwork, compromise, and responsibilities.  This is important to remember next time my stomach starts to turn.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Reaching the Unreachable

We, as teachers, have all had them but hate to admit – disinterested students that just don’t seem to care…about anything.  But, Ben Johnson discusses using technology to reach these students in his article, “Using Technology to Reach Unreachable Students.” Normally, disengaged students seem to become more interested when teachers incorporate technology into lesson plans.  An oral class discussion can be dominated by select students, but a digital conversation can include the entire class.  iPads engage students, and they tend to learn more.
I wish iPads and unlimited technology was available at my school but unfortunately, it isn’t.  We don’t have wireless Internet and time spent loading web pages is often frustrating for students (and teachers.)  In fact, I had students create an Animoto video, but the lesson didn’t work too well because the videos wouldn’t even load, and students weren’t able to see their finished product.  I want to reach the unreachable students; I want to engage them in learning, but how can I appeal to them with my less sophisticated technology?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Expanding Your Business

When you think of Britney Spears, do you automatically think of her perfume line?  Or, when you think of Tim McGraw’s accomplishments, do you think of his singing or acting career?   Many celebrities have entered into multiple different business ventures and rebranded themselves.  Teenagers today probably find it hard to believe that Jessica Simpson used to sell albums; her clothing line has earned more than one billion dollars….yes, that’s right….one billion.  However, there have been some companies and celebrities that have been unsuccessful in rebranding themselves.  Oprah is a well-known billionaire and syndicated talk show host.  Well, her television network, OWN, has been struggling since its launch in 2011.    
An article on ReadWriteThink discusses rumors that Apple will expand its empire to televisions.  However, former Apple executive, Jean-Louis Gassee, says that Apple has no intention of creating a TV.  I believe that Apple could be really successful in selling televisions.  However, they would have to come out with something new and different than other TV distributors.  Gassee says, “To realize the dream, as discussed previously, you need to put a computer—something like an Apple TV module—inside the set. Eighteen months later, as Moore's Law dictates, the computer is obsolete but the screen is just fine. No problem, you'll say, just make the computer module removable, easily replaced by a new one; more revenue for Apple ... and you're right back to today's separate box arrangement."

Basically, Apple comes out with a new phone every year.  When advancements in technology are made in phones, people want to upgrade.  New phones are fairly affordable, and people are willing to pay extra money for these features.  However, televisions are completely different.  They cost way more money, and people don’t run out and buy a new TV once a year.  To be successful in this venture, Apple would have to make upgrades affordable and worthwhile to customers.  Until they can successfully accomplish this task, I’m sure they’ll stick to phones and computers.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Common Core Standards

The Common Core is a new set of standards adopted by several states to monitor and track student progress.  These standards outline for teachers, students, and parents exactly what is to be learned and are meant to better prepare students for college and careers.  Michigan teachers should have begun training on the Common Core Standards in 2010; they should begin implementing the standards in 2012, and formal assessments of the standards will begin in 2014.
To be honest, I’ve just recently started hearing about the Common Core Standards.  Maybe it’s because I’ve worked for the past three years in a private school, but there was never any training or even discussion about these standards.   Unfortunately, the first time I heard about them was in a job interview.  Needless to say, I didn’t get that job. 
Even today, I don’t know a lot about these standards.  Even though I am a teacher in a private school, I still want to follow Michigan curriculum and ensure that my students are receiving a quality education.   On the Free Technology for Teachers website, Richard Byrne tells you about ePals’s Common Core Implementation Center.  It provides resources and teaching ideas to successfully implement these new standards into your class.  This website is a great resource to teach teachers who have less accessibility to training about the new standards.    

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I do not have any children nor am I truly ready to be a mother.  Besides the fact that I just got married, I believe I am too selfish to be a parent.  I enjoy napping, having lazy Sundays where I don’t get out of bed, and taking spur of the moment road trips.  Being a good and attentive parent means putting your child’s needs ahead of your own.  When I become a parent, I know that my napping will be greatly reduced, lazy Sundays will be nonexistent, and I’ll have to trade in my spontaneity for a balanced routine. 
Maurice Elia wrote an article on Edutopia titled, “Parents: Make Bedtime a Social-Emotional Moment with Your Kids.” She discusses the importance for both parents and children to have a special bonding time before bed.  This time should be spent reading, reflect on your day, and generally, just calm down.  When I read this article, it really showed me the type of parent I want to be.  I want to be a parent that promotes the social-emotional development of my children.  Life can get so chaotically busy; it is so important to have a designated time spent together.   

Monday, December 3, 2012


Ah…………conflict.  Everyone has them and it is often awkward and uncomfortable to be forced into a conflict with the parent of one of your students.  When a teacher is faced with this, it tends to be a reaction to defend yourself.  In Mark Phillip’s article on Edutopia, “Parents and Teachers: Turning Conflicts into Partnerships,” he discusses a simulation activity he had teacher interns complete that required them to converse with Filipino parents that were concerned that their children weren’t receiving enough individualized attention.  Teacher interns took two approaches to dealing with these concerned parents: many attempted to explain their teaching rationale while others focused on listening to the parents’ concerns.  While it is almost an innate response to defend your teaching style, most parents just want to feel that they are being heard and understood. 
Teachers and parents need to be partners in promoting their child’s learning.  There always needs to be constant communication so both parties know what is going on.  If something happens at school that affects a child, the parents need to be notified and vice versa.  Phillips also provides other resources to check out that help with communication between teachers and parents.