Today I spent some time at one of my STEM camps. I enjoyed going around, snapping photos, and talking with students and teachers. As I watched one of my MaKey Makey groups work, I decided to interview some of the 2nd graders. One of my boys was programming and I asked him, “What do you think of school”? He stopped, looked at me, and said, “You want to know the truth? I hate school but in this class, I am not the dumb one.” I couldn’t speak. It broke my heart to think that he ever thought he was the dumb one in any class but sadly- this is what happens in many classrooms across the country. If students aren’t allowed to explore their passions, they sometimes feel like the “dumb” ones. It was such a wake-up call for the teachers around the room today. Those that heard, cried. Those that didn’t were quickly told what he said. May we continue to help students find their passions and work towards nurturing their interests.
My husband asked me “how was my trip”? when I got home. I opened my mouth to speak and nothing came out. Now I know that this may surprise some people but I was speechless. I couldn’t put into words how I felt. I just said, “Good”. You would think that 11 days of friendships, fun, and engagement could be described to others. I could tell him that the family reunions were sweet, the attractions were interesting, and the fellowship was fulfilling. I could say that the LC pre-conference was informing, that I hung on to every word that people shared at the unconferences, and that the meal at the Wildhorse Saloon was tasty. I could have told him about making Sock Monkeys for the children’s shelters of Nashville and that meeting the newbies on Sunday afternoon made me smile. I wondered why I didn’t talk about my suite mates and the instant friendships that we made. I was pretty sure that he would have loved to hear about our Monday outing and the tours of the Ryman, Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Parthenon. I knew that he would have been captivated by my trip to the “American Pickers” store.
Although we have different occupations, he knows how much I love all things STEM. He would have listened as I told him about the Augmented Reality Sessions, the Green Screening, the inspiring DEN Speaks talks, and the 3D printer. He would have been so relieved that I hadn’t been one of the ones stuck in the elevator because he knows I have claustrophobia. If I had shared about the “DENmazing Race, he would have smiled because the “real thing” is our favorite television show. Meeting the Executive Director of the Science Channel would have impressed him because we love watching “How It’s Made”.
I know that he would have been proud of the Quilt Raffle because he has watched me stress over it for months. He would have liked the fact that I got to attend the Grand Ole Opry because it was on my bucket list. He was happy each time I texted him with all of the days events and could sense my excitement on the phone. He liked my posts and my photos each time I posted on Facebook or Tweeted. So why did I only say. “Good” when asked about my trip?
Because there are really no words to describe the events or feelings of DENSI. It is hard to describe the feelings of laughter, smiles, tears, sympathy, learning, engagement, satisfaction, and anticipation that happens there. I just really wish I could put this all into words somehow………..Maybe he will see this post!!!
So what was DENsi for me? 1400 miles, 150 educators, 10 days, revisiting old friends making new ones, singing the “Sound of Music” soundtrack at the Von Trapp Family Lodge, 3 cones of Ben & Jerry, Shelburne Museum, a Lake Monster baseball game, grant-writing sessions, 3-hour cruise on Lake Champlain, visit to Urgent Care, 14 unconferences attended, 9 professional sessions, 4 keynotes, a costume party, the Harlem Shake, the DENmazing Race, 2 overnight airport stays, and the most amazing, mind-blowing professional development that I have ever experienced.
In a nutshell- I spent the last 10 days with some of the greatest educational minds in North America. We collaborated and decided it’s not about what we teach- it’s about how we deliver and how they (the students) respond. Real-world connections=real-world application!
I want to teach in an environment where the only politics we hear about are taught in our social studies classes. They surely do not need to be driving our classrooms. I’ve been on the mountain-top and would rather just stay up there if everyone is okay with that. #missingdensi2013 As I unpack the memories and learning in my mind- I will share as I teach it!
It has been made extremely clear to me that we must WALK our TALK when it comes to education. So far at the Discovery Education Summer Institute- I have observed many educators living up to what they believe in. I have also noticed that passion is abundant here and there are NO political lines drawn in the sand. We are here because we have our eye on the prize- and that prize is making a difference in the lives of our students. We heard today that the jobs that our students will have in 10 years have not been invented yet. What a huge responsibility that has put on all of our shoulders. If we are not walking our talk and working towards that end- our students will fail miserably. I have been convicted and inspired in Vermont. I am determined to continue walking my talk. It is so important for all of us to bring our beliefs to life…of moving beyond words to practice what you preach. More to come in Vermont!
What does Discovery Streaming, Science Techbook, 35 Science Stations, 24 preserved frogs, 90 owl pellets, 12 educators, and a Skype Visit with Yellowstone have in common? CONTROLLED CHAOS! It took 12 hours to plan and make stations, 4 hours to set-up and 5 hours to deliver. Every group had a map, a journal, and a positive attitude. They learned about electricity, magnetism, space, weather, matter, animals, landforms, force, rocks, and ecosystems. Each station also contained a laptop/iPad with a DE video locked and loaded. Students were able to front-load with DE information, make predictions, work collaborative on a hands-on science activity, debrief, and then journal. I was pretty amazed that there were no fusses, quarrels, mishaps, accidents, or explosions. I dare to say that I had one of the best days EVER. Who else can have that much fun at work? Thanks DE for complimenting our science studies in Catawba County. You put the CONTROL in my CHAOS!!
Well today was a first. Since both of my schools are being vetted as true STEM schools, I am making sure that all 1000 students have an opportunity to experience a hands-on lab each week. Today was my first experience with our Pre-K students. I set up the lab with microscopes, rocks and minerals, animal tracks and adaptations, life cycle games, and a metamorphic rock-making station. I expected that they would visit the stations, draw a few pictures, and laugh a lot. Oh my! They were the most engaged, talkative, creative, inquisitive, hypothesizing kids I have ever had in my labs. They asked questions, made predictions,and drew amazing diagrams. They smiled, laughed, and clapped when they saw videos on Discovery Streaming. They were quiet and attentive when I blew up some rocks with a simple chemical reaction and they didn’t ask for a break, nap, or snack. These seventeen 3 and 4 year olds proved that you are never too young to be a scientist.
Next week we are going to observe and tear apart Owl Pellets. I, for one, can’t wait!
Today 90 sixth graders traveled over 6000 miles without ever leaving their classroom. Using Edmodo and Twitter, I was able to find many willing classrooms to SKYPE with them on World Read Aloud Day.
The students’ practiced reading several selections from their Reader’s Notebooks and were able to share them with students from Newton, Massachussetts; Jemison, Michigan; Coral Gables, Florida; Winston-Salem, NC; Ottawa, Canada; and Fremont, California. They also kept their Twitter feed scrolling on the television screen and received shout-outs from Discovery Education, Yung Soo from Bejing International School, and Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch”-just to name a few. They plotted their travels on Google Maps and kept track of temperatures in each city. A great day of reading, networking, and new friendships was had by all. It was truly a “Global Day of Learning”
Today I was mesmerized by 40 students who came to science academy with a determination to learn everything they could in one hour. They collaborated, discussed, debated, experimented, tested, designed, and LEARNED! I watched 7 year olds go toe-to-toe with 12 year olds and prove why they were right in their predictions. I am so thankful that I teach in schools that allow me to hold afterschool science academies for students. We were STEM before STEM was cool!
A Captive Audience: Today John Wendel, a WCNC Meteorologist, came to speak to our 2nd graders about weather. I was able to do a little front-loading with them to get them excited about the event. Every time John would say something like “Light travels at 186,000 miles per second or lightning is only about 1/2 inch wide- the students would ooh and ahh. Right as he finished up with them- I whispered in his ear if he would entertain 90 Kinders for about 15 minutes…he immediately said yes! When the Kinders sat down, he said “It sure is raining outside” and the kids oohed and ahhed! I had to giggle- We have a captive audience at our fingertips every day. They listen to everything we say. This upcoming generation has a lot going for it and I, for one, am glad to be their teacher.
In the next 7 days I will teach second graders about microscopes, create fraction clotheslines with 3rd and 4th graders, facilitate a MATTER science lab with 3rd grade, lead a science academy with over 100 students, plan with teachers, attend a math training at DPI, ride with over 100 students and parents to Raleigh for a 4th grade field trip, quilt with fourth graders, skype for Dr. Seuss day with sixth graders from 4 states and 2 countries, and play in math stations with Kindergartners…….I LOVE MY JOB!