Purpose of Education Week 1 IMMOOC

The purpose of education is essential for survival. All over the world children are learning skills essential for survival. Whether it is in Siberia learning to read the ice so they can make the fifty-mile trek to school, or Cambodia learning to grow trees whose roots are used as living bridges to provide a walking system during the rainy season, children are busy asking questions and learning to survive. When we think of education in this manner it is simple to see the importance of innovation. Without innovation, civilization would have died.

Education is something that is being done to students. They sit in a classroom while the teacher drones on and on about who knows what. They are rarely asked what they think about the topic, they are asked to guess what the teacher is thinking. They are told they are doing a great job when basically they are just being compliant. So why is innovation crucial in education? It is crucial because it is bringing the relevance back to our students. It is causing our students to become independent thinkers, not fact regurgitators. Innovation is what will bring student engagement back to the classroom.

What is my part in all of this? It is my responsibility to not do things as they have been done before simply because of tradition. It is my responsibility to look at what we are doing and ask myself “can this be done better?” It is my responsibility to push, shove, give a kick in the pants to keep us moving forward (OK, maybe the last one needs to be with gentle nudges).

Power of Pictures

I teach 7h grade World Geography and the power of pictures are used a lot in my class.  They are an amazing way to open my student’s eyes to the world they live in.

When I opened up my email and saw this week’s topic I knew immediately what I wanted to put in my blog.  Last year I attended the NCCE in Seattle and attended a session about an amazing organization/website called the Global Oneness Project.  On their site I found a lesson using a beautiful photo essay.  I put together a Document Based Inquiry and then used the photo essay as their Assessment.  Students were asked to pick one of the photos from the essay and write a narrative.

The best way for you to see the power of pictures is to read my student’s work.  I want to share first that I am not trying to make a political statement with this post.  I am truly proud of my student’s work and feel it is evidence of the power of pictures.  This narrative was written in March 2016.


Where are we? Who are all these people? What are we doing? My small brain tries to sort out everything going on around me. We have traveled forever to get where we are now. My mom hasn’t been talking to me very much. She usually is always keeping me updated on everyone around us. Now, she is very quiet and seems very fearful or shy. We are waiting in line for something. It seems as if there is another train in front of us. I really don’t want to have to ride another train! I’m not alone as a kid, a young boy who wouldn’t stop screaming ten minutes ago is now asleep on his mom’s shoulder. And another little girl about my size waits in front of me. I just want to go to sleep.

I heard the man waiting behind me explain to his wife “We are currently near the border of Serbian, the load is taking so long because they are separating families with children from single men.”

Another train. I planned on taking a nap as soon as possible if I can find a comfortable spot. I was super tired and my super cozy and big coat will for sure keep me warm. We are finally making progress in the line! My mom will hasn’t said much. I have sort of the ear of worry in the back of head since she is so quiet. We move about ten steps forward, and stop again. It felt like years since we had stepped foot in this line.

After about two hours we finally made our way onto the wagon. I had a hard time stepping on the ginormous steps up. As I hopped up the final step my little pink shoe flew off. I screamed and hopped off the stairs as grabbed it nearly knocking over a young boy’s little way back from me. “Sorry..” I mumbled hurrying up the stairs red faced.

“Anii, you can’t just hop away from me like that. I have ahold of your hand for a reason. Who know how many people are on this train, I can’t lose you.” my mom scowled at me.

“But mom, my shoe fell. I wouldn’t be able to go on without it.” I paused, waiting for my mom to answer. “I’m sorry” and I left it at that.

My mom and I got very fortunate. We got to sit together on a bench up against a wall of the train. I snuggled tight between my mom and the wall. I just remember my mom grabbing tightly as a drifted to sleep.

Refugees are people who became endangered in their homes. They have to pack as much as they can carry and leave their almost entire life behind. The lucky ones get to stay together with their family. Often they don’t know anything about where they are heading, just that hopefully it will provide them safety. Young Anii is riding it’s her mother, split from her two brothers and father. On their journey to safety they have to overcome great challenges among the way, as most refugee travelers do. Refugees are greatly brave people, who have the ability to stay strong in the hardest times.

7th Grade Student






Function and Chaos

What drives the setup of my room?  What inspires the decorations?  Why do I do what I do?  The simple answer; my students.

I change the room arrangement depending on the activity we are doing.  It might be setup in large groups, inner and outer circles, rows (my least favorite because I can’t see all of my students).  They way I have it setup in the picture is my go to setup.  This setup allows for students to work independently or collaborate in small groups easily.  It also works in my room to give extra space for students to move around and for me to move around.  I like having the quick access to each student.


As for my room decor, I try to make it useful to the students.  The bulletin board is divided in half.  One side for my World Geography class and the other for the Interdisciplinary class, and they change with each unit.  I also use an alphabetized word wall.  Students use this wall as a reference during discussions and writing assignments.  Another area of my room is devoted to selfies and blogs. I use the selfies for their ticket out.  Students write down their thought for the day and put it on their selfie, then at the end of the week they gather their thoughts from the selfie and blog.


I try hard to keep the room organized and useful for the students.  The one area that I have given up on is my area.  Every year I set goals to keep my area neat and organized but sadly I have never accomplished that goal.  I am afraid to admit that the image below was taken on a clean day for my space.

I would love to experiment with some of the untraditional or new-wave seating and tables that students could use standing.  I would also like to bring in stools and lawn chairs for extra seating.  What advice would I give someone just starting….. The room should be designed for the students.

First Time Jitters

Sweaty hands, heart pounding, shortness of breath!  No, I am not sick, I am just writing my first blog.  This has been a goal of mine for two years but I never knew what to blog about.  So when I saw this blogging opportunity, giving me topics, I was all in!  BUT…. my fear about blogging is still here.  The thought of my words out in the cyber-world is frightening.  Put me in front of a group of people (big or small) and I am great, but make me write and the fear is real!
I have attended several technology conferences where the presenters have told me I should be blogging and so should my students.  The student part was easy.  I went right back to my classroom and said you are now going to blog!  Did I know what is was?  Not really.  Did my students?  Not really, but they did it anyway.
I wish I could say I used this as a class learning opportunity, to go out and find blogs to read.  Sadly, the resesrch was left for me to do at home. It turns out that blogs are blocked by my district’s filters.    I found several blogs to use as examples for my class.  I also found blogs that met my needs as a teacher.  The two that I read the most are; Alice Keeler and Catlin Tucker.  Keeler’s blog provides me with great information on Google Classroom and Tucker’s blog has helped me with the crafty integration of technology into my classroom.
What is my goal?  The simple one is working on my own writing skills (in public, yes I could be a little crazy).  The second reason is to do and experience what I am asking my students to do.  Finally  along the way if  I can share something to help someone else that would just be the icing on the cake

Hello world!

Ok 2017, here we go!!  I am a first time official blogger, even though I have been asking my students to do it for a couple of years.  This has been a goal of mine for awhile, so even though I am nervous to have my words out in the cyber-world it it time to start.