Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Podcasting Ideas

So, I am working on the podcast for the firsties and their families. I must say, it is a great amount of work and prior thinking to get books ready that are not to long and not too boring! I am always looking for great books or books from my childhood.  But there are other things that teachers can do with podcasting other than reading books. Now, next  yr, with the firsties, we will just do that for starters. We will see where it goes, but I am thankful for this list for other ideas.

  1. Current Event Newscasts:  Practice non-fiction reading skills by having your students do weekly or monthly podcasts on an interesting current event.
  2. Reading Radio:  Have your students make short radio broadcasts summarizing the books they are reading.
  3. Roving Reporters:  Send your students out into the "field" (a.k.a. the school) to interview key players in important school events. 
  4. Celebrate Culture:  Have your students record podcasts about important cultural months like Black History Month or Hispanic Heritage Month and then present them to the school or parents to commemorate the events. 
  5. Bring Your Teacher Home:  Send a little bit of yourself home with your kids by podcasting important parts of your lessons.
  6. Podcasting Library:  Have your students collaborate to create a library of podcasts for future students to learn from.
  7. MusicCasts:  Have band or orchestra students create podcasts for each instrument, detailing specific notes, sounds and characteristics of each instrument.
  8. Awesome Audio Tours:  Give your students the chance to be tour guides for new students at your school by having them podcast school tours that kids can listen to when they enter.
  9. Podcasting Pen Pals:  Record interactive or encouraging podcasts and then send them to another classroom in another state or country.
  10. Reenactments:  Have your students reenact important times in history using period language and vocabulary.

Link:
10 Podcasting Projects

This Girl Was Not On Fire, But I Have Hope

 I found this at usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com. I love this girl. She looks like she is on fire. But really, right now, I just finished a difficult conversation with a student who took her NWEA test in 8 minutes. She was not a girl on fire. 

I put some distance between her taking the test and when I talked to her. Our conversation was filled with some tears as we sifted through some lies she was trying to tell me, but then we got to the root issue, the lies she believes about herself. She needs to choose for herself hope and optimism instead of a CAN'T DO IT mentality. She needs to have grit and stick-to-it-tive-ness. 

 As I am a co teacher in her room, I can't make the change but my co teacher and I can suggest to our building testing coordinator that she would be allowed to retest. I hope she can. I hope she listened to my heart that cares for her. Before she left, we played this song by Alicia Keys: This Girl is On Fire. My last words to her before she left my room were, "I want you to be the girl who sets this world on fire."  
From: This Girl Is On Fire
By: Alicia Keys

For: My Student

Ohhhh oh oh oh oh
She got both feet on the ground
And she's burning it down
Ohhhh oh oh oh oh
She got her head in the clouds
And she's not backing down

This girl is on fire...
This girl is on fire...
She's walking on fire...
This girl is on fire...

Looks like a girl, but she's a flame
So bright, she can burn your eyes
Better look the other way
You can try but you'll never forget her name
She's on top of the world 

UPDATE! She was able to retest and though she didn't hit the goal for her grade level, she did her best based on her own improvement from one time to the next. But really, what I care about is her own self determination that she CAN do it. So I tonight I met her family at their home and had a moment around the bonfire with them, telling them of her journey though this week, and how she pulled it together. I wanted them to know that character cultivation matters to me more than a grade, and I was proud of her. I brought over a gift certificate for the book store in the next town up. She will set the world on fire in a good way, in her own time, with the talents God placed in her already. KH 5/31/2013

Thoughts On A Quote

I saw this quote the other day and loved it instantly. There are many schools that are struggling out there due to finances and test score data being linked together. Just last week, Chicago closed over 40 schools.

When schools close, when schools struggle, what are we saying to the students?   It has been known for years that one reason some schools struggle is because their students come from a lower economic background and not enough money comes in from the city, county, state to help bring change.

What if failing schools or struggling schools isn't because of the children? What if we recognized that failing and struggling schools is because of greedy adults playing games with  money?

See, I come from a mindset where I believe that all children can learn. Unfortunately they also come to school with hard knocks, baggage, and unmet needs. I believe that the first thing we need to do as teachers is meet the needs. Be the hands and feet of Jesus and meet their needs right where they are...and then once those needs are met, then we can teach.

Build trust. Then teach. Not teach then build trust! You will loose students! See, society has failed our struggling students. They are not throw aways, they are children made by God for a purpose. Just because you have lost your way does not give you the right to stand in mine as I work hard to meet the needs of my students.

Like A***.and her hair. She always comes in to see me to get it done. Hairbrush. Pony tail holders, binders, pins, headbands. Precious girl. First I'll do her hair for her, then I will teach her and in that order.  We keep our conversation light and fun. It is early morning, and the chances I have been to the office to get my coffee are slim, so as I brush her hair, I silently pray for her. Sweet girl. A struggling student in school's eyes. A gem in God's eyes.

I want to see students how God sees them. That is my goal.

Monday, May 27, 2013

My Twitter PLN Rocks!


So, I  joined the PLN of Twitter just three short months ago. I was just in time. My spirit was seeking something my district, nor my school could provide, deep, engaging, meaningful and rich conversations.  Not that they mean to. It just happens. My PLN on Twitter not only provides me with ideas, they provide encouragement to finish strong.
You are familiar with the story of the quacking geese in flight, maybe ducks do it too, they quack to encourage the lead flyer, but they also take turns at leading. That holds true for the Twitter PLN as well.  Sometimes, we know where we are going, sometimes we don't but we take refuge with others who know the way and will lead us when we don't. We quack very loud, teachers never stop chatting. We care for each others experience even if we never meet this side of Heaven face to face because at the end of it all, end of the day, end of the year, end of our career, it is about the kids. 

We are here, not just because we love our jobs, we love our students and above all, we Love learning. A great teacher never stops learning and I love learning with and from my PLN! 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Full STEAM Ahead

Who can't wait to teach first grade next year? Me. I can't wait. I have things organized for just that very moment in my garage...that pile over there is intermediate...this pile right here...is primary. So then I made a video. I am going to send this home via newsletter and QR code for the kindergartners soon...with plans for how to get ready for first grade over the summer. I love this video. It is  a good representation of how excited I am. The First Grade Experience, Full STEAM Ahead! Mrs. Gotfredson did a great job of buying into the whole idea!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Passion Driven Teacher

The passion driven teacher is the one who is able to seize and capture the minds of students through bold measures. She does not teach as if she is bored nor as if the students don't matter. It is hard to do everyday. It is a great practice to decide what it is at school you are passionate about and wave that flag high. It is as good to be passionate about a subject matter. I am passionate for example about nebulas and Orion and constellations.  I have the third graders convinced that I am madly in love with Orion, whom I call the hunter of the night sky. Perfect. I am passionate about writing, and poetry. I am passionate about excellent literature. I am passionate about Mean, Mode, Median and Range (of all things). It is also good to bring your outside the classroom passions into the classroom. The kids love it when it is reading reward and I have my room set up for ZUMBA. Sure, my room is stinky afterwards, but the kids had fun. And I am passionate about my personal faith. Though I can't share that in public school well, I do my best to let my actions speak louder than my words. Whatever your passionate about at work or in your life, do not hide it, because you will see the kids will be in the end, very interested in that and you will be able to cultivate in them, their own passions and to celebrate what makes them unique.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Pirate Teacher Ahoy!

One of my favorite books right now and my favorite PLN is #tlap.  Teach Like A Pirate is written by an amazing tweep of mine and we meet every Monday night. What do pirates do?


  • Pirate teachers have innovative ideas
  • Pirate teachers work on increasing student engagement. 
  • Pirate teachers work on boosting creativity.
  • Pirate teachers are passionate. 
  • They develop outrageous but engaging lessons that captivate students. 
  • Pirate teachers develop a relationship with the students. 


I am a teacher. I am a learner. That is my superpower, and I glean great gems from my PLN and from books they recommend.  

Pick it up, and join me on twitter! @khurdhorst