Unleashing the Potential of Every Child

Tom Loud on episode 212 [A special encore episode] of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Tom Loud dropped out of high school because he didn’t connect with his teachers. Somehow, he connected with books though and became a high school and college graduate. Now, Tom is a 10-year classroom veteran who is working to make his classroom (and help others) connect with kids in new ways. Today we’ll talk about unleashing the potential in every child. And yes, you’ll hear birds chirping, but that is ok!

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Enhanced Transcript

Unleashing the Potential of Every Child

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e210

Monday, September 18, 2017

Vicki: Today we’re talking to Tom Loud @loudlearning about unleashing the potential of students.

What Tom Learned when he quit high school his junior year

Vicki: So Tom, let’s start with the story about why you got into teaching in the first place.

Tom: In high school, I think I failed more classes than I passed, and I had a terrible experience. By the end of my junior year, I had reached a GPA of a 1.8, and at the end of that year, I just knew it would be my last year in public school.

And in fact, it was.

But through a series of circumstances, I became a college graduate seven years after that. And I’ve been in the classroom now for ten years.

I went into education for two reasons.

The first reason was that I could be the teacher that I never felt I had.

And the second reason is that I could ensure that no child would ever experience the educational journey and experience that I did.

How do we unleash the potential in every child?

Vicki: So Tom, with that being your story, what is your advice to us to help unleash the potential of every child?

Tom: I think, number one, it starts with relationships. We have to build that relationship with kids first. I heard the quote that,

“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” (James Comer, 1995)1

I really think that’s true.

But the second thing that we can do as teachers is we can put on the mindset that we are never going to quit on kids. I think it goes back to where the pacing of our teaching has to be determined by the learning of our kids, not by a calendar.

Third, I think that we have to be super patient with kids. Don’t give easier work or fail kids when they’re not understanding, when they’re not learning at the pace that we hope they are. As a teacher, I do think we have to show grit and perseverance with kids and present learning in multiple ways. Failing kids is a direct indicator more of the quality of our teaching, I think than the ability of our kids.

Vicki: Oh, but you know, Tom… Teaching’s hard!

And it’s exhausting to reach the kids who struggle.

Tom: (agrees)

What were the biggest mistakes Tom teachers made?

Vicki: What do you think the biggest mistake is that some of your teachers made when you were that kid who struggled in your junior year?

Tom: I think it goes back to what I was saying about the relationships. I think that I just didn’t have that connection with the teachers. I felt like I was more of a test score, and learning was on the back burner. The test was more of the focus of the teachers, instead of my potential.

What did Tom learn from that now that he’s a teacher?

Vicki: Do you feel like you have a different relationship with your students? Can you give me an example of where you tried to be that teacher that you never had, and it did make a difference?

Tom: I think the biggest thing with me is the patience thing – to where we just don’t quit. And I don’t quit. But the funny thing about it is that every day, even though I know it’s worth it with these kids… some days, like everybody, I don’t necessarily “feel it.” And when I don’t feel it, I have to continually remind myself that staying motivated and keeping that passion burning is a choice that I have to make.

Yeah, I think the biggest thing with me, with my students now, based on my experience as a student, is the patience that I show. I just don’t give up on kids.

How does Tom motivate himself when he has a down day?

Vicki: So, take me inside your brain when you’re having that down day, and you’re like, “I’m exhausted.” What does the self-talk say to yourself when you just don’t know how you’re going to do it?

Tom: You know, I read a really good book lately by a professor at UT at Knoxville, from Dr. Amy Broemmel. And the book is called Learning to be Teacher Leaders. In the book, she identified three characteristics of the really great teachers.

Those three characteristics are:

  1. Great teachers are unorthodox.
  2. They go against the organizational grain.
  3. They always pose a threat to the status quo.

So, when I’m having those down days, and I don’t necessarily “feel” it? I have to keep that mindset of the great teachers in mind and just “put on” those characteristics.

Vicki: You know, it frustrates me though. Why can’t the status quo just be AWESOME, for everybody?

Tom: (laughs) Yeah! It should be! But you know, we’re creatures of feeling and emotion. And so we can’t always necessarily stay on that high, but we just have to stay as motivated as we can and keep the needs of kids first.

Vicki: You know, Tom, I do find that the self-talk – you know, what you say to yourself when you’re down?

Tom: Yep.

Vicki: We’re our own best motivational speaker, aren’t we?

Tom: We are. You’re right.

Why did Tom’s life turn around?

Vicki: And you’ve got that experience when you were a kid… to kind of think back, and relate, and understand yours, don’t you?

Tom: I do. Yeah, and you know for me, the big turnaround for me was – number one — maturity. I had reached 18 years by the end of my junior year. So maturity was a big turnaround for me, but also there was all this frustration that I’d built up. I knew I was better than what my test scores were showing and I knew that I wasn’t only worthy of success, but I was able, too.

So, I heard a quote at the end of my junior year of high school, right on the verge of when I was quitting school. The quote was by Charles “Tremendous” Jones, and the quote said,

“The difference between who we are as a person today, and who we will be in five years is determined by the books we read and the people we meet.”

So it was really at that time, that self-talk really kicked up a notch. I really became a student of success.

One of the first books I read on success was by a guy named Jack Canfield, who started the Chicken Soup for Soul book series. But he wrote a book called The Success Principles, and one of the first pages in the book had a quote by Thomas Edison that said,

“If we really knew what we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”

Ever since that day, I’ve really been trying to find out what I’m capable of.

Vicki: You know, I also love what you do… My pastor, Michael Catt, says that

“Leaders are readers, and readers are leaders.”

Tom: (agrees, laughs)

Vicki: You have quoted several books. This is Motivation Monday. One big way to motivate ourselves is to really have that self-talk but to also get quotes that resonate with us.

I mean, I’m looking at my office wall, and it has quotes all over it. You know, what do we say to ourselves? And what kind of books do we pour into our mind to help us stay motivated to do this job?

Tom: You know, I think one of the best ways in 2017 is to meet new people, and to really have good access to quality of text in front of us… is Twitter.

Vicki: (agrees)

Tom: I don’t think enough teachers are on Twitter. But just something simple and easy as that can really provide us with exposure to great minds.

Vicki: Speaking of Twitter, we have cute little birds tweeting in the background that may or may not get edited out.

Tom: (laughs)

Vicki: I just think that’s kind of ironic to me.

Tom: Right?

Look at the Motive behind our Motivation

Vicki: But Tom, as we finish up, give us a 30-second pep talk about how to stay motivated this week in our classrooms.

Tom: I think we have to look at the root word of “motivation.” That root word is “motive” … We have to stay focused even when we don’t feel like it, about why we do what we do. The main reason we do what we do is because:

1. Kids deserve it.

  1. Kids are capable… and able… of far more than we can ever imagine or think.

But the main reason? They deserve it. They deserve our best. And they’re worth it.

Vicki: They are!

So teachers, get out there. Be remarkable this week.

And I love, in particular, what Tom said. I’m going to hang onto this – that the root word of “motivation” is “motive” …

Remember your motive. Why are you doing this?

Right now, if you’ve lost your noble motive, try to get that back. Try to remember that we’re in the life-changing business.

We’re not just teachers. We teach people how to live lives. We unleash human potential. We have got an incredible profession, full of meaning. It may be not full of earthly riches, but definitely full of meaning and full of legacy.

So get out there and be remarkable this week!

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as submitted


Tom Loud is first grade teacher at Middlesettlements Elementary in Tennessee. He also serves as a Technology Teacher Leader at Middlesettlements and was recently recognized as Technology Teacher of the year along with Innovative Teacher of the Year by his district. In addition, Loud was one of 50 Teachers in Tennessee selected to participate in an Educator Fellowship through SCORE, (The State Collaborative on Reforming Education), an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan advocacy and research institution that drives collaboration on policy and practice to ensure student success across Tennessee. Loud’s passions are technology integration in the elementary grades, along with teacher motivation.

Twitter: @loudlearning

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Unleashing the Potential of Every Child appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e210/

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Thinking Routines in the Classroom

Karen Voglesang on episode 209 [A special encore episode] of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Karen Voglesang @NBCTchr teaches children to use thinking routines in her classroom. After participating in Harvard’s Project Zero, she is applying and using the methods in classrooms and with teachers. Learn some thinking routines and how to apply these valuable techniques in your classroom. Karen was the 2015 Tennessee State Teacher of the Year and I interviewed her at the NNSTOY Conference in DC this summer.

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Enhanced Transcript

How to Teach Thinking Routines in the Classroom

What are thinking routines?

00:09 Vicki: Today we are with Karen Vogelsang or Ms V from Tennessee. Hey, that rhymes, that’s awesome. She was State Teacher of The Year for 2015. And I’m at the in NNSTOY Conference, that’s N-N-S-T-O-Y.org. So thanks to NNSTOY for having me to present but also letting me talk to so many amazing teachers. Now, Karen, thinking routines are very important to you in your classroom. What are thinking routines?

00:39 Karen V: Thinking routines are really an opportunity to allow students to ask questions and really give teachers an opportunity to deepen their understanding of different content knowledge. And one of the beautiful things about thinking routines, it doesn’t matter if you’re a kindergarten teacher or a 12th grade teacher, thinking routines can be used for all grade levels.

Karen included photos of students using thinking routines for this post. Such engagement!

The “Compass Points” thinking routine is a great way to open up a school year1

01:01 Vicki: So give me an example of how it’s used in your classroom.

01:04 Karen V: One of the things that I do at the very beginning of the year is I use this thinking routine called “compass points“. And it’s north, south, east, and west. We got a little integration of social studies there. And I did this routine for the very first time when I came back from Harvard’s Project Zero Classroomin 2012, and it’s an opportunity for the kids to really share what are they nervous about so that’s the N. What are they nervous about? What do they need from me as the teacher? And then the S is, what support do they need for me? What specific things do they envision as they go throughout the year that they’re going to need my support in?

The Visible Thinking website is a fantastic resource. I’ve linked to the thinking routines Karen mentions here, but there are many more thinking routines to teach students. Also the book Making Thinking Visible can help you with these concepts. Harvard’s Project Zeroteaches courses in Visible Thinking – it looks like they have an online course starting in September but you need teams of 3-5 people to join.

And I’ll never forget the year Morgan told me, “Ms V, I’m not good at math and I can’t ever have you raise your voice at me ’cause I get too nervous about it.” Not that I was ever a teacher that raised her voice but Morgan was just that nervous about it.

And then W, worries. What worries do you have about being in that particular year? It was second grade but I’ve done this for third graders and fourth graders. And then E, what excites you? And what happens, children are honest and they basically put down what are their Ns, what are their Ss, what are their Es, what are their Ws, and what that does is it really gives me a glimpse into what they’re thinking about as they embark on this school year. So that’s just one example of getting the year started off with a thinking routine.

02:36 Vicki: I love that. So are these different ways of thinking that you teach students?

The Book: Making Thinking Visible

02:43 Karen V: Yeah, now I don’t know if I can plug a book here but the…

02:47 Vicki: Go ahead, plug a book, plug away.

02:48 Karen V: The book is “Making Thinking Visible“ and the principal author was Ron Ritchhart, it was also written by Mark Church. There’s different types of thinking.

Perspective Taking Thinking Routines

So for example, one of the types of thinking is perspective taking.

So as we go through and we read a book, I may ask my students to step inside those characters and ask them, “What are they seeing? What are they thinking? What are they feeling as that character?” And what happens is they have to go back in the text and they have to look for evidence in the text that would reinforce what they’re learning, what they’re reading about in that text. So it depends on what kind of thinking that you’re wanting the children to do and that will dictate, in some respects, what thinking routine you’ll use as a teacher.

The biggest mistakes Karen made with teaching thinking routines

03:36 Vicki: What do you think the biggest mistake you made with thinking routines was?

03:39 Karen V: What I learned… I was privileged to go back for a second time as a study group leader to Project Zero a couple years after my initial experience there. I didn’t teach my kids the specific routines.

Note from Vicki: Could there be a more important point than this? We all need to listen to Karen here. We want to teach students to think! So, let’s give them the routines to think and let’s help them know the routines to think. Then, students can go into that mode of thinking when tackling problems. This is a fantastic point!

Karen: So, when I came back that following year, I was teaching third grade, and so I really taught my children what these thinking routines were. So instead of having to constantly repeat the steps and the other beautiful part about these routines, is none of them have more than three steps. So they’re very easy to integrate in any content area, in any grade level. That was the first year when I came back that second time I was like, “Okay. I’m going to teach them what these routines are.”

The tug-of-war thinking routine

Karen: So if I said to the kids, “Hey, guys we’re getting ready to do tug-of-war.”They knew what tug-of-war was and I’ll never forget the first time I did that. I was like, “Okay, guys we’re going to be looking at this debate. These two different authors have two different view points about this particular topic. When we’re done reading it we’re gonna do tug-of-war.” “Yay! Yay!” They get all excited about it. So not teaching them the routines when I first came back and now that’s something I’m very deliberate every year. I start to teach the students what these routines are so when there’s an applicable point of using them, they jump right in and do it.

The first routine many teachers use: See/Think/Wonder

05:00 Vicki: So you’ve already given us three examples. Do you have another example or two that are like, “These are your tried and true, we use these a lot?”

05:08 Karen V: The very first routine that most teachers come back and use when they come back from this experience, is See/Think/Wonder. And See/Think/Wonder can be done in so many different kinds of ways because it can be done with pictures that teachers cultivate from different resources and they put up on a smart board, they project it on a promethean board, whatever it is. It may be actual artifacts.

I actually did math with art one year when we were looking at geometry and had them use these particular different pieces of art that really incorporated a lot of geometry. And that is really giving them an opportunity to name what they observe so that’s practicing observation skills. Then from there, they’re answering the questions, “What do you think is going on in that picture?” And then from there, “What do you wonder?”

05:58 Karen V: And that’s the beautiful part right there because when you get the kids to say what they’re wondering about, for me, that was like my road map of, “Where am I going to go next to help them explore what it is that they wanna know?” Because when I do that, then they’re engaged, they’re excited about the learning. And there’s no behavior problems that are going on in the classroom ’cause they’re so excited about this kind of learning.

And as a teacher, those questions also help me capture any misconceptions. And you know as well as I do that when kids get hold of a misconception, if we wait until there’s an assessment and then we catch it, it’s already so deeply rooted that it takes that much more time to undo it. So these are great opportunities to find out what student misconceptions are and catch those on the front end.

How Karen’s classroom has changed since using thinking routines

06:51 Vicki: Give me an example of how you think your classroom has changed now that you’re using thinking routines?

06:57 Karen V: It is a student centered classroom where they are excited about learning and I am just the guide on the side. I’m the person that’s going around asking them questions, “What do you notice? What do you wonder? What is your partner talking about?” They’re collaborating with each other. Every time I use a thinking routine I have never ever had a child off task. And that’s been the exciting part because this is really tapping into what they’re bringing to the table in their learning, so it’s just been very exciting to see the enthusiasm they have for learning. So as I’ve come up and over the learning curve in utilizing these thinking routines, I keep trying to find more and more ways to integrate them whether it’s in ELA, science, social studies, math.

Resources to Learn More

07:48 Vicki: So your favorite resources for thinking routines, you have “Making Thinking Visible”, you’ve got the Project Zero resources. Any other places that you go to learn these?

07:56 Karen V: Well, if you live in Memphis, Tennessee or Shelby county [laughter] myself and another teacher were asked, actually asked by Harvard’s Project Zero to start basically a Project Zero satellite group in Memphis. And so, every year we conduct Project Zero workshops where we bring in teachers from all the surrounding areas.

You can just google Project Zero or you can google “Making Thinking Visible” and you will find a multitude of resources out there. There’s videos out there so that you can see what this actually looks like in a classroom, whether it’s early childhood, middle childhood, if it’s secondary. And we use these during in service to get our teachers kicked off so that they can see how these routines are used, model that for them, and then take it back to fit their students and their particular content areas.

A Challenge to teach them to think

08:47 Vicki: So remarkable teachers, we all have an important strategy to understand and that is thinking routines. And I especially like how Karen or Ms V says that we need to teach these routines to our students because this is something they can carry with them for a lifetime, the way to think, the way to analyze. And really, isn’t that something that so many teachers say, “I want my students to know how to think?”

Well, maybe we’re not teaching them how to think. Maybe we’re just feeding them too much and not giving them the thinking routines they need. So, so many great resources and a way to unlock more remarkable teaching.

Bio as submitted


Karen Vogelsang has taught elementary school in Memphis, Tennessee for fourteen years. She currently serves Shelby County Schools in a hybrid role working on teacher engagement projects for the Chief of Staff, as well as teaching 4th grade. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and a Master’s in Elementary Education. She is the 2015 Tennessee Teacher of the Year. Karen is National Board Certified in Early Childhood, and a certified mentor. Karen currently serves on Governor Haslam’s Teachers Cabinet. She also serves as a Fellow Facilitator for Tennessee Hope Street Group. Karen is a member of the Gates Foundation and NCTQ Teacher Advisory Councils. In March 2012, Karen received a fellowship to attend Harvard’s Project Zero Classroom, and is the co-founder of Project Zero Memphis. As a result she has been invited to speak about the integration of thinking routines with effective questioning strategies.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Thinking Routines in the Classroom appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e209/

Helping Autistic Students Travel by Making Books

Brett Bigham on episode 208 [A special encore episode] of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Autistic children can struggle with unfamiliar places. However, one teacher of the year has found a way to help improve traveling experiences for autistic children and their families. Brett Bigham has created a way to use books to help special needs and young children prepare to go to new places. Learn about this technique and how to help children travel who may have fears. You can even make books for kids (or some older students might be able to as well.) What a life-changing concept! Ability books for those with special needs.

Check out my Do What Matters DIY Productivity System with 108 Excel templates and PDF’s that I use to make my own planner – https://gum.co/bZbtZ.

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Enhanced Transcript

Helping Autistic Students Travel by Making Books

Vicki: Today we’re talking with Brett Bigham @2014ortoy, AKA “Mr. B” who was Oregon Teacher of the Year 2014.

Brett, your love and passion has been kids with special needs, for quite some time. And you work with older kids who have special needs, so we’re going to talk a little bit about a way that you helped kids with special needs kind of transition to other places. So, give me an example of something you’ve done.

How Brett helped his autistic and special needs kids take field trips each week

Brett: I worked with students who were ages 18-21, for quite a while, and a lot of my students had pretty severe autism. My classroom’s a county level classroom. So I was only getting students if the local district couldn’t handle their health or their behavior. I had two full-time nurses in my room and a very busy class.

So, what I started to discover was that when I took some of those kids with severe autism out on a field trip, they were melting down. They really couldn’t stand not knowing what was coming up.

So I kind of realized, “Well, I need to fix that,” instead of deciding they should go on field trips. I decided I have to modify what I’m doing. So I started going the week before to the event or the field trip we were going on. And we went out every Friday. It was part of our program, to get our students more used to being out in the community.

So if we were going to ride on the Portland Tram, I would go the weekend before and take pictures of every step. “These are the stairs you go in, this is the door you open, this is the ticket machine,” — every step they need to do the field trip.

I’d make a book. I’d print the pictures into the book, and then write all the steps. Then we would spend the week going over what was coming up.

They’re similar to a “social story,” which a lot of people who work with autism will see, like, “I’m Going to the Doctor” or a trip, or how to go. And they’re step-by-step, but they’re very generic. And I needed specifics.

I had to show the staircase they were going to walk up. I had to show them the signs they needed to look at to find the arrows of where to go. So, I just started doing them in my own room.

How one family was finally able to go on vacation

And after a while, one of my students that really needed these had what’s called Severe Self-Injurious Behavior. She would hit herself when she became upset. It was so terrible to see. It was the worst day of my career the first time she had one of these episodes. The year before I got her, she was sent home 34 times for that. The first year I had her, we had three incidents. Two of them were right at the beginning, and I started using the books. The next year she had zero. And the next year she had zero.

And her family started going on vacations. They had never gone on a trip in their entire life with her, and they were able to go to Hawaii. I made a book, “I’m Going to Hawaii,” and was able to go online and find vacation pictures from people.

And people took pictures of everything, so I got the inside of the plane so I could show her, “This is the inside of the plane you’re going to go on.” And they were actually the Aloha Airlines logos, but a plane stuffed with people. A lot of times, you know, you can get a picture of the airplane, but it’s empty. And this was crammed full, so she knew exactly what to expect.

And when her parents got back from the trip, their life was changed. Absolutely changed. They didn’t have a single incident the whole time.

And now that student has graduated. And when I met her, she was someone – they were trying to figure out how they could make a life for this young lady – one that meant she never had to leave her house. And when she left me, she got a job, and she goes to work five days a week. Her whole family’s life is changed from it.

How Brett puts pictures together

Vicki: So, you take the pictures. Do you have a technology you use to put these books together?

Brett: I do it in two different ways. I make a printout version that you can just look at on your computer and print out. And then I use Microsoft Sway because they have a feature where I can record the book. And that can also be used on the phone. So someone could take the phone, and push a button, and it will read it to them.

I’ve just started recording them. I only have one of them done. I have 45 books at this point.

  • Editor’s Note: Today’s Sponsor Book Creator has all of these features as well. You can start now with 40 free books to create for your kids. Go to: coolcatteacher.com/bookcreator

How to Find the books

Vicki: Wow. Can people get them online? Can you give a link?

Brett: They are. They are all online, but sadly, most of them are only in places where I’ve been. So, I have quite a few books for Washington D.C., because I’m there for conferences. I have Portland, Oregon, where I’m from. Last year I was at the NNSTOY Conference in Chicago, and we took in the Chicago Art Institute, so they have a book. So, it kind of depends where I go. But I go a lot of places these days.

Vicki: And so they can tweet you to ask you to – if they have a special request?

Brett: Absolutely. You know, I would love to do that. Or I would help somebody in another state. If they said, “I really… I need to make this for my student.” I would walk them through every step, and then I would hope that they’d let me put them on my blog. It’s MrBsClassroom.com, and they’re all on there.

What happened, though, since I have had this opportunity to go out and speak, I’ve made books now for eleven countries. So, I’m starting to collect people who can translate. I have an Italian mom who has a son with autism, and she’s translating all the books I wrote for Italy into Italian.

So my outreach is – I’ll do the best I can, which is an English book on how to go to visit the Coliseum, when I went. But it’s in English, so it helps somebody who speaks English who can go to the Coliseum, but this housewife is making it a tool for every person with autism in Italy. And that’s my dream.

How do you use the books with children?

Vicki: So you have the book. You show it to the child. You talk it through. So, describe what you do, once you have the book in hand, when you’re sitting down. You’re sitting down one-on-one with the child for this?

Brett: I’ve done both. You know, with the whole classroom, showing them. And then I’ll sit with a student, and we’ll just go page by page, and like this is… You know, I read the book to them and point at the picture and say, “We’re going to go here, and these are the stairs that we’re going to go up. You don’t need to be worried about that.” In the books, I always focus on “This is a safe place. Stay with your group.”

But I always show pictures – at least one in every book, I think, of someone sitting down on a chair somewhere – where I say, “If it gets to be too much, you can just sit down and rest for a minute. You don’t need to get upset. Just have a minute. Take a moment. Have a seat.”

Vicki: And you show them a place where they can sit…

Brett: Exactly.

Vicki: Ohhhh, so you’re giving them an out. You’re saying, “OK.” In some ways it’s metacognition. “OK, I realize I’m getting tired. So I’m going to ask to sit over here.”

Brett: Absolutely. And that way, they don’t have to stress out because someone doesn’t understand what they want. They can show me in the book. “I’m ready to sit down.” It gives them a way to communicate back, or maybe even to ask a simple type of question about the outing.

Vicki: This is genius. I mean, it’s just beautiful.

Helping kids and people with the fear of the unknown

Brett: But it’s not genius. It’s so… You know, once I realized that these people who have such a… That autism comes in so many different shades and varieties and… But the people who have that fear of the unknown, and the transition problems… Once I just took a moment to sit down and say, “Well, how do I fix that?” And it was a simple fix. They just need to know. But I had to figure out a way to get them to know.

And I feel sorry for my friends. I’m always – my poor partner – I’m always tricking them. “Hey, let’s go to breakfast downtown.” Then while we’re down there, I’m like, “Well, while we’re here, let’s go down by the Tram. I need to take some pictures. So you know, all my friends have been in books, and course they always say OK. How do you say no to that?

Vicki: Yeah, because I want to help a child who really needs the help.

Brett: Absolutely.

Vicki: So… we’re going to put the link to the blog in the Shownotes.

Brett: Thank you.

Vicki: And do you have on your blog instructions for teachers who want to create books like you’ve done?

Brett: I haven’t done that, because nobody’s asked for it yet.

Vicki: I’m asking! (laughs)

Brett: You know what?

Vicki: I think people are going to want to know how to do that!

We need more travel books for children who struggle with fears of the unknown

Brett: If there’s a teacher who thinks that this is the answer to helping one of their students, I will do everything they need to help. If they can take the pictures for me, I can write the book for them. I haven’t done that yet, but I keep hoping I will have to. I’m trying to be the guy who takes the snowball at the top of the hill and pushes it. Because I can. It’s taken me twelve years to do 45 books. And that’s… that’s not enough. You know, I want… I want every Smithsonian Museum on the mall to have a book. And every important place, and every city… I want them to have a book, because, without them, people who have these issues with the transition will never get to go. Or if they go, it won’t be successful.

Vicki: So it just opens up a great opportunity for those with autism to be able to go places. It’s a great strategy.

Brett: Right. And if you have a listener who decided, you know, this is what my daughter needs. And they want to make a book, what I will do then is I’ll take that book and put that on my blog, and maybe help them find somewhere locally where they can do it so that the people in their community can share the book. And if ten people just do one book, then your community has the support it needs. I’ve done twelve for Portland, and it makes it one of the most accessible cities in the United States for people with this autism

Vicki: So what do you call these books?

Brett: I call them Ability Guidebooks.

Vicki: Ability Guidebooks… So, teachers, this is a remarkable idea. Ability Guidebooks for those with autism, or transition issues. And you know there are lots of kids who could benefit from this. I’ll include the blog, so you can go there.

Did you want to add something, Brett?

Brett: You were saying other students… I had never thought about that. I was thinking of my own kids at first, and what I started to get were messages from kindergarten and first grade teachers saying, “We were going on a field trip to the art museum, and I used your book to show my eight-year-olds exactly how to behave in the museum.” And it makes a world of difference because they see what’s expected beforehand.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as submitted


Brett Bigham is the only Oregon special education teacher to be named Teacher of the Year or to be awarded the NEA National Award for Excellence in Education. He was named a NEA Foundation Global Fellow in 2015 and is one of only a handful of teachers to be given that honor again for 2018 where he will travel to South Africa as a representative of U.S. teachers.

Blog:www.mrbsclassroom.com

Twitter:@2014ortoy

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Helping Autistic Students Travel by Making Books appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e208/

3 Things Great Teachers Do

Joe Fatheree on episode 207 [A special encore episode] of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Global Teacher Prize finalist Joe Fatheree talks about what great teachers do. He shares his observations and also his hopes for improving the profession. This encore episode is the number fourteen episode of 2017 on the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast.

Check out the free resource: Goodbye Teacher Tired: 5 Days to Doing Fewer Things Better from Angela Watson. Save time. Teach better.

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Enhanced Transcript

What Great Teachers Do

Introducing Joe Fatheree

Vicki: So today we’re continuing our recording at NNSTOY, the National Network for State Teachers of the Year.

We have Joe Fatheree @josephfatheree with us! He is a 2016 Global Teacher Prize Top Ten Winner. He does a lot of work with NNSTOY, and he is actually a full time classroom teacher teaching creativity and innovation.

But Joe, you and I today are going to talk about, “What do great teachers have in common?” because you know and have worked with so many amazing teachers.

Where teaching is today

Joe: Well, I’m excited, because I look out at the world, and we have – UNESCO says, by 2030, we have a teacher shortage of 25.8 million teachers. And that concerns me. What’s the next generation? Where are they going to look to for teachers?

I do a survey of my students every year. It used to be 30-40% of my kids wanted to be a classroom teacher. In the last 4-5 years, I’m down to about 3-4% of my student population.

So I look at these kids who are getting ready to come out of high school. They’re creative. They’re on fire. They want to change the world. They want to leave it in a better place than they were given.

They have all the right components in their heart, but they’re not looking at teaching as a profession.

On the flip side, I look at all the amazing teachers that I work with around the world. Many of them have been recognized at the highest level. Many of them will unfortunately never be recognized, but they have the same attributes.

So I’m trying to figure out… what’s the missing link here? Why do these great kids not see the career path that great teaching can provide them?

So I am looking forward to having a conversation with you – a little bit, about that today – about what those attributes look like.

#1 Great teachers have a deep love for giving back to children

Vicki: OK. So what DO they look like?

Joe: I think the first one is… Just an incredible deep love for giving back to kids. Yesterday, we had Stephen Ritz at the conference from the Green Bronx Machine. Steven lives and works in the South Bronx. He talks about it being a very challenged and challenging disenfranchised community. But they’re still people. They’re people who love their kids, they love their community.

Work is a very difficult proposition because of the unemployment rates. But they want to give back and do things. But Steven has found passion in his kids. He’s finding ways to connect with these kids.

We had a group of these young men here. They participated in a National Fellowship for Black Male Teachers. One of the guys was talking about this deep love to give back to kids of color. He wants to be that Black male role model.

Vicki: (agrees)

What the healthy, appropriate love of a teacher for children looks like

Joe: So everybody, I think, has their different “flavor” of love, the reason they got into teaching. But it all comes back to this fundamental piece about how they LOVE KIDS.

We had a conversation around the dinner table this morning about a teacher who had lost a student in a traumatic accident a couple of years ago. She was very articulate about the fact that, “That was MY child.”

Vicki: (agrees)

Joe: You know, that’s how we see them. We see them as an extension of our family. So I think first of all it’s that great love.

Vicki: And there are a lot of people who have a hard time mentioning that. Obviously, there’s different kinds of love, and there are some teachers who have an inappropriate type. But we’re talking just a deep – almost parental – I mean, you know, we can never pretend to be parents. But for me, I just feel like they’re almost my kids.

Joe: (agrees)

Vicki: How do you feel?

Joe: Well, exactly. I think the great teachers around…. There’s definitely this “wall” that’s out there that you just… There’s unfortunately these inappropriate things, and you don’t want to minimize the impact that they have because they’re terrible incidents. But that’s not where the bulk of the teaching world is.

Vicki: (agrees)

Joe: The bulk of the teaching world is about giving back and making sure the next generation is successful.

Vicki: Yeah.

Joe: I see teachers every day giving everything they have to ensure that these kids are successful.

So I think that’s the first piece. Just your giving of yourself. And you’re working with each individual child. They all come in with, you know, their individual talent sets and their weaknesses that we have to shore up. But the great teachers find a way to elevate the great ones to new heights. And the ones that are struggling, to find their strengths and build them up.

I always like to focus on the positive and deal with the negative. I think great teachers find ways to do that.

#2 Great Teachers find “out of the box” ways to work with and inspire every child

Vicki: What’s next? What else?

Joe: I love the fact that we have teachers that really find “out of the box” ways to work and inspire each child.

We live right now in a world that the educational systems are very rigid. At least here in the United States, and a lot of school systems around the country. And I don’t think they were ever intended to be that way. So we have a lot of people that are out there, and they’re lambasting this or that. It’s just where we’re at. It’s just this system development over time.

You have 300+ million people who have 300+ million ideas about how education is. This is what we’ve agreed upon. But it doesn’t always necessarily work in the everyday environment.

So great classroom teachers understand how to look outside of the box. I think what we do — you know, as classroom teachers when we went through our pre service training — we were skilled in the science of teaching. You continue to get trained in the science of teaching throughout the course of your career.

But what I love about great teachers – the world changers – They’re masters in the art of teaching, and I think that’s the real magic in the classroom.

They know how to look at each situation and find ways to inspire and engage kids, no matter what the subject matter or no matter what curriculum you’re looking at. (Despite) issues with it – budget issues you have in school… they find ways to be successful. That doesn’t make it OK for those shortfalls to be there, or for our system to be rigid, because those things need to change. But I really appreciate those teachers that have learned how to go above and beyond to create that magic in a classroom.

#3 Great Teachers bring their authentic selves into the classroom

Vicki: And don’t you find that it’s when many of those teachers bring their own personal interests and love into the classroom?

I mean, I remember… (when I was) judging the Global Teacher Prize, you get to see a lot of the different types of teachers. And I remember – you know, one teacher was dancing, and one teacher was doing this or that. And it’s almost like a little personal spark of themselves that comes into the classroom to make it unique.

Joe: Even a kindergarten student can tell whether you’re a phony.

Some of the smartest people in the world are four.

Vicki: (laughs)

Joe: And they just know, when you come in the classroom whether you’re real and authentic and you want to be there for them.

Vicki: (agrees)

Joe: And so whenever you’re able to peel those layers away, and you bring YOU to the classroom. The kids know that you’re in it with them.

And it’s not just like, “I’m assigning this just to assign it. There’s a purpose with it. Mr. Fatheree’s going to be with it the entire way.”

Sometimes (it’s) leading from the front, but most of the times, (I’m) supporting from the back, and giving them a platform to showcase and to do things.

I think that’s the real trick. (For)a lot of people early on in their careers, that’s difficult because you’re still defining who you are as a person. You’re looking to emulate the people around you. But I think at some point in time, you’ve just got to be YOU.

I know for me, in my second year of teaching, I was asked to teach English to low level learners. And a lot of these kids were 17 and 18 years of age. They had second/third grade reading levels. Attendance was a real issue. Discipline problems were just everyday occurrences.

What I was given was the traditional English curriculum. I had these aspirations that every kid loved to diagram sentences…

Vicki: (laughs)

Joe: … and they all went home at night and had adjective and adverb parties where they all got together and figured those things out.

And that was a mistruth. And so what I had to do was strip things back.

We integrated hip hop music into the classroom. I had to bring a little bit of my personality in and become more real, and hop up there and sing with them, and be off key, and you know… let them have a little fun with me in the classroom.

Because then it became OK for them to make mistakes.

Vicki: (agrees)

Let’s get rid of this big lie about teachers

So, as we finish up, if there was one lie that you think many people in the world believe about teachers – that you could completely erase out of all of these brains – what would that lie be, that you would want to just completely get rid of?

Joe: I think that the biggest one I would have to deal with is that teachers don’t care.

Vicki: (agrees)

We have to tell the story of how amazing teachers really are!

Joe: And if the general public (thinks)… and as teachers, I think it’s incumbent upon us to do a better job of telling the story of what we do. Most of the teachers take a back seat. They never tell all the stories of the money they donate to the schools, the unbelievable countless hours they spend way above and beyond the call of duty… Just the “A game” that they bring to school every day.

And the care they have, not only for the kids, but for the kids’ parents and their communities.

So, I guess, if anything, what I’d love to be able to do is to stand before people and paint this picture of what a real classroom teacher looks like. I’d like to let people see how the bulk of America’s teaching force really is, and how they care for your kids, and how they want them to find success in the next years.

Vicki: Yeah. And that’s really part of the purpose of the show, is to have a 10-Minute-Teacher Show five days a week, because I think when you sit back and you look at the amazing profession of teachers…

There are so many amazing teachers out there!

But you know, it’s so challenging to get people to come on this show to be interviewed because most teachers say, “I’m just a teacher. There’s nothing special.” And they don’t understand their existence – that they show up every day, the fact that they love kids? That’s special.

Teaching is a fantastic profession!

Joe: In 29 years in my career, I now look back with kids that I’ve mentored all over the world. They are community leaders. They’re doctors. They’re lawyers. They’re farmers.

And I got to be a part – literally a part – of building community. And I watched it in real time in my eyes. And there is no other job on the planet that gives you that satisfaction – not just when they’re 10 and in your classroom, but when they’re 18 and 38 and they’re still doing things.

And you walk into their place of business, and it’s immediately – you still have that same respect – because they know what you gave to them and continue to give to them.

Vicki: Yeah.

Joe: So I think it’s the most exciting job on the planet.

And I would just encourage people who are listening to go beyond the classroom. If your children are looking for careers, teaching is a tremendous career opportunity for them. We’d love to have them join hands with us.

Vicki: And it starts with all of us, treating this wonderful profession with respect. Sharing powerful stories of what teachers are doing. Teachers and our students are very remarkable.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as submitted


Joe Fatheree serves as NNSTOY’s Director of Strategic Projects. His primary responsibilities include the coordination of state chapters, STEM, virtual circles and NNSTOY Fellows, video production and technology support. He continues to serve as the instructor of Creativity and Innovation at Effingham High School located in Effingham, Illinois.

Joe is also an award winning educator and filmmaker. Prior to this position, he served as a founding board member for Advance Illinois. During his tenure at Advance Illinois, he served on the executive committee, legislative committee, and chaired the Educator Advisory Committee. He also served on a professional development committee for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2015, Joe was selected by the United States Department of Education to serve as an official delegate to the International Summit on the Teaching Profession.

He has received numerous educational awards over the course of his career. In 2016, he was recognized as a Top 10 Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize. He was recognized as Illinois Teacher of the Year in 2007, and as the recipient of the NEA’s National Award for Teaching Excellence in 2009. He is a former president of the Illinois Teacher of the Year organization.

Joe’s television work has aired nationally on PBS, The Documentary Channel, the Major League Baseball Network, and Hulu. As a producer he has received three Mid-America Emmy awards, two for producing and one for writing. He served as a senior developer on The Composition Book Jam and has authored numerous articles and blogs.

Twitter: @josephfatheree

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post 3 Things Great Teachers Do appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e207/

5 Ways to Help At Risk Children Succeed

Basil Marin on episode 206 [A special encore episode] of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Basil Marin @basil_marin takes us on a journey to help at risk children with these five steps. From the inspiring books to the essential mindsets, Basil will help us reach at risk kids because he speaks from experience. We are counting the top episodes of 2017. This episode with Basil Marin is the #15 top episode of the year in terms of downloads. It was originally episode 130.

Today’s sponsor: Metaverse is a free simple augmented reality tool. Students can program. You can also use and create breakout educational experiences. See coolcatteacher.com/ar or download the Metaverse app today.

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Transcript for Episode 130

5 Ways to Help At Risk Children Succeed

Shownotes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e130

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Download the PDF Transcript

1 – Believe in them

Vicki: Today we’re talking with Basil Marin @basil_marin about five ways to help at risk children succeed. What an important topic, Basil, and how do we start?

Basil: Right, so, thank you for having me here today. I think when we look at the five ways to help at risk kids – again, we must think about, “What is the best way to reach these kids?” These children grew up in different ways from you as a teacher, and they just need to know that you care. I love the quote, “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” So, for me the five topics that I would like to cover today… first starting off with Belief. You know you have to believe in yourself, and also understand that other people are going to believe in you as well, and that will push you towards your destiny.

Vicki: We have a saying in our family, “You gotta believe to receive.” If you look at Hattie’s research, teacher expectations are right up there at the top of the list. Isn’t it hard, sometimes, though, to look at kids and adjust our belief about what we believe they can do? What are some things we should believe about them that can help us adjust that attitude?

Basil: Yes, absolutely. So, one of the first things is you have to understand that student’s interests. So sitting down and having a conversation with them about, you know, “What do you want to be when you grow up? What are some of your challenges? What are some of your areas that you’re really good at?” and just kind of learning the student first. You have to know where they are before you can take them to where they need to be. And so, just that belief, “I was also a struggling learner as well, we can work together.” That’s what really helped me in the classroom as a teacher, kind of bringing myself down from this pedestal, and saying, “Hey, I’m on the same level as you, and I just want to help you get to where you need to be successful.” So just having that belief and powerful, positive conversation.

2 – Build relationships

Vicki: What’s our second?

Basil: Alright. So the second is Relationships. Relationships are key, and again I think every educator should listen to the TED Talk by Rita Pierson. Relationships help form everything in the school, and then positive school culture and moving things forward.

Vicki: I say this all the time on the podcast, so all the listeners are probably tired of hearing it, but “You gotta relate before you can educate” don’t you?

Basil: There it is. That’s the main ingredient.

3 – Have a vision and set realistic goals

Vicki: OK, what’s our third?

Basil: Alright. So, the third is you must have a vision and set realistic goals. I think for me, you know, at a very young age I was always goal-oriented, and I knew where I wanted to go, and that just help me to propel through my career as an educator. We must then model that for our students and help them understand, “OK we want to get out of high school and then we want to graduate, and then are we going to go to a trade school or are we going to a college? What are your next steps?” But they also, the most important part is they have to be realistic.

Vicki: So, Basil, you know I’ve heard some educators say, “Well, THAT child, it’s not realistic for THAT child to go to college.” Now, is that what you mean by realistic, or what do you mean?”

Basil: When I say realistic, there’s kind of a different layer to it. We know if you’re a great teacher you will know your kids. So, for some kids we do understand that OK, them going to college might not be for them, so then that’s when you have to implore other ideas in terms of trade school, you know for our females they’re going to go to cosmetology school. You still have to give them a craft to be good at. And then some kids are your struggling learners like myself, to talk a little bit about my experience. I struggled in school, but I still had someone that believed in me. My goal was to go to college, I was a little hesitant, but they believed in me, and they helped me to get that extra cushion to get to college. So, you still have to go back to that first initial things I talked about, belief, and you have to believe in the kid and tell them, “You can do it, with the supports that are here, we can get you what you need.” So, it can go both ways, it can go both ways.

4- Grow as an educator through professional development

Vicki: OK, what’s our fourth?

Basil: The fourth one is professional development. I think it is very key to always be in a position of growth, always wanting to better yourself. You can do that by reading books, and I have three good books that I have read: From Good to Great from Jim Collins, Start With Why from Simon Sinek, and Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck. Those books will help you as an educator to take yourself to the next level. Also going back to school, earning a higher degree, or listening to podcasts like this. This helps you to understand and to formulate your sense of what it takes to be a good educator.

Vicki: Yes, and you know, all professional development is personal. My strategy is innovate like a turtle. Two to three times a week I take 15 minutes and learn something new, and a lot of times it is through podcasting because I’m really, really busy. But we have to decide we’re going to do that. We can’t wait for somebody to schedule our PD for us.

Basil: (agrees)

5 – Find a solid mentor

Vicki: So, what’s the fifth?

Basil: The fifth one is find a solid mentor. I think this another one of those key things that really helped me to achieve my success at such a young age. You want to find someone that is where you want to be and just glean and take from them as much as you can. Just be around them, go to conferences with them, sit down and have personal conversation – either informal or formal – and just kind of pick their brain about how did they get to where they were. If they a great mentor, they want to teach you everything they can to help you to get to where you need to be.

Vicki: The old saying goes, “Don’t wait for somebody to take you under their wing. Find somebody amazing and climb up under it yourself,” (laughs)

Basil: There it is. (laughs) There it is.

Vicki: So, all of these things, you know, are about helping at risk kids, but what about the challenges emotionally on a teacher? Because you know, at risk kids – hurting people hurt people – and sometimes it can be emotionally challenging for a teacher to work with kids who are at risk.

Basil: So, again part of that goes back to that personal development, so listening to podcasts like this would give you certain strategies to help these at risk students. Again, I think it all comes back to — you have to start with your “Why” as an educator. Why did you get into education in the first place? And the things i, for our student achievement, student development. So, those students who are in the rougher places and have more turmoil or emotional things they have to go through, that just means you have to develop a stronger relationship with that student and get to know the deep crevices of who they are so that you can bring them up out of those situations to help them to reach the general curriculum and to be successful academically.

Sometimes it just means that you have to hear that student out and practice active listening when they come in the door. They might tell you about what happened at home or what happened over the weekend. You just being a listening ear and building that relationship will help you be successful as a teacher.

Understanding the kids, I believe is the first step. I think the second step is that you have to model for those kids what it means to be a good person. You might be the first positive person they’ve seen and they want to be like and they want to emulate, but you have to show them how to do that. And then I think again, that going back to that belief and saying, “This is where you started from, this is where your mom and dad have come from, but you can pull yourself out of that and change your trajectory, change your future.”

But as we talked about earlier in the podcast, (saying) “That’s up to you, and you have to want to be that agent of change for yourself. But I’m here to help you as your teacher and as an educator in this room.”

Vicki: OK Basil, as we finish up, you say something in your work, “Failure is not a dead end.” Give us a 30-second pep talk as teachers about how failure can’t be a dead end for us or our students.

Basil: Yeah, so I think failure is just an opportunity to look at the situation again and do it again more brilliantly. And so as educators we have to understand that it is our job to reach all of our students in the classroom. So if a student is not getting what you’re teaching, again, you need to think about a different way to reteach that lesson, a different way to get it to the student. I want you all to understand that I am a product of a great teacher understanding that I needed some extra support and help, and they were able to help me to understand that, you know, “We’ll get this a different way. You’re not slow. You’re not dumb. I just need to teach to where you are.” So I want all educators to understand that all students are reachable. It takes time, patience, and relationships. If you’re able to do that, you’ll be able to reach those at risk kids, and one day the at risk kid will come back to you and say, “Mr. So-and-so, or Ms. So-and-so, thank you so much for what you did for me. Now I am, you know, the vice president of this company, I’m in college, I’m doing certain things.” And I had the pleasure to do that with my teacher in ninth grade. I was able to call her up the last week and say, “I’m a new assistant principal.” That was a product of what she did for me way back in ninth grade.

Vicki: I love it that you went back and you thanked her. That is remarkable. I think we as teachers need to go back and thank our previous teachers. I was actually just mentioned in a Georgia Tech magazine talking about my favorite professor, who’s now in his nineties, and you know just having that relationship and going back and saying, “Thank you for what you did!” That’s the kind of currency that we need to pay each other as teachers, because we are transformed when we have amazing teachers. And we transform kids every day!

Basil: (Agrees.) And that’s what we do again. That should be our mission and vision. Again, students are going to come to you and say, “I can’t do this.” As an educator, it is your job to say, “Hey, let’s remove that apostrophe, let’s remove that “t”. Let’s make it “I can.” That’s what you do as an educator. You help the student see it in a different way and have belief in them and let them know that anything’s possible through hard work and determination.

Bio as submitted


Basil Marin earned his Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Business Administration from Eastern Mennonite University and Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in Special Education from Liberty University. He recently completed the Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree in Educational Leadership from Old Dominion University before joining the Ph.D. Educational Leadership Cohort 3. He is pleased to announce that he will be transitioning into a high school assistant principal role within Portsmouth Public Schools for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Basil is a humble and down to earth individual who is passionate about creating opportunities for all students to succeed educationally. He has a strong desire to work with at-risk youth. He firmly believes these students are our future and he is willing to provide the necessary support to see all students succeed. These students are regular human beings just like anyone else; however, these students have lower academic skill sets or untamed frustrations that often disrupt their learning process. He feels that God has given him the passion to work with at-risk youth and to show them that through education anything is possible.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post 5 Ways to Help At Risk Children Succeed appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e206/

5 Lies I Used to Believe About Teaching But I Don’t Anymore

Vicki Davis on episode 205 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

When I first started teaching, I used to believe some things about the profession that I just don’t believe any more. In today’s final episode of season 2, I reflect on those lies and how I’ve grown in my practice. I hope it helps starts some conversation about what matters in the classroom. How about you? Do you have any lies about teaching you used to believe but don’t any more? Do you agree or disagree? Share in the comments or tweet me!

Today’s sponsor: Metaverse is a free simple augmented reality tool. Students can program. You can also use and create breakout educational experiences. See coolcatteacher.com/ar or download the Metaverse app today.

Listen Now

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Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.

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Enhanced Transcript

5 Lies I used to Believe About Teaching But I don’t Anymore

Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e205
Date: Friday, December 8, 2017

Lie #1: Tests Measure Learning

Well, the first one is that tests actually measure learning.

So I was always a pretty good test taker in high school and in college, although I never really “rememborized” very well.

But I really used to think that if I had a 250-question test, and the kids got all the right answers, then they actually knew the content.

That was until a week or two later, when I started asking questions about what we tested on, and realized that they did not have any deep learning. They were just memorizing the facts.

Well, we got rid of those big huge tests, mostly because my curriculum director said I had to, not because I really believed it.

And we went to Project Based Learning.

The first big project was the Flat Classroom Project, which went on to win ISTE’s award in 2006 for the best online learning project, that I co-created with Julie Lindsey, who at the time had been in Bangladesh.

That project was astounding. We did that for several years.

And now we do global projects every single year in my classroom, and have since 2006.

Well, I realized that the learning doesn’t really stop now. Students remember, much later, all the projects they did. They remember the movies they made. They remember the inventions that did.

It really cemented for me — when a student who graduated about 8 years ago. He’s now a dentist and doing very well. We sat down and had a conversation at our Fall Festival recently. We literally picked up the conversation where we had left off. It was very Socratic. It was asking questions back and forth.

He said that he had seen some new technology, and he wanted to know what I thought about it. It was literally technology that we had talked about when he was in my classroom. He and a friend of his had been messaging back and forth, and he said, “Oh! Ms. Vicki’s right again!” about a particular topic.

But also what he doesn’t remember is that I kind of led them that direction, so they came to those conclusions. But still, through projects, through invention, through creativity, through learning. That is true teaching.

When somebody comes back, and they’re 25 or 26 years old… and they’re still having conversations about the things that you did in class?

I mean, he literally told me about the day that I introduced Twitter and what he said. He had said not such nice things, that it would never amount to anything. In this case, he was wrong and I was right. I’m not always right.

But I think the point here is that with authentic projects, with making, with inventing, with creating — I really know that I’m teaching, much more than I ever did with those 250-question tests.

So, that’s the first thing. I just don’t think that those tests really did teach what I thought they taught.

Lie #2: “Don’t smile until Christmas.”

Well, I never was very good at this because I was the Georgia Peanut Princess and I liked smiling, but you know, it’s about relationship. It really is.

Those early years I struggled, because I did not have the relationship with my students that I have now. Part of it was that I was just so — I hate to say, ‘ a stick in the mud” — but I didn’t bring myself to school. I didn’t share things with my students at school.

In fact, it was kind of a little while before I started sharing a lot of the blogging and things that I was doing, and Twitter, and all of this adventure that I go on in my life outside.

And you know, we need to have that relationship. Part of that relationship is smiling — and not just smiling, but laughter and having a great time.

Lie #3: Kids learn just like I did.

See, this is a problem that many teachers have. When I was in the business world, one of the first rules of marketing was not to think that everybody is just like you, when you’re marketing to them. In marketing or advertising meetings, people would say, “Well, I wouldn’t be interested in that.” And you’d look at them and say, “Well, you’re not the the target market.”

Well, you’re not the target market, teachers.

The brains have literally changed now. They have shorter attention spans. They scan. There are so many things that you can read about brain research.

But kids don’t learn like we do.

In fact, I’m very visual. A lot of my students are auditory. SOme of them are learning “To be, or not to be,” for their English teacher. They will download that and let them listen to it on their phones as they learn it now. They learn differently. They don’t learn like we do.

We need to understand that we are not teaching ourselves. This is not a class full of mini-mes. This is a class full of unique individuals who learn differently. And not only do they learn differently, than we do, they’re part of a different generation than we are.

So we need to try to get in their minds to understand how they learn, so that we can teach to them.

Lie #4: I have to stay on task with content learning 100% of the time in class.

That’s a lie that I used to believe! I thought, you know, 52 minutes. And I still will talk to my kids about spending 52 minutes on task. That’s very important to me.

But there are times to have conversations. When tragedies strike, when difficult things happen, there are times when I will stop everything and we will go on to a different topic that I didn’t have in the lesson plan.

There are time that kids ask to talk about things.

For example, we’re doing Hour of Code this week, but I have a little bit of extra time, and a lot of students have been asking me about introverted versus extroverted. So I had a little tool to kind of help guide them through that and talk about the difference between introverts and extroverts.

This was a very important conversation, because one of the student took the test, and then she looked at her score, and then she thinks she is the “normal one.”

And I said, “No, no, no, no, no, no… HAH! Introverts and extroverts are both very important parts of the world, and we need each other. There is not one that’s better than another.”

We had a great conversation about introverted versus extroverted, the differences, and how we each have something different to bring to the world.

Well, that wasn’t originally on the lesson plan. But if I had stayed on task, if I had said, “OK, everything that is content in the curriculum — that’s what I need to cover,” then we would have missed that very valuable lesson.

I can name literally thousands of such lessons that we go on, because I am a teacher. Yes, I am going to cover the content. But do I have to do it 100% of the time?

Sometimes, those great relationships that I mentioned earlier are built when I say, “How did you do this weekend?” and “Oh, I’m so proud of because of what you did in the play!” or “Why are you not in the play?” or “How’s basketball going?”

Or a kid will come in and say, “Well, I want to quit basketball.” We have these conversations that are life changing.

And I know this, because now I’m going on 15 years, and the kids will come back and tell me.

So, if all you do is 100% of the time content, I would argue that you’re really missing out.

I think a lot of administrators who think that teachers should be 100% all the time on the content — are missing out on what that’s like.

If you think about it, if a highway is 100% full, 100% of the time… then you have gridlock. Nothing moves. Highways are really more efficient around 45-60% full. And then they start really slowing down.

So you want to have some room in there for being a human being and not just a human doing.

And I’m not saying, just sit back and prop your feet up and whatever. And I don’t watch a lot of movies with my students, but we do have purposeful learning and sometimes go off script.

Lie #5: Every child can make an A in every single class

The fifth one… and this was very hard for me, because I came in believing that every single child could make an “A”… in every single class.

You know, children are different. I have two kids of my own with learning differences. I have three children, and two of them have learning differences.

I used to think that it somebody wasn’t making an “A” then they just weren’t trying hard enough, or some other reason.

But you know what? I have something I say to kids a lot now. And that is, “OK. This is a hard subject for you. Let’s get the best that we can get for you. But I want you to understand something. You are an “A” as a person. You are important. Whether you make an “A” in this class or not — if you give every single thing you’ve got and the best you can get is a “B” or the best you can get is a “C” — then that has to be enough.

I know tons of successful kids who were all “C”s in high school. I’m not saying grades aren’t important, but you know there’s just so much more to life than just the grades you make in high school. I’m sorry. There just is. So I’ve kind of changed — I’ve definitely changed my view on that.

I’d be interested to know some of the lies that you might have used to believe about learning.

But you know, teaching is heard. Teaching is difficult. I know I talk about that a lot, but teaching is important. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Bonus Lie: The money’s not important. It’s a noble profession.

You know, if I was going to add a lie — not about learning, but about teaching, it would be that, “Oh, the money’s not important. It’s just a noble profession.”

And teaching is a very noble profession. But I’ll tell you this. I’ve had to work really, really hard since my kids went to college to make up for the fact that I chose to be a teacher. It didn’t really hit home until my son graduated from college, and his starting salary was higher than my salary as a teacher.

And you know, I just think back to when I was 24 and 25, I made about five or six times what I make now. Sometimes that’s hard to handle, especially when you’re teaching kids whose parents make a whole lot more than you do. And there are a lot of people that complain, “Oh, we don’t need to pay teachers anymore.” It’s just difficult.

So I do think that money is important, and I do think that adequately funding education is important. Paying teachers a wage that is deserving of who they are — is very important to me. And I think I’ve dismissed that in the past. I think that’s a sixth and bonus “lie,” if you will. And I know that some schools do pay well, but many do not.

But teachers, don’t be discouraged. Teaching is a great profession. It’s worth it. We make a difference every day.

I love my students so much. I love teaching them.

And I hope that you do, too.

And I appreciate all that you’ve done to listen to Season Two of the 10-Minute Teacher, which is now officially ending. This is Episode 205, so we are finished with Season Two.

Season Two is ending: Please leave a review on iTunes!

I would love it and really appreciate it if you would go over to iTunes and leave a review on the 10-Minute Teacher.

Encore: Top 15 Episodes of Season Two

Now for the next three weeks, we’re going to be counting down the Top 15 Episodes of 2017. That’s right.

So we’ve had two seasons, Season One and Season Two of the 10-Minute Teacher.

We’ll pick up Season Three early in January.

Thanks and appreciation!

I’m just really grateful for all of you out there who’ve been listening to the show, encouraging me and Kip and all of us involved. I do have to give a shout-out to Kip Davis, my husband, who is the producer for the show. He’s done an incredible job. I had no idea he would be so good at it. You know, we’ve learned a lot along the way. I’m sure some of you have noticed, who were faithful listeners. Sometimes we’ve had a few little glitches. But we’ve learned.

We’ve got Dr. Lisa Durff, who has gotten her doctorate. I got to see her graduate and be draped and everything this summer. I was so proud of her. She’s our research assistant. She finds all of these amazing people for the show and handles all of the bookings.

We have Kymberli Mulford, who does all the transcriptions.

And if you haven’t check out the Shownotes, they’re really looking awesome now. We have full extended Shownotes, which helps those who need it for accessibility reasons, but also those who want to quote it for their research papers and that sort of thing as well.

So, thank you all. And we’re also very grateful for all of the sponsors who help make this possible, and fund the show as well as helping us to keep things rolling around here.

Thank you all. Thank you for listening to Season Two of the 10-Minute Teacher.

I hope you enjoy all of these encore episodes that we’ll be airing.

My email is always open for you. Email me at vicki@coolcatteacher.com if you have any suggestions, ideas, or potential guests that you think we should interview.

Thanks for listening!

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

kymberlimulford@gmail.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post 5 Lies I Used to Believe About Teaching But I Don’t Anymore appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e205/

Metaverse for Augmented Reality: Program and Breakout in Augmented Reality

A sponsored review of a tool I’m using to teach programming

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Augmented reality is here. Finally! When Google Docs came out, I stopped everything and let all of my classes experience it. Also, I learned about Twitter, I did the same thing. Well, several weeks ago, I stopped everything and took all of my students into Metaverse. Augmented reality is going to be huge — I think it will be even bigger than virtual reality. Until now, however, we haven’t really had apps to help us see the possibilities of this technology. I think Metaverse will be an app to watch in this space. Today I’d like to explain augmented reality and how Metaverse works. I’ll also share how my students are using it to program.

In previous blog posts and shows, I’ve talked about augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). It’s important that we understand the difference.

Metaverse is the sponsor of this post. See their article, Create Magic in Your Classroom. All opinions are my own.

Virtual reality is where you put on some goggles and visually immerse yourself in an activity. You feel like you’re there. There are many exciting things about VR, but one of the drawbacks is that it’s really easy to forget where you are. There can be some inherent dangers in not knowing your actual location in the physical world.

How does Augmented Reality compare to Virtual Reality?

However, in some ways, augmented reality has far more potential than VR ever could. While we’ve all heard about (and maybe played) Pokemon Go, most of us don’t really understand what AR can do for us. So imagine this: Now you have the ability to overlay digital objects throughout the physical world, and your phone or tablet lets you peek into that “augmented world” and interact with these objects. Suddenly, there are an infinite number of ideas about the things you could interact with.

This gif shows what augmented reality looks like through the Metaverse browser.

So, for example, on a computer screen you can put objects in different places.  But it’s a 2D experience, so it’s flat. All you have is the screen.

But AR lets your physical world becomes the screen. Right now, we can look at and interact with these digital items through our cell phones. Eventually, our glasses or contact lenses will be AR-enabled, and we’ll be able to see these types of things without a handheld device, and they’ll just appear in front of us as if we were looking at a hologram.

What is augmented reality?

But the reality is that places will be augmented. The word “augmented” means “to add to something,” so we are adding another layer to reality. We are adding the digital world to our real, physical world.

Every experience has a barcode. When you download Metaverse onto your mobile device, click the “scan” button to launch the experience.

To me, this technology leap is similar to when Marc Andreessen programmed Mosaic, the very first web browser, and showed us how we could “browse the web.” All at once, we understood that we could see all of these things on the Internet — and we had graphical objects at our fingertips.

The same thing has happened with augmented reality.

Metaverse: The Augmented Reality Browser

Now there’s a battle to see which augmented reality browser our world will use. Metaverse might just be that AR browser.

I’ve been looking for others, but haven’t really found anything else that can do what Metaverse can do right now, although this is sure to be a hotly contested space.

Digital breakout boxes have a new form

You’ve heard of breakout rooms where people had to solve puzzles to get out of a locked room.

But in schools, you can’t lock students in a room, so people invented breakout boxes. Using their knowledge of history, science, or other subjects, students had to solve the combinations for the boxes to open them and receive the prize inside.

Well, now you can breakout in augmented reality. Here are five examples of simple breakouts, but you can find many more by downloading the Metaverse app and browsing them.

But even better, students can create their own breakout experiences.

Breakout Tutorial Playlist for Metaverse

Programming in augmented reality

Recently, while I was in Dubai, I had my students program in Metaverse. One group made an augmented reality tour of the school. Others made fun games and activities to teach about topics from pet care to comedy.

Metaverse has many different “triggers.” Like a regular video game or program, it can ask you to input a name that it will call you throughout the experience. Students can follow different paths through the experience based on your responses. They can take quizzes, answer questions, and earn points. Students can even “receive” virtual inventory items and “give” them to characters that you interact with on screen.

Here’s a sample of the first experience that a student and I created. She and I went into the app and had an experience up and being used in the Metaverse Augmented Reality browser in ten minutes.

Just look at the screen of your phone

All of this is done while you’re looking through the camera on your phone. The virtual objects display over your real world so that you can interact with them without losing track of where you are.

Think about it this way. Every single area of space around you could hold a virtual object. You could browse different objects based on the “experience” that you launched. So at one moment, you could be going inside the cells of a plant or animal. In the next experience, you might be walking through the planets.

One note: The location boxing feature is currently in development. This means that when you launch an item, it will appear right where you are. For example, if you wanted someone to open an experience and see a tour guide by the front office and another one standing by the computer lab, that capability isn’t quite there yet — but it’s coming. Instead, use the scavenger hunt feature and put QR codes in the locations where you want to launch the intelligent “tour guide” or character.

Metaverse is a fantastic way to teach programming and augmented reality. Launch it today and take a look.

Try Augmented Reality Scavenger Hunts

You can also make scavenger hunts with Metaverse. So, for example, you could take the QR code from different experiences and put them around your school or location. People launch them to get the clue or information. You can also add some programming to have them enter a code or number or solved puzzle in order to get the clue. So, these aren’t just augmented objects but they have intelligence.

You can also bundle experiences into groups to use in scavenger hunts as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEINxJTjX5Q&feature=youtu.be

How are teachers using Metaverse?

There’s a curated list of tutorial videos from teachers about how they are using this tool, but here are some of my favorite highlights.

Imagining an Augmented Future

This is much bigger than Pokemon Go. For example, imagine that you’re in a big city looking at ten restaurants across the street. You could look them up on Yelp to see what people say about them, or you could check current availability on OpenTable. However, that takes a lot of browsing time.

What if you could look through your glasses and immediately see the rating of each restaurant floating over the door? Or think about asking your glasses to tell you what kind of food each restaurant serves, and the answers would appear? Then you’d narrow your options and ask your device for the wait time. You could say, “I want a table for 8:00 at John’s Restaurant.” As you walk, everything is reserved.

The experience doesn’t have to end there. When you walk in, a digital representation of John appears and takes you to your table. He’s either a hologram, an overlay appearing on your glasses or contacts, or — at least with current technology — on your cell phone. When you get to your table, an AR waiter appears to take your order.

Eventually, of course, you’ll need a physical person to bring your iced tea or dessert. However, many of the initial interactions in a restaurant could easily take place with an AR object — one with a little bit of artificial intelligence, but it wouldn’t be that difficult to do.

Let your students imagine and augmented future

As we programmed in augmented reality, we also had possible discussions of our augmented future. You can have some amazing invention assignments as students envision and dream of a future with intelligent digital objects overlaying our physical world. Let’s augment our reality and learn!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored blog post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The post Metaverse for Augmented Reality: Program and Breakout in Augmented Reality appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


from Cool Cat Teacher BlogCool Cat Teacher Blog http://www.coolcatteacher.com/metaverse-augmented-reality-browser-classroom-breakout/