A-C Ag Demo: Castration

Due to an issue that has come up, this demo will now be held on Tuesday, April 22 at 11:15 and 12:15. See the post below for more info.



On Friday, one of my students will be doing a demonstration of a castration on two sheep during school for two of the agriculture classes. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn about some of the things that happen on farms. After all, not all of our Ag kids are on farms.

As soon as I heard this, I thought of what a great opportunity this could be. How many students out there get to see things like this? Plus, with CFF and the opportunities that we have online, why not stream this out to the world?

So, on Friday, April 18, at 11:15 and again at 12:15, we will be broadcasting live (barring any unforeseen issues). The student will be doing the castration, clipping the tails, and also speaking about artificial insemination. This is a great opportunity for this student to really show what he can do with his animals (he has shown many sheep and won many awards), and it also give our ag program a chance to show off a really neat thing. It also allows other districts to witness something they otherwise may never get a chance to experience.

Follow this link or copy and paste: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/a-c-animal-castration


Collaboration Day

I had the opportunity to speak at a math collaboration day at Gettysburg High School yesterday for teachers and CFF coaches in IU12. At first, I was just being asked to be there as a "veteran" CFF math teacher, being in the second year of the CFF grant. I say "veteran" due to the fact that I am still only in my fifth year as a teacher, and I still think that I have way too much growth to do to be called an expert.

Tuesday afternoon, I get an email asking if I could do a second presentation to the entire group. Sure, why not? I find it too hard to say no when I get a chance to speak about something I feel strongly about. So I stay up till who knows when working on finishing links, etc. for my presentation wiki and also on the Keynote for the group presentation.

It was amazing to be able to have an impact on the teachers that were there. After I spoke, a few came up to me with questions and ideas. I offered encouragement for the ideas, and had to still work on trying to convince those with questions about why we should make the switch.

The big thing to remember is that it won't happen immediately, and it's not something that should be toiled over. Take risks with your lessons and let the students start discovering. You might be amazed with what they can come up with. Isn't that how math was originally discovered?


Professional Development

Recently read this article, which talks about professional development in today's schools. It is amazing as to how much PD has changed just in the five years I have been teaching (has it been that long already?). These two paragraphs really jumped out at me:

The biggest shift has been away from regularly scheduled professional development sessions to a just-in-time approach to professional development. With this new approach, teachers regularly communicate with an on-site instructional technology specialist, enabling them to quickly and efficiently address any questions or issues. This is the most effective method to ensure that teachers are constantly engaging and integrating technology. The instructional technology specialist's ongoing assistance and support encourages teachers to try new teaching methods and reinforces material taught during more formal professional development sessions.

This shift to accessible professional development can't be emphasized enough. It's no longer sufficient for teachers to attend a workshop, learn a slew of computer applications, and then be expected to use those applications when they return to their classrooms. Educators like Gates are continually making the point that professional development needs to be always accessible and always relevant: The technology is a way to make the instruction more engaging; it's not an end in and of itself. Rother points out: "As teachers become more tech-savvy, professional development focuses on the seamless integration of technology into the daily curriculum, rather than on merely how to use technology."

As CFF coach in my district, I am the one who supplies this just-in-time training to our staff and students in our secondary building. I have so many plans to expand what we do. I am working on a CFF wikipage for our teachers and students to access. I currently have a page that I designed with Nvu, but I like the features and availability of wikispaces more, so I'm working on making that switch.

I am also working on including as many teachers as possible, and each week I see more teachers getting involved. This week, one of our FCS teachers showed me her wiki. One unfortunate thing about her schedule and mine is that we don't have a common time to meet, so I wasn't able to help her out as much as I could. However, since I have a group of students who post to my class wiki as part of their summarization of lessons. This group of students was able to help the FCS teacher with creating her wiki. I was so proud of both the teacher and my students. Then the teacher mentioned to me about how she had learned many of the features of wikispaces by trying things out.

That's also one thing that I have been stressing to our teachers (and students): try something. I can't recall the number of times I have had a teacher approach me saying, "I don't want to break my computer!" I have to tell them that they won't! I have told them that there is an "undo" on their computers for a reason. Still, many are reluctant to take the risks, and that's one of my greatest difficulties. How can I get teachers to take the risks to expand if I may not be available to help them out when a problem arises?

Hopefully, as different issues arise, I will be able to make videos to post as how to's for fixes for when I'm not available. The Central PA CFF Coaches have created a How To wiki to start this out, and as time goes on, we should see more how to's on there. Bear with us, as each of us only has so much time each day. If you have any good ones, please add them!

Tomorrow I will be presenting at a math collaboration day in a neighboring area, and I've had a lot put on my plate. I like the challenge. But I think I'm falling victim to a the feeling that I'm-not-better-than-these-other-teachers and I'm-still-a-young-teacher-itis, and I often feel that I still have so much to learn, and I do. This could be a bad feeling, or it could be the feeling that keeps me growing as an educator. I have to realize that there are things I can share, as there are things I can do and know that others don't. I also have to realize that there is always room for growth, and I need to continue striving to take the next step as an educator.


Other countries?!

I just checked out the usage statistics on the wiki I use with my Trig class and saw this graphic. There are people from Singapore (SG) and Hungary (HU) viewing what my students are doing? This is something I definitely need to share with them. I know we always talk about how connected (and "flat") the world is, but it's always neat to actually see it!

I wonder how this will effect the posts that they create? Will the get better? How will they feel actually KNOWING that there are people around the world looking at what they're doing?


As a CFF Coach, one of the things we are to encourage our teachers to do is reflect. Yet, here I am, not being able to find time to reflect. There is a lot that I feel I need to get out, but how? This week, I am proctoring PSSA's was out of the district most of the day Monday, we have an adjusted schedule on Friday, and I still have hundreds of emails to read and resources to assess. At the same time, I am looking for lesson plans for a special ed. teacher, creating some usable audio files for the same teacher, being asked to create blogs this weeLinkk by an English teacher (after I let everyone know that due to PSSA proctoring I would not have time), I have teachers coming to me with questions during PSSA testing, notes and resources from PETE&C I still need to go over, grading for my three classes to finish up (including comments), continue adjusting/creating lessons for my classes (one of which is a new prep and the other two being completely redone to be completely online), leaving early to coach soccer, paying bills, cleaning, laundry, working a second job, and maybe sleeping.

Okay, I got that all out and off my chest, now I can do some reflecting.

Many of my students are explaining to me how helpful using my wiki has been for them. Good. I like the feedback, now tell me what else you need of me. I feel so bad for my students, as I am not even here for them over 10% of the school year due to coaching. And that kills me. How can I be there for my students when I'm not there as much as I should be? They have expressed their frustrations, and they know mine, so at least there is an understanding there.

A few of the teachers in my district are not happy that I am not available to them as a CFF coach because I am teaching during their prep periods. And this year, we have twice as many CFF teachers, and the rest of the staff (middle school, non-core curriculum areas) are anxious to delve into the world of EdTech. It's so great to see them wanting to do everything, yet they don't have the support they need.

I have told my administrators that I cannot continue trying to do both jobs half the time, as they require much more attention than I can currently afford them. I have expressed my desire (for my health and sanity) to become either a full-time coach or go back to a full-time math teacher. I cannot physically, mentally, or emotionally continue attempting to find a balance. There is no balance as there is so much overlap. Teachers calling while I'm teaching. Students in and out while I'm doing tech stuff. Piles of paperwork and miles of emails and lists of articles and blogs to catch up on! I've fallen behind and I don't know how I can catch up!

So, here's the dilemma. If I go back to being a full-time teacher, then our one math teacher goes back to half-time, which isn't very fair to her. Plus, we need to find a new CFF coach, who potentially could be someone from outside the district. How long will it take them to become familiar with our district and teachers? How much time and money is lost there? True, there is a $30,000 coaching stipend to help cover that, but it's not enough to cover a full-time coach, as well as benefits from the district. So, we're still left with only a half-time coach, which still only allows part of our staff to meet with them.

If I stay half-and-half, our other math teacher gets to remain full-time, but I go crazy. And, neither my students nor staff get 100% from me (which I cannot do to either group anymore).

What do I do? I have so many plans and ideas that I would love to work on as CFF Coach. But I need the time and support to do them, and our teachers need time and support from a coach, and my students need time and support and devotion from me.