Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rocking to the End of the Semester

I have made it through to the end of my Fall Semester and my kids are approaching the end of their first semester.  Since I last wrote, my teacher returned from maternity leave and I now find myself teaching 5th grade students in Science while their teacher is out on maternity leave.  WHAT A DIFFERENCE!  This is a positively eye opening experience to be with so many different grade levels and getting the opportunity to teach two different subjects.

I will be the first to admit that Science is not my best subject.  I am having to work much harder to deliver the kind of education these students deserve and along the way I am learning so much as well.  For starters, there is a HUGE difference between a 5th grade brain and a 7th grade brain.  There is a HUGE difference between a 5th grade brain and a 6th grade brain.  I think Mrs. Ryan's brain is going to explode!

Science was always the subject I had to study for.  I was the student who didn't have to try to get A's and B's, but I REALLY had to try with Science.  Now I can say I'm getting really good at it.  I have made it my mission to do as many hands on activities and labs for this group of students to give them a better understanding and me as well.  I realize as an adult that as a child in school I lacked getting those hands-on experiences in science.  I don't recall doing anything hands on in a science room until I was in high school.  All my other school years were spent with my nose in a text book or watching science movies, but we never did experiments.  My current students are doing experiments.  They are getting dirty, writing hypotheses, and asking questions that I can't answer and that we have to research together.  And it has been phenomenal! 

While I've only been with this group of students a short while, I have really learned a lot.  We missed a week together for the Thanksgiving holiday and now we will miss 2 weeks together for the Christmas Holiday.  In January sometime, their teacher will come back so I may only have a couple of more weeks with them at most.  But I intend to make it fun, educational, and hands on.

This week we are making a collage about the weather in the area that we live in.  In the center of that collage is a paragraph about the weather and what it represents.  Tomorrow we are headed on a FIELD TRIP!  I'm so excited myself to get to go.  We are going to Medieval Times in Dallas, TX.  Thursday and Friday are days for students that need that extra one on one help, and then it is holiday time.  Time for a break from school, and the Master's program too.  Spring semester starts in January, but until them I plan on taking some time off for me and my own kids.

If you haven't visited my portfolio in a while, I've added some new things.  Most recently I've added several lesson plans written in formats specifically for different teaching methodologies and different subjects.  There is also a basic pencast up in my leadership area.  You can visit my portfolio HERE.

Have a blessed and wonderful Christmas!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Abacus, Abacus, Abacus

It doesn't seem like 10 weeks have already passed, but they have flown in a whirlwind of activity.  Student lesson plans, class, kids, tests, and of course there is a life outside of schools!  My 5 children, my poor neglected husband, and my poor neglected house!

What I want to share though was a really great activity I did with all my students, 6th and 7th graders alike, and it was such a success.  I started out with a day I needed to fill an activity with, and I thought that a web quest about something related to math would be a great thing.  I found a great web quest already done up online.  It is HERE.   And I thought how cool.  I could do this.  The only problem was that when I got into school none of the links would open in the school.  Everything was fire walled.  So what I did was take the questions and the formats and play around at school to give the kids some links that they could actually open in the school so they could start an abacus web quest.  However... I tacked on something at the end that wasn't in the original web quest.  I added a PROJECT. 

Students had to make their own abacus out of common household objects.  Student were graded on realistic representation of an abacus, did they bring it in on time, and I threw in some creativity points to get them really going.  (Of course they all got those points, but they don't need to know that!)

And let me say.  I got some of the best in show's ever.  The whole school was talking about "Hey what do these kids have?  What did they do for Mrs. Ryan's class".   After the kids brought them to school, I gave them another day to get on the net and figure out how to properly use their abacus.  The second grade was given the next day when they had to do a presentation.  It was a simple 100 points.  50 points for the students explaining what their abacus was made of, and 50 points for working a math problem that required them to at least go to the 10's place value.  You know they all wanted to do 2 + 2.... not happening!

So, I know you are dying to know what the abacus' were made out of.  Here is a small list:
Sticks, shoe boxes, bamboo, tape, string, zip ties, apple jacks, fruit loops, cheerios, life savers, cookie crisp, beads, fishing weights, fishing line, coat hangars, buttons, paper, pipe cleaners, coke cans, pop tabs... and the list goes on!  I will try to add some picture very soon of some of my favorites.   But now, more importantly, what did they learn:

What is an abacus?  In this technological age, I was hard pressed to find a student who knew what one was.  My favorite was the kid who said... oh yeah, that's the thing baby's play with.... some thought it was a food....

The history of the abacus.  How did people add so long ago?  And how long ago are we talking?  Is it still used today? 

From a teacher's perspective:

The kids just made their OWN manipulative!  Of yes.... how awesome is that!

More importantly, research has shown that the abacus has a positive effect on the working memory, positive effect on mental calculations, and was attributed to a rise in IQ by a mean of 7.11 points.  There is so much more research that shows the positive cognitive impacts just from the use of an abacus... much better than those new versions (calculators). 

Feel free to comment if you have questions.  Thanks and have a great week!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A disappointment stumbling block.... (sigh)

Well I must admit I thought we were rocking along in math class, and then I get to test day.  I realize two things:

1)  The kids don't know the material like I thought they did.

2) Since so many of them don't get it, I know the problem is me.

So today I am spending time trying to find a million ways to teach my kids about positive and negative integers and about greatest common factor and least common multiple (this for my 6th graders) so that we can retest on Wednesday.  I feel bad for the kids that completely aced my test, but I'm more worried about the ones that failed dramatically.  20%, 30%, and yes I even had a 0%.

It is official.  Come Monday I will be off track on the lesson plan the teacher has left for me to teach.  It is also official that my teacher will be coming back November 16th, and I need to ensure when she comes back in it was like she never left.  There is a lot of pressure for a long term substitute.  It is much more different than if it was your own class of kids.  Whatever I get off schedule with will impact her future teaching, and I can't afford to just keep moving because in Math, everything builds upon itself, especially at this level.

I must admit it was a disappointing week, but this is my first lesson in really modifying, adapting, and overcoming so that my kids can succeed.  Wish me luck!

Oh and if you have any suggestions about where to look for great interactive lesson plans, drop me a comment!  I'm all ears!

Monday, October 3, 2011

My first Pencast!

I couldn't stand to wait too long because I wanted to demo my new pen to my students.  Right now I'm working on a math website for them so that they have a place to go straight to for help with their math topics or math homework.  I'm doing this through a website called CourseSites which is free for up to 5 classes.  Currently I'm only  teaching 6th and 7th graders, so I'd really only need two classes, but if I broke them up by the 5 periods I teach, then I'd need all 5.  Unfortunately I can't show you the site as its an invitation only, and  I only want my students and their parents to have access, but I can show you my first pencast I've made for my 6th graders!

I've noticed several things after viewing my pencast:

1)  I say "so" a lot!

2) It is much easier to teach to active students than to talk out loud to a sheet of paper, and picture my students being there.  I'm sure You Tube users know exactly what I mean, or anyone for that matter who makes tutorials for others who aren't around.  Oh well, practice makes perfect!  Let me know what you think of my new Echo pen!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Inspiration and a Smart Pen

I finally figured out how to work my little interactive white board tablet in my room.  I used it on Friday and my kids loved it.  I like it to, and it was really my inspiration behind getting my Echo smart pen.  When trying to figure out how to use my interactive white board tablet (we will call it IWBT) I thought well I'll just google it and go from there.  Turns out... it isn't made anymore.  Never the less, I was able to figure out what I was doing, and it is great for my classroom.   It operates a lot like a Think Pad.  At any rate, I've seen several blog post referring to smart pens and LiveScribe on several blogs I subscribe to and I thought I would check it out.  I found an Echo pen in Best Buy and fell in love.  I was on a spending splurge today and decided this was going to go one of two ways.  I either was going to get an iPad, or a Smart Pen.  Well... I got the Smart Pen.

So I've been sitting at home and right now the new drivers are being done on my new pen and I can't wait to use it!  So I decided it would be a good idea to watch some videos because I really want to be able to use this for my students as soon as possible.  So if you don't know what a smart pen is for, I'm going to give some insight into what you can do with one, but for the rest I would recommend going to Livescribe's website, more importantly, their educators website.  

There are many things a Smart Pen can be used for,  and my ultimate goal is to do Pen Casts for my students.  I want to be able to do pen casts of problems that we are working on in class, and upload them to a site accessible to the students when they are at home.  Students can access the pen casts to use as study aids or homework aids.  I think this technology is phenomenal and can't wait to use it!  I'll get  a short pen cast rolling soon and put it up on my portfolio but also put it on my blog. 

For now, it is time to play!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Power Teaching

Last night in class, we watched a few videos on You Tube about power teaching.  I will admit all I could think about was "no way".  My kids would look at me like I was crazy, and I would probably go crazy!  To give you an indication of what I'm talking about, I've attached a video for your viewing pleasure!

Today while reviewing for the upcoming 6 weeks tests, I found myself telling my students about this crazy video we had to watch in school the night before.  My students get a kick out of knowing that I'm in school with them too.  They know Mrs. Ryan has homework!!

So in a joking manner, I talked to them about power teaching, and then I walked them through a few exercises.  And yes, I even made up my own for telling them to be quiet.... and then the funniest thing happened.   I found myself doing some of the same management behaviors in class.  I found that I was telling them to do things that power teaching required.  And, I found I somewhat liked it.

It truly amazed me that I could say "CLAASSS..."  and they would all stop and answer "YEESS", and I could get their attention so much better than the millions of times I've had to say HUSH, Quiet Down, Who is supposed to be talking right now?

I think I might be in love with this style of engagement and management.

Just a little FYI, Power Teaching is now called Whole Brain Teaching, and you can find out more information at

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Week 3 of Teaching, Week 4 of classes

To say the last 3 weeks have been informative would be an understatement.  I can say without hesitation that I have learned more from my kids than they've learned from me.  I wish I could say it has been all sunshine and roses, but that is definitely not the case.  In fact, it has been hard, exhaustive work, but I sure do love it!

While I've been working on differentiating my instruction by doing different activities, modeling, visuals, and group work, my main focus has been about classroom management.  The first week the students seemed to be wary of me since I was a new grown up, but by the end of the week, they were definitely testing the waters to see what they could get away with. So, when I began my second week, I began to get a bit more strict about what was going on in the classroom.

One of the things I did was grade the work we did in class together.  This helped me for a variety of reasons.  The first thing was that I could tell when I was teaching what the students were understanding.  The second thing was that I could tell who was participating or not.  When I looked at these things I got an idea of what I needed to do to improve my instruction, and the students started realizing Mrs. Ryan wasn't joking around about all the Math in her class! I've also learned what my "pet peeves" were.  There are some things that go on in a classroom that drive some teachers crazy and it doesn't phase me a bit.  And then there are some things that send me running for the behavior management forms.  I figured out my biggest no-no for the students was NO TALKING WHEN I AM TALKING!  That absolutely drove me bonkers.  Still does, but in at least each class one person has found out that Mrs. Ryan won't hesitate to write that discipline sheet.  And you know, the students don't hate me, and they are paying attention more now too.

I will say I have been blessed with an exceptional group of kids.  They really aren't "bad" kids, and by that I mean huge discipline problems.  I would also say I have been blessed with an extremely awesome faculty that is always there for me to answer questions and help out, especially my mentor teacher.  I always had in my head what type of teacher I aspired to be, and she is really it.  She has the best attitude in class, great classroom management, innovative lessons, and she even incorporates technology whenever she can.  And her door is always open to me for questions, help, words of encouragement, and even prayer.

God has truly blessed me.  It really is a wonderful feeling.

Monday, September 5, 2011

One week of student teaching down...

I have to admit, that this past week has been the most exhausting and exhilarating week I've had since I was in the Navy.  I began my student teaching journey this week as a long term substitute teacher.  I am teaching Math to middle school students who are in the 6th and 7th grade, and boy am I learning a lot!

My students have been in school for 2 weeks now, this upcoming week will be their 3rd.  I am the 3rd teacher they have had, and the one they have had for the longest.  The school I'm teaching at uses C Scope for their curriculum, so my students do not have text books.  This is something new for me, and I feel like I'm starting to overcome this challenge.   In all of my classes, my students seem to be lagging behind, so I've been giving remedial instruction this week to make up for the lack of a more structured instruction process.  I have a lot of material to cover, and not much time to cover it in.  Each class is with me for 1 hour a day.

Currently I am focusing on fractions, decimals, percentages, and teaching them helpful ways to get this stuff figured out.  One thing I will be doing starting this week is focusing on my classroom management style with the students during their instruction.  The first week was a get to know you week, and while I've figured out my student's personality, they've gotten comfortable enough with me, that now we are having discipline issues.  This week begins pop quizzes, referrals, and a faster paced instruction.  Yes to their horror, there will be homework as well!

As far as my Master's is concerned, I feel VERY blessed to have had labor day off so that I can catch up with my homework.  It seems that lesson planning and paper grading have taken up the majority of my home time, and that hasn't left a lot of time to prepare for my classes or my certification exams.  But, I feel certain that expediting my testing will ensure I get a position next year as a contract teacher, so I'm staying up until my eyes can't stay open, waking up early, and asking everyone who has watched me teach for what I can do to better myself.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A new Journey is Beginning

It has been a while since I posted and I must admit that had more to do with me being so uncertain about my teaching future.  My desire to teach was of course there, but it looked like the opportunity was going to not be.  Much to my delight, and due ALL to God, I will be teaching starting Monday.  I am going to be a long term substitute for a local school.  What that means for me is that I will get paid a bit more than a regular sub, and I will be teaching the same students for around 3 months.  I am praying that an opportunity presents itself for me to continue as I took a HUGE leap of faith and quit my steady full-time income to do this.  I want to sneak a special thank you in here for all the staff at ETBU who worked hard praying and keeping their ears open for me.

With  that being said, this week has been a whirlwind of activity!  I am learning about a program called C Scope that the school uses for planning, and I'm getting my thoughts in gear for activities and how I plan to teach my new students.  I will be teaching mostly 7th graders, but I do have 1 6th grade class, in the subject that I've always wanted to teach.  Math!

As far as my Master's goes, this is the time that I would be spending doing Student Teaching and my classes deal with the Texas PPR exam and lesson planning.  I'm really eager to dive into these courses.  I feel like I'm finally getting my "backstage pass" to the teaching show.  I am also preparing to take my EC-6 generalist exam.  I hope to have that accomplished in the next couple of months.  I finally feel like this is real!  This is an exciting time for me, and I hope that I can be all those kids need and deserve on Monday and everyday after that. 

Now.... I have to get ready!  I've got to check on some math games I want to bring to class, some higher level thinking riddles, and so much more!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Finals Again

It is once again time for finals and this month has been the hardest so far.  I began the month behind in my psychology course due to work scheduling conflicts.  I stayed behind for the rest of the month and I find myself working on a holiday weekend in desperation to create a final piece that is worthy of what I want to accomplish in the amount of time I have. 

While taking my psychology course our professor had us do a very small piece concerning creativity in the classroom.  This really was a blip on the radar compared to the extensive talks we've had on Piaget, Kegan, and Kohlberg, but it really was the piece that grabbed my attention.  I remember a video that is posted on this very blog that talks just a bit about how the current school system sucks out creativity from the teachers on down to the students.  And I really found myself actively reading topics that discussed creativity and the classroom and why it is important to have.  What better topic to do on a final paper than one you are interested in?  So that is what I'm working on right now.

I do of course have two classes and I'm working on a paper for that class as well.  My goal however is to finish all my requirements for my psychology course and that way I can focus on my final paper for my Early Literacy course.  I wanted to go through my observations for this month though so I could give an idea of what it's been like:

For most of the students in this program, summer time is wonderful.  They don't work because they are teachers.  However, for me it is the busiest time of the year for the construction industry.  For instance this beautiful holiday weekend, I find myself faced with six papers to write and work from home that I have to complete prior to returning to work as well.  I have traveled more in the last two weeks for my job than I have in the last six months.  That has meant less time at my desk, less time at my books, and less time with my kids.  I almost hit a point where I was like... is this what God really wants me to be doing?  Each time I tell a client what I'm doing outside of work their first reaction is.. "oh, so you are leaving this industry".  I wonder why I can't be a pioneer and use my education degree IN this industry?  I know there is a training department that handles classes for our company.  I've set through one of their trainings and have been bored to tears!  They could use a little bit of Dr. Price's technology and pizazz.  Training which I now have.  I have sat through Dr. New's educational psychology course and really know what these well meaning company presentations are missing.  I also find myself analyzing what stage of cognitive and moral development most of the salespeople are in.  I find myself a bit scared!

In the last two months two major things have happened.  I find that I really love my job.  I find that I may not have the inclination to teach right off the bat when I'm done with this program.  I find myself recalling a conversation from one of my professors about how an education degree isn't just for the teacher, but can be used in many facets of work such as museums and other organizations.  It gives me something to ponder on while I struggle the balance between work, family, and school.

Wish me luck on my finals!  I really have a great idea for my papers.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Psychological, Psychoanalysis, Psychologically Speaking of Course....

This term has been a wild one due to massive amounts of work, and massive amounts of personal health issues!  I missed my first psychology course of the term due to my daughter being in the hospital and almost missed the second day due to me needing to be in the hospital.  And what I have learned does boggle the mind.

I have taken several psychology courses while I've attended schools in various areas.  I loved what the psychological courses discussed and lets face it, who doesn't want to learn to psychoanalyze oneself and others!  Educational psychology is a field that you have to look at from so many different angles.  I've always known that you can not pinpoint one's development, moral growth, actions, or anything of that nature on one theory or one person book of why.  No one person can successfully categorize human beings and be correct  Instead I've learned and am currently learning that these theories have to be combined and considered based upon each individual person.  This is a lot of stuff for a teacher to take into account.  For example:

We all want to teach on a level that the kids will understand.  To do that we need to know what cognitive development stage they are in (Piaget), what their zone of proximal development is (Vygotsky), and all about their moral reasoning (Kohlberg).  And if that wasn't enough, their are several more professionals in the field of psychology who want to have their say so on the human race considered.  I am thinking of Kegan at this point, but there are many more. 

The most important thing I've learned so far is that children have to be addressed in a manner in which they can cognitively understand.  You can't expect a child who can't think abstractly to understand your instruction if it calls for abstract thinking.  When I think about this, I can almost imagine a child saying, "This teacher doesn't make any sense."  As I reflect on my past, I've remembered that I have been a student in that type of situation.   As I consider my future, I know I don't want to make those kinds of mistakes.

While I am having to do plenty of reading and writing in this class, I can say it is definitely interesting.  And as odd as it sounds, the professors wit and mind, remind me of my Grandfather who passed almost 17 years ago.  I feel comfortable in asking questions and learning.  What a great thing to inspire students to feel I think.

Until next time.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The start of a new "semester"

I hate to call what we are doing a semester since it is only a month long, but WOW the workload is a semester's worth.  This month I am taking an educational psychology course along with an elementary literacy course that focuses on assessments as well as teaching.  Both are very interesting so I can say at least while I'm being overwhelmed with a lot of work, it isn't boring work!  The biggest difference I'm seeing with this month's workload versus last month's work load is the amount of papers I have to write.  There are an ENORMOUS amount of papers. 

One of my paper's that I must write this first week focuses on Piaget;s theories of cognitive development.  I've found a little YouTube video that discusses what they are so you can get an idea of what I'm learning about at this stage in the program.

I missed the first psychology in class lecture due to my daughter having to go to the hospital, and now I am feeling like I'm flying blind on my work.  The syllabus tells me what the topic each paper has to be on, but it does not tell me when it is due, or the requirements of the paper.  I guess I'm looking for a rubric!  I need to know if I should be persuasive, informative, length of the paper, and even though I've already said it, the due date is just as important!  I'm going to try and email the professor again to see if I can get those questions answered.

My question for you today is when you are writing a paper or doing any assignment, what kind of information do you find helpful to have to complete your task?  I ask this because as a teacher I want to be sure that I don't leave any room for discussion on my assignments.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Week of Finals

This week is the last week of our Summer I courses.  Two full size courses crammed into 1 month has me exhausted.  And then, I remember I still have 2 more months like this to go!  I CAN do this.  This week we focused mostly on our final projects which are presentations for both classes.  Tonight is the last presentation for the week, but the work is not done.  We still have take home finals that are due prior to midnight on Friday.  I started yesterday, but have a long way to go with that.

Next month is considered Summer II and before I get geared up for new learning, I wanted to take some time to reflect about what I've learned in this past month. 

I really feel like I've learned a lot about what the teachers do inside the classroom.  This didn't come from instruction as much as it came from getting to know those that are in the program with me.  These teachers teach in various types of schools to various age groups, and they all have magnificent stories to tell.  I can't help but sit back in class sometimes and think about the impact each one of them is making on the future generation.  I wonder if they think about this, or if time goes by and they view it as just another day at their jobs?  I sometimes wonder if they feel they are doing adequate enough jobs, or do they feel like they go above and beyond.  I will say that I think each one of these teachers have shown in class how they feel about their schools, their students, and what they do, and they are driven.  They are driven somewhat by the test scores, but also by the kids that they spend time with everyday.  How awesome to be involved in teaching the next scientist, poet, or mathematician.  At the end of the day they should all be proud of all they've accomplished and what they've gone through.  I'm in awe just sitting in the room with them twice a week.

I have learned that the amounts of technology that can be integrated into studies is only limited by your imagination.  There really is something out their for everyone.

I have also learned that knowing what the law states will keep you safe in your career.  It is also interesting to watch the history of how that law has changed, and what impact it has made on social conformity's and education as well. 

As I get geared up to do my final assignments I can't help but think.  I'm glad I've survived the first two classes, and I am eagerly awaiting this weekend where I will truly not have any homework until my first day of class arrives on Tuesday.

Good Luck on your finals everyone!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Craft Supplies and College....

We are now working on our end of the month projects and we are having to do an OLD fashioned tri-board for a presentation.  I see nothing wrong with this, it keeps you grounded and makes you realize what students in elementary through high school go through.  With that being said, I am so happy at this point in the course that I have enough craft supplies to open my own store.... literally.

Having all of these wonderful supplies did not stop me from going out to buy more.  Heck no, Hobby Lobby was having a killer sale!  30% off of Cricut items.  And since I have a Cricut Expression and about 15 different cartridges, the only thing I could possibly need and find useful is Cricut Design Studio.  So I went out, spent my money, and came home with CDS so I could begin working on my Tri-fold.  I'm half tempted to do what I do in my other blogs, and that is take pictures of what I've done and post here... but I won't.. partly because I'm too tired to add to this homework assignment, and partly because I'm just too darn lazy right now!  It's Saturday and I have so much still to do.  

My main purpose for spending money on this piece of software was so that I could "weld" my words.  I am working on the titles that will be put onto the Tri-Fold and instead of cutting out each letter and placing them on the board individually I wanted to make one word that would be cut out as a single piece.  And I got it home, and I installed it, and it worked!  Hurray for my Bug!  I have used this thing for so many weird things it is worth the money I spent on it, and the crowds I fought 2 years ago at the Day After Thanksgiving sale to get it. 

At any rate, I visited the Cricut website today AFTER I bought my CDS, and it looks like the folks over at Cricut are making a program called Cricut Craft Room.  And its FREE.... and it does the SAME thing the CDS does... only a bit better.  However, since they aren't done working out the bugs, I still needed the CDS to do my project.   And the stinking video made me want an Imagine machine.

I hope everyone in my class is having an easy time with their project.   I'm honestly looking forward to and dreading the next 2 classes that start in June.  I'm exhausted and feel like I work non-stop.  But, I really feel it is going to be worth it.  I'm going to have a Master's degree when this is all said and done.  Who would have thought?!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This is something we did in class today... and I loved it!  So I'm sharing :)

Create your own video slideshow at

Monday, May 16, 2011

Search and Seizure in the Schools

This evening I am working on legal briefs for my Legal Issues course.  My case for this week's assignment focuses on whether searching a student's private property on school campus violates the Fourth Amendment of unreasonable search and seizure.  The long and short of this case is that the Supreme Court of the U.S. has ruled that it is not a violation of the student's Fourth Amendment rights providing that the search is reasonable and not excessively intrusive. 

For those that do not have a legal mind, the biggest thought to an educator is what is deemed reasonable and what is deemed excessively intrusive.  Knowing what the courts deem reasonable will help facilitate best practice where searching student's property is concerned.  Recently one student went all the way to the Supreme Court to help define what was reasonable and excessive in nature.  The Supreme Court ruled that this student's constitutional rights were violated when she was strip searched by her school in Arizona.  The school officials in this case suspected the student of hiding an Ibuprofen tablet in her panties.

The case was clear cut to me from the beginning, but poses and interesting question to educators.  How far is too far?  Many districts have specific personnel that are trained to handle searches in the even that they need to occur so that a teacher need not get involved.

What is your take on the subject?  How far is too far?  What do you consider acceptable?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Obviously Every Day Isn't Going To Happen

I really had a great goal of posting everyday, but it just isn't going to work.  Right now I'm sitting at a Hilton hotel in San Antonio waiting on room service to deliver me some dinner.  I have to prepare for tomorrow's training with my current company and do homework for my degree!  I have driven approximately 7 hours today and class starts at 7am tomorrow... I'm tired thinking about it. 


This morning I woke up bright and early to do some homework.  This girl is NOT getting behind.  Today I worked on issues discussing internet safety and really why it is important.  I discovered that Texas is currently revising the technology TEKS which is a VERY important thing to know.  Internet safety is something I really have a heart for, and there are many reasons.  I have 5 at home with me right now, and the dangers of children not being safe hit a little too close to home this past year.  In the neighboring community a young teenage boy was killed by someone he met on the internet.  He thought he was going to meet a girl, and a grown man showed up.  That man killed him and a family's heart was shattered.  Regardless of what kids think, IT CAN HAPPEN TO THEM.

I try to stay on top of what my kids are doing as far as texting and what they are doing on the internet.  I have their passwords so that I can view messages and I monitor them to make sure they are staying on track as far as not going to inappropriate websites or chatting with unknown people who claim they are kids.  My children are the most important thing on this earth to me.  Jesus of course is the most important thing EVERYWHERE.  But I truly believe that one of the duties I have to God is to ensure my children are raised correctly, and to ensure that I maintain their safety.  This type of attitude translates in the classroom.  At least I believe so.  I can remember a few select teachers when I was growing up.  I really don't remember the horrible ones, I remember the one's that I loved.  I want to be that kind of teacher for my students.  One that inspires them, one they look up to, and one they respect.
This upcoming week I have some big projects due.  One of them is a presentation in my Legal Issues class.  I'm going to do my presentation with the help of Prezi, Microsoft Movie Maker, and a microphone.  Incidentally I used Microsoft Movie Maker when I was an undergrad in a couple of courses and I really liked how easy it was.  You should check it out!  I also am responsible for the court cases my group is going to use for our group project that is due in week 4.  Since I won't be in class on Tuesday I need to brief the cases and email my partners so that they have something to work with in class.  I also have a power point presentation for the technology class, a Prezi to work on for my end of month project in the technology class, and case briefs and journal annotations to do.  Wish me luck!

God Bless You!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Portfolios, Portfolios, Portfolios.... oh.. and some juicy technology!

Today's focus was on journal articles focusing on the importance, or lack thereof, of portfolios for educators and students alike.  I learned today that the best type of portfolio in this day and age is an electronic portfolio, and that the thesis or core of a portfolio can encompass several things such as a portfolio on a particular subject, an introspective portfolio, and a professional portfolio.

As a future teacher I've learned that a professional portfolio has a very real future in my career.  And while having a professional portfolio is important, so is an introspective portfolio that focuses on professional development.  I know what a portfolio is and have read articles upon articles about their importance, but I haven't found a single format for one, nor have I seen how one is laid out.  That is my current goal.  I need some visual examples so that I can get a modeling idea and maybe gain some perspective about the kind I want to have.

The other little thing I had to do today was work on my blog post summaries as all my weekly assignments for my tech class were do tonight!  I found two "gems" in my search and you may already know about them, but I sure didn't and I was excited to discover them.

1)  There is an application in the accessories folder of Windows 7 called  "Math Input Panel"  This panel is used for writing mathematical computations and then you can import them into word.  Word will then convert your written expression into a typed format.  Yes I said WRITE.  As in use your mouse, or you finger, or stylus depending upon the type of computer you have.  VERY cool application for math teachers and students!

2)  PREZI  Do you know what this is?  It is like power point on steroids.  Prezi takes presentations to a whole new level and I don't even know if I can describe how but here goes.  Essentially your presentation is one screen but you format PREZI to move around your screen zooming in and out to give your presentation using drawings, text, and other multi-media.  Instead of the same old slides over and over again, you can touch your screen and have a blast.  Here is a little video from YouTube that explains Prezi a bit better than I can!

I want to see if I can combine PREZI with say Microsoft Movie Maker or is there even a need?  I can't wait to play around with it and I encourage you to as well.  The basic version is FREE.  So what exactly is bad about that!  Wish me luck, I have a presentation assignment coming up and I am going to try and incorporate PREZI with it so I can be different!

I hope you have a great evening!  As for me, I have 3 chapters to read before class tomorrow night and I need to work on my big project coming up for my legal courses.

God Bless!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Already too busy for words!

I took Sunday off as a day of rest!  And of course, it was Mother's day so I spent the day with my Mother.  My Dad took us out to eat and we watched a movie and had ice cream later.  Yesterday... I just completely forgot to post!  So this post will be about what I did yesterday.

Yesterday's focus was pertaining to the class I have this evening in Legal Issues.  I had a case brief that I needed to turn in for a homework assignment and NUMEROUS chapters in a law book to read.  Have you ever read a law book?  I have found that if you don't take it personal it can be rather dull reading.  By that I mean you have to really have a vested interest in what you are reading.  This really made me think about teaching and school in general.

Kids today get a pretty bum rap all around where school is concerned.  They are unfocused, bored, discipline problems, and all kinds of things... but rarely do you hear what I think is the real reason why.  Is what they are doing personal to them?  Have teacher's made the learning personal?  I remember when my daughter was learning decimals and she would come home from school complaining that she just didn't get all the junk that teacher was talking about.  So, I made it personal.  We went shopping.  We played with money talked about sales and percentages off so we could figure out how much we were really going to pay so we could stay within our budget, and it clicked for her.  All of a sudden those decimals and numbers and place values had meaning in her life.  I would never say anything derogatory about how my daughter's teacher taught, I wasn't there.  Maybe she did use great examples, they just weren't relevant to what my daughter was thinking was important.  I guess my point is here, much like that law book, it has to be personal to grab the kids' attention.

My legal brief was more about constitutional law and there just happened to be schools involved, so really no major lesson there.  The constitutional law that was broken was about checks and balances between the different branches of a specific state's government.  I wrote my brief, turned it in, and we will see what the professor thinks.  I'm hoping she likes it.  My undergraduate degree is in law and I've had A LOT of practice writing case briefs, complaints, contracts, and discovery documents.

Today I have class and still so much homework in my technology class.  I will be working long into the night.  But for now I hope everyone had a blessed Mother's day!

God Bless You!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Technological Integration

Today I did do a lot of the work that I needed to but did not get it all finished.  However, I did till up my mother's garden today so all was not lost.  What I did accomplish today though was working on my blog post summaries and finishing the discussion questions I was assigned to do with 21st century learning.

I spent the majority of my morning reviewing videos about how our schools have fallen behind in updating their methods of instruction due in part mostly to the lack of practical application.  Outside of the classroom students have cell phones, computer access, MP3 players, Ipods, Iphones, television, etc.  All manner of digital media is at their fingertips until they walk into their classrooms.  They are expected (for the most part at least where I am from) to put away the cell phones, sit in nice neat rows, and listen to lectures given with illustrations on the wall.  There is no stimulus and no technological exchange going on in the room.  This leads me to believe that we are essentially teaching only part of what children need to know.

This is a short little video that my brother-n-law sent me to that really illustrates what I'm mentioning above:

It's worth a watch!  Even if you aren't an educator, but just a regular parent or someone thinking about being a parent, this will make you wonder about the quality of education your child or future child is/may receive.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day and today was a special day for my Mother, it was her Birthday.  Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's out there!

Until tomorrow... may God Bless You!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Day After....

I will have to admit that my first night of Technology in The Classroom was quite daunting.  It was a million pounds worth of information crammed into 3 hours of time after I'd been working ALL day.  My strategy was simple:

1 - Take lots of notes.

I have had the priviledge of having Dr. Thompson-Price in an undergraduate course and I will be the first to say I love the way she teaches.  She is interesting, VERY passionate about what she's teaching, and funny.  I can definitely think of worse ways to spend 3 hours of my time!

Other than information overload I think I survived pretty well.  I created this blog while I was in class, set up my electronic portfolio, and learned about some really cool tools!  Here are a few sites I learned about:

Weebly - You can set up a web page REALLY easily and do so in different formats.  Best part of this was obviously it was FREE.

You can monitor how my portfolio is coming and even access my blog from there by going HERE.

Titan Pad - A really cool word proccessor/collaborator.  You can actually invite your friends and you can work via a type pad editing and working on work.  I have to say this is probably going to be a God send especially when group assignments are given.

Course Sites - This is where we are all interacting and where Dr. Thompson-Price is putting our class assignments and easy resources.  It is laid out really well, is user friendly, and allows me to email other students within our group.  I know it was free for me to join, I'm not sure if it is free or not to create your own page, I haven't investigated it that much yet. 

Spelling City - Now this really has nothing to do with what I learned in class, but was a link Dr. T-P had posted on the board.  And when I visited the link I loved the site and thought what a great resource for my kids!  They love to play games and this site focuses on spelling and vocabulary.

How Stuff Works - Great website maintained by the Discovery Channel.  This website was mentioned in my text book and I paid it a visit and did a little reading on weird science!  I learned about spontaneous human combustion.  There are all types of things to learn and because I like to be in the "know" I think I'll become a frequent visitor

Today is the first day of many homework days to come.  I've printed out my articles for my annotations assignments, picked a blog for my blog posting assignment, and I still have more work to go.  My goal for today is to complete my legal brief assignment in my Legal Issues course, and read a chapter of the assigned reading and complete 1 annotation and my blog post summaries plus a chapter for my technology course.  It is a lot of work, but with still much more work to go before class next week I have to get moving now.

Tomorrow I'll share with you if I actually made those goals and hopefully will be able to share with you what I learned by completeing those goals.

Until then!  May God Bless You and have a wonderful day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What it's about!

I am currently attending East Texas Baptist University to attain my Master's degree in Education with Elementary Certification.  This is my first term for the program and by this time next year I will be close to graduating. 

1st - I have to do this blog as a classroom assignment.

2nd - My goal is to continue this blog throughout my master's program.

3rd - I am going to chronicle what I am learning, what I am messing up, experiencing, wish I wasn't experiencing... an expose' if you will.

4th - This is a Christian university.  I WILL be posting about Jesus Christ.  My faith is a part of who I am and what I'm doing.

I think that is about all.  I've already attended my first class.  It is a Law course about legal issues within the public school system.  My second class for the week is Teaching with technology.  Which is why I am here.

So... my blog will be about as the title suggests "Teaching Mrs. Ryan"... about how to be a teacher :)

God Bless You!