Skip to main content

What Is a Ghost's Favorite Pair of Pants?

What is a ghost's favorite pair of pants? 
This is the riddle I asked my 6th grade math class on a recent 3-part, Google Classroom assignment about dividing mixed numbers. The first part of this assignment was to model dividing fractions using Google Drawings. After that, they began attempting to solve the riddle. However the only way they could figure out the answer to the riddle was to successfully complete a quiz with Google Forms. With every answer, right or wrong, students were given a message. The message was either, "Try again," or a letter of the alphabet. The students were directed to record the letters of the alphabet they got after submitting their answers to each question, and they were directed to show their work and thinking on the problems they solved. Once students successfully answered all eight questions, they then had to open a Google Doc, unscramble the letters they received from the Google Form quiz to answer the riddle, and insert an image of their work and thinking on the problems they solved. 
Last year, my first year running a blended learning classroom, it felt very robotic, not to mention very frustrating, nerve-racking, and leaving me filled with doubt. And I am a pretty tech-savy teacher, and I still had difficulties last year trying something new like blended learning. However, I knew I wanted to try something different; something that would make a difference for my students. Unfortunately, I was never close to creating an assignment like the one mentioned above, and I am okay with that, because I am here now. Last year, I used the station-rotation model in conjunction with more canned, online programs. Whereas this year running a blended learning classroom, it feels much more fluid and natural. I am using a teacher-designed blend with teacher-created assignments that I am trying to make as relevant and meaningful as possible. While this requires more thinking and a lot more creativity on my part, it has been worth it; not only for my students, but for me as well. I see my students using the 4C's in their learning daily. And that is where I begin to think about designing each lesson and assignment. I start with the 4C's in mind, and work backwards through my lessons and assignments. It has made all the difference in my blended learning approach. 
All educators set out to make a difference in the lives of our students, but do we really know where to begin (believe it or not, student-teaching doesn't give us that answer, nor does exactly following the lessons plans a textbook company tells us to). Is it just natural that we know how to make a difference? Is it easy to do? For some, the answer is probably yes, but for others, the answer is probably no. So, how do we make the difference? Where do we begin? I suggest we start by taking risks, getting out of our comfort zone, finding ways to bring our passion into the classroom, accepting and learning from our failures (and there will be a lot of them; quite possibly 180), and building relationships with those we teach and those in our PLN.  
By trying to make a difference, G Suite for Education (formerly known as GAfE), has transformed my classroom into a blended learning classroom that has relevance, meaning, and a way for my students to see themselves in their time in their education. My time in education, as a student, was the sit-and-get time. I want my students to have a different experience. I want them to be able to see relevance with their education. I want to give my students their education at their point and time in school, not mine. I want to make a difference.
And one last thing, "boo jeans."


Popular posts from this blog

Not Just Any Summer Assignment: A VR Summer Learning Experience

This summer, I intend to go to Disney World and other parts of Florida, the Outer Banks, Ocean City, New York City, a Kansas City Royals baseball game, the Grand Canyon, the White House, a NHL Finals game, a cruise, and I plan to go to all of those places without leaving my house. How? With the Cardboard Camera app, Google Cardboard, and Google Classroom. I have given my sixth grade students one last assignment, and this assignment will run all summer long. Their assignment is to bring along their classmates on their summer vacation trips using the Cardboard Camera app, by uploading their images to Google Classroom for their classmates and myself to view on our Google Cardboards (we had a Google Cardboard make and take night in early May, so the students are really into VR now), and finally collaborating on a Google Slide (Take Us With You On Vacation). Benefits to this assignment: 1. Let's start with the obvious. It is really cool. Who doesn't want to try out VR? The students ab…

My First Few Weeks as Elementary Principal

On January 23rd, my 15-year career as a classroom teacher changed dramatically, as I began a new role as interim principal in one of my district's elementary schools. Then on January 24th, my wife and I celebrated our third child being born. It was a week full of emotions but most of all excitement.  Being a father of two, I knew what to expect with our third child. Late night feedings, sleepless nights, changing diapers (lots of diapers), and a return to the 5S's. But being a first-time principal, it was a lot like being a first-time parent. You could read all the books and get all the advice, but until you actually went through it, you couldn't really understand it.  Much like bringing my first child home from the hospital after she was born, I had some, well a lot, of anxiety going into my first day as principal. I had scheduled a full faculty meeting to introduce myself, and while I was only an interim principal in another principal's building, I still had to be myse…

Enter The Twilight Zone with Blended Learning

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone. 
I feel that opening part of the show The Twilight Zone directly relates to my school year this year. This is my second full year of running a blended learning classroom, and I feel as if in some way my sixth-grade students and I have crossed over into the Twilight Zone. Strange but wonderful things are happening in and out of my classroom, that I have not, unfortunately, witnessed before in my 15 years of teaching. Students are embracing the idea that learning can take place anywhere, anytime and that their voice matters to others, as they enter a whole other dimension in Google Classroom. They are seeing learning opportunities on their own outside of the school day and wanting to share their experiences wit…