Balance Is Not A Wish: Four Takeaways From #TchWellness

Getting Better Together

This entry is the seventh and final post in the series #TchWellness.

Over the past two years, I’ve worked diligently to balance my various life roles — mother, teacher, friend, fitness instructor, blogger, etc. Inspired by feelings of complete exhaustion and overwhelming emotion, I’ve been intensely driven to reduce the anxiety I often feel. I was tired of feeling pessimistic and frustrated and wanted nothing more than a feeling of calm and peace.

Worry overwhelmed my mind — Was I right for this job? Should I stay in education? Could I handle the pressure as an educator? And so, the past two years have been full of reading, working out, purging material items, and indulging in caffeinated beverages. Ultimately though, my solace and calm is finally within view.

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PodcastPodcastCreativity and Learning with Minecraft

Minecraft Education Edition

Minecraft Global Mentor Jessica Pilsner joins Tch Talks to discuss how we can help students express themselves and their original ideas through Minecraft. Listen as Jessica explains how she unleashes her students’ creativity as they build and solve problems together within the world of Minecraft.

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Get Creative with Minecraft!

Minecraft Education Edition

Do you remember when you were a kid and you could spend hours in a sandbox or building with blocks? That sandbox could become anything — a medieval castle, a turtle, or maybe even a bakery serving up sandy snickerdoodles. The possibilities were endless.

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Being the type who likes to research, when I first noticed my students’ obsession with Minecraft, I began researching and found that Minecraft was described as a “sandbox game.” My gaming knowledge was limited at the time so the term was unfamiliar to me, but it brought me back to playing in the backyard as a child. Later, I learned the term references the few limitations put on the player. However, much like my childhood sandbox, it requires creativity.

Creativity

Creativity is a 21st-century skill that our students will need as they continue to grow and engage in the work of solving global problems. With the wide-spread availability of information, the need for creativity is higher than ever. Students become innovators now in the classroom and take those skills into whatever profession they grow in to. Technology even allows students to make a global impact and be active citizens solving problems.

So as an educator, how do you purposely develop skills like creativity?

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Fidgeting for Physics: Spinner Science in Six Steps

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

This time of year most of us are a little fidgety.

Summer is right around the corner, but as we’re constantly reminding students “the year isn’t over yet” and “don’t give up,” some of us find ourselves needing the same pep talk from our administrators and social media networks. We’re almost there — but in the year of dabbing here and there, flipping hydration, and slime (yes, slime!) enters an item that’s making heads spin.

What is this amazing tool that’s taken our students by storm? The fidget spinner!

 

Wait. You mean that at the end of the year our students are obsessed, unknowingly, with NGSS phenomena? Students are loving science and some don’t even realize it.

 

So how can “Spinners” be spun into relevant phenomena for science classrooms and what is the science behind the spin?

 via GIPHY

 


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Top Five Vocabulary Strategies for English Language Learners

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50,000 words by high school graduation.

That’s the challenge English Language Learners (ELLs) face if they want to catch up to their native English-speaking classmates. That’s almost 4,000 new words a year if a student begins school as a kindergartner!

But what about the English Language Learners who don’t enroll until middle school or high school? For these students, the vocabulary challenge is even more demanding. To meet it, teachers must learn and use the most effective strategies. Over the years, I’ve tried many different approaches and techniques and compiled the following list of my top five favorite vocabulary strategies for ELLs.

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Video Self-Reflection: What We Don’t Know

Tch Next Gen Science Squad

I felt the blood rushing to my face. I was standing in front of a group of teachers presenting on a topic I was very familiar with and all of the sudden, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I was saying. The teachers were very gracious, but I was cringing. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have the strategies to make my next move. I sure could’ve used some coaching in that moment.

I often have the opportunity to work with teachers as a professional learning provider or coach around the implementation and assessment of the three-dimensional learning expected from the Next Generation Science Standards. In this work, I’m expected to be the “expert” and the collaborator, but sometimes I need coaching too.

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Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: Teacher Appreciation All Year Long

Teacher Appreciation Week 2017

Five years ago, I wrote my first blog for Teaching Channel. I’d just had my first child and was compelled to write a letter to her future teachers. Now she’s had two miraculous preschool teachers and I’m continuously thankful for the love and care they’ve given my daughter. But, even more, I’m heartened by the knowledge there are so many amazing teachers out in the world, performing miracles and loving countless children day after day.

Though you are indeed miracle workers, it’s easy to feel unappreciated. Your days are filled with endless requests from students, administrators, and parents. You’re tasked with doing what often feels impossible — getting large groups of diverse students to understand abstract and complex ideas, creating a positive society in your classroom — even when the outside world feels chaotic, and doing this all with a smile on your face. You likely come home every day exhausted, not quite sure how you held one billion different details in your brain while still making sure that students were respectful to each other and making progress towards mastering grade level content.

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Using Shared Structures to Build Literacy

5 Essential Practices for Teaching ELLs

Students at San Francisco International High School (SFIHS) come to us from all over the world. They come from the megalopolises of Hong Kong and Mexico City, from the deserts of Yemen and the high steppe of Mongolia. They come speaking the ancient indigenous languages of Central America, as well as the cosmopolitan slang of bustling cities of Asia, Europe, and South America.

Some students come to us alone, without parents or family to support them in their new lives in the United States. Some come after attending prestigious schools in their home countries, while others enter school for the first time in their lives the day they walk through our doors.

SFIHS has served hundreds of immigrant and refugee students over the past eight years; even though each brings their own experience from their distinct corner of the world, they have one thing in common: they come to us to learn English and to graduate from high school.

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Video Playlist: Five Essential Practices for the High School ELL Classroom

Teaching Channel and the San Francisco Unified School District have partnered to share practices for engaging and supporting all students, especially English Language Learners (ELLs). In the first part of this series, we visited two elementary classrooms to watch teachers put the district’s recommended five essential practices into action (For more on these practices, read Lisa Kwong’s blog post).

In the second part of the series, we visit San Francisco International High School, a small school that serves recently arrived immigrant youth and is a member of the Internationals Network for Public Schools. There is so much to learn about teaching ELLs, especially newcomers, from stepping inside the classrooms in this high school.

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PodcastPodcastCollaborative Learning with Minecraft

Minecraft Education Edition

Has Minecraft cracked the code to highly effective, spontaneous collaboration? Minecraft naturally fosters a community of learners, where students learn about what it takes to work in a team and collaborate in an authentic and meaningful way. Minecraft Global Mentor Josh McLaughlin joins Tch Talks to discuss how we can facilitate meaning, collaboration, and opportunity in the classroom by having students build and solve problems together with Minecraft.

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