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.
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.
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.
Teaching English Language Learners (ELLs) is important, rewarding, and often challenging work. In fact, teaching in general is all three of those things as well! So, while it’s true that teaching practices that are great for ELLs are great for all students, many educators and districts with growing numbers of ELLs are focusing their professional learning and resource creation on supporting ELLs. In that spirit, Teaching Channel is bringing you new a set of interactive videos in Tch Video Lounge, developed in partnership with Oakland Unified School District, so that you and your colleagues can hone in on key shifts, practices, and strategies for teaching and learning with ELLs.
The footage for these new videos comes from a series we produced with Oakland last year, Content Conversations: Strategies for ELLs. In that series, we visited the classrooms of elementary and high school teachers taking on the challenge of integrating language instruction for their ELLs during content instruction. There was so much to learn from these educators and so much amazing footage that was left on the cutting room floor! Now, you get to see and discuss some of that unedited footage in these eight new interactive videos. Here are the topics we can explore together.
“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a
difference in our lives.”
— John F. Kennedy
It’s The Little Things
A thank-you note or a kind word — even a simple smile goes a long way for a teacher. We often underestimate the influence of the little things or think what we have to offer is so insignificant — what’s the point?
But I know teachers who cherish notes from students scribbled on scrap paper and well up with tears when one of their “kids” says thanks. It’s just as powerful when this kind of everyday recognition comes from parents, colleagues, or administrators.
I’ve long been curious about what’s underneath. The back story of the author, the inspiration for the music, the influences that created the athlete. It’s not just the history or the origin story I’m interested in, it’s the story wrapped inside the story that grabs my attention and makes me want to keep uncovering. And I know I’m not the only one because so many of you reach out to me, stop me at a conference, or after a workshop, and ask for all the details. Did you really mess up that lesson or did you plan to? How do you grade all of that writing? Did your students only do that stuff for the camera? How do you come up with your ideas? What happens next?
For as long as I’ve been making videos with Teaching Channel, I’ve had this idea that there should be a version where I get to pull back the curtain and tell the story behind the story. Even though our medium is video and everything seems visible, it’s not. There’s so much invisible work in teaching: the ideation, the planning, the “fake left and go right,” the careful attention and revision. With this in mind, we’re launching our new series, Tcher’s Cut, to give you an insider’s look at all that invisible work, to help answer the questions you’re prompted to ask.
What if I told you there’s a new teacher out there struggling who needs you — would you share your story?
I remember my first year like it was yesterday. I accepted an interview for a permanent position on September 30th. I thought this was strange timing, given the new school year had just begun; however, to me, it was also serendipitous.
There was no question in my mind that I would take the chance to sit for an interview and teach a lesson to what would become my first class of students.
I was so excited to learn I would have a real job, I hardly took the time to wonder why several teachers left this position in the short month since the school opened its doors, or what it meant when a series of administrators and faculty characterized the group of sweet, cooperative adolescents I met as “challenging.” In fact, it didn’t even phase me that, after announcing what my new salary would be, my then-superintendent asked, “So, do you still want the job?”
Thank you to everyone who joined us as we discussed The Art of Engineering Practices and Creative Design in the K-12 Learning Space.
We discovered a lot of overlap between STEM, the arts, and design. In fact, engineers often use design to think outside the box, accomplish a task, or solve a problem.
Continue to think about ways STEM and the arts are complimentary and seek opportunities to collaborate with colleagues who can bring a different perspective to the conversation.
Don’t forget to check out our Storify below, because it’s jam packed with resources and ideas you can use in your classroom right now. If you have questions, reach out. And remember to follow the Tchers you connected with in the chat, so we can continue the conversation and get better together!
Tch Video Lounge 2.0 is open for business.
Last year, we opened the doors to Tch Video Lounge, a place where the Teaching Channel community can watch and discuss videos with each other. This past fall, due to the closing down of the player we were using, we unfortunately had to temporarily close the doors to the lounge. Now there’s great news! Thanks to our friends at PlayPosit, the lounge doors are swinging back open.
One thing we know for sure is that the world of the neatly compartmentalized content teacher has changed when it comes to teaching literacy. Whether tackling speaking and listening standards or student writing, many secondary teachers outside of ELA struggle with how to give appropriate and meaningful feedback to students through a literacy lens — which is not their specialty — and still meet the demands of their content area. The good news is most content teachers possess strong literacy skills. A few great strategies are all they need to feel more confident and help students grow as communicators and in content knowledge simultaneously.