Friday Share October 30th Edition

Happy Friday! I hope everyone has had a great week. I know this year has been stressful but hang in there we will get through this together. We dodged a huge bullet with a full moon Halloween tomorrow on a Saturday.   Go cheer on the Pioneers as they take on Oakland tonight! 

What is the Friday Share? If you are not familiar with The Friday Share, it is where I find five things that I think are intriguing or informative from where I have scoured the internet and share them with you. Your weekly dose of school pride, PD, and some silliness sprinkled in your Inbox!

knowledge is power

What I’ve read: School Bus Crash in Meigs Co. TN

First, if you haven’t stopped and said a prayer for the families and school families involved, please do so. I normally share with you things are uplifting and in the picture below there is I just hope everyone takes a moment to hug their loved ones because you never know when it may be the last time. Meigs County Director of Schools Clint Baker is quoted below praising his older students in helping with the victims of the crash. Even though there is a tragedy, compassion came out. 

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Tech Tip of the week: 40+ Digital Escape Rooms

Who doesn’t love an Escape room? The challenge to get out is an amazing team building experience. This week I am sharing with you a collection of escape rooms you can use in your classroom. This can be used on party days or days in which you are ahead. (I know that is not happening this year) 

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Quote, I’ve Pondered: 

 “You can go through the motions You’ll still collect your pay Or you can choose to be awesome And make someone’s day!” – Danny Steele

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What I have listened to/seen:  #EdTech to Support Project-Based Learning – HoET163

This episode of the House of #EdTech podcast was a refreshing one. Chris Nesi the host is overwhelmed by the Covid Pandemic and is taking a break from the show to teach his classes and his own two children. He has Derek Larson, a Librarian and Digital tech coach, filling in for him in future episodes. In this episode, Chris and Maddie from the EdTech Classroom podcast discuss Project based learning and how you can use technology to help. Enjoy the show. 

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Enjoy, have a great weekend, and thanks for letting me creep into your inbox with a little fun and PD!  

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If you found value in this email, share it with me or better yet share it with someone else. 

GO Pioneers. #theFrontier #pioneerStrong  Love Ya, See Ya, Bye!


The Friday Share: September 25th Addition

What is the Friday Share? If you are not familiar with The Friday Share, it is where I find things I think are intriguing or informative from where I have scoured the internet and share them with you. Your weekly dose of school pride, PD, and some silliness sprinkled in your Inbox!

knowledge is power

What I’ve read: ‘COVID slide’: Struggling Tennessee students have fallen even further behind, say superintendents

This article is nothing new, we as teachers know already our lowest performing students are struggling. We just do not know what the result will be with the interruption of learning because of COVID, but we need to be planning now to help our lowest performing students. Thank you for the work you do. 

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Tech Tip of the week: Mote

If you all are like me, sending feedback to our students can be very cumbersome. I feel as if I type the same thing over and over. Yes, there is a comment bank you can create in Google Classroom for “canned” responses, but those responses may not seem as meaningful as you want. Mote will give the ability to speak your comments and the students may listen to your feedback to help us with your corrections. 

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Quote, I’ve Pondered: 

“Teachers always bring your best, but remember that even that will change day to day. Don’t buy into the hype you have to be all in all the time and be perfect every minute of every day. You’re human.  Some days you will be excellent and some days surviving will be your victory. “

-Brad Johnson

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What I have listened to/seen:  Holly Clark, Rethinking Assessment in the Digital Age, Chromebook Infused Classroom, Flipgrid, BookCreator, Screencastify, Seesaw, Wakelet, OneNote

The largest challenge that seems to occur with our school year is how will we assess? I have tried a non-traditional style of comparing and contrasting with my students. This style was hard for my students to understand, even when I explained. They are still conditioned to multiple choice style tests. This week’s listening recommendation comes from Jake Miller and the Educational Duct Tape Podcast. Here is guest Holly Clark looks at “Assessment in the Digital Age.” Hopefully this will give you inspiration for future assessments.

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Enjoy, have a great weekend, and thanks for letting me creep into your inbox with a little fun and PD!  

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If you found value in this email, share it with me or better yet share it with someone else. 

Teach your students like they are your own! Love Ya, See Ya, Bye!

Tips for keeping your sanity

As educators, we have seen nothing like the pandemic in our lifetimes. I am sure many of you like me are working constantly, trying to perfect our craft. I wanted to be the perfect teacher. I was answering emails and Google Classroom messages all hours of the day. I even remember taking my wife out to eat and for most of the meal we spoke about school. (She is in Education.) It took a while for me to take a step back and focus on my family and myself. I wanted to be the best teacher at the school I teach at, but then I realized. If I were not at the top of my game, I know my students would be the ones who suffer the most. Thus, I set up boundaries for myself. Below are five of the boundaries I have set up for myself and I hope you can get ideas for you too!

1. When I leave school, I leave school at school. This is hard to do because I love what I do. It is my mission field.

2. Set parameters in when I answer messages. We have homeroom every day from 10:40 to 11:05. I clarified that I would communicate with ones who have questions.

3. Video myself explaining the work I have set up for my students so they understand what I want them to do. Sometimes it is difficult to understand the context or tone of a person when they write.

4. Look for technology to help automate certain tasks at hand. I like to use Mote to give my students feedback with my voice, not with typing alone. This helps like the video for explanation.

5. There is no way you can be perfect, try the best you can. Remember these words, done is better than perfect.

Friday Share 1/11/19

We made it to Friday. Other than Friday this is what you have been waiting on all week 😉 The Friday Share. The Friday Share is where I find five things that I think are intriguing or informative from the halls of #theFrontier(WCHS) or where I have scoured the internet and share them with you. Your weekly dose of PD in your Inbox!

What I’ve read: I found the article from the Wall Street Journal that states Teachers Quit jobs at Highest Rate on record. This comes as college degree programs for education majors have also dropped. What is the solution? I am not sure. Only the future will tell.
Tech tip of the week: Kasey Bell has a Google Doc cheat sheet for free. This shows your menu’s and other items that may be useful for your journey using Google Docs.

Quote, I’ve Pondered: “See the best in people and watch how they fight to prove you right.” -Skip Prichard

What I have listened to/seen: Monday night the Clemson Tigers won the National Championship in college football. (Sorry Stan). The post-game speech that Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney had was truly inspirational. He made me want to come and play with him. He was also not afraid to share his faith as well. He already had my respect but this made me more of a fan.

Enjoy, Have a great weekend, and GO Pioneers. #pioneerStrong

Preparing for the 1st Day of School

The first day of school, as a student and teacher, is a very important time of the year.  The following are ideas for ensuring a smooth first day for everyone:

Be Prepared

Preparation is vital everyday of school, but especially the first day.  Students are always suspicious on the first day of school and first impressions are very important for setting the tone for the rest of the school year.  If you seem unprepared then the students’ first impression will be that you are incompetent and don’t take your job serious.  You must be completely prepared for every potential situation that may occur.  Plan for every second of each class.  Over-planning on the first day is always a good idea.

Start Positive

Being negative on the first day of school could result in a long year.  Students, especially high school students, are already negative toward school.  If the teacher that is suppose to be helping them feeds their negativity it can only make things worse.  On the other hand, being positive can be a good start to the year.  Most students come to your class with a lack of confidence in their abilities, especially in math.  They need to know that the person that is suppose to be helping them has confidence that they are capable of being successful in your class.  They need to know that you are there for their best interest and will do your best to help them succeed.

Everyone starts with a clean slate

The first thing most teachers do before school begins is try to find out the students they will be having in class.  Teachers tend to talk to each other and try to find out about the students they have.  They tell each other who the “good” students and the “bad” students.  I would encourage each teacher to ignore those statements and allow everyone to start with a clean slate and have no preconceived notions about anybody.  Students also ask around about the teachers they have and have presumptions about you.  You would like for your students to come to your class with no assumptions so you need to do the same.

Be real

In today’s times of “everybody gets a trophy” teachers and administrators tend to be hesitant on holding students accountable.  Most students want to held accountable and they want to know right from wrong.  If you are honest and real with what you expect from them and hold them accountable they will respect you.  The process may take a few months but being honest with them on the first day and being consistent will help with classroom management and getting the best out of your students.

TESTING!! its over….now what?



Just as the title states Testing is over… so now what? Ever since the beginning of state mandated tests, there has always seemed to be a void toward the end of school. Usually, the last month of school is time for celebration and relaxation. And who is not to blame the students and teachers for wanting to do so. They have worked so hard for the past school year. Unfortunately, a downside of this time is students begin to miss days due to their thoughts of “we aren’t going to do anything today, so I will just miss.”

So what am I doing now the testing is over?

First, a little background of my past year. Earlier this past year I wrote about the scores I received from the last academic year. For those of you who did not read it, you can find it here. Let’s just say I was not pleased with my performance from the last year. Fortunately, I received the scores before Christmas break and was able to change the way I presented my material.

Being a History Teacher; lecturing is something that is almost a given, but I made sure I adhered to my mantra for the second semester. “Don’t Be Boring.” Some lessons I experimented with variations of PBL for my class and others I had my students to create flashcards of their own with pictures or drawings anything that would help them remember the concept. One of the biggest class changing opportunities came from Dr. Dan Lawson My School Law professor. (Currently, I am enrolled to receive my Ed.S.) One of our assignments was to create a screencastify of a supreme court case. I completed my project then wondered how I could use it in my classroom.

A few weeks later I had a student to be out sick for about a week and a half. I had a project I was introducing, and I didn’t want her to get behind. I used screencastify to give her instructions. When she came back, she asked if I could create more videos for her to watch at home. So from then on, I began to experiment with video creation in my class. I had a few students who asked to be in the video and then it took off! I had a list of students wanting to be in the video I had many students watch the videos on their time while out of class just to see their friends and wonder if they would get a shout out at the end of the video. The greatest thing about the videos was they were learning on their own time.

So how will I do on my state tests? Honestly, I don’t know, but I will say that all of my students have indicated they were more prepared for my test than others.(Of course, this is not saying that any other teacher in my school isn’t doing their job. I just think my kids were making me feel better about it.) My students this year are possibly the most confident group of kids I have had.

So now the tests are over.. Now what? As stated earlier this time of year is where the fun is. Most students feel that the learning is over, but that is not the case. Many educators use this time to experiment for the next year and even go on some field trips. My plan is to hit the ground running for our end of year project, but first, we will celebrate with our annual History Department Kickball/Games. High Schoolers may look like adults, but they are still kids at heart, and nothing will bring out fun like healthy competition. Other teachers and I get just as competitive as the kids.

Now back to the academic action, I am planning on my students to create a legacy project for the remaining time. I will ask them to interview A person of interest who has experienced a significant historical event. They are to interview and video a person in their life who has been influential such as parents or grandparents who have experienced a historical event whatever that event may be. My inspiration for this project was from my experience. I got to interview and video my grandfather six months before his death, and it is so wonderful to have this memory of him that I can come back to. My thoughts are this could be a great opportunity for students to interview a family member and to preserve it forever. With the technology, we have now I feel this is something that can easily be done. I want this to be a project they can cherish forever.

I also teach a class called History of Modern Music. We explore all music genres in the U.S. from the 1920s to present Day. I also want to create a podcast over music. My students will do the research on a particular artist, and I will interview them on their findings. I have had a lot of excitement over this topic. My plan is for the students to have one old and new artist to bring to the table.

Also, next year we are moving to block schedule, as we prepare for our school morph into the Academy model for our school. I want to sit down with my students and help me map out the next year with projects. What worked what didn’t, How could I do better, or should I not include. Our students are our biggest critics, and we can learn from them on what will make us better to make them better.

So as we wrap up this school year remember some of the best lessons and memories can come from this time after the test. Ultimately it is up to you to keep the learning and exploring going. Always remember you make more of an impact than you think!


Tomorrow you guys will be getting  Thomas Fuhrman, will share the ways that we are moving to the outer reaches of our campus (and beyond) in the month of May to become more college- and career-excited and aware through opportunities to work in our Ag Lab, participate with a variety of local partners for our school-wide career day, and our fourth graders visit Tennessee Technological University.

And if you have missed any of the other  MastersofthePedagogy (1)you can go back and check them out here.

Monday’s Mick Shuran

Tuesday’s Julie

Wednesday Christopher

Testing is over…now what? (Teaser)

I am excited to announce a new collaborative with fellow educators from the wonderful state of Tennessee! We are working on a blog series called Testing is over…now what? Each day of the upcoming week will I will post a link to their blog of what they are doing post State Testing.Please be sure to read and support my friends and colleagues.




Below are the release dates of each blog.

Monday: Mick Shuran 

Tuesday: Julie Davis

Wednesday: Christopher King

Thursday: Jacob Dunn

Friday: ThoFuhrmanhman


Fooling around with block schedule

For most of the ones reading this, the term block schedule is relatively old. Although, as long as I can remember the school I teach at has been on a six or seven period day with classes roughly around fifty minutes a piece.

We have toyed around with the idea of block schedule for years, especially should we or should we not do it. This year we have finally made the decision to go for it. Starting at the beginning of next school year we will be running on an alternating A/B block schedule. Which will look similar to something like this. With the exception being 85-minute classes and lunch would be during 3rd and 7th block. 80-min-block

This decision did not come lightly, and many discussions and personal opinions went into this important plan. Some of the biggest challenges to the block schedule have been we have always done scheduling this way, and we should just continue to stick with what we know. Here lies the problem with the majority of educators. We are so afraid to get out and try something new. Why? Is it fear we are not going to be good at it?

This past week we tested out a modified block schedule, and I am proud to say I was scared of the unknown, but you know what I loved it. I never felt rushed when I was in my lesson. My students and I could get into actual activities and FINISH them without fear of the bell ringing. I could evaluate my students as they were in their groups and check for understanding. I would chalk this up to success.  Below is the schedule we tried this week.

block-scheduleAs I spoke with the students and other teachers, of course, I had mixed reviews. Mainly the ones who were not sold were ones who did not prepare for what was coming. Others just thought lecturing for 90 minutes would suffice.(News flash! Kids don’t like that these days if ever!) It could be that I want to be the best I can and to improve my craft every day, but the time for “winging” it is not in this day and time.

If you are a teacher and are on a block schedule and you need help looking for activities or ways to teach I would suggest what one of my colleagues Brandon Eldridge (who is a contributor on this site.) recommended chunk your lessons into three or four parts. Brandon has taught under block in a previous school district and enjoyed doing so. He shared a lesson plan that could be used within our classes during our PLC time. It helped me with an understanding of the concepts.

Also, I have found an excellent PDF that Russell County Schools in Jamestown Kentucky has put together about teaching on the block schedule. You can find it here.

If you are new to teaching on a block schedule, please do not be worried about if you mess up. The best teachers are the ones who have a growth mindset, and if you keep this in mind, you will do great.

We will be returning to the block schedule a few more times this semester for us to become more familiar with this schedule. I will keep you updated on the goings on.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.


Leave the Ego Behind

Most of the ones who will read this are Educators and will understand the struggle of which the following post may reveal. For the past couple of years I have looked at my test scores and have been proud of them and what my students had accomplished. How was I to know the wake-up call I was about to endure.

I am an educator in the state of Tennessee and most Tennesseans have heard of the new testing process that has replaced the TCAP EOC to now TCAP TNReady. If you are not familiar with the whole TNReady debacle then you may want to look it up here. But that is a whole other story. What I am here to talk about is me and my performance on the TNReady test.

As mentioned earlier I have had decent test scores over the years. To say I was an outstanding or all-star teacher may be a stretch for me but I would like to think of myself as middle of the road according to the Value Added measures our State uses. So naturally, I went into the 2015-2016 school year very confident in my ability to prepare my students for the test that year. I had a few new tricks up my sleeve, I read a couple of books to get me pumped up for that year. All in hopes of having another good year. Then the tests came, and the scores were delayed and delayed again. I was not fretting over this because the State of Tennessee said our scores would not count although, I was really excited to see how I would stack up.

Finally, the end of November came around and the test scores from May had been released, I jokingly said I can not wait to see the one( Tennessee scores teachers on a 1-5 scale.)  Until I actually looked at my score, and I was an ONE? This can not be I told myself and I thought well I was a one so all of my other colleagues must be as well. I went down the list of my fellow U.S. History teachers asking them how they did I received the responses of; Five, Five, and Four. Now I was thinking this must be wrong there is no way I am the lowest effective teacher in our department it just cannot be. I kept thinking long and hard about what type of excuse I would have to give to all of my fellow teachers such as, the kids knew it was not going to count so they did not try. Then I had a meeting with myself to reevaluate what I had done over the last year.

I was beyond hurt, I just did not know how to handle myself. My ego was truly demolished at this point. So what did I do? First I realized I was the one to blame for my student’s struggles,  no one else. I then went to each of my fellow teachers and apologized for my scores and I told them I felt I was doing the right thing, and what they were doing was wrong.I did not change my approach with the new standardized test and they did. I went with a more overarching theme. I felt so foolish. The next step I did was have a sit down with my seniors(I teach 12th-grade History of Modern Music) many of them I had last year, and I told them to “grill” me and tell me what I did wrong. And guess what? they did, and it hurt, it hurt bad. I did not realize they hated the method I used with them, they were being nice all last year. One student told me she could not wrap her brain around the process I was trying to use, one in which I thought was easier.

That weekend I went home and I racked my brain, I went over and over what my students had told me and I put together a plan of old and new, creating more of a story with my students. So far my results on tests have been improved, but we shall see how the results will be at the end of the year.

My hope in writing this piece is not to let you know how I am changing the way I am teaching, this is more on how we as educators let our egos get in the way and only see our way of teaching. There are so many ways we can teach our children, but we are the ones who have to step aside and see what is best for them. I have taken the approach with my students this year as I would my six-year-old daughter and my 10-month-old son. We as educators should treat every child we have in our class like they are your own. Better yet ask yourself if my child were sitting in my class how would I want them to be taught. Thank you for your time in reading this I hope it will become and inspiration to you.