A blog in a blog


“When wearing the hat of department head, I sometimes – no, often –  feel like I spend all my time and energy working on other people’s  problems or putting out everyone else’s proverbial fires.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it! There are big parts of me that love being a leader and being responsible for problem solving and fixing things. At the same time, though, it sometimes feels like those same things that I love pull me away from what I love even more – my adult transition program.”

This blog related to me and about how education is becoming so restricted and formulated that teachers are not able to teach what they want, how they want to, or when they want to. The curriculum is becoming strict and formulated around tests and high risk testing.

Personally, I know people who are teachers that have tried to get me to switch majors because what they are doing and are passionate about is different then what is being forced the in the classroom.

I want to make sure that my students are ready for tests, but I am also allowed to teach the material that I think is appropriate in a meaningful way. I do not want to be stuck with the paperwork and always ensuring that everything we do in the classroom is preparing students for a test. There needs to be fun projects and downtime while learning. Students cannot get lectured to non-stop for their entire school day.

I believe that there needs to be a compromise and teachers need to continue to enjoy teaching and remember why they went into the profession in the first place.





Teaching All Students



The post I recently read was about how a teacher is changing the way that he teaches writing to his students. The teacher incorporated Google Docs. The first time I heard of a Google Doc was my freshman year of college, and then it was not until sophomore year that I was actually able to create and share one on my own. I agree on the benefits of using Google Docs  to allow collaboration on writing, however the editing I would not recommend the editing of things in Google Docs. This is because anyone who has access to the Doc can edit and change the Doc. This being said students can correct each others grammar and spelling, but the student who made the mistake is not learning from it and may not know that it is incorrect and people have changed what they wrote.


Tweet Tweet Tweet

More interesting tweets from the twitter-machine!

“One day we will see a library with few book…” Teachers want their students to be constantly learning, exploring, and growing their minds. When you look at two students and see on on their phone and one with their face in a book, you assume on of them is blowing off classwork and the other is expanding their mind. Today, students do not need to be reading text books to be learning. They do not need to be reading paragraph after paragraph of facts. However as the quotes continued “…kids will go into a library and create.” This shows what can come from allowing students to have an empty room and given technology they can create. Students can connect virtually, go to class online, and gain cultural knowledge from the comfort of their own school setting. People need to realize that students are learning to survive and learn with the resources that are provided for them. Online learning will take people far, they just need to put the effort into it. I know in college online-courses are known as blow-off classes that students take for an easy A. However, if students did the reading for those classes and took the online discussion boards seriously, than more learning would occur. The next generation of learners will know how to effectively take online classes and benefit from them. Online learning is important and it needs to be taught to students.

These tips are important not only for teachers to teach their students, but also for teachers to follow. If students are using the internet from an early age they need to know that what they do on the internet never goes away and that what they do on the internet will follow them for the rest of their lives. Students should be taught the proper etiquette when using technology. Learning about their  “digital footprint” is critical for them to understand the consequences of using the internet. Although it is important to teach that digital footprints are not all negative ideas. There are benefits to what the good things that student share on the internet that could be found years later, or used by other students. I would highly recommend reading this list of tips and making sure that student and teachers understand them.

I am going to end talking about something that is not technology based, but should incorporate it. If teachers are going to have digital learning and digital classrooms, it is important for student to still receive hard copies of things and to have students create things with a paper and pen even if they are using technology before they create things. I found this article about classroom cart organization. I think it would be important for students to print what they create with technology when it is applicable. If students create power points they should put all of the power points of a classroom together, so that students can then grow and learn more from their peers. Depending on the grade level of the class the idea of sharing things through google drives, iCloud, and dropbox might be too complicated. So, using the cart idea, a class can create their own “database” of knowledge and their technology based and created creations.

Also check these tweets out!


I was never the person to tweet. I had a Facebook, an Instagram, and a Pinterest. However, twitter is foreign land for me. To me it was a social media page were people created posts that were sometimes funny, random, or a play-by-play of their morning routine. When we created out Twitters, you had to add a certain amount of people, celebrities, and other twitter accounts. I added my beloved Blackhawks, my classmates, and the helpful twitters for teachers accounts: @coolcatteacher, @shannonmmiller, @web20classroom, @ISBEnews, @P21CentSkills. I realized that the posts that people were commenting on and talking about were informative and interesting. While I also received  the scores and updates for the Blackhawk games quicker, I was able to find articles that people posted about digital citizenship and other technology in the classroom topics. Without having to search the internet and go through databases and venture onto the third “0” page of “gooooooogle” I was able to click a link and have new information in front of me.


The first article that I found was about finding a deeper level of learning that involved going beyond just knowing facts. “What you want to have is a sense of imagination, intuition, and inspiration, and those don’t miss-predict based on socio-economic status, race, gender, or language ability.” The article discussed the difficulty of teaching students who don’t seem to want to learn. I know that as a teacher I can use some of the strategies. There are motivation techniques and strategies to spark curiosity. I believe that technology from YouTube videos to hands on stimulations will allow students to be pulled into the discussion and enjoy learning. I am not going to lie, I have a fear of planning a great lesson and then presenting it to the class and the student’s eyes are heavy, they are uninterested, or simply don’t want to be there. In general education classes, sometimes students are pulled out for special education instruction. The student does not want to be away from their peers and doing something different then everyone else. I am stubborn and if I did not want to do something, then I was not going to do it. But, on the other hand I was self-motivating and I knew what I wanted to accomplish and what I had to do to accomplish it. Some students are not self-motivating, but they do not want to learn. Sometimes the best YouTube video in the world will not motivate a student to participate in a discussion. This article talks about the deeper learning that should happen. If students do not want to learn, technology might allow them to learn it independently: at their own speed. This might allow them to get interested and motivated, then they can go back to discussing it with the special education teacher.

Other topics that were discussed was saving time with technology. There were 46 problems and then solutions. It was beneficial because it states the problems that you might have and then there are solutions that would help those problems.

Here are the tweets that I think deserve the retweet!

TWEETS that deserved the RETWEET







Digital Learners


As we began discussing, one topic that came to mind was, is this too much considering what is yet to come? What about these children going on to high school or college, and actually having to sit behind a desk with a textbook in front of them? [Jamie] shared, “a couple of my friends from high school went to a montessori grade school. When they went on to high school, some of them had high anxiety freshman year because of the difference in schooling. They became very anxious because they were constantly stressing over grades. Eventually they became used to the new way, in their eyes, of educating, but what is the connection between this story and the kids’ at School for Digital Kids?” We believe that this school is extremely interesting and a good step forward into where education should be progressing. However, we also believe in the saying that practice means perfect. These children are going to school for eight years, eight hours a day, with constant access to technology. Is it beneficial to be this immersed when eventually they’ll be sent to another school where they’re going back to the “old school” ways? Their practice won’t nearly be as high as it was in the school that based their education on it.

But is this where society is going? The problems would be theoretically eradicated if all schooling was done in this technological way. We liked the idea of literacy in the 21st century including digital literacy. In reality, it is the way of the world now and if you can’t use this technology, you can’t do a LOT of things. Almost every job requires these type of analytical skills, digital skills, and problem solving skills. On of the most valuable skills employers look for is the ability to problem solve. The point was made that video games are essentially a set of problems that the player has to solve in order to succeed. By playing games, kids are engaged and at the same time practicing what they are going to need for the future. Future future future. This is the progressive way educators have to think nowadays. Prepare students for their futures. There is a high demand on teachers and preparing students for the next step in life. We believe that teachers need to know WHAT they need to prepare their students for and HOW they are going to prepare their students.

Students are inspired to learn by learning things that they are interested in. If you would take a survey in a class, it’s not likely that there would be many students who would rather read a science book with no pictures, than watch a YouTube video on how cells divide by mitosis. It is important to create LIFELONG LEARNING. Students are going to remember things because they were engaged and interested. The following link is about how to find things students are interested in.http://www.readwritethink.org/professional-development/strategy-guides/assessing-student-interests-strengths-30100.html. Everyone has an interest and teacher can allow that interest to become a passion. Once students are interested in something it is essential for them to learn more. This requires students to read more, write more, watch more, and learn more.


As future teachers we want our kids to be able to make their own choices. Both the Digital Youth Network, and the Quest to Learn school had technology readily available to their students, providing opportunity for learning in multiple medias. This allows students the choice of how they want to learn, giving them a sense of authority over their own education, and letting them use what is such an integral part of their life in the classroom. This idea is imperative in special education. For students who have severe disabilities, if we can teach them how to use certain technologies, they can actually gain a whole new means of communication. For students with moderate disabilities, that we focus on training for a job and independent living, technological skills are an integral part of what they will need to know to succeed in their independent lives. For students with learning disabilities, online programs might be a different, more visual approach to concepts that they otherwise struggle with. Kids who have ADD/ADHD can use technology to learn and actually be engaged. They might not get distracted from something they would do as a fun activity, just used for learning. The capabilities of technology to enrich the learning and the lives of students with special needs are phenomenal.

Until next time,

Lindsay Solar, Jamie Vogenthaler, Sara Osoba

Great minds think alike, but all minds need to work together in order to benefit society most. There is no universal mind, no mind that it more desirable then others, no mind that can solve every problem, and no mind that can do everything. Some people have minds that more science-oriented, math-oriented, or arts-oriented. Some people have minds that prefer to be taught a certain way. Some people have minds that try extremely hard at certain things and some people have minds that certain things come easily.
Individuals need to realize that the people around them do not have the same thinking process as they do. We have all been in that certain class, were you are sitting staring at the test in front of you and thinking that the test might as well be in a different language because it is that difficult. Then, the kid sitting next to you stands up and turns their test in because they are finished. In that moment you feel defeated, discouraged, and jealous. On the other hand, we have had that moment when our friend is doing homework and not understanding it and we peak over at it and say “that’s so easy…all you have to do is this…” Everyone is unique and people should understand that without a variety of thinking styles things would not be accomplished.



Individuals with Autism have a different perspective on life. Although it should be known that all individuals who have Autism are not the same. Autism is a spectrum diagnosis and each individual is unique and has their own thinking process, within a thinking process that is already different from the norm.


This image relates the social, communication, and behavioral aspects of life in the life of an individual with Autism.



Individuals with Autism need to be inspired. They are often fixated on one thing, and this allows for motivation to learn more about things if the fixated topic is also included. Individuals with Autism should be allowed to explore things, because most are visual learners and they can think about things in a certain way that others would never think about in that way. Society needs this type of thinker and learner to see things that are not abstract, but specific details. The phrase “hide it in blind sight” is truthful in this case because today people are abstract thinkers, but sometimes you just need to focus on the core and what is actually in front of you.

Teachers should teach to inspire all types of thinkers to ensure that they are motivated and continue to want to learn.


FEEDBACK: effective and necessary

Humans are biased. We are biased to our own work and progress, when we complete our work we see something that we have dedicated our time, effort, and resources into. The last thing that people want to hear once they have completed a task is that their work could have been better. Depending on the person, this advice could be taken as motivation to improve or forgotten and the work continues to suffer. I believe that we have started to grow-up in a community were people would rather be given no feedback instead of negative comments or being told there is room to improve. People are afraid to disappoint others and “no feedback is good feedback right?” WRONG. People need to realize that there is always room to improve, but they need to be aware of where and how they need to improve.


I believe it is a great idea to give teachers effective feedback on the lessons they are giving. Even though student teachers are always taught that steps to doing a lesson are before, during, after, and review. The review of how the lesson went is usually forgotten. During the school day, there are reading, science, math, and writing lessons that need to be completed.  Then there are more lessons that need to be prepared for the next day. Teachers are grading homework, planning lessons, and watching over 30 student’s behaviors and grades. They are thankful that the lesson was completed and often are not given a chance to give themselves feedback on their lessons. HOWEVER, the feedback is necessary. Teachers need to realize that the feedback of one lesson does not need to be filed away and used the next year when the lesson is given again; but instead it can be used to improve lessons for the next day or in different subjects.


A set back to when teachers give feedback to other teachers is it forces teachers out of their classrooms to observe other teachers. I know in my high school my teachers did peer coaching. They are paired up with about four teachers some in the same content area as they were and some that were not. They went and observed lessons that their peers gave and then presented the feedback to them. This seemed as though it would be effective, but when my teachers were observing other teachers the class usually watched a movie or had a free work period. As a student, I am not sure how effective the feedback was or how much time and effort the observing teachers put into helping their peers, but I am sure it varied. Teachers have an incredible workload and simply putting “satisfactory” is easier then writing tips on how to improve. Humans are selfish, some more than others. It seems to me that the idea is there, but it takes effort and time from outside people to help an individual. Also, I know when my teachers were being observed they would tell the students to make sure we were on our best behavior and then the teacher gave the best lesson that she/he has done all year. It is easy for a teacher to allow the students to watch movies all year and then present the best lesson they have all year simply because they are “on stage” while being observed.


I believe that effective feedback is necessary for teachers and myself to improve. I do not believe that teachers should just be told that their fraction lesson was not good and they should now change to the lesson that was presented by the world’s best fraction teacher. That lesson may not work with their students. The teacher knows her students the best, and if she is given advice on what she should do she can then change it according to the needs of the students. The most important aspect is that the feedback is effective. Teachers have the best interests of the students. Or, at least we hope. I know that some professors at universities are researchers and they are not the best teachers. Allowing students to give feedback on those teachers will be beneficial because the students are in college and they know what a good educator is and how they teach. In the younger grade levels there needs to be other people giving the feedback. America should not do a feedback program just to improve Americas ranking in math and science, but to know what teachers are doing and how they should improve.