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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Not “Just” a Teacher: Finding Your Voice as a Teacher



Brianna Hodges on episode 154 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Do you ever feel like you’re “just” a teacher? Do you feel like that person up on the stage never could be you? But you have a passion. You have a fire and a message – but what do you do with it? Brianna Hodges shares her journey from small-town teacher to the stage, state legislature, and nation’s capital. As she transparently shares her story, I believe that thousands of educators will also find the encouragement to speak up and speak out.

For, dear teachers, there is no such thing as “just” a teacher. You have a voice. Your words are important. And we need hundreds of thousands of passionate educators to help make this world a better place for our students.

So, don’t just sit there – get up and get started. Find your voice!

Today’s Sponsor: Edpuzzle is my new favorite flipped classroom tool. You can take your videos or those from YouTube and:

  • Clip the video
  • Record your own voice over
  • Pause the video and add your voice just in certain spots
  • Add comments, multiple choice or open ended questions.

And if you click http://ift.tt/2wocZod, Edpuzzle will give your school access to the 50,000 best lessons from Edpuzzle, organized in folders and ready to be used by teachers. Once click and you have everything you need for the year!

Listen Now

Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.

***

Enhanced Transcript

Not “Just” a Teacher: Finding Your Voice as a Teacher

Shownotes: http://ift.tt/2fd6UjC
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Brianna’s story begins: from winning an award to the state legislature

Vicki: Today we’re thinking about finding our voice, but helping our students find their voice, and also finding our voice as educators. We have somebody uniquely qualified. We have Brianna Hodges @edutechtastic. She’s the 2017 Texas Instructional Technologist of the Year.

One day, Bri, you woke up and you were getting ready to testify in front of, I believe, the Texas State Legislature, right?

Brianna: Hah!!! Yes.

Vicki: And you had a friend who pushed you to help find your voice, and you’ve ended up in D.C., right?

Brianna: I have! I am very honored to serve as one of the two national advisors for Future Ready Schools, representing the Instructional Coach strand. And so, yes, I’ve kind of started very quickly after accepting the award for Instructional Technologist of the Year, then TCEA – as many of our state affiliates has a strong advocacy arm for educational opportunities here in Texas. And so, they reached out to myself and Carl Hooker, another one of our proud Texans, and asked if the two of us would go and testify in front of the Senate, in front of the legislature, on educational technology and Open Education Resources and instructional materials.

And so it’s really interesting. I actually have a background in politics and have worked with a lot of those people in a far different life, but to kind of come back into that area and then kind of have to speak on behalf of your profession, knowing that everything is recorded and that it can be highly contentious. It’s very intimidating, and to be looked at as that authority it was really interesting. I owe Carl a great big thank you for instilling that confidence that you’re asked for a specific reason… and that if you speak the truth in you, you speak it with your passion and your voice, then people want to listen to you and they believe in the ideas if you can paint that picture for them.

“I don’t see myself as ‘that’ person.”

Vicki: Now before you went up, though, he asked you a question. What was it?

Brianna: So Carl is also the godfather of iPad Palooza. Some of you might know about this. He had talked me into serving as one of the mini-keynotes for this learning festival. So iPad Palooza does – in place of having a single headline keynote event at the beginning of the festival – have a series of mini-keynotes. It’s pretty intimidating, honestly, for someone like me to see who all has graced that stage. But he has a way of believing in you and helping you see that could do it too.

So I agreed to it. So he asked me at that point, “OK what are you going to talk about?”

And I told him, “I don’t know. I don’t even know why you want me to do this!’ And I just started laughing because I am from a pretty small town, and I just don’t see myself as that person who gets asked to go and do all of these big (things). I just don’t see myself as that person who has that big name.

You know, he gave me some time. This was in April, and the learning festival, iPad Palooza is not until June, and so he was like, “Well, you’ve got some time. Don’t worry about it.” And we just kind of laughed that off.

Fast forward to a few weeks, and Carl also serves on Future Ready Schools as one of the advisors for the IT strand. So we both found ourselves in D.C. again. He asked again what I was going to speak on, and I said, “I really don’t know.”

He “pushed” me at that point, and he said, “Yes, you do. I asked you for a reason. And yes, you do.”

And I said, “OK, I really don’t know.”

And he said, “What would you tell your kids? What would you tell your teachers? Talk about what it is that you are passionate about.”

And he got me kind of riled up. I’ve known Carl for a number of years. So basically, I said, “OK! Fine. Yes. I would love to talk about how teachers are change agents, and what it means to actually change, and how do we create change. We create that change through using our voice and finding the thing that speaks loudest to us, and then taking that voice and sharing that with others.”

From that, he was really happy to know – and he said, “See, I told you. You knew that you had it in you.”

So fast forward to the actual keynote. Here I was. It’s a very intimidating process. You walk into this auditorium and there are all these video cameras on you. You see who all is going to be up there, and I drew the lucky straw of being the second person.

Anyway, my presentation… I kind of built it around, “What We’re Meant to Be.” We’re meant to be so much more than what we limit ourselves to, based upon our fear.

And so I talked about how, in my current role I spend my days in an instructional coaching role working with teachers. And they are faced with an immense amount of change as we go through this integration of technology, and individualization of learning, and all these different pedagogical changes that are coming rapid fire, it seems like in education.

That’s really unnerving, especially for teachers who have been really competent at what they have always done. Now all of a sudden to have that change come in. And then you take into consideration the amount of social media and just this world wide web, where everything is so connected and your ideas are shared instantly. That’s both a blessing and a curse.

So I really wanted to talk about how these same tactics that we use with our students – to help them understand that they matter – that we have to do the same things with our colleagues, as teachers.

A lot of the time, there’s a lot of influence and attention that’s put on the “school leaders” of principals and superintendents and administration. Sometimes teachers get lost in that, and we forget to value that they’re the ones who are actually changing the lives of so many children day in and day out. They’re the very people that often those kids can come to school for.

So I basically created a mantra that I talked about, how when we are in these situatons when we are asked to become these change agents, often our very first response is, “Well, I’m just a teacher.”

Don’t limit yourself through your fear

Vicki: (agrees)

Brianna: I was just super guilty of that with Carl, you know, and that was the very first thing I told him. “I’m just not good at this.” I found myself saying everything that my students would tell me.

Vicki: (laughs)

Brianna: And I was saying everything that my teachers would tell me. “I’m just not ready. I’m just not sure about it. I’m just a teacher. I’m just a mom. I’m just from a small town.” All of these different things. So after a lot of careful thought, when I was coming up with all of the things that I wanted to say, I decided on this mantra of just what all would we tell people.

My basic idea was that I needed my children – I have two kiddos, a five-year-old and an eight-year old – to be more than “just” a kid. I don’t want their fear to limit them.

I didn’t want my students to limit themselves through their fear.

I don’t want my teachers to limit themselves through their fear.

And so what I do tell them every day is that they are champions for learning. They are a stabilizing force for their students. They are fierce promoters of creativity and curiosity for their content. They are the game changers and the rally makers and the courageous crusaders. They are the spark and the voice and the change that our educational system needs. They are the very model of what our change agent looks like, sounds like, and acts like.

And I basically wrapped it all up by talking about that’s what we are meant to be. If we believe in ourselves and then we share that vision with each other, then that’s how we actually become the true change agents that we are challenged with.

Vicki: Wow. I love that. And there’s so much here. Really what you said stands on its own. But what I love, Bri, is your transparency of realizing that you and your students and your teachers are running along parallel tracks.

I can’t tell you how many incredible teachers I’ve seen at conferences, and I’ve gone up to them after sitting in on their session. I’ve said, “You should be speaking in more places. You should be sharing this story. Please blog. Please tweet. Please share what you’re doing.”

And their (response is), “Well, I’m just a teacher. I’m just not a big deal. I’m not THAT person.”

And they don’t understand that sometimes, we don’t choose the platform. The platform chooses us.

Brianna: (laughs)

Vicki: This is fantastic. I hope you’ll just keep using your voice to help us all find our voices.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Bio as Submitted


Brianna Hodges, Director of Digital Learning, Stephenville Independent School District, Texas
Brianna Hodges is a passionate change agent, mother of two, a true CrAZy One and iCHAMPION Evangelist. She believes that technology enhances learning experiences in every facet of life by allowing for true personalization.

Recognized as the 2017 Texas Instructional Technologist of the Year, Brianna serves as the Director of Digital Learning for Stephenville ISD and is a national advisor for Future Ready Schools and Certified Google Trainer and Flipgrid Ambassador.

Noted for her work in branding and social media, Brianna’s research has been published in several academic journals including the Journal of School Public Relations and the Journal for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

She is believes in the power of coaching and inspires teachers and students to find their passions, embrace the challenges that life brings, and utilize their creativity to find ways to go bigger and grow brighter every day.

Catch up with Brianna on social media https://twitter.com/edutechtastic and online http://ift.tt/2fd6VUI to see how you can help #BEEtheChaNGe!


Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post Not “Just” a Teacher: Finding Your Voice as a Teacher appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://ift.tt/2fcZvkp
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Storm of Poverty Hits Us All



Why We Must Dare to Care

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

As we follow the changing maps of tropical storms Harvey, Irma, Jose, and now Maria, many of us have been looking at what meteorologists are calling the “cone of possibility.” Before you think that is a good thing – it isn’t. The cone of possibility means it is the area where a hurricane may possibly pass. You don’t want to be there. So, understandably, we get anxious when we see our hometown or our family inside that cone of possibility. We know that’s where lives change, homes are destroyed, and hunger grows.

Cathy Rubin in her Global Search for Education is tackling poverty this month.This article is part of that series.

We get upset and nervous as the storm draws closer. We run to the store. We talk to friends. We might even talk to our neighbors (for a change).

Until…

Until we find out that the hurricane is going somewhere else. While we may worry for those being hit by the storm, deep down, the truth be told, we breathe a sigh of relief.

Deep down, we’re glad that it isn’t our family. We’re relieved that it isn’t our neighborhood, because…

Our children won’t go hungry. Our house won’t lose electricity. We’ll be OK. It isn’t us.

Then, we tune into the news, and it looks like just another reality TV show. From the comfort of our homes, we watch the storms blow, while children and families we’ve never met are playing out the worst days of their lives for the world to see. We might offer a prayer, but deep down, we’re glad — glad that it isn’t us.

Feel the Fear

This time, I ask you to try something different. Take the fear that you felt about losing power, losing access to food, losing the ability to get to your job or even drive your car. Try living with the fear that death might touch your family, that you won’t have a safe place to shelter from terrible things happening outside your door.

I know that feeling. I struggled with it as I crouched in my closet while Hurricane Irma blew and I prayed that the leaning pine tree in my front yard wouldn’t take that moment to fall over and crush my house. My sixteen-year-old was sleeping in his closet. We wanted him safe, but even so, we weren’t sure that he would be. There are no guarantees when the storm hits. This time, it could be us.

So yes, take that fear and really feel it. Because, friends, we’re not overreacting when we get all worked up about a storm. Horrific weather events like this kill, cause hunger, and deprive people of basic necessities. We have telethons and raise money. And we should. These storms are horrible.

It Is Our House!

Daniel Simmons, an African-American pastor in the nearby town of Albany, Georgia, leads a congregation in one of the poorest cities in America. He told a similar story this past week, pointed a finger at us, and said:

“We won’t be able to make this place a better place until we realize that our neighbor’s house is our house. It is our house!”

And this, my friends, is poverty. We get upset by a storm because storms don’t play favorites. Old, young, rich, poor — all can be harmed by a storm. All become similar in their want and poverty. When the storm comes, we all suffer.

But this is the problem we have today in America and around the world: We refuse to claim our neighbor’s house as our own.

Sure, a crying two-year-old is found wandering down the street at night in Albany, Georgia. But it isn’t our child. (This happened just this week.) Sure, kids are hungry, but it isn’t our child. Kids don’t come to school because they lay awake last night scared of the gunshots on their street. But it isn’t our street.

Caring, Owning, and Acting

People who don’t care don’t dare.

People who don’t care don’t dare work to raise money for more library books. They don’t dare hold fundraisers to earn money to send kids on a special field trip. They don’t dare fight to feed the hungry in their neighborhood. Somebody needs to do those things, but so many people won’t because they refuse to own the problem. Sure, they’re sorry that someone else has a problem. Sure, they’re sad when they hear about suffering. But the only time that we’ll act is when we care enough to dare do something.

What makes you furious? What makes you angry? What gets you upset?

Until we as human beings can take ownership and realize that the poor in our neighbors are our family, our children, our neighbors — until we can feel that these problems are truly ours, I agree with Pastor Simmons that we likely won’t care enough to actually do something about it.

Poverty Is Within Everyone’s Cone of Possibility

If the hurricanes are doing anything, they’re waking people to the realization that poverty is within anyone’s cone of possibility. And while we can be upset about actual hurricanes blowing in from the Caribbean, we should also be upset that some children live in figurative hurricanes every single day. They live wondering if they’ll keep electricity, if they’ll have food, if their home can keep them safe from the storm that rages in their neighborhood.

I will admit that I haven’t felt the pain and anguish that I should feel for children and families living in poverty. That must change. It will change. I cannot stay the same after tasting the fear of poverty as we considered Irma’s hit on our hometown. I’ve been complacent because I haven’t owned it.

As long as we excuse the tragedy of poverty in our world by saying, “It doesn’t impact me,” we set ourselves up for an even bigger shock on the day that it will impact us.

When enough people in society are hopeless and enough other people in a society are heartless, that society is in danger of a storm for which there is no cone of possibility of escape for anyone within its borders.

We must fight poverty with as much force and frantic pursuit as we prepare for the storms that blow into our lives during this most terrible hurricane season. For truly, the storm of poverty is always with us and destroys lives every day. And we as educators must be part of the shelter and solution.

These are our children. These are our families. This is our neighborhood. And this is our time. We will not be heartless. We will help the hopeless. And we’ll stop sitting in our comfy homes and classrooms patting ourselves on the back because “it isn’t me.”

Poverty anywhere impacts people everywhere — for we have one big home called Planet Earth, and winds from which no one can escape are blowing stronger each year.

May we all awaken to a different level of caring about the problems of our communities, our neighbors, and our world, because we are far more interconnected than any of us can imagine or understand.

So, if I have a call to action for all of you reading this, it is to wake up and realize that many of us might not getting involved because it is someone else. We can’t do that any more. We have to realize these are our schools, our countries, our cities.

When the storm of poverty hits anyone in our community, it hits us all. And we, as educators, must be passionate and purposeful about providing shelter from the storm for the children in its path.

The post The Storm of Poverty Hits Us All appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://ift.tt/2fCaNPu
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Integrating the Arts into Every Subject



Catherine Davis-Hayes on episode 153 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

The graphic, performing, and theater arts are powerful allies for math, writing, and every subject you teach. As 2007 State Teacher of the Year in Rhode Island, Catherine Davis-Hayes is passionate about helping every teacher use the arts in their classroom. Today she shares techniques for teaching geometry and writing – but also a remarkable school-wide project.

Today’s Sponsor: Edpuzzle is my new favorite flipped classroom tool. You can take your videos or those from YouTube and:

  • Clip the video
  • Record your own voice over
  • Pause the video and add your voice just in certain spots
  • Add comments, multiple choice or open ended questions.

And if you click http://ift.tt/2wocZod, Edpuzzle will give your school access to the 50,000 best lessons from Edpuzzle, organized in folders and ready to be used by teachers. Once click and you have everything you need for the year!

Steve Jobs said in his final Apple keynote introducing the iPad 2,

“It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.”

This past week, I had students modeling processors, hardware, and software using play-dough. Something so simple ignited their excitement and learning. Catherine’s lesson for us today is worth sharing with curriculum directors, superintendents, principals, and teachers who are serious about improving learning.

Former secretary of education, William Bennett, says,

“An elementary school that treats the arts as the province of a few gifted children, or views them only as recreation and entertainment, is a school that needs an infusion of soul. That arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic.”

 We all need arts in every classroom, in every subject, in what we do as educators. Not only is it fun but it

Aids

Retention and makes

Teaching

Stick

Work to integrate arts into your lesson this week. (And I especially love the whole school “star trek” episodes they filmed. That project is FANTASTIC! Some of you will love doing it!)

Listen Now

Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.

***

Enhanced Transcript

Arts in Every Subject: How to Make It Happen

Shownotes: http://ift.tt/2fbcBhO
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Introducing Catherine Davis-Hayes and her philosophy of arts in education

Vicki: So we’re here at the NNSTOY conference (nnstoy.org) and we’re talking with Catherine Davis-Hayes @cdhayes13, 2007 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year.

Now Catherine, you’re really passionate about having the arts in everything in a school. What’s your philosophy of that?

Catherine: Well, I think that any content area is more accessible to students and helps them to really understand that content if it’s used in real-world situations. And so, although I do see the benefit and also obviously the importance of teaching skills and processes and materials in my art room, I feel like the students are going to benefit in a greater way by applying it and actually using it to maybe demonstrate their understanding in other content areas.

So, for example, if there’s a math concept and you can bring in geometry shapes, creating artwork that uses the concepts, fractions, all the time observing proportions, and point out how much math they’re using in art, just by making the art. Not just necessarily make the project about math, but just point out, “Look at all the math you’re using as you’re creating your art.”

Or, exploring areas of social studies with the arts is a very, very easy way. And also, even though I’m a visual art teacher, I have become amazingly aware of the power of the performing arts. So I am not a dancer, and I am not a theater actor at all, but I have seen incredible connections made — through movement art and theater specifically – that have helped kids make connections to other content areas.

How does her school use the arts in everything?

Vicki: So does your school follow this whole philosophy of art in everything?

Catherine: We try. Things come and go over time. Funding comes and goes over time. We have had many of our teachers trained in arts integration. We had an amazing opportunity, going back ten years, to have professional development during the summer for as many of our teachers who were able.

Through a program called SmART Schools (http://ift.tt/2w6pgte), teachers were able to come in and learn how to they could use the arts inside their classrooms. So, it’s not always about the professional arts educator going in to a classroom. We taught really accessible tools that everyday classroom teachers could use in their classroom, and so that would be one level of arts integration and using the arts as a part of their toolkit to teach in the class.

And then, at sort of a deeper, larger scale level you could also team up with an art specialist – a music teacher, art teacher, and in our case we were super lucky to bring in a theater artist in residence – and then really put things on fire.

What is the common mistake people make integrating arts?

Vicki: Do you think there’s a common mistake that many educators have when they think about the arts in schools?

Catherine: I do. I sometimes think that when you mention, “Oh, let’s integrate the arts,” there’s always this vision of the movie or that TV show Fame where…

Vicki: (laughs)

Catherine: … suddenly everyone’s going to, like everything has to be a big huge production, that it means putting on a play or putting on a big production. And I think they get intimidated.

I also think that a lot of teachers don’t understand their own creativity. They assume, “Oh, I can’t draw a straight line, even with a ruler,” you know, that famous saying.

Vicki: (laughs)

Catherine: But they miss how creative they are every day in their classroom, and they miss that even the little things just doodling on a piece of paper, having kids sketch an idea first, getting kids up and moving to demonstrate a math concept.

“Let’s line up by height,” or you know, it doesn’t have to be smaller visual, music, auditory tools that help students connect.

Some easy ways to start with the arts in any classroom

Vicki: So if you could give us an “easy win” or two. You know, you’re talking to teachers of all kinds. “OK, here’s an easy way to integrate arts into your classroom.” What would you give us as an idea?

Catherine: I was reading the book Swimmy by Leo Lionni.

To have the kids really understand the concept of you can be a little piece and change the world… we had the kids get up and move around and act like that collection of little fish that formed the big fish.

Vicki: Oh…

Catherine: So, you know, just getting up out of your seat and mirroring an activity or solving a problem. You can do that in any classroom.

In the visual arts, having students illustrate the pictures of a story before they write it… Sometimes the pictures to tell the story come easier than the words. There are a lot of reluctant writers. If you have younger kids, just say “OK, here are five (places for) pictures. You have to have the beginning, the end, and then three pictures in between that bring you from that beginning to the end.” I don’t know of a kid who couldn’t sketch out a simple story.

And then have them write. And the writing goes deeper, because they’re not writing a story, they’re describing their art. And they can talk about art forever. They can tell you all about their art. Just one picture. But now they have maybe five simple pictures, and their story is going to be rich and descriptive and have all the detail that classroom teachers are hoping that their little writers could have.

Your proudest moments

Vicki: Catherine, describe on of your proudest moments at your school where you’re like, “OK. We’re ‘getting’ this!”

Catherine: (laughs)

So even though I just talked about doing little projects that are accessible, we’ve also done some pretty crazy big things, too.

One year, we did a project that was complete arts integration for grades 3, 4, 5, and 6. The grade level classrooms took on a concept. The whole idea was to support what classroom teachers were doing in their classroom, and the bigger standards and the bigger content areas. Also, (we wanted to) teach about art and design.

asking the classroom teachers, “What is it that you want us to support you?” They might come up with a language arts content area, or a math concept, or a science concept. In this case, we asked teachers to specifically choose math or science because we wanted to do a STEM-to-STEAM arts integration.

So each grade level, each classroom at each grade level, picked a content area. Our theater artist in residence went in and created a planet – a fictional planet based on their concepts.

So for example, we had a third grade class with a Planet of the Shapes, because they were learning shapes in geometry. Another third grade class was Food Chain in the Ocean, and so they created an entire planet that was an ocean-based planet, and all of the interactions between all of the species were based on, “Eat or Be Eaten!” These are third graders.

We had a fourth grade planet that was based on magnetism. They were studying magnets in science.

And all the way up. And meanwhile the sixth graders had a health unit where they had to learn about body systems, how a disease or an issue could attack the body, and what you could do – either medically or the body would do to defeat that health system.

So they wrote episodes for Star Trek, and those sixth graders had to use the other planets on “away missions” to solve their problems.

At the end of the year, we actually filmed three Star Trek episodes where the sixth graders were the Star Fleet. And every piece of their learning could be seen in these episodes.

Vicki: Wow.

Catherine: They’re very low tech, but…

Vicki: Where did you air them? Did you air them on YouTube, or..?

Catherine: I have a blog on WordPress

Vicki: Ohhhhh… so you’ll give us a link? So we can share them! How exciting!

Catherine: They are there. Yeah!

And so the crowning achievement – You asked, “What was the proud moment?”

The proud moment was when I was driving in my car the summer after this had happened, and I was listening to NPR, and they had a physicist from Harvard talking about – a roboticist, I think.

Anyway, so he was talking about designing these little robots that were about the size of a quarter, and how they were designed.

Because when you go to Mars, you can’t bring all the tools that you might need. And they were talking about designing these little robots that – when they’re moving around they look like little spiders, and they can actually interconnect and become larger tools.

In one of our episodes, the Planet of the Shapes, the third graders’… That was what their shapes could do.

Their shapes were these cute little shapes that liked to dance. And then they would “freeze dance,” so when they froze, they would come together and make tools.

And so the Starship went to the Planet of the Shapes because they needed tools to fix their Starship.

Vicki: Wow.

Catherine: And… I’m driving, three months later, hearing that they made robots like this.

You know, they don’t go to Mars yet, but the idea was, “How are you going to solve the problem of bringing more tools than we have the ability to carry on a space mission?”

And my third graders were thinking in terms of, “What can geometric shapes do? They can be put together to make bigger shapes.”

Vicki: Wow. What happened when they found out? Did you tell them?

Catherine: I did. I showed them the podcast when we got back in the fall.

And they were… they were really excited about that, just to think… “You know, the whole idea is that we don’t know what’s going to exist twenty years from now. But you kids actually thought of an idea that Harvard robotics scientists are thinking about now.”

Vicki: And that is what happens when we pull art into everything.

Catherine: And it was student driven. That was the cool thing, was that the students chose the content. They didn’t need a teacher telling them, “You will make a planet about this concept.” They chose the concepts.

Vicki: Awesome.

So we’ve had a Wonderful Classroom Wednesday with Catherine Davis-Hayes. Check the Shownotes for links to these Star Trek episodes. I’m very fascinated to see what those look like.

And just remember, the power of the arts is really that the arts are everywhere.

  • You can read about this project and watch the episodes on Catherine’s Blog: STEAM Trek
  • I’ve embedded videos below.

Catherine: Thank you, Vicki.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Episode 1


Episode 2


Episode 3


Biography as Submitted


Cathy Davis Hayes is an elementary art teacher at Oakland Beach Elementary School in Warwick. When she was recognized as Rhode Island Teacher of the Year, she had been teaching in her position for 11 years. Cathy originally started as a commercial artist, but was motivated to become a teacher after volunteering at the Rhode Island School for the Deaf.

Cathy believes in the power of the arts to help students make connections between ideas from throughout all their areas of study, and she is passionate about enriching her students’ lives every day.

She was central to Oakland Beach Elementary’s classification as a SmART School, where arts are given a heavy focus in the curriculum. Cathy earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She was Rhode Island’s 2007 State Teacher of the Year.

Twitter: @cdhayes13

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post Integrating the Arts into Every Subject appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://ift.tt/2wxedxu
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Classroom Videos: How-to Tips and Tricks



Tim Betts on episode 152 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Videos are the modern essay. If you can’t create them, you can’t start a movement, can’t sell a product, or promote an idea. Of all the things I teach, helping kids tell digital stories through video is probably one of the most important. Today’s guest is a perfect guide for those of us who want to make videos with students. Simply put, Tim Betts rocks YouTube history. As a certified YouTube educational channel, he’s one of those that history teachers will love! But he also teaches us how to do this with students.

Perhaps my favorite words of the whole show is when he talks about what happens when you start making videos for yourself or with kids,

“Let it be horrible. Nobody starts off good. If you start off mildly cringy, you are miles ahead of where I started.”

So, listen to the show today and get started. And tweet me links to the videos you make, I’d love to see them!

Today’s Sponsor: Edpuzzle is my new favorite flipped classroom tool. You can take your videos or those from YouTube and:

  • Clip the video
  • Record your own voice over
  • Pause the video and add your voice just in certain spots
  • Add comments, multiple choice or open ended questions.

And if you click http://ift.tt/2wocZod, Edpuzzle will give your school access to the 50,000 best lessons from Edpuzzle, organized in folders and ready to be used by teachers. Once click and you have everything you need for the year!

Click to get Edpuzzle and 50K lessons for my school

Listen Now

Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.

***

Enhanced Transcript

Classroom Videos: How-to Tips and Tricks

Shownotes: http://ift.tt/2jFYUfW
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Introduction: Meet the Viral Video History Teacher – Mr. Betts!

Vicki: Oh, I had the best time recently looking at Mr. Betts’ YouTube History Channel!

You know, Timothy Betts @MrBettsClass is in the classroom, but he has more than 200 videos for American History.

So, Tim, today you’re going to share some of your secrets for making awesome YouTube videos.

Tim: Hello! Thank you for having me on the show!

How do we make amazing videos?

Vicki: Cool! So how do we start with making a really cool video?

Tim: I think you start – with making a really cool video – you start the same way that you would start any lesson. You really have to look at your objectives. What are you trying to teach your students? Just like anything else you would do.

And then, that’s when it starts getting technical. I specialize in historical parodies, songs, and other comedic videos – because I’m a full proponent of tricking kids into learning.

When they don’t know that they’re actually learning, they actually lean significantly better. So I try to figure out what’s interesting.

What do they need to know? And what’s funny? Because if it’s not those three things to me, it’s definitely not going to be the three things to them.

What makes videos popular?

Vicki: Describe for us one of your most popular videos, and what you think makes it great.

Tim: I think one of my most popular videos is my Roanoke video done to Frozen’s “Let It Go.” Mainly because I went all out on that. I got rid of all inhibitions. I went to multiple locations. I’m in the middle of the forest part of Central Park, just running around, acting as if I’m trying to find this lost colony of Roanoke. I was asking strangers to be my cameraman.

Vicki: (laughs)

Tim: Oh yeah! I ran into these two German tourists. They barely spoke any English, but I was able to convince then that I wasn’t a murderer.

Vicki: (laughs)

Tim: Even though when we were in the woods, and they ended up being my camera men and following me around. But I think what really speaks to the kids is:

A) It’s from Frozen. That’s something that they can really latch onto.

B) It’s really interesting content, because it’s… like… the first great American history mystery. What happened to the colonists at Roanoke? And then…

C) I put everything into it. I didn’t worry about looking silly. I just said, “You know what? Let me just dive into the character.”

And I think that really comes across, and it speaks to the kids. And it also makes your classroom a safer classroom for the kids to do the same thing as well – to take those academic risks and to really make bonds with the curriculum.

What about copyright?

Vicki: OK, so what about those who are sitting here thinking, “OK, you used the tune from Frozen. What about copyright?”

Tim: OH! Well, I’ll let YouTube take care of that stuff.

When I upload my videos, sometimes YouTube will say, “Hey, yeah, you can do that.” Sometimes they say, “Hey, the copyright holder wants to split it with you.” Sometimes they say, “Hey, the copyright holder just wants any kind of ad revenue you get out of that.” I didn’t really start this channel with any intention of making money off of it.

I started it because as a teacher… I started it about 4-5 years ago, when YouTube wasn’t in its infancy, but it was in its adolescence. It was still trying to shake off that whole idea of being nothing but cat videos.

I wasn’t able to find all of the educational content that I wanted. So… I just made it.

So… if the original copyright holder wants to take any AdSense I make – which is next to nothing anyway – go for it!

The main intention of the video is educating not just my students, but all students that have access to it.

Why AdSense makes sense

Vicki: Yeah. And you know, that’s one thing a lot of educators don’t understand. YouTube kind of has a way to say, “OK. We’ll let you use it,” or you have to get some ad revenue. It’s one reason to actually just turn on AdSense, even if you don’t use it. I have AdSense turned on, on my account, but it’s just really there for that particular reason – of using the music and letting it handle it for you.

How do you start students with video?

OK, so let’s say, Tim, that you were going to make a parody video or a historical video with your students. What are some of the things that you would do with them?

Tim: The first thing I would do with them is show them the process that I would go through. My process is just like any other project that they’re doing. They have to get into the research. They have to look up the topic. They have to look up the important details of it. What’s the overall impact? And then start from there.

Then, if they’re doing a historical parody song – which some of my students do – we actually have an American Speaks Pageant in which they incorporate music into it as well.

Then they would start looking around. A lot of people ask, “What comes first – the song, the lyrics?” And, you know what? It changes every single time. It’s just… whatever feels right happens.

Sometimes a catchy chorus, your mind just flips those words in. And then sometimes, you have everything you want to say, and then you’re looking around.

Actually, one of the things I do, about twice a month, is I just go on YouTube. I look at what are the 20 most popular songs of the month. I know that’s going to be more accessible to the kids — if I can make my content into their songs.

But then, with that, I put them in a right direction – rhymezone.com

Vicki: Oh, I love that site! I use it too!

Tim: Rhymezone – it is the best! Yeah, when you’ve kind of painted yourself into a corner…

Vicki: (laughs)

Tim: … And you’re like, “What rhymes with ‘patriot’? Oh no!” And then you go there, and actually it’s a good English lesson as well because you learn about the true rhymes. And you learn about slant rhymes.

Just being able to use language, and how you use it, it really incorporates a lot of English language skills that you wouldn’t normally put in here.

And also, kids have such access to technology. I am so jealous of my students! Like refrigerators have cameras in them now! I remember being a kid, and I wasn’t allowed to touch like the giant camcorder, which was basically a VCR that you put on your shoulder.

And now they’re constantly walking around with cameras!

Vicki: (agrees)

The success he feels from making videos

Tim: So, just letting them know that they can do this. This is really accessible!

And the most successful projects I like to do with my 7th graders with American History every year is to just shoe them the basic green screen function in their iMovie – which comes standard with every single Mac.

I have them do a historical blog, where they have to look up a topic, create a character, and then just speak and make a video as if they’re that character, talking about whatever they’ve been assigned to talk about.

And it’s really, really cool. Because not only do they get into character – I do it relatively early in the year – and then I start seeing them do that in other classes throughout the year.

And they’re going, “Mr. Betts, do you have any more of that green paper that we can use? We have a science project coming up… or an English project.”

And that’s when I know that not just the content of what I was teaching was successful, but the skills of what I was teaching was successful.

Vicki: So real quick… Give us a rundown of your equipment. It sounds like you have Macs, and you use iMovie. What other equipment do you use in the process of making your movies?

Tim: Yeah, my students have those. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m more of a Windows-based guy.

Vicki: Oh well, you just told everybody! (laughs)

Tim: Yeah. I use the Adobe Suite throughout. I use Premiere Pro for my video editing. I use Audition for any audio editing. When I’m making thumbnails or different images, I’ll use Photoshop.

But it doesn’t matter! Equipment does not matter. Whether you get a PC or whether you get a Mac, there’s Windows MovieMaker or there’s iMovie. There is so much free software out there to allow you to make these kinds of creations.

Tip with videos: Start horrible!

Another thing — the first one you make is going to be horrible!

Vicki: Yup! (laughs)

Tim: Let it be horrible. Nobody starts off good. If you start off only slightly cringy, you’re miles ahead of where I started.

Vicki: (laughs)

Tim: But, you know, I think it’s important to us as teachers that we go out and take risks, and teach ourselves new skills, so we’re growing as well. It gets really monotonous, sometimes teaching the same subject matter over and over again.

You kind of fall into a repetition. You should be looking back on your lessons, to go, “This lesson in this unit? I want to do a total overhaul on this one, throw a whole bunch of resources into there, and allow myself to grow as a professional. Let me try something new.”

Why you should consider making videos in class

Vicki: OK. Tim, as we finish up… You have 20 seconds to give us a pep talk about why we should consider making videos in our class.

Tim: You should be making videos in your class because your kids are addicted to videos. That’s the way that they learned. Especially if you’re in a history class, but any class that has any kind of story. We love stories. We spend billions and billions of dollars a year watching stories, reading stories, listening to stories. These are the tools that will allow your kids to make these stories and show that they really understand what you’re teaching them.

Vicki: OK, teachers. Get out there and let descend upon YouTube. I have a YouTube channel. Do you?

Tim: Yes I do! It’s http://www.youtube.com/mrbettsclass

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Biography as Submitted


Tim Betts is the creator of MrBettsClass, a certified YouTube EDU channel dedicated to making fun and informative videos about history. Https://http://youtube.com/mrbettsclass

MrBettsClass musical parodies and comic videos have been used in classrooms around the world. With nearly 200 videos focused mainly on American history topics, MrBettsClass has helped teachers, students, and other learners laugh and learn over 3.5 million times. Betts is preparing to do it all over again by launching a brand new school year of content on August 24th, publishing new content every Thursday until the school year’s end.

Channel: http://www.youtube.com/mrbettsclass

Twitter @mrbettsclass

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post Classroom Videos: How-to Tips and Tricks appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://ift.tt/2xNZhLG
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Unleashing the Potential of Every Child #MondayMotivation



Tom Loud on episode 151 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Tom Loud dropped out of high school because he didn’t connect with his teachers. Somehow, he connected with books though and became a high school and college graduate. Now, Tom is a 10-year classroom veteran who is working to make his classroom (and help others) connect with kids in new ways. Today we’ll talk about unleashing the potential in every child. And yes, you’ll hear birds chirping, but that is ok!

Today’s Sponsor: Edpuzzle is my new favorite flipped classroom tool. You can take your videos or those from YouTube and:

  • Clip the video
  • Record your own voice over
  • Pause the video and add your voice just in certain spots
  • Add comments, multiple choice or open ended questions.

And if you click http://ift.tt/2wocZod, Edpuzzle will give your school access to the 50,000 best lessons from Edpuzzle, organized in folders and ready to be used by teachers. Once click and you have everything you need for the year!

Click to get Edpuzzle and 50K lessons for my school

Listen Now

Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.

***

Enhanced Transcript

Unleashing the Potential of Every Child

Shownotes: http://ift.tt/2yjCOTH
Monday, September 18, 2017

Vicki: Today we’re talking to Tom Loud @loudlearning about unleashing the potential of students.

What Tom Learned when he quit high school his junior year

Vicki: So Tom, let’s start with the story about why you got into teaching in the first place.

Tom: In high school, I think I failed more classes than I passed, and I had a terrible experience. By the end of my junior year, I had reached a GPA of a 1.8, and at the end of that year, I just knew it would be my last year in public school.

And in fact, it was.

But through a series of circumstances, I became a college graduate seven years after that. And I’ve been in the classroom now for ten years.

I went into education for two reasons.

The first reason was that I could be the teacher that I never felt I had.

And the second reason is that I could ensure that no child would ever experience the educational journey and experience that I did.

How do we unleash the potential in every child?

Vicki: So Tom, with that being your story, what is your advice to us to help unleash the potential of every child?

Tom: I think, number one, it starts with relationships. We have to build that relationship with kids first. I heard the quote that,

“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” (James Comer, 1995)

I really think that’s true.

But the second thing that we can do as teachers is we can put on the mindset that we are never going to quit on kids. I think it goes back to where the pacing of our teaching has to be determined by the learning of our kids, not by a calendar.

Third, I think that we have to be super patient with kids. Don’t give easier work or fail kids when they’re not understanding, when they’re not learning at the pace that we hope they are. As a teacher, I do think we have to show grit and perseverance with kids and present learning in multiple ways. Failing kids is a direct indicator more of the quality of our teaching, I think than the ability of our kids.

Vicki: Oh, but you know, Tom… Teaching’s hard!

And it’s exhausting to reach the kids who struggle.

Tom: (agrees)

What were the biggest mistakes Tom teachers made?

Vicki: What do you think the biggest mistake is that some of your teachers made when you were that kid who struggled in your junior year?

Tom: I think it goes back to what I was saying about the relationships. I think that I just didn’t have that connection with the teachers. I felt like I was more of a test score, and learning was on the back burner. The test was more of the focus of the teachers, instead of my potential.

What did Tom learn from that now that he’s a teacher?

Vicki: Do you feel like you have a different relationship with your students? Can you give me an example of where you tried to be that teacher that you never had, and it did make a difference?

Tom: I think the biggest thing with me is the patience thing – to where we just don’t quit. And I don’t quit. But the funny thing about it is that every day, even though I know it’s worth it with these kids… some days, like everybody, I don’t necessarily “feel it.”  And when I don’t feel it, I have to continually remind myself that staying motivated and keeping that passion burning is a choice that I have to make.

Yeah, I think the biggest thing with me, with my students now, based on my experience as a student, is the patience that I show. I just don’t give up on kids.

How does Tom motivate himself when he has a down day?

Vicki: So, take me inside your brain when you’re having that down day, and you’re like, “I’m exhausted.” What does the self-talk say to yourself when you just don’t know how you’re going to do it?

Tom: You know, I read a really good book lately by a professor at UT at Knoxville, from Dr. Amy Broemmel. And the book is called Learning to be Teacher Leaders. In the book, she identified three characteristics of the really great teachers.

Those three characteristics are:

  1. Great teachers are unorthodox.
  2. They go against the organizational grain.
  3. They always pose a threat to the status quo.

So, when I’m having those down days, and I don’t necessarily “feel” it? I have to keep that mindset of the great teachers in mind and just “put on” those characteristics.

Vicki: You know, it frustrates me though. Why can’t the status quo just be AWESOME, for everybody?

Tom: (laughs) Yeah! It should be! But you know, we’re creatures of feeling and emotion. And so we can’t always necessarily stay on that high, but we just have to stay as motivated as we can and keep the needs of kids first.

Vicki: You know, Tom, I do find that the self-talk – you know, what you say to yourself when you’re down?

Tom: Yep.

Vicki: We’re our own best motivational speaker, aren’t we?

Tom: We are. You’re right.

Why did Tom’s life turn around?

Vicki: And you’ve got that experience when you were a kid… to kind of think back, and relate, and understand yours, don’t you?

Tom: I do. Yeah, and you know for me, the big turnaround for me was – number one —  maturity. I had reached 18 years by the end of my junior year. So maturity was a big turnaround for me, but also there was all this frustration that I’d built up. I knew I was better than what my test scores were showing and I knew that I wasn’t only worthy of success, but I was able, too.

So, I heard a quote at the end of my junior year of high school, right on the verge of when I was quitting school. The quote was by Charles “Tremendous” Jones, and the quote said,

“The difference between who we are as a person today, and who we will be in five years is determined by the books we read and the people we meet.”

So it was really at that time, that self-talk really kicked up a notch. I really became a student of success.

One of the first books I read on success was by a guy named Jack Canfield, who started the Chicken Soup for Soul book series. But he wrote a book called The Success Principles, and one of the first pages in the book had a quote by Thomas Edison that said,

“If we really knew what we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”

Ever since that day, I’ve really been trying to find out what I’m capable of.

Vicki: You know, I also love what you do… My pastor, Michael Catt, says that

“Leaders are readers, and readers are leaders.”

Tom: (agrees, laughs)

Vicki: You have quoted several books. This is Motivation Monday. One big way to motivate ourselves is to really have that self-talk but to also get quotes that resonate with us.

I mean, I’m looking at my office wall, and it has quotes all over it. You know, what do we say to ourselves? And what kind of books do we pour into our mind to help us stay motivated to do this job?

Tom: You know, I think one of the best ways in 2017 is to meet new people, and to really have good access to quality of text in front of us… is Twitter.

Vicki: (agrees)

Tom: I don’t think enough teachers are on Twitter. But just something simple and easy as that can really provide us with exposure to great minds.

Vicki: Speaking of Twitter, we have cute little birds tweeting in the background that may or may not get edited out.

Tom: (laughs)

Vicki: I just think that’s kind of ironic to me.

Tom: Right?

Look at the Motive behind our Motivation

Vicki: But Tom, as we finish up, give us a 30-second pep talk about how to stay motivated this week in our classrooms.

Tom: I think we have to look at the root word of “motivation.” That root word is “motive” … We have to stay focused even when we don’t feel like it, about why we do what we do. The main reason we do what we do is because:

1.  Kids deserve it.

  1. Kids are capable… and able… of far more than we can ever imagine or think.

But the main reason? They deserve it. They deserve our best. And they’re worth it.

Vicki: They are!

So teachers, get out there. Be remarkable this week.

And I love, in particular, what Tom said. I’m going to hang onto this – that the root word of “motivation” is “motive” …

Remember your motive. Why are you doing this?

Right now, if you’ve lost your noble motive, try to get that back. Try to remember that we’re in the life-changing business.

We’re not just teachers. We teach people how to live lives. We unleash human potential. We have got an incredible profession, full of meaning. It may be not full of earthly riches, but definitely full of meaning and full of legacy.

So get out there and be remarkable this week!

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Biography as Submitted


Tom Loud is first-grade teacher at Middlesettlements Elementary in Tennessee. He also serves as a Technology Teacher Leader at Middlesettlements and was recently recognized as Technology Teacher of the year along with Innovative Teacher of the Year by his district.

In addition, Loud was one of 50 Teachers in Tennessee selected to participate in an Educator Fellowship through SCORE, (The State Collaborative on Reforming Education), an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan advocacy and research institution that drives collaboration on policy and practice to ensure student success across Tennessee. Loud’s passions are technology integration in the elementary grades, along with teacher motivation.

Twitter: @loudlearning

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post Unleashing the Potential of Every Child #MondayMotivation appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



From http://ift.tt/2xJYHi6
via Vicki Davis at coolcatteacher.com. Please also check out my show for busy teachers, Every Classroom Matters and my Free teaching tutorials on YouTube.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Help Autistic Kids Travel by Making Ability Guidebooks



Brett Bigham on episode 147 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Autistic children can struggle with unfamiliar places. However, one teacher of the year has found a way to help improve traveling experiences for autistic children and their families. Brett Bigham has created a way to use books to help special needs and young children prepare to go to new places. Learn about this technique and how to help children travel who may have fears. You can even make books for kids (or some older students might be able to as well.) What a life-changing concept! Ability books for those with special needs.

Book Creator for Chrome. Previously on the 10-Minute Teacher, guests have mentioned Book Creator as one of their top apps for the iPad. Well, now we can all use Book Creator in our classrooms using the Chrome web browser. Make books, send the link to parents and even include audio and video.
This is a perfect idea for special ed teachers and parents who want to use today’s show and make books Book Creator will let you record audio and video AND share the link with parents.
As a teacher, you can get started with a library of 40 books as part of their free version – go to http://ift.tt/2y2OTLZ to get started now. This is great news! Now we can all use Book Creator in our classrooms, on any device, using the Chrome web browser.

Listen Now

Below is an enhanced transcript, modified for your reading pleasure. All comments in the shaded green box are my own. For guests and hyperlinks to resources, scroll down.

***

Enhanced Transcript

Vicki: Today we’re talking with Brett Bigham @2014ortoy, AKA “Mr. B” who was Oregon Teacher of the Year 2014.

Brett, your love and passion has been kids with special needs, for quite some time. And you work with older kids who have special needs, so we’re going to talk a little bit about a way that you helped kids with special needs kind of transition to other places. So, give me an example of something you’ve done.

How Brett helped his autistic and special needs kids take field trips each week

Brett: I worked with students who were ages 18-21, for quite a while, and a lot of my students had pretty severe autism. My classroom’s a county level classroom. So I was only getting students if the local district couldn’t handle their health or their behavior. I had two full-time nurses in my room and a very busy class.

So, what I started to discover was that when I took some of those kids with severe autism out on a field trip, they were melting down. They really couldn’t stand not knowing what was coming up.

So I kind of realized, “Well, I need to fix that,” instead of deciding they should go on field trips. I decided I have to modify what I’m doing. So I started going the week before to the event or the field trip we were going on. And we went out every Friday. It was part of our program, to get our students more used to being out in the community.

So if we were going to ride on the Portland Tram, I would go the weekend before and take pictures of every step. “These are the stairs you go in, this is the door you open, this is the ticket machine,” — every step they need to do the field trip.

I’d make a book. I’d print the pictures into the book, and then write all the steps. Then we would spend the week going over what was coming up.

They’re similar to a “social story,” which a lot of people who work with autism will see, like, “I’m Going to the Doctor” or a trip, or how to go. And they’re step-by-step, but they’re very generic. And I needed specifics.

I had to show the staircase they were going to walk up. I had to show them the signs they needed to look at to find the arrows of where to go. So, I just started doing them in my own room.

How one family was finally able to go on vacation

And after a while, one of my students that really needed these had what’s called Severe Self-Injurious Behavior. She would hit herself when she became upset. It was so terrible to see. It was the worst day of my career the first time she had one of these episodes. The year before I got her, she was sent home 34 times for that. The first year I had her, we had three incidents. Two of them were right at the beginning, and I started using the books. The next year she had zero. And the next year she had zero.

And her family started going on vacations. They had never gone on a trip in their entire life with her, and they were able to go to Hawaii. I made a book, “I’m Going to Hawaii,” and was able to go online and find vacation pictures from people.

And people took pictures of everything, so I got the inside of the plane so I could show her, “This is the inside of the plane you’re going to go on.” And they were actually the Aloha Airlines logos, but a plane stuffed with people. A lot of times, you know, you can get a picture of the airplane, but it’s empty. And this was crammed full, so she knew exactly what to expect.

And when her parents got back from the trip, their life was changed. Absolutely changed. They didn’t have a single incident the whole time.

And now that student has graduated. And when I met her, she was someone – they were trying to figure out how they could make a life for this young lady – one that meant she never had to leave her house. And when she left me, she got a job, and she goes to work five days a week. Her whole family’s life is changed from it.

How Brett puts pictures together

Vicki: So, you take the pictures. Do you have a technology you use to put these books together?

Brett: I do it in two different ways. I make a printout version that you can just look at on your computer and print out. And then I use Microsoft Sway because they have a feature where I can record the book. And that can also be used on the phone. So someone could take the phone, and push a button, and it will read it to them.

I’ve just started recording them. I only have one of them done. I have 45 books at this point.

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How to Find the books

Vicki: Wow. Can people get them online? Can you give a link?

Brett: They are. They are all online, but sadly, most of them are only in places where I’ve been. So, I have quite a few books for Washington D.C., because I’m there for conferences. I have Portland, Oregon, where I’m from. Last year I was at the NNSTOY Conference in Chicago, and we took in the Chicago Art Institute, so they have a book. So, it kind of depends where I go. But I go a lot of places these days.

Vicki: And so they can tweet you to ask you to – if they have a special request?

Brett: Absolutely. You know, I would love to do that. Or I would help somebody in another state. If they said, “I really… I need to make this for my student.” I would walk them through every step, and then I would hope that they’d let me put them on my blog. It’s MrBsClassroom.com, and they’re all on there.

What happened, though, since I have had this opportunity to go out and speak, I’ve made books now for eleven countries. So, I’m starting to collect people who can translate. I have an Italian mom who has a son with autism, and she’s translating all the books I wrote for Italy into Italian.

So my outreach is – I’ll do the best I can, which is an English book on how to go to visit the Coliseum, when I went. But it’s in English, so it helps somebody who speaks English who can go to the Coliseum, but this housewife is making it a tool for every person with autism in Italy. And that’s my dream.

How do you use the books with children?

Vicki: So you have the book. You show it to the child. You talk it through. So, describe what you do, once you have the book in hand, when you’re sitting down. You’re sitting down one-on-one with the child for this?

Brett: I’ve done both. You know, with the whole classroom, showing them. And then I’ll sit with a student, and we’ll just go page by page, and like this is… You know, I read the book to them and point at the picture and say, “We’re going to go here, and these are the stairs that we’re going to go up. You don’t need to be worried about that.” In the books, I always focus on “This is a safe place. Stay with your group.”

But I always show pictures – at least one in every book, I think, of someone sitting down on a chair somewhere – where I say, “If it gets to be too much, you can just sit down and rest for a minute. You don’t need to get upset. Just have a minute. Take a moment. Have a seat.”

Vicki: And you show them a place where they can sit…

Brett: Exactly.

Vicki: Ohhhh, so you’re giving them an out. You’re saying, “OK.” In some ways it’s metacognition. “OK, I realize I’m getting tired. So I’m going to ask to sit over here.”

Brett: Absolutely. And that way, they don’t have to stress out because someone doesn’t understand what they want. They can show me in the book. “I’m ready to sit down.” It gives them a way to communicate back, or maybe even to ask a simple type of question about the outing.

Vicki: This is genius. I mean, it’s just beautiful.

Helping kids and people with the fear of the unknown

Brett: But it’s not genius. It’s so… You know, once I realized that these people who have such a… That autism comes in so many different shades and varieties and… But the people who have that fear of the unknown, and the transition problems… Once I just took a moment to sit down and say, “Well, how do I fix that?” And it was a simple fix. They just need to know. But I had to figure out a way to get them to know.

And I feel sorry for my friends. I’m always – my poor partner – I’m always tricking them. “Hey, let’s go to breakfast downtown.” Then while we’re down there, I’m like, “Well, while we’re here, let’s go down by the Tram. I need to take some pictures. So you know, all my friends have been in books, and course they always say OK. How do you say no to that?

Vicki: Yeah, because I want to help a child who really needs the help.

Brett: Absolutely.

Vicki: So… we’re going to put the link to the blog in the Shownotes.

Brett: Thank you.

Vicki: And do you have on your blog instructions for teachers who want to create books like you’ve done?

Brett: I haven’t done that, because nobody’s asked for it yet.

Vicki: I’m asking! (laughs)

Brett: You know what?

Vicki: I think people are going to want to know how to do that!

We need more travel books for children who struggle with fears of the unknown

Brett: If there’s a teacher who thinks that this is the answer to helping one of their students, I will do everything they need to help. If they can take the pictures for me, I can write the book for them. I haven’t done that yet, but I keep hoping I will have to. I’m trying to be the guy who takes the snowball at the top of the hill and pushes it. Because I can. It’s taken me twelve years to do 45 books. And that’s… that’s not enough. You know, I want… I want every Smithsonian Museum on the mall to have a book. And every important place, and every city… I want them to have a book, because, without them, people who have these issues with the transition will never get to go. Or if they go, it won’t be successful.

Vicki: So it just opens up a great opportunity for those with autism to be able to go places. It’s a great strategy.

Brett: Right. And if you have a listener who decided, you know, this is what my daughter needs. And they want to make a book, what I will do then is I’ll take that book and put that on my blog, and maybe help them find somewhere locally where they can do it so that the people in their community can share the book. And if ten people just do one book, then your community has the support it needs. I’ve done twelve for Portland, and it makes it one of the most accessible cities in the United States for people with this autism

Vicki: So what do you call these books?

Brett: I call them Ability Guidebooks.

Vicki: Ability Guidebooks… So, teachers, this is a remarkable idea. Ability Guidebooks for those with autism, or transition issues. And you know there are lots of kids who could benefit from this. I’ll include the blog, so you can go there.

Did you want to add something, Brett?

Brett: You were saying other students… I had never thought about that. I was thinking of my own kids at first, and what I started to get were messages from kindergarten and first grade teachers saying, “We were going on a field trip to the art museum, and I used your book to show my eight-year-olds exactly how to behave in the museum.” And it makes a world of difference because they see what’s expected beforehand.

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford

Biography as Submitted


Brett Bigham is the only Oregon special education teacher to be named Teacher of the Year or to be awarded the NEA National Award for Excellence in Education. He was named a NEA Foundation Global Fellow in 2015 and is one of only a handful of teachers to be given that honor again for 2018 where he will travel to South Africa as a representative of U.S. teachers.

Blog: http://ift.tt/2xbNK7o

Twitter: @2014ortoy

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.)

The post Help Autistic Kids Travel by Making Ability Guidebooks appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!



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