Archive | February 2013

Could Wii Fit Make Me Fit?

OK, I will admit it. I HATE THE THOUGHT OF PHYSICAL EXERCISE, not just exercise but the thought of it. Period.

My friend, Anne, an exercise junkie, still laughs at me about the half-hour we worked out together many moons ago after someone had given her a couple of pedometers. She dutifully attached hers to her waistband, boarded her treadmill and began clicking away each step. I, on the other hand, had figured out that by gently shaking the pedometer you could appear to get a pretty good work out with the so-called count to prove it.

So, Anne walked, while I lounged shaking that pedometer.

The best part is, she became winded, broke out in a sweat and messed up her hair, while I continued to look as lovely as ever.

Well, that was a few years ago, but now I can no longer afford to be so clever about my exercise routine.

It is time for me to break a sweat.

I am trying to decide what exercise route to take and am leaning toward a Wii Fit. I don’t know much about it, but apparently you can shake the controller and get a pretty good work out. 

We will see!

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BYOD? How about BYOL?

I teach in the wealthiest school district in Missouri where every high school student is loaned an 11” MacBook Air and every teacher has a 13” MacBook Air loaned to them for the express purpose of maximizing the learning/teaching creative process.  The laptops are equipped with the latest software, including iMovie, GarageBand, and Airdrop.

So, recently, when I learned about Bring Your Own Device/Technology (BYOD/BYOT) due to what I will call technological deprivation (TD) via my Twitter Professional Learning Network (PLN), I was puzzled and wondered why students would need to bring their own devices to use in school for the purposes of learning and not just multi-tasking with peers while trying to learn.

All students have access to computer technology at school, right? It is the 21st century, right?

Don’t get me wrong. I know of what I thought were isolated instances of TD. A colleague of mine teaches in a small district in Mississippi where not only do they not have regular access to computer technology but BYOD is not allowed.

She is a brilliant teacher and she is very frustrated and I understand.

NOW, I understand my colleague is one of thousands. Apparently, many teachers are struggling to teach 21st century skills using 19th century technology. (Yes, 19th century—think Little House on the Prairie.)

Are you kidding me? Seriously?

Hence, teachers are forced to resort to BYOD when and if it is permitted by their school district.

But in my opinion, BYOD is NOT the solution to TD. It is little more than a bandage for a myocardial infarction. Boards of Education who pride themselves on BYOD should be ashamed. What about the families who cannot afford devices? What about inequity? (And that really is the tip of the proverbial technological iceberg.)

If you believe BYOD is the solution to the problem of TD, may I suggest a return to mandatory Bring Your Own Lunch or BYOL?

What would happen if it were decided schools should put an end to lunch programs? Think about it! Yes, the alphabet soup of organizations would issue a collective outcry like never heard before.

FEED THE CHILDREN!

So, where is this collective outcry surrounding the issues prompting the necessity to move towards BYOD?

FEED THE CHILDREN!

If the powers that be can figure out a way to feed millions of students on a daily basis so effective learning can take place, they most certainly can figure out a way to provide 21st century technology so students can learn creatively and effectively without resorting to BYOD.

We feed their stomachs. We must feed their minds.

FEED THE CHILDREN!

You Matter

Every year in my high school geometry class, I set aside one day as Snowflake Day, usually the day before Thanksgiving Break. One of the many reasons I love teaching geometry is that it lends itself to special days like Snowflake Day.

You start with a rectangle, folding and cutting it into a square followed by an isosceles right triangle and then a reduction of said triangle, finally dividing it all into thirds and then randomly cutting the tightly folded polygon into a one-of-a-kind paper snowflake.

It never fails, no matter what age, everyone is amazed at the snowflake they unfold.

This year each student was required to write his or her name on at least one snowflake to be hung in our classroom as a reminder throughout the winter season that each is special and everyone matters!

“You are unique. You are special. YOU MATTER,” I told them.

As snowflakes were made and displayed around our classroom, I encouraged students to share snowflakes with friends and family by writing thank you notes on the gifted snowflakes letting the recipient know YOU MATTER.

Finally, as Snowflake Day came to a close, I asked my students to share about something for which they were thankful.  Students lightheartedly talked about family, friends, or football.

All but Johnny, that is.

Just as the bell rang, Johnny, a student whose second day back after an extended medical leave was Snowflake Day, looked at me and quietly shared he was thankful for waking up.

Though snowflakes were displayed all around our classroom, Johnny put his on my desk and said he’d rather that it not be displayed.  Later that day as I admired Johnny’s snowflake, I found he had written a note.

“Thanks. Even though at some points I gave up, you never gave up on me. It means a lot to me.”

I smiled through my tears. His words said it all, “YOU MATTER.”

He understood.

We both did.

Yes, Johnny, YOU MATTER!

A version of this blog post was published by the Missouri State Teachers Association (MSTA) after the 2012 State Convention in Kansas City featuring Angela Maiers as the keynote. #youmatter @angelamaiers http://www.angelamaiers.com/

Even high school students enjoy making snowflakes!

Even high school students enjoy making snowflakes!