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Down with the Sickness 2.0

One of my favorite projects is Down with the Sickness, where students research the effects that disease have on both past and present societies. I still consider it as my top project of the 2015/2016 school year, which I described in a previous post. With a year of experience, I was able to streamline the project and improve student engagement as shown by the end of the semester survey:

"I really liked the medical aspect of our history class because it wasn't a typical kind of study for a history class. I had never done anything like it before and it was a lot of fun." 
"I enjoyed researching different disease and learning more in depth about how the CDC and the WHO deal with these situations. Creating an infographic was fun because I prefer to show people what I've learned through graphics/art."
I liked creating the infographics and I really enjoyed learning about different diseases and the bad effects and how to prevent myself from getting them. Learning …

Minarets Mustangs' Community Day

When I was hired at Minarets High School, I was asked to establish and teach the Minarets Cs class, a freshmen introduction course to help the 9th graders adjust to life at Minarets. Naturally, we always have a discussion  about the Minarets Cs, the learning objectives for students which include the 21st century skills as well as a vital addition: Community. During our discussion last year, we talked about which of the Cs were most common on campus and least common; creativity was the most common while community was the least common.

This lack of community involvement was not only recognized by the students, but our staff as well. As a result, the staff members at Minarets High School decided to do something innovative and dedicate the last day of the fall semester to the community, appropriately named Community Day.

Rather than submitting final projects or having a movie day, every student was engaged in a community project, whether it was making gift tags and cards for kids and thei…

Vision Accomplished: Parent Edtech Conference

Eight months ago, Parent Edtech Conferences was simply an idea that I had about improving education and a few weeks I officially made it a reality.

And I'm so glad its over.

It's not because it was a horrible or terrible experience (in fact it was really encouraging!), but I knew that I needed to have the experience of the first conference before I could really start expanding and growing my idea.

I officially launched the conference to the public after Minarets Fall Showcase, which is our version of back to school night. I bombarded parents with flyers in their quarter grade packets, emails, and posts on social media. The conference was held on Wednesday, November 16; next year I plan on having the conference much closer to the start of the year for further relevancy, but with this being my first conference I decided to have it later so I could plan it better.

An aspect of the Parent Edtech conference that I wanted was having it customized to what the parents need. Because t…

Solving October Stress: #FallCUE

October is always a fun month; please note the sarcasm. Its the first month without any breaks or three-day weekends (at least in my district), the start of cold/flu season, and grades are due for the end of the first quarter. On top of that, I was also in the middle of my first semester of my Master's program, the new advisor for both CSF and NHS, and planning my #googleEI project that is scheduled for November. By the end of the month, I was stressed, exhausted, and completely drained, like so many teachers around the country.

Unlike Octobers in the past, I got to finish the month by attending and presenting at #FallCUE up in American Canyon, CA.  I didn't have much time to get pumped and excited for the conference so I went up with my to do list weighing me down. But once the conference began, I immediately forgot about my stress and became re-energized by collaborating and sharing ideas with educators around the state.

There were so many incredible experiences at #FallCUE

From Mars to Ancient Societies

Last year, I launched my World History class with the project called We, the People of Mars... where students investigated various forms of government so they could form their own ideal government to be used on Mars. As I mentioned in a post last year, it was one of my more cringe-worthy projects for a variety of reasons and I decided to completely revamp it for this new school year. But no matter the adjustments I made, I couldn't fall in love with the project and I felt stuck on what to do for a project that discusses democracy.

As one of the beginning of the year activity, I had students do a gallery walk with sticky notes where they answered questions on posters. One of the questions was "What do you want to learn in History?" No students put "FOUNDATIONS OF DEMOCRACY!" and I realized that I only taught that concept because I always have, not because the students were excited about it. The most successful PBL is one where students are engaged in relevant pr…

Changing the Way I Teach 9/11

This year marked the 15th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, but it is also the first time that I had a group of students who had no memory of the attacks. In fact, almost every teacher is experiencing this as students are born farther and farther away from 2001 and it has completely transformed the way I discuss 9/11 with them.

When I first started teaching, I would start class by showing the following video:

Then follow up by discussing what I remember about that day and what I witnessed. I was also a very history-oriented child and I collected every magazine and newspaper that discussed 9/11 over ten years so I would show them those materials; I'm working on compiling them into a scrapbook for students to look at. Students would then share what memories they had or the memories of their parents, but most of the time they would ask me specific questions about the event, like why it happened, how the world changed, etc. Many times it took an entire period, but I …

The Fourth Year

During the first class I took to become a teacher, the professor took half of the class out and informed us that after four years of teaching half us of will have left teaching all together. Now I'm well into my fourth year and I'm still standing.

In fact, I feel that this year is going to be...

For starters, I have officially started my Master's in Educational Technology. I'm only a few weeks in and, while I'm overwhelmed and stressed, I'm glad that I'm finally taking the next steps in my education. It also helps that one of my amazing friends is doing it with me!

I'm also blessed to be going into my second year at Minarets High School, which continues to be my dream school. As many people said, the first year was me trying to drink out of a fire hose, but now I feel confident and ready to be 100% PBL in a 21st century school. Over the summer, I participated in the EdtechTeam's Teacher Leader Certification and becoming inspired to set new goals for…