Every. Summer. Every single time summer kicks off I have to play DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's Summertime. I was an avid viewer of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air way back in middle school and when the music video premiered, I thought it was the coolest song ever.
So here we are fresh (pun intended) off the 4th of July festivities, deep into summer. For most all of us, we're recharging our batteries from the school year past. Some of us have kept on with conferences and other various PD opportunities. Some of us have simply worked on some much needed personal projects at home while others have packed up the fam and took a long overdue vacation. However, I would bet there's some of us keeping an eye on the calendar keeping a mental note of how many weeks are left before the dreaded first day of school when teachers have to report.
For us at LFT, we just wrapped up a 16 day tour of Spain and Portugal! We tagged along with the fine people of GoAfar.org to experience their Spanish archaeology program. Somehow, however, it morphed into a tour of the Iberian peninsula for us...which was totally fine! Being a close friend of ours, Mat Saunders, who is the founder and director of GoAfar, showed us a great time and the work his students are doing is truly ground breaking. Based in Zorita de los Canes, his team has been given permission by the government to excavate the castle that sits above the town. Upon our arrival, Saunders' team had just unearthed a previously unknown antechamber at the castle! The whole camp was abuzz. Besides
Wow! As I told one of my students this week, I don't think I looked forward more to summer than this year. I know I'm not the only teacher out there that is exhausted and simply wants to have their mornings to themselves. Although the school year is over, now is the time of reflection. We, as teachers, always look back with questions, the good stuff, the bad stuff, the little moments of success, the anecdotes that you'll repeat in the years to come. It's just what we do. And we should!
For me, the roller-coaster ride of this school year was punctuated with a thank you note from one of my students. It was unexpected, but was one of those moments where you acknowledge to yourself that maybe you do know what you're doing!
But here's to all of you out there in the trenches! Congrats on another school year in the books. Enjoy your summer break...even though you have PD to attend or coaching responsibilities to take care of or conferences to put together ;)
Meanwhile, I'll be gearing up for our Aruba trip this July! We can add two more to our group if you fancy a beach trip July 9-15. I can't stress enough how fun (and different) this will be. Check out the opportunity here or contact us if you're interested!
Last weekend I brought my kiddos to the University of Kentucky to compete at the state level of NHD. If you'll recall my post from earlier, we did rather well as a group. Overall they did well and although none of them qualified for nationals, one of my students did receive a special recognition award from the Sect. of State which carried a $200 award!
Now I didn't get to witness her receiving the award due to the fact that the organizers scheduled me and another colleague to present to a literacy conference down the street. We presented an activity dealing with primary sources, specifically evaluating primary sources relative to supporting an argument.
I'll include the activity in this post for you if every you'd like to use it (or change it). You'll see the instructions, but basically I through together eight primary sources on JFK with an example argument. The argument itself is a bit silly, but the purpose of the exercise was to help students evaluate supporting evidence.
Finally, we've got a few more openings for our Aruba trip!!! If you've been following us on Twitter, you've seen the beauty of this island. It's going to be the highlight of the summer for us.....as well as you if you join us ;)
Spring Break!!! Besides "summer," is there anything more satisfying for teachers? Sure, Fall Break is much need (if your school does that sort of thing) and a great break in itself. However, that stretch from Christmas break until Spring Break can be so brutal.
So we are taking full advantage of this coming week and taking off back to Aruba! It's been three years since we left and we're giddy thinking about meeting back up with friends, colleagues and feeling that constant breeze. Although it's our break, we are putting in some work. We'll be meeting up with our partners at the International School of Aruba to finalize all our plans for the summer STEAM program this July. There are still a few spots open so don't delay! You can join the fun with us here.
In the meantime, keep up with us on our Facebook page and Twitter! We'll be busy showing you what to expect come July!!!
Last weekend the deadline finally came as students and a few of my fellow social studies teachers boarded a bus bound for Morehead State University. After six months of prodding, persuading, motivating, and pleading, my students were about to compete in the National History Day regional competition. But were they ready? Was I ready? I'll be honest, not really. As this was my first year sponsoring the competition, I was flying blind in assisting my students' projects.
If you were like me and unfamiliar with NHD, it's a research competition where every year there is a theme in which students must identify a topic that relates to the theme and come up with an argument to defend. This years theme was, "Taking a Stand." I thought it was an easy enough theme to find a topic in history - civil rights movement, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Women's Suffrage, etc. etc.
Once the students chose their topic, then they had to formulate an argument about their topic to defend. One of the more compelling arguments from one of my students involved arguing that the Whiskey Rebellion did more to shape American attitudes on taxation than the Boston Tea Party. The final step of the NHD project was for the students to pick a format in which to use to defend their arguments. The choices were to create a documentary, perform a skit, design a website, orally defend a thesis paper, or construct a visual display board.
In the end, after all the fumbling around, we gathered in the auditorium on campus for the awards ceremony. To our surprise, all six of my students qualified for the state competition! Turns out we were doing exactly what was expected in preparing for the NHD competition. I guess the biggest takeaway for me was simply trying something new and allowing yourself to learn alongside your students. There were times I honestly didn't know if I was helping or getting in their way for this. But I just pulled a page from my years as a soccer coach and stressed that we're all in this together and we need to help each other out if we're going to do this.
So now....we polish these suckers off for state next month!
Hey everyone! Thought I'd share that yesterday, I was informed that the work my classes have been doing with the Global Nomads Group was featured over on Slate.com. Well, let me clarify that. A picture of me and a student of mine (similar to the one I posted on an earlier post) was used as the cover picture for an article Slate did on the virtual reality feature as a part of GNG and the role of fostering empathy among students.
Although nothing from my interview was quoted in the article, it's still pretty cool. The title of the article speaks for itself so have a read here!