One of the main reasons why I created this blog was to familiarize myself with the style, format, and functionality of blogging in order to possibly implement a unit on blogging within the journalism class that I am student teaching. I am not super familiar with the world of journalism beyond following various sources and mediums of news. So when I found that I would be student teaching in a journalism class I was excited and nervous. Despite my unfamiliarity with journalism I am still quite familiar with writing studies and consider any opportunity to help with writing a blessing.

When I began to think about what could be done within this class I went, as learners do, to my prior knowledge. That prior knowledge that I possess happens to be that the future of journalism is in producing online content. What I thought was, “How cool would it be to have students create blogs?” I figured that the power for opportunity of growth was too strong to pass up. Possibly one of the biggest downfalls of teaching writing in secondary schools is the fact that students rarely have audiences other than their teachers and their classmates. And in creating blogs, addressing the audience issue becomes much smaller.

I then brought this baby of an idea to my cooperating teacher who graciously allowed me to pursue it. However our district is in the process of adopting a new internet policy that would allow this. But since the current one does not allow for something like this we were unable to implement it. This was disappointing because of the effort that I was beginning to put into this and the loss of possible learning opportunity. Now, I am not here to say anything about the district and their policies because I know that they do everything in their power to provide learning opportunities for their students.

What I do want to say is that despite this unfortunate inability to try an idea I believe that it is extremely important that we begin providing students with writing exercises that are going to possibly benefit them beyond the closed atmospheres of the classroom. If we as educators can begin doing this for our students than maybe our students will be better prepared for writing in the professional world


Panel to Assess Methodology for Judging Teacher Prep

A variety of methods for evaluating teacher education programs will be weighed for their methodological rigor, accuracy, and utility as part of a new research project recently launched by the National Academy of Education and George Washington University.

The new project is at least partly a reaction to a controversial review of every teacher education school in the country that is now being conducted by the Washington-based National Council on Teacher Quality and U.S. News & World Report.

Project investigators will likely examine such measures as:

  • Teacher-college accreditation;
  • Value-added approaches that determine how program graduates are faring at raising students’ academic achievement;
  • Teacher-performance assessments; and
  • Syllabus studies, which form the basis of the NCTQ review.

Several of those methods are fairly new. Their validity, reliability, and how they might shape teacher education are the subject of much debate, even as they garner interest in the policy community.

Source: gjmueller


(via decomposingclassroom)


Teachers make lesson plans in order to have a solid and concrete idea of what to do for the day or the period. But there’s a problem with lesson plans. When I write lesson plans I try to be creative and think up whatever fun activity or discussion is going to get the students to understand the material that I am presenting for the day. I love doing this because really almost anything goes. My imagination can run free for creating activities that will be both meaningful and useful for students. I can artfully create a series of lesson plans that align and bring students to a full and satisfactory understanding, much the same way that stories and other types of creative work are created. The possibilities are endless with creating lesson plans.

Here lies the problem though. Lesson plans are not by their nature situated in reality. Of course they’re real because whoever wrote them clearly thought them up and transferred them into words. The writing of the lesson plan made it real for that person. However the lesson plan that has been created is not situated in reality simply because it has not been put to use yet. The application of the lesson has not happened. For people who create lessons, this is the step that is either most rewarding or most horrifying. Actually trying what you have thought and written for a lesson plan is what finally gives it a concrete existence in reality. So where does the problem lie?

The answer of course is in the context of the class. What lesson plans often fail to address are the individual students within the classroom. Their needs and values are often foregone in exchange for the creativeness of what the teacher has envisioned. Of course they say to be sure to include plans for differentiation in the lesson but differentiation is going to look different for almost every single student that needs it and attempting to plan for that is just wrong. We cannot accurately predict the levels and personalities of our students enough so that we can make the most perfect lesson plan on a day to day basis. Let alone what we create for a unit or even curriculum. Continuity then should never be realized from the beginning. Continuity should enter into the equation once a beneficial understanding of the environment of the classroom has been properly judged by the teacher. Then when the teacher sits down to write the lesson plans s/he can consider the fact that Danny tends to be more engaged with hands on work or Suzy enjoys being able to draw representations of the concepts being covered. When this understanding is arrived at the lesson and the planning of it takes on new properties and new layers. It adds the context of the situation to the imagination of the students and the teacher. All for the purpose of learning information in a meaningful manner.

Teachers do this on a daily basis and it really is not that difficult to first understand the situation and then plan. Or to plan loosely and allow for developments to fill in the gaps of the plan. For me as a student teacher I am finally beginning to be able to implement my plans and to see how they work. Although, before I arrived here I struggled with writing these lesson plans because I knew that the plan on paper meant nothing without the actual and real classroom and students who might try it out. And I still struggle with lesson plans because I’ve had a hard time switching my mindset to that of a high school student. The mindset and the tools that need to be given to these students to reach the concepts that I want to teach are sometimes difficult for me to realize. I know though that slowly and surely my plans will become more contextually based and I will be able to see where students need to go. I just wish that I had been given more opportunity to have more contextualized situations to implement my imagination.

And so I guess you could say that I don’t really dislike lesson plans I just dislike creating something of that nature without a context and a knowledge of the situation it will be used in.


"What IF schools created a culture of “DO” instead of a culture of “KNOW?” Doesn’t that action-oriented stance reflect the kind of real-world learning environment that we know resonates with kids? More importantly, don’t we WANT kids who see themselves as living, breathing contributors to the world around them rather than simply as little people locked away behind our walls waiting to be released?"

Source: teacherleaders.typepad.com

I believe that this is a question worth asking on a daily basis for bloggers. It’s a question that teachers face every day, just in a different format. Instead of the topic being blogs, the topic can be anything from overall curriculum and all the way down to a management choice. In the classroom teachers and students are thrust into situations of resistance and control in situations that are intentionally meant to create learning. These environments are influenced by the creators; the teachers and the students. These two parties have ultimate control in the classroom. The teacher is the leader but the students are the ones meant to be learning. By this basic fact the students then absolutely must own part of the creation of the class. This idea is not new and if called upon to do so I would find the theoretical and application based resources to support this. But that’s not the point of this post. By recognizing that the students need to own part of the creation the teacher than finds her/himself reflecting. By reflecting the teacher ultimately questions the choices of creation that they have made within the classroom in order to better inform how future progress might happen and to think of better strategies to address that.

And now I have arrived yet again to that question. Why have I created this blog? In order to help situate my thoughts on becoming a teacher and to practice that which I might ask my students to do. I might ask these students to create blogs. How is it then fair for me to ask this of them if I have never created a serious blog myself. And so of course I did what was right and I created this blog hoping to do a number of things including but not limited to:

  • Reflecting on myself and the current situation of the education world.
  • Highlighting moments from within the classroom.
  • Creating worthwhile content.
  • Providing commentary and critiques of things I find worth contemplating.
  • Writing to define myself as an artist and an educator.
  • And various other things as well.

What I ultimately wish to accomplish with this blog is not limited to a set of short snippets of ideas and moments. I want this experience to take on meaning for myself and for many others as they too contemplate what is important in their own lives.

Remaining limitless with a sense of practicality.

  • Student: How many questions are on this test?
  • Teacher: 50.
  • Student: 50!?!?!?!? Oh. My. God!
  • When we heard this reaction my cooperating teacher and I busted out laughing. It's really quite mean, but we couldn't help finding the humor in the student's absolute horror at there being 50 questions on this test.

Trying to create something? Meeting little success? Don’t get sad. Get Glad! Just kidding! But seriously though, watch this video for some inspirations.

  • Question: WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST HUMAN MEMORY? - tumblrbot
  • Answer:

    I remember running from our family’s trailer house to my grandmother’s house across the yard at our homestead. The reason for my jaunt to gma’s house was of course, cookies. I believe I was 2 years old at the time.

This is my picture. Grainy, black and white, and don’t forget the slight smile to make viewers feel comfortable. My name is Craig West and this is my first concerted effort at creating a blog. I am doing this in conjunction with my student teaching in the English Language Arts so that I may effectively reflect, blog with my students, and hopefully better understand the ins and outs of the blogging world. I look forward to all the challenges that this endeavor presents and to the ultimate satisfaction and connection with a real audience.

This is my picture. Grainy, black and white, and don’t forget the slight smile to make viewers feel comfortable. My name is Craig West and this is my first concerted effort at creating a blog. I am doing this in conjunction with my student teaching in the English Language Arts so that I may effectively reflect, blog with my students, and hopefully better understand the ins and outs of the blogging world. I look forward to all the challenges that this endeavor presents and to the ultimate satisfaction and connection with a real audience.