Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Evolution of Voxer Use

This is a joint blog with Dr. Dorian Roberts and Justin Schleider

Introduction by Dr. Dorian Roberts.

Remember when you were a toddler and after you took a bath you would run around the house naked until your parents stopped you? You ran laughing, somewhat knowing that you could do something that no one could do except for you.  You took some type of pleasure in it… some type of joy… remember how you would giggle and laugh really hard.  HeeHeeHee… good times, fun times, lost times, and I never thought I would get those chuckles again until July 2015 when I was introduced to Voxer and then a group called #Edumatch.  

So, recently reflecting on Edumatch, Justin and I noticed something with the new “youngins” that have joined the group.  These latest members seem to be following in our footsteps through some rather organic stages of Voxer/#Edumatch.  In this collaborative blog, we are going to discuss what we ourselves have experienced and now dubbed as the “Stages of #Edumatch”.

Dr. Dorian: Stage #1 The BIG OLE SHINY BALL COMPLEX

In #Edumatch, there are all kinds of balls—big balls, small balls, tiny balls, blue balls, red balls, every kinda of ball you can think of… balls—meaning DIVERSITY! (So get your minds out of the gutter.) LOL!  Look back at Stage 1… Did it catch your eye and cause you to scroll down to get to the good stuff?  If it did, don’t feel bad because it happens in #Edumatch all the time.  People are listening to the “hot new topic” being discussed among educators.  You hit this green button and BAM! You are instantly heard. The POWER, the CONTROL—you have it all with that green button.  You have a captive audience.  And then… wait for it… wait for it… chirp, chirp… you have a notification.  Someone else has heard what you said and agrees with you.  Someone hears your cause, your joke, your story, your journey and all of a sudden, you feel validated.  You feel at home.  You have, at last, found your people.  

Justin: Stage 1: Existence; This is so exciting!
This stage is where you keep voxer alerts on. You are waiting for someone to say something so you can jump in. You are so excited to be a part of a group with so many teachers from all over the world. You are making comments and super excited about every conversation. You go to other rooms to listen to the conversation. Housework is only done with Voxer. You stop listening to music or podcasts. Voxer has overtaken your life. You are hooked.

Dr. Dorian: Stage #2 I’m too SEXY FOR MY VOX!!!! or “I’ve Said what I’ve said,” by NeNe Leakes of The Real Housewives of Atlanta

This stage is the confidence stage.  This stage is hilarious.  Why? Because we have all done it with maybe one exception, the founder and creator @Sarahdatteecher. In this stage, you let your “expertise” show.  You make your stance known to others in the group. Your opinions become statements.  Here’s where it gets fun… disagreements are made, Voxer battles are created, sides are taken and voxes increase.  That’s right, you named it… “The Debate”. Now, what is funny to me is that people actually leave chats and Voxer groups over differences of opinions or sore feelings.  Really! I’ve seen it happen.  You may ask me how I handle disagreements? “I’ve said what I’ve said!”  I fight daily, but I never turn my back on family.

Justin: Stage 2; Fight or Flight

This is the stage where you stand up for yourself or you tuck your tail between your legs and run away. People start to really let their opinions and feelings be known. They are willing to step up and debate their point. This is where Voxer can be at its best. Debates can get heated but most understand it is all about the subject and not the person. The most the debates last is two days before the next subject is tackled. You can really grow from these interactions and be challenged by some of the best and brightest educators in the game.

The flip of the coin is those who run away. They don’t like the pushback. They feel personally attacked. They leave the group. This is fine as well. The best part of social media is if it’s not working for you, bounce! Leave. Why stay in a place of your own choosing that makes you upset or uncomfortable? The only problem with leaving is that you may be leaving the only place you will get honest feedback. We all know that group think runs abound. The longer you use social media the more this is apparent. Remember pushback allows you to grow!

Dr. Dorian: Stage #3 The CLASSICS

When you put on your grown man or woman pants, this is the best stage.  This is when you create a Voxer group of your own that has nothing to do with education.  It is where you go to let your hair down, smoke a cigar, drink you favorite wine and watch a movie together with your crew… yes, I mean literally watch a movie together.  In this group you do things like have Reader’s Theatre, Mock Trials, play Voxer tag, sing karaoke, and I could go on and on. This is a place where the “seasoned” #Edumatcher goes for a good old-fashioned resort vacation.  I love it there!

Justin: Stage 3; Make Voxer Your Own

This is the stage where you find your tribe. It is almost like the direct message groups I wrote in an earlier blog about Twitter. This is the stage you start a spinoff of the group. This group is a couple of other people who share your views.  You start to talk about people or subjects that you don’t want public. You code switch to a much more informal tone. The subjects you discuss are not just education related. Personal relationships are cultivated. You learn much more about the individuals in these small groups. The conversations flow much more freely. You sing on your way home and let them know when something in school really ground your gears. This is the sweet spot of Voxer. Finding likeminded people who you can be your authentic self around without the censorship and decorum that large chats with people you don’t know demand.

These stages aren’t written in stone. They are what Dr. Dorian and I have noticed over the months and years on Voxer. We both believe it is a game changing application that will elevate your professional and possibly personal life in ways that were inconceivable before. If you haven’t tried it we would both highly recommend it to you. Two great groups to check out is Edumatch for general teachers and the General Physical Education chat for physed and health teachers. My voxer name is SchleiderJustin. Dr. Dorian Roberts voxer name is Dr. Dorian Roberts. Hit us up if you need any help with Voxer.

Q1. What is the first thing you do when you join a new group on social media? #slowchatpe

Q2. What made you confident enough to chime in during group discussions? #slowchatpe

Q3. Have you ever left a group on social media because you felt attacked? How did it make you feel? #slowchatpe

Q4 What made you start a direct message group on twitter or side vox group? #slowchatpe

Q5. What is a voxer group that people would find enjoyable? #slowchatpe

 

 

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Hip Hop Chess

As much as I love being the non-conformist I would be remiss in writing a blog on the week celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. and not draw attention to it. To me Dr. King’s birthday is the unofficial jump off of black history month. It opens up the conversation in our schools about the history of black people in America. This normally would have been the classic slavery and inequality for people of color is a black eye on American history and is still continuing to this day blog. That was until @sisyphus reposted this blog by Adisa Banjoko and Arash Daneshzade. I did not have any prior knowledge of who Adisa was but I was very familiar with Arash. His posts on twitter frustrated me on many levels (@A_Daneshzadeh). The first problem for me is that his use of vocabulary is so extensive I had to look up every other word. The second problem was that I wasn’t seeing many answers about how we can fix things. It looked like a lot of complaining about the problems in education without giving any answers. I was completely WRONG!

Here is an excerpt from the blog cited above:

Teaching students, “The World Is Yours”

A few years ago, I was asked to speak at a high school for Black History Month in San Francisco, CA. Their original speaker had bailed on them, at the last minute. Rather than open my talk with a lamentation of US slavery, I focused on Dogon discoveries in Astronomy, and Moorish science contributions that served as the foundation of the European Renaissance. After citing the role of the African Islamic influence of Europe’s’ rise out of the Dark Ages, I asked the students how many enjoyed what they heard.  Almost all the hands went up. I said, now ask yourselves this question: How is that you have been in school for at least 9 years and this is the first time you are hearing it? It is against all political, social, and economic odds that Black children are expected to excel.

As we approach Black History Month in 2016, I’m already torn between my genuine love in celebrating Black achievement, and the sad circus many schools turn the opportunity into. American schools have a long way to go in sharing the more dynamic aspects of African contributions to global civilization.

That is just one small insert from an article that is amazing. I did some digging.  It turns out that Adisa Banjoko is the Founder of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation (HHCF) and author of Bobby, Bruce & Bam: The Secrets of Hip-Hop Chess. Arash is a Hip-Hop chess instructor as well as an educator. After doing a quick google search I found this on the Hip Hop Chess Federation website:

Since 2006, HHCF has introduced and taught thousands of youth the game of chess not only as a game of wit  but also as a metaphor for the importance of incorporating strategic thinking as a necessary process for making the right moves in life.  Coupled with the practical philosophies and disciplined teaching of martial arts and framed in the many positive, but often underappreciated aspects of HIP-HOP Culture, HHCF continues to expand its educational outreach efforts throughout the United States. HHCF has spent many years deepening the valuable relationship it has forged with local schools and various community based organizations by being able to provide life enriching programming in a safe setting to youth who otherwise have limited access to high quality alternative learning, culture and arts experiences. The HHCF uses its unique program as a platform to promote the idea that every young person is High In Potential and has the capacity to Help Other People (HIP-HOP framed differently).

Playing chess is fine and dandy but what does that have to do with education you may be asking yourself? I was asking myself the same thing when I read this a little further down on their site :

Research shows that student test scores improved by 17.3% when regularly engaged in chess classes, compared with only 4.6% for children participating in other forms of enriched activities.  In approximately 30 nations across the globe, including Brazil, China, Venezuela, Italy, Israel, Russia and Greece, etc., chess is incorporated into the country’s scholastic curriculum. Just as athletics are a part of the required agenda at schools in the United States, chess has been that way in the European, Asian and African Nations abroad. Chess is a universal language for young people across the globe.

I don’t care much about test scores but I know my administration does!! The wheels started turning. What can I do as a physical education teacher? Then it hit me! To celebrate Black History month, I can teach chess in my class. If you are asking what does chess have to do with black history here is the answer from the article that Arash and Adisa wrote:

Today, most Americans think of chess as an upper echelon “White” game. In fact, the game only made it to America after the Moors (African Muslim scholars) conquered Spain from 700 AD until 1400 AD and brought their books and chessboards with them. After teaching the game of chess to the Christians and Jews, it spread across Europe. The English loved chess and when some rebelled and settled in America, so too did the game. Colonial Americans such as George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson became obsessed with the game.

My teaching of chess will be much different. My students need to be active. Most do not know the first thing about chess. I will introduce the history of chess to my students. The next step will be to set my gym up as a giant chess board. I will use poly-spots to mark off the dark squares. We will use the warm-up to go over each chess piece and the movements it can make. I will accomplish this by using the Gifs I created here in the shared Physed Google Drive. An example of this would be all the students would be pawns. They would be asked to jump the appropriate amount of spaces forward a pawn could move on either its’ first move. We would then move on to all the other pieces using various locomotor movements for each piece. This would teach them how each piece moved.

Once the students understand the pieces they can play online for free using their Chromebooks or iPads.  One site they can use for individual play is http://www.sparkchess.com/. Another site they can play versus each other is http://en.lichess.org/. I will have a timer set for 45 seconds. When the timer goes off the students will have a choice of two physical activities to pick from. As soon as they complete the activities they will go back to their game. I may tinker with the time or have the student choose a movement to do after their chess move is complete. The lesson, in theory, is always different than the execution in real life!

Q1. What does Dr. King’s birthday mean to your class? #slowchatpe

Q2: What role models do your ss have that are PoC? #slowchatpe

Q3: Have you gone to martinlutherking.org? How is this a lesson we can pass on to our ss? #slowchatpe

Q4: How do you identify your racial bias? #slowchatpe

Q5: Who is a resource that you rely on to help you with sensitive issues? #slowchatpe

 

 

 

Differentiation

One of the hardest things to do is differentiate. We hear the word all the time. What does it actually mean?

Differentiation refers to a wide variety of teaching techniques and lesson adaptations that educators use to instruct a diverse group of students, with diverse learning needs, in the same course, classroom, or learning environment. Differentiation is commonly used in “heterogeneous grouping”—an educational strategy in which students of different abilities, learning needs, and levels of academic achievement are grouped together. In heterogeneously grouped classrooms, for example, teachers vary instructional strategies and use more flexibly designed lessons to engage student interests and address distinct learning needs—all of which may vary from student to student. The basic idea is that the primary educational objectives—making sure all students master essential knowledge, concepts, and skills—remain the same for every student, but teachers may use different instructional methods to help students meet those expectations. source

Physical education is made for differentiation. We can set up different skills challenges for different levels. (which I allow them to choose) We can also set up different games for those who want are self-proclaimed experts, intermediate players, or beginners. We can mix students up and give the experts a low reward for completing the task and the beginners a high reward for completing the tasks.

Another way we can differentiate is to have various QR codes linked to videos demonstrating various levels of skills. They can choose to scan the beginner, intermediate or expert levels. I am sure I am leaving a ton more ways to differentiate instruction in the physical education environment.

@joeyfeith uses the experts as coaches to help the others. This is an effective way of engaging the students who are our “high flyers”. I believe this is also a higher level of DOK, Blooms, and Solo taxonomy.

We can also use different ways to assess our ss on the mastery of the skill. Some students can create videos, others demonstrate in a game while others teach their classmates. A lot of leeway hinges on the verb in the standard.

This week I had two high-level students that were completely disengaged in the foot dribbling skill and activity. They upset me because they were continuously off task during the entire class. Whenever I get upset I have to remind myself that these are students and that they aren’t off task to personally make me mad. If that sounds stupid you probably haven’t been a teacher before. Students do things against the “rules” or accepted norms all the time. The first reaction of some teachers (myself included) is to feel like they are being disrespected.

I kept the students after class and had a discussion with them. I asked if I had ever treated them disrespectfully, talked down to them, or did anything they found to be rude. They responded no. This validated to me that my personality or teaching style was the problem in this instance. I asked them what they problem was. They stated they didn’t enjoy the skill practice or the drill activity we had done in class. This is usually where I give my, “If you don’t like math or Spanish activity are you expected to participate” spiel but I tried a different tact. I asked them both to create a game or activity they would enjoy playing. They were to create a google doc and share it with me before next class.

I was somewhat pleased with this scenario until I read @sporticus blog today. It made me think. What if I introduced the skill and went right into more small sided games? Do I need the longer skill practice? I usually tell the class they can’t play the game until they master the skill but is that the right order? Can we master the skill while playing the game? At the very least if everything else is a wash is playing the game more enjoyable than just the skill practice?

My idea is not to swing the pendulum all the way to the right and say here is the skill let’s play the game. @btcostello has warned me about changing too hard in the other direction. What if I introduced the skill, did a super quick skill practice, then went right into the game? The rules to the game are always changed to emphasize the skill anyway. The games are small sided and everyone is active.

What are your thoughts? Do students need to master the skills before you play the games?

q1. How do you differentiate in your class? #slowchatpe

q2. What is your response when ss are off task in class? #slowchatpe

q3. Do you ever use student coaches in your class? #slowchatpe

q4. Do ss need to master skills before we play games? #slowchatpe

q5. Who is a differentiation expert we should know about in ur #pln?

One Word. Fear.

I am afraid. I am afraid of the world I am living in. I fear for my children and the world they will grow up in. I am afraid for my country and for the world. Terrorism is here to stay. People who don’t value life on earth are doing things to innocent people who do value life on earth. I don’t see how you can win a war with people who think it is better to die blowing up innocent people than it is to live a life of love and interdependence.

I am afraid because I see a side of myself that scares me. My grandmother and grandfather both lost relatives in the holocaust. My great grandparents on both sides of my family were all immigrants. Yet I was afraid to have refugees come into my country for fear of what may happen. I was afraid to open my arms and extend to people who have seen such horrific events and have nowhere else to turn to the same opportunity that my great grandparents were afforded. It is the fear that one person in a group of 10,000 may commit an act of terrorism. This fear that grows inside of me sickens me. It is wrong. I see Canada opening up her arms and accepting refugees in a way that makes me proud to be a human. (see this amazing video)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated in his first inaugural address, “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. I never understood what that really meant until now. I look at the United States political landscape and I see Donald Trump is running a campaign based on fear.  His statements include:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. … 

Donald Trump was asked in an interview about whether Muslims should be subject to special scrutiny, a question he answered ambiguously. He then later affirmed that Muslims should be required to register in a database. source

He is running a campaign based solely on people’s fears. It is their fear losing the security of the nation, their fear of losing their advantage in life, their fear of the unknown that has created this anomaly that is Donald Trump’s campaign.

How are we allowing a person who is openly sexist, racist, and Islamaphobic to be a viable candidate? My naiveté shows because I thought America was heading toward a future of racial acceptance after Obama was elected. It doesn’t matter what you think of his political views, a black man was elected by the public to the highest office in the land!  Jamie Foxx talks about how groundbreaking this was in his most recent interview on the Tim Ferris Show.

As great as I felt that the U.S. had elected a person of color to the White House is as afraid as I am right now that Donald Trump is leading in the polls.  Will he really try to create a database of Muslims if he gets elected? Will they be tracked by the government? I wonder why the country does not see that he is willing to trample all over the constitution without a worry.

Fear is creating an atmosphere that is brutal for school age Muslims in this country. Muslim students are being attacked solely because of how they dress.

“The boys, who are in the same grade as the girl, allegedly put her in a headlock and punched her as they tried to take off her hijab, the source said. While beating up the girl, the boys also allegedly called her “ISIS,” the source said. source

The stories go on and on.

“Fifty-five percent of Muslim students surveyed by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) last year reported that they were bullied at school in some form because of their Islamic faith. That’s twice the national percentage of bullying reported by all students, regardless of their religion. According to the CAIR survey, verbal harassment is the most common, with non-Muslims calling Muslim students terrorists or referencing bombs. But physical assaults also occur.

These incidents are taking a psychological toll on Muslim youth. “At a crucial time in their identity development, they’re suffering from chronic trauma,” says Dr Halim Naeem, a psychotherapist and president of The Institute of Muslim Mental Health. Dr Naeem says that in the past few months alone, he has seen increased cases of depression, anxiety, image issues, paranoia, and substance abuse among Muslim American youth. In the short term, the constant stress wreaks havoc on students’ immune systems and destroys their focus, disrupting learning ability.” source

 

The British philosopher Bertrand Russell, writing as World War II was drawing to a close in Europe, observed that “neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.” source I see people making decisions based on great fears all around me. Logic and reasoning have been suspended. Fear has replaced them.

Q1. What content do you teach that causes fear in students? #slowchatpe

Q2. How do you overcome their fear? #slowchatpe

Q3. What do you view as the scariest content to teach? #slowchatpe

Q4.  How do you address the fear that our students will face in the future in class?  #slowchatpe

Q5. Who helps you on Twitter or Voxer that helps you overcome your fear?  #slowchatpe