Sunday, August 9, 2009

Move Along....Nothing to See Here

After nearly 200 post and nearly 10,000 visits at on BlogSpot....I will closing the doors on my Blogger account. However there is good news! Our class blog will be moving to EduBlogs for the 09-10 school year. You can find myself and my class at

I will continue my regular posting and class streaming at this site. I would like to invite everyone to join us at our new website and drop us a line....see you there!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Preparing For The First Day

With July in the rear view mirror and a brand new school year just ahead later this month, today I officially began getting my game face on to prepare for the upcoming year. Due to the fact that I have switched schools over the summer, that means I have to move into another new classroom for the third time in two years....oh joy.

Above is my new classroom at Woodland Junior High before I moved my stuff in. I have really been looking forward to this day for a couple of weeks now and I'm also looking forward to the challenge of a new year and school. This really got me thinking about the excitement that goes along with returning to school. This is an excitement that is shared with teachers and students alike.

My Twitter page is full of comments from teachers that talk about school supplies, preparing classrooms, attending workshops, and preparing curriculum on a daily basis. Seeing this type of positive reaction to school is really refreshing. To me it is really cool hear from professionals, that have basically had two months vacation, become very excited about returning to work....what other profession can boast such a claim?

As I continue to prepare my classroom, blog, and my NEW social network for the upcoming year I can't help but get excited about the all the possibilities that a new school year brings. There is something revitalizing about starting the year with a clean slate....sure it may be the same curriculum and many of the same lessons, but there is a certain excitement that teaching offers. Every year is a new beginning and that helps provide for an enjoyable working, what is YOUR favorite part about a new school year?

Mr. McClung

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Clippers For Cancer

Earlier this year, Mr. Lamshed and his students held a event called Clippers for Cancer. Clippers for Cancer is a fundraiser event in which students raised money for the Child Cancer Foundation of Australia. To say that this fundraiser was a success would be a understatement, his class raised nearly $2,000 for this worthy cause....and also walked away with bald heads for their troubles.

Mr. Lamshed has decided to reach out to all of his international friends and take Clippers for Cancer worldwide. I am very excited to announce that my class will be participating in the fundraiser in the Spring of 2010 with proceeds going towards the Susan G. Komen Foundation. This will be a fantastic opportunity for both of our students to once again bridge the international gap through technology and do so for some worthy causes. I would also like to invite anyone who is interested in participating to visit the Clippers for Cancer page and get involved.

Mr. McClung

Monday, July 6, 2009

Building a Democratic Society

This past week I have been involved in several discussions about how to build a democratic society and what role education systems should play in this process. During these conversations I was introduced to the work of Deb Meier. Ms. Meier is often often considered the founder of the small school movement and is an advocate of reform in public schools. Above is a video of Deb Meier speaking on what it means to build a democratic society. I believe this is a very important issue that faces us in schools today and she does an outstanding job of addressing it. Please take a moment to watch her video and feel free to leave some feedback.

Mr. McClung

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Constructive Summer

A well known perk of being a teacher is of course the summer breaks. While I have been enjoying my break, and rubbing it in my non-teacher friend's face, I have actually been keeping quite busy. I thought I would take this opportunity to make a quick update of my summer happenings thus far.

Continuing My Education
While I received a break from my teaching duties, my graduate professors unfortunately did not. I am enrolled in two classes this summer term, ethics leadership and foundations of educational history. Both are very interesting courses that provide for very meaningful class discussions. In addition to graduate courses, I thought I would take another step towards better myself as a learner by doing some summer reading.
Now that I have that in the open, let me explain a few things. I have read a total of maybe two books ever that were not required reading for courses, but I do believe promoting literacy is a very important job for educators. So what I have done is I have taken a bit of initiative and I am now practicing what I preach. I am currently reading the classic 1984 by George Orwell (little behind, I know) and looking forward to reading The Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. While this may seem like a very small task for someone to do during their summer, it is a giant leap for me. If I expect my student to achieve accelerated reader goals and enjoy reading, I need to be able to share in that activity as well. Being able to model good learning is often more important than lesson you try to deliver.

Throughout my educational career, I have been fortunate to have been taught by some wonderful teachers and professors. However, this semester I have been interacting with two professors that have really shown me that higher education is progressing nicely along side the digital age.

Dr. Pijanowski during our weekly Elluminate Sessions

Dr. John Pijanowski is an assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of Arkansas. I am currently enrolled in Dr. P's ethical leadership course, now there are a few things that are a bit "different" about his course. For starters it is an online course, but it's not quite like any online course I have ever taken. Dr. P is unique in the fact that he has found way to make technology work for him even in his graduate courses. In my undergraduate and graduate experience, this is a real rarity. Dr. P uses google pages as his main resource and also implements video updates everyday, discussion board discussions, whole class video conferencing, and a variety of resources that he hotlinks from his main page. Another tool that he has used in our class, that has greatly impacted our online class, is using Elluminate Sessions. Elluminate is a collaborative video conferencing tool that allows us to meet every week face to face....despite the fact that we are all in our homes. He has done something that I that was to be impossible, he has taken an online class and made it just as effective as an on-campus. Also, in the spring and fall semesters he still uses this model to a certain extent. He uses what he calls a "hybrid class", this allows us (his students) to attend class on campus every other week. The weeks that we are not on campus, we meet online. This is a wonderful idea that is truly one of a kind, and I know everyone in his classes appreciate the fact that he is cutting down our commute time.

Dr. Strange's Summer Blog

Dr. John Strange is a professor of professional studies at the University of South Alabama. I am not or ever been enrolled in one of Dr. Strange's courses. However, he has influenced me greatly through his work. Dr. Strange is unusually in the fact that he does not conduct his class in a manner that would be considered "traditional" by college standards. John is preparing his students for a career in education in a progressive way that prepares them to be able to incorporate technology in their classroom. He uses Blogger with his students as a reflection tool, a teaching resource, and a way to introduce new and effective tools for learning. While I am proud of the education I received in during my undergraduate program, I am jealous of Dr. Strange's students. Although I have never been in one of Dr. Strange's classes, I feel like I have from his blogging that he does with his education students. Also his students are buying into it. I receive e-mails and comments from his students each semester about how they are excited about the work that teachers like myself, Mr. Chamberlain, and Mr. Lamshed are doing and that they are finding real value that they can take with them.....which is the key in all this. The fact that his students are learning how to network and collaborate with other educators by building their own personal learning network is truly awesome. Very seldom do you see professors in education departments implementing such technology with their students, and the fact that Dr. Strange is preparing his students to be apart of the a progressive technology movement is something that is very, very cool.

Both of these professors are people that educators can really learn from. Their adaptability to the growing technology world around them is something that is rare in itself. It's not the fact that they are able to use computers and technology, it's the fact that they are using them to serve as a positive purpose and resource in education.

You may be thinking.....your a teacher, you've been on vacation for a month now! Now that I am officially finished with my school courses, I am looking forward to enjoying the month of July. Heading up north to Minnesota next week to enjoy the Twin Cities and watch a little baseball (Win Twins!). So in the meantime, have a fantastic & safe Fourth of July holiday everyone!

Mr. McClung

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Blog Check: SMS Guys Read

I am really excited to share with everyone a blog check that quite frankly.....should have been done a looooong time ago. SMS Guys Read is a blog that is composed by Mr. Hutchinson, "slightly unhinged teacher", and a group of middle school students. This group of students can easily be identified by their trucker like handles....such as, El Matador, Rowdy Roddy, The Undertaker, and my personal favorite Junkyard Dog.....I love wrestling names.

They met semi-weekly to discuss books that they find interesting. Their goal is to show the world that guys really do read and enjoy it! Their blog is full of great book reviews, humor, literary smackdowns, and writing as well.....check out their March 10th post on creating Zombie Haikus. High quality blog, I recommend everyone check out their blog from this previous school year and look out for them in the coming school year!

Mr. McClung

Monday, June 22, 2009

Iam An Optimist

I've got a problem. In today's climate of education, it can be very easy to focus the short comings of teachers, and students. I feel like many of the educators I know in my life, have a grim outlook on the direction that education is heading. In conversations, I often find myself being the person that is defending the future of education, and thus I become labeled an "optimist". I feel like today's educational system, teachers, and students are not given enough credit. While it's easy to focus on the negatives, I still hold the view that there is a ton positives going on around us today.

Today I heard an educator presenting a case to other teachers that we need to force our students to be more realistic about their future. This person continued to say "not everyone is going to be a doctor....we need to stop letting them think they will be." I really took offense to this statement.
I believe that we should not try to stifle our student's dreams, but rather encourage them to dream.
As educators, we like to believe we are an excellent at assessing talent and ability in our students, but why do we feel the need to tell students what is best for them? While I do believe that teachers serve as a valuable resource for students, I hate to hear teachers try to label how successful or non-successful they will be. Sometimes we see that those students we attach the non-successful labels to, sometimes they turn out to prove us wrong by breaking the mold.
I am one of those students.
Throughout my high school career I was very underachieving, and that's putting it nicely, I did not fit into the mold of the normal student. An appropriate label for me with have been amount to nothing. I come from a single parent house-hold, grew up in poverty, received free and reduced lunch from k-12, did not hold a high value on education, and did not believe in myself. I said that to say this, if I would have bought into the idea that I could only live up to a certain level of potential that was pre-determined by my environment, I would have never received the education that I have now and would not have the quality of life that I now have.

I believe that we tend to sell our students short on their ability. I am reminded of an old saying that was offered to me as advice when I was a department store salesmen in college.
Don't put a price limit on what the customer can buy.
Meaning, don't sale the customer something cheap because you think they can't afford it, always offer them a variety of options. I think this relates to the world of education very well, it is not our job to put a limit on what our students are capable of doing. It is our job to provide them with opportunities to obtain success.

So....what's the point? Not trying to be negative, nor am I looking for a platform to air my disapproval. As I have stated before, I am very much an optimist and I do believe there is a lot of positive progress that is happening all around me. I see college professors that are jumping on education + technology movement (see Dr. Pijanowski & Dr. Strange). I am also seeing that there are TONS of other teachers out there that are striving to become more than just a normal teacher. Lastly, I know that I cannot control the entire world of education but I can control my Sixth Grade World that I teach, and I will choose to stay positive.

Mr. McClung