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

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mr. McClung's Top Ten

....wait a minute, wrong top ten list....

A few weeks ago, I asked for suggestions on what were the blog post highlights from the 08'-09' school year. I posted this question on my blog and also on my sixth grade social network that several of my students still use over the summer. I received some great feedback, took it into consideration (along with my own basis), and I now have my top ten list from this past school year. Here we go....
Thanks again to everyone that shared their feedback, and here's to looking forward to another great year of blogging!

Mr. McClung

Teaching 21st Century Life Skills?

Way back in May, during our last two weeks of school, I had a particular student that missed about a weeks worth of school due to the fact that her mother was about to have a baby boy. While this student was gone, I figured that she was probably taking it easy with her mother and new brother. To my surprise, when she returned to school she informed me that while she was gone she had created a Google docs slide show of pictures of her baby brother. I was not surprised that she wanted to share the excitement that she experienced, I was surprised that she took an application that we have used numerous times in the classroom and used it for a real life situation outside of the classroom. Below is the slide show she created.

This got me thinking.....
.....what activities and exercises that we use in our classrooms have a real world value attached with them?
When I taught Macy and her classmates how to use Google docs, I could have easily complete whatever the assignment was on paper, but because I didn't she learned how to use a new tool.

The fact of the matter is, in today's communication age it is important to understand how technology works. It is important to learn how to use web based applications, social networking, and how to conduct research using the internet. Technology is a powerful tool, but only if you know how to use it appropriately.

Mr. McClung

Sunday, June 7, 2009

National Science Teachers Association Feature

Last night I stumbled across some hits coming to my blog from an unfamiliar website. Naturally, being a FEEDJIT junkie, I followed the traffic and found the National Science Teachers Association Website. The fine folks behind this wonderful teacher resource tool decided to feature out classblog on their website. Here is what was said:
Missouri teacher Joe McClung’s blog includes his science lessons and labs, descriptions and examples of student work, and links to additional resources and online networking.
I am so thrilled that they thought enough of our work to included us on their website. So, to the people behind NSTA I would like to say Thank You, and to other teachers out there I would like to invite you to visit this wonderful website, it really is a wonderful resource for science teachers.

Mr. McClung