James Sturtevant Hacking Engagement
Summary: It is my great pleasure to publish this weekly podcast that supplements my book "Hacking Engagement". Listen and get creative ideas on how to engage students tomorrow! Please visit my website: http://jamesalansturtevant.com/ And...for a cornucopia of teacher empowerment resources, visit: http://hacklearning.org/
2 years ago, I was teaching high school and our building principal setup the Remind App for our staff. I must confess that at first I found the app annoying. The flurry of messages I was receiving from our fearless leader was invasive. Granted, many of the messages were germain to being a teacher at our school and some of them were essential such as, We're on a 2-hour delay and Don't forget, I'm observing you tomorrow. Grudgingly, I began to acknowledge the value of this new mode of communication and collaboration.This fall, I embarked on a new education journey as an adjunct at Muskingum University. I decided to give Remind a try with my students. I quite simply embraced the old cliché, When in Rome, do like the Romans. Over the past decade, I'd experienced the frustration of unrequited emails sent to students. Young folks aren't big fans of emails, but they text the hell out of one another. Remind embraces this proclivity. The messages come through the recipient's device as a text and the receiver can then respond. But Remind isn't just a group thing. Teachers can message students or parents individually and then carry on conversations just with them.On its surface, Remind may seem like it's ripe for inappropriate communication between students and teachers. If those anxieties are stirring in you, please visit this page to read what Remind has to say about its commitment to security and protecting students.To help describe how this app works from the student perspective, I conscripted some of my current primary sources. Taylor Clemons, Rader Felumlee, and Macy McAdams are my current students. These magnificent future teachers will also speculate on how they'll utilize this app in their eventual classrooms.
Last year, I was teaching high school and our administration assigned a book study to the staff. We read and collaborated on 15 Fixes for Broken Grades by Ken O'Connor. This iconic book is an interesting and provocative read. It challenges standard operating procedure in terms of the way students are assessed. The fix that stirred the pot the most amongst our faculty was Fix #2:Don't reduce marks on work that is submitted lateIn the program, I mistakenly refer to Fix #2 as Fix #4. On its face, Fix #2 makes sense. You don't want to punish a behavior academically. But, wouldn't Fix #2 encourage procrastination and irresponsibility?Interestingly enough, during my first day this past week with my college students, i challenged them to collaborate in groups on the creation of class norms. One topic that all struggled with was how to deal with late work. To a group, students were in favor of score reduction. I found this fascinating and so we embarked on a magnificent tangential conversation on should an instructor, which they all hope to be one day, punish a behavior academically? The ensuing conversation caused a titanic paradigm shift in many of my students. This episode might be similar to the discussion in my class last week in the sense that you might think about this issue differently.I'll discuss this fascinating idea thoroughly this week with Josh Frame. Josh is a middle school principal and he embraces the idea that students should not suffer academically for behaviors.We'll talk about how he sold this idea to his staff, how he managed the pushback, and how he's adapted his school's response to students who are not appropriately pursuing learning.
I wanted to produce an episode before school started and I wasn’t sure if it was going to materialize. Starting next week, I’ll be teaching all new classes, at a new school, and at the college level. It’s been a busy summer, but I’m excited to embark on my next teaching journey. This episode is short and simple, but it has tremendous potential to positively impact the way your class operates and student learning. 10 years ago, my room was cluttered. My wife has a label for people like I was...He’s a piler. That label was true. I did have a lot of piles of paper stacked in chaotic places around my room. I wasn’t proud of this, but when all of my students filed into my class each morning and the day just erupted into frenzied activity, my energies turned towards engaging them and not organizing the flurry of papers that I distributed and then collected.This unsatisfactory situation changed when my school started using Google Drive. The piles of paper disappeared, my drive was organized and easily accessed, and my uncluttered room took on a Feng Shui-like character. I was transformed into such a paperless fan that I decided to create a Landing Pad for many assignments. This virtual collaboration igniter is what I’ll highlight in this episode. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s powerful. I thought it would be useful to share a great and simple idea on the last week of summer vacation.
There's a significant potential that 2 things may happen when you return to school in a couple of weeks:1. Your classroom may be more diverse2. Donald Trump's Send her back tweet may just come up in class discussionIn terms of diversity, the demographic trends towards a browner America are indisputable. Sadly, many American schools both urban, suburban, and rural are defying this trend and remaining largely monochrome. If you teach in such a school, you do your students no favors by ignoring America's increasingly diverse trajectory. Your students will most likely work in highly diverse environments in the future. And if you teach in such a school, you also have a moral obligation to make certain that students whom are different are not marginalized.Fatima Dahir certainly felt different when she entered her largely, white and conservative public middle school classroom in suburban Columbus wearing her hijab. Today, she's thriving as a student leader at Ohio State University, but middle school was brutal. In this episode, she'll talk about her significant struggles, along with her social and academic metamorphosis. She'll discuss how teachers can embrace ostracized students. She'll also provide interesting perspective on the controversial statements by Donald Trump and how an educator might cope with classroom debate inspired by this issue. Please listen. This is an important show!
Even though it's only June, start thinking about specific ways to create an outstanding school year next fall. That's what I've done throughout my career. Summer gives you breathing room. It allows you to reflect, adjust, and then speculate and plan.One thing that I'm passionate about is teacher well-being. Aside from job satisfaction being a wonderful thing in its own right, happy teachers are better for kids. But acquiring profound job satisfaction may indeed take some planning, adjusting, and paradigm shifting on your part.In pursuit of helping my dear listener obtain that noble goal, I recorded this program. It includes 4 learning targets that will lead to greater teacher fulfillment. Each target will be accompanied by suggestions on how to manifest the target into your professional life. While some of my suggestions may not move you and many you probably do already, it's my belief that you'll be exposed to at least a few ideas that you'll love and want to implement. By doing so, you may just transform next fall. I hope you enjoy the program. It's good to be back behind the mic!Teacher Well-Being Learning Targets:I’m a positive citizen of my schoolI embrace delayed gratification.I prioritize my well-beingI’m grateful to be a teacher
In the late summer of 1985, I experienced my first day of teaching at Mount Vernon High School in North Central Ohio. That steamy summer day was the inaugural faculty meeting. You know...the one where all the veteran teachers stare at the newbies as they're introduced. Before my principal, Mr. George Perry began the unveiling process, he paid homage to a retiring teacher. Up stepped a nondescript middle-aged man named Art Cassell. Mr. Perry began, "When Art started teaching in the fall of 1955..." Those were the last words I heard. I panicked! 1955...1955...I wasn't alive in 1955. How in the hell does anyone teach high school for 30 years, I thought. Then, I started to project into the future, "Will that be me in 2015? Will I be the old guy waddling up there to get my official pat on the back? I'll be like a museum exhibit." I quickly learned, however, that teaching is a wonderful adventure. I couldn't get over how much I loved the work. I couldn't fathom in 1985 that I'd still be teaching high school in 2019, but here I am, at least, for a few more days. At the end of this week, I'll no longer teach high school.This episode will explain exactly why at this juncture in the spacetime continuum I'm transitioning into a new role. Rest assured, this podcast will continue. In fact, in my new role preparing tomorrow's educators at the college level, I'll be inspired to dive even deeper into what creates engaging instruction. And, I'm thrilled that I'm simply migrating to a new classroom. I'll still be in front of students teaching. Rest assured, this podcast will also continue.Thanks for listening so far and there's more to come!
I remember late April of my rookie year as a teacher. I was toast! All my great teaching strategies were worn out. I was scrambling trying to find innovative and engaging ways to present lessons. It was a loooooong 6-weeks till summer vacation.In early June when I did my post-mortem on the year, I vowed to always keep some ideas in the vault for that last 6-weeks home stretch. In fact, I’ve always encouraged rookie teachers to do the same.I have 5 weeks left of school. The weather is warming up here in the Buckeye state. The springtime panorama, which is the window of my classroom, is getting darned inviting. Conversely, reliable teaching strategies are becoming a bit stale. They’ve worked brilliantly all year, but now with the end in sight, I have to change things up in order to maintain that crucial student engagement.This episode will focus on using Plickers as a classroom discussion tool. I first learned of this rather amazing platform while I was conducting PD 2 years ago. I was helping teachers individually when one of the attendees asked, Jim...have you ever used Plickers? I responded, No. I listened to her describe the platform and thought, That sounds fascinating and easy. I want to give it a try. I finally got around to it. The last 9-weeks of the year I love experimenting with new platforms. It was high time for my Plickers' maiden voyage.
118-Keeping it Fresh with Talking Sticks
I remember my first teacher evaluation. I was nervous! I tried to put on a great show. I felt I did okay. Then, a few days later, I remember walking toward the principal's office to hear the verdict. I wasn't sure how this meeting would go. I thought my lesson went well, but I couldn't tell how my principal felt because he always played them close to the vest. Thankfully, he said positive things. I was thrilled and relieved.Decades later, I'm still being observed. But now, all my administrators are younger than me. It makes the entire process a lot less intimidating. I still take observation day seriously, but I'm more relaxed about the process. I wished I would have had the courage to try what I tried last week earlier in my career. I approached my principal about attempting to address a weakness during a formal evaluation. Because he's a good principal, he welcomed my idea. My weakness is personalization. It's something I don't do enough and I'm confused about the nuts and bolts. I'm not opposed to personalizing lessons, I think it's the direction in which the world...and certainly education, is headed, but I needed help. And this, dear reader, is where Jen Wilson enters the scene. Jen is an instructional coach in our school. My principal sent me Jen's way. I've worked with her before and she's great. She suggested that I take my lesson and apply the SCAMPER method. My experiment of addressing a weakness as the focus of an evaluation was a success. My principal heartily endorsed the idea, he provided awesome resources like Jen Wilson, I gained confidence in terms of personalizing, and my students experienced a solid learning opportunity.
I stopped coaching football in the fall of 2000. That’s a long time ago. In the spring of 2018, Eric Myers, who’s the Track and Field Coach at our school, surprised me with an unexpected proposition, Jim…you need to get back into coaching. I need an assistant. Coach with me. We’ll have a blast! I was totally unprepared for this solicitation. I responded, Wow…thanks, but I’m long removed from the coaching mindset. It’s been years since I’ve coached. I’m sorry!I was surprised by Eric’s proposition. That was a problem. I said no instinctively without giving it much thought. I promptly dismissed the idea and went on with my busy day.Our minds, however, function in mysterious ways. Last summer on a gorgeous Ohio day, I needed something to do. My wife had an obligation, so I was free to entertain myself. I decided to go hiking at Mohican State Park near Mansfield, Ohio. For some odd reason, as I strolled over the beautiful trails surrounded by sun-dappled hemlocks, I started thinking about coaching again:Man, it would take a lot of time out of my day.Boy, parents become spastic whenever their offspring are even remotely engaged in competition.I’m not as young as I used to be.But these thoughts were overwhelmed by others:When I was coaching I had a relational advantage in the classroom because I bonded with kids on the playing field.While I’m not as young as I used to be, I’m still very fit and coaching might make me feel even younger.I had a lot of fun coaching and there’s no reason to think that couldn’t be the case again.And finally and most importantly, I have a lot to offer those kids in the role of a coach.On my way home from the hike, I called Coach Myers and told him that if he needed me next year, I was available.Now, fast-forward to February of 2019. Eric informed that he did need me to help coach running events, but he really needed a discus coach. This introduced a fascinating new variable. I was a speed guy in high school. I’d never picked up a discus in my life. Eric assured me that I could teach myself and clarified that practice started on the 4th of March, so I needed to get cracking!This is a perfect example of self-directed learning. Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve researched, watched video, interviewed experienced throwers, and practiced the movements. To the amusement and annoyance of wife and offspring, I’ve thrown a lot of things against my basement wall mimicking throwing the discus. My form has evolved. I’m now excited to teach others. Please…repeat after me, When we teach ourselves, it sticksDeanna Hess teaches dual enrollment English at Dover High School in Dover, Delaware. My story about self-directed learning dovetails perfectly with her story about a prompt she recently gave students. Deanna challenged her kids by placing the learning objective at the end of the prompt! In other words, the learning objective represented Point B in a journey. Point A and how students got to Point B, was totally up to them. If this sounds fun, courageous, powerful, and something you’d like to try in your classroom, then you, dear friend, have downloaded the right podcast. Deanna describes her evolution in thinking about the assignment, the twists and turns of its execution, her interesting observations during the process, and the potential as a future instruction tactic. There’s no doubt that this lesson was a powerful learning experience for Deanna’s students.
It's so gratifying when you had a student with whom you were close, they graduate, and then years later you learn that they've achieved much. Mo Ross is a marvelous example of this phenomenon. In college, Mo was an integral member of Otterbein University's 2002 National Division Three Championship Basketball Team. I was still keeping tabs on Mo in 2002 and I was impressed with this lofty accomplishment.But then, I lost track of him. Certainly not on purpose, but I've taught over ten thousand kids in my career. It's hard to follow them all. I reconnected with Mo this past fall due to a tragedy. I coached Mo in Freshman Football many years ago. His best friend, Randy Russell, was also on my team. Randy passed away this past year and Mo and I talked frequently in the wake of this awful development.I was thrilled to learn that Mo had become an educator. In fact, Mo had became a principal. He's the perfect blend of ability, disposition, and vision. As you listen to this talented young man, you'll spot his leadership skills immediately. Those skills were evident to his teammates and me. He guided our freshman football team as the quarterback. His skills are now evident to his teaching staff. His common sense approach and calm supportive demeanor are major assets.This podcast is in need of more administrative perspectives. I frequently interview teachers and students. An administrator can describe student engagement from the objective perch of the classroom evaluation. This episode will give the listener a behind the curtain peak at exactly what's going through an administrator's mind as he watches you matriculate through your lesson.
Every morning, I spend some solitude on a meditation cushion. This has been an on and off again routine for many years. Over the past 6 months, I've been diligent. The rewards have been palatable:I sleep betterI eat betterI notice thingsI'm calmerI'm much kinder and more tolerantI'm less critical of myselfI've mended fencesI add a minute to my practice each week. I'm working up to 30 minutes. I'm currently at 22. If back in October someone would have told me that I could sit calmly for 22 minutes by mid-January, I would've dismissed them.I certainly don't mean to imply that I bliss-out each morning. Some sessions are a train wreck. My mind resembles a trapeze act. But even on those spastic dawns, I benefit. Perhaps, I need my mind to perform its gymnastics routine in a safe place and then I can move on with my day in a more present fashion.Recently, I was presenting at a local school district's professional development day. After my presentation, I had some free time so I thought I'd duck into some breakout sessions. One, in particular, intrigued me. Monica Lewis is a 4th-grade gifted teacher in Pickerington, Ohio. Her session on Mindfulness in the Classroom was at the top of my dance card. After Monica's fine session, I introduced myself and invited her on my podcast. This episode will mirror her presentation and give me the opportunity to ask questions that many of you may have merely based on the title.
Do you have a class that you probably should get a little extra in the paycheck for coping with on a daily basis? Do you have students who dominate your thoughts...and not in a good way, when you're away from school? Do you catch yourself having imaginary confrontations with certain kids? Do you have a class that causes you great anxiety as they roll through the door each morning? If you do, join the club. I had such a class last semester. I was wondering, Do I still have it? So, I set to work bonding with these challenging kids. This episode will describe my approach. What I love about this episode, is that all my suggestions are totally in the teacher's control. You're not reliant on student compliance in order to implement these strategies. My hope is that over time your calm, consistent, and persistent efforts will be rewarded. Give my ideas a try. I have confidence in your success!
This past summer, I interviewed Michael Brilla about creating timelines on an amazing platform called Knight Lab. I had my students such create timelines this past September. It was a solid experience for all. The only issue we had with this application was that kids had to fill out a Google Spreadsheet and then submit that sheet to the Knight Lab platform. This one variable caused some frustration with my students. Imagine that!What I love about StoryMaps is there are no spreadsheets involved. Your kids create the entire StoryMap right on the Knight Lab platform. It's totally web-based...which is magical. When kids are done, they hit the share button and they have the link. This is a perfect activity for any lesson that involves events taking place in various locations. I had my students create a StoryMap on the Mongols. To help me tell this story is Max Muhlbaier and Matt Rease. These two articulate young students (primary sources) will describe utilizing this platform.
2 Months ago, I prompted my students to draw. I was hoping to get some masterpieces. In fairness, I did get a few spectacular and inspiring submissions. Most kids, however, were ambivalent. Many commented, "I hate drawing!" Or, "I suck at drawing!" They put forth little or no effort and it showed. The entire episode left me wondering, "How can I do this better next time?" At this dramatic moment, Google Drawings boldly stepped on stage. I was unfamiliar with this tool, so I watched a brief and empowering tutorial. I use Google Docs and Google Slides and I was encouraged by how my experiences with those 2 tools inspired a rapid learning curve. I created a Google Drawing. As I explain in the program, I became obsessed with the process. I linked my drawing on the prompt I created to give my kids ideas. I decided to unleash this tool on my students. It was a marvelous decision. In this program, 2 of my students, Morgan Schull and Lauren Speelman, will talk about their experiences utilizing Google Drawings. I love these 2 articulate young women. So will you.