Tomorrow night students across the district will be tentatively walking into their new classrooms to meet their teachers for the new year. This week teachers have been preparing their classrooms, lessons, and themselves for the new year. As I stated in my article, DISD has some great things planned for the upcoming school year, so buy those pencils, spirals, folders and glue sticks–it’s time to start the ride.
PBL-Problem Based Learning. Flipped Instruction. 21st Century Classrooms. Rubrics. Digital Citizenship. These are some of the buzz words that students, teachers and parents of Decatur ISD are going to learn in the upcoming months as DISD kicks off its Future Ready Project.
What does it mean to be Future Ready? As a parent—that’s what I am asking myself. My definition of school in general is to prepare the children for the future, correct? But, as a teacher, I answer the question differently. While of course we are preparing our students for their future, we are also preparing them for a workplace that has not been defined—meaning our ever-changing, fast-paced technology society has not dictated its next step, so our children must be prepared to creatively and collaboratively design the newest professions and workplaces.
When I was in high school, I did not own a cell phone, a personal computer, or an ipod. In fact, I would record songs off the radio onto a cassette tape so that I could make my own “mix.” Teachers pressed us to read news magazines and watch the nightly news to learn about current events because apparently we never knew what was “going on in the world.” Today, my soon-to-be-6th grader has her favorite songs (already on a playlist), up-to-the-minute news information (actually, ANY information!), constant communication (including long distance!), and a camera at her fingertips. She lives in a digital world where, according to her, Google has all the answers she needs.
My job as a teacher is to give her a question Google cannot answer.
Decatur ISD has partnered with Abilene Christian University in a plan to redefine classroom instruction to fit the mold of students in the 21st Century. In this plan, teachers and administrators will complete an intensive three-year training and implementation process to give them the tools to change current instructional models. Some of these tools include buzz worlds like problem-based learning. In problem-based learning, the teacher provides a driving question for students that targets the state objectives the students are responsible to learn. Students then actively research the question to find an accurate answer by using a variety of resources including but definitely not limited to Google. In fact, the key to a perfect driving question is its innate “ungoogleablitity.” (Yes, students might even create new words.) Students work on a team and must collaborate effectively to research and present the answer professionally. Throughout the entire process the teacher facilitates the research, keeps students on target, spot checks with quizzes or classroom discussion on the topic, etc. The classroom climate changes from the teacher being “Google” to the students doing the work behind Google. In the end, students should not just know the “what” but the “why,” “how,” and “why are we learning this,” too. But, problem-based learning is only a piece of this puzzle, and the ultimate mission behind the Future Ready Plan is to create student-centered classrooms where students will learn digitally,
think creatively, and compete globally.
As parents, we need to open our minds to educational change, and understand that classrooms today do not look and feel like the classrooms we had. We had textbooks; our kids have ipads. No longer can we “turn to Chapter three and begin reading,” because sometimes the class doesn’t even have a textbook. Your child’s work will look different. Where you might have completed twenty-four math problems every night for homework, your child might be playing a video game tournament to analyze numerical place value in the game scores. And, that’s ok. Every teacher and administrator wants to reach every student and provide that student with an amazing educational experience. This shift in classroom culture will stretch everyone—students, teachers, and parents. Our kids are ready with a cell phone in one hand and an ipad in the other. It’s our job to push them into the unknown.
I can’t believe it’s already that time of year! We’ve had such a mild and lovely summer, but now that Reunion is here, the 100 degree days are becoming more and more frequent to ensure we all enjoy spending this entire week outside. It’s amazing how we always adapt to the temperatures, allergies, and bedtimes. Anything goes, it’s reunion, right?
I say that because it’s something that falls out of my mouth almost every day this week. Conversations typically go a little like this:
Kid 1: “Mom, can I have a coke?” (11:00 p.m.)
Mom: “Sure, it’s Reunion.”
Kid 2: “Mom, can I borrow some clothes from (any other kid out there) because I’m soaked from the water balloon fights.”
Mom: “Sure, it’s Reunion.”
Kid 3: “Mom, can I do the Fun House 29 times in a row?”
Mom: “Sure, it’s Reunion.”
Listen carefully this week. I promise you’ll hear a mom or dad or both utter this phrase more than one time. It’s a week of sweaty, nocturnal, small town bonding. What could be better? Especially when anything goes!
When the kids were little, we would frequent any fast food restaurant with any indoor playground so they could run their little hearts out, and I could enjoy their running while also enjoying air conditioned awesomeness instead of 110 degree blazing un-awesomeness of the Texas Summer. The people that had that brainstorm are GENIUSES!
Because of my vast experience with various chains and their play areas, I became a bit of an expert (I believe anyway). I knew which playgrounds were best for the crawling/toddling types–there you want a “soft playground” where the bigger kids aren’t allowed to trample the smaller, sweeter ones. There are mid-sized playgrounds for the 3 and 4 year olds–those have perfectly spaced steps so the kids can crawl to the top of the jungle gym without freaking out and forcing their mothers to accompany them on the climbing and sliding journey (been there, done that.) Finally, there are the bigger, more advanced playgrounds for the kinder-perhaps first grade kiddos–those structures have GIANT steps (way to big for the babies and toddlers to master), rope bridges, and possibly even whisper phones of some sort. I have a cartoon map in my head of my area of the metroplex, and a good idea of which playgrounds reside in each given location. This is a skill that has come in handy countless times–I promise.
But honestly, since I have returned to the classroom full-time, and all three hoodlums have entered school themselves, our fast food field trips have reduced considerably–I guess I should say have stopped entirely. I haven’t missed this little adventure at all, but today I was reminded of them and of when the kids were smaller and sometimes a little sweeter.
We were adventuring in the big city for a baseball camp for my oldest son, and because of that, did a little shopping, and treated ourselves to a fast food lunch date–we even went INSIDE instead of throwing bags of food through the car. As I placed our order, my youngest son excitedly ran to the play area and began making best friends with all the kids already “in character.” My daughter scoped out a table so she could no doubt text a few important messages to friends, and my older son looked at the play area before joining my daughter at the table. It was all so civilized! We ate without spilling. Everyone opened their own ketchup. We each refilled our own beverages–my son even refilled mine for me! After lunch, my youngest hooldum had to “finish up the war” inside the play area, and the three of us watched him from the outside–noting the 54 inch guideline to play. There were a few sighs of “I wish I could be in there,” but after that we continued a NORMAL conversation and they talked me into ice cream WHICH THEY ORDERED THEMSELVES. It was like an out of body experience.
Because I’m a reflective type, I couldn’t help but remember all the playdates, rainy days, blazing days, daddy-working-late days, catch-dinner-before-gymnastic days, and even mommy-doesn’t-feel-like-figuring-out-a-healthy-dinner days we’ve had at the Fast Food Playground. It looks like we are soon graduating from this experience as my younger son (who doesn’t know it) is fast approaching that 54 inch guideline. Who knows…maybe we next summer on a mommy-kid adventure we will tackle a REAL treat like Pei Wei, and I will hopefully discover the new ways these big kids can still find their sweet selves.
Long time, no post, I know. The end of school was a little crazytown for the Scroggins Five, and since then there was an amazing rainstorm that left me without the internets at my house. You wouldn’t think it would take this long to actually make an appointment to get that fixed, but well…I guess we are in summer slow motion–or summer fast motion depending on how you look at it. After a week of Baseball Camp and Glee Camp we set out on another Scroggins Road Trip last week. In fact, I’m still working on laundry and driving around town with a car top carrier on the top of my minivan–yes that’s me if you see it.
But, hopefully all will be fixed today and we will be able to enter the world of technology at our house again, and perhaps I’ll finish up that laundry before running through a sprinkler or having my boys pitch batting practice. Either way, I’ll be posting more regularly again…in case you missed me.
We finally watched the newest Muppet Movie last weekend. It was very high on our priority list this year when it was in the theaters, but we just couldn’t make it happen. But, I must say, it might have been worth the wait.
Both my husband and I grew up (or at least we remember that we grew up) watching the Muppets every week with our families. We both thought Kermit was awesome. I honestly didn’t remember all the details of the show until we watched it with our own kids, and the songs, the quotes, the mannerisms–they all came back to me in a rush. It truly was an amazing show, and now watching it as an adult, I appreciate it so much more than Dora, Yo Gabba Gabba, and my all time nonfavorite, Barney. This Muppet Show actually had character and some grown up humor that I can even (maybe even more so) appreciate now.
Why did this show ever go off the air??
Since last weekend, my kids (the boys anyway) have been on the verge of obsessed. We’ve tapped into You Tube and watched countless snippets of the Manamana ending, even scoring a Muppet/Star Wars episode. You can only imagine the excitement with that one. I’ve visited the amazon.com and shopped for the old movies and even old seasons–all waiting there on my wishlist to purchase over time. Those Muppets are proud of their work!
They should be.
This show made the family laugh together–and for this family, that is a great way to start the summer.
People say that time flies. I can still feel myself rolling my eyes as a teenager listening to the older and wiser crowd as they reminisced about “when they were young,” and told me to “make the most of this time.” Growing up, time seemed to drag by. It took forever to finally celebrate my birthday every year. I thought I would never make it to double digits, teenage digits, or driving digits! Time seemed to crawl—not fly, until I became a Mother.
Now, time seems to be in overdrive. I can’t seem to take pictures fast enough to capture all the moments that happen so extraordinarily every ordinary day. After ten years of parenthood, this year we finally enrolled all three kids in school, and that definitely kicked everything up a notch. We spent almost every night studying a wide range of academics including: letters, sight words, addition facts, multiplication facts, American History, and physical properties of matter. We signed permission slips, admission forms, lunch account checks, reading logs, and planners. We created a gingerbread man, a locker valentine box, and a science fair project. We went to Tball, baseball, and softball games. Our days were full from sunrise to sunset, and it was during those twilight hours that we were able to stop for just a minute, breathe, and slow down time.
I call this Phase Two of this parenthood gig. Phase One was the baby/toddler/pre-school phase. I remember that phase clearly, and can genuinely feel the exhaustion again when I see a new mother tackling Wal-Mart with an infant carrier and a sippy cup. I can remember the complicated and overwhelming process of simply loading the car to get to Wal-Mart—packing the diaper bag, getting the snacks, finding and tying the shoes, and finally buckling all those seat belts only to have someone have a most necessary diaper change to reboot the entire process. I can go back in time to Phase One in no time at all—because it feels like it wasn’t that long ago.
Now that we’re in the trenches of Phase Two, I can see where Phase Three will take us—the teenager, high school and graduation days. I’m watching Veteran Moms attend Senior dinners and breakfasts, awards ceremonies, sports banquets, and other Graduation Hoopla. I see their children making plans for College and Independence, and it makes me realize that Phase Three will be here before I can catch my breath. As Phase Two beginners this year, we have our third Kindergarten Graduate. He’s mastered sight words and letter sounds, and we’re working everyday on the self-control. I see the road ahead of him, and know he will one day be a high school graduate and have mastered chemistry and Shakespeare—that’s the plan anyway. I look at the path his older siblings have paved, and wonder how he will tackle changing classes, standardized testing, 4H projects, and more…self-control. On the opposite end of our spectrum, next year we will watch our oldest enter Middle School and learn the challenges of lockers, lunchrooms, and lazy lollygagging. I know we will cringe watching her make mistakes and stumble through awkward life lessons, and because of that, I almost want the next couple years to move fast for her. Almost.
I suppose now that I am part of that older and wiser crowd, I should impart the same wisdom onto my kids and tell them to “make the most of these years.” The thing is, I know time is creeping by for them; I know they are looking to their future birthdays as the source of their Lifetime Achievements, whereas I look to those same birthdays as evidence of time flying. As I hear the familiar Graduation Soundtrack of Pomp and Circumstance in the background this month, I look at where we’ve been, and where we’re going, and because I’m a Mother, I can’t help but will time to just stand still—just long enough for me to seize those everyday ordinary moments, to cherish the extraordinary memories.
I’ve talked about the youngest Scroggins Hooldum on various occasions–the one that shaves minutes off my life daily–the one who by two years of age had knocked out a tooth, broken an arm, and spent a few weeks in the hospital. There have been many more since then, some of which I think I’ve blocked out because of the Momma Trauma watching his injury.
But, yesterday was one for the record books, and needs to be recorded and documented for future reference. We were at the oldest hoodlum’s softball game–you would think an easy enough place to be. We were there no less than twenty minutes when I turned and saw the youngest hoodlum creeping between the bleacher seats, trying to move from the top of the bleachers to under the bleachers. In theory, I guess this usually works for him, only this time he managed to worm his entire body through before discovering his head would not fit through the space. That’s where I discovered the problem. I tried to pull him through the bottom, but his head really wouldn’t fit. Another mom came to help me, and we tried to push him back through to the top, but we couldn’t find the right way to twist his body without breaking him. I wasn’t panicking, one thing this kid has taught me is that almost any situation is manageable. Finally, my husband was able to twist and turn him at the right angles to maneuver his way to the top of the bleachers.
Of course, he was totally oblivious to the fact that this was NOT situation normal–I guess because it is situation normal for him.
Have I mentioned he’s only six years old? We’ve got so far to go.
Yesterday while in the Big City, we had the opportunity to actually SIT and a fast food restaurant, and chose everyone’s favorite, Chick-Fil-A. Of course the chicken was super yummy, and the fries were perfectly salted, but what really caught my attention was this display–perfect little containers of cheerios for the mom on the go that might have forgotten to reload her cheerios stash in the crazy getting the kids in the car moments. Genius!!
Not only Genius, but how incredibly Thoughtful! These kinds of gestures tap into my sappy factor every single time, but to think that an actual place of business is so in tune with their customers REALLY makes me stop and smell the roses.
And just think if everyone did something so simple, but yet so HUGE. (And the moms with the cheerio eaters will agree!!)
It’s amazing everything we can manage to fit in just a few short weeks:
Battle of the Books
Relay of Life
End of Year Party
Staff End of Year Party
and baseball, softball, t-ball. There might be ONE day that does not have an extracurricular activity planned. Wait, it just got scheduled away. Come on June!!