Search Results for: Mike Lerchenfeldt


Four Strategies for Flipping the Classroom: Blending Your Classroom

Technology can help teachers “Ignite Learning” in the classroom by promoting literacy development and critical thinking. The ability to communicate and create is what sparks learning.

“Kids these days” are just wired to operate in a digital environment, which enables them to take control of their education. This technology captivates students and makes them desire to learn more about the content.

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 Image Credit: securedgenetworks.com

Elite and innovative educators are “Flipping the Classroom” in order to meet the diverse needs of students. The numerous FREE online resources available can create a classroom that extends beyond normal school hours and walls.

This provides students with more flexible opportunities for peer interaction, learning the content, and developing technology skills. “Flipping the Classroom” and in-person environments are really the best of both worlds because students receive the benefit of face-to-face interaction with more opportunities to learn outside of the classroom.

“Flipping the Classroom” consists of a combination of online learning using simulations, videos, and forums in addition to small group differentiated instruction facilitated by the teacher. These instructional methods are appealing to digital natives.

Need some tips on how to engage students in a 21st century way? Check out these resources!

1. In the classroom, I use video clips from Discovery Education and Safari Montage to “Ignite Learning”. Our school district pays for an annual subscription to these websites.

Unfortunately, students do NOT have access to Discovery Education videos at home. Therefore, I post videos on my classroom website from Khan Academy, TeacherTube, and Vimeo, which engages students at home for FREE.

Khan Academy (khanacademy.org) is a non-profit educational organization providing video tutorials and interactive exercises for a variety of subjects and grade levels. Their Virtual Teacher Workshop demonstrates how to create classes, manage students, collect data, and provide feedback and much more.

TeacherTube (teachertube.com) is a video sharing website similar to, and based on, YouTube. Teachers can also view audio, documents, photos, and blogs. Teachers can register and upload files for students or parents. Teachers can also upload students’ videos in order celebrate their work.

Vimeo (vimeo.com) is another popular video sharing and social networking site. A community of professionals knows it for high-qualilty videos. It has a cleaner layout with no advertisements.

2. I facilitate the use of the Internet in order to have students conduct research, collaborate with classmates, and establish an online classroom presence. Students enjoy their time posting comments to a blog or on a social media site.

For my classroom blog, I use Google Blogger (blogger.com). Students can also create their own blog in order to show and present their work.

Blogger allows users to chose from different artistic templates. It also has widgets that users can use anytime to insert HTML codes, pictures, slideshows, links, videos, and much more.

Edmodo (edmodo.com) is a secure social media site accessible through a code you generate in order to invite students. Teachers of all grade levels are using Edmodo to post assignments and allow student discussion.

Students can also upload assignments, take quizzes, and receive alerts. This is an excellent resource for sharing content with students while keeping them socially engaged.

3. Graphic organizers, diagrams, and other tools can help focus student learning depending on the topic. This allows the teacher to have more time to assist students with work during class time and provides more opportunities for review at home.

Quizlet (quizlet.com) allows teachers to create flashcards to help students’ remember and study vocabulary. There are also study tools and educational games for students to use.

Teachers can choose from the library of flashcards already made by others. There are six study modes, 18 languages, and it is very easy to share on a classroom website.

InstaGrok (instaGrok.com) is a great tool because it allows students to visually research a topic. Students use a graphical map that shows how concepts connect using key facts, links, images, and videos.

InstaGrok allows teachers to monitor students’ research and note-taking activity. Up to 200 students can be linked to your teacher dashboard.

4. There are many ways to create a flipped classroom. Teachers need a “Face of the Classroom” in order to provide a location to share these online learning resources with students and parents.

Weebly (education.weebly.com) is perfect for creating classroom websites and student e-portfolios. This resource allows teachers and students to express themselves using a variety of multimedia tools.

Weebly consists of an easy to use drag and drop website editor. Teachers can protect all student websites with a password in just one click.

Remind (remind.com) is a communication tool that helps teachers connect instantly with students and parents. They receive it as a text message or e-mail.

Teachers can also send photos, documents, and links. This is an excellent way to effectively communicate the resources available on your “flipped classroom” website.

 

 

– Mike Lerchenfeldt

Twitter: @mj_lerch

MAY 2015

5-MAY

MAY 2015

An Open Letter to United States Lawmakers

Please speak up, stand up, and fight for ALL students! Listen to educators and get ESEA right.

The Every Child Achieves Act is a good start. As an educator and a constituent, I want to share my views on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

ESEA-the cornerstone of the federal presence in K-12 education aims to support programs to level the playing field for students most in need.

The reauthorization should set a new vision of shared responsibility for public education to promote opportunity, equity, and excellence for all students. To do this, a bipartisan bill, similar to the approach taken so far by the Senate, is likely needed. And the bill should:

-Include a dashboard of key indicators to identify and close opportunity and resource gaps to ensure all students, but especially those most in need, have access to a well-rounded education;

-Give students more time to learn by reducing over-testing, decoupling tests from high-stakes decisions, and providing more flexibility for states and districts to determine an assessment system that helps teachers help students; and

-Ensure educators’ voices are heard and empower them to lead.

I urge you to get ESEA right with a bipartisan bill that advances opportunity for all students, ensures more time for students to learn and for teachers to teach, and empowers educators to lead.

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– Mike Lerchenfeldt

Twitter: @mj_lerch

Michigan Kids Can Move and “Bag the Junk”

Celebrate National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. We must spread the word about the importance and benefits of eating healthy and physical activity.

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Students seem to understand the importance of “watching what they eat”. They are aware of the importance of eating healthy and following the food pyramid.

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Eating healthy, going to the doctor’s office, and taking medicine when needed is part of life. Our literacy class had a “Genius Hour” discussion on the successes of getting healthy food options at our school and their favorite ways to get moving in order to have an active lifestyle.

Students need three meals every day to keep them strong and energized. These meals must include fruits and vegetables.

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Students agreed that eating at home more often is a good way to stay healthier. People tend to eat unhealthier when eating at a restaurant.

Our school provides students with healthy food options within vending machines, cafeteria lines, our school store, and fundraisers. Even though students do not always like the idea that they cannot buy candy for a snack or soda pop, they have adapted to healthier food options such as fruit and water.

Students enjoy the wholegrain Bosco cheese sticks, protein-filled chicken nuggets, and a salad bar filled with vegetables. However, they do complain at times that the gluten-free pizza tastes like terrible cardboard and sometimes the fruit is rotten.

According to Blue Cross Blue Shield, nearly one in three children are overweight across the country, and Michigan has the 18th highest obesity rate in the U.S. Unhealthy kids are more likely to become unhealthy adults.

Students need the expert recommended 60 minutes of exercise and physical activity per day. This can include swimming, riding bikes, jumping on a trampoline, walking around the block, and other outdoor activities.

Physical activity can support better learning, attendance, and behavior in school. According to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, only one in three students are active everyday.

Students also stay active and healthy by playing sports such as volleyball, football, hockey, soccer, baseball, and basketball. Many students play on school, recreational or travel teams.

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Students enjoy sharing their experiences and often make connections with their classmates. Many students dance at a studio, participate in karate, or do gymnastics after school.

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Enter the latest #MIKidsCan Contest. Click the link here.

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We must also be aware of the affects of eating disorders. 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.

25% of college-aged women engage in purging as a weight-management technique. In the United States, 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder.

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– Mike Lerchenfeldt

Twitter: @mj_lerch

MARCH 2015

3-MARCH

FEBRUARY 2015

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Teacher Appreciation Week: What it Means and Takes to be a 21st Century Teacher

Why I Love Teaching

“I am not a teacher but an awakener.” – Robert Frost

“Teachers have the most important job of anyone today.” – George Lucas

Teachers matter. It’s a highly rewarding and fulfilling profession. Teachers share valuable information and important skills to encourage a love of learning that will serve children the rest of their lives.

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There’s a career for every passion. The education field is not always what I envisioned when I was in college. However, I am still motivated to get up each morning and serve students in our nation’s schools. Being a role model and teaching students the skills and knowledge they need beyond the classroom is extremely inspiring, rewarding, and motivating. It is an excellent time to be a teacher. You have to love what you do in order to be successful. This gives us courage to meet our goals. Today’s teachers need perseverance, passion, and hope. I pray that my teaching has a positive influence on my students and school.

The math, reading, and writing skills I developed as a student has allowed me to become a successful teacher. Playing sports and being involved in student government taught me valuable life lessons on teamwork, time management, and responsibility. Teachers helped me get to where I am today by providing me with an exceptional education.

As a student, I learned the benefits of getting along with people from different cultures, which continues to assist me in my career, especially when I traveled to New Zealand for a teacher exchange program. My passions for public speaking, fitness, and volunteering have provided inspiration for my future.

There were many educators that had a positive influence on my life. They encouraged me to explore my curiosities, supported me with my struggles, and celebrated my successes. They cared about me, my learning, my life, and they wanted me to find happiness within myself in order for me to be capable of helping others. They inspired me and pushed me to be my best in the classroom and on the athletic fields. I am now trying to pay this positive influence forward to my students.

For me, the motivation to teach has always come from the students in my classroom. It is essential to make lesson plans interesting in order to get students motivated about learning. There needs to be interaction between students. Moving around the room as I teach, keeping a smile, and being expressive has made a difference in my instruction. Students need constant positive feedback in order to inspire them to strive for success. I want to inspire my students to fight poverty, choose kindness, act on climate change, and recycle in order to save the environment.

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National Education Association’s Teacher Appreciation Week was May 4th – 8th but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still recognize and celebrate the importance and contributions of educators.

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Ensuring Teachers Remain in the Profession

When I graduated from Oakland University’s School of Education and Human Services, I felt knowledgeable and ready to have a positive impact on future students. The required field placements and internships provided me with work experience that helped me make decisions about my future career. I learned that I wanted to teach middle school science, not kindergarten. The study habits I developed as an undergraduate helped me with success in graduate school.

There were definitely challenges I faced in my early years of teaching, such as how to do project-based learning, facilitate classroom discussions, and use technology effectively. A strong teaching internship experience and great mentoring programs have helped me become a successful teacher. Forging ahead on my own determination when the going got tough was essential. The wisdom that I gained with setting up classroom procedures and managing class time would benefit a newer teacher.

Educators entering the profession need to deal with the challenges and successes of teaching through developing a positive mentor-mentee relationship. These types of relationships are necessary to help retain our top teachers and support new teachers as they come into the profession. Better professional development is also the answer and can be achieved with extensive, easily accessible support. There is something inherent about the teaching profession that is driving teacher’s away, and the nature of internships, or lack thereof, in teacher education programs impacts retention. We must reclaim the agenda.

The Top 5 Lessons I Have Learned in My Position in Public Education   

  1. Be persistent.Never give up on students, parents, and colleagues. Everyone is in this together, and it truly takes a village to educate a child properly.
  2. Be open-minded.Listen to other people and their opinions. The more information you have, the better decisions you can make. Communication is essential.
  3. Think positive.There is a lot of negativity out in the world, especially within the field of education. You need to have a positive outlook in order to combat all of the negativity.
  4. Try different roles until you find your niche.Spend time with different people and in various extracurricular activities. Use your hobbies and passions as a guide.
  5. Always want to learn. Whether it is a new technology or a new teaching strategy, teachers are life-long learners. We need to be learning alongside our students and show how passionate we are in seeking knowledge.

The Future of Public Education: 5 Snapshots of Modern Day Teaching in the 21st century

Being a teacher is one of the hardest jobs one could ever love. Teachers make a difference in the lives of students, parents, colleagues, and the community. The field of education is changing for the better.

  1. Currently, there is a focus on Depths of Knowledge Levels 3 and 4in order to get students to critically think and apply what they are learning. Teachers are trying to make learning rigorous and relevant. They facilitate instruction rather than always being the deliverer. The students know the learning objectives.
  1. Digital technologymakes learning personalized, engaging, and fun for students. Emerging trends with digital technology includes Web 3.0 and Anticipatory/Artificial Intelligence. Teachers need to have the trust, passion, and drive to use digital technology in their classrooms. They must be adaptable to learn new teaching techniques in order to meet student needs.
  1. Teachers’ focusing on career readinessis essential. New jobs today require high Lexile levels. The English-Language Arts (ELA) teachers cannot do it alone. There is a laser-like focus on literacy because high Lexile scores equates to higher scores in other subjects such as math.
  1. Data analyses, such as growth models, are being used in teacher evaluations. The future is common core with smarter balanced testing. Our school uses the NWEA Map assessment to test for learning and literacy. Teachers are also giving their own assessments to monitor student growth.
  1. Teachers are also responsible for a student’s personal development. Students are taught how to behave rather than just being punished. The student/teacher relationship is critical, and the focus is on student needs. Teachers cannot let students fail.

In addition to these five snapshots, issues such as poverty, student apathy, and lack of parent involvement should be considered when thinking about the future of public education. Other countries choose which kids go to school. In the United States, we allow all kids to go to a school with high expectations. This has an affect when comparing our schools to those of other countries.

Change the picture with Communities in Schools of Michigan. Click here for more information.

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– Mike Lerchenfeldt

Twitter: @mj_lerch

Read Across America Day

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 Image Credit: pbs.org

If you’ve ever shared a book with a child, you know the joy and excitement this small but meaningful act can bring. But, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, since 1993 only 53 to 58 percent of children ages three to five received this joy on a daily basis.

We can do better! Simply reading daily with a child does require parents, older brothers and sisters, and other caring adults to add yet another hat to the many they already wear to care for and raise a child. But by adding the reading hat to your collection, you also add great rewards:

  • Children who are read to at home have a higher success rate in school.
  • Children who read frequently develop stronger reading skills.

To get kids excited about reading and encourage more adults to spend time reading with their children, the National Education Association (NEA) launched the first NEA’s Read Across America day in 1998. On March 2, 2015, NEA’s Read Across America will mark seventeen years of celebrating reading and the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

So from coast to coast, teachers, celebrities, community members, and parents are putting aside the many hats they wear for work and play and donning their reading hats, the red and white striped stovepipe hat of the Cat in the Hat. Here in our community, we promote NEA’s Read Across America Day and how it supports raising a community of readers.

In bringing a nation of readers together under one hat, NEA’s Read Across America offers opportunities for you to volunteer, to read, and to share your life experiences; opportunities for businesses to contribute products to congratulate young readers and for employees to volunteer time at reading programs; and opportunities for our elected officials, from the national to the state and local levels, to make reading a high priority.

Let’s all join together on March 2, and every day thereafter, to ensure that our community’s children have caring adults to share books and rich reading experiences.

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 Image Credit: readacrossamerica.org

 

– Mike Lerchenfeldt

Twitter: @mj_lerch

The role of standardized testing

Teachers need tests to determine if students have learned what was expected of them and if it is the right time to move on to the next objective.

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 Image Credit: txite.org

The data gathered from tests identifies areas of difficulty, which can help teachers adjust instruction for subsequent cohorts of students. Tests show teachers, which students are achieving, and the instructional strategies that are effective. Results from standardized tests can help inform educational policy, school improvement, or instructional practice and develop an action plan.

There are socioeconomic issues such as the inequalities in school funding between wealthy and impoverished areas, which can have an impact on student achievement and test results.

Standardized tests are just one of the many markers of progress, and alternative assessments such as observations, performance tasks, or portfolios should also be used by teachers. Results from alternative assessments can be more effective in communicating outcomes.

Standardized tests can be used to observe changes in student test scores over a year in order to inform the public of an improvement or decline in student achievement.  The standardized tests can also be used as a tool to compare certain schools within the same district because they are similar in socioeconomics.

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 Image Credit: colorlines.com

However, one thing our state’s elected leaders can’t continue to do is place such an emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing.  Instead, we must focus our energy on empowering all students to care and understand the importance of obtaining a quality education.

The goal of using data produced by standardized tests is to extract a correlation between the knowledge of the student and the effectiveness of the teacher.

However, there is not a reliable learning assessment resource available to measure the different impact of each.

Besides the effectiveness of the teacher, the knowledge of the student is also affected by social factors such as student apathy, peer relations, poverty, and parent involvement.

Standardized tests should not be on the cutting edge of education because it promotes teaching to the test, which can be counterproductive and dehumanizing.

However, tests cannot be the only assessment used to help with the evaluating, rating, and ranking of schools, teachers, and school systems.

The toxic environment of standardized testing is causing teachers to consider leaving the profession because of the increase in pressure, wasted time, and negative impact on the classroom.

 

– Mike Lerchenfeldt

Twitter: @mj_lerch

Tackling Student Apathy

We as a society can’t truly address the issues facing schools until we make a serious effort to tackle issues of parental involvement, student apathy and poverty.

Many of the students struggling in schools lack parental involvement at home. They do not have the structure and discipline at home needed to be a successful student. These students struggle with organization and time management skills needed to complete assignments in a timely manner.

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Our staff consistently contacts the homes of struggling learners to see if the parents are accessing their child’s grades on line. Unfortunately, many are not for various reasons — or excuses.

Many parents are not able to be home with their child due to work commitments or other involvements. They may feel that their child’s education is a low priority in their life. If a parent acts like education is unimportant at home, or if he or she is unable to help his or her child become a successful student, the child tends to become apathetic toward formal education.

Apathetic students do not pursue due dates or appreciate the significance of obtaining an education. They simply don’t care. They may be overwhelmed with the class assignments, their home life, or other commitments in and out of school. Parents of these students either make their choices for them or are not involved enough.

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After speaking to colleagues about this major problem, we determined that student apathy could be caused by a lack of connection between the student and the classroom or the teacher. It is imperative that teachers and education support staff make personal connections with students outside of class in order to increase engagement. We should support our students with their extracurricular activities, and show that we’re excited about their passions. In order to avoid apathy building among students, educators need to ask students about their passions and goals.

Since there is a relationship between economic advantage and student performance, students of disadvantaged households are more likely to develop feelings of apathy. This is a major problem facing our institution, especially as 20 percent of American children are living in poverty.

The high level of achievement required of all students — including students of poverty — places a lot of pressure on schools. Our school, for example, provides students of poverty with a free or reduced priced breakfast and lunch in order to improve their health and nutrition, which can in turn enhance their learning. We also provide free tutoring to at-risk students after school and during the summer. If the student’s family cannot afford a field trip or an educational resource, our school will cover the cost. Our school also offers free counseling to students and families in need of guidance through social workers.

One of the biggest challenges I face in my job is number of students in my classroom. Since state funding for schools has been cut, our class size limits have been lifted. This makes it more difficult to give each student the individual attention he or she needs and deserves.

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I have donated numerous hours of my time to help my students before or after class, especially if they return to homes where their parents do not help them with homework.

However, there’s only so much we as educators can do — policymakers must focus on addressing these issues of poverty and apathy in order for all students to be successful.

One thing our state’s elected leaders can’t continue to do is place such an emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing, as it is an unfair measure of student achievement and misinforms the public. Test results do not take into account socioeconomic issues that affect students’ education. Instead, we must focus our energy on empowering all students to care and understand the importance of obtaining a quality education.

A child’s education begins at home with their parents and continues in the classroom. When a child does begin school, parents need to be there for support and encouragement.

 

Mike Lerchenfeldt teaches math, science, and reading enhancement classes at Iroquois Middle School in the Chippewa Valley School District. (mrlerchenfeldt.weebly.com)

– Mike Lerchenfeldt

Twitter: @mj_lerch