Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Sayings - Martin Luther King Jr.

     Today I'm joining Tammy from Forever in First for Saturday Sayings. If you're interested in doing a Saturday Saying, visit her post here.

     In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day this past week, I chose a quote about education from him. This quote is taken from an article he wrote for The Maroon Tiger, which was the Morehouse College Student Paper. He wrote this article, titled The Purpose of Education, when he was a junior at Morehouse, which I find interesting since I am still in college. You can read the full article, and learn more about it here or here.
     While this was written with the audience being his professors and classmates, I believe it is true for any age. Critical thinking and character are important things that our students need to learn. If they do not learn these skills, then they will not be able to use the knowledge they have well.
     How do we teach critical thinking and character? I've seen schools do many different things to teach these. Some that I have been in use a curriculum to teach character or even have it as a special. However, I think character is best taught by example, mini-lessons that are relatable to the students, and real life situations. Critical thinking is a skill that can be learned in all areas. It includes teaching students to think about the how and why questions, reasoning, and much more. Martin Luther King Jr. was correct in thinking that knowledge does not mean much without character and critical thinking.
So, what do you think? What is your opinion of this quote? How do you teach character and critical thinking?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Price of Freedom

     During January, my college offers month long classes. As seniors, most students are required to take a capstone class with their major as a cumulating experience. For elementary ed. majors, we take a class serves as a conclusion to our education classes. In this class, we covered topics that had not been covered in depth yet such as interviewing, unions, suicide prevention, school shootings, applying for our licenses, and teaching the Holocaust. Elementary education majors also go on a trip to Washington, D.C.
     Our trip's purpose was to teach us about our country's capital, give us an experience, have a time for us to have fun for the last time with our classmates, and inspire us to view teaching as a profession that  makes an impact. Our touring company made "The Price of Freedom" our theme. We visited lots of memorials. Our favorite stop was the National Museum of the Marine Corps. I highly recommend it, and since it's outside of D.C. area, it's great trip to combine with Mount Vernon, just be sure to give it enough time.


     We visited the week before the inauguration, so everything was being set up for it. It was interesting to see the Capital (inside and outside) all prepared when I've visited during another time of the year with my family in the past.

This pile of books just made me want to read. All of these books are about Abraham Lincoln. I even saw many children's books in the pile! I want them for my future classroom.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday Sayings - John Holt

     Today I'm joining Tammy from Forever in First for Saturday Sayings. If you're interested in doing a Saturday Saying, visit her post here.

     This week, I went to my college library to look for what books there were on bullying for a group presentation. While I was there, I saw the book What Do I Do Monday? by John Holt. I remembered hearing his name from some information I looked up back in high school about different types of schooling. John Holt is tied with unschooling, even though he spent many years teaching in a classroom. You can read more about him here. I decided to read parts of his book to look at it with the knowledge and experience that I have gained during my college years and student teaching. One quote that sums it up very well is:

     Many unschoolers, which are children in a type of homeschooling that is student-led, use this to support their method of following the child's interests. I do agree with John Holt's idea of self-directed learning to an extent. In my own life, I can think of certain things that I learned and worked on more intently while I have been in school than the things I was forced to learn. For example, as I mentioned, I was very interested in educational theories during my senior year of high school. I could spend hours procrastinating on my homework by looking up different ideas of education. That seems really dorky, but I actually had no intention of being an education major at that time (why I didn't get the hint, I don't know). However, I also learned many things at school where I was taught things that I did not think would interest me until a teacher forced me to learn about it. Still, I think John Holt has a very valid point. Children do learn best when they want to and have say in the matter. Creating the conditions listed may be easy for a homeschooler, but it is more challenging when applied to a classroom of students, for whom John Holt also intended the book.
     What can we do as teachers to help students learn best by self-directed learning? Throughout this week, I have thought about that question, and I came up with a few ideas that are not all brand-new:
  •  Having a discovery time each day where students could choose what they wanted to work on. They may want to read, work on a project, draw, or look into an interest of theirs. The teacher would be the facilitator, encouraging students in their interests.
  • Encouraging student interests they mention. If they ask questions, help them find the answer. If they love horses, help them learn more about horses. When using a KWL chart, be sure to respond to all of the wonderings.
  • Allowing projects to be open-ended with students choosing their topics and how to respond. I can recall some of my favorite book reports where the only requirements were a book and project that was okayed by the teacher.

What are you doing to help students learn
by allowing them to led their learning?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Suicide Prevention Training

     Today (well, long ago when I started writing this and scheduled this to be posted for), my college class covered suicide prevention training. In my school's state, it will be required for licensure starting in July. My college used QPR training from QPR Institute for Suicide Prevention. QPR can be as life saving as CPR.QPR is meant to show the person that you care and give them hope.

There are three basic parts to QPR:
1. Question - Most people will ask for help or communicate their struggle within a week of their suicide attempt. It's important to listen and take it seriously. I was also taught that it is best to be direct when asking if they are considering suicide because it will lower their anxiety and risk of impulsive act. Don't ask in a negative way (You're not suicidal, are you?).
2. Persuade - Listen. Suicide isn't the problem; something deeper is. Offer hope. Take them to get help. You're not a counselor, but you can visit one together.
3. Refer - It is best if you can directly take the person to someone who can help like a counselor. Even getting them to consider going for help is good, but it is best to ensure that they are getting help.

Some other interesting things I learned:
-Elderly are among the highest group of people who commit suicide since they lose hope and can feel alone.
-Suicide can even affect young children.
-Many suicidal children will tell friends.
-Girls are more likely to be depressed, but boys are more likely to attempt suicide, especially after a crisis event (break up, discipline problems, humiliating event, ect.).

How does this apply to me as an elementary teacher?
-I should be on the lookout for signs and students reaching out for hope.
-I should refer to a good counselor and follow up regularly rather than giving counsel myself.
-I need to teach my students when they need to break promises and tell an adult.
-I need to show my students that I care for them and give them hope even when they feel alone, stressed, and desperate.

Has anyone else had QPR training for your licensure? How do you address this topic in your classroom?