If you watched the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, who is working for Secretary of Education, couldn’t and wouldn’t answer the questions posed to her by the Senate Committee. I receive the AFT Hotline email and wanted to share excerpts of the email in case you were not aware of DeVos’ performance before the Senate Committee.
The Committee fought to have a second round of questioning as they were not clear and satisfied with the answers, or lack of answers, she gave to the Senate Committee. The Committee Chairperson refused even though proof was given to a precedent of second rounds to ask more questions or seek clarification of the answers given when asked by various Senators. Betsy DeVos was uninformed and noncommittal on a variety of questions posed to her. The email text below sums up her responses and viewpoint on education for America’s students.
We already knew that Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, would be a problem for America’s schoolchildren. She has used her vast wealth to drive for privatization of K-12 education and has fought efforts to hold private operators accountable for the quality of their publicly funded educational services in her home state of Michigan, despite their inferior track record. Now, after her extraordinary display of sheer ignorance of basic educational policy matters in her U.S. Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday evening, we know the problem is even worse than we thought.
Example: DeVos, in answer to senators’ questions, made it clear that she did not know the first thing about federal civil-rights law affecting students with disabilities, blithely and incorrectly assuming that states could freely deviate from federal requirements for the education of these children. She also revealed a lack of understanding of basic educational terminology when asked whether standardized tests should be used as a proficiency measure or a growth measure. Her testimony on these and other points showed a disturbing pattern of ignorance, evasion, and ideological rigidity instead of evidence-based reasoning. Her chief qualification for the Cabinet post as the nation’s leading educational policy-maker apparently is her status as a massive donor to the political campaigns of candidates who pledge their allegiance to vouchers and other forms of educational privatization.
Her nomination highlights a stark dividing line in the current public debate over the future of education. This is really a tale of two movements. One is an effort to undermine and privatize public education. Donald Trump nominated the most unqualified, inexperienced, anti-public-education person he could find to lead the Department of Education. Betsy DeVos’ record makes clear that she is not interested in strengthening the public schools that 90 percent of America’s children attend.
There is an advocacy Google group that I can connect you with the founder of the group if you are interested in joining. Leave a comment and I will contact you via email to be connected. It is startling and crazed how the legislators are voting and Trump’s candidates viewpoints on important points facing our nation for a variety of positions seeking confirmation. We must protect our schools and act now to let our legislatures know about our viewpoints on the proposed candidates for Trump’s head positions and cabinet appointments.
I am a big fan of mystery Skype sessions but primarily thought of them as a class to class event limiting the sessions to the school day. Recently I participated in our PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators monthly webinar and mystery Skype sessions were featured. I am quite familiar with this technique including mystery author sessions or author/specialist visits via Skype but never thought of having a mystery Skype session with a colleague.
The session demonstration I watched had the colleague answer on Skype with a thumbs up or thumbs down. This was because he was from Australia and we would have immediately guessed the country/location he was from due to his accent. I thought this was an important aspect to include to have only yes or no questions answered with a thumbs up/down. Having colleagues from around the world becomes more of a possibility. He also had students in his classroom stay late, up until midnight as he taught middle to high school students, so that late mystery Skype sessions could occur and he had several students staying late to participate.
Students ‘eat this type of activity up’ and are excited to participate. Most sessions are 20-30 minutes with time for a question and answer exchange whether there are two classes participating or students asking questions of a colleague or author/specialist/author. Not to say a colleague doesn’t fit those categories because they certainly do but for clarification purposes in this blog post I refer to colleagues in classrooms around the globe in a separate category. Colleagues do not have to have their students present to have a mystery Skype session as demonstrated in the webinar I participated in recently. Students enjoy seeing other students but are just as excited visiting with other expert adults via Skype so be sure to consider colleagues and experts of all types for Skype sessions.
When possible, sessions can occur like the webinar presenter demonstrated after school hours. The guest was from Australia during his summer vacation so he had the time to visit with us during the demonstration. This can be just as exciting a session for students as when students on both ends are included but time zone and schedule logistics can interfere with having mystery Skype sessions during the school day. You can have students bring $2 or $3 or get pizza donated when possible to eat while waiting after hours for the mystery Skype session to occur. The presenter held late Skype sessions after hours on a day before a holiday or professional development day so that students can sleep in the next day.
The presenter, and I was late and missed his name, but brought up great points and tips for exciting sessions. One that we both stress for mystery Skype sessions is to have a question to ask or job of some sort so that all students are participating during the session. You don’t want students sitting bored, not paying attention or misbehaving during the session. Sessions can get very active and structure is necessary to ensure students are learning and actively participating appropriately.
I cover mystery Skype classroom to classroom and Skype an author visits in my book about mystery adventure quests. This is just one type of mystery adventure quest you can set up for your students that ensure all students are excited and engaged. It is a great opportunity for your students to learn about different cultures, attire, games, languages, etc. as a result of participating in a mystery Skype session of all types. If you have never participated in a Skype session, contact me and I can help you set up and consider the logistics necessary for a successful Skype session. Take a risk and watch your students get excited about learning!
I recall reading blog posts where teachers have students summarize a passage or reading selection of varying lengths with a six word sentence. My #hashtag2017 is #joy2017 and now I ask you to reflect upon the upcoming year and create your own six work sentence that represents your view of the upcoming 2017 year.
My Six Word Sentence for 2017
I am still in a reflective mood and have developed my own six word sentence for 2017 that I want to live by each day of 2017. It will be a challenge depending upon what comes my way and I am frustrated with my book writing progress so my six word sentence is the following:
There is joy in life daily.
I think that sums up my vision that I am going to work to see each day of 2017.
What is your six word sentence? Please share it in the comments below. Bring some joy to my life and leave a comment.
The new year is usually a time of reflection on the past year and the upcoming year. There are several memes going around so I decided to put my twist on it and write a short blog post on my version of the meme. Coming up with goals may be daunting or depressing for some due to a variety of reasons or situations you may be facing in life.
What’s your vision for 2017?
That’s why I decided to pose a question to you: what is your hashtag for 2017? What word or phrase are you going to attempt to live by this upcoming year? I would love for you to think for a moment and come up with a #hashtag2017 and share your #hashtag2017 goal, vision, phrase, or dream in the comments. The one I chose for myself is #joy2017. Fighting fibromyalgia and depression, I have to work to find the joy in things so that is my simple goal for 2017. I want to find the joy in the big things and little things that come my way in 2017.
So what is your #hashtag2017? Please comment and share what and why you chose your word or phrase for 2017. I can’t wait to hear from you!
It’s time for my yearly ‘connect with Santa’ blog post! This is a great time of year if you have little ones that are eagerly awaiting Santa’s arrival on Christmas Eve. The following links will enable youngsters to contact Santa Claus online or receive a phone call from him! I am reprising this blog post from the past two years and have added some new ways to connect to Santa Claus using technology. If you find the links are not working, please let me know and leave your favorite links in the comments section that might not be in the list below.
Chat with or Call Santa
In addition to taking children to the mall to talk with Santa, as has been the tradition for a number of years, there are a variety of ways that children can interact with Santa Claus electronically. There are several apps that you can download for a variety of mobile devices. Those are cute but a live ‘call’ or ‘message’ from Santa may be more meaningful and exciting to your children or grandchildren.
Santa’s Portable North Pole TV – http://www.portablenorthpole.tv/home
- This site allows you to create a video but there is a fee to download/forward the video to someone.
Hello Santa – https://www.hellosanta.com/
My Santa Call – http://www.mysantacall.com/
Elf Clubhouse (talk to the Elves) – http://www.northpole.com/Clubhouse/ElfChat/
Christmas Dialer – http://www.christmasdialer.com/
Live Phone Call from Santa – http://santaspeaks.com/call-from-santa/
Calling Santa – http://callingsanta.com (free app to download)
Santa Hotline – http://thesantahotline.net/
North Pole – http://www.northpole.com (letter from Santa)
Norad – http://www.noradsanta.org
Free Text Message from Santa
If you would like a free text message from Santa, contact me by filling out the form below and I will send a short text message to you for your children in the United States. If I get bogged down with tons of texts to send I will contact you. This will be done by myself so allow some time to get things processed.
My niece absolutely loved her phone call from Santa from the http://www.sendacallfromsanta.com/ website (website doesn’t seem to be working) several years ago when she was younger. That and the portable north pole video were two big hits of the Christmas season for our family! Be sure to let Santa Claus know that I will be waiting for him with cookies and milk and carrots for his reindeer on Christmas Eve when you connect with him this year!
Children: Please do not leave voice messages for Santa Claus. He does not receive them here. Contact him at one of the numbers above or at the North Pole. Also, be sure to have your parents’ permission and show them this blog page before you contact Santa Claus or his Elves.
***Blogger’s note: I haven’t personally used all of the above services so please use discretion and make sure all children are safe and have parental permission when using an online service to interact with ‘Santa Claus’. Be certain that you approve of the site and read over the website’s Terms of Services for any fees incurred when contacting Santa Claus.
PBS LearningMedia offers interactive activities surrounding Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, such as the Daniel Tiger Holiday Collection. This collection gives advice to parents and teachers about how to deal with varying emotions children may experience during the holiday season
PBS LearningMedia holiday resources include:
- Daniel Tiger Holiday Collection
- All About the Holidays: Hanukkah
- All About the Holidays: Christmas
- All About the Holidays: Kwanzaa
- Video: The Perfect Christmas Gift (According to Science)
- For grades 6-12
Next week there are several virtual, live chats that were listed on Tech & Learning’s website. The schedule is as follows with other developing and appearing on the schedule link at http://nepris.com/go/hourofcode. Appropriate grade levels are listed on Nepris’ website along with more information for each chat along with key questions, expected outcomes, supporting documents and curriculum alignment.
During this week, industry professionals from AT&T, JoyLabz, Sphero, and more offer their skills and expertise for students to become familiar with the practices and career possibilities available in Computer Science. With topics from Robotics to SEO, Nepris provides a platform for students of all interests and proficiencies to learn, advance, and excel in the constantly growing field of Computer Science.
- Hour of Code: FOR TEACHERS 12/5 3:00 p.m. CT – this will review how teachers can bring Hour of Code and programming into the classroom; professional development for educators.
- Hour of Code with an AT&T Software Engineer 12/6 1:00 p.m. CT
- Celebrate CSEd Week With Sphero 12/6 12:00 p.m. CT
- Required Training for a Black-Belt in Digital Marketing 12/7 1:30pm CT
- A Career in Technology Relationships 12/8 10:15 a.m. CT
- Hour of Code with an AT&T Software Engineer 12/8 11:00 a.m. CT
- Oh The Things You Can Makey With A Makey Makey 12/8 12:30 p.m. CT
- S’more Coding For Everyone 12/9 10 a.m. CT
- New sessions being added daily at: https://nepris.com/go/hourofcode
Be sure to check daily for new sessions that are posted to the schedule on Nepris’ website. Feel free to share sessions that you will be attending to hosting here and I will add it to the schedule. The more the merrier this time of year!
We just celebrated Thanksgiving with our extended family members this week and I wanted to give Thanks for giving your support this past year. Each of you have given time to read my blog, buy my book, hear me present, or attend a webinar that I have hosted and I thank each one of you for your support of my avenues of sharing. It means a great deal to me that you have supported me throughout the past year and I look forward to another great year thanks to each of you. You mean the world to me and I am grateful that you are a part of my life. Thanks for giving of yourself, your time and your support to me.
PBS has great resources for teachers and students to assist with teaching the curriculum. Teachers can create assignments surrounding the many resources of the PBS LearningMedia platform. Students can also access the resources and others to help them with home as part of the PBS LearningMedia area for students.
New Student Portal
PBS LearningMedia now offers a student learning portal and a suite of productivity tools for teachers. These new features make it easy to create personalized learning experiences for students to explore inside or outside of the classroom.
K-12 students now have a dedicated place to access trusted content, homework support, and custom coursework. PBS LearningMedia for Students offers direct-access to curriculum-aligned resources while allowing students the freedom to investigate at their own pace and delve into topics that ignite their curiosity.
This is a great option for students to access quality resources to assist them with their homework. Much like other video and print resources, PBS LearningMedia has resources aligned to state and national standards. Students can login and complete assignments or puzzles that have been created for them by their teacher or search for information or learning media to assist with their homework assignments or research papers. There is a wealth of content available for use for free for educators, parents or students. Check it out when you get a chance.
If you have been looking for age appropriate election resources for students aged 6-8, then ‘PBS Kids You Choose’ is the place to go. They have quality resources for younger students and the press release states describes the resource area as the following:
PBS KIDS YOU CHOOSE aims to teach kids about the Presidential election process in an entertaining and fun way, reminding them that even though they are unable to vote, their voice still matters. You Choose 2016 allows kids to:
- “Meet the candidates” and learn fun & important facts about them
- Collect trading cards of past presidents and their spouses
- Create a campaign poster digitally, using a new online coloring tool
- Watch videos featuring favorite PBS KIDS characters and new role models discussing democracy/election/government related topics
Now, younger siblings can become involved in the conversation. Older children from middle and high school (and grownups too) can turn to PBS LearningMedia’s new interactive Electoral Decoder, a scrubbable timeline of Presidential elections – since the first in 1789, where kids (and adults) can run different scenarios to see what states a candidate must win to achieve to the key number of 270 electoral votes. And it is free and accessible to all. These recent additions to the larger PBS ELECTION CENTRAL initiative, now involves entire families and kids of all ages to be involved in the Presidential elections, now less than 50 days away!
You can trust that students will enjoy and learn about the election on a level that is age developmentally appropriate for younger students with the ‘PBS Kids You Choose’ collection of resources. Visit the website election resources!