You Matter is so important

When I first started teaching one day I realized that I was spending most of my time with students who were not doing their work or acting up.  I would first try a one-on-one approach to deal with them.  I would then try to contact a parent either by writing letters or calling.  Then, I stopped and thought that I was not doing anything about the students who did their work, behaved well and tried their best.  I decided to write letters home to those students’ parents.

The first time I did this I handed the letters to the students to give to their parents.  One student came back to school the next day and said, “Mr. Blumengarten, when I told my mother I got a letter from my teacher, she slapped me.”

I was upset by this so I made sure to tell the students to tell their parent that it was “a good letter from my teacher”.  Many parents had never received a good letter from their child’s teacher.

Please take the time to let students know that you appreciate their efforts and good behavior and the fact that they are trying their best.  Let their parents know that their children are cooperating.  Work with the parents and give them ways to help their children succeed better.  Many parents want to help but do not know what they can do.

Administrators should use a similar approach for their staff members.  Make sure that you appreciate the hard work and dedication of your staff members.  They are sure to appreciate being acknowledged in person or by a note for their efforts.

I must sincerely thank Angela Maiers for championing “YouMatter.”  This to me is one of the most important things we can do with our students and staff members.  Show that you really care about them and their efforts.

Our #YouMatter page

 

I will now tweet “Our Page” instead of “My Page”

In the 1990’s while a classroom teacher I started bookmarking good educational sites.  When I became the teacher-librarian in my school I started a website of links for all subject areas. I was still finding the sites myself but I then found Kathy Shrock who shared amazing information. Once I got on Twitter in 2009 I started building a great PLN.  My first follows were: @coolcatteacher @web20classroom @shellterrell and @tomwhitby.  I started getting great links from them and as time went by my Twitter followers kept providing great sites that they were using.

For years I have tweeted pages from my website http://cybraryman.com/0_teachers1.htm and stated “My Page.”  I have now changed that to “Our Page” because without my wonderful PLN how would I ever find such great sites to add.  As a constant learner and a person who truly wants to help busy students, educators and parents I cannot keep up on everything without your help. 

My PLN means a lot to me #YouMatter.

Thanks to the following and all others who share so much:

@angelamaiers @mbteach @kyplepace @alicekeeler @pernilleripp @brholland @s_bearden @joycevalenza @KleinErin @mr_isaacs @gcouros @jmattmiller @justintarte @KerryHawk02 @sylviaduckworth @shannonmmiller @mssackstein @kevinhoneycutt @ClassTechTips @pammoran @SNewco @TonySinanis @wkrakower @scottrocco @TheBradCurrie @burgess_shelley @NikkiDRobertson @jeffherb @E_Sheninger @burgessdave @RossCoops31 @iTeachLipscomb @TeacherToolkit @gwynethjones @ICTEvangelist @ICTmagic @elissamalespina @ShiftParadigm @JoyKirr @librarian_tiff @TeacherCast @ozge @jenniferlagarde @JennRegruth @ncarroll24 @nathan_stevens @TechNinjaTodd @plnaugle @Lynch39083 @RACzyz @JenWilliamsEdu @ncarroll24  @PeterMDeWitt @LaVonnaRoth @timbuckteeth @russeltarr @elemenous @EdTechNerd @johnsonmaryj 

Control Alt Achieve @ericcurts

Education World @education_world

Emerging EdTech @EmergingEdTech

My Best of series | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day… @Larryferlazzo

SurfNetKids @barbarafeldman

Talk Tech With Me @Katie_M_Ritter

Teachers Edition | U.S. Department of Education @usedgov

The Tech Edvocate @techedvocate@AdvocateforEd

#EduGoalsMOOC resources @SteveWheeler

Kathy Shrock’s Guide to Everything @kathyshrock

ASCD @ASCD Which for me as a member in the 1980’s was the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Blogging About the Web 2.0 Connected Classroom by Steven Anderson @web20classroom

BrainPop @BrainPop

Common Sense Media @CommonSense

Cult of Pedagogy @cultofpedagogy

Daily Genius @DailyGenius

EdSurge @EdSurge

EdTechTeam @edtechteam

Education Week Teacher @educationweek

Edutopia (I have followed them since their start) @Edutopia

eSchoolNews @eschoolnews

Four O’Clock Faculty @4OClockFaculty

Free Technology for Teachers by Richard Byrne @rmbyne

Getting Smart @Getting_Smart

Learning in Hand @tonyvincent

Mind Shift @MindShiftKQED

Shake Up Learning Website and Blog @ShakeUpLearning

SimpleK12 @SimpleK12

TeachThought @TeachThought

Tech & Learning @techlearning

The Learning Networks @NYTimesLearning

You can find all these on Some Favorite Resources page

Why Can’t Teachers Get The Respect They Deserve?

When I wear my U.S. Army Veteran cap I get a lot of respect and thanks for my service. Some people then engage me in friendly conversation.

The times have definitely changed from the 1960’s during the Vietnam conflict when I was in uniform and I was subject to a lot of derogatory comments about my service.

When my brother returned home from two tours of duty in Vietnam (The second one to ensure someone else would not be sent there.) he was asked at a social affair how he avoided Vietnam. When he replied that he had served there the woman gave him a dirty looked and walked away.

At social functions when I was asked what I did as a career and I replied I taught people would turn and walk away. However, when I replied I was a writer they would automatically ask what I wrote (Aside from teaching I wrote educational materials for the utility industry for over 30 years, created curriculum for my school district, the New York City Board of Education now Department of Education and for Open Doors a school- business partnership).

I am very proud of my 20 years as a front line classroom teacher and then 12 years as a teacher-librarian in one of the toughest and most dangerous areas of New York City. My East New York – Brooklyn page.

Teachers should be given a lot of thanks and more appreciation for their service and dedication.

My Teacher Appreciation page

My #YouMatter page

Tech Share Live – A Must See at FETC 2018

Buckle your seat belts for a rousing and extremely entertaining learning time when Adam Bellow @adambellow, Kathy Schrock @kathyschrock, Leslie Fisher @lesliefisher and Hall Davidson @HallDavidson present their Tech Share Live (Thursday, January 25th at 8:30 am) at FETC – Future of Education Technology Conference in Orlando Florida from January 23-26, 2018.

I have thoroughly enjoyed and learned so much from these amazing educational technologists and leaders at their previous FETC sessions.  I love the way that they interact with one another and share so many great tech tools.  This smorgasbord of tech gadgets, apps, hardware and software they show will astound you.  Just wish I could own all the things that they introduce the audience to.

Don’t miss Tech Share Live and good luck figuring out how to attend all the fantastic learning opportunities from outstanding educators at FETC.

Hope to see y’all at FETC 2018.

Energetically,

Jerry Blumengarten @cybraryman1

 

EdCampPOLK 2016

EdCampPOLK held on the campus of Florida Southern College on Saturday, October 8, 2016 was a wonderful educational experience where participants connected, learned and shared with one another.

Everything went extremely well despite the fact that as a result of the campus being closed for a day and a half in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew.  Campus security had to open the two buildings reserved for the edcamp.

I had the honor of giving the opening and introduction.

 

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Sketchnotes by @kwstfl

My EdCamp – Conferences page

Jessica Solano Florida’s Teacher of the Year 2017 @2017FLTOY led a great discussion on Growth Mindset.

My Growth Mindset page 

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By @kwstfl

Nancye Blair Black @NancyeBlackEdu who is the @FSTEnet President and @ISTE3DNetwork Founder and I led a fun discussion on Social Media.  Nancy also did a session on Peace Education and Global Minded Learning .

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My Social Media page

My Twitter for Beginners page

@kwstfl Takeaways from discussion on how to avoid teacher burnout #EdCampPolk

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My Teacher Burnout page

Resources from the Tech in the Elementary Classroom

EdCampPOLK Organizing Committee

Under the wonderful leadership of Dr. Julie Hasson.

Members:

Dr. Karen Aponte, Nancye Blair Black, Jerry Blumengarten, Casey Harvey,

Hope Holley, Rebekah Jewell, Suzanne Skinner, Cailin Hasson

Thanks to Casey Harvey and Rebekah Jewell undergraduate education majors at Florida Southern College for creating the EdCampPOLK website

Much thanks to Dr. Tedder and the Florida Southern College School of Education for providing the facilities and support to make this edcamp such a success.

EdCampPOLK would like to thank all of the sponsors who generously supported this successful educational unconference.

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I saw through GRIT that students could achieve.

Our inner city school was so dangerous a New York City police officer was stationed in the school every day.  He and I used to talk about our track experiences. When the gym teacher stated he wanted to start a track team we both told him we would help.  We did not have a school yard or an area outside where we could practice within a short distance from the school. So we started having the team run the halls and staircases.  We were a four story school built at the turn of the 20th Century.

When we finally got to the nearest track which was located behind another middle school over a mile away everyone wanted to race me.  There was no way I could beat them sprinting so I told them we would first have to warm up.  I neglected to tell them that I was a long distance runner who was brought up to kick in the end of every run.  They started to huff, puff and complain as I jogged the first quarter mile at a good pace.  Then I picked up the rate for the next quarter.  Many of them were dropping out but I kept going and increased the pace.  There I was on the third lap all by myself so I decided to sprint in the last lap.  They all cheered and told me how fast I was.  I had gained their confidence and they were challenged to try and beat me. 

We showed these young men (and later we involved girls) that through hard work they could achieve.  We set the standards high and with perseverance and determination they went on to win all of their dual meets and the Brooklyn Borough Championship.  To win the New York City Track Championship you had to beat the over 125 schools that qualified to run.  Yes, they went on to win the NYC Track Championship and during the summer some of the runners went on to win state and national titles. 

I am proud to say that some of these runners were able to get college track scholarships as a result of their hard work.  And the best thing I saw was that their classwork and conduct improved.  They saw that through hard work they could get to places they never felt they could before. 

Angela Duckworth’s GRIT: POWER of PASSION and PERSEVERANCE is a must read for all educators. 

My Track and Field page

My Grit page 

Back to Brooklyn, back to life and reality

The sudden and unexpected news of my only brother’s passing was quite a shock to me.  I had to get back to Brooklyn from Florida as soon as possible to make arrangements.

Traveling through the extremely bustling, noisy and crowded streets of Brooklyn on my way to the Medical Examiners office and then the funeral home took me on a nostalgic tour of my life and educational journey.

It was strange seeing three of the four schools where I taught. (The fourth school was torn down many years ago after they spent a half a million dollars fixing it up.)  It is hard to believe that I survived 32 years in such a crime filled neighborhood where I literally experienced just about everything you don’t want to live through.  I did smile when I saw the now fixed-up track where I trained two of my schools to city championships.

My East New York page

My heart goes out to all educators especially those who work in areas that are not safe and schools that are overcrowded, understaffed, lacking proper management and few supplies. I always envied schools that were safe, well run and teachers had all the supplies and support they needed to properly facilitate the learning of every child. I also do not miss trying to find a place to park my car especially dealing with alternate side of the street parking. I guess you have to be young and daring to teach where I did.

I cannot believe one of my colleagues (who was kind enough to put my wife and I up) is in his 47th year at the same school.  He kept telling me that it is even worse then when I was there. His wife who works on Long Island told me how difficult it is to teach even in a good area.   

Let’s take education back and make the necessary changes to ensure the successful learning of all children. I wish the public supported educators more.  I wish all parents would take more of an interest in their children’s learning and work closer with overburdened teachers.  We can make a difference!

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Set Goals and Then Follow Through On Them

It is not hard to set goals or design mission statements.  However, they are only as good as being followed through.

This year I set a fitness goal of surpassing the 1,100 miles I accomplished in 2014 thanks to the hashtag #500in2014.  What really help keep me motivated was receiving a FitBit for Father’s Day.  I kept a spreadsheet of the distance I covered each day.  My daily goal was to cover 10,000 steps and for me that was equivalent to 4.5 miles.  After a while I decided to try for 100,000 steps per week.  FitBit once a week sends you in an email a report of your seven day progress.  I started another spreadsheet to keep track of my weekly totals of steps and distance.  As an aside I feel it is a good idea to not only teach students how to make databases and spreadsheets but to encourage them to make their own.  Have them make a spreadsheet of their physical activity each day or their earnings from doing chores or babysitting.  Learning a skill is wonderful but it is important to use it so you don’t forget what you have gained.

Keep on stepping!

Keep on stepping!

This is a tough time of year between Thanksgiving and the holidays to practice good nutrition and keep in shape.  Many people put off until the New Year to start eating properly and exercising.  I say don’t put it off and start now.  It is okay once in a while to treat yourself but keep focused on your health and fitness.  I do find myself at times not achieving what I set out to do but I stop and readjust and get back on track.  It is a good idea to stop and reflect on all that you do and make the necessary adjustments.

Yesterday, November 30, 2015 I surpassed 2,000 miles and made my goal.  Next year I would like to surpass my 2015 mileage.

My Goals page 

Here’s wishing you a healthy end to 2015 and an improved you in 2016.

Keep moving!

Keep moving!

Jump Start the Learning Day

As a non coffee drinker it is still hard to understand the need or demand people have for coffee to start their day.  I see it is an addiction but whatever time my wife wants to get up I make sure she has coffee steaming when she arises or I wake her up.  I, on the other hand once I wake up I am raring to go.  Yes, as most of you know I don’t get much sleep as there is so much for me to do and learn each day.

During my many years of carpooling we had to stop before getting to school to fuel up on coffee.   Later, when I was the early morning person in my school I would start a pot of coffee for my colleagues.  Yes, I used to get to my school at 6:00 am  (I am still on that time schedule so it is no problem for me to wake up early for the stimulating #bfc530 chat on school days) to answer the telephone for teachers calling in to be absent.  I then had to figure out how to cover their classes.  We had an average of ten teacher absences a day and without subs it was a difficult task.  When we did get a sub they wouldn’t last when they saw what they had to face.  My East New York page 

The hardest job for me as a classroom teacher and curriculum writer was the motivation, Do Now or get started part of the lesson plan.  I used to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to decide what would grab the attention of my students right from the start.  My Lesson Plans page

I tried to figure out what made my students tick.  I spent a lot of time finding out what songs, movies and activities my students enjoyed.  I used this as a basis for the beginning of lessons.  I needed something they understood to motivate them and get them started on learning more.

We need to start from where are students are at and then build from there. Never assume students know something.  I can vividly recall the countless times when I introduced a topic and my students would tell me they had that already.  However, when I questioned them they could not respond.  Yes, they may be familiar with the term but do they really know what it is all about.  That is another reason why I strongly feel they will remember more if they are involved in the learning.  I found what they remembered were those special projects, cooperative learning activities or such.  Project-Based learning is a great way to engage students.  Have them find a situation that needs improvement and let them figure out a solution.

My Cooperative Learning page 

My Project-Based Learning #PBL page 

Spend quality time, after you have your coffee, on ways to jump start your students learning.  Keep in mind where they are at and what motivates them.  Have awesome days of learning.

I also recommend starting each day with your students with a morning meeting and then ending the day with an exit slip of learning:

My Morning Meetings page

My Exit Slips page 

My Motivating Students page 

And for administrators (#satchat #satchatwc #satchatOC #cpchat) make sure you get your schools off to great starts each day. You can find some stimulating ways on

My Good Morning page

PS

I would be remiss for not mentioning those that get my learning day started:  Scott Capro who started the Breakfast Club Chat #bfc530 and now Jessica Raleigh @TyrnaD who has kept it growing and @alicekeeler who came up with the #coffeeEDU idea and @RemindHQ for sponsoring them.

I started the Twitter Education Chat Schedule many years ago when there were very few chats so that I could keep track of them.  I used to be able to tweet out each day the chats for that day but it is impossible now with so many of them.  I want to sincerely thank @thomascmurray @cevans @conniehamilton and @jrochelle for taking my original primitive chat list and improving on it.

Twitter Education Chats Schedule

On your mark, get set for the new school year…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI must admit that when August approached I started getting quite anxious.  I knew the new school year was approaching and was I prepared for it?

My goal once school ended was to get myself in the best physical shape to endure the rigors of teaching in the inner city.  I know that the fact that I kept myself fit definitely led to my excellent attendance record in school.  I rarely if ever got sick  I was very proud of being able to be there every school day (most years 186+ days).

For quite a few years I was given a program in June only to come back in September and told I was teaching a different grade level and subject area.  At first it was really trying mentally to accept the changes but after a while I was ready for anything.  Such is life in the New York City School System.

I have many pages on my website to help you prepare for the school year.

You can find many helpful pages in My Organizing pages collection

Back to School – Icebreakers

First Days of School

Orientation to Your School

Bulletin Boards

Classroom & Behavior Management

Learning Your Students’ Names

Organizing Your Classroom

Setting up Your Classroom

 

Best of luck and here’s wishing you an outstanding year of learning.