Sunday, October 27, 2013

MOTI (Moment of Teacher Impact)

I coined a new phrase this week. I experienced a "MOTI" otherwise known as a Moment of Teacher Impact.

Not long ago I wrote here about how proud I was of the debate my Economics students did. Well, this past week it was my Intro to Business students that just blew me away and left me laughing.

We started a new term a week ago and since it technically began on a Friday and finals had just ended the smart folks in my department planned to get students involved in the term "activity" right off the bat. There is an investing game teachers (and anyone) can play at and a classroom of students can compete to earn the most money. So last Friday I set my two Intro classes up with $100,000 in investment "Cash" and let them loose picking stocks and learning the ropes of the stock market. [Side note: I meant to do 10,000 but the extra zero butted itself into the game...results should be the same, although perhaps a bit more dramatic and varied depending on what really happens to the market].

Anyway, by Wednesday of this week, my students were SO competitive! Most of them went for stocks of corporations they were familiar with. The two biggest purchases were for Google and Chipotle. Turns out, both of those companies saw massive jumps in the market earlier this week after releasing positive earnings reports.

The MOTI for the week came in my Homeroom, where I have 2 students from Intro plus a few of the other business teachers' Intro students. They all had their smart phones out and the Marketwatch app and were checking their position against others in the game. "Hey I'm in 2nd place!" "Hey, Ms. B., I dropped 3 places in the last twenty minutes! Help!" They had conversation for nearly 20 minutes straight about stocks and the market. I was sitting at my desk just tickled!

Before the bell rang on Wednesday, one of my students said to another, "I think this is the most adult conversation I have ever had."

This made me a laugh hysterically. I told the kids how proud I was that they were using their knowledge from the game and the Investing unit we had just completed and were talking about it. And to tell the truth, by Friday they spend the entire Homeroom period doing the same thing.

Now, if I can just get them all to be playing the market long term instead of trading stocks every day....

We shall see by the time December rolls around and the game concludes!

[Side note #2: I am also playing and am currently in 37th place out of 62. I am playing the long-term game. I don't know that it will make the point I want it to in just 2 months' time but we shall see!]

Have a great wrap on October everyone. Go learn something and have a conversation.
(Then let me know what it is you learned!)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

On Being Healthy

Before moving back to Chicagoland I had made two health goals.
1. Find a new allergist within my insurance plan who had a great reputation from their patients
2. Find a new gym to workout at.

I am proud to report, three months in,  I have accomplished both!

I visited the allergist for the first time once September rolled around and insurance kicked in. She was amazing! She was able to not only notice things that most allergists in the past had just ignored or shrugged off as nothing but she connected my sinus/allergy issues to a host of other issues and "irritants" that made them worse. I had made these connections years ago but no one was able to back them up or told me I was silly. Now I had proof, from medical journal articles she gave me and pamphlets on ways to protect my environment (all of which I have done for years). In one four hour visit, I was tested for all sorts of allergies from mold to trees to weeds to animals to the foods I had supposedly been allergic to. Most of the tests came back as I expected. The food allergies, I am pleased to say, are all extinct.

I also received a list of the times of years when my allergies would be worst and why. Apparently Spring is my worst time (I always felt it was fall, which as I am learning this last week is not a good time of year but it is not due to allergies). It starts with the trees (my worst allergy) and molds then leads to summer with the grasses. That then turns into weed season and mold again, which is frequent due to inclement weather and temperature swings. It is these temp swings that have been wrecking havoc on my sinuses these last few days. Subtle changes in humidity are tough. Just going from my door to the car then back out and into work can disrupt the balance. I suppose this is what several sinus surgeries can do to a person. I don't regret either of them for any reason, even the botched first one helped for a few years. But there are issues that surgery can not even change. Much the way knee or shoulder surgery patients say they can feel the weather changes in their bones, I suppose.

ANYWAY, on to the other vow to myself. Join a gym. I researched a bunch in Champaign. It took a few weeks (3) of unpacking before I resumed the quest. I ended up calling a place called The SweatShop. I walked in on Wednesday night expecting a brief chat and assessment. What I got was a full on workout. Wasn't expecting that. But now that I know how the gym operates, I should have! The place is genius. A workout "Plan" on the board gives a theme for the day. Walk in whenever you like, no classes (except on Sat mornings). I've seen everything from Toss Your Cookies to Alphabet Sweats.  It is a fun place to workout and I can tell people that attend are in the same zone as I am - needing the workouts, enjoying the workouts and willing to work hard but at our own pace.

In addition to the workouts I have been participating in a Biggest Loser contest at work. Turns out, one of the Biggest Loser contestant winners attended Mundelein. She was at Homecoming festivities this year. I have come close one week to wining something. I was a half pound off. I am not sure if I will enter the contest for Term 2. I will probably do so. With holidays on the horizon it can't hurt to have another motivator!

I am trying to get healthy. I can tell I am stronger. Now that finals are over I can hopefully graze a bit less on popcorn while grading. And if I can get past not feeling so great with my nose being stupid I might just plow through and not eat trying to ignore how nasty my sinuses are behaving!

So here we go. Towards the holiday season.  Give me a little cheering on! Being supportive is the best to keep me going!

Good luck to each of you as you also press on.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A month goes by & A new term begins

The last month has absolutely flown past. We went from temperate end-of-summer to true fall temperatures where breath can be seen as I walk the dog in the dark each morning.

Along with that month came the end to the first 10 weeks of the school year. In Mundelein reckoning, that means the end to the 1st term and two days of finals.

Monday was a day off for Columbus Day (brief thought: We get a day off for Columbus but not for Veterans Day?) and Tuesday and Wednesday were finals. My coworkers in the Biz Ed department had warned me that October and March finals are the hardest. I couldn't understand why. And then I realized once Thursday came....

On Tuesday and Wednesday students took two 2-hour finals. They had an hour break in between the finals and then were out at 12:45. Teachers had the afternoon to grade. It was like a snapshot. Add an hour for lunch and that leaves about 1 1/2 hours to grade each day. Not much! I had 1st hour off 1st Term and so I spent those two hours during finals trying to prep for Term 2 (which began on Thursday). I knew I'd be focused on grading and not prepping. I wrote my syllabus for my new course (Government) and consulted with another Gov teacher to make sure I had the right things prepared for the first few days. Then I got to work Tuesday afternoon grading the 30 5-10 page papers that my Econ kids did for their final exam. Technically, I only had about 25 of them. The other 5 were tied up in the Google Drive system app we were using which the Tech folks had sadly decided to start archiving. It took until this weekend for me to figure out how to access those few remaining final papers.

On Wednesday I gave my final two exams for my Intro to Business classes. This included a 60+ MC exam and a 5 question short answer section to complete in partners on their Virtual Businesses. There was a snafu for my 3rd hour final. Turns out the wrong final was saved in the drive and so I technically gave an older version of the final. That explained why the bubble sheets the kids used didn't match the test. It was a frantic hour between finals on Wednesday trying to determine the problem. It got resolved with a few minutes to spare and then 4th hour things went smoothly. So much for getting grading done while my 3rd hour kids took their exam. I spent the whole 2 hours answering questions about why the answer sheet didn't match the questions (sometimes even when on the board and spoken to the whole group once discovered, students don't listen - some too focused on trying to complete the test).

Thursday was a half day and the 1st day of Term 2. Students had 45 minute class periods in their Term 2 schedule. I had to remember that I did NOT have 1st period off anymore and that my new Gov't class was 1st hour. My prep hour is now 2nd hour. I think I like it better so far. At any rate, my Gov't students seem extremely enthusiastic and I tried to hook them in by showing them a document from 1832 (created after the 12th amendment was passed and before the Civil War era) that my immigrant/revolutionary ancestor was granted. I told them they all had people come to America for one purpose or another and at some time recent or long ago. Many of them came because of the political freedoms we have and the type of government that was created in America. This class would give them more details on why it is so important to know and why their ancestors also may have been drawn to this country. They were pretty curious. My Intro to Biz kids were given a brief intro to the new term. They are the same kids as last Term so an easy transition. They then had about 30 minutes to set up their Stock Market Portfolio as part of the Stock Market Game on Pretty cool.

That afternoon most teachers were listening to a speaker for staff meeting but the Biz Ed teachers, dept chair and tech specialists & tech directors headed to East Leyden High School to investigate their 1-1 program and student-led help desk course which we are implementing at MHS next year. I am extremely impressed at this program and excited to see it off the ground in Mundelein. However, I am trying to not get too excited. While it could mean job security for me, it also has a chance of not being so. I haven't even had a formal evaluation here yet! I love it at MHS so I am hopeful. I can only continue to do my very best. There will be trials. There will be triumphs. All of them will be important to my growth as a teacher.

So that's a wrap on what you've missed while I was gone. I'll try again to be consistent. Til then, drop me a line and let me know your thoughts. And if you are at a school with a 1-1 initiative, let me know!