Thursday, June 30, 2016

Welcome to my blog!

I've been fighting blogging for the past few years. I always made excuses about how I never had time, it would take too much out of me, and that no one wanted to hear what I had to say. Turns out, not one of those things are true - so here we are.

To introduce myself, my name is Rachel Jeffrey. I am about to start my eleventh year teaching. I am originally from Iowa where I graduated from Luther College. My now husband and I first moved to Kingman, Arizona where I taught high school world and US history for three years. The recession hit Arizona hard, so we packed up and moved again to Colorado Springs. The last seven years I've taught 8th grade US history at Skyview Middle School, and the last four years I've been lucky enough to teach on a 1:1 iPad team. My curriculum has essentially been developed by me with a lot of help from online sources and material. I believe in having students answering open-ended essential questions through projects and document-based questions. My curriculum is challenging, but the information and projects are engaging. I am a "pusher"; I push kids to what I think is their best potential.

Because I am new to blogging, I am not entirely sure what I will blog about per my classroom. I know that I have a goal of blogging once a week, hence "Sat. Chat". I do a lot of work and grading over the weekend, so it just makes sense that I blog at the same time! I want to talk about what I am doing in my classroom, what I've learned on Twitter, and other educational topics that I want to talk about. I sincerely hope that my voice can be heard, and I hope that people WANT to listen to what I have to say! It is scary to put oneself out there, especially when the internet can be scary and cruel.

Even though it is not Saturday, I do want to blog about my experience at ISTE 2016. Wow - what an overwhelming, informative conference. For me, the biggest takeaway from this conference is that there are a lot of like-minded teachers like me. Even though I have times where I feel very isolated at school, I am not alone. I have to remember to reach out to other teachers, whether in Colorado Springs, or around the state, the US, or the world. Even though I am a self-proclaimed "black sheep" at Skyview, I am just a normal, typical sheep all around.

I went to some amazing sessions
  • The keynotes from Michio Kaku and Ruha Benjamin were absolutely inspirational! Mr. Kaku talked about what technology will look like in the future and how we have to prepare students to live in that world. Ms. Benjamin talked about designing schools as laboratories of democratic participation instead of reproducing inequality. Ms. Benjamin's keynote was eye-opening and challenging. It made me think about inequalities in my own classroom. Powerful, powerful stuff!

I definitely have a lot to think about with my classroom for this year. Step one for me, this summer, was to finally create my Teachers Pay Teachers account. I don't know if my curriculum is worth anything, but it doesn't hurt to find out! Step two is to clean up my curriculum. As a Marzano district, I need to make sure my unit scales are in order. This will then tie in to some sort of standards-based grading (classroom only - the district has not moved this way... yet... hopefully). I also want to use the Knoster Model to outline my unit projects.

Sorry this was such a lengthy post! I hope that I said something of some interest to you so that you will keep reading! Have a happy Fourth of July on Monday, and be on the lookout for a new blog post on Saturday, July 9th.
 - Rachel

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