Tuesday, January 20, 2015

An Open Letter to Michigan Lawmakers

We can no longer ignore the importance of higher education to Michigan’s future. It is an investment that will pay dividends in the future.
According to Lou Glazer, president of Michigan Future, Inc., “Michigan universities bring in one billion dollars annually of federal funds and employ thousands of knowledge workers. Places where new knowledge is being created have a big edge in being the places where new technologies are commercialized.”
Michigan has the potential to be a leader in emerging markets, including technology, alternative energy, health care, and education. We have citizens who are experts in these areas – or who are willing to learn new skills to become experts. Our higher education institutions need adequate funding to make this happen.
In a global, knowledge-based economy, every student graduating from high school needs to attend a vocational school, community college, or university to be successful. A college education must be affordable; if it is not, many will be unable to get the education needed to prepare for a job in a growing industry.

The survival of Michigan businesses depends on a diverse and educated workforce. We do not want Michigan to fall behind the rest of the United States because our residents cannot afford expensive public universities. According to Thomas Haas, president of Grand Valley State University, “Michigan’s public universities are engines of job creation. Our universities create the next generation of teachers, engineers, nurses, doctors, researchers, inventors, and community leaders.”

Gov. Rick Snyder had proposed a 4.1 percent cut for K-12 funding and a 15 percent cut to higher education – and education reforms and plans were announced.

I believe some cuts are necessary, but I also believe that investment is needed.

There are ways to offset at least some of the costs associated with such investments. Students who receive scholarships and other forms of financial aid, for example, could be required to give back to the community through volunteer work. They could teach senior citizens or unemployed workers technology skills, provide fitness classes and nutrition workshops in their communities, tutor K-12 students to boost graduation rates, or help maintain our “Pure Michigan” ecosystems.

Our old manufacturing economy is dying, and Michigan needs to invest in higher education to create an innovative workforce. This innovative workforce will bring economic prosperity back to Michigan. An investment in education now will secure the well-being of future generations.   

Stand Up for Public Education and Support Our Local Schools 

According to the Michigan Education Association - Political Action Committee (MEA-PAC), public education is under attack due to evaluation, privatization, right-to-work, cyber and charter schools. To rebuild Michigan’s middle class, we must rebuild our public schools. 

Instead, politicians in Lansing have slashed more than $1 billion from our children’s classrooms to pay for a $1.8-billion tax break for big corporations, including those that outsource our jobs. Macomb county public school students have lost $211,239,168 in the last four years. Meanwhile, there has been an expansion in for-profit charter and cyber schools without ensuring accountability.

By gutting our schools and taking resources away from our children, politicians are making it harder for our kids to compete for 21st century jobs. These unfair cuts lead to things like more crowded classrooms, dwindling supplies, less programs, and fewer employees, which makes learning more difficult.

Lansing politicians have the wrong priorities. They should do the right thing and return the money they took from our kids. Politicians must be held accountable for this reckless decision. Michigan must stand up for kids, not CEOS. 

We must vote for politicians who fight for kids and public schools. We need quality public schools and an economy that works for everyone. We must be committed to making public education a top priority.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What it Means and Takes to be a 21st Century Elementary Education Teacher

Career Exploration Seminar: 21st Century Elementary Education Teacher (K-8) 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 (6-7:30 P.M.) 
Oakland University Macomb County

Macomb University Center
Lecture Hall B
44575 Garfield Road
Clinton Township, MI 48038

Refreshments will be served. 

Our world will always need elementary school teachers. It's a highly rewarding and fulfilling profession. An opportunity to help children develop into self-aware individuals, teachers share valuable information and important skills to encourage a love of learning that will serve them the rest of their lives. Teaching is more than a job or a paycheck. It's a calling, and it could be yours. 

If you dream of inspiring young children, join us for an information-filled 90-minute seminar. Perhaps you will discover you want a classroom of your very own.   

Wondering what a career as an elementary school teacher would be like? Think you have what it takes? 

Whether you're seeking to complete a bachelor's degree program, or if you already have a bachelor's degree and are interested in making a career change to education, hear from an experienced panel of K-12 educators on the following: 

  • What it means and takes to be an elementary education teacher in the 21st century
  • How to become a kindergarten or elementary education teacher 
  • The teacher work environment
  • What salary you can expect 
  • Your job outlook and prospect
Guest panelists represent Oakland University's School of Education and Human Services, Van Dyke Public Schools, Chippewa Valley Public Schools, and Utica Community Schools. 

To register or learn more, including which degree best suits your needs, visit oakland.edu/pd/pathwaystoteaching.

Why I Teach

"I am not a teacher but an awakener." - Robert Frost

There's a career for every passion. The education field is not always what I envisioned when I was in college. However, I am still motivated to get up each morning and serve students in our nation's schools. Being a role model and teaching students the skills they need beyond the classroom is extremely inspiring. It is an excellent time to be a teacher. You have to love what you do in order to be successful. This gives us courage to meet our goals. Today's teachers need perseverance, passion, and hope. I pray that my teaching has a positive influence on my students and school.

The math, reading, and writing skills I developed as a student at The Lamphere Schools and Oakland University (OU) has allowed me to become a successful teacher. Playing sports and being involved in student government taught me valuable life lessons on teamwork, time management, and responsibility. Lamphere and OU helped me get to where I am today by providing me with an exceptional education. 

As a student at The Lamphere Schools and OU, I learned the benefits of getting along with people from different cultures, which continues to assist me in my career, especially when I traveled to New Zealand for a Teacher Exchange Program. My passions for public speaking, fitness, and volunteering have provided inspiration for my future. 

There were many educators that had a positive influence on my life. My health teacher, Tom Davis, encouraged me to explore my curiosities, supported me with my struggles, and celebrated my successes. He cared about me, my learning, my life, and he wanted me to find happiness within myself in order for me to be capable of helping others. He inspired me and pushed me to be my best in the classroom and on the athletic fields. I am now trying to pay this positive influence forward to my students.

For me, the motivation to teach has always come from the students in my classroom. It is essential to make lesson plans interesting in order to get students motivated about learning. There needs to be interaction between students. Moving around the room as I teach, keeping a smile, and being expressive has made a difference in my instruction. Students need constant positive feedback in order to inspire them to strive for success. I want to inspire my students to fight poverty, choose kindness, act on climate change, and recycle in order to save the environment.

Ensuring Teachers Remain in the Profession

When I graduated from Oakland University's School of Education and Human Services in 2008, I felt knowledgeable and ready to have a positive impact on future students. 
The required field placements and internships provided me with work experience that helped me make decisions about my future career. I learned that I wanted to teach middle school science, not kindergarten. The study habits I developed as an undergraduate helped me with success in graduate school. I just recently graduated with my Masters in Educational Leadership from Saginaw Valley State University.

There were definitely challenges I faced in my early years of teaching, such as how to do project-based learning, facilitate classroom discussions, and use technology effectively. A strong teaching internship experience and great mentoring programs have helped me become a successful teacher. Forging ahead on my own determination when the going got tough was essential. The wisdom that I gained with setting up classroom procedures and managing class time would benefit a newer teacher. 

Educators entering the profession need to deal with the challenges and successes of teaching through developing a positive mentor-mentee relationship. These types of relationships are necessary to help retain our top teachers and support new teachers as they come into the profession. Better professional development is also the answer and can be achieved with extensive, easily accessible support. There is something inherent about the teaching profession that is driving teacher's away, and the nature of internships, or lack thereof, in teacher education programs impacts retention. We must reclaim the agenda. 

The Top 5 Lessons I Have Learned in My Position in Public Education   

1. Be persistent. Never give up on students, parents, and colleagues. Everyone is in this together, and it truly takes a village to educate a child properly.
2. Be open-minded. Listen to other people and their opinions. The more information you have, the better decisions you can make. Communication is essential. 
3. Think positive. There is a lot of negativity out in the world, especially within the field of education. You need to have a positive outlook in order to combat all of the negativity.
4. Try different roles until you find your niche. Spend time with different people and in various extracurricular activities. Use your hobbies and passions as a guide.
5. Always want to learn. Whether it is a new technology or a new teaching strategy, teachers are life-long learners. We need to be learning alongside our students and show how passionate we are in seeking knowledge.

The Future of Public Education: 5 Snapshots of Modern Day Teaching in the 21st century

Being a teacher is one of the hardest jobs one could ever love. Teachers make a difference in the lives of students, parents, colleagues, and the community. The field of education is changing for the better. 

1. Currently, there is a focus on Depths of Knowledge Levels 3 and 4 in order to get students to critically think and apply what they are learning. Teachers are trying to make learning rigorous and relevant. They facilitate instruction rather than always being the deliverer. The students know the learning objectives.  

2. Digital technology makes learning personalized, engaging, and fun for students. Emerging trends with digital technology includes Web 3.0 and Anticipatory/Artificial Intelligence. Teachers need to have the trust, passion, and drive to use digital technology in their classrooms. They must be adaptable to learn new teaching techniques in order to meet student needs.

3. Teachers’ focusing on career readiness is essential. New jobs today require high Lexile levels. The English-Language Arts (ELA) teachers cannot do it alone. There is a laser-like focus on literacy because high Lexile scores equates to higher scores in other subjects such as math.   

4. Data analyses, such as growth models, are being used in teacher evaluations. The future is common core with smarter balanced testing. Our school uses the NWEA Map assessment to test for learning and literacy. Teachers are also giving their own assessments to monitor student growth.

5. Teachers are also responsible for a student’s personal development. Students are taught how to behave rather than just being punished. The student/teacher relationship is critical, and the focus is on student needs. Teachers cannot let students fail.

In addition to these five snapshots, issues such as poverty, student apathy, and lack of parent involvement should be considered when thinking about the future of public education. Other countries choose which kids go to school. In the United States, we allow all kids to go to a school with high expectations. This has an affect when comparing our test scores to those of other countries. 

Change the picture with Communities in Schools of Michigan. Click here for more information. 

Chippewa Valley Schools Strategic Planning Community Forum

Saturday, January 24, 2015: 9:00 - 11:00 AM
Chippewa Valley High School Auditorium
18300 Nineteen Mile Road, Clinton Township, MI 48038

Mark your calendars! You’re invited to learn about future trends in education. Provide us with valuable input into our strategic planning process that will help us determine the future of 
Chippewa Valley Schools. 

Chippewa Valley Schools will embark on a comprehensive strategic planning process to determine our core beliefs and goals that will guide our decision making for the next three-to-five years. The purpose of this strategic plan is to help us better define our mission, our vision, and where we want to be in the future.

The process will be inclusive, seeking input from all major stakeholders, including parents, school staff, administrators, students, community members, and local business leaders.

Join us for our initial community kick-off as keynote speaker, 
Dr. C. Robert Maxfield, Interim Dean, School of Education and Human Services, Oakland University, talks about the future of education. Afterwards you will have an opportunity to share valuable information and feedback with us. We look forward to your participation!

Click here to watch a video by the Strategic Planning Committee. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

CCSS: 4th Grade Math - The Relationship Between Multiplication and Division

Common Core State Standard: Use place value understanding and properties of operations to perform multi-digit arithmetic.

Specific Objectives: Using base-10 blocks and calculators, students will determine how multiplication and division are interrelated through building, drawing, and explaining.

Vocabulary Terms:
Division (to divide): sharing or grouping a number into equal parts.  
Dividend: The number being divided.
Divisor: A number that will divide the dividend exactly.
Quotient: The result of division. 
Multiplication (to multiply): A mathematical operation where a number is added to itself a number of times. 
Factor: A whole number that multiplies with another number to make a third number.  
Product: The result when two numbers are multiplied.

Materials needed by Teacher: Paper for drawings, base-10 blocks, placemats, colored pencils, mini basketball and net.

Materials needed by Student: Paper for drawings, base-10 blocks, placemats, colored pencils, and calculators.

Plan A
      • Introduce multiplication and division with literature connection (5 min.).
      • Discuss prior knowledge by having students share what they know about multiplication and division. (5 min.)
      • Have students find a partner; pass out base-10 blocks, placemats, and calculators. (5 min.)
      • Use the overhead to model how to build, draw, and solve multiplication and division questions. Explain each step to students. (10 min.)
      • Provide questions for students: 11 × 4, 17 × 22, 23 × 34, 18 ÷ 3, 32 ÷ 4. Have each student draw their own replica of what they built with the base-10 blocks. Have students explain their process after they complete each question. (15 min.)
      • Assess students by observing and collecting their drawings, and asking questions for understanding during the activity. Have them check answers using calculators.
      •  Review this concept by playing “Basketball Math”. Split the class into two teams. Set two desks up with the base-10 blocks and placemats.
      • Call the first two-team members to the desks. Give them a multiplication or division problem and have them build. The first one with the correct answer is invited to the free throw line to take a shot for a point. The team with the most points at the end wins. (20 min.)
      • Encourage students to practice the concept by teaching someone at home.
Plan B
      • To extend to a higher level of thinking, give students division questions where the quotient has a remainder.
      • Have students build, draw, and explain their answers to the question. Have them check their answers with a calculator. (15 min.)
      • Have students create their own definition of a remainder based on their observations. (5 min.)
      • Play “Basketball Math.” (20 min.)
Plan C
      • To simplify, show students how multiplication is actually repeated addition and how division is grouping a number into equal parts. Use graphic organizers on the whiteboard for a visual. (10 min.)
      • Ask multiplication and division questions using single digits. Have students build, draw, and explain their answers to the question. Have them check their answers with a calculator. (15 min.)
      • Play "Basketball Math." (20 min.)

Discussion and Closure with Students: Answer any of the students’ questions. Make sure that they understand the concept. Have them draw a picture of an object that they own being multiplied or divided. (10 min.) 

Published in the December 2014 Edition of the MEA Voice (P. 20)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

5 Thoughts on Ways to Save Money

My New Year's Resolutions involve the art of saving money. This is my goal because I try to keep my life simple. 

However, I love traveling, exploring, and trying new things. We give to the poor often and participate in many fundraisers. 

I need to savor my spiritual life more. "That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest." - Henry David Thoreau

The following is my response to an article by Jill Cataldo, Super-Coupon Queen. Click here to change the way you shop forever. 

1. Food: I always take water in my car and rarely stop for a drink unless I feel that I need a coffee or a Slurpee. Staying hydrated keeps you healthy and helps you save money.

I usually drink water at a restaurant. However, if I’m in the mood, I will get what I want and enjoy it.

When we go out for dinner, we usually have leftovers for lunch the next day because of the larger portions. I buy my own condiments.

2. Shopping: I do not like to pay for shipping and would do anything to avoid it. I do shop at farmers markets occasionally in order to save money and support local products.

I am always amazed at what you can find at the Dollar Store such as school and office supplies. We should probably shop there more for everyday products such as dish soap and shampoo.

I like going to Costco for free samples. We save money by buying everyday items in bulk. They also have good deals on clothing and eyewear.

3. Entertainment: I could easily get rid of my cable. We save money by getting basic cable, bundling it with our Internet, and not paying for a landline phone. 

I like watching the news, but it is depressing. When I have family and friends over, we like to watch sports or a movie. 

I’m not sure if I could just throw out my TV. However, we could probably get rid of at least half of our technology. 

I love going to the movies, sporting events, and concerts. I often buy tickets as gifts for family and friends. 

Advanced screenings are a way to see movies for free and theatres sometimes offer discounted tickets at certain times during the day. There are legal ways to get tickets for sporting events and concerts for free or at discounted prices.

I like being home, but I get that itch to travel. I have stayed in cheap hotels before and they are not worth it most of the time. There are ways to save money on good hotels that don’t have bugs living everywhere. 

 I could do without a motorhome, motorcycle, boat, camper, or RV. Never had the desire to own them. 

We have never scuba dived or surfed. However, we do enjoy snowboarding occasionally. It is expensive. 

I don’t collect anything expensive. Mainly sports cards from garage sales and postcards from my travels. We keep a scrapbook with our ticket stubs.

4. Transportation: I have owned my car for six years, and I am hoping to get another four years out of it. It is nice not having a car payment and worrying about leasing a car with mile limitations. 

To keep it clean, I usually go to a $2 car wash place because it is better for the environment than washing it in the driveway.

5. Home: We have a dishwasher. Mine as well use it until it breaks down. Washing dishes can be good exercise, but I am always in a rush and prefer to leave my dishes. 

Michigan weather is too crazy. I am extremely thankful for air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. However, in the fall and spring, we try to open our windows up for some fresh air.