How does the culture of your current teaching environment differ from the learning environment you experienced as a student?


For 10 years I attended a small rural school with no more than 80 students. I had the same teacher for 1st to 5th grade. It was in 4th grade that we got our first apple box computer. Standardized tests were not a big thing and we as students had plenty of playtime learning. My favorite memory was teddy bear day. We spent time building these cardboard houses and one day we got to bring our teddy bears to school for a movie party day with our teddy. “ Play, questioning, and – perhaps most important – imagination lie at the very heart of arc-of-life learning.” (Thomas and Brown, 68 of 2399) I remember learning my multiplication from a funny rap cassette and we knew how to make a multiplication chart.

Jr. high (6-8th grade) was different because I had three teachers and they were different every year. I hated spelling and got my first “F” on my progress report. Science was a blast because it was all project based. We spent most of the fall and spring outside. I got to take a shop class and my parents still have my projects to this day. School was fun and we wanted to go everyday. But because I love challenge I applied and got accepted to Mount Edgecumbe High School (MEHS) in Sitka, Alaska. The culture was surely different! I was around people of all different cultures and learned of places I had never heard of. Sitka was rainy and hardly any snow. The food was different and of course the education was hard. I loved my three years in Sitka. Again we had tests but nothing standardized except SAT and ACT oh and maybe ASVAB.

Now in 2013, I would not want to be a kid in school. NCLB had placed a lot of pressure on testing and high performance. I mean to be tested from kindergarten to twelfth grade is hard on a student. It seems that we lose so many school days (academic time) to testing. As a teacher I get tired of the all testing, I can imagine how the students feel. Students are labeled from kindergarten and for some that follows them all the way through school. I teach at an alternative high school and I had a young man last year that NEVER passed an SBA in his entire until his senior year. It took us three years to change the way he thought about testing and himself. We as a staff focused on the reading HSGQE with him and he passed it will flying colors. We built up his confidence in himself. He knew how to read, he just had that mind set that I am not smart enough pass. I never pass anything. “The ultimate endpoint of a mechanistic perspective is efficiency: The goal is learn as much as you can, as fast as you can. In this teaching-based approach, standardization is reasonable way to do this, and testing is a reasonable way to measure the result.” (Thomas and Brown, 332 of 2399) But not everyone is great at taking standardized test and the students are only valued for the scores that get on these tests. I am not a great test taker and I know that I would have had trouble in school if I had to pass these tests.

We live in a technology age. We need to spend our time utilizing technology instead of fighting with our students to ‘put your cell phone’, ‘put your Ipad/Ipod away’, or ‘you don’t need a computer’. I have a problem with this at my school because the policy has this and I want to do this. Or we have limitations and I know that if we teach the students we will have more success. I have learned a lot for my own children just by letting explore on our computer at home. My four year old know how to work my phone better than I can. He is currently teaching me how to play mine craft.

I love my job as a teacher because of the difference I get to make in my students lived. I am love that I work at an alternative school and our curriculum and schedule is different than the main high school. I use the next generation science standard (just adopted by our school), like I am suppose to but I don’t focus on testing. I focus on learning is fun and I seem to have more success with my students.

Over all, culture as changed as a whole. In an article titled, 5 Aspects of K-12 life that have changed since the 1990s says the 5 aspects are

  1. LGBT tolerance: the world is far more accepting
  2. The Perception of Higher Education
  3. ADHD/Overmedication: Years ago, when a kid was misbehaved or didn’t pay attention, they were punished in some way. Now this behavior isn’t the kid’s fault.
  4. Role Models
  5. Toy guns/Threats of Violence in the Classroom.

Caldwell, Suzanna. (2012-11-26). Revolution in rural Alaska education? Many embracing regional schools. http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/revolution-rural-alaska-education-many-embracing-regional-schools

Saccaro, Matt. (2013-01-27). 5 Aspects of K-12 Life That Have Changed Since the 1990s. http://thoughtcatalog.com/m-saccaro/2013/01/5-aspects-of-k-12-life-that-have-changed-since-the-1990s/

Thomas, Douglas; Brown, John Seely (2011-03-12). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change (Kindle Location 319). CreateSpace. Kindle Edition.


WOW! Mentor projects… great job

Not sure what happened to my first post.

Mentoring projects reflection:

WOW! I feel like my mentor project could be better or more in depth because my classmates are really scholars. I wish I were being mentored by more than half of my classmates. I look forward to reading about their successes with the mentoring projects.

I shared some smart board websites and I tried to share a movie but was unable. Anyone that uses a smart board can sign up an account and get free web training. I am using some of resources with my mentee and hoped that they would be helpful to my classmates.

Deb is also doing something with smart board and clickers with her mentee and I am hoping that we can share our experience. I am concerned about data collection. My mentee and I are having fun with the smart board and he is learning how to use it and we are finding lessons for language arts. I am just not sure what the data collection is. Any ideas or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

From Jon I got the idea to use a KWL about the smart board with my mentee. I have used KWLs in my classrooms so hopefully I can get some insight to what my mentee is learning. At our next meeting I will start the KWL and that can help drive our direction with the training.

I should have done a survey with my staff about what they would have liked to learn. I have fear of teaching technology and so I went with something I was somewhat comfortable and really didn’t challenge myself.



Mentor project ~ SMART Board ~

Since work has started I have been mentoring my new principal, new counselor, new language arts teacher and new math teacher. Yes that’s right I am the only returning staff member to my school. What a challenging start to the school year. I have been mentoring them in the workings of our school. I was ‘given’ the roll as lead teacher and sit on a leadership team.

When talking with my staff about educational technology and what could I possible mentor them in we came up with smart board training. Now I am not where near an expert in using the smart board but I am up for the challenge to train and help my coworker.


Mentor Project:

I will be working with three of my staff members. Two of three have no experience with smart board at all and the other one had minimal experience with smart board. This project will run until my co-workers are comfortable with smart board and notebook software.

First: we will start with installing the software on to their computers. We have four smart boards in our school and I am currently the only person who uses one. I will have everyone register for an account with SMART exchange.

Second: We will watch a few videos on how to use smart board. The first video will cover:

  • Connect the interactive whiteboard
  • Use the Pen-Tray tools
  • Write on the interactive whiteboard
  • Orient your SMART Board
  • Access and control applications
  • Work with Microsoft Word and PowerPoint

Third: we will go over SMART Board tools

Fourth: we will go over Hardware basics and Functions

Fifth: we will look at student lesson plans. We will start with some of the lesson plans that I have already made.

I am not sure where we will go after this. Suggestions would be nice.


I am not sure how I will be collecting data for this. It will be through observations and staff collaboration. 







Fall Whaling in Barrow, Alaska

Here are some pictures from the whale that our crew was gifted with. This is why I have been so busy and absent from my studies.


Our children waiting for their dad and crew to pull in our whale.

ImageGift of the bowhead whale.  He was 30’2″ long.


Akootchook crew whaling crew flag flies. This whale was dedicated to the honor of Captain Joe’s two uncles that have passed on.


My family


Akootchook crew captain Joes first cuts


Shares being cut up to give to all registered fall whaling captains. Because this is Joes first whale as Captain of Akootchook crew he has to give the entire whale away. Some of the whale was saved to be cut, boiled and served to the community.


Cutting up different parts of the whale to boil and serve to the community. We cut up maktuk, heart, tongue, kidney, and intestine to boil. We also cut up tail but we do not boil it. This processes takes one or two days.


Making baggies of whale to give out to the community.


Elder comes and sit at the table to enjoy the feast. other community members get a baggie to go.


After serving to the community and cleaning up the house and whaling gear we spent the rest of the evening “having aggi” dancing.


Current captain and “wife” (we are not married yet) and former captain and wife.

Alice and Joe with his Uncle Roy and Aunt Flossie


Week 3 reflection

Fear! We all share a sense of fear.

I have a big fear of writing, hence one of the reason I have fallen behind, and I work at trying to get over it but it is hard. Burgess gives us some great information in the last part of his book and my peers have given me some great information on how to personal get over my fear of writing. I love to talk and share just not write.

When talking with  my peers and coworkers I was given the confidence that I needed to push forward. I had to stop making excuses, valid or not, and move forward.

I saw that Ginger and I happened to run across the same article and even video (I didn’t post). But is was Ginger’s first sentences that really stuck with me, “Keeping focused on excellence is important when we are innovating in the classroom and with our professional lives.” So what I have learned for my peers and coworkers/friends is that I need to stay focused.


week 3

How do we maintain excellence as we innovate?

Change! A word that we as teacher either love or hate because we face changes constantly. I love the challenge of change and making something new work in the environment in which I teach. The school year did not start out so great for Kiita Learning Community, we had a complete change of teachers except for me. The change was too much for our student and raised a lot of problems. I had to be the glue and maintain excellence as a teacher with all this change. WOW! I was tested.

What do we mean by “innovation?” 

My computer gives me the definition: the action or process of innovating.

• A new method, idea, product, etc.

Ed.gov says, “Innovation is the spark of insight that leads a scientist or inventor to investigate an issue or phenomenon. That insight is usually shaped by an observation of what appears to be true or the creative jolt of a new idea. Innovation is driven by a commitment to excellence and continuous improvement. Innovation is based on curiosity, the willingness to take risks, and experimenting to test assumptions. Innovation is based on questioning and challenging the status quo. It is also based on recognizing opportunity and taking advantage of it.” (http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/about/definition.html)

 I believe my district is being an innovator in our curriculum for math, science and language arts. We have been on a plan for four years now to integrate these three contents with state standards and the Inupiaq culture. We are the front-runners for the state. We are in a constant state of flux and change. How do I maintain my excellence during all this change? This changes goes right along with what I believe in and do already. I am an innovator! My can plan a lesson and rarely does it go as plan. For example, I was teaching North Slope Science and we had planned a field trip to go collect plants from the tundra. The students we excited and ready to go that day. My bus was cancelled due to no driver and I had to come up with another lesson really quick. I made homemade blueberry jam with my class. We ended up with 20 jars and everyone went home with one. I am constantly improving my teaching and lessons. I learn something new almost everyday and what to incorporate it into my classroom.

 In Erica Swallow’s article she states that Tony Wagner came up with a set of core competencies that every student must master before the end of high school. They are:

  • – Critical thinking and problem solving (the ability to ask the right questions)
  • –  Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
  • – Agility and adaptability
  • – Initiative and entrepreneurialism
  • – Accessing and analyzing information
  • – Effective written and oral communication
  • – Curiosity and imagination

She also says that Wagner said, “The culture of schooling as we all know it is radically at odds with the culture of learning that produces innovators.” He identified five ways in which America’s education system is stunting innovation:

  • Individual achievement is the focus
  • Specialization is celebrated and rewarded
  • Risk aversion is the norm
  • Learning is profoundly passive
  • Extrinsic incentives drive learning.

Swallow goes on to same more awesome things about Wagner and his book. Read the book and/or article.

Village schools for the junior high and high school levels should be run more like an alternative school. We have to work and be ready for change all the time. Dave Burgess gave five reasons why teachers might be afraid start:

  1. The fear of failure
  2. Believing you have to figure it all before you begin
  3. Perfectionism
  4. Lack of focus
  5. Fear of criticism or ridicule.

We must teach our children never to be afraid to try something new. We must set examples for them. Burgess says, “We aren’t just teaching facts to memorize or skills to learn; we’re uplifting lives and helping students fulfill their human potential. We’re shaping the mothers, fathers, world leaders, entrepreneurs, and artists of tomorrow. Anyone with the most rudimentary understanding of geometric progression realizes that our students will interact and influence millions. It’s a mighty purpose, indeed.” (2012)

Burgess, Dave (2012). Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator (Kindle Locations 1828-1830). Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Swallow, Erica. Creating Innovators: Why America’s Education System Is Obsolete. Entrepreneurs. 4/25/2012

What Do We Mean by “Innovation”? U.S. Department of Education. http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/about/definition.html



Week 2 reflection

After reading several blogs about engagement I can see that we have all had some no so successful lessons. I really enjoyed reading Karen’s blog and her sharing with us how she turned her lesson around and made it engaging for the students. WTG Karen! In my blog I shared two articles with 10 steps to engagement each. Ginger shares in her blog an article by Angela Maiers, the “26 Keys to Student Engagement” organized A through Z. Here is the website – BOOKMARK it. http://www.angelamaiers.com/2008/04/engagement-alph.html

It was nice to read that I am not the only one that wanted to highlight and write down all the hooks that Burgess takes about in this book.  I have not enjoyed a graduate level required reading before. I am ordering the hardback of this book for my personal library. Thank you Dr. Lee for picking out such a wonderful book. Looking forward to finishing the book.

I am presenting at our district wide in-service this coming week and I am going to share this book and of course the 26 keys to student engagement with my co-workers across the slope.