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About Me

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I was born in Mesa and lived in both Arizona and Utah. I attended four different high schools and moved back to Mesa my senior year. I love to travel and explore; I studied abroad in England, Scotland and France and had a blast. Music and writing drive me. I am a hard worker, when I am motivated to be. I am a passionate girl who loves people. I love friends but I also love my quiet time. Most importantly, I love to Love. I am a writer, an educator, a learner, an explorer and yes, a Mormon. I am blessed and I love my life. I am currently serving a mission for the Lord through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Italy until January of 2016.

My motto

My Motto
Love and Be Loved

Monday, November 21, 2016

What are ways that we can implement individualized learning for any student in all subjects?

I grew up attending Acorn Montessori School from grades K-6 where the methodology for learning is much different than direct instruction and other "normal, public" school settings. The Montessori approach is very hands-on and inquiry based, or self driven. Throughout my pre-teaching journey, I have noticed the lack of this individualized learning in schools, and though it is not the only way to teach, I feel like it is how we naturally and should be implemented more than it is. I am passionate about strategies and ways to teach that promote individualized learning, and I hope that you will benefit from what I share today.

As a guide for my workshop, I used the concept of 20-time to facilitate my workshop. This idea is geared towards older grades, especially junior high and high schoolers, but is also scaffolded for and would be great to use with elementary grades. Thanks to 20-time, today's necessities like Sticky Notes and Google maps were created. Use this website and information as a tool to give that same opportunity of creation to your students in your classroom.

This project starts with a goal or a vision. It needs to be more than just a performance goal, though. It needs to be a learning goal, like a SMART goal. A performance goal is like wanting to run a mile in 8 minutes, but that's it. A learning goal plans how to get there, studies the steps, and measures progress and results. 

"Sir Ken Robinson explains in The Element that when someone doesn’t know how to read and write, we don’t assume they are incapable of literacy. Instead we know that they haven’t yet learned how to read and write. In a similar manner, he explains, when someone isn’t creative, we should not assume that they are incapable of creativity. We should assume they just need to be taught.
I am trying to teach my students how to be creative.
They choose what they will learn based on what they wonder about, what they are good at, and what they are passionate about." 


Start on a small, simple scale of this project to get the feel for it. Write:
2 things you love to do or learn
2 things you are good at
2 things you wonder about life
Now go have some fun!



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Independent study is a different way of learning and is also an example of the workshop. In independent study, a student is guided by a teacher but usually does not take classes with other students every day. The student works independently. Independent study is available to children and adults. Here is a great introduction to independent study in California, and here is a more in-depth example of what it entails. 

There is a student in my current third grade class who just seems to know everything that you would never think a third grader would know. He zooms through his work and then gets bored, distracting the other students at his table and always has much to say off topic. This student needs deeper work or a project to work on (like any of these listed) in that "extra" time he has. So, things like 20-time don't have to be used for the whole class, but can be used on an individual basis or even as an incentive. You can also check out what Scholastic has to say about independent studies. The linked article talks about a school in North Carolina that has developed this learning method with students and it's amazing the results that have been shown.


Some more ideas...


Makerspaces is a new term coming into the world of education, or becoming more popular. Do you have techy students in your class? Try using recycled technology devises as learning tools that they can take apart, rebuild and explore. 

Dreambox is a tool that my school has just recently introduced to the students. Students start either at grade level or from kindergarten level, and as they answer each problem the math program automatically moves them up or down to where they should be. This is what makes it wonderful! They can work on iPads in class or any tech device, even at home, on their own and at their own pace.

Flexible Seating is a wonderful way to individualize the classroom! Very dependent on where you teach and the policies of the school district, you may have to be super convincing to let this swing. As this article explains, you slowly make the change in your classroom so it's not a budget breaker do remake your classroom over fall break. Some people love working at a table or desk. For others, it makes then feel trapped and they just want to kick back and prop their feet up. With great planning and great classroom management, you can implement even one or two parts of this flexible classroom into your own to really give students the freedom for their own education. I know of one teacher who uses the blue fitness ball for one of her two desks "chairs" and I also see accommodations for gifted or special needs students.

Kiddom is more of a resource that teachers can use, but it seems to be effective. Teachers can supplement their work online with what they do in class for blended learning, it can be implemented for individual practice and also as a self-guided type of learning that puts the each student in charge. Check it out! We are all about choices these days.


Learning contracts and choice boards. While I was at Acorn, each week my teachers would give us a contract, or a schedule for the week of what we would be doing. The days marked across the top and the subjects down the side, we would know exactly what is happening. Group and required work would be obvious, and then there were other activities that we could work on once we were finished with all of the have-to's. This would be great for students to keep track of what the class is doing, or to have for individual students who may want extra work or even need less work. Choice boards are somewhat similar, but maybe students will only pick at least three of the activities provided. 




Here is a list of some final resources you can check out that I read or skimmed through in my studies:

  • http://hechingerreport.org/how-finland-broke-every-rule-and-created-a-top-school-system/
  • https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/partnering-with-childs-school/instructional-strategies/individualized-instruction-vs-differentiated-instruction

Sunday, May 8, 2016

I am caring because...

The question I'm going to consider for this entry is based on failure, something that I learned from disappointment in an activity. All of the students in my school were given a writing prompt from the principal to complete, and upon completion could participate in a special recess. The writing prompt was "I am caring because..." and they had to finish the sentence. The problem was that they did not understand what the word caring meant. My mentor teacher had given a background on it, we discussed it and the students even gave examples of what it meant. Then we sent them to work. They all came back not knowing what write, asking what the word meant, showing us sentences that didn't make sense, and the biggest problem, that they thought the word was "carrying" not "caring". My teacher finally stopped the class and discussed it again, giving very clear examples! But the students still just not understand how to respond to the prompt because they didn't know what the word meant. 
I'm sure we could have gone to the internet to look for some extra help with the language barrier, but by that point there was not much time left in the day. By the end of the time period we just scratched the activity and I don't remember what my teacher did with it, but I do know they got their recess. Sometimes simple lesson plans do fail! And that's OK. Perhaps we needed to provide a better background and understanding to allow for a more clear definition of the word. That was a writing afternoon disaster I will always remember.

(From early March 2016)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Happy Day

Just as I think that my dreams will go flat, just as I'm on my breaking point, just as I slack and am about to give up and think my dreams and goals might not really happen... I get this friendly little reminder that yes, I make a difference, and Heather, that difference doesn't go unnoticed. Someone really does see me! I got the invite a while back to the award program tonight and was told it was for Excellence in my Education Studies. I didn't find out what it was for until I received it tonight, and I was pleasantly surprised and grateful.

Homework is not always fun. Papers are usually not easy to write. School is difficult. Teaching is very difficult. There is never enough time in a day, a week, a month, a semester- it always flies right on by. But you know what? I Love to learn and I Love to teach! This life is all about learning and I want those around me to gain knowledge of the very best they can. I just cannot stress how important our knowledge we learn now will be to us later (think of the eternal perspective...)

Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.” -Doctrine and Covenants Section 130

I am grateful for my advisers, faculty and professors at MCC. Seriously, attending a community college has been the greatest thing for me! Opportunities to get involved, make friends, travel, learn, grow, expand my diversity, be awesome. Community colleges are intimate and personal. There are SO many opportunities and I would recommend Mesa Community College to anyone. It's a love/hate relationship at most times, but overall I have Loved it. Nothing could have better prepared for me for a university than MCC. Did I mention how much cheaper it is? Did I mention you can get scholarships (easy) and go to school with money in your pocket? Then earn even more scholarships to later transfer to a university? Well I wasn't planning on making this spiel, but there you have it.

MY POINT OF THIS POST is that I am grateful for my life! I am grateful to be a part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so excited to serve Him for 18 months. I am excited to be a teacher. I Love my family, I love my friends, I Love me! I am blessed to live in America, even Arizona. Challenge: Wake up tomorrow and think, what is good in my life today? Yesterday? In the future? Dwell on that goodness! Give thanks. Give love. You are YOU and you don't need what anybody else has. In my opinion, from my beliefs, if we all follow God's path and try to be more like our savior Jesus Christ, than we can be happy and appreciate even the worst of storms. Look at the world around you: good or bad, God has a plan for it. Life is amazing. Make the most of what you have now.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Writing

To write is to form meaning on the surface of some material with an instrument or means.

A writer sits in her chair, setting words upon paper, spreading the seeds of idea.
(from a shop sign)

"To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write."
(Gertrude Stein)

To write: is to let go of everything you carry on your shoulders, hold in the palm of your hand, to rid of your worry and release the thoughts of your heart from where you stand...and to inspire.
(yours truly)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Elementary Math post six: Mr. Mean and Friends

The mean is the average of a set of numbers. It is a general number that equals out all of the other numbers. To find it, you add all of the numbers together and divide that by the total number of numbers.
The standard deviation is a measure of how spread out numbers are.
The median is the number in the center of data numbers when ordered form least to greatest. If the amount of numbers in the data is even, then you add the two numbers together to get the average and that is the median.
The mode is the number that appears most often within a data set.
The range is simply the scale of how many numbers you are working with. Subtract the smallest number from the largest number.

We learned about these concepts in my math class. They are pretty useful when working with statistics and numbers. They may sound scary, but really they aren't. They are practical and very useful, especially as a teacher. Below I am just going to give a data set and an example of each of the five answers. All can be found on a TI graphing calculator so if you are a teacher, I would recommend looking into that.

Example

The following scores are what students in the class earned on their test: 71, 98, 93, 42, 78, 82, 100, 91, 83, 85, 71, 73, 64, 68, and 55.
The mean is 76.93
The standard deviation is 16.02
The median is 78.
The mode is 71.
The range is 58.

A Great explanation

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Homework Stop

I long for the day when I won't have to do homework I hate, do busy work, do what somebody else cares about when I don't care squat... all just to work towards getting that wondrous letter "A" stamped on my record. I love homework that I actually enjoy, where I learn something and it has meaning in my life. I can't wait to have time to be me and share what I am most passionate about with others. To help others find their place in life.

I pray and try everyday to be a difference in someones life and help them to be happy. If you aren't happy in you heart, than who are you? I want to write. I have these thoughts in my head that get lost because I do so much stupid homework for that one class that I didn't want to take, but was required. Sure, I still learn a lot from it. But clearly the homework is not doing it's duty- no matter how awesome a teacher you are. I want to teach to share my love and knowledge with others to help them grow and understand the world.
I hate sitting in classrooms through lectures. Why not build open walls? School is so very terribly mentally exhausting. It makes you lazy and super productive all at once. I go to bed and my eyeballs ache. You don't have time to eat. Working out asks for energy that you (don't think) you have. When do I write? When do I read? When do I go on long bike rides?

OK, I'm being silly... only kind of. Am I right? Does anyone else feel like this? Of course I still do the things I want but I always feel like I'm doing them guiltily, knowing I have homework I could do instead.
Anyways. That's my rant. Now maybe I can focus on this busy-work homework that I am hating so very much. I could have been 1/5 of the way done by now. But at least I got that off of my mind.
Blahhhh...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Elementary Math post five: Graphs, Charts and Tools Galore

In class we talked about different types of charts and graphs that a person could use. I have mentioned them in italics already in previous posts, but here I want to share more about some of them.

Bar Graph
Bar graphs are easy to read, show clear information and are great for displaying categorical data, or common data that falls into categories.










Source
Histogram
A histogram is very similar to a bar graph, the only difference is that the bars touch each other because it is showing two or multiple groups of data.













Source


The Pictograph
A pictograph is what we used for the m&m's previously. They are continuous and appear to be easy to read, but it is difficult to see exactly how many of something it is displaying.













Source
Pie Chart/ Circle Graph
Pie charts are super easy to compare your data with. You can look at one immediately and see, for example, that there are more penguins than llamas. They are not very easy to make by hand, but they are very precise. They also use categorical data.










Source
Line Graph
Line graphs are quite simple and very common. They typically show trends over time and are continuous, with numerical data, meaning they show numbers of something. The dots are the where the data is found and the lines simply connect the dots to show whether the trend is positive, negative or neutral.












Source


Dot Plot
This type of graph might be my favorite. They are easy to read and can be great to use with large portions of data. This is what we used as a class for the m&m's. They can show areas of clusters where numbers are grouped together and visually display how many are connected to each number. They don't show specifics, but in general it is a good graph to use.




Source

Graphs and pactice

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Elementary Math post four: Mmm M&M's

In almost every class I think, man, this class sure would be better with food. Guess what? My wish came true! We did an experiment for data analysis and statistics using a small sample of regular m&m's and got to eat them afterwards. Score.

Before we began, there were two questions asking which color we think would occur most often, least often and why. I said blue would occur most because it's the color we all love, and brown would occur least because it's the ugly, boring color. Well we grabbed our sample and recorded how many m&m's of each color we had individually. Then we placed the m&m's on this pictograph and colored in the circles (notice how I did mine backwards, because I got so excited that I wasn't paying attention.) Next we added all of our class data together to find out if our predictions were accurate or not. Go back to post one where I describe Bernoulli's theorem. By putting all of our data together, it was really interesting to see what the results were. We then made a class dot plot and on our own we made both a pictograph and a bar graph with the class data. 
Experiments like this one are a really great way to get students interested in the topic they are learning. It is a great discovery method and gets them thinking about stuff in the world like, how do they choose how many colors to put in m&m's or how do retailers know how many clothing sizes to buy for each size? In addition to great learning, activities like this one are FUN and kids will love it.

The class results
Brown: 61 or 15%
Green: 79 or 19%
Orange: 88 or 22%
Red: 56 or 14%
Blue: 78 or 19%
Yellow: 45 or 11%

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Elementary Math post three: Acing the Test

On my last post for math, I titled it "Probability Pains.'' That was because I was getting really frustrated with all of the numbers flying around. The odds of getting an ace in a deck of cards vs. the probability of getting an ace in a deck of cards. The ideas really are rather simple, but for some reason I had such a hard time understanding all of it! How would I have ever come out on top on my test?

As I'm sure every other student is like, I wanted to do really well on my first test. This is my second semester having my awesome teacher so I knew what to expect: explanation for every problem. (Remember, it's math for the elementary teacher.) Coincidentally (and I don't recommend this first part) I saved two math assignments to do right before class. So I said a prayer and I decided I would go sit in the Math Tutoring Center so that I could ask for sufficient help when I needed it. Let me just say that was the best decision I have ever made. Why had I never used that place before? There were three problems I was confused about and didn't quite understand, and there was one in particular that had been troubling me since day one. So I asked for help, a sometimes (not so) easy thing to do. And guess what? Two of those exact problems with different numbers were on the test. 
And I ACED that test!!! During both semesters I have never gotten a grade higher than, well, this high! A happy 98%. I am thrilled. So it was a bad idea to save my homework for the last minute. But let me tell you that there's probably a reason you are stuck on a certain problem. So ask for help. Seek for understanding and figure it out. It's that simple, really. I hope to get better at asking for help myself because, as this test proved, it pays off.

Just a lil' bit of help for you Click on Tips For Success ECE102.doc It is a download.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The cheesecake challenge

I love me some creamy, cold, delicious desserts. Fresh fruit smoothies, vanilla bean ice cream with a drizzle of fudge sauce, Bahama Bucks' shaved ice, chocolatey brownies, and most especially, cheesecake. Mmm.

Living in our world today, goodies such as the ones I listed above are not necessarily "nutritious" for us to eat all the time. Well, I'm a person small in size and gaining weight is not particularly one of my concerns for now. However, I do notice a difference in my body when I eat said deliciousness on a regular basis (which let's face it, is pretty regular.)

But wait! Just because all of that sugar and fat is bad for our bodies, doesn't mean we must eliminate the flavor. So here's my secret. Really I'm just backing up what the commercials say. Have you heard of Yoplait? Yes, it's a yogurt. Yes, that's my secret. My new junk food plan.

It all started when I was buying some yogurt one day. I always eat fruit and carbs and protein for breakfast, and I like yogurt when I don't use milk. I started buying the strawberry cheesecake flavored yogurt and I loved it. One night, I was hungry before bed. I wanted some ice cream or some sort of yummy treat. I love cheesecake! It could be my weakness (along with anything ice cream or fruity). So what did I do? Instead of having a bowl of ice cream, I reached in the fridge and had some yogurt. Mmm. Best decision I ever made, because I have officially made it my new night time snack. Cheesecake taste: check. Craving satisfied: check. As this video shows, there are many different flavors. Personally I don't like the "light" yogurt. I think the original is just as good. Maybe it's not as healthy, or maybe it is. But it feels better on my body and that's what matters to me.

So my challenge for you is try this out. Next time you crave a sweet treat, find a replacement for it. Make a change. Be better, be happy, be healthy, and enjoy it, but don't swim in it. Do what works for you.
It's a challenge to consider. If you do happen to make a change like I did, tell me about it! Post a comment because I would love to hear how you are changing to be and feel healthy.

P.S. This does not replace my decadent deliciousness. Every once in a while, a hunken piece of cheesecake or a bowl of ice cream is definitely in store. Just not every day.