Archive for January, 2015

TEACH100

Posted: January 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

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This blog has been officially ranked on TEACH100 (www.teach.com). I’m #823 but hey, you have to start somewhere!

Thank you to all new readers and readers that have checked in every-so-often. I appreciate it.

Banning Energy Drinks

Posted: January 9, 2015 in Education

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I caught the tail end of a news broadcast about making the sale of energy drinks to persons under the age of 19 illegal. This would also mean that vending machines in high school hallways would also be energy drink free. This caused me to assess my own school and what we offer our young minds.

Doctors Nova Scotia are the ones that are pushing for legislation to pass the above law. On their website, they indicate that they have support in this venture from the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) – that’s pretty good support. In a study conducted in Nova Scotia, 50% of grade 7 students admit to using energy drinks in the 12 months prior to being surveyed and this increases to 71% usage by grade 12. Some students (they cite 25%) even mix this with alcohol…surprise surprise. Could it be that living on the east coast ain’t such easy livin’ after all? Are east coasters more wound up than their stereotype depicts? Do these statistics simply show that east coasters are putting in long hours and therefore require the beverage to keep awake? Who knows.

I have a limited connection to energy drinks. They were certainly not popular when I was in high school and Red Bull only became common when I was in University. I worked at a nightclub, so naturally shifts that lasted until 4am required a drink like Red Bull. I never engaged in more than two a night and I’ve never been a fan of mixing it with alcohol…

I can’t say that I am for or against the motion to ban energy drinks, but I’ll say that the benefits of keeping energy drinks in-school don’t seem to outweigh the downsides to it.

Advantages: Energy drinks, obviously, give students a kick in caffeine. Therefore, it may help students to stay alert during class. I’m not too sure how long the kick lasts, so their crash may be worse. The energy drinks are also high in carbs, so for athletes, this may be an advantage for increasing performance. I suppose the last advantage is that by offering the drink, students can make the decision on their own whether the drink is something they’d like to engage in or not.

Downsides: Energy drinks are packed with sugar, which can be both good and bad. The ideal consumption of sugar intake a day is about 37grams and most energy drinks contain about 35grams in one beverage. This high sugar content can lead to obesity. Also, students who do not have good self-control can partake in too many beverages leading to heart issues because of the high-caffeine content. By offering students only healthy drink choices forces students to make the right choice. Too much caffeine can lead to headaches due to caffeine withdrawal and can even lead to insomnia if the beverage is consumed too often.

My school offers no pop or energy drinks in the vending machine nor do they sell it in the cafeteria.

As a fun fact…webmd published an article in 2012 directly linking heart attack, suicide, a miscarriage, vomiting, and psychotic disorders to energy drinks. Is that enough to scare off students from drinking them? Probably not.

 

I’m Like A Coat

Posted: January 8, 2015 in Education

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Yes, I Googled “coat on coatrack” and copy/pasted the first image that showed up.
I do believe it accurately depicts how a teacher can feel just before the semester is over and exams quickly approaching.
“I’m Like A Coat” is not as glamorous as “I’m On A Boat,” but I bet I could come up with a good parody…

Teachers spend the majority of the semester urging students to seek help if they are lost. I know that for me, I spend much time repeating to my students to come and see me if the material becomes too difficult or overwhelming. Typically, I hear from the odd student now and then over the course of the semester, but they are few and far between. I am a coat on a rack – not needed and certainly unwanted. THEN, there is that magical time RIGHT BEFORE exams where I am popular and suddenly I am worn daily, on lunch breaks, after school, and through continuous messages needing my help. I will be expected to look my best (assist to the fullest) by ensuring that my coat has no holes, no pulled thread, and certainly no discolouration/fading. This all comes with the territory of being a teacher.

“Is it ever too late for them?” my non-teacher friends ask.
“It can be, yes.” I tell them. “When a student wants a 90% suddenly and there is a week left, but they are sitting at a 62%…I’m sorry, but it’s too late.”

Let’s be realistic.

But yes, I am always willing to help – it’s my curse.

I’ll tell you what really grinds my gears lately, though. There was a recent article published by Ali Parrish on Edutopia. Her article was entitled, “3 Ways to Help Student Writing.” I thought to myself: Hey! That’s for me! I could probably use that!
Nope.

Her article simply acted like one of MANY articles published recently – these step-by-step guides to becoming a better educator. All I’ve read lately are articles like: “10 Steps to Remember with the Flipped Classroom,” “5 New Ways to Re-Think Learning,” “8 Pathways to Every Student’s Success,” and, most recently, Ms. Parrish’s helpful tips…
I think what bothered me the most was her three “ways” to help student writing…
#1. Transcribe what the student says (they talk, the teacher writes)
#2. Have the students audio record themselves and then write their response based off of their recording (not bad)
#3. Basically the same as #2 except use dictation software…

Did you catch it? With the exception of #2 (kinda), none of those “ways” just had the student PRACTICE writing! I totally get it – using technology to assist is a GREAT method, but it’s not the only method. What about getting back to basics by putting a pencil into the hand of the student and assisting them with writing on the line and helping them formulate ideas? I’m also not adverse to technology – why not even have the students use their laptop and type out their sentences and ideas? From there, I don’t mind helping them with some editing.

I understand though – Ali Parrish wasn’t trying to develop a quick fix for student writing, she’s just trying to provide some alternative ways. I don’t mean to be so negative, but I often think that educators often try to use technology for every learning issue when sometimes getting back to basics can be the best option of them all.

The more students are exposed to reading, their writing and development of ideas will improve – read, read, read and practice, practice, practice.