The Meaning of Poker Chips

1997-98 was my first year as a teacher. I worked at a private school in Cincinnati as the middle school intern. I still consider that year to be the most important year of my professional life because it left no doubt in me that choosing education for my career was the absolutely right choice. I haven’t regretted that decision since, even on the difficult days. That year was also my introduction to Richard Lavoie and his philosophy on the importance of self esteem on learners called, “When the Chips are Down.” Mr. Lavoie compares self esteem of a student (his focus is on students with learning difficulties) to having poker chips. He believes the more “chips” one has, the more readily that student will take risks and grow.

I remember watching this video during my first year and then again in my second year teaching. My buddies and I quoted Lavoie often mocking the idea and telling each other things like, “you must not have many poker chips” or “that took a lot of poker chips to do that.” However, the idea resonated with me as one where I wanted to be a teacher who looked for ways to help kids gain or at least maintain their “poker chips” (self-esteem).

Conceptually, the analogy worked for me, even if it was a little sloppy. While comparing life to a poker game was not ideal, I did find that the idea a poker player with several chips would take risks that another player with only a few chips would not take seemed logical to what I had experienced in life. Confident students take risks that kids without confidence do not take. More importantly, kids with high self esteem can often take criticism more effectively then those with low esteem. The student with high esteem may look at a lower then expected score as a challenge for future work and strive to do better next time where the kid with low esteem may view it as a flaw in their character. Consequently, the kid with the inflated self esteem seems to struggle the most with constructive feedback as they are so used to being told their perfect that the feedback can be confusing and forces them to wonder if those telling them they’re perfect are right or wrong. It causes real tension in relationships between students, parents and teachers (and schools) when this is the case.

As teachers and parents, we have a lot of sway with our kids. We can give esteem, over-inflate it, or take it away in the way we talk (or not talk) to kids, in how we maintain patience with them, or when we allow them to take ownership in their learning and understanding. We have to be honest in our interactions or as this video shows, someone else will be brutally honest. Kids who are struggling need to know that they are struggling and need to be given tools to help them work through those struggles. Overcoming their difficulties will give them the kinds of self esteem that we want our kids to have. They’ll know that they can rely on themselves to solve problems, but they will also know that they can rely on your support to help them through those problems. In the end, it is that lesson that has ultimately guided my path as a teacher and now a parent. Plus, I’ve learned to be pretty good at beating my neighbors in poker.

Friday Round Up 6/8/2012

7 Habits of Highly Effective Tech-leading Principals
THE Journal recently surveyed school principals across the country, asking them what attributes a principal should demonstrate when striving to effectively lead technology implementation in their schools. They compiled the seven most frequently mentioned attributes along with comments from three effective technology leaders that successfully implemented technology in their schools. This list includes some stand out ideas and discusses the value of creating an atmosphere that inspires innovation, the importance of fostering collaboration in your school, and being open to new ideas.

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Way Beyond Bake Sales: The $1 Million PTA
In recent years the PTA at several public schools in more affluent areas of New York city have have raised close to one million dollars per school year for their school. Parents spend this money on technology in the classroom, resource teachers, healthy lunch options for students, and most importantly programs in the arts and after school activities that have been hit especially hard by budget cuts in recent years. Over the past five years New York City has cut school budgets by an average of 13.7% While it is astounding how much money some PTA’s were able to raise, the main takeaway I have from this article is how many schools that aren’t able to receive this type of funding. This means these schools continue to be understaffed, fall behind technologically, and can’t always provide activities and healthy lunches for their students. In a public school system, why should it be up to parents to provide quality learning conditions for students?

‘Why’ Questions Play Big Role in Early Learning
In the new book Trusting What You’re Told, Harvard Education professor Paul L. Harris questions the longstanding idea that children should be self learners. He focuses on the importance of toddlers asking “why” questions at a young age, and how children are not only asking questions for attention, they are actually attempting to grasp a clear picture in their mind about issues they do not understand. Harris also studies the impact of a mother’s education has on the inquisitiveness of a her child, and why children trust their parents.

Is Education a Girl Thing?
In this opt-ed article several questions are addressed. How does gender impact the profession of teaching? In an industry with a higher percentage of women than men, why is it that men make up the majority of policy and produce most of the media surrounding education? How would things change if more women were in control of education policy, philosophy and practice?

Friday Round-up 6/1/2012

Food Trucks Draw Hungry Kids For Free Summer Meals
In many areas of the country, students depend on free and reduced school lunches as a main food source in their lives. However, as a the school year comes to an end many of these students are unable to find transportation to attend the summer food programs, often still offered in their school cafeteria. Last year, Tim Cipriano, the executive director of school food services for New Haven, CT, decided that instead of having students come to a certain location for food, he would bring the food to them driving a colorful food truck to areas with a high population of students qualifying for free and reduced meals. Last summer he served 17,000 meals in 20 days. This year he hopes to provide 40,000 meals for the months of July and August.

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Social Media: Help or Hindrance to Education Reform?
There are many issues that comprise the topic of Education Reform. One of these is the importance of Social Media as a learning tool for educators and students. However, some wonder if this focus on Social Media is actually distracting teachers and reformers from other, more pressing issues. Tom Whitby, a support of Social Media in education, explains why he believes that Social Media can actually be a powerful tool to improve Personal Learning Networks for educators. One point that stuck with me: Historically teaching has been an isolated profession, any problems or successes you experienced could only be shared with co-workers in your school or district. With Social Media educators from around the globe can come together both online and in person to discuss what they’ve learned, and that is a powerful thing.

Schools to track students’ whereabouts with computer chips

Starting next fall a school district in San Antonio, TX  will be issuing student ID cards containing a tracking chip device. This chip monitors students on school grounds and notifies the school if a student leaves during school hours. The district advertised the initiative to parents as a safety procedure, however the decision is getting mixed reviews, one large concern being students’ right to privacy. The school will spend $500,000 to issue cards to 6,000 middle and high school students.

Summers Are For Learning
Remember, summers are a great time to learn something new, for both students and teachers! If you think you may be interested in reading, joining a book club, kickstarting your creative process, leaning to code or serving others through community service this summer, this article has a list of some fantastic resources you can use to get started with self-learning this summer!

Summer Reading Conversation on June 7th


On June 7th the New York Times Learning Network is hosting a twitter conversation about Summer Reading. This is open to people of all ages to share what’s on their sumer reading list and recommendations for others! Simply share your thoughts about summer reading on twitter and finish off the tweet with the hashtag #summerreading . This will add your tweet to the all day conversation. The NY Times Learning network will be sharing their favorite tweets throughout the day.

To take this one step further for our ShowMe Community we’d like you to create summer reading ShowMes, upload them, and tweet them out to the conversation! After you upload a ShowMe to the website you will see the option to share on twitter. Select this option and then just remember to add #summerreading to the tweet and send it off! We will also be sharing our favorite ShowMes throughout the day.

If you know someone who would be interested in participating, let them know! I hope this can be a fun way to interact with Summer Reading in your classrooms or by yourself.

For more information about twitter chats, read this helpful guide by the NY Times.

For more information or questions send us a tweet @showmeapp or email us at info@showme.com.

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Friday Round Up 5/25/12

Happy Memorial Day weekend to all that celebrate!

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On June 7, Join the Conversation About Summer Reading
On June 7th the NY Times Learning Network is hosting a day long twitter conversation to kick off their Third Annual Summer Reading Contest which begins June 15th and runs till August 17th. On June 7th people will come together in a twitter chat with the hashtag #summerreading to share information. You can tweet your summer reading list, great suggestions for others, best places to read or ideas for starting your own book club! The learning network will be reposting their favorite tweets throughout the day. We will be participating in the day, so expect an update soon on how we plan to get involved!

Google’s 80/20 Principle Adopted at New Jersey School
Fifty-five teachers from New Milford High School in New Jersey were given a break from their typical lunch and hall monitor duties 2-3 times per week to make room for a 48 minute professional development period where they could focus on teaching related issues that interested them. (Based on the Google model which gives employees 20% of their time to pursue company related topics that interest them.) Teachers have focused on interdisciplinary projects, differentiated assessment and ways to integrate technology into their curriculums. The results have been fantastic. Student behavior has remained the same, yet teachers now have the opportunity to record videos to attempted a flipped classroom and integrated more technology into their daily student lessons. At the end of the year teachers are required to hand in professional development logs where they report the topics the studied and how it enhanced their learning. Next year they will even begin to create portfolios on what they’ve accomplished.

The Most Honest Commencement Speech You’ll Never Hear
Lisa Bloom starts this article by sharing the grim reality that many of our college graduates have diminished expectations for their future as they graduate debt-ridden with high unemployment rates. (43% of high school females would rather be a celebrity assistant than a CEO or college president) Many students year for jobs, independence and adulthood, yet they are forced to move back home with parents often working jobs outside of their chose field much below their chosen salary rate. At the end Bloom gives her own version of a commencement speech, apologizing for her generation, which she believes has failed recent graduates by not providing low cost education and jobs after graduation.

Eight Free Tools for Teachers to Make Awesome Infographics!
I love infographics! (You can check out our own infographic pinterest board here)  Recently it has become very easy to make high quality infographics of your own, so check out this great article if you’re interested in making one of your own!

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ShowMe 101, The Basic Steps to Begin Creating!

So you’ve downloaded the app, created an account and you’re ready to create your first ShowMe? Awesome! Here are the basic steps to create a ShowMe, upload and share your lesson.

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Pro Tips before we begin:
1. Always speak clearly!
2. Always be writing! (Just listening to voice can be dull)
3. Try to keep your ShowMe short and concise. We find the sweet spot typically ranges from 2-6 minutes.

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Let’s get started:
1. Open the app and hit “Create” in the bottom left corner of the screen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  This is the Create page. Here you will see all the tools you can use. You can add images, use various color markers, undo, clear screen and erase.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. If you want to add an image, you can do this by selecting the add image icon (it looks like a landscape scene) You have the option to add images from the web, add images from your ipad, or take a photo for the ShowMe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. You can prepare the screen before you create by adding images or text. When you are ready, hit the record button. Make sure to speak clearly! The bottom center of the page has a timestamp so you know how long you’ve been recording (and how long your ShowMe will be.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Click pause when you need to take a break to add more images, collect your thoughts or go to a quieter room. You can guarantee that your ShowMe has paused because there will be a pause icon next to your timestamp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. When you are finished with your ShowMe click “Done” located in the top left corner of your screen. Now you can Title your ShowMe, pick something clear and informative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. After you save your ShowMe it will replay for you to watch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. If you made a mistake at the beginning or end of your ShowMe you can Trim to shorten by using the trim tool at the top of the page. Once you are satisfied with your ShowMe it is now time to upload! Select the cloud icon to begin the upload process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Once you select the upload icon you will have the option to share your ShowMe Publicly (“World”) or Privately. We suggest uploading publicly so you can share your knowledge with our entire community!

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. To share your ShowMe give it a description and add topics. Topics allow your ShowMe to appear more often and more accurately in search results! Click “Finish” to upload.

 

 

 

 

 

 

11.  Once it’s uploaded you can Share your ShowMe via twitter, Facebook and email! You can also copy the URL to share anywhere else you’d like!

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re all finished! Now the entire ShowMe community can learn from your lesson!

Click here for tips to make your ShowMe Stand Out!

Still have questions? Click here for our FAQ page.

 

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