Arm the Teachers

As with any ‘hot button’ issue, we all have our own opinions. And we hold on to those opinions tightly, maybe too tightly. One thing I can say that I truly believe, not a single one of us holds the answer; at least not on our own. Another thing I feel certain about is that a single solution approach ISN’T the answer either: banning guns or arming teachers/schools.

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

― Martin Luther King Jr.

As a teacher, I have enough on my plate. In many districts things like paper cutters, hand sanitizer, air freshener (I agree with this one), and many other household items are banned; now someone wants to arm us with a lethal weapon? Yes, I understand it would be voluntary, yes the gun holders would be trained. But who is going to do the training? Will there be extra pay for the teacher carrying? Where’s the money coming from? We just had a massive tax cut; that’s where the money comes from. We are already underfunded. What happens if an active shooter is on campus? Police come in looking for a person with a gun. Now they have to decide if the person holding it is good or bad? And who’s paying for the guns? Will the teachers be held to a higher background check standard? Districts can’t afford to hire the staff they have, requiring them to hire armed personnel will make class sizes larger and limit resources for kids. Will armed personnel be able to help in my classroom? Will they be visible (meaning will we all know or suspect who’s packing)? If visible, what psychological impact would that have on students who come from traumatic backgrounds (of which I see more and more of each year)? Fighting fire with fire has never been an answer. In addition, the accuracy of a handgun is low in a situation against a semi-automatic. Then there is crossfire. So instead of bullets coming from one shooter, we have them coming from two, possibly coming from two different directions. What happens if said teacher shoots a student in the crossfire?

pexels-photo-264109.jpegThis is a complex issue with many moving parts. The solution will have to be multifaceted in order to address the many components that make up this issue. Simply arming teachers (dumb idea, I’m hired to educate let me do my job) or placing law enforcement in schools isn’t the answer. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the perpetuation of the school to prison pipeline – locked & fenced campuses with armed guards.

I also want to ask where was the outrage when we got rid of PE? Music? Arts? Shop Class? Auto Class? When we began overtesting? When our classes were filled to the brim? When students were sitting in broken down classrooms? When students had to share books? When we started looking at teachers and questioning their ability? Which led to legislators mandating what to teach, when to do teach, and how to teach? Where was the outrage when we begged for psychologists in every school? Maybe if we had a bit more of that support we wouldn’t be where we are today. The defunding and dismantling of public education goes back decades. Maybe it’s time we start putting kids first, REALLY putting them first. And before anyone jumps all over me telling me that simply by funding education won’t fix the problem, you’re right. At least in part. It won’t fix it now, but it will fix it for the future. It didn’t get this way overnight and it won’t get fixed overnight.

As I’ve stated, this is a complex issue. There are many stakeholders. I don’t know what the answer is, but it’s out there. I believe that it will be a combination of several factors.

Go forth and be good to one another.

Google My Maps: 13 Colonies

Social Studies is a natural place for My Maps to appear. This year I created a HyperMap. This is based on the HyperDoc method. The students are given a map with information they are to know. This information will also be used to create a final product. Sometimes I have them creating a video on Animoto, other times it might be flyers/pamphlets, or some other creative way the students show what they’ve learned.

For the 13 colonies, I created a HyperMap with a few different layers: 13 Colonies, Current 50 States, and Colonial Regions. The students were to take notes and create a final product: a ‘billboard’ for their state. You can view their final products here. (NOTE: The billboard idea came from Los Virgenes School District via a teacher Nancy Minicozzi@coffeenancy – works with).

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I did NOT create all the outlines. A Google Mapper created a site with some great resources. I downloaded the KML File and then uploaded it to my map (see video).

Using My Maps in this way allowed my students to become more familiar with the territory and they had ownership over their learning. I’m clearly a fan of HyperMaps!

Google Classroom: Guardians

One of the biggest pitfalls of Google Classroom, in the beginning, was that parents and/or guardians didn’t have access. This meant they didn’t know what about missing work, class activity, or upcoming work. That all changed this school year when Google announced the option to sign Guardians up in Google Classroom. Now, once Guardians are signed up, they will receive a weekly email summary. Read for more information for Guardians.

Teachers, take advantage of this and add another way to connect with your families.

Go to your Classroom and select the middle tab option marked ‘Students’. Then select the ‘Invite Guardian’ option next to each student.

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To invite the guardian(s), type their email address to invite them. If there is more than 1 guardian needing the information, no problem, simply choose the ‘Add Another’ choice before selecting ‘Invite’.

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Guardians will receive an email inviting them to receive weekly emails. They will have 120 days to accept the invitation. Guardians can read more about it here.

After ‘experimenting’ with one parent, the student commented in class that his mom saw his work and liked what he had written. As a guardian, the parent couldn’t access the student account so the student signed in to show the parent his work. However, this was a great opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about what he did in school that week!

Google Docs: Emojis

Last week, my students were writing an essay in their Google Docs. In the middle of writing, one student asked, “Hey, Ms. N., did you know you can insert emojis in docs?”

I was surprised and answered, “Wait, what? No? Really? Cool. Show me how.” So I went over to her table and she showed me. Pretty cool!emoji-1

So how’d she do it?

Start by going to ‘Insert’ in the menu options

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Choose the desired emoji and viola! You have an emoji in your doc. Now, what if we had students summarizing stories with just emojis?!

Thank you to my student, Johanna, for spreading her knowledge!