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The Future of ‘Minecraft’ Was Unveiled at E3, and You Won’t Believe Your Eyes

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The Future of ‘Minecraft’ Was Unveiled at E3, and You Won’t Believe Your Eyes.

Just imagine the uses that can be had in the classroom! We are not just talking about architecture folks. For those who believe that the classroom of the future will never change, you must open your mind to open up the classroom experience.

We are no longer limited by subject matter and experience. The walls of the class are no longer limiting the experience a student can have. Travel, Math, Reading, Science, etc…. can all be a new experience for every single child!

We are at an exciting time in education!

A True Teacher Doesn’t Make A Difference, but Rather Influences Lives Forever

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Due to confidentiality, the names in the story below have been changed, except for the inspirational teacher with whom consent to use her name was granted. 

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Every year a new flock of students walk into each teacher’s classroom to pursue their education. What most don’t realize is that every single students also carries extra baggage through the door with them. I am not talking about the 3 bags of supplies that the overzealous moms get while School Supply shopping season is underway. I am referring to the unseen baggage of parental demands, parental divorce, homelessness, starvation, abuse, and so much more. It is the baggage that, while unseen, plays a significant role in the engagement of each child and the success they will have in the classroom.

For Mrs. Randall, every student is assumed to have baggage, but this baggage is never to be used as an excuse. She is an exceptional and inspirational teacher whom I am proud to say was one of my partner teachers early in my career. Joe, one of her many students, walked into her third grade class just as the many others had before. Mrs. Randall’s reputation precedes her, so I expect that he walked in with a huge smile and full of excitement. Joe didn’t stand out as having problems at first glance, but as any great teacher knows, its whats under the exterior that counts. “First impressions are everything”, is a phrase many people believe, but not to a true teacher!

As the year progressed, Mrs. Randall noticed that under the exterior, Joe had the potential to be a brilliant student. He would be caring and supportive to his classmates, and yet, he would struggle with the everyday responsibilities of his school day. Mrs. Randall learned that Joe was extremely street smart, mostly due to the fact that he had learned a lot about life on his own. You see, Joe came from a family that didn’t provide consistent support. Due to several factors, Joe’s parents were not always available, including incarceration at several times for the father. The pattern again continued when Mrs. Randall was asked to move up to teach 5th grade and Joe was placed in her care for a second time.

Though it never seemed like enough, Mrs. Randall always cared for her students as if they were her own. Joe was no different from any other student, but at the same time, Mrs. Randall couldn’t help but worry just a bit more about the situation she knew Joe was in. Especially at the end of the year when he would be moving on to the Middle School across the street. Joe would not only have to deal with the issues that Middle School kids bring, but also with the move to foster homes which would continue for Joe and his sister till he turned 16. How could school be a priority for someone who needed to care for and protect his younger sister? And when she lost touch with him for those years, Mrs. Randall could only wonder and pray….

There was no contact until Mrs. Randall received an email from Joe just to reach out and say that he was now a freshman in High School. Then several years later she received another email from a now grown “Joe” asking her to review and edit a letter he needed to write to get into law school! Life in between emails had not gone well due to the foster homes, and he quit school. However, he had refocused, got his GED, and was, at 19, finishing college and trying to get into Seton Hall Law School! All on his own!  His reasoning for becoming a lawyer was to help other children like himself and his sister from falling into abusive homes.

Unfortunately, in the last few years, Joe has fallen in with a bad bunch of people and was actually in jail himself for a little while. He has since gotten out and is trying to get back on the right track. Mrs. Randall and Joe continue to keep in touch through the wonders of Facebook. In true teacher fashion, Mrs. Randall continues to be there for her students long after the classroom, and continues to encourage and support Joe for what he can accomplish. It is never about the mistakes students make, as we all make them- it’s about picking up the pieces and making a positive change!

When asked if there was anything that stood out in her talks with Joe to show the role she played in his life, she replied with one simple line from an email she had received:

“Hey Mrs. Randall! I attend Seton Hall Law School, and you were the building blocks of my education.”

A true teacher influences Lives!

Don’t forget to Follow, Like, and Share the message! Thanks!

End of the Year: A Teacher’s Message to Students

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BYOD

The following is what I would hand out to my 4th and 5th grade students on the last day of school. As many teachers believe, once in my class, every student gained a permanent spot in my heart. Learning the core subject matter is important, however, true teaching is about preparing each student for life. With that being said, below is my final message as students left my class- feel free to use in your classroom if you have the same beliefs……

As you begin to mature, always remember……(from Mr. Lowe)

  1. You can only control what YOU do.
  2. Respect is EARNED! not demanded.
  3. Adults are NOT your friend, so don’t treat them as such.
  4. You can’t quit on others, ONLY YOURSELF.  **Remember, You are not allowed to quit!
  5. If your friends say you are annoying, listen to them. They are not lying, they are your friends.
  6. These are the toughest years in your life. They will also be very rewarding.
  7. Most don’t “grow-up” until they are 25 years old, so if they are picking on you, take it as a compliment, because they are jealous of you for something.
  8. In the end, it is YOU and your ATTITUDE.
  9. Yes, those whom you hang out with ARE a reflection of you. People will judge you by them.
  10. If you feel like your carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and no one seems to care, call me.  Even though you will deny it, there is ALWAYS someone who loves and supports you.

**Respect your parents.  Yes, they are going to stop you from having fun.  It is for your own good!  You won’t understand until you have kids of your own, so just live with it.  They love you.  Count on that!

I am now letting you go with hopes and wishes for nothing but the best for you.  If you are EVER in need, you know you can call me (732) ***-****.

Or email me just to update: FaceBook me when you graduate from HS, if it’s still around.

Thank you for giving me your best efforts, I appreciate it and I Love You!

Don’t forget to Follow, Like, and Share the message! Thanks!

ALERT: Bob Braun’s Blog Has Been Attacked and Closed Down After Post About Pearson Spying on Students

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I am not one who has researched into workings of Pearson and whether or not they have been “spying”, however, being a resident of NJ with kids taking the PARCC, I do feel it necessary to post what seems to be an attempt to cover something up.

ALERT: Bob Braun’s Blog Has Been Attacked and Closed Down After Post About Pearson Spying on Students.

The Day My Student Asked “Are YOU Proud?”

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As I remember, I was just getting back home after a long day of teaching and coaching. It was around 2005 and I had been teaching and coaching for almost 10 years at this point. Every day I loved that my life was filled with a passion to teach, a classroom of passionate learners, a passion to coach, and players who were passionate to learn. Very few people understand how fulfilling life can be when you have these things. I believed that I had it all, and that I was emotionally “on top of the world”!

That is, until this day. Upon entering my house, my wife greeted me with a message that would end up driving my passion for teaching further than I ever thought it could. It was a very simple message that started it all, “You need to call- Mrs. Stone. Here is her number.”

“Mrs. Stone? Who is that?” I remember stating. My wife gave me little information, other than it was important to call back, it had something to do with a past student. Stone? Could only be David Stone, and exactly like a parent getting a phone call about their child, the thoughts rolled into my mind- Is he ok? Does he need my help? Has something tragic happened to him? Why would his mother be calling me? What had happened? …… You see, David was a 5th grade student of mine at Anastasia ES in Long Branch. He wasn’t a struggling student. He was one of my top students. One of those students with great parents and a solid foundation to be successful. But that was 5 or six years prior and by my calculations he would be a Sophomore or Junior in HS. What could have happened? I had moved to another district shortly after he graduated from my class and I was in the midsts of stamping my footprints at VMES in Brick, NJ. While I always thought (and continue to do so) of past students and how they are doing…. getting a call like this was troubling.

As soon as I was able to make contact with Mrs. Stone, my fears were put aside when she assured me that everything was alright. We had a couple minutes of updating conversation, followed by the reason for the call. She would have rather had David personally call me, but he was busy and since time was of the essence, she was making the call on behalf of him. David was doing extremely well both academically and athletically, and he wanted to ask for my attendance during his induction into the National Honor Society. Each inductee was to choose the person they felt was most influential in their academic career, and ask for their attendance. While the choice to be in attendance was an easy one, I did not know the impact it would have on me!

I don’t remember how many days went by before I was to attend the ceremony, but I do remember feeling on cloud nine just for the fact that a student chose me, out of all his teachers, parents, coaches, and role models, as the one who most influenced him! That knowledge, in itself, is what makes it all worthwhile! It was great to be able to talk with colleagues about these recent events. It was a great drive back into Long Branch, and it was great to walk into an auditorium and see colleagues and parents that I hadn’t seen in years, but nothing prepared me for the moment that David stepped up to the microphone, not just to be inducted, but to make a speech about his “Person Who Influenced Them”.

David started his speech with a simple question to the audience- “Are You Proud?”  He paused and waited……when he continued, he spoke of how I had asked these three simple words every time he handed something in when he was in 5th Grade. He spoke of the power of having to look me in the eyes and answer this one simple question. He spoke about how these three simple words began to impact everything he did. He spoke of hearing these three simple words constantly being asked of himself for anything he did. He spoke of the impact academically these three simple words had for every homework assignment, school project, or paper he had to write. He spoke of taking these three simple words into his athletic pursuits, workouts, and daily practices to make himself better. He spoke of the impact these three simple words had in leading him to the place he currently stood. He spoke of how these three simple words were going to take him down the path of success in life. It was moving, it was powerful, and it was inspiring!  Then he turned, looked in my direction, and simply asked…….

“Mr. Lowe……..Are YOU Proud?”

(Yes, Mr. Stone……..I am!)

As teachers, we always talk about  inspiring students, providing safe learning environments, and being positive role models, but what Mr. Stone taught me was that even 3 simple words could change the world for my students. It is not about a special project or a well developed lesson. It is not about the homework, classwork, or the ten page paper. It is not about a passing grade, benchmark tests, or standardized tests. It is about THE STUDENTS! I learned that I had to be cognizant of EVERYTHING I said and did around my kids. Mr. Stone inspired me to be a better teacher not just everyday, but every second of every day in the classroom!

While there were many factors in education that were out of my control as a teacher, when students entered my class, they became my kids. I had control of this, and my expectations of them. I believe that when teachers have high expectations, treat students fairly, and support them as individuals- the students will have the same for you as a teacher! Inspiration is a two way street in a well designed classroom!

I thank you, Mr. Stone. It was my passion to touch every life that became a part of my class. It was a privilege to have touched yours. It was inspiring for you, my student, to have touched mine!

– Edward Lowe

Please Feel Free to Share, Like, or Comment!!

I am looking for submissions from anyone willing to share your stories of inspiration in Education!!

Email me at ojlowe@optonline.net

What Drives Success Stories in Today’s Classrooms?

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The first “Story of Success” comes from a former colleague of mine that brings up some great discussion points about what exactly is meant by success in the classroom. While not necessarily a story, I am choosing to lead with this because it sheds light on what is going on in today’s classrooms, and I couldn’t agree more, which supports my belief that this will be a great platform for teachers, students, and parents to share and discuss what they experienced as SUCCESS! She also discusses the increasing struggle to provide successful moments in today’s classrooms. While I would argue that teachers have the ability to control what and how things are done in their classrooms, I am also understanding of the demands and expectations that are put on teachers today that I was not exposed to prior to leaving the classroom only 3 years ago. I included a video at the end as an example to show how teachers are fearful of losing their jobs.

Below is her story:

“Success stories for teachers are an intangible thing. Intuitively, we know they happen, but because of our definition of success, we may rarely, if ever, truly witness it as it happens.

Many years ago, while seeking my first teaching job, I was crafting what I hoped would be the perfect resume. Right beneath my name was the most important line of text: Objective.

What was my objective? To obtain a job as an elementary school teacher? No, that’s plainly obvious because the only people reading my resume are screening teaching applicants.

I knew my objective had to reflect my perspective on teaching. I finally settled on something like this – To help develop and nurture a love of learning within my students that reaches beyond the classroom and affects all aspects of their lives.

A lofty goal? Perhaps. But if we’re being honest with our definition of success and our objectives as teachers, it fairly accurately sums up or hopes and aspirations.

So how do we know when it happens? There’s no fireworks, no confetti, and no applause. (Well, that last one’s not entirely true. Occasionally, something rare, unexpected, and surprising happens that causes the class to erupt into laughter and applause, often at my expense).

Teachers are intrinsically motivated. Our success is most commonly experienced internally. When I share a novel with my students that I loved as a child, and craft that experience so it includes opportunities for sharing, predicting, imagining, and experimenting with possibilities, the payoff is immeasurable.

When I help my students to see that history is all around them, pointing out the obscure and unnoticed people, places, and things that are hiding in plain sight, I feel like I’ve accomplished something important.

And when I get them to try something new, I’m a rock star. For some, it’s reading their first novel from cover to cover. For others, it’s completing a complex mathematical algorithm they thought impossible. And for a few, it’s simply raising their hand and taking a risk to answer a question in a room full of peers.

My success story happens every day when I get up and go to work because these things happen less frequently each and every day. My job has become highly scripted and incredibly inflexible. I have to prepare them to take a test rather than prepare them for life. Every day I ask them to do things I know they are not developmentally ready to do, all the while telling them that I know they can do this if they just try hard enough.

I spend my time looking through standardized test questions and selecting the lessons that are most likely to help them pass the test. I look for websites that practice the skills they need to be proficient. And I mine for data, trying to decipher which student would benefit from which prescriptive remedy.

So why do I do it day after day, year after year? Because, despite it all, there are still small moments of success that give me enough motivation to come back and do it all again.”

– Suzanne Flick Kurasz

While Suzanne and I were never “partner” teachers, we worked in the same building that felt like a second home, and I have witnessed her being successful in the classroom. For many years, under some great leadership, our family of teachers would constantly collaborate with each other, no matter what grade level you were engaged in. It saddens me to learn that for her and others in this same building- teaching has become a “Job” that “has become highly scripted and incredibly inflexible”. In the end, my former colleague offers the “Light at the End of the Tunnel” that student success and inspiration is the power behind her efforts every day in the classroom. Hopefully, one day, education will return to the days where inspiration and success of our students is the focus!

If you have a story of your own, please email me at ojlowe@optonline.net to be included in this ongoing discussion.

Thank you, Suzanne, for sharing your insight.

Please feel free to Share, Like, or Comment

Below, see a teacher choose not to defend himself from a student. Is it for fear of losing his job?

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Educational Reform- Let’s Start HERE!

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There are many thoughts and ideas about improving the educational system in the US, and with that, there have been many to take the podium on how to properly fix it. We have gone from individual state standards to the present day implementation (almost) of the Common Core State Standards. We went through No Child Left Behind, which, unfortunately, pushed every student ahead- whether they were ready or not. Sometimes the answer to a problem is so close that we actually look past it. We have made educating our kids much to complex- from standards, to Higher Order Thinking Skills- we have forgotten  that in its simplest terms, it needs to be ALL ABOUT OUR STUDENTS!

Don’t misunderstand my message. It is great to have standards, it is great to provide Higher Order Thinking Skills, and it is great to even have Bloom’s Taxonomy. However, none of these items will be the constant that provides success to our students in today’s classroom and the future educational system. These are all tools to build upon in delivering an environment in which a child can be successful in, but we have lost sight of the true foundation it must be built upon. So while we are implementing these policies, the foundation upon which we build continues to crumble.

AThe foundation to learning for any individual is to have them inspired and passionate to learn. If we were able to create the perfect environment where the CCSS were implemented with properly trained teachers who had the best of the best content materials, both digital and in print, there would still be no guarantee that a student will learn. What has been forgotten is the power and influence a teacher can have on a student. While most say that teachers do a lot more than babysit, there is no denying that it is all teachers are given credit for. With that being said, I will be dedicating my blog to tell stories from fellow teachers and myself regarding some of the most inspirational and uplifting stories of how they personally touched the lives of their students and how students touched their lives. While each and every person can name the teacher or teachers that most influenced us in our lives, how many of us can do the same for a textbook, standard, politician, or trending reform project? The truth is that teachers are the backbone to our educational system, and we have to get back to focusing on supporting the power within each teacher to inspire the students they educate!

If you are a teacher or a student with an inspiring story that you would like me to include in the series: Please send me your story along with a picture to ojlowe@optonline.net

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Thank you- and as always, please Share, Like, and Comment.

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