Sunday, February 14, 2016

Every single person should feel loved.

I am acting as a Virtual Mentor for a student at Grove City College (in Pennsylvania) that is interested in being a math teacher. She is a freshman, and is taking an educational technology class. (#educ204toi) She has to complete projects using different technology avenues. She and I discuss what the technology is, and then I give her ideas of things I would like to have made for my math classes. She designs the projects, and I utilize them in my classroom almost immediately. The projects are then authentic to her, as they are projects that are being used, and aren't just busy work to learn the technology.

It was important to give you the introduction. When Tyla (@tylaraethompson) asked me what she could do for me using Google forms and surveys, at first I wasn't sure. My students are so used to google forms and surveys, that I wanted something different, other than just another boring survey. At the same time, unrelated to this request, I was thinking about how important it is for students to hear kind things about them and to offer kind words to others. Sometimes, our world can be so cruel, that I wanted something happy and positive to happen. So, I asked Tyla to make a google form that included every student's first and last initial. I shared the google form with each of my classes, and asked them to write some kind words about each student. I told them that you can ALWAYS come up with something kind, and needed them to do so. Just in case students didn't remember each others's names, I did one day in class have my students go around and say their names. I was hoping that wouldn't happen, but there are several students with the same first name, and needed to differentiate between those students as well.

What did I do with the completed responses? The students had until today, at 4 PM, to enter their comments. This evening, I used a word cloud app called Tagxedo.  I chose a shape (a heart for the girls, a star for the boys, and an apple for the whole class) and loaded the comments for each student into it. It created a word cloud for each of my 80 students. I saved each word cloud and will print a copy for each student. I am hoping to surprise each student with their own cloud on Tuesday. (For you enjoy, I have attached a copy of each shape below, but not with made up names, in case someone actually reads this blog!)

Why take the time to do this? I want each of my students to understand that there are people that enjoy their company, people that appreciate their humor, students that appreciate their intelligence, and others that appreciate their personalities. Being a teenager can be very lonely, and I hope these word clouds help my students understand that there is always someone that loves them, that respects them, that will help them, and that will advocate for them. I hope my students understand that one of these people will always be me, their math teacher! My students aren't just students. They are MY students! Students that really are part of my family as I teach them.

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