Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Lakota Way: Thoughtfulness

The great thing about the United States, well, at least what I think is great about the United States, is that there are many, many cultures within its borders. We know it is horribly wrong to try to kill off a culture and get those people to assimilate into another culture. Instead, our cultural differences should be celebrated and shared! We should learn from other cultures, rather than shy away from them and treat them as inferior. Learning from other cultures can do nothing but help build empathy. Example:  We can learn from the Lakota culture that it is good to be thoughtful before responding. When a question is ask, or an issue arises, or there is some sort of problem, the Lakota way is to think about what has happened silently, reflect and process the situation before responding.  At times, in Euro-American culture (white America), we tend to respond instantly in a situation, without thinking it through. Something happens and we instantly fire back or respond or spout off, without care or concern for the other person's feelings. When there is a problem or disagreement, this can be especially harmful because when responding with emotion/anger, things can be said that are hurtful. The situation can become worse and feelings can be damaged.  I am as guilty as anyone, as just recently, there was a problem and I responded instantly in a very emotional way, which did nothing but make the situation worse and people feel bad.  I would encourage everyone to adopt the Lakota way. Before lashing out or ripping someone or immediately responding with emotion, think the situation/issue through. Process what is happening and look at the situation through their eyes, rather than just your own.

Adopt the Lakota way for handling problems. Be respectful and thoughtful. This, I challenge to you.

Monday, November 26, 2018

What I'm Thankful for

I know Thanksgiving has past and we are all back to school. I was thinking about what I am thankful for and it took me a while to process it all. So, here is what I am thankful for: 
I am thankful for many things. I am thankful for Sriracha mayo, Chewy Chips Ahoy, and Eggo waffles. I am thankful for books and learning. I am thankful for knowledge. I am thankful for movies and imagination. I am thankful for the first amendment. I am thankful for facts. I am thankful for Democracy and term limits (except in 2016).  I am thankful that the 2020 election is almost here. I am thankful for Iced Caramel Lattes. I am thankful for the fridge in my office. I am thankful for the days I have had and the days yet to come. I am thankful that Jon Snow and Daenerys finally met.  I am thankful for Amazon and my MacBook. I am thankful for Twitter. I am thankful my Dad didn't die in his motorcycle accident. I am thankful for those who are open-minded and empathetic. I am thankful for legos and lincoln logs. I am thankful for my JFK mug which makes hot chocolate taste especially delicious. I am thankful for culture. I am thankful for my garage door opener. I am especially thankful for the horse tranquilizers that I use to get Hazel to calm down at night. I am thankful for jokes. I am thankful for the sausage Breakfast Boy. I am thankful for my dragon goblet. I am thankful for all the articles people post on Facebook. I am thankful for sports and competition. I am thankful for people posting their workouts on Facebook. I am thankful for technology and iMovie.  I am thankful for the air in my lungs, the blood in my veins and the electricity in my brain. Mostly, I am thankful for people like Abby, Olivia, Isabel, and Hazel. People like my mom and dad (best ever). People like my siblings. People like my DSU co-workers. People like my students. People that uplift me and make me think. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The NEED for Social Studies

We need social studies. I'm not talking about an official study or formal research project. I'm just telling you what I think. I think we need social studies. We need to talk about and learn about other cultures, how else will kids develop into thoughtful, open-minded people? Ignorance is dangerous. People fear that which they do not know or understand. Through social studies, we can teach students to be empathetic. To accept differences in other people, but yet we are all human beings living in this world together. With social studies, we can teach students kindness, respect, and compassion. We can teach kids that it's bad to lie, no matter who you are or what position you hold.  We can teach kids that if something is untrue, it will remain untrue no matter how many times it keeps getting repeated. We need to make sure students understand that a lie is a lie, no matter how many times it is spoken. "Speaking things into existence" isn't a thing and should NOT work, but it will be if we don't teach our students to be critical thinkers! It's important that we have social studies in school because we need to make sure kids understand that you treat people with respect, unlike the horrible examples they often see on the news. Degrading people and hurling insults is NOT OKAY just because those people don't agree with you about something. We need social studies because then we can teach kids to listen, think, reflect and then respond with a thoughtful response. I believe that studying social studies is one of our main weapons to end racism.
A lot of people won't need to be able to solve elaborate math equations as an adult. Most won't need to conduct science experiments, or paint a picture, or write a poem. But ALL people, no matter what, should be empathetic, open-minded and respectful because we are all humans living in this world together. Imagine if that were true? Imagine what the world would be like, or just what this country would be like? This is what social studies brings to school. At least, it would if it wasn't constantly being eliminated and viewed as not as important as other subjects. It's as equally important as any other subject area.
Take a look at social media comments. People are so nasty to each other! They are setting such a terrible example for kids! We tell kids to be nice and respectful, yet then go off on someone on Facebook.  In today's world, with it being as divided as ever, I can see how it is difficult to bite your tongue and not respond. Trust me, I'm with you. But we must set a better example for our kids! Engage in dialogue respectfully.

Social studies every day. Physical Education every day. Read every day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"Good enough" is not the goal

"Good enough" is not the bar we should be shooting for.
"How was the lesson?" - It was good enough. WRONG
"How was the lesson? - It could be better. I'm going to change this and this, etc." CORRECT!

The term "good enough" is fine for home DIY projects or things like that. But for education, teachers and learning, 'good enough' doesn't cut it. To be happy with good enough, don't settle for good enough. If something is 'good enough' then that means it could be better. So make it better! Sometimes we don't know how something is going to go until we try it. Which is totally okay! But after you try a lesson and it was simply 'good enough' reflect on why it was only 'good enough' and make a tweak for next time. 'Good enough'  lessons aren't disasters. They are not a total, epic failure, but they still fall short from making a real impact and difference in student learning.
Recently, I gave my students a task to explain something so a 5th grader could understand. The topic was to explain the three branches of government. They posted their video to Flipgrid. I gave them all 0/100. Sure, their videos explained the concept. They talked about the three branches, what they did, checks and balances, etc. The videos were, well....good enough. But that's not our goal! We don't want to settle for good enough so I made this point with something near and dear to their hearts: points and grades! Boy, once those 0/100 were posted, they were beating down my door, demanding an explanation. Which I provided: yes, you got a 0/100. It was good enough, but we are not striving for good enough. We are striving for greatness. You need to do better. More effort. More creativity. So, they were allowed to redo the videos and oh my! They were so much better. A clear difference between their first attempt and their second attempt. Way more creative, much more enthusiasm. They used props, music, actions. They were no longer good enough, they were great! That's what we are shooting for. Being great. Sometimes, it just takes a bit more effort.

Sit down and reflect on how you have been operating as a teacher lately. Have you settled for good enough? Change your mindset and perspective. Strive for greatness. Be willing to put in their effort needed to be great. It's in you. Just let it out!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

There is an Epidemic Spreading...

Holy smokes. Do you realize the crisis we are facing? Are you aware of this seriously frightening epidemic spreading throughout college campus all over the USA? Seriously, it's not good people. You step on campus for ONE minute and you will IMMEDIATELY see what I am talking about. But wait, no point in having to come all the way to campus to see evidence of this scary plague, because you can see it right where you are, I am willing to bet.  Just the other day, I was out for a nice stroll across campus and I almost became a victim of this epidemic FIVE times! And it's not even a very big campus. Sheesh. I'm telling you what. Something must be done. I don't think there is a vaccine for this. Not sure if there is a cure either. Oh, wait, there is. I know what the cure is. It's a sledgehammer. You may be thinking, "uh, what? What kind of epidemic is solved by a sledgehammer?? That makes no sense and I'm going to stop following this blog which is bad for him because I'm the only one who reads it."
This epidemic started out gradually. It started appearing, but only subtly and nobody really paid it much attention, in fact, most just joined in, willingly infecting themselves. No surgeon general's warning on the box to warn us of the dangers or to ward us off from diving in and joining the group.
It's too soon to see the long-term effects this epidemic will have. But the short-term results are in. And they are bad.  For me, I have witnessed plenty of people suffering from the horrible things caused by this epidemic: Black eyes from running into a light pole. Scuffed face from running into a brick wall. Tripping over a park bench. Dropping all their books. First degree burns after spilling their coffee. One person even missed the love of his life because of this!!! She walked right on by and he never even knew it. Had he been looking up, he would have seen her. An instant spark would have popped into his head and prompted him to say hello. This would have led to grabbing coffee later in the day. Then, dating. Then marriage. Then kids. A full life of happiness with his soul mate. But nope, none of that stuff happened because of the screen he was staring at.  It's terrible. I'm telling you, it's terrible! Cue the sledgehammer.
This epidemic is "Walking while texting" and it's out of control.  I was once standing in the hallway. Motionless, just watching a group of students walk towards me. One was looking down, on their phone while walking. I just stood there and do you know what happened? Yep, the person ran right into me. It was so awful (and awkward). Seriously! It's a problem. Even worse, some even text while walking backward. How dangerous! Not only for them but for the people around them who are actually engaged in the real world and not locked into a screen.  It seems everywhere I go, people are walking while texting and I fear that once they finally look up, they will see that 10 years have passed and they have done nothing but wasted it away on their device.  I offer a challenge! Put the device down. Look up while walking around. Perhaps you while notice the beauty in the world and engage in the present. There can't be anything that important that requires you to be walking while texting. And if it is an emergency or high priority, stop walking!
Social media makes people less social. I'm right there with them, inflected by this epidemic myself, but now I'm going to do something about it. What you ask? I deleted Instagram for starters. What's next? Probably Facebook. Then snapchat. Then Twitter (wait, no, who am I kidding. I'm not getting rid of Twitter). Or, maybe you don't have to delete any of that stuff, but just achieve some level of balance in life. Yes, perhaps that's the best route. I'll go with that. BALANCE!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Anniversary of September 11th

Today is the anniversary of September 11th. I remember CLEARLY where I was when I found out about it. I was a freshman at Augustana College. I actually woke up fairly early this day, around 8:30 am and stumbled down from my loft and flipped on the t.v.  I thought I was watching something from a movie. I thought the first plane was just an accident. But then the second plane hit. Then a plane hit the Pentagon, then a plane crashed in a field outside DC. It was no movie. No accident. America was under attack, on our own soil.  It brought our nation together to stand up to terrorism and bring justice to those who murdered our people.  Spend some time today thinking about September 11th and the horrific tragedy that it was. Watch some Youtube clips of the coverage of the day.  We owe it to all those innocent lives lost that day to think about them and honor them. We owe it to the thousands of men and women of the military who answered the call of duty and laid down their lives to seek out the people responsible for this.

September 11th has a dual meaning for me and my family. On September 11th, 2013, my dad returned home from a horrific motorcycle accident that put him in a coma for five weeks, due to a traumatic brain injury.  79 days after he entered the ICU at Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls, my mom wheeled him to the front doors of Sanford in a wheelchair. He then stood up and walked out the doors on his own. We then drove back home to Worthington, MN and had a pizza party. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.

So yeah. September 11th is quite the day for me. An emotional rollercoaster.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

I got a Blister on my thumb

Proof of my blister
So I was building a fire pit last weekend with pavers and gravel from Menards. Perhaps you are familiar with the process but at one point, you have to clear away the grass and level out the earth. Well, while doing this, after about 30 seconds of digging, I obtained a massive blister on my thumb. I guess my hands haven't developed tough callouses to ward off blisters from typing on my keyboard or turning the pages of my book. So yeah, my hands are, apparently, soft. So I got this huge blister and then I started feeling sorry for myself, especially after it popped. I was lambasting myself for not wearing gloves. A tried and true tactic to ward off blisters, even from the most vulnerable of hands. But nope, no gloves for me. I just grabbed that shovel and rushed into the action with reckless abandon, eager to clear that earth and construct the fire pit. So I was looking down at my thumb, trying to hold back the tears so my kids wouldn't see me cry over a blister, thinking about how horrible this was--to have a blister this big on my thumb. Having had blisters in the past, I knew the worst was coming---taking a shower! When a water blister pops open, the water from the shower stings so much. Just unbearable.  Plus, after the shower, when you are trying to dry off with the towel, it hurts even more for the towel to rub against the exposed, raw flesh underneath the skin that had blistered off.  Then, something miraculous happened. I had an epiphany! No, not about the best way to organize the pavers to make it look nice, no, not about a new strategy for consuming the most amount of S'mores in the shortest amount of time, but an epiphany on something far more important. I started thinking about the struggle I was going through and then started to compare that struggle to actual struggles people face. Real struggles. So I thought about my blister. Then, I thought about those who suffered during the Holocaust. Or those who toiled away building the Panama Canal. Or, those who endured countless oppression at the hands of racists. Or, those who stormed Omaha Beach and gave the ultimate sacrifice. Or, those who struggle through their lives, working three jobs to just get the bare essentials for their three kids. I thought about those who have suffered through long chemo treatments. Long rehab assignments for a variety of reasons. I thought about those who toiled away in the fields, under the unrelenting sun, behind a team of oxen pulling a plow, hour after hour to grow crops and build a better life for their children. I thought about John McCain and what he endured in Vietnam, never once giving up any information. I thought about Louie Zamperini and the extreme beatings he took, both physically and emotionally, day after day.  There's been some real struggles. The human spirit has prevailed in an awesome way throughout the annals of history. So after all that thinking, there was no progress made on the fire pit, but definitely a renewed sense of appreciation and gratitude for those who came before me.
So yeah, my blister, as it turns out, is not a big deal.

Monday, September 3, 2018

In Honor of Labor Day

Happy Labor Day to all. Today is a day to celebrate all those out there who work hard. Those "laborers" who have done so much throughout the history of our country to build it up to what it is today. Image those who built the skyscrapers of NYC in the 1920's. Imagine what it would have been like to build all those roads, interstates, highways, etc. Imagine the pain and misery of all those shinglers. Imagine the mental strain of trying to figure out how to build bridges over long expanses of water. The Laborer is truly someone to be honored and thanked. For we owe them so much. My question to you is this: Are you a Laborer? Do you work hard and put forth effort in your job, career, profession? As an educator, we owe it to our students to put forth maximum effort and to work hard at our jobs. We can't afford to go through the motions. Our students not only deserve a teacher that puts forth maximum effort, but needs that type of teacher! A few questions to ponder: Have you tried anything new recently in your classroom? Have you done any research to uncover a hidden gem of a lesson, idea or spark? Do you print off your entire year's worth of worksheets on day 1 and then be set for the year? Do you actively seek out passionate educators, have conversations with them and bounce ideas off each other? Do you sit and wonder? Do you contemplate and reflect on yourself as an educator? Do you engage in PD, not because you are forced to, but because it helps you grow and improve as an educator?

Be a hard worker. Put forth maximum effort. Work to be good at what you do. Putting forth effort is a choice. Please, for the sake of our children and future, make the right choice. Choose effort.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

So it's your first year of teaching...

So your first year of teaching is coming up. You have graduated college with a degree in education yet you have a ton more to learn about teaching in your first year. And your second year. And your third year. And every other year for the rest of your teaching or education career. You are now a professional educator, yet it is such a unique profession because it is difficult to learn certain things in college. There is an "on the job training" aspect to teaching.  Never stop learning. Be a life-long learner.
So now that you have your first job, the real work begins. The actual work of teaching students and helping them learn. Helping them reach their full potential. You are no longer just trying to pass student teaching, or get high scores on lesson plan rubrics. You are no longer trying to plan awesome lessons to impress your university supervisor during an observation. Now it is the real deal. It is time to put into action what you've learned and heard the last few years.

Here are some tips for you as you enter your teaching career:
1. Begin building relationships with your students on day one. And never stop until you retire in 35 years.

2. Don't try to be friends with the students.

3. Attend extra-curricular events to engage students in other environments. They notice and it means a lot to them to see you at their activities.

4. Read Teach Like a Pirate every August.

5. Reflect constantly. Every day. After everything you do. "What you did" - "What happened" - "How did it go" - "good/bad and why" - "What you will do differently next time."

6. Make sure your priorities are in order each day when you enter the building: You are not there to just socialize with your colleagues. The #1 reason you are there is for the students so rather than spending your whole prep period in the lounge talking about the weekend, spend your time creating a new and engaging activity for your students.

7. Stay out of the "good old boys" club.

8. Find passionate teachers that care about kids and have a growth mindset. Surround yourself with these teachers. Ask them questions (but don't be needy or annoying). Stay away from the teachers who have bad attitudes and a fixed mindset.

9.  Get to know the support staff of the school: Secretary, custodians, the tech person and the food service workers. They may give you an extra chicken nugget on those days!

10. Don't feel like you have to teach the way the previous teacher did. Find your own style. It may take a few years, but eventually, you will find your own unique style and what you are good at.

11. Engage on Twitter. It is a great place to expand your resources and grow professionally.

12. Stay in contact with your professors for ideas, help, questions, to vent, etc. They are here to continue to help you and want to do so.

13. Don't do worksheets every day.

14. Keep a balance between your school life and your social/personal life. Don't let the profession overwhelm you and burn you out the first year. True, it will be busy, but a healthy balance will keep you healthy and sharp.

15. Don't use technology just for the sake of using technology. The best way to do something is NOT always with technology. Only use technology when it improves the learning, makes the learning/work more efficient/effective and/or allows you to do things that otherwise would not be possible.

Good luck as you embark on your teaching adventure. It's quite a ride!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Summer time!

Summer break is bittersweet for me. I enjoy getting to spend a lot of time with my kids, especially Hazel since she's at such an awesome age (4 yrs). I enjoy getting to have some "down" time to read and just reset.  I also enjoy having time to run, but so much for that! (Thanks, Achilles tear). However, I miss my students terribly. It seems the semester goes so fast and then, poof! They are gone and off to student teaching.  I find myself having a hard time waiting for the next school year to arrive because I'm excited to get to work with a bunch of new students.   So what do I do during the summer?  I'll share it here. Not that you probably need any help with coming up with stuff to do in the summer. But, nonetheless, my summer plans:

1. Read YA social injustice books - A great way to continue to build empathy within me and be able to build a library of books to recommend to students. Also, I'm always searching for a new book to use in my social injustice unit.

2. Read one book from Dave Burgess Publishing. Let's face it, Dave Burgess is the man. He pumps out a lot of awesome books for teachers that are powerful, yet not difficult to read. The book I am going to read this summer is called "Wild Card" by Wade and Hope King. I suggest you do the same.

3. Read a bunch of novels. I feel that reading novels sparks my imagination which helps me become more creative. The imagination is a powerful thing - feed it!

4. Create a simulation - I look at my curriculum, dive into some content and try to create at least one rockin' simulation for the upcoming school year. Simulation is my favorite teaching strategy because of the transformative nature of it.

5. Mine Twitter  - At least once a week, I fire up Tweet Deck to mine for new tech tools,   resources, ideas, etc that I could use in the upcoming school year.  Choose a hashtag and just spend 30 minutes looking through the tweets. I suggest #tlap, #games4ed, #xplap, #ditchbook, #sdedchat.

6. Incorporate a new tech tool in a meaningful way. I am NOT a believer in trying to use as many different tech tools as possible. I like to master one and use it in a meaningful way. I don't like using tech just for the sake of using tech. So I look at my tech tools google doc and think about what tech tool I could add to my courses in a meaningful way.

7. Unplug for school for a while. I feel it is healthy to check out from school and thinking about school. It can get to be too overwhelming if you are always in "school mode." However, even when I am "checked out," I keep school in the back of my mind just in case I come across something that would be useful for the school year.

8. Limit the amount of time I am on my phone. As the days, weeks and years pass, I am becoming more and more anti-iPhone.  It is a powerful device and I use it regularly, but it can be such a time-consuming thing! This is a real struggle for me but I am making a huge effort this summer to get off my phone, look up more and engage with the world.

9. Fly somewhere. I really try hard to fly somewhere each summer (or each year) because if you are flying somewhere, that means it was too far to drive, which means you are going to a totally new/different place in the US or World. See as much of the US/World as possible. Fly somewhere and broaden your horizons and increase your appreciation for culture.

10. Read Teach Like a Pirate, Part 1.


What do you do in the summer to recharge, prepare for school, or just have fun?
Enjoy the summer. You've earned the time off.

-Dan Klumper

Friday, February 9, 2018 A most useful tool

If you haven't already, you should check out! It's a very useful tool. It is part of Google Drive and uses spreadsheets to create all sorts of tools for your classroom. 
A few of the highlights: 
*Jeopardy style Board: Ask questions with point values. All sorts of different ways to use this, other than the boring jeopardy style version. 
*Spin the Wheel: Spin the wheel to randomly choose something
*Tournament: Enter teams and Flippity will create a nice looking bracket for you
*Memory game
*Crossword puzzle

User-friendly interface, which provides a demo, instructions, and template for each tool. 
You do all the work in Google Sheets and Flippity does the rest! 

Check it out and spice up your classroom a bit! 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Appear.In: Video conference tool

Google Hangout and Skype are far inferior to this new video conferencing tool: Appear.In. The video quality and sound quality is so much better than Hangouts and Skype.

*With Appear.In, you can your own URL, which is your "room." So the link to your room is always the same.

*It's Free.

*You can "lock" your room so when people click on your link, they will have to "knock," which will alert you someone wants to get into your room. Then, you can let them in, or not.

*You can use emoji's and stickers during the video conference.

*There is a text feature so allow you to have side conversations during the video conference.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Try Flipgird. It's awesome.

Perhaps you have seen Flipgrid and/or used Flipgrid. Perhaps not. Well, I am strongly encouraging you to use it, if you haven't already! It's a dynamite tool for student learning.

*It gives your students a voice by allowing them all to share their thoughts, insights, opinions, questions, etc. without the intimidation of a full class of peers.

*No sign in/username/password. This makes it so accessible and easy to use. No more forgetting passwords. Password protect the grid so it's not viewable by the public.

*Public Vs. Private. Students can see each other's videos and respond with their own video. However, you can also have the videos visible only by you with the moderation feature.

*Fun! The emoji's, stickers, and drawing feature for the video Thumbnail "selfie" is a lot of fun and gets kids excited about using it. Use this feature with meaning by having them design their selfie to represent whatever they are talking about.

*Direct link. It's never been easier to get something out to your students. Just give them the link!

*Resource Feature: Add a youtube video, google doc or any number of resources for your students to use and respond to with their video.

*Compare/Contrast: I posted a video of the "Great Race" myth of the Lakota people. I also attached a document of the Great Race in text form. My students are comparing/contrasting the two items in their flipgrid post. (See picture posted)

Sign up today! Use Promo Code: DANKLUMPER to receive 45 days of Flipgrid Classroom for Free.