Friday, August 27, 2010

An Invite to #edchat for @USEdGov

To @USEdGov (US Department of Education),

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. You are a very busy department and that would have to explain why you have not responded to my many tweets inviting you to #edchat. I thought that a post might be more helpful because my tweets are probably buried in the other thousands of @ mentions you receive every day. Since #edchat is a growing community of educators discussing important educational topics, I thought it only made sense to invite you to the conversation.

I hear all too often that teachers are stuck in the past and refuse to change their methods. Too much blame is put on Unions and how teachers are happy with the way things are. Yes, there are some teachers that think and act this way. However, there are many teachers that are constantly looking for ways to improve education. #edchat is a place where teachers meet to discuss ways to improve education for everyone, not just the students in their class. These teachers are not being paid to be there and they are not receiving college credit. They are there because they want to be there. Is this something that the Department of Education would find interesting?

When I do see the occasional news story on education, they all seem to focus on failing schools, poor teaching records or how States are scrambling to apply for RTTT funds. Why is it stories on teachers working hard on their own time to improve themselves is not important to the news? In an Administration that claims to pro education and pro social media, how can it not support teachers that use social media to improve education? #edchat provides an opportunity to speak with teachers instead of to them through press releases.

#edchat takes place every Tuesday at Noon EST and 7pm EST. These two times were chose to accommodate the many teachers from all over the world. As the Obama Administration stresses the importance of a global perspective of education, why is #edchat ignored when it shares the same beliefs? I have learned so much from the various teachers that participate in #edchat. I have become a better teacher for it and my students are better because of my participation. As the Administration stressed more accountability from the teachers in this country, why would it want to miss a chance to promote forward thinking educators and their efforts to improve the educational system from the bottom up?

One of the many things I teach my students is the importance of making connections. If a person can connect to a piece of literature, it will mean more to them and they will learn from that connection. People make connections with other people and learn different things in the process. Teachers meet on Twitter, not just during #edchat, to make connections and grow as educators. I think that the Department of Education would want to participate in a discussion about improving education in this country.

Secretary Duncan I know you are a very busy person, but do you think you could find the time to join the discussion? 

Best Wishes,

Nicholas Provenzano
English Teacher
Grosse Pointe South High School
Grosse Pointe Farms, Mi
Life Long Learner

- @TheNerdyTeacher

Using My iPad In The Classroom This Year

I have had a full summer to think about all of the different things I plan to do with my iPad this year. I've surfed the 'net and have had some conversations with people and I have come up with a few ideas. I'm really excited to get started. I hope some of my ideas help fellow iPad educators use the iPad in their class.

Safari (Free)

No big surprise, but the web will be very important to my use of the iPad in the classroom. I have the 3G version because I do not have WiFi access in my building (yet). Our attendance, grades and school email can all be accessed through the web. I no longer have to sit behind my desk and wait for the desktop to load up attendance. I can walk around the room and talk to students as I check them in for attendance. As I walk around, I can also check the grades of students to see if they have any missing assignments. By quickly shifting from one page to another, I can mark a student present and let them know their grade in the class.

Another great thing about the web access is that I can email students any piece of content I have on the iPad. If there is a site a student mentions in class discussion, I can plug it into the iPad, review it and then quickly email it to the entire class. The ability to freely move around the room allows a more fluid class discussion. No longer will I need to stop and go back to the desk and look up information. Safari allows me the freedom that a desktop cannot.

iBook (Free)

I love reading books on my iPad. It just a nice way to keep all of the books I want in one space without all of the clutter. I'm an English Teacher, so my collection of books has been growing every year. The iPad allows me to keep as many books as I want. I can bookmark various parts of a story and bounce back and forth when I need to. In the classroom, this ability can be very helpful. 

Many of the books I teach in class are free downloads. Those that are not, are fairly inexpensive and worth the download. One book I use every year is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Here is a picture of the original cover of the book. The iPad edition is fill with the original illustrations. Those are just nice extras. When I'm discussing a book with different classes, I normally have to leave little notes for myself to remind where we left off or specific ideas the class did or did not discuss. These post-it notes clutter the book very quickly when you have three or four sections of a class. iBooks allow a reader to post notes wherever you want. Here is an example. 

Here is a shot of the note when selected by the user. When it is not on the front page, it sits nicely on the margin with the date it was created. The notes are also indexed in the book mark section of the story so I do not have to search the chapter for the notes I have left. iBook allows for quick transitions between pages and notes so I do not have awkward pauses as I look for information. Quick highlighting of passages and simple note taking make the use of iBooks in the classroom a no-brainer. 

Another cool thing I could do would be to  take the highlighted portions and the notes and email them to others. The long way would to copy and past the quote and note and send it through traditional email. That way important quotes could be quickly shared with the rest of the class and posted on class blogs. It would take a little prep before class, but it could be very valuable in the long run. 

Things for iPad ($19.99)

I really like Notes for iPad. I'm going to use this for my day to day planning. Things for iPad allows you to create various notes and prioritize them. You can create due dates for certain notes and have them emailed to you as reminders. You can create different tags to keep your different notes together. I will be creating different tags for each class. This will allow me to sort the various notes quickly. 

The quick email is also very nice. I will create a separate tag for Freshmen Homework. If I keep the homework up to date on Things, I can quickly email it to students who were absent or parents that request it. The various Apps on the iPad do a great job integrating email so information can be quickly shared. Sharing information is crucial in education and Things for iPad makes this possible in a quick and easy fashion. 
Dropbox (Free)

I've written about my love of Dropbox before. I was talking to a new teacher in my building and I was sharing all of the wisdom I had to offer. After those 3 minutes we started to talk about some of the tech constraints she might encounter in the district. We currently have no way to access files on our school computer from home. If someone forgets a test they wanted to alter on the school computer, the only way the teacher could get it would be driving all the way back to school. Dropbox allows the teacher to store everything in the clouds and pull documents down when they need them. 

I have stored my documents on Dropbox and I couldn't be happier. I have access to all of my documents whenever I need them. This is handy when I'm walking around the room and a student ask for another copy of a handout. I can quickly send that document to them through email without having to dig in my file cabinet for an extra copy. It is important that teaches have access to information quickly because they need to pass it along to the students. Dropbox has never been a problem for me and I highly suggest you use it whether you have an iPad or not.

Diigo (Free)

Bookmarking tools are great for the classroom. In a previous post, I Heart Diigo, I talked about the wonderful things I was doing with Diigo. Bookmarking allowed me to present a series of sites to do research. Instead of just giving them the entire Internet to search, a handful of sites saved to Diigo allows a more controlled search. To really test the kids, you could throw in some unreliable sources to really test their research skills. 

For the iPad, Diigo collects the websites and allows the user to access them quickly. Instead of taking note after note from various websites, I can look at all site directly downloaded onto my iPad. I can use the different sites as I facilitate class discussion. The iPad allows for the collection of information in one spot. I'm a type of person that likes to move around the room and the iPad allows me to have all of the information at my finger tips without being chained to my chair. I can keep students on task and still facilitate class discussion. Diigo is a great tool for collecting information and sharing with others. That is one of the roles of a teacher. Using the iPad in the classroom has made that role easier. (Free)

This app is an obvious choice for an English Class. The app is a Dictionary and a Thesaurus. Students have this thought that as an English Teacher, I know the definition of every word and multiple synonyms and antonyms. On the rare occasion that I do not have the definition on the tip of my tongue, this app allows a quick search for the right definition. I have hard copy Dictionaries in my classroom, but they are stored at the other end and it takes too long to look up a word. If a students asks me and I don't know, I can find the word much faster on my iPad than I ever could using the book version or the desktop version. It's a nice app that every iPad user should download.

These are just a few of the apps that I plan on using in my class this year. I'm sure there will be other apps that will come out or I will find that will be helpful in my class. My dear friend Kelly Tenkely has a great site,, that is filled with great reviews of apps for the iPad. Check out what she has to say and see what you can do with your iPad in the classroom. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Creating a Blogging Community

(Editor's Note) Parts of this was cross posted on my school blog. I thought I would share it with all of you as well.

I've seen many an eye roll at me when I talk about my blog. Many people still have this idea that blogs are for celebrity gossip and angst filled teens. Blogging is used for those things, but they can play an important role in the classroom as well. I've decided to create a Blogger's Cafe in my room to encourage student blogging and opening up my class to the world.

Blogger's Cafe

The Stage in my Classroom
I plan to set up a lounge style seating area on the stage that will have space for two students to use netbooks and live blog/tweet the class discussion/lecture. Students will rotate blogging day to day to ensure that a different perspective is gained in class. The goal is to create a comfortable environment for students to work. The students will post the blog on my schoolwires page at the end of class. Students who were not blogging will be able to go back to my page at any time and add any information they thought was important. It allows for students who were absent to see what happened in class and for parents to actually read exactly what happened in class that day. It knocks down the walls of the classroom and lets the world see the learning first hand.

The Blogger's Cafe will be important and students work with other students from Van Meter, Iowa. Students will be working on various units with other students from Van Meter and will need a space to work on different parts of various projects. Student blogs will be used to explore different ideas and reflect on experiences. It will be an avenue that will allow all students to freely participate, instead of the select few that love to raise their hand in class.


Another reason I want my students to blog on a more regular basis is because it will help them become better readers and writers. I had my students answer discussion questions last year using At the end of the year, I realized that I had my students write the equivalent of 3 extra essays. I could tell by the end of the year, their writing was sharper and their though process stronger. Just writing essays might not be the only way to strengthen writing skills. Blogging allows for students to freely express their thoughts on topics without being stuck following a strict essay format. That ability to let ideas flow will help students as thinkers, not just writers. Literacy is no longer just reading and writing. Computer Literacy needs to be considered as these students move on to college or the job market. The more experience students have with computers and web tools, they better prepared they will be for college.

My Goal

My big goal for the year is to have many other students, in many different content areas, in many different building, start to blog and have their students blog. I want to create a Blogging Community in the district that will allow students to read and comment on various types of blogs. I have a Math and Science teacher ready to blog in their class and I don't want to see it stop there. I want to assign their blogs as reading in my class. This will allow reading and writing to finally be spread out across the curriculum. By having students engage in reading and commenting on other content blogs, they will be reading and learning about new ideas.I would love to see 8th graders reading and commenting on 9th grade blog posts. Freshmen engaging in discussions with AP students on different topics in Biology or History. The potential is truly limitless if a Blogging Community is created. As this idea grows, discussions can begin with other schools in other districts. Eduction should not happen behind four walls alone. Blogging knocks down those walls and opens the world to our students. Before we see the world, we need to create the right environment in the district.

This is a big goal and I don't expect it to happen over night. I do know that I teach with some of the best teachers in the world and they are dedicated to using the best methods available to prepare our students for the tests they will take in the future and college down the road. Now is not the time to be scared to try something new in the classroom. We have a chance to do something different that will help all of our students. If you think that more reading and writing will help the students in your class, please send me an email and together we can set up a class blog. 

I think this is a great idea to try and set up in your school district if you have the means. If different districts can set this up, then we can all work together to create a large community for our students to work and learn in. I think this is possible if we all work together. I've been lucky to pair up with Van Meter and can't wait to see where it goes. Let me know if you are going to try and bring this to your district.

- @TheNerdyTeacher

Graph It Forward

I stumbled upon this cool site and I wanted to share it with all of the teachers out there. We have many students that graduate school and have no use of their fancy graphing calculators in college. Graph It Forward is a great program designed to collect these unused calculators and distribute them to needy students by SAT time on June 5th. Having a graphing calculator can increase a students ACT Math score by as much as 4 points and their SAT score by 70! It seems crazy to think that students are attempting these tests without the tools necessary to be successful.

I think this could be a great project for school clubs/organizations to take up near the end of the school year. There are too many students that take these high stakes tests without calculators. Here is a great way to help many students get great scores on tests and help them get into college. I hope you can help this great group!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Knocking Down Walls With Van Meter

I'm not exactly sure how it started. I went to ISTE10, met some awesome people and now I'm working on a Freshmen English Curriculum with the great people of Van Meter Schools.

I connected with Shannon at ISTE and we talked about doing something together in the future. I've said that to many people whose work I admire. I say it because I really do want to work with them, but often, life gets in the way. Shannon made sure that life would not get in the way and quickly created a Google Doc so we could start sharing ideas. She quickly connected me with Sean and Jared to think about Curriculum ideas.

Why are we doing this? I think this is the question I'm going to get most from parents and other teachers. I think in today's education, a global education, we start to connect students with people outside of the small bubble of their classroom. For me, Literature is done a disservice if it is discussed from only a couple of view points. Literature has so much to offer and I think it is important to open up literature as much as possible. Connecting with different schools from all over the world will allow students to see how different cultured interpret different works of literature. As a high school teacher, one of my goals is to prepare my students for college. College is filled with many different cultures, so it's important to expose them to as many different ideas as possible.

Another reason to connect with other schools is to allow students to use different types of scale media and web tools they will need to be familiar with when they head to college and the job market. The more practice that these students have using these important 21st century tools, the better off they will be in the long run. I firmly believe that we are not just teachers of content. We owe it to our students to impart everything we can to make them successful and productive members of society. Connecting with different students from different backgrounds will only be beneficial to our students.

Here are some things we are working on:

- Shared Ning site: We want to create a space where all of our students can meet and share ideas. We will have about 90 students from GPS and 150 from VM. A centralized place to meet and discuss ideas is necessary to bring everyone together.

- Student Blogs: We want to have our own areas for students/teachers to blog that will be accessible to the other schools. This will allow the teachers to have a space they can modify/moderate for their specific school. The teachers can set this system up in a way that is best for their students. It's a nice way to differentiate for each class.

Joint Units: We have looked at our schedules and curriculum and decided on a unit on/unit off schedule. This will allow the teachers time to collaborate after units and work our the bugs after each unit. Also, it will allow teachers to still tackle important district curriculum during the off time. For students, we hope to see them sharing connections during the off time and during their personal time. Connecting through Facebook, Twitter and other social media outside of the school day would be a great success for this idea.

VM and GPS will work together on short stories, To Kill a Mockingbird, Black Boy, Research Papers and Shakespeare. We have some ideas that involve discussion questions and smaller joint projects for Mockingbird, Black Boy and the short stories in the first semester. We want to move slowly and get the students comfortable with working online with students they will never meet face to face. Second semester is where we are going to go all out.

Research Paper: In Freshmen English, students are taught proper research techniques and how to write a formal research paper. They usually pick topics on Gun Control or the Death Penalty. They research one side and write the essay. Working with another school, we thought it would be great to pair students up with opposing viewpoints to research together. Give the students an opponent to their essay. Set them up with a shared space where they could exchange ideas and sources as they work to create a solid argument. One part of the essay is always on refuting the other side. Students will now be able to actually here and see the other side of the argument which will strengthen theirs in the long run.

Time permitting; it would be great to see a Skype debate on their subjects where classmates can ask questions of the two that wrote the essays. The emphasis will be on collaboration to see the other side of the argument. Too often, students write their point of view and never truly consider the other side. This project could have students see the entire argument for the first time.

The Epic Romeo and Juliet Project:

This started off as a project for my classes at GPS, but has grown into something so much more now that VM and GPS are working together. Using all forms of social media available, the students of VM and GPS are going to put on a Skyped joint production of Romeo and Juliet. The two schools will divide the play's 5 Acts and produce them at their school. Each act will be broadcast to the audience using Skype. Students will be in charge of every aspect of the production. They will be directing, producing, writing, building props, advertising, making costumes, etc.

This is meant to be a culminating project for both schools. As far as we know, no school has ever done a joint production of a play through Skype. This idea requires massive amounts of detail and work from our students. They will need to work together as they dive deep into the world of Shakespeare and the meaning of his poetry. Key decisions on the different parts of the production will need to be made by the assigned groups using different forms of technology to connect. They will use their newly acquired research skills to create. One of a kind interpretation of Romeo and Juliet.

As teachers, we will be blogging and tweeting about the work Van Meter and Grosse Pointe South are doing from an educational standpoint. Our hope is to grow this idea to a point where we have four schools rotating during the school year to allow for a different perspective for the students.You can always follow the hash tag #VMGPS to see what we are thinking over the course of the school year.

Knocking down walls is something that teachers should strive to do every day. We need to open up the world to our students so they can see the role their are going to play in the world. Students can no longer live inside the nice bubble they have created for themselves. As educators, we need to pop that bubble and show them the beauty of the world around them. Sometimes it starts with one conversation with someone from Iowa. 

If you are interested in joining us on this crazy adventure, feel free to leave a comment here or send myself or Shannon a Tweet and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

- @TheNerdyTeacher

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Net Book Decision

I have never purchased a non-Apple computer product. There, I said it. I'm one of those people. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I just feel a little under qualified to select two net books for my class. I want students to be able to curl up in a comfy chair on my stage and blog/tweet about the day's events. I have heard tons if great suggestions from people I trust. Thanks to everyone that responded to my Tweets. What I really want is to hear from Dell, HP, Toshiba, Acer and Asus

I feel this is what social media is supposed to do. I'm going to reach out to these companies on Twitter and see who can give me the best sales pitch. Twitter provides such a great forum for different companies, big or small, to reach out to a customer that has specific questions. If computer companies cannot sell me on their technology through technology, then I shouldn't buy their product. I'm going to need to make the same pitch to my school when they ask me why I chose the net book I chose. Why not use the same pitch that worked on me?  I'll tweet out the link to the post and see who, if anyone, responds to me. I'm hoping to get a ton of great responses from the various companies. I've followed all of the companies I'm tweeting, so if you are one of them, follow me and send me a DM. I would love to talk to you!

Net Book Needs

Price Range: $250 - $350
Wireless Internet Connectivity
Webcam for Skype

Those are my 3 criteria for the two net books. Students will be using them to keep running blogs of class and sending tweets about class topics. I need a light weight net book kids can easily pass around the class if needed. I hope you have products that meet my needs. These net books will allow my students to interact daily with the students of Van Meter, Iowa. We have some amazing projects in the works and I can't wait to share them with everyone once the school year gets started. I will be continuously blogging about my Blogger's Cafe and I hope to present this project at the MACUL and ISTE conferences in 2011. I feel this idea has a chance to connect students, teachers and administrators to others all over the world. Like most things, it only starts with one person with a passion.

Furniture Needs

The next part of my post is dedicated to the layout of the Blogger's Cafe. I want to create very comfortable space for students. I want students to want to be at the Cafe working every day and after school. I'm not an overall fan of the type of furniture that students are asked to sit in and work as it is, so anything comfortable would be a huge upgrade. I'm thinking about comfy chairs that students can relax in and use the net book. Lap top trays might be nice so students can keep the net book stead as the work in the chair. I'm not against a some desk and chair combos if they are comfortable. Student comfort is of the utmost importance to me.

Here is the stage in my room.

I would like two areas for two students to sit comfortably and blog/Skype/Tweet during class. Desks and chairs are all that I need. Do you have any suggestions? This is straight out of my pocket, so please keep that in mind when you make your suggestions. If you think you have some ideas, please feel free to post a comment or follow me @TheNerdyTeacher and send me a DM.

Art in The Blogger's Cafe

I have a couple of students that are eager to get their paintbrushes on the back wall. They have some cool ideas that involve authors using text tools. Example: Mark Twain with an iPod or EA Poe with a Kindle. I really want the kids to take ownership of the space. Maybe parts of the wall can only be painted after units are covered and the art needs to incorporate the unit objectives or goals. Hmmmmm. I'm thinking out loud here. Well, typing quietly and thinking in my head. ;-) I'll keep you posted on this one.

Thanks Everyone!

I have received tons of support and many kind words about my Blogger's Cafe idea and want to thank everyone who did. I would never have built up the courage or motivation to do something so radically different at my school without your support. I promise to keep everyone up to date one the process once it gets started. You are all as much a part of this as I am. Thanks again and I hope to read some of your ideas in the comment box.

- @TheNerdyTeacher

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

#rscon10 - My Thoughts

I want to start off by thanking Shelly, Kelly, Chris and Jason for putting together an amazing conference. I also want to thank the other presenters for doing an amazing job and taking the time to present. One last thank you to all of the people that attended the various sessions. Without you, we would be talking to ourselves.

I was bummed that I was unable to see many of the sessions live over the weekend. I was away at camp and needed the time on Saturday to finalize my presentation and deal with some technical glitches. I have been able to catch up and watch some of the recorded sessions and I have been blown away. This truly was an amazing collection of talent speaking on topics they were passionate. There wasn't a single session that I did not make me think about my teaching or my school in general. I have never been to a conference where every session proved valuable and a great use of my time.

I watched the chats as they scrolled by for the different sessions and was amazed by all of the different teachers from all of the world that were spending there time free time, and in some cases sleep time, on professional development. These were educators that wanted nothing better than to take time to improve themselves so they could improve their classroom or school. These are the educators that are going to change the world. It is was truly an amazing thing to see.

The other thing that got me really excited was the fact that this entire conference was put on by educators. I don't mean to say that it is shocking that educators could accomplish this. edcamps have been popping up all over the country and that proves that educator run conferences are possible and successful. These events are the things that are going to make a lasting change on the world of education. I say world, because this is a global issues. Teaching our students the fundamentals of education is the responsibility of the world. Technology has opened up the lines of communication and educators are taking advantage of these connections. There are plenty of talking heads talking about the problems in educations, but here was a conference that was talking about solutions.

The odds of getting Secretary Duncan into one of these conferences is next to none, but if we continue to work together and strive to make education better for everyone around the world, our voices will be too loud to ignore. It is going to be frustrating as we strive to see immediate change, but we have made amazing advances in a short period of time. As long as educators continue to band together at conferences, #edchats, #edcamps and other educator driven events, we will make an impact that will have a lasting impact on the future of education.

Keep fighting the good fight,


Monday, August 2, 2010

Why I Camp

Warning: This is a non-tech post, but contains material about education and leadership.

I just spent the past week in Albion, Michigan working with Student Council and National Honor Society students from all over the state. The Michigan Association of Student Councils and Honor Societies (MASC/MAHS) sponsors a weak long event for student leaders to come to camp and work on their leadership skills to create a better environment at their school and in the community. I work at the HS camp and it contains three levels. Level 1 is for 1st year campers regardless of age/grade level. I work with level 1 students and I love it. Enough about the background and more about "Why I camp".

I'm often asked by my friends why I spend a week of my summer surrounded my high school kids a month before I surround myself with high schools kids for a month. Most assume it is for the money, but that is far from the case. The amount of money I get paid barely covers the money I send to buy decorations and things for my camp council room. The longer I do this, the less stuff I will have to buy, but right now, I'm breaking even. Like all things regarding education, I don't do it for the money.

I do it because I'm a teacher. It is a chance for me to reach out beyond my district and make an impact on students from all over the state. I don't have to worry about  my English curriculum for a week. I get to play games that are designed to build stringer leaders. I get to sit and have meaningful discussions with students about what a leader is and how they have the power to change the culture of their school and their community.  I get to work with some of the most amazing people I know.

Us techie people often talk about the amazing school we could form if the PLN joined forces. If the camp staff of MASC/MAHS joined forces, we would create an equally strong school of learners and leaders. I get to be surrounded by students that are passionate about change. I also get to be surrounded by other teachers that are passionate about the same things I am as well. All to often we get bogged down at work and feel very isolated about the things we are passionate about. Only a few people in my building are passionate about making better leaders out of our students and that is very sad to me. Camp offers me the opportunity to work with students and staff that all believe in the same goal and are passionate about making it happen.

I had a council of 24 students and 1 Junior Counselor (JC). The all came from very different walks of life and were very unsure of what to expect from camp. I get to introduce myself as Nick and act informally as we discuss the great thing we are going to learn this week. I sometimes wish that school could be as informal and relaxed. The kids seemed to learn just fine without high stakes testing. #JustSayin

We spend the next week doing activities, singing songs, eating awesome food and discussing the finer points of leadership. As teachers we love to see those light bulb moments in our class when a student gets a concept they have been struggling to understand. The theme from the novel that has been alluding suddenly makes sense and it is awesome to see it happen in front of you. At camp, there are light bulb moments all over the place. What makes these moments extra special is that the students now understand a little better what it means to be a leader and can use that to make a difference. Those moments will never leave me.

Level 2 has students work on personal goals. It's great to see students take time to look inside and see how they can become a better person, student and leader. They also do something called Passion to Action. They select something they are passionate about and work with other students to formulate a plan to help. One passion could be child obesity. The kids would get together and think of ways they can fight this problem. At the end of the week, they present their passions to the entire camp and everyone has an opportunity to talk to kids and exchange information. To see kids passionate about changing the world really warms my soul.

I want to talk about the JCs for a moment. Each Senior Counselor (SC) is assigned a JC. These kids are former campers and current college students. They help the SC with the lessons and activities throughout the day. They sing camp songs at all of the meals and generally keep the kids motivated all week. They are up early (7am) and up late (2am) working on their jobs for the next day and other camp duties. These are college students that choose to spend a week with HS students during their summer. One girl was actually taking summer classes and was commuting between camp and school so she could help out. "Limp", you are an angel! These JCs are some of the most amazing people you could ever meet. Most of them are going into education this is great experience for them. Others just love what camp represents and want to be part of the student's life. My JC was simply amazing over the course of the week. It was her first year as a JC, but she kicked serious butt! The kids loved her and chanted her name during meals and was ready to deal with any problems that came up. The kids were drawn to her instantly and it made for a better council because of it. She is going into Elementary Education and she is going to be a hell of a teacher.To all of the JCs, I want to thank you for your dedication to this great program. You prove to all of the teachers that what we are doing is worth it. You make a difference in the campers lives and should be proud of that fact. We are proud to be your SCs.

At the end of camp we get out warm fuzzy bags. Warm fuzzies are notes that campers write to each other and pace in a bag they make at the start of camp. JCs and SCs write ones for all of their campers and the staff. My JC scrapped booked mine as a present. (Seriously, it made me tear up) These warm fuzzies are generally thanks you for a fun week and keep in touch info. I love keeping these notes and going over them when I have a bad teaching day. They remind me that it  is possible to reach students and make a difference. That is why I teach.Twitter acts a little like Warm Fuzzies at times. Schools would be so much better if every student got to have a Warm fuzzy bag in the classroom.

By the end of camp, we are all tired and ready to go home, but the first thing most of us do when we get home is change our Facebook status to, "51 weeks until camp. :-("

Purple Lightning!

This is a video I filmed of a council talking about camp. They planned the entire video.

At the end of every night we hold tranquility. It a chance to relax before bed and a good way to focus after a day of learning.