Summer Spotlight: My Summer Workation in Mexico

January 16th, 2011

As part of the Summer Workation Celebrating Summer Contest, we will be featuring a number of Summer Spotlights. These Summer Spotlights will feature some of the exciting things teachers have done and can do during the summer months. We hope that these posts can help teachers learn about some of the summer jobs and opportunities available to them. This spotlight features Summer Workation’s own Lisa Broom. Lisa learned about the Mexican education system while taking an intensive Spanish language course.

Lisa_SW2

Cuernavaca, Mexico is located in Central Mexico, about an hour south of Mexico City. A year round temperature of eighty degrees as well as its proximity to both famous ruins and beautiful beaches made this site a very attractive choice when I weighed my options of where to spend my summer. However, Cuernavaca’s main draw for me was an intensive Spanish language course combined with a seminar for educators that explored the Mexican education system.

For four weeks, I attended a small language school, studying advanced Spanish conversation and grammar for four hours a day. In the afternoons, I also participated in a seminar conducted in Spanish on education in Mexico. Topics included the history of Mexico’s educational system, current laws and statistics, curricula, classroom practices, and comparisons of public and private schools. As part of the program, I also had the opportunity to visit an urban elementary school and observe several classes.

While I was attending classes I lived with a host family. My homestay was set up through the school at which I was studying. I lived with a single woman and her daughter, who had recently graduated high school. My family cooked my meals, showed me things to do in the city and also traveled outside of Cuernavaca with me. Living with a family helped me to acclimate to the new location and culture quickly, and gave me access to experiences I may not have been able to find on my own. During long conversations over meals where I was able to eat homemade local cuisine, I learned about the political and economic climate of the community. My host sister introduced me to restaurants, parks and markets. My family not only provided me with friendship and support, but also a critical connection to the local culture.

Lisa_SW1

Studying and living in Mexico gave me the chance to pursue personal interests as well as grow professionally. I majored in International Studies in college and have always loved learning about different cultures and places. Using my summer break to live and travel outside the U.S. reenergized and refreshed me for the next school year. It also helped me to develop as a teacher. As a bilingual elementary teacher in Houston, Texas, I teach students whose families have recently immigrated to the United States from Latin America. I communicate with most of my students’ parents in Spanish. My classes and conversations with my host family gave me practice that helped me to better communicate with parents when I returned. The course I took on education in Mexico enhanced my communication and relationships with parents because I better understood the system that they knew, and could identify the aspects of my school’s education system that they needed the most help navigating. During my observations at a dual-language school, I learned new techniques to use with English language learners. Studying in Mexico gave me an opportunity to combine personal and professional interests in order to have an enjoyable and productive summer.

Leave a comment by February 27, 2010 to enter the Celebrating Summer Contest!

  • What do you think about this Summer Spotlight?
  • Have you participated in a similar experience?
  • What would your ideal summer growth opportunity be (e.g., volunteer work, study/travel abroad, internship/externship, fellowship)?

Kicking off Summer 2011

January 16th, 2011

Hi Workationers,

Summer is only a few months away. We have been working on some big changes over the last few months that we will be rolling out over the next week.

Excited!
– The Summer Workation team

Summer Spotlight: Teacher Internship at Raytheon Missile Systems

February 25th, 2010

As part of the Summer Workation Celebrating Summer Contest, we will be featuring a number of Summer Spotlights. These Summer Spotlights will feature some of the exciting things teachers have done and can do during the summer months. We hope that these posts can help teachers learn about some of the summer jobs and opportunities available to them. This spotlight features Cassi LaFaye. Cassi participated in an internship with Raytheon Missile Systems sponsored by a collaboration between the University of Arizona, the UA’s Southern Arizona Science & Math Internship Center and the nonprofit Tucson Values Teachers organization.

Lab

Cassi LaFaye, Marana High School science teacher

This past summer I worked as a teacher intern at Raytheon Missile Systems as part of the internship program headed by the Southern Arizona Science and Math Internship Center at the University of Arizona’s College of Education. At the conclusion of my 3-year commitment, I will earn a Master of Arts in Teaching and Teacher Education with a focus on science education. My goals: become the kind of teacher that inspires kids to learn more outside of my classroom and steer kids into science and engineering careers.

At the beginning of the summer, I questioned what my contribution would be to Raytheon. My bachelor’s degree is in physical science, so I had a chemistry and physics background, but had never taken engineering courses. I went into the internship as a researcher, studying the scientists and engineers I met.

Of special interest to me were the differences between how science is done in the workplace and how science is done in the classroom. And, with the help of the curriculum course I took over the summer, I was able to make important changes in the lessons I was teaching so that they more reflected workplace science.

For example: in a typical classroom, the teacher provides lots of explanations before an experience. Students receive four days of lecture, worksheets, readings, videos, etc. (explanations) followed by one lab (experience). In the workplace, engineers have many experiences that lead them to an explanation.

Of course the classroom has limitations. With only a 55- minute day and limited resources, students do not receive the same experiences as workplace-scientists. However, the teacher can foster scientific thinking by allowing and encouraging kids to solve problems in their own creative way. This might mean that the students devise their own lab procedures, or that I accept more than one right answer to a problem, or that students lead the direction of the next experience by their questioning.

My first assignment at Raytheon was with a team of engineers that run the computer simulations for the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle. I was not able to go into their lab because it contained classified information, but I was able to sit in on their meetings and listen to the thought process of these problem solvers. This diverse group of engineers each had specific expertise that made their contribution to the team valuable.

I realized that my students also learn more when they feel they are a valuable contributing partner in the lab experiences. Sometimes, that means giving different students information that the others do not have so that the success of the whole lab is dependent on collaboration among the entire group.

My second assignment at Raytheon was in the chemical analysis lab. Here I felt a little more in my element. I was able to see equipment first-hand that I have only talked about during discussions of atomic structure like the Scanning Electron Microscope. I got to identify substances based on their physical and chemical properties by using equipment that can heat or cool samples to extreme temperatures, equipment that uses infrared light, and other equipment that measures viscosity.

But more importantly, as a teacher, I gained insight as to how a high school science teacher impacts students. I heard stories from some of the chemists that loved science in high school and they described what they like about it. “I remember this one lab where . . .” or “My teacher told me . . .” Other chemists talked about how they hated chemistry in high school and the only reason they were in their current job was because of mentors in the military. Obviously, teachers’ words can cause kids to not like science, or school in general.

This school year began with sharing my internship experiences with my students. My experiences at Raytheon gave me a little credibility and “cool-ness” at the beginning, but kids are smart and it doesn’t go far if my classroom is boring. If I am not making the changes in the classroom, and not providing the experiences for them, they are not benefiting from my internship experiences.

This internship experience supports Marana High School’s goals of increasing rigor and relevance in the classroom. People have asked me if I would like to eventually work at Raytheon. My answer, “No, I am a teacher.” I love Marana High School and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. My daughter graduated in “08 as part of the Fine and Performing Arts academy. My sons will graduate in ’10, ’12, ’14, ’16. My senior is in the Business and Human Services academy, my sophomore is in the MedStart academy. I am pretty sure my 8th grader will choose Science and Tech academy because he is my little creative scientist. My 6th grader? Too soon to tell, but whatever he chooses, I know his MHS teachers will support his interests. And my internship experiences last summer and these next two summers will improve how I direct learning in the Science and Technology academy.

I don’t build missiles, but Raytheon is helping me build creative, problem solving minds.

Leave a comment by February 27, 2010 to enter the Celebrating Summer Contest!

  • What do you think about this Summer Spotlight?
  • Have you participated in a similar experience?
  • What would your ideal summer growth opportunity be (e.g., volunteer work, study/travel abroad, internship/externship, fellowship)?

Summer Spotlight: Create An Online Educational Video with Brightstorm

February 23rd, 2010

As part of the Summer Workation Celebrating Summer Contest, we will be featuring a number of Summer Spotlights. These Summer Spotlights will feature some of the exciting things teachers have done and can do during the summer months. We hope that these posts can help teachers learn about some of the summer jobs and opportunities available to them. The third Summer Spotlight features Brightstorm – an amazing organization that finds the best teachers, films them teaching, and builds learning solutions around great teacher videos.

Brightstorm Logo

Brightstorm’s Mission

Our mission at Brightstorm is to be the best place in the world to learn. We believe that great learning starts with great teaching. So, we find the best teachers, film them teaching, and build learning solutions around those great teacher videos.

Our current solutions target the high-school age curriculum, including Math, SAT, ACT and AP subjects. Some of our products are free and some are paid. For instance, Brightstorm Math (which includes over 2,000 videos on every topic from Algebra through Calculus) is free. With Brightstorm Math, any registered user can watch as many math videos as many times as they like. Our paid products include test preparation programs, such as our SAT, ACT and AP courses. Great teaching forms the core of these comprehensive programs, which also include practice quizzes, downloadable materials, full-length practice exams and more.

These solutions are just the beginning of Brightstorm’s journey to revolutionize the way people learn. The power of a great teacher in action is undeniable. With Brightstorm, every learner can have access to the best teachers, wherever and whenever they want.

Check out this video to learn more about our free Math videos:


Teachers and Brightstorm

As our mission states, we believe that great learning starts with great teaching. Great teachers are at the core of our learning solution.

During the summer, Brightstorm trains and films teachers in our studios located in San Francisco, California. At the beginning of the summer, Brightstorm supports teachers in designing a comprehensive curriculum and engaging lessons. We try to foster a collaborative environment where teachers and curriculum specialists support each other in the content development and filming.

During the academic year, Brightstorm serves as a free resource to math teachers and their students. We have created a blog specifically for teachers (www.teach.brightstorm.com) so that they can easily find and share our video resources with their students through copying links and embedding videos on their classroom or personal websites.

What Teachers Say About Their Experience at Brightstorm

“One of the things I learned most from doing the Brightstorm videos was the importance of using proper math vocabulary. When I work with teenagers, I tend to adopt some of their informal slang like “the plussing number” instead of “the y-intercept” in a y=mx+b equation or “the answer” rather than “the quotient” in polynomial division. Since my work on the video camera, I have been more aware of the language I use and asked that students use more proper vocabulary themselves in my classroom.

Additionally, the Brightstorm work got me thinking about how teaching math will be changing with new technologies coming into schools. I have joined a professional development committee at my school called “Classroom 2020″ to envision what teaching and learning will look like in the future- perhaps using videos for tutorials, like Brightstorm, rather than teachers having office hours.

The most rewarding part of my summer experience was having a project that I worked on relatively briefly continue to benefit my teaching and my students’ learning throughout the year. I find that students and parents are extremely receptive to having instructional opportunities available to them outside of the school day.”

Next Steps

Brightstorm will be expanding into other high school help subjects including Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Earth Sciences. If you are interested in pursuing an opportunity with Brightstorm, please see our job post at Summer Workation: http://www.summerworkation.org/teacher/job_details.php?post_id=563

  • What do you think about this Summer Spotlight?
  • Do you have any experience with online learning?
  • What would your ideal summer growth opportunity be (e.g., volunteer work, study/travel abroad, internship/externship, fellowship)?

Leave a comment by February 27, 2010 to enter the Celebrating Summer Contest!

Summer Spotlight: Summer School Teaching Experience

February 20th, 2010

As part of the Summer Workation Celebrating Summer Contest, we will be featuring a number of Summer Spotlights. These Summer Spotlights will showcase some of the exciting things teachers have done and can do during the summer months. We hope that these posts can help teachers learn about some of the summer jobs and opportunities available to them. The second Summer Spotlight features a summer school experience.

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February 20, 2010

The summer after my first year teaching, I took on dual responsibilities. Not only was I teaching but I was also 9th Grade Level Chair. This means that along with teaching a 9th grade course on character development, I played a role similar to that of a dean; I led weekly meetings, managed the other 9th grade teachers, and took care of any behavioral issues that arose. Classes took place the last two weeks of July and went from 8AM to 3PM. Teaching duties occurred five hours of the day, while grade level chair duties varied anywhere from two to four hours a day – it was near impossible to plan everything that occurred, especially with 110 9th graders. My physical stamina was tested, as was my mental stability but it was all worth it. This summer was groundbreaking for me. It was an amazing way to get to know the students that I would be teaching in the fall before the school year began, and it was also an amazing opportunity to obtain leadership experience. Managing students is one thing, but managing adults is definitely a growing experience.

My summer experience helped me to grow as an educator as well as a mentor and leader. The relationships I formed with my students during summer school carried over into the school year. I usually teach ninth grade biology, so I enjoyed teaching a character development course over the summer that allowed me to get to know my students on a more personal level. This helped me in my Biology classroom as I was able to motivate my students by appealing to what I had learned of their hopes and dreams during this character development class. Establishing a positive culture where my students celebrate each other’s successes and feel comfortable to be themselves during the summer also made it easier for me to jump right into academics at the start of the regular school year. Serving as the grade level leader over the summer was a perfect way to obtain experience for my Grade Level Chair duties during the regular school year. It served as a smooth transition allowing me to not only become comfortable with the duties that come with the job, but it also allowed me to practice balancing my different positions before the year started in full swing.

Reem Semaan

9th Grade Biology Teacher/9th Grade Level Chair

YES Prep Southwest

Summer Spotlight - Summer School Teaching Experiences

  • What do you think about this Summer Spotlight?
  • Do you teach summer school or seek out alternative teaching positions during the summer?
  • What would your ideal summer growth opportunity be (e.g., volunteer work, study/travel abroad, internship/externship, fellowship)?
  • Leave a comment between Feb 17-27, 2010 to enter the Celebrating Summer Contest!

Summer Spotlight: Toyota International Teacher Program

February 11th, 2010

As part of the Summer Workation Celebrating Summer Contest, we will be featuring a number of Summer Spotlight. These Summer Spotlights will showcase some of the exciting things teachers have done and can do during the summer months. We hope that these posts can help teachers learn about some of the summer jobs and opportunities available to them, The first Summer Spotlight features an international opportunity for teachers.

Toyota Image

When was the last time you were able to travel abroad and experience foreign cultures with like-minded educators who share your insatiable thirst for knowledge and sincere passion for teaching? When was the last time you embarked on a personal journey to promote global awareness and understanding? Perhaps you would like to take part in such enriching experiences more often but just don’t know where to look? If so, the Toyota International Teacher Program might be just what you’ve been looking for.

Established in 1998 and administered by the Institute of International Education, each year the Toyota International Teacher Program sends U.S. educators to various international destinations like Japan, the Galapagos Islands and Costa Rica for intensive, high-quality, two-week study tours. Through these unique professional development trips, teachers explore important cultural, social and environmental themes in a global context and focus their energies and skills on the creation of interdisciplinary, hands-on, and solution-focused approaches to the pressing issues they will experience firsthand.

At the core of the Toyota International Teacher Program is a desire to promote global connectedness, and instill in teachers a sense of responsibility to actively contribute solutions to environmental problems and empower their students to do the same. The Toyota International Teacher Program is open to all U.S. educators and teacher-librarians who teach in U.S. schools in any of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. If you are interested in participating but still wondering how you would finance your trip, wonder no more. If selected to participate in this program, your international study tour is fully funded through a generous grant provided by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. All you need to do is apply and prepare yourself for a truly unique professional development experience.

Are you ready to embark on your two-week study tour? The 2010 Toyota International Teacher Program to the Galapagos Islands is set to take place November 20th – December 4th, 2010 and applications are being accepted online (the deadline to apply is May 19th, 2010)! Program participants can expect to gain valuable insight into the human impact on this fragile ecosystem that has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. During the two week trip, participants will have the opportunity to attend panel discussions and lectures, and interact with biologists, conservationists as well as local citizens and teachers. In the past teachers have also had the opportunity to travel back with their students during the summer.

For more information, and to apply to the Toyota International Teacher Program, check out the Summer Workation listing by visiting http://www.summerworkation.org/teacher/job_details.php?post_id=495.

This video will tell you more about one teacher who was selected for the Toyota International Teacher Program.

  • What do you think about this Summer Spotlight?
  • Would you like to apply to the Toyota International Teacher Program? Why or why not?
  • Have you participated in a similar study abroad/international professional development experience before?
  • What would your ideal summer growth opportunity be (e.g., volunteer work, study/travel abroad, internship/externship, fellowship)?

Leave a comment between Feb 17-27, 2010 to enter the Celebrating Summer Contest!

Fifth Grade Teacher Shares Lessons from NWP Workshops with Students

December 16th, 2009

Phyllis Blau, a fifth grade teacher in West Milford, NJ, is in her second year of attending workshops given by the National Writing Project (NWP). The workshops, which are held four times a year at Rutgers University, allow teachers to focus on their writing skills and learn new ways to make writing more exciting for students. Margaret Valentine, the West Milford District English supervisor for Grades 7-12, explained that teachers find writing to be one of the more difficult subjects to teach. In order to overcome this challenge, the NWP offers workshops that are taught by other teachers. The idea is that the best trainers of teachers are other teachers. Teacher Phyllis Blau maintains that the techniques she learns at NWP workshops have made a noticeable impact on her students’ feelings on writing. Students seem to be more enthusiastic about learning new techniques that some novelists take years to master.

Read more here!

Fifth Graders to Communicate with International Space Station Commander

December 14th, 2009

On Tuesday, December 15th, a select group of fifth graders in Connecticut will have the opportunity to speak with International Space Station commander Jeff Williams as he orbits two hundred miles above the Earth’s surface. Williams, who has been in orbit aboard the International Space Station since October 2nd, will answer students’ questions on various issues including the importance of water recycling aboard the space station as well as the effects of the space environment on the painted lady butterflies that were recently brought into aboard the shuttle Atlantis. In their classrooms, students have been preparing for this moment by identifying the challenges that need to be overcome in order for people to be able to live and work in space.

Read more here!

New Graphical Programming Language Introduces Kids to Computer Science

December 12th, 2009

When we think of computer programming, many of us imagine lines of cryptic code interspersed with semicolons and complex syntax. This common perception about computer programming prevents people from trying to learn programming languages even though programming languages can teach important problem solving and analytical skills which can be applied to a variety of professions. Moreover, the perceived difficulty of learning to code scares away many young people who would otherwise be interested in computer science. Mitchel Resnick and some colleagues at the MIT Media Lab have set out to change these stereotypes. They have developed a new graphical computer programming language called “Scratch” that is geared towards children ages eight to sixteen. Resnick and his team hope to address the concern that while today’s youngest generation has access to a wealth of technology, they may not be digitally fluent with these technologies.

Read more here!

Apply for a Summer Workation Winternship!

December 10th, 2009

Looking for something to do this winter break? Do you want to get some start up experience?

This winter, Summer Workation, is looking to hire an inaugural class of 10 winterns from around the world to be part of a groundbreaking social entrepreneurship project. Summer Workation aspires to help teachers find summer growth opportunities so they can return to the classroom as stronger teachers. You can learn more about us at www.summerworkation.org.

Winternships are available in:

>> Content Development
>> Sales/Marketing
>> Research

We are looking for driven teachers/students who are interested in becoming a part of this exciting new venture.

Winternships are unpaid, but are a great opportunity for anyone interested in start-ups, web 2.0, social entrepreneurship, or education.

All winterns will work remotely from home. Because of the nature of the winternship, time dedication is flexible. All winterns are given incredible creative freedom. Winterns can expect to spend approximately 10-15 hours a week on their projects, and can take on more responsibility if they choose. Winternships are available during the winter holidays from December to January.

Please submit your resume to info[at]summerworkation.org by December 22, 2009. Be sure to specify which winternship you are interested in.

Any questions? Please contact info[at]summerworkation.org.