• The Disciplines in the Material World

    I have chosen to apply science and mathematics into my material world. One of the first things I did over the past week was play some pickle ball with friends. Pickle ball is a simple game to learn but hard to master. There are so many minute rules within the gameplay, court lines, and scoring. Scoring is where the mathematic component comes into play. It is not as simple as going up every time you hit the ball past your opponent. You can only score when your team is on serve. So must keep track of your serves and the total amount of points scored. Scores go up by one and you play to eleven, win by two. The science component comes within the actual play of the game. Pickle ball is played with a whiffle ball. So it is effected differently than any other type of ball. It is up to you and your paddle to decide the kind of hit you will have. You can decide to hit it softly to get your opponent run up on the net or you can decide to accelerate the ball to test their reflexes. It all comes down to the physics and angles of your strike.

    A pickle ball court is basically smaller version of a tennis court. The small boxes nearest the net is known as the kitchen. Players are forbidden from entering the kitchen unless the ball bounces in there first. The rest of the court is a fair game. You’ll notice the peaceful background. This pickle ball court is great for getting away from the every day stress and just enjoying a friendly game.

    The second time I noticed physics within the material world was when I was coaching at a football camp. I coach offensive linemen and there has always been this old saying “low man wins”. That statement has proven to be false. The two most important thing for lineman success is force and leverage. The equation Force= Mass x Acceleration can be applied greatly to the game of football. Linemen don’t need to be sloppy big guys. They need to be strong athletes. The next part of linemen success is leverage. Leverage is the use of force placed in a strategic place requiring less force to create desired result. The perfect leverage for a linemen is the place your hand underneath the chest of your opponent with your fingers pointed down or out, causing your arm to squeeze against your ribs. this is what creates your arm and body to become a lever.

    Here you will see a simple drill emphasizing leverage. Hands pointed out, below opponents chest causing elbows to be near your ribs. The is perfect position to help create movement.

    The next time through the past week that I noticed myself using math is when I went out to eat with a friend. I had $30 to spend and I wanted to make the most of it during this meal. I used basic math to set my self for success. I was able to order chicken wings, French onion soup, fish and chips, and was able to leave an adequate tip with my $30!

    This place is known well around the city of Solon. I have been coming here for over ten years. It’s a super cool place, with great food and great people

    The final time I noticed mathematics being applied to my physical world was when I was driving. I had a fun little conversation with myself about what MPH means. It means miles per hour! It’s funny how specific that is. If you drive 60 mph that means if you drove that speed for one hour you would have traveled 60 miles. It’s silly to write about it because it’s a “well duh” moment. However it’s just crazy to think that two people could be driving very similar speeds but after an hour could find themselves far apart.

    My Kia Sorento’s speedometer. I love my car. It always gets me exactly where I need to go. It doesn’t just show my speed on the speedometer but it also shows my exact speed on the screen in the middle

  • The benefits of Writing for Learning

    When people think of writing for school most peoples’ minds go straight to grammar, correct spelling, punctuations, etc. While those things can be important, those things are not necessarily what writing is about. Writing can be used in any classroom, any subject, or any aspect of life. When you write you are essentially having a conversation with yourself. When given a blank piece of paper or an empty document on a computer (like I’m doing now) your mind begins to form thoughts. Not every single thought you or I have gets put on the paper. You have to decide what makes the cut. That is the conversation with yourself. What you are able to put on paper shows what you truly understand or don’t understand when it comes to learning. Anyone can listen to a lecture and say that they’ve learned something but if you are able to put what you’ve learned into your own words that is when your learning has become your own. Your writing is going to look different from everyone else’s. That is what makes it special and impactful. When it comes to your writing there will be differences between each domain. When you are writing about math you are going to use equations, numbers and symbols. When you’re writing about science you are going to use formulas, elements, and hypothesis statements. If you’re writing about history the writing can be much more formal using dates and full sentences. All that being said, these rules for each domain are not written in stone. Like I said before, writing is making your learning your own. This idea makes me think of note taking. Just about everyone takes notes but no two notes are the same and that is the beauty of it. I used to believe that my notes had to be perfect. I believed that I had to write down everything that the teacher or professor had said. That couldn’t be further from what would actually help. By writing down everything perfectly, I was more focused on writing my notes rather than focusing on learning. When I realized this I changed my ways slowly. My notes soon became what most people would call “chicken scratch”. But it didn’t matter what everyone else thought of my notes. They were MY notes. No one else’s. I could understand what I was writing down. That was the most important thing. This allowed me to focus on what the professor was conveying within his/her teachings. I made my learning my own.

    David Goggins was able to convey this very message in his book Can’t Hurt Me. Mr. Goggins did writing is many forms to help his journey through life. My personal favorite is his sticky note mirror. On the mirror that he would look into every morning he placed sticky notes with his goals on it. Some goals were long term as in they would be up there for years. They would be something he looked at every day. He also had short term goals. Something that would only take a week to accomplish. He also wrote adjective words of things that he hoped to become. I have adopted the sticky note mirror method and I have already seen the benefits. I’ve written only a few things to make sure that I keep a focus on what is important. One of those things to state out loud three things I’m thankful for every day. Another method of writing that Mr. Goggins does is he keeps a weekly journal. When he talks about keeping a journal he believes that the times between should vary. He is basically saying that his journal is used to write about important moments in his life. He does not write every day but instead writes about things he wants to remember. The good and the bad. He viewed this practice as preparing a book for his life. I respect that a lot and love the idea. Mr. Goggins proves that writing goes beyond spelling, grammar, and punctuations. Writing can be used to benefit your life. It clears your thoughts, benefits your emotions and allows you to process things in full. Writing is a tool for life. Use it wisely. Make it your own!

  • Conceptual Understanding

    I think the two main things that make up the art of understanding are keeping it simple and keeping it interesting. When I say simple, I don’t mean that all things need to be “easy” but it should build on prior knowledge making it seem easy to understand. I believe the best way to do this is by starting from the group up. I think a simple example is reading development. When you begin to teach reading skills to kindergartner’s you don’t just hand them To Kill a Mockingbird and say “Good luck”. No of course not. You start from the very beginning with the sounds each letter makes. You then go from there and build on it! Eventually you get to the point of reading. This idea can become a little bit more complicated when it comes to single unit such the Cold War because there is not as much time to go through it all and the material becomes condensed. That being said, the principle of starting from the ground up can still be applied. Maybe you start off with a class discussion about what the students know about the Cold War. Next could be a movie or documentary about it. After that students could reenact segments of the Cold War to their class. Those could eventually lead into readings and bigger presentations/projects. Ultimately by going from the ground up you allow all students to stay proactive with the given material. The newt part of it is keeping the material interesting. In short, you must keep your students engaged. In my opinion, this is mostly up to the teacher. Some parts of school can drag a little bit but some teachers have a miraculous gift to make learning fun. This can be done with presentation skills by some but that can be hard for most. However, any teacher can come up with fun projects or assignments surrounding a topic for their students. Be creative with it! Allow students to express themselves and their thoughts in their work.

    This idea of building from the group up can be applied In David Goggins Can’t Hurt Me. Mr. Goggins describes his time in Navy Seals Boot camp called BUD’s. While Mr. Goggins refuses to sugar coat the entire process of BUD’s including the beginning he does admit that the process eventually got easier because of how hard they worked throughout the process. The hardest part of BUD’s, according to Mr. Goggins, is not the physical part, but the mental and emotional part. People simply crack under the pressure of the given situations. But Mr. Goggins used the previous situations as fuel. He believed if he accomplished the previous task then he could accomplish the upcoming one. Seems like some good advice for school, sports and life. Build up on what you’ve already accomplished and use it for your next task.

  • Green Eggs and Ham


    This is scaffolding because it lays out the foundations of learning how to read. It starts off with the basics of the alphabet and the sounds each letter makes. It then moves on to the manipulation of individual sounds and words. It ultimately concludes to putting words together to create or understand sentences.

  • Identity

    Who am I? Who am I? Who. Am. I? Identity is anything and everything that makes you, you. It spans from your ethnic background, hometown, your first name all the way to your general interests, hobbies, and friend group. In short, your identity is who you are.

    As a teacher it is important to recognize that no two people in the world have the same identity. It must be believed and preached in the classroom and in the world that it is not only ok to be different, it is great to be different. It is very important to understand the identities of your classroom. With this knowledge you can create lessons that best serve the whole class and hit different areas with each lesson, making everyone feel like they belong in the process. I also find it important for the teachers themself to show their identity through their teachings. Me personally, I have always loved sports. I like the idea of creating some of my lessons around the world of sports. Maybe that be through sports, history, talking about the science of sports, or even something simple as using the scores of games to teach simple addition and subtraction. The knowledge of identity, whether it be your own or your students, can spark that fire in you that makes you want to teach or learn. What could be more important than that?

    My book Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins brings an interesting take on identity. That take is that identity can be changed. Mr. Goggins, when he was in his late 20’s and early 30’s was overweight, depressed, and worked as an exterminator. This was his identity. Until one day he had an epiphany that he wanted more out of his life and that he wanted to change who he was. He wanted to change his identity. Mr. Goggins eventually went on to join the Navy Seals, run ultra marathons, and become a famous public speaker. Now, this change was not easy but it was done. He proved that your identity is not fully set in stone. Now, there are things that not can be changed. Such as the color of your skin. Mr. Goggins was racially profiled as African American man. He had doubters in all walk of his life simply due to the color of his skin. That being said, he prevailed through it all by changing the parts of his identity he could control.

    Identity would be a great thing to talk about in a classroom. You could write down the things that make you who you are. It could lead to open conversations about each individual persons identity and gives everyone a voice to speak about who they are. It may also give everyone a chance to change the things they may want to change. Overall, identity is essential to any classroom or really anywhere for that fact.

    Who am I? Who am I? Who. Am. I?

  • Discussions

    Discussions between classmates can be great. It is believed that students are much more comfortable talking to each other vs talking to a teacher. An open class discussion allows free flow of ideas without judgement and gives everyone the opportunity to take away something from it. I believe a teacher should see themself as the moderator of a class discussion. If there seems to be a jam in the conversation the teacher can help open it back up. That being said, ultimately it’s the students who need to be engaged in the conversation, not the teacher. Even a teacher commenting such as “That’s wrong” or “I disagree” can cause students to hesitate to participate. So in order for it to be a successful class discussion a teacher must stay out of the way. Allow all students to think and speak freely without judgement. I also believe classroom set up can have a major factor in how classroom discussions go. Picture a classroom set up with all the desks set in rows all the way to the back of the classroom. Now, if the student all the way in the back speaks up during the discussion, do you think the students in the front row will be fully engaged? I don’t think so. Now, picture this classroom set up: All desks are set up In a balanced circle in the middle of the room. In this set up, there is no back or front of the room. Everyone is able to look the speaker in the eye and every student feels the equal opportunity to be heard.

    As I think about how I would set up a discussion around my book: Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins it would have to be a group that is really comfortable with each other. The reason I say this is because the beginning of the book deals with the struggles of life. Mr. Goggins talks about his father being abusive and a drunk. This lead to severe issues both mentally and physically for himself. It also talks about academic struggles Mr. Goggins had. He admits to cheating on all his school tests which lead to harder times in school as he got older. All that being said, a discussion about such things in which students would talk about their own struggles is a tough order. I picture this type of conversation going over very well with the members of the Football team I coach for but maybe not in a classroom because it would get very personal and not everyone is willing to open themselves up like that to others. This type of discussion would be very powerful. There would be very little need to for teacher/coach interruptions as the conversation gets sparked up. I picture it as becoming very emotional which I truly believe would be great. There are many young people and especially young men who are told to swallow their tears and to hide their weaknesses. I find that to be incredibly wrong. I believe that if students saw people they look up to open themselves like that and become vulnerable, even if it is for just a 2-3 minute story, it could change some students lives forever.

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  • Nate Westrich – Literacy Across The Curriculum

    1. My name is Nathan but I liked to be called Nate.
    2. I’m from Solon, OH
    3. I’m getting my Masters in Primary Education
    4. I am currently the building substitute at Noble Elementary School in Cleveland Heights. I also Coach football and track & field at their high school. In my college days I played football as well. Throughout this semester I’m trying to find the balance between work, coaching, school, social life, and relaxing time. To be honest it has not been easy.
    5. I’ve been reading The Quarterback Whisperer by Bruce Arians. I’m not at home writing this so I don’t have it with me for a true quote reference. One thing I remember well is Coach Arians talking about the importance of understanding his players mentally and emotionally vs just telling them how to run certain plays.
    6. I believe having a professor that doesn’t put a lot of pressure on grades creates a well rounded classroom. I understand that work must be done. But if a professor is willing to grade based on effort vs stone cold expectations, the comfort level will for sure increase
    7. My kindergarten teacher had a talking hamburger puppet that would teach us but also tell us jokes. It made learning the basics of reading and writing a lot more fun.