The Rocket Flame

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Reaching Past Teaching

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Reaching Past Teaching

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Reaching Past Teaching
Filed under On Campus, Showcase, Video

Circle Up to Gamify: English class takes on Classcraft

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Circle Up to Gamify: English class takes on Classcraft

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English 10 teachers Ms. Kelley Reeder and Ms. Nicole Myers explore the world of gamification in their Keystone English class to spice up the literature circle unit and bring some engagement and competition in for their students.

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6 Reasons why you Should Listen to Audio Books

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6 Reasons why you Should Listen to Audio Books

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Technology is changing and advancing every day and something that is rapidly changing is the way people are reading books. Instead of reading books, people are listening to them through audiobooks. Audiobooks are a new form of reading and listening as a narrator tells the story.

  1. Allows you to multitask.

 

Everyday people have to juggle many things. Students have to juggle homework, family, and extracurricular activities. All of these things make it difficult to sit down and read a book. Audiobooks allow you to be doing something while listening to a book at the same time.

“It is harder during the school year to sit down and read a book,” said student      

Alliah Fluent (10) “I have to spend more time doing school work and sports.”  

 

 2. More People are using audiobooks

 

More and more people are using audiobooks. For instance, teachers in our school like Nicole Myers (Faculty) and Kelley Reeder (Faculty) have used audio tools called podcasts and incorporated them into their lesson plans.

“I’ve done podcasts for two years now,” said Myers “It’s something a little bit different and picks up engagement.”

 

3. Fits Right into your Pocket

 

Since audiobooks are electronic, they are all read to you through your phone. This makes them easily portable. This lets you listen to a book anywhere at any time of the day.

“All the books I read myself are mostly audiobooks,” said Myers. “I like the different kind of platform and experience it gives you.”

4.  A thing to do when you’re bored

 

Audiobooks can give you something to do when you’re bored and you have nothing to do. Instead of scrolling through Instagram or constantly checking your phone waiting for a Snapchat, you can occupy yourself with an audiobook.

 

5. Great narrators can bring books to life

 

Audiobooks are read to you by a narrator, the narrator helps the reader to get a better picture of the characters, setting, and what the book is all about. You also get to see and listen to different perspectives read aloud by the narrator.

“The characters and narrators transport you to another time and place,” said Fluent. “It also helps you to get away from all the stress.”

6. Helps to Improve Vocabulary

When reading a book, sometimes there are words you may not know. Audiobooks can help with this, since the narrator is reading the book to you, you know the word is pronounced correctly. The word that you once didn’t know, you now do.

 

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Breaking Out

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Breaking Out

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Times are changing and with technology on the rise, students are becoming more and more tech-savvy. Teachers are innovating new ways to keep their students engaged in the classroom: gamification of the classroom, or using games to enhance student learning, has been getting very popular more recently.

 

A way teachers are gamifying their classrooms is by using digital breakouts. Teachers at James Buchanan have been beginning to use these for an entertaining way to review material. Mrs. Emily Poffenberger (Faculty), Ms. Kelley Reeder (Faculty), and Ms. Nicole Myers (Faculty), and Mrs. Erin Martin (Faculty) have all found their own ways to use digital breakouts.

 

This idea was inspired by escape rooms that can be found throughout the United States. A group of individuals are put into a room where they have to use clues to unlock puzzles and riddles to “escape.”

 

“I heard of them when the escape room started becoming a pretty big thing,” Myers said. “Once we had the idea of the Escape Room we started coming up with ways we could use them in the classroom.”

 

Digital breakouts have been created for education. Teachers can create their own or use ones they find online. These escape rooms have puzzles, riddles, and questions based on what their class may be learning.

 

Poffenberger, a Biology teacher, uses digital breakouts in her classroom to review material learned before a test.

 

“I use digital breakouts by having students solve different codes I have on a Google Form,” Poffenberger said. “They solve those codes using different resources that I make available to them. Some resources are embedded with links online, some are within resources I have handed them to help them unlock the different locks.”

 

The English Department used their digital breakout to prepare for the Keystone exam and media bias, using newspaper articles from the time of Jack the Ripper. In their final review of the unit, students had to go through a journey to prove their innocence to getting out of jail.

 

“They had to escape from being prosecuted by the people of Whitechapel, London. They had to convince the guard they were innocent, using persuasive appeals. Then they had to figure out the layout of the jail and how to get out of that,” Myers said. “They had to figure out different puzzles to then get on a boat, and codes to get into the governor’s house and convince him they are innocent.”

 

 

Students breakout of these situations by being able to complete questions they have already learned in class and using their brains for advanced thinking.

 

“We worked with the idea of author’s claim, author’s purpose, and author’s bias,” Myers said.

 

It is not easy to create your own digital breakout, Myers and Reeder found. There were a lot of steps to take in making their digital breakout successful and how they wanted it.

 

“We already had the idea to do this, but then we got the chance to go to a Google Summit workshop where we got to see it in action first,” Myers said. “We luckily had a snow day after so I could build it all. That was our big push, we had the time, and we had the endurance.”

 

There are also websites you can find pre-existing digital breakouts that you can buy or use in your classroom. Poffenberger used the website,  Teachers Pay Teachers for her first digital breakout. Teachers can create their own digital breakout and allow other teachers to buy what they have created.

 

Digital breakouts cannot only be used to teach material learned in class, but also life skills.

 

“It teaches them to not be dependent on a teacher, but trying to figure it out on their own with the technology, tools, and the peer they have with them,” Myers said. “It really teaches students problem-solving skills and relationship skills.”

 

Gamification is about creating a fun atmosphere for learning so that students do not actually realize that learning is taking place. Digital breakouts are not just a resource for teachers to review material they have taught but also allow students to have fun while also learning.

 

“The best part of the day is when my kids say, ‘Ms. Myers, that was really fun.’” Myers said.

 

With the times always changing teachers must be on top of what works best for students when it comes to reviewing material. With digital games at the fingertips of students at all times, a digital breakout can allow students to have fun while also using their video game skills and skills they learned in the classroom.

 

Filed under On Campus

The Battle Between Textbooks and Technology: Who will Win?

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Back in the days when schools were different, students would use textbooks and pieces of paper from their notebook for their classwork. Some schools have started to lean toward technology, instead of using paper as classwork. At James Buchanan High School, there are many students that carry a laptop from class to class and not have to worry about carrying heavy textbooks home all the time because technology has improved over the years, the teaching style of some teachers altered.

 

“Most of what we do in class is online,” Ms. Nicole Myers (Faculty) said. “For most of our resources, I use Google Classroom to post assignments, I will use Actively Learn as one of our reading sources, and then Membean for all of our vocab.”

 

For Mr. Matthew Riegsecker (Faculty), he did not have to change his teaching style as much compared to Myers.

 

“We try to mix things up,” Riegsecker said. “The resources I use varies from the SmartBoard to their Chromebooks, to their textbooks, simulations, notes, projects, etc.”

 

Technology has improved over the years. Students use technology every single day, whether or not they are in school. Technology has been something that has adapted to everyday life, and now it has been implemented in schools.

 

“For one thing, technology is really quick,” Myers explained. “If I have one of those spur of the moment ideas, I do not have to run around and have it printed off and copied and stapled. I can push it out from Google Classroom through their Chromebooks.”

 

“I think that we have a district with a 1:1 initiative where students have Chromebooks. So we are expected to embrace that and also try to implement technology as much as we can,” Riegsecker said.

When classes are using technology, the textbooks tend to be out of sight. Some teachers like the idea of being able to find the textbooks online, while others think that having them in the classroom is still just as good.

 

“I have one book that I looked at my first year here. I use a couple of resources from it, but anything that’s in that book I can find online at this point,” Myers said. “I don’t like that much about textbooks at this point, but I will use the textbook if I run out of ideas.”

 

“The textbooks have a consistency in the information that is being presented to the students,” Riegsecker said. “We can all be on the same page as far as the content they are being delivered.”

The generation that kids are growing up in is different compared to the ways of their teachers. Students, on one hand, have a better understanding of what is going on and they have adapted to the way technology is used. Some students prefer having their classwork on paper, while others like the idea of having their classwork on their Chromebooks.

 

“I prefer the Chromebooks over the textbooks,” Danielle Barnhart (11) explains. “You have so much more information at your fingertips as opposed to carrying and lugging around like five textbooks.”

“I like textbooks because, especially for Math and History, whenever you are using them they are right there and you can flip the pages while you are doing your homework,” said Shaelyn Kaiser (11).  “I feel like our technology can kind of be unreliable.”

 

As students go from grade to grade, they will have other teachers that have either similar or different teaching styles to other teachers they have had in the past years. Because teachers don’t follow the same teaching styles, students start to adapt to the way teachers teach.

 

“I like most of the teaching styles,” Barnhart said. “I especially like the Ag classes because they are not exactly lecture style, but instead, they are more interactive.”

 

“I think that my favorite teaching style is lecturing,” Kaiser said.  “I like listening to things and I tend to listen by ear, which is the way I learn the best. I prefer everything to be physically in front of me because I always know that it [textbooks] is going to be there when I need it.”

 

Technology plays a role in formulating our future. In the late 1900s into early 2000s, technology was not nearly as complex as what it is now. During these years, teachers were starting to see the technology beginning to develop. When Myers was in college, she did not have the same technology students at James Buchanan have now. She was not taught how to use technology in her classes. It wasn’t until she started teaching at James Buchanan when she finally started to pick up on the idea of using technology within her classroom.

 

“Now I know more about technology and all that I do with it and I do not know how I would ever go backwards at this point,” Myers said. “Here, we have Chromebooks and we have this and we have that and I would eventually make it all work. I will never look back because it is way better.”

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Freshmen Royalty

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Freshmen Royalty

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Every year the high school welcomes a group of freshmen. Each class must nominate class officers to be in charge of fundraising and planning events for their class. They remain officers throughout their high school career. Recently, the class of 2021 voted for the individuals who they wanted to fulfill these positions.

 

Students can run for the positions of President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. This year’s President is Jackson Dorty (9), Vice President is Meredith Iverson (9), Secretary is Hunter Scofield (9) and Treasurer is Justyce Ryder (9). The class advisors are Ms. Nicole Myers (Faculty) and Ms. Danielle Simchick (Faculty).

 

The candidates used different tactics to campaign in order to persuade classmates to vote for them rather than the other opponents that were running for the same position.

 

“Meredith and I “ran” together.” said Dorty, “We posted pictures and tried to get people to vote for us. “

 

They used social media like Snapchat in order reach many students in the school, and to draw in voters. Supporters of Dorty and Iverson shared their campaigns on Snapchat. Then like a chain reaction, their campaign was spread to the entire school.

 

“I have never ran for a student officer position before and it can kind of get stressful during the election because you don’t know if you’re ahead of your opponent or if you are trailing your opponent.” said Scofield.

 

The candidates worked together to rack up votes from their fellow classmates. However, the competition was easy for some and more intense for others. Some had to use their best campaign skills to try to out beat their opponents to win their position as an officer.

 

“It was definitely not easy, but I applaud my competitors for giving it their all.” Iverson said.

 

On the other hand, some claim they had an easier fight than others.

 

“I will say that it was not as tough as I thought it would be, but I’m happy that I stayed with it and became the secretary for the class of 2021” said Scofield.

 

A total of 10 students ran in the election.

 

When they are in office each person has a specific role that they play. Each officer does different jobs but they have to meet in the middle sometimes to get the task at hand completed.

 

The president is in charge of running meetings and will sometimes talk to the whole class about fundraisers and other events. The vice president supports the president, helps make decisions, and helps run meetings. The secretary records and takes notes during the meetings. The treasurer signs all withdrawal and deposit forms, collects and counts fundraiser funds, and writes receipts for cash payment that they have received.

 

Considering these tasks, what drove each officer to run for their position? They all have a reason on why they accepted the challenge of being a class officer.

 

“I really wanted to make sure that our class was set off on a good foot and everything went well,” said Iverson.

 

Some of the officers also are involved in activities that made them more fitting for the jobs that they must do as an officer.

 

“I thought the things I had to do as a secretary was a perfect position for me because with me being in Boy Scouts, I do most of the stuff that my position asks me to do,” said Scofield.

 

The team of officers are focused on making important decisions to benefit the future of the Class of 2021. The officers have many plans to help the class succeed. They must focus on raising enough money to have a good junior-sponsored prom and senior class trip.

 

“My plan is to hopefully help our class’ high school years to be memorable and fun, but educational,” said Ryder, “My goal is to have our class really push with the fundraisers so we are able to do more with our dances and/or senior trip.”

 

With difficult decision-making comes difficulties with coming to a consensus. The officers must not only try to agree with each other but also compromise with the entire Class of 2021. The advisors also help guide them in the right direction.

 

The Class of 2021 has already begun to start their journey to reach their goals. They just finished their Sunnyway Pretzel Sandwich fundraiser. As a whole, the class raised $2,337 from this fundraiser.

 

Each member will gain more experience as they go from freshmen to seniors in their officer positions. This is just the beginning for the freshman class, and they hope to make it a good four years by putting their best foot forward.

Filed under On Campus

The Seating That Transforms the Classroom

From the classroom to Starbucks, teachers are changing the classroom atmosphere, by personalizing the classroom seating structure for each child.

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The Seating That Transforms the Classroom

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Myer’s classroom set-up of long tables, ottoman cubes, and the cushions corner.


Teachers all over the United States are beginning to make a change in the way classroom seating operates. From standing desks to yoga balls, the classroom has begun to operate as a Starbucks in the way seating is personalized for students. Flexible seating has become a huge craze for teachers across the country, allowing each student to choose their own seating to learn.

 

This year English teacher Ms. Nicole Myers, faculty, is the first to implement full-on flexible seating in her classroom. Along with her, Spanish teacher, Ms. Danielle Simchick,  and Art teacher, Ms. Kayla Chambers have also began to add their own flexible seating ideas to their classrooms. 

It is talked about how important it is in the elementary levels promoting, movability, being versatile as a teacher, how it allows kids to have additional choices.”

— Ms. Nicole Myers

“It is talked about how important it is in the elementary levels promoting, movability, being versatile as a teacher, how it allows kids to have additional choices,” said Myers.  “So I thought as much as that is an elementary thing it can be a middle school and high school thing. ”

 

Myers explains how she had to make some changes to make it more age appropriate for students in middle school and high school.

 

Myer’s classroom set-up of high-top tables and four chair table.

“ I had to look for options that would work for those bigger individuals.” Myers said.

 

This led her to choose options like the high-top tables, low-top tables, and lawn chairs rather than options that would be more fitting for smaller children.

 

Making the classroom student-centered, also raises the question, “Can students handle it?”  It is believed students will become disruptive when given the chance to sit on structures, like the yoga balls.

 

Myer’s classroom set-up of yoga balls and fabric covered pool noodles.

“They’re still fifteen, they still want to sit with their friends. If they find a chance to be distracted they take it. They get it some days, and I take it away somedays.” Myers said . “What it does for me to take it away is make it that much more of an award. They take it and make good choices with it.” Myers explained.

Many teachers adopt this new method of the classroom because each student is different in the way they learn. It can be difficult to accommodate every student, but this type of seating can allow each student to sit at a different structure each day depending on what is best for them.

 

“I have had students say I really do not like this, I want this instead, ” said Myers. “And that is what it is for.”

 

The students have alternative seating arrangements, and allowing them to choose what they enjoy and don’t enjoy, helping the student be comfortable in their own learning environment.  Like Starbucks, the classroom can allow students to work comfortably work alone or in groups.

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