my teaching

I was asked to answer some questions for my tenure (granted 4/2011) request at Nordonia in the spring of 2011. Here are those questions and answers, and they are a reflection of my activities as a professional teacher in the past few years.

Describe any conferences, seminars, or workshops you may have attended or will attend related to Nordonia’s goals and objectives. (in-district or out-of-district)

2010-2011 school year only (see below for a full list of professional development throughout my teaching career):

  • Questing for Teachers, Brecksville, OH (2 days)
  • Watershed Stories Workshop, Peninsula, OH (3 days)
  • Constructing, Consuming, and Conserving America, Cleveland, OH (Teaching American History / Federal Grant Program, 6 days)
  • Effective Strategies for Inclusion, Wadsworth, OH (2 days)
  • NEOtech 2011 Conference, Akron, OH (1 day)
    • Attended as presenter on “Effective Use of Google Forms”
  • Future Educators Association Conference, Kent, OH (1 day)
    • Attended as presenter on “Teaching with Twitter”
  • #sschat Weekly Online Conferences using Twitter (Mondays, 7pm)
    • Social Studies Teachers from all over the world meet to discuss hot topics in social studies, share ideas, solve problems, and get critical feedback on projects and units of study.

Upcoming Events, 2010-2011 school year:

  • ISTE11 – National Conference on Teaching with Technology, Philadelphia, PA (4 days)
    • I will be presenting on the topic of “Providing Choice in Project Design”, as well as participating in various sessions on technology, teaching and learning.
  • Constructing, Consuming, and Conserving America – Summer Institute (2 weeks)
    • Summative summer program, part of the Teaching American History Grant Program through Cuyahoga County ESC and Cleveland State University, where we will continue working on local history projects, and create an educational mobile application for SMART phones like the iPhone and Android.

Describe any awards, certificates, recognition, or items of distinction you may have received.

  • Selected as a presenter for ISTE11 (Philadelphia, PA, June 2011) out of thousands of applicants.
  • Invited back several times to the M.A.T. Program at Kent State University to present and work with the current students. Presentation topics included technology, classroom considerations, portfolio preparations, and research in education.
  • Invited to participate in future Teaching American History Grant programs through Cuyahoga County ESC / Cleveland State University in the role of Master Teacher.
  • Invited to present at Future Educators Association.
  • Invited to present at Nordonia’s Digital Academy.
  • Multiple certificates of completion from workshops listed below.

Describe any awards or certificates received, or competitions any of your students participated in through your assistance and/or encouragement.

  • Multiple students awarded local and national scholarships based on recommendations.
  • Multiple students awarded opportunities at universities like Student Improvement Committees, Provost Improvement Teams, etc.
  • Currently serving as mentor for a senior student in the Nordonia Internship Program.

On what district or school or department committees did you participate?  (Include staff-development day, in-school observations, and so on.)

  • Race to the Top Committee
    • Served as one of the collaborating members of this committee to work out the district’s needs and goals as related to the Race To the Top guidelines.
  • District Leadership Academy
    • Participant of the group that meets with the Assistant Superintendent (Mr. Clark) to discuss teacher-leader topics, administrative considerations, and leadership development.
  • Digital Academy (invited presenter / participant)
    • Currently serve in a consultant capacity, monitoring and answering online concerns through the local ning group (social network for Nordonia Digital Academy), and have presented on topics including online project design and professional learning networks.
  • Staff Development for Technology
    • Presented on / led workshops on several topics throughout my time at Nordonia, including:
      • Effective Use of Technology in the Classroom
      • Valley Voyages “Innovative History”
      • Wikis in the 7-12 Classroom
      • Blogs in the 7-12 Classroom
      • Google Docs
      • Providing Choice in Project Design
  • Curriculum and Testing Materials Design Project
    • Collaborated on and created the testing materials for the 2011 practice Ohio Graduation Test, designing the instrument to be used with Scantron scoring (as opposed to scoring by hand) which reduced paper load from 20+ pages to 4 pages per test for the multiple choice section.
  • Textbook Survey Project (completed as a student teacher at Nordonia in 2007)
    • Created, administered, analyzed, and reported results of survey regarding online availability among Nordonia students, which ultimately contributed to the district’s decision to purchase the Holt program using online textbooks for various subjects.

What graduate courses, professional development or in-service credit courses have you taken in the past years?

I taught a graduate level workshop at Kent State University in fall 2010, and due to popular demand, I’m scheduled to repeat the workshop at least twice more in summer and fall 2011. The topics include effective use of technology, classroom management with technology, and practical applications of classroom technology.

I have pursued professional development through multiple workshops, many of which have offered graduate credits. Below is a partial list of the past workshops I have attended within my educational area. Most are in economics or history, but others include cross-curricular areas like brain-based instruction, natural sciences, outdoor education, differentiated instruction, working with special needs students, and workshops and conferences regarding use of technology in the classroom.

  • Rivers, Roads & Rails 2006-2008
    • Teaching American History along the Ohio & Erie Canalway.
    • U.S. Department of Education. (3-year program, multiple workshops.)
  • Teaching with the Brain in Mind, Green, OH, 2008 (1 day)
    • Eric Jensen, Jensen Learning
  • The Right Start in Teaching Economics, Manassas, VA, 2008 (4 days)
    • Foundation for Teaching Economics
  • Economic Forces in U.S. History, Wooster, OH, 2008 (5 days)
    • Foundation for Teaching Economics
  • Outdoor Education, Wilmot, OH, 2008 (2 days)
    • Ashland University, OH
  • Economic Forces in U.S. History, Cleveland, OH, 2009 (4 days)
    • Foundation for Teaching Economics
  • Economics for Leaders, Williamsburg, VA, 2009 (6 days)
    • Foundation for Teaching Economics
  • Teaching Economic Issues, Washington, D.C., 2009 (4 days)
    • Foundation for Teaching Economics
  • Questing for Teachers, Brecksville, OH, 2010 (2 days)
    • Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  • Watershed Stories Workshop, Peninsula, OH, 2010 (3 days)
    • Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association @ CVEEC
  • Constructing, Consuming, and Conserving America / Teaching American History Grant, 2010
    • Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County / Cleveland State University
    • U.S. Department of Education (1 year program, multiple workshops)
  • Effective Strategies for Inclusion, Wadsworth, OH, 2010 (2 days)
    • The Great Trail Council / State Support Team Region 8 // Lisa Dieker, Ph.D.
  • NEOtech 2011 Conference, Akron, OH
    • Attended as Presenter on “Effective Use Of Google Forms”, as well as general attendee.

What professional associations do you belong to?

  • NCSS – National Council for the Social Studies
  • ASCD – Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
  • ISTE – International Society for Technology in Education
  • OCSS – Ohio Council for the Social Studies
  • NEA – National Education Association
  • OEA – Ohio Education Association

Describe any field trips you have taken or guest speakers you have invited to your classes?

Chick-fil-A Field Trip

Took a group of 45 Honors Economics students to the local Chick-fil-A restaurant for a closer look at their operations, their business model, and what sets them apart from other similar businesses. Students were taken on a tour of the restaurant, offered tips on running a business, and actively engaged through questions by the operator.

Valley Voyages (multiple field experiences)

We (Mr. Testa, Mr. Loman, and myself) have designed and executed multiple field trips with our Valley Voyages students in the past. Trips are planned for days when we would otherwise be off from school, such as holidays, weekends, and over break. We have provided learning experiences for students at multiple historical sites throughout Northeast Ohio including a tour of the Cleveland Steel Mills, hiking in the National Parks, learning about architecture and culture in ethnic neighborhoods, bicycling the Towpath, and hosting an annual, school-wide bicycle outing on NEOEA Day, which was attended by over 65 students last year.

I designed a bike orienteering course for the most recent NEOEA Day outing where students competed with each other using a map to find controls on and around the bike path in the Cuyahoga Valley area. Students gathered in Peninsula, OH, we took the train to Akron, OH, then bicycled back.

Co-teaching with Steve Testa, Nordonia High School

Steve Testa and I frequently visit each other’s classrooms for co-teaching moments, to learn from each other, and to offer advice / recommendations / critiques on activities and simulations we both use.

Financial Literacy (Akron U.) (Cancelled due to field trip restrictions / 2011)

Steve Testa and I had planned a field trip for our Economics students this spring to visit Akron U., and participate in a financial literacy workshop with students from other districts. Unfortunately, due to funding issues, we were not able to go.

Describe any unit of study, teaching technique, classroom experience, etc. that you feel is worthy of note and reflects positively on your work as a teacher.

Below are descriptions of a few projects and units I have worked on with my students:

  • Faces of Civil Rights // Project
    • The Faces of Civil Rights Project highlights the human sacrifice made during the struggle for civil rights during the 1950-1970s era. Profiles of those slain in the struggle are on display, as well as time-lines and maps. By attaching the images, graphics, and personal narratives to real data, the visitor to the online exhibit experiences a deeper emotional connection with the material, and hopefully makes their journey as a life-long learner that much more valuable. The project was a collaborative effort between students and teacher, and created a comfortable dynamic of real learning in the investigation of our past.
    • Please visit the project here: http://bit.ly/eUIxYN
  • Beginnings of the 20th Century // Project
    • The Beginnings Project asked students to complete one of three objectives in order to highlight an aspect of the early 20th Century from a U.S. History perspective. Students were encouraged to use technology and multimedia in their solutions, and to share their work with others through online sharing, presentation, and publication.
    • Highlights from this project include videos of students’ grandparents remembering their youth posted to sites like YouTube, Twitter streams describing an immigrant’s journey, and complex flowcharts describing the growth and development of technology during the early 1900s.
  • Portraits of… // Project
    • The objective of this project was to create a narrative, based on historical facts, that accurately describes life during the World War II era. The focus is on people on the homefront who were not directly related to the war effort overseas. The narratives, along with supporting documents like photos and other primary items, are available online.
    • Highlights from this project included several movies made by students and posted to YouTube, online poster boards using linoit.com (online “stickies” software), and prezi presentations where the visitor zooms around an unlimited workspace filled with details from the projects.
    • Please visit the project here: http://www.eajohansson.net/ushistory/projects/portraits-of/
  • Economics of Healthcare using SiCKO the Movie // Online Debate
      • While exploring the movie and its topics in class, I’ve augmented the instruction with an online component that allows students to leave comments and express their viewpoints in an organized fashion. Proper use of the technology component is stressed, incorporating the State of Ohio’s Technology Standards. Furthermore, I promoted our discussion on Twitter and invited participation from the director of the film who emailed back to acknowledge our work.
      • See the discussion here: http://www.eajohansson.net/2011/03/sicko-the-movie/

    Describe any unit of study, teaching technique, classroom experience, etc. that you feel is worthy of note and reflects positively on your work as a teacher.

    Below are descriptions of a few projects and units I have worked on with my students:

      • Faces of Civil Rights // Project
        • The Faces of Civil Rights Project highlights the human sacrifice made during the struggle for civil rights during the 1950-1970s era. Profiles of those slain in the struggle are on display, as well as time-lines and maps. By attaching the images, graphics, and personal narratives to real data, the visitor to the online exhibit experiences a deeper emotional connection with the material, and hopefully makes their journey as a life-long learner that much more valuable. The project was a collaborative effort between students and teacher, and created a comfortable dynamic of real learning in the investigation of our past.
        • Please visit the project here: http://bit.ly/eUIxYN
      • Beginnings of the 20th Century // Project
        • The Beginnings Project asked students to complete one of three objectives in order to highlight an aspect of the early 20th Century from a U.S. History perspective. Students were encouraged to use technology and multimedia in their solutions, and to share their work with others through online sharing, presentation, and publication.
        • Highlights from this project include videos of students’ grandparents remembering their youth posted to sites like YouTube, Twitter streams describing an immigrant’s journey, and complex flowcharts describing the growth and development of technology during the early 1900s.
      • Portraits of… // Project
        • The objective of this project was to create a narrative, based on historical facts, that accurately describes life during the World War II era. The focus is on people on the homefront who were not directly related to the war effort overseas. The narratives, along with supporting documents like photos and other primary items, are available online.
        • Highlights from this project included several movies made by students and posted to YouTube, online poster boards using linoit.com (online “stickies” software), and prezi presentations where the visitor zooms around an unlimited workspace filled with details from the projects.
        • Please visit the project here: http://www.eajohansson.net/ushistory/projects/portraits-of/
      • Economics of Healthcare using SiCKO the Movie // Online Debate
        • While exploring the movie and its topics in class, I’ve augmented the instruction with an online component that allows students to leave comments and express their viewpoints in an organized fashion. Proper use of the technology component is stressed, incorporating the State of Ohio’s Technology Standards. Furthermore, I promoted our discussion on Twitter and invited participation from the director of the film who emailed back to acknowledge our work.
        • See the discussion here: http://www.eajohansson.net/2011/03/sicko-the-movie/
      • Enhancement Readings in Economics // Online Discussion
        • In addition to the regular economics curriculum, the Honors sections have added outside readings from a secondary source to highlight economic principles in real-world settings. The readings are short, 2-4 page college readings that enhance the students’ understanding of economic applications. Use of the readings has increased the students’ performance over the last couple of semesters as they lend themselves to deeper discussion. Students prepare these readings for class twice per week, answer a few guiding questions online, and then dissect them further through class discussion.
        • See an example here: http://www.eajohansson.net/2011/03/reading-is-water-different/
      • Classroom as Brain // Ongoing Use
        • Throughout the year, students collect information in the form of data points (each the size of one eighth of a sheet of 8.5×11 paper) from readings, video segments, primary documents, etc. We decide on a schema to organize these data points by grouping, sorting, and analyzing the data. We hang the data points on strings throughout the classroom (stringing ideas and data together), or post them as a group on one of the bulletin boards. The idea is to physically mimic in the classroom what the brain does in our bodies in order to learn how we learn,

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