A Dose of Inspiration from Kid President

I was sitting at my desk, looking around my classroom, and thinking to myself. “I need to write a post for two apples a day.” The only problem was, I didn’t feel like I had anything to write about.

View of my classroom from my desk (taken with a new free app on my iPhone called Bezel):

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Lately, in the classroom, I haven’t had time to do anything but teach “the curriculum”. I sat here feeling uninspired. Then I started looking for a video I saw a couple of days ago, one that really inspired me, about a six-year-old kid telling a story. I didn’t find the video (but I will, and then share). Instead I came across this:

My favorite line, “We can cry about it, or we can dance about it.”

There’s my inspiration for the day. Share some of yours!

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FAQs About Becoming an International School Teacher

Last year, we had posted about How to Become an International School Teacher? This post continues to consistently get a lot of hits and comments from people all over the world. So we decided to follow-up on that post and share out some of the answers to the many questions we have received. 

Q: What would be the next step for me if I wanted to have the possibility to teach at an International School?
M: It depends on where you want to go. Most top international schools around the world require a teaching license, and there are several programs that can get you your teaching license in nine months, and a lot of universities are offering online programs for it now as well (usually you have to do your internship wherever the university is located).

Q: Could you give me a bit more info on these teaching licenses? I’ve looked on the internet, and mostly I’ve run into TEFL licenses for teaching English.
J: I recommend going through the process of getting your master’s degree and a teaching license through an accredited university. You can do that easily online through a lot of different universities. I just did a google search on online masters degree in education. Here are some universities here:http://www.elearners.com/online-degrees/master/education.htm?page=8  Make sure that the online master degree program allows you to be certified.

Q: Is a Masters Degree in Education after I get my bachelors the right thing to do? Do you get a teaching license along with the degree? And is there really a difference whether you take up the course online or actually sit in the college? 
M: YES get a masters in education, but you don’t necessarily have to. There are programs you can take to get your teaching license in less than a year without getting your masters. One thing to be careful of if you do decide to get a masters in education, is to make sure that the program also gives you a teaching license. Certifying yourself to teach, and getting your masters in education are two separate things, but many programs will offer them together. They are usually two years long. In order to teach at any international school you must have a teaching certificate/license.

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What qualifications are necessary in order to become a teacher at an international school?
J: Most reputable international schools will want teachers to be certified and have at least a bachelor’s degree. Some of the more competitive schools would like you to have at least 2 years of teaching experience and/or your master’s degree as well. If you are already living abroad and you want to pursue teaching, you can start an online teaching program where you can get certified and/or your masters.
M: No matter what, to become a teacher you should have your teaching certificate (as mentioned several times previously, but hey- some people overlook it!). There are several programs available that last from one to two years, and others as short as nine months. There are also programs that will give you a master’s degree as well as a teaching certificate, but not ALL education master programs do that, so make sure you do your research.

Q: 
I read on this post that Nov. is when the recruitment starts happening? Is there a general timeline I should be aware of as I start searching?
J: International schools tend to recruit earlier than schools back in the US. Many international schools will require teachers to let them know if they are not coming back the following year anywhere from October-January of the previous year. The recruiting fairs start as early as January and many schools even hire before that if they already know of openings! It never hurts to start looking for openings and send your resume to schools that you are really interested in earlier on.

Q:  Do you know anything about teaching at a DOD school on bases overseas?
J: Unfortunately I can’t say that I know much about the DOD school system.  You can find more information on their website here: http://www.dodea.edu/  

Q: Is there anything else specifically that they look for in international teachers, that I should be aware of?
J: It really depends on the school, and what fit is good for them. There are some newer schools that may tend to hire more young & single teachers, verses some schools that prefer married couples. Many schools do generally prefer married couples when hiring. Some schools may have more of a focus on a certain type of curriculum like IB or AP, and may prefer candidates with experience in teaching that. While other schools are willing to spend time and to get teachers trained for those programs.

Q: How hard is it to find a job as an international teacher given you have very limited experience in teaching, but have the necessary degrees and attitude? 
J: There are actually many international schools out there. Again, if you are willing to teach at newer schools in countries or cities that are not as popular for foreigners to live at, you will probably have a better chance. It really depends on how picky you are going to be with the school and country you want to live at.
M: To go off of what J said, once you have a solid two or three years of teaching experience at a possible “less popular” international school the chances of getting a job at a school and in a country that you desire are much higher.


Q: What should I prepare to become as an international teacher in IB?

M: To my understanding (and quick research) there is no special “IB” certification you can get, you receive the training that you need when you work at an IB school.

Feel free to leave us any further questions you may have in the comments section!

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A Weekend of Inspiration, Art & Books

A few weekends ago, my school hosted a Children’s Literature Conference. We had amazing authors and illustrators give keynotes and lead workshops. The authors and illustrators that attended were Deborah WilesKadir NelsonLaura Vacarro Seeger and Chris Crutcher. I’m a huge fan of Kadir Nelson’s artwork, especially in the book, A Nation’s Hope! They shared their stories while challenging us to tell our own stories. Not only did I want to buy all these amazing books that these authors wrote and illustrated afterwards, but I was inspired to start writing my story.

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One of the author/illustrators that came was Laura Vacarro Seeger. Her most recent picture book, Green was a Caldecott Honor book this year! She presented her inspiration for her various picture books by sharing her sketches and writer’s notebook. I was amazed at how she took pictures books to a whole new level through her creativity. I especially loved her book Green. Here is an amazing video of her book.

Laura even signed my book and took a photo! I found out later that she actually worked with my students in their art class. In addition to that, I had my students and their book buddies (2nd grade class) do an art activity together based on the book. After reading the book to them, we had the kids come up with their own “green” page in order to create a class book. They thought of a phrase and then drew the artwork to go with it. There were some very creative drawings and phrases from exit green, fast green, grass green, ocean green, funky green, alien green, jewel green and more! Thank you Laura for your inspiration!

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Guest Blog Post: World Changers

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This week’s guest blogger is not only a rare high school math and physics teacher, but also my younger brother. Even though teaching was not something he originally planned on doing, he is quite good at it. (It must have been due to all those times we played school together and I was of course the teacher and he was one of the students in my class.) I had the unique privilege of teaching at the same school as my brother in Korea and I could tell that he was making quite an impact on their lives.

World Changers

By Brian Kim

As a certified nerd and non-certified math teacher for the last 5 years, I’ve realized quite a few things about my “oh-so-lovely” students.  The most important of these can be spelled out with a simple cliché: every single one of my students can change the world. I don’t mean this in a butterfly effect type of way where if they flap their barely post-pubescent wings now, it may cause a storm of ominous and unavoidable chain reactions leading to the complete, utter, and mass destruction of the world. But I mean this in a genuine way, where I’ve come to believe that I’m teaching the future leaders, policymakers, and trendsetters in a constantly changing and evolving world (that hopefully won’t end in mass destruction).  My students are world changers.

In my ‘selfless’ quest to prod my students along on this journey towards success and hopefully a share in their future billion-dollar corporations, I started off with some new classroom decorations. Realizing their need for good role models outside of their suicidal celebrities, largely absent fathers, and their overly sarcastic math teacher, I decided to post up pictures of my heroes in the math world for them. As I desperately tried to explain how Einstein, Gauss, and Euler are important to their future successes and why giving equity to past teachers is a good business decision, I didn’t get much of a response from my iphone-hugging, gangnam-styling students. A few blank stares, nervous nods, and a feigned laugh later, I realized I needed to change my approach. 

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A bit discouraged, but still unfazed, I decided to turn the tables on my students. I gave them a simple homework assignment: Come to math class with 3 math quotes that are not from google (aka write them yourself!). The following class, we took time to share the quotes in class and we voted for which quote we liked the best for each student. And then we went for an impromptu photo shoot in our classroom armed with my DSLR, the bulletin board, and a pinch of creativity (aka adobe photoshop). I printed out the pictures along with their quotes, laminated them, and posted them on my back wall.

Now everyday when my students walk into the classroom or look to the back because they’re tired of looking at my handsome face, they see a wall full of world changers: Einstein, Gauss, and Euler, next to Bae, Kim, Lee, Nelson, Crystal, Jung, and probably some more Kims.

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Putting My IPAD to Use

At the beginning of the school year, I was thrown all types of technology, which was definitely amazing. I feel so privileged to have such access to technology. At the same time it was a bit overwhelming. Well now that I survived my first semester at my new school, I’m feeling a bit more settled and ready to try some new things. I am finally putting my IPAD to good use.

For professional development a few weeks ago, we had an IPAD slam, where numerous teachers presented on their favorite IPAD apps. It was a great opportunity to get to know about various education related IPAD apps. One of the apps I was introduced was called Show Me. It is a great app to use in math class. The students talk and it records what they say, while they use their finger to draw and write on the ipad. Afterwards, they have this neat little video clip that can be uploaded to your online account. Students can embed their video onto the student blog.

So I tested this out with my students last week. I gave them very little instructions and they were able to complete it independently during class. I only have 1 IPAD, so I had them pass it around. They recorded their video during our class time. The task I gave them was to come up with a “difficult” order of operations problem and explain how to solve it.

You can look at one of my student’s video here: Order of Operations

Here is another video by my other student: Order of Operations

After watching their videos, here are a few reflections I made:

1. Have a partner check their video afterwards for any mathematical errors.

2. Give more specific guidelines on how to “show” their work.

3. Have them introduce themselves and the task in the beginning.

What are some IPAD apps that you use/recommend in the classroom?

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Getting Ready for Valentine’s Day!

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I didn’t know it until I started teaching, but Valentine’s Day is actually my favorite holiday! I had no idea. The thing is growing up, I always had amazing experiences involving the day of love. Every year I got a Valentine in the mail from my grandparents with a two dollar bill inside (yep, back when those existed), and I got to go to Chuck-E-Cheeses.  This involved eating pizza and playing in the balls while my mom and other home-schooling moms put together goodie bags of candy and dispersed the Valentines we had written for our friends into our awesomely decorated boxes (I spent DAYS decorating my box). I couldn’t wait to open up all of the love-notes from my friends and eat my candy. I mean, chocolate = love… right?

We had an extra long weekend due to the Lunar New Year (I am leaning toward a three-day work week, every week). So, very last-minute, I am prepping my classroom for the holiday.

I found an amazing site, with a ton of links to Valentine’s Day Joy, it’s a crazy link party!

I found a page with free alphabet bunting, and I am in the process of making a cute sign to string up.

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Want some cute coloring pages for your students (in case they whip out their finished Valentines faster than the other students perhaps?). Check out these free coloring pages.

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I also plan on playing BINGO with my students on V-Day because I found this really cute free printable.

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What do you plan on doing with your students?

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Teaching Nonfiction Reading- Part 2

Click here for Part 1.

Day 2 in my classroom as the labsite, Annie did an interactive read aloud. She read Oh Rats, the Story of Rats and People by Albert Marrin. It was a great NF picture book to use as a read aloud. Albert Marrin did a great job showing the different sides of rats. Yes, surprisingly, he was able to get you to sympathize with rats and see the benefits of them! This was great to create a chart showing the two sides of rats that the author shows and adding evidence from the text to support the different sides.

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Albert Marrin divided the book into chapters that shows the different sides of rats throughout history. It was a fascinating read with many interesting facts and stories woven through out. Another aspect we looked at were the different text structures in the story. After this labsite, I decided to use Oh Rats as one of my mentor texts. My students were super excited to have me finish this book with them! In addition to this book, I used Shark Attack by Cathy Dubowski. I was introduced to this great mentor text years ago in a nonfiction writing unit with Mary Ehrenworth at the Teachers College Summer Writing Institute. This is a great hybrid text and works well in a NF unit for both writing and reading.

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One of the key skills that I wanted to focus on with my students was comparing big ideas across different texts and using evidence from the text to support their thinking. I was able to use the books Shark Attack and Oh Rats because they both had some similar big ideas about these animals that the students could compare. I also used Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg and A Nation’s Hope by Matt De La Pena.

As our school has been making the shift to the common core in reading and writing workshops, it has been challenging me to have the students be able to give more specific evidence from the text to support their thinking. This is something we are also focusing on for our grade level PLCs(Professional Learning Community)! I had my students practice showing evidence by recording their thinking on long post-its during read aloud and then post-it on the charts we had. Here are two examples:

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Do you have any other good nonfiction mentor text recommendations?

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