Inviting the “Real World” In

Friday was one of those days that makes you excited and proud to be an educator – especially at my school.  I had a chance to be a part of three different, yet important, learning opportunities. As I started to tweet about them on Friday, I realized, 280 characters would not do them justice. I needed a blog post.

Opportunity #1 – Learning from our Graduates @ClassroomMosaic @barrylindler

Ben & Tyler – Classroom Mosaic Founders

Barry Lindler, our Computer Science teacher, invited two of his former students back to Dutch Fork to talk to his Computer Programming 2 Honors students.  Ben Gustafson & Tyler Smith learned computer programming while at DFHS and started their own company right out of high school. Read their story at  On Friday, Ben and Tyler shared their journey with our students including early drafts and iterations of the classroom observation software.  But what I liked best was learning from their experiences and the advice they gave our students. One thing Ben said really stuck with me: “There is no better way to learn to do something than to start to try to do it.”  Which leads me to opportunity #2 . . .

#2 – Skype Call with Paul Chavez @Chavez_Fndn  @Zorro_Platead0  @Skype

Sra Emily Arroyo, one of our Spanish teachers, is taking my Authentic Technology Integration and Instructional Design graduate course. As part of that class, the teachers must try some sort of video call as a way to increase communication.  Sra Arroyo decided that since today, March 31st, is Cesar Chavez Day, she would reach out to the Chavez foundation ( and ask them to talk to her Spanish 2 students about Chavez and his activism.  The foundation said yes, and even better, Sra Arroyo emailed with Cesar Chavez’s grandson and found out her class would get to Skype with Paul Chavez, Cesar Chavez’s son!  Sra Arroyo was SO excited.

Paul Chavez, Cesar Chavez’s son, talks to Spanish 2 students #CesarChavezDay

Before Friday, we made sure the technology was ready.  Everything went great on the day of the call. Paul Chavez spoke to the students and answered their questions for almost 30 minutes.  His message was one of hope and perseverance. Despite the incredibly different situations, I found myself noticing similarities between his words and those of Ben and Tyler.  Chavez reminded the students that every person can make a difference and that you only fail when you give up. Which leads me to opportunity #3. . .

#3 – AP Research Capstone Presentations @CollegeBoard @MrsBHolden

AP Research Practice Presentations

Tomorrow, our first group of AP Research students will present their final projects.  These presentations will be recorded and sent to College Board as the final pieces in what has been a year long process.  On Friday, Brittany Holden, their AP Research teacher, invited parents and teachers into our media center to give the students one last chance to present their ideas before the “big day.”  These students and the research they have done are amazing. Their topics are as diverse as the students themselves. A few examples include, “The Effect Of Emulsion Properties On The Delivery Of Resveratrol,” “The Madden Julian Oscillation and Eyewall Replacement Cycles,” and “The Use of Demographic Information to Predict an Individual’s Opinion on Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States.”  Wow! Besides the students’ confidence in themselves and their research, I also loved that parents and others were able to be involved, ask questions and give feedback.

When I think about Friday as a whole, I am thankful for my job and the teachers and students I get to work with everyday.  I am also thankful for the opportunities these teachers (and many others at our school) provide our students; they provide chances for them to learn from the “real world.”  And, finally, I am thankful that the message these students heard on Friday was that hard work matters and that they can make amazing things happen. This is one of the most important lessons in education.

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