Tag Archives: Boise State

Guest post: Thank you to my teacher, Ms. Brundula!

For a guest post, I asked a friend of mine, Becky Dewey-Daniel, to share an interaction she had with a teacher that left a mark on her. This story touched me, and I hope it reaches you as well.

I was in high school and arguing with my religion teacher…again.

I was asking questions and sharing opinions that weren’t memorized—ideas about things I had been studying in the Bible on my own time about sex, marriage and prostitution. The pastor who was teaching us had a hard time hearing anything that wasn’t canonized and I felt he wasn’t considering anything I had to say. He was only trying to “win” an argument and didn’t care about me. (Not a great strategy for convincing a curious teenager).

I felt completely defeated. None of my classmates cared. They just wanted to zone out and make it through the class. To make it worse, one the teachers I looked up to came in during the class to pick something up from her desk while the pastor was lecturing me. I was horrified. What was she going to think of me? Some sacrilegious trouble maker? I was doing well in her math class. Now I was just embarrassed and wanted to stop offering my opinion to a teacher…ever.

Class ended.

Day went on.

Math class started. I barely looked up.

Math class ended.

Teacher gave me a note as a I left the room.

Ms. Dewey~

It is good to think —it is good to ponder. Being in disagreement with someone doesn’t make you stupid or wrong, it only makes you smarter. It is hard to defend your ideas—especially when they are so abstract. Don’t ever think your ideas don’t matter—because you especially carry a unique view on life. Your views are totally interesting! I know what it felt like for you today. It ‘s happened to me too! 🙂

Ms. B.

It felt like redemption. And ok, the part about being smarter than someone I disagree with might not always be 100% accurate, but as a teenager about to give up on having any more meaningful conversations with my educators, it was exactly what I needed to hear.

I kept my head up. I learned when to fight for a new opinion and when to hold my opinions for someone who would listen….and going on seven years, the note has stayed in my wallet. Thank you, Ms. B!

Becky Dewey-Daniel is the Director of Enrollment Marketing at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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Jumping out blindly, or “my greatest fear(s) about SBG”

Red Bull Cliff Diving


What is it about that picture that freaks me out the most? Is it the 300 foot 1 drop that this psychopath is going into? Is it that he’s clearly falling into not-that-deep water, nestled between jagged rocks that could smash his body into a bag of human confetti? Is it that he’s flippity-flopping all over the place, punishing his equilibrium for some heinous crime it must have committed against him recently?

Nah, man. What freaks me out the most is that he’s standing at the top of that diving board, aiming towards jagged rocks, throwing himself into a which-way-is-up tizzy… while his back is to the water 2. What is that?! How can he do what he’s about to do without really knowing where he is going? What does it take to take aim, turn around, and drop throw yourself into the abyss all of of information that isn’t the most up-to-date? Who is this crazy man that looks, then leaps, then deals with the (hopefully not-dire) consequences afterwards?

I ask because I’m on the cusp of my own big jump. This summer, I’ve been doing a lot of work on brushing up on Common Core standards—knowing them backwards and forwards, unpacking and repacking—in an effort to be a better teacher next year than I was last year, my first at my new school in California. All this studying has led to a re-realization 3 that grades are junk, and that I truly should be joining a brave group of colleagues utilizing standards-based grading (SBG) in at least my English classroom 4.

Here’s my big issue, though—where does it end? I understand the theory, I know how to set up my gradebook, I get aligning assessments to standards, all of that. But… What does it look like at the end? In January (or June), what’s my gradebook going to look like? Will I have over-assessed Reading Standard #1:

Screenshot 2015-07-23 13.44.32

at the expense of Reading Standard #9?

Screenshot 2015-07-23 13.44.40

What happens if I have students who start out weak, get stronger, then inexplicitly get weaker as the year goes along? How do I deal with translating each standard’s “grade” 5 into a letter grade for the registrar? 6 Isn’t it kinda unfair to develop a brand-new system, introduce and sell it to students/parents, and then, at the end of the semester, to pull a “Wellll… it turns out…”?

So this is my issue. It’s the big thing I’ve been battling over the summer, especially in the last few days. As I see it, then, I only have a few courses of action:

Jump Don't jump

And that’s the big battle.


  1. Approximate.
  2. WTF reaction (Tim Gunn)
  3. Before moving to Cali, my colleagues and I in our school in Taiwan studied the heck out of standards-based grading, especially in a PLC group where we read Rick Wormeli’s “Fair Isn’t Always Equal“. By the time I was done with that (and my own side-research), I declared myself an “on-paper SBG expert”—all I had left to do was to put it into practice. *GULP*
  4. I’m still relatively early on in being a history teacher, and technology standards for my Computer Applications classes seem iffy-at-best, but I do have a few years of teaching ELA, so no excuse there, right?
  5. In many SBG systems, grades are done on a 0-to-3 or 1-to-4 scale of mastery as opposed to a 100-point-scale of vagueness.
  6. Suspiciously little (of value) is written about this one. “GRADES SHOULDN’T BE A THING!” they yell. “WE SHOULD JUST BE PREPARING THEM FOR SKILLS THEY’LL NEED IN COLLEGE.” Ok, well don’t I need to tell the college how well they do those skills? Huh? Is this thing on?

    Silly seal.

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JUST SAY NO… To Homework?

Recently, this tweet showed up at the top of my timeline:

I’m personally pretty averse to homework—as as student, I always felt like too much was given out 1, but it could have been worth it if we were learning from it. Usually, it just seemed like a time-waster. What’s the point?

One rep, two rep...I understand that sometimes, students just need “reps”—after all, that’s how we physically build muscles—but does it really help in the long run? Read the article that Alice shared, then share your thoughts.


  1. DUH.
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This is happening: hosting an online Edcamp #teachSDA

teachSDA ''Daily Planet'' BaBuFor the last couple of years, my mentor and former high school History teacher Stephen Bralley and I have been leading a group of educators in a weekly chat, called #teachSDA. The “SDA” part of that is Seventh-day Adventist, our church, the 2nd largest parochial system next to Catholics. Our goal has always been to find a way to help Adventist educators, scattered all around the world, make better connections with eachother. It’s been a slow process, but we’ve been able to amass almost 60 weekly chats over 2 years.

Last week, our church has a really big meeting in San Antonio, Texas, and there were lots of people tuning in to see the way some decisions were made. As I was online, I saw hundreds of Adventists 1 Tweeting and Facebook posting about what was going on, and it made me wonder how many of those people were teachers, and if those teachers were plugged into the utilizing-social-media-for-PD system. I did some querying, and after a little while, posted this blog post, declaring that #teachSDA was going to try to parlay this San Antonio meeting into an Edcamp!edcamp

It took a couple of days of more tweeting, asking questions, etc, but it turns out that we’re going to actually be doing this next Sunday or Monday! This is a really big deal for #teachSDA, and we feel like the stakes are really high, but this might be the thing that gets our chat numbers quite a bit higher and gives us a bit more notoriety within our community.

As I’ve been laying in bed, thinking about what’s coming up, I keep coming back to “what are the goals of this Edcamp?”, and I think it’s important that we consider them before actually moving too much further. What is this Edcamp all about? What do we want out of this? What do we need to learn? I’ve got 3 big things I’ve determined:

  1. Edcamp #teachSDA is about growing myself. No matter what happens with this, I need to come out of this experience better off. It seems really selfish to focus on my own needs, but really, why put so much work into something that ultimately won’t make me a better teacher? With all the organizing, PR stuff, tech support, and so on, I’ve still got to make sure I take the opportunity to sit in chat rooms with other teachers and learn from them.
  2. Edcamp #teachSDA is about growing my PLN. Again, a bit self-serving, but I think that putting so much work into this has to be something that grows the number of teachers I can go to to support me, and to support them. My own circle (as in my own @webby37 circle and my #teachSDA circle) must increase through this experience.
  3. Edcamp #teachSDA is about growing my church. Selfless, huh? 2 Bralley and I have really gotten a lot out of learning on Twitter, through our own PLNs, and we truly want to make sure that other teachers have the great experience that we have from all of this. How can we help our fellow teachers have great experiences as we do ourselves?

More to come on this. Wish us luck!


  1. To call Adventists technology-phobic would be an understatement.
  2. Only took me 3 bullet points to get to others. :)
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5 links that done made me think

What's in my head?From time to time, with all my Twitter scouring, I come across a great link or two five that tickle my mind and make me question my perspectives, teaching, pedagogy, knowledge, or just life in general. Here are a few from the last week that have got my brain spinning.

  • Edspiration Podcast 014: Unlock Innovation in an Hour
    As a fan of Don Wettrick for a while now, whenever or wherever he shows up, I’m going to check out. He recently 1 joined the folks at Edspiration to do a podcast where he talked about 20% time, one of the coolest projects a teacher can do. I did my own a few years ago with students to MASSIVE success, and I’m hoping to make that happen again this year.
  • Wired: The White House is giving free internet to thousands
    A long time ago 2, an article like this would have bugged me, as it would have thrown off a lot of the ideas and philosophies I was raised with. Now, as a teacher who gets to see what people less fortunate than I have been blessed with being raised live like themselves, this hits me anew. In what other ways have I benefited that my own students don’t? And what can I do to help give them every opportunity to succeed?
  • CACE: Three Steps for Recruiting Talent
    I’m not a principal, but I’m someone who has been hired, and someone who expects to one day hire someone himself. What does a successful strong recruiting look like? And as one who wants to be hired to a place like this, what do I have to do to fit in with a culture like this?
  • NEA: “Teacher-Led Schools: They’re Here And More Are On the Way”
    Maybe the hottest link I saw on Twitter today had to do with what a teacher-led school looks like. I’m trying to imagine what a job would look like with minimal direction from an administrator or principal, and what it would look like if I was in a cohort that functioned as such. Really cool.
  • VOX: New Horizons’ photos from the Pluto flyby are finally here — and they’re amazing
    Not education-y, but stupidly cool. Almost 100 years after we first saw it 3 as a blurry little speck, we’re just now seeing the texture and color of Pluto. I don’t know why, but stuff like this is just enthralling to me. Last year, we stopped our World History class for one whole period 4 to study the spacecraft that NASA landed on the asteroid. This strikes me just as cool.


  1. To my knowledge, that is
  2. Ok, more like not-so-long time ago
  3. Hat tip to my boy, fellow Kansan Clyde Tombaugh for that—You discovered a planet, bro. Maybe it’s not one now, but it sure as heck was then!
  4. #thingsIshouldntadmint
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RSS: A game-changing technology

It’s amazing to consider that a technology that has been around for more than fifteen years could still be useful in our age, but after reading an article 1 shared with me through my EDTECH 537 class, it’s pretty clear that it still has a basis in our tech world today.

Not exactly the delivery service one's looking for.

Not exactly the delivery service one’s looking for.

Today, I read an article, written in 2003, that explained what RSS is and how it’s important to our lives. In a nutshell, the “old guard” of the internet involved us going to web pages for news, sports, business, and so on to get the news that we desired. RSS was the “new guard” of the internet, where one could simply sign up for an RSS reader program, subscribe to feeds of each new source, and have personalized news delivered to your computer. It’s like a million tiny newspaper boys riding past my house, delivering just the few pages of news (each) that I’m interested in, rather than a stack of things I don’t particularly care to know about.

RSSRSS is one of those things that has been around long enough, and is so fundamental to how we use the internet now, I find it really crazy when I run into colleagues who don’t have any idea what it’s about, how it works, or even what that “orangey icon” is all about. Even though I was already very familiar with it, it was cool to get a little bit of a refresher on how syndication works.


  1. Harrsch, M. (2003). RSS: The next killer app for education. Technology Source, 6(4). Retrieved from http://www.technologysource.org/article/rss/.
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Nice to meet you, EDTECH 537

Well howdy, classmates.

Uhhh.… hi.

My name is Chris Webb, and I’m a high school English and Social Studies teacher working in beautiful Northern California. I just ended my 6th year of teaching, but first at my new school, which was quite a whirlwind experience. Now that it’s finally summer, I’m excited about the prospect of resting up, doing some independent learning, some major planning for next school year, lots of reading in a hammock, and now, picking back up on my EdTech masters! This is my 6th class in that process, but the first I’ve taken in almost 2 years, so I’m a bit rusty at online classes, and more-than-rusty at blogging 1. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to meet all of you and learn alongside you for the next couple of weeks!

When I’m not in the classroom, I like to spend my time traveling, cooking on my new gas grill, and hanging out with this little guy:


A post shared by Chris Webb (@webby37) on

So that’s the TL;DR 2 version of who I am. Like I said, I’m looking forward to working with you all soon and learning how to become a better blogger. Let the games begin!

…till the break of dawn.


  1. I’ve actually done quite a bit of blogging in the past, and actually have a lot of experience in student blogging as well—holler if you want to talk about it!—but consistency has been less-than-decent. I’m excited about utilizing this class as a kickstarter for writing on a more consistent basis!
  2. “Too long; didn’t read”., my current favorite internet slang.
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