Behind the Blog: EduBlogger Series | Andrew Marcinek

“iTeach”

Andrew Marcinek is in his sixth year teaching English in the secondary level. He received his Bachelors of Science in communications and English literature from University of Miami, FL and completed his Masters in Secondary Education from Eastern University. As of this fall, Andrew will play a dual role as the Instructional Technology Specialist and AP English teacher at the Boys Latin Charter School of Philadelphia.

His blog can be found here: http://iteach20.blogspot.com

Why did you want to become a teacher?

Most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins were teachers so I grew up surrounded by them. They seemed to really enjoy their work and I always felt education could always be better. In high school I had an appreciation for the English language so it only made sense to fall into that subject. I love the evolution of language and it’s easy for me to get excited about it. Getting to go to work everyday and present things I really enjoy is something you can’t trade in for anything.

Are you excited about your upcoming position as Instructional Technology Specialist?

Yes, it’s really exciting. I presented the idea to our administrator and  it was approved by our board. I will be starting this position in the fall. This upcoming year is going to be a lot of trial and error. My primary goal is to integrate different technologies in my school and synchronize them in classrooms with the support from my fellow teachers. I plan on being a supportive teacher and help everyone who wants my help. I’m a little nervous. Will there be challenges? Of course there will be. There are a lot of teachers who have been teaching a certain way for so many years. They aren’t exactly looking to change the way the teach. I’m willing to support their decisions and if they are open to integrating new technologies I will be there to help.

To leave feedback, comments, and suggestions for Andrew related to the position of Instructional Technology Specialist, please share here, “My EdTech Letter“.

How do you integrate technology into your classroom?

We work on collaborative project learning through a Wikispace, where they can work together in class on projects and homework. We were reading, “The Kite Runner”, at the end of the year and we set up the entire unit on our Wikispace. Students would come in with thought provoking questions and discussions and we’d sit at our computers finding the answers.  We also use a lot of fun new Google apps that are made for education. We use Google Timeline for many of our projects. I’ll give my class a question like, “What effects did the Soviet War have on the Afghan culture and tradition?”. They can then use Google Timeline to see and organize their criteria searches. They can break down by the information they find by months and look at what exactly happened during this time period. My kids find all the news articles from a particular day in history and get to learn from actual data. I want them to make their own discoveries so I don’t put any perimeters on how they find their information. This is a new type of learning where kids are given a menu of choices instead of step by step learning. This research/exploratory skill is something we all need in life and if we’re giving all these standardized tests it’s nice to know we can go off the beaten path.

Why did you start blogging?

I’ve been blogging since 2008. The school I was working for had the opportunity to apply for grants by explaining how they were going to use technology. We received the grant, as well as, a technology coach. Our coach recognized how much I loved working with technology so he latched onto me and helped me better my technology knowledge. I was able to learn different ways I could teach dynamic lessons and better my classes. Now I can present lessons and ideas and not feel afraid of technology in the classroom. And look at me now, I’ll be able to help my fellow educators with their education technology discoveries.

You recently attended and presented at EdCamp Philly. Can you explain what EdCamp is and what you learned from your experience?

EdCamp Philly is an unconference, where educators with similar goals come together for the day to talk about education. Everyone is involved and there are no scheduled presenters. I had never attended something like this before, but I knew many of the organizers and with my new position, as ITS, I have a lot of questions. I hosted a forum just to ask questions about being in this ITS position. Ten people showed up for my session. In our hour conversation, we shared ideas and challenges of what worked and what didn’t. I attended three other sessions that day where everyone participated and learned from each other. The next week in my class, I found that I used a lot of the new ideas I had learned while at EdCamp. It was a great experience. Since then, I’ve taken the same idea and have created NTCamp (New Teachers Camp), which follows the same unconference model as EdCamp but has a focus for new teachers. We already have 60 people signed up to attend and hope to have more to build everyones PLN. These new teachers don’t need to turn to their mentors, they have an entire PLN to support them.
To read more about Andrew’s experience at EdCamp Philly, read his post, “The Grassroots PD Movement

Do you have a favorite memory from teaching?

Back in 2008, the graduating class selected me to be a faculty speaker at their graduation. I found out in the beginning of April that I was going to be the speaker, but as May approached I still didn’t know what I was going to write. I asked my my kids what they wanted to hear on their last day of high school. Their response was, “We don’t want to hear what we always hear”. So I had to think of how to give something new to these kids who already have everything at their finger tips. I went with a personal story of a roller skating birthday party I had when I was younger. I didn’t like the idea of rolling skating, plus i was having a dual party with my cousin. I spent half the party falling everywhere and clinging to the wall. When I would skate for a few seconds away from the wall, I would fall down and fail, but always got back up. Simple story, but the idea of, “hey, failure happened”, and schools don’t preach that enough. It’s okay to fall and get up. It’s want makes our character and make us who we are. After delivering the speech I received tons of letters from my students of how much they loved my speech. Putting how nervous I was aside, it went better than I ever thought and was so happy that my message was heard by such a big audience.

Do you have a least favorite moment from teaching?

My first day of teaching. I planned out everything and of course like anyone hoped that everything was going to go smoothly. Walked into my classroom an began to teach. I talked really fast (I was a mess and freaked out)! My entire lesson lasted 15 minutes. All the questions I asked didn’t follow up with any questions so I had 30 minutes to kill and didn’t know what to do. It was torture! So I gave a writing assignment and made it to the bell. I finished my first class. I learned so much from that first day and now go by the idea of always planning. Always have a Plan B. After a first day like that I realized, “Wow, I need to think on my feet a lot” and be one step ahead of the students.

This is part of Schoology’s Behind the Blog: EduBlogger Series. The Schoology Team would like to thank all of the wonderful education bloggers who have participated in the series. For more information about Schoology and these bloggers, please contact Crystal Grandison, Schoology Community Manager, via email crystal@schoology.com.
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