Author: csnelson5

Seeking Masters in Secondary Education, Bachelors of English (complete) Goal: retire from Army and teach high school English in Fairbanks Hobbies: Fiction writing (genre, transgressive, bizarro, horror/thriller) Guitar and bass (I am also the guitar player, Eddie "Smudge" Smith, of the local 80s hair-metal cover band/ comedy schtick, Wet Thunder) Originally from South Texas. I hope to do my internship at the my son's school. But in reality? Karma can be harsh. I have a feeling everything I put my teachers through is headed my way with a thunderhead of fury! Can't wait!

CM Plan draft…English

Hello everyone. This is not completely finished. I’m still wrapping my head around the admin-parent connection as it is rather new to me. I do need to flesh out some sections, apply all media, etc. I got one reference in?   I think the hardest part of this is that I am having to imagine it or use memory as I don’t really have much time with students yet, but listening to all of you share your classroom details and events is so incredibly insightful to me. Thank you!

I apologize in advance if this is spam 🙂  CM Plan_CSNelson

Suicide awareness and prevention

I appreciated the article, and I agree we all have major responsibility to ensure our students have access to resources that can guide them…and we have the responsibility of teaching everyone to recognize the signs and intervene appropriately. But I also noticed that the article focused quite a bit on the young lady’s sexuality as being more of an issue than her grades. This is very difficult in the sense that some kids absolutely lack empathy and will push another through mocking and emotional abuse to the point of self-harm. But the article also had a great point in that sexualality was the big catalyst for suicidal ideation here. That is not something a child passes or fails. It is how they identify with their deepest inner feelings, and if their family or culture in which they belong does not accept them as they are, of course they are going to feel like they are failing or letting someone down. I feel it is important to understand how children relate, to encourage learning and push forward despite failure academically, and also recognize the warning signs. We have to be prepared to take action in such a way that a child feels accepted despite awful feelings, not guilty or shamed by their culture for being who they are. At the same time, it is important to recognize some students may suffer from depression or otherwise psychological challenges which require much more than emotional support alone.

Blog 5 Transitions

1.)The classroom I observe starts with individual reading for fifteen minutes every day. It’s really more of a sponge activity, but it gets the kids into a more docile, learning mode versus the chaos that is inherent with classroom transitions, seeing friends in the halls, sudden explosions of sound and activity as people move to new rooms, and so on. She launches into the lesson plans fairly abrupt, but because it is a daily routine, the students have no problem following the directions on the board and either opening their books or otherwise preparing for the lesson. During the lesson, she has a remarkable way of dealing with distractions by making them “invisible” until she absolutely has to redirect her attention. Then she uses an escalation of body language, personal names, positioning, and finally interrupting instruction to deal with the issue and meting out the appropriate consequence. As far as simple management with the class as whole, she is direct but nice, always smiles and maintains trust and approach-ability.
2.) The most common transition is the previous mentioned individual reading block. Another transition I have never seen in a classroom before (and granted every calls she seems to have at least one or two students with attention issues)   was to take a planned break for five minutes so students could use the restroom or get water, but it overall allowed them to move from one attention-demanding exercise to a gear-switching mode with a break in between for them to stretch and relax. Many times her problem students seem to calm significantly after they return to their seats. The last transition was her daily close-out and this was no more than letting them know we had five minutes left and to go ahead and take care of basic house keeping and lien up at the door. They don’t actually line up, but by letting them congregate near the exit, it keeps them from returning to their desks after cleaning up and keeps them in the transitory frame of mind.
3.) I especially liked the free reading period. I probably did it myself in high school and didn’t realize that was what was happening, but the fifteen minutes students spend internalizing was akin to massaging the brain and preparing to take on a new subject that requires a different discipline set than the last class or activity.

Caring, Armor, and Platform Shoes vs. Pain and Repetition

The lessons learned from “Let Care Shine Through” offer a valuable tool in the testimonies of Ms. Grover and Ms. Sampson. In order, I feel I can use the concepts of Teaching with Urgency, Offering High Expectations and Support, Overhauling Deficit, and Expanding the Meaning if Achievement in my future classroom. The idea of urgency, that we only have them for a finite and rapidly dwindling amount of time each day for less than a year, adds passion to the need to positively impact our students’ lives through modeling and education. It helps to see the child beyond the “data points” of the lesson plan and anchor standards. As far as expectations, I am coming from a community where “every one gets a GO.” If a soldier fails a test? His sergeant is held accountable and must retrain him until he passes. This is an awful way to teach in that the use of pain and repetition only creates muscle memory versus true interest and ownership of subject matter. Combining the concepts of High Expectations and Support with Overhauling Deficit, students become self-actualized and have a sense of belonging and raised self-esteem–they are worth more than a checked block on an evaluation. Finally, the vignette of the student and her profane letter brought back a story that has stuck with me: in 2007 there was a young Private who decided he wanted to quit instead of going back to war with our unit. He wrote his resignation to the Command Sergeant Major. Now, this guy was a beast. At 5’2″ and solid, angry muscle, he was known as the “Raging Hatian.” He was also very Haitian. As in one devoured soul shy of being the incarnation of Papa Legba Haitian. So the Private is shaking, but has found his inner courage and resolve. He knocks on the door three times as we are taught to do in Basic Training. “Enter” the CSM says, not looking up from his Court Martial Document where he is about to devour another soul. “Sergeant Major?” The CSM looks up. His smile fails to meet his eyes. But he offers active listening and hears the young man out on why he should be allowed to resign from the army. He then looks over the resignation and, as the young man speaks, begins to red-ink the document for grammatical errors. He handed it back and explained to the soldier that while he appreciated the effort, no good employer would ever accept such an unprofessional document, and that the soldier was more than welcome to resubmit after making the appropriate corrections and coming up with a more sound, after-army career/education plan other than begging for a discharge because he didn’t want to deploy with his unit.The soldier took the dripping massacre of a document and never returned. Last time I heard about him, he went on to deploy with his unit and is making his way through the ranks as an upstanding leader. I like to think that part of this is because he had good leadership, a CSM that overlooked his deficiencies as a soldier and saw his potential as a person.


The other article was a great confidence booster! The main takeaway is that we are people, we’re not perfect and no one expects us to be, and that the students will still learn. Just be ourselves and give our best. And don’t worry about buying platform shoes to make us taller in front of a class of junior high students.

Personalized Learning

I wasn’t too keen on the idea of personalized learning going into this, but after reading the article and then those presented on the North Star Borough website, it actually does make sense to me. One of the biggest culture shocks to overcome has been seeing kids walking around high school with earbuds plugged in, phones in hand, tablets propped up beside books, and yet they still manage to stay on task during lectures. Obviously, some classrooms are more disciplined than others regarding technology, but whereas I saw gadgets as unnecessary distractions a few weeks ago, I now recognize that these devices are something our new generation of students has grown up with and possesses (potentially) more discipline than the average 40-year old… present company included. But it started me thinking: what is the big attraction to phones and tablets and laptops? The answer is personalization.    A person can fix up their desktop icons, screen saver, etc. to fit their personal habits. Even our word processing programs are now designed to figure out what we are trying to type and fix our mistakes for us.

I see many benefits to offering personalized options in school. This is a chance for students to sculpt their curriculum to their preferred learning style. And we now have the personalized technology to support such with minimal cost.

The down side is that by allowing students to personalize too much in order to be successful, they are inadvertently learning they can choose their own options toward learning and problem solving when difficulties arise versus taking care of issues within the parameters offered. When they join the adult workforce, regardless of position in society, they will not always have options to personalize for convenience. By relying too heavily on personalization, we will weaken our future generations’ resiliency at problem solving, coping, and integrating/synthesizing.

One of the sites I found most interesting was the K12 NorthStar Borough page. The school district here in Fairbanks is very much embracing personalized learning, but they also are not blind to the challenges.

An Awful Gambit in a Sick Game

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program introduced by Pres. Obama in 2012) is a program that protects undocumented immigrant children who arrived in the U.S. under the age of 16 prior to June 15, 2007 from deportation. While it does not offer a path to citizenship within the program, it sets the foundation for children of other countries to become naturalized citizen. It is renewable every two years and includes conditions based on citizenship and academic performance. DACA is a way to ensure children brought to the U.S. against their will or knowing are given a chance at the same unalienable rights U.S.-Born citizens enjoy.

The subject is infuriating and the rhetoric from the President only makes it worse. Since before the election there has been a good amount of focus placed on immigration. The most popular promise from the President was to build a wall separating the U.S. from Mexico. During the initial talks with the Democratic party over the elimination of DACA and six-month phasing out, one of the first bargaining chips became the wall. According to the Dallas News, President Trump stood adamant to his original agenda toward tougher immigration policy with, “DACA now and the wall very soon, but the wall will happen (Gillman, 2017).”

Using innocent children for a political agenda–regardless of where they are from or their citizenship status–is disgusting. They are children. They want to play and have fun. Love and laugh. Form friendships and live free. They also want to learn. They idea of deporting 800,000 children and young adults, many who have already spent most of their lives in the U.S. school system, is sadistic and criminal. I feel it is also yet one more power-play for political parties to get what they want. It is a business deal with ante and bluff and all of the other unsavory elements of a boom town poker game. Except this time the pot is a wall separating two countries who are connected on a much deeper level than a shared continent; the chips are the children of that relationship.

Every child has a right to live, love, and learn. President Obama understood that. Then again, he spent much quality time with the First Family interacting with children in schools.


Gillman, Todd. (Sep. 13, 2017).  The Dallas News.  “Trump rules out citizenship for DREAMers, Digs in on border wall…”