All posts by markcase

About markcase

Husband, father, grandfather, teacher, life long learner

Random Acts Of Kindness #kindness16

What if?  Perhaps the most powerful question in science.  What if…..?

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What if people did one random act of kindness on one weekend.

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Yesterday, I challenged my students to do one random act of kindness this weekend.

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The vast majority of my students did not understand a random act of kindness.  I got a lot of ‘what’s in it for me?’ responses.  I had a hard time answering that one.  The best I could do was say, “Doing something nice for someone else when they don’t expect it and you expect nothing in return is impossible to describe.  When you do it, and you feel it, you will understand.”

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So, why not challenge EVERYONE?

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I hereby challenge all my family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, friends I have not met yet and any other sentient being on Earth or orbiting our planet to do one random act of kindness this weekend.

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Some of the examples I gave my students include

  • Rake someone’s leaves.
  • Write about ½ dozen or so notes saying “Thank you for working today.” And hand them out to any place you go this weekend. Hand them to cashiers, baggers, gas station attendants, etc.
  • Make a ‘take out meal’ from tomorrow’s feast and give it to a shut in neighbor.
  • Write a note to someone you haven’t talked to in years and share a fond memory. Find their address and mail it!
  • Wash the neighbor’s car.
  • Take some of that left over Halloween candy, put in baggies and pass it out to some kids (with parent’s permission!)
  • Pull the weeds out of the community garden in the neighborhood.
  • Tell the person at the drive up window, “Thank you. You have a nice smile.”

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What if, just what if every person that reads this blog did one random act of kindness this weekend?  What if everyone that does a random act challenges just three others to do the same?  What if everyone that does a random act of kindness just posts what they did to inspire others?  What if…….?

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Scientists are always trying to quantify experiments.  How do you quantify random acts of kindness?  Hey, here’s an idea!  Let’s us the #kindness16 and #RandomActsOfKindness and post what you did.  That way, others can follow what is being done and get inspired.  Can we cause random acts of kindness to trend?

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I hereby challenge you to do #kindness16 and #RandomActsOfKindness by Sunday, November 27, 2016 and spread the word.

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Mark Case is a high school science teacher and can be contacted via twitter @sghsscience or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mark.case.14

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This is an open permission to share, retweet or repost on any social media this blog.

 

 

It’s Time To Celebrate

Graduation last weekend was wonderful. All the kids with tassels and hearing about the honors and millions of dollars in scholarships won. The many kids that made amazing accomplishments were amazing.  

 
There is an even bigger reason to celebrate. “Mr. Case, I want you to meet my mom. Mom, Mr. Case is the reason I graduated.” “Hey Coach Case, I made it! I graduated! Remember my dad? He wants to talk to you.” “Hola, Senior Case. You helped my nina become a senorita.  Gracias.”

 
When I started teaching physical science, I knew this was going to end my teaching career. NO ONE wanted to teach these kids. After all, they are not honors. They struggle. They can’t pay attention. They are behavior issues. They just don’t want to listen. They don’t want to learn, they are just here because they have to be. Right? That’s what I was told. That’s what I heard.

 
These kids have taught me something valuable: THAT WAS ALL WRONG! I have had the honor to teach some of the most hungry kids in the school. These kids are hungry for learning. They are hungry for attention. They are hungry for structure. They are hungry to show they can accomplish anything.

 
“Mr. Case, there ain’t no way I can pass this class. I suck at math” said one student first week this semester. “Mr. Case, I think I aced the final! It was so easy” same student said yesterday after the state exam. Score came in: 88%

 
Last fall, first week of class: “Hey Case, I am just waiting my time till I turn 16. Then I can drop out. Don’t matter what I do, I’m out of here in a couple months.” Same student yesterday after his math exam: “Hey Mr. Case, think you can help me with my summer school? They said if I pass both of the classes, and I pass everything next year, I can graduate next June.”

 
Facebook message yesterday: “Mr. Case, please accept my friend request. I need to talk to you.” Today, “Hey, I know I was your biggest pain in the (butt), but would you be a reference for me? I keep saying to myself, ‘how would Case do this’ and realized I owe you.”

 
After graduation: “Are you Mr. Case? He said look for the guy with the pony tail. Thank you for kicking him in the (rear). He’s the first one to graduate in our family.”

 
These are the reasons to celebrate. Kids lives are being changed. I’m not going to have those kids that walk across the stage with half a dozen color tassels. My kids are not going to have the millions of dollars in scholarships. My kids are the ones that are going to break the cycle of poverty. They are going to break the endless loop of failure. They are the ones that can be the role model in their family.

 
For many of my kids, this is the life time accomplishment. Walking across the stage will be their crowning achievement. For some, it will spark a hunger to do more, be more, accomplish more.

 
I celebrate the accomplishment my kids are breaking the mold that society has forged and forced upon them. I celebrate my kids for teaching me. It is MY honor to celebrate with them.

Sharing Passion

It was one of those days that gives you a lift. It gives you a boost to empower you. It gives you the confidence that you are making a difference. It gives you…. well…. hard to explain.
Yea, the professional development cost me some $$. Not a lot, but some. The return on investment was incredible.
I went to present my session and was nervous. Would I have the words? Would it come across well? Would I teach someone? What would happen?
One woman said to me this evening: “You might not have taught us a lot for doing differentiation, but you gave us your story. THAT was what I needed. I need to make my own story now.”
At lunch, Matt Graves asked “What is your teacher super power?” I asked the same thing in my session: “What is your strength?” I got several answers. For some reason, I asked, “What is my strength?” Several people blurted out immediately, “PASSION!!”
I’ve heard that before but that really sunk home tonight. Passion. I may not love WHAT I am teaching, but I love WHO I am teaching. I love those kids.
I hope in some small way, those that were there will be able to make their own story and have the passion to tell it.

DENapalooza Raleigh 2015 Location Based Gaming

It was my honor to be part of and present today at the DENapalooza Raleigh on location based gaming.  As promised, I am starting a blog series on this topic.

Location based gaming has been around for decades.  With strong roots in orienteering, modern location based gaming uses GPS satellites to guide players to a location.  Depending upon the game, you may be looking for a container to open and sign a book or use your stamp to ‘log’ you found it.  You may need to take and upload a picture.  You may even need to find clues to submit an answer.

With over 150 currently active location based games, many have applications in the classroom.  A separate GPS unit is not needed for most game because they can be played with a smart phone.

During today’s and next weekend at Columbia, we featured Geocaching, Munzee and Eventzee.  Many teachers are familiar with geocaching so we introduced Munzee and Eventzee.

Munzee is a QR code scavenger hunt.  There are many classroom applications include making a quiz trail, bringing students to historical, educational and cultural locations.  The app is free and can be downloaded on IOS, Google and Windows platforms.  Download the app, create a screen name, then scan this QR code to get started with 50 points and give it a try!

Munzee Rererral Code
Munzee Referral Code. Download the app, sign up, scan the code and give it a try.

Eventzee is a photo scavenger hunt.  We introduce the app today.  We will do a full review of the app and the program in the next few weeks.  However, if you would like to give it a test run, I have set up a photo hunt to expire Monday evening, November 16th at 11:59 PM, EST.  Download EVENTZEE on all three platforms, and create an account.  IF you already have a Munzee account, you can use the same log in.  To give Eventzee a test run, once you open the app, scan this QR code to get the clues for the test run.

DENapalooza Eventzee Test Run
DENapalooza Eventzee Test Run. Download Eventzee app, scan the code and give it a try. This test run expires Monday, 11/15/15 at 11:59 PM EST.

Starting Sunday, 11/15/15, I will be reviewing one location based game each week.  I will include items such as ease of use, youtube tutorials, educational component or potential, are lesson plans currently available online, platforms the game can be played, cost, accessible support, target audience (elementary, middle, high, college, family) and does the game have a local face to face community and/or online community.  Need something else added to the review, let me know!

If you have a location based game you would like to see as part of the review, please let me know.  It will get reviewed eventually!

Lesson plans that we develop will be added to my Goodle Drive folder which can be found at https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B_VxzKXB5NxsdFVHbnZZaHhEa1E

Google Drive Location Based Gaming.  This folder will grow!
Google Drive Location Based Gaming. This folder will grow!

Stay tuned and get ready to explore!

Discombobulated Emotions

Right now, I am not exactly sure how I feel.  My emotions sort of feel like a large bowl of Brunswick Stew.  Everything is in there all at one time, jumbled up, mash, smashed and in pieces.

For the past fifteen years, I have served on the North Carolina Science Teachers Association in various capacities.  For the past three years, it has been in the presidency role: first vice president, then president and this past year, past president.  Tonight, I finished my term of office and have no further responsibilities.

Not sure how I feel.  I am relieved to be done with the position. At the same time, I feel not needed.  I feel having no goal.  It feels strange.

Next chapter in my professional leadership development starts now.  Where to go? What to do?

Only time will tell and I will embrace the journey as it unfolds.  Until then, I wait.

“Coach, I can use your help.”

“Coach, I can use your help.”

Never in my life did I ever expect  to hear those words…….

At least not from the source.

Today was the last day of our 2015 tennis season.  I took two girls to the regional tournament.  During the coaches meeting, we voted on seeding the ladies.  I nominated one of my girls and she wound up #4.  The other #8.  I was pleased with the results.

When it was time for doubles, one of my colleague coaches had a team he really wanted to get placed #3 or #4.  We felt very much at a disadvantage because so many of the teams had a close knit grouping.  After other coaches spoke in favor of rival nominations, I felt it was time to help my colleague.  I spoke from my heart about his girls, the character and level of play they brought to the court. He won the vote at #4 for his doubles team.  “Thank you.  I really appreciate that.”

During the contest during the day, several colleagues came to watch my girls and offered advice to help them.  “Coach, I can use your help.  How do you do it?  How do you create a team like you have?”  This coach has girls that go to the singles state tournament every single year.  This really confused me.  I asked him to explain.

“I have 9 girls that play on a team.  You have one team with 10 girls on it” was his reply.  “Your girls support each other on and off the court.  How do you get them to do that?”

This is the third time this year I have heard from coaches about the character of the team.  But not the last.  During my #1’s contest, a player from one of the ‘country club’ schools (as I call them) said, “I really would like to play her. She is so nice.  It would be fun to play her.”

My girls continue to bless me on and off the court.  No, we did not win and advance to the state playoffs. But, my girls won something more valuable: respect of rivals and a place in my heart forever.  Love you girls.  Thank you.

Can I Be Your Daughter?

overflowing bucket

“Mr. Case, do you have any girls?”

The kids that hang out in my room before and after school ask the most random questions at the most random times.  Yup, today was one of them.

“No, I have only boys, but I have a daughter in law and a fiancé in law.  I do have a grandson I get to hang with.  I haven’t met my granddaughter yet.  Why do you ask?”

“Just wondering….”  Off they went.  About 10 minutes later, three girls all came back.  “Mr. Case, can we be your daughters?”  {heart starts to melt, pools in my eyes….}  How do you even answer that?

“Ok girls, what’s up?”  “Well,” one says, “we thought you would like some daughters.  You already are like a dad to us.”  “Yea,” a second one pipes in, “you feed us all the time!”  “You always have good ideas how we can do our projects and have the coolest gadgets we can play with.” We chat and laugh (and I give them something to eat), the girls are happy and scamper off to class.

I really needed that today.  It’s been a very rough year for me.  Some drastic changes in my church music program have left me almost depressed.  Heck, I’ll say it, yea, depressed.  For years, this was the way I filled my bucket.  Singing on the praise team and leading worship was filling my emotional bucket.   The change in July left me without the way to fill the bucket.  A month ago, I was so drained, my bucket was bone dry.

I went back after a break from choir to let the emotional wounds heal, but it’s not the same. I’m singing and praising the Lord, but my emotional bucket isn’t getting filled.  It’s sort of maintaining, but not filling.

School has been rough.  Oh, the kids are not bad, but very, very needy.  Overcrowded classes, not enough room to do labs, and kids that don’t understand the value of learning and the list goes on.  Mostly, the kids are dipping into my bucket faster than I can fill.

The ladies’ tennis team has been helping so much. These fantastic ladies are giving me so much love and allow me to serve them the best I can. They need a real tennis coach but I’m all they have and they let me work with them.  They fill my bucket a little more every day.

“Mr. Case” girl #3 peeks around the door.. “If I had a dad around, I’d like him to be like you” and she leaves.

My bucket can’t hold it. It’s over flowing.

As The Thunder Rolls

Sitting listening to the rain patter against the window, the wind howl through the trees, watch the lightning flash as the thunder rolls.

Wind blows against the shudders, breaking them loose, leaves fall from the trees, flowers lose blooms as the thunder rolls.

The storm is worse, wind screams through the doorway and around the windows and rain moves in sideways as the thunder rolls.

Time for shelter, time to leave for safety.  Take the family, hope for the best all while the thunder rolls.

It’s unfamiliar here.  Not the same pictures on the walls, the bed feels different and the familiar smells of home are missing as the thunder rolls.

The worst seems to have past. Light rain, a mist, a fog and sometimes a breeze as the thunder rolls.

Home doesn’t look the same.  A window is cracked, few shingles are missing and a mess in the yard as the thunder rolls.

Fixing it up, moving a few things.  New picture here, little paint there, making it home again as the thunder rolls.

Home will never be exactly the same, but the foundation is firm.  New looks, new memories, ready for next time

As the thunder rolls.

They Are Calling Me Coach Casey

Today, we had our school teacher meet and greet for parents.  Unfortunately, we had a home tennis match and I had to be outside.  So….. I put a sign on my classroom door and told parents to come the tennis court if they would like to meet.

Several parents came by to visit and got phone numbers, email address and support!  Then, I heard someone say, “Mom, here’s someone I want you to meet.  This is Coach Casey.  He has the coolest things in his class. He can make you hair stand on end. You should see him light up a light bulb when it is not plugged into the socket!  He has this thing that keeps moving and moving and moving. It never stops.  He’s got this bike tire that when you spin it, and try to turn, it turns you the opposite way no matter how hard you try to turn.  He can even make things float in the air!  I gotta take his class, Mom!”

To be honest, I don’t know this kid!  I’ve seen him in the halls and he’s come in with other students when they show off the things we learned that day.  “Hi Mom, nice to meet you. Name is Mr. Case, or Coach is fine.   Those are just simple science tricks that demonstrate the world of physics.  Glad he’s enjoying them and learning even though he’s not in my class.”  After a bit of nice pleasantries, mom and student took off.

“Coach,” I hear near me, “that was pretty cool” said one of the players.  “All the kids call you Coach Casey.  It’s pretty cool.”

It’s Not My Job

“It’s not my job to teach them how to behave.”  Those words stung when I heard them last week and they still do.  Have you ever hit a stick or pipe against something hard only to have your hands vibrate and sting?  Yea. That’s what those words felt and still feel like.

Get in your time machine and go back with me about a week ago.  I was having a discussion with another teacher from another school about strategies to help my kids.  I have a large population of kids from very impoverished areas.  They lack many social graces and skills the majority of the population values.  I was asking this colleague how they teach those skills, cues and expectations to such large groups of kids.  “They ought to already know how to behave.  It’s not my job to teach them how to behave” was their reply.

I politely ended the conversation, turned to someone else and struck a conversation about something else.  I don’t even remember what now.

“It’s not my job….”  Then, who’s?

When I went to Montana to attend the Discovery Education Network Summer Institute (DENSI 2012), I was overwhelmed by the technology, the ease people were following using the apps for the Mac (I’m a Window’s user), the way people were networking.  I took a step outside and almost broke down.  If the people at the convention took the attitude “It’s not my job”, I would not have had my epiphany shift in using Discovery Education in the classroom and the change the way I teach.  That one moment because someone made it their job when it was not, made a dynamic impact on my career.

When my teaching style was in the tank, everyone could have said, “It’s not my job to help them.”  However, one person made it their job to make sure I succeeded.  She spent MANY, MANY, MANY long nights over email reviewing lesson plans, helping refine and streamline, polish, be blunt and correct potential blunders.  She could have said “It’s not my job” and I might have eventually found my way out of that hole.  But, she made it her job.  I’ve learned to love the kids I get.  I am learning to love the subject I teach.  I am appreciating the daily challenge this career brings me, because someone made it their job.

When I was 14, I earned my Eagle, God and Country, Hornaday Conservation Award and Word Conservation Award in Boy Scouts.  It was a very busy year.  I thought my scouting career was over.  Leaders could have said, “It’s not my job to find something else for him.  He’s done.”  However, two people made it their job to let me know, Eagle is not the end of scouting careers, it is the beginning of a whole new direction for your scouting career.  As a result of those two people making it their job, I have met professional NFL, MLB and NBA stars.  I have met three astronauts.  I have met authors, mayors, governors, senators, actors, and even a surviving Tuskegee Airman.

Every year, the number of kids in my class that need help learning how to behave in public seems to grow.  Big D is one of my new students.  He is FILLED with the joy of Euphrosyne (Greek goddess of joy).  You can’t be in the same room without feeling his happiness.  He loves to laugh, and make others laugh.  If you’ve ever heard the expression ‘Dance like no one is watching’, well, that’s Big D.  He dances for any reason.  His joy is priceless……. to a fault.  He does not have the social graces to listen, and contain that joy. It just flows.

I had a discussion with Big D about there is a time and place for that much joy, and there is a time and place to contain it and hold it captive.  It’s not my job to teach him those skills.  “He ought to know better”, right?

“Hey,  Coach Casey.  Can you help me fill out a job application?” asked Big D after class.  “Big D, I’ll help you fill it out if you agree to let me help you learn how to go for the interview and how you should dress.  What do you think?”  “No one’s ever showed me how to do that.  Would you Coach Casey?”  “One additional condition.  When we are in class, you call me by my proper name, Coach Case.  When we are in the hall, you can call me Coach Casey.  Deal?”  I get crushed in a bear hug.

It’s not my job.  But, when I reach just one more student in each class and show them ‘how to behave’ in different situations, they will succeed in my class.

It may not be my job, but it is my privilege, honor and blessing.