Annenberg Learner - Newseum Teacher Institute Intro

Hi All,

I am Steve Schwarten.

I teach 8th grade US History (Colonization to 1877) at Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring Maryland (Montgomery County Public Schools).

I graduated from the University of Akron’s education program in 2006 and recently completed my MA in History from George Mason University.  I have been teaching since 2007 and I have taught in a charter school and a public school.  I have taught high school, middle school, self-contained special education government, co-teaching special education government and US history, on level US History, on level world history, and every grade level from 7th-10th grade.  I have seen so many different ways to teach it is kind of crazy, but right now I seemed to have settled into my current school and will be teaching the same subject and learners for two years in a row!  Woot!

I am also a soccer coach.  I have coached the Boys JV and Varsity soccer teams at my old high school and still currently am coaching a JV team at Wootton High School.  I also am going to start coaching the 7th and 8th graders next year at Eastern!  I really cannot get enough of being on the field.  It is just too much fun and I love how athletics can help kids grow into responsible adults.  A win-win for everyone!

My use of technology started about four or five years ago when I a couple teachers  that let me participate in their Civ Lab, which used Civilization IV to help teach social studies concepts every day.  My five classes compete with roughly ten other classes that my friends control.  Everyone always has a good time and we have each class for a state/country for which they are responsible for growing and trying out the concepts we learn.  I steer some of it by providing scenarios, but over all they drive the whole thing.  They wage wars with each other, make alliances, tax themselves, make national and state level laws, elect leaders, etc.  It can be pretty exciting.  Here is a link to my page that kind of explains some of it:

I started using technology like twitter and a blog maybe three years ago.  Some students asked me if I would follow them on twitter.  I never did that, but I did create an account they could use to follow me for reminders for HW, etc.  They loved it so I kept doing it and now I have an Instagram account I use to send pics out of history things I see in everyday life.  I started that this year and it blew them away!  I never have tons of followers, but some do and enjoy that I use it.  I also have many students that like I use a classroom blog where I post my notes and clips to further their learning.  I haven’t been brave enough to flip my class because many of my students do not have access to a computer.  Maybe some of you will be able to help me figure out how to be more successful at that.    

Lesson I enjoyed this year was using the SOLE to teach John Brown.  I gave them a laptop to share at their table group, a piece of paper, and the question was John Brown an American hero or an American Psycho?  They had to work to find the answer and debate with each other in their group what they thought the answer was.  I used an online chatroom to have them collaborate with each other as a group to share their information.  They seeing their information appear on the board at the front of the room and then after they had to create a poster.  After I did this many of them were able to talk about John Brown and it was neat to see them go so riled up.  Some students needed a bit of a mental push, but after they all got into it was a neat thing to watch.  

Well, I probably shared more than I intended to here to begin with, but I guess I just like to explain as much as I can.  I am looking forward to seeing you all in a few weeks!     

Schwarten’s List Of How To Be A Beast In School

1.       Do your best: 
·         As long as you do what is your own personal best no one can ever say you never tried hard enough.  At the end of the day your opinion is all that matters.  Those who do their best feel better about themselves and their life.  Trust me.   
2.       Try: 
·         Grades don’t go up by themselves.  They can only improve and stay up as long as you try.  Once you give up it is over.  Be a Scrapper and never forget how to try.

3.       Don’t you want to feel good about yourself? 
·         People who try hard and do well feel better about themselves.  Don’t you want everyone around you to praise your efforts?  If you stay on top of things no one will bug you about it and I guarantee you will feel good.

4.       Cultivate a Personality of Academic Dominance.
·         Andrew Jackson didn’t know how to lose and was dominate in almost everything he did.  If he wasn’t he worked at it until he was a beast and got what he wanted.  Got something that is giving you trouble?  Figure out how to dominate it. 

5.       Procrastination:  It is a Terrible Disease. 
·         It is a disease that has more complications as you get older and can grow like a tumor into all aspects of your life.  The only way to beat the disease is to get your stuff together and keep it together.  Learn this skill now while you still can… 

6.       “Get Yourself Another Plan!”
·         Things not working?  Why not try coming up with another plan?  After all the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  No one wants to be insane. 
7.         Lead by Example:
·         Tired of people playing or loafing around in class?  Be a leader and a voice of reason.  I need allies in every class who are dedicated to helping me keep a good classroom environment.  If we all work together those who try to disrupt our environmental harmony won’t be able to and we all can succeed.

8.         Life is hard, but it doesn’t have to be horrible. 
·         Every single person on Earth has things that have happened to them that make their life miserable.  Remember that the bad moments will pass.  Try to find things that you enjoy and can brighten up your day.  Remember you can choose to either laugh or cry.  I usually choose laugh… 

9.       Life is choices.
·         Do your best to choose wisely.  You won’t want to be sitting somewhere years from now wishing you had made better ones.  I know there are some I really would like to have a redo on.

10.    Life Is Also A Journey.
·         What is happening to you now will pass and a great many things will change.  School is supposed to help you grow as a person and give you tools to take on the world.  Take advantage of what we are all trying to offer you.  The more you try the better off you will be.  But in the end personal growth happens over time and sometimes you will fail.  It is ok as long as you remember number 1 and 2.