Sunday, April 5, 2015

Jesus Loves Me! This I Know!

Does Jesus Love Me?  Yes This I Know!

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.

Such simple words but oh so hard to understand sometimes.  As a child we are taught this.  We believe this!  Is it true?  Why doesn’t He show it right this second?  What did I do wrong?  As a child we don’t have these questions. Life muddies the water and we begin to question.  Does Jesus love me?  Does He love you?  Such an easy answer but sometimes so difficult to believe.  In my experience, the answer can only come from Him and Him alone.  So talk to Him.

But when talking I've learned that I have to LISTEN.

I love my life.  I am so very fortunate to have the most loving family in the world!  I am so fortunate to have incredible loving friends.  I love my job!  I love what God has given me. Did I always feel this way? No.  

When we are born, we have no core beliefs.  We act.  We cry, we grin and we poop.  Our actions in turn get reactions from other people.  As we grow older, we still act.  Our actions of course get reactions in the form of praise or punishment.  These praises or punishments change our behaviors over time.  These behaviors over time become our loosely-held beliefs.  From those, we establish our core beliefs.

Our behaviors change by other influences in our lives.  It could be classmates, parents, siblings, friends or situations that we encounter.  Sometimes these are good and sometimes bad.  But, in the end, these behaviors become our loosely-held beliefs.  Over time, these beliefs become our core beliefs!  Core beliefs!  The beliefs that control our lives as adults.  The beliefs that make us do great things for others.  Beliefs that make us do bad things to ourselves.  Beliefs that build us up.  Beliefs that tear us down.  Beliefs that make sense.  Beliefs that don’t.

Fortunately for me, I was taught that Jesus loves me.  It’s a simple song that has so much power if we just believe it. I believe it, and it’s the one core belief that I still carry to this day.

Why the strife Marty?  What’s the deal?  

Here’s my personal story that I want to share.  Gay was not accepted when I was growing up.  Jesus hated faggots.  Being gay was wrong.  That’s what society told me, and my behaviors and actions followed suit.  I had to fit in to these worldly things.  I had to be accepted.  I couldn’t defy society and church culture to be myself, so I conformed. And as a result, I was conflicted.

But Jesus loves me, and the world is telling me that who I am is so absolutely wrong.  You talk about conflict;that’s conflict.  It’s the worst (but also the best) conflict.  When you have conflict with others, you can just dismiss them out of your life if you choose.  When you have conflict with God, you may want him to but He doesn’t leave.  He is always there.  

So you act out.  You try to bargain.  In my case, it’s the pleading. “Please turn me straight.”  “What did I do wrong that I have to be gay?”  “I will do anything in this world, but please please please don’t let me be gay.”

So I start reading the Bible; it soothes my soul.  I knew the Bible was meant for me to read at that time because it gave me comfort.  I spoke with God frequently.  I began to look deeper into the Bible and see conflicts.  I heard the Bible was life, so it intrigued me.  How can the word of God have conflicts?  Is it because we as humans always encounter conflicts in our lives.  So I was taught to read the Bible and believe in it.  How can I when there are blatant conflicts within it?  Was it intentional?  Was it because it was written by other flawed humans just like me?  But two things keep echoing over and over in the Bible.  Jesus loves you… and pray.  Talk to Jesus...the same God that spoke to the great authors of the Bible.  

Sometimes in our lives the conflict is too much, so we just walk away. In the lives of others, this might look like divorce, beating kids, suicide, but in mine it was luckily just exclusion.  Just being with myself so I thought.  But someone who would just not leave me alone was God. He wouldn’t just leave me alone.  I just so wanted to focus on my career, my certifications, my kids that I taught.  I just wanted it to be about what I did for me, but he wouldn’t leave me alone.  Leave me alone!

Okay...He won!  He didn’t leave me alone.  All He wanted to do is talk to me.  Of course, just like most humans, I was like shut up..I’m good...Leave me alone.  He kept pressing.  Over and over again, he kept pressing.  So I started to talk to Him.  And I kept telling him over and over again what needed to happen.  Deaf ears(so I thought).  

And then your world comes crashing down on you.  You treat people great. You do all you can do in your life to make yourself a better person. You smile and then you end up shattered. SHATTERED!  No one loves me.  I am a horrible person.

But He will not leave you alone.  So I finally gave in.  Instead of demanding, I truly started talking to God. Instead of demanding, I started asking.  And I started listening. Listening to the same guy that inspired the authors of the Bible.  It’s amazing what we can hear from God if we truly talk and listen to him.  If we quit demanding. If we quit demanding and start asking questions.  If we actually listen. Oh the things God will say to us.

This is what he told me:  “Marty, I love you.”  “I made you.” “You are a wonderful person.” “I love you.”


So how does one deal with that?  It’s a love that no human has ever given me.  My mama and daddy love me and would do anything in this world for me.  My mama and daddy have shown me unconditional love all my life.  Even when I hated myself, they freaking loved me.  They love me immensely, and I love them also.  But there is nothing better than listening to God say “Marty I love You.”  

“Marty I love you” comes with other conflicts.  In a conversation, I was challenging the love issue.  Do I love God?  Do I love me?  Does anyone in this freaking world love me?  Who do I love?  What is love?

Walking around Salem Lake not caring if I lived or died I walked from the shadows into the sunlight, and God clearly said to me “Marty, Love me.  Then love yourself and I will take care of the rest.”  And that He did.

For the very first time in life, I felt truly loved and knew beyond a doubt that I would never be alone again.  I knew that if worldly people rejected me because of being gay that the One that made me would always be there.  I knew there was one that would love me for living the life He designed for me.  I am so lucky that believing in Jesus was and still is my strongest core belief.  I am also fortunate that he helped me change another core belief.  The belief that that gay is wrong.

If you know me personally, you know that I am an upbeat and positive person.  I prefer laughter and fun in my life.  With the ability to express who I am inside and out, I am now able to live the life that God intended.

It’s so simple as a kid. Then circumstances hit us in life, and the water is muddied. People complicate a simple message with their interpretations, but the only true answers come from the big man himself.  Talk to Him, and LISTEN to his response.  And never let anyone muddy the fact that Jesus Loves You!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

If it were quiet.... What could we hear?

I had a great encounter Friday night that I must share.  It has so many life lessons that I will share the experience and a few of the many lessons that I learned from it.  On Friday night a few friends and I were hanging out and eventually ate pizza at a great little restaurant in downtown Greensboro.  Through this group of friends I met a new friend, Justin, that just happened to be deaf.  When leaving the restaurant we all piled into cars.  I looked over and noticed that no one was riding with Justin so I immediately jumped out of the car and proceeded to hitch a ride back to the house with him.  And this is where some big life lessons started to unravel.

As soon as I got into the car I looked over and he was gleaming.  You could tell there was something special about Justin and it wasn’t the fact that he was deaf.  Justin had joy in his heart.  He had the ability to look at the world in a positive light and smile when a lot of humans would be sad and devastated.  The first thing I noticed was complete silence!  OMG.... we are in a world of buzz, buzz, buzz, noise, noise, noise.  And what was I going to do.  So Justin made it a little easier and turned on his interior light (as it was dark) so that we could talk and he could see what I was saying.  Now I can say that the trip was a little scary because if you know me I like to talk, a lot!!!  And when I started talking Justin was trying to drive and also trying to listen to me by watching my lips.  I quickly told him that I would finish this part of the story when we got to our destination.  
For the next few minutes there was complete silence again.  No radio. No talking.  The only difference is this time we were moving. Then I noticed that his car was making some awful road noise.  This did not phase Justin one bit.  So I decided to ask him about his car.  When I did his face lit up again.  He went on to exclaim how great this car was for him and how his aunt gave it to him.  I could easily tell that he was extremely happy with this car.  I was blown away by this because many of us would have focused on the age and style of the car coupled with the road noise.  We could have had a negative spin on this vehicle.  Justin chose to have the positive outlook.

Like I said there were many lessons learned that night but these were a couple experiences and here are some thoughts from those experiences.  Why is it so easy for us to quickly react to experiences in our lives?  I think sometimes we should sit back and take information in before we react.  Riding down the road with Justin in the dark while he was driving forced me to think about what I needed to say and how to say it clearly and efficiently.  Heck, my life depended on it.  We are constantly filled with the buzz, buzz, noise, noise, information overload.  We must take time in our day to reflect and process what’s really important.  Only then can we clearly project what’s important in our lives.

Another great lesson is in this experience was how we often worry about things that shouldn’t be a focus for us.  I read a quote this other day that stated, “The things we often complain about most likely started out as a blessing.”  Take a moment and reflect on the things in your life that causes you the most stress.  (Did you really take a moment?  If you didn’t, please do.) Now trace those things that stress you out and trace those stressors back to its origin.  Perhaps it may have been something you truly at its origin were really happy about.  Justin’s older car with the road noise could have been something we could easily complain about.  The fact that one’s car makes road noise that you can hear brings up two interesting blessing.  1.  A car making road noise is moving and is serving its purpose of getting one from point A to point B.  2.  The fact that we can hear this road noise means that we are blessed with the sense of hearing which in my world makes life a little easier for me.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a passion for kids and learning.  This experience was a great learning experience for me. Immediately my thoughts turn to how does this experience relate to kids and students in our educational system.  When I was a teacher in my own classroom I had a desire to build positive relationships with my students and help them build positive relationships with their classmates and other adults.  I truly believe that relationships are the greatest motivators of humans.  From this interaction with Justin I realized that I had not always gotten to know my students as well as I should have.  I took their abilities/disabilities and clumped them together to reach them and “think” I knew how to connect with them.  I did not take the time to get to “know know” each one and each individual for who they really were.  This was eye opening.  Now I wasn’t terrible terrible so don’t think I am just beating myself up.  In my current position I get to see teachers share their joy with students and reach students where they are.  I also experience some teachers that are frustrated and have the opposite reaction.  Many times a simple realization that I am human and so are my students and positive relationships in our lives is all that we need.  

What if we took the time to process these things?   Instead of really reacting immediately what if we took the time to ask questions to get to know these students and where they are coming from?  What would the result be if we ignored the noise and focused on what’s really important?  What if we took time to get rid of the noise, and sensory overload that is disabling us?  How could we change our lives?  How could we positively affect others?  How would this world be different if we turned our negatives into positives?   What if we turned our disabilities into abilities?

This experience with Justin reminded me of a Bible scripture that had a profound impact on my life.  John 9:1-3  Justin:  Thank you for showing works of God through you.

Photo by: Cindy Andrie

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mastery Learning.... One teacher's experience!!!

I was recently at Kennedy Learning Center and observed Yvette Thiel trying mastery learning with her students.  I was blown away by the research, preparation, implementation and reflection that she had done.  I asked her to share her experiences as a guest blogger.  Below is her experiences.

"I have been experimenting with technology in my 8th grade math class and am able to have one-to-one with students and computers.  Along with this, I have also been experimenting with mastery learning.  There have been some bumps to work out but, overall, I am very excited about the results that I am seeing. My entire class period is not all online.  I tend to think of it as a modified flipped classroom.  They are getting the videos in school.  And during that time, I am free to support other learners as the work out the tasks they are given.
The weeks work is prepared ahead of time and I create individual packets for the students.  The front page of the packet details the tasks that the students are to complete for the week.  Each task lists an Essential Question, how students may work (alone, pairs, group, with teacher), and what checkpoints they have to complete.  Checkpoints are what I call my formative assessment prompts.  Students check in with me at designated times to be sure they are on the right track. At that time I can adjust any misconceptions or confusions. I also provide a rubric for any work that will not be expected to be perfect.
Students are all working at their own pace, so often I am able to conference with students one-on-one or in small groups.  These conferences are very brief.  But because students are all working I have time to address their questions.
I keep a checklist of where students are at in the process.  The best part is students who are absent just jump in where they left off.  I do have some students who lag behind everyone else.  However, these same students are the ones who were not completing work before.  My demands for mastery have forced them to complete work and to a high standard.  I also keep these students for tutoring times if I need to. As a result, their productivity has increased.
Each packet begins with a PowerPoint that I have created and uploaded into a Voice Thread.  Students access this video through Edmodo. The packet has a copy of the slides so the students are able to follow along with me and complete the examples.  Often times, students will re-listen to these videos throughout the week or before a test if they are confused or want to review. Some will even listen to slides more than one time.  I love this.  I don’t find myself so frustrated for having to repeat myself.
I found some other videos online that I thought were fantastic.  But some students really struggled with them.  They like when I prepare my own videos better and have the handouts for them to follow along with me. It is crucial I don’t get long winded on these videos.  I have to be straightforward.  If they need a repeat they can rewind.
Videos are not the only thing I use. I use a combination of many types of activities.  I have purchased a few aps from Edmodo and sometimes I have activities for the students to practice using one of the Aps.  Or I locate something online that will help them practice the skill. I am trying to use some tasks from Georgia and performance tasks from other places for the students to complete in groups or with partners.
At the end of the packet, I have an online assessment for the students to take.  I have discovered that if I give them a practice assessment I can address, one more time, misconceptions or any confusion they may have. As a result test scores are better. Meaning I have less need for remediation. I have discovered that frequent assessments are better than waiting to the end of a unit.  I try to break each week into a mini-unit with a quiz at the end.  However, because students work at their own pace not everyone is finished at the end of the week.  They carry over to the next week.  Therefore, the pacing is flexible for each student’s needs.
I am still trying to work things out to make sure that everyone is learning the most in each class.  Sometimes it seems a little chaotic with so much going on.  But the productivity for individual students has greatly increased.  I think this is more due to the mastery learning.  Knowing that they can get an A they just have to keep trying has been very motivating for some of my more unmotivated.  Using the videos and the group work gives me the opportunity to facilitate student’s individual learning." 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mobile Devices in the Classroom....just the beginning

What does a classroom look like when every kid has a technology device in their hand?  What can be done in that class?  How do we manage a class such as this?  Is it effective?  Does pedagogy change?  Is a tablet or a laptop more effective?  All of these questions and more is what we hope to discover in our 1:1 laptop/tablet pilot!

This is an exciting time in education because we are moving away from the traditional classroom of teachers and students to a community of learners.  With this paradigm shift comes many shifts in education.  The teacher is now a facilitator and a learner.  The students learn from each other and also facilitate their own learning.  Pedagogy shifts from recalling and remembering facts to evaluating, analyzing and applying content to their own lives.  Students and facilitators are no longer confined to the 4 walls.   Their community now includes 7 continents and a few planets.

Feel free to join us in our adventure of creating this environment for our students.  Join us as we climb to the higher elevations of Bloom's. Join us as our students soar to limits unknown.  We look forward to sharing our ah has and uh ohs.  We also would love for you to join our community and sharing tips or best practices you have experienced in your classroom.  I am so excited to learn this year with our community of learners.  You can follow the community's blog at

Thursday, May 17, 2012

This morning I asked peers to share the first 2 words that come to mind when they thought of formative assessment.  This is what they came up with.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Are you hungry for learning?

Do your students have an appetite for math or does math make them sick to their stomach?  In middle school we see both ends of this spectrum.  In searching for a proportions lesson I stumbled upon some snack food that will help feed our students in math classes.  The tool I'm about to share is really cool and engaging BUT the way I found it can give any teacher power to find new ways to engage students in math and all other subjects. (So stayed tuned to the bottom and find out a powerful tool to help find ideas for ALL teachers)

Math Snacks is a really cool website: that is produced by New Mexico State University.  Math Snacks have engaging animations, a learner guide and a teacher guide with each math concept.

Take a look at this math snack on ratios and proportions.
I know that kids will love this video and it gives them an opportunity to experience ratios and proportions in a new light.  This particular math snack comes with a learner's guide that will them from the examples used in the video to other real life applications.  The teacher's guide is a detailed lesson plan with directions, answer key and extension activities.  Explore and check out this website.  It is still in development and currently has 9 available snacks and plans to have at least 20 by next school year.  It is sure to satisfy some of your most reluctant student's appetite for math.

Now for the really good part.  As a teacher, finding quality resources was sometimes difficult.  One of the biggest problems with finding them was TIME.  I would spend some time doing a typical Google search and in the end have no results.  I found this and several other activities using EdmodoEdmodo is an incredible social media platform for schools.  In the past I have used Edmodo as a collaboration tool for my students.  I have recently explored the communities in Edmodo.  Once you sign up for an account you can browse many different communities.

Once you see a community of interest, click on it and explore.  These communities are full of other teachers around the world who are searching and sharing innovative ideas.  You can choose to follow particular communities.  You can post a question.  For instance, if you were looking for new ways to teach inference, you might ask in a post for ways to do this.  Other teachers then share their ideas with you and the need for a Google search has been eliminated.  The resources and ideas shared are typically great and inspiring. 

So if you are appetite is for math, check out  If your hunger is for learning some new teaching ideas then check out the communities

Bon Appetit!!!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Learning is so much fun!!!!

As teachers it can sometimes be difficult to find the time to really dive in to learning or honing in on our practices.  As a classroom teacher I always looked for learning opportunities that fit the personal and professional goals I set for myself.  Because it is so difficult sometimes to actually attend some of the conferences and workshops that I wanted I have found several opportunities to learn on my own and at my own pace.   

Webinars through the Siemens STEM Academy have been amazing.  From finding ways to Put the M into STEM to actually interacting with Danny Forster from “Build it Bigger” the Siemens Academy has been a great resource for my personal and professional growth.  They also archive their webinars so you can watch and learn in your own time and at your own paste.  Click Here for direct access to the webinar page.

Another great tool for learning is twitter.  This to me has probably been one of the most beneficial tools I have when it comes to learning.  The twitter approach allows complete autonomy in learning what you want when you want.  I simply follow folks in the science, technology and education world.  They provide links and ideas.  Those that interest me I read and learn, those that don’t I simply skip.  When I find items of interest I tweet those out.  This method of learning for me has been very beneficial but also very fun.  To find a list of educators to follow, Click here

Sometimes finding the time to learn during the school year can be quite difficult.  I have a rule for summer time learning.  If I am going to take my time to participate, It’s going to be great.  In the past 2 summers I have had 2 great opportunities that are currently accepting applications.

In 2010 I was a Siemen’s STEM Institute Fellow.  This fellowship included a trip to Washington, DC to spend time at Discovery Communication’s US headquarters.  The week was full of fun, collaboration, fun, inspiration and more fun.  We had the opportunity to have conversation with the White House’s Director of Science and Technology, Dr. John Holdren and  many other leaders from various science and education department and agencies.  We participated in a architecture tour of DC led by Danny Forster and had lots of mini workshops on Web 2.0 tools and their uses in education.  To top it all off it was Shark Week on Discovery.  This is an incredible and fun opportunity whose deadline is fast approaching.  February 9th

In the summer of 2011 I was a Kenan Fellow through the Kenan Institute for Science and Mathematics.  The general gist of a Kenan fellowship is the fellow is submerged in to a real world or research entity to learn current skills and research.  The end product is to create lessons to share with other teachers around the world that will ready our students for the real world.  This fellowship comes with real world experience as well as top notch professional development.  Their development is based around inquiry based learning, goal setting, how to become a powerful presenter, and engineering principles.  The deadline for this application process is January 23. 

Learning in our industry is a necessity.  I still hold to the belief that our learning can be fun also.

Photos used through Creative Commons Permissions