Monday, January 16, 2017

Tributes to Bob Tickner and Galen Guess

Seven years ago, I wrote about my favorite teacher of all time, Bob Tickner. I wrote about how he touched my life through his teaching, but when I wrote that post, I never dreamed I would have the chance to pass his legacy on to a new group of scholars. I knew that one of the first activities I wanted to do with my classes was voting in the 2016 presidential election.

Making a map big enough for my huge classroom was the biggest challenge. I borrowed an overhead projector from a friend and used the biggest blank wall I could find--in the garage.
Why do projects that seem so simple end up taking forever? The states weren't perfectly sized, but I kept reminding myself it was a civics experiment, not a cartography lesson.

This map may look confusing to you (New York written on PA and OH). Let me explain. Each of my classes is divided into states, and each state chose its own name. When students drew for the election, they wrote the name of their state, not the name of the actual state, on their paper. Students researched candidate platforms, weighed the issues, held discussions in class, then cast their state's electoral votes. Red for Trump, blue for Clinton (lone Indiana), white for Johnson, purple for McMullin.
I hope they always remember the first election where they "cast a ballot" for president. It was a fun activity, especially when the actual election was determined by the electoral college and not the popular vote. They understand how that works and hopefully won't forget it.

As the semester wound down, I knew there was another favorite teacher of mine that I wanted to copy in my classroom--Galen Guess. Mr. Guess was a science teacher in Twin Falls School District who wore a long beard and brown polyester suits. His passion for geology and science was contagious, and he involved his students outside the textbook. He blew up garbage cans with sodium to teach us about chemical reactions. He forced us to question our previous understanding and expand our thinking. And he played "Fastest Sock in the West" with us--a ball of socks used to hit answers to questions all around the room.

My room is too big to post the answers everywhere, but I did put them on the back wall.
Instead of socks, we used Nerf guns, and it was fun.

I love teaching, and I will always be grateful for the fantastic teachers I had growing up in Twin Falls, Idaho.

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