Mr. Kamrowski

"Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children." –Sitting Bull

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Improving Scaffolding Through Technolgy

When teaching a new skill, it is essential to construct the learning experience in such a way as to reduce the complexity of the skill to a simple task or tasks that cannot be misconstrued.  This may include very specific directions and questions that guide the student as they perform the activity.  As mastery is achieved, the supports are taken away.  This process is known as instructional scaffolding and is the essence of teaching. Continue reading


5 Reasons to Use an LMS

Recently, I spoke with a fellow teacher about some of the functionality of the on-line learning management system (LMS) Schoology.  He is an elementary teacher and I am currently teaching middle school.  At a certain moment in our conversation, he paused and said “At some point, you have to ask yourself if this is necessary.”  I believe he was pondering at what grade level an LMS would and would not be useful.  I’ve in turn, asked myself why I use an LMS.  These are my reasons:

  1. To be paperless
  2. Always available
  3. Analytics
  4. Foster independent, self-directed learning and a safe digital space
  5. Communication, Communication, Communication

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Reach Them to Teach Them

Recently, I attended a music festival that involved embarking a bus at 9 a.m. in the morning, waiting in line for one hour, trekking through rugged terrain to secure decent seats (With my own bag chair), paying exorbitant prices for food and drink, and arriving back home at 2:15 in the morning.  And, the truth is I loved it and will do it again next summer.   As I look forward to another school year, I wonder if I or another teacher can make their course so engaging that students will be as motivated to attend class as I was the music festival?  Dave Burgess, in his book titled Teach Like a Pirate poses the question: ” If students were not forced to come to your class would they?  Or, better yet, would they pay to come to your class?”.  Continue reading

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Reflect, Reform, Revolutionize

Recently, I have been viewing the HBO mini-series titled John Adams;  a take on historian David McCullough’s book of the same title.  The series begins with the Boston Massacre and continues through historical events that led to the Revolutionary War and the creation of a new government.  It has been exciting to watch for various reasons (I love history, especially revolutionary history).  However, what struck me in the series is the events leading up to the Declaration of Independence and the war itself.  In other words, the moments that led to a dramatic change in thought and action in the colonies.  Many of the founders, according to the movie portrayal and McCullough’s interpretation of history, were reluctant of drastic change.  Some, if not a majority, wanted reform rather than revolution.  It was the persuasive talents of a handful of individuals, as well as some actions by the British, that tipped the tides.  As I ponder this perspective of the start of our nation, I cannot help but ask the questions:  What is the best approach to initiate needed change?  How am I a change agent?  And, I frame these questions within the context of the current educational system. Continue reading


Technology as a Tool in the 1:1 Classroom

This weekend the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) kicked off their annual, larger than life, conference.  Thousands of people are in attendance.  It is held in Philadelphia, PA and will be in session until July 1st.  If you are an ed-tech nerd, as many are who read educational blogs, you are probably aware of this event.  If you are like me and unable to attend, you can follow along with the hashtag #notatiste15 and #iste2015 or go to this flip board page.  You will undoubtedly pick up some sort of new tech tool to use or be inspired to introduce more technology than you already may in your classroom.  I find it to be a worthwhile experience.

It is because of this event that I am reflecting on the one to one classroom and the commonly used phrase “technology as a tool.”  The phrase has been uttered so many times that it has almost become a cliche and lost power:  “…use 21st century tools…students need 21st century tools to be successful in today’s world…one to one is necessary for students to learn the tools used in the 21st century.”  However, as my school recently finished it’s first year of one to one iPad implementation, I wonder if many educators actually comprehend one to one technology as a tool.  When discussing success and failures with the technology, there seems to be a lack of understanding of the fact that the technology is indeed a tool and not a pedagogy.   Therefore, I believe it would be useful to incorporate metaphors of technology as a tool when considering complaints, questions, and discussions about one to one technology.  Take a look at the following statements and how they are framed when applying the technology as a tool more metaphorically. Continue reading


Why Blog: 5 Reasons

In 2006 I glanced at the cover of Time Magazine’s coveted Person of the Year issue.  I was astonished as it declared “You”–the countless people who “…wrested power from the few and helped one another for nothing” as the winner.  The editors of the magazine went on to describe that this was done with the World Wide Web:  “…a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter,” essentially declaring individual bloggers, YouTube and Wikipedia contributors as revolutionaries.  And I can remember thinking to myself, how bizarre and lame.  Blogging at the time conjured up an image of a slightly overweight, unemployed, twenty or thirty something in the basement of his parents’ home searching for needed attention and reassurance that he was somebody in the world (Brad Pasely’s song titled Online exemplifies the stereotype.  Here’s a picture from the video for reference).  Yet, nine years after Time Magazine’s Person of the Year issue, I am writing my seventh post on a blog that conjured up 461 unique visitors last month and is set to break that number this month. Continue reading

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Reflection: A Vision Check

Recently, I was in a committee meeting that went long.  A few educators, myself included, stuck around and discussed matters not directly from the meeting but of the utmost importance to education and education reform.  This was kind of a “meeting after the meeting” and the discussion became philosophical, as these types of “meetings” often can.  Well, one of the individuals was discussing elements missing from our curriculum and things our school needs to change. Continue reading

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Reflection: The Power of Visuals

The AP European History test was this past Friday and my students and I had been preparing for it all week.  We had taken practice tests, discussed test strategies, and highlighted key aspects of writing a solid answer to a document based and free response question.  If you asked my students, however, none of these activities were as useful, or as fun as ,”draw, talk, or act.” Continue reading