Will you sponsor my classroom?

IMG_5778Let me introduce myself. I am MaryAnn Sansonetti-Wood, a high school geography teacher. I am beginning my 21st year teaching. I teach at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, SC.  Spring Valley is a wonderful school to teach. Some don’t understand this when I say it but I am fortunate to teach freshman. Most run from freshman but I like them. I have the opportunity to not only teach them human geography but also teach them how to “high school.” So many things change when students move from middle to high school. I try to help with the transition by teaching life skills with the content.

This year, South Carolina is changing the social studies standards at many levels and specifically 9th grade. We are moving from World Geography, which is more location/regional based geography to Human Geography. This is focus on human interaction on and with the earth. Why are we there? Why care? Are the big questions we start off discussing. With the change in standards, the state is not offering a new textbook to use for the class. Are textbooks required to learn? No. What a textbook does is  give the students a quick reference at their finger tips. It’s a starting point on topics we will expand upon.

The book I am specifically looking for is Contemporary Human Geography, 4th edition byCHG James Rubenstein. The book has wonderful 2 page topic descriptions that will allow students to have quick reference to topics we will cover and expand upon.

What I would like to ask the internet is for help in supplying my textbooks. The books are  $127.98 each so I am not asking for someone to go in to debt helping. I would really love for someone who has the ability to purchase without blinking an eye to help.

I am looking for classroom / textbook sponsors. What will I do for those who sponsor the textbook I am looking for? You can purchase the book on my Amazon wishlist.

Bronze Sponsorship: Buy 1-2 textbooks – Your name is listed on the inside cover of the book as a sponsor.

Silver Sponsorship: Buy 3-15 textbooks – Your name is listed on the inside cover of the book as a sponsor. Your name will also be listed on a thank you post on my blog.

Gold Sponsorship: Buy 15-30 textbooks – Your name is listed on the inside cover of the book as a sponsor. Your name will also be listed on a thank you post on my blog. I will also have a plaque made to place in my room with your name for sponsorship.

This may seem like an unconventional way to find funding or purchase textbooks but I want what is best for my students. I want them to have the opportunity to learn without barriers and you can make that happen.

The purchase of these textbooks will help roughly 90 students per school year for the next 5-7 years. That is approximately 630 students over the next 7 years! 


Who are my students? I have students from every level and every socioeconomic background. I have students who have never left the city who live in along side students who are from places like Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, South Africa, and China. In 2018-19 my student body make up was 36% African American, 34% Caucasian, 20% Asian, and 10% Hispanic. Of those students 10% had special needs of which included Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADD and ADHD.

A little statistical data about Spring Valley High School.

Please help me meet the needs of my students. Fund our future.



Wow …. who would of thought… NCGE Award Winner

I would have never guessed that I would be selected to as a National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) Distinguished Teacher award recipient my second year back in the classroom if ever. If you have read my previous posts going back to the classroom after a 10 year hiatus has been one heck of a ride.

In the last two years, I have met such wonderful people in the geography education world that have helped me along the way. I now have a small network of local AP Human Geography teachers that I meet up with to not only commiserate with but also to share and plan. I am part of an amazing organization, who feeds me need to learn. The South Carolina Geographic Alliance (SCGA) has helped me develop a geographer’s perspective on the world. Dr. Jerry Mitchell and Dr. Larianne Collins have given me opportunities to be a leader within the SCGA  and supported me as I have grown back in to a teacher. To them, I say, “Thank you for all that you have done to support me. I wouldn’t be the geography teacher I am without you!” My community at my school is strong and I love my fellow social studies nerds!

I realize this is starting to sound like an acceptance speech so I will stop but below is the press release from the NCGE and you can also check out the other winners in the link below.


Celebrating the nation’s best geography educators of 2017 WASHINGTON D.C.– For over a 100 years the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) has worked to enhance the status and quality of geography teaching and learning at all levels of instruction. Through its awards program, NCGE recognizes excellence in geography teaching, mentoring, research, instructional design, and service. “Each year we are impressed by the level of innovation, quality, and creativity of all our award nominees,” said Mr. Zachary R. Dulli, Chief Executive Officer, National Council for Geographic Education. “Understanding our world is critical to a high-quality education, and these award winners represent the best of the best in providing that to our students.” Recipients will receive their awards at a special ceremony held during the 2017 National Conference on Geography Education, July 27-July 30 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Recognizes excellence in geography teaching at the primary and secondary levels

ANDREW DOJACK, William Monroe Middle School, Stanardsville, VA

BRIAN DAVIS, Central Middle School, Bartlesville, OK

JULIE STAVITSKI, Jack Jouett Middle School, Charlottesville, VA

KYLE TREDINNICK, Omaha Public Schools, Omaha, NE

MARYANN SANSONETTI-WOOD, Spring Valley High School, Columbia, SC

LEAANN WYRICK, Broken Bow Public Schools, Broken Bow, OK

ROBIN MANNING, Jack C. Hays High School, Buda, TX

ROSA CLARA SALAZAR, United High School, Laredo, TX

ABOUT THE NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR GEOGRAPHIC EDUCATION: The National Council for Geographic (NCGE) Education is a nonprofit membership organization that works to strengthen the quality and effectiveness of geography teaching and learning. NCGE provides a global forum for educators of all levels to exchange ideas and engage in professional learning opportunities to improve their geography teaching practice. We provide the organizational structure needed to advance research in geography education. We publish journals, the National Geography Standards, and a variety of materials for diffusing research and best practices on geography education. We recognize exceptional educators and supporters in geography education. We lead and support a variety of educational and creative programs to support our members and advance global literacy. Learn more at http://www.ncge.org

Survival or Love?

Day 1 is in the books. I did it. I survived… no, LOVED every minute of my first day back in the classroom after 10 years of working in educational technology. I am exhausted. My day was 12 hours of preparing, sharing, smiling, learning, teaching, and building relationships. Wow. What a day!

Like most teachers and students, the night before school starts is not very restful. I woke up an hour before my alarm clock thinking about this and that. Do I have enough planned? What will the students really be like? Will they like me AND respect me? Will I be the teacher I know I can be? Since I was up I decided to go in to work that much earlier. The normal things that could happen did happen. I realized I forgot to copy a sheet for the students. Running to the copier before anyone got there… it didn’t matter it was down. I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “eh, we will figure it out.” The students started arriving to my room at 8:00am even though they didn’t need to be there until 8:40am. I have freshman and they were nervous so I talked to each of them as they came in to the room. The day started and it felt as if I never left the classroom, I was calm. I smiled. We learned about one another. I know I am not “supposed to smile until December” but I’ve never been able to follow that rule. The day flew by. I made a couple mistakes throughout the day but I will correct them tomorrow. After school, I managed to prep just about everything for the next two days. I arrived at 7am and left at 6:15pm. I am exhausted but invigorated in the same respect.

As I reflected on my day, I thought about when I entered in to my last semester at USC-Aiken to do my internship. I wondered if I still had my portfolio from the semester. I did. I found my final assignment a letter to the next interns. The letter was long and the last two paragraphs summed up that experience and what I believe this new experience will be.

My very first planning guide and letter to the next semester of interns.

My very first planning guide and letter to the next semester of interns.

I have made the connection, metacognition. Not only have the students learned to apply their knowledge, I have learned how to give the students the tools to find and use the knowledge. During this semester, I have found that my true calling is to be a teacher. Leaving this internship will fill me with a vast range of emotions. I will be happy because I will finally be graduating. Sad because I have learned to love the kids and won’t be seeing their faces everyday. Excitement and anticipation because next year I will hopefully have my own classroom, and finally, respect for everyone and anyone who truly knows s/he is born to be a teacher.

If you asked me what I have learned this semester? My answer would be… I can’t breathe without these kids. I wish you the best to succeed this semester and no matter how bad it sounds now you will make it through and hopefully find your niche.” (1998)

Here is too a great year. If the feeling I had today is any indication of what is yet to come, I can’t wait.

I have keys

IMG_2519So this happened today. I picked up the key to my new classroom. Walking in I felt this sense of belonging and excitement to make it mine. It will be interesting to see what I can do to this traditional looking classroom.

My mind is reeling of grant ideas on how to update the seating in this classroom. As you can see the desks are attached to the chairs. It doesn’t assist with the ease of  movement but I have seen ways teachers make it work.

The first thing that is going are the rows of desks. I will most likely group them in 4s to start. The teacher who left the room did leave a couple interesting tables in the room that I think I can DIY for a standing table and a collaboration space.

What is my vision? 

Unlimited. I want to see a space that will meet the needs of all of my students based on how they feel when they walk in the room. I envision a few standing desks/tables with a few chairs/stools; a couple lower tables with chairs; a few individual student desks; and maybe a campfire table with comfortable chairs around it. The room does have 5 whiteboards so I can build collaboration spaces around the boards. I would even LOVE to have a few FitDesks to allow movement even when students have to sit.

Can I make my vision come to fruition? 

I hope so. This is where you come in… If you have disposable cash to fund a project like this let’s talk. If you have funding sources or grants you know of PLEASE share. I am not afraid to ask/beg for funding.

This is the first steps in this journey. I hope you come along with me.

What does a teacher need?

I need your help.

Here’s a scenario. It’s early August, a high school teacher is preparing her classroom for the new year. She is a new teacher and wants to incorporate the latest educational practices in her classroom.

I am wondering in the age of collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking (4Cs); the maker movement; Project Based Learning; Passion Based Learning; Design Thinking; 1:1 implementations; what supplies does a high school teacher need to be successful?  Once a teacher compiles this list, what is the best way to go about getting all of those supplies? I am not just talking about posters on the wall. I am talking about real everyday supplies like post it notes, chart paper, etc.??

Please leave a comment below or add your suggestions of a supply list for this classroom here.



SCAET … the board breakdown

I have to say I was very surprised with the response from my last post on the SCAET. Only two people commented on the blog but I received numerous emails and Facebook messages agreeing with me, posing more questions, or even giving me information on where to find out more. Since then I have found a list of board members of SCAET. Their names are printed annually in the SC EdTech program. When you look at where the board members are from, the question I ask is whose interests are they are looking out for?
SC Budget and Control Board, Division of State Information Technology (1 member)
SC Department of Education, Internal Technology (1 member)
SCAET Business Manager (1 member)
SCETV Representative (1 member)
Business (AT&T, Relational Technology Solutions) (2 members) 
Universities (Charleston Southern, College of Charleston, USC) (3 members)
District Technology Directors (Anderson Four, Dillon II) (2 members)
SC Association of School Librarians(SCASL)  (1 member) This is the only rotating position on the board.

When I look at this list I see a couple things …

1. The board seems to be heavy in State Agency members.
2. The board is also extremely heavy in Information Technology, as in infrastructure. Even the business board members mainly deal with the infrastructure side of our state technology.
3. The District Technology Directors on the board do not represent all aspects of the state when it comes to district technology. Why aren’t there any directors from the low country or the midlands?
4. The ONLY school level position is the SCASL board member. One person connected to a school on the board is NOT enough.
5. There are NO Instructional Technology positions, no principals, and no teachers on the board.

So I ask again, whose interests are they looking out for?

I found out through a couple of my email and Facebook communications that SCAET was at one time in competition with AECT of SC, another technology association in the state. Both groups had common members. The SCAET finally won out and AECT of SC slowly died out. So how and when did the SCAET stop accepting members? When did we stop having a say and why?

What is next for South Carolina? What is your vision for our state technology? Is this something that can be reformed or do we need to start anew?

SMART Notebook Dual Page Display

UntitledHave you used the Dual Page Display function in your SMART Notebook software? The Dual Page Display is not the same as the new SMART Dual Touch boards. Dual Display is a way to show two pages in your Notebook file at one time. I think Dual Page Display is one of the under utilized functions in SMART Notebook.

This is a video I created to show you how to use Dual Page Display.

Although this video showcased uses in social studies, you can use Dual Page Display across the curriculum. For example, in a Special Education or elementary classes, Dual Page Display can be used to move the student from one task to another. As the student finishes a task, he or she can move his or her icon to the next step on the next page in the Notebook file. Math classes display one page as a word problem and the second page as clean workspace to figure the problem. Language Arts classes can showcase an excerpt of a novel, poetry, or reading on one side then analyze the excerpt on the second page.

Have you used Dual Page Display? I would love to hear some of the ways you use it in your class.

Twitter was cool before today

Today marked the day that Ashton Kutcher reached 1 million followers on Twitter and Oprah sent her first tweet. What does this all mean? To me, not much. Other than I am afraid Twitter will break more often. I am happy that people are finally catching on to Twitter but Twitter has been a special place for me over the last 18 months. I sent my first tweet October 16, 2007. When I did I wasn’t sure what I was doing or what it all meant. I didn’t realize that maybe I was being a digital pioneer in education. But what it turned in to is this wonderful community of people who help me, support me, and challenge me to continue exploring how technology can impact education.

I noticed recently, (before the Ashton and Oprah bandwagon) there was a change happening in Twitter. It was subtle but it was happening. When I first joined most people used comic avatars or images that symbolized themselves instead of an actual picture of themselves. As our education Twitter community has grown a personal touch has come to Twitter as well. Now when I log in to TweetDeck I see more people than avatars. This has been really great. Of the people on my network I probably have only met 20% of them face to face. So now with this transition to real images for avatars helps me connect a little more with the people on my screen.

So to my Twitterverse, I just want to thank you for helping me become a better advocate for technology in the classroom.