Always a Bear

It’s hard leaving a school you love. It’s hard leaving the place where your career begins. It’s hard leaving the friends and coworkers, the students that you love so much, and the sense of community every time you walk through the front doors. The past few months have not been easy. As my time at Gray’s Creek has come to a close I have been able to reflect on the teacher I have become in the past two years and the teacher I will continue to be in the future.

First Day

Thanks Mrs. Carter for making me take a picture after surviving my first day of teaching.

I cannot imagine landing in a better situation as a first year teacher than I did here. I stress that everywhere I go; be it an interview for a job next school year, catching up with college friends, or being introduced to my grandma’s friends in her Sunday School class. I cannot possibly fathom starting my career in a more supportive and encouraging environment. From my department, to the admin team, and everyone in between there has been nothing but a sense of community and an “I got your back” mentality. I have been allowed, heck even encouraged, to try new things, and then, when it fails I have been given the opportunity to reflect and collaborate with other teachers on my practice.

Beginning Teacher of the Month

The school bus tie was a popular 1st year choice. Got this after a particularly challenging Monday…the little things.

I like to joke that I don’t feel like a beginning teacher. Maybe it’s the ego, who knows… Regardless, as I now prepare for my third year as an educator I feel confident and prepared. Gray’s Creek has given me that. It was here that I was able to teach an Advanced Placement class in my second year. It was here that I was able to implement technology freely and comprehensively. It was here that I was able to learn from veteran teachers, but, also, share new strategies with them as well. It’s a two-way street. I do not claim to have all of the answers or be some Ron Clark superstar teacher. However, I am thankful for the culture here at Gray’s Creek. This school and this community have loved me and enabled me to grow as an educator.

Like I said, leaving this place is not easy, but neither is an unfulfilled dream. A desire to continue my career as a public educator and the dream of building a family in an area that my wife and I love has motivated us to make a move westward. It’s hard not to see John Muir’s famous quote, “the mountains are calling and I must go” plastered all over anything slightly associated with the western part of North Carolina. As cheesy and commercialized as the saying has become, his intended meaning behind the quote was to, yes go to the mountains, but, more importantly, go there and study it and take responsibility of preserving and improving the places and people you love. I feel called and I must go.

Graduation 2017

The ultimate capstone to my time here. Seniors, thank you for letting me be a part of your graduation experience. I (clearly) had a blast.

Next year I will be teaching at Buncombe County Early College High School in Asheville, NC. My excitement cannot be put in to words; it is a dream come true. But, Gray’s Creek, I would not be in a position to take on this challenge without the love and guidance you have given me the past two years. I cannot thank you enough.

Always a Bear,



AP Human Geography Cereal Box Project

The AP Exam came and went and I was soon bombarded with the question, “are we done for the year?”. With an entire month of school left after the exam we had much of the world still to explore. With the understanding that my kids had worked their tails off since January we took our foot off of the gas a tad bit and tried to get creative. They were tasked with choosing a country and researching a variety of facts about the country. Most of their research dealt with topics we covered in the course (level of development, literacy rates, types of industry, etc.). After they completed the research they were able to show some creativity by turning their country into a brand of cereal. Here are a few of my favorite creations.

On the day of their “final exam” we brought in breakfast (mainly cereal, of course) and shopped around the room checking out the different brands of cereal and examining why we might purchase one cereal over another. Students compared the data between countries (including their own) and identified each country’s level of development.

This was designed to be something low stress for the kids that would allow them to fulfill curiosities about certain countries and allow them to display their imaginative sides. Overall, I was impressed with their products. There were clearly those that took it more seriously than others, but I feel that everyone got something beneficial from the experience.

I failed to note earlier that this was actually one of two final project options for the students. The other option entailed creating a dream vacation travel plan that touched on every unit of study in AP Human. I only had one student choose this option, and she did an incredible job of creating an itinerary that took her around the world on an enriching journey through AP Human.

Okay there was actually one more option…of my 34 students 11 of them were seniors (the rest were sophomores with 1 junior) and they had a separate project altogether. All of them had cases of Senioritis so strong and contagious that even I felt a few symptoms. I wanted them to leave my class and leave high school with something they could use in the future. They were not going to benefit as much from the Dream Vacation or Cereal Box projects so I dreamed up something unique for them. We began work on creating their own “personal brand.” This would serve as a platform for them to share their skills, interests, and experience. Their checklist included creating (or revising) their resume, drafting a mock cover letter, developing a website and blog, adding professional pictures and contact information, and bringing it all together with a design that exudes their personality. My sister, Jane, was able to guide my seniors and teach them how applicable this project could be. She’s a genius with all of this stuff, so it was fun to co-teach with her for a few days. Like the cereal box project, most of my students took this seriously and created a tool that will aid them in the future. I am so proud of their products and excited to see what they accomplish in the future.

Here are links to the project instructions: Senior’s Personal Branding Project Cereal Box Project Vacation of a Lifetime

*I do not claim to be the creator of the cereal box or vacation projects. I modified projects that have been shared with AP Human Geography teachers in a private Drive folder*


Political Geography Projects

We all know politics can be a tad…well…political. Last week my AP Human Geography class wrapped up our political geography unit by examining contemporary political disputes from around the world. Here are a few of my favorites…

For the South China Sea video the educational portion stops at the 3:00 mark…they went a little overboard with the blooper reel.

One group explored the way territories of the United States are treated differently than states, and how not all United States citizens are treated equally.

American TerritorieConflict in Kashmir

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With the AP Exam coming up soon we have not had as much time for projects as I would have liked, but be on the lookout for some exciting creations from my American History I classes in the coming weeks!

Using “Google My Maps” to create a Heritage Map

As my AP Human Geography class began studying migration last week, I wanted to start with an understanding of how we got here. I told my students that I wanted to know how they got to our classroom today. I wanted to know what brought their family to this area. I wanted them to SEE how the movement of multiple generations of their family led to them sitting in our classroom that day.

Google My Maps allows the user to create a custom map that uses the same interface as any public Google Maps search. First, the students chose a base map that best suited their tastes (satellite, terrain, political, etc.). Once they set the base map they dropped pins on the birthplaces of their relatives and tracked their migration by adding lines and additional points. Ideally, they would map the migration of both sets of grandparents, their parents, and themselves, but every student’s map would be unique to the structure of their family.

For many students there was an overwhelming amount of data to process, and it was difficult to filter which points were essential to the map. I reminded them about the question we were trying to answer: what brought you here…to this place?

We made it so that each family member had their own layer on the map so that we have the option to only view one side of their family at a time or one generation at a time. I was proud of my students not only for their ability to utilize the technology, but, more importantly, for their curiosity and desire to explore their heritage.

Digital Learning Day

As a culmination of our population chapter I posed a controversial question to my AP Human Geography students: can Earth’s resources support our growing population? We read about Thomas Malthus and his theories about a population that grows exponentially (2 x 2 x 2), but sources of food that only grow arithmetically (2 +2 +2). We looked at contemporary articles that put his theory to test in our modern environment, and then took a side to the question at hand. Finally, students took their research and findings and created a Piktochart to share their analysis.

Here are some of my favorite creations…

It was our first time interacting with Piktochart, so I expected somewhat of a learning curve, but the interface was extremely user-friendly. My kids (obviously) got the hang of it pretty quickly. I’m looking forward to using this tool more in the future!

The Adventure Begins

Hi everyone! Welcome to world of American History I and AP Human Geography with Mr. Violette!

If you stumbled upon this website in an attempt to find out what homework you have tonight then you are in the wrong place. You will find that valuable information over on our Google Classroom page.

The purpose of this site it to provide an outlet for me to share samples of student work and effective (and sometimes not very effective) teaching practices.