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  • Feeny! Feeny!

    • From: Eric_Bernstein
    • Description:

          Next month I will travel to Los Angeles to join many of my students, almost all of whom I have only know through our Adobe Connect online classroom, for commencement from the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education.  As a full-time faculty member at USC, I have the privilege to work with students from across the country and world in our face-to-face, synchronous online Masters of Arts in Teaching program.  I prepare teachers for certification or to advance their practice. 

       

          One of my students was able to “score” tickets for us to go see a taping of the new Disney series “Girl Meets World” on May 14.  To say I am excited, well, that would be an understatement!  Maybe “totally stoked” would be more apt a description.  When I was a middle school social studies teacher and later a middle and high school principal, the original series “Boy Meets World” was at the peak of its popularity.  One of the greatest memories (and greatest honors) I have of my middle school students was when they would liken me to Feeny.  Since I am overdue for a blog post, I decided to consider some of the many lessons that Feeny could teach all of us as educators.  Here are my top ten (each scene is quoted first and then it is followed by what I have deemed “the Feeny Lesson” from that quote):

       

      Season 1, Episode 1 (1993): 

      Cory Matthews: Mr. Feeny, who cares about a guy who killed himself for some dumb girl?

      Mr. George Feeny: The tragedy here, Mr. Matthews, is not about a dumb girl, or the boy who kills himself because of her. It's about the all-consuming power of love. And the inevitability of its influence on each of our lives.

      Cory Matthews: [pauses] Are you aware that I'm only eleven years old?

      Lesson:  Don’t talk down to your students, believe that they can understand and learn by being spoken to like adults—even if they don’t realize it!

       

      Season 4, Episode 17 (1997):

      Mr. George Feeny: Even though this isn't a classroom at the moment, would you mind if I taught you a lesson anyway?

      Topanga Lawrence: Please.

      Mr. George Feeny: Believe it or not, there was a time in my life when I cared for someone as deeply as you two care for each other now.

      Cory Matthews: You believe we love each other?

      Mr. George Feeny: And for no reason I understood, my wife was taken from me, and I haven't been so deeply in love since.

      Cory Matthews: [to Topanga] Feeny believes we love each other!

      Mr. George Feeny: I believe that when you find love, you hold on to it, and cherish it! Because there is nothing finer, and may never come again. And that, my dears, is the most important thing I could teach you.

      Lesson:  Our work as educators is not and should not be bound by the walls of the classroom—there are important life lessons that we can teach our students that extend far beyond the formal curriculum.

       

      Season 2, Episode 9 (1994):

      Katherine 'Kat' Tompkins: This Jonathan Turner guy, what's the deal with him?

      George Feeny: It's really not my place to comment, from one teacher to another.

      Katherine 'Kat' Tompkins: Oh, come on. He asked me out! I just wanna know if he's an axe murderer.

      George Feeny: It wasn't on his resumé.

      Lesson:  How to handle gossip in the teacher’s lounge—enough said!

       

      Season 7, Episode 23 (2000):

      Mr. George Feeny: Believe in yourselves. Dream. Try. Do good

      Topanga: Don't you mean "do well"?

      Mr. George Feeny: No, I mean "do good".

      Lesson:  Doing “well” and doing “good” are not the same thing—and as teachers, it is not that we must work to merely do our jobs well, but we must strive to “do good” for our communities, our schools, and, most importantly, our students.

       

      Season 1, Episode 8 (1993):

      Cory Matthews: Shawn, what was your mother's maiden name?

      Shawn Hunter: Cordini.

      Cory Matthews: Cordini, so that would make you a WOP, right?

      Shawn Hunter: What did you call me?

      Cory Matthews: You heard what I called you.

      Shawn Hunter: [to Feeny] Did you hear what he called me?

      George Feeny: I heard what he called you.

      Shawn Hunter: What're you going to do about it?

      George Feeny: He's the teacher, what're YOU going to do about it?

      Shawn Hunter: I'm gonna knock his head off!

      Cory Matthews: What if you couldn't? What if you couldn't do anything about it?

      Shawn Hunter: What?

      Cory Matthews: What if you lived in a country where I could KILL you just because of your mom's last name.

      Shawn Hunter: Cory, what're you talking about?

      Cory Matthews: A 15 year old girl is DEAD! Doesn't anybody care? She was really smart and totally cool. Her name was Anne Frank, she wrote this book. They say she died of typhus but they killed her, BECAUSE her name was Anne Frank.

      Lesson:  Sometimes our students can be the best teachers of each other—and our job should include giving them opportunities to do so.

       

      Season 4, Episode 11 (1996):

      George Feeny: Eric, in the play of your life all your great scenes lie ahead of you.

      Eric Matthews: So you're saying in thirty or forty years I could write a play that you would wanna come and see?

      George Feeny: No, tonight pretty much killed any interest I had in the theater.

      Eric Matthews: Mr. Feeny you know everything. Where does my life go from here?

      George Feeny: Well, now, you have passion. You have drive. You certainly have guts. I frankly can't wait to see what happens to you.

      Eric Matthews: So you're not gonna tell me to give up my life as an actor and go get a college education?

      George Feeny: Eric I told you to get a college education ten-thousand times. I don't have to tell you anymore.

      Eric Matthews: What about my life as an actor?

      George Feeny: Get a college education.

      Lesson:  Encourage students and support them in even their wildest dreams—but tether them to reality as well, and guide them toward choices that will open doors rather than close them.

       

      Season 6, Episode 1 (1998):

      Mr. George Feeny: You can't tell Cory and Topanga what to do. I've been trying to do that since the first grade. I remember when I tried to separate their desks. She kicked me. He bit me. And some little punk kept saying "Leave 'em alone. They should get married."

      Shawn Hunter: I was cute then, huh?

      Mr. George Feeny: Precious.

      Lesson:  Looping works—when we stay with students year after year, we develop a better understanding of who they are as people and what their unique needs are.  Even if we don’t loop, it is important for us and to them that we maintain continued relationships with our students even after they move on to another teacher.

       

      Season 4, Episode 15 (1997):

      Mr. George Feeny: [passing by] Good morning, Miss Lawrence, Mr. Matthews, Mr. Hunter.

      [stops, then turns to Shawn, who is dressed as a girl]

      Mr. George Feeny: If there's anything you need to talk about, my door is always open.

      Shawn Hunter:  It’s for an article we’re writing, Mr. Feeny!

      Mr. George Feeny: I'm not here to judge.

      Lesson:  Notice when our students may need someone to talk to—then remind them that we are there to listen and that we will listen without judgment, that we will support them no matter what.

       

      Season 4, Episode 19 (1997):

      Cory Matthews: Mr. Feeny, look, the show's proving that we're absorbing the right kind of knowledge, I mean that's why we're the champions.

      [the class applauds]

      George Feeny: Hold it, hold it, wait a minute. Champions of what, Mr. Matthews? Of a generation whose verbal and mathematical skills have sunk SO low, when you have the highest technology at your fingertips? Gutenburg's generation thirsted for a new book every six months. Your generation gets a new web page every six seconds. And how do you use this technology? To beat King Koopa, and save the princess. Shame on you. You deserve what you get.

      Lesson:  Technology is only as effective as the users—and just because we use technology for something does not make the thing we are using technology for somehow inherently valuable or worthwhile.

       

      Season 7, Episode 23 (2000):

      [Eric hugs Mr. Feeny and follows Topanga and Shawn out the door]

      George Feeny: So Mr. Matthews

      Cory Matthews: You think we've known each other long enough for you to call me Cory?

      George Feeny: I think I've known you long enough to call you Cornielius

      Cory Matthews: Ssh! Mr. Feeny! Not even Topanga knows that.

      George Feeny: Your secret is safe with me.

      Cory Matthews: Well. I got Topanga to go to New York.

      George Feeny: Good for you.

      Cory Matthews: She's not even scared anymore.

      George Feeny: Nor should she be.

      Cory Matthews: I am.

      George Feeny: Well, you have a right to be.

      [Cory finally breaks down and hugs Mr. Feeny]

      Cory Matthews: You coming with us Mr. Feeny? You gonna sneak up on us in Central Park or something?

      George Feeny: No, I shall remain here.

      Cory Matthews: No. You'll always be with us. As long as we live okay?

      [Cory walks out the door. Mr. Feeny looks around the room]

      George Feeny [the last line of the series “Boy Meets World”]: I love you all... Class dismissed

      Lesson:  Know your students well, even better than they want their friends to know them—and love them, even if you wait until they all leave the room to tell them, because you will always be with them (whether you’ve done them right or done them wrong).

       

      The inimitable William Daniels, who played Feeny in “Boy Meets World,” had two other roles in his career that hold special places in my heart:  As John Adams in the 1969(?) musical AND 1972 film “1776,” he was with me every year that I taught middle school social studies and taught that very play and as the voice of K.I.T.T. in the TV series “Knight Rider,” he was a significant part of my own childhood television watching!  I would feel remiss if I did not include two bonus lessons from Feeny, but in each of those other two significant roles:

       

      Act I, Scene 3 – (1972—“1776”)

      John Adams: Now you'll write it, Mr. J.

      Thomas Jefferson: Who will make me, Mr. A?

      John Adams: I.

      Thomas Jefferson: You?

      John Adams: Yes!

      [Jefferson—6 feet 4—steps up, towering over Adams—5 feet 8—and looks down at him]

      Thomas Jefferson: How?

      [tapping his chest with the quill pen]

      John Adams: By physical force, if necessary.

      Lesson:  There are times when we must make a stand—even when the odds are stacked against us—so that the job will get done.  Teachers are often the little guys and we must stand up to the big guys, for what we know is right, even when (like Jefferson with Adams) they are actually on our side (although, history tells us of the extraordinary love-hate relationship those two Founding Fathers really had).

       

      Season 2, Episode 5 (1983—“Knight Rider”)

      K.I.T.T.:  Michael, I've been thinking about David Dudley's sportscar. I'm afraid it may have met with a dreadful end.

      Michael Knight:  I don't follow.

      K.I.T.T.:  It's occurred to me that in so far as the car is essentially evidence in a shooting, those hoodlums may have disposed of it in that crusher at the wrecking yard.

      Michael Knight:  Oh, well that would make a compact out of it, wouldn't it?

      K.I.T.T.:  I fail to see the humor in that. It's a most humiliating way to go, transformed into a tin can..

      Michael Knight:  Well, I'll remember that the next time I have sardines.

      K.I.T.T.:  Really, Michael. Sometimes you're so insensitive.

      Lesson:  Have empathy and realize that the lived experiences of our students may not be the same as our own—the things that may seem inconsequential or fodder for a joke to us may actually be genuinely and deeply personal for them.

       

      It is worth the side note for me to explain why “Girl Meets World” is really the full circle for me.  Like Feeny, I was a classroom teacher turned principal.  And like Cory Matthews (who grew up to become a teacher like his own mentor/second father “Mr. Feeny”), I grew up to become a teacher in (I can only hope) the likeness of my own mentors/second fathers, Mr. D and Mr. E and, of course, my own father who was also a teacher and then school administrator. 

       

      As I understand it, William Daniels has reprised (or will reprise) the role of Feeny in some capacity for the new series and I can only hope that he will appear on the episode taping on May 14—but in any event, I can’t wait!  And so concludes this blog post and my tribute to “Feeny” a.k.a. William Daniels a.k.a. K.I.T.T. a.k.a. John Adams.  Class dismissed!

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  • Leadership Through the Looking Leadership Through the Looking Glass: A Tale of Two Teacher-Leaders

    • From: Krista_Rundell
    • Description:

      On March 15, 2014, a friend and fellow ASCD Emerging LeaderAllison Rodman, and I had an opportunity to present at the ASCD Annual Conference in Los Angeles, California.  The topic was "Teacher-Leadership" and the goal was to organize our ideas in the Ignite format.

      While we were both used to speaking at conferences and in front of large groups of people, neither of us had experience with this format.  Ignite limits the presenter to 20 slides, each on a 30-second timer.  This organizes the presentation to a manageable five minutes, but forces the presenter to remain focused in order to efficiently convey the true message of the presentation.  The task at-hand was exciting, challenging, and daunting.  Could we actually do this and be successful?

      Allie and I live about an hour away from one another, but our crazy schedules did not allow us to meet in person to organize our ideas or to practice.  We worked through google docs and phone calls to compile the PowerPoint, divided up ownership of the slides, then finally were able to practice together just 30 minutes prior to the actual session.

      Other Emerging Leader-friends were also part of this session, presenting their own insights into Teacher-Leadership.  We jested that we'd be the only ones to show up to the session but that at least we'd be there to support one another.  Our jokes became obsolete when the room filled to capacity of 150 people and others had to continually be turned away due to lack of seating and safety regulations.  Needless to say, our nerves were getting the better of us!

      I am incredibly proud of the work that Allie and I did leading up to that presentation, as well as the actual presentation itself.  We shared our professional experiences with one another, divulged our fears with one another, laughed with one other, learned from one other, and ultimately, achieved success together.  We challenged ourselves, stretched beyond our comfort zone, and drew on the wisdom of others for guidance (shout out to Alina Davis!).  Now we have a story to give back to those who come after us.

      We are teacher-leaders.

      P.S. Allie organized our slides and spoken words into a beautiful blog post on her site, The Learning Loop.  Please visit and enjoy!

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  • Teaching with an Adventurous S Teaching with an Adventurous Spirit

    • From: Tiffany_Della_Vedova
    • Description:

      

      As much I flooded my blog Teach on the Edge with shameless bragging over my preparations for and "reasons" to, it was hard to miss that I was in a triathlon race this weekend. When it was over, my 28 days of race blogging also came to an end, and I was left thinking about the connections between two central pieces of my identity: fitness and education. I feel strongly that one informs the other constantly, so I set out to explore these connections in an April blogging series: Teach Fit. 

      Teach Fit Tip: Teach with an Adventurous Spirit

      One synapse through which energy flows between all the facets of my personal and professional life is adventure. When I think of adventure, my heart returns to my childhood favorite The Goonies, in which an eclectic crew of well-intentioned, ill-prepared teens sets off to find the hidden pirate treasure that will "save the Goondocks" from foreclosure. With no forethought, the group hops on their bicycles with nothing more than an old map and key, an asthma inhaler, and a ton of brash courage. Along the way, they find friendship, purpose, compassion, inner talent, and (of course) the treasure.

      While it would be hardly responsible to send students off to impending doom by booby trap, it seems today that too many teachers are fearful of teaching with an adventurous spirit. As I stood in front of the waves on Sunday's race day, it was not without a fair amount of trepidation, but I also felt sure that I could at least survive and succeed given my level of preparation. In an age of so many creative and collaborative possibilities, educators would benefit from confidence in their abilities in order to dive into an adventurous sea. When facing something new or unexpected, we need to remember that we have arrived on this shoreline of possibility with no trivial amount of preparation. Unlike our beloved Goonies, we have far more in our packs to help us avoid danger and find the learning treasures with our students. Here are five adventurous seas most teachers face and should feel confident diving into...

      1) Tech Integration: Beyond checking age-appropriate guidelines for platform use, which are clearly outlined in the user terms, the integration of technology, especially that which has been specifically designed for the classroom, is a safe sea. While there will be waves to contend with, nobody is going to drown. Allowing students to play around in the surf and share with each other how they used different techniques to arrive at the same task completion is a great practice.

      2) Project-Based Learning: The best projects are often the most open-ended ones. It's uncomfortable for teachers to set forth projects with vague rubrics, but students can benefit from ones that set high standards for creativity, collaboration, and quality, with very little else detailed. 

      3) Choice-Based Exploration: As long as the prerequisite standards have been set so that students know how they must show they have learned, allowing students to choose what they learn and design their own demonstrations of learning is an excellent way to foster agency and creativity.

      4) Unfamiliar Topic: In today's data age, information is as easy to come by asking Siri. What is far more difficult to find is guidance, rapport, and connection. Allowing for student choice sometimes means allowing for topics outside our expertise. That's okay though because teachers are adept at the latter skills so as to guide students to the best resources and connections. We are boosters of brain power and creative, critical thinking...not databases for facts. Think Socrates--he never answered any questions!

      5) Being Ourselves: This is a personal and sometimes polarizing topic. Teachers cannot and should not try to be separate people in class and outside of school. While it would be unprofessional to over share information about one's personal life, our families and our interests make us human and relatable. These are two qualities a computer can never be. Yet, teachers are understandably fearful of sharing about their family if they feel the environment is intolerant. A moving example is Chris Friend's Edutopia blog "Silence is not Golden" in which Chris explores his missed opportunity in helping students embrace their own identities and differences. "Because I never brought up my sexuality on campus, I continued the discrimination. By hiding, I silently expressed my fear and added to the problem I feebly wanted to protect students from. I was trying to make sure that students felt safe in my classroom. Instead, I showed them that even I was not." 

      There is no shortage of fear in teaching. Sometimes we fear for ourselves, but mostly we fear the impact our mistakes will have on our students. We feel the weight of each interaction because we know that there are no neutral moments or do-overs. Still, with safe boundaries for exploration, we can trust in our skills as educators when faced with some trepidation. Our adventurous spirits can inspire our students to learn at new heights if we provision our packs with trust, creativity, and strong rapport. 

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  • Leader to Leader News: April 2 Leader to Leader News: April 2014

  • The Best of the Week: Volume 3 The Best of the Week: Volume 3

  • 9 Ideas You Can Steal from Tea 9 Ideas You Can Steal from Teachers

    • From: Suzy_Brooks
    • Description:

      This blog post is listed in its entirety at :http://blogs.falmouth.k12.ma.us/simplysuzy/2014/04/13/9-ideas-you-can-steal-from-teachers/

       

      After stumbling across Portent’s Content Idea Generator, I had a bit of fun… I threw in some favorite topics and generated some pretty giggly blog post ideas:

       

      10 Freaky Reasons Creativity Could Get You Fired.

      How Learning Can Help You Predict the Future

      12 Ways Technology Could Help the Red Sox Win the World Series.

      20 Things Spock Would Say About Schools.  <~someone should totally write this!!

       

      But those are all topics for another day….

      9 ideas you can steal from teachers

      So I started thinking about one of the topics that Portent generated….  What are ideas we teachers have, that others would find worth stealing?

      Here goes!!

       

      1: Attention Pleaseattention

      Whether teachers are clapping, chanting, counting, calling out, or throwing up Peace Signs – they are getting the attention of students coast to coast.  So, next time you need to get attention at the dinner table, or at the deli, or on the subway – try some tried-and-true teacher tricks.  Clap a rhythm, shut the lights off, or count backwards from 10.  Soon you’ll have the rapt attention of all those around you.

      2.   Everything is more fun with Music

      Music is a powerful medium. I can still remember all of the words from all the Schoolhouse Rocks videos of my youth. I can still sing my multiplication tables from 3rd grade (thank you, Mrs. Lynch!).  Classical piano and guitar help drown out all of the distractions of Real Life so I can focus on one thing at a time.  Sharing music in the classroom helps keep things calm and lively; serene and silly.  Students respond to rhythm, to rhyme, to rap, to relaxing tones.  So, try rapping that pesky list of chores to be done around the house, or singing the steps to cleaning a bedroom.  A little classical music during dinner never hurt anyone.

      3.   Read-alouds are good for everyone.  

      Read-Aloud time is one of our most favorite in Room 204. Whether we are sharing the next chapter in Charlotte’s Web, or rhyming along with Dr. Seuss, during read-aloud every student is engaged and involved.  Perhaps the next time you’d like to get an important point across to a family member, you could do it in the form of a read-aloud.  Gather them on the rug in front of you, muster up your best fluency skills, and have at it.  Whether you read the DVR user’s manual, summer camp brochures, or the latest junk mail, I guarantee you’ll have a committed audience.  Sell it.

      The remaining 6 ideas can be found here:

      http://blogs.falmouth.k12.ma.us/simplysuzy/2014/04/13/9-ideas-you-can-steal-from-teachers/

       

      As a teacher, what ideas do you have worth stealing??  Share them!!

      

      

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  • A 6-Point Plan for Writing Suc A 6-Point Plan for Writing Success: Giving Our Students “The Write Stuff”

    • From: Scott_Miller1
    • Description:

      Most of us have counted down the days until spring. But this year, March, April, and May bring a bit of trepidation to many in the education community. With the heightened demands of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and forthcoming next-generation assessments—which require a renewed emphasis on writing—many districts are concerned that students won’t be prepared.

      No longer will students find tests comprised of dozens and dozens of “bubble-filled” multiple-choice questions. Instead, writing—assessed at every tested grade level—will be a key factor in the next-generation assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

      The importance of writing skills on these new tests far exceeds traditional expectations.  Students will now be required to explain and defend their answer to math questions in writing. On some math questions, the point-value of the written explanation may be even greater than the point-value of the correct numerical answer.  The bottom line is that students with good writing skills will have a distinct advantage on these assessments.

      During the first half of the school year, I traveled across the country delivering presentations on CCSS writing and upcoming assessments. And, from my discussions with educators, I’ve noticed a recurring theme—a common anxiety that students will not be prepared for the heightened expectations in writing.

      In order to ensure that students are ready for new standards and assessments, schools must change the way writing is taught. Early, focused attention to writing is critical to ensure that students are prepared for increasing academic demands in middle school, high school, and beyond. Here are six specific steps that teachers and educational leaders can take now to prepare students for writing success:

      1. Provide focused, explicit writing instruction at all grade levels. Explicit writing begins at the very earliest grades. Districts relying on a basal reading program for writing instruction may need a supplemental writing program in order to prepare students for CCSS writing.
      2. Model effective writing for students. Students need to read and analyze models for each of the text types in the CCSS. Using clear, age-appropriate rubrics for each text type can help students analyze the models and shape their own writing.
      3. Devote significant time to writing. Students should have many opportunities to write for different tasks, purposes, and audiences for varying lengths of time. As appropriate, they should also be given time to do research and to make improvements to their writing over multiple drafts during the revising step of the writing process.
      4. Emphasize the text types critical for success in college and career. Informative/Explanatory and Opinion or Argument text types are the most critical for academic and career success. Students should spend 60 percent of their time on these text types in elementary grades and 80 percent in the upper grades.
      5. Give students opportunities to practice writing under assessment conditions. Students should frequently do authentic and meaningful writing in a format that approximates the demands of the PARCC and SBAC assessments. They should also have an opportunity to use technology for writing practice, as most students will take the new assessments online.
      6. Make professional development a priority. Teachers at all grade levels and in all subject areas should be fully proficient in the CCSS text types and understand how they can be used in their respective disciplines and at each grade level.

      To make sure your students are prepared for success on next-generation assessments, and ready for college and a career, you must renew your instructional emphasis upon writing at all grade levels. Writing must be explicitly modeled and taught. Making writing instruction a priority will undoubtedly result in higher academic achievement and greater economic success and civic engagement for your students. You cannot afford to wait; the need is urgent and the time is now.

      

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  • 5 Writing Instruction Fundamen 5 Writing Instruction Fundamentals for Success on Next-Generation Assessments

    • From: Scott_Miller1
    • Description:

      Get ready to say goodbye to standardized bubble tests completed with a #2 pencil. Computer-based next-generation assessments, which measure students’ mastery of the Common Core, are upping the ante.

      Why Writing Skills Matter Now More Than Ever

      With the new PARCC and SBAC assessments on the horizon, educators are concerned about whether their students will be adequately prepared—especially when it comes to writing. Knowing the right answer will no longer be sufficient. Students must be able to explain why that answer is correct—and their ability to do so is captured through their writing skills.

      Because writing is viewed as a skill that tests higher-order thinking and comprehension, both the PARCC and SBAC assessments incorporate writing to measure students’ ability to

      • respond to stimuli texts (and videos) and to synthesize answers using multiple sources.
      • explain their reasoning on math questions.
      • demonstrate comprehension on the reading portion of ELA assessment.

      How to Prepare Your Students for Success

      If you’re concerned about whether your students’ writing skills are sufficient for success on next-generation assessments, prepare them by incorporating these fundamental elements into your writing instruction:

      1. Familiarize students with the Common Core text types: (Yes, we’re starting with the obvious here.) Ensure that they’re well-versed with the Narrative, Informative/Explanatory, and Argument/Opinion text types. Help them understand the relationship between informative and explanatory writing. Make sure they understand how persuasion differs from argumentation and how expository structures function within multiple text types.
      2. Model effective writing: Provide model texts for a variety of purposes and audiences to illustrate a breadth of competent writing aligned to the Common Core.
      3. Incorporate writing rubrics: Help students understand exactly what is required from their writing and offer opportunities for self- and peer-evaluation based on writing rubrics.
      4. Provide practice tests: Increasing students’ familiarity with practice tests modeled on the new PARCC and SBAC assessments will help them gain confidence in their ability to effectively demonstrate their writing skills.
      5. Integrate writing across the curriculum: Although ELA teachers take the lead in writing instruction—ideally using the six traits to negotiate the writing process within a writing workshop framework—writing skills should be practiced in every content area. Science, math, and social studies teachers may wish to focus primarily upon the trait that supports content-area knowledge (ideas), the trait that demonstrates relationships between facts and concepts (organization), and the trait that emphasizes domain-specific language (word choice).

      Bonus Tip: To further strengthen your writing instruction, take advantage of the excellent (and free) resources—such as graphic organizers and reference materials—at http://sfw.z-b.com

      

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    • 2 weeks ago
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  • psst...What's Hiding in Your C psst...What's Hiding in Your Curriculum?

    • From: Jennifer_Davis_Bowman
    • Description:

      Do you remember the film “Starman" (Jeff Bridges plays a being from another planet)?  There is one scene, where he is in the car with the leading lady and observes her speeding through a yellow traffic light.  Unsurprisingly, he learns to respond the same when he encounters a yellow light later in the film.  There was no intricate lesson plan or core curriculum involved, but Jeff Bridges’ character learned something from his environment nonetheless.  Let’s use this example to begin our exploration of the hidden curriculum-the learning that occurs as students are shaped by their environmental experiences.

       

      A big part of understanding the hidden curriculum concept boils down to the word "hidden". First, let’s focus only on this term.  It is necessary to debunk the idea of “out of sight, out of mind” when we think of the hidden curriculum.  Although hidden implies that something is beneath or under the radar, this does not mean forgettable.  Further, when we don’t see things physically, this does not indicate insignificance.  For example, think about all the important health risks associated with lead (most commonly found in paint and toys) BPA (material found in some baby bottles) or bacteria.  In contrast, let's acknowledge the benefits of some of the things invisible from the naked eye-such as ultra violet light (detection of counterfeit bills, signals food on flowers for insects, sterilization of equipment).

       

      After considering the value of hidden material, I wondered about its impact on my students.  I decided to try an informal experiment to get a better idea.  Typically, I begin each of my classes with a question, thus a couple of weeks ago I asked my students to share (in writing) their thoughts on their learning outside of class work and homework. Below is a few of their responses:

       

      "We were able to use all of our notes on a final test in high school.  So that taught me how to stay organized."

       

      "In my chemistry class, you could sell a Cadillac converter for $80."

       

      "During a highschool play, even if it's funny, its known backstage to be quiet and nobody has to tell you..."

       

      "During the group activities I learned to come to an agreement without taking total control."

       

      My student’s responses spurred interested as to how other students would define their experience with the hidden curriculum.  I soon discovered a student blog on hidden curriculum.  There were various accounts on how the hidden curriculum provided insight about others. For example, I was fascinated to see what the students learned about teacher behavior (the students concluded that teachers could be more punitive-based than thought provoking).  In addition, the hidden curriculum was a great resource in learning about their peer’s needs.  For instance, both physical survival lessons (such as when classmates ate large food portions at lunch because of the lack of food at home) and rules for academic survival (such as students storing items in classrooms because the school could not afford lockers) were imparted by peer behavior.

       

      In addition to learning about others, the hidden curriculum provides self-awareness as well. I found a powerful article about a medical student's schooling experience, that highlights the struggle of going against the rules dictated by the hidden curriculum. The student retells the process of confronting his feelings (conflict of instinct versus hidden curriculum expectations) as a necessary step in developing as a learner, a professional, and a member of society.

       

      After a while, it occurred to me that the hidden curriculum's impact on students is huge. It varies with the culture of the learner (think again of the film "Starman" and how the adjustment to a new culture made him more prone to follow). It differs with the ability of the learner (or inability to pick up on environmental cues such as students with Autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, or those with cognitive-based learning disabilities).  Further, teachers may need help in guiding students through the unwritten or unspoken rules for success in the classroom.  Strategies such as the use of scripts to assist in getting the needed information, identifying a safe person to approach for help, and exploring commons idioms are all ways teachers can help. 

       

      I will conclude with an excerpt from a radio ad that allows us to hear the consequences of forgetting to address the hidden curriculum in our classrooms:

       

      In Biology, I learned I’m fat, stupid.

      In English, I learned I’m disgusting.

      In Gym, I learned I’m a joke.

      The only thing I didn’t learn is why no one ever helps…

       

      To hear the complete radio ad please visit Public Service Announcement Central Website. 

       

      So, am I wrong about the impact of the hidden curriculum?  The next time you develop a lesson plan for your students, why not take a second or two and consider the hidden learning that may accompany your lesson?  Let me know what secret lessons are embedded within your classroom/school-and how your students successfully rise to the hidden curriculum challenge. 

       

       

       

       

       

    • Blog post
    • 2 weeks ago
    • Views: 106
  • Bounce Back...AIM Toward Your Bounce Back...AIM Toward Your Vision

    • From: Marcia_Collins
    • Description:

       

       It's Hump Day Wednesday! 

      I love Wednesdays, because it helps us see take inventory of our midweek and keep riding the horse through the end~

      Bounce Back...AIM toward your vision with (3) SIMPLE STEPS

      Four weeks ago, I went to a VISION PARTY hosted by @empowerchics! The VISION PARTY was electrifying and inspiring, as @empowerchics SHARED the WHY behind the vision we were going to create! Women of all ages, and of different walks shared their stories and their VISION for the future. As we strategically picked images that depicted our VISION toward our goals, we began to imagine the vision as if it was the REALITY. You see that's the POWER of a VISION PARTY! Not only do you create your vision with images and words, the images and words start become YOUR REALITY!

      Furthermore, I believe we all have a unique, divine purpose that only we can fulfill. Our divine purpose comes wrapped with unique gifts, which we use for His glory, and our gifts benefit others. However, as we tap into those gifts, and began the vision we've imagine for our ideal lives; we may experience temporary setbacks. These temporary setbacks are characterized as problems we all will experience from time to time. You've heard of the phrase " A TEMPORARY SETBACK for a MAJOR COMEBACK! In the article, Spark People  Lisa Noelcke shared (3) specific steps you can take to help you bounce back...and AIM toward your vision!

       

      First step: Be objective
      Let's face sometimes we can't see our faults, but we can see faults in others. Being objective enables us to reflect and asses the situation. When was the last time you looked at something objectively?

      Second Step: Take Responsibility
      Remember when you were a child, your mom used to say "take responsibility for your actions." Well, the same holds true as adults. However, sometimes, we blame things or others for decisions made. Another name for this is external locus of control, all of us are guilty if this at some time, or another. Instead of blaming others or things, use internal locus of control, and ask the question "what could I have done differently to prepare for a better outcome?" REFLECTION is POWERFUL! Also, taking responsibility for our actions are counterintuitive to "being objective and assessing our situation, dusting ourselves off and pushing forward toward our vision!

      Third Step: Ask for help
      Are you too proud to ask for help from a professional coach, mentor or trusted friend? Sometimes we have to come to terms with areas in our lives that need improvement such as our finances, weight loss, building a thriving business or viable career. Seek help from those who have traveled the journey ahead of you. As a Resiliency Coach, and working professional I seek the advice of others, and use that advice to grow toward my divine purpose. Also, their advice and wisdom helped me make better choices and take a different path. Overcome your temporary setbacks by asking for help...from a professional coach, mentor or trusted friend. Nothing is new under the sun, we all have experienced similar challenges...however some of us respond differently to challenges faced. Resilient professionals "immediately look at the problem and say what's the solution to that? What is it trying to teach me?"

      Journaling Assignment and Action Step:

      Which of (3) simple steps resonated with you the most? Share a personal or professional experience with the simple step you resonated with. Write one action step you will take TODAY to bounce back...and AIM toward your VISION or GOAL.

      Are you ready to Bounce back and AIM toward your vision today. Discover What's N U! Schedule a FREE 45 minute coaching consultation @ Contact Marcia

      Let's connect today...leave your comments below and please...please share the love of information with your FRIENDS and FAMILY! I look forward to connecting with you soon;)

      Until next time...

       Marcia

    • Blog post
    • 3 weeks ago
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  • I Hate(d) Failure. I Hate(d) Failure.

    • From: Krista_Rundell
    • Description:

      For most of my 36 years, my personal mantra has been “Failure is not an option.”

       

      Seven months ago, I made a public pledge to blog at least twice a month.  I may as well have also labeled it “My New Year’s Resolution” because I have not written a post after that, despite it being received relatively well.


      Over the past few months, I made fun pacts with fellow ASCD Emerging Leaders (specifically Barry Saide, Eric Bernstein) about how I would follow their blogging lead, writing amazingly interesting blogs that reference cool ‘80s movies and inspire educators to work wonders in their classrooms.  I also made excuses for why I never quite got around to writing (doctoral classes, family commitments, travel, conferences, sleep…).


      Honestly, I didn’t write because I was afraid that my thoughts would be considered un-engaging, un-informative, or worse, poorly written.  (Read: NOT GOOD ENOUGH.) 


      In my effort to avoid feeling like a failure, I failed.


      As an educational consultant who focuses on social emotional learning, I am privileged to work with teachers and students in states across the country.  In this role, I often encourage – no, I intentionally PROMOTE – failure.  I believe whole-heartedly in giving others a 2nd, 3rd, even 4th chance.  I urge teachers to incorporate formative assessment into the classrooms and offer students “second chance learning” on summative evaluations.  I persuade students to forgive themselves, back up, redirect their paths, and move forward again with confidence based on new learning.  Why can’t I seem to give myself those same opportunities?


      Failure helps us grow character, build resilience, and increase knowledge and expertise.  Failure lets us know who is standing by our side.  Failure stretches us in ways we never thought we’d experience.  Failure directs us to success.


      Since everyone defines “success” differently, failure can always lead us to success.  It is all in how we frame it.


      Prior to starting my doctoral program, I set a goal to achieve a 4.0 GPA.  Near the end of my first 9-credit semester, I earned my first “B” on a paper.  For some, this may not seem like much.  For me, the knot of failure sat in my stomach for days.  I tried to ignore it, overcome it, and push it away. 


      Finally, I decided to embrace “it”. 


      I embraced failure. 


      I reframed my thinking.  Realizing that I no longer had to (was able to) achieve my goal, I could actually enjoy my journey of learning – relish all the new insights my professors and classmates offered.  I was now open to truly grow as an educator, as a learner, and as an individual.  I was stretched, and I bounced back.  And truly, I am much better for it.


      As a consultant, you build quick relationships with those with whom you work.  One of my mentors, Thom Stecher, once told me that in order to build my consulting skills, I needed to find MY stories – and allow myself to be vulnerable enough to share them.


      I think this might be a good place to start.  From failure. 


      (And Barry and Eric, lest you think that have failed to tie a movie to this post: The 1993 movie, Cool Runnings, tells the inspiring story of Jamaica’s first bobsled team trying to make it into the Olympics.  At different stages of their lives, the bobsled teammates, and their coach, experienced intense periods of failure.  But, they embraced it, learned from it, and found success.  As one of the main characters states in the movie, “Cool Runnings means ‘Peace Be The Journey.’”


      May we all find peace on our own journey through embracing our failures and remaining confident that we will eventually meet success.

    • Blog post
    • 4 weeks ago
    • Views: 254
  • The Perks of Following The Perks of Following

    • From: Jennifer_Davis_Bowman
    • Description:

      My 3 year old son follows his older brother around non-stop.  Whether it is doing push-ups, saying “shut-up”, or standing on the living room couch (unfortunately it’s our new couch), my older son is locked into a silent game of Simon Says.  

       

      It really got on the older one’s nerves.  Even though siblings intentionally try to push each other’s buttons (the more my older son would protest, the more intense the following became), I wondered if there was something more to this.  Did following have to be a bad thing?  Better yet, were there any benefits for following someone or something?

       

      In contemplating the perks of following, I was reminded of the childhood game “Follow the Leader”.  The game emphasizes the power of observation and environmental study in planning one’s next move.  Similarly, consider the mantra from the Wizard of Oz, “follow the yellow brick road”.  It reveals the power of tenacity-in spite of any real (tornadoes, losing your way, etc.) or imagined obstacles (witches, fake wizards, etc.) that come our way. 

       

      What is Involved in Following?

      Nowadays, following is an action associated with the use of social media.  For example, thinking about Twitter, we may "follow" celebrities, friends, or colleagues in order to network or keep abreast with things that interest us.  In that sense "following" is done online using technology as a communication platform.  For the purpose of this article, the concept of "following" relies on the desire to emulate.  Please note that there is an element of imitation, but most importantly there is an internal change (learning) when effective following occurs.  

       

      So, let’s clarify a few aspects about the act of following before proceeding:

      • Although copying characterizes the early stages, following is more than becoming a “copycat"
      • There is an attempt to recreate an identified principle or style
      • It is a change process
      • It is not limited to a physical act
      • It requires situational assessments (appropriateness, relevance, effectiveness) 
      • It holds meaning (professionally or personally)
      • It is pursued with a specific outcome in mind

       

      What Can We Learn About Following From Teachers?

      I began to wonder how the concept of following translates into the classroom.  Educators follow instructional principles in their classrooms everyday.  Let's take a look at the experience of a few educators to learn how and why they follow:

       

      1. Blogger Jose Vilson suggests that following the principles of an admired educator is inspirational.  Jose recommends that educators study the style of other professionals as a means to refining classroom practice.
      2. Larry Ferlazzo, in one of his blogs, argues that in contemplating following (to discern whether to be principled or unprincipled) a valuable process of self-assessment occurs.
      3. In a post by Jane Healy, we see that following a principle impacts more than just the individual involved with following.  Jane argues that the consequences of following student-centered principles (in which teachers become invisible) reap more benefits for her students (such as self-directed learning, independent thinking, self progress monitoring) than for her.
      4. In a blog by Mark Barnes, he shares the dilemma of being torn between a widely accepted principle and his personal (less popular) belief that homework is ineffective.  His conflict highlights the importance of evaluating principles before committing to following them.

      What Does Research Show in Regards to Teachers Following?

      The teacher mentor process is one way instructional principles are studied and practiced.  Let's take a look at what teacher mentor research suggests about following:

       

      1. Mentoring is connected to teacher retention.  Research shows that beginning teachers that follow the instructional principles set forth by mentors are more likely to remain in the teaching profession (Odell & Ferraro, 1992). 
      2. Mentoring impacts the perception of teaching.  Research indicates that when teachers observe their mentor modeling an instructional principle, teachers report greater job satisfaction and self-efficacy (Smith & Ingersoll, 2004).  
      3. Mentoring establishes teacher support.  When teachers communicate instructional principle difficulties with their mentors, they are able to obtain the required resources to meet classroom challenges (Appleton & Kindt, 2002).

      What Are the Rules For Following Effectively?

      Although teacher experiences and research indicate that following can be advantageous, as educators we must show care in how we follow.  There is a difference between becoming a follower and following (the latter is the goal). Keeping in mind a few tips helps to ensure effective following:

       

      • Strive to focus on a principle even if at first a person or behavior interests you
      • Expect to see a change between pre/post following.
      • Ask how the principle you wish to follow is appropriate, relevant, and effective for your needs.
      • Understand why the principle that you wish to follow is meaningful to you.
      • Determine the short-term and long-term goals that you hope to accomplish by following the principle.

       

      At last, it is time to revisit the questions that were inspired by my 3 year older following his older brother. Was there a deeper meaning to gain from this simple act of following?  Yes.  I believe that there is an important take-away from watching my younger son engulfed in the act of following. I believe that following is a powerful and necessary process that may begin copy-cat like, but when done effectively, results in learning.  As for the second question:  Was following bad?  I conclude that following is not bad at all, as long as it is principle-based, purposeful and change oriented.  In addition, we have to remember the many benefits of following that are echoed by teacher experience and education research.  Now, if only I could get my 10 year older to be more receptive to the benefits of following...

       

      References

      1. Appleton, K., & Kindt, I. (2002).  Beginning elementary teachers’ development as teachers of science.  Journal of Science Teacher Education, 13(1): 43-61.
      2. Odell, S.J., & Ferraro, D.P. (1992).  Teacher mentoring and Teacher Retention.  The Journal of Teacher Education, 43, (3): 200-204. 
      3. Smith, T.M., & Ingersoll, R.M. (2004).  What are the effects of induction and mentoring on beginning teacher turnover?  American Educational Research Journal, 41 (3): 681-714.
    • Blog post
    • 4 weeks ago
    • Views: 292
  • Blogging: Who Should, and Why Blogging: Who Should, and Why

    • From: Tom_Whitby
    • Description:

      If there is one subject that most bloggers have written about, it is probably the act of blogging. I know for me, as well as many of my blogging friends, it is nothing like we imagined before we were immersed in the “blogosphere”. Bloggers start their blogs for many different and personal reasons. One step common to all however, is that it does take an act of courage to publish that first blog post.

      When I first started, I thought that I would do apiece here and there for a little while, but that I would eventually run out of things to say. Three years later, after 237 posts, I am still waiting for that time to arrive. My areas of interest include education and social media. I guess as long as each of those areas continue to evolve, I will always have something to write about.

      Another factor that affects what I blog is the continuing change in the audience. In order to access blog posts, a reader must be involved in some way with technology. That is a growing audience especially among educators. Most people use technology in everyday life, but more and more, educators are using technology for professional development in larger numbers. In order to access the most relevant information on the profession of education, educators are relying more on blog posts for relevancy. Many thought leaders and education authors are blogging their thoughts to share, test, and try out new ideas in education.

      Twitter, which is considered to be micro-blogging, has lured many people to blogging. It limits the author to 140 characters, but it does however, enable one to blast out ideas for quick responses. Success on Twitter leaves some people with a need to do more. There are ideas that need to be placed in explanations longer than a string of 140 character tweets may allow. Many ideas are introduced and tersely discussed in tweets and chats on Twitter, but they demand more reflection and more explanation, which leads to blogging. The biggest effect of Twitter chats is often reflected in the blog posts following, and resulting from the chats.

      Blogging changes the way many people think about new, and old ideas. The difference between writing a Blog post and writing a magazine or journal article is the immediate feedback in the form of comments or responses. Before a blogger puts words to the computer screen the audience and its reaction are a consideration. The blogger will strive for clarity in thought. The blogger will strive for clarity in the writing. The blogger will attempt to anticipate objections. The blogger will not rush the idea in print, but develop it, so that it evolves before the reader. It is less a reaction, and more of a transparent reflection of thought, benefitting the writer as much as the reader. This will begin to carry over into the way the writer approaches almost everything.

      For a blogging educator, as a teacher, or administrator, student or even a parent, there becomes a transparency in their thinking and reflecting. Before technology enabled us, this process had never been available, or had so much access to an individual’s thought process been given. Before the technology, books and magazines enabled us to view it in only a few people who were privileged to media access. Today the computer is the publisher. Good or bad, anyone can publish at anytime.

      The stunningly apparent, positive take-away from blogging is that it gives voice to the blogger. A thoughtful, reflective, considered post can be picked up by an audience and sent out to thousands, or millions of readers through technology.

      Blog posts can also be used for propaganda, or mindless ranting. As educators we need to emphasize critical thinking in our classes for that very reason. We need to model for our students how to responsibly question. We need to teach them how to comment and respond to blog posts. If blog posts are part of our ever-evolving, technology-driven culture, we need to educate our children in their use.  

      As educators we must also be learners. We need to model learning for our students who need to understand the necessity to be a life long learner. Educators are also people who work with ideas and share. It takes courage to put one’s self on the line to be scrutinized by others. Teachers do it every day in schools. The most effective way to have one’s voice recognized in sharing ideas in order to consider, reflect, modify, and improve with the greatest audience possible is through blogging.

      We need courageous administrators blogging to give transparency to their thoughts and leadership.  We need educators to have the courage to experiment with blogging placing them squarely in the conversation of education from which they are too often blocked. Educators need to be models for their students. We need our students blogging to follow their teacher models. Blogging provides an audience for students’ work. It is an authentic audience and not an audience of one, as have been most of their previous writing experiences. It gives voice to their concerns, and it shows them direction for their personal learning. We need parents to blog to give voice to their concerns in directing the conversation for the needs of their children.

      Since becoming a blogger, I view things differently. I question things more. I try to understand things well enough, so that I can explain them simply. Most importantly I have been recognized as a person to be taken seriously, because I have a voice. These are things I wish for everyone to experience. What good is education, if we do not have a voice to share what we have learned in order to benefit all?

    • Blog post
    • 4 weeks ago
    • Views: 248
  • The Best of the Week: Volume 2 The Best of the Week: Volume 2

  • Creating More Lollipop Moments Creating More Lollipop Moments

    • From: Kyle_Pace
    • Description:

       

      This video from TEDx Toronto has really been resonating with me lately. It has me thinking about the kinds of learning experiences we create for our students. The relationships we build with our students. And also the learning experiences we create for teachers and the necessity of strong relationships there too. The video is about 6 minutes. It's worth that watch. I've got some more thoughts on the other side.

       

      Yes, You're a Leader

      Stop thinking that you don't have something to share. That you don't have insight to offer into making education better; whether that be at the district or school level. Or that no one can learn from you. We're all leaders when it comes to the business of making teaching and learning better for our students. To existing district and school leaders: are you tapping into the full potential of the leaders you have around you every day? Are you giving opportunity to the people within your organization develop their leadership capacity?

      So, what might this look like? It could look like sharing at a faculty meeting, joining in a chat on Twitter to share your expertise, joining a Google Hangout, joining a Google+ community, leading a conversation at an edcamp, or writing a blog post. Some are more comfortable with certain mediums than others. We need to be ok with this and allow it to count as professional growth.

      Spreading the Love

      Who makes your life better? Who makes you a better teacher? There's no denying the power of words. No matter how they're delivered to us. Sean Williams and I had a brief discussion about this on Twitter the other night:

      You will never know all the people you have impacted in your lifetime. Chances are good someone has impacted you in some way. Have you taken the time to tell them?

      Change the World

      We have all experienced our own "lollipop" moments. We all have likely even been the creator of some whether we remember it or not. The power of sharing these moments with those that gave them to us I truly believe has the ability to change the world. It comes down to letting people know they matter. I think about this all the time when I think about the wonderful people I've become connected to in online and offline spaces. It regularly blows me away! I am working on being better about telling people who 1) I am thankful for them and 2) that they're having a huge impact because of what they're doing and in turn sharing about it, and 3) that I really appreciate it.

      Think about the collective power that's out there already. Now think about if we worked more to tell people they matter, tap into their genius, and help them find the best outlet to share it. Just imagine what could happen!

       

    • Blog post
    • 5 weeks ago
    • Views: 80
  • 10 Engaging Activities for Stu 10 Engaging Activities for Students Who Finish Work Early

    • From: Ryan_Thomas1
    • Description:

      studentsAs a student, I was rarely the first to complete my tests or in-class exercises, but when I was, I held onto my work until it was collected. Why? Because I didn’t want to be “rewarded” with more work; I didn’t want to select a time-killing ditto from the teacher’s filing cabinet.

      If I didn’t want to work on dittos while the rest of the students completed their work, I know that my students don’t either.

      I consider all 10 of the activities below to be creative, engaging and meaningful. Here’s the rule I used when compiling this list: If I wouldn’t enjoy working on the activity myself, it didn’t make the cut.  


      10 Engaging Activities for Students Who Finish Work Early

      1Newspaper Blackout
      All you need is a newspaper article (or any form of print media) and a Sharpie. Say something about yourself by blacking out all of the words you don’t intend to use in your sentence.

      2Write a Six-Word Story
      Flash fiction has been around for a while, but it was perhaps Ernest Hemingway that dazzled us with the flash-fiction concept in the 1920s when his friends bet him that he couldn’t write a complete story in six words. Whether or not it’s true, the story goes that his colleagues each dumped 10 bucks into a pot. If Hemingway’s story wooed them, he’d pocket the money. Once the money was pooled, he grabbed a napkin off the table and nonchalantly dashed off six words:

      For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

      Then he slid the napkin across the table and collected what was due to him.

      Using Hemingway as an inspiration, write a story in six words.

      3Read Whatever You Want
      Let’s keep this simple: Grab any book, comic book, magazine or newspaper you like from the classroom library. Start reading!

      4*Wikipedia
      Start with an article related to a personal interest. In that article, find a link to another article that teaches you something you didn’t know. Read that new article and write a summary of what you found interesting or what you learned.


      5*Reviews

      Read a review about a movie, book, music or game that you like. Summarize the author’s opinion and write your response. Quote parts of the original review in your response.

      6*Another Middle School
      Look up a website of a middle school that you don’t already know about. Browse the pages of their website until you have learned some things about the school. Summarize what you find. Here are some questions you might answer:  What appears to be the best thing about that school? What suggestions do you have for their website that would help you learn more or make it easier to use? What do you dislike about the school based on what you see on the site?


      7*World News

      Use Google news to find a current world news event that interests you. Summarize the article and write your thoughts about it. Be sure to quote parts of the news article you read.

      8*Found Poem - Read this article about how to write a found poem:  

      http://www.creative-writing-now.com/found-poetry.html 

      After reading it, find any webpage that you want and create a found poem from it. Write your poem and list the URL for the webpage that you used. Write a sentence or two explaining why you picked the words and phrases that you did for your poem.
       

      9*Suggestion for Class
      - Find a website, game or online program that you wish a teacher would use in class. Write the URL of the resource and explain why you think a teacher should use it and how they could use it.

      10*Make a Timeline - Use this online tool to make a timeline with at least 6 events from start to end.  It can be about your life (from birth or maybe just a single season of life) or it can be about some famous person or event(s)

      http://www.softschools.com/teacher_resources/timeline_maker/


      Get a screen capture and paste it into Word.  If it’s too long to fit on the screen, copy it in parts.


      *These activities all come from blogger and technology-coordinator, Mike Petty. For more ideas, be sure to stop by his blog, Classroom Games and Technology.

       

                                                                     download click and clunk

    • Blog post
    • 5 weeks ago
    • Views: 731
  • The Importance of Being a Conn The Importance of Being a Connected Educator

    • From: Victoria_Day
    • Description:

      (Reprinted from Vicki's Blog Rethinking Education)

      The Importance of Being a Connected Educator

       download

      The Commodore 64

      Back in the early 1990’s, I was working on my master thesis for graduate school in music.  During this time, the personal computer was really taking shape and was still pricey for the times.  I remember our first PC.  I was working on my thesis and begged my husband to purchase one for the house.  He kept saying to me, “All you want to do is chat on AOL.”  That was not quite the reason why as you know, to write a thesis, like a dissertation, it was much easier to use Microsoft Word and use the program's ability to create footnotes at the bottom of the page.  (I cannot fathom how folks did it before computers!)

      At the time, the only service we could get was dial-up.  You heard that distinct dial tone and the crunching of sounds, trying to hook up through a web service such as AOL, Earthlink or Prodigy.  Your monthly fee would enable dial-up service, email, news, and a search engine to surf the world wide web.  I remember having the ability to chat using the AOL protocol, but never really used it as not many folks had personal computers.

      Enter the 21st century.  Now, we use social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Blogs to connect.  But why is this so important for us as educators and administrators to use these tools?  You say to yourself, “But I don’t want people to find out what I am doing and have my information on the web. Or, Twitter?  Really, as a professional development tool?”  You bet, and the best part, it’s all FREE!!

      The platforms that I identified, I use to increase what we call, a PLN (Personal/Professional Learning Network).  This means connecting to like minded folks who are passionate about education and discussing what is best for students.  For me personally, using Twitter as a professional development tool has rejuvenated my career and connected me to some “Rock Stars” in my PLN.  There are times I am chatting with my New York friends about good practice and other times chatting with Rockstar educators such as Todd Whitaker, Peter DeWitt and even Arne Duncan.  The best part that I cannot stress enough is that it is free.  It also gets me off of “the lonely island of administration.”  If I have a problem that I don’t have an answer too, it’s very easy to “dial-up” my PLN and in less than an hour, I get a response to my question.  Need a little mentorship, tweet out to your PLN and instantly, they come to your rescue because they are connected.  Want to meet your PLN?  Go to some conferences like the SAANYS, NASSP, NAESP, NYSCATE and ISTE conference and participate in a Tweet-up.  Better yet, go to an Edcamp, free learning, face-to-face and live tweeting.

      To  open an account with Twitter is easy.  You go to the website and join and the program will pull you through the steps and voila, you have a username.  Use a unique username, something that identifies who you are.  My twitter handle is  @VictoriaL_Day, makes sense because that is my name and it identifies that it is me.  I also uploaded a picture as well as explaining who I am in the biography slot.  Once you have opened an account, follow someone, like me.  See who they are following and who follows them.

      Twitter is not like Facebook.  You only have 140 characters to write what you are thinking or answer a question or provide a link to an article or a blog.  You do have to remember that this is Social Media (SM) but a rule of thumb is this, anything you post whether it's on Twitter, Facebook or a blog or a comment on a blog is a digital footprint.  Just think of it this way, do I want my parents of students, staff and my family reading this, then you will be safe.  Also, be kind - it is okay to agree to disagree in chats, but we are here to learn.

      The thing we Twitter aficionados say to do for beginner tweeps is once you join, start lurking.  Start lurking  on various chats and tweeps that you follow.  Join a chat using a hashtag.  The hashtag is the hash symbol # with the word or term used after the symbol.  It groups all tweets into one stream or group that you can follow.  For instance, I co-moderate, with Tony Sinanis, Bill Brennan, Blanca Duarte, Carol Varsalona and Starr Stackstein,  #NYEDChat every other Monday at 8:30p.m. EST.  You can easily join our chat’s on Monday evenings, lurk and see our conversation.  Another powerful chat to follow is #satchat every Saturday at 7:30a.m. The moderation team of Scott Rocco, Billy Krakower and Brad Curie started a revolution about two years ago and it has taken off so fast that they had to open chats on the west coast (#satchatwc) and expanded to Oceania (#satchatoc).  I remember it was just a few of us starting the global conversation, and then it took off like wildfire. It is so hard to keep up with the chat because people are tweeting is so fast.

      So, I challenge you to open yourself and get connected, whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.  Start lurking.  Follow us on our chats and watch how your PLN will start to grow.  Once you start, I promise, you will be hooked.  It will rejuvenate your career!

    • Blog post
    • 1 month ago
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  • How I Work: Meet Teacher-Techn How I Work: Meet Teacher-Technologist, Clint Walters

    • From: Ryan_Thomas1
    • Description:

      This is the second in an ongoing series of posts inspired by How I Work, a series on one of our favorite sites, Lifehacker. As educators, we like to know how other educators work, how they live, and how they play, so every week we’ll be featuring a new interview with a new teacher. This week, we’ll hear from Clint Walters, a Computer Information Technology teacher from Stewartstown, PA.

      clint waltersLocation:  I live in beautiful Stewartstown, nestled at the bottom of South Central PA, just north of Baltimore MD.


      Desired location:
      I love it here, but I’m willing to live wherever I can pursue my passion for teaching in the Computer Information Technology field, support my awesome wife and family, and ultimately where ever God and my career take me.  


      Current work title (administrator/teacher/school technologist, etc.) Also, what grade do you teach?:
      I am a Computer Information Technology teacher for grades 7 & 8. I occasionally facilitate online courses for Graduate students. I recently conducted a gaming literacy workshop for undergraduates at a local university. 


      Area of expertise (subjects you teach or have an interest in):
      My area of expertise is hard to articulate. Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about Game Based Learning, Game Design, and Gamification, which are big areas of interest. That is my current passion, and what I most often teach online and speak on. Design is a big part of what I teach from graphic design to design thinking. I’m getting more into the areas of Coding and Programming for my students because I feel that that is an essential tool for my student’s future. When it all comes down, my goal is to teach students to be “awesome”. I want them to be fluent users of technology, sure, but the ultimate goal is to make them expert project managers, leaders, entrepreneurs, and world-changers. There’s not enough of that happening in the school day. I don’t think we became a world power by producing great test-takers, and I don’t think that’s enough to keep us there.

      Do you have a specific long-term career goal?:
      My current goal, as lame as it sounds, is to continue doing what I am doing, and remain open to what comes next. Currently, who I am fits what I am doing. When there is a disconnect there, it’s time to change.

      I do, of course have dreams and aspirations. I would love to develop relationships with entrepreneurs and companies in the education technology field. I would love to get involved with a company that promotes serious epistemic games or game-based-learning, while still staying connected to the education field. I really admire the work of companies and organizations like Institute of Play, E-line Media, Games for Change, BrainPop and the Games Learning Society, to name a few. There’s a new company in Baltimore, called Immersive 3d that’s doing some really impressive work with Baltimore County Schools. I just think that it would be incredibly engaging and rewarding to get involved with one of these projects or something like it.

      In my heart of hearts, I would love to make my school into a Quest school. I would settle for being part of starting something like that somewhere, locally or otherwise. I want to see the whole concept of systems thinking, design thinking, STE[a]M learning, and 21st Century skills become available to more students in more places. I want to engage policy makers, teachers, administrators and most of all, parents in demanding more for our kids than rigorous testing, useless trivia, and constant remediation.

      Languages you have studied or currently speak:
      I’ve studied French in high school and college, but I currently know more Japanese than French. That may be misleading, though. I only know enough Japanese to survive on the mat at the Aikido dojo I attend. I’ve studied a fair amount of html and css, though I can’t really speak those languages.


      The project you’re most proud of:
      Currently, my pet projects are my classroom and curriculum, my workshops and presentations, and my online course writing. I take pride in all of these. Mostly, I take pride in my students, who make and do awesome things in my room.

      The classes that I teach are my ongoing project. I’m constantly re-thinking, revising, and re-iterating curriculum, activities, and even classroom layout. I inherited a 7th grade class in MS Office and an 8th grade class in technical drawing and digital photography. Now my seventh graders publish blogs, participate in social networking, design engaging graphics, make their own video games, learn coding and programming, and explore the nuances of project based learning. My 8th graders go deeper by experiencing 9 weeks of project based learning, which requires them to develop unique solutions and select and use computer applications effectively and productively, seamlessly transferring created objects between selected computer applications and other tools. Both of these classes focus heavily on design and systems thinking and employ a generous amount of gamification and game based learning.

      Favorite time of the day:
      That depends on the day… 

      Favorite technology gadget for the classroom:
      I’m not sure how to answer this. I have a lot of software that I like to use. I have a lot of techniques that I like to teach that are made easier with technology. I have access to several gadgets that do things well, but I do not have a favorite. It’s all in the application. 


      Next conference/professional-development event you’re planning to give or attend:
      Whatever and wherever I can. I just attended EdSurge Baltimore, and I just missed SXSWedu (tears). Being a public school teacher does not afford one the opportunity to attend such events. The funding is barely there to retain teachers, let alone provide them with any real and meaningful professional experiences. This is one of the reasons why I wish to develop more relationships (and see teachers in general be more connected) with entrepreneurs and companies in the education technology field. In order to get out of one’s duties, let alone cover travel expenses, one practically needs to represent a company.

      How many hours per day do you usually work?:
      That depends. Some days I work in my sleep. Typically I’m on the clock from 7:30 to 2:50, but I’m at work from 6:30 to 3:00 most days. Then I come home and devote myself to my family. After my kids go to bed, I typically put in an hour of work on my blog, any freelance design work I may have, or facilitating online classes. I also tend to spend between two and four hours on these pursuits on the weekend as well. 

      Are you an introvert or an extrovert?:
      I am an extreme extrovert. I really dislike being alone. I recharge in the presence of others. I dwindle and wither in isolation.

      Are you an early-riser or a night-owl?:
      I am neither. I like to get to bed before 10:00 when possible. I wake at 5:00, though I can’t say that I am particularly joyful at waking. I think that I used to be a morning person... before children. Now, I spend a lot of time feeling tired.

      Do you have any pets or kids (names and ages)?:
      I am blessed with an awesome family. My wife, Lanette, and I have two kids. Hudson, age six is in Kindergarten, and loves Legos, Games of all kinds, and building stuff out of anything around the house. Eliza, age 2, loves climbing, demolishing whatever Hudson builds, and using mommy’s iPad. 

      My wife, Lanette, is a K-5 technology integrator in a 1:1 iPad school and is now the Digital Curriculum Reviewer for Kindertown.


      Next city/country you want to visit:
      Here, I don’t have a strong preference. I recently went to Boston, which was not on my radar at all, but I loved it. I enjoy visiting new places. I would love to go to Japan someday. That would be cool.

      Favorite vacation place:
      My favorite vacation spot is anywhere my family is. Lately I enjoy Bethany Beach, DE because that is where my family goes on vacation. I would be as happy vacationing in Maine or Florida or my back yard.

      Favorite book:
      My favorite fiction book is JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings, which I discovered in 11th grade. Thank you, Mrs. Smith. My favorite non-fiction title is Reality is Broken, by Jane McGonigal. 

      Favorite song:
      I’m a musician. I play the drums and world percussion. I love music. I do not have one favorite song. Today, I am enjoying Cake’s rendition of Mahna Mahna. I consistently enjoy music by the Black Keys, Mofro, and Jack White. I tend to enjoy everything from the Ting Tings to Mavis Staples. I have eclectic tastes.

      Where we can find your website/blog/classroom blog:
      http://www.clintwalters.com
      (my main website)

      http://mrwaltersdesk.blogspot.com/ (my education blog)

      Do you have a Twitter account we can follow you on?:
      https://twitter.com/mrwalters

       

       

       

                                                                  Surfing for Substance II Download

    • Blog post
    • 1 month ago
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  • The Best of the Week: Volume 1 The Best of the Week: Volume 1

  • Digital Microstories Digital Microstories

    • From: Michael_Fisher
    • Description:
      Collaborative Blog Post written with friend and colleague Danielle Hardt of Starpoint Middle School in Lockport, NY. Danielle is a literacy rock star, a highly effective teacher, and a secret practical joke enthusiast (a skill I highly prize!).

      It has become the rage as of late to “Close Read” everything in American Common Core classrooms. Almost all of the states that are providing curriculum resources (including NY) and many of the vendors that are selling Common Core aligned products are focusing on Close Reading as an essential strategy in their materials, overusing an instructional methodology to the point of killing the love of reading. Our students are noticing this too, and ever since the beginning of education, the students are our largest sounding board as well as our biggest obligation. We need to listen to them.

       

      In an effort to bring a little love back to literacy (note the alliteration), we’d like to suggest a little brevity and levity and “webevity” to instructional processes with the use of digital microstories. This avenue provides a medium students are very comfortable with.  Using digital formats fosters engagement and efficiency and proficiency in the classroom, as many students either use these tools already or require limited explanation of their usage. In many modern classrooms, students are educating us as teachers in the easiest ways to utilize the technology. When this happens, the learning skyrockets! We are all partners in learning.

       

      Digital microstories are based on short fiction pieces that range from six words to 140 characters to a couple of sentences to a couple of paragraphs. The emphasis is on brevity, certainly, but also on a student’s ability to make connections and inferences based on the few words they read--then extending those connections and inferences to a visualization using a teacher- or student-selected web tool.

       

      Besides just sheer engagement, another attribute of this format is the instant gratification for students to complete and "turn in" an assignment in one class period or block. What middle schooler doesn't love to weave a tale about the hero/heroine that escapes a torturous conflict, barely rising to the top? Perhaps a midnight terror that shivers the spine? Maybe they’d delve into a short poem or riddle or other clever play on words. Any which way, digital microstory formats allow for these and many other options for the writers of the world to concisely demonstrate critical thinking, focusing on evaluation and synthesis without the rigmarole of days of analysis or the constant revisiting of text for the sake of answering what amounts to a bunch of comprehension questions.

       

      Allowing students the opportunity to choose dramatically-engaging topics in relationship to the visualization within these digital formats creates a natural connection to inferencing. A relationship with close reading happens organically, rather than through a need for direct instruction. This organic and authentic version of close reading hits the heart of the way we analyze details and extend the learning beyond anything we could have imagined in traditional ways of teaching. It also extends opportunities for further discussion and reflection.

       

      Getting back to the topic at hand though, access to resources around microfiction are numerous. You can “Google” search terms such as “Microstories,” “Microfiction,” “Microtext,” etc. and find a plethora of resources related to short fiction. Note that some of these resources might be inappropriate for sharing with kids, but would be great for sharing/generating ideas with teachers about how they might engage micro-literacy with their students.

       

      Here are some of our favorites:

       

      Six Word Stories:

       

      Visualizing Famous Quotes: Make a Web2.0 visualization of your favorite quote!

       

       

      Very short stories:

       

      Extremely Short Stories:

       

      “Tweet the gist:”
      • Tweet the plot of a favorite movie.
      • Tweet the central idea of a favorite song.
      • Tweet the main idea of a favorite poem.
      • (Note that these tweets might be physical, in-class experiences, rather than an online tweet. Just keep them to 140 characters!)
      • Then, “Instagram” the tweet: What visual would enhance the tweeted message?
      There are several important task-specific functions that go along with Digital Microstories, primary among them are analysis of text and students eventually writing their own versions rather than always analyzing someone else’s writing. Both of these are aligned to Common Core standards for Key Ideas and Details (Anchor standards 1-3) in all grade levels in the reading standards and the first six writing standards around text types and production of writing. Additionally, because students are adding a visual component, they are also engaging reading standard 7 around the integration and evaluation of diverse media formats.

       

      Now that we’ve defined the “What,” let’s take a look at the “How.”

       

      There are many web tools available for creating visualizations of text, merging multiple types of media, and developing digital representations of thinking. For this particular instructional activity scenario, we’re looking for tools that engage the brevity factor. Those tools that let us create short, quick media productions will be the most useful for digital microstories and thus our opportunities for instant classroom gratification and analysis...and assessment...and engagement.

       

      Here is a sampling of tools, both Web 2.0 and Device Applications, that we think would be extremely useful for digital microstorytelling:

       

       

      With a vast variety of tools online and apps on devices/tablets, this short list is just the tip of the iceberg. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments section below! Additionally, these photo and image resources may help:  Stock ExchangePixabayFlickr's Creative Commons

       

      Using some of these web tools, we created some examples here, with Ernest Hemingway’s original Six Word Story, “For sale, baby shoes. Never worn.”:

       

      Animoto:

      Six Word Stories: Hemingway  

      Prezi:

       

      Storybird:

       

      Note how our choices of associated media in the different web tools creates opportunities for divergent discussions, perhaps even comparative analysis of several visualizations of the same short text. How awesome would that be to explore in class?

       

      Since these digital microstories are dependent on both text and other media, if you need help with images to create your own visualization, check out the photo and image resources in Mike’s Diigo account: https://www.diigo.com/user/mikefisher821/photos While many of these resources include free content, we would urge you to remember and model that attribution is still important and students should give credit where credit is due.

       

      Here are a couple of useful sites to assist in providing that credit:

       

       

      Some of the web tools include content that students can use without attribution because they are an embedded component of the web tool or application.

       

      So what’s the point of all this?

       

      Learning and engagement are extremely powerful together. High levels of both help students remember more and evaluate better. Giving students opportunities to investigate short fiction forms and create them on their own opens up a plethora of avenues to creative development and ownership of learning.

       

      Digital microstories offer students many opportunities for creativity, textual analysis, discernment, evaluation, engagement, and choices. How powerful is that? If we’re really going to work toward college and career readiness, shouldn’t we give our students authentic tasks and tools? We think so. And we think Digital Microstories are a great way to get there!


      Originally posted at Curriculum21.com/blog

      Follow Mike on Twitter: @fisher1000

      Digital Learning Strategies now available from the ASCD Store

    • Blog post
    • 1 month ago
    • Views: 356
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