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Originally published in May, 2012
I feel like I need to share some really good news with you. And I am not alone. See, I was just like you!
During these past few months I have opened myself up completely to the 21st century. I went full board, having never created a blog, wiki, uploaded a video, nor participated in ANY social media prior to this year. I have never been a techie, or desired to acquire the newest gadgets (Honestly, I held out for a long time from buying compact discs).
I will admit it… I was scared. I had nothing good to say about facebook, twitter, google, blogging, and I too felt that I had learned all I needed to know about the computer (Hey, I was a wiz at the Microsoft office suite). As long as I could get on the internet, I was fine. I knew how to search for things. I could find articles, and resources, or so I thought. As an educator, my mind was made up: we are not allowed to participate in this new found social media stuff anyway. It was all “trouble” and the “devil’s playground.”
I was good. All good. I knew a lot more then my predecessors. I have worked with administrators in the past who didn’t know how to turn on a computer. They couldn’t text, or had no idea what a url was. They were just fine, and some almost reveled in their learned helplessness.Let’s face it, I thought, there were hundreds of thousands of effective principals since the beginning of time who never even wrote an email.
Then a strange thing happened on my way to being comfortable. I found out that as a 38 year old first-year principal, who was a self-described progressive in education, that I was already a dinosaur (insert dinosaur sound). I have called educators dinosaurs before. Gulp. We all know how that story ended: Extinction! Well, I didn’t want to be extinct. And I don’t want you to be either! I had ask myself some tough questions: Am I modeling 21st century skills for my teachers and students? Am I really progressive? Do I really know where education was going? The answers were clearly, NO. So I DID something about it. I TOOK a LEAP. I got off of the comfortable road!
So, this is your homework assignment for the summer. You need to start something. Depending on where you want to grow, there are plenty of resources. And I am willing to help, and so are all the connected educators near you, and thousands more are just a click away. Actually, we are all just a click away from you!
We are not trying to keep anything from you. We want EVERYBODY to be connected. This is not a competition. Rather, it is a privilege that you are in the position you are in. With the gift of being an administrator, there is a responsibility to your teachers, parents, students, and most of all, to yourself. Now, what are you going to do with this precious gift?
Ask yourself these questions….Here are some resources for you.
I want to know how to access the cutting edge information on education. Where do I start?
Twitter.com - It is free, and you will have access to Professional Development at your fingertips 24/7. I recommend to start with the following educators:
@NMHS_Principal, Eric Sheninger, High School Principal
@stumpteacher, Josh Stumpenhorst, Teacher
@PrincipalJ, Jessica Johnson, Elementary Principal
@web20classroom, Steven Anderson, Technology Supervisor
@gcouros, George Couros, Principal and founder of Connected Principals
Justin Tarte, Life of an Educator
Dave Gentile, The Road To Excellence is Always Under Construction
Pamm Moore, Learning to Lead
Spike Cook’s RM Bacon School Site, RM Bacon Weekly
Curt Rees, I know this much is true
How will I be able to do all this? You have to make time. Just like the teachers you are frustrated with, you can’t punch in and out. You have to be willing to put in the time, and be committed. The more you are connected, the more you will become inspired by what folks are doing.
How can I learn all of this? Like the famous book by Anne Lamott Bird by Bird you have to start small and take it one bird at a time.
I guarantee that you have a teacher in your building or an administrator in another building that can help you out with your transition to being connected. You just have to open yourself up to the possibilities.
For those of you who are reading this because you are connected, my challenge to you is to print, email, forward, or even read this to another administrator that you feel could benefit.
Remember, I was just like you!
My Prezi on Social Media in Administration:
Great Article on the Power of the Principal:
Twitter accounts for Technology:
In a recent meeting about student behavior the discussion turned to spring fever and the stress students take on as state testing approaches. A colleague shared an experience that reminds us all that it’s not just students that feel the stress of state testing or the anticipation of summer. The teacher was working with her students on writing conclusions, a skill they had been honing throughout the school year. With the state test approaching, it was time to review and practice. When asked to write a conclusion, students acted like it was a foreign concept. The teacher’s reaction, however, was anything but foreign to those of us in similar positions: she lost it. The usually calm and considerate teacher ripped into the class, “What do you mean you don’t know how to write a conclusion? We have been working on conclusions all year! You have to be able to write a conclusion!”
Listening to her regret her uncharacteristic outburst it reminded me of similar scenes in my classroom recently. Her call for all of us to be aware of how the stress and excitement of the season affects our behavior drove me to think about how social and emotional skills are equally important for us as adults as well as students. Here are a few ways teachers can benefit from CASEL’s five SEL competencies:
Self-awareness: As teachers we must maintain our awareness of how we are feeling. As the above story highlighted, this time of year is ripe with emotion: the stress of state testing (especially in an age of increasing accountability based on test scores), the excitement of summer vacation and general exhaustion from a long, hard-fought year.
Self-management: Once we identify our emotions we can begin to manage them effectively. For example, in stressful times perhaps a lunchtime walk in the fresh air might be a better use of time than grading that lingering stack of papers. If we are aware of our emotions we can also anticipate situations in which they could lead us to uncharacteristic and undesirable behavior. During moments of extreme frustration in the classroom we need to regulate ourselves so students are not the target of our unleashed emotions.
Social awareness: We also need to be cognizant of what our students are feeling. They also feel the stress of state testing and, depending on a student’s homelife, the anticipation of summer brings uncertainty and anxiety rather than excitement. We simply must be able to walk a mile in our students' shoes.
Relationship skills: During these strenuous times we must maintain positive relationships with our students. More than ever (even though they would probably never tell us) they need us. They need us to listen, they need us to connect with them and they need us to be there when they need help.
Responsible decision-making: By paying attention to all the above we will be in a position to analyze the probable outcomes of our actions and make decisions that truly respect our students.
As the pull of summer and anxiety brought on by state testing increase, let’s remember that social and emotional skills are critical, not just for our students, but for us as teachers as well. By practicing and modeling positive social and emotional skills we can all end the year on an upbeat note without losing our cool.
I just spent the morning viewing a livestream from an Education Forum from Education Week. For those who may be unaware a livestream is a live transmission of an event over the Internet. This was a forum that recognized Education Leaders. It was titled Leaders To Learn From 2013. I think what Education Week did was great and I hope not to diminish their contribution. I do have some observations that I would like to share.
My friend and colleague Kyle Pace, @kylepace, was the person who drew me to this forum. Kyle is a connected educator known to tens of thousands of educators as a collaborative, connected educator who engages people with knowledge and information in the realm of technology in education. If any educator deserves an award for collaborative leadership, Kyle would top my list of candidates. It is a well-deserved recognition.
What struck me about the other award winners recognized for their leadership accomplishments that other educators are supposed to learn from was that we as an education community have not heard from them before? I realize that not all educators are connected through social media. It also seems to me as an observer of social media in education that it is often more difficult for Administrators to connect than teachers. There are reasons for that, both real and imagined, and I understand that. It would seem to me however, that if collaboration is part of a reason for recognition, the award winners should demonstrate some proficiency in modern collaboration as educators.
I also attended a Discovery Education forum recently where a number of Superintendents were recognized. When asked about their professional Social media involvement and collaboration, each claimed Twitter accounts and some claimed to have blogs. Of course sitting with Josh Stumpenhorst, @stumpteacher, we were able to quickly fact-check each of their claims to discover that most of them rarely tweeted and few had Blogs.
In a time when mobile devices can vet any speaker in a few seconds, people should not speak out of hand. In addition to education leaders, all leaders should get the fact that they can, and will be held more accountable for what they do compared to what they say. The world and information distribution has changed. Their failure to recognize that fact is testament to their relevance in a technology-driven society.
I have made my views on sharing as a professional responsibility known in many previous posts. A question from Dean Shareski really summed it up for me in regard to professional collaboration. What would we say about a doctor who found a cure for cancer or even a partial pathway to that end, but failed to share it with medical colleagues?
If educators are doing things in a better way, why are they not collaborating using the methods of today? Educators may not have the Journal of the American Medical Association, but we do have Twitter and we do have Blogs. I am tired of educators who espouse technology for everyone else, but fail to employ it for themselves and their profession.
Many Administrators use the Internet to vet out teaching candidates. They get to Google information about individuals that they are legally precluded from asking about in an interview. If that has become the standard then let’s have at it. We should look at everyone’s digital footprint including administrators. What is their educational philosophy as it is stated in the digital world? What does their Professional Learning Network include? What is it they have collaborated on in the Social media world? How effective are they in the very collaboration skills that they claim to have? How reflective are they based on their public blog? Do they hold to their principles in their public reflections?
We are moving forward in the way we access and obtain information. If an administrator has not contributed and that information is not obtainable, then that may be an indication of ability, or relevance, or both. At the very least it should be a red flag. I am not suggesting that any administrator who is not on social media is a Luddite. I am suggesting that the best leaders in an age of technology are those who understand it as a result of effectively using it, as well as modeling it for those who follow. We need to consider relevant collaborative skills as a requisite for administrative positions if we have hope for changing the system in positive ways.
Imagine a classroom where the teacher works closely with five students at the guided reading table. Meanwhile, 20 of their peers are on task at a variety of literacy work stations: Two students are manning the overhead projector; they’re reading a poem that is being projected on the whiteboard and compiling a list of words that rhyme with those in the poem. Over in the corner, three more students are in the classroom library; one student is reading and the other two are repairing books at the work bench.
We could paint a more vivid picture, but you get it. How does this happen? If you were to ask author, educator, and national educational consultant Debbie Diller, she’d give much of the credit to literacy work stations. But what are they and how do they differ from literacy centers?
Literacy work stations place an emphasis on work. They take advantage of existing spaces in the classroom and give students the opportunity to work independently on the things the teacher has already modeled: read-alouds, shared reading, modeled writings, literacy games, shared writing and small-group instruction.
Unlike literacy centers, literacy work stations do not contain “busy” work; they’re not a place where students go to kill time while they wait for the rest of the class to finish an exercise or assignment. Literacy work stations place an emphasis on independence not only to help students take charge of their learning experience, but to keep the teacher from working harder than the students.
Too often, we exhaust ourselves, we burn out by trying to take care of everything when there’s no reason to. Our students are savvy in a variety of ways, so stop printing out materials, cutting them out, laminating, and cleaning up. They are perfectly capable of this. Instead, collaborate with your students; have them help you “decide when the materials at the work station need to change…and negotiate ideas for what they’d like to practice at each station.”
How do I set up a literacy work station?
The idea behind work stations is that often a simple change of location can engage our students. That space can be anywhere in the classroom regardless of how cramped it feels. Pick up a few carpet squares at a remnant warehouse and utilize the floor. Do you have an overhead projector? Good, there’s your screening station. Do you have a CD or Mp3 player? Have your students grab that, a splitter, and two pairs of headphones out of the closet. Voila, there’s their portable listening work station.
What should the work stations look like? And what kind of teaching materials should they have?
This sounds great, you say, but how do you keep everyone on task?
One way to nurture independence is through modeling what Frey and Fisher have described as the “gradual release of responsibility model.”
First, the teacher models the activity (“I do it”). If, for example, you want to set up an overhead station where students read poems and come up with related rhymes, you’ll want to walk them through the entire process. Find the file folder containing the transparencies, turn on the overhead, read the poem aloud, circle the words that rhyme and begin writing your own rhymes on the board. When you are done, turn off the projector and return the transparency to its proper home.
Second, offer guided instruction by prompting, posing questions, facilitating and collaborating with students (“We do it”). Third, place your students in groups (“You do it together”). You’ll guide and help them when they get stuck, but mostly you observe from the sidelines. Once your students have mastered the activity, you turn it over to them (“You do it alone”).
Keep in mind that this is not a linear approach, so as your students master certain activities, expect them to move back and forth between steps.
If you are considering implementing literacy work stations into your classroom, we suggest that you check out Diller’s book, Literacy Work Stations: Making Centers Work. In addition to this, keep in mind that less is more. Introduce materials into each station gradually; having fewer materials will give students focused freedom and help them stay organized. Also, don’t abandon materials that still have a currency with your students. Move on when they are bored with it or when they have mastered it.
Will Common Core equal Common Practice?
As we look to the future implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS), teachers must begin to have a broader knowledge base, a more diverse toolkit for teaching and learning, and greater experience with teaching in a standards-based environment. The growth required over the next three years seems to be large. After working for over seventeen years in public education within five different school systems, few districts seem to have provided the necessary professional development on standards based approaches.
I am fortunate to be working in a district that has provided an ongoing, continual approach to teaching toward these standards by engaging teacher content teams with standards consultants throughout the school year. Over the last three years, we have collaborated to unpack standards, determine power standards, design essential questions and big ideas, and collaboratively design units that emphasize both prioritization and conformity but not removing creativity. After observing and participating in this work for the last year, I believe the following items are crucial for what teachers should be able to both comprehend and implement:
“Unpack” first – This learning process began three years ago by first “unpacking” standards by dissecting the wording to look for skills and knowledge. We also designated our power standards that we all would teach and felt were the most important. This process must be a primary one, as teachers first look for skills and knowledge necessary for students to attain before beginning to design instruction. Although it was unknown to our teachers, we were following recommendations from McTighe and Wiggins (2001) for translating the standards from the state frameworks to teacher based terminology for classroom instruction. Furthermore, McTighe and Wiggins believe that unpacking the standards is the third big idea out of five for implementing the CCSS.
Understanding by Design - McTighe and Wiggins’ model suggests to start backwards by keeping the end in mind rather than designing a series of activities built upon one another. This process asks teachers to start to “identify desired results, determine acceptable evidence, and plan learning experiences” (McTighe and Wiggins, 2001). For us, this first step was a struggle as teachers who were new to the process, the language, theory, and practice. However, three years later, as we talk together, this process has paid off as we all see a common path of learning for students and have a shared understanding to build upon. Furthermore, this process has shifted practice away from independent classroom teacher activities to a more common approach that focuses more on “enduring understandings” than ideas and concepts that are either “worth being familiar with” or “Important to know and do” (McTighe and Wiggins, 2001).
Student self-assessment – Students must grow as learners but also as evaluators of their own learning. Last year, we began designing Learning Progressions which were valuable in thinking about student misconceptions prior to instruction rather than during. However, many teachers viewed this as a rubric for scoring student work, which is not, so developing this for a number of units was and still is, for some, a challenge. As we now implement two new common standards-based units, I feel these progressions are more important for students for them to assess their learning with a tool that both ties into a common language about enduring understandings and links to feedback they get from formative assessments. We have made a commitment to post Learning Goals and Success Criteria this year for students, but I feel our next step may be to learn progressions as well so that students can visually see where they are with their learning and they need to go next.
Release of responsibility – Teachers have started to work differently in their classrooms as a result of this work. They have become better facilitators of learning by modeling quality instruction, including important concepts and strategies. Students then practice these concepts and strategies with support through small groups, triads, or partners. While monitoring progress, students are then asked to individually apply their new learning in order to meet the standards.
Differentiation – Fortunately, language arts lends itself nicely for differentiation by varying the reading level and challenge of books, scaffolding support with models, and adjusting the writing for students to provide the appropriate level of support and challenge. Differentiating the “process, product, or content” should become more the norm, not the exception, as teachers review results from formative assessments to see the paths that students must travel to become proficient for each standard (Tomlinson, 2000).
Flexible grouping – Many structures such as Literature Circles are helpful but now with both the growing needs of students and the expanding capacity of teachers, we have moved to flexible groupings that allow students options and choices to complete standards based activities rather than being confined by a structure. This opportunity motivates students, provides them with choices, and reduces compliance and behavior issues in the classroom.
Formative Assessments – Gathering data and information through formative assessments should be more commonplace as teachers should be tracking where each student is in their progression towards mastery. This does not mean not giving summative assessments, but rather allowing ample time for modeling, practice, and support. These assessments “check for understanding” and are designed to inform teaching and learning, not a summative or final exam grade (Fisher & Frey, 2007). In addition, these formative assessments may be designed and administered collaboratively to creative common formative assessments, which give more information to teachers allowing for reflection, discussion, and innovation. One of our favorite resources is 25 Quick Formative Assessments for a Differentiated Classroom by Judith Dodge which has a number of short, creative assessments that can be used for a number of subject areas. Some examples that we use include using dry erase boards, sheet protectors, 3-2-1 Summarizers, Quick Write/Quick Draw, and My Top Ten List. These templates work well as we ask students to “show me what you know” and that these assessments are not parts of the grade book but rather, parts of a conversation among educators about what each student has learned and still needs to learn.
More resources – With teacher growth, teachers need access to more resources in order to meet the needs of all students. This is a challenge for teachers as many struggle with finding appropriate materials while also managing a classroom with a diverse student group with diverse needs so that they all meet a standard or learning goal within a certain period of time. Time is critical and there is never enough of it so teachers must find quick and appropriate ways to use class time wisely. For example, our eighth teachers are looking for more short story selections at variety of reading levels so that readers of all abilities can access the text and then demonstrate their abilities to identify story elements, or irony or flashbacks, etc. If students are successful at this step, then we move them into novels at their reading level.
Choice and challenge – It is becoming more rare to teach a whole class novel, as both students and teachers need a greater variety of book options. The range of abilities in a middle school classroom continues to grow, so having more books that are interesting to students as well as challenging for the more advanced students has increased in importance. This is also a challenge for school systems to provide funds for purchases, crosscheck book usage between schools, as well as read and review novels to screen for mature or possible challenged content. Another resource that we have turned to is Creative Book Reports: Fun Projects with Rubrics for Fiction and Nonfiction by Jane Feber which we have used to create smaller nonfiction research projects for students to complete before some of our novels units on weather and the Civil War. I’ve also used this resource to create a final assessment on story elements for a Coming of Age novel study. Assessment – In the end, this is the most challenging area as many teachers may resist rubrics and standards-based grading. Many middle and high schools still have conventional letter and/or numeric grades while some have designed hybrids that combine all three: numbers, letters, and standards. Many elementary schools converted to standards-based reporting years prior.
Many of these initiatives could not happen without the planning, dedication, and support of administrators. After observing and participating in the work for the last year, I believe the following items are crucial for what administrators should know and be able to do:
Time, time and more time! – Over the past three years, the time commitment has been consistent and expansive. We’ve used after school department meeting time, held summer institutes, in-service workshops days, and release days from the classroom with substitute teacher coverage. Now we are fortunate to have time during the school day to meet, collaborate, review common formative assessments, and/or share effective practices. Staying the course by providing the time and structure for teacher teams to collaborate and complete the work as been essential.
Benjamin, Amy. (2008). Formative Assessments for English Language Arts – A Guide for Middle and High
School Teachers. New York: Eye on Education.
Dodge, Judith. (2009). 25 Quick Formative Assessments for a Differentiated Classroom. New York: Scholastic.
Feber, Jane. (2004). Creative Book Reports : Fun Projects with Rubrics for Fiction and Nonfiction. Gainesville: Maupin House.
Fisher, Douglas & Nancy Frey. (2007). Checking for Understanding: Formative Assessment Techniques for Your Classroom. Alexandria :ASCD.
Tomlinson, Carol Ann. (2000). Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary Grades. Champaign: University of Illinois.
Wiggins, Grant and Jay McTighe. "What is Backward Design?," in Understanding by Design. 1st edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall, 2001, pp. 7-19.
Garth McKinney serves as the Language Arts Coordinator at the Merrimack Middle School (MMS) in Merrimack, New Hampshire. At MMS, he teaches and supervises the language arts department. Prior to this position, he worked as a Reading Specialist, Elementary Principal, Elementary Assistant Principal, and Classroom Teacher for grades four and six. He has worked in public education for over seventeen years. This fall, he is also teaching graduate courses both online and on campus as well as applying for National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Garth holds a doctoral degree from Boston College in Educational Administration, a master’s degree from Fordham University in Reading, and a bachelor’s degree inElementary Education from Stonehill College.
Paul Wright and Carl Rosin’s classroom makes me want to become a high school student again just so I could participate in the rich texts and related discussion. But add on a conference call with Dan Pink where kids get to interview him? Incredible. These interviews have become an annual event where students are required to research the author/expert as well as explore a robust set of resources to draw generalizations and pose questions. Click here to see the students' reading list in preparation for the phone call. I had the great pleasure to collaborate with Paul and Carl on the following blog about their vision to use experts, such as Dan Pink, to engage students in rigorous research, reading and discussion.
Have you ever been asked that hypothetical question — if you could have a dinner-table conversation with anyone, who would it be and why? We turned that dream into a reality, one phone call at a time. Even though there is a full-house in the classroom, it is eerily quiet for the sound check. And then the conference call begins. “Dan? Viewpoints on Modern America calling from Philadelphia. Thanks for joining us. How are you?”
These types of conversations bring outside authors and experts into the classroom to share their ruminations on a whole series of topics. Our hope with these annual calls is to break down the walls of the classroom and hear from experts in their field. The students always find them enjoyable, especially as they have most of the questions and have done background research to be ready for that call's guest. As marvelous as history and literature are, we find them to be enlivened dramatically when they draw new maps in front of our students’ eyes. The students get to ask questions of people who are active practioners. Notable guests have included
Not one call has happened where kids weren't absolutely buzzing after. After Bethany McLean last year (in her apartment, with a cold, and two baby daughters, and a dog, analyzing incentivization and derivatives and telling stories of how she became a writer), one of our girls talked about how "inspirational" the call had been (her word), that this person could have accomplished so much and been so adept at displaying it. Glen David Gold has had the place in stitches each time we’ve spoken with him. Michael Lewis was in his Berkeley study at 6 a.m. after a 1 a.m. flight in from New Orleans, the night after the movie based on his book The Blind Side had won the Oscar. He offered to talk about anything. Jeff Shesol said that our kids were more engaged and asked better questions that the satellite college class he had just finished teaching. We always share that feedback too.
Take Dan Pink, best-selling author of Drive and the upcoming To Sell Is Human, our most recent guest. Why is important to study a 19th-century philosophy or the effect of the Progressive Movement? When Dan Pink talks about a search for transcendence or a re-envisioning of the relationship between Labor and Industry, our students have the opportunity to put these in modern-day context. The search for individual worth and the struggle for equality and the desire to make business a more efficient engine of an optimized society—all of these are part of ongoing American movements, and meeting a person like Dan Pink will help our kids feel that they’re on the forefront… and that they understand it down to its bones.
Pink’s conversation with our class ranged widely, from the Industrial Revolution to Henry David Thoreau to high school grading to free will to spirituality to Angela Duckworth’s research on “grit.” The business guru boils down human drives towards people’s interest in seeking Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. His commentary about instrumental (extrinsic) versus fundamental (intrinsic) motivation—for laborers, students, all of us—spoke to us both about historical cases and our own personal situations, as the students grilled him, and both we and he made connections. History, literature, and business writing, after all, share an interest in uncovering the essence of what makes humans tick.
When the students debriefed in writing after the conference call, Kelsey remembered Pink’s comment that “Software is doing to our brains what factories did to our backs centuries ago.” Several students found his praise for ambiguity, despite most people’s distaste for it, to be most compelling; Ioana encapsulated many of these views: “What really piqued my interest is his idea of how people want to transcend and achieve a higher purpose, but ambiguity causes them to retreat back to the status quo.” Heather, a swimmer, noted his mention of the study of “the excellence of mundanity,” because her “coach always says we need to work on the mundane things to get better in the long run.”
The insights were personal as well as general. Shefain was interested to find that Pink’s story of his own path to his present position “contained more than a few ‘downs’,” while Alexa “felt comforted by his story of twists and turns, which showed that I don’t need to have a set, determined straight-line path.” Colin took it to heart: “Pink's thoughts on grit paired with carving your own way will affect my mindset throughout the rest of the year.”
In terms of the tone and structure of the conversation, Katie appreciated the author’s ability to be both casual and scholarly, and how he “didn’t [make us feel] like high schoolers, but related to us.” Tommy was also impressed by how he engaged the class: “Not only did he listen and respond to our questions but he also posed for students questions he himself wanted answered.” Phoebe and Jon praised their classmates for coming up with engaging connections and questions, with Cat commenting on the insights developed on all sides to form a “discussion that tied in nicely to what we’re learning in class.”
“Wow,” concluded Maureen, echoing many of her classmates, “I thought he was fantastic.” Will added, “My parents are gonna be sooo jealous.”
To listen in on the conference call, click here.
Want to take this idea out for a test drive in your own classroom?
Here is the basic blueprint for how to meaningfully integrate a speakers’ program in your classroom:
Bonus! How it connects to the Common Core.
Our speakers program was in existence long before the Common Core was adopted, but it also aligns quite nicely with several anchor standards (see notations down below). Required skills include:
For more inspiration and ideas, visit www.just-startkidsandschools.com to see how kids, parents, and educators can join forces and transform learning — one task, one innovation, one policy at a time.
In the past, when I’ve written about curriculum mapping, it has always been in terms of curriculum and the intended audience was teachers or curriculum and instruction administrators. Recently, I’ve been doing quite a bit of work with administrators around the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium, or ISLLC Standards, in light of principal and administrative evaluations related to Race to the Top grants in multiple states.
(Within each domain, an administrator should address responsibilities within each of the functions.)
(What actions should be in place around the responsibilities already identified?)
(What is acceptable evidence that the responsibilities and actions have been met?)
|1: Vision||*See Attached Potential Evidence|
|2: Culture||*See Attached Potential Evidence|
|3: Safety||*See Attached Potential Evidence|
|4: Community||*See Attached Potential Evidence|
|5: Ethics||*See Attached Potential Evidence|
|6: Context||*See Attached Potential Evidence|
Learning isn't analog any more
When I think of analog learning, I think of something static. I think of content that doesn't change and is quickly outdated. I think of a textbook that I can't interact with. Would you agree? If so, what do you think our students think? Is this normal to them? Do we want it to be normal to them? Do they have a say?
Learning opportunities that exist today are far from analog. The evidence of content is in abundance. That doesn't mean we just send our students freely to the web without important conversations about things like proper digital behavior and critical consumption. This cannot be treated as a skill that we have students pick up in 8th grade from a particular course. How to deal with the flood of information and tools available to our students must become a literacy. We have a responsibility to our students. If we claim to be doing what's best for students, yet we keep our resources and methods in the 20th century, our students are losing out.
We. Need. A. Plan.
Getting our students to a place of digital literacy begins with us. It's a matter of modeling what we expect. It's a matter of teaching the way we would want to be taught today if we were students in our classrooms. We must make this literacy a priority for teachers before we can expect to get our students there. Teachers: this isn't meant to be seen as "one more thing". Your students want you to go with them on this journey. Let them help. Let them teach you. Grow together. Leaders: it's not a matter of finding the time for your teachers to learn; it's a matter of making the time.
This is why a plan is important when beginning to venture into these new horizons of literacy. We have national standards for administrators, teachers, and students to help guide us in our journey to increase our digital literacy. Be sure to check out the Essential Conditions too. All are great places to start.
Does every teacher, student, and administrator need to have X, Y, and Z mastered straight away or even by the end of one school year? I don't think so. What we expose our students to; learning that fosters creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking provides them continual experiences for them to build on year after year.
For example, In my district, our department is working closely with our Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Instruction to plan out a year-long professional development plan to our elementary principals. Using the NETS-A as a guide, we've created learning opportunities that allow administrators to experience new tools, ideas, and resources they can take back and use with their teachers (modeling), which will (hopefully) have a trickle down effect. Teachers will become interested and want to learn more, which leads to teachers using said ideas and resources with students which leads to students being exposed to new tools and resources to foster the "C's" mentioned earlier. Teaching and learning is happening in new and different ways. It's an exciting plan to be part of and our team can't wait to see what happens next.
Making a move from the "analog" is an important step. One that's hard to make by oneself. Planning and support is essential. Stick with it and don't look back. You can only get better.
Within the last few decades, the role of the principal has changed dramatically. Now in addition to all of the administrative and managerial duties s/he organizes behind the scenes, principals are often expected to:
That being the case, we thought it might be useful to talk a bit about designing—or reimagining—your school’s reading program.
Like any skill, reading “muscles” become stronger when exercised regularly. And just like any sport or exercise, a competent coach (you/the teacher) and rigorous training program (designed, at least in part, by you) is vital to the trainee’s progress.
5 Effective Reading Instruction Strategies For Any Grade
I have observed many, many teachers in elementary and early childhood classrooms and the ones that have the smoothest-running classrooms all do the same thing: they teach procedures. Now only do they teach the procedures they need the children to follow, but they also have the children practice and they give them positive feedback until they become automatic routines. They make learning procedures the most important teaching priority in the first few weeks of school, even if it takes time away from other subjects. They more than make up for this time because their classrooms run so effectively.
So the first step in getting ready is to plan what procedures to focus on. It’s helpful to think about them in three groups based on when you will teach them: The first day of school, the first week of school, and the first six weeks. Here are some suggestions:
Arrival: putting things away and getting started on “do now” work
Walking in the Hallway
Using the Bathroom
Dismissal: cleaning up desk and getting materials ready to go home
Fire Drill or Other Emergency Procedures
Moving from group meeting area to centers and other transitions
How to sit during group meeting or circle time
Sharpening pencils, getting a drink
Cleaning up after work time or center time
What to do when you’re finished early
How to say nice things to each other
How to push in chairs
How to hang up coats (this might have to wait for cold weather)
Working with a partner
Turn-and-Talk or Think-Pair-Share
Getting help when the teacher is working with a group
What to do when the teacher has a phone call or must leave the room
What to do when a visitor enters the classroom
What to do when someone is hurt
What to do when you need to calm down
How to take care of materials
How to take appropriate breaks
The Responsive Classroom has a wonderful strategy for teaching procedures called “Interactive Modeling.” This has four distintive elements:
Here is a video that shows the process of Interactive Modeling in action:
You can also try the “I do, We do, You do” demonstrated in this video:
Remember that children at all ages – from preschool to high school – need to be taught or reminded of how you want them to behave. Don’t be afraid to teach very minor procedures. It is better to err on the side of teaching too many than too few.
Please share with us in the comments what procedures you think are most important in your classroom and how you teach them.
This is the second posting in a four-part series on getting ready for the start of school. See Part I here.
A short time ago I attended a meeting where members of a college English department were doing a presentation to the faculty about their writing program. As I listened to about a 30-minute presentation of the types of writing required by this program, it became obvious to me that two words in this presentation of a college writing program were never uttered. They were two words that as an educator I come in contact with almost every day. Two words that have changed the way information is exchanged. The two words, never mentioned, have transformed the publishing industry. The two words have revolutionized journalism. These two words have moved authentic learning to the fore in writing classes across the country, or rather the world. These professors of writing had developed a program which by all accounts was very effective, but overlooked and did not even mention either of the two words that had changed forever how society views and consumes and disseminates the written word in the 21st Century. Obviously, someone did not do their homework, or maybe they were just not connected. If it is not yet apparent, the two words are “Blog” and “Post”. Sometimes they appear as one, “Blogpost”.
I was a reluctant blogger. I needed to be pushed into doing it. I saw no need to put myself at the mercy of the public scrutinizing: my every idea, my every word, my every mistake. I also did not believe that, even if I managed to start a Blog, I could sustain it with any substantial ideas over a period of time. That was 136 blog posts and two years ago. That number does not include guest posts done for other Blogs. What I learned and appreciate more than any other thing that I get from blogging is that I write for me. It is a reflective, personal endeavor. I made the choice to open my blog to public scrutiny. I encourage comments to my ideas, to affirm, or further reflect on those ideas based on the reader comments. Testing my ideas in public is testing I can believe in. Of course I can take that position because pretty much most of what I have written has been fairly well received in over 2,000 comments.
As an educator I believe kids should be introduced to blogging early. A writer’s work will quickly improve with a real audience. Writing for an audience of only one is a tedious process. This is the preferred method in education. The writer needs to wait for the composition to be graded. Of course the student writer can always shake off the teacher’s criticism; because the writer is convinced the teacher hates him anyway. With comments from a real audience providing proper feedback, the writer gets a better sense of impact on the audience as well as recognition for accuracy and focus. Of course it is also on the teacher to teach kids how to responsibly comment and respond on other’s posts. We can’t hold students responsible for things that we don’t teach them.
As an educator I believe educators should be blogging. We need to model that, which we are demanding of our students. It also opens the teacher to the effects of transparency. It goes without saying that teachers must be thoughtful and responsible in what they post. We have to remember that any idiot can write a blog and most do. This is why we need more educators modeling and contributing to the pool of responsible blogs. Teachers who abuse their responsibility by irresponsible posts are for the most part just irresponsible adults who were never taught about the responsibilities or the impact of the blogging.
As an educator I believe that administrators should be blogging. Administrators in theory are our education leaders. They have an obligation to tell us where we are going and why we should go there. Education can no longer be an isolated profession. There is too much at stake. I continually try to convince administrators to blog. Many have the same trepidations that I had at first. Most, after taking the plunge, become blogging advocates. Check out the Connected Principal’s Blog http://connectedprincipals.com/. This is a collaborative blogging site for principals, most of whom are recent bloggers.
The whole idea of Connected Educators is to break down the barriers that have prevented us from exchanging ideas in a big way. Technology has provided us the tools to share and collaborate in astounding ways. We do that on a daily basis with existing content. Blog Posts provide us with: original thought, new ideas, questions, reflections, and much, much more.
This is not just a job for writing teachers. The computer is the today’s publisher. Computers do not send out rejection letters. If we as educators recognize the position blogging now has and will continue to have in our society, we need to take responsibility for teaching proper use in whatever our academic field of choice. We need to model for the next generations. We need to use the Blog as a tool to connect and communicate. We need to blog in order to openly reflect and challenge. We need to blog for ourselves while opening our ideas to others. For many this is a scary thought, but for many others it is a challenge.
Organizers are excellent tools for young learners who often struggle with reading comprehension and the internalization of main ideas or important vocabulary from new text. Using a variety of organizers I hope to better prepare my students to read for understanding. One great example is idea trees that branch one concept into sub-ideas and further into smaller chunks or examples to show students the hierarchy of a new concept. Another would be a series-of-events chain that could be used to map the scientific method, the process in passing a bill through Congress, or the path from point source pollution to effective environmental reclamation. The most common of methods are likely cornell notes, which can be used to pair vocabulary and definitions, claims and evidence, questions and answers, or main ideas and details.
My concern is that by providing handouts to students these organizers become a crutch instead of a strategy. With my 9th graders we will likely demonstrate all of the above and more within the first few months of school. In modeling correct use of an organizer, we can scaffold students to create their own, or at least select which would be best for each reading we encounter. To scaffold higher with my AP students, I would first accomplish the same modeling (as one can never be too sure what note-taking skills a student possesses upon entering a class), and ask them to perform a different task. Not only would students be asked to choose the most appropriate organizer for each text, they would need to justify their choice to the class as they present what they discovered from the content. This form of metacognition prepares students for individual readings they will no doubt pursue in the future, and allow them to become active decision makers in their own learning and note-taking.
According to the National Science Teachers Association, 26 states are leading the development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), led by the bi-partisan group Achieve. The science education community got its first glimpse of the NGSS draft when it was released in May. Achieve will release a second draft for public comment this fall. Here’s a preview of things to come! Join Marygrove College MAT Coordinator of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Dr. Charles Pearson for a discussion about the current status of the NGSS, and how you can keep abreast of the latest changes in the process. A 30-year veteran educator, Dr. Pearson taught middle school science for many years and was a principal for nine. He’ll share his passion for teaching science, and give you some insights to make the most of your classroom time.
Find out about the “big three” dimensions:
1. Scientific and engineering practices: modeling, evaluating, analyzing
2. Crosscutting concepts: energy, patterns, cause & effect
3. Disciplinary core ideas: key ideas that relate to students’ interests, and future jobs
Get ready! Position yourself on the cutting edge of science. Watch Now!
Dr. Charles (Chuck) Pearson is the Coordinator for the Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Program. Retired from K-12 in 2011, Dr. Pearson brings his 30-plus years of classroom and leadership experience to the MAT program, and is looking forward to helping teachers raise student achievement through practical research-based outcomes.
Dr. Pearson earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Cognate in K-12 Superintendency from Western Michigan University. He has several publications in K-12 science to his credit, including multiple presentations for the National Science Teachers Association Annual Conferences around the country. He is a former National Board Member of the National Science Teachers Association Publication Committee and was elected to the state board of the Michigan Science Teachers Association, 1985-92. He recently served as Field Instructor for six Detroit Public School science teacher interns through the University of Michigan/Teach For America organization.
Since the beginning of my teacher training, I was told that the Illinois State Standards were lacking. Not even insufficient, but vague and with little rigor in what I should have expected from my students. Luckily, we have been using the College Readiness Standards for science in our classroom to monitor skills, and roughly structured our Environmental Science curriculum around PSAE standards. While these have been helpful in modeling our instruction and content, I believe they are still lacking in specific focus, rigor, and appropriateness to grade level. This is why I have, for the last two years, been a strong proponent of national standards that would do away with poorly structured, low expectations, and politically driven curriculum standards every state has lamely thrust upon their education system. The fingers have been pointing in many directions, from teachers to funding to Facebook, for the decreasing success of secondary education. I have consistently emphasized that without accountability and standards voicing high expectations, our students won’t possess the drive we want from them in achievement.
The common core standards, while not perfect, are a manifestation of this belief that states do not have the ability to develop highly rigorous or effective standards, and that our country should be unified and aligned in our secondary teaching. Especially considering that students will be pushed forward from current expectations from K-12. Though we won’t see the results in our high school for almost a decade, I am glad to have a more rigorous standard to hold my students to. Sadly, there is no science common core, and we have once again been asked to utilize both the reading and math instead of a specified science standard. While science incorporates all subjects of study, reading and math especially, there are many scientific skills and methods of thought that will be left out of these modern standards. I am hopeful that one day they do develop science common core standards, and have heard conflicting evidence that they are on the way, however I can take solace in the fact that our students will be once again asked to push their zone of proximal development instead of remaining simply in their comfort zones.
There was a time when children went off to school expecting to read in every class, whether it was mathematics, science, or history. It simply was a given that reading in all the content areas had an impact on learning. This truth has resurfaced in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and teachers are realizing these new standards set much higher expectations for student learning than we have held in the recent past.
The CCSS aim to move students toward reading more nonfiction by engaging them in increasingly complex texts as they move through school, while at the same time, helping them develop discipline-specific literacy skills. In Teaching Reading in the Content Areas, 3rd edition, there are five recommendations from research that, if implemented thoughtfully and systematically, will help improve students’ reading comprehension. With each recommendation that follows, I’ve made a suggestion for getting started.
1. Provide explicit instruction in effective comprehension strategies
Even though science, mathematics, and social studies all demand distinctive reading and writing skills, one instructional practice that is important for all readers, and particularly adolescents, is teacher modeling. When teachers model strategies, they give students a kind of “sensory template.” The “Think-Aloud,” for example, is a strategy where teachers model the type of thinking a specific task requires. As students watch and listen to their teacher’s actions and words, they are able to visualize using the strategy.
2. Increase open, sustained discussion of reading content
When teachers encourage students to brainstorm ideas together and ask each other questions, students grow more aware of their cognitive processes, which strengthens their ability to select and use appropriate comprehension strategies. As important, when they engage in large-group discussion, they mine the shared knowledge of the class. The Socratic Seminar is a strategy that promotes debate, uses evidence from the text, and builds on another’s thinking. In a Socratic Seminar, each student has an active role: half the class sits in an inner circle and engages in a discussion while the other half sits in an outer circle and assesses their peers’ discussion skills.
3. Set and maintain high standards for text, conversation, questions, and vocabulary
Traditional vocabulary activities asked students to look up definitions of words in the dictionary and use the words in sentences; while this approach may be better than skipping vocabulary altogether, it is not an evidenced-based approach. This six-step approach for direct instruction of vocabulary is better:
4. Increase students’ motivation and engagement with reading
Although research does not identify specific motivational techniques for particular types of students, it does support choice, social interactions, and important and interesting learning goals. Teachers in any content area can give students choices of research topics and then assign debates. Because most students enjoy argument, they become motivated and engaged readers, but they need coaching from teachers on how to have meaningful debates. Teaching students to use frameworks, such as Proposition Support Outlines, helps them organize their research and arguments. While outlining, they analyze the different types of evidence an author presents and learn to be critical readers who can recognize different viewpoints, theories, hypotheses, facts, opinions, and debatable assertions.
5. Teach essential content knowledge so that all students master critical concepts
As students improve their knowledge in a specific area, their ability to understand the associated reading material also improves. As a content-area teacher, you are much more likely to improve students’ ability to independently comprehend the reading material when you use instructional routines that support students’ understanding of content-area vocabulary, concepts, and facts. After students read about a topic, ask them to perform or construct something by following a multistep process or procedure.
Teachers can prepare students to succeed in college or build solid careers by sharing a variety of strategies, explaining their value, and repeatedly modeling and having students practice them. By learning to read effectively, students not only learn the content they need to master, they also come to value reading and learning.
Free resource: Remove Limits to Learning with Systematic Vocabulary Instruction (Stone & Urquhart, 2008),
Order Teaching Reading in The Content Areas: If Not Me Then Who, 3rd edition from ASCD.
As I reflect on my continuous evolution as an educational leader I am constantly amazed at how things have changed over the course of three years. It was in March of 2009 that I decided to give this social networking tool Twitter a try. At the time I was skeptical about whether my time was going to be well spent posting updates in 140 characters and whether or not people would actually care or be interested in what I was doing. Obviously my perception of Twitter early on was completely wrong, as it has radically molded me into the leader and educator that I am today.
After nearly a year of using Twitter from an educational perspective I had begun to find and read blogs on a daily basis around February 2010. I often marveled at the creative thought and passion that so many educators put into their writing. Envious would be a more appropriate word. As I became active on Twitter members of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) began to suggest that I start a blog. Well let me be the first one to tell you that I am NOT a writer and always struggled with expressing my thoughts in words. My mind was set in concrete that I would NEVER under any circumstances begin to blog (wait, I said the same thing about joining Facebook up until 2010).
So what changed? The most important factor that influenced me to begin a blog was my PLN. Had it not been the modeling by and support of so many unbelievable educators I would NEVER, and I mean NEVER, started blogging. The support I received gave me the courage to share my thoughts, experiences, and ideas with others who have a stake in the noblest profession. My reflections led to a belief that I actually had useful information to share that might be utilized to help other educators grow, think, take-risks, and eventually share their success stories.
I absolutely relish the fact that I now utilize my blog as a vehicle to share the successes of my students and staff. Sharing is the key word here. The concept of a PLN and immersion in the educational world of Web 2.0 has shown me the unselfish nature of educators as they constantly strive to help each other day in day out. Why do we do this? The answer is simple; we want to ensure that students succeed! No one person or group has all of the answers. Each and every educator has something to share. Blogs now provide a valuable set of services to educators in a time when our profession desperately needs it. These include mentoring, professional development, encouragement, ideas to reform the profession, and most importantly inspiration. They also show students, parents, and community members how passionate we are about what we do! For me blogging has also become a portal to discuss strategies and ideas that have not only helped to transform my school, but also my leadership style.
Why do I blog? I do so to give back to those people that have helped me break free from a traditional mindset and hopefully inspire others to do the same. I blog in the hopes of challenging my own thinking in order to continually grow into a transformational leader. Finally, I blog to be transparent. I want to brag about my students and staff while providing examples of innovation. My blog, at times, illustrates that sustainable change can and is occurring in schools. There might not be a better conduit for learning from practitioners or medium for public relations than blogs. If it weren’t for Twitter, my PLN, or the support of my family and NMHS community, this post along with all the others would never have been written.
As another school year begins to come to a close, I have recently had some of our administrators (mostly elementary) contact me with ideas for making administrative tasks more paperless and create a more efficient workflow not only for themselves but for their teachers. Some of these have been regular "end of year" tasks and others are being put into motion in preparation for next year. Given my known affinity for Google Apps for Education, and being we are a Google Apps for Education district, my first inclination is always to figure out how these tasks could be completed using GAFE in one way or another. As I begin to help several of our administrators with these projects, I thought I'd start a post that I could come back and add to over time. They might be beneficial to you as a teacher or you might want to share them with administrators in your district. So here they are in no particular order:
1. End of year checkout form - we all remember this one right? The checkout form for the end of the year that has to be completed before teachers can leave for the summer. Why not use Google Forms to make the form electronic and send out the link to staff? The principal sends out the link to the form, teachers can fill it out as they complete their required tasks, and the information goes straight into a spreadsheet for administrators.
2. Student information collection - When I was in the classroom this was another end of the year task to be completed. We would need to fill out a student information card on each of our students to help provide any pertinent information (academic or otherwise) to next year's classroom teacher(s). Again, this has always been something traditionally done on paper, so why not give it a digital go? Our administrator created a Google Forms version, then copied it the appropriate number of times for each grade level so that the data would come back to separate spreadsheets already separated by grade level. This information also helps the administrative team build next year's class lists.
3. Staff communication - We all know one of the best, if not the best feature of Google Docs is collaboration. The ability to have multiple people working on the same document at the same time is a huge efficiency booster for many. Documents don't have to be emailed back and forth or saved on a network drive where only one person can have the document open at a time. Administrative teams can now easily create their staff newsletters in Google Docs so they can be built collaboratively and then easily shared out with the staff directly from Google Docs. This not only helps increase administrator productivity, but teachers can have a digital copy of building communication delivered right to their inbox.
4. Committees - Again, Google Forms can come in very handy for this. I recently assisted one of our principals who wanted to create a form for teachers to fill out monthly with any specific concerns/needs for individual students that will go directly to the building student assistance committee. This provides the team with valuable information ahead of time prior to the referring teacher meeting with the team. Documents and Forms can also help any building or district level committees communicate and collaborate which builds a more efficient workflow for everyone.
5. Fun stuff - Since this week is Teacher Appreciation Week and schools, parents, and communities are showing their appreciation, it reminds us that some times we also need better ways to work to plan fun stuff too. This could be to collaborate on a document to plan for this week's teacher goodies, or a spreadsheet to plan Field Day, or make a form to send out to gather ideas for an end of year staff celebration. This possibilities could be anything with this one.
What I think is also great about this is that there's positive modeling going on for use of Google Apps for Education. Administrators modeling for teachers, which will hopefully lead to teachers modeling for students. Helping the production equal or outweigh the consumption. A snowball effect that will always be in motion.
Please feel free to add your ideas in the comments section! Thanks!
Over the next few days my blog will be a snapshot album of words describing what it is like to attend a premiere education conference, ASCD12. This is an experience that most educators rarely experience over the course of their careers. It is not an inexpensive proposition to send educators to national conferences. For some reason many districts use that as a reason to send the same administrators year after year to these conferences. I think administrators have the idea that their district leaders are best positioned to share all that is gleaned from the conference with the staff. Of course this is a generality and not every district does this. You may want to ask who from your district attends these conferences and how many have they been to over the years.
The cost of these conferences is steep. The organizations running them have to pay a big price for the venues required to accommodate the tens of thousands of educators and vendors who will walk through the doors. In addition to the cost of the conference, districts have to add transportation, lodging, and food for each individual. In the economic atmosphere of today, many districts may have trouble justifying the expense to those who have no understanding of the value of these conferences. Once again much-needed professional development is relegated to the bottom of the ever-changing priority list
A recurring theme of many of my posts has been how isolated the profession of education can be. Teachers always have the ability to share ideas on lessons, methods and pedagogy within their own building, but only if that building sports an open and collaborative culture. This collaboration enables change. If the building has a closed culture of people who do not collaborate and continue to support the status quo by hunkering down in the bunkers of their comfort zones, then little change will occur. Professional conferences have always opened up educators to change. Educators’ sharing of the latest in lessons and tools has always been the backbone of the conference. The collaboration and excitement pump up the lifeblood of the conference. The camaraderie of the participants as they grow closer through their interests over a few short days is the soul of the conference. Educators come away from conferences with creative juices flowing, collaborative spirit soaring, and their self-esteem rising. They then return to their schools to share, and, try as they might, they can’t duplicate the same feelings for their colleagues. That feeling, short-lived as it is however, cannot be denied.
Of course my position is always that the conferences are greatly enhanced by Social Media. This is a natural occurrence at some conferences. For some reason attendees at some national conferences use more SM than users at other conferences. Tweeting goes on at every session and every hallway. Back channeling presenters is commonplace. Blogs are pumped out during the conference. People who are virtually connected year round, come together face-to-face and are like long-lost friends uniting after years of being apart. Much of which I have described here is best appreciated by those who have actually experienced it at a conference, but as I have pointed out, it is an experience that most educators will never have.
Tonight as I attended the opening reception at ASCD12, I met a very special educator. We were connected through Twitter but had never met. Julie Ramsay, or @juliedramsay as I know her is one such educator whom has attended more than one conference. She and her husband spent their own money and time to attend the ASCD12 Conference. Julie also attended, again at her own expense, last year’s ISTE conference in order to enable her students to present there. They too paid their own way. That is a dedicated educator with a supportive family.
I was in a huge room with about 500 educators noshing on hors’d’oeuvres. I was sitting alone at a table tweeting out to see if anyone in the room was monitoring the Twitter stream. After a half hour, I deduced that this may not be the most Social-Media-savvy group. It was at that point that Julie and her husband found me through my tweets, and we met and shared. Twitter, the very thing that so many condemn as anti-social brought some of us together for face-to-face social interaction. I immediately wondered how to get the 500 other educators to get it.
Several other social media users will be Tweeting and Blogging out moments from the ASCD12 Conference starting tomorrow. By modeling for other educators what it is that we all need to do in order to be connected educators, maybe we can connect more of us. This will increase collaboration and hopefully support change in a culture and system sorely in need of it. Follow the #ASCD12 hashtag through Monday
I just got finished designing the costumes for a school play and I was so impressed with how well the children took care of their things during five days of busy chaos. This got me thinking about how we teach children to be respectful of their property – and classroom materials. Especially when working with young children, this can be a challenge since they have little impulse control, newly developing motor control, and only a rudimentary understanding of social rules.
Like so many behaviors we hope children will do, taking care of classroom materials needs to be taught. Here are some tips:
Remember that children will make mistakes and will need time to learn to control their impulses and control of their bodies. With plenty of modeling, practice, and positive feedback, you should be able to develop a learning environment in which children care for the materials and use them properly. Please share with us other suggestions you have for what has worked in your classroom!