Tuesday, November 24, 2015

FYI #14 - Happy Thanksgiving! One thoughtful article- Tweets and Pictures

FYI #14 - Just some fun educational pictures and Tweets to think about from educational Social Media this week.

Happy Thanksgiving and Thank you for all you do                                         for our students! 

I can't imagine any of our staff would do this but its funny! 

Some great tweets. The first one made me think of our Atlas initiatives. We are doing great things but keep in mind that quality not quantity is the most important. 

Make this year about quality not quantity. Don't get hung up on how much or how fast you're moving forward. The point is to move forward.

The two charts in this tweet are great. This is what the best teachers and learners do consistently.

Love these infographics by on 21st century teaching & learning
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I have sent this out previously the past couple of years. This is great for everyone regardless of their profession and is also something great to share with students and remind them of each day.

I know we all strive to push our students and don't allow them to use the excuses on the right side. This is part of the Growth mindset that all of our students can achieve and learn. This graphic below puts it nicely.

Another graphic I have sent out previously but is incredibly important. Students who read consistently have more success than students who do not. If students are not reading at home let's make sure we are including some in our lessons.

This makes a lot of sense. Just getting students to write more is half the battle. Bad writing can turn into good writing as long as students START writing.

Special Ed Teacher Compliments Every Single Student Each Day, Gets A+ In Our Book

Just this one short article this week. This is a quick story about a Special Education teacher in Florida who spends the first minutes of class complimenting all his students. I am not suggesting we do this each day but compliments go a long way and sometimes motivate students more than anything else does. I found this article interesting and I drew a lot of parallels to our teaching staff who continuously build our kids up each day. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

FYI #13 - Student-Centered Activities- Form. Assessment- Reading Activities- A Teacher becomes a Student

This week: 
A simple feedback strip of paper that can help you with formative assessment (pic below),  a short article on a teacher shadowing students and her take-aways, some simple reading engagement strategies,  56 formative assessment strategies, and 60 Student-Centered activities. All good, quick reads which can be quickly implemented. 

Teacher Spends 2 Days as a Student
This is a quick and easy read about a teacher who shadows a couple of students all day and her take-aways.  A couple of her key take-aways were the amount of time students actually sit each day and the amount of time they actually just sit and listen to people all day. A good read.

Reading Strategies Ideas
This short article has some great ideas for getting students more engaged in what they are reading. Simple yet effective ideas like the following are easy to implement and use everyday:

  1. Instruct partner A to tell partner B everything he or she knows about _____________; or instruct partner B to explain to partner A what just happened in the story; or instruct partners A and B to have 2-minute conversation acting like characters from the story. The options are endless.

56 Quick Formative ideas
The above link opens to a PPT presentation where each slide briefly describes a different formative assessment strategy. They are quick and to the point and all easily implemented. The 3x Summaration, Chalkboard splash, and the Metacognition chart (pictured above) I found to be the really interesting and helpful.

60 Student-Centered Activities
This site nicely sets-up 60 different student-centered activities with a short summary and if you click on the hyper link it opens up a larger and longer description on how to implement this into the classroom.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

FYI #12- Teacher Appreciation Week! The Best PD I ever had --- A Writing Video ---- Resource Round-Up

Did you know? from Hallmark: 

  • People in the United States started celebrating National Teacher Day in 1953 when Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded Congress to set aside a day to recognize educators
  • In the United States, 3.7 million people work as elementary and secondary teachers in public schools. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics, 2012)
  • About 45% of teachers leave the profession in their first five years. (Source: National Education Association)
  • About 40% of people entering the profession in the United States are coming from other careers. (Source: National Education Association)
  • UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared October 5 as World Teachers’ Day in 1994.

The Best Professional Development I Have Ever Had 

Around the Holiday I covered three classes for teaching staff with the idea that staff could either allow me to bring in a lesson of my own or leave one for me to implement. Luckily for me I was given both options and worked in some very different classrooms. Here is a short summary of the Best Professional Development I have ever had as an Administrator:

I have taken over 30 classes the past five years, attended countless workshops, and read hundreds of articles. However, nothing has given me as much insight and appreciation to the teaching profession as going back to actually "teaching".

This will certainly be something I  plan on doing for years to come and will suggest to my colleagues that it is beneficial for all Administrators. There is no substitute to understanding the importance of teaching children until you are in front of them for 58 minutes straight.

Some quick observations:
  • Kids love to talk to you. Its a great part of the job but many of them would just like to do it all class. Its tough to reel them back in once you get going. 
  • I almost forgot how many times you need to explain to them what to do.  How much constant prodding and redirection some students need.
  • ELL students are just like any other kids. They want to show us how smart they really are. I  enjoyed learning some new words in both Spanish and  Portuguese. 
  • 58 minutes is a long time to keep kids on task and attentive every minute. Not everyone can do it. 
  • We have some amazing and extremely likable kids in this school. Kids that are willing to help you and  others and genuinely enjoy doing it. Why can't they all be like that?
  • Many of our kids have a tough time writing. Writing a good solid paragraph takes a long time for many students. 
  • We have some funny kids. Great personalities. 
  • Teaching is a really, really hard profession. I needed to be in those classrooms to remember just how important and how difficult a job it can be at times. 

The Teaching Resource Round-Up 

The link below is a one stop shopping area for a  variety of topics: classroom management, lesson planning, dealing with parents, building relationships with students. If you enjoy reading articles on how to better your teaching this is a great collection of short and to the point articles:

Teaching Resources Round-Up

Small Group Writing Video 

This is a great 4 minute video from the Teaching Channel on how to exactly go about a small group writing for 9th through 12th graders. Easy to implement and a great way to get the students to think and write.

Teaching Channel

Friday, March 27, 2015

FYI #11: Interesting Pictures, an ELL Activity, Silent Reading, Getting Student-Centered, Laughter in the Classroom

This week in the Academic FYI:

- A picture that really makes you think about how important education is to some people in other countries, an ELL activity, some SSR- Silent- Sustained reading activities, making sure your classroom is student-centered, a  & the power of laughter in the classroom.

Here's an interesting picture during MCAS season to remind us just how important high-stakes testing is to people in some other countries. These family members in India are actually climbing up the school walls to give their children cheat notes so that they can do better on state exams that could change the lives of millions growing up in poverty. This became a major scandal in one town in India. 

 PHOTO: Family members and friends climb walls to give answer sheets to students undertaking exams   

1- Think Aloud: Your Turn for ELLs and any other students! 

Below is a picture I took during my last SEI-RETELL class. I think it is a really good activity for a few reasons. 1- it involves reading 2- it is student-centered and 3- you can use it with your ELL students or in any class including Honors and AP Level. It really makes two students focus and engage in this paired activity. Try it out!

2 - SSR- Silent Sustained Reading Activities

Here is a great downloadable PDF on ways to promote Quiet Time reading. As a teacher I used to think that chalkboard dust had to flying and heavily engaged students discussing things out loud was needed every minute of class. While that is still important there is certainly a place for silent reading activities. This is a great way to support and reading skills and get kids to relax and really think about what they are reading. That is a great form of engagement in itself.
This is a particularly good way to start or end a class to give you some time to organize everything else you have going on as well.

3- How Student Centered is your Classroom?

This article probably takes 2 minutes to read but has a great list of guiding questions to ask yourself if your classroom is truly student-centered. This is a great quick read.

4- April Fool's Day & Classroom Laughter

This timely article written more in an elementary sense still can remind us of the power of laughter in the classroom. Some of the best classes I have seen use laughter as a hook for student learning. 

Next week: 

I will be breaking down the lessons I learned from covering those classes for teachers after the holiday. I am calling the blog entry the "Best PD Any Administrator Can Have".  It was a great reminder of what it is like to have students in front of you for a full 58 minutes. It is something that every Administrator IMO would benefit from doing at some point. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

FYI #10: March Madness- Check for Understanding- A GREAT writing assignment

This week in the Academic FYI:

A thought provoking tweet on assessment, a great March Madness in the Classroom activity, 53 Ways to Check for Understanding Chart, and a must-do writing assignment I just learned in a PD workshop called Make-It-Worse/Make-It-Better

As always your feedback on these educational pieces is appreciated. Enjoy! 

Here is an interesting take on averaging grades. Provided you weigh all those Units tests equally it is interesting to see how consistent performers can potentially be averaged the same as students who are really up and down... Maybe it should say "This is why it's wrong to ONLY average grades"?

This is why it's wrong to average grades: via

Friday, February 6, 2015

Academic FYI #9- Lesson Planning, HW, & Assessment

Getting back to some pedagogy discussions this week... 3 very good blogs-- Quick reads...

Shared the article below with new teachers and mentors last week. The author hits upon the most critical times each class period: the beginnings and the endings. Are you engaging students right away and are you checking that your goals were attained in the end?

The first 4 minutes and the last 4 minutes are critical. See the article for some great ideas on those 8 minute activities.

8 Minutes that Matter Most

This blog has brought up the importance or non-importance of homework in the past. This short article and chart just shows the average amount of homework students in various countries get per week. Both China and Finland score in the highest percentage year after year on the internationally recognized PISA test. However, China is #1 on time spent on homework while Finland is dead last. We are somewhere in the middle. Interesting information.

Where Teenagers Have the Most Homework

The grading system norms from this one high school mentioned in the article below I stumbled upon via Twitter.

The opening line really grabbed me:

  • We believe that each student learns at a different pace and we believe that ‘when’ a kid learns isn't nearly as important as ‘if’ a kid learns. 

Another interesting take:

  • retakes will be encouraged and will be allowed after the relearn process for full credit in all content areas up until the last week of the quarter. Click on the relearn process link for the actual sheet they use. 
Some very debatable ideas: 
  • non-academic indicators, such as simple classroom participation, behavior, work completion, attendance & other non-academic indicators, will not be included in a student’s academic grade. 
  • extra-credit is NOT accepted 

Lots of interesting assessment norms and ideas in this short article.
The Grading System our Students Deserve

Hope you enjoy these articles.

Have a Great Weekend!

Super Bowl Lesson Plans

From Monday, January 26th 

Some Excellent Super Bowl lessons for this week! Weather permitting! 

Here are a couple of timely Super Bowl lessons you may find enjoyable to share with your students (if we ever get back to school this week!)

7 Super Bowl lessons and activities for the classroom:

A Pathfinder Tech student does his own experiments on DeflateGate. Check out the video below

Enjoy your weekend and the game. Go Patritos!